The Foundation of Self-Esteem 

Since high school I’ve been on a journey of ‘increasing my self-esteem’.   I used to stand on the fact that I was a dairy woman, I was a dairy cattle owner, I was a past dairy princess and I held ‘all these leadership positions’ etc. to build my self-esteem.  I looked to all of my achievements to build and hold myself up.  I looked to all of my skills, talents and capability in dairy too.  I also looked to my relationships to build me up.  And I have read numerous articles, read different books, gone to qualified counselors, listened to wise people, and to numerous inspirational speakers, videos etc.  However I believe that the key I was missing up until recently is the fact that self-esteem without a firm foundation in my faith is unfounded.  It is only with a firm foundation that I can thrive!  I am overjoyed to know and understand this now!!  God’s plan for me is who I hope to be.  I can only know that plan and have self-esteem when I am standing on Him.

“We are all starved for the glory of God, not self.  No one goes to the Grand Canyon to increase self-esteem.  Why do we go?  Because there is greater healing for the soul in beholding splendor than there is in beholding self. Indeed, what could be more ludicrous in a vast and glorious universe like this than a human being, on the speck called earth, standing in front of a mirror trying to find significance of his own self image?  It is a great sadness that this is the gospel of the modern world.

The Christian Gospel is about “the glory of Christ,” not about me.  And when it is —in some measure—about me, it is not about my being made much of by God, but about God mercifully enabling me to enjoy making much of him forever.”

John Piper, ‘Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ’  (pages 15-16)

Today I praise God because I can rejoice and rest in my relationship with Him!!!  My significance, my self-esteem, and my confidence comes from above!  And hear me out—I am not done building my foundation for self-esteem, I have to be reminded daily that this will be on-going for all my days on this earth.

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Running to the King of Kings

The old saying ‘you can run, but you can’t hide’ was meant to scare however I would like to use it in a different context.  There are times when I have expanded my horizons in life, but it I compressed my time with God.  Not to say that all who expand their horizons spend less time with God, but for me that became the reality.  I put Him on the back burner where He certainly doesn’t belong.  At certain points I chose to run away from what He was placing in front of me.  Nonetheless, when God has a plan and a mission for life, it will come about.  We can run or deny it, and we can even get ourselves into a massive amount of distractions which is what I am good at.  That won’t change the overall plans He has for each one of us.  Truthfully there are times when I have felt very discontented with life, unsure of what my purpose is or what I am supposed to achieve.  But honestly, I have had so much to be thankful for because God has provided for me over and over again.  My discontented feelings come from the fact that I ignore His guidance in my life.  I have struggled with wanting to be my own god.  It is easy as we are born very self-centered beings.  We don’t naturally have the tendency to listen and obey, those are learned skills.  In my struggles with God’s will over my own, I have found assurance that God still wants me and His plan still reigns in my life.  When I listen to His voice, spend time in prayer, and realize that He is in control that feeling of discontentment leaves me.  I have also found great comfort in the books of the Bible, King David for example.  He was a mere shepherd boy to start out, but God gave him many victories in his life.  David grew in to a man and king that was said to be after God’s own heart.  (I Samuel 13:14 “the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people”)  David was a great king, but he stumbled too and decidedly went against the will of God at times in his life. Read here in 2 Samuel 11,

 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.

One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful,and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”

So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.

10 David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” So he asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?”

11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents,[a] and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”

12 Then David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home.

14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”

16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.

18 Joab sent David a full account of the battle. 19 He instructed the messenger: “When you have finished giving the king this account of the battle, 20 the king’s anger may flare up, and he may ask you, ‘Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn’t you know they would shoot arrows from the wall? 21 Who killed Abimelek son of Jerub-Besheth[b]? Didn’t a woman drop an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you get so close to the wall?’ If he asks you this, then say to him, ‘Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.’”

22 The messenger set out, and when he arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say. 23 The messenger said to David, “The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open, but we drove them back to the entrance of the city gate. 24 Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king’s men died. Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.”

25 David told the messenger, “Say this to Joab: ‘Don’t let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another. Press the attack against the city and destroy it.’ Say this to encourage Joab.”

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him.27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.

Though David knew his actions didn’t please God, he was self-centered seeking only to make himself happy and thus tried to cover up his mistakes.  David was a man of God, but he was human just like you and me and we all make mistakes.  The point is no matter what we do, Jesus Christ is interceding on our behalf and loves us so much.  He desires to give us a peace and a contentment like no other, but we have to listen to Him.  If you do not follow God, how can He lead you?  It is tempting to try life on our own, to think that we can do things our own way.  We can try, but it will not lead to peace.  God wants us to come to Him with our needs and desires and wait on Him for His call.  Life is filled with choices and it is silly how often we forget the importance of God’s love and guidance in our lives.  The most important choice that only you can make, is to follow Jesus Christ and allow His love to fill and guide your life.  No matter what you did in the past or what you are doing today, you can pray and ask for His forgiveness, love and protection.  When you feel like running, run to the King of Kings.  He has a plan each and every person He created, including you!  God bless you.

Selling the Family Jewels

Well the time has come for my mom and dad to retire from milking cows. As a result I have written something to commemorate our family farm.

As this chapter of Watertown Holsteins comes to an end I can’t help but write a little something in remembrance of my family’s dairy farm.   First off it is hard to grow up, and we are all still doing it no matter our age!  My childhood on the farm with my sisters and brother, mom and dad, are filled with so many good memories.  All too often, it is easy not to say or write the things that our loved ones need to hear.  So I am taking this opportunity to do just that.  I consider my mom and dad to be fairly young even though they might disagree, and I am grateful they are just a phone call away.  My parents were both a big influence on me while growing up, and for that I am also thankful.  However, keep in mind I used to joke they had six kids so we could do all the work for them!

The truth is, all the lessons they taught me and my siblings through the family farm life will benefit us the rest of our days.  My parents taught me who God was at an early age, so I knew who created me and all the animals I adored.  However it wasn’t until I was about four or five years old that I became comfortable around cattle since they were so big!  All of my siblings and I had responsibilities in the house and on the farm growing up.  Through my early years I had to unload the silverware, sweep the floors and take out the garbage.  My older sisters always thought I got by way to easy, but I disagreed.  I discovered my favorite task, making the morning pancakes after dad got in from chores though.  I used to sneak outside in the morning before my mom and sisters woke, just to go see my dad milk the cows too.  Then I got my first job on the dairy, sweeping the hallway outside the office, bathroom, and milk room.  I still remember finding some change (placed cleverly by my dad) in all the dirt and feeling so accomplished since I made a few cents at the age of five!  My responsibilities grew as I did and so did the opportunities.  In the morning and evening I got to fill many bottles full of milk for all those cute Holstein calves and in the afternoon build amazing forts in the cottonseed pile.  Talk about a blast for young kids and a nightmare for our mom and sometimes dad too, especially if we forgot to take the shovel out of the pile, sorry dad!  Once we headed back in the house, our clothes mysteriously managed to carry cottonseed in, sorry mom!  Then it was riding on the lawn mower for hours in the evening with my dad because I wanted to drive the mower, but I was too short.  As soon as I was tall enough, I got to be the full-time grounds keeper.  During the summers it was wanting to cut green beans but instead I had to wash them since I was too young to play with knives.  Not to worry, eventually I cut plenty of green beans!  When I was still the baby of the family, my older sisters, Joelle and Maria, helped me ride my bike around the section sometimes every day even though I struggled to keep up at times.  They also opened up the ice cream shop straight from the garage door and made me some very tasty treats.  Then soon I was a big sister and my little brother Samuel was volunteered for daily tours of the farm in his stroller, by tour guide Ana, so my mom could do what she needed.  Then eventually I was taking my younger siblings around the section on bike rides just like my older sisters did with me, and guess who needed the patience then!  As siblings we created a ton of fun memories on the dairy.  Maria and I dug traps with poop in the bottom for my sister Joelle to step in but instead dad found them first, sorry dad!  We ran through the sprinklers, built teepees in the trees, set up tents in the backyard for campouts, shot each other with water guns, pelted empty pop cans with Maria’s BB gun, but not to worry we got back to work.  We got to show calves together in 4-H every summer too, which was a huge highlight in my summers.  My dad taught me how to clip and fit cattle, and I loved the smell of the clipper oil and still do.  As I got older and stronger, my dad let me do more and more.  I got to push the manure from the barn alley into the gutter after each cow took her stall in the early afternoon.  Then eventually I was wheel-barrowing out manure from the box stalls with my sisters and brother.  By the way, that wasn’t punishment that was just chores.

Learning how to watch over younger siblings and how to care for the farm and its animals were blessings my siblings and I got to know early in life.  We all started milking cows around the age of fourteen, though other farm and house responsibilities started long before then.  Believe me, I have milked many cows and I enjoyed it.  Some of the best conversations happen when milking cows!  I got spend hours with my dad, my mom, my older and younger sisters, my brother, and all the hired hands.  All the way through middle school, high school and college I earned money on the farm for each hour I worked.  Whether it was feeding, bedding, milking, painting, cleaning, mowing, driving, farming or gardening.  Mom and dad gave me the responsibility to give an offering to God, save money for what I needed and wanted, and to help others too.

While life on the farm wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows I will always remember all of the good times I had with my sisters and brother, mom and dad.  From showing cattle together, to milking cows together and some days struggling together.  I know that the farm life made my family ties stronger even though we don’t all live in the same place anymore.  The relationships that we have are a huge blessing and their start was on Watertown Holsteins alongside two of the hardest working people I know, my parents.  Mom and dad, never forget that I look up to both of you.  I am proud of you both and all that you have accomplished.  You have a BEAUTIFUL herd of cows, and I am so proud and thankful that I got to learn from you and help you in your endeavors.  You gave me so much, and most of all you taught me to pursue a relationship with my Maker, to give it all I got and never give up!  Though it breaks my heart and brings tears to my eyes to have a big part of the family business dissolve, I know that there’s MUCH MORE to come and no matter what we are blesssed to have one another.

All the blood, sweat and tears have been worth it, there is no better way to grow up than on a dairy farm.

Ana Schweer Ruiz

Check out the Facebook page, Watertown Holsteins for all the details on the sale.  Cow photos posted daily with updates to come!

When You Take Two Steps Back and One Forward

Sometimes I read things I posted a couple of years ago and wonder whether or not I am becoming wiser as the years pass.  It’s rather silly that such a thought as that comes to mind because I know the choices I have made are done and over.  Even if I felt like I took two steps back and then one forward!  Since I made the decision to halt my ‘veterinary dreams’ I have pondered whether or not that previous sentence is true.  I have already stated that I don’t need more credentials to give to the world around me.  The funny part is that a dream…never really dies, dang nab it!  Sometime in life we make choices that give us instant gratification, and I can honestly admit that I tend to do this.  However, there were other logical factors involved in my decision such as how to pay for such mind-boggling, expensive education as I was not a resident of the state I was about to enter.  My heart told me that it was more important for me to be with Mi Lechero aka my husband, and to work on some others goals near and dear to me.  Sometimes we shoot so high for a dream, we want to jump the whole staircase instead of take it step by step.  When we reach a success rapidly, maybe our mentality hasn’t caught up with where we were headed.  Life isn’t making as much sense as I thought it would and I wish I would’ve known more of these things earlier in life, so now I am grateful I do!  I am glad God is showing me that while I strive for a goal, I have to put myself there mentally before I can get there.  It is WAY to easy for me to be distracted by things that pull at my heart.  I heard someone say that sometimes in life God has a big lesson for us to learn about ourselves, and until that character comes out strong enough for us to notice we’ll never change it.  Well, I think that mine shouted at me loud and clear.  It has been a blessing having time to work on my own character and do some self-examination.  I think it is good for all of us to do that, though I expect few will.  God is working in my life and using some great people around me here in Georgia to teach me many things.  For now, I am just grateful for the new opportunities in front of me, thankful to have learned more about my own character and what I can do to make it stronger for whatever God decides to lay in front me in the future.  After all one once said, luck means good preparation meets opportunity.  I guess my journey requires me to take a couple steps back in order for me to continue forward and you know what, thank God I am not the only one!  Here’s to better preparation mentally, physically, and spiritually for whatever life brings because as far as I know the rest of life has a lot of blank pages to be filled!

Chasing a Thanksgiving Life

Life is too short for an ungrateful heart.  As the years go by, though I am considered young I realize more and more just how much I have to be thankful for.  I realize the privileges I have had, though I didn’t always see them that way.  I realize how much I cherish my childhood, my husband, my family, my friends including animal friends!!  It brings tears to my eyes when I think about how much love others have shown me throughout my life, though it may have taken me days, months or years to realize.  We have no choice but to take life as it comes and do our best, keeping an open heart and mind.  Letting go of the way things were and embracing the way they are while enjoying all the stages in between.  Some days it seems a difficult task and others it is easy.  I pray that you, your family and your friends will enjoy one another to the fullest this holiday season.  Let people know how much they have meant to you and mean to you now.  Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog this Thanksgiving Day, God Bless you and yours.  Here’s to chasing a thankful life.  Don’t forget to thank a farmer if you ate a tasty meal today, or are about to!!

Endless Training

We all come in to this world as one and we all leave as one.  What we do here can make all the difference.  I listen to Eric Thomas, an author and motivational speaker, almost every day and that is where a lot of my inspiration for this post came from.  Check him out on etinspires.com.  So what are we all doing here on this earth?  What can we do that can make a difference?  I don’t look at life as a competition between me and another person.  I look at it like I’m competing against my last challenge.  If I could overcome that challenge then what can I do next?  Or if I didn’t overcome that challenge, what do I need to do to prepare for success?  It makes no difference how old you are.  But the hour you rise in the morning is key.  I consider a good start around 4 or 5.  That’s not early, some think 2 or 3!  I love to wake up and have more of the day ahead of me, than behind me.  We all get twenty-four hours…but how you use them is what counts!  Each day is a training day in my book and every day I can get better or I can stay where I’m at (or worse, but let’s stay on the positive side! ;))  This applies to nearly every detail in my life and in yours as well.  So what challenges are you facing today?  Are you overcoming them?  What do you need to prepare for success?  Do you set deadlines for yourself with goals, small or big?  How are you competing with yourself?  Are you just settling for average you?  

Right now I have challenges before me that I am slowly overcoming with the help of God, my adorable husband and family of origin.  I am working to prepare for the next challenge.  Have I set deadlines, yes!  Am I doing all of it because it’s what someone else wants? No!  Or do I feel pressured or obligated to prepare?  No!  But all of the training is necessary for me to reach higher.  So here’s to not settling for an average you, and to endless training!!  Remember there is not just one path to greatness, but it all takes a LOT of hard work.  No matter where you are in life, keep pushing for what you want.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way!  God Bless and good luck!! 

Let Them Know, Before You Have to Let Them Go.

Three simple words, I love you.  For some, they roll of the tongue easily and for others not so easily.  This can be for a variety of reasons.  In each of our lives, from the time we are born until we reach adulthood and far beyond; how often we hear those words is very important.  More importantly, when you have the opportunity to let someone know how you feel about them—-take it.  Yesterday in my dairy farming neighborhood of South Dakota, a neighbor passed away from an accident.  None of us know when our time is up, so we never know when the last time we can tell someone we love them.  Let those special to you know you love them, before you have to let them go.  

Dr. Daniela the Embryologist

The first photo is Dr. Daniela fertilizing some oocytes in vitro (IVF)!!  The next photo is in preparation for what she is able to do in the lab, it is called Ovum Pick-up (OPU), where a technician uses the ultrasound machine and a needle to aspirate the ovaries of cows to ‘pick-up’ the oocytes on them.  Learning how to make bovine babies in a laboratory, it has been one awesome first week!!  From learning how follicular waves work, to how each hormone affects superovulation, palpating ovaries, and learning how to move the cows reproductive tract – mastering these things are just the beginning!

It feels great to be back in the Golden State, and I am enjoying the warmer weather as I’m used to colder South Dakota weather in November.  As one who tends to over-think many things about life, this week was no different.  Not only did I learn a lot of the the details of embryo transfer and in vitro fertilization, I learned a lot more about myself as well — a win, win!  Praying for guidance and looking to make choices that I will be happy with later in my life has always helped me make decisions.  The future is not certain, nor is life.  So I came to the conclusion this week (FINALLY!! …and will certainly need reminding in the future) that I don’t need to stress about my veterinary school applications, the future, or honestly anything.  For many, it’s way to easy to get worked about things that we have no control over.  I know I am not alone on this.  Control, what does that even mean?!  We have to give it up!!!  We’ve got to keep doing our best no matter what we do, and keep learning. 

For I know the plans I have for you, “declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  —-Jeremiah 29:11

“The reason many people in our society are miserable, sick, and highly stressed is because of an unhealthy attachment to things they have no control over.” —-Steve Maraboli 

“Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in the face of certain defeat.” —-Ralph Ellison

“Incredible change happens in life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” —-Steve Maraboli

This verse and these quotes are reminders that we need to trust and take a leap of faith each and every day of our lives, no matter if we are young or old.  

 

Chase Your Dreams and You’ll Find Your Path

This week is a time of change!  The only thing in life that is certain is change.  Everyday we all make hundreds of choices and our choices determine our path here on earth.  Home working on the dairy this week, I’m also spending time with my love, my closest friends and family, and getting ready for another adventure in California.  My time there last summer impacted me greatly and I look forward to spending more time there!  I will be working primarily with Dr. Daniela Demetrio DVM, the embryologist for Maddox Dairy and RuAnn Dairy.  I am certain that I’ll be blogging more about it in the coming weeks.  

It was not a hard choice to head back to California but no one can know exactly when cupid will hit you with one of those dangerous arrows.  A very inspiring individual walked in to my life over a year ago; I met him while I was working on my family’s dairy last August.  Up until a little over two months ago, I saw him here and there and always wanted to get to know him better.  Well it just so happened that he was coming to the SD State Fair this fall where I just happened to be working, and ever since my life hasn’t quite been the same.  I still love my God, love dairy, love my family, love life and have so many dreams and goals that I am chasing.  Romantic love isn’t something that I ever tried to have any crazy expectations for.  It isn’t something one can “plan” for.  As a typical girl I dreamed about falling for someone but I didn’t know it could happen so fast or that it would happen right now!  The greatest part about having a special person in my life is that I know he’s my best friend.  ”A friend is a hand that is always holding yours, no matter how close or far apart you may be. A friend is someone who is always there and will always, always care. A friend is a feeling of forever in the heart.”  Though I am headed to an exciting adventure I am feeling bittersweet about not being near my sweetheart.  It’s hard to part ways but I know that this is how it has to be for a little while.  A true friend wants what is best for you, and wants you to be happy, for you to chase your dreams.  That’s when you know without a doubt that someone loves you.  A friendship that turns into love is the best, I am so grateful for who God has placed in my life and in my heart.  God will always be my first love, but I am so thankful for how this man compels my strengths, challenges me to be greater, but does not doubt my determination or courage to do it, he believes in me and treats me like the woman that God made me to be.  

“The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.” —John Sculley.  In my life, I want to be the best me I can and look ahead for what I can do for others!  “The significance of a man is not what he attains but rather in what he longs to attain.” —Kahlil Gibran.  As I continue in this adventure, I am excited to keep raising my sights on what God lays before me and pray that as I make choices they will positively impact others around me! 

Wearing A Boot at National FFA Convention

The past two months have flown by, and in them I had promised a video and song of my ‘Hey Perty Holstein’ parody of Nelly’s ‘Hey Porsche’.  I feel terrible I have not been able to roll that video out yet, but there’s a hold up on the photos I’d like to use.  Hopefully any day I will be able to put that up!!  In the mean time I have been busy caring for the animals at Watertown Holsteins while my dad has been busy harvesting.  A weightlifter in high school, and through college I have been lifting consistently until a couple weeks ago as well. Unfortunately, I stepped wrong and injured my foot working on the dairy.  Wearing a ‘boot’ has not been fun but wrapping it in plastic works…ok.  Only a couple more days and the boot will be off!  My foot is feeling great and I am ready to get back to working full force!!

imageLast week was my first week wearing the boot and I was fortunate that I served on the National FFA Collegiate Staff in Louisville, KY because that allowed me to ‘step’ ha no pun intended of course, away from the farm and rest it a while.  There I visited with hundreds of FFA members, advisors, teachers, parents and fellow agriculture professionals from across the nation about Collegiate FFA programs.  I also engaged many FFA members in some “Minute to Win IT!” games at our booth, which was very entertaining.  I am very thankful for the impact and experiences given to me through the FFA during New Century Farmer in 2012 and then International Collegiate Agricultural Leadership Program to Brazil in 2013. Both programs have helped mold me into a better person.  They have given me the opportunity to develop my vision and goals for life as well as build meaningful connections with many throughout the nation and world!