Friday, July 13, 2012

Fair Week!

The Platte County Fair is going on this week and that brings back a lot of fun memories.

When I was "4-H age" (age 8-18 as of January 1st of that year) my sisters and I were very active in 4-H. We sewed, cooked, learned how to garden, and gave demonstrations. I remember trying to find 4 or 5 IDENTICAL beans or beets or tomatoes to take to the fair--they had to be the same size, shape, and color to qualify for a blue or purple ribbon. I remember sewing that last button on my dress (one year my very elaborate dress had about 10 buttons on each cuff, and another 15 or 20 buttons down the front!) on the way to the fair. I remember seeing friends I hadn't seen all summer, and eagerly looking to see how we'd done on our projects.

I remember mom teaching us how to measure ingredients accurately and helping us sew perfect seams and teaching us how to make buttonholes. Looking back, I know that I didn't appreciate her endless patience as she taught us—thanks mom! Through 4-H we learned not only the practical lessons of how to make muffins or sew a hem, but lessons about following directions and working hard to make our entries perfect. We also learned life-lessons of confidence and talking to adults as we modeled our clothes and talked to judges about our other entries.

Early morning sheep washing 2009
Until Cody and Morgan were 4-H age and showed at the fair I didn’t realize how much parents looked forward to the too. We share secret smiles with other parents in the early morning hours as we rush between animal pens or back to the truck to get a forgotten item. It's the tears of pride we try to hide (but other parents always understand) when our kids do well...the swelling of our hearts when we see siblings helping each other or other kids when an animal gets loose or someone needs a word of encouragement.

It's why we put the (seemingly) endless dollars and hours into projects, why we wake our kids up early (even when they're crabby) to take care of an animal or work on a project, why we practice patience as we teach (sometimes over and over!) our kids a new skill.
We know it's not just the ribbons they'll get during the fair, it's the life-long lessons the kids will take with them (like going back into the ring for dog agility after your dog took a detour out of the ring and around the whole building), and hopefully pass on to their kids someday.

This is the first year since the new millennium that neither Cody nor Morgan is showing an animal at the fair. It’s bittersweet for me because there were so many wonderful family moments at the fair.

One of my favorite memories is the year both Cody and Morgan were in the same class of showmanship during the cattle show. After several rounds, they were the only two left, competing against each other for the championship. For more than 20 minutes they were the only ones in the ring, leading and setting up their animals, watching the judge, and doing everything “just right.” Neither of them made a mistake. Finally the judge asked them to switch places in the ring…and Morgan turned her calf counterclockwise instead of clockwise. And that was it; Cody was the champion. But it was a friendly competition and both were happy at how they’d done!

Another great memory is the year my parents and grandfather came to the fair. It was so neat to share the experience with them; although we’d exhibited at many fairs as kids, my sisters and I never showed animals. It was a very hot year, but mom and dad and grandpa sat patiently through the sheep show and the cattle show. Cody and Morgan were so proud and happy to have them there and answered all of their questions about showing.

For two memorable (and very tiring) years in a row, Morgan showed sheep, cattle, and dogs. That meant three days in a row of being to the fair before 6:00 AM and showing for much of the day. Morgan did a great job and won several trophies…but agreed that showing three different species was just too much.

Today and tomorrow Morgan will be cheering on several friends as they show their sheep and pigs for the last time at the county fair. Tomorrow she and Cody will be helping our neighbor’s kids show their cattle for the very first time.

Good luck at your county fair, everyone! Cherish those memories!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fair Time!

For the first time in 12 years, neither Cody or Morgan will be showing any type of animal at the fair!

For two memorable (and very tiring!) years, Morgan showed sheep, cattle AND dogs at the fair, and for many years they both showed cattle.

I love fair time and was feeling a little sad about not being actively involved this year...until I heard about the "Nebraska Made--Nebraska Grown" event and People's Choice Contest that will take place at the fair on Saturday, July 14th, from NOON-8:00PM in the Exhibit Hall.

The Nebraska Family Times will be taking part--if you're a subscriber or just want to see what we're all about, please stop by! FREE sample copies of the paper will be available, and everyone who purchases a subscription to the Nebraska Family Times on Saturday will receive a FREE copy of my book Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom's Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home. (Click here for more information about  Home is Where the Mom IsIf you already have a subscription you can extend it, or give a gift subscription, and receive the free book! 

I know some of the other exhibitors who will be taking part in the event, and there will be some really yummy samples there, too!

I look forward to seeing you on Saturday!

(To see one of my very favorite pictures of Morgan at the fair, go to Home is Where the Mom Is)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Cautions for Christians in a Political Season

By Daniel Darling
In America, politics is all around us, whether you want it to be or not. But as we anticipate the election of 2012, it is reaching a fever pitch. Being a political junkie myself, I find myself being, at times, so consumed by it that it distracts me from my main calling as a follower of Christ. So I thought perhaps it would be good to consider a few guidelines that might govern our conversations, activism and online discussions in this political season.
1) Don't convince yourself that one election will solve everything. Elections do have consequences and good leadership can effect social change. Still, the root of our problems in America is as old as civilization itself: it’s the problem of sin. And the solution is not a politician or a platform. It's not the Tea Party or the Republican party or the Democratic party or any party. The solution is the Gospel. And as good as we try to make life on earth, it will never be the utopia we desire. This longing will only be fulfilled when Jesus returns as King and establishes the New Heaven and Earth.
2) It's Ok to favor a candidate, but don't do it at the expense of the others. Politics is strange in that you not only line up behind a candidate you like, you have to do so by convincing yourself and others that the other candidates are inept, incompetent, dangerous, malicious and the cousin of Hitler. It could be that good men and women are running on all sides, but you favor the polices, experience, and character of one in particular. Can you do that without tearing down the opponent? That may seem impossible in this environment, but I think it’s worth a try.
3) Remember there is more to life than politics. I know some people (myself the chief), who can't have a single conversation without it breaking into a political discussion. Every social ill is traced back to the ideology they oppose. But everything doesn't have a political component and every single wrong thing in the world isn't the fault of the politicians you despise. And remember that while politics is important, it's not ultimate.
4) Remember you are a Christian. Yes, even in your political discussions and activism, you're a follower of Christ. Is your faith so intrinsically tied in with your politics that people think the gospel equals low taxes, less government, and ending Obamacare? And do you obey the Scripture's commands to love, forgive, honor, respect,and pray while you're discussing political leaders with whom you disagree? It doesn't really matter that "the other side does it." Christians don't play by this calculus. We're different. We're followers of Jesus, called to a higher standard. In this, we demonstrate the gospel.
5) Reaffirm your belief in the sovereignty of God over all things. Every year they tell me this is the most important election of my lifetime. And maybe this election is really that vital. We want to elect and appoint men of character and competence. But ultimately God holds all things in his hands. He's not limited by voter turnout. He can work with rulers of all kinds and ultimately will use what happens to bring about his Kingdom. In other words, God won't be in Heaven on Tuesday night, November 6th, nervously watching CNN. (And no, my conservative friends, he won't be watching Fox either.)
6) Remember that the most important thing already happened. Elections may be hugely important in America. But the most important and most consequential event in history already happened. Jesus rose from the dead. He's alive. He's coming back as King. And Christians live in light of this profound reality. So in spite of the decaying world around us, we have hope. So we can smile. We can shed cynicism. We don't have to give in to the anger and despair of our age.
Daniel Darling is the Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and is the author of Teen People of the Bible, Crash CourseiFaith, and Real. Read more at Reprinted with permission. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

His Kids Camp Part 1

By Shelly Burke, RN

I’m having a hard time finding the words to describe my experience at His Kids Camp at Camp Luther last week. I volunteered as the Camp Nurse (I love that title!)  from Wednesday afternoon through Saturday morning.

His Kids Camp is a camp for special needs children and adults. The group that I was there for was made up mostly of teens and young adults with a variety of diagnosis, including Down Syndrome, autism, and so on. Each camper was paired with at least one “buddy,” who assisted that camper as needed with activities, meals, getting dressed, and so on.

I arrived before the campers did so I could get the medication area organized, and I was more than a little nervous about meeting the campers. I hadn’t been to camp for many years (and if I remember right I got so homesick my parents had to come and get me after just a day) and had never worked with special needs kids or adults. Would they take their medications for me? Would I remember their names? Would I be asked to handle difficult behaviors? Would they like me (do we ever stop asking that question)?

These thoughts were swirling around in my mind as the first campers and their parents and caregivers came in. Most of my nervousness went away and I quickly got into “nurse” mode when the parents brought their child’s medications to me. They gave hints for getting their child to take medications and described in detail treatments and other cares needed. When two campers came in with CPAP machines (the machine forces air through a mask into the mouth and nose of people who suffer from sleep apnea) I wasn’t sure if the buddies would know how to use them, but a buddy quickly came and reassured the father that we’d make sure the machines were used correctly.

When a mom handed me her daughter’s g-tube and liquid medications and told me about her g-button (a device used to give nutrition and medications directly into the stomach) I assured her I’d worked with a g-button many times and it would be no problem to take care of her daughter’s.  

Giving medications at supper time was hectic; I hadn’t figured out a routine yet and didn’t know any of the campers. However, they all came up with their buddies, who told me their names, and everyone took their medications without complaint. I began to breathe a little bit easier.

After supper I went to work double checking the medications and figuring out a routine for giving them. I looked up several unfamiliar medications on the computer and got everything in order. The little girl with the g-button came in for her medications, and while she didn’t speak, her smile spoke volumes. When she circled her fist in front of her chest and then pointed at me, I wasn’t sure what she meant. Her buddies were eager to tell me that it meant “I like you!” and I quickly signed the same back to her. After I was done she gave me the tightest hug I think I’d ever received! At that point I knew the rest of camp was going to be great!

The campers joined in the big hall before bedtime and sang several songs. When I heard the director ask everyone to join hands for the Lord’s prayer, I peeked out the window of the med room so I could say it with them. All had joined hands…except for a camper and his buddy across the room from me. They seemed to be talking to each other and I was wondering if the camper was having trouble…and then I realized, with tears in my eyes, that the camper was deaf and he and his buddy were signing The Lord’s Prayer to each other.

(Check back for part two of my account of His Kids Camp. It just gets better!)

(For more information about His Kids Camp, go to

I’m also blogging at Home is Where the Mom Is
Click to read the first articles in the “Teach Your Children Well” series.

Monday, July 2, 2012

July 2012 Issue is Out!

The July 2012 issue of the Nebraska Family Times is out!

If you're a subscriber you should have received your issue in the mail! Otherwise pick up your issue at one of the Sponsor Locations (see the other tabs on this page for locations). If you would like a FREE sample issue, e-mail me at with the address to which you'd like it sent.

One of my favorite articles in this issue of the Nebraska Family Times is titled "Cautions for Christians in a Political Season." The article gives several good guidelines for being a responsible voter and for expressing your political beliefs in a Christian manner. I especially like the last point given by author Daniel Darling: Remember that the most important thing has already happened. ... The most important and consequential event in history already happened. Jesus rose from the dead. He is alive....

You'll also find suggestions for "Inching Toward God" during difficult times in your life, as well as "A 3-Step Plan to Teach God's Word to Your Kids" and "The Art of Thrifting." 

My prayer with every issue of the Nebraska Family Times is to print and write articles that will "inspire, encourage, and motivate readers in their Christian walk." If there is a topic or news item that you would like to see covered, please let me know!

In the light of decisions being made in Washington DC and the uncertainty in some of the country due to lack of rain, and other parts of the country due to too much rain, wind, and severe storms, I find comfort in this thought:

I don't have to know, 
as long as I know The One Who knows.