Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Oh Happy Day!

Life is grand! I’ve graduated from Texas Tech University with a 3.83 GPA in three years, I have my dream job of writing for cattle magazines and I get to marry my best friend is three months! Life should be perfect, shouldn’t it?

Each of these things – graduating college, having a job and getting married – are all goals that I have been working toward my entire life. It’s almost a surreal feeling to have everything within my reach. I can fully enjoy each of these things now, but a few weeks ago, I was in a different boat.

During the spring semester I was enrolled in 24 credit hours, part of which counted towards my internship with Certified Angus Beef. I was a teaching assistant for an agricultural communications writing class where I had 94 students. In addition to that, I was the editor of my capstone Agriculture Publications class where we produced a 72-page magazine.

Through going to class, doing homework, studying for tests, editing articles and layouts, writing news releases and grading projects, God got lost in my schedule. My infrequent prayers usually revolved around asking for help to complete my long ‘to do’ list or that my brain would absorb a months worth of statistics notes in five minutes.

It hit me during finals week as a lay in bed thinking about how fast time has flown by. I remember going into the semester with God as my number one, knowing that I wouldn’t survive the next few months without Him guiding my steps. I don’t know when it happened, but I got the mindset that my way and my scheduling was better than His.

It hurts my heart to even think about how I placed God on the backburner to the things of this world. I got so busy and wrapped up in what I wanted and thought I needed to do that I lost my focus.

It seems that it is a slow fade – we miss a prayer or a devotional. The next day, we miss it again and before we know it, a week has gone by. Then we remember to say thanks here and there and pick up our Bible for a verse or two, but heartfelt love isn’t present.

I’m so thankful that we have a loving God who welcomes His lost children back with open arms.

How are things with you and God? Where is your focus? Who, or rather, what, is your number one?

Give meaning to your life – spend time with God.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Texas Tech University Chancellor, Kent Hance, shared a poem titled “If” which evokes lots of thought.

From the poem that each graduate received, “Rudyard Kipling wrote “If” in 1896 as a tribute to the character of Dr. Leander Starr Jameson. The poem was intended for Kipling’s son.

Jameson was a man of tremendous character who courageously led a raid in South Africa against the Boer Government. Jameson was defeated in the raid, and the poem was partially inspired by the way Jameson handled the defeat.

Though Kipling was just 31 years old when he wrote the poem, it has gone on to become one of the most popular pieces of literature in the world.”

IfIf you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk to wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kinds – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor living friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a man my son!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Greatest Man in History

Lately I’ve been sharing a lot of e-mails that I have received but this is another that is too good to not pass along. My Uncle Kyle, who I have so much respect for, sent this to me (although I’m not sure who originally created it but here’s to giving them full credit). It brings up so many amazing points to ponder.

The Greatest Man in History-

“In biology, He was born without the normal conception.

In chemistry, He turned water into wine.

In physics, He disproved the law of gravity when He ascended into Heaven. In economics, He disproved the law of diminishing return by feeding 5,000 men with two fish and five loaves of bread.

In medicine, He cured the sick and the blind without administering a single dose of drugs.

In history, He is the beginning and the end.

In government, He is called Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace.

In religion, He said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Jesus had no servants, yet the called Him Master. He had no degree, yet they called Him Teacher. He had no medicines, yet they called Him Healer, He had no army, yet kings feared Him. He won no military battles, yet He conquered the world. He committed no crime, yet they crucified Him. He was curried in the tomb, yet He lives today.”

“God’s wisdom is seen in the making of an elephant. The four legs of this great beast all bend forward in the same direction. No other quadruped is so made. God planned that this animal would have a huge body, too large to live on two legs. For this reason He gave it four fulcrums so that it can rise from the ground easily.

The horse rises from the ground on its two front legs first. A cow rises from the ground with its two hind legs first. How wise the Lord is in all His works of creation!

All grains are found in even numbers on the stalks, and the Lord specified thirtyfold, sixtyfold and a hundredfold – all even numbers.

God has caused the flowers to blossom at certain times during the day, so that Linneus, the great botanist, once said that if he had a conservatory containing the right kind of soil, moisture and temperature, he could tell the time of day or night by the flowers that were open and those that were closed.

Thus the Lord in His wonderful grace can arrange the life that is entrusted to His care in such a way that it will carry out His purpose and plans, and will be fragrant with His presence.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Miss Talcott

God is so amazing when He brings special people into our lives. While at Texas Tech University, I have met one of the sweetest people on the planet!

Cristina Talcott and I met at a Bible study and then with both of us having busy semesters we began reading Power Thoughts by Joyce Meyers together when it worked with our schedules.

I have never met anyone else who sees the world the way I do or reacts the same way in certain situations. There can be lots of rough spots in college but they are always a little easier when a Godly friend is by your side. Cristina is also a very driven person and won the award of Outstanding Student in Landscape Architecture Department this year.

While having dinner with her parents one evening, her dad was telling stories about when she was little and there was one that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

They were on a family trip to Alaska and Cristina got to ride on a sled pulled by dogs. Afterwards, her dad explained to her that life is a lot like being a sled dog – you can either follow and stare at another tail or you can be in the lead and have a great view.

She has been an inspiration as a friend and is definitely a lead dog. Through the past year, she has encouraged me to press on and be the best that I can possible be.

Although I am now considered an adult, one of my verses to live by is 1 Timothy 4:12 which I tend to share with you quite often ~ Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young but set an example in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.

Cristina has not only been an inspiration for classes and school but in my walk with God. Through Bible studies together, we have shared our hopes, dreams, failures and successes with each other. You never know where you will meet a best friend.
What friend has played a key role in your walk with God? I encourage you to call or send a letter to that person to let them know how special they are to you. It may be someone who shared words of wisdom or guided you through a tough time or it may be the example or innocence of a young person. Be a blessing to them.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Get your rain boots out!

In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. ~ Psalm 5:3

According to Urbandictionary.com, the definition of “rain” is 1- Water that falls from the sky. 2- A free car wash. 3- Life-giving moisture, often found in the midst of a storm.

There is no question about it – we need rain (I pray that by the time this is sent to print, that sentence is inaccurate)!

Psalm 5:3 tells us to lay (deposit, leave, and set down) our requests before the Lord, and then wait expectantly (confidently, trustfully, and with hope).

I’ve heard it said that when we pray for rain, we cannot just merely ask God to send us the life-giving moisture, we must prepare. That means getting our umbrella and rain boots out.

A little side note – did you know that the original name for rain boots was ‘Wellingtons’.

According to Wikipedia, the Wellington boot, also known as rubber-boots, wellies, barn boots, muck boots or rain boots, are a type of boot based upon leather Hessian boots. It was worn and popularized by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. This novel “Wellington” boot became a fashionable style emulated by the British aristocracy in the early 19th century.

The Duke of Wellington had his shoemaker in London modify his 18th-century Hessian boot. Wellington boots, which were originally made of leather, quickly became popular and were the main fashion for men through the 1840s.

In the 1850s, Charles Goodyear invented the vulcanization process for natural rubber and Hiram Hutchinson bought the patent to make shoes.

Wellington boots played an important role in World War I and World War II.

The boot has evolved to become roomier with a thick sole and rounded toe and is entirely waterproof.

“Young people can be seen wearing them to school or university and taking them to summer camps (Wikipedia).”

As a student at Texas Tech University, Wellington boots are a necessity. Although we are in West Texas, any student would agree that rivers begin to flow through campus when it rains.

Despite the lack of drains on campus, I look forward to wading across Tech soon. My umbrella is in my backpack and my rain boots are sitting by the door. Are yours?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

From God to Women

I received this e-mail, A Letter from God to Women, from a very dear friend here at Texas Tech. I hope you ladies will take this to heart and remember how special you are and men, I hope you will understand how precious the women in your life are.

“When I created the heavens and the earth, I spoke them into being.

When I created man, I formed him and breathed life into his nostrils.

But you, woman, I fashioned after I breathed the breath of life into man because your nostrils are too delicate.

I allowed a deep sleep to come over him so I could patiently and perfectly fashion you. Man was put to sleep so that he could not interfere with the creativity. From one bone, I fashioned you. I chose the bone that protects man’s life.

I chose the rib, which protects his heart and lungs and supports him, as you are meant to do. Around this one bone, I shaped you; I molded you. I created you perfectly and beautifully. Your characteristics are as the rib, strong yet delicate and fragile. You provide protection for the most delicate organ in man, his heart. His heart is the center of his being; his lungs hold the breath of life.

The rib cage will allow itself to be broken before it will allow damage to the heart. Support man as the rib cage supports the body. You were not taken from his feed, to be under him, nor were you taken from his head, to be above him.

You were taken from his side, to stand beside him and be held close to his side.

You are my beautiful little girl.

You will or have grown to be a splendid woman of excellence, and my eyes fill when I see the virtues in your heart. Your eyes – don’t change them. Your lips – how lovely when they part in prayer. Your nose, so perfect in form. Your hands - so gentle to touch. I’ve caressed your face in your deepest sleep. I’ve held your heart close to mine. Of all that lives and breathes, you are like me.

Adam walked with me in the cool of the day, yet he was lonely. He could not see me ore touch me. He could only feel me. So everything I wanted Adam to share and experience with me, I fashioned in you; my strength, my purity, my love, my protection and my support.

Live simply. Love seriously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.”

Friday, April 15, 2011

Staying Mentally & Physically Fit

I received this e-mail and wanted to share: Never borrow from the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn't happen, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice. Here are a few tips to keep you and your mind healthy.

1. Pray

2. Go to bed on time.

3. Get up on time so you can start the day unrushed.

4. Say ‘No’ to projects that won't fit into your time schedule, or that will compromise your mental health.

5. Delegate tasks to capable others.

6. Simplify and un-clutter your life.

7. Less is more.

8. Allow extra time to do things and to get to places.

9. Pace yourself. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don't lump the hard things all together.

10. Take one day at a time.

11. Separate worries from concerns. If a situation is a concern, find out what God would have you do and let go of the anxiety. If
you can't do anything about a situation, forget it.

12. Live within your budget; don't use credit cards for ordinary purchases.

13. Have backups; an extra car key in your wallet, an extra house key buried in the garden, extra stamps, etc.

14. K.M.S. (Keep Mouth Shut). This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble. 

15. Do something for the Kid in You everyday.

16. Carry a Bible with you to read while waiting in line.

17. Get enough rest.

18. Eat right.

19 Get organized so everything has its place.

20. Listen to a CD while driving that can help improve your quality of life.

21. Write down thoughts and inspirations.

22. Every day, find time to be alone.

23. Having problems? Talk to God on the spot. Try to nip small problems in the bud. Don't wait until it's time to go to bed to try
and pray.

24. Make friends with Godly people.

25. Keep a folder of favorite scriptures on hand.

26. Remember that the shortest bridge between despair and hope is often a good 'Thank you Jesus.’

27. Laugh.

28. Laugh some more!

29 Take your work seriously, but not yourself at all.

30. Develop a forgiving attitude (most people are doing the best they can).

31. Be kind to unkind people (they probably need it the most).

32. Sit on your ego.

33 Talk less; listen more.

34. Slow down.

35. Remind yourself that you are not the general manager of the universe.

36 Every night before bed, think of one thing you're grateful for that you've never been grateful for before.

'If God is for us, who can be against us?'

(Romans 8:31)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Perfect Marriage

Social media is such an amazing tool! It allows us to connect and share things that we otherwise would never see. I came across a blog that was linked to Facebook recently and it caught my eye because it mentioned something about marriage.

After exploring deeper into the blog, I discovered that the writer, Trey Morgan, is the minister at the Church of Christ in Childress. It is such a small world!

One blog post from Trey that I found that I would like to share includes points about how Adam & Eve had the PERFECT marriage –
• Eve never had to hear Adam talk about how good his mom cooked.
• Eve never questioned Adam’s faithfulness by asking, “Are you sure there’s no one else?”
• Eve wasn’t lying when she told Adam that he was the best looking man in the whole world.
• Adam never went off fishing with his buddies.
• Adam never had to hear about all the men Eve could have married.
• Eve didn’t need to clothes shop.
• Adam didn’t have to pay for a different pair of shoes for every outfit Eve owned.
• Adam never had to hear Eve say, “You know those fig leave don’t match, don’t you?”
• Neither one had in-laws.

It makes me laugh going through each one of these points. I’ve heard all kinds of stories about love and marriage and the negatives, BUT I’ve also heard and seen some amazing marriages.

Very soon after RA and I started dating I looked him right in the eye and said, “I’m just going to give you fair warning – I can be complicated, confusing and sometimes, maybe even a little bit crazy!”

As we’ve started planning our wedding, there has already been one time where I was able to say, “Ok, that was one of my crazy times!”

As RA and I continue on our journey through life together, I ask for your advice – from your perspective, what is they key to a successful relationship/marriage? What can you share with us that we can learn as we grow together?

Proverbs 13:14 says, The teaching of the wise is a foundation of life, turning a person from the snares of death.

Please feel free to email me at kristen_odom@hotmail.com, send a letter to the Wellington Leader, Attn: Kristen’s Corner, or find me on Facebook. I look forward to reading your thoughts!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Love & Bulls

With it being the season for cattle sales, I think it is only appropriate to announce that I have found my prize bull.

Referring back to my column, Bulls & Boys, published last February, “The cattle industry has taught me a lot about life. Everything from responsibility to life and death, cattle are good teachers. In a conversation with my dad, I discovered that dating is a lot like finding a good herd bull.”

I would like to fill you in on a very special person in my life. RA Brown is the most amazing, kindhearted person I’ve ever met.

I’ve always held very high standards for the guys I dated. That is probably the reason that most of my past relationships lasted for two months maximum. I’m a firm believer in culling them quick if they don’t perform to the set standards.

But RA is different. We met in January but didn’t see each other again until March when he happened to be around Wellington helping work cattle and I happened to be home for Spring Break. We spent time together at the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association convention in Fort Worth later that week and then he visited me in Lubbock while passing through on his way home from a college rodeo the next weekend.

There was something intriguing about him and that was the fact that I couldn’t figure him out. He wasn’t like the typical rodeo cowboy or even the typical guy for that matter.

In April, he went skydiving with me. It wasn’t until a few weeks after our jump that I found out that he was scared of heights!

He’s my best friend. He is the one that I can’t wait to talk to in the evenings. He is the one that just gives me a big hug when I’m upset because I got food poisoning on his birthday. He is the one that reminds me to simply do my best and God will take care of the rest. He is the one that makes my cheeks hurt because I smile every time I think of him.

I am excited about our future together and all that God has in store for us. I just hope that my dad didn’t drill him too hard on his EPD’s and Gene Star DNA scores!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Six Degrees of Separation

The more experiences I have and the places I go, the more I believe in the idea of “Six degrees of separation” – the theory that we are all about six people way from any other person on Earth.

As an industry information intern for Certified Angus beef, I had the opportunity to pack my notebook and camera and head to Littlerobe Angus, near Higgins, Texas, during Spring Break. Duane and Donna Jenkins have been in the Angus business since 1948 and have since made it into a family operation. And yet again, the world gets a little smaller. One of the Jenkins sons, Dale, and his wife, Brenda, along with their four daughters, live out on the ranch.

I met Dale when I was a junior in high school through the Northwest Texas Conference Council of Youth Ministries. One of his youth, who is now a youth minister himself, was very involved in our group, therefore Dale became very involved.

There are those people you meet in life that have a last impact on you – Dale is one of these in my life. His love for God is evident the moment you meet him and is family are some of the kindest people that I know.

While having dinner the family told a story about a Mother’s Day picnic adventure they had in Palo Duro Canyon. Upon entering the park, they turned down a map offered to them at the entrance since they had been there many times.

After they finished with their early evening meal, the girls wanted to explore so Dale, along with one of the girls boyfriends, and the girls took off.

After walking for a while, they decided it was time to head back but realized they were quite a ways away from where they started. With the hopes of finding a short cut, they continued around curves hoping to find one that cut back left, but all went right.

As the sun went down and the air cooled off, Brenda became worried because it was not like Dale to get lost. Search parties were sent out and after several hours of walking, no water, blisters, and a few tears, everyone was found.

How many times does this happen, figuratively speaking, in our daily lives? We turn down the offer to spend time studying God’s Word and taking it along. Then, we try to do things our own way, which can lead us further away from where we really need to be. And then after time, sometimes hours, sometimes days and sometimes years later, after a lack of spiritual water, physical and mental wear, and maybe even a few tears, we get found.

I encourage you to stop, examine where you are and see if you might need to grab that Map and head a different direction.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Teaching and Learning

As an agricultural communications student at Texas Tech, I get to take a class called introduction to agricultural education. Before the semester started, I wasn’t too excited about this one. It is a lower-level class and I don’t have much interest in teaching. However, it has turned into one of my favorite classes of my entire college career.

It is interesting because we are studying the theories of how people learn and I love learning why we do things a certain way or why we think the way we do.

The Father of experiential learning, John Dewey, once said, “An ounce of experience is worth more than a ton of theory.”

In a recent lecture, we studied about how past experiences affect other knowledge that is gained. The example my professor used was learning to drive – when you turn 15 and are taking drivers education, most people understand that red means stop, green means go. We bring in prior knowledge and apply it to the new information. We have experience in others stopping at red lights and going when it turns green.

The point was brought up that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it to others. As a teaching assistant (TA) for an ag communications technical writing class at Tech, I have the opportunity to lecture occasionally. I have taken the class once, sat through last semester’s class as the TA but when I teach, I not only learn about the topic that I’ve been exposed to at least twice, but I truly understand it.

“Teaching isn’t about what you know; teaching is about what you can learn and share with others.” – Dr. Rudy Ritz, professor of ag education at Texas Tech.

That is my hope with this column – that I can take what I learn through my experiences in life and share it with you to encourage and uplift.

The word ‘teach’ appears 361 times in the New International Version of the Bible.

Psalm 25:4 says, Show me your ways Lord, teach me your paths.

I look forward to sharing more about what I’ve learned in this class and how the knowledge can be applied to every day life and our walk with God. And maybe that is the reason that I love the class so much – because what we are learning is applicable information that I can use right now, this very day.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Memorizing vs. Understanding

As a college student, I take tests quite often. The week before Spring Break and finals week are two of the toughest because of midterm and final exams.

Tests frustrate me. It’s not the fact that I am actually tested, but because I sometimes feel like I’m just memorizing information and not actually learning and gaining the knowledge.

Projects, although time consuming, are great because I have to apply what I know and have learned and produce an outcome.

I think that studying scriptures is the same way. I can memorize tons of Bible verses and regurgitate them, but what good does that do me if I don’t comprehend and apply what I read and say?

James 1:19-25 says, Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what is says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.

It sounds so simple – apply scripture to your life – but sometimes it is harder than we think it will be.

Matthew 5:44 tells us, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. When someone makes me mad or treats me badly, loving them and praying for them isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 17:20, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

How amazing is that! I know sometimes I get so caught up in analyzing my situation that I don’t give it to God.

This is something I am going to work on – not just memorizing what the Bible says, but learning to apply it to my every day life. I’m going to work to love everyone, even those who frustrate me or aren’t nice. I’m going to have faith in God and his plan. I’m going to love my neighbor as I do myself.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Miracle of the Moment

Last week, Kristen’s Corner was about making every moment count. We spend so much time focusing on the next step or phase in life that we tend to miss the opportunity and magic of the present moment.

This week, I want to share with you some of the ways that help me to focus my attention on where I am here and now.
Practice saying, I enjoy this. Each day there are things we have to do – brush our teeth, comb our hair, take a shower and eat a meal – so why not enjoy each of these to the maximum amount?

As I put my makeup on in the mornings (sorry guys, bad example for y’all), I used to try to hurry. There was no need to rush, I just wanted to get it on as fast as possible and move on to the next part of my day. But now, I truly do enjoy putting on my eye shadow and mascara each morning. And the funny thing is, it doesn’t take me any longer, I just have my focus on the present task.

Another way to focus on enjoying the moment is by not trying to multi-task all the time. This may in fact be the hardest thing for me to do. I multi-task ALL the time! As I brush my teeth, I used to read my email. While I eat, I read a book or play on Facebook. As I talk on the phone, I straighten up my apartment. But now, I’ve really tried to work on this area. When I talk on the phone, I sit down on my bed and even turn off the light sometimes. As I brush my teeth, I thank God for my health ability to wake up each morning. In class, as my professor lectures, I give them my undivided attention instead of thinking about another class. I enjoy the present task and learn what God has for each moment of my day.

The story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42) hits the nail on the head when talking about living in the present moment. Martha was “overly occupied and too busy” to sit down and enjoy the present moment of Jesus being in her home.

And lastly, enjoy people. Life is too short to be too busy to visit with friend. As a college student about to graduate, there are lots of friends that I probably won’t see after I leave Lubbock. Take the time to go grab lunch or even a coke. Sit down and visit.

Don’t miss the miracle of the moment.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Making Every Moment Count

I remember playing in kindergarten, excited about first grade where I would learn to read. Once I could read a book, everything would be good.

I remember sitting at my desk in fifth grade, excited about being in Jr. high. Once I was in middle, everything would be good.

I remember being the ‘top dog’ as an eighth grader, excited about high school. Once I was a freshman, everything would be good.

I remember being a senior, excited about the adventure of college. Once I moved, everything would be good.

As I sit here now, a senior in college with graduation approaching quickly, I am excited about what my future holds – my future career, my future spouse, my future home, my future friends – it is all very exciting!

But as I reflect on thinking the same thing about going off to college, or being in Jr. high, or being able to read, I wonder what all I’ve missed in wish my time away.

It seems that we are always looking ahead at the next phase of life with the hope that things will be better or easier or less stressful or more fun. We say things like, “When I graduate,” or “When I move,” or “When I get married,” but what does that cause us to miss right now?

Our time, right now, is a gift from God. As I’ve already eluded, I am guilty of setting my eyes on the future without any thought to stop and enjoy the present moment.

Right now, as I type this (Sunday evening), I am already looking forward to the weekend when I will get to sleep in, see my boyfriend and hang out with my friends. I am wishing part of my week, five days of my life, away. But then I stop and think about all the things I will learn this week and all the people I am able to see and visit with. I think of all the good food I will get to enjoy and all the articles I will get to write. I would miss precious time with God and the blessings that He has for each day.

Madame Guyon, the seventeenth century French mystic, said that the highest call for every child of God is to enjoy God. That’s pretty powerful!

Jesus paid a very high price for us to have life and to have abundantly (John 10:10). We need to enjoy life in the present, not only for us, but for Him.

Get started today making every moment count!

Monday, February 21, 2011

What Comes First?

What comes first of your list – God or family? I was asked this question in an attempt to settle an argument. My answer is God, without a doubt. One person didn’t agree, he thinks family should be number one. With curiosity of his reasoning, I asked why.

His thoughts were that they are here with you, you spend time with them in person and you have a strong relationship with them. All were interesting points.

Then, he asked what my reasoning was. I explained that He created each of us and the love in that is unfathomable.

The point was also made by one of my roommates that there are many different types of love. There is the love you feel for your friends, a love that you have for your family, a love that you will one day have for your spouse and a different love for your children someday. In the same way, the love we have for God isn’t comparable to that of which we have with relationships on earth. In English, we just have the word ‘love’, but in other translations of the Bible, there is a different word for the different types of love. And I think this makes it harder for us to fathom the immeasurable love of our Heavenly Father.

The question was then asked if you had to choose between God or your family right now, which would you choose? Again, without a doubt, I would choose God because our family is here and now, but God is everlasting and Heaven is our goal for eternity.

After thinking about the conversation later in the day, I thought of more points I would have liked to have talked about.

God created the Heavens and the Earth. He breathed the breath of life into you and sent His One and Only Son as the sacrifice for each person’s sin.

John 3:17 says, For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

John 17:16 says, They are not of this world, even as I am not of it.

And one of my favorite verses, Romans 12:2 says, Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Friday, February 11, 2011

We Give You Thanks

Giving thanks is a vital part of a relationship with God. To be thankful in all circumstances is easier said than done. After a long stressful day, sending God a prayer of thanks isn’t always the first thing on my mind, but it should be.

There are lots and lots of verses about being thankful and giving thanks and the following are a few that I really like.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever
~ 1 Chronicles 16:34

Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. ~ 1 Chronicles 29:13

I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High. ~ Psalm 7:17

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.
 ~ Psalm 69:30

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
 ~ Psalm 95:2

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
 ~ Psalm 100:4

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
 ~ 1 Corinthians 15:57

Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Ephesians 5:19b-20

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. ~ Philippians 4:6

And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.
~ Matthew 14:19

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.
 ~ Matthew 26:26 & 27

I encourage you to set aside some time and just thank God for all He has done, is doing and will do.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Follow Your Heart

My Freshman year of high school, I remember asking my best friend what I choice I should make. I don’t remember what the decision was about, but I do remember her answer – follow your heart.

Well, that wasn’t the answer that I was looking for, but it was good advice! That day I engrained that valuable piece of guidance into my life. Since then, I’ve even had the opportunity to offer her the same words of wisdom when she had more than one option.

The saying, ‘follow your heart’, turned into more of a joke between us for the past six years. It wasn’t until last semester, when I was tossing around the idea of pursuing my master’s degree, that I truly understood how to actually follow my heart.

I spent time praying because I believe that seeking God’s will is key, after all, He is the One who knows best! Then, I used the time walking to and from class to think. It isn’t necessarily a time of ‘peace and quiet’ but it is my special time to talk to God and listen.

In my mind, I thought through the scenario of going to graduate school, which would be somewhere other than Texas Tech. The thoughts of buying more books, needing more scholarship money, moving to another state and studying for two more years worth of tests overwhelmed me. My heart would start beating faster, my head literally felt heavy and it stressed me out.

Then I imagine myself completing my degree, graduating from college, finding a career, moving into a house and being an ‘official’ adult. A sense of peace would come over me and for a lack of words, my heart felt happy.

Now that I know how God directs me, making decisions with confidence is much easier. I do still have to be patient, however, in waiting for God’s timing and feeling engulfed with complete peace.

Let me outline the steps that I use, and encourage you to try them as well when you have a choice to make: 1) Pray – seek God’s guidance. 2) Be patient – His timing is perfect. 3) Think through your options – write them down on separate sheets of paper if necessary. 4) Follow your heart.

Psalm 37: 3, 4 says Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Choosing Our Thoughts

Life can be stressful. It is easy to get caught up in worrying about everything from major projects and day to day activities all the way down to small things.

This semester is by far the busiest one in college (however, it should be my last!) I am taking 18 class credit hours, which is broken down into seven classes. I am the industry information intern for Certified Angus Beef. I am a teaching assistant for an agricultural communications technical writing class, editor for the agricultural communications magazine and I continue to do a little freelance writing on the side.

During Christmas break, I made myself sick one afternoon thinking about having such a busy semester ahead of me. As I sat there, I thought to myself, ‘there is no way I’m going to survive with this mindset. Something has to change’.

In the book Power Thoughts, Joyce Meyer describes worrying like rocking back and forth in a rocking chair – “it’s always in motion and it keeps us busy, but it never gets us anywhere.”

Stress and worry are a waste of time and energy. The following are a few ways that I have learned through devotionals that help me to stay stress free this semester:

- I refuse thoughts that are not from God (and stress is definitely not from above!). We have control over what we spend our time thinking about and we do not have to let thoughts make their home in our mind.

- Reasoning is another word for worrying. I tend to try to help God out by going through different scenarios in my mind of how things could work. I’ve learned that this is a form of sin because I am not putting my confidence in God. Having faith and truly knowing that God is in control is an amazing feeling.

- In Power Thoughts (which I highly recommend!), the Power Thought #6 is, “I trust God completely; there is no need to worry!” When I feel a hint of stress creeping in, I say this in my mind over and over until it is gone.

- Joyce Meyer makes the statement, “The instant you begin to worry or feel anxious, give your concern to God in prayer. Release the weight of it and totally trust Him to either show you what to do or to take care of it Himself.”

- And one last thought – “There will always be situations that cause you concern, but with God’s help, you can live above all of them and enjoy life.”

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

“I” Statements

I’ve come to the realization that any time you are working with human beings, there is going to eventually be conflict. And I believe that until the day comes when we sit all alone and work with robots and computers we will have conflict with others. (In pondering the thought of working solely with robots and computers rather than people makes me think that a little conflict isn’t all that bad!)

I have a piece of advice for getting through a potentially tough subject with anyone – chose your words wisely.

As a journalist and agricultural communications student, I focus a lot on words. Why was this word chosen over that one? Could I rearrange this sentence and have the same meaning? What can I change to simplify this sentence?

I’ve learned to apply this same concept to how I talk to people in all situations whether it be a casual conversation or settling a disagreement. The old saying “Think before you speak” applies in all cases.

Use “I” statements.

Rather than saying, “You told me to.” Simply rephrase the sentence and say, “I understood that you wanted me to.”
Which would you respond better to?

In visiting with a friend whose boyfriend wouldn’t call every evening, I advised her to say, “I love to hear your voice before I fall asleep at night.” rather than, “You need to call me every night.”

The “I” statement applies because there is no finger pointing. It changes from a demand to a request.

While at home, it drives me up the wall when it is said, “Thank you, Kristen, for doing the dishes.” before we even get up from the dinner table. I would respond much better (and be much more willing to do more to help) if I was asked, “Kristen, I would really appreciate it if you would take a turn at the dishes tonight”.

I personally would rather choose to volunteer rather than be, as one of my good friends calls it, ‘voluntold’.

“I” statements apply to every relationship – friends, acquaintances, strangers, significant others and I would assume even within a marriage.

And one last thought – I’ve heard it said that when you are praying for a change in another person, it may just be you that needs a change of heart.

I challenge you to think before you speak and test the “I” statement. Let me know how it works for you!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Investing in Your Youth

The spring was always my favorite semester in high school. Stock shows, FFA judging contests and 4-H projects filled my afternoons and weekends. It also probably didn’t hurt that I knew that each passing day meant that summer break was one day closer.

In thinking back over my experiences through FFA & 4-H, I want to thank everyone that has ever helped support these organizations. Whether it was a donation of your time or assisting financially, it would not have been possible to do as much without your help.

There are some states, such as Ohio, that are beginning to phase out 4-H due to lack of funds. The non-profit program was established in 1902 and has the mission to empower youth to reach their full potential by working and learning in partnership with caring adults. The pledge that is said at ever meeting is, “I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service and my health to better living for my club, my community, my country and my world. They have the motto of “To make the best better”.

The FFA program “is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education”.

FFA’s motto is “Learning to do, doing to learn, earning to live, living to serve”.

These organizations are near and dear to my heart and it is sad to see a 4-H club closed down due to lack of funds or an agriculture program closed at a school (students must be enrolled in an AG class to be an FFA member). I have seen multiple students gain knowledge and skills that they have used throughout their lives as a result of these programs.

As a result of being a member of both 4-H and FFA, I have a coffee table I built, a prom dress, two quilts, 10 state contest certificates, the ability to cook, nearly all my college tuition paid for with agriculture scholarships and I have the confidence to stand up and lecture to a class of 100 plus students at Texas Tech.

January 22 is the county stock show where both FFA and 4-H students will be exhibiting their animals that they have been working with since August. I highly encourage everyone to go watch the show, buy a ticket to the BBQ dinner and stick around for the premium sale. For those who are there year after year, THANK YOU for all you do! Other ways to help the FFA and 4-H clubs include donating your skills, materials, time and donations are always appreciated as well.

Have a blessed week!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year’s Resolution: Staying Fit

It is always interesting to hear people’s New Year’s Resolutions. ‘Lose weight’ and ‘get fit’ are very common goals for the new year.

I enjoy staying in shape but I don’t like spending hours at a gym. Here is what I recommend:

Get Fit Daily Dozen – 12 moves in 12 minutes by Denise Austin for those who want to start a daily workout plan. While at school, I set my alarm just a little earlier and I use my laptop to play the DVD and use a small space in my room to workout.
The great thing about this workout DVD is the fact that it is short and sweet. Each day of the week is different including cardio – athletic fat blast, lower body sculpt and abs, cardio kickbox burn, upper body sculpt and abs, and yoga on the weekend. Small hand weights are recommended for a few of the workouts.

For those who have been working out and have some endurance built up or for someone who is looking for a challenge, I recommend 30 Day Shred by Jillian Michaels.
I just started this workout video and it is intense! There are three levels with each featuring the 3-2-1 interval system which mixes strength, cardio and abs. The 20 minute workout starts with a good warm-up, three minutes of strength, two minutes of cardio and one minute of abs then this is repeated two more times with different moves for each category. To end the workout session, Jillian shows stretches to keep the body in good condition.

If neither of these sound fun, go for a walk. We are having a very warm winter so throw on a light jacket and go exploring.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

This verse is focused on sexual purity, but I believe it is applicable to how we use our bodies overall. It is important to be healthy through eating right and exercising and that is exactly what my New Year’s Resolution is – to keep my body in a condition that is proper and pleasing to God.

To contact Kristen, email her at kristen_odom@hotmail.com or send a letter to The Wellington Leader, Attn: Kristen’s Corner, Box 992, Wellington, TX 79095.

Happy Trails & God Bless!