I am not a cheater!

Oh how my little girl heart has wanted to shout this for years.

As a teenager, working very hard on my 4H judging project, I was accused of cheating at the completion of my first competition. The woman that accused me was the county extension officer at the time. I said to my mom a time or two before this event even transpired that I thought she was out to get me, she just didn’t seem to like me. I didn’t understand why she didn’t like me, because while I struggled with peer relationships, I always seemed to get along with the adults without much trouble.

I waited for nearly a year to be old enough to compete. I studied, practiced, attended all the meetings. Judging was it for me. Judging was my ticket to college – to vet school – and I had to be the best I could be. I was studying both livestock and horse judging, and although the ag teacher at the high school said I should stick with livestock judging because they award more scholarships, I was determined to get one in horse judging because I love horses, and I knew I could do something I loved with a higher degree of excellence.

We made it to the competition and I was ecstatic. It was finally official – I could be on the actual judging team for our county, and I could put all of my study hours to use. Our team did very well, and I remember being over the moon about my individual scores. But a weird thing happened. When we got the official results, I had been scored separately from my team, and dropped from the team’s roster. I didn’t know what to do or why they would do that to me. It even hurt the team’s overall score to be without my scores, so it made even less sense when I figured that out.

My mom went to the extension officer to find out what happened, and she accused me of cheating. She accused us of it really. She said my mom had written my reasons for me, and had helped me prepare for my oral presentation. She didn’t believe that I’d done my work for myself, and she wouldn’t hear our side of it, either. I was off the team and told not to return to any future judging practice or competition.

We walked away from 4H. My hopes and dreams and plan for my future got left behind. I am a planner by nature and it was such a big plan that I didn’t know how to recover. Without a judging scholarship, I couldn’t afford school, and I knew my parents couldn’t either. Goodbye CSU, goodbye being a vet.

But who was I if I wasn’t going to be a veterinarian? I did not have a clue. But the accusations against me came on the heels of my parent’s own gigantic accusation and suddenly there I was being accused myself. It made me sick. And I floundered. My feet came right out from under me and I made some awful choices that led up to me running away from home. I still had no plan for my life, so even when I got drug back home, I floundered about. I felt lost.

When I first realized how all of this affected me so deeply, I wished desperately that someone would have told me judging wasn’t the only option for college. I wished someone would have grabbed me up and marched me forward into a new plan. I wished for a hero. And I wanted to tell everyone from that time in my life that I didn’t do it. I didn’t cheat at that competition. My mom wouldn’t even let me sit with her so nothing could be said. I had to sit by myself and do my work for myself. Because we aren’t cheaters and Mom didn’t even want to give the wrong impression by us sitting together.

God has carried me through a season of healing this summer. It came at a great cost and as a result of brokenness, but it is well with my soul. My identity wasn’t in Christ as a young teen, and I wonder if it would be now if I’d made it through vet school. My identity was in the fact that I was going to be a vet, and without that, I had no idea who I was. I am grateful, and humbled that we serve a God that gives beauty for ashes, that makes all things new, that works together all things for the good of those who love Him. What happened wasn’t good at the time, but it is part of my story that helps me depend more fully on Jesus.

I got to say to my 4H leaders recently that I did not cheat. However old that event may be, I needed to “clear my name” and tell them. I wouldn’t have stolen their countless hours of dedication and instruction and ruined it by being a cheater. They were both gracious, and don’t recall the event. Neither of them ever thought of me in that light.

But, as God has shown me about some of the pivotal things I remember, we have an enemy, and he is a liar. He saw an inch and stretched it a mile and I’ve defended the notion that I’m a cheater for years. I lay it at the cross now, the enemy cannot use it against me anymore. I know I am not a cheater in any sense of the word. I work hard and I work honestly.

Our God uses all things for the good of those who love Him (doesn’t mean all things are good), He gives beauty for ashes, He makes all things new. Where I stood wrongly accused, He has given me the ability to give people multiple chances. He’s given me a strong desire to stand between the accused and the accuser. I believe the best about people in almost all situations. He has made me merciful as a result of someone showing me no mercy and giving me no chance to speak for myself.

God is good, all the time.

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Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

Husband and Son

 

Pictured here are my oldest son and my husband. See that hat my boy is wearing? I teared up when I saw him in a flat bill hat. I always saw myself raising country boys in wranglers, boots, and cowboys hats. I had a brief time when I lived away from town on a little piece of land, with a creek in my backyard. But that time came to an abrupt ending and our lives changed and we ended up in town, then in a bigger town, then in the city. We’ve been in the city for 4 years, and I know another 4 years will pass by before I can think too much of it. But that’s life for you, isn’t it? We don’t always get what we want or think we’ll have.

Momma would probably elbow me and wink, saying something like, “Ya shoulda married a cowboy.” I laugh at the thought but I only joke. I love the man I married, and aside from the city part, I do love our life.

What really weighed down my heart after I cried about the city boy hat was the realization that I’ve already had 10 of my 13-15 years of influence on this young man. A friend’s husband recently took their boy on an adventure with the purpose of ushering in his new season. He is a young man and it is time to change the focus of his lessons and help him develop strength of character so that he will be a bold man of God and will be equipped to lead his family one day.

I need to do the same for my young man. I need to help him really focus on God and who God wants him to be – because while his momma always envisioned him in wranglers and a cowboy hat, I think God’s vision is better for him. (And I’ll be honest, I don’t know that he was born to be a country boy.) I believe who he is in Christ is far more important that what career he picks, what house he picks, or what he spends his spare time doing.

A pastor once told me that statistically, our influence on our kids is significantly reduced between the ages of 13 & 15 years old. That in that range the influence of their peers, other leaders and teachers, media, and the culture they are part of takes over. If, by that age range, we have not established people, peers, and activities around them that point them toward Christ and help them seek His purpose and plan, it is likely they will flounder in their faith and in other areas.

I’m sure it’s not a hard & fast rule and there are exceptions, but I don’t want to hope for an exception. I want to surround my young man with the resources and people and peers that will help him build his foundation on Christ. I want him to serve God first and foremost, and build the other parts of his life in accordance with living for Christ.

As I am writing, I am also realizing that I need to be on my knees giving these goals of mine to God and really letting Him speak to my heart about how to lead this young man, how to teach him, how to guide him. God knows exactly how He knit this boy together, and He has the master plan for his life. So I commit, once again, this young man to God as I pray for his future and make intentional choices to help him grow into all God has for him.

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Captivating by Stasi & John Eldredge

While I haven’t quite finished this book, it’s one that I think you should know about sooner than later. I think women and men alike can benefit from reading this book.

Ladies, this book will help you peel back the layers and understand why some of the things that caused wounds in your life were so devastating. As a woman myself I’ve often found myself in the middle of a mess, aching deeply within, and shaking my head thinking, “This shouldn’t hurt this bad! Why is this rocking me to my core?” Stasi and John team up and write about the trials of womanhood in a way that made me realize why certain things hurt so bad, and they have helped me let go of past & present hurts.

Men, this book will help you see how your wife desires to be treasured, will help you see femininity for what it is, and help you embrace who your wife was created to be. This book will help you recognize why and how some of her past hurt her, and will help you see how you can avoid hurting her with your words and actions. Sometimes what seems like such a small thing to you as a man is a huge wound to a woman. We are wired differently (thank God for that!) and the pages of this book will help you treasure the women around you in a way that makes them feel treasured.


Captivating by Stasi & John Edlredge

I definitely give this book 5 lucky horse shoes and I hope you’ll check it out.

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