Choose Joy!

Our idea of beautiful color, celebrating Independence Day.
Our idea of beautiful color, celebrating Independence Day

Isn’t the internet amazing? Just the other day, I was using my phone to google “Quest protein bars” and now, every time I get on Facebook, there are advertisements for… you guessed it… Quest protein bars. How does that work, anyway? Maybe if my phone is tracking my shopping searches that may be why as the calendar approached July 4, my Facebook, and emails were FLOODED with new Independence Day apparel. Was it just me, or did America’s birthday get extremely popular this year? Constant red, white, and blue clothing on the racks, email blasts, and Facebook ads. Firework stands on every corner. Every business I went into, the salesperson asked me the same question…. “Have big July 4 plans?” I felt like they all seemed to look at me like I was a crazy woman when I would reply…. “Well, no. Waiting to see if it is raining.” Did every American make some huge July 4 plans, and if so, why wasn’t I invited?

July 3, the eve of Independence Day, we had not had a rain since June 30, three WHOLE DAYS WITHOUT RAIN! That itself warranted a celebration, but any guesses where I was? In a tractor, mowing pastures with Brock. Yup, that was our date night. We were bouncing across the field beside the house, when I could not help but notice all the traffic along Highway 54 traveling to the river or the lake…. boat after boat. Brock must have noticed me observing and turned to me and asked, “What would you rather be doing, right now?” My answer, “Nothing.” While it seemed that every other American was preparing to celebrate the holiday weekend in their new bikini. Me? I was perfectly happy bouncing in the Kabota across the field with the only person I really wanted to spend time with anyway.  As it turned out, my Friday date night was a preview of how I was going to spend my July 4. As the dog and I made round after round in the tractor on the fourth day in a row we had had no rain, I thought about how most people were spending their Independence day. Cookouts, drinking beer, boats, jet skis, and fireworks ran through my mind. Does our society thrive on always having a plan, always having excitement, always having some sort of drama (good or bad) in their life. Was I absolutely crazy that I was enjoying the dog and I alone in the tractor, and that I would rather be there than at some big celebration? Maybe I am just an introvert, but what ever happened to enjoying the simple things in life?

I am a blessed woman. I have a beautiful and intelligent daughter, have found the love of my life, go to work daily to a job that I love, and come home every night to my loving family, cows and farm. In my daily travels, I interact with all sorts of folks. Some that have become some dear friends, and some that have taught be about the kind of person I aspire to become. As I watch those people that are in such a hurry they almost have road rage, or just the opposite; go so slow, that when you pass them they are so mad that they develop road rage, because you obviously shouldn’t be passing them… I mean, the audacity! It makes me wonder, why are they so unhappy? What about the people in line at Panara Bread? They are so self involved and inpatient that sometimes, if you listen to them order or try to pay, they actually don’t communicate their order clearly in the first place, yet they get frustrated at the order taker. Or when that person is eating their meal while complaining to someone about their misfortunes. Why is everything in their life so wrong? I am sure you all have that one girlfriend that insists you have some big event and it is all planned out how it “should go” in her head, but when it doesn’t go that way…. well she’s not a happy camper. Consequently, no one can have a good time. What is it about some people that they cannot choose to be joyful? I admit, I once was not the person I am now. As I look back, I think, wow…. Thank God I am not her ANYMORE! Its amazing how the circumstances in your life put blinders over your eyes to what this world is about and what the “Secret to Happiness” really is. There is no doubt, not everyday are we all happy 100% of the time. That is just not realistic. But even on the days when you have things on your mind, or someone has really pushed the button that makes you want to explode, it is how you deal with the adversity that makes the difference. When life presents challenges, here are some of my tips to Choosing Joy:

1. Smile. Smiling shows the people around you that you care about them and their feelings. Oh, and it just makes you feel good. Try it. I bet if you smile, it will be reciprocated.

2. Show gratitude for all the blessings in your life. Appreciate what you are given. But don’t forget to set goals for the next steps of your life.

3. Take a deep breath and count to 10. Its amazing what oxygen to your brain does to clear your head…. right when you are about to explode.

4. Always take the high road. Even when someone may be insulting you, it is hard, but do not react to those insults. Collect your thoughts, take a deep breath, and remember that God, not evil, should rule our lives.

5. Pray. Even when things are really bad. God will not leave you alone. It does not mean that we will always be happy with God’s plan, but he WILL support us.

6. Read the Bible. You do not have to follow the Bible to get to heaven, but it IS the recipe to happiness.

Choosing Joy has been hard for many Missouri and Kansas farmers, including my farmer. This year, we are farming 1000 acres in addition to our cattle. It is a new adventure for Brock and I. What a year to start. Over the course of the spring planting season, we have had 28 inches of rain. June alone was a record for us with rain totaling 11.85 inches, according to Farmers were forced to simply quit planting. Missouri is estimated to have only 62% of the total soybean acres planted, leaving over .75 million acres in Missouri unplanted. For a farmer who is already facing low commodity prices but also has to pay for input costs of weed control, seed, equipment, and cash rents on unplanted acres, this becomes not only a stress point, but a constant worry.  Do we or my farmers that I sell seed to, talk daily about the struggle? Admittedly, yes. But most everyone recognizes the need to “Choose Joy.” For Brock, myself, and most all of my growers across the state, July 4 was one of the only stretches of dry weather we had seen in quite sometime. Combines were running cutting wheat, planters were planting beans, and balers were baling wheat straw. We ended the evening driving to Dairy Queen for supper and watching the neighboring fireworks from the truck cab.

Many farmers were celebrating Americas Independence Day in a similar way, unsure of what the yields were going to be, or even if they would make money on the crop. Most business people will respond with, “Then why do it? What is the point if your not going to make money.”  For us farmers, it is because it is what we know, its our life, its our passion. Don’t get me wrong. When Brock asked me if there is any where else, I would rather be, I would have loved to be on the lake with my friends, Brett and Terri, or in Ireland with my friend Katie, and I have even blogged about the importance of a vacation. But priorities always come first. The farm is the choice Brock and I have made for our life. It is our reminder from God on what is important in this life. It is not just a career, it is our values, our hope, and our joy.

Peony helping mow pastures.
Peony helping mow pastures.
Fourth of July for this MO Farm Girl.
Fourth of July for this MO Farm Girl.