I can’t begin to express how much I love these teenagers.
In this modern world where people gasp at the thought of their precious little bundles of joy growing into disrespectful, rude, and entitled teens, I’d love to introduce them to our circle of teens.
I’ve really loved and cherished every stage of my kids’ journey from the womb to the teen years, but these have brought some of the most joyful times of my life.
But teenagers can succeed if given a reason, a mission, a goal, an opportunity, and some guidance and encouragement.
I’m so very thankful for the many great programs, groups, clubs, etc. that we’ve had the pleasure of being a part of on our journey. God has provided abundant opportunities.
But today, I’m thankful for our JWC 4-H circle of friends.
These kids aren’t perfect, they didn’t graduate from medical school at 13, or win American Idol.
But they each have gifts and talents unique to them, and they aren’t afraid to use them.
They have people in their lives that believe in them, and have invested in them.
These are the kids who get up early to go feed the animals that depend on them every single day.
Theses are the ones who walk their colicky horse for hours, all night long, until they have blisters and then sit with them until they are better. (Most of the time with a friend or two right there beside them.)
These are the ones who drop everything to go with a friend to take her sick horse to the doctor, and sit quietly by her side on the long trip home with an empty trailer.
These are the ones who study their horse manuals into the wee hours of the night, taking a break to giggle and talk about their last trail ride to Dairy Queen together, and then rise to the sound of the hotel’s wakeup call way-too-early to get ready to go sit and concentrate on 6 performance and 2-4 halter classes, then prepare one, two, or sometimes three sets of reasons to give to the judges.
These are the ones who have delighted together in the births of their beloved animals, cried together as they helped bury beloved pets, sat together as they bottle fed orphans, helped build and mend fence to keep those critters where they belong after looking for hours on horseback for one who wandered away and got lost.
They’ve been there through broken bones, broken hearts and broken dreams.
They’ve been there for high fives of victory, and they have high-fived plenty of others in their victories.
You see, one of the exceptional qualities that makes these kids really stand out is their good sportsmanship and love for each other.
As I was talking to my 16 year old after the San Antonio Horse Judging competition this year, she shared with me how truly happy she was that one of her friends she met at horse judging camp had won the $10,000 scholarship. She also shared with me that in the times she has felt success, like when she won 3rd at the 4-H State Roundup in Horse Judging, that her biggest desire for her fellow judgers was to be able to feel that victory; to feel that all the time and effort are worth it.
I know sometimes it’s disheartening to always hear the same county team names over and over at awards when it’s not ours. While we know how very hard they work to achieve the ribbons and trophies, we feel a sense of pride when we look at our scores and see just how well we did, even when we don’t come home with ribbons.
And for the times we have gotten to go up and be recognized, our kids are always so supportive of each other and know that together they have achieved success.
These kids are learning and practicing good sportsmanship. They are learning how to be good winners, and gracious when they score below others.
You notice I didn’t say gracious losers? That’s because there truly are no losers when an effort is put forth. This is a competition to better ones-self. They are using their own brains, their own knowledge and making their own decisions. They are concentrating, and putting their own effort forth. They are standing before judges, defending their reasons for their decisions. They are stepping up, standing tall, and following through.
Sometimes they are disappointed. Sometimes they wish they would have done better, scored higher, and quite frankly, won first place.
But competition to competition, they gain confidence, experience, and are always ready for the next time.
2 Peter 1: 5-8 says “for this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours, and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I can’t forget the fact that these kids love Jesus. At the heart of what they do, I can see their testimony shining through.
While I know they still struggle with the very same things every teenager struggles with, my prayer for them is always “may you give the glory to God, and do what you do for Him so others can see your testimony.”
As this horse judging/stock show season comes to a close, I look at these amazing teens and see the way they’ve grown as individuals, and as friends.
For this last horse judging competition of the season, (except for State Roundup in June for our seniors!), we look back on Houston.
We’ve enjoyed ice skating together as a tradition in Houston:
It’s one of the biggest competitions we attend, but they give it their all, every time.
This photo just shows maybe half of the competitors in the huge arena at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center this year:
Here’s one halter class with about one fourth of the kids judging this class:
And we look back a little on our horse judging careers:
Through the years we’ve gained some team mates, and lost some team mates. And this year as we say goodbye to some of our dearest senior 4-Hers and friends, it will be sad to see them go, but we’ll be happy to know they will be moving on to be successful in the things they have chosen for their futures. Best of luck to Iliana (who didn’t judge with us this year, but we still love her!) and to Sheri our much loved sister.We love you Sher-Bear!! ❤ And some non-horse judgers that we will also truly miss in our circle of 4-Her’s: Cody and Kristopher. There are others we haven’t had the pleasure of working directly with, so to all of the JWC Senior 4-Her’s, best of luck!
Houston 2011 with a much larger team:
We’ve come a long way kiddos!
Here’s Houston Horse Judging 2010. From left to right is Taylor Gunn, Sheri Palmer, Logan McBryde, Shelby Dougherty, Abi Cole and Morgan Gunn.
…and this year 2013 judging, just look at how they’ve grown! Especially Logan!
Looking oh-so professional, left to right is Kaitlyn Hessek, Taylor Gunn, Logan McBryde, Morgan Gunn and Sheri Palmer.
Love these pictures from College Station in 2011:
And here are Morgan and Taylor with awards from their very first horse judging competition ever at College Station in 2009; Morgan was 12 and Taylor was 8 years old:
4-H is a great way to teach kids to have good sportsmanship, and it certainly produces great leaders and nurtures lifelong friendships.
Enjoy your journey!