Monday, March 18, 2013


How long was a long time ago? That question came to my mind several times recently when Karen mentioned that I had not posted a blog in a long time. Having taken an unplanned Sabbatical from the blog world, I am in a bit of a quandary trying to decide where to start. To say that I am quite a different person on March 18, 2013, than I was on March 18, 2012, would be an understatement. If assurances were in the cards, you could follow this blog for the next several years and perhaps find yourself reading an entry about some of the events that have caused this boy to move into another stage of life. Another step of faith. Another place of living that has not always felt like life. Since assurances are not always in the cards, we will simply have to suppose.

During the last year our family has had one constant. As a matter of fact, until about a month ago, we always knew we had one thing we count on. You might have begun to make a mental list of all of things that can and cannot be counted on in this life. No matter how extensive and creative your list might be I am certain that very few, if any, could come up with the one part of our lives that became a constant every single day of the year. His name was Senator.

Some of you may know that Senator was the name of the steer that Daniel raised for the Hardee County Fair. Being the rancher that I am not, this project was one that Daniel had to figure out on his own. We actually came upon the steer quite by accident. Before you get the wrong idea, I don't mean that we drove up on him in the middle of the road (although Hardee County is known for unusual creatures roaming the streets - unusual animals, I mean). We've had chickens, hogs, bobcats - just your everyday neighborhood animals. Senator wasn't a roadside casualty. He showed up at a friends house with instructions that he was Daniel's love interest for the year. Unfortunately that is where the instructions stopped. There was no manual attached to him. Have you ever wondered why God doesn't provide manuals for the young of the world? Babies don't come with a manual either, you know. And before you think I've made a stretch moving from a steer to babies, think again. This steer was bathed, clipped, groomed, manicured, wiped (I know it's hard to believe) and painted by the time it was all said and done.

Daniel is much better at making friends than his father is at making friends. Truthfully, I think there were more people in Hardee County excited about Daniel raising a steer than there were mosquitos at the last Blood Drive in town. People really wanted him to do well, and I am proud to say that he did. During the year, Daniel learned responsibility that he would not otherwise have learned. He saw the importance of taking on a project and seeing it all the way to the end. He learned the pain of having to give up something you love very much. He experienced the excitement of a five year old brother who was convinced that "bubby" was just taking care of Senator for him since he was too young to enter him in the fair. Even Caroline got in on the action from time to time.

You may wonder (or maybe you don't but you're going to have to find out anyway) why Daniel chose the name Senator. Not long before he got the steer, Daniel had the privilege of serving as a Page in the Florida House of Representatives with one of the most respected ladies in our state, Representative (now Senator) Denise Grimsley. He knew that she was running for the Senate, and so when he returned to Hardee County he named his steer with a statement of faith that Denise would win - and that he would too. The Lord has interesting ways of revealing Himself to His people. Both Senators won this year.

I can't list all of the ways Daniel (and our family) grew from this experience and all of the things he learned. A couple of those lessons are worth noting, however. First of all, we learned that when people invest in you and believe in you, you can accomplish a great deal. Too many times we go through life thinking that we have to do it all alone. Look out for number one because no one else will. In some cases, that statement is actually true, but not in this case. Even when we feel like we are alone, we can remember the words of Romans 8:31. "If God is for us, who can be against us?"

Second, we learned that success is determined by growth. From the first weigh in until the week before the fair, every steer had to increase a certain amount in weight. If the steer didn't make weight, the steer didn't make the show. No matter what you had done all year long, the growth was the determining factor. In our lives, God looks for the growth. He doesn't judge based on whether are not we are perfect every day. He doesn't look at all of the things we have done. Although He appreciates the journey, God is looking for growth. This growth is why He has given us His word. Second Timothy 3:16 and 17 says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." (ESV). Jason, Bubba, Greg, David, and Ronnie said that as long as Daniel did all of the right things, the steer would make weight. He did. God says that if we will put His word as a priority in our lives, we, too, will make weight. We will.

The mix of emotions came on the night of the sale. At the end of the fair, all of the steer are sold for charity. What a blessing and an encouragement to see Senator Grimsley show up to cheer Daniel on, to support his efforts, and even to buy his steer. Now that's commitment (and just one of many great things I could tell you about our friend, Denise).

The story of Senator. The constant of the last year. The one thing God used in more ways than people would ever know to grow our family in trusting Him. Rumor has it that another steer is not far behind, but I am pretty sure that no steer will be as meaningful as the first steer. Thanks, Senator.

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