Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bewildered and Blessed

By Brenda Black

Had someone been in the room with me on the day I played back a phone message of congratulations, they may have offered to assist in closing my gaping mouth and suggested a cool drink of water. They may have offered a wet rag to counteract the obvious shock I felt when, in joyful tears, I plopped into my chair.

I was coerced to enter the Missouri State Fair Woman in Ag contest. I resisted repeatedly, justifying my hesitancy by suggesting a dozen deserving women who I thought stood a far better chance. I would have endorsed each of their nominations heartily had it not been for my persistent fan who insisted I complete the application to accompany her letter of recommendation. Out of sight and out of mind, I never gave the matter another thought until the day I got that news and nearly fainted. I had been named the 2013 Missouri State Fair Woman in Ag.
Award Ceremony

To say I am honored is a terrible understatement and throughout fair week, I was reminded over and over how very much I long to share this moment with hundreds who have influenced my life and shaped my Aggie world. It begins with gratitude to God for allowing me to live in the country my entire life and love the work I do and enjoy the life I lead. I'm thankful for parents who taught me how to be a good steward of the land and livestock and how to treat a neighbor with kindness and respect. They also taught me how to work hard to achieve success --much of that learned while working together with horses and cows and a brother and sister.

I'm thankful I married a wonderful cattleman and gentleman to share the journey and together to have raised a couple of country kids who developed character and skill through life-altering lessons learned on the farm as a family.

I remember the influence of Ag teachers at Mizzou and 4-H leaders from my childhood who opened my eyes to possibilities and trained me to meet those opportunities. Family friends cheered my every venture and peers with whom I competed gave me cause to work at getting better. Judges critiqued and sharpened me while I showed in a ring or gave an Ag-focused speech.

Professionally, I'm delighted to utilize the gifts God has given to tell the stories of hundreds of farmers and ranchers. I am glad for editors who challenge me to dig deeper in a story and uncover something unique or help shape my Ag journalism style and encourage me to keep on writing.

My mom standing in front of a picture of herself
taken in 1955 while exhibiting at the Missouri State Fair
The natural tendency is to give little thought to the cause and effect of day-in-day-out choices. We seldom stop and inventory our blessings, our talents, our destiny. We may take for granted the heritage from which we come or the legacy we leave. For many who live and work in the Ag Community, we just thank the Lord, care for our families, do our jobs and go to bed tired, but happy. It's a life infrequently analyzed, though filled with abundant blessings and deep satisfaction, whether or not an award is ever presented or accomplishments celebrated.

As the recipient of this amazing acco
lade for a woman involved in agriculture, I think it should be made clear that I am only one of the fortunate. With great honor, I truly represent all of the remarkable, industrious, dedicated and talented women from generations past and present. These women collectively comprise one of the greatest assets in Missouri's agriculture. And I share this tribute with each and every one of them – especially the amazing Missouri CattleWomen!

Though I am certainly not the perfect candidate, I have no doubt it is by God's great love and grace that such a good gift has been granted. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” (Psalm 84:11)
Maybe, just maybe, my bewilderment made me look blameless to the the Lord and He decided to bless and bestow.

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