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Goodness Abounds

In the age of instant, 24/7 news cycles, where click-bait, sensationalist headlines garnered to drum up outrage and page views, it can be draining to absorb this type of news reporting day-in and day-out.

The headlines always seem to be negative, toxic, and tragic. Reading and watching these reports can leave one anxious, worried, stressed out, and wondering if there’s any good left in this world at all.

My friends, I urge you to turn off the television and get connected with the world around you. Chances are you’ll discover what I’ve come to realize — that goodness abounds if you take the time to look for it.

Let me give you just a few recent examples of this goodness that I’ve come across in recent weeks.

All eyes are on the National Finals Rodeo right now, and after bull rider, Reid Oftedahl, took a major hit on his Round 2 ride, we began to witness such kindness and generosity coming from rural America.

Within hours, a fundraiser had been started to help alleviate medical expenses and the costs of the Las Vegas trip for his family. Within just a few days, a concert had been arranged in his home state of Minnesota, with major headliners planning to come for free and auction items rolling in for the event that is slated for March. Prayers have poured in from across the country, and it truly highlights the goodness of the American people when someone is down on their luck and having a hard time.

Meanwhile, back in my home state of South Dakota, my cousin, Ty Eschenbaum, just hosted the inaugural Earn The Gift Gala, which raised money for youth cancer survivor scholarships, Make-A-Wish South Dakota sponsorships, and funding for missionary work.

A cross-country trip to North Carolina where I was slated to speak offered me another glimpse of the goodness of America. One of the speakers who shared the stage with me gave me some important advice from her decades on the road. She said, “Never apologize for being you. There will always be an audience that wants to hear your story.”

After my speech, I met Rachel Noble of the South Lenoir FFA Champter. Rachel had just earned the 2022 National FFA Creed Speaking Championship, and listening to her present the FFA Creed left me awe-inspired and full of hope, realizing that there is so much potential in our nation’s youth. I can’t fear the future because I just met one of the young people who will lead the charge.

And back at home after the 3,000-mile road trip, I wearily walked into church for Sunday service — tired from the long journey but grateful for the opportunity to speak and even more thankful to have arrived safely back home to be with my family. As we entered the church, the first thing I noticed were boxes of donated canned goods, diapers, baby clothes, and blankets — all to be gifted to those in need this holiday season.

Yes, goodness can be found if we take the time to look around. It’s the pastor who offers solid testimony each week. It’s the teacher who pours her heart into her students Monday through Friday. It’s the 20-year old who works for our ranch, but takes the time to shoot hoops with our kids because he knows they look up to him. It’s the random phone call or hand-written letter sent “just because” that can brighten someone’s day. It’s the delivered meal for a family in crisis. It’s opening up your home and your heart for someone in need. It’s the little things that are the big things in life.

This holiday season, let us be the change we would like to see in this world. December can be stressful and chaotic in our need to create the perfect magical moments for our children during the holiday season. But instead of driving ourselves crazy shopping for the perfect gifts and decorations, what if we focused more on spreading kindness and joy through small, simple gestures?

Kindness and goodness doesn’t cost a thing, and yet it’s the most precious gift of all.

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