Leave the Light On…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Matthew 5: 14-16

“You are the light of the world — like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”


Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had about 24 hours of “windshield time”. I do not usually travel that often but my trip to OSU was followed immediately with another work trip to Kansas. The good part of driving time (especially in rural America where the traffic is light) is long periods of relative quiet. I am an avid Christian music listener so I fill that time with spiritual reflection.

Matthew West has a song out entitled Do Something that strikes a cord deep inside of me. It came on the radio on my way to Stillwater, and I thought about it often during my journeys. If you have never listened to it, I highly recommend spending a few moments of reflection letting the lyrics sink into your soul. The first stanza goes something like this:

I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now, thought
How’d we ever get so far down, and
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you”

How many times have you watched the news, read articles on the internet, or listened to the radio and thought, “Our country – our world – is just such a mess”? Are those thoughts followed by feelings of anger or hopelessness?

Do you shake your head and go about your daily life or do you “do something”?


I believe in the trilogy:

  • God the Father
  • God the Son
  • God the Holy Spirit

As I accept God the Father’s gift of Jesus in my heart, the Holy Spirit guides my journey and lights my path. Quite simply, it’s the way that God is able to leave the light on  — through each and every one of us. As we reflect His love, it creates a light for the world.

My favorite farmer and I have had hundreds of intellectual discussions over the years about the increase in violence and judgement (finger pointing) that currently exists in our country. We’ve debated politics, government regulations, morality, parenting techniques and a huge variety of topics trying to find a reasonable solution to take our country out of it’s current state of darkness and into a place filled with the light of love.

Each time, I found myself coming back to God.

For a while, I was like the song — shaking my fist at heaven and asking, “God why don’t you do something?

But then I met Joseph.

And God used him to answer my question. He said, “I did, I created you. Go and share my love.”

I learned that the recipe for healing is love. It is a universal display of loving actions that help to heal — one child, one person at a time. When we all take up that mission, the acts of daily love become countless and God’s light (expressed by each of us) overshadows the darkness. Only then can love trump violence and hatred to create a new culture of freedom.

God lights our path through Jesus’s gift of guidance through the Holy Spirit. But, we cannot reflect that light if we don’t move our feet down the path. Each and every one of us is God’s answer. Together we heal our world – one reflection of love at a time. It isn’t complicated, but sometimes it is hard.

Faith carries us forward.

I pray that together we will enable God’s grace to leave the light on.

 

2 Comments

Filed under General, Wednesday Wisdom

Lay Down What’s Good To Find What’s Best…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week comes from 2 Timothy 1:7

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.”


Last week, I traveled to Stillwater, Oklahoma to speak on OSU’s campus as part of the 25th Annual Totusek Lectureship. I spent all day Friday with students and faculty from the Department of Animal and Food Sciences and ended the evening as the keynote speaker for the lectureship. I always learn something when I spend time with students who are passionate about agriculture, and I hope that I offered a meaningful message for them.

I was charged with talking about “My Journey in Beef Production”, but perhaps a more accurate title would be “Laying Down What’s Good To Find What’s Best”. The phrase comes from an awesome Jonny Diaz song entitled “Breathe”.

As I prepared for the lecture, creating a power point and pondering what “work” stories and lessons I should share, it occurred to me that there have been many times in my life that I have laid down what’s good to find what’s best. Each and every time, it has taken loving commitment and self-discipline to overcome the fear involved in creating meaningful change.

I have literally hundreds of stories to share on a variety of topics including:

  • Moving to Nebraska from the city to work in our small feed yard
  • Changing daily feed yard animal care practices to include low stress cattle handling
  • Redefining our business model to become my own cattle buyer in order to reduce stress on my animals and better honor God’s call to be good caregivers
  • Navigating my way into leadership positions in order to foster meaningful change across the beef industry in animal well-being
  • Closing down the feed yard and then opening a new chapter of life with the Beef Marketing Group.

Throughout the preparation process for my time at OSU, my thoughts kept coming back to the difference between good — better — and best. It takes intentionality to move up the scale. And, the leap from better to best is a big one. When I think of best, my mind often goes to my faith and my family – to the love that I share with my favorite farmer and the children with which we were blessed. I’ve earned a lot of titles over the years, but the one that I am most proud of is wife/mom. Together, our family has learned to love — to reflect the light of God’s grace in order to walk a meaningful journey. There’s not a plaque hanging on my wall to honor this, but instead a mark on my heart that I cherish above all else.

It’s where I consistently find best.


Life journeys are interesting that way. Reaching for what’s good – upgrading to better – and ultimately striving for what’s best. I believe that the leap from better to best has a strong faith component to it. When we follow the path that God sets out for us, He fuels us with the power that comes from love and inspires us to develop the needed self discipline to persevere. Jesus calls us to be courageous and hopeful in our journey – thereby overcoming the fear and timidity that threatens to keep us from finding best.

I don’t know for sure what the folks at OSU expected from me, but they got a talk that uniquely blended cattle stories and faith stories with a sprinkle of Coach Anne on top.  It’s a mix that works for me in my constant search for best 🙂

 

Leave a comment

Filed under General, Wednesday Wisdom

Celebrating 14 Years!

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week comes from the Gospel of John 3:21

“But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”


Today my favorite “fish” turns 14! While it’s hard to believe that my baby could be that old, it is one of my greatest joys to travel with her on the journey of life. There are many things that make Karyn beautiful, but it is her kind heart that constantly draws me in. Karyn loves deeply and quietly — with all of the joy and none of the drama. Her sensitive intuition allows her to radiate kindness and to help others when they need it most.

One of the most beautiful things for me to watch is how love makes Karyn bold. It turns the quiet and shy girl into a strong and courageous young woman. In honor of her birthday, I’d like to share a Karyn story 🙂

About a week ago, the Young Americans touring musical group did a workshop for students in our town of Cozad. Karyn and Joseph both enjoy music and decided to participate. After two days of practice, the Young Americans group performed along with close to 100 Cozad elementary, junior high and high school students. It’s a big deal for Karyn to get up in front of a group of people — that type of thing is not in her natural comfort zone, even in a group setting. The high school gymnasium was full that night with students, parents, and friends attending the performance.

Part way through the performance, one of the Young American actors announced that a few students were going to move forward to the microphones to share their stories of inspiration. The last thing that I expected was for Karyn to make her way to the front of the stage. I wish that I had thought to record her testimony, but I was so enthralled with the quietly brave young woman on the stage that I didn’t think of it.

Karyn spoke of how her family inspired her to always want to make a difference. She talked of each of her older siblings with the sweetness and genuine love that is so truly Karyn. She ended by publicly declaring her love for her new brother Joseph.

  • How she never expected to have a brother, but that God had brought him into our lives last April.
  • How the struggles of his life inspired her to live bravely.

Tears rolled down my face by the time that she finished. The simplicity of her message — spoken in that quiet yet confident voice – left me shaken. In a world that likes to make things complicated, sometimes it takes a reminder from the soft, God-inspired voice of a 14 year old to remind us how powerful love and acceptance can be in our lives.

 


Last night, Karyn – Joseph – and I read together from the 3rd chapter of John. It occurred to me that Karyn lived John 3:21 during the Young Americans performance. This quietly private young woman who prefers to avoid the spotlight stepped forward to publicly share the love in her heart for a young man that God called her to care for as a brother. Her unabashed acceptance of Joseph sent a powerful signal of faith to everyone in attendance. It was a vibrant moment filled with God’s grace.

There are very few things in my life that have touched me that deeply. Our journey as a new family with Joseph has not been easy, but it has been right. Blessings follow obedience and I thank God every day for the blessings that He bestows on my family. Sometimes as humans we make “God’s ask” complicated — Jesus asks us to love, not to be complicated.

Love is patient and kind…Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Love Does.

Happy Happy Birthday to my beautiful Karyn who lights up my life and reminds me that patience, kindness and love trump all!

2 Comments

Filed under General, Wednesday Wisdom

A Christian Athlete’s Journey…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week’s Wednesday Wisdom comes from Hebrews 12: 1-2

“And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”


My favorite blonde cowgirl has always preferred to measure running distances in feet instead of miles. She gets it from her dad. They share a love of pole vaulting and any number of other sports that require a level of “daring” that leaves me baffled. She ended up on the Haymaker Cross Country team last year when she was at a loss for a fall sport to participate in, and the team needed female athletes. In Nebraska, we run six and score four so a team requires (at a minimum) four runners.

Meg’s XC experience has always been about team. She ran that first year to help ensure that her older sister (who prefers to measure running in miles instead of feet) could complete her high school XC tenure running as a team. Megan spent the season proclaiming that she loved everything about the team — except for the running part 😉 The 5k races opened up a whole new level of “discomfort” for my blonde cowgirl, but she persevered out of love.

I watched a lot of personal growth happen in Megan during that time – It was a season that nurtured many traits that are necessary for a Christian athlete. I smiled as I watched her take those traits with her to the basketball court and then further develop them in the pole vault pit. It was during the XC season in 2017 that Megan made the life choice to let Jesus in her heart. Over the past 12 months, she has learned that to truly pack her faith to compete with grace that she must intentionally walk with Him every day of the journey.


The above scripture verse from Hebrews reminds me that our journey on earth will be one that resembles a marathon – measuring life in miles, not in moments or feet. There will be many uncertainties during that race, but God’s love for us will remain steadfast. He is there for us — we only need to look to feel His presence. We successfully complete the marathon when we keep our eyes on Jesus.

Why?

Because He is there to fill the gap.

Like many Christian athletes, Megan has a story to tell. Tonight, she will share that story as a speaker at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ 2018 Fields of Faith in Lexington, Nebraska. I don’t know exactly what she plans to say, but I know that I am blessed to be a part of her journey 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under General, Wednesday Wisdom

Reach for it…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week’s post comes from the Gospel of John 4: 14

But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.


Shortly after my seventeenth birthday, I traveled to Buffalo, NY to compete in the 18 and Under USA Swimming National Championships. I think that I made the finals — honestly I don’t recall — but I clearly remember that my swim missed the qualifying time for Senior Nationals by 0.04sec. Four hundredths of a second doesn’t seem like very much, but that swim helped to define the way that I look at life.

My swimming career went on for four more years, but the majority of my success came during that year and the following year as I closed out my high school swimming journey. Throughout that time, I learned to believe in myself and reach for it. 

During my adult life, I have learned to use those athletic experiences and apply them to my faith journey. To me, active faith — one that is alive and strengthening — begins with:

  • Reaching for it
  • Grabbing it
  • Owning it

Photo credits to Corbey Dorsey 🙂

While I learned to reach for it as an athlete in the swimming pool and on the cross country course, I learned to grab it and own it after I became a mom, a coach, and a heart-felt Christian.


The words living water appear often in the Bible. It’s a term that I gave little thought to until a couple of years ago. To me, living water is:

  • The peace that passes beyond understanding.
  • The love that inspires you to give.
  • The faith that, although you can never see it, fills your life and drives an intentional God-filled journey.

The living water comes from letting Jesus into your heart and accepting the Holy Spirit as your guide.

Sometimes I fall short – not just in the swimming pool, but in life. I make mistakes and temporarily lose sight of God’s guidance. But, the living water of the Holy Spirit centers me and brings me back after I stray. Although I don’t always get it right, I am inspired to persevere and continue the journey.

God uses broken people. His mission involves inspiring broken people to come together to make something of beauty. That is why Joseph is now a part of our family. Together we all find God’s peace and learn to heal through faith. It isn’t always a happy journey, but it is a meaningful one that brings a peaceful purpose to our days. I have found that the more that I answer God’s calls, the more that I need the inspiration, confidence and direction of the Holy Spirit.

The living water of the Holy Spirit is a very different water than what I used to compete in during my swimming career! But, it builds on my athletic experiences and inspires me daily to pack my faith to live with grace. It offers the promise of eternal life in heaven with the bonus of an incredible journey on the earth.

I don’t just reach for it.

I grab it.

I own it.

And I give it to God.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under General, Wednesday Wisdom

The Power of One…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week’s Wednesday Wisdom comes from Hebrews 10:23-24.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.


I think that this picture personifies the above scripture verse from Hebrews. Three very special people in my life who encourage each other to hold strongly to their faith — trusting God while also motivating each other to acts of love. They don’t always get it exactly right but watching them persevere inspires me.

Being a mother to them both humbles and honors me.

My heart wishes that my favorite brunette could have been in the above picture, but her presence is there — reflected in the love of her siblings — as we travel the journey together as a family.

We are closing in on six months of Joseph joining our family. It has been a time of great joy and also one of great challenge. Both hills and valleys have marked the adventure, but we are discovering the power of one. Interestingly, this is the motto of the Haymaker 2018 Football Team. Just as the team discovers how powerful one unified team is on the field, our family also discovers it off of the field.

It is very different to welcome a 17 year old as a son. Joseph was virtually a stranger to my family when I brought him home. We shared almost no common experiences, had made no “childhood memories” together, and brought very different life experiences to our perspectives.

  • He spent his formative years in a war-ridden country on another continent, fleeing by traveling on foot more than a thousand miles in search of safety.
  • My girls spent their formative years in a small rural town in peaceful Nebraska where “scary” meant watching Curious George be captured by the man with the yellow hat.
  • English is his 4th language and the culture of his home people holds very little in common with the traditions that we practice in the United States. Despite that, he speaks with fluency and is currently completing Honors English and American Government in the classroom.
  • My girls (and Matt and I) struggle to even pronounce his last name correctly — being unable to make our tongues create the gutteral sounds of the Zophei dialect of Chin. I encourage him to lead our nightly dinner prayer in his native language and regret that I am not savvy enough to truly understand his words.

We share a common christian faith, but our customs are as different as our skin color.

Why are we together as one? God called us to be a family.


Just as God is a relational God — always seeking a closeness to us in our daily lives — we are meant to exist in community. We are all made in His image, yet we are all unique. It takes patience and empathy to truly celebrate that diversity. He calls us to be a family — reflecting His love with our actions and searching for that same love in others.

I’ve learned many things since Joseph joined our family, but likely the most important lesson is that love trumps all.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

1Corinthians 13:7

It allows us to experience “The Power of One” as we come together to create a community that radiates God’s love. It is possible for people of different cultures – different visions – different perspectives to come together and join as a family.

Perhaps it is God’s principal calling for us. I know that it has been a transformational experience for our family as we trust in God’s promise and motivate each other to acts of love in the spirit of togetherness.

4 Comments

Filed under General, Wednesday Wisdom

Caring for God’s Creatures…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Genesis 1:24

“Then God said, ‘Let the earth produce every sort of animals, each producing offspring of the same kind – livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals.”


Two days after I dropped my favorite brunette off at college, I headed to Dakota Dunes, SD for a Tyson Animal Well-being Advisory Committee meeting. The advisory panel provides a pillar of the FarmCheck program and I have been honored to participate since it’s inception in 2013.  The 15 member committee consists of dedicated people from all across the world who gather for “think tank” discussions as we work to intentionally strive to improve farm animal welfare.

Are we perfect? No! Do we care? Yes! The intensity and devotion to doing the right thing for our animals provides a tangible presence in the meeting room. We have hard and detailed discussions on the complex challenges that we face raising food animals. The goal is to honor the sacrifice that our animals give to us when they become food by doing our very best to provide them with a good life during their time on earth. In short, we talk about how we can care for God’s creatures.

 

I’ve laughed to my favorite farmer many times over the years that I may be the only one in the room without a graduate degree 🙂  I try to make up for that by offering a boots on the ground perspective on animal welfare issues that affect cattle on their life journey. I began my personal cattle adventure more than two decades ago —  driven by a love for animals and a gratitude toward the nutritious beef that often provides the center of my dinner plate. You could likely debate whether or not I’m an animal welfare expert but my heart holds tightly to a God-given passion to serve His creatures with integrity.


As we move forward in a world where ethics play an increasingly important role in the food discussion, I think that they are a few key ideas to hold tightly to:

  1. God created man to have dominion over animals. It is our job to care for them, but it is also our right to use their meat to nourish our bodies.
  2. While it is clearly important to raise food with integrity, it is critically important that we come together as a team to find answers to challenges. Farmers, packing plants, scientists, NGO’s, government officials, individual Americans — the list is long, but we will find meaningful answers TOGETHER.
  3. While many in our country are food secure, many are not. The need of those challenged for food security is just as important as that of the privileged. We must never forget the quiet voice of the child who struggles for daily nutrition.
  4. Farmers are not perfect, but we are dedicated to doing the best that we can. A basis of trust and agape love is necessary for meaningful discussion about how and why we raise food animals. As a city kid turned farmer, I’ve found that the more that I understand my animals, the better job I can do caring for them in a meaningful way. I want to have a “seat at the table” for discussions about animal welfare so please leave me a chair!

One of the things that I like most about serving on Tyson’s Animal Wellbeing Advisory Committee is my ability to honor all four of those ideas. It was a great meeting — full of awesome people — that generated innovational thoughts of how we can better understand, care, and honor our animals. I am incredibly thankful to be included in this effort as it helps to fulfill an ongoing ministry for me as we care for God’s creatures.

 

2 Comments

Filed under General, Wednesday Wisdom

Why Notre Dame?

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from 1 Corinthians 12: 12-13

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.”


Last week, we took our favorite brunette to college. This week, she begins her Notre Dame journey with an intent to study Political Science and Spanish. After spending the last couple of years watching her investigate various colleges and universities all across the country, it is rewarding for me to see her settle in a place where she feels at home.

You may well ask, Why Notre Dame?

I’ve heard the question many times since she made her decision. Why does an intellectual farm kid from “small town America” — a dedicated member of the Parkview Baptist Church family — choose to study at an elite Catholic University? It’s a reasonable question. While you’d have to ask her for her specific thoughts on the topic, I find direction in the above bible verse from 1 Corinthians 12: 12-13.


She’s grown up in a pretty unique house. It’s likely her dad’s fault that she is intellectual by nature. And, many may tell you that growing up with ‘Coach Anne’ as her mama left its mark as she is known for always being inspired to work diligently to use the gifts with which God blessed her. That being said, her faith in God provides her anchor and she walks with Jesus in her heart and the Holy Spirit guiding her steps.

She travels the journey as a child of God – a member of the body of Christ. I love how she lets her faith guide her — it inspires me as well as brings peace to my heart. We visited Notre Dame for the first time almost two years ago, and I could tell as we walked around the campus and interacted with the students that she felt God’s pull to join the Fighting Irish family. She had three main requirements for college and Notre Dame had them all:

  1. To attend a school where she could continue to build her faith.
  2. To be a part of a family that valued service to others.
  3. To find intellectual challenge as she worked to broaden both her perspective and her empathy.

When it came down to it, the religious label mattered little to her as she centered her focus on the foundation of Christian faith:

A belief in God the Father

A loving relationship with Jesus the Son who not only gave us Salvation but also the gift of the

Holy Spirit to guide us in our human journey.

She reminds me that the important question is not whether we are called to be Baptist or Catholic, rather it is are we willing to accept God’s love and submit to His guidance in order to strive to live a life of faith and grace. The team is stronger when its dedicated members are both passionate and diverse. The Holy Spirit likely does not speak to any two of us the same way, but He calls all of us to be a member of God’s team.

Answering the call will enable her to develop and deepen her faith during her time on campus through a focus on service, learning, and spreading the hope that stems from Jesus’s love.

In a time of chaos — In a world of conflict  — In a culture riddled with labels

I think that perhaps many of us could find a lesson in her journey. Her decision was not a comfortable one, and she will experience both times of joy and times of trial throughout her life as a member of the Fighting Irish family. But, Jesus calls each one of us to be a member of the body of Christ. We truly say “yes” when we submit to His invitation with a heart full of love and a mind rooted in His word for guidance.

I left her Saturday morning with a few tears in my eyes, but confidence in my heart as her eyes radiated God’s love and her Bible stood proudly on her desk.

 

 

7 Comments

Filed under General, Wednesday Wisdom