The Gift of Giving…A behind the scenes glimpse of small town America

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂

Today’s verse comes from James 3:13

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.

I became a farmer when I fell in love with my favorite farmer. Just as I married into agriculture, I also married into rural America. For a wedding gift, some of my college friends got a large map of the United States, entitled it “Civilization: A Nebraskan’s Guide Out”, and marked lines from Cozad, Nebraska to their home towns thereby showing me how to get back to civilization on the East Coast 😉 . The gift was a tongue in cheek joke stemming from the fact that none of them could believe that I actually wanted to move to a tiny town in Nebraska and make my life there as a farmer.

Twenty two years later, the map (which I framed) is faded and blurred but I still smile every time that I look at it. I knew at age 21 that Matt and I were meant to be together, and I opened my heart to the community that welcomed us a year later when we moved back to the farm. I have never needed “A Nebraskan’s Guide Out” because my adopted home state still holds my heart just as firmly as my favorite farmer.

There is a statistic floating around social media right now stating that 53% of U.S. Farmers and Ranchers actively volunteer in their local and state communities (compared with just 7% of the general public). While I have not “fact checked” this statistic, I can say that my life experiences in Nebraska demonstrate the dedication of Rural America to giving back. I know that my community inspires me to actively volunteer as I view sharing of myself to help others as a top life priority.  

Over the years, I have learned the true gift of giving. It has two components and I truly treasure them both.

  1. An unending well of energy fills your soul when you reach out in faith to help others. Good works are a demonstration of faith — they are the Holy Spirit guiding your life so that your love is shared, your talents are used to honor your neighbors, and your actions provide a living display of God’s loving hand.
  2. Giving in love inspires gifts of love. Good works are contagious as they allow for the spread of faith. Random acts of kindness are not random. Rather, they are intentional acts of love that result from a joyful and faithful heart. God is on the move through each one of us as we intentionally share of ourselves to help others.

Last weekend, our family took a four day trip to Colorado. February is generally a quiet time for Matt on the farm, so we try to take advantage of it for some intentional family time. My favorite farmer loves to snow ski and my girls happily zoom down the mountain in his wake. The long weekend is a time for us to regroup as a family and is something that both Matt and I treasure.

Our second day gone, Matt received word that one of his storage buildings at the alfalfa mill had caught fire. Matt burns sawdust (as a means of recycling) for energy to run the alfalfa dehydration plant during the summer harvest months. It allows us to reduce the environmental footprint of the farm because it uses a “waste product” to create the energy needed to dry and pellet the alfalfa. It is necessary to accumulate and store the sawdust over the winter months to ensure the needed supply for the summer months. Matt’s crew was working in the building on Friday when equipment malfunctioned – sparked – and started a fire.

The local volunteer fire department, along with our farm crew, worked diligently to contain the fire. Their hard work enabled us to continue with our family weekend instead of packing up to rush home to an emergency. Matt spent some needed time on the telephone, and worried rather than sleeping most of the night, but we were able to salvage what will likely be our last vacation before our oldest daughter leaves for college next fall.

Our crew – Our community – banded together to give us a gift. We didn’t even need to ask for it. It was given freely and with generous hearts. To me, this is the exquisite beauty of rural Nebraska. When challenges come, a support network automatically assembles to fill the need. Our community is filled with neighbors – those that help with giving hearts and a dedication to James’ call for demonstrating faith through good works.

Matt and I would like to thank all those that gave of themselves to lend aid. Your selfless generosity fills my heart with the joy of faith, and humbles me with the knowledge that we are loved — cared for — and honored as members of our family of Cozad. The clean up will take time, patience, and much work but you all have given us a reason to be thankful in the face of challenge.


Filed under General, Wednesday Wisdom

6 responses to “The Gift of Giving…A behind the scenes glimpse of small town America

  1. Wow. That building is ravaged. Industrial dust fires are no joke. I’m glad no one was hurt, and it was just a fire. Agitated sawdust would have been much worse. It is just an insurance issue now, and good work for a contractor.

  2. Dawn Craumer

    You are very blessed Anne to live in such a community. I received the blessings of our family’s small community a couple weeks ago, when my young granddaughter (3 yrs old) was suddenly struck by the flu and lost consciousness. My DIL called 911 and the most amazing young paramedic examined our baby and decided as a precautionary measure to transport to the county hospital. The whole trip, he sung disney songs to my granddaughter to entertain and keep her calm. It helped calm my DIL as well. Turns out he also has a 3 yr old daughter and knew just what to do. After an examination and test for the flu, she came home that same day, smiling through her “doctor’s mask” at the adventure she had.

    • What a wonderful story, Dawn! Thank you for sharing. It brought a smile to my face. Yes, we are blessed to live in small communities. There is truly no way to put a value on human kindness and caring — it is simply a beautiful gift that fills your heart with hope. I can’t help but think that our country needs more of that right now.

      Take care,

  3. Kevin Lindly

    We live in a town just north of you Anne, (Broken Bow) this past Friday (Feb 23) there was a fundraiser for a couple of families whose infants have been battling cancer. There was an estimate of over 1000 people who attended and donated items to the silent and live auctions for the cause. I have not heard a donation amount but it has to be an impressive figure. I know there were people there from many miles away as I saw vehicles from Lincoln county, Thomas county, and Hooker county. I have always lived in small communities and in my experience it has always been this way. Small towns rock!

    • That’s beautiful, Kevin. Yes, I can identify — Cozad has those stories to tell as well. It is awesome how God works through each of us to spread his love. I too love how small towns “take care” of each other. It’s truly a gift!

      Thank you for sharing 🙂

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