Category Archives: General

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.

 

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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.

 

 

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My Girls’ Thoughts About “Growing up on a farm”

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Proverbs 13: 4

“Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.”


This week we bring you Wednesday Wisdom live from our farm. The girls and I headed out to the pasture to record a Facebook Live broadcast on the five things that they felt were most important to learn growing up on a farm.

  1. How to gain trust
  2. How to show empathy
  3. How to embrace tenacity
  4. How to build leadership skills
  5. How to work as a team

I love that my kids have grown up on the farm and it’s fun to be able to share some of their thoughts on things that aren’t just farm lessons but also life lessons.

Our pasture does not have the best cell coverage, so you will notice a couple of points about half way through the broadcast where the video did not record. The first one occurs while Megan shares her Nebraska State Gold Medal Pole Vault experience and it lasts about a minute. The second one is much quicker and occurs as we talk about leadership. You can fast forward past those when you get there. I apologize for the technological challenges — and am very sorry that they did not record the girls’ messages. I had hoped that we would get through the broadcast without the cell problems but that wasn’t in the plan for the day.

The last minute or so of the video is pretty special for me as Meg talks about growing up with my favorite farmer and I 🙂 It is my hope that Matt and I have been able to teach our kids to not only work hard, but also to work with God’s love in their hearts in order to share their talents and make a difference in the world.

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Guided By the Light…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Psalms 119:105:

“Thy word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path.”


Our family road tripped across the country last week combining family visits with college tours.

9 days – 12 states – 5 colleges – 3 family visits

We rented a van and packed our faith as we set out on our second family road trip in 22 years 🙂 My favorite farmer laughed that who wouldn’t want to explore the eastern half of the United States with four teenagers! It amazes me that our children are old enough to be thinking about college, but that appears to be the reality. My favorite brunette ships off to begin her college journey in a few weeks, and our next two are starting to figure out where life will lead them after high school.

Learning to trust is hard, but it is an important requirement for letting go. I have loved and cared for my children for 18 years. There is a part of my heart that really hurts at the thought of having my babies leave my home and travel out into the world. While my head knows that leaving the house prepared to share their faith and talents is the ultimate goal, my heart doesn’t want to let them go.

As I personally struggle with this, I find comfort in the knowledge that my kids are learning to be anchored in faith and guided by the light. We travel that spiritual journey together. None of us have all of the answers, while all of us have questions. That’s okay. We are called to be faithful — to find wisdom in God’s word, Jesus’s love, and the Holy Spirit’s influence — not to know everything. Faith is about living in the moment and opening your heart to God’s mission. It’s not about answers, it’s about trust.


The above passage from Psalms appeared on a plaque inside an academic building at Davidson College. My sister-in-law is a Davidson alumni and my favorite blonde cowgirls are enamored with the school. We visited it as a part of our family road trip. I love to see scripture posted on college campuses. College students are just getting used to “adulting” and likely need a gentle reminder to look to God in order to live in the light. A supportive spiritual setting allows them to find success amidst the freedom of living on their own for the first time.

I remember a car ride a couple of years with the girls. As we neared home, I turned to Ashley Grace as asked her, “how do you know the path that God wants you to take when you have to make a decision?” She confidently responded, “I open up my bible and read whatever page it falls open to. Some passage always jumps out to me so that I find God’s guidance.” That conversation has come to mind several times over the past few weeks as I prepare to begin this next stage of parenting. Despite the fact that I have to let go, it comforts me to know that her faith is strong — anchored in a loving relationship with God and influenced by His word and active presence in her life.

It is much easier to travel the journey when the path is glowing with light 🙂

 

 

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Wearing the jersey…

Many of you probably noticed that Wednesday came and left with no Feed Yard Foodie post — one of the things that I am learning is to give myself the gift of patience. This week I needed time to process and reflect before I wrote. So, below you will find a Wednesday Wisdom on this Sunny Saturday 🙂

I would like to dedicate this post to two people who continue to help and inspire me on this journey.

  1. To Pastor John Shields for bringing me back to the bible and helping me to realize that living as a Christian is about what is in your heart, not about what religion you call yourself.
  2. To Bev Smith for the steadfast prayerful and emotional support that leaves me humbled and inspires my heart to always love.

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂

Inspiration this week comes from Galatians 5: 22

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.


On April 19th, 2018 Team Burkholder got a new member. God brought us a son – a brother – a teammate. We packed our faith to live with grace during a time of uncertainty. I do not think that any of the six of us knew for sure what the play book looked like, but we all agreed to wear the jersey. 

It’s hard for a seventeen year old to join a team unlike anything that he has ever known.

  • To accept the jersey that is given without any strings.
  • To understand that while the jersey is free, putting it on necessitates always working unselfishly toward the good of the team.

It’s hard for the established team to build a new playbook — one that includes the new teammate and works to increase the strength of the new group.

  • To love without reservation.
  • To act with the grace of the Holy Spirit to share love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Four months later, we’re figuring it out — Appreciating the grace that brought us together and embracing the support that comes from faith. I can honestly say that we’ve all grown – together – as we work to play on the new team that God called us to create. My children are my greatest blessings and my heart fills with gratitude as three has now become four. My favorite farmer is enjoying some additional comraderie as he is no longer the only boy on the team!


I’ve been a coach long enough that I tend to think of things in terms of athletics. This past week, I have spent a lot of time thinking about what it takes to create a successful faith-based team. I keep coming back to the phrase wear the jersey. The words popped into my head while running one morning, and then went on to dominate my thoughts for the remainder of the week.

Allow me to clarify 🙂

God’s love is a gift — it is the athletic jersey that everyone is offered when they are asked to join the team

There are a range of things that we can do with this gift:

  1. We can leave it ignored and hanging in the closet
  2. We can tentatively reach for it and consider how to best put it on
  3. We can dedicatedly wear it — with a mixture humility and pride — as we allow the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts and provide the playbook as we embrace the team mission

Sometimes, as we first learn to be a part of the team, we reach out unconfidently to take hold of the jersey.  We find that some days it is easy to wear and others it is not. Its presence never waivers but our dedication to it does. It is only when we make a confident commitment to the team that we find what the Holy Spirit promises: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

If there is one thing that I have learned over the past four months, it is how to wear the jersey — With my whole heart, always and forever. 

 

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Finding Honor As a Coach…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Luke 12: 34

“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”


This year, I divided the 8 week swim team season into 3 phases of training. We began the 3rd phase last week and it is entitled “Competing with Honor”. We spent the week as a team brainstorming ways to do this

As a young coach straight out of college, I lacked maturity and perspective. It took me a few years of motherhood to learn that good coaches love their athletes more than they love athletic victory. That doesn’t mean that victory is not important — it simply means that the coach’s focus is on developing the child/young adult not simply pushing hard to win the game.

I’m a constant “work in progress” and have found that my coaching abilities continue to improve as my faith deepens. On Saturday, God taught me a new lesson in how to coach with honor. One of my young athletes was disqualified in her butterfly race. There are a lot of things that you learn to take in stride as a coach, but this particular one hurt my heart. It was a big deal for a couple of reasons.

  • This young athlete works hard everyday at practice. She cares about her performance and prides herself on doing things correctly.
  • I encourage my swimmers to fill out goal sheets at the beginning of each season. I think that a goal without a plan is just a wish and like to teach my kids to care enough about their life journey to honor it with a plan. Here are the three season goals that she selected in May:

My mind wanted to contest the DQ, but my heart knew that the life lesson that it had the ability to teach was more important. It wasn’t my job to question the judgement of the official — it was my job to guide the swimmer through the experience packing her faith to compete with grace and honor.


How many times do we (as coaches and parents) get so hung up on the athletic event/game that we forget the importance of the development of the child? I hope that my swimmers want to be a part of the Cozad Swim Team because they love the sport of swimming and want to share in the awesomeness of a supportive team. If this is my desire as a coach, then it is my duty to teach my swimmers to persevere and remain hopeful in times of challenge. Being an athlete is a journey — not a single moment in time.

After the meet ended, I took a walk with my young swimmer. I held her hand as we talked about a lot of things: resilience, forgiveness, learning from mistakes, and looking forward to future races with hope in our hearts. At the end of our talk, I gave her a hug and reminded her how awesome both God and I knew that she was. We made a plan for the future that started with a smile, and involved some more work at practice to prepare for the butterfly leg of the relay that she would swim at Championships. A couple of days later, after she had some time to heal, we sat down and made a new goal for the end of the season to take the place of the one that could no longer be attained this year.

During this experience, I kept coming back to the above bible verse. Asking myself: What is my treasure? And, How does that drive the desires of my heart? If my treasure is embracing Jesus’s mission, then my love for the athlete must inspire my actions. Twenty years from now, it is unlikely that my swimmer will remember the other 5 races that she swam on Saturday. However, it is likely that tucked somewhere in her heart will be the memory of our walk together after the meet was over. Perhaps she will draw on her first hand experience of how to compete with honor by relying on faith and grace to find resilience in times of challenge.

 

 

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Resilience

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration today comes from the five daily devotionals that I shared last week with the athletes of the Cozad Swim Team.

Mark 6: 31 “Let’s go off by ourselves and rest awhile.”

John 4: 14 “Those that drink the water that I (Jesus) give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh bubbling spring within them, giving eternal life.”

Romans 1:12 “When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.”

Romans 5: 3 “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us to develop endurance.”

Romans 8: 31 “If God is for us, who could ever be against us?”


Resilience provided the team’s weekly character lesson. Our focus quote was: “You must be the change that you wish to see in the world.” We asked some hard questions, but we also found strength in each other as we shared times of faith.

  • How do we keep going when things get hard?
  • How do we support others on the journey?
  • How do we let God be the coach of our team in order to bring honor to our efforts in the swimming pool?

Monday, Jesus reminded us in Mark 6:31 that it’s okay to take time to rest and recharge. Resilience requires both strength and patience. Prayer and reflection allow us to fill our hearts with God’s love and find strength and confidence in our faith relationship. Patience enables us to learn from our mistakes, but not let them define us. There is freedom to be found in giving it to God and focusing on the promise of the future.

Tuesday we learned of the living water that Jesus speaks of in John 4:14. It provides the foundation of our faith and stems from the eternal fountain of God’s love. It is the inspiration that leads to greatness. It is the motivation to face challenges with gratitude rather than with grievance. When our athletic actions are the result of God’s living water, then we bring honor to Him with our efforts.

Wednesday Paul reminded us in Romans 1: 12 that we are a family. We are brought together to create a cycle of encouragement. A quiet smile and word of kind support has the power to change our daily perspective: regardless of whether we are the one to give or to receive. God inspires us to have each others’ back and fills our hearts with His love to be shared. When we share love rather than judgement, then we strengthen the family (team). Building a cycle of encouragement amongst teammates allows everyone to share of themselves in a meaningful way.

Thursday we focused on creating a culture of positivity which allows us to rejoice in the face of trials (Romans 5:3).  We know that challenges make us stronger — build our endurance — and help us to learn how to persevere with grace. The challenge that an athlete faces in a difficult practice or competition helps him/her to prepare for life’s challenges. When we come together as a team to meet our challenges with positivity then we build the habit of living with grace.

Friday Paul (Romans 8:31) helped us to finish the week with the reminder that when we pack our faith to live with grace, that failure is not an option. God seeks us, supports us, and loves us through every experience. We persevere with resilience as we allow God to lead us and our team. We are defined by what is in our hearts — resilience comes from a heart filled with love and passion!


Here, I share week 6’s swim team journey in the hope that it brings meaning and inspiration to each of you. I have shared in the lives of many, many athletes over the past twenty years. However, this swim season will forever provide a turning point in my philosophy as a coach. I took a leap of faith as I made the decision this year to intentionally share my relationship with God. As our team begins each daily practice with a character lesson, a supporting bible verse, sharing time and a prayer,  I have learned that while loving God is so important, it is the act of sharing God that allows us to be the change that we wish to see in the world.

There is nothing more beautiful than seeing God’s hope spring eternal in the eyes of our children. What began as an effort to share my faith has evolved into a mutual sharing of faith as the athletes realize that we become #StrongerTogether as we reach for God. What an awesome lesson in resilience 🙂

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Intentionally reaching for those that “fall through the cracks”…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for today’s post comes from the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Matthew 18.

If a man has 100 sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the 99 on the mountains and go in search of the 1 that went astray?


Do you remember a time in your youth when you felt as though you fell through the cracks? Perhaps you got lost in a sea of faces in school — wondering if your classmates or teachers even knew you were there. Or, maybe you showed up for sports practice everyday longing for support and inspiration, but left feeling invisible. 

I think that honest reflection brings each one of us a memory of feeling lost.

A time when it seemed that we were invisible.

A moment when we craved acceptance but our hearts felt alone and hollow.

As a coach, I try to intentionally reach for the kids that feel as though they fall through the cracks. I have a goal of finishing every practice having offered at least one happy thought or word of inspiration to each of my swimmers. I have high expectations for my athletes, but there is a sea of love that sits right underneath the discipline that I ask for as we travel the journey together. I aspire to seek out each swimmer – in a positive way – every single day.

If they gain nothing else from practice that day, at least they will go home feeling like they matter.

This year, our team began a new tradition of sharing both a character lesson and a daily devotion before diving into the water for practice. I have 40 regular swim team practices during the summer months — 40 chances to help the 42 athletes realize that true strength comes when we simultaneously radiate kindness while also displaying personal toughness and tenacity through athletic competition. I love this new tradition as it starts our time together as a team centering our hearts on God and focusing our minds on ways to pack our faith to compete with grace.


The Parable of the Lost Sheep reminds me that God is always seeking us. Understanding that He is longing for a loving relationship with us helps to battle the lonely feelings and empty hearts that may threaten our daily peace. The more time that I spend with teenagers, the more I believe that this message plays a critical role in the mental wellbeing of our kids.

We live in a broken world. The news reminds us daily of suicides and school shootings. Additionally, current culture entices our kids away from faith and family, and into the the disturbing world of cyberspace. My favorite farmer and I have spent countless hours talking about how we can help to change the reality of teenage life in 2018. Many of our discussions result in an impasse where we are left with more questions and very few answers. But a lack of easy answers is no reason to not engage.

Start with what you can impact.

This is what I tell myself daily. What child can I help today? Who feels lost?

I am reminded of a mantra that I learned many years ago as a member of the Daughter’s of the King.

I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I ought to do. What I ought to do, by the grace of God I will do. Lord, what will you have me do?

This summer I am trying my best to live out these words. To listen to God and help to bring his love to the athletes that come to me for guidance. Together we can create a culture where everyone has a place and no one feels alone. As we huddle up each day at the start of practice we seal the cracks ensuring that no one will fall through…

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