Category Archives: General

Wish Upon a Prayerful Prairie Star…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Psalms 19: 1-4

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.”


I spent the winter and spring reading the Old Testament, and I have really enjoyed pondering the story and journey of King David. I’ve drawn introspection and wisdom from reading about David’s life journey. I see parallels in David that I find in my own life. The most obvious to me is that I make mistakes along the way, but I try to have a devoted and faithful heart that turns to God for guidance.

I think that the book of Psalms (partially written by David) shows the range of human response to God and His world. The verses help to bring the emotion out of my heart, and tell me that its okay to have an up and down relationship with God as long as I am deepening my faith in an intentional journey to know Him better.

I find God best in the quiet. He comes alive to me as I spend peaceful time on the Nebraska prairie.

My favorite blonde cowgirl went flying out the back door the other night to snap the above picture. It’s a little bit hard to see, but the alfalfa field behind my horse paddock is dotted with dandelions. As the sun prepared to set, the dandelions lit up with its rays and seem to beckon “Wish upon a prayerful prairie star”. I remember when my girls were little, they used to pick the dandelions and make a wish before they blew on them. I don’t know exactly what they wished for, but I think of those times as God moments. 

Today, when I search for God’s guidance, it comes to me as a soft and quiet voice. I hear it best amongst the quiet when my mind is uncluttered and my heart is at peace. The more I open my mind to listen, the more I that I hear.

I’ve been asked a couple of times over the last several months what I feel is the best tool that my girls can have in order to live an honorable life. To me that means: What is the best inspiration for having good character as they travel through all of the moments of each day?

My answer is simple and can be summed up in three words.

OWN THEIR FAITH.

When my girls reach out in faithful love to Jesus and open their hearts to him, then they develop a personal relationship with God that drives the way that they live their lives. Their decision making process changes as they intentionally seek guidance from the ultimate source of holy character. They learn to listen for that soft and quiet voice.

It’s a life changer.

You can see it in the story of King David as well as in the lives of anyone who chooses to live in faith. And, I am truly blessed to have watched it happen in all three of my girls.

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day. As I think about the celebration of motherhood, I am eternally grateful for this blessing. As my girls own their faith, they make a daily choice to walk with Jesus and let him guide their hearts. It changes their perspective and it enables them to live with a new level of peace and confidence that is not tied to earthly culture.

If I were to think of what I would most wish upon a prayerful star for, it is just this. And today I am grateful for all of the dandelions (that are not supposed to be in my favorite farmer’s alfalfa field) for reminding me of God’s graceful influence in our family 🙂

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I don’t know…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week 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.”


Over the course of the last several months, my favorite farmer and I have developed a habit. I’ve yet to determine if it is a good habit or a bad habit. When things weigh us down, we shake our heads and say “I don’t know.” We say it when we get stuck and can’t figure things out on our own. It is a quiet ask for direction amidst a perceived sea of chaos.

Over the weekend, I decided to intentionally amend the statement in an effort to build a heart filled with hope. Now, instead of “I don’t know”, I say “I don’t know but I trust in the One that does know and I know that He loves me.”

It doesn’t make the hard things go away. But, I think that it helps me build an appropriate perspective in which to deal with them. Most importantly, it allows me to let go of what I can’t control and focus on the fact that I do know that Jesus always shows up. He walks with me – everyday, and through every experience. We are reminded often in the Bible that “with God, all things are possible” so I figure that teaming up with Jesus makes for a pretty good game plan 🙂


Although I’m currently trying to learn how to walk again, rather than running half marathons – I’ve been an athlete my entire life.

I’ve never known a race that was easy.

I know that endurance takes work, perseverance, focus and a heart filled with hope. Sometimes it hurts and often it is uncomfortable, but it is always meaningful.

Just as Jesus always shows up, God has high expectations that I will always show up – with my heart in His hand and a dedication to not only start well but also to finish strong.

How many meaningful lessons are learned by quitting the race before it is over?

Each day, it’s God’s job to tell me what that leg of the race will be. Each day, it’s my job to try to compete with the honor and endurance that Jesus showed to us during his time on earth. I can’t ever be like him, but I can walk (and sometimes run) with him in order to find a faithful victory.

Races are won by those who whole-heartedly choose to compete. Victory comes to those who are willing to personally sacrifice as they honor their coach by obeying his direction. We don’t always have to know. But, we do always have to both trust and be willing to put in the effort.

My pastor reminded me at church on Sunday that “A promising start is not enough”. God doesn’t just call us to start with passion. He calls us to continually walk with Jesus so that we can maintain the courageous faith that it takes to finish strong. The race is long, but a humble and courageous heart is willing to lean in when things get hard – with an intentional focus to not get lost in the middle, and a trusting patience that allows God to mentor us for victory.

God calls us to GO ALL IN – STAY FOCUSED – and FINISH STRONG.

I don’t know a lot of things. That’s okay. I know the important One and I trust that He will provide direction as I give Jesus my heart. Together, we find the patiently passionate endurance that leads to a faithful victory.

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Courageous Faith…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week’s post comes from Galatians 2: 21

“I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless…”


I wasn’t going to write a post to share this week as we are going through some difficult times at home, and I am not yet able to share about them. But, here I am writing at 9:00 on Tuesday night as God has placed something on my heart. I opened my bible to read out of Galatians and the above partial verse jumped off of the page at me.

I love it when the Holy Spirit does that!

The more that I realize the depth of God’s love, the more I understand the vastness of His grace. When we walk through hard times, it is easy to be angry – to accuse God of not being there – to let frustration steal the peace that should live in our hearts. I’ve been tempted to do this, but God just keeps pursuing me. His steadfastness draws me in. It inspires me to lean into my faith instead of walking away.

Why?

Because Jesus shows up everyday. He is the ultimate demonstration of God’s grace and He uses the Holy Spirit to comfort and guide. He fills my heart with the courageous faith that inspires hope and grants the peace that passes all understanding. Even on the hard days – especially on the hard days.

He is there.

I write myself bible verses, quotes and sayings on note cards. I scatter them around the house and seem to find them on the days that I need them. A couple of weeks ago, I sat down and wrote: “Courageous faith is continuing to work with hope even during times of trial — trusting that God’s grace will carry me.” When we treat the grace of God with reverence and devotion and truly trust in it, then we are able to feel the full power of courageous faith. Its value is limitless.


 

I’ve experienced God’s grace often over the past several months. I’ve seen it in this goofy and loyal dog that has granted me company in the long days that I spent in the chair with a broken leg. I’ve seen it in my favorite farmer and our girls as they have circled in love and carried me when I failed. I’ve seen it in friends and those in our church family who have been there – waiting to fill whatever gap unfolds – supporting without question – and reflecting Jesus’ love with steadfast loyalty. I’ve seen it as I’ve continued to live, to coach, and to share my faith.

Sharing faith helps to create courageous faith. We are all meant to live in community. The more that I embrace that, the more I am able to experience God’s grace. Many times grace is found in giving – not in receiving. A grace-filled heart is a grateful heart. Grateful hearts make for cheerful givers. Cheerful givers spread God’s grace, even during times of trial.

Today I am thankful for God’s grace. I cherish the courageous faith that Jesus puts into my heart, and pray that in sharing it I can also help to spread His grace to others.

Thank you to all of you who have reached out in prayer and support for me over the past weeks. Please know how much I appreciate your kindness 🙂

 

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Suffering with holiness – Loving with grace…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of Luke 23:34

“Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”


Last week we experienced Holy Week and celebrated the Easter holiday. 2019 has been a time of great reflection for me, and our Good Friday church service brought me a great deal of clarity with something that I have been struggling with for months. Hours of prayer and reflection have resulted in the following three questions being in the forefront of my mind.

  1. Why does God allow us to suffer?
  2. What does Jesus teach us about suffering with holiness?
  3. What does Jesus teach us about loving with grace?

I believe that suffering occurs on many levels – physical as well as emotional. I’ve experienced both in 2019.

Health problems resulting from a fall on the ice where I shattered my fibula (leg bone) has led to four and a half months of physical pain – two surgeries – seven weeks in a cast – and nine weeks in a boot. 16 and a half weeks in, I am slowly transitioning out of the boot and into a pair of running shoes and have traded two crutches for one. I wake up everyday hoping that my leg won’t hurt. I’ve been told that day is far into the future as is the day that I will take a long awaited running step.

Almost two weeks ago, as I headed in for the second surgery hoping to gain the ankle flexion that I needed to walk, I gave it to God. The hours spent in physical therapy did not seem to be working, and I was left in a fog of chronic pain and very little hope. I needed grace as my suffering was not only painful but it was beginning to lack in holiness as anger kept my heart from feeling peace amidst my struggle.

Why does God allow us to suffer? To teach us lessons that enable us to reach out in love to help others. It’s a hard journey, but I am finally finding the grace that I need to be thankful for it. I no longer look at the world the same way. I am irrevocably changed. This actually is the second time a chronic health issue has crippled me – 14 years ago Graves Disease destroyed my health and led to a four year fight to regain it. Looking back, I can see how that time of suffering also shaped me.

Isn’t it interesting how God uses our experiences to help us to grow in faith?

As I sat in the Good Friday service thinking of the suffering that Jesus endured during his lifetime and particularly during the last few days of his earthly life, the phrase suffer with holiness kept running through my mind. There really is no other way to describe what Jesus went through — the ridicule, the betrayal, the physical pain of carrying the cross and then dying on it. Understanding what it means to suffer allows me to better understand how Jesus loved with grace.

Father, forgive them, they know not what they do. 

Jesus very clearly calls us to love our neighbors – to forgive them when they cause us pain – to offer supportive love when they need it. He says it in the Bible and he lived it during his time on earth. It sounds easy, but it is not. The months that I have spent physically crippled from the leg break have coincided with a very difficult time trying to mentor and love the young man that God called our family to help over a year ago. Emotional suffering is real and I believe it is possibly even more difficult to work through than physical suffering. The combination of it has shaken me to the core.

I’ve learned several things over the past four months, but likely the most important lesson is that I can cling to Jesus when things get hard. He suffers with me and he loves with the grace that allows me to find hope when I can’t find it on my own.  The Good News is that God’s love never falters and that Jesus exhibits a loving grace carried with the same strength and steadfastness with which he shouldered the cross.

He does it for each one of us.

He does it out of love, and it makes all of the difference.

 

 

 

 

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How do “doors” and “cups of water” merge?

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of Matthew 10:42

“And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”


My family participates in a small group bible study once a week with some wonderful people from our church. Right now we are studying the Gospel of Matthew. This week we read Chapter 10. Tuesday late afternoon found me taking my first big trip since breaking my leg in January. Part of my job for the Beef Marketing Group is to service cattle feed yards, and I had a visit that was overdue. It was far enough away from home that I decided to stay overnight in a hotel.

I broke my leg on January 5th, and never would have dreamed that I would still be basically non-weight bearing and on crutches the 13th of March. But, with some nerve damage in my foot and a stubborn ankle, that is my reality. I packed carefully for the trip with two backpacks (one with my computer and the things that I would need for the feed yard visit, and the other with an extra change of clothes for the overnight stay).

Before I experienced life on crutches, I never realized how difficult it was to open doors and then pass through them. Most doors these days (at least those in Nebraska) have to be pulled open and physically held because they are designed to immediately close. The majority do not have that awesome handicap button to push to operate the door automatically. When you have two working arms and legs, it likely never enters your radar screen that this creates a challenge for some people. I’ve learned to balance myself on my one working leg and the crutches and pull on the door, but holding it open while I try to move in a forward motion is hard. Usually it results in the door banging into some part of my upper body. I’ve yet to truly master the process.

Please pardon the “selfie” – I don’t take them well 😉

Rural Nebraska hotels do not have “bell hops”, so when I arrived at the hotel I parked in the closest available place and put one back pack on my back and the other on my front. I pretty much made an “Anne sandwich”, and crutched my way toward the door. When I got there, I realized with a bit of a sinking heart that there was not only 1 outside door but a set of 2 outside doors (one followed by another) to help reduce energy use with the difficult Nebraska weather.

While I was getting together a game plan, I noticed the one lady sitting in the lobby. She was just on the other side of the second door, and scrolling through her smart phone. I made eye contact with her hoping that she would see my difficulty and come to my aid. After glancing at me briefly, she went back to scrolling on her phone. I faced the reality of the doors and began the tedious process of getting myself through one and then the other. I’d never tried it with two backpacks on before, but God was with me and I worked my way through.

As I awkwardly cleared the second door, the lady looked up – a little bit sheepishly – and said, “Oh, I guess I should have helped you.” I just smiled and told her that it was okay, and made my way to the front desk to sign for my room.


So, by now you may be asking yourself:

What does Anne’s “door story” have to do with a cup of cold water?

I think that the above statement from the Gospel of Matthew is designed to remind us that we are a community, a family. And, as such, we are called to offer a cold cup of water when someone is thirsty and in need of help. Sometimes it is a physical need, and sometimes it is an emotional or spiritual need. In any instance, Jesus asks us to take the time to notice the need and then to reach out in love to help.

I’ve learned many things over the past 9 and a half weeks, but I can promise that I will never look at a manual door the same way again. Additionally, I hope that I am learning to be more sensitive to others, to pay better attention to the needs that exist around me, and to reach out in agape love to help fill them. Sometimes it’s simply opening a door for someone who is physically struggling, but other times it might be offering comfort to someone who has pain in their heart.

There is a saying that everyone has a story of need. Perhaps if we all tried a little bit harder to help others, the world would be a more loving place. I am confident that many would have rushed to help me with the doors, but the truth is that not everyone does. What if one of the ways that Jesus heals others is through us? If that is the case, what happens when we ignore His call?

I’m going to try harder to be one who responds instead of one who doesn’t.

 

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God’s part, My part, Other’s part…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of John 8:12

“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”


One of my greatest personal challenges is “refilling my cup”. God has filled me with a lot of passionate energy, and working to make a difference sits close to the top of Anne’s priority list. The cup stays nice and full when I can see the positive impact of my efforts, but it steadily empties when I do not get to experience a tangible part of God’s evolution.

There are lots of places in the New Testament where the Bible talks about the “water of life” and the role of the Holy Spirit in the daily renewal of our faith. There are also lots of places in the New Testament where Jesus talks about following him in order to live in the light. I get that. Where I stumble is the additional internalization of the core teaching that there are three parts to a life filled with faith:

  1. God’s part
  2. My part
  3. Other’s part

I get too hung up on the outcome and feel personally responsible for it.  As a result, I feel an acute sense of failure when others do not chose to respond in the way that I would like when I offer help and support.

A friend of mine sent me this comic a couple of weeks ago. It inspired me to pause and think a bit. While I’m not sure that walking away is always the correct answer, having enough faith in God to recognize that I am only called to do my part helps me to not lose hope.


I suspect that I am not the only one to struggle with this. It’s a hard lesson to realize that we cannot be responsible for other people’s hearts and actions. I struggle with this daily. I want to fix, but really all that I can do is love. Each person is responsible for their own decisions and actions. And, God is truly the only one that can heal the broken. While he can use us as vessels to guide and share his love, we have no control over another person’s response when we share.

I’ve been coaching and working with kids for almost 20 years now. I remember the first time that I truly realized that I couldn’t do it for them. I was 24 years old and the assistant high school Cross Country coach. We had a good group of boys on the team that year. While none of them would have told you that Cross Country was their primary sport, they had a lot of potential. I learned something at the district meet that fall. I learned that my passion couldn’t carry them in their race. I could teach them the proper technique and help them to gain the needed fitness to find success. I could do my best to inspire their devotion. But, when it came to the race, I couldn’t do it for them. Finding success required a choice on their part which was out of my control.

Our faith journeys aren’t really any different than that race.

Faith is an individual decision that each person makes – every single day. No one else can make it for them. It’s the difference between living in the light and living in the darkness. I can control how I respond to others, but I cannot control how they respond to me.

  • God’s job is to love and guide.
  • My job is to reflect that love and guidance.
  • How other people chose to respond to that is their part.

I’ll let you all know when I’ve truly mastered that process, as there is a difference in knowing it and truly believing it. That difference influences the quality of the light that Jesus talks about in the above passage from John. My heart clearly tells me when I lack the trust required to let go, as then I loose sight of the light and the cup seems to systematically empty.

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No Short Cuts…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the book of Leviticus. Instead of pulling specific scripture out of the book, I’d like to share three very timely lessons that I learned from my study of the book.

  1. Offer your best to God. It should come from pure intentions and from the heart.
  2. Follow directions! There is honor to be found in doing the little things right. God’s calls do not come with the ability to find a short cut. Faith requires loyalty and steadfastness to travel the entire journey.
  3. God has high standards for us. It takes a combination of God’s grace and individual commitment to travel the journey to holiness.

As most of you are aware, I broke my fibula in early January. It’s rocked my world. Instead of leading my regular active life for the last 7 and 1/2 weeks, I’ve lived in a world of limited movement and physical discomfort. I traded logging 20 miles a week of soul-freeing running for the simple wish that one day I’d wake up and my leg didn’t hurt.

I got my plaster cast off last week, and traded it for a rehabilitation boot to begin the physical therapy process. The good news is that I have a lot of work to do! I will need to build strength to regain ankle motion as well as muscle regrowth in the foot and entire right leg. It’s a healing process that will span months, and my goal is to find complete well being by the end of the summer.

The reality of the rehabilitation process left me a bit shaken. I spent a few days being overwhelmed by the shear number of little things that I needed to accomplish before I could regain total leg health. God seems to always have a hand in things, and these days also found me finishing up the book of Exodus and beginning to read the book of Leviticus. The Holy Spirit grabbed me several times as I read the passages and gave me a much needed kick in the tail with these three lessons.

  1. God meets us where we are in any given moment. He does that because he loves us. He asks us to give Him our best, whatever that is, in all of those moments. Our best may change over time due to circumstances, but our attitude and the state of our heart when we bring it to Him should be marked by devotion.
  2. God’s call to holiness does not include a short cut. I was reminded that I need to quit looking for one, and instead focus on finding joy in the daily work that His call brings to me. I can work stubborn or I can work smart. I think working smart by packing Jesus in my heart is a better choice 🙂
  3. God is holy. He has high standards. There is honor to be found in aspiring to meet those standards. Changing the standards does not lead to success. There is both joy and victory to be found in the challenge of trying to meet them!

One of my first physical therapy exercises aims at trying to get the toes on my right foot to begin working again. I practice picking up a crumpled kleenex off the floor with my toes. My big toe was the first to wake up. By day 4, I excitedly showed my favorite farmer that all of my toes had joined the team and I could move my little toe again! It might seem silly, but to me it was a huge deal. I couldn’t even feel my little toe when they took my cast off – to be able to move it was tremendous progress.

My toes didn’t start working because I sat in a chair crying that my leg hurt. They started working because I packed my faith and started the new journey to rehabilitation. God met me where I was. I brought an honorable effort and accepted that there was no short cut. When I did, I found joy in an unforeseen place and a small victory that will surely lead to others.

Perhaps that is what this path to holiness written about in Leviticus is all about. When we combine devotion with careful work, then we find the grace that leads us to healing.

What if there’s no short cut because the learning happens when you take the long way around?

 

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AOTA…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Hebrews 12: 11

“Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.”


Our family entered the world of Haymaker Wrestling this year. About a month after Joseph came to live with us, he decided that he wanted to learn to wrestle. Two of the Haymaker Wrestling coaches have kids that swim for me, and my favorite farmer was a wrestler in high school so it seemed a good fit.

As a swimmer and a runner (with a brother who played baseball), I was a newbie to the sport of wrestling. The discipline and fitness intrigued me, while the culture of the sport just plain pulled at my heart. Over the course of the season, I watched a small group of young men band together to create a brotherhood. A brotherhood that inspired loyalty and leadership.

Photo Credit: Brian Bazata

The mantra of the Haymaker Wrestling team is AOTA. A-always, O-on, T-the, A-ttack. I questioned it a bit going into the season, but it didn’t take long for me to understand the meaning and the purpose. In a wrestling match, you are either in control of the match and earning points or you are getting beat by an opponent who is. Leadership on the mat requires a high level of engagement and a willingness to take chances in the moment in order to claim victory at the end.

There is no room for laziness.

Rather, the wrestling culture inspires enthusiastic and proactive “headmanship”. Our Youth Ministry Pastor defines “headmanship” as the leadership that men demonstrate as they intentionally work to serve and protect. It comes from active and selfless engagement as mental and physical strength merge to create honor.


There’s a lot of spirituality that happens on the wrestling mat. I don’t know if the Haymaker wrestlers would intentionally call it that, but I clearly saw it as I watched them come together as a team this season. Paul reminds us in Hebrews 12:11 that God calls us to never be lazy – rather – we are called to work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.

It takes an intentional individual choice to create a victorious community.

Joseph began his wrestling career as a senior with no prior experience. He faced the challenge of spending the season wrestling some of the Midwest’s finest who had more than 10 years of experience. I never worried that he would fail. I knew that God would carry him. What he lacked in learned skill, his teammates and coaches helped him to fill in with discipline, leadership, and love.

I cried when he won his first match. My heart swelled when he got his first victory by pin. I watched him lose more times than he won, but each match brought a sense of purpose, identity and worth to the young man that God had brought to me as a son. Joseph discovered the beauty of “team” as well as the pride found in working hard to honor the mission.

He learned that being on the attack can be something incredibly righteous.

Isn’t this what Jesus calls us to do?

The New Testament is full of passages where Jesus implores us to actively and passionately love community more than self. And, to keep giving even when it hurts because the mission holds unfathomable value. My heart filled with hope as the season went on and I realized that wrestling provided a tremendous battlefield to teach our young men to fight with righteousness.

When the battle is honorable, being on the attack is a good thing.

We are not called to be passive. We are called to fight with our whole hearts as we engage in Jesus’ mission.

To the 2019 Haymaker Wrestling Team, thank you for fighting the good fight. I pray that you will take these “life lessons” and apply them to the calls that God has for you during your life journey. You all earned many medals this season, but the greatest is the one that you carry in your heart as you honor your God and your team. Thank you for your efforts.

Respect is earned — you all have mine.

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