Category Archives: General

Gentleness…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of Luke 22: 47-51

“But even as Jesus said this, a crowd approached, led by Judas (one of the twelve disciples). Judas walked over to Jesus to greet him with a kiss. But Jesus said, ‘Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?’ When the other disciples saw what was about to happen, they exclaimed, ‘Lord, should we fight? We brought the swords!’ And one of them struck at the high priest’s slave, slashing off his right ear. But Jesus said, ‘No more of this.’ And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.”


My favorite blonde cowgirl attends an FCA group in a neighboring town. The FCA leader (Zach) goes to church with us and I have the privilege of watching him pour his heart into the kids that God brings into his life as he teaches, coaches, and mentors. Although he is much younger than me, I’ve learned a lot from him as he has mentored my girls. That’s one of the awesome things about the way that God works through the Holy Spirit 🙂

Meg came home Sunday night talking about the lesson that they studied at FCA. She was pretty pumped about it. “Mom, guess what Zach shared tonight! He said, ‘Jesus shows us that gentleness is strength under control.’ Rather than a weakness, gentleness actually is a strength that we show when we maintain control.” Wow – that’s really great discernment and food for thought. I’ve found myself thinking about it repeatedly over the past couple of days.


Each day God reminds us of his strength and the beauty that comes from it.

If you look at how Webster (or our culture) defines gentleness, strength does not likely rise to the top of the Thesaurus list. Instead you might find placidness, tenderness, calmness, or softness. But when you look in the Gospels, Jesus often demonstrates gentleness through strength while maintaining control of both himself and the situation. All four Gospels describe the events when Judas betrays Jesus and he is taken into custody, put on trial and ultimately put to death on the cross. The recordings all demonstrate that gentleness is strength under control.

I believe that Jesus came both to offer us salvation, and also to show us how God desires that we live. I can’t imagine what it was like to be betrayed by a friend, treated as a criminal, physically and mentally abused and ultimately put to death. That takes the coaching phrase, “take one for the team” to a whole new level. What amazes me is how Jesus suffered with both grace and strength. He never lost his cool. He knew his job, and he did it. He calmly and gently shared the Last Supper with Judas knowing that his friend would betray him. He accepted that the disciples fell asleep instead of praying with him in the Garden of Gethsemane, and turned instead to God for strength and companionship. He healed one of his captors when Simon Peter lost his control and sliced his ear off with a sword in a bout of fear. While on trial, he maintained great composure rather than arguing. The Gospel of John helps us to understand that even while hanging on the cross, Jesus reached out in compassion to his mother when he saw her in the crowd.

Zach’s comment to the FCA students inspired me to go back and read all four accounts of Jesus’ final days. I am left in awe at the beauty of the unselfish gentleness and control that Jesus displayed. My heart is changed as I now look at the word gentleness under a new light of discernment. I realize how much work I have left to do in my own life searching for the controlled strength that Jesus displayed. Four years ago, I intentionally went to work on gaining control of my temper. Today, I live determined to continue to work on it as deep in my heart there is a piece of Jesus that leads me away from tirades and into a world of gentle strength 🙂

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Life’s Root Canal…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s letter to the Colossians 3:23

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”


My favorite blonde cowgirl took an elbow to the mouth playing basketball on December 27th, breaking the bone that holds one of her front top teeth in place and displacing the tooth. The good news was that she got the rebound, you can likely guess the “bad news” 😉 We made a quick trip to Kearney to the Oral Surgeon to get the tooth popped back in with the hopes that it would “retake” and heal on its own. Our local dentist was on vacation but offered great support via telephone until he returned on January 1st. Meg’s tooth has been wired in since then as the initial glue did not hold.

Today she went back to the dentist for a follow up and I received the following text from her, “I’m the proud winner of a root canal.” I could picture the look on her face as she typed the text, and wasn’t terribly surprised by the news as we’d been warned that was a likely scenario. Friday morning, Doc will carefully remove the pulp inside the tooth, clean, disinfect and shape the root canals, and finally place a filling to seal the space.


I love to watch Meg play basketball. She does it like she does everything else in life — with her whole heart and a passion to work willingly, knowing that she works for the Lord and not just her coach and teammates. This year, I’ve seen a remarkable growth in her as a leader on the court. Her gift of discernment has matured so that she is able to better see the gaps. Not just the gaps in the game, but the gaps in her teammates’ needs. She is quick to emotionally encourage and support in addition to her all in physical contribution to the Lady Haymakers.

As I watch her play basketball, I can see Jesus moving in Meg’s heart. He gives her not only a well of love to share, but also the maturity to share it well. It’s kind of like a root canal for the heart. When we open ourselves to faith, Jesus moves in – cleans, shapes and seals us through the Holy Spirit. It’s not always a comfortable experience, and often we are asked to take one for the team but it leads to an unselfish attitude that enables others to see and experience mercy.

Jesus is at work in all of us – making and shaping a masterpiece that takes a lifetime to create. Meg’s root canal on Friday morning won’t take but an hour or two, but the work that Jesus does in her heart will continue until the day that He calls her home. Jesus’ score board is a bit different than our human one. He doesn’t look at which team scores the most baskets, rather he is concerned with the total number of baskets (hearts) that are changed through faith. Paul issues a great reminder in the scripture above. We are all called to work willingly with our hearts and eyes on the audience that matters most. When we do that, Jesus can move into our hearts and fill them with a loving and eternal purpose.

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Stubborn…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week comes from Proverbs 3: 21-26

“My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang onto them, for they will refresh your soul. They are like jewels on a necklace. They keep you safe on your way and your feet will not stumble. You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly. You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.”


If you asked my family for a word to describe me, it’s likely the word stubborn gets mentioned.  Dogged determination seems to be firmly rooted in my DNA. It is both a blessing and a curse as it gives me perseverance while also causing me to reject and fear a change of course. Giving up has just simply never been in my vocabulary. My stubbornness drove me to be an All-American swimmer despite the fact that my back was crooked and I stood proudly at only 5’3″ tall. It also took me as a recruited athlete to the Ivy League where I worked fiercely to graduate with honors – ironically inspired by the college forcing me to take an extra math entrance exam due to my low math SAT score. Finally, it brought me full of energy and passion to the beef industry as a 22 year old city kid who married into agriculture. And, it’s continued to carry me through more than two decades of working to improve animal welfare in cattle feedyards.

Telling me that I can’t do something seems to be an excellent way to motivate me 😉


January 5th marked my one year anniversary of breaking my leg. It seems that my leg is just as stubborn as the rest of me, and that I put down scar tissue like I used to put down muscle in the weight room. I may never get full use of my lower leg and ankle back, but I’m holding tightly to the goal of someday running again. Perhaps that just stems from my innate stubbornness, but I think it’s more that I’m figuring out the joy and purpose that can be found in the journey.

My unplanned accident on the ice taught me the difference between giving up and giving way. 

There is a difference between stubbornness towards God and stubbornness for God.  Stubbornness for God involves giving way to His direction and holding strongly and tenaciously to that course. The book of Proverbs often reminds us of our need to search for both wisdom and security from our heavenly Father. Faith grows when we never give up and intentionally establish a life marked by the disciplined search for God’s guiding hand. Faith heals when we learn to give way to God’s direction in order to accept the peace that His security brings. Steadfastness does not mean that you cannot yield, change direction, or establish new habits following God’s lead. It simply means that you do all of those things with dedication and perseverance.

Common sense tells me that learning to run again will take many levels and months/years of work. It is a journey that is and will continue to be marked by physical pain. Holy discernment fills the gap to give me patience and peace as I travel the course. It inspires me to search for spiritual learning as I greet each day. If I never again pound away miles on my neighboring farm roads, it’ll be okay. I can give way to a newly revised Anne and know that God walks with me every step of the way. My feet won’t stumble because Jesus will carry me. I don’t have to harbor fear of the unknown, because God holds my heart.  There will be hard things along the path, but God is more stubborn than I am and the heavenly finish line brings the promise of a good ending 🙂

2020 is shaping up to be a year of growth and change for me. I’m packing my faith, my steadfastness (stubbornness), and a revised attitude to enable me to yield when God opens one door while closing another. Stay tuned for the rest of the story…

 

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The Burkholder Annual Christmas Letter: 23rd edition

The Burkholder Annual Christmas Letter: 23rd edition

In honor of our children beginning to reach the age of “adulting”, we asked them to contribute to the 2019 Christmas letter by composing their own Limerick poems.

Photo Credit: Katie Arndt Photography


Ashley Grace: Age 20, Sophomore Political Science major at Notre Dame – Servant heart, fluent in Spanish, and inspired to take on the world’s challenges in order to make a difference 🙂

Our girl has done well in South Bend

To many she’s been a good friend

She loves a tail-gate

Her grades have been great

Next year she’ll continue this trend


Megan Anne: Age 17, Senior at Cozad High School – Joyful heart, full of Holy Sass, 2019 Pole Vault Nebraska State Champ and enrolling at Davidson College in the fall of 2020 🙂

Turns out I’m a champion napper

I played a bartender that’s dapper

A science fanatic

And very sarcastic

Now that’s a very great capper


Karyn Allison: Age 15, Freshman at Cozad High School – Hamilton Musical and history lover, expert baker, math whiz, courageous athlete and kindhearted girl 🙂

I had to Rise Up to high school

Take My Shot and play it cool

Never back down

Learn to go a few rounds

And not be afraid to look like a fool


As for Matt and I, we continue to enjoy life on the Nebraska prairie. God blesses us daily, and we both look forward to another year loving and working alongside each other on the farm. We hope that the joy that Jesus Christ brings permeates your heart this Christmas and brings you hope for the New Year!

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Beautiful, Awkward Grace…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Hebrews 4:16

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”


The Holy Spirit sometimes has to say the same thing to me multiple times before I figure out His message. Whether I miss it the first time, or don’t listen to understand, the Spirit does eventually get my attention 😉 This week we celebrated my favorite brunette’s 20th birthday. As I sit and think about all of things that I am grateful for, being a mom tops the list. Not just because my children bring me great joy, but also because God uses them to teach me so very much.

Ashley Grace played a huge role in bringing me back to Christ during a time in my life when I faltered and got *stuck*. The work of the Holy Spirit through her opened my eyes to the vastness of God’s grace. It is humbling and beautiful to watch Jesus move through the Spirit in the life of a teenager. It can be life-altering when that teenager is your’s. I had always thought that my faith needed to be perfect in order to honor God. As a result, I worked really hard but constantly fell short. I ended up tired and discouraged. My daughter taught me that grace fills the gap. It is perfectly and beautifully awkward because Jesus promises to always meet me where I am – not where I should be. Grace is what helps me to move toward where I should be, and it’s a good thing that I need divine interference to get there!

When we give our hearts to Christ, we never walk alone. Life becomes a beautiful, awkward journey full of grace.


As we move through the season of Advent, I pray that each of us remembers the gift of grace. It’s available to everyone, and it’s given freely to all those who believe. It never runs out and comes in the form of peace, hope, love, and forgiveness. We can look for it in a variety of places, but we’ll only find it in One.

Our earthly days are sometimes hard, but they are better when we walk in faith. And, (best of all) we are guaranteed a good ending! Jesus did that for us and nothing and no one can take that away. We live as awkward people in an awkward world. The Good News is that we have a gracious God with an unending supply of awkward grace that meets each and every one of us just where we are. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews reminds us to come boldly to the throne of God. There we will find mercy and grace when we need it most – complete with free delivery to wherever we are at the moment!

This year, celebrate the Christmas season with defiant hope because Christ came for us and will never leave us lonely – we simply need to accept that joy comes from what is happening inside of our hearts through Jesus rather than being contingent on the circumstances that we face on earth. That’s the beauty of grace.

As I look back twenty years ago, it seems fitting that my favorite farmer and I gave her “grace” as her middle name 🙂 Happy Birthday to my beautiful girl whose heart overflows with Jesus’ beautiful, awkward grace!

 

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WayMakers…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the book of Proverbs 3: 27

“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.”


I draw on the above verse often. I believe that we are called to be Jesus’ hands and feet to others, to share His love and light as we go through each day. There’s a part of that calling that is very uncomfortable, and yet a larger piece that is just plain beautiful. The kind of heart-pulling beauty that promises an overriding purpose regardless of daily circumstance. It inspires me to want to do my part while also trusting that God has always and will always do His part.

Although it is closing in on two years ago, I remember very clearly when the Holy Spirit asked me to bring Joseph home. Our family wrestled for days with the uncertainty that revolved around stepping in to help him. Proverbs 3:27 is the verse that led me to follow the call despite our fear of the enormity of it. What right did I have to say “no” when a young man so very clearly needed the love of our family? We had the power to give, it simply involved opening up our hearts to share God’s grace. I don’t know exactly what Joseph learned during our time together, but I learned to trust Jesus to fill my heart each day with love to share. For fifteen months I loved Joseph like he was my son. And, every morning Jesus showed up to help wipe away the challenges of yesterday in order to love today and have hope for tomorrow.

While my heart wishes that Joseph’s story with our family had worked out differently, I am truly thankful that I got to love him. I think that if you asked my favorite farmer and our girls, they would respond the same. The girls hung their Christmas stockings on the mantle Saturday night, and they carefully hung Joseph’s next to theirs. Each one of us clings to the hope that someday he will enter our lives again. We are continuing to learn to trust in God’s plan and timing in addition to Jesus’ steadfast love.

Joseph was a WayMaker for me. As I loved him, I realized that I was not called to walk alone. Just as the Holy Spirit led me to share life with Joseph, Jesus promised to hold my hand as I took each step. As I took those steps, my faith deepened in ways that I could never have imagined. I pray that we were also WayMakers for Joseph. A light during a dark time, and a source of love through a season of loneliness.


A legacy is something that a person leaves behind. Legacies create pathways that guide others as they move through life. Joseph’s presence in our family opened not only our hearts but also our eyes to a need that exists in our community (and likely in every community). In a very real way, he created a legacy that changed our hearts. I’ve always known the importance of love, but I now have a new understanding of just how important it is to love as Jesus loves – without any strings and with an unlimited reservoir.

Every child has a story. Every child matters. Every child deserves to receive love, to be taught to love, and to understand that they never walk alone. This week a new group will begin at our local middle school. A friend and I are starting a Friday morning -before school- student prayer group called the WayMakers. It will be similar to the daily devotions and character lessons that our swim team kids share on the pool deck each summer, but with an additional overriding theme: 

Understanding that as we are called to walk with Jesus, we never walk alone. His love, felt and shared through each of us, unites us in goodness and fills the gaps for those in need.

Please pray for us as we begin this new journey – That God will fill our hearts with Jesus’ love and bring the students that most need to understand just “how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.” Ephesians 3:18

For those FYF readers with middle school students in Cozad, WayMakers will meet in Mrs. Kostrunek’s room at 7:30 every Friday morning for the remainder of the school year 🙂

 

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“Mirror Therapy” for the heart…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”


Next week will mark 11 months since I fell. I continue to gain strength through Physical Therapy and remind myself to be patient in the healing process. I have daily pain and have become a bit of a “chronic”. Multiple traumas including the bone breaks, excess swelling in a cast, three surgeries, and two manipulations has caused my brain to become very hypersensitive when it comes to my right leg.

In short, my brain is like an overactive child who chooses to live with a drama meter of 10 😉

Last week I started “Mirror Therapy” in an effort to retrain it. The idea of mirror therapy is to use a mirror to create a reflective illusion of an affected limb in order to trick the brain into thinking that movement/stimulation occurs without pain. My favorite farmer cut a hole out of a cardboard box – I place my bad leg into the box through the hole – and we put a mirror up on the side of the box so that as I move and stimulate my good leg, the reflective image of it tricks my brain into believing that it is actually my bad leg.

Really, it’s pretty clever and gives the saying mind over matter a new meaning. I do it for 10 minutes each day in addition to the strength and stretching therapy that is included in my routine. Studies show that the brain prefers to prioritize visual feedback over somatosensory so it is possible to override a faulty system and retrain it to behave normally. Mine has developed a bad habit — I’ve chosen to intentionally work to train it to develop a better one.


It occurred to me as I read Paul’s letter to the Thessalonian’s that perhaps sometimes we all need mirror therapy for our hearts. Paul reminds us that it is God’s desire for us to live with unceasing joy, continual prayerfulness, and gratitude in all circumstances. A faithful person can do that fairly easily during the good times, but what happens when things get tough? Do we live joyful, prayerful and thankful lives or does our drama meter turn up and create a sour and hypersensitive attitude as we encounter trauma?

When our pastor preached on this topic a couple of weeks ago, he said something that really resonated with me. Jesus asks us to be thankful IN all circumstances. He does not ask us to be thankful FOR all circumstances. The difference in the meaning between those two sentences is huge because looking for a blessing within a hard time is an attainable goal. For me, it simply requires opening up my heart so that the Holy Spirit can train my brain to look for the positive. When I trust in the steadfast love that God promises, I can lean into my faith to find the hope that Jesus brings.

Over the past 11 months, I’ve learned that an attitude of gratitude creates the foundation for a purposeful and joyful life. When I get up everyday, I ask Jesus what’s on the agenda and then I’m able to look for opportunities to make Holy Moments through his Spirit. As I believe in the purpose of my life as a child of God, then I can look outside of my own pain to share the joy I find in faith. The mirror blocks the challenge so that the focus can shift outward. It tricks the heart and builds a healthy habit of joyful love.

It’s not about where you walk, it’s about who you walk with and what attitude you take with you on the journey!

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The Holy Spirit and His Play Calling…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of John 16: 13-15

“When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, “The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.”


I believed in the Trinity long before I understood it. It’s taken me a while to figure out the particulars, but I’ve had a lifelong relationship with the Holy Spirit. I used to tell my girls when they were little that the Holy Spirit “sits on your shoulder” and gives you direction as you go through the day. Some days I wonder at the Spirit’s perseverance and patience, as I’m not always a very good listener. But then I remember that the Spirit is a part of Jesus – a gift that He left us – so that we could communicate with Him after his resurrection. Jesus is the personification of perseverance and patience, so it’s a natural fit for the Spirit to also have these qualities 🙂

This summer, I participated in a Bible study with a group of middle school and high school girls. Over the course of the months, we read the Gospel of John together. John is my favorite Gospel, likely because of the very clear language regarding the Holy Spirit. I cling tightly to the knowledge that when Jesus is in my heart, the Spirit brings us together in communication as we travel the journey. He’s the messenger that links me to God and Jesus. It was truly awesome to share in the girls’ discussions as they identified with the Holy Spirit through John’s words.


Notre Dame vs Navy with my favorite farmer and our favorite brunette 🙂

If you’re a college football fan, you’ve likely noticed the couple of guys on the sidelines doing all kinds of goofy hand and arm signals as the coach calls in the plays to the team on the field. It’s a silent communication, and one that leaves the rest of us baffled (and perhaps entertained) but we get to see the result of it as the next play unfolds.

The quarterback knows that one of his jobs is to interpret, understand, and execute the play called by those important guys waving their arms on the sidelines. As he interprets the message, he shares it with his teammates and they come together to move the ball down the field. When it works, it’s a thing of beauty.

What if the Holy Spirit talks to us in a similar way?

What if we are the quarterbacks for Team Jesus?

It doesn’t matter if you envision the Holy Spirit sitting on your shoulder, walking beside you, or standing on the sidelines of a football field. What matters is whether you pay close attention to hear the play and are then able to communicate and execute it in love.

Over the years, I’ve noticed a few things that help me to hear and receive the Holy Spirit’s message:

  1. Starting the day with quiet prayer and intentionally asking the Spirit to be with me and guide me.
  2. Keeping my mind focused on the messages that I find in God’s Word as I study the Bible.
  3. Intentionally developing a grateful heart that looks outward to help others.
  4. Looking for the handiwork of the Spirit not just in my life but in the lives of those I love.
  5. Crediting the Spirit for the harmony and blessings that follow my obedience.

Next week as we head into Thanksgiving, I pray that as you gather with your family and friends that the Holy Spirit will take a seat next to you at the table. I guarantee that it will help you to have the attitude of gratitude that brings blessings of joy!

Happy Thanksgiving from the football loving prairie 🙂

 

 

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