Category Archives: Wednesday Wisdom

A Heart To Serve…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from Matthew 20: 25-28 (also found in Mark 10),

Jesus called his disciples together and said to them, “You know that the rulers of this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

And also, 1John 3:11,

“This is the message that you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another.”


2020 provided a strange year. A time when community, service, and safety all came together in a way that caused tremendous confusion for me. Amidst the Covid pandemic, I felt the conflict between “stay home/stay safe” and Jesus’ persistent call to serve others in love. What did God want me to do in this strange, new environment? It was clear to me that I was called to continue to serve, but what did that really mean?

My brain batted this question around repeatedly during the spring months as schools canceled and the overriding cultural message was stay home to flatten the curve.Β I prayed for wisdom, and I prayed for patience. I postponed swim team practice, and I worshiped via the internet on Sunday mornings. And, my heart cried as I watched our country disconnect from each other and our kids flounder as their daily support structure crumbled away. Our community felt the wrath of the disease in a multitude of different ways as those we loved were sickened or lost, and possibly all of us in some way struggled to gain insight as to how to love as a servant loves.

Summer came and God made it possible to have local swim team practice. We also were able to meet again as a church family to worship each week and this brought a sense of community back that became a lifeline for me. In the fall, school reopened and Youth Group began again, and I learned to wear a mask. It felt strange, but God told me that above all else I needed to be a servant and to be a good neighbor. Leading in love meant sacrificing for others. When the kids that I coached asked me to mask up to protect them and to protect their season, I found clarity in God’s Word (Romans Chapters 12-15:6) and learned to make it work. As I wrote last week, in Our Covid Story, I still have more questions than answers. But, winter has brought some important revelations that have shaped my heart, my thoughts and my actions as we finished up 2020 and moved into 2021.


The first revelation is it is okay to have a servant heart. This is a core part of who I am, and it is directly aligned with my heart for Jesus. I love our church dearly because being surrounded by a church family who is dedicated to serving provided a light to me as I stumbled around in the darkness of 2020. Our pastors reminded me weekly of Jesus’ call to disciple, and inspired me to find ways to intentionally respond to that call. I learned that although details were important, when your core is in Christ that it is okay to lessen your grip and just trust and follow.

The second revelation is that a pandemic does not lesson the need for service, it amplifies it. I’ve seen a loneliness, a sense of “being lost” in the eyes of many (myself included) over the last ten months. Some looked lost because they stopped looking for ways to serve, and some because their need to be served was so great. There is a tremendous physical, mental, and spiritual need as we move into 2021 and I pray that we will all respond when God asks us to move.

The third revelation is something that I’ve learned to cling to. Love is what “moves mountains”. It saves and it binds us together as a family. Goodness is rooted in love, and God is love. We can come up with impressive and detailed theories, but it really is simple. When we serve in love, then Jesus is able to move in and bring change because He is the ultimate display of God’s love. He is Grace, a Grace that is meant to be shared.

I don’t know what all 2021 will bring, but I pray that each of us will reconnect with community and obey Jesus’ command to love one another in service.

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Our Covid Story…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from Proverbs 3: 5

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.”


Covid-19 found our family over the holidays. Meg was the first to decide that she didn’t feel very well. Ashley Grace and Matt were quick to follow. For the girls, it started with a sore throat and headache that came and went for days before escalating into full-fledged illness. As it progressed, they got pretty sick and we realized that it wasn’t just a cold. Matt was blessed and experienced a much milder infection. Honestly, if the girls hadn’t gotten so sick I’m not sure that we would have realized that Matt had Covid. All three of them rounded out the journey with a loss of taste and smell. Karyn and I ended up moving into the basement and wearing our masks all the time. As the other three came out of isolation at the end of their illness, Karyn and I both tested negative with neither of us developing any symptoms.

It was a strange time. A time with lots of uncertainty as we navigated sickness in addition to testing, CDC guidelines, and trying to figure out how to be a good neighbor. Β For me, these same days were also filled with moments when my heart swelled with gratitude as I watched God take care of us – little things each day that kept hope and peace in my heart, and inspired us to move forward in faith. Β I spent time in prayer, and walked lots of miles with both my family and our dogs. I am a firm believer that each day requires the “3 F’s”: faith, fresh air and fitness. “Coach Anne” melded with “Mama Anne” and Team Burkholder held it together.


There were many things over the course of the adventure that were unclear and perhaps even confusing.

  • Where did Meg get exposed to the bug?
  • Why did the older girls get much sicker than Matt?
  • Why did Karyn and I remain healthy?
  • Why was Meg’s testing experience inconsistent and more complicated than the rest of ours?

I could go on with the list, but what I learned over the past two weeks was that my own understanding, that human understanding, was not going to materialize. Our family has more questions than answers regarding Covid-19 even after going through the experience. The folks from the Nebraska Health Department were awesome to work with and super kind and patient with us, but they added to the list of questions rather than providing answers to ours. We are a house full of intellectuals. Truly, each of the five of us could easily be called “a nerd”. As my brain kicked in filling itself with “why’s”, I quickly realized that I needed to be intentional about “God’s Part, My Part, Other’s Part”.Β  As I did that, it became clear to me that I could trust in the Lord with all my heart instead of depending on my own understanding.


I spent a significant portion of my early adult life fighting against my need for Jesus. At critical times, I chose to stiff arm the faith that I felt in my heart in order to try to persevere on my own. I am so very thankful that I don’t do that anymore as this “covid journey” would have been much, much harder.

Recently, someone asked me why Jesus matters to me. The answer is simple: my life is better with Him. He makes me different. No matter what this earth throws at me, it’s better with Jesus. He’s my coach. He’s my Savior. He brings me hope as He carries me through this life and prepares me for Heaven.

I’ve found peace as I realized that I don’t have to understand, I just need to trust in the One that does πŸ™‚

 

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Two wrongs don’t make a right…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s letter 1Thessalonians 5: 12-22

Paul’s Final Advice:

“Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other.Β 

Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.

See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.Β 

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.”


Sometime during my journey of motherhood, I found myself reciting “Two wrongs don’t make a right” at fairly regular intervals. When my girls were little, it would cause them to stop and think before lashing out in anger. As they grew into teenagers, one of them decided that sarcasm was the appropriate response to my words of wisdom. This new phenomenon was often preceded by an eye roll, and followed by “Yeah, but mom three lefts do.” The eye roll cost the guilty party “push ups” and over time my girls became famous for their upper body strength πŸ˜‰

We’ve got a full house in preparation for Christmas with all three girls back home. It is a joyful chaos. The other day, their actions inspired me to chorus “two wrongs don’t make a right”. By now, I get only a word or two in before they begin to say it along with me. It seems that after two decades, they are well-trained in their mama’s thoughts! Regardless, the words stop whatever shenanigans are brewing and replace them with laughter.


It’s always pretty cool to find wisdom in the Bible that supports your “parental teachings”. I didn’t spend regular time in God’s Word when the girls were little so they were quite a lot older by the time that I found the above verses in 1Thessalonians. I greatly value all of the guidance that God offers through Paul, but it brings a special smile to my face when I read the verse:

“See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.”Β 

I regret that I went through a significant part of my adult life without spending time each day in the Bible, yet I am so very thankful that God still found ways to speak to me and to reach my heart. He is steadfast, and His grace and mercy walks with our family each day. Over the past 5 years, I have come to truly value my time in the Word. It brings me clarity and confidence as it shapes my heart. It allows me to understand more fully that love is the evidence of faith, and Jesus is love.

As we reflect and ponder on the eternal gift of Jesus Christ, I pray that each of us will do as Paul suggests: take a breath, choose joy, and lead in gratitude, love and prayer as Jesus uses the Holy Spirit to guides us on the journey. After all, two wrongs don’t make a right, so we must hold onto what is good and stay away from every type of evil!

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What kind of hope is in your heart?

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 1:18

“I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called — his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.”


In my mind, there are two kinds of hope. A hope that creates a wish, and a hope that inspires a confident expectation. If you take a moment to think about it, they are not the same thing. A wish is passive, while a confident expectation requires both trust and action. For example, our family has many Christmas traditions beginning with cutting down a tree on the day after Thanksgiving. In my girls’ minds, the hope to get to do these traditions together as a family is one of confident expectation. They don’t just wish to do them, they prioritize and set their schedules so that they happen.

Another tradition that we have is placing the home-made star (that my sister-in-law made us 24 years ago) on the top of the tree. For the past 20 years, Matt lifted one of the girls up to perform this cherished chore. Last week, the girls decided that it was Matt’s turn. They created a plan to work together to lift him up so that he would get a chance to place the star. The tree our family chose to cut down this year was over 9 feet tall so the girls had to get him quite a ways off of the ground. Their hope was not simply a wish, it was a confident expectation and they never doubted their ability to get it done. Matt never doubted it either. The trust that they had in each other and the value that they placed in achieving the commonly held goal ensured that they were successful. There was a beautiful joy created by this shared hope as they completed the task. I managed to get a video of it, and you can watch it here:


I think that sometimes our culture defines hope as more of a wish and less of a confident expectation. While that is likely a safer interpretation as it doesn’t really require either trust or work on the part of the believer, the effects of considering it that way severely restrict the benefits that it can offer. I don’t believe that Jesus intends for us to receive only wishes from our faith relationship with him. Rather, I think that Jesus calls us to share his active passion for love. He promises the endless supply of living water and light that will move through us to bless both ourselves and others.

There are many references to hope in the Bible and it seems clear to me that they all revolve around a confident expectation, one of belief, trust, and loving action. God’s definition of hope is not synonymous to a wish, rather it came to us in the form of the ultimate loving action: His gift of Jesus (Immanuel). As a result, it carries with it a need for the kind of trust which believes in a certainty of fulfillment.

What kind of hope is in my heart? What kind is in yours? I’ve thought about this often over the past three weeks as I’ve been substitute teaching at our local middle school. Do I carry the hope of Jesus? Is my heart flooded by the light that brings the confident expression of love? Do the students know how much I care about them? Do I have the kind of deep belief and complete trust that allows Immanuel to lift me up in order to place His star on the top of my tree?

These are the things that God is placing on my heart as we begin the start of Advent. I *hope* that as I celebrate the birth of our Savior, that I will trust and understand more deeply the ultimate spiritual gift that we celebrate on Christmas Day πŸ™‚

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What’s in a name?

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from Luke chapter 9: Jesus and Zacchaeus. Specifically, verse 5:

“When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. ‘Zacchaeus!’ he said, ‘Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.'”


We learn to understand our names as babies before we can even speak ourselves. Each of us has one, and it makes us unique. Have you ever spent time thinking of the importance of getting personal enough to call someone by name? I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot recently as I began my tenure as a substitute in our local middle school. There are a lot of kids (a sea of movement down the hallways with faces partially disguised by masks) but each one has a name and a unique blend of traits that makes them special.

The critical question for me becomes: How does each student know that I consider them valuable and special?

It starts when I call them by name – by the right name, pronounced correctly, and with a smile on my face. I’m masked up too, but I know in my heart that the kids can sense my smile. With about 200 students in the school, knowing each one’s name is not a simple goal. I’m lucky to have coached about a quarter of them, but that still leaves a large number of masked faces looking at me with expectation.

As if to put an exclamation point on the importance of this goal, the Holy Spirit inspired our Youth Pastor to ask me recently to read a book entitled, “It’s Personal”. The book, by Virginia Ward, Reggie Joiner, and Kristen Ivy covers how hope is intrinsically tied to getting personal with the kids that God brings into our lives. Getting personal starts with caring enough to call them by name.


How many people in your life have both a name and a story to tell?


How does it make you feel when someone you barely know calls you by name? How does it make you feel when someone you know fairly well mispronounces or forgets your name? While the book discusses the importance of getting personalΒ with adolescents and teenagers, I would argue that our ability to intentionally take the time to notice and to care impacts the adults in our lives just as much as the kids. The best way to love authentically is to go deep. There is a vulnerability that comes from opening your heart to each person that God brings into your life, but there is also a deep sense of purpose that stems from choosing to take the risk.

The story of Jesus and Zacchaeus illustrates how Jesus felt about heart-felt relationships. Zacchaeus is one example of how JesusΒ modeled genuine friendship by taking the time to both notice and move in to understand the people around him. Zacchaeus was a loner, an unpopular tax collector struggling with greed and loneliness. When he heard that Jesus was to pass by, he climbed up in a tree to try and see the Messiah. Imagine how he felt when Jesus noticed him, called him by name, and invited him into fellowship?Β  When Jesus called him by name, I bet that he felt worth. When Jesus invited him into fellowship, I imagine that he felt hope. It’s so simple, but yet so awesomely beautiful.

What if each day there is someone that God intentionally places on your path?

Take the time to stop and look around.

There’s someone who needs you to see them.

It isn’t often convenient and it takes a unique blend of compassion, awareness and courage. Honestly, it’s hard. But it is so, so very important. I pray each day that I slow down to notice, accept, love and value the kids that God brings into my life. It starts by simply learning a name, but it leads to a promise of shared grace.

Who is your Zacchaeus today?

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Coaching through Covid-19…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from Romans chapters 14 and 15: I really encourage reading both chapters in their entirety. I found clear discernment in them as I served and coached through the past six months. Here is the first part of chapter 15…

“We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.


Every moment of every day we all make a choice: Am I going to build people up or tear them down? Another way to think about this is to ask the question, “Do I exist simply to please myself or does God put breath in my lungs so that I can serve others as I share His love?

I’ve been a “part time” coach for the past 24 years. I was an athlete for more than a decade before that. Picture the high school kid who trained four hours a day and went to nationals instead of prom πŸ™‚ That was me! Swimming and running were my refuge during my teenage years. Looking back, I can see how God placed the sports in my life to help me grow and refine the sense of integrity and discipline that He placed deep within my soul. Today, God continues to use athletics to shape my heart. I love the kids that He brings to me. I love them in a genuine way that teaches me about compassion, mercy, and sacrifice. My athletes are a critical part of my faith journey, and God just keeps bringing on the blessings with each season that passes.

In my mind, Jesus is the ultimate coach. He came to seek, to serve, and to save. No one was insignificant in his eyes. Everyone was worthy of love. During his time on earth, He never ran out of patience and always took the time to pour into the people in his life. His unselfish consideration of others provides a lofty goal that drives me to try to love better and ultimately to coach better. There is not a day that passes that I don’t ask myself, “am I being considerate in order to build others up?” In all honesty, the answer to that question sometimes slaps me in the face as I realize that I have stumbled. But, when I think about what has helped me the most as I coached through covid, it is being intentional about making the choice to build others up.

I remember our preacher saying years ago, “What comes out of you during stressful times shows what exists in your heart.”

I pray each day that what comes out of me is love.


Together we are stronger!

I have a list of ideas that God placed on my heart while coaching in 2020. Today, I share them in the hopes that they will inspire and help you as you serve.

  • Certainty is scarce, and fear is abundant. I must be steadfast and rooted in Jesus’ love so that my athletes can find strength and confidence in our relationship.
  • When hope and love come alive, fear falls apart. Community and team provide a support structure that breeds positive energy. As the athletes look around them in the huddle, they have hope and they sense love. They know that they matter and that they belong.
  • Living is important. That means showing up, giving your all, and leading with your heart. Every practice counts. Every race or game is a blessing. Choose to live, be a contributor!
  • Patience and perseverance go hand in hand. Am I tough enough to love first? Am I gentle enough to inspire consideration within the team? Am I humble and strong enough to sacrifice repeatedly for my brothers and sisters?
  • Knowledge makes us feel important, but it is love that builds strength (1Corinthians 8:1). In 2020, more than any time in my coaching career, love mattered. God brought me athletes in a myriad of different emotional states, but they all needed love. There was a deep need in the kids to realize that receiving and sharing love drives hope.
  • Courage is contagious. And, it starts with heart-felt leadership. Working hard together means more because it builds a culture of sacrifice and consideration of others.

When we choose to love, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to build each other up. This is the basis of TEAM (together everyone achieves more). My daily prayer is that our kids will continue to have the ability to engage in church, school, sports, and a variety of team activities that teach them the importance of Jesus’ call to love in community πŸ™‚

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Genuine hearts…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s epistle to the Romans 12: 9-13

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.”


Sometimes, I read the Bible and I struggle to figure out what God is trying to tell me. Other times, I read the Bible and the message is so obvious that it’s like a friendly smack on the face! I’ve experienced both of those feelings as I studied Paul’s letter to the Romans. Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, I’ve been mainly reading in the New Testament spending time in the Gospels of Luke and John in addition to studying Paul’s epistles. In all honesty, as I read God’s Word, I am searching for a daily roadmap. I need it as I strive to love and serve my family, my community, and the young people that God brings across my path. 2020 has been a year of challenge, and I have tried to be careful to remind myself each day “to look up to the audience that matters” in order to find discernment to lead me through it.

Some days I do a better job of that than others, but I pray that each day God sees my “try” and creates in me a merciful, servant heart.

I spent last week teaching 6th and 7th grade math as a substitute. I am still in the midst of the Cross Country season, so that meant 10+ hour days surrounded by kids. I was pretty well “immersed” πŸ˜‰ One thing that God placed on my heart over and over again throughout the week was the need to be genuine. I remember an old horse trainer telling me decades ago – “Anne, that horse doesn’t care how much you know until he understands how much you care.” That day, the trainer was reminding me that “cranial knowledge” sometimes needs to take a backseat to the heart and its discernment of right and wrong. I thought about that repeatedly last week as I tried to remember middle school math and keep the kids moving forward in a disciplined fashion. I hope that they figured out over our five days together how much I care about them and the work that we were asked to do together.Β 


I don’t know why we are sometimes tempted to “pretend”, or to create a farce as we live our lives. But, I think that Paul’s reminder up above speaks clearly and boldly about God’s expectation of our hearts. We are called to be genuine, to love without reservation and with great affection. As we love with true hearts, we are also asked to work hard, to serve enthusiastically, to rejoice with hope, and to be patient in times of challenge. Perhaps most importantly, we are asked to be steadfast in our prayers in order to give Jesus the ability to replenish our hearts so that they continue to bless others as they run over with love. The expectation is that we lead with our hearts, always eager to help those in need.Β 

“God loves a cheerful giver” (2Corinthians 9:7).

For years, I thought that God cared most about my actions – for the work that I accomplished. The more time that I spend in His Word and around the kids that He places in my life, the more I realize that what God cares most about is my heart. I’ve decided that I don’t need a “task list” to give me a report card at the end of my day. Instead, I need a “genuine meter” that assesses the sincerity of my heart. Good work can’t help but spill out from a heart that loves with Grace. The works are the fruit of the heart and a demonstration of the love that lives there. This is the evidence of God’s presence in our earthly world. This is how the Good News is shared.

It’s okay to be different. It is good to be genuine. God asks us to be real. It honors and points to our heavenly Father when the sincerity and compassion of our hearts provides the roadmap to our days πŸ™‚

 

 

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The difference between a good day and a bad day…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s letter to the Philippians 4: 12-13

“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”


I always seem to have a “one liner” that I try to intentionally live by and share with others. Over time, the words shift and change but I hold onto the old ones even as I transition into the new ones. The girls laugh that I don’t need to keep a written list as they are all tucked safely in between our ears 😊 My mantra for the fall season this year is, “the difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude”. My runners may not remember everything that I share with them, but they’ve got this one down. If I start the statement, they all chorus in to finish it for me. I believe it to be incredibly important. As we live in a world full of uncertainty, the one thing that we can control daily is our attitude.

There are a number of people who have come before me who get credit for the creation of this statement, and as I read through Paul’s epistles I see the message over and over again. We can control our attitude, how we approach each day, by making a choice to trust in the love of Jesus and being grateful for the joy that comes from that love. We live in a world of scarcity, but we worship a God of abundance. Love, hope, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, patience, perseverance, faithfulness, gentleness and self control – God makes those available to us daily, we simply need to choose to accept them. When my heart is soft and I pack my faith well, then I am filled with these gifts of the Spirit and able to see, experience, and share all of the rainbows that God places on my daily path.


Paul wrote the above words from Philippians while he was living in a jail cell. He couldn’t control his physical freedom, but he could control his attitude. He demonstrated how to be “full of joy in the Lord” regardless of circumstance. His secret weapon was Jesus’ love. On a day when he could not celebrate physical freedom, he could celebrate spiritual freedom and the ability to walk in love — not just any love, but Christ’s love. This love allowed him to speak of thankfulness, to find joy, and to focus on the rainbow instead of the storm. Paul could have been bitter, but he chose to walk in the joyous freedom of love.

It’s seems crazy, and yet it makes perfect sense. We can live in the world but not be of the world. We do this as we remember that God is the audience that matters and that His love is unconditional and omnipotent. We can choose the freedom to be found there, in an identity rooted in forgiveness and grace. When I draw strength from the big picture of God’s love, then I can find joys to celebrate and meaningful purpose amidst the hard things. My cup doesn’t run empty because I turn to Jesus to fill it. As my faith grows, I realize that it isn’t just full, it is running over. As it runs over, it blesses others and the cycle of love prevails. Even in the midst of hard times, that makes for a good day πŸ™‚

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