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On the other side…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s letter to the Philippians 4: 11-13

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 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.”


Life’s not perfect. As much as we might long for unlimited happy days where the sun always shines and the journey is easy, that’s just not what happens. I’m going to reach 45 years this February and my favorite farmer has been with me on the journey since I was 18. We’ve been blessed beyond measure, and yet we’ve been challenged beyond anything I might have imagined. It’s hard to wrap your brain around how those two things can go together until you read Paul’s letter to the Philippians. It is a letter of thanksgiving – written from a prison cell – during a time when he faced the very real possibility of execution. It is a great reminder that there is joy to be found in every situation, even those times of great struggle.

Last week I spent time thinking about what happens on the other side. Not just that “eternal high five” that greets us at heaven’s gate, but the other side of difficult times that we pass through during our years on earth. I spent five years battling Graves Disease and some unusual complications resulting from treatment beginning when Karyn was an infant. It was unexpected, it was hard. We had three small children (5 and under) as well as a farm to run. And, there were many days that I could hardly function. I looked anorexic, was terribly anemic and got so weak that I couldn’t lift the girls.

On the “other side” of Graves Disease 🙂

As hard as it was for me to get through each day, it was harder for Matt. Watching someone you love suffer has to be one of the hardest things that we are asked to do in our lifetime. It brings on a litany of emotions – none of which resemble the perfect happiness that we dream of on the day that we say I do. There have been times in our marriage where we have looked at each other and asked the question:

If God loves us, why does he allow us to suffer?


As I was visiting with a friend last week, the pieces all fell together and my brain made sense of this question. God uses every experience to shape us and to grant us various perspectives that help us to share His love with others on the journey. We can’t learn these things if we are never challenged. We can’t learn to lean into Jesus’ love and strength if life is never hard. We can’t have true understanding and empathy for others if we never hurt ourselves.

I’ve revisited many of these lessons over the past nine months as I spent long days on crutches and went through three surgeries to heal my leg. Today, I’d like to share the five most important lessons that struggling has taught me — looking back now that I am on the other side.

  1. Everyone has a story. Each and every person that we come into contact with battles a challenge that we may never get to see. A smile or a few words of encouragement likely makes the difference in their ability to find joy amongst the struggle.
  2. Life is not meant to be taken for granted. Each day brings the possibility of many blessings – the ability for us to share Jesus’ love with others. Slow down. Take the time to see those opportunities and then embrace the confidence of Christ in order to turn them into Holy Moments.
  3.  A loving spouse is a gift to be cherished. Matt carries a lot of medals on his heart. God’s placed them there as we’ve walked together through the past twenty seven years. He is an amazing man with a heart that never stops giving. Being his wife is one of my greatest blessings and inspires my heart to be grateful as we greet each new day together.
  4. Our children learn with us as we walk together – they learn from us and we learn from them. Never discount the power of TEAM. One of the greatest blessings that came out of my illness was our ability to come together as a family to find strength and remain stubbornly rooted in love. There’ve been days that the girls have carried us — spiritually and emotionally — as Matt and I struggled to make sense of things. Today I believe that there is nothing more beautiful than a child reflecting Jesus’ love and light to his/her parents. It not only helps them to own their own faith, it shows them the purpose of faith!
  5. We never walk alone. When I was sick, someone told me “Anne, God will never give you more than you can handle.” I really struggled with that as some days I was just plain not enough. The last ten years have taught me that faith allows Jesus to fill that gap. God often gives us more than we can handle on our own, but those are the times that Jesus comes into our lives to carry us through. He is the perfect Coach — the one with divine discernment and a never-ending well of love and strength.

I’m sure that Matt and I and our girls will face more struggles as we walk through life together. But, just as I know this, I also realize that there is joy to be found in each and every day. We find it when we abide in Christ and welcome the peace and strength that He brings. Just as Paul reminds us in the above scripture verses, the secret to being content in every situation is to recognize that we are never alone. God walks with us and offers the comfort that leads to peace – on the good days and the tough ones. It may be hard to see the value in the moment of hardship, but it becomes clear once we are on the other side.

 

 

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Nothing is insignificant…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the gospel of Matthew 3: 13-15

Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?”

But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” 


After I moved to the farm in 1997, I quickly learned that when you care for farm animals that it is the little things that matter most. Daily chores are a constant, and the quality of life for the animals is directly correlated with the quality of your workmanship. Nothing is insignificant. 

I think that one of the things that allowed me to find success as a cattle caregiver is my dedication to detail. If it affected the welfare of my animals, then I placed a priority on it regardless of whether or not I truly understood it. In the early 2000’s I delved deeply into “prey animal psychology” so that I could learn to think like my cattle. It led to a fascinating journey in mental and emotional health that continues to inspire me daily.

I’ll never forget the looks on my farm crew’s faces when I told them that I was going to start exercising cattle as a way to allow the animals to find a higher level of comfort on our farm. The expressions of bafflement might have been comical if I had not been so passionate on the topic. I knew in my heart that caring for God’s creatures involved a deeper level of commitment. Over time, my guys all became believers as the changes in animal care that I lead them on allowed for improved cattle health and well-being.


As I read Matthew 3, I can picture the look on John’s face as Jesus seeks to be baptized by him. It might just have been similar to the looks of bafflement that I received from my feed yard crew that day that I introduced them to cattle psychology 🙂 A lack of understanding can often lead to a human response of disbelief.

Why would the Son of God need to be baptized?

Because God required it.

Despite the fact that John did not really understand why he was being called to baptize Jesus, he preformed the action because God asked him to. He faltered a bit and needed Jesus to kindly remind him of God’s call, but together they moved in faith. If you read on further in Matthew we are told that “After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water; the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”

What happened when God’s call was faithfully answered?

Blessings followed obedience and the act of faith resulted in Jesus becoming fully equipped with the Spirit of God for his earthly journey. Something that seemed unnecessary in human eyes played a critical role in God’s plan for Jesus and ultimately for us.


How many times do we fail to respond to something that God has asked of us because we do not fully understand it?

  • Perhaps it scares us
  • Perhaps it baffles us
  • Perhaps it seems insignificant as a result of our lack of comprehension

I know that this is something that I need to work on daily. For me, the vital part of walking with Jesus to fulfill God’s mission is found in the intentional commitment to answer the call; regardless of whether or not I understand it. It is the belief that nothing that God asks us to do is insignificant.

It’s okay that we can’t see the finish line —

what matters is being faithfully committed to the journey.

 

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It means more when you share it with a cheerful heart…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Today’s thoughts come from Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians Chap. 9:7-9

You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all that you need. Then you will always have everything that you need and plenty left over to share with others. 


Finishing an ocean mile race as part of my training circa 1992

When I was a young athlete, I remember my dad telling me, “Anne, if you are going to do something then you need to do it well.” With him, there was no halfway, and I learned to work with diligence and dedication to make the most of my God-given talent. At 5’3″ and 105#, I was often the smallest backstroker in the pool. I think that some wondered how I found success, but I knew the secret — I found that hard work brought passion and passion brought hard work. It was a winning cycle that both brought honor to my sport and carried me through the majority of my athletic career.

While I possessed a keen grip on the notion of bringing honor to my God-given talents through dedication and hard work, I had begun my journey into adulthood before I gave much intentional thought to the concept of “giving”. The idea of turning those talents into cheerful gifts to others came after trading the ocean for the Nebraska prairie. Over the years, there have certainly been times that my efforts benefited others, but a focus on daily giving with a cheerful heart is still a work in progress for me.

I think that one of the things that I love most about being a cattle caregiver is the simplicity of the relationship. My cattle need me for daily care, and I need them to turn the resources on my farm into beef which nourishes my body.

There are no games, there are no politics, there are no pretensions.

Very simply, there exists only an honest display of bidirectional giving.

I can’t honestly say if cattle experience the emotion of joy; but I can report that I gain a feeling of peace and contentment as I fulfill my responsibilities as an animal caregiver — giving from a cheerful heart to fulfill a noble calling.


For me, things become more complicated in my relationships with other people. My “cheerful heart” sometimes wants to place expectations on others instead of simply finding honor in the act of sharing and giving. I forget the point of sharing when I do not place my faith at the heart of my gift.

I believe that God desires us to give as He gives

cheerfully, generously, and without any strings

knowing that our hearts possess enough love for everyone and our actions are fueled by a divine power of unending goodness.

I know that with each day that passes, I intentionally mature in my faith as my heart builds a habit of sharing with gratitude — trading unhealthy expectations for empathy and love.

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The Greatest Gift…

Thoughtful Thursday

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When we brought her home from the hospital almost 15 years ago, she fit in the palm of her daddy’s hand.  Today, she and her teammates compete at the Class C District Cross Country Championships. 

I am reminded that one of my greatest joys is sharing in the lives of my children:  mentoring them, supporting them, and loving them on their journey.  There is no greater gift.

Go Haymakers!

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