Tag Archives: Christmas

Burkholder Family Christmas Letter – Long version 2020…

While I sent out a few paper Christmas cards this year, the “letter” included with them is fairly abridged.

So, in honor of the 24th annual Burkholder Christmas letter tradition, I am including here a longer version for those inclined to read it 😊


As I reflect on 2020, what God places firmly on my heart is the rekindling of a deep gratitude for our farm, our community and the place that we get to call “home”. I think that both Matt and I would report that our ability to “work the land” and live in the midst of “God’s country” frees our hearts and brings peace to our minds even in the midst of chaos and upheaval. We are closing in on 25 years of marriage and 24 years of farming! Matt’s hair is a little bit grayer and I seem to develop more wrinkles with each year that passes, but we are so blessed to have each other – our family – and all those whom God brings into our daily lives.

Matt continues to manage the farm and “play in the dirt” as the girls and I like to tease him. He loves studying the soil and figuring out ways to better care for our land. He uses his “engineering problem solving skills” to help his crew harvest alfalfa and create alfalfa dehy pellets that feed animals all across the United States. In addition, he works with partners to grow a blend of rotational corn, soy beans, wheat, oats and cover crops to ensure good long-term soil health. In his spare time, he serves on several community boards, water skis like he is still 18, and chases determinedly after his girls 🙂

I “retired” from my animal (cattle) welfare job with the Beef Marketing Group on May 1st. I’m keeping busy helping Matt on the farm and taking care of our grass cattle during the spring and summer months. I also continue to coach swim team and cross country, serve as a small group leader for local middle school girls through our church, and added on substitute teaching at our local public middle school this fall. I’m finding that 6th-8th graders are just as ornery as cattle caregivers, but they bring a new sense of hope to my heart as I shake my head at their antics. I am truly enjoying this new door that God has opened in my life.

Ashley Grace is a Junior at Notre Dame University. She is a dual major in Political Science and Theology with a minor in Public Service. In her “free time” she works as a writing tutor for the university, and spent the fall tutoring football players. She is very proud that “her boys” are in the running for the National Championship title. She also is learning the sport of boxing and continues to run a bit on the side. She heads to Milwaukee, Wisconsin next summer to work as a summer school teacher before completing her final year as an undergraduate at ND.

Megan began her tenure at Davidson College this fall. She plans to be a STEM major of some sort – likely either chemistry or physics – with a long term goal of being a teacher and coach. She is a member of the track team where she pole vaults and is looking forward to the winter and spring season! Covid made for a difficult transition to college, but we are very proud of her tenacity. We are also incredibly thankful for God’s blessing of helping her to find a supportive group of awesome young Christians to “do life with” during her time in North Carolina.

Karyn is surviving living as “an only child” with Matt and I. She adopted an “emotional support kitten” this summer right before her sisters both left for college, and persevered with greatness through both the Nebraska State Cross Country Championships and the Nebraska State One Act Championships this fall. She is currently keeping busy with basketball and claims chemistry and math as her favorite subjects. We are extremely thankful that “in-person” school and activities persevered across Nebraska this fall. Our local school board, administrators, teachers, coaches, custodians, and bus drivers are a beautiful set of humans who have worked tirelessly to ensure that the children of our community are loved each day.

We wish each of you the peace and love of Jesus this Christmas Season. As always, our door is open for those who travel past the farm.

Matt, Anne, Ashley Grace, Megan, Karyn and all the 4-legged members of the Burkholder family 🙂

6 Comments

Filed under Family

Two wrongs don’t make a right…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


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. 

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. 

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 😉

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.” 

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!

2 Comments

Filed under Wednesday Wisdom

What kind of hope is in your heart?

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


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 🙂

8 Comments

Filed under Wednesday Wisdom

Merry Christmas!

For those of you who do not receive our annual Christmas letter via snail mail — Year #22 🙂



If I were to think of a family “mantra” for 2018, it is that we learned to live by faith. 2018 was a year full of blessings and change for us as we packed our faith to live with God’s grace. In April, a young man who I had been tutoring at the high school needed a place to call home so Joseph joined the family. He is a brave soul – stepping into a house full of women – and Matt rejoiced as he lost his status of “only male” in the family!

About six weeks after Joseph joined us, Ashley Grace graduated from high school. We are still adjusting to having an “adult” child as Matt and I wonder daily how we could possibly be old enough to have a college student. Ashley Grace joined the Notre Dame community in August and loves her new role. In addition to school, she is interning with the Girls On The Run organization. She has the heart of servant – plans to major in Political Science – is well on her way to being bilingual – and has a long-term goal of using her talents to help others to find their voices. She brought home straight A’s during her first semester in the Fighting Irish family and we are tremendously proud of her kind heart and fierce discipline.

A week after Ashley Grace’s graduation, Megan pole vaulted her way to victory at the 2018 Nebraska State Track Meet bringing home the gold in addition to a new school record. It brought joy to my heart to watch her develop confidence as an athlete as she soared 11’2” through the air. She still has her sights set on beating her Dad’s pole vault PR so we’ll see what the future holds 🙂 She began her junior year in high school this fall, and takes every science class available with the plan of studying physics or engineering when it becomes her time to start college. Meg approaches life with the same passion that she brings to the athletic field, and packs her faith with a devotion that allows for an ever-present smile.

2018 marks the year that Karyn found her voice. My quiet, shy girl blossomed into a confident and eloquent young woman. She is currently mastering 8th grade, and finding leadership roles on the various athletic teams that she loves so much. I think that she would report that swim team is still her favorite, but basketball and track are likely not far behind. Karyn’s compassionate heart combined with her steadfast loyalty provided an important foundation for Joseph as he began a new life with us. I love to watch the two of them be brave together – facing challenges with God’s grace and a faith that reflects Jesus’ universal agape love. They both serve as an inspiration for me.

Joseph is a senior in high school this year. In addition to mastering the art of deftly handling sisters, he played football in the fall and is now immersed into wrestling season. Matt reports that we are tremendously blessed as a family, and he and I are both so grateful that what used to be a great 5 is now an awesome 6! We continue to farm in the Platte River Valley where Matt amazes me with his adept entrepreneurship skills. I still work for the Beef Marketing Group with a continued passion to improve cattle welfare in feedlots. In my spare time, I coach the Cozad Swim Team and am an assistant coach for the junior high and high school cross country teams. We hope that your travels will bring you across Nebraska on Interstate 80 and that you will stop and visit us!

In the meantime, we send blessings and smiles from our farm to your family!

Matt,   Anne,   Ashley Grace,  Joseph,  Megan, and  Karyn   

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Family, General

Choose Your Experience…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Matthew 11: 28-30

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”


I walked out of my house into the garage Sunday afternoon to find a piece of paper that read in big letters Choose Your Experience. It was a college flyer that must have missed the trash can and landed on the ground. I’d been praying for guidance as I pondered something difficult. It’s always interesting to see the unique ways that God responds to my prayers 🙂

Choose Your Experience

When I was a child, I used to pray for outcomes — a win in the swimming pool or help on a test, or sometimes I prayed that I wouldn’t have to do something that I didn’t want to do. As an adult, my prayers have changed. Today, it is rare for me to pray for a specific outcome. Instead, my prayers are more like a conversation where I search for guidance, love, and peace.

This change occurred when I realized that we are all meant to walk through challenges during our time on earth. It isn’t about the challenge – it’s about the experience.

Life isn’t easy. Sometimes it hurts. That’s okay. I don’t pray for “outcomes” anymore because I know that I am meant to experience it all. Instead, I pray for Jesus to be with me on the journey because I know that my attitude determines the love, peace, hope and joy that I carry in my heart as I walk through each challenge.

It isn’t about the what. It’s about the how.

Choose your experience.

If we are meant to experience everything, then that phrase says to me that my choice determines not what happens, but rather how I respond and react to what happens. My experience changes when I choose to ask Jesus to walk the journey with me.


I’ve pondered the above scripture from the Gospel of Matthew often over the past year.

How can a yoke be easy to bear?

I live on a farm. While we do not use yokes and oxen in 2018, I’ve seen a horse pull a plow. It isn’t easy and it does not take long for the animal to break out into a sweat from the exertion necessary to pull the plow and work the ground. The yoke provides the connection. It doesn’t stop the work – rather – it orchestrates it.

It came to me on Sunday afternoon that when I put on Jesus’ yoke, the work load does not lesson. In fact, if I truly answer the call, it often increases. But, the burden becomes easy to bear as I open my heart in faith to Jesus’ love- peace – hope – joy.

It is possible to experience difficult times with the peace that enables a purposeful joy. It happens when we choose to experience life on earth with God’s grace in our hearts. When we take Jesus’ yoke upon ourselves, it brings the strength that lightens the burden. The burden may not change, but our ability to bear it does.

Next week we celebrate Christmas. Many will celebrate it with the joy of family – Some will celebrate it in the midst of difficult times. We all are invited to celebrate it with the peace that passes all understanding and creates rest for the soul. This peace comes in the form of the Emmanuel – the Christ child – who yokes us to our Heavenly Father during our earthly journey.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under General, Wednesday Wisdom

Merry Christmas!

The annual Burkholder Christmas letter — 21 years in the running 🙂

2017 brought the year of the teenagers to the Burkholder residence. Ashley Grace achieved the big 18 this month, Megan quickly approaches 16, and Karyn celebrated the fall with 13. Despite the fact that he is surrounded by women, Matt continues to thrive on the Nebraska prairie 🙂 The girls are truly our greatest blessings and the farm is alive with the love and joy that comes with family.

While Ashley Grace rocks her senior year in high school, Matt and I are left pondering how in the world we have a child old enough to leave for college! Last week brought the news that she will join the Notre Dame family in August of 2018. Her excitement rivals the pride that we feel toward the beautiful, compassionate young woman she has become. 2017 brought competition in the National Forensics League Extemporaneous Speaking finals as well as the completion of a successful four year state qualifying cross country career.

Megan expanded her repertoire this year to include set building for the Haymaker State Runner Up One Act play, and state appearances in pole vaulting (along with a school record) and cross country. She is in the midst of a great sophomore basketball season and still makes time to help out with cattle on the farm. Her smile is contagious and she packs her faith with a dedication that makes this Mama proud.

Karyn began her Junior High career this fall bringing home hardware on the cross country course and a successful basketball season. She relishes the fact that although she is the youngest of the Burkholder girls, she is the tallest. Karyn’s greatest dream came true this summer when we welcomed a yellow Labrador named Theodore into the family. Theodore brings a whole new level of antics and laughter to our home; and I have to admit that she is not the only one who adores him 🙂

Matt and I celebrated 21 years of marriage last June although he swears that I turn 29 with every birthday that passes…I am thankful each day to be able to share my life with him. He continues to manage the farm with a dedication to sustainability and integrity, although I think that he would tell you that being a good daddy dominates the top of his priority list.

Ashley Grace challenged me to run in my first half marathon this fall. I found a unique element of good health and strength amidst the 550 miles of training. I finished the race with a smile on my face, peace in my heart, and a time of 1:42.49. I continue to coach the local swim team as well as acting as an assistant coach for the Haymaker Junior High and High School Cross Country team. I truly believe that it takes a community to raise a child, and hope that I positively influence the athletes that I coach.

We wish you and your family the very best this holiday season. As always, if your path ever brings you across Nebraska please stop by and say hello!

1 Comment

Filed under Family, General

The Cutting Of the Tree…

Christmastreecollage2.jpg

 The Cutting of the Tree

Leave it to me,

We go out to Heins Pines

And we follow the signs

To the big pasture out behind,

There is laughing and screaming

A bit of scheming,

We follow the row

Down the path we go

To find a tree we can top with a bow,

As we run

All the while having fun,

The perfect tree comes into sight

We think it just might

Be just right,

So pictures are taken

But we are mistaken,

The right tree is yet to be found

We bound

Over the ground,

And find anew

A different tree that isn’t as askew,

We all decided

We were quite confided

So we take more pictures beside,

I ask to jump on my dad’s shoulders,

Although he is getting older,

Christmastreecollage1.jpg

I climb aboard

But we get the award

For being awkward,

Because I fall on my face

With much grace,

I get off the floor

And try once more

It works better and this time we score,

When dad finally stands

I can see the woodlands,

And we get a picture

You can see the treasure

In my daddy’s eyes it is captured,

Then he starts dancing

And flouncing,

I hold tight to his head

I close my eyes instead

Of looking upon the scene ahead,

More pictures are snapped

To record this mishap,

I must be crushing his eyes

Because he starts to improvise

Pulling my hands away, to my surprise,

It is time to get off

I am castoff,

He crawls under the branches

With the handsaw in his clenches

And he launches,

The great cutting of the tree

In front of you and me!Christmastreecollage3.jpg

Poem by Megan

Pictures by Anne

Smiles from all the Burkholder clan…

 

11 Comments

Filed under Family, General

Traditions…

My favorite family tradition is cutting down a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving.  Matt and I started this custom when we moved to Nebraska in 1997. Our family has grown over the years and so has the number of smiles that accompanies the tree.

A few years ago, the local tree farm bought tree carts --- Matt is a fan as he no longer has to carry the tree, AG is a fan as she enjoys instructing her sisters to give her a ride...

A few years ago, the local tree farm bought tree carts — Matt is a fan as he no longer has to carry the tree, AG is a fan as she enjoys instructing her sisters to give her a ride…

Looking for the *right* tree is quite the process...

Looking for the *right* tree is quite the process…

Apparently this process involves taking "selfies" to properly assess the tree possibilities...

With teenagers involved, this process now involves taking “selfies” to properly assess the tree possibilities…

When finding the *right* tree, hugging it is necessary...

When finding the *right* tree, hugging it is necessary…

Sometimes the vote for the *right* tree is not unanimous...

Sometimes the vote for the *right* tree is not unanimous…

She got over it...

She got over it…

Fortunately, we generally agree on the important things...

Fortunately, my favorite farmer and I generally agree on the important things…

Christmas is a magical time — A time of family — A time of celebration

A time of love.

8 Comments

Filed under Family, General