Tag Archives: Christmas

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   

 

 

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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.

 

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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!

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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…

 

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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.

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Holiday Blessings…

True courage lies in the ability to surpass life's challenges and find joy in the simple moments of the day...

True courage: The ability to surpass life’s challenges in order to find joy in the simple moments of the day…

Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed and peaceful holiday season.

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A Christmas Favorite…

My favorite Christmas tradition is cutting down a tree.  I grew up in the city where we bought an already cut down tree every year for Christmas.  When Matt and I moved to Nebraska in 1997, we started our own tradition of cutting down a tree each year.  Now that our girls are old enough to be opinionated, we have implemented a family voting system when choosing the tree.

Honestly, I do not know what is more fun—searching for the tree, debating on whether or not it is good enough to be “our tree”, watching Matt cut down the tree, or actually setting it up in the house and decorating it.  I love everything about our “Christmas Tree” tradition…

What better way to begin the search than hitching a ride around the tree farm...

What better way to begin the search than hitching a ride around the tree farm…Come on dad, can’t you go faster than that?!

Can you tell which one of my older daughters is the "instigator" of trouble?

Can you tell which one of my older daughters is the “instigator” of trouble?

The choice of my favorite blondes was a tree trimmed to look like a reindeer (I thought it looked more like pig myself)...

The choice of my favorite blondes was a tree trimmed to look like a reindeer (I thought it looked more like pig myself)…

Matt quickly moved them off to search for other trees...

Matt quickly distracted them with a tree just off to the right of the camara lens.  The tree was 25+ feet tall and was more suitable to being planted in my front lawn…

We finally settled on a very pretty 8 foot tree that I found while the other four were off looking at the 25 footer...

We finally settled on a very pretty 8 foot tree that I found while the other four were off looking at the 25 footer…

At one point in the cutting down process, Matt suggested that our favorite 13 year old athlete put her muscles to good use and help.  You can see how well that idea went over...

At one point in the cutting down process, Matt suggested that our favorite 13 year old athlete put her muscles to good use and help. You can see how well that idea went over…

There was a fairly decent "team effort" put forth to lift the tree onto the carrier...

There was a fairly decent “team effort” put forth to lift the tree onto the carrier…

Celebrating the success...

Celebrating the success…

Headed back to the pickup---either the blondes have begun a fitness and strength training program for their daddy or they are spoiled and have him wrapped around their little fingers...I am going with the latter of the two!

Headed back to the pickup—either the blondes have begun a fitness and strength training program for their daddy or they are spoiled and have him wrapped around their little fingers…I am going with the latter of the two!

All in all, the 2012 Christmas Tree tradition went well at the Feed Yard Foodie house!

Wandering, looking for a tree,

It’s hard to please both you and me…

Finally, we found it!

Watching dad wriggling on the ground

Timber! He finally cut it down.

Glowing, it brings joy to the home.

Poem by Ashley Grace

What’s your favorite holiday tradition?

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