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Wednesday Wisdom 🙂

Inspiration for this week comes from the Gospel of Luke 9: 10-17

Jesus Feeds 5,000

For a large chunk of my life, I read the story of Jesus feeding 5,000 as a representation of Jesus’ power manifested in the form of a miracle. Somehow, 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish multiplied to satisfy an enormous crowd of people in need. A couple of years ago, the discipleship pastor at our church challenged me to read it from another angle. This weekend, he reminded me of it again…

What if the story is also a look into how “Coach Jesus” molds and shapes the disciples as he prepares them to be leaders?

The story begins with the disciples returning from one of their early mission trips without Jesus (Luke 9:1-6). They are feeling pretty successful and eager to share of their experiences healing others, so Jesus takes them off to a quiet area “to debrief”.  We aren’t told what Jesus imparts during that private time with them, but the coach in me suspects that it might include a gentle refocus and reminder of the long-term team goal. That private time of coaching runs short as crowds follow them and assemble to hear more teaching. As the afternoon wears on, the disciples become concerned that food is scarce and they are far from town. They ask Jesus to send the crowds away to find food and lodging for the night.

But instead of sending the crowds away, Coach Jesus issues a challenge by replying – “You feed them.”

I can imagine the looks of disbelief on the disciples faces. I think I’ve seen something similar from time to time when I’ve put together a really challenging workout for my swimmers. “Coach Anne, you must be crazy, how are we going to do that?!” My reply is consistent, “One lap at a time” 😉 In the story, we see Jesus break the task of feeding 5,000 down into “teaching pieces”, offering tools and support, but steadfastly expecting that the disciples will get it done. It was a coaching moment when Jesus asked his team to do something that seemed impossible to them. Jesus knew they could do it, and prepared to coach them through the experience.

Regardless of whether or not you have ever been a coach or a teacher, I bet that you can remember a time when you were pushed by someone past your comfort level. The ask was big and (in the moment) your doubts were bigger! Hopefully, you had a great support group that helped you move to that next level, that next stage – to go perhaps where you never thought you could go.

The road to excellence isn’t meant to be comfortable.

All throughout the Gospels, Jesus is clear about this. But, He also clearly shares the message that we are not meant to travel it alone. By trusting God, we get to be on “Team Jesus”. Then, if we are willing to put in work and effort, all things are possible. For many of us, settling is a huge and comfortable trap that grips at us. It talks us out of moving deeper and keeps us from finding the joy that exists in being all-in on our spiritual journey. Settling temps us into believing that easier is better.

I used to look at my swim coach the same way that my swimmers sometimes look at me – with disbelief and incredulity.  I know that I also look at Jesus that way when the Holy Spirit puts something difficult on my heart. Over time, I am learning that the next stage is always worth the initial discomfort. I always end up somewhere better that makes it well worth the effort 🙂

In our minds, there may only be 5 loaves of bread and two fish, but Coach Jesus sees a different picture. A picture where reaching our potential enables an unlimited number of people to be nourished with 12 baskets of leftovers remaining.




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It is in Giving of Ourselves That We Receive…

I love the Prayer of St. Francis.  In particular, I love the passage that reads “It is in giving of ourselves that we receive”.  If I were to put my life’s ambition into words, it would be these words of St. Francis.

I believe that it is both an honor and a duty to share of myself.  There are days that I do it well, and there are days that I struggle.  I suppose that is what makes me human.

I love to be their Mama, I love to be their coach and their biggest fan…

My first duty is to my family and to my animals.  They keep me pretty busy.  Raising animals is a bit like raising a toddler—they seem to always need something!  Although it brings me tremendous joy, my children generally always need something too…

Their care is important too…

My spare time is limited, but I am committed to sharing it as best as I can.  One of my favorite ways of sharing is to work with young people.  Whether in a swimming pool, at my feed yard, or in a classroom setting; I love to work with youth.

Even though I manage a cattle feed yard, there is a part of me that will always be a teacher.  That very special part of me comes from watching my mom’s lifelong passion for inspiring young minds.  From Shakespeare to Gabriel Marquez, Mrs. Gibson makes literature come alive in her high school classroom.

Three generations of contributors–I have had good mentors in my life…

The topics of animal welfare, cattle handling, Beef Quality Assurance, and learning to tell the personal story of agriculture are very different topics than the literature that my mom teaches.  However, it is my hope that my passion and teaching effectiveness give credence to the magic that occurs in Mrs. Gibson’s class.

Our youth is our future.  Their minds are powerful and their excitement is contagious.  Harnessing that power and enthusiasm, and combining it with a good work ethic and the proper knowledge ensures the prosperity of tomorrow.

They make a difference in my life, I hope that I make a difference in theirs…

Melanie and her dad came from Missouri to spend a couple of days with me this summer. I look forward to following Melanie’s progress as she goes through college and becomes the next generation of great cattle caregivers!

Hopefully my words inspire this group of college students during a recent visit to the University of Nebraska…

  • I am thankful for my young athletes who learn that hard work is the basis for success.
  • I am thankful for the young people who make the sacrifice to travel to my feed yard and spend time learning “hands on” how to care for cattle and raise beef.
  • I am thankful for Nebraska’s university system and its educators who periodically ask me to share my knowledge with their students.

Most especially, I am thankful to be a contributor, and every time that I see a young person benefit from my efforts my heart fills and I am reminded why I love the prayer of St. Francis so much…

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