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Hands and Feet…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s Epistle to Romans 12: 4-5

“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body and we all belong to each other.”


It’s college football season. My favorite farmer played both high school and college football, so my girls have grown up in a house that understands and celebrates the game. The other night at dinner, Karyn mentioned Army’s football uniforms. She loves the fact that instead of having the last name of the player on the back of the jersey, each team member’s jersey has “Army” printed where their name might be.

My dad was in the Army and I went on a college recruiting trip for swimming to West Point my senior year in high school. Although my heart led me somewhere else for college, I remember the feeling of “team” that permeated the campus. There wasn’t hardly an “I” to be found –  instead it was about “we” and the power of teamwork. As Karyn, Matt and I talked about Army’s philosophy, it reminded me of our call to be on Team Jesus.


The New Testament is filled with verses where Jesus asks us to do two things: Believe and Love. Intermixed with these callings is a clear message of service. I used to think of service as something that I needed to do in order to prove that I was worthy – to become eligible for God’s love and the ability to spend eternal life in heaven. During this time of my life, I did a lot of things that helped others. But, over time, my heart grew weary. I lost sight of the joy of giving as it became more like an obligation than a gift.

I’ve always viewed Jesus as my innate source of goodness, but it has taken time for me to fully understand what it means to be Jesus’ hand and feet. It’s not about an obligation to serve, rather it’s about taking His love into your heart in order to share it with others. It’s about abiding in Him. After all, you can’t be someone’s hands and feet without being a part of them. It is this intentional choice that brings us together as Christ’s body. It inspires us to belong to each other – to look outside of ourselves to share – to work toward the mission – to find the peaceful and joyous victory that our hearts seek.

We could call it by lots of fancy terms, but to me it’s walking with Jesus. He’s the coach and we’re the team. As his Holy Spirit guides us, we follow.  Together we make Holy Moments. 2Corinthians 9:7 reminds us that “God loves a cheerful giver”. Perhaps God loves a cheerful giver not just because He likes to see us smile, but because that is a sure sign that we’ve given our hearts to the One who asks us to be his hands and feet.

Last week I watched one of our Haymaker Cross Country teammates circle back during the “recovery” part of our interval workout to help someone who was struggling. This isn’t an unusual occurrence. Our athletes do a good job looking outside of themselves to be good teammates.  The concept of stronger together holds meaning for them. As I spend the fall season with the runners, I’m reminded of how simple it is to serve others with a joyful heart.

When Jesus takes up residence in our hearts, then our hands become His hands and our feet become His feet. Together we make the Holy Moments that help to keep the light burning.

 

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Courageous Faith…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week’s post comes from Galatians 2: 21

“I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless…”


I wasn’t going to write a post to share this week as we are going through some difficult times at home, and I am not yet able to share about them. But, here I am writing at 9:00 on Tuesday night as God has placed something on my heart. I opened my bible to read out of Galatians and the above partial verse jumped off of the page at me.

I love it when the Holy Spirit does that!

The more that I realize the depth of God’s love, the more I understand the vastness of His grace. When we walk through hard times, it is easy to be angry – to accuse God of not being there – to let frustration steal the peace that should live in our hearts. I’ve been tempted to do this, but God just keeps pursuing me. His steadfastness draws me in. It inspires me to lean into my faith instead of walking away.

Why?

Because Jesus shows up everyday. He is the ultimate demonstration of God’s grace and He uses the Holy Spirit to comfort and guide. He fills my heart with the courageous faith that inspires hope and grants the peace that passes all understanding. Even on the hard days – especially on the hard days.

He is there.

I write myself bible verses, quotes and sayings on note cards. I scatter them around the house and seem to find them on the days that I need them. A couple of weeks ago, I sat down and wrote: “Courageous faith is continuing to work with hope even during times of trial — trusting that God’s grace will carry me.” When we treat the grace of God with reverence and devotion and truly trust in it, then we are able to feel the full power of courageous faith. Its value is limitless.


 

I’ve experienced God’s grace often over the past several months. I’ve seen it in this goofy and loyal dog that has granted me company in the long days that I spent in the chair with a broken leg. I’ve seen it in my favorite farmer and our girls as they have circled in love and carried me when I failed. I’ve seen it in friends and those in our church family who have been there – waiting to fill whatever gap unfolds – supporting without question – and reflecting Jesus’ love with steadfast loyalty. I’ve seen it as I’ve continued to live, to coach, and to share my faith.

Sharing faith helps to create courageous faith. We are all meant to live in community. The more that I embrace that, the more I am able to experience God’s grace. Many times grace is found in giving – not in receiving. A grace-filled heart is a grateful heart. Grateful hearts make for cheerful givers. Cheerful givers spread God’s grace, even during times of trial.

Today I am thankful for God’s grace. I cherish the courageous faith that Jesus puts into my heart, and pray that in sharing it I can also help to spread His grace to others.

Thank you to all of you who have reached out in prayer and support for me over the past weeks. Please know how much I appreciate your kindness 🙂

 

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How do “doors” and “cups of water” merge?

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of Matthew 10:42

“And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”


My family participates in a small group bible study once a week with some wonderful people from our church. Right now we are studying the Gospel of Matthew. This week we read Chapter 10. Tuesday late afternoon found me taking my first big trip since breaking my leg in January. Part of my job for the Beef Marketing Group is to service cattle feed yards, and I had a visit that was overdue. It was far enough away from home that I decided to stay overnight in a hotel.

I broke my leg on January 5th, and never would have dreamed that I would still be basically non-weight bearing and on crutches the 13th of March. But, with some nerve damage in my foot and a stubborn ankle, that is my reality. I packed carefully for the trip with two backpacks (one with my computer and the things that I would need for the feed yard visit, and the other with an extra change of clothes for the overnight stay).

Before I experienced life on crutches, I never realized how difficult it was to open doors and then pass through them. Most doors these days (at least those in Nebraska) have to be pulled open and physically held because they are designed to immediately close. The majority do not have that awesome handicap button to push to operate the door automatically. When you have two working arms and legs, it likely never enters your radar screen that this creates a challenge for some people. I’ve learned to balance myself on my one working leg and the crutches and pull on the door, but holding it open while I try to move in a forward motion is hard. Usually it results in the door banging into some part of my upper body. I’ve yet to truly master the process.

Please pardon the “selfie” – I don’t take them well 😉

Rural Nebraska hotels do not have “bell hops”, so when I arrived at the hotel I parked in the closest available place and put one back pack on my back and the other on my front. I pretty much made an “Anne sandwich”, and crutched my way toward the door. When I got there, I realized with a bit of a sinking heart that there was not only 1 outside door but a set of 2 outside doors (one followed by another) to help reduce energy use with the difficult Nebraska weather.

While I was getting together a game plan, I noticed the one lady sitting in the lobby. She was just on the other side of the second door, and scrolling through her smart phone. I made eye contact with her hoping that she would see my difficulty and come to my aid. After glancing at me briefly, she went back to scrolling on her phone. I faced the reality of the doors and began the tedious process of getting myself through one and then the other. I’d never tried it with two backpacks on before, but God was with me and I worked my way through.

As I awkwardly cleared the second door, the lady looked up – a little bit sheepishly – and said, “Oh, I guess I should have helped you.” I just smiled and told her that it was okay, and made my way to the front desk to sign for my room.


So, by now you may be asking yourself:

What does Anne’s “door story” have to do with a cup of cold water?

I think that the above statement from the Gospel of Matthew is designed to remind us that we are a community, a family. And, as such, we are called to offer a cold cup of water when someone is thirsty and in need of help. Sometimes it is a physical need, and sometimes it is an emotional or spiritual need. In any instance, Jesus asks us to take the time to notice the need and then to reach out in love to help.

I’ve learned many things over the past 9 and a half weeks, but I can promise that I will never look at a manual door the same way again. Additionally, I hope that I am learning to be more sensitive to others, to pay better attention to the needs that exist around me, and to reach out in agape love to help fill them. Sometimes it’s simply opening a door for someone who is physically struggling, but other times it might be offering comfort to someone who has pain in their heart.

There is a saying that everyone has a story of need. Perhaps if we all tried a little bit harder to help others, the world would be a more loving place. I am confident that many would have rushed to help me with the doors, but the truth is that not everyone does. What if one of the ways that Jesus heals others is through us? If that is the case, what happens when we ignore His call?

I’m going to try harder to be one who responds instead of one who doesn’t.

 

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The Power of One…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week’s Wednesday Wisdom comes from Hebrews 10:23-24.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.


I think that this picture personifies the above scripture verse from Hebrews. Three very special people in my life who encourage each other to hold strongly to their faith — trusting God while also motivating each other to acts of love. They don’t always get it exactly right but watching them persevere inspires me.

Being a mother to them both humbles and honors me.

My heart wishes that my favorite brunette could have been in the above picture, but her presence is there — reflected in the love of her siblings — as we travel the journey together as a family.

We are closing in on six months of Joseph joining our family. It has been a time of great joy and also one of great challenge. Both hills and valleys have marked the adventure, but we are discovering the power of one. Interestingly, this is the motto of the Haymaker 2018 Football Team. Just as the team discovers how powerful one unified team is on the field, our family also discovers it off of the field.

It is very different to welcome a 17 year old as a son. Joseph was virtually a stranger to my family when I brought him home. We shared almost no common experiences, had made no “childhood memories” together, and brought very different life experiences to our perspectives.

  • He spent his formative years in a war-ridden country on another continent, fleeing by traveling on foot more than a thousand miles in search of safety.
  • My girls spent their formative years in a small rural town in peaceful Nebraska where “scary” meant watching Curious George be captured by the man with the yellow hat.
  • English is his 4th language and the culture of his home people holds very little in common with the traditions that we practice in the United States. Despite that, he speaks with fluency and is currently completing Honors English and American Government in the classroom.
  • My girls (and Matt and I) struggle to even pronounce his last name correctly — being unable to make our tongues create the gutteral sounds of the Zophei dialect of Chin. I encourage him to lead our nightly dinner prayer in his native language and regret that I am not savvy enough to truly understand his words.

We share a common christian faith, but our customs are as different as our skin color.

Why are we together as one? God called us to be a family.


Just as God is a relational God — always seeking a closeness to us in our daily lives — we are meant to exist in community. We are all made in His image, yet we are all unique. It takes patience and empathy to truly celebrate that diversity. He calls us to be a family — reflecting His love with our actions and searching for that same love in others.

I’ve learned many things since Joseph joined our family, but likely the most important lesson is that love trumps all.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

1Corinthians 13:7

It allows us to experience “The Power of One” as we come together to create a community that radiates God’s love. It is possible for people of different cultures – different visions – different perspectives to come together and join as a family.

Perhaps it is God’s principal calling for us. I know that it has been a transformational experience for our family as we trust in God’s promise and motivate each other to acts of love in the spirit of togetherness.

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Unity

I was born in a divided state…

There were Gator fans…There were Seminole fans…There were Hurricane fans…Each set of fans was adamantly convinced that their team was the best.  While this division was profoundly seen in the fall during football season, it seemed to expand beyond collegiate athletics.

Home of the Nebraska Cornhuskers Football Team...

For this reason, I have spent the last 14 and a half years being amazed at the unity found in the state of Nebraska.  EVERYONE in the state of Nebraska is a Husker fan, and “game day” at Memorial stadium is a testament to the bond that all Nebraskans share.

It is demonstrated in the “sea of red” that fills the stadium.

Red is the preferred color of all Nebraskans!

It is demonstrated by the comraderie felt amongst fans.

An Enthusiastic Fan...

It is demonstrated by the love and support shown to all of the youth.

The Cornhusker Marching band is introduced as the "Pride of All Nebraska"...

While it may seem odd to some that an entire state population (1,711,263 strong) all rally around one college football team, I believe that this unification, manifested in Memorial Stadium on game day, extends to a feeling of community that permeates everyday life in the state.

Learning to be "part of Nebraska's team" while cheering on "the team"!

My desire to live in rural America, combined with an adventurous spirit and a cute farm boy, led me to Nebraska.  The unity, shared respect, and “neighborly” attitude of the citizens of Nebraska will keep me here the rest of my days.  Very simply:  In Nebraska there is no me, there is us. That is an incredibly powerful mindset, and one that allows our state to continue to move forward and thrive.

It manifests itself on Husker Game Day, but it is really much deeper than that.  It can be seen in our unique unicameral state legislature…It can be seen on Nebraska’s rural high ways where it is common practice for everyone to wave (even complete strangers)…It can be seen in the way that communities help one another when Mother Nature strikes…It can be seen at frequent local benefit suppers held to help a family or individual that needs a boost…It is a beautiful thing, and makes me proud to be called a Nebraskan.

Perhaps I am over-emotional at times, but I found myself getting choked up at several points during the game on Saturday…

A powerful rush of emotion surrounds the stadium as the players walk through "the tunnel" and enter the field...

The honoring of our country with the entire crowd singing the National Anthem, along with multiple tributes all throughout the game to individual Nebraska soldiers who represent and defend our great nation.

The tradition of releasing red ballons as the Huskers make their first exciting touch down!

The Celebration of Victory!

To me, the most poignant of all...The blend of athletes, coaches, and officials who faithfully take a moment immediately following the game to give quiet prayful tribute to God for the blessings that we all share...

While life is not a game, perhaps a game can teach us a valuable lesson about life…

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