Tag Archives: courage

Courage…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week comes from 2 Timothy 1:7

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.”


What is courage? How does it tie in with fear? What role do trust and faith play?

I’ve spent significant time over the past couple of weeks thinking about the above questions. Given current circumstances, I doubt that I am alone in this type of mental exercise 🙂 I first starting thinking about it relative to the COVID19 challenge, but it spilled over to farm life as we recently took cattle to grass. Change can bring fear as “the unknown” often exists outside of our comfort zone. During those times, I am most successful when I lean into my faith and am reminded of who God calls me to be – a woman of power, love and self-discipline. This brings me courage.

Cattle are very different than humans (with significantly lessoned abilities for comprehension). However, helping them to overcome fear reinforces some key ideas that also aid me when I struggle.

  1. New circumstances can be fearful, but repeated positive experiences build the trust that enables courage.
  2. It doesn’t matter if you have all of the “answers”. What matters is having a heart that is inspired to care with empathy.
  3. Courage is not the absence of fear, rather it is the ability to move forward in the right way despite being afraid.

In the first few days when cattle are new to our farm, they lack confidence and curiosity. Instead of looking to me as a leader, they tend to shy away in fear. But, as I interact with them each day, trust grows and brings with it a beautiful sense of curiosity. After a few days, a handful of braver animals will approach and begin to look to us for direction. Not long after, curiosity tips the scale and their herd-mates follow suit. Soon, it becomes very easy to gather and check the animals despite the fact that they run on hundreds of acres of grass pasture.

What’s the secret to gaining their trust? Helping them to realize that their lives are better with us, than they are without us 🙂


I believe that the spirit that God gives us cannot fully emerge without the courage that comes from faith. I find that when my faith and trust are weak, then fear inspires timidity. Conversely, when my faith and trust are strong, then I find a source of power – fueled by love – that allows my natural sense of self-discipline to propel me forward. In those moments, I may still have some fear but it no longer has the power to drive my decisions because courage takes over.

We all have uncertainties in our lives. They do not define us, and they do not have to “own us”. God can do that if we let Him. Repeated positive faith building experiences, a heart full of love, and a desire to move forward to make a positive difference provides an equation for courage to thrive. Don’t be afraid to answer the call, life with God is far better than life without Him.

Are you in the front of the herd filled with courage and eager to answer God’s call?

Or, do you linger behind hindered by timidity?

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The First Lap…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Hebrews 12:1

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”


I’ve started running 2-3 times per week on our local high school track. The track surface is soft and the path is clear and flat so it sets me up for success as I embark on this new chapter of the healing process. There’s been a large amount of “unknown” over the past 14 months relative to my leg and I’ve had to learn to do two things: trust that the Lord loves me and walks with me, and put in the work to do my part on the “race” that we travel together. Fear exists in the unknown, but that fear can be replaced by peace and hope when we allow faith to guide us.

It’s surprising to me the things that I notice now that I never used to see before. One of these is the first lap or the start of each run. Since I am accustomed to measuring my runs in miles, the beginning used to be simply a blip on the radar screen. I’d walk out the back door of our house and turn north onto the gravel road with my feet automatically falling into cadence. Easy. No thought required, and little challenge or fear to be found in those first steps.

It’s not that way anymore. The first 300 yards are filled with discomfort as I try to plant my foot properly on the ground and bridge into the next step. The notable thing is that if I keep going, if I continue to run with endurance the race God has set before me, then it gets better. I eventually settle into a rhythm and foot pattern that works so that I can run around the track. With each step that I take, I am able to strip off the weight of the pain and move forward believing in my heart that I can do it.


In light of the COVID-19 virus, I think there is a universal lesson to be found here. There currently exits a HUGE amount of uncertainty and fear. It can stymie our lives and wreak havoc with our emotions. Most importantly, it limits our ability to move forward in faith. Emotional stress is just as crippling as the pain that I feel in my leg. It has the power to trip us up and thwart our ability to trust both God’s greatness and His goodness.

Where can we look when fear threatens?

I had this discussion on the pool deck recently with my swimmers. We talked about three places “to look” in order to live in faith during times of uncertainty:

  1. We look up, to God our heavenly Father who commands us to be strong and courageous and promises to always be with us (Joshua 1:9).
  2. We look out, with a focus on the needs of our neighbors to see how we can serve.
  3. We look within, to find the guiding hand of Jesus in our hearts to inspire and fuel us in love.

How do we start?

It’s hard to pack your faith when times are hard. Instead, it is tempting to give into stress and fear. But, that’s not what God asks us to do. I have found that the more I share my burdens with Jesus in prayer, the more the Holy Spirit inspires me to use my energy to serve others instead of worrying about myself. Once I find the courage to start, then over time I find a rhythmic pattern:  looking up to hear the guidance of the Holy Spirit, looking out to share and serve others, and looking within to let Jesus guide my steps.

As an actively recovering “worry-a-hol-ic”, this is something that I have to be very intentional about. In the midst of these troubling times, don’t be afraid of the first lap! Let’s come together and lean into our faith 🙂 I am praying that each of you stays healthy — in mind, body and spirit as we go forward into these uncharted waters.

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Holy Sass…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Book of Esther (the entire book) but specifically 4:13-14

Modecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die.

Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”


The book of Esther fascinates me. It is a story of a young woman with great courage and devote faith who unselfishly and bravely followed God’s call in order to save the Jewish people from political persecution during the reign of Xerxes (approximately 486-465 B.C.). In addition to the story being a profile in human courage, it also demonstrates how God masterfully works – in and through each of us – to care for his people.

Esther has what I like to joyfully refer to as: Holy Sass. She embraced God’s wisdom and savvy and used it to bravely destroy a selfish plot of mass murder and destruction. She did it with grace, whit, and just enough sassy attitude that she bested an evil scheme and changed the course of history. She gives the term “Girl Power” a whole new level of meaning 😉

Sass is an interesting word with a variety of connotations. My favorite farmer and I are blessed with three daughters. Over the years, we’ve known a bit of sass in our house. In fact, when Ashley Grace was about 8 she decided to try a bit of disrespectful sass (in the form of eye rolling at inopportune times)– something that her younger sisters quickly picked up on. That led to a new rule – 10 pushups for each eye roll or sign of disrespect. Twelve years later, all three of my girls kick out some impressive push-ups, but more importantly they learned a lesson in discretion.

The good kind of sass – the Holy Sass – is the courage that comes from God to respond with honor and strength when he calls for you.

It’s not a disrespectful “eye-rolling” sass, it’s a boldness and courage that leads to active faith.


Ashley Grace, Megan and Karyn – circa 2006

I spend a lot of time around girls. I often see a quiet obedience in them. But as they reach the teenage and young adult years, I also watch them struggle with boldness and courage. I think a lot of that stems from an inherent lack of confidence paired with a faith that has yet to reach maturity. I used to be that girl. In fact, some days I still am.  It’s hard to truly and consistently trust God. It’s difficult to believe that you are strong enough – smart enough – worthy enough – to make a meaningful difference in this huge world that He created. It’s frightening to think that God trusts you enough to ask you to fight for Him.

Esther did something incredibly important as she prepared to act on Modecai’s message. She packed her faith and looked up – spending three days (in community with others) fasting and praying for courage and direction from God before she went to see the King. She didn’t act rashly and she didn’t act alone. As a result, God’s grace carried her through the call and enabled all of the pieces to come together.

In my own faith journey, I’ve learned to both listen and pray before I act. Honestly, I used to be terrible at this but God finds creative ways to grow us 🙂 Some days I still struggle with discretionary boldness and courage, but I am learning that prayer helps me to pack my Holy Sass. It not only ensures that I am doing what God asks of me – it also brings me peace and confidence that my actions are Godly.

We worship a good and a great God. He asks us to believe. He’s the author of Holy Sass. In Malachi 3:10 he tells us, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” Each time that we believe and we accept that God has uniquely placed us for good, we respond to this verse from Malachi and put Him to the test. We give Him the ability to deliver us and to deliver others – Just as Esther did so many years ago.

I pray that each one of us will look up to find the Holy Sass that God grants – that we will act with boldness and courage in faith, worshiping the One who holds our hearts as we hold His hand.

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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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4th International Symposium on Beef Cattle Welfare…

Thoughtful Thursday

The journey in search of excellence has no end --- it is marked by a continuous dedication toward improvement.

The journey toward excellence has no end — it is marked by courage and the continuous dedication to improvement.

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.

Winston Churchill

Today I take the stage as a speaker at the 4th International Symposium on Beef Cattle Welfare being held at Iowa State University.  While I am incredibly honored to be asked to stand up and speak, I am also looking forward to sitting down and listening.   With any luck I will come home smarter than I left… 

I truly believe that the search for excellence takes both types of courage…

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Reflections…

My family traveled back to my home town for a few days at Christmas this year.  Every time that I go back to West Palm Beach, I am reminded of my childhood days.  I find myself trying to connect the dots that led me from the swimming pool and the beach to the prairies of Nebraska.

Christmas morning at the beach...

God’s paintbrush creates breath-taking Florida landscapes…

Approximately 1800 miles to the north and west takes you to Cozad, Nebraska…

While very different, God's artwork is also prominently displayed in my back yard in Nebraska...

While undeniably different, God’s artwork is also prominently displayed in my back yard…

Some may argue that Matt dragged me those 1800 miles from civilization to the great unknown but I view my move to rural America as a journey led by a search for my own special place.

16 and a half years later, Matt "encouraging" our oldest daughter (a Nebraska prairie girl) to try a taste of ocean life...

16 and a half years later, Matt “encouraging” our oldest daughter (a Nebraska prairie girl) to try a taste of ocean life…

As you can see, she was not initially a believer---adventuring into uncharted waters of her own accord...

As you can see, she was not initially a believer—lacking a desire to adventure into uncharted waters of her own accord…

It did not take long, however, for her to embrace the beauty of the ocean and all of its secrets...

It did not take long, however, for her to embrace the beauty of the ocean and all of its secrets…

Maybe she's just a little bit like her Mama---searching for her path in life---looking to discover how she can best use her talents...

Maybe she’s just a little bit like her Mama—looking for her own life’s path—searching for a way to make a difference…

When I arrived in Nebraska, I realized the start to a beautiful journey.  I found:

  • A place where I would discover a passion for the land and all of its marvelous creatures.
  • A place where I would find my own true self and the vocation that I believe that I was born to fulfill.
  • A place where I would learn to raise animals and grow food–cementing my belief that personal pride grows alongside hard work.
  • A place where I would raise a family—the next generation of thoughtful and motivated Americans.
Her life may one day take her back to the ocean---her life may instead keep her on the prairie, but it is my hope that she will make the most of all of the gifts with which she was blessed by continually sharing them with others...

Her life may one day take her back to the ocean—Her life may instead keep her on the prairie…

It is my sincere hope that wherever her destination, she will strive for greatness and stay true to her beautiful self.  I pray that she will always share of her gifts and talents as she ventures through those uncharted waters of life.  Today as I reflect back on the last 20 years, I remember this mantra from Winston Churchill:

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.DSC03744


May we all have the courage to delve heartily into 2013, always remembering that gifts are only as powerful as the number of people with whom we share them…

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