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Beautiful, Awkward Grace…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂

Inspiration this week comes from Hebrews 4:16

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

The Holy Spirit sometimes has to say the same thing to me multiple times before I figure out His message. Whether I miss it the first time, or don’t listen to understand, the Spirit does eventually get my attention 😉 This week we celebrated my favorite brunette’s 20th birthday. As I sit and think about all of things that I am grateful for, being a mom tops the list. Not just because my children bring me great joy, but also because God uses them to teach me so very much.

Ashley Grace played a huge role in bringing me back to Christ during a time in my life when I faltered and got *stuck*. The work of the Holy Spirit through her opened my eyes to the vastness of God’s grace. It is humbling and beautiful to watch Jesus move through the Spirit in the life of a teenager. It can be life-altering when that teenager is your’s. I had always thought that my faith needed to be perfect in order to honor God. As a result, I worked really hard but constantly fell short. I ended up tired and discouraged. My daughter taught me that grace fills the gap. It is perfectly and beautifully awkward because Jesus promises to always meet me where I am – not where I should be. Grace is what helps me to move toward where I should be, and it’s a good thing that I need divine interference to get there!

When we give our hearts to Christ, we never walk alone. Life becomes a beautiful, awkward journey full of grace.

As we move through the season of Advent, I pray that each of us remembers the gift of grace. It’s available to everyone, and it’s given freely to all those who believe. It never runs out and comes in the form of peace, hope, love, and forgiveness. We can look for it in a variety of places, but we’ll only find it in One.

Our earthly days are sometimes hard, but they are better when we walk in faith. And, (best of all) we are guaranteed a good ending! Jesus did that for us and nothing and no one can take that away. We live as awkward people in an awkward world. The Good News is that we have a gracious God with an unending supply of awkward grace that meets each and every one of us just where we are. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews reminds us to come boldly to the throne of God. There we will find mercy and grace when we need it most – complete with free delivery to wherever we are at the moment!

This year, celebrate the Christmas season with defiant hope because Christ came for us and will never leave us lonely – we simply need to accept that joy comes from what is happening inside of our hearts through Jesus rather than being contingent on the circumstances that we face on earth. That’s the beauty of grace.

As I look back twenty years ago, it seems fitting that my favorite farmer and I gave her “grace” as her middle name 🙂 Happy Birthday to my beautiful girl whose heart overflows with Jesus’ beautiful, awkward grace!


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The Greatest Of These Is Love…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂

Inspiration this week comes from 1Corinthians 13: 4-7

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

My favorite brunette graduates from high school this week. In honor of the event, this week’s “Wednesday Wisdom” comes in a form of a letter to her.

Dear Ashley Grace,

Eighteen and a half years ago, we embarked on the journey of life together. I remember when your dad proudly held you in his arm for the first time. You were so little that you almost fit in his hand, but your exuberant cries assured me of your mighty tenacity. We grew together — you and I. Learning to pack our faith to live with grace. Sometimes I led you, and sometimes you led me; but God relentlessly inspired us to travel on this faith journey together.

Last weekend, I honored your request to have “homemade macaroni and cheese” at your graduation party. When you told me that was what you wanted most, it seemed a right and appropriate tribute to the completion of the first leg of our journey.

Do you remember the “mac and cheese night” ten years ago?

Dad was out of town for work, and I was in the midst of a barely controlled thyroid storm episode. I was heavily medicated to control my racing heart-rate, and so weak that my body shook. I sat down in the chair in the kitchen, overwhelmed by the thought of making you and your sisters’ dinner. I started to cry – my broken spirit getting the best of me. You came to kneel down beside me, with all of the love in your heart shining in your eyes. 

“Mama, it’s okay. I can help you. We can do it together. We’ll make mac and cheese. You tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”

You pulled a stool over to the stove top, and got out the sauce pan — carefully measuring and melting the butter, blending in the flour, adding milk, and stirring for what must have seemed like forever to your eight year old mind. But, you were patient — working with diligence and care — as though you sensed that we were both doing more than just making dinner. When the sauce finally thickened, you carefully grated and added the cheese. I had a moment of worry when the macaroni finished cooking and you had to dump the pasta out of the boiling water; but you bit your lip in concentration as was your habit and successfully completed the task. 

The heavy casserole dish was the next challenge, but somehow you got it filled and into the oven. By this time, Megan was your biggest cheerleader – doing her part to bravely fight the worry in order to support you. Karyn was too young to really understand anything other than we were having a new adventure — one that resulted in her favorite dinner. But, we all came together in our little kitchen to conquer a simple challenge in the midst of a very hard time.

I think that we both “grew up” that day — Realizing that together we were stronger. You learned to step up to the plate and fill the gap when someone you loved needed help. I learned to accept that when there is true love, it carries you when you need it the most.

In the years that followed, we navigated the hard times and celebrated the joy that filled our hearts. Your list of accolades is long, but I want you to know what I believe to be the most important result of our journey together. It doesn’t hang in the form of a medal around your neck. Rather, it fills your heart and guides your actions as you treasure and value each day.

It is love.

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

You grew up hearing me say “Take God with you.” You do that when you open your heart to His patient, kind, and unending love. A love so potent that your heart runs over so that as you experience it, you can’t help to share it with others. Sometimes life is hard and it seems that the love that you offer is not returned in kind.

But it always is.

Perhaps not in the human hearts of everyone whose life path crosses with yours, but your heavenly Father returns it in excess of what you share. If you take Him with you on the journey, then your heart never empties.

I may shed some tears as you embark on the next leg of your journey, but please know that there is something that geography cannot alter. You take a part of me with you wherever you go, and I hold tight to a piece of you. God’s love ties us together — in good times and in bad — in this life and in the heavenly life that awaits us both sometime in the future.

Pack your faith.

Live with grace.

Know that my love supports you wherever God takes you on this journey.

Perhaps life is really just like a delicious batch of homemade macaroni and cheese — when it is made with love, you can’t go wrong 🙂






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A Thankful Daughter and Mother…

This week my high school alma mater, Cardinal Newman, is hosting a special celebration for 50 years of high school athletics.  As part of the celebration, they are honoring the top athlete graduates of the school and have asked them to be present for the celebration.

Three generations…just before my wedding day…

In addition to being a “Cardinal Newman Mom”, my mother has been a dedicated teacher at the school for more than twenty years.  She has a passion and love of teaching that rivals my passion and love for raising cattle and making beef.  As both “faculty” and “mom” she has been intrinsically involved in the planning of this athletic celebration for almost a year now.

As a three sport high school state finalist, I am supposed to be in Florida attending the celebration.  The phone conversation where I had to tell my mom that I was not going to be able to attend was a painful one.  I know that she was terribly disappointed and, as a daughter, that I let her down.  She was my biggest athletic “fan”, and spent years getting up at 4:30 in the morning to drive me across town to swimming practice until I got my driver’s license.  She always supported me and never complained.  I do not remember her ever missing a swimming, cross country or track meet.  As my own children begin their athletic careers, I am beginning to have a better understanding and appreciation of the unselfish and constant support that I received from my mom.

So, why am I in Nebraska instead of in Florida this week?

I wean calves at the feed yard in October and November.  I mentioned a couple of posts ago that freshly weaned calves are “high maintenance”.  Offering them the supportive care that they need to remain healthy and thrive during this time of stress is just plain hard work.  I will go sixty days straight of being at the feed yard at just after 6:00am, and my days will be long.  I purchase, receive, exercise, vaccinate, and ensure that my calves receive the proper feed and care…

My baby went to 1st grade this year…

My youngest daughter blessed us with her presence four weeks early on October 24, 2004.  I am convinced that she came early because she was tired of receiving and caring for cattle…She is a smart kid and figured out that the only way that she was going to get my attention during “weaning time” at the feed yard was to be born.  To this day, she tells everyone (with a very solemn face) that she has to share her birthday with the calves at the feed yard.

I am truly thankful to my family for the sacrifices that they make in order for me to be the Boss Lady at a cattle feed yard.  I could not offer my calves such a high quality level of care without the support of my family.  I could not offer you, the consumer of my beef, a great tasting and humanely raised beef product without the support of my family.

In honor of my mom and my daughters, I would like to share a favorite recipe with you.  This was my favorite meal as a kid (it’s still one of my favorites), and my kids would tell you that it is one of their favorites as well.  I do not know where the recipe originated from, so I am going to name it after my mom…

Sally’s Amazing Hamburger Cassarole

1# ground beef

½ chopped onion

1 can tomato soup

1 cup water

1 bag uncooked noodles (I use whole wheat macaroni)

1 Bar Grated Cheddar Cheese

In a large electric frying pan, brown hamburger and onion. Drain grease if necessary. Turn down the heat to just hotter than simmer temperature and add tomato soup, water, and a little bit of pepper.  Mix together until the soup and water are blended with the burger and onion.  Add uncooked noodles, stir and cover the pan.  Cook until the noodles are partially done mixing periodically.  (The mixture should bubble but be careful not to scorch the bottom—you may need to add a little bit of additional water to ensure that the mixture does not go dry while cooking the noodles.) Place in a casserole dish and top with cheese (I put half the hamburger mix in the casserole and then put a layer of cheese in the middle before adding the rest).  Bake in a 325-350 degree oven (depending on your altitude) for 30-45 minutes.  If you choose to double the meat, then you need to double the amount of tomato soup and add extra water.

Thank you, Mom (Grandma), for a lifetime of love and support…



Filed under Family, Foodie Work!, Recipes and Beef Cooking Tips...