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Stages…

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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Swimming Across Nebraska…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Galatians 5: 22-23

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”


The Cozad Swim team kicked off its 2020 season on Monday. It is truly a season like no others, as it appears that we will not hold any competitions during our time together due to Covid 19 restrictions. I know that some of our kids are very disappointed at the lack of meets, but I stand firm in my belief that we have many other things that we are called to accomplish together in our time as a team in 2020. As a coach, there are two focuses that God has put on my heart to share:

  1. During our daily fellowship time before we dive into the pool, we are learning to better “pack our faith”. We practice this by putting on our “backpacks of faith” each day as we begin our adventures. Throughout the 5 week season, we will study the 9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit and devise strategies to make sure that our backpacks are filled with them. I hope to help the kids connect the dots to understand that as Jesus lives in our hearts, the Holy Spirit is able to guide us with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These “fruits of the Spirit” provide the recipe for a successful team 😊
  2. As we dive into the water together, we are learning to be contributors by working hard and giving our best to help our teammates each day. We have a team goal of pooling our laps – measuring in miles – and swimming across the state of Nebraska and beyond. After three days, we’ve swum 67.22 miles and have passed Lincoln headed west. I am excited to see how far we can go together and build on the theme #StrongerTogether!

We have 45 swimmers on the team this summer, and we’re getting creative to make the most of our shortened time together. After 3 and 1/2 months of no structured school or sports activities, the kids are out of practice and generally out of shape. But, we’re holding each other accountable and putting in the hard work that creates fitness and success! About halfway through the first day of practice, one of the 11 year old boys on the team looked at me with complete confusion as he asked – “Coach, why is this so hard?” This swimmer is a talented athlete who is used to things coming easily to him. He – along with his teammates – are learning this summer that fitness is hard to reattain after it is lost. More than 3 months sitting at home during quarantine took its toll — both physically and emotionally. But, we are coming together as a team to earn it back.


I think it is appropriate that our lesson this first week is of love. When I think about what best motivates me, it is love. Passion, perseverance, and camaraderie thrive when we let love fuel us. When love comes alive, fear falls apart. As fear falls apart, great things happen. Have you ever noticed how our attitudes change when we are focused on sharing Jesus’ love? As our eyes shift outward in a desire to contribute to something greater, our hearts find the joy of purpose. I remember an old cowboy telling me sometime “Anne, when you’re guiding your horse, always remember that wherever his nose goes – his body will go. Guide the nose and you’ll guide the horse.”

What if our hearts are just like a horse’s nose? When they are guided by Jesus and the fruits of the Spirit, then everything just falls into place for our journey. As my swimmers are finding out this week, sometimes this journey is hard. But, Jesus so loved the world that he sent each of us on a mission to love during our time on earth. When our backpacks are filled with love, we find that we are stronger and more joyful teammates who can rally with toughness to conquer hard things. We are able to swim across Nebraska and beyond. We are not just putting in the laps, but also making a difference in the lives of others as we travel the journey.

 

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Own it!

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week is Megan’s choice: Proverbs 31:25-26

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.”


A friend of ours asked me sometime last year, “Anne – what do you think is the most important thing that we can do as parents to help our kids make good choices?” I didn’t even need to pause before I answered, “The most important thing is to enable our kids to own their faith. If Jesus lives in and guides their hearts, then they will make good choices.”

I have three beautiful young women that call me Mama. God blessed me with them so that they could share His love and serve others. To do that, they must develop their own unique faith. I truly believe that my girls’ future is inherently tied to them developing a deep and personal relationship with Jesus. Their own relationship. Not mine and not even the faith relationship of our pastors and youth leaders that minister to them each week. While we all play important supporting roles, the relationship has to be uniquely their’s.

When something is yours, it defines you and you own it. When you own it, you allow it to guide you and it becomes the core of who you are.


“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”

The peace, wisdom, courage, and love that come from heart-felt faith enables the above verse from Proverbs to become a reality. It’s hard to laugh without fear of the future. It takes confidence to wear the gentle strength and dignity of Christ. But when we clothe ourselves in Jesus’ love, then our faith enables it to be possible. It is a learning process for all of us (including our kids) and requires having the freedom to develop it. As a mom, I needed to let go in order to let God. To trust both Jesus’ hand, and also my children’s ability to cling to it when the decisions of life weigh on them.


When Ashley Grace was in high school, she wanted to go with a friend to a youth group in another town about 20 miles away. It was hard for Matt and I to let her go. It was even harder for me to let her change churches on Sunday mornings when that request came just a few months later.  It was hard, but it was good. I watched as she grew in her faith. She owned it and it changed her.  Eventually we all followed her to the Refuge Youth Group and the church that sponsors it. We found a family at Parkview Baptist Church that led us all to a new level of heart-felt faith. As I let go, Jesus stepped in.

Today, all three of my girls wear their faith so very well. I look into their eyes and I see the genuine love that comes from Jesus. They make good choices. They are not perfect, but they have the most beautiful supply of try in their hearts. Matt and I have taught them and guided them in many ways over the years, but perhaps the most important thing that we did was to give them the freedom to be who God intended them to be.  And, when they found something so very special and so very right, we trusted and we followed.

There exists a sweet spot as we grow in relationship with Jesus. It fills us with strength, dignity, wisdom and kindness. It enables us to laugh without fear of the future. Megan draws wisdom from the above verses from Proverbs, and she asked me to share them with each of you this week. Her love for Jesus inspires her to try to live them, and that makes all the difference 🙂

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Life’s Root Canal…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s letter to the Colossians 3:23

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”


My favorite blonde cowgirl took an elbow to the mouth playing basketball on December 27th, breaking the bone that holds one of her front top teeth in place and displacing the tooth. The good news was that she got the rebound, you can likely guess the “bad news” 😉 We made a quick trip to Kearney to the Oral Surgeon to get the tooth popped back in with the hopes that it would “retake” and heal on its own. Our local dentist was on vacation but offered great support via telephone until he returned on January 1st. Meg’s tooth has been wired in since then as the initial glue did not hold.

Today she went back to the dentist for a follow up and I received the following text from her, “I’m the proud winner of a root canal.” I could picture the look on her face as she typed the text, and wasn’t terribly surprised by the news as we’d been warned that was a likely scenario. Friday morning, Doc will carefully remove the pulp inside the tooth, clean, disinfect and shape the root canals, and finally place a filling to seal the space.


I love to watch Meg play basketball. She does it like she does everything else in life — with her whole heart and a passion to work willingly, knowing that she works for the Lord and not just her coach and teammates. This year, I’ve seen a remarkable growth in her as a leader on the court. Her gift of discernment has matured so that she is able to better see the gaps. Not just the gaps in the game, but the gaps in her teammates’ needs. She is quick to emotionally encourage and support in addition to her all in physical contribution to the Lady Haymakers.

As I watch her play basketball, I can see Jesus moving in Meg’s heart. He gives her not only a well of love to share, but also the maturity to share it well. It’s kind of like a root canal for the heart. When we open ourselves to faith, Jesus moves in – cleans, shapes and seals us through the Holy Spirit. It’s not always a comfortable experience, and often we are asked to take one for the team but it leads to an unselfish attitude that enables others to see and experience mercy.

Jesus is at work in all of us – making and shaping a masterpiece that takes a lifetime to create. Meg’s root canal on Friday morning won’t take but an hour or two, but the work that Jesus does in her heart will continue until the day that He calls her home. Jesus’ score board is a bit different than our human one. He doesn’t look at which team scores the most baskets, rather he is concerned with the total number of baskets (hearts) that are changed through faith. Paul issues a great reminder in the scripture above. We are all called to work willingly with our hearts and eyes on the audience that matters most. When we do that, Jesus can move into our hearts and fill them with a loving and eternal purpose.

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