Tag Archives: faith

I Saw God Today…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


I’ve been to church
I’ve read the book
I know he’s here
But I don’t look
Near as often as I should
Yeah, I know I should
His fingerprints are everywhere
I just slowed down to stop and stare
Opened my eyes and man I swear
I saw God today


In January of 2015, George Straight’s song, “I saw God today” came on the radio early one morning when I was reading bunks at the feedyard. I’d had a hard fall season, and was really struggling to hold my life together. It seemed like 100 different people needed 1000 different things all in the same moment, and I was crumbling – bit by bit. This was not an acute moment of stress, it was the toll of a long standing grind to run our cattle farm and lead my peers in an effort to improve cattle welfare. Managing those demands in addition to raising a family and serving in my community left me in a seemingly permanent state of exhaustion.

In those days, God was starting to work heavily on my heart and planting the seeds of change. On this morning, as I heard George Straight’s words, I started to listen.

Here is the original blog post from January 13, 2015 (on what would have been my dad’s 70th earthly birthday):

https://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/i-saw-god-today/



Fast forward almost seven years, and one of the things that the Experiencing God study that I am currently doing talks about is “seeing God”. God is at work all around each and every one of his children, but do we pause to see it? Then, just as importantly, do we move ourselves so that we can participate with Him in it?

As I finished up the 4th week of the series a few days ago, it got me thinking back to that morning, that moment when I intentionally decided to pause and look for God each day. A lot of things can happen in 7 years, and I have to admit that God has taken me on an interesting journey in those 2500 days! In all honestly, it’s been a journey full of uncertain “Yes’s” as my heart told me to obey the soft, quiet voice of the Spirit while my head told me that it was crazy… In typical “Anne fashion”, my heart and my feet were hesitant, but intentionally obedient.

  • In 2017, I made the difficult decision to close down my feedyard.
  • In 2018, our family adopted a 17 year old boy who needed a loving home.
  • In 2019, I prepared to leave the “cattle animal welfare” professional circle to serve more in our church and community.
  • In 2020, God brought me a long list of kids to love and mentor through coaching and substitute teaching as the corona virus changed our lives.
  • In 2021, I stepped in to lead our Student Ministries program at our church when our Youth Pastor was unexpectedly called to serve somewhere else.

I did not expect any of those changes to happen. But, God did. And as I looked, I was able to see Him. When IΒ  saw Him, I could then see His work and have the opportunity to change my life in order to become a part of it.

My life is not a fairy tale. Many of those things listed above have not gone the way that I thought they would go. But, I feel Jesus in my heart and that soft, quiet voice keeps talking to me and asking me to listen. Finding the courage to trust and follow God through the hard things takes faithful endurance, perseverance, and the willingness to believe that He is able to work in and through us. Some days I do well, some I falter. But, I know that God loves me the same on both of those types of days, and that His mercies are new with each sunrise. And, I know that what He really desires is a heart that listens.

I have a verse written on a notecard on our door that heads out to the garage. It is from 1Corinthians 15:58.

“So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and unmovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”


God’s fingerprints are everywhere. When Jesus softens our hearts and God opens our eyes, the Spirit is able to allow us to see them. In those moments, when we do what George Straight suggests: slow down to stop and stare, we are able to see God each and every day 😊

Did you slow down to stop and stare today?

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The Third String…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of Luke 21: 1-4

The Widow’s Offering: “While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus said, ‘this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.'”


My favorite brunette is a student at Notre Dame University. Her daddy taught her to both love and understand the game of football from the time that she was a little girl. She’s a loyal Fighting Irish fan, and also works as a writing tutor on campus where she helps several of the football players with their studies. She traveled to the game in Chicago last weekend as the team took on Wisconsin, and managed to get an awesome seat in the first row. In the middle of the second quarter, we actually got to see her on TV πŸ™‚

My favorite farmer and I try to be “good Notre Dame parents”. As a life-long Husker, that’s a bit of a stretch for Matt but I’m proud of how he has embraced Ashley Grace’s dreams and the college family that she chose. As we watched the game, it struck me how seamlessly Notre Dame was able to transition from starting quarterback Jack Coan to third string quarterback Drew Pyne when injury plagued the Irish. Drew didn’t miss a beat when coach called him to the field, and his teammates clearly showed up to support him. They had a plan, they believed in each other, and they went to work. They gave everything that they had, and it was enough to lead them to a clear victory of 41-13 when the clock ran out in the 4th quarter. It was pretty clear to me that the Fighting Irish players were unconcerned with the “third string” label as they instead chose to value Drew as a teammate knowing that he was willing to give everything that he had as they fought together for victory.


Our church family is currently doing a fall study entitled “Experiencing God”. God’s placed many different things on my heart as we’ve begun this study, but I think that the most profound is a more complete realization of how much God loves each and every one of us. He doesn’t compare us or label us, instead he pours into us so that we can be in a deep and meaningful relationship with Him. I don’t think God calls any of us “third string”. We are simply the sons and daughters upon whom he bestows an unconditional love that leaves us baffled, yet blessed.

It amazes me what God can do through us when we let Him. He asks us for our love, our trust, our belief, and our obedience. He takes those things and puts them together to create light and goodness. He doesn’t count the coins, He values and empowers the heart that gives all. I am learning to not limit the God who loves me, and trusting that when He calls me to action that as long as I give my all, I will be enough. This helps me to be an active and energetic member of Team Jesus, ready to let God work through me whenever He calls my number πŸ™‚ I am more fully understanding that when I lean into Jesus, I cease to be the “third string” and begin being the one through whom God can bring victory.

When we give our all, it is enough. God blesses it, and then blesses others with it. Today, I am thankful to the Fighting Irish football team for allowing God to work in them and through them to help bring this message deeper into my heart.

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Time…

Wednesday Wisdom 😊


Inspiration this week comes from the book of Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.

A time to be born and a time to die.

A time to plant and a time to harvest.

A time to kill and a time to heal.

A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to cry and a time to laugh.

A time to grieve and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.

A time to embrace and a time to turn away.

A time to search and a time to quit searching.

A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear and a time to mend.

A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate.

A time for war and a time for peace.


My favorite farmer turned 50 yesterday. We *celebrated* his birthday earlier this month before our older two girls went back to college, but the actual day of the BIG 50 left me a bit pensive and whole lot thankful. I happened to be reading in Ecclesiastes and the above verses just jumped off the page at me. My heart warmed as I was reminded just how beautiful the gift of time is. We all spend our time in different ways and feeling a myriad of emotions, but it struck me how truly blessed I am to not just have the gift of time, but the ability to spend it with those that I love.

Matt and I have loved each other for 28 years, and we’ve been married for more than 25. That’s more than 10,000 days and a whole lot of minutes 😊 We’ve spent that time doing many of the things listed above. Some of them were hard, but they were all meaningful. The seasons continue to pass on the farm and we still get to experience them. That is God’s gift of time. It blesses us, it grows us, it reminds us of the One who created us and delights in us each day.


We are all “a work in progress” that God faithfully improves upon over time 😊 Life is a journey and growth happens little by little. Matt is good for me. He is a goofy clown with a huge heart, and brings so much joy into my life. God knew this and that is why He brought us together. Matt reminds me to accept peace, to choose joy, and to rest in the moment knowing that God made everything beautiful for its own time. Today, I am so very thankful for my favorite farmer, the God that unconditionally loves us both, and the time that we are blessed to be able to spend together ❀️

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Thankful for those that came before…

Saturday Memories 😊


Inspiration today comes from Isaiah 40: 28-31

“Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of His understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall into exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”


Earlier this week, my high school Cross Country coach, Harry Howell, passed from this life into the arms of Jesus. I had two coaches during my high school tenure that purposely shaped my life. Coach Howell was one of them. His goofy sense of humor and classic “one liners” provided for interesting times on the Cross Country course, but what I remember most about Coach was his heart. I know that our antics drove him crazy. But, he loved us anyway.Β  I don’t remember all my times or places from the years that I ran for him. But, I remember that he had our backs – that we could always count on him to show up for us – and that he valued us not just as athletes but as people. He never gave up on us. I don’t think that I properly valued these things at the time, but I still carry them with me thirty years later.

Coach Howell was famous for his “one liners”. He just kind of stuck them into the middle of conversations, and then turned them intoΒ  “learning moments” (AKA lectures). My favorite was Murphy’s Law. Coach was a bit of a worrier. My freshman and junior years, multiple members of our team were competing in the Florida State Swimming Championship meet the night before we competed in the Florida State Cross Country Championships. Coach loved us and knew that we loved both sports, so he supported us as we “doubled up” during the fall season. But, the notion that we were going to compete in two different places in two consecutive days caused him to fret a bit. One day at practice, we got the Murphy’s Law lecture. I remember the look on his face as he stood there with his hands on his hips and said, “Ladies – Murphy’s Law prevails. We have to be prepared that anything that can wrong will go wrong.”

Fortunately, we held Murphy’s Law at bay as we brought home hardware both in the pool and on the Cross Country course (team Cross Country State Titles (1989 and 1991) πŸ™‚

Coach Howell is in the white shirt and blue shorts.

Another one of Coach Howell’s famous “one liners” was, “It’ll put hair on your chest”. Whenever things were hard, he reminded us girls of this interesting thought. We laughed, shook our heads, and muttered that coach might be a bit crazy. But, his well-timed comment broke the tension and taught us that the truly meaningful things in life were the hard things. We learned from Coach that we could do hard things together.


My life has taken a series of twists and turns since I was a member of Coach Howell’s Cross Country and Track teams. Murphy’s Law took on a new twist as I learned to manage a cattle feedyard and care for animals on the farm while Mother Nature’s wrath simultaneously “put hair on my chest”. The years have gone by, but memories of Coach Howell surface often as I spend time as a coach in my community. Ask any one of my athletes about Coach Anne, and I’m sure that you’ll hear a story or two about my own “one liners” πŸ™‚

Today, our Cross Country team had it’s first meet of the 2021-2022 season. As we huddled up to prepare for a race, one of our runners shared the above scripture verse from Isaiah. It made me think of Coach Howell and how he inspired us to run strong and not grow weary. Of how, when we believe in ourselves and the Lord who created us, that we soar high on wings like eagles. I’m pretty sure that Coach Howell underestimated the impact that he had on his runners’ lives. I hope that he knew in his heart that we loved him – that we ran fast not just for our Lord and ourselves, but also for him.

I don’t know how many athletes Coach mentored over his lifetime, but I do know that his impact was far-reaching. Today, it still lands into the hearts of runners almost 2000 miles away from Cardinal Newman High School as his legacy of love and “one liners” continues on through me in Cozad, Nebraska. Please help me to lift up Coach Howell and his family in prayer and thanksgiving as we honor a great man.

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A visitor to the farm…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of John as Jesus addresses the first disciples: John 1: 35-50

In these 15 verses, Jesus invites the first disciples multiple times to

“Come and see” and “Come, follow me”.


We had a fun visitor last week on the farm. Ashley Grace’s boyfriend bravely ventured to Central Nebraska for a few days before heading back to Notre Dame for the fall semester πŸ™‚ It was great fun to introduce him to life on the farm. We visited our fall calves on the grass pasture, our yearlings on feed at a local feedyard, and toured the crop farm and alfalfa dehydration plant. In addition to “farm stuff”, we had a wonderful time hiking and messing around at the lake. Luke learned to water ski and knee board, and Matt was super excited to have another man in the house for a few days! We are so thankful that he wanted to come and seeΒ where Ashley Grace grew up.

We’ve had a lot of visitors to the farm in the 25 years since Matt and I moved back to the prairie. My social media work regarding cattle and welfare tended to bring us quite a few extras in addition to the regular flow of friends and family that wanted to come and see the farm where the city girl from Florida landed after college. If I had to choose five words to describe our lives, they would be: rewarding, purposeful, busy, all encompassing, and challenging. I don’t know if we effectively communicate that to all our visitors, but I hope that we offer a friendly glimpse into the care, team work and intentionality that goes into working the land and caring for God’s creation.


I love the Gospel of John. The imagery, depth, and foundational truth found in the first chapter is both beautiful and amazing. I pulled short quotes above to highlight, but I would truly encourage reading the entire chapter. In verses 35-50, I think it is really interesting how Jesus called visitors to become disciples. His invitations strike me as both genuine and humble in nature. Jesus waits until they curiously seek. Then, the Messiah, the Son of Man, the stairway between heaven and earth, casually asks them to “come and experience”.

Every time that I read those verses, I am awed at the naturalness of the words. They are issued without the weight of guilt, without the distrust of an outsider, and without the component of impatience that I often find in myself. Jesus was so neighborly.Β One of them, Andrew, not only decides to come and see but to go and get his brother Simon (Peter) so that he can also share in the experience. Two others additionally accept the invitation when Jesus asks them to not just come and see, but also to follow.

In the midst of these interactions, Jesus gives them purpose, builds them up with praise, and promises both truth and hope as they prepare to journey together. The psychology major and “coach” in me just marvels at how easily Jesus turns visitors into family.

Sometimes I can be a stubborn and slow learner, but I hope that I continue to evolve into a more gracious and natural host. I pray that I allow Jesus to soften my heart and the Holy Spirit to guide my actions so that visitors can feel accepted and valued when God brings them into my life. Ultimately, I strive to be a disciple – to not just come and see, but also to follow in order to lead others. Together, we can persevere in faith on our journey into the arms of Christ πŸ™‚

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Searching…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of Matthew 7: 7-8

Effective prayer: “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”


Last week, we headed south to tour colleges in Oklahoma and Texas. Over the years, Matt and I have encouraged each of our three girls to search for schools within a region of the country that they are interested in visiting. The summer before their junior year in high school, we take a family driving trip to see them. After participating in each one of her older sisters’ college trips, Karyn was excited to plan and execute her own! We toured five schools in seven days as well as visiting friends in Austin, Texas. It was a wonderful trip, and very fun to watch Karyn seek – knock – and receive a warm welcome at each of the colleges that she chose. Megan was able to travel back home from Wyoming to go along with us, so we were only missing Ashley Grace on the family trek πŸ™‚


All three of our family “college trips” have been meaningful, enjoyable and interesting. I think that is because we were very intentional about planning and executing them. Yesterday, the above Bible verses popped into my head. The Holy Spirit was reminding me that my faith journey is not so different from planning and experiencing a trip. It is my part to ask, seek, and knock. Those are action words and require my movement and intentionality. God’s part is then to help me to receive, find and ultimately to open the door. When the door opens, I again must intentionally move my feet to walk through it in faith. Salvation is a free gift from God. But, walking through the door and into faith with Jesus requires energy and work on my part.

I remember when I was growing up, my parents would say “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” At the time, I didn’t really give those words any deep thought. It took me a while to be inspired to ruminate on them. The “lunch” may be a free gift, but it costs me something to ask, seek, and to accept it. Once I accept it, I then have to eat it in order to experience it. All of that takes effort on my part even though technically it is “free”. Similar to the gift of a “free lunch”, God offers us a free gift of salvation. It is available to all who seek it and accept it.

I wonder how God feels while He is standing at the open door waiting for us to decide to love Him. I picture him standing there with open arms and a big smile on his face. I think of how patient He must be to keep standing there, to keep waiting for all of his children to seek, ask, and decide to walk through the door and into His arms. And, I cannot help but think of what a good, good, Father we have. One who pursues us with patience, creativity, and boldness. One who loves us so much that He gives us the gift of deciding. His answer is an open door. It is always “yes” because His greatest desire is to be with us πŸ™‚

I don’t know where Karyn will decide to go to college. But, I do know that wherever she goes, Jesus will be with her. As she searches, she will find a well of love that fills her each day.

 

 

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Faith / Fear…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from Phillippians 4: 13

“For I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”


This week at swim team practice we are talking about how God calls us to pack our faith rather than letting fear drive our actions.Β  Faith inspires hope, strength, tenacity, commitment, purposeful effort, and joy. Ultimately, it brings success. Fear comes in a variety of forms, but each one keeps us from fully becoming who God means us to be. For me, the balance of faith and fear is a continuum on which I travel each and every day. Where I am on that continuum determines my behavior. Do I choose to pack my faith to trust God’s Grace? Or, do I fall into the temptation of letting fear take the wheel?

On the pool deck today, we unpacked the word ‘fear’ to acknowledge the traps that it sets to keep us from reaching our full potential.Β  The most obvious form of fear is the gut wrenching fear that physically makes us tremble with anxiety. In my role as a coach, I see this type of fear as an athlete tries something new or when an outside “mental” force weighs heavily upon them as they try to compete. However, this type of “terrified” fear is not the fear that I routinely see.

The type of fear that I see most is the nagging fear that causes us to give into the temptation of “disengaging”. This is the fear that whispers, “Don’t go to practice today. Just stay home and have fun doing …. instead.” Or, “Don’t give your best effort today during the workout because it’s easier to just mess around and not take a chance by doing something hard.” Or, “Don’t listen to coach, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Just do your own thing and have fun. That’s better than being ‘all in’ and sacrificing for the team.”

The increasing prevalence of this type of fear weighs on my heart. I saw it all of last year as I substituted in our local middle school in addition to seeing it as a coach. I’ve worked with kids in some capacity for more than two decades, and I view this as a growing challenge that threatens our young people’s ability to do hard things in order to accomplish something greatly meaningful.Β I do not mean to lay this burden only on our kids, as I believe that I (and many other adults) sometimes fall into this trap as well. What concerns me most is society’s growing acceptance of walking away from hard things in order to selfishly make our own lives easier.



I believe that the Bible is very clear that we are called to be courageous, and to continue to journey into and through hard things. Two of my favorite Old Testament verses speak to this.

The first is Joshua 1: 9, “This is my command — Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

And the second is Psalms 37: 23-24, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”Β 

Being courageous does not mean never feeling fear. Being courageous means that you answer God’s call to continue to move your feet with great effort despite the fact that you feel fear. It is the faith-filled choice to believe that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Salvation is free, but walking with Jesus takes intentional faith that often comes in the form of work.

We are asked to live by faith as we draw from Jesus’ well of love and strength to persevere through Grace. Grace does not mean that we get to disengage and do whatever we want. Grace means that when we choose to commit to the hard journey that God calls us into, that Jesus will provide the strength and endurance that we need to finish strong!

Each day, I pray that I can see the world more through Jesus’ eyes than my own. And, each day, I watch a huge amount of unrealized potential be wasted because of that nagging fear that temps us to do the easy thing instead of the right thing. I know that God has a plan. My faith tells me that I serve a good, good Father who is all powerful and loves without end. And, I continue to pray that He can use me to walk in faith with courage and obedience when fears knocks at the door.

Where are you on the faith / fear continuum today?

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Together we can do hard things…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from Exodus 17: 11-13 as Israel defeated the Amalekites.

“As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle.”


I got baptized last Sunday afternoon at Johnson Lake with our small group from church watching from the shoreline. Matt’s asked me a couple of times why a previously baptized and confirmed Episcopalian felt the need to be baptized by emersion at the age of 46 and 1/2? I figured the answer might make a decent blog post 😊

The short response is that I have recently felt God asking me to take this step of obedience. Each January for the past few years, God placed a word on my heart for me to pray about and focus on. I’ve never been much into setting New Year’s Resolutions, but He seems to be creating a tradition at the start of each year! It began with “love”, moved into “trust”, and evolved to “patience” and “perseverance”.

I think there is great significance in each word listed above. And, as each year evolved, I was able to see why God chose that one. Love and trust covered the time that Joseph lived with us. Patience and perseverance carried me through the physical struggle that began when I broke my leg, and then on through the pandemic. The word for 2021 was “glorify”.

The word glorify has several different secular definitions ranging from honor, praise or admiration to lighting up brilliantly. In terms of my faith, I believe that God is asking me to praise Him by openly and obediently trusting while also generously sharing His love in community. Being baptized by emersion does not offer me salvation, only Jesus does that as He lives in my heart. But, a baptism within my church family demonstrates my open acceptance that walking with Jesus involves living and serving in a spiritual family.


The Old Testament verses referenced above describe a time when Moses was asked to obediently follow God’s instructions. The “ask” from God was hard, and Moses was unable to complete it on his own. As I read the words, I can picture Moses sweating, straining, and butting up against failure as he earnestly tries to follow the Lord’s command. His heart was in the call, and he was giving it his all. But, “his all” wasn’t enough. The message is clear to me: Sometimes we have to come together to do hard things.Β 

Moses had a spiritual family. He had a team 😊 Perhaps God asked him to do something really, really hard to help Moses understand that he was not meant to work alone. This is such an important reminder for me. I am a work horse, and I love to serve with all my heart. But, sometimes life is hard and God’s asks seem exhaustive. During those times, it is easier to be brave when you have a team to come alongside and support you. Aaron and Hur stepped in to help carry Moses’ burden. They gave him a place to sit and rest, and held up his arms when his strength began to wane. They circled around him in support and together they found victory.

I used to think that I could walk with Jesus on my own. With each day that passes, I am realizing that I cannot fully glorify my Maker without a team – a community – a spiritual family. Sunday night I committed to that family.Β  As I did that, my heart truly accepted that Team Jesus was, in fact, a team. The hard things of this earthly life will continue to be hard, but I can draw strength and courage in the knowledge that I do not face those things alone. God will provide however many “Aarons” and “Hurs” are needed to find victory as we choose to answer the call together.

 

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