Tag Archives: faith

The Good Life Halfsy…

Last week, I signed up to run The Good Life Halfsy. My favorite farmer thinks that I am crazy and my favorite blonde cowgirls are claiming that my mental status has been in question for years; but there are a variety of things compelling me to complete my first half marathon.

 The first, and most important, is that Ashley Grace asked me to do it with her. My favorite brunette begins her senior year in high school this fall, and I am incredibly excited to be able to share this experience with her. While we will not really run it together (she will cross the finish line well ahead of me), it is a mother/daughter bucket list item.

Apart from a few 5k races completed recently as a fitness building tool with my family or the Haymaker Cross Country team, I have not competed in a running event since high school. The six minute miles that I used to kick out on the XC course provide an interesting history, but little relevance to the race in late October. Much has changed over the last twenty-four years 😉

The second reason that I hit the “go button” on the registration form is simply that I canFor the first time in 13 years, I am physically strong enough to finish the race. To be completely honest, this race is a mental (as well as physical) stretch for me. However, I believe that it is a symbolic event as I celebrate a level of health and fitness that, during my years with active Graves Disease, I worried I would never again attain.

I recently wrote a blog entitled Life’s About Never Giving UpIn a number of ways, this race will be living proof of my words.

  • It is a difficult challenge to lose your health.
  • It is often a long journey to regain strength and fitness.

But, there is an awesome sweet spot to find as you pack your FAITH along the healing process. I’m hopeful that sweet spot will make a strong appearance the morning of the race as my main goal is to complete the half marathon with a smile on my face and peace in my heart.

I hope to have many great moments over the next five months as I train and prepare for the race; but what I most look forward to is seeing the pride in my daughter’s eyes as she hugs me on the finish line.

 

One of the reasons that Life’s About Never Giving Up is because there are so many awesome things to do as we live it 🙂

 

 

 

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Filed under Ashley Grace's Corner and The Chick Project..., Family, General

Packing her FAITH to fly…

My favorite blonde cowgirl trades her horse for a pole vault pole tomorrow afternoon to compete in the Nebraska State Track and Field Championships. I’m pretty proud of Megan as she has had an awesome freshman year track season! It’s been a lot of fun to watch her work hard and pack her FAITH to fly 🙂

My Feed Yard Foodie video for the week highlights her pole vaulting prowess. Please help me to wish her the best as she tackles one of her favorite off farm challenges @ Burke Stadium in Omaha.  Go Meg!

 

 

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Filed under Video Fun on the Farm

Life’s About Never Giving Up…

The onset of Mother’s Day always brings a personal sense of pensiveness. I think this is the case for a couple of different reasons.

  1. Being a mom and a coach/mentor provide the most important facets of my life.
  2. After my third daughter was born, I struggled for an extended period of time with chronic illness due to an autoimmune system disease.

At a glance, these two things do not necessarily seem related, but digging a bit deeper brings us to the heart of what I believe it truly means to be a mom.

The privilege of being a mom begins with receiving a new life. I’ll never forget how I felt when I held each of my three girls for the first time. I was in awe that something so precious, so infinitely beautiful could come from me.  I made a multitude of promises to my girls in those first moments. As I vowed to love them forever and support them in their dreams, I curled their tiny hands around my index finger and humbly thanked God for his gift of life.

Ashley Grace was just short of 6 and Megan was 2 and ½ when Karyn entered the world. The next five years were difficult ones as Matt and I struggled to hold together the family, the farm and survive my journey with Graves Disease. I learned a very important lesson during that time.

Life’s about never giving up.

It’s about FAITH.

It’s about letting go enough to embrace GRACE.

When I began my journey with Graves, I packed my stubborn with a vengeance, but I forgot to take along the majority of my FAITH. The stubborn took care of the fortitude and my integrity seemed to be permanently ingrained, but my attitude, trust, and hope were severely lacking. I am not proud of the person that I was during those years; but Matt held me up when I wanted to fall, and I came out the other side with a new perspective on life.

Today, I look at my beautiful girls and I see the true meaning of blessed. As I accept that blessing, I know in my heart that I must help them to learn that same important lesson about life. Being a real mom is about much more than wrapping that tiny hand around your finger, it’s about instilling that important value of FAITH and then letting them go enough that they can learn to find GRACE.

Life is hard.

Life is real.

Life is what you make of it.

Problems do not just disappear when you do not want to deal with them. No one is going to wave a magic wand. The negative aspect of challenges can fester and ruin your beautiful spirit – causing you to lose sight of what really matters. The only way that you work through it is to recognize that life’s about never giving up.

Sometimes never giving up involves letting go. On the surface, this may seem a bit backwards – letting go in order to never give up. But, trust and hope cannot move into your soul to lead you through the journey if there is not a personal realization that not everything in life is meant to be controlled by you.

Life isn’t about control.

Life’s about FAITH.

Life’s about GRACE.

The journey is better when you accept the love and support that God can grant you. This support comes in many different forms, and I have learned that I need to look for it. Trust and hope are critical components to FAITH. Developing a meaningful relationship with God enables you to open your heart to find them. When we pack our FAITH, we are open to receive GRACE.

Sometimes as moms we are tempted to try and fix things for our children. I make it a point to not do this with my girls because I know that their lives will be happier and more meaningful if they learn how to pack their FAITH, remember to let GRACE lead their actions, and figure out how to let go enough to never give up.

Life will never be perfect, but it can be meaningful. In order to receive, you must give. True joy can be found in sharing of yourself as you use your talents in order to make a difference. Peace is a beautiful emotion – it sits all along a journey marked by FAITH and GRACE. Finding it provides one of life’s most precious gifts.

Look for it.

Honor the gift of life.

Pack your FAITH so that you can fly.

Lead with GRACE so that there is a purpose to your flight.

Above all, cherish the journey as the pot of gold is the rainbow itself, not any given moment in time.

 

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Filed under Family, General

And Then There Were None…

Yesterday morning we shipped the final pens of cattle from the feed yard to Tyson.  A calm wind with temperatures in the mid-20’s provided an easy ship out environment.  Mother Nature also rewarded us with a beautiful sunrise toward the end of the process.

As I watched the last cattle truck pull away from the load-out chute, my emotions threatened to get the best of me.  I took a moment to remember back to the first of the lasts as I experienced the last of the lasts. This particular shipment marked the end of our feed yard era, and the finality of the moment left me drained.

I wasn’t quite sure how to feel with the knowledge that, for the first time in twenty years, I had no cattle directly depending on me for care.  An internal struggle waged as the uplifting element of freedom fought with the deep rooted desire to be needed.

Recognizing the necessity and wisdom in change is sometimes easier than living it out. Watching the cattle truck pull away forced me to face the reality in a way that I had not yet done. I took a brief moment to feel sorry for myself before I packed my FAITH and went back to work.

faith

In that transition moment from self-pity to resolve, I made the decision to be happy. 

While that decision does not preclude me from experiencing difficult moments tinged with sadness, it focuses my attitude on the positive and grants me the strength to make the most of the future.  LIFE is a verb, and I recognize that my ability to achieve happiness is directly related to how I chose to live it.

  • Staying true to my core values
  • Trusting both myself and God on the journey
  • Recognizing that there is so very much more left to do on the journey…

All of these things give my life purpose, and I am looking forward to cowgirling up to make the most of it.

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Filed under Chronicles of a Retiring Feed Yard Boss Lady, General

Living With Grace — Finding the Joy…

Today our community lay to rest a beautiful woman — A woman who quietly demonstrated the splendor of living with grace — Eternally radiating joy and optimism amidst her strong and steadfast faith.

judyposter.jpg

There is something magical about a person that radiates joy. Optimism serves as a magnet, and others naturally look to that special person for support and mentoring. I am not sure that I ever really knew someone whose heart and soul were so full of such unselfish joy before I met Judy.

My favorite farmer was blessed to know her his entire life — the mom of his close friend, Judy had a hand in gently guiding him down his early life path. In typical “Judy fashion” she extended this love to me when I moved to Cozad, and then to my girls when they entered the world.

I believe that there are many who are called “Mother” by a few, but there are a few very special people that are called to be a “mother” to many.

Judy was one of those special few, and she played this role with an exquisite blend of compassion and empathy. Her love for others was followed closely by a love of music. A talented piano player and organist, Judy shared her gift with many. My girls were blessed to have her as a piano teacher from the time that my favorite teenager started Kindergarten.

judygirls.jpg

Those almost 10 years of piano lessons taught my girls so very much more than music literacy — Judy passed on to them the joy and harmony that comes from a life based on faith. One that is celebrated by music and dancing, and centered in a strong love of God.

girlsjudyplant.jpg

The pot that the girls chose for Judy when she got sick — it speaks volumes toward what she taught them…

Judy had a way of “softening” those around her — reminding us to focus on the priorities of love and faith. It was in this capacity that she most affected my life. There have been countless times in the last 17 years that this “hard-nosed feed yard boss lady” needed a lesson in unconditional love and acceptance of others. It seemed as though whenever I needed this most, I would look up and see Judy smiling at me with a look in her eye that spoke volumes.

DOKcross.jpg

As I sat in the church today, I could hear Judy telling me to look for the joy — The joy that comes from unselfishly sharing yourself with others. Through my tears, I could picture her encouraging me to live with grace—to strive to be the light that allows everyone else’s talents to shine just a little bit brighter.

I call the following mediation from Mother Teresa, “Judy’s Prayer”, because it describes my friend with a beautiful poetic clarity.

Joy shows from the eyes, it appears when one speaks and walks. It cannot be kept closed inside us. It reacts outside. When people find in your eyes that habitual happiness, they will understand that they are the beloved children of God.

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Filed under Family, General

The Joy of Chaos…

While I tend to run my cattle feed yard with an incredible degree of particularity, my house can only be described as a place of joyful chaos. I gave up the need for carefully construed order sometime around the birth of my third daughter. It likely was a survival mechanism as I began to recognize the importance of retaining my sanity.

I traded order for laughter — the need to control for faith…

Although ten years ago I might have claimed that letting go was against my very nature, I actually think that it has improved my parenting prowess by inspiring my older daughters to achieve a greater degree of responsibility. I believe that the duo secretly enjoys attempting to keep the household running and, between the five of us, the daily chores always seem to get completed.

Every once in a while, we are thrown off kilter and the tenuous balance temporarily disappears. When this occurs, I do my best to laugh as I improvise and call on faith to carry us through. Friday was one of those days…

They seem to be cut from the same cloth...

They seem to be cut from the same cloth…

Early afternoon, my favorite farmer loaded up the vehicle with suitcases and our family set off for a trip to Florida. This past week has been more chaotic than normal, so each family member was charged with packing their own luggage for the trip and placing their suitcases in a predetermined location by the door.

As we pulled off of Interstate 80 (approaching the airport and about 100 miles from home), we realized that my youngest daughter’s suitcase was still buried on the end of her bed. (Anyone that has seen Karyn’s bed will understand that it is possible to lose a small mountain in the menagerie of stuffed animals that sleep there…) While she had followed directions and packed a suitcase, she failed to place it with the other luggage as she left for school that morning. It never occurred to my favorite farmer that the pile of luggage in the hallway was one bag short!

karyn

The car got really quiet as it dawned on all of us that Karyn had no clothes for the long weekend trip. I quickly burst into laughter because it seemed to be the best available option of cutting the tension that permeated the car. It didn’t take long for Megan to join in my hilarity, and Ashley Grace to begin her typical litany of humorous sarcastic remarks—soon everyone but Karyn was smiling.

Exercising my savvy problem solving skills I pulled quickly into the Grand Island mall and bought Karyn some emergency clothes. We were back in the car within 10 minutes, and headed once again for the airport. We arrived just as the check-in desk was closing, and boarded the flight a few minutes later.

Laughter is good for the soul. Learning to let go and give it to God is a tremendous survival mechanism. What could have been a tensioned filled crisis became a source of humor that set the tone for a great family adventure.

annemattagmegsilly.jpg

I cannot recall exactly what day I made the choice as a mother to embrace the joy of chaos, but it has enabled me to trade tension for laughter — shifting my focus to the blessings that come from the gift of a family.

What is your survival mechanism?

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Filed under Family, General

Finding Faith Amidst Challenges…

The Feed Yard Foodie farm was lucky to not be in the path of last week’s winter storm.  We received high winds and cold temperatures, but were blessedly missed by the blizzard.  My heart hurts for all of those folks who lost livestock in the storm.  The devastation is horrific, and this type of event always leaves me asking “Why”.

Today I am thankful for all of the animals that have been entrusted to me, as well as all of the wonderful people who help me to care for them...

Today I am thankful for all of the animals that have been entrusted to me, as well as all of the wonderful people who help me to care for them…

All of us face challenges in our lives.  That is something that we share regardless of our address or occupation.  I believe that the way that we deal with those challenges shows both our personal character and what role faith plays in our hearts.

The prayer below found me on Facebook last night.  I was struck at the beauty of the words, the tenacity of the writer, and the tremendous faith that the prayer demonstrates.  Every where that we look, there are people in need.  I encourage you today to share a bit of kindness—a bit of yourself—with someone who could use a helping hand.

Many thanks to Bobette Schofield for sharing these beautiful words.  They touched my heart and reminded me of the true strength that is found in faith.

The Rancher’s Prayer

The rancher looked toward heaven
And said, “God where have you been?
Do you know we had a blizzard,
With rain and snow and wind?

You know I built this herd of mine____
With blood and sweat and tears.
You know the work and worry,
As I struggled through the years.

Now as I stand and look around,
I see that it is gone.
I don’t know if I have the strength
To rebuild or go on.”

God looked down from heaven____
Saw the pain there in his eyes.
He heard the sadness in his voice.
He knew the sacrifice.

He said, “My son, you’re not alone.
I’m walking there with you____
I’ll give you all the strength you need
For what you have to do.

I’ll give you courage to go on,
Through all this loss and pain.
I’ll give you hope to start once more,
And build your herd again.

I know that this is who you are____
And not just what you do.
And as you’re making your fresh start,
I’ll be right there with you.

Do not think this is a failure,
Or that you’ve done something wrong.
You’re an example of the spirit
That makes South Dakota strong.

So stand up straight and tall my son,
For I have faith in you.
Put yesterday behind you now,
For we’ve got work to do!”

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Filed under Animal Welfare, General

Feeding The Body and the Soul: A look at how we grow food and spiritualism in Central Nebraska…

I am what some would call a cradle Episcopalian.  I was raised a member of Bethesda By The Sea Episcopal church in Palm Beach, Florida; and have spent my adult life a part of the family of St. Christopher’s in Cozad, Nebraska.

We are the little A-frame church that sits on the corner of 16th and B streets…

While I am a regular church goer, the heart of my spiritualism lies outside of the doors of the church building.  It is deeply rooted in nature and is an integral part of my adult life.

  • It is present on my cattle farm.
  • It is present in the volunteer work that I do to improve animal (cattle) welfare.
  • It is present on the youth athletic fields where I mentor and coach.

    God’s paintbrush is evident as fall prevails on the prairie…

Friday afternoon I will be sharing my thoughts on the topic Feeding the Body and the Soul: A look at how we grow food and spiritualism in Central Nebraska at the 145th Annual Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska.

While I am very open and transparent about how I raise cattle and grow beef on my farm, I tend to hold my faith in a more private place.  Despite that introverted tendency, I “take God with me” on my life journey.

What a beautiful journey it has been in the heartland of Nebraska.

There is something about wide open spaces and farming the land that lends itself to being closely tied to faith.  Perhaps it is the beauty of a sunset over the plains…Perhaps it is the feeling of intense pride and contentment that comes from growing things with your own two hands…Perhaps it is the feeling of helplessness that comes from witnessing the brutality of Mother Nature…Most likely, it is all of these things that lends a farmer toward a strong personal spiritualism.

The beautiful promise of new opportunity…

I have a sign in one of my flower gardens that reads:  The kiss of the sun for pardon; The song of the birds for mirth.  One is nearer God’s heart in a garden, than any place else on the earth.

There are times when I am exercising calves in the early morning light when I feel a comforting presence about me.  I feel peace, and with it a strong sensation that I am where I was meant to be.  When I think of what I desire most in the world as a parent, it is that my children will grow up to discover a vocation that brings them this same sense of “rightness”.

My greatest wish is for each of them to find a true vocation in life…

It is true that Nebraska is an enormous contributor to our country’s food supply.  Agriculture is the heart of our communities, our lives, and our economy.  If our rural “Fly Over State” is known for anything, it is for corn, crops and cattle.  What folks outside of our small communities might not realize is the strong sense of faith that prevails amongst the farms and ranches that permeate our state.

A simple beauty…

Just as Nebraska grows food, that growth of food seems intrinsically tied to faith.  That spiritual belief moves us forward in good times and in times of challenges. It unites us into a diverse family and creates a sense of “neighborliness” that is truly unique.

The next time that you think of Nebraska, you’ll have to add faith to the list of things that we grow—it blossoms amidst the bounty that our land produces…

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Filed under Farming, General