Tag Archives: family

An Update From the Farm…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Micah 6:8:

“No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”


I’ve had a couple of people ask for an update “from the farm”. We are packing our faith to follow the advice found in Micah, and here are a few specifics 🙂

My favorite farmer and I both work in “agriculture” which was deemed as a “critical infrastructure industry” by the Department of Homeland Security, so daily life on the farm continues. Matt is gearing up for our growing season to begin and will be in full planting mode when the ground dries out enough to work the fields. While waiting for Mother Nature, he currently is working on his yearly organic farm certification, updating farms maps/yearly planning, and finishing up the equipment maintenance that dominants our winter months. He is itching to get to spring planting work, and smiles as he watches the Nebraska plains slowing turn from brown to green.

I am still spending my days servicing cattle feedyards and helping them to understand and implement the Progressive Beef program. I have about five more weeks before transitioning back to full-time with our family, our farm, and volunteer projects in our community. I am getting excited for spring/summer projects like grazing cattle on our pastures, coaching swim team, and gardening in my back yard. The alfalfa behind our house has started to grow, so this week the girls and I will take down the temporary winter fence and the horses will rotate from winter grazing to the spring/summer paddocks.

Ashley Grace is home from Notre Dame. Her school made the decision to switch to online classes while she was visiting for spring break, so we’ve got a car in Chicago and all of her belongings in South Bend, IN but she’s home and that’s what truly matters 🙂 Her summer teaching job in Panama City, Panama has been canceled so she is trying to figure out where God will call her to serve instead. She’s done an awesome job of going with the flow and choosing joy despite huge unexpected changes in her college life.

Megan and Karyn are figuring out the art of home schooling, something that honestly has never before been on their radar screen. In addition to doing learning enrichment via the internet, they are dutifully doing daily track workouts from home with the hope that there will be some sort of abbreviated spring sports season. This is not how either of them would choose to spend their Senior and Freshman springs, but they’re packing their faith to make the best of an uncertain situation!

Megan will celebrate her 18th birthday this weekend, and she has a quiet wish of getting to do all of the things that Seniors do: Prom, Senior Tea, Pen Pal Picnic with the 4th graders, graduation, and a chance to defend her two year pole vault NE State Title. I have been very proud of her positive attitude and ability to adapt to the disappointments of “missing some of the lasts” of her high school career. Both Meg and Karyn are embracing “zoom” weekly Bible study meetings with their high school girls small group, and trying to keep in touch with friends despite social distancing.


If I were to pick a rainbow to focus on, it is definitely the gift of having all three girls living at home again. My heart smiles as I take out 5 dishes each evening when I serve dinner. The time of family and fellowship is truly a blessing!  The above verse from Micah speaks to my heart, so I share it with each of you. It grants us instruction for today and the days to come. God asks us to:

Do what is right.

To love mercy.

To walk humbly with Him.

As I read Micah, my thoughts turn to the Prayer of St. Francis which I’d like to leave with you today 🙂

Dear Lord,
Make me an instrument of Your peace; 
Where there is hatred, let me sow love; 
Where there is injury, pardon; 
Where there is doubt, faith; 
Where there is despair, hope; 
Where there is darkness, light; 
And where there is sadness, joy… 
Grant that I may not so much seek 
to be consoled as to console; 
to be understood as to understand; 
to be loved as to love. 
For it is in giving that we receive; 
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying we are born to 
eternal life.

 

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The Heart’s Desires…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Psalms 37: 3-6

“Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.”


It’s always been a dream of mine to be a “mom”. One of the big reasons that my favorite farmer and I decided to move back to Nebraska was the desire to raise a family on the farm. As a farm kid with a MS in electrical engineering, Matt was likely “over-educated” for his professional choice. At the same time, my South Florida city roots and degree in psychology left me closer to the “under-educated” end of the spectrum. We were young and we followed our hearts, despite the mixed advice that we received from well-meaning friends and family.

When it came down to it, the question of whether or not we were appropriately qualified took a back seat to the strong call to follow our hearts’ desires

Twenty four years later, I look back and know that my heart did not lead me astray. Just as the God who put the call into my heart is trustworthy, so was my ability to find discernment and courage regardless of circumstance. The years have flown past, but the joy and the lessons proved bountiful. Together we learned to love deeply, to work passionately, and to respect each other and the farm that brought us all together. My girls can wield a scoop shovel with the best of them, and know how to work with a combination of smile and grit. They pack their faith well, fueled by servant hearts who look up for guidance and out to see those who are in need.


Life has stages and chapters. My girls are on the cusp of becoming women. Matt and I are in a new place that perhaps requires more trust and faith than when we decided to move from the East Coast back to the farm. Even though I know better, my heart is tempted to be selfish. It desires to hold my girls close even as I know that it is time to let God move them as He moved me all those years ago.

My favorite brunette sees her 21st birthday in 2020 and will spend more of the next twelve months abroad than in the United States. Teaching and mission work in Panama will fill her summer, followed by a semester living and going to school in Chile at the start of 2021. There will be a time this summer when all three of our girls will be in other countries doing mission work at the same time. As hard as it is to trust your own life to God, for me it is harder to trust the lives of my children. And yet, I know that it what I am called to do.

The Holy Spirit has been nudging my heart recently, reminding it of its job to trust and to share. On Friday morning at WayMakers, the middle schoolers acted out the Parable of the Three Servants (Matthew 25: 14-29) and we studied the purpose and responsibility of gifts or talents. Then, our Pastor reminded me on Sunday morning that blessings are meant to be shared. They are given to inspire selflessness, not selfishness. God loves a cheerful giver 🙂 Sometimes the ask is hard.

I know that God did not bless Matt and I with our girls for us to hoard them and hold them tight. He blessed us with them so that they, in turn, could bless others.

As I read the above verses in Psalms last weekend, my heart received another reminder. All those years ago, I trusted in the Lord and we’ve lived safely and prospered on the farm for decades. God gave me my heart’s desire as I became a wife and a mom. Now, Jesus asks me to commit everything to Him, to trust Him and live in the center of His will. He asks me to let Him guide those beautiful girls so that they radiate like the dawn and shine like the noonday sun.

Who am I to say “no”?

So I trust.

And I pray.

And my heart fills.

And my eyes water.

And, I pray some more.

And, I am truly thankful for this journey: the times I’ve experienced, and the ones that I have yet to come. Joy is a courageous choice, one that clings tightly to the heart and is fueled by the hope, love, peace, and forgiveness found in faith 🙂

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The Burkholder Annual Christmas Letter: 23rd edition

The Burkholder Annual Christmas Letter: 23rd edition

In honor of our children beginning to reach the age of “adulting”, we asked them to contribute to the 2019 Christmas letter by composing their own Limerick poems.

Photo Credit: Katie Arndt Photography


Ashley Grace: Age 20, Sophomore Political Science major at Notre Dame – Servant heart, fluent in Spanish, and inspired to take on the world’s challenges in order to make a difference 🙂

Our girl has done well in South Bend

To many she’s been a good friend

She loves a tail-gate

Her grades have been great

Next year she’ll continue this trend


Megan Anne: Age 17, Senior at Cozad High School – Joyful heart, full of Holy Sass, 2019 Pole Vault Nebraska State Champ and enrolling at Davidson College in the fall of 2020 🙂

Turns out I’m a champion napper

I played a bartender that’s dapper

A science fanatic

And very sarcastic

Now that’s a very great capper


Karyn Allison: Age 15, Freshman at Cozad High School – Hamilton Musical and history lover, expert baker, math whiz, courageous athlete and kindhearted girl 🙂

I had to Rise Up to high school

Take My Shot and play it cool

Never back down

Learn to go a few rounds

And not be afraid to look like a fool


As for Matt and I, we continue to enjoy life on the Nebraska prairie. God blesses us daily, and we both look forward to another year loving and working alongside each other on the farm. We hope that the joy that Jesus Christ brings permeates your heart this Christmas and brings you hope for the New Year!

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On the other side…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s letter to the Philippians 4: 11-13

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”


Life’s not perfect. As much as we might long for unlimited happy days where the sun always shines and the journey is easy, that’s just not what happens. I’m going to reach 45 years this February and my favorite farmer has been with me on the journey since I was 18. We’ve been blessed beyond measure, and yet we’ve been challenged beyond anything I might have imagined. It’s hard to wrap your brain around how those two things can go together until you read Paul’s letter to the Philippians. It is a letter of thanksgiving – written from a prison cell – during a time when he faced the very real possibility of execution. It is a great reminder that there is joy to be found in every situation, even those times of great struggle.

Last week I spent time thinking about what happens on the other side. Not just that “eternal high five” that greets us at heaven’s gate, but the other side of difficult times that we pass through during our years on earth. I spent five years battling Graves Disease and some unusual complications resulting from treatment beginning when Karyn was an infant. It was unexpected, it was hard. We had three small children (5 and under) as well as a farm to run. And, there were many days that I could hardly function. I looked anorexic, was terribly anemic and got so weak that I couldn’t lift the girls.

On the “other side” of Graves Disease 🙂

As hard as it was for me to get through each day, it was harder for Matt. Watching someone you love suffer has to be one of the hardest things that we are asked to do in our lifetime. It brings on a litany of emotions – none of which resemble the perfect happiness that we dream of on the day that we say I do. There have been times in our marriage where we have looked at each other and asked the question:

If God loves us, why does he allow us to suffer?


As I was visiting with a friend last week, the pieces all fell together and my brain made sense of this question. God uses every experience to shape us and to grant us various perspectives that help us to share His love with others on the journey. We can’t learn these things if we are never challenged. We can’t learn to lean into Jesus’ love and strength if life is never hard. We can’t have true understanding and empathy for others if we never hurt ourselves.

I’ve revisited many of these lessons over the past nine months as I spent long days on crutches and went through three surgeries to heal my leg. Today, I’d like to share the five most important lessons that struggling has taught me — looking back now that I am on the other side.

  1. Everyone has a story. Each and every person that we come into contact with battles a challenge that we may never get to see. A smile or a few words of encouragement likely makes the difference in their ability to find joy amongst the struggle.
  2. Life is not meant to be taken for granted. Each day brings the possibility of many blessings – the ability for us to share Jesus’ love with others. Slow down. Take the time to see those opportunities and then embrace the confidence of Christ in order to turn them into Holy Moments.
  3.  A loving spouse is a gift to be cherished. Matt carries a lot of medals on his heart. God’s placed them there as we’ve walked together through the past twenty seven years. He is an amazing man with a heart that never stops giving. Being his wife is one of my greatest blessings and inspires my heart to be grateful as we greet each new day together.
  4. Our children learn with us as we walk together – they learn from us and we learn from them. Never discount the power of TEAM. One of the greatest blessings that came out of my illness was our ability to come together as a family to find strength and remain stubbornly rooted in love. There’ve been days that the girls have carried us — spiritually and emotionally — as Matt and I struggled to make sense of things. Today I believe that there is nothing more beautiful than a child reflecting Jesus’ love and light to his/her parents. It not only helps them to own their own faith, it shows them the purpose of faith!
  5. We never walk alone. When I was sick, someone told me “Anne, God will never give you more than you can handle.” I really struggled with that as some days I was just plain not enough. The last ten years have taught me that faith allows Jesus to fill that gap. God often gives us more than we can handle on our own, but those are the times that Jesus comes into our lives to carry us through. He is the perfect Coach — the one with divine discernment and a never-ending well of love and strength.

I’m sure that Matt and I and our girls will face more struggles as we walk through life together. But, just as I know this, I also realize that there is joy to be found in each and every day. We find it when we abide in Christ and welcome the peace and strength that He brings. Just as Paul reminds us in the above scripture verses, the secret to being content in every situation is to recognize that we are never alone. God walks with us and offers the comfort that leads to peace – on the good days and the tough ones. It may be hard to see the value in the moment of hardship, but it becomes clear once we are on the other side.

 

 

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How do “doors” and “cups of water” merge?

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of Matthew 10:42

“And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”


My family participates in a small group bible study once a week with some wonderful people from our church. Right now we are studying the Gospel of Matthew. This week we read Chapter 10. Tuesday late afternoon found me taking my first big trip since breaking my leg in January. Part of my job for the Beef Marketing Group is to service cattle feed yards, and I had a visit that was overdue. It was far enough away from home that I decided to stay overnight in a hotel.

I broke my leg on January 5th, and never would have dreamed that I would still be basically non-weight bearing and on crutches the 13th of March. But, with some nerve damage in my foot and a stubborn ankle, that is my reality. I packed carefully for the trip with two backpacks (one with my computer and the things that I would need for the feed yard visit, and the other with an extra change of clothes for the overnight stay).

Before I experienced life on crutches, I never realized how difficult it was to open doors and then pass through them. Most doors these days (at least those in Nebraska) have to be pulled open and physically held because they are designed to immediately close. The majority do not have that awesome handicap button to push to operate the door automatically. When you have two working arms and legs, it likely never enters your radar screen that this creates a challenge for some people. I’ve learned to balance myself on my one working leg and the crutches and pull on the door, but holding it open while I try to move in a forward motion is hard. Usually it results in the door banging into some part of my upper body. I’ve yet to truly master the process.

Please pardon the “selfie” – I don’t take them well 😉

Rural Nebraska hotels do not have “bell hops”, so when I arrived at the hotel I parked in the closest available place and put one back pack on my back and the other on my front. I pretty much made an “Anne sandwich”, and crutched my way toward the door. When I got there, I realized with a bit of a sinking heart that there was not only 1 outside door but a set of 2 outside doors (one followed by another) to help reduce energy use with the difficult Nebraska weather.

While I was getting together a game plan, I noticed the one lady sitting in the lobby. She was just on the other side of the second door, and scrolling through her smart phone. I made eye contact with her hoping that she would see my difficulty and come to my aid. After glancing at me briefly, she went back to scrolling on her phone. I faced the reality of the doors and began the tedious process of getting myself through one and then the other. I’d never tried it with two backpacks on before, but God was with me and I worked my way through.

As I awkwardly cleared the second door, the lady looked up – a little bit sheepishly – and said, “Oh, I guess I should have helped you.” I just smiled and told her that it was okay, and made my way to the front desk to sign for my room.


So, by now you may be asking yourself:

What does Anne’s “door story” have to do with a cup of cold water?

I think that the above statement from the Gospel of Matthew is designed to remind us that we are a community, a family. And, as such, we are called to offer a cold cup of water when someone is thirsty and in need of help. Sometimes it is a physical need, and sometimes it is an emotional or spiritual need. In any instance, Jesus asks us to take the time to notice the need and then to reach out in love to help.

I’ve learned many things over the past 9 and a half weeks, but I can promise that I will never look at a manual door the same way again. Additionally, I hope that I am learning to be more sensitive to others, to pay better attention to the needs that exist around me, and to reach out in agape love to help fill them. Sometimes it’s simply opening a door for someone who is physically struggling, but other times it might be offering comfort to someone who has pain in their heart.

There is a saying that everyone has a story of need. Perhaps if we all tried a little bit harder to help others, the world would be a more loving place. I am confident that many would have rushed to help me with the doors, but the truth is that not everyone does. What if one of the ways that Jesus heals others is through us? If that is the case, what happens when we ignore His call?

I’m going to try harder to be one who responds instead of one who doesn’t.

 

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Love Wins…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week comes from Matthew 18: 10-14 and the Parable of the Lost Sheep.

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”


I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this parable over the past year. When Joseph’s life fell apart early last spring, I read this passage. I prayed. I ran. I asked God lots of questions. I received a very clear answer from the Holy Spirit, and I clung to it.

Go and love him.

So, I did.

I made my first visit to a jail and I ached for the scared and broken young man that looked back at me. I prayed with him and I cried with him. Ten days later, I brought him home. It was likely the most reckless thing that I have ever done in my life. It is very clearly the first time that I have lived entirely through faith.

I remember our pastor saying one Sunday last spring in a sermon, “God will give you just enough information so that you can follow His call. He doesn’t often show you everything because that might bring you unnecessary fear in the moment.” Trading fear for faith depends on this delicate balance, and I am very thankful for God’s transparency time table.

Corey Asbury has a song out on Christian Radio called  “Reckless Love” that I feel like sums up my feelings quite accurately. It brings to my mind the following questions that I ponder daily:

  • How does God recklessly pursue us?
  • What does it mean to love so recklessly that we are willing to leave what is comfortable in order to do what is right?
  • What is our role in Jesus’ mission?

I believe that there are many ways that God pursues us. I can personally attest to the fact that the pursuit is, in fact, reckless. Honestly, it’s the component of reckless abandon that provides the truest beauty of it. God never gives up on us. We are all worthy and we are all loved. Whether it is through Jesus’s love, the work of the Holy Spirit, the Bible, or the actions of other people — or some combination of them — God is steadfast and tenacious in pursuit of our hearts and our lives.

God used Joseph to teach me how to live by faith. I learned to abide in Jesus’ love so that I could share it recklessly. I left what was comfortable to embrace something better. My perspective shifted so that I could let earthly things go in order to remain true to my heavenly call. It’s changed me, and it continues to change me each and every day.

God used me to show Joseph that he was loved – worthy – and cherished. I’ve watched him intentionally work to leave what was comfortable to embrace something better. It’s a daily choice. It’s hard. But it is good. Neither one of us travels the journey alone because God created a community to support us. Our family has learned to make a new team which allows us to be successful as we work to share in Jesus’ mission to love.

I think sometimes, as humans, we like to make things complicated. I struggled for many years trying to figure out what my role in Jesus’ mission was. I thought too much instead of leading with my heart. I looked past the simple, yet potent answer:

Love Wins.

Every time.

Every one matters. Just ask the lost sheep.

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It’s about how you play the game…

Inspiration for this week comes from the Parable of the Three Servants (Talents) in Matthew 25: 14-30. I am going to focus on verse 29, but encourage you to read the parable in its entirety.

“To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.”


I just finished reading the book Why I didn’t rebel by Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach. It is a “reality based parenting book” written by a 22 year old. She’s not yet a parent, but she’s passed the teenage years that tend to challenge us as families. I found it incredibly interesting to read her perspective.

There is a section in her book entitled “It’s not about winning — it’s how you play the game.” Rebecca references the Parable of the Three Servants (Talents) in this part of the book.  She writes, “We spend a lot of time focusing on the man with one talent and the man with five talents, but in my experience we don’t talk a lot about the man with two talents. But something I’ve realized is this: the master was equally pleased with the man with two talents and the man with five. He gave them both the same praise…It wasn’t about how much they made — it was about how they used what they were given.

Talents are gifts. We often have little control over how much or which ones are given to us. Perhaps the value does not intrinsically exist in the gift. Rather, the value exists in the intentional effort that we chose to place with the talent to use it to further God’s purpose.


I have four teenagers that bless my life and fill my days. Each one is different. Not only do they have different talents, but they also have different levels of talent. I love each one of them in their God-given uniqueness. They are my greatest gift and together we make a family team. As their mom, it’s my job to teach and inspire them to BEST USE WHAT THEY WERE GIVEN.

As a Christian, I find honor and purpose in my life when I live with effort, tenacity, passionate boldness, and an unselfish heart filled with grace. Somewhere along the way, I discovered that authentic faith is contagious as we trust God to provide the initial talents and control the final outcome. Our job is to focus on how we play the game.

Nine months ago, Joseph joined our family. Before I brought him home, neither Matt nor the girls knew him. The day that I had been working out the logistics of his move to us, Megan was competing in a track meet about an hour and a half away. I’ll never forget when Matt got home and shared their story:

My favorite blonde cowgirl won the pole vault and set a new school record that day. The first thing that she did after completing her final vault was to walk over to Matt and ask: “Was mom able to get Joe? Do I have a new brother?”

Anyone that knows Meg, knows how competitive she is. She’s an athlete with a capital “A” 🙂 But, she carries Jesus in her heart and recognizes that playing the game is so much bigger than setting records. It is honoring your sport with focus, passion and effort, but also remembering that opening your heart to a stranger who needs someone to love him trumps any medal that we receive on earth.

In the months that have followed, our family has learned the true meaning of abundance.

We found it by taking our talent and using that gift to embrace His call. It didn’t come with a medal that hangs around our necks, rather it came in our hearts as we truly learned how to share Jesus’ love 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wholesome…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Isaiah 40:11

“He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.”


My favorite farmer’s business partner visited us in Cozad last week. While he was here, he asked, “How do you all stay so wholesome?” I think that Matt was not entirely sure how to answer that question, but when he came home and told me about it I had to smile a bit. I viewed the question as a very nice complement. It reminded me of a similar question that I had received earlier in the week…

I am a youth leader at The Refuge which is in the neighboring town of Lexington. I spend Wednesday evenings hanging out with some pretty awesome middle schoolers 🙂 Last week, we were talking about how Jesus calls us to love one another. One of the girls looked at me and asked, “How did you learn to love?”

What an awesome question!

  • How do we learn to love?
  • And, maybe more importantly, how can we grow in our faith so that we can love more like Jesus?

Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-5 that “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.” That type of a love is a wholesome love – and one that is given freely without conditions.

I looked at the girl, smiled and did my best to answer her question. I said, “God uses my children to teach me how to love. They inspire me to open my heart so that I can reflect the love that Jesus places in it.” Being a mom leads me on a journey of learning to love and it is one of my life’s greatest blessings. It is a beautiful and wholesome adventure. I still have a lot to learn, but I get better each day that I intentionally try to progress.


Above, the prophet Isaiah gives us a beautiful description of a loving shepherd. Although he lived hundreds of years before the coming of Christ, as I read the words from Isaiah 40:11, I think of Jesus. He is the Good Shepherd that carries lambs in his arms in order to hold them close to his heart. He is the God that gently leads us on our wholesome journey of love.

I opened my bible on Saturday morning searching for guidance. The last sentence of this verse jumped off the page at me. If Jesus leads the mother sheep gently as she follows with her young, then I need to lead gently as well as I strive to reflect His love. I’ve spent the majority of my life not being a very gentle person. I’ll never forget a few years ago when the Activities Director of our local high school called me to ask if I would serve as a volunteer coach on the Junior High and High School Cross Country team. He was looking for someone with “soft skills” to aid the team during a time of coaching transition.

When my family learned that I’d been hired for my “soft skills”, they laughed until they cried. My reputation more closely resembled a Drill Sargent than a mediator. But that phone call played a pivotal role in my personal decision to intentionally focus on love as I strived to learn how to be more gentle. It’s a journey that I still take today – endeavoring to love freely and lead gently – following the example of our Good Shepherd. I remind myself that I am after progress not perfection which gives me hope as well as goals for the future.

Perhaps the questions of last week are one of the little ways that the Lord uses others to shine His light on my path to enable me to leave the light on 🙂

 

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