Tag Archives: family

The Greatest Of These Is Love…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


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

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


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


Dear Ashley Grace,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is love.

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

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

But it always is.

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

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

Pack your faith.

Live with grace.

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

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

Love,

Mama

 

 

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Celebrating 21 years…

Today my favorite farmer and I celebrate 21 years of marriage. I’d like to deny that I am old enough to celebrate such a milestone, but when I look at my daughters it’s pretty difficult to dispute the facts 😉

Matt and I met at Dartmouth College the fall of 1993 and said “I do” in June of 1996. We spent a year on the East Coast before making the decision to move back to the family farm in Nebraska the summer of 1997. I often claim that the three girls in the above picture are my greatest blessing, but likely a better statement is that the family that we all make together is our greatest blessing.

At age 21, I had no idea what the future would bring the day that Matt slipped the ring on my finger; but I recognized that honoring the gift of our love would provide the basis of the life that we would build together. I tell my girls that the road to excellence isn’t meant to be comfortable. Rather, excellence is about reaching above and beyond your capabilities in order to accomplish far more than your dreams. That statement provides a perfect description of our marriage.

  • The road is often bumpy.
  • The bumps can make it uncomfortable at times; but there is joy to be found in the journey of togetherness.

Matt has taught me that no matter what you can accomplish alone, accomplishing things together is what makes life meaningful. Being a team creates the needed strength to turn uncomfortable into joyful success. We are devoted to each other — finding strength in the togetherness that transforms the wedding day into a life-long partnership. We work hard for each other, always striving to honor the gift of our love.

Today I count my blessings as I look back with pride on the last 21 years, while also looking forward to next 21 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Chores…

I was lucky enough to grow up down the street from my grandparents. Although they have been gone for several years now, when I think of them the word that comes to mind is devoted.  More than 70 years of marriage, the sun rose and set for them in each other.  As a little girl, I dreamed of finding a soul-mate — someone to build a life with just like my beloved Grannie and Dedaw.

Feb March 2006 017When I brought my favorite farmer to Florida for the first time, my Grannie loved him at first sight.  I still don’t know if she innately sensed that he was my one, or if she simply loved me enough to believe in my heart.  Either way, she showed me with her life that love required work — a good marriage necessitated diligently doing chores — and that the blessing of sharing your life with someone always topped the priority list.

One of the things that I love about Matt is our ability to work together in harmony.  After twenty years on the farm, I still love to do things with him. Whether we are checking fields, working on projects around the house, or building fence, we make a good team.  Matt figures stuff out, and I follow directions well 🙂

When you work well together, chores are not just a necessary part of life — they are part of what makes life fun.marchfence7.jpg

Last weekend Matt and I took down my winter horse fence.  Intermittent warm days inspire the alfalfa to green up and start to grow, so it is time to corral the horses and take them off their winter pasture. Since it snowed on Saturday, we opted to wait until Sunday to take down the electric wire fence. We traded the Saturday snow for a 35 mile an hour wind on Sunday. In hindsight, I’m not sure that we picked the correct day, but we bundled up and laughed our way through the chore.

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We brought along our favorite blondes as we’ve always maintained that families that work together find greater love together.

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We survived the wind, and finished the chore. I think perhaps the only ones pouting are the horses as they prefer their large winter grazing pasture to the corral 😉

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I spent much of the day thinking about my Grannie and Dedaw.  How my life on the farm is so different than their’s was on the Florida coast, yet how our days are actually so much the same.   When your better half provides the center of your world, love becomes much less of a chore and much more of a blessing…

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We’re In This Together…

My favorite farmer’s and my mantra has always been, We’re In This Together. We met the fall of my freshman year at Dartmouth and quickly became the couple that we still are today. We are the ones that do everything together – from home, to work on the farm, to parenting our three beautiful girls.

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The driving factor in our decision to head from the East coast back to the family farm in 1997 was our desire to build something meaningful together. Matt is my rock – the steady intelligent entrepreneur who somehow manages to thrive in a house of four very driven females.

My dedication to doing things right often makes me a work-a-hol-ic. I don’t rest until my animals have all that they need. That is just the way that God made me. I shrug off the fatigue and keep going, never stopping until the job is done. There are days that I am pretty sure that I exhaust both my husband and my crew, but they loyally stay and work alongside me. That is just the way that God made them.

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There are two young ladies that make us all smile. Their presence puts everything into perspective, and their good humor breaks up the long weeks of the fall. I look forward to the weekends and rely on them to practically help complete chores while also to lighten the mood at the feed yard.

It struck me Sunday morning, just how much I need them. It left me a bit in awe as I realized how well they listen, how quickly they learn, and how incredibly capable they are. From scooping bunks, to exercising calves, to checking daily animal health, to spouting Beef Quality Assurance and Progressive Beef protocols — all with a smile, and all with the work ethic and responsibility that permeates the culture of the farm. They GET IT.

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After we finished morning chores, we headed over to the feed yard office. Every Sunday morning, Megan writes a new inspirational quote on the white board in the office. The one she chose for this week could not have been more appropriate.

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Some might think that I expect too much of my girls, but one of my greatest responsibilities as a parent is to place them in situations where they can develop maturity, responsibility, accountability, and the resulting self-confidence that comes from true accomplishment.

My gift to them comes in the form of a shovel, coveralls, and Bogg boots all wrapped up with the knowledge of how to use these tools to benefit the animals on our farm and ultimately the people that those animals will go on to nourish.

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Between our home and our farm, our girls learn every day that life is more meaningful if we’re in this together.  I look at them and recognize Matt’s and my greatest success in our journey…

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Traditions…

My favorite family tradition is cutting down a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving.  Matt and I started this custom when we moved to Nebraska in 1997. Our family has grown over the years and so has the number of smiles that accompanies the tree.

A few years ago, the local tree farm bought tree carts --- Matt is a fan as he no longer has to carry the tree, AG is a fan as she enjoys instructing her sisters to give her a ride...

A few years ago, the local tree farm bought tree carts — Matt is a fan as he no longer has to carry the tree, AG is a fan as she enjoys instructing her sisters to give her a ride…

Looking for the *right* tree is quite the process...

Looking for the *right* tree is quite the process…

Apparently this process involves taking "selfies" to properly assess the tree possibilities...

With teenagers involved, this process now involves taking “selfies” to properly assess the tree possibilities…

When finding the *right* tree, hugging it is necessary...

When finding the *right* tree, hugging it is necessary…

Sometimes the vote for the *right* tree is not unanimous...

Sometimes the vote for the *right* tree is not unanimous…

She got over it...

She got over it…

Fortunately, we generally agree on the important things...

Fortunately, my favorite farmer and I generally agree on the important things…

Christmas is a magical time — A time of family — A time of celebration

A time of love.

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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!

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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.

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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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Holiday Blessings…

True courage lies in the ability to surpass life's challenges and find joy in the simple moments of the day...

True courage: The ability to surpass life’s challenges in order to find joy in the simple moments of the day…

Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed and peaceful holiday season.

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Words to Live by…

My grandfather was an inspiration to many people.  His cheerful optimism served as a magnet which drew others toward him.

Hank was notorious for his “sayings”.  He frequently quoted poetry and had many “catch phrases” that we affectionately referred to as Hankisms.

Between the two of them, there is more than 180 years of wisdom to share...

More than 180 years of wisdom to share…

The largest mentor for Hank in his  adult life was his preacher, Rev. Dr. Samuel M. Lindsay.  The following is a poem written by Dr. Lindsay.  These words served as Hank’s Mantra all of the years that I knew him.

HANK’S RESOLVE

I will talk health—Instead of sickness.

I will talk prosperity—Instead of failure.

I will carry Good News—Instead of bad news.

I will tell the cheerful tale—Instead of the sad tale.

I will mention my blessings—Instead of my burdens.

I will encourage —Instead of criticize.

I will be a friend to everyone.

This mantra lends itself to a wonderful legacy of good will.  I cannot think of a better thing to leave behind as you enter the gates of heaven.

Cheers to a wonderful life, and many thanks to my beloved  Dedaw for all of the love and memories that we shared!

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