Tag Archives: friendship

What’s in a name?

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂

Inspiration this week comes from Luke chapter 9: Jesus and Zacchaeus. Specifically, verse 5:

“When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. ‘Zacchaeus!’ he said, ‘Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.'”

We learn to understand our names as babies before we can even speak ourselves. Each of us has one, and it makes us unique. Have you ever spent time thinking of the importance of getting personal enough to call someone by name? I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot recently as I began my tenure as a substitute in our local middle school. There are a lot of kids (a sea of movement down the hallways with faces partially disguised by masks) but each one has a name and a unique blend of traits that makes them special.

The critical question for me becomes: How does each student know that I consider them valuable and special?

It starts when I call them by name – by the right name, pronounced correctly, and with a smile on my face. I’m masked up too, but I know in my heart that the kids can sense my smile. With about 200 students in the school, knowing each one’s name is not a simple goal. I’m lucky to have coached about a quarter of them, but that still leaves a large number of masked faces looking at me with expectation.

As if to put an exclamation point on the importance of this goal, the Holy Spirit inspired our Youth Pastor to ask me recently to read a book entitled, “It’s Personal”. The book, by Virginia Ward, Reggie Joiner, and Kristen Ivy covers how hope is intrinsically tied to getting personal with the kids that God brings into our lives. Getting personal starts with caring enough to call them by name.

How many people in your life have both a name and a story to tell?

How does it make you feel when someone you barely know calls you by name? How does it make you feel when someone you know fairly well mispronounces or forgets your name? While the book discusses the importance of getting personal with adolescents and teenagers, I would argue that our ability to intentionally take the time to notice and to care impacts the adults in our lives just as much as the kids. The best way to love authentically is to go deep. There is a vulnerability that comes from opening your heart to each person that God brings into your life, but there is also a deep sense of purpose that stems from choosing to take the risk.

The story of Jesus and Zacchaeus illustrates how Jesus felt about heart-felt relationships. Zacchaeus is one example of how Jesus modeled genuine friendship by taking the time to both notice and move in to understand the people around him. Zacchaeus was a loner, an unpopular tax collector struggling with greed and loneliness. When he heard that Jesus was to pass by, he climbed up in a tree to try and see the Messiah. Imagine how he felt when Jesus noticed him, called him by name, and invited him into fellowship?  When Jesus called him by name, I bet that he felt worth. When Jesus invited him into fellowship, I imagine that he felt hope. It’s so simple, but yet so awesomely beautiful.

What if each day there is someone that God intentionally places on your path?

Take the time to stop and look around.

There’s someone who needs you to see them.

It isn’t often convenient and it takes a unique blend of compassion, awareness and courage. Honestly, it’s hard. But it is so, so very important. I pray each day that I slow down to notice, accept, love and value the kids that God brings into my life. It starts by simply learning a name, but it leads to a promise of shared grace.

Who is your Zacchaeus today?


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Dear Beautiful Woman…

Megan is my sunshine — a stubborn pragmatist steeped with compassionate empathy…

My favorite blonde cowgirl celebrates her 14th  birthday today.  In honor of her special day, I would like to share a letter that she wrote to a friend in need last fall.  All of us who are parents can recognize how important it is to teach a balance of confidence and compassion to our kids. This letter demonstrates the struggles of teenage girls while also highlighting the importance of loyal friends who share love and compassion to support each other on the journey.

 Dear Beautiful Woman,

You can be anything you want to be. Aspire to be your greatest form. Take the tools that you are given and make something of yourself. You are so amazing at being you. If the people who are around you actually care, they will stick around no matter how stupid you make yourself look.

Study hard and work for what you want. If I could give you any piece of advice it would be to work your hardest. Nothing has meaning unless it is earned. Good grades are earned through studying hard and learning. If you want that spot on the varsity team, work your butt off to get better. Go to every open gym or practice you can. That’s how you get better. Push yourself to be better than the “you” you were yesterday.

And to that jerk who dumped you last week; that’s his loss. If he doesn’t have the intelligence to see what a great person you are, then let him go. It’s okay to cry but don’t let him leaving change who you are. You are you; boyfriend or not! Your true friends will be there for you (sometimes a little more than you want!). Let them help. Help them. They know how it feels. But most of all: move on!

Stand up for yourself. Tell that brat at the lunch table off. Make your voice heard. Your opinions matter. So let others know that you think for yourself. Words are sometimes more effective than a punch. And tell that boy that starts strange rumors about you that you are not afraid of him. People will respect you for that. Just let your conscience lead you, and don’t go too far.

I believe in you. Believe in yourself. Have confidence in who you are. And please, please, please, do not EVER look to any one else for approval. If you are comfortable in your own skin, roll with it. Be you! Be intelligent, be strong, be humble, be kind.  Relative to the people who are “on your hate list” — What a stupid waste of time. Don’t focus on the negative in people, focus on the positive. You have negatives too. We are all human; we are ALL imperfect.

Put all of these things together and what do you get? A leader. Be one. These things make you an intelligent, compassionate, beautiful person. Encourage others to be one too.

Think about these things. They will make you a better you.




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Anne Dive Bombs A Cow: Part 2…

By: Bill Wiebking

The ride was a birthday gift to me. Prior to asking Anne, I remember asking about 13-14 other friends if they wanted to go. There were a lot of concerns, but the two biggest included the following. First, many thought I was going to be the pilot. Second, they were terrified of flying without an engine.
What made this flight even more unappealing was the associated ‘stunt’ package, where the pilot would perform loops and other aerobatics.

Anne, who shares a birthday very close to mine, actually thought it was a splendid idea. And with that, we were airborne.

Anne’s acceptance speaks very highly of her daring and adventurous character, which she has in spades. I know this because I’m a rather large person, and the pilot crammed me in the back of the sailplane for weight and balance reasons. (I actually wanted more window being the aviation buff.)  Anne doesn’t know this, but at least one point in the flight I thought I was going to hurl, and the back of her head was the likely discharge point. So like I say, she is very adventurous.

Our sailplane was pulled aloft by another plane. It was a red bi-wing. We probably flew for a good 30-40 minutes sightseeing before the sailplane pilot released the tow cable. The sailplane banked and dove to the left while the bi-plane dove to the right. The sailplane, I believe, immediately did its first loop.

In geography that only matters to Anne, the sailplane slowly made its way to the intersection of Jog Road and Hypoluxo Road in Palm Beach County Florida. At the time, we were flying over serious cattle country. Now, it is a massive housing development.

Our pilot proceeded to execute more stunts. It was very exhilarating, but as the hour was almost up the pilot decided to put the plane in a downward spin to lose altitude. We were over a grazing field with a herd of cattle when he nosed down. For fun, the pilot selected a cow out of the herd and dove on it.

So here is the picture from my perspective. The entire planet is spinning wildly with the exception of that one cow, the windscreen, the back of the pilot’s head and the back of Anne’s head. With the exception of those four things, everything else was a huge blur.

In my mind’s eye, I swear that cow was looking up at us, too. I also thought that I heard it say “Moo?” in quiet confusion, which is impossible being in a sailplane at around 2,000 to 1,500 feet. But, that is the memory.

That memory also includes Anne. She was very excited about the spin and the cow. Before it occurred, she was also in some sort of discussion with the pilot. To this day, I think she hijacked my flight. While it was hard for me to hear, I also think she was giggling or at least very amused in the spin toward the cow, which in a very literary sense would be a huge foreboding to her future with Matt, Nebraska and all her favorite Cornhuskers.

So thanks, Anne, for saying ‘Yes’ to the flight. Your heart in both adventure and compassion relieved my growing desperation. It also created a stronger bond of friendship between us, to which I’ve always been grateful. The flight also seems to have pointed toward your future, which makes that memory all the more wonderful as I continue to enjoy Feedyard Foodie.

Little did we both know at the time that I would spend my adult life caring for cattle!

Many thanks to Bill for bringing back good memories…For those of you that are wondering—we did not land the plane on top of any bovines.  We landed safely back at the airport. My favorite memory of the ride was making Bill nervous as we looped and drove through the sky (The pilot and I did do a little bit of plotting… ) I tease my girls that they are ornery—I wonder where they got that from??


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The Aquatic Predator…Feed Yard Foodie Dive Bombs A Cow–Part 1

Here are Bill and I with our Coach shortly after we both completed an ocean mile race…

Bill Wiebking is one of Feed Yard Foodie’s most loyal readers.  Bill is the current Communications Director for Hargrave Military Academy and a long-time friend of mine. My junior and senior year in high school, Bill and I trained 4-5 hours a day together in a shared effort to compete and place at the national level in swimming. The practical jokes, teasing, and laughter that dominated our relationship enabled us to get through the intense training which brought both of us to a new level of athletic accomplishments.

Interestingly enough, when I left Bill and our beloved coach (Allan Andersen) to compete on the collegiate level, I was never able to replicate either the relationships or the swimming success that I saw when training with these two wonderful guys.  Both Bill and Allan played a pivotal role in shaping the person that I am today.  They taught me that hard work led to success, and that a few practical jokes and laughing moments made that hard work a joy to experience.  I take those lessons with me each day at the feed yard, where my crew and I can often be seen laughing and teasing each other while we push ourselves to tenaciously pursue our goal of outstanding animal care.

The following is a story that Bill wrote about an experience that we had together.  It has an interesting tie to the life that I have chosen in Nebraska! Bill is possibly even more verbose than I am so I have divided the story into two parts.  Part 1 is listed below and Part 2 will come up on Thursday.  Enjoy!

“Anne Dive Bombs a Cow”

By: Bill Wiebking

Many years prior to Nebraska, before Will Feed, Inc. and a few years prior to meeting Matt, Anne was a scrawny little girl who could be seen driving her Daddy’s big blue Suburban to and from swimming practice. She swam on a team where at least two members, the coach and myself, often held our faces skyward toward Palm Beach International (PBI) airport and its main runway, which was literally less than a half mile from our pool.

While I think we all shared a love for being outside in the hot sun and cool water, I don’t think she cared much for aviation. On rare occasions the Coach would stop or ignore practice so we could watch an unusual aircraft take-off, such as a giant U.S. Air Force C-5a Galaxy departure on PBI’s massive main runway. Or, watch the goings on when then President George H.W. Bush, Sr. flew into town on Air Force One visiting his mom.

Anne and several other female athletes on the team, (and there were many), would roll their eyes at our wierdness. I have one memory of Anne and a few others standing at the pool wall completely dejected since ‘we’ were holding up practice for something as meaningless as a plane taking off. And when I mean dejected, they were standing like women spurned. The water was steaming.

Anne, at the time, must have been a high school junior and was very focused on school and swimming. She was very hardcore in both academics and her athletics. She was also a stunningly tough competitor and, despite a large age and speed difference between us, an awesome training partner.

Anne was more than a little quirky, however. Often this crazy clinical scientist personality would kidnap the Anne we trained with every day. That side of her was awkward and often didn’t get a simple joke. While we were used to it and completely accepted her, it was strange that this top-flight academic would give us a blank stare. It was precisely that reason that she was far more one of us than not. It humanized this otherwise terrifying aquatic predator.

(She has since told me that she is not that person anymore, but to me that primal stuff never leaves the ID. And her girls compete successfully both on land and on water like their Mama, so guess what? It is still there, but it is regulated to a set of narrow eyes looking out from the dark places in a jungle.)

And so with that, it seemed strange to me that Anne accepted my offer to go flying. This was not a normal flight. We weren’t going cross country. The flight would take-off and land at a local airport, which was some distance from PBI.

The flight was for a ride in sailplane, a completely motor less and utterly quiet aircraft designed to ride thermals or heat rising off the land. Florida has plenty of heat, so it is a great place to fly a sailplane…

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