Tag Archives: God’s love

The 4th Runner…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from 1John 4:12

“No one has ever seen God. But if we love each another, God lives in us and his love is brought to full expression in us.”


The morning of August 6th dawned early as the Haymaker Cross Country team gathered for our first conditioning practice. As the sleepy high school students wandered in, it was not hard to notice that the number of boys outnumbered the girls. In Nebraska (for all classes of schools other than A – the largest schools), varsity teams run 6 athletes and score 4 with the optional 5th runner serving as the tie-breaker runner and both the 5th and 6th runners able to out-place those from other teams in order to raise team scores. The goal – if you are running as a team – is to get the lowest score possible with your top 4 runners.

To the outsider, Cross Country is pretty much an individual sport. To the runner, it is very clearly a team sport. In addition to scoring as a team, there’s nothing more lonely than standing at the starting line without any teammates, and possibly nothing harder than motivating yourself to race through the discomfort of the 4th and 5th kilometer without the knowledge that your teammates are with you.

The individuals make up the team — but the team brings the individuals together to accomplish something greater than they can do alone.

In those early weeks of conditioning, I prayed each day for God to bring our three girls a fourth runner. By conventional standards, three runners did not give them a team. Our girls could compete as “individuals”, but could not compete as a team. I knew how important it was to them to go to state together. It is possible for individuals to qualify to run at state, but it is also highly improbable for one school to get three athletes qualified that way as only the top 15 runners in each district earn the right to compete at state.

The days went by and the same three girls showed up for practice each day.  As I watched them love each other – support each other – and work so very hard together, I had an epiphany. There may have only been three of them, but they were a team. They loved, they leaned, and they shared through each moment. They did all of the things that good teams do. Honestly, they weren’t just teammates – they were sisters of the heart. It was not only remarkable, but also beautiful.

At that point, I stopped praying for a fourth runner. Instead, I started thanking God for bringing the three of them together and asked for Jesus to bring them courage. I prayed for Him to fill a different gap – not a physical one, but an emotional one. They didn’t need a fourth runner, they needed to believe that they were a team so that Jesus could carry them.

Almost two month later, the three girls huddled up near the starting line at the District Championships – preparing for the defining race of their season. I reminded them that God brought them together as a team. That He loved them and that I did too. They just needed to pack their Holy Sass and GET IT DONE!

They finished 2nd, 12th and 15th. Karyn – my youngest – was our third runner racing right on the heals of her sister Megan. 100 yards before the finish line, Karyn tripped and fell. I don’t know how many people saw her fall, but I can tell you that those of us that did had a moment of panic. But, Jesus filled the gap. She came up racing and managed to claim the 15th spot despite the fall.


I’ve learned a lot of lessons this season. So did the girls. But, I think what struck me the most was how much God shown through them. 1John 4:12 reminds us that none of us have ever seen God, but when we love one another He is expressed through us.

We know Him when we love, and others also get to know Him as we love. 

Throughout the season, the girls often gathered in prayer and opened their hearts to abide in Jesus. You couldn’t ever see Him, but you could see Him in them. As they honored Him, He blessed them. As a coach – and a mom – I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen anything more beautiful. I prayed for a 4th runner, and Jesus delivered.

Friday, the girls will compete together at the Nebraska Class C State Cross Country Championships. I don’t know exactly what the race will bring, but I do know that Jesus will once again be with them. As they hold His hand, He will hold their hearts. Together, they’ll run.

As they do, they create the light that illuminates God’s expression of love in their hearts.

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Scars…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Book of Psalms 50: 14-15

“Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”


My body makes scar tissue like a true champion. I think it is likely due to my auto-immune challenges, but it could simply be that my personality dictates that I never seem to do anything halfway 😉 With my leg recovery, I’ve found that scar tissue is not particularly friendly. In the last six months, Doc’s had to manipulate my ankle twice to break up the accumulated scar tissue and the 3rd round of surgery also required him to remove the 10 screw plate hardware which my awesome scar tissue had attached to my peroneal tendon. Metal plates aren’t the best partners for tendons as that causes pain and rubbing damage with every walking step.

The good news is that my bone has healed nicely, and the tendon debridement procedure should hopefully allow the tendon to heal properly now that the hardware is no longer attached to it. I’m back to mastering my skills with crutches and very thankful that this round of “non-weight bearing” will occur without the winter and spring ice that plagued Nebraska this year. I am also thankful that I can now move forward in the journey of physical healing.

2019 has done an effective job of adding scars to my life. Some have been physical and some emotional, but they’ve all affective my perspective as well as my daily life. Right after I fell on the ice and shattered my leg, I told my favorite farmer that “God choses interesting ways to grow us.” Six months later, I can report that this certainly is the case 🙂


My scars do not make me unique – Life is full of things that can scar us. Whether physical or emotional, I’ve come to realize that the magnitude of the scars’ negative power is directly related to the attitude that I chose to bring to the pain. I can let it define and damage me — trading healthy tissue for thick and hardened ones — or I can be thankful for the opportunity to experience life in a different way. I have learned that although sometimes the days are hard, that the journey can be filled with beautiful blessings when I choose to face it with a grateful and open heart.

There is a rainbow to every experience. God puts his blessing on your heart when you chose to be thankful. Sometimes that thankfulness involves a sacrifice – that’s not a bad thing, as it brings honor to your faith and deepens your relationship with the Lord. I’ve found that as I go deeper, His presence never fails me. I do not always get answers, but I do find comfort and peace even in the midst of pain.

The other day at our summer Bible study, my favorite blonde cowgirl made a statement that brought joy and peace to this mama’s heart. She shared:

“I need to lean on God during the easy times and be faithfully thankful then, because you never know when things are going to get hard. And when it does get hard, I need God and if I don’t learn to reach for him during the good times then I will be afraid to reach in times of trouble.”

Megan was not immune from the pain and scars that 2019 brought to our family. She didn’t break her leg, but there were many times when “Broseph” – what the girls called Joe (brother Joseph) – broke her heart. But, when the pain came, she bravely reached for God because she wears her faith like a shield — and Jesus filled her heart and carried her through. She allowed the scars to deepen her love and soften her heart instead of hardening it.

I’ve never been more proud of her than at the NE State Track Championships this year. Less than 4 days after Broseph packed his bags and left our family, she packed her faith and shared Jesus’ love with everyone that crossed her path. She opened her heart  – trading fear for faith.  It made her vulnerable but it also made her mighty. And, I know that she vaulted with harmony because she’d given it to Jesus and he held her with care.

Together, our family has learned to ask God to hold our hearts. That action requires trust, but it leaves us with a sense of peace and gratefulness and creates an entirely new dimension to our faith journey.

I Am They captures it well with one of my favorite Christian songs:

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Intentionally reaching for those that “fall through the cracks”…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for today’s post comes from the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Matthew 18.

If a man has 100 sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the 99 on the mountains and go in search of the 1 that went astray?


Do you remember a time in your youth when you felt as though you fell through the cracks? Perhaps you got lost in a sea of faces in school — wondering if your classmates or teachers even knew you were there. Or, maybe you showed up for sports practice everyday longing for support and inspiration, but left feeling invisible. 

I think that honest reflection brings each one of us a memory of feeling lost.

A time when it seemed that we were invisible.

A moment when we craved acceptance but our hearts felt alone and hollow.

As a coach, I try to intentionally reach for the kids that feel as though they fall through the cracks. I have a goal of finishing every practice having offered at least one happy thought or word of inspiration to each of my swimmers. I have high expectations for my athletes, but there is a sea of love that sits right underneath the discipline that I ask for as we travel the journey together. I aspire to seek out each swimmer – in a positive way – every single day.

If they gain nothing else from practice that day, at least they will go home feeling like they matter.

This year, our team began a new tradition of sharing both a character lesson and a daily devotion before diving into the water for practice. I have 40 regular swim team practices during the summer months — 40 chances to help the 42 athletes realize that true strength comes when we simultaneously radiate kindness while also displaying personal toughness and tenacity through athletic competition. I love this new tradition as it starts our time together as a team centering our hearts on God and focusing our minds on ways to pack our faith to compete with grace.


The Parable of the Lost Sheep reminds me that God is always seeking us. Understanding that He is longing for a loving relationship with us helps to battle the lonely feelings and empty hearts that may threaten our daily peace. The more time that I spend with teenagers, the more I believe that this message plays a critical role in the mental wellbeing of our kids.

We live in a broken world. The news reminds us daily of suicides and school shootings. Additionally, current culture entices our kids away from faith and family, and into the the disturbing world of cyberspace. My favorite farmer and I have spent countless hours talking about how we can help to change the reality of teenage life in 2018. Many of our discussions result in an impasse where we are left with more questions and very few answers. But a lack of easy answers is no reason to not engage.

Start with what you can impact.

This is what I tell myself daily. What child can I help today? Who feels lost?

I am reminded of a mantra that I learned many years ago as a member of the Daughter’s of the King.

I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I ought to do. What I ought to do, by the grace of God I will do. Lord, what will you have me do?

This summer I am trying my best to live out these words. To listen to God and help to bring his love to the athletes that come to me for guidance. Together we can create a culture where everyone has a place and no one feels alone. As we huddle up each day at the start of practice we seal the cracks ensuring that no one will fall through…

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