Tag Archives: grace

The difference between a good day and a bad day…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s letter to the Philippians 4: 12-13

“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.”


I always seem to have a “one liner” that I try to intentionally live by and share with others. Over time, the words shift and change but I hold onto the old ones even as I transition into the new ones. The girls laugh that I don’t need to keep a written list as they are all tucked safely in between our ears 😊 My mantra for the fall season this year is, “the difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude”. My runners may not remember everything that I share with them, but they’ve got this one down. If I start the statement, they all chorus in to finish it for me. I believe it to be incredibly important. As we live in a world full of uncertainty, the one thing that we can control daily is our attitude.

There are a number of people who have come before me who get credit for the creation of this statement, and as I read through Paul’s epistles I see the message over and over again. We can control our attitude, how we approach each day, by making a choice to trust in the love of Jesus and being grateful for the joy that comes from that love. We live in a world of scarcity, but we worship a God of abundance. Love, hope, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, patience, perseverance, faithfulness, gentleness and self control – God makes those available to us daily, we simply need to choose to accept them. When my heart is soft and I pack my faith well, then I am filled with these gifts of the Spirit and able to see, experience, and share all of the rainbows that God places on my daily path.


Paul wrote the above words from Philippians while he was living in a jail cell. He couldn’t control his physical freedom, but he could control his attitude. He demonstrated how to be “full of joy in the Lord” regardless of circumstance. His secret weapon was Jesus’ love. On a day when he could not celebrate physical freedom, he could celebrate spiritual freedom and the ability to walk in love — not just any love, but Christ’s love. This love allowed him to speak of thankfulness, to find joy, and to focus on the rainbow instead of the storm. Paul could have been bitter, but he chose to walk in the joyous freedom of love.

It’s seems crazy, and yet it makes perfect sense. We can live in the world but not be of the world. We do this as we remember that God is the audience that matters and that His love is unconditional and omnipotent. We can choose the freedom to be found there, in an identity rooted in forgiveness and grace. When I draw strength from the big picture of God’s love, then I can find joys to celebrate and meaningful purpose amidst the hard things. My cup doesn’t run empty because I turn to Jesus to fill it. As my faith grows, I realize that it isn’t just full, it is running over. As it runs over, it blesses others and the cycle of love prevails. Even in the midst of hard times, that makes for a good day 🙂

6 Comments

Filed under General, Wednesday Wisdom

clinging to Grace…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 3: 14-18

“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.”


I remember reading these verses with Megan a few nights before the Nebraska State Track Meet a couple of years ago. To say that she was nervous would have been an understatement, she was a wreck. The stress of competition had depleted her confidence and left her in a pit of fear. Instead of looking up and remembering the love of her Father in heaven, she had tied herself into knots worrying that she wasn’t good enough. I don’t know exactly how she felt as we read these verses together, but my “mama’s heart” calmed as the Holy Spirit assured me that Megan was beloved and held by the Father. She would be just fine.

She, in fact, was just fine. Jesus carried her through the state track meet all the way to the medal stand. The gold medal from the Nebraska State Activities Association was awesome, but the lesson she learned about faith made it seem pale in comparison. She learned to cling to Grace and her roots have since grown deep into God’s love to bring her a new kind of strength. The strength that is found in the realization of the power of God’s love. I’ve read the above passages from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians many times since that day, and I always take a moment to remember how these verses came alive for Meg in the spring of 2018 and then again in the spring of 2019.


We all pass through hard times. We experience moments, days, perhaps even years that shake our core and threaten our peace. I would venture a guess that each of us has experienced some level of this in recent months as our lives changed dramatically due to Covid-19. Over and above the physical challenge of Covid, we have also experienced a growing emotional chasm in our country fueled by passionate and often opposing opinions. Instead of living in community with hearts united for a meaningful purpose, we’ve fallen into a trap where fear overrides our ability to accept and share Grace. I know that I need the daily reminder of how wide, how long, how high and how deep God’s love is. That love calls me to cling to Grace in order to find strength, patience, peace, and joy. It battles directly against the fear, frustration, anger, and temptation to judge that threatens my heart.

Today, a small group of awesome middle school and high school students finish up our four week Bible study on “how to chose joy regardless of circumstance”. While we specifically studied another of Paul’s epistles (to the people of Philippi), I believe that the above verses to the Ephesians also speak directly to this topic.

I believe that our ability to chose joy and to experience peace through challenging times is directly related to the depth of our understanding and trust in God’s love.

When that trust runs deep, our hearts fill with love and gratefulness. We then become able to recognize fully the beauty of what we have, instead of getting hung up on those things that we do not have.

Clinging to Grace becomes a habit when we choose to make it one. Some days it is really hard, and some of those days I fail to accomplish it. But, I believe that it provides the answer to what we all inherently search for: acceptance, love, value and purpose. I know that the days that I truly believe and trust in the vast power of God’s love are my good days. They are the days that He hangs the gold medal on my heart – the medal that allows me to chose joy, find peace, and cling to the beautiful Grace of a good, good Father.

I pray that as I prepare to send my girls back to school – two to college and one to high school – that we will all cling to Grace and be inspired to share God’s love, the ultimate medal to be found on our earthly journey 🙂

 

10 Comments

Filed under General, Wednesday Wisdom

Leading With Grace…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week comes from Paul’s letter to Colossians 3: 12-14

“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”


When you look in the mirror what do you see? What story do your eyes tell? Do you see love, humility, mercy and gentle strength? Or, do your eyes tell a different tale?

My favorite farmer has a keepsake from his years as a wrestler. It was a gift from his coach, and we still have it in our house. It’s a frame that includes pictures of the District Champs Haymaker wrestling team, as well as a poem entitled “The Man in the Glass”. Coach Bonesteel followed the poem with his own thoughts:

“The meaning is that we must make the best of the ability God has given us. We have to do the things that are right rather than those that make us look good or make us popular. When all is said and done each day and we put our head on the pillow, it’s just us and God, and we can’t fool either one.”

I’ve never met Coach Bonesteel, but he left a lasting impression on my husband. Matt did not find his greatest athletic victories on the wrestling mat, but I think he’d tell you that he learned more in his time wrestling than any other athletic experience. It made him a better athlete and (more importantly) it made him a better human 🙂


A big ‘thank you’ to Katie Arndt for the picture!

The next couple of weeks are big weeks for my favorite blonde cowgirl. They will not unfold in the way we originally intended, but they still mark an important time that reveals her heart and her character. Tomorrow was to be the District Track Meet, Saturday – high school graduation, and the following week the Nebraska State Track Championships. None of these events will occur, just as all seniors across the country have been called to end their high school careers without the traditional sense of closure. At Meg’s request, we’ve taken down the high school calendar that hangs on the wall in the kitchen, and we jokingly harass her about writing the graduation speech (due Friday) that she hopes to be able to give in person on August 1st.

To casually talk to her, you’d never know the disappointment that lies deep in her heart or the fear that threatens to take hold when she thinks about the future. She stubbornly clings to hope and covers up the hurt with her own blend of sunshine and sass. As her mom, I know that the loss of fellowship with classmates, teachers, teammates, coaches and church family is both tangible and heartbreaking. I see it weigh her down, but I watch as she resolutely chooses to cling to Grace.

As I read Coach Bonesteel’s poem and the above verses from Colossians, I envision Meg standing in front of her mirror – tears falling down her face – alternately asking God “why” while also imploring Him to exchange the frustration, disappointment and fear with a cloak of tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. She knows that at the end of the day, it’s just her and God, and that she can’t fool either one. Her eyes tell a meaningful story.

And, she inspires me as she believes, loves and leads with Grace.


*My thoughts, prayers, and support go out to all of the high school seniors who give of themselves to provide a solid foundation for our country as they choose to endure with faith and lead with Grace 🙂 Thank you for clothing yourselves in love to help us bind together in harmony!

 

 

 

 

8 Comments

Filed under General, Wednesday Wisdom

Beautiful, Awkward Grace…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Hebrews 4:16

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”


The Holy Spirit sometimes has to say the same thing to me multiple times before I figure out His message. Whether I miss it the first time, or don’t listen to understand, the Spirit does eventually get my attention 😉 This week we celebrated my favorite brunette’s 20th birthday. As I sit and think about all of things that I am grateful for, being a mom tops the list. Not just because my children bring me great joy, but also because God uses them to teach me so very much.

Ashley Grace played a huge role in bringing me back to Christ during a time in my life when I faltered and got *stuck*. The work of the Holy Spirit through her opened my eyes to the vastness of God’s grace. It is humbling and beautiful to watch Jesus move through the Spirit in the life of a teenager. It can be life-altering when that teenager is your’s. I had always thought that my faith needed to be perfect in order to honor God. As a result, I worked really hard but constantly fell short. I ended up tired and discouraged. My daughter taught me that grace fills the gap. It is perfectly and beautifully awkward because Jesus promises to always meet me where I am – not where I should be. Grace is what helps me to move toward where I should be, and it’s a good thing that I need divine interference to get there!

When we give our hearts to Christ, we never walk alone. Life becomes a beautiful, awkward journey full of grace.


As we move through the season of Advent, I pray that each of us remembers the gift of grace. It’s available to everyone, and it’s given freely to all those who believe. It never runs out and comes in the form of peace, hope, love, and forgiveness. We can look for it in a variety of places, but we’ll only find it in One.

Our earthly days are sometimes hard, but they are better when we walk in faith. And, (best of all) we are guaranteed a good ending! Jesus did that for us and nothing and no one can take that away. We live as awkward people in an awkward world. The Good News is that we have a gracious God with an unending supply of awkward grace that meets each and every one of us just where we are. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews reminds us to come boldly to the throne of God. There we will find mercy and grace when we need it most – complete with free delivery to wherever we are at the moment!

This year, celebrate the Christmas season with defiant hope because Christ came for us and will never leave us lonely – we simply need to accept that joy comes from what is happening inside of our hearts through Jesus rather than being contingent on the circumstances that we face on earth. That’s the beauty of grace.

As I look back twenty years ago, it seems fitting that my favorite farmer and I gave her “grace” as her middle name 🙂 Happy Birthday to my beautiful girl whose heart overflows with Jesus’ beautiful, awkward grace!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under General, Wednesday Wisdom

When things get tough, Look Up!

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Hebrews 10: 23-24

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”


I spend my falls helping to coach the local high school and junior high cross country teams. It works out just about perfectly as we finish up swim team season – have a few weeks to refuel – and then Haymaker Cross Country begins. We have a great set of athletes and coaches who bless my fall days.

Part of the training routine for the runners is to run intervals or repeats of certain distances at specific paces. This not only physically prepares them to race, but it also teaches their brains what it feels like to persevere. Some afternoons in Central Nebraska provide nice, cool running weather and some bring on summer heat with a heavy dose of humidity that provides added challenge to the workouts. I remember doing repeats in the Florida heat when I was in high school, and a few decades later it provides a different perspective to coach the kids as they persevere through them on the plains of Nebraska 🙂

The other day during practice, God put the following phrase on my heart: when things get tough, look up.  The runners were hot, tired and only about halfway through the interval workout, and I could see some of them begin to struggle mentally as the physical exertion began to weigh heavily on them. Trials tend to remove any filter that might normally impact our behavior causing a clear picture of our hearts to shine through. It may be the physical test of a difficult athletic practice, or a mental or emotional challenge that leaves us shaken.


What happens to you when trials come your way? Are you able to pack your faith to hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm? Or, do you struggle to trust that God will keep his promise and that Jesus will steadfastly hold your heart?

Do you LOOK UP so that you can persevere with grace?

I think that hope provides the key to perseverance. When you are tired, when you begin to doubt your abilities, when quitting (or settling) appears more attractive than finishing strong — it is the hope that Jesus places in your heart that leads to victory. Hope inspires selfless love and good works. There is both strength and freedom to be found in the realization that IT IS BIGGER THAN YOU.

We don’t travel alone.

The ask may be hard. Just like our Cross Country interval workouts, sometimes hard work and discomfort mark the journey. But, our hearts gain limitless fuel when we hold tightly to our faith. Where our heart goes, our body will follow. It’s like that awesome runner’s high in those moments when your feet seem weightless and your lungs become invincible.

Have you ever noticed that your own challenges seem to get smaller when you look outside of yourself to help someone else? Something almost magical happens when we shift our focus to How can I serve? God keeps his promises. He uses each one of us to bring hope, purpose and love to each other. He heals the broken by inspiring the broken to help mend others.

That’s just awesome.

And, the best part of all is the promise of the Eternal High Five that waits for us on the other side. So, the next time that things get hard – LOOK UP – so that God can redirect your focus to one of serving others. There is a special healing beauty that is found in sharing Jesus’ hope and love with your neighbors 🙂

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under General, Wednesday Wisdom

Wish Upon a Prayerful Prairie Star…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Psalms 19: 1-4

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.”


I spent the winter and spring reading the Old Testament, and I have really enjoyed pondering the story and journey of King David. I’ve drawn introspection and wisdom from reading about David’s life journey. I see parallels in David that I find in my own life. The most obvious to me is that I make mistakes along the way, but I try to have a devoted and faithful heart that turns to God for guidance.

I think that the book of Psalms (partially written by David) shows the range of human response to God and His world. The verses help to bring the emotion out of my heart, and tell me that its okay to have an up and down relationship with God as long as I am deepening my faith in an intentional journey to know Him better.

I find God best in the quiet. He comes alive to me as I spend peaceful time on the Nebraska prairie.

My favorite blonde cowgirl went flying out the back door the other night to snap the above picture. It’s a little bit hard to see, but the alfalfa field behind my horse paddock is dotted with dandelions. As the sun prepared to set, the dandelions lit up with its rays and seem to beckon “Wish upon a prayerful prairie star”. I remember when my girls were little, they used to pick the dandelions and make a wish before they blew on them. I don’t know exactly what they wished for, but I think of those times as God moments. 

Today, when I search for God’s guidance, it comes to me as a soft and quiet voice. I hear it best amongst the quiet when my mind is uncluttered and my heart is at peace. The more I open my mind to listen, the more I that I hear.

I’ve been asked a couple of times over the last several months what I feel is the best tool that my girls can have in order to live an honorable life. To me that means: What is the best inspiration for having good character as they travel through all of the moments of each day?

My answer is simple and can be summed up in three words.

OWN THEIR FAITH.

When my girls reach out in faithful love to Jesus and open their hearts to him, then they develop a personal relationship with God that drives the way that they live their lives. Their decision making process changes as they intentionally seek guidance from the ultimate source of holy character. They learn to listen for that soft and quiet voice.

It’s a life changer.

You can see it in the story of King David as well as in the lives of anyone who chooses to live in faith. And, I am truly blessed to have watched it happen in all three of my girls.

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day. As I think about the celebration of motherhood, I am eternally grateful for this blessing. As my girls own their faith, they make a daily choice to walk with Jesus and let him guide their hearts. It changes their perspective and it enables them to live with a new level of peace and confidence that is not tied to earthly culture.

If I were to think of what I would most wish upon a prayerful star for, it is just this. And today I am grateful for all of the dandelions (that are not supposed to be in my favorite farmer’s alfalfa field) for reminding me of God’s graceful influence in our family 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under General, Wednesday Wisdom

Why Notre Dame?

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from 1 Corinthians 12: 12-13

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.”


Last week, we took our favorite brunette to college. This week, she begins her Notre Dame journey with an intent to study Political Science and Spanish. After spending the last couple of years watching her investigate various colleges and universities all across the country, it is rewarding for me to see her settle in a place where she feels at home.

You may well ask, Why Notre Dame?

I’ve heard the question many times since she made her decision. Why does an intellectual farm kid from “small town America” — a dedicated member of the Parkview Baptist Church family — choose to study at an elite Catholic University? It’s a reasonable question. While you’d have to ask her for her specific thoughts on the topic, I find direction in the above bible verse from 1 Corinthians 12: 12-13.


She’s grown up in a pretty unique house. It’s likely her dad’s fault that she is intellectual by nature. And, many may tell you that growing up with ‘Coach Anne’ as her mama left its mark as she is known for always being inspired to work diligently to use the gifts with which God blessed her. That being said, her faith in God provides her anchor and she walks with Jesus in her heart and the Holy Spirit guiding her steps.

She travels the journey as a child of God – a member of the body of Christ. I love how she lets her faith guide her — it inspires me as well as brings peace to my heart. We visited Notre Dame for the first time almost two years ago, and I could tell as we walked around the campus and interacted with the students that she felt God’s pull to join the Fighting Irish family. She had three main requirements for college and Notre Dame had them all:

  1. To attend a school where she could continue to build her faith.
  2. To be a part of a family that valued service to others.
  3. To find intellectual challenge as she worked to broaden both her perspective and her empathy.

When it came down to it, the religious label mattered little to her as she centered her focus on the foundation of Christian faith:

A belief in God the Father

A loving relationship with Jesus the Son who not only gave us Salvation but also the gift of the

Holy Spirit to guide us in our human journey.

She reminds me that the important question is not whether we are called to be Baptist or Catholic, rather it is are we willing to accept God’s love and submit to His guidance in order to strive to live a life of faith and grace. The team is stronger when its dedicated members are both passionate and diverse. The Holy Spirit likely does not speak to any two of us the same way, but He calls all of us to be a member of God’s team.

Answering the call will enable her to develop and deepen her faith during her time on campus through a focus on service, learning, and spreading the hope that stems from Jesus’s love.

In a time of chaos — In a world of conflict  — In a culture riddled with labels

I think that perhaps many of us could find a lesson in her journey. Her decision was not a comfortable one, and she will experience both times of joy and times of trial throughout her life as a member of the Fighting Irish family. But, Jesus calls each one of us to be a member of the body of Christ. We truly say “yes” when we submit to His invitation with a heart full of love and a mind rooted in His word for guidance.

I left her Saturday morning with a few tears in my eyes, but confidence in my heart as her eyes radiated God’s love and her Bible stood proudly on her desk.

 

 

7 Comments

Filed under General, Wednesday Wisdom

Resilience

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration today comes from the five daily devotionals that I shared last week with the athletes of the Cozad Swim Team.

Mark 6: 31 “Let’s go off by ourselves and rest awhile.”

John 4: 14 “Those that drink the water that I (Jesus) give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh bubbling spring within them, giving eternal life.”

Romans 1:12 “When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.”

Romans 5: 3 “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us to develop endurance.”

Romans 8: 31 “If God is for us, who could ever be against us?”


Resilience provided the team’s weekly character lesson. Our focus quote was: “You must be the change that you wish to see in the world.” We asked some hard questions, but we also found strength in each other as we shared times of faith.

  • How do we keep going when things get hard?
  • How do we support others on the journey?
  • How do we let God be the coach of our team in order to bring honor to our efforts in the swimming pool?

Monday, Jesus reminded us in Mark 6:31 that it’s okay to take time to rest and recharge. Resilience requires both strength and patience. Prayer and reflection allow us to fill our hearts with God’s love and find strength and confidence in our faith relationship. Patience enables us to learn from our mistakes, but not let them define us. There is freedom to be found in giving it to God and focusing on the promise of the future.

Tuesday we learned of the living water that Jesus speaks of in John 4:14. It provides the foundation of our faith and stems from the eternal fountain of God’s love. It is the inspiration that leads to greatness. It is the motivation to face challenges with gratitude rather than with grievance. When our athletic actions are the result of God’s living water, then we bring honor to Him with our efforts.

Wednesday Paul reminded us in Romans 1: 12 that we are a family. We are brought together to create a cycle of encouragement. A quiet smile and word of kind support has the power to change our daily perspective: regardless of whether we are the one to give or to receive. God inspires us to have each others’ back and fills our hearts with His love to be shared. When we share love rather than judgement, then we strengthen the family (team). Building a cycle of encouragement amongst teammates allows everyone to share of themselves in a meaningful way.

Thursday we focused on creating a culture of positivity which allows us to rejoice in the face of trials (Romans 5:3).  We know that challenges make us stronger — build our endurance — and help us to learn how to persevere with grace. The challenge that an athlete faces in a difficult practice or competition helps him/her to prepare for life’s challenges. When we come together as a team to meet our challenges with positivity then we build the habit of living with grace.

Friday Paul (Romans 8:31) helped us to finish the week with the reminder that when we pack our faith to live with grace, that failure is not an option. God seeks us, supports us, and loves us through every experience. We persevere with resilience as we allow God to lead us and our team. We are defined by what is in our hearts — resilience comes from a heart filled with love and passion!


Here, I share week 6’s swim team journey in the hope that it brings meaning and inspiration to each of you. I have shared in the lives of many, many athletes over the past twenty years. However, this swim season will forever provide a turning point in my philosophy as a coach. I took a leap of faith as I made the decision this year to intentionally share my relationship with God. As our team begins each daily practice with a character lesson, a supporting bible verse, sharing time and a prayer,  I have learned that while loving God is so important, it is the act of sharing God that allows us to be the change that we wish to see in the world.

There is nothing more beautiful than seeing God’s hope spring eternal in the eyes of our children. What began as an effort to share my faith has evolved into a mutual sharing of faith as the athletes realize that we become #StrongerTogether as we reach for God. What an awesome lesson in resilience 🙂

4 Comments

Filed under General, Wednesday Wisdom