Tag Archives: holiday traditions

What kind of hope is in your heart?

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂

Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 1:18

“I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called — his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.”

In my mind, there are two kinds of hope. A hope that creates a wish, and a hope that inspires a confident expectation. If you take a moment to think about it, they are not the same thing. A wish is passive, while a confident expectation requires both trust and action. For example, our family has many Christmas traditions beginning with cutting down a tree on the day after Thanksgiving. In my girls’ minds, the hope to get to do these traditions together as a family is one of confident expectation. They don’t just wish to do them, they prioritize and set their schedules so that they happen.

Another tradition that we have is placing the home-made star (that my sister-in-law made us 24 years ago) on the top of the tree. For the past 20 years, Matt lifted one of the girls up to perform this cherished chore. Last week, the girls decided that it was Matt’s turn. They created a plan to work together to lift him up so that he would get a chance to place the star. The tree our family chose to cut down this year was over 9 feet tall so the girls had to get him quite a ways off of the ground. Their hope was not simply a wish, it was a confident expectation and they never doubted their ability to get it done. Matt never doubted it either. The trust that they had in each other and the value that they placed in achieving the commonly held goal ensured that they were successful. There was a beautiful joy created by this shared hope as they completed the task. I managed to get a video of it, and you can watch it here:

I think that sometimes our culture defines hope as more of a wish and less of a confident expectation. While that is likely a safer interpretation as it doesn’t really require either trust or work on the part of the believer, the effects of considering it that way severely restrict the benefits that it can offer. I don’t believe that Jesus intends for us to receive only wishes from our faith relationship with him. Rather, I think that Jesus calls us to share his active passion for love. He promises the endless supply of living water and light that will move through us to bless both ourselves and others.

There are many references to hope in the Bible and it seems clear to me that they all revolve around a confident expectation, one of belief, trust, and loving action. God’s definition of hope is not synonymous to a wish, rather it came to us in the form of the ultimate loving action: His gift of Jesus (Immanuel). As a result, it carries with it a need for the kind of trust which believes in a certainty of fulfillment.

What kind of hope is in my heart? What kind is in yours? I’ve thought about this often over the past three weeks as I’ve been substitute teaching at our local middle school. Do I carry the hope of Jesus? Is my heart flooded by the light that brings the confident expression of love? Do the students know how much I care about them? Do I have the kind of deep belief and complete trust that allows Immanuel to lift me up in order to place His star on the top of my tree?

These are the things that God is placing on my heart as we begin the start of Advent. I *hope* that as I celebrate the birth of our Savior, that I will trust and understand more deeply the ultimate spiritual gift that we celebrate on Christmas Day 🙂


Filed under Wednesday Wisdom

The Spirit of Christmas…

I remember when my oldest daughter looked me in the eye and asked me if I believed in Santa Claus.  I replied, “Yes.  I believe that Santa represents the Spirit of Christmas and each one of us plays a role to ensure that it’s magic blesses each holiday season.”

Christmas traditions provide a wonderful way to bolster the Spirit of Christmas. From bringing life into the house with a freshly cut tree, to reading our favorite Christmas books, to making cookies and fudge in the kitchen while singing our favorite Christmas Carols –> the Feed Yard Foodie house is alive with holiday traditions.

This year, I decided to add a new tradition — one that not only provided personal introspection but also gave a special gift to others outside of our family.


I created a Christmas Scavenger Hunt.

  • I filled 30 index cards with inspirational quotes (10 for each of my daughters).
  • My favorite farmer created hiding places for the index cards around the farm along with hilarious riddles to help the girls figure out the location of the cards.
  • The girls each received their packet of hints and set out to solve the riddles.
  • Once they collected all ten of their quotes and tied them together in a book for keepsakes, they raced back to the kitchen to find the final gift.

The final gift contained a certificate to be rebated with Heifer International. This international charity empowers families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity through donations of farm animals and animal care training. Bringing agriculture and commerce to areas with long histories of poverty, Heifer International projects provide both food and reliable income with products such as milk, honey, and eggs to be traded or sold at market.

Heifer International believes that passing on the gift creates sustainable communities filled with hopeful and proud individuals.  As the gifted farm animals reproduce, their offspring are shared with neighbors bringing an outreach much greater than any one individual animal.  Heifer International is one of my favorite charities for two reasons:

  1. I love to see agriculture play a pivotal role in raising families out of poverty.
  2. I love that the recipients of the gifts also receive training so that they can take the gift and turn it into a better life.

It isn’t just a hand out — It is the means to help end the cycle of poverty.  Focusing on cultivating pride, it provides necessary training to pair with the incredible work ethic indigenous to the recipient communities.

My girls and my favorite farmer chose to donate:

  • A Pig
  • A Share of a Heifer
  • An Alpaca
  • Two sets of Rabbits
  • Multiple flocks of Chickens, Geese, or Ducks

I loved watching them comb the website and discuss which gifts would help the most people. The Christmas Scavenger Hunt provided multiple angles of giving as my girls also collected a keepsake of inspirational quotes to read during the rest of the Christmas Season.  I hope that the memories of the day will help them to realize the true Spirit of Christmas.


Together we can spread the gift of love — the gift of respect — the gift of hope, both within our families and all across the globe.

*A special thanks to John and Sandy Butler for inspiring me to create the Christmas Scavenger Hunt for my family.  Hopefully their gift of inspiration will continue on with each of you!


Filed under Family, General

The Cutting Of the Tree…


 The Cutting of the Tree

Leave it to me,

We go out to Heins Pines

And we follow the signs

To the big pasture out behind,

There is laughing and screaming

A bit of scheming,

We follow the row

Down the path we go

To find a tree we can top with a bow,

As we run

All the while having fun,

The perfect tree comes into sight

We think it just might

Be just right,

So pictures are taken

But we are mistaken,

The right tree is yet to be found

We bound

Over the ground,

And find anew

A different tree that isn’t as askew,

We all decided

We were quite confided

So we take more pictures beside,

I ask to jump on my dad’s shoulders,

Although he is getting older,


I climb aboard

But we get the award

For being awkward,

Because I fall on my face

With much grace,

I get off the floor

And try once more

It works better and this time we score,

When dad finally stands

I can see the woodlands,

And we get a picture

You can see the treasure

In my daddy’s eyes it is captured,

Then he starts dancing

And flouncing,

I hold tight to his head

I close my eyes instead

Of looking upon the scene ahead,

More pictures are snapped

To record this mishap,

I must be crushing his eyes

Because he starts to improvise

Pulling my hands away, to my surprise,

It is time to get off

I am castoff,

He crawls under the branches

With the handsaw in his clenches

And he launches,

The great cutting of the tree

In front of you and me!Christmastreecollage3.jpg

Poem by Megan

Pictures by Anne

Smiles from all the Burkholder clan…



Filed under Family, General


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.


Filed under Family, General