Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Today Matters…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the book of Psalms 118:24 and 29

“This is the day the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!”

and

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.”


Monday we celebrated my favorite farmer’s birthday. That, along with several other things that God has recently put on my heart, reminded me of the need to realize that today matters. I have a bad habit of trying to “be ahead of the game” – of thinking and doing all of the things today that do not need to be thought about or done until tomorrow. I have a related but additional tendency of wanting to “fix” things. I habitually struggle to trust and have patience. This combines with my farming philosophy of never wanting to let my animals or those whom I care about down to create a desire to get ahead of where I am meant to be. In short, I am so focused on tomorrow that I miss out on today.

This is something that I have been very intentional in thinking about over the past several months. I’ve begun noticing the repetition in God’s Word that asks me to trust and be patient. I have heard the whisperings of the Holy Spirit reminding me that our God is a God of the present and that He loves me and is with me. Jesus reiterates over and over again to be patient, to not worry about tomorrow. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously and He will give you everything that you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Jesus’ words written in Matthew 6: 33-34) Sometimes, I just need to sit and let those words sink into my heart.

Henri Nouwen in his book Following Jesus defines patience as “remaining close to the moment to fully taste where you are so that the seeds that are sown in the moment can grow and lead you to the future.” Have you ever considered ripping a growing seed out of the ground in order to make sure that its roots are okay? That seems like a silly question, but when I examine my heart I see times when I do that very thing. Impatience gets the best of me, and instead of nurturing the soil and allowing the plant to grow, my worry over the future causes me to inappropriately interfere. I forget to trust in the promise of the Holy Spirit. I forget “God’s part, my part, others part” and figure that it’s just better to do it all myself. Nouwen asks an important question,

“What if the future is hidden in the present as a seed in fertile ground?”


The book of Psalms reminds us, “This is the day the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!” It also reminds us that our God is a faithful God whose love endures forever. There is freedom to be found in rejoicing for today, in living for today, and in knowing that you are right where your loving God means for you to be. I am coming to realize that one of the biggest differences between earthly life and spiritual life is that when I trust that I am where God means for me to be, I don’t have to be anywhere else. I can be still, I can pray, I can be aware (in the moment) of God’s call to love those that He places right in front of me. Most importantly, I can trust that the same thing will happen tomorrow – and the next day – and the next day, until the day that God calls me home to heaven. There’s a lot to be grateful for in the midst of that promise.

It allows me to truly understand that “today matters”. Then, my life becomes less of a list of worries and boxes to check off and more of an opportunity to be present and share love with the gentle strength and confidence that comes from walking with Jesus.

 

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Swimming Across Nebraska…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Galatians 5: 22-23

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”


The Cozad Swim team kicked off its 2020 season on Monday. It is truly a season like no others, as it appears that we will not hold any competitions during our time together due to Covid 19 restrictions. I know that some of our kids are very disappointed at the lack of meets, but I stand firm in my belief that we have many other things that we are called to accomplish together in our time as a team in 2020. As a coach, there are two focuses that God has put on my heart to share:

  1. During our daily fellowship time before we dive into the pool, we are learning to better “pack our faith”. We practice this by putting on our “backpacks of faith” each day as we begin our adventures. Throughout the 5 week season, we will study the 9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit and devise strategies to make sure that our backpacks are filled with them. I hope to help the kids connect the dots to understand that as Jesus lives in our hearts, the Holy Spirit is able to guide us with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These “fruits of the Spirit” provide the recipe for a successful team 😊
  2. As we dive into the water together, we are learning to be contributors by working hard and giving our best to help our teammates each day. We have a team goal of pooling our laps – measuring in miles – and swimming across the state of Nebraska and beyond. After three days, we’ve swum 67.22 miles and have passed Lincoln headed west. I am excited to see how far we can go together and build on the theme #StrongerTogether!

We have 45 swimmers on the team this summer, and we’re getting creative to make the most of our shortened time together. After 3 and 1/2 months of no structured school or sports activities, the kids are out of practice and generally out of shape. But, we’re holding each other accountable and putting in the hard work that creates fitness and success! About halfway through the first day of practice, one of the 11 year old boys on the team looked at me with complete confusion as he asked – “Coach, why is this so hard?” This swimmer is a talented athlete who is used to things coming easily to him. He – along with his teammates – are learning this summer that fitness is hard to reattain after it is lost. More than 3 months sitting at home during quarantine took its toll — both physically and emotionally. But, we are coming together as a team to earn it back.


I think it is appropriate that our lesson this first week is of love. When I think about what best motivates me, it is love. Passion, perseverance, and camaraderie thrive when we let love fuel us. When love comes alive, fear falls apart. As fear falls apart, great things happen. Have you ever noticed how our attitudes change when we are focused on sharing Jesus’ love? As our eyes shift outward in a desire to contribute to something greater, our hearts find the joy of purpose. I remember an old cowboy telling me sometime “Anne, when you’re guiding your horse, always remember that wherever his nose goes – his body will go. Guide the nose and you’ll guide the horse.”

What if our hearts are just like a horse’s nose? When they are guided by Jesus and the fruits of the Spirit, then everything just falls into place for our journey. As my swimmers are finding out this week, sometimes this journey is hard. But, Jesus so loved the world that he sent each of us on a mission to love during our time on earth. When our backpacks are filled with love, we find that we are stronger and more joyful teammates who can rally with toughness to conquer hard things. We are able to swim across Nebraska and beyond. We are not just putting in the laps, but also making a difference in the lives of others as we travel the journey.

 

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Prayer…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Romans 12: 10-13

“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.”


I used to be afraid to pray. I was reasonably adept at reciting phrases that I’d learned in school and at church, but I shied away from truly opening my heart to God and trusting Him to hold me. While I don’t know exactly what fueled this fear, honesty requires that I admit that during some times of my life I have struggled believing that I am worthy of God’s grace – of Christ’s loving sacrifice – and participation in the mission to share it. I spent decades working really hard, but (when I prayed) I held a piece of myself back for fear that I would not measure up.

Instead of living in grace, I found myself caught in this cycle of clinging to belief yet drowning in bits of unbelief. I was like the father who brought his demon-possessed son for healing (Mark 9: 14-29).  The father believed enough to seek, but at the same time collective insecurity created an underlying level of unbelief that only Jesus could overcome. Interestingly, the last verse of the passage is Jesus telling to his disciples, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.”

Prayer is vital. It builds relationship. It builds trust. It fuels belief and brings the freedom to choose joy, regardless of circumstance 🙂


I overcame my fear of prayer, by praying. By simply opening up my heart and sharing it with Jesus. I talk to Him. I share my day, my thanks, my fears, my desires, my faults, and my love.  As I’ve spent more time reading the Bible over the past several years, I have discovered God’s advice for prayer. He calls for us to pray with confidence, faithfulness, and dedication – regardless of circumstance. God asks us to pray boldly, fueled by the knowledge that He loves us and He listens.

I am currently reading a book called, Unquestioned Answers by Jeff Myers. He points out that when we pray we must be willing to do two things:

  1. To act on what God leads us to do.
  2. To expect God to move in the ways He has promised, rather than expecting that He will make things easier.

Myers says, “Military generals don’t long for opportunities to avoid the enemy. Rather, they request the equipment and personnel needed to obtain victory. Prayer is the same for us. God wants to give us everything we need to accomplish what he asks of us.”

I think that I used to be afraid to pray because I feared that I wasn’t important enough for God to remove the struggle when I asked Him to. Now that my prayer life has matured, I realize that I don’t actually pray for God to remove the hardships. Instead, I pray for God to give me the strength, the confidence, the hope, and the boldness to face the struggle head on knowing that Jesus steadfastly holds my heart. I’ve found freedom through prayer as I have deepened in relationship with Jesus.

Prayer ensures that we are never helpless nor ever hopeless. It prepares us to serve. As Jesus reminds us in the verses from Mark, there are kinds of struggles that can only be cast out by prayer. Perhaps this is because prayer is our ultimate source of strength and communication with the One who brings eternal victory 🙂

Prayer may not change circumstances, but it shapes our hearts so that we can walk through the trials covered in grace.

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Stubborn…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week comes from Proverbs 3: 21-26

“My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang onto them, for they will refresh your soul. They are like jewels on a necklace. They keep you safe on your way and your feet will not stumble. You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly. You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.”


If you asked my family for a word to describe me, it’s likely the word stubborn gets mentioned.  Dogged determination seems to be firmly rooted in my DNA. It is both a blessing and a curse as it gives me perseverance while also causing me to reject and fear a change of course. Giving up has just simply never been in my vocabulary. My stubbornness drove me to be an All-American swimmer despite the fact that my back was crooked and I stood proudly at only 5’3″ tall. It also took me as a recruited athlete to the Ivy League where I worked fiercely to graduate with honors – ironically inspired by the college forcing me to take an extra math entrance exam due to my low math SAT score. Finally, it brought me full of energy and passion to the beef industry as a 22 year old city kid who married into agriculture. And, it’s continued to carry me through more than two decades of working to improve animal welfare in cattle feedyards.

Telling me that I can’t do something seems to be an excellent way to motivate me 😉


January 5th marked my one year anniversary of breaking my leg. It seems that my leg is just as stubborn as the rest of me, and that I put down scar tissue like I used to put down muscle in the weight room. I may never get full use of my lower leg and ankle back, but I’m holding tightly to the goal of someday running again. Perhaps that just stems from my innate stubbornness, but I think it’s more that I’m figuring out the joy and purpose that can be found in the journey.

My unplanned accident on the ice taught me the difference between giving up and giving way. 

There is a difference between stubbornness towards God and stubbornness for God.  Stubbornness for God involves giving way to His direction and holding strongly and tenaciously to that course. The book of Proverbs often reminds us of our need to search for both wisdom and security from our heavenly Father. Faith grows when we never give up and intentionally establish a life marked by the disciplined search for God’s guiding hand. Faith heals when we learn to give way to God’s direction in order to accept the peace that His security brings. Steadfastness does not mean that you cannot yield, change direction, or establish new habits following God’s lead. It simply means that you do all of those things with dedication and perseverance.

Common sense tells me that learning to run again will take many levels and months/years of work. It is a journey that is and will continue to be marked by physical pain. Holy discernment fills the gap to give me patience and peace as I travel the course. It inspires me to search for spiritual learning as I greet each day. If I never again pound away miles on my neighboring farm roads, it’ll be okay. I can give way to a newly revised Anne and know that God walks with me every step of the way. My feet won’t stumble because Jesus will carry me. I don’t have to harbor fear of the unknown, because God holds my heart.  There will be hard things along the path, but God is more stubborn than I am and the heavenly finish line brings the promise of a good ending 🙂

2020 is shaping up to be a year of growth and change for me. I’m packing my faith, my steadfastness (stubbornness), and a revised attitude to enable me to yield when God opens one door while closing another. Stay tuned for the rest of the story…

 

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“Mirror Therapy” for the heart…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”


Next week will mark 11 months since I fell. I continue to gain strength through Physical Therapy and remind myself to be patient in the healing process. I have daily pain and have become a bit of a “chronic”. Multiple traumas including the bone breaks, excess swelling in a cast, three surgeries, and two manipulations has caused my brain to become very hypersensitive when it comes to my right leg.

In short, my brain is like an overactive child who chooses to live with a drama meter of 10 😉

Last week I started “Mirror Therapy” in an effort to retrain it. The idea of mirror therapy is to use a mirror to create a reflective illusion of an affected limb in order to trick the brain into thinking that movement/stimulation occurs without pain. My favorite farmer cut a hole out of a cardboard box – I place my bad leg into the box through the hole – and we put a mirror up on the side of the box so that as I move and stimulate my good leg, the reflective image of it tricks my brain into believing that it is actually my bad leg.

Really, it’s pretty clever and gives the saying mind over matter a new meaning. I do it for 10 minutes each day in addition to the strength and stretching therapy that is included in my routine. Studies show that the brain prefers to prioritize visual feedback over somatosensory so it is possible to override a faulty system and retrain it to behave normally. Mine has developed a bad habit — I’ve chosen to intentionally work to train it to develop a better one.


It occurred to me as I read Paul’s letter to the Thessalonian’s that perhaps sometimes we all need mirror therapy for our hearts. Paul reminds us that it is God’s desire for us to live with unceasing joy, continual prayerfulness, and gratitude in all circumstances. A faithful person can do that fairly easily during the good times, but what happens when things get tough? Do we live joyful, prayerful and thankful lives or does our drama meter turn up and create a sour and hypersensitive attitude as we encounter trauma?

When our pastor preached on this topic a couple of weeks ago, he said something that really resonated with me. Jesus asks us to be thankful IN all circumstances. He does not ask us to be thankful FOR all circumstances. The difference in the meaning between those two sentences is huge because looking for a blessing within a hard time is an attainable goal. For me, it simply requires opening up my heart so that the Holy Spirit can train my brain to look for the positive. When I trust in the steadfast love that God promises, I can lean into my faith to find the hope that Jesus brings.

Over the past 11 months, I’ve learned that an attitude of gratitude creates the foundation for a purposeful and joyful life. When I get up everyday, I ask Jesus what’s on the agenda and then I’m able to look for opportunities to make Holy Moments through his Spirit. As I believe in the purpose of my life as a child of God, then I can look outside of my own pain to share the joy I find in faith. The mirror blocks the challenge so that the focus can shift outward. It tricks the heart and builds a healthy habit of joyful love.

It’s not about where you walk, it’s about who you walk with and what attitude you take with you on the journey!

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The Holy Spirit and His Play Calling…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of John 16: 13-15

“When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, “The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.”


I believed in the Trinity long before I understood it. It’s taken me a while to figure out the particulars, but I’ve had a lifelong relationship with the Holy Spirit. I used to tell my girls when they were little that the Holy Spirit “sits on your shoulder” and gives you direction as you go through the day. Some days I wonder at the Spirit’s perseverance and patience, as I’m not always a very good listener. But then I remember that the Spirit is a part of Jesus – a gift that He left us – so that we could communicate with Him after his resurrection. Jesus is the personification of perseverance and patience, so it’s a natural fit for the Spirit to also have these qualities 🙂

This summer, I participated in a Bible study with a group of middle school and high school girls. Over the course of the months, we read the Gospel of John together. John is my favorite Gospel, likely because of the very clear language regarding the Holy Spirit. I cling tightly to the knowledge that when Jesus is in my heart, the Spirit brings us together in communication as we travel the journey. He’s the messenger that links me to God and Jesus. It was truly awesome to share in the girls’ discussions as they identified with the Holy Spirit through John’s words.


Notre Dame vs Navy with my favorite farmer and our favorite brunette 🙂

If you’re a college football fan, you’ve likely noticed the couple of guys on the sidelines doing all kinds of goofy hand and arm signals as the coach calls in the plays to the team on the field. It’s a silent communication, and one that leaves the rest of us baffled (and perhaps entertained) but we get to see the result of it as the next play unfolds.

The quarterback knows that one of his jobs is to interpret, understand, and execute the play called by those important guys waving their arms on the sidelines. As he interprets the message, he shares it with his teammates and they come together to move the ball down the field. When it works, it’s a thing of beauty.

What if the Holy Spirit talks to us in a similar way?

What if we are the quarterbacks for Team Jesus?

It doesn’t matter if you envision the Holy Spirit sitting on your shoulder, walking beside you, or standing on the sidelines of a football field. What matters is whether you pay close attention to hear the play and are then able to communicate and execute it in love.

Over the years, I’ve noticed a few things that help me to hear and receive the Holy Spirit’s message:

  1. Starting the day with quiet prayer and intentionally asking the Spirit to be with me and guide me.
  2. Keeping my mind focused on the messages that I find in God’s Word as I study the Bible.
  3. Intentionally developing a grateful heart that looks outward to help others.
  4. Looking for the handiwork of the Spirit not just in my life but in the lives of those I love.
  5. Crediting the Spirit for the harmony and blessings that follow my obedience.

Next week as we head into Thanksgiving, I pray that as you gather with your family and friends that the Holy Spirit will take a seat next to you at the table. I guarantee that it will help you to have the attitude of gratitude that brings blessings of joy!

Happy Thanksgiving from the football loving prairie 🙂

 

 

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A Friend of the Silence…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Mark 10: 45 (similar verse to be found in Matthew 20:28)

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


I’ve not ridden my horse since I broke my leg. To be honest, I’ve not spent much time with either of my two favorite equines since early January. It has only been since September that I’ve been a strong enough walker to navigate the horse pasture and do chores. My family was pretty excited when I could take over feeding, water tank cleaning and corral cleaning chores again 😉

This time of year I let my horses graze out in the alfalfa field to the west of our house. Matt and I build a one wire temporary electric fence around the acres of alfalfa that he leaves 4th cutting for grazing. I let them out to graze each morning, and bring them back into the permanent corral each afternoon. I have to supplement their feed a little bit over the course of the winter, but they are happy grazers and love the room to roam around.

Last week, I went out to give the horses a little bit of prairie hay before I let them out to graze. I have to be careful transitioning them onto the alfalfa to make sure that they don’t get a belly ache. Anyway, Megan decided to go out with me. As I opened the door into the corral, Dandy started to come over to the hay that was in my arms. I pointed my finger away and he dutifully walked to the feed bunk to wait for me to place out the hay.  Meg looked a little surprised and said, “That was impressive – he actually listens to your finger. It doesn’t take much for him to obey you.”

I’ve had Dandy since he was almost 4 and I think he is going on 19 this year. We’ve spent a lot of time together over the past 15 years, and I have tried to be intentional about both serving/caring for him and asking for respect from him. He knows that I love him, and I know that as I require respect from him that our relationship grows stronger. He doesn’t have that same relationship with either Matt or the girls. As a result, he doesn’t listen to their finger and obey a quiet command.


It occurred to me that the relationship that I have with my horse is the same type of relationship that God asks of me. He is a good leader. He wants me to know that he loves me – He also wants me to respect him and to honor those quiet commands that the Holy Spirit places on my heart. Those little finger points are important moments of discernment and they make our relationship meaningful and strong.

The act of service is a two-way street. As God does his part, so must I do mine. I often remind myself of some wise words from Mother Teresa, “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence.” If we get distracted by the noise of the world, then we miss both Jesus’ service and his asks of us as we travel through the day together.

My horse and I find peace together in the silence. My relationship with Jesus grows as I intentionally become silent to realize and follow his command through the Holy Spirit. Lots of times, the ask is pretty soft but that does not make it less important – it simply makes my faith relationship a vital tool that enables me to hear and respect His directions. Together we make Holy Moments as we serve. It is through those moments that my faith finds meaning. As our pastor said last Sunday in church, “Jesus gives fleeting moments eternal purpose.”

As we approach the holiday season, I urge you to take time to live in the quiet. There we all will find peace, purpose and the gentle guidance of the One who loves us and came to serve us. As we walk with Jesus, finding guidance in the Holy Spirit, then we help fulfill the full purpose of Christ’s sacrifice — by sharing His love and His gift of salvation with others.

Someday, I pray that I will receive the gift of these words from my Creator, “That’s impressive. I only had to point my finger for you to listen and obey” 🙂

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Love Wins…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week comes from Matthew 18: 10-14 and the Parable of the Lost Sheep.

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”


I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this parable over the past year. When Joseph’s life fell apart early last spring, I read this passage. I prayed. I ran. I asked God lots of questions. I received a very clear answer from the Holy Spirit, and I clung to it.

Go and love him.

So, I did.

I made my first visit to a jail and I ached for the scared and broken young man that looked back at me. I prayed with him and I cried with him. Ten days later, I brought him home. It was likely the most reckless thing that I have ever done in my life. It is very clearly the first time that I have lived entirely through faith.

I remember our pastor saying one Sunday last spring in a sermon, “God will give you just enough information so that you can follow His call. He doesn’t often show you everything because that might bring you unnecessary fear in the moment.” Trading fear for faith depends on this delicate balance, and I am very thankful for God’s transparency time table.

Corey Asbury has a song out on Christian Radio called  “Reckless Love” that I feel like sums up my feelings quite accurately. It brings to my mind the following questions that I ponder daily:

  • How does God recklessly pursue us?
  • What does it mean to love so recklessly that we are willing to leave what is comfortable in order to do what is right?
  • What is our role in Jesus’ mission?

I believe that there are many ways that God pursues us. I can personally attest to the fact that the pursuit is, in fact, reckless. Honestly, it’s the component of reckless abandon that provides the truest beauty of it. God never gives up on us. We are all worthy and we are all loved. Whether it is through Jesus’s love, the work of the Holy Spirit, the Bible, or the actions of other people — or some combination of them — God is steadfast and tenacious in pursuit of our hearts and our lives.

God used Joseph to teach me how to live by faith. I learned to abide in Jesus’ love so that I could share it recklessly. I left what was comfortable to embrace something better. My perspective shifted so that I could let earthly things go in order to remain true to my heavenly call. It’s changed me, and it continues to change me each and every day.

God used me to show Joseph that he was loved – worthy – and cherished. I’ve watched him intentionally work to leave what was comfortable to embrace something better. It’s a daily choice. It’s hard. But it is good. Neither one of us travels the journey alone because God created a community to support us. Our family has learned to make a new team which allows us to be successful as we work to share in Jesus’ mission to love.

I think sometimes, as humans, we like to make things complicated. I struggled for many years trying to figure out what my role in Jesus’ mission was. I thought too much instead of leading with my heart. I looked past the simple, yet potent answer:

Love Wins.

Every time.

Every one matters. Just ask the lost sheep.

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