Tag Archives: Jesus

Time…

Wednesday Wisdom 😊


Inspiration this week comes from the book of Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.

A time to be born and a time to die.

A time to plant and a time to harvest.

A time to kill and a time to heal.

A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to cry and a time to laugh.

A time to grieve and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.

A time to embrace and a time to turn away.

A time to search and a time to quit searching.

A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear and a time to mend.

A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate.

A time for war and a time for peace.


My favorite farmer turned 50 yesterday. We *celebrated* his birthday earlier this month before our older two girls went back to college, but the actual day of the BIG 50 left me a bit pensive and whole lot thankful. I happened to be reading in Ecclesiastes and the above verses just jumped off the page at me. My heart warmed as I was reminded just how beautiful the gift of time is. We all spend our time in different ways and feeling a myriad of emotions, but it struck me how truly blessed I am to not just have the gift of time, but the ability to spend it with those that I love.

Matt and I have loved each other for 28 years, and we’ve been married for more than 25. That’s more than 10,000 days and a whole lot of minutes 😊 We’ve spent that time doing many of the things listed above. Some of them were hard, but they were all meaningful. The seasons continue to pass on the farm and we still get to experience them. That is God’s gift of time. It blesses us, it grows us, it reminds us of the One who created us and delights in us each day.


We are all “a work in progress” that God faithfully improves upon over time 😊 Life is a journey and growth happens little by little. Matt is good for me. He is a goofy clown with a huge heart, and brings so much joy into my life. God knew this and that is why He brought us together. Matt reminds me to accept peace, to choose joy, and to rest in the moment knowing that God made everything beautiful for its own time. Today, I am so very thankful for my favorite farmer, the God that unconditionally loves us both, and the time that we are blessed to be able to spend together ❀️

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A visitor to the farm…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of John as Jesus addresses the first disciples: John 1: 35-50

In these 15 verses, Jesus invites the first disciples multiple times to

“Come and see” and “Come, follow me”.


We had a fun visitor last week on the farm. Ashley Grace’s boyfriend bravely ventured to Central Nebraska for a few days before heading back to Notre Dame for the fall semester πŸ™‚ It was great fun to introduce him to life on the farm. We visited our fall calves on the grass pasture, our yearlings on feed at a local feedyard, and toured the crop farm and alfalfa dehydration plant. In addition to “farm stuff”, we had a wonderful time hiking and messing around at the lake. Luke learned to water ski and knee board, and Matt was super excited to have another man in the house for a few days! We are so thankful that he wanted to come and seeΒ where Ashley Grace grew up.

We’ve had a lot of visitors to the farm in the 25 years since Matt and I moved back to the prairie. My social media work regarding cattle and welfare tended to bring us quite a few extras in addition to the regular flow of friends and family that wanted to come and see the farm where the city girl from Florida landed after college. If I had to choose five words to describe our lives, they would be: rewarding, purposeful, busy, all encompassing, and challenging. I don’t know if we effectively communicate that to all our visitors, but I hope that we offer a friendly glimpse into the care, team work and intentionality that goes into working the land and caring for God’s creation.


I love the Gospel of John. The imagery, depth, and foundational truth found in the first chapter is both beautiful and amazing. I pulled short quotes above to highlight, but I would truly encourage reading the entire chapter. In verses 35-50, I think it is really interesting how Jesus called visitors to become disciples. His invitations strike me as both genuine and humble in nature. Jesus waits until they curiously seek. Then, the Messiah, the Son of Man, the stairway between heaven and earth, casually asks them to “come and experience”.

Every time that I read those verses, I am awed at the naturalness of the words. They are issued without the weight of guilt, without the distrust of an outsider, and without the component of impatience that I often find in myself. Jesus was so neighborly.Β One of them, Andrew, not only decides to come and see but to go and get his brother Simon (Peter) so that he can also share in the experience. Two others additionally accept the invitation when Jesus asks them to not just come and see, but also to follow.

In the midst of these interactions, Jesus gives them purpose, builds them up with praise, and promises both truth and hope as they prepare to journey together. The psychology major and “coach” in me just marvels at how easily Jesus turns visitors into family.

Sometimes I can be a stubborn and slow learner, but I hope that I continue to evolve into a more gracious and natural host. I pray that I allow Jesus to soften my heart and the Holy Spirit to guide my actions so that visitors can feel accepted and valued when God brings them into my life. Ultimately, I strive to be a disciple – to not just come and see, but also to follow in order to lead others. Together, we can persevere in faith on our journey into the arms of Christ πŸ™‚

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Searching…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of Matthew 7: 7-8

Effective prayer: “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”


Last week, we headed south to tour colleges in Oklahoma and Texas. Over the years, Matt and I have encouraged each of our three girls to search for schools within a region of the country that they are interested in visiting. The summer before their junior year in high school, we take a family driving trip to see them. After participating in each one of her older sisters’ college trips, Karyn was excited to plan and execute her own! We toured five schools in seven days as well as visiting friends in Austin, Texas. It was a wonderful trip, and very fun to watch Karyn seek – knock – and receive a warm welcome at each of the colleges that she chose. Megan was able to travel back home from Wyoming to go along with us, so we were only missing Ashley Grace on the family trek πŸ™‚


All three of our family “college trips” have been meaningful, enjoyable and interesting. I think that is because we were very intentional about planning and executing them. Yesterday, the above Bible verses popped into my head. The Holy Spirit was reminding me that my faith journey is not so different from planning and experiencing a trip. It is my part to ask, seek, and knock. Those are action words and require my movement and intentionality. God’s part is then to help me to receive, find and ultimately to open the door. When the door opens, I again must intentionally move my feet to walk through it in faith. Salvation is a free gift from God. But, walking through the door and into faith with Jesus requires energy and work on my part.

I remember when I was growing up, my parents would say “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” At the time, I didn’t really give those words any deep thought. It took me a while to be inspired to ruminate on them. The “lunch” may be a free gift, but it costs me something to ask, seek, and to accept it. Once I accept it, I then have to eat it in order to experience it. All of that takes effort on my part even though technically it is “free”. Similar to the gift of a “free lunch”, God offers us a free gift of salvation. It is available to all who seek it and accept it.

I wonder how God feels while He is standing at the open door waiting for us to decide to love Him. I picture him standing there with open arms and a big smile on his face. I think of how patient He must be to keep standing there, to keep waiting for all of his children to seek, ask, and decide to walk through the door and into His arms. And, I cannot help but think of what a good, good, Father we have. One who pursues us with patience, creativity, and boldness. One who loves us so much that He gives us the gift of deciding. His answer is an open door. It is always “yes” because His greatest desire is to be with us πŸ™‚

I don’t know where Karyn will decide to go to college. But, I do know that wherever she goes, Jesus will be with her. As she searches, she will find a well of love that fills her each day.

 

 

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Faith / Fear…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from Phillippians 4: 13

“For I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”


This week at swim team practice we are talking about how God calls us to pack our faith rather than letting fear drive our actions.Β  Faith inspires hope, strength, tenacity, commitment, purposeful effort, and joy. Ultimately, it brings success. Fear comes in a variety of forms, but each one keeps us from fully becoming who God means us to be. For me, the balance of faith and fear is a continuum on which I travel each and every day. Where I am on that continuum determines my behavior. Do I choose to pack my faith to trust God’s Grace? Or, do I fall into the temptation of letting fear take the wheel?

On the pool deck today, we unpacked the word ‘fear’ to acknowledge the traps that it sets to keep us from reaching our full potential.Β  The most obvious form of fear is the gut wrenching fear that physically makes us tremble with anxiety. In my role as a coach, I see this type of fear as an athlete tries something new or when an outside “mental” force weighs heavily upon them as they try to compete. However, this type of “terrified” fear is not the fear that I routinely see.

The type of fear that I see most is the nagging fear that causes us to give into the temptation of “disengaging”. This is the fear that whispers, “Don’t go to practice today. Just stay home and have fun doing …. instead.” Or, “Don’t give your best effort today during the workout because it’s easier to just mess around and not take a chance by doing something hard.” Or, “Don’t listen to coach, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Just do your own thing and have fun. That’s better than being ‘all in’ and sacrificing for the team.”

The increasing prevalence of this type of fear weighs on my heart. I saw it all of last year as I substituted in our local middle school in addition to seeing it as a coach. I’ve worked with kids in some capacity for more than two decades, and I view this as a growing challenge that threatens our young people’s ability to do hard things in order to accomplish something greatly meaningful.Β I do not mean to lay this burden only on our kids, as I believe that I (and many other adults) sometimes fall into this trap as well. What concerns me most is society’s growing acceptance of walking away from hard things in order to selfishly make our own lives easier.



I believe that the Bible is very clear that we are called to be courageous, and to continue to journey into and through hard things. Two of my favorite Old Testament verses speak to this.

The first is Joshua 1: 9, “This is my command — Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

And the second is Psalms 37: 23-24, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”Β 

Being courageous does not mean never feeling fear. Being courageous means that you answer God’s call to continue to move your feet with great effort despite the fact that you feel fear. It is the faith-filled choice to believe that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Salvation is free, but walking with Jesus takes intentional faith that often comes in the form of work.

We are asked to live by faith as we draw from Jesus’ well of love and strength to persevere through Grace. Grace does not mean that we get to disengage and do whatever we want. Grace means that when we choose to commit to the hard journey that God calls us into, that Jesus will provide the strength and endurance that we need to finish strong!

Each day, I pray that I can see the world more through Jesus’ eyes than my own. And, each day, I watch a huge amount of unrealized potential be wasted because of that nagging fear that temps us to do the easy thing instead of the right thing. I know that God has a plan. My faith tells me that I serve a good, good Father who is all powerful and loves without end. And, I continue to pray that He can use me to walk in faith with courage and obedience when fears knocks at the door.

Where are you on the faith / fear continuum today?

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Together we can do hard things…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from Exodus 17: 11-13 as Israel defeated the Amalekites.

“As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle.”


I got baptized last Sunday afternoon at Johnson Lake with our small group from church watching from the shoreline. Matt’s asked me a couple of times why a previously baptized and confirmed Episcopalian felt the need to be baptized by emersion at the age of 46 and 1/2? I figured the answer might make a decent blog post 😊

The short response is that I have recently felt God asking me to take this step of obedience. Each January for the past few years, God placed a word on my heart for me to pray about and focus on. I’ve never been much into setting New Year’s Resolutions, but He seems to be creating a tradition at the start of each year! It began with “love”, moved into “trust”, and evolved to “patience” and “perseverance”.

I think there is great significance in each word listed above. And, as each year evolved, I was able to see why God chose that one. Love and trust covered the time that Joseph lived with us. Patience and perseverance carried me through the physical struggle that began when I broke my leg, and then on through the pandemic. The word for 2021 was “glorify”.

The word glorify has several different secular definitions ranging from honor, praise or admiration to lighting up brilliantly. In terms of my faith, I believe that God is asking me to praise Him by openly and obediently trusting while also generously sharing His love in community. Being baptized by emersion does not offer me salvation, only Jesus does that as He lives in my heart. But, a baptism within my church family demonstrates my open acceptance that walking with Jesus involves living and serving in a spiritual family.


The Old Testament verses referenced above describe a time when Moses was asked to obediently follow God’s instructions. The “ask” from God was hard, and Moses was unable to complete it on his own. As I read the words, I can picture Moses sweating, straining, and butting up against failure as he earnestly tries to follow the Lord’s command. His heart was in the call, and he was giving it his all. But, “his all” wasn’t enough. The message is clear to me: Sometimes we have to come together to do hard things.Β 

Moses had a spiritual family. He had a team 😊 Perhaps God asked him to do something really, really hard to help Moses understand that he was not meant to work alone. This is such an important reminder for me. I am a work horse, and I love to serve with all my heart. But, sometimes life is hard and God’s asks seem exhaustive. During those times, it is easier to be brave when you have a team to come alongside and support you. Aaron and Hur stepped in to help carry Moses’ burden. They gave him a place to sit and rest, and held up his arms when his strength began to wane. They circled around him in support and together they found victory.

I used to think that I could walk with Jesus on my own. With each day that passes, I am realizing that I cannot fully glorify my Maker without a team – a community – a spiritual family. Sunday night I committed to that family.Β  As I did that, my heart truly accepted that Team Jesus was, in fact, a team. The hard things of this earthly life will continue to be hard, but I can draw strength and courage in the knowledge that I do not face those things alone. God will provide however many “Aarons” and “Hurs” are needed to find victory as we choose to answer the call together.

 

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What if…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from Colossians 3:13-14

“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 in love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”


There are several things in my life that are causing me angst right now. I am living in the above verses of scripture to help myself be grounded in faith as I walk through them. Karyn and I played a game of “what if” the other day as I tried to help her work through some hard stuff, and it got me thinking about how different our world could be if we all truly lived the above message from Colossians. The New Testament clearly states that Jesus wipes the slate clean and cleanses us from our sins when we repent and ask for forgiveness. It also clearly states that God requires us to do this same thing with others.

With each day that passes, the Holy Spirit keeps placing this message more and more firmly on my heart:

If Jesus forgives me and allows me to “begin anew” each morning, and the Bible tells me that I am supposed to live like Jesus, how could I turn my back and not do the same with the people that God brings into my life? How can I not lead in love when that is what Jesus does for me each day?

And, as I ask myself these questions, the Holy Spirit reinforces the answers that my heart already knows… “Anne, this is the gift of Grace. A gift that is meant to be shared with all.”Β 


I think these words are easy to read, but hard to live. Human nature seems to push us toward judging or retreating inward instead of forgiving, loving, and accepting others as we try to “meet them where they are”. I know that this is something that I wrestle with, and also something that God keeps trying to teach me as I learn to disciple. My heart knows what Jesus gives to me every day. My heart knows what Jesus asks of me every day. But, it takes constant reminders for me to truly endeavor to live this mantra. Fear of the unknown has a way of trying to thwart my heart as I go through hard things.

Today, I would like to ask all of you to keep our family in your prayers. I’d also like to challenge us as a “virtual family” to play a game of “what if”.

  • What if we intentionally choose to love first? Not just when it is comfortable, but every time.
  • What if we all were able to have glimpses of our world “through Jesus’ eyes”?
  • What if we all came together as a spiritual family to support, guide and grow together?
  • What if trust and faith trumped fear in our daily journey so that Jesus could truly live in and through us?

Some hard thoughts to ponder on this sunny Nebraska Wednesday 😊 Thank you ❀️

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Time and Love…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of John 21:18-19

Jesus says to Peter: “‘I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked, you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and other’s will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.’ Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, ‘Follow me’.”


This scripture reading provides a foundational basis for me as I deepen in my walk with Jesus. In all honestly, I read this passage many times before I understood it and I’m still digging in to comprehend it more fully. I blogged about it almost a year ago when I did a deep dive of study into it, and the words came back to me last spring when I was able to listen to Davidson College Men’s basketball coach Bob McKillop speak. Coach McKillop was addressing a group of Christian athletes and sharing “his most important life lesson”. Interestingly enough, his “most important life lesson” was not wrapped up in coaching Steph Curry, rather it was about the value of giving the gift ofΒ  “time” and “love”.

** I intended to write this blog post right after I heard Coach McKillop, but I got drafted to finish the school year for a middle school English teacher who was on maternity leave so the blog got put on hold as God placed one hundred and twenty five 6th and 8th graders into my daily life. Instead of writing myself, I got to help them hone their writing and their “life skills” πŸ™‚


I believe that God desires our hearts and our time. In fact, I think that as humans it is almost impossible to fully separate the two. Our hearts tend to determine how we spend our time. And, as a result, how we spend our time reflects what or whom we love. Coach McKillop could have visited about many things, but he choose to talk about the value of sharing time and love – with our Creator and Redeemer – and how that “shared time” works to fulfill God’s purpose and brings meaning to our lives. Prayer, reading the Bible, and serving all glorify our heavenly Father because He desires to walk our earthly journey with us and through us. When we submit our hearts to Him, we are inspired to give the gift of time and love.

It’s been more than a year since I left my full-time job in the beef industry. For several years prior to that, I had been internally battling with whether working to improve cattle welfare was the continued life path that God asked of me. I felt him pulling my heart other directions, and asking me to yield that career in order to better give the gift of time and love. It’s hard to give up something that you worked tirelessly for over the span of more than two decades, but I repeatedly felt the Holy Spirit telling me to let it go. Some days it felt as though I was uncomfortably stretching out my hands as I gave up control. But, I promised Jesus that I would continue to follow as long as He guided me, so I left my routine and ventured further into the realm of the unknown.

Leaving my job was the not the first time that the Holy Spirit clearly directed me away from what was comfortable. Our family’s adoption of Joseph into our hearts and our lives provided that inaugural moment. Today, I still am actively engaged in both of these “Jesus journeys” as well as coaching and working with kids. And, God continues to use them to deepen my faith and bring purpose to my life. I’m not the Apostle Peter. But, as I journey, I better understand that I am a valued and inspired child of God.

Somewhere along the way, I’ve realized the importance of who I “worked for”. And, as my faith continues to mature, I better comprehend Jesus’s ask for me to joyfully share my time and the love that He places in my heart. I used to “work for Anne”. Today, I “work for God”. There are moments that He dresses me and takes me to places that I am not sure that I want to go, but I am finding that deep meaning and fulfillment exists in the midst of those times. As I continue to obey the command to follow me, Jesus leads me to greener pastures where He is able to use my gift of time to share His grace and love.

 

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awkward Grace enables us to thrive in chaos…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from Proverbs 14:4

“Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.”


My favorite blonde cowgirl’s college track coach recently talked to the team about being able to thrive in chaos.Β They are in the heart of the outdoor season and finish right before they take final exams in May. Meg is super excited to be pole vaulting again, and I continue to be very proud of how she is handling her life as a college freshman 2000 miles away from home. “Chaos” levels on college campuses are peaking at a high level during this 2020-2021 school year. Ever-changing covid regulations create an added stressor just as many normal support structures are not available to the students due to pandemic restrictions. It’s a tough combination that reminds me of the tremendous need for awkward Grace as we live in a realm filled with shortfalls.

When Meg left for college last August, I starting praying every day that God would surround her with people that would love her as Jesus loves. Those first weeks were very hard and I knew that she was lonely and struggling to figure out God’s plan. My heart broke for her, but deep down I knew that God would guide her as she held Jesus’ hand. A couple of weeks into the school year, the student president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter on campus stopped her and introduced himself when he saw the faith message on the back of her old swim team t-shirt. Through FCA, she was able to find a local church and then ultimately get involved in a “Young Life” chapter. She dug into her faith and God delivered blessings.


Meg’s story reminds me that Grace finds us when we steadfastly pursue Jesus. Grace is tied to faith, not circumstance and it fills our hearts when we lean in to persevere amidst chaos. There is an innate sense of strength in the “awkwardness” of Grace. The ability of Grace to be awkward allows it to reach us in the midst of the messes that exist around us.

Proverbs 14:4 delivers a similar message that truly hits home in my “farmer’s heart”. Without oxen, the stable stays clean. It doesn’t have to be mucked out everyday because no animals live in it to make it messy. However, a large harvest needs a strong ox and the stable actually exists to house the oxen so that they can do their work. What if this faith paradigm shows us that the harvest is our part, and that the necessary cleaning of the stable is Jesus’ part?

  • What if we are called to live in the mess of the crowded stable in order to create a light in the darkness?
  • What if Jesus promises to muck the stable everyday if we courageously promise to let His light shine through us?

Sometimes I think that as Christians we can get tripped up trying so hard to keep the stable clean, when what Jesus asks us to do is something actually very different. He asks us to fill the stable in order to make heaven a crowded place. We don’t need to get wrapped up worrying about keeping the stable clean. Jesus will do that. We thrive when we trust Jesus to do his part while courageously committing to do our part. Our earthly world will never be perfect, but we can bring perfection into it as we share Jesus with those that He brings into our lives. Grace becomes awkward in order for us to access it and use it to bring others to faith.

As Meg is figuring out this year, if God leads you to it, He’ll lead you through it. The stable may get dirty but that’s okay.

At the end of the day, Jesus will wash it and anoint its occupants with enough Grace to thrive again tomorrow πŸ™‚

 

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