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The First Lap…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Hebrews 12:1

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”


I’ve started running 2-3 times per week on our local high school track. The track surface is soft and the path is clear and flat so it sets me up for success as I embark on this new chapter of the healing process. There’s been a large amount of “unknown” over the past 14 months relative to my leg and I’ve had to learn to do two things: trust that the Lord loves me and walks with me, and put in the work to do my part on the “race” that we travel together. Fear exists in the unknown, but that fear can be replaced by peace and hope when we allow faith to guide us.

It’s surprising to me the things that I notice now that I never used to see before. One of these is the first lap or the start of each run. Since I am accustomed to measuring my runs in miles, the beginning used to be simply a blip on the radar screen. I’d walk out the back door of our house and turn north onto the gravel road with my feet automatically falling into cadence. Easy. No thought required, and little challenge or fear to be found in those first steps.

It’s not that way anymore. The first 300 yards are filled with discomfort as I try to plant my foot properly on the ground and bridge into the next step. The notable thing is that if I keep going, if I continue to run with endurance the race God has set before me, then it gets better. I eventually settle into a rhythm and foot pattern that works so that I can run around the track. With each step that I take, I am able to strip off the weight of the pain and move forward believing in my heart that I can do it.


In light of the COVID-19 virus, I think there is a universal lesson to be found here. There currently exits a HUGE amount of uncertainty and fear. It can stymie our lives and wreak havoc with our emotions. Most importantly, it limits our ability to move forward in faith. Emotional stress is just as crippling as the pain that I feel in my leg. It has the power to trip us up and thwart our ability to trust both God’s greatness and His goodness.

Where can we look when fear threatens?

I had this discussion on the pool deck recently with my swimmers. We talked about three places “to look” in order to live in faith during times of uncertainty:

  1. We look up, to God our heavenly Father who commands us to be strong and courageous and promises to always be with us (Joshua 1:9).
  2. We look out, with a focus on the needs of our neighbors to see how we can serve.
  3. We look within, to find the guiding hand of Jesus in our hearts to inspire and fuel us in love.

How do we start?

It’s hard to pack your faith when times are hard. Instead, it is tempting to give into stress and fear. But, that’s not what God asks us to do. I have found that the more I share my burdens with Jesus in prayer, the more the Holy Spirit inspires me to use my energy to serve others instead of worrying about myself. Once I find the courage to start, then over time I find a rhythmic pattern:  looking up to hear the guidance of the Holy Spirit, looking out to share and serve others, and looking within to let Jesus guide my steps.

As an actively recovering “worry-a-hol-ic”, this is something that I have to be very intentional about. In the midst of these troubling times, don’t be afraid of the first lap! Let’s come together and lean into our faith 🙂 I am praying that each of you stays healthy — in mind, body and spirit as we go forward into these uncharted waters.

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Own it!

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week is Megan’s choice: Proverbs 31:25-26

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.”


A friend of ours asked me sometime last year, “Anne – what do you think is the most important thing that we can do as parents to help our kids make good choices?” I didn’t even need to pause before I answered, “The most important thing is to enable our kids to own their faith. If Jesus lives in and guides their hearts, then they will make good choices.”

I have three beautiful young women that call me Mama. God blessed me with them so that they could share His love and serve others. To do that, they must develop their own unique faith. I truly believe that my girls’ future is inherently tied to them developing a deep and personal relationship with Jesus. Their own relationship. Not mine and not even the faith relationship of our pastors and youth leaders that minister to them each week. While we all play important supporting roles, the relationship has to be uniquely their’s.

When something is yours, it defines you and you own it. When you own it, you allow it to guide you and it becomes the core of who you are.


“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”

The peace, wisdom, courage, and love that come from heart-felt faith enables the above verse from Proverbs to become a reality. It’s hard to laugh without fear of the future. It takes confidence to wear the gentle strength and dignity of Christ. But when we clothe ourselves in Jesus’ love, then our faith enables it to be possible. It is a learning process for all of us (including our kids) and requires having the freedom to develop it. As a mom, I needed to let go in order to let God. To trust both Jesus’ hand, and also my children’s ability to cling to it when the decisions of life weigh on them.


When Ashley Grace was in high school, she wanted to go with a friend to a youth group in another town about 20 miles away. It was hard for Matt and I to let her go. It was even harder for me to let her change churches on Sunday mornings when that request came just a few months later.  It was hard, but it was good. I watched as she grew in her faith. She owned it and it changed her.  Eventually we all followed her to the Refuge Youth Group and the church that sponsors it. We found a family at Parkview Baptist Church that led us all to a new level of heart-felt faith. As I let go, Jesus stepped in.

Today, all three of my girls wear their faith so very well. I look into their eyes and I see the genuine love that comes from Jesus. They make good choices. They are not perfect, but they have the most beautiful supply of try in their hearts. Matt and I have taught them and guided them in many ways over the years, but perhaps the most important thing that we did was to give them the freedom to be who God intended them to be.  And, when they found something so very special and so very right, we trusted and we followed.

There exists a sweet spot as we grow in relationship with Jesus. It fills us with strength, dignity, wisdom and kindness. It enables us to laugh without fear of the future. Megan draws wisdom from the above verses from Proverbs, and she asked me to share them with each of you this week. Her love for Jesus inspires her to try to live them, and that makes all the difference 🙂

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Faith over Fear…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the book of 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.”


I’ve probably shared this verse before as it is one that I have to be very intentional about. Fear is both very real and very powerful. Sometimes it keeps us from doing the things that we shouldn’t do, but often it keeps us from doing the things that we should. For me, the role that fear plays in my daily life is contingent on the strength of my faith. The stronger my faith, the less fear and worry affect me. Likewise, the weaker my faith, the more fear and worry wear at me.

The key question is: How much do I trust God and his love for me? 

Life is hard. Sometimes things happen that leave doubts in our minds as to the greatness of God’s power and his love for us. 2019 taught me that while I can’t change circumstances, I can choose how I react to them. I am in control of the attitude of my heart. Gratefulness is a habit that is fueled by hope. When hope comes alive, fear falls apart. I think Paul (in his letter to Romans 15:13) does an awesome job of addressing it:

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”


Over the past several months, I’ve experienced this on a deeper level. I decided to give my fear about my leg to Jesus. I handed it over in prayer, wiped the metaphorical dust off my feet, and quit worrying about it. I’ve gone back to living – packing my faith and knowing that with God all things are possible. I try to greet each day with an open mind and a steadfast dedication to trusting that Jesus is not just the best coach but also my biggest fan 🙂

I still put in the work that I know will lead to healing, but I don’t let the daily pain and stiffness cause fear and discouragement. Instead, I focus on the freedom found in being strong and courageous. This week, I attained a couple of monumental stepping stones.

  • I rode my horse.
  • I ran a mile on the high school track.

I’d done neither since I fell and broke my leg, and many days over the past 14 months I have wondered if I ever would again. While I believe that time continues to heal my body, I also think that intentionally strengthening my trust in Jesus enabled my little victories. I stopped fearing, and started truly believing. Both riding Dandy and running were physically uncomfortable for my leg, but in my heart I knew that I could do them. I trusted that Jesus would carry me when I fell short, and that brought me a new level of strength and courage. Next time, it’ll be easier and hopefully someday it will become pain-free.

This week I am reminded that God asks me to be bold in my faith. As I give him my fear, He replaces it with courage. My girls have this saying, “Go big or go home.” I think that’s essentially what God is telling us in the above verse from Joshua. If you believe, you’ve got to BELIEVE — to live like you trust and be fueled by the hope that comes through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It’s rarely a comfortable process, but I’m not sure that we ever truly live if we don’t embrace it.

How can you be more bold in your faith this week?

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The Height of the Basket…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of John 13:34-35

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”


We’re in the heart of winter across the rural prairie. This time of year, anyone affiliated with small town high school sports spends their free time cheering for the athletes either on the basketball court or the wrestling mat. I never competed in either sport so my knowledge of them is pretty limited, but my favorite blondes love to play basketball so I find myself sitting in the bleachers cheering on the Haymakers several nights a week.

Last Sunday, our pastor told a story that caught my attention. He shared with us a memory from his junior high school years and it went something like this:

One year in junior high, I decided to try out for basketball. I was short and not very good, so you can probably imagine how it went. After several days of try-outs, the coach called me aside and said: “John, I see you struggling and I know it’s hard for a boy your height to make a basket so I’m just going to lower the hoop four feet to help you out.” Well, maybe that’s not really what coach said…

The standards of the game of basketball don’t change to match our individual heights and abilities. All those years ago, the basketball hoop didn’t get lowered for our pastor and today it still doesn’t for any of the rest of us. Some nights I watch my girls and their teammates struggle to put the basketball into the hoop. They’ve got the right idea, but they fall short in execution. Basketball is a moving game with many variables, and it requires teamwork and collective effort to get that ball into the basket. The standards are set, leaving the athletes to figure out how to meet them successfully.

Pastor John’s point was that the game of basketball really isn’t much different than Christian life. It’s hard. It takes intentional focus and work. It requires unselfish dedication to something bigger than just ourselves…When my girls falter, I remind them to look up. The standards may be hard, but Jesus helps us to attain them if we keep our eyes on Him.


The Gospels remind us repeatedly of the new commandment issued by Jesus during his time on earth.

All those who choose to be on #TeamJesus must love others according to the standard of how Jesus loved.

That’s a tall basket. It’s a big ask during the good times and sometimes seems impossible during the hard times. Regardless of our personal feelings at any given moment, the standard isn’t going to change. We are called to love unconditionally, patiently, and with unselfish gentleness and hope. In fact, Jesus goes on to tell us in the Gospel of John that it is our reflection of His love to others that serves as proof of His existence. By sharing Jesus’ love and meeting the gold standard of the new commandment, we actually allow others to experience God through our actions.

Quite honestly, I believe that to be a game changer. During the tough games, the times that our hearts hurt and our minds want to either lash out or give up, Jesus’ message is clear. We are to love our teammates with an agape love. We can do that if we lean into our faith to fuel us for the journey. One of the awesome young ladies that I have the privilege of mentoring mentioned something recently that is worthy of sharing:

We find joy when we look to:

J esus

O thers

Y ourself

Jesus fills our hearts with His love to share with others. We maintain hope when we trust in our hearts. The height of the basket becomes less intimidating when we remember the perk of being on #TeamJesus: We can jump higher than we ever thought possible when we allow the heavenly coach to guide our actions and guard our hearts 🙂

 

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Gentleness…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of Luke 22: 47-51

“But even as Jesus said this, a crowd approached, led by Judas (one of the twelve disciples). Judas walked over to Jesus to greet him with a kiss. But Jesus said, ‘Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?’ When the other disciples saw what was about to happen, they exclaimed, ‘Lord, should we fight? We brought the swords!’ And one of them struck at the high priest’s slave, slashing off his right ear. But Jesus said, ‘No more of this.’ And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.”


My favorite blonde cowgirl attends an FCA group in a neighboring town. The FCA leader (Zach) goes to church with us and I have the privilege of watching him pour his heart into the kids that God brings into his life as he teaches, coaches, and mentors. Although he is much younger than me, I’ve learned a lot from him as he has mentored my girls. That’s one of the awesome things about the way that God works through the Holy Spirit 🙂

Meg came home Sunday night talking about the lesson that they studied at FCA. She was pretty pumped about it. “Mom, guess what Zach shared tonight! He said, ‘Jesus shows us that gentleness is strength under control.’ Rather than a weakness, gentleness actually is a strength that we show when we maintain control.” Wow – that’s really great discernment and food for thought. I’ve found myself thinking about it repeatedly over the past couple of days.


Each day God reminds us of his strength and the beauty that comes from it.

If you look at how Webster (or our culture) defines gentleness, strength does not likely rise to the top of the Thesaurus list. Instead you might find placidness, tenderness, calmness, or softness. But when you look in the Gospels, Jesus often demonstrates gentleness through strength while maintaining control of both himself and the situation. All four Gospels describe the events when Judas betrays Jesus and he is taken into custody, put on trial and ultimately put to death on the cross. The recordings all demonstrate that gentleness is strength under control.

I believe that Jesus came both to offer us salvation, and also to show us how God desires that we live. I can’t imagine what it was like to be betrayed by a friend, treated as a criminal, physically and mentally abused and ultimately put to death. That takes the coaching phrase, “take one for the team” to a whole new level. What amazes me is how Jesus suffered with both grace and strength. He never lost his cool. He knew his job, and he did it. He calmly and gently shared the Last Supper with Judas knowing that his friend would betray him. He accepted that the disciples fell asleep instead of praying with him in the Garden of Gethsemane, and turned instead to God for strength and companionship. He healed one of his captors when Simon Peter lost his control and sliced his ear off with a sword in a bout of fear. While on trial, he maintained great composure rather than arguing. The Gospel of John helps us to understand that even while hanging on the cross, Jesus reached out in compassion to his mother when he saw her in the crowd.

Zach’s comment to the FCA students inspired me to go back and read all four accounts of Jesus’ final days. I am left in awe at the beauty of the unselfish gentleness and control that Jesus displayed. My heart is changed as I now look at the word gentleness under a new light of discernment. I realize how much work I have left to do in my own life searching for the controlled strength that Jesus displayed. Four years ago, I intentionally went to work on gaining control of my temper. Today, I live determined to continue to work on it as deep in my heart there is a piece of Jesus that leads me away from tirades and into a world of gentle strength 🙂

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Life’s Root Canal…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s letter to the Colossians 3:23

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”


My favorite blonde cowgirl took an elbow to the mouth playing basketball on December 27th, breaking the bone that holds one of her front top teeth in place and displacing the tooth. The good news was that she got the rebound, you can likely guess the “bad news” 😉 We made a quick trip to Kearney to the Oral Surgeon to get the tooth popped back in with the hopes that it would “retake” and heal on its own. Our local dentist was on vacation but offered great support via telephone until he returned on January 1st. Meg’s tooth has been wired in since then as the initial glue did not hold.

Today she went back to the dentist for a follow up and I received the following text from her, “I’m the proud winner of a root canal.” I could picture the look on her face as she typed the text, and wasn’t terribly surprised by the news as we’d been warned that was a likely scenario. Friday morning, Doc will carefully remove the pulp inside the tooth, clean, disinfect and shape the root canals, and finally place a filling to seal the space.


I love to watch Meg play basketball. She does it like she does everything else in life — with her whole heart and a passion to work willingly, knowing that she works for the Lord and not just her coach and teammates. This year, I’ve seen a remarkable growth in her as a leader on the court. Her gift of discernment has matured so that she is able to better see the gaps. Not just the gaps in the game, but the gaps in her teammates’ needs. She is quick to emotionally encourage and support in addition to her all in physical contribution to the Lady Haymakers.

As I watch her play basketball, I can see Jesus moving in Meg’s heart. He gives her not only a well of love to share, but also the maturity to share it well. It’s kind of like a root canal for the heart. When we open ourselves to faith, Jesus moves in – cleans, shapes and seals us through the Holy Spirit. It’s not always a comfortable experience, and often we are asked to take one for the team but it leads to an unselfish attitude that enables others to see and experience mercy.

Jesus is at work in all of us – making and shaping a masterpiece that takes a lifetime to create. Meg’s root canal on Friday morning won’t take but an hour or two, but the work that Jesus does in her heart will continue until the day that He calls her home. Jesus’ score board is a bit different than our human one. He doesn’t look at which team scores the most baskets, rather he is concerned with the total number of baskets (hearts) that are changed through faith. Paul issues a great reminder in the scripture above. We are all called to work willingly with our hearts and eyes on the audience that matters most. When we do that, Jesus can move into our hearts and fill them with a loving and eternal purpose.

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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!

 

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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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