Tag Archives: letting go

God’s part, My part, Other’s part…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of John 8:12

“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”


One of my greatest personal challenges is “refilling my cup”. God has filled me with a lot of passionate energy, and working to make a difference sits close to the top of Anne’s priority list. The cup stays nice and full when I can see the positive impact of my efforts, but it steadily empties when I do not get to experience a tangible part of God’s evolution.

There are lots of places in the New Testament where the Bible talks about the “water of life” and the role of the Holy Spirit in the daily renewal of our faith. There are also lots of places in the New Testament where Jesus talks about following him in order to live in the light. I get that. Where I stumble is the additional internalization of the core teaching that there are three parts to a life filled with faith:

  1. God’s part
  2. My part
  3. Other’s part

I get too hung up on the outcome and feel personally responsible for it.  As a result, I feel an acute sense of failure when others do not chose to respond in the way that I would like when I offer help and support.

A friend of mine sent me this comic a couple of weeks ago. It inspired me to pause and think a bit. While I’m not sure that walking away is always the correct answer, having enough faith in God to recognize that I am only called to do my part helps me to not lose hope.


I suspect that I am not the only one to struggle with this. It’s a hard lesson to realize that we cannot be responsible for other people’s hearts and actions. I struggle with this daily. I want to fix, but really all that I can do is love. Each person is responsible for their own decisions and actions. And, God is truly the only one that can heal the broken. While he can use us as vessels to guide and share his love, we have no control over another person’s response when we share.

I’ve been coaching and working with kids for almost 20 years now. I remember the first time that I truly realized that I couldn’t do it for them. I was 24 years old and the assistant high school Cross Country coach. We had a good group of boys on the team that year. While none of them would have told you that Cross Country was their primary sport, they had a lot of potential. I learned something at the district meet that fall. I learned that my passion couldn’t carry them in their race. I could teach them the proper technique and help them to gain the needed fitness to find success. I could do my best to inspire their devotion. But, when it came to the race, I couldn’t do it for them. Finding success required a choice on their part which was out of my control.

Our faith journeys aren’t really any different than that race.

Faith is an individual decision that each person makes – every single day. No one else can make it for them. It’s the difference between living in the light and living in the darkness. I can control how I respond to others, but I cannot control how they respond to me.

  • God’s job is to love and guide.
  • My job is to reflect that love and guidance.
  • How other people chose to respond to that is their part.

I’ll let you all know when I’ve truly mastered that process, as there is a difference in knowing it and truly believing it. That difference influences the quality of the light that Jesus talks about in the above passage from John. My heart clearly tells me when I lack the trust required to let go, as then I loose sight of the light and the cup seems to systematically empty.

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The Joy of Chaos…

While I tend to run my cattle feed yard with an incredible degree of particularity, my house can only be described as a place of joyful chaos. I gave up the need for carefully construed order sometime around the birth of my third daughter. It likely was a survival mechanism as I began to recognize the importance of retaining my sanity.

I traded order for laughter — the need to control for faith…

Although ten years ago I might have claimed that letting go was against my very nature, I actually think that it has improved my parenting prowess by inspiring my older daughters to achieve a greater degree of responsibility. I believe that the duo secretly enjoys attempting to keep the household running and, between the five of us, the daily chores always seem to get completed.

Every once in a while, we are thrown off kilter and the tenuous balance temporarily disappears. When this occurs, I do my best to laugh as I improvise and call on faith to carry us through. Friday was one of those days…

They seem to be cut from the same cloth...

They seem to be cut from the same cloth…

Early afternoon, my favorite farmer loaded up the vehicle with suitcases and our family set off for a trip to Florida. This past week has been more chaotic than normal, so each family member was charged with packing their own luggage for the trip and placing their suitcases in a predetermined location by the door.

As we pulled off of Interstate 80 (approaching the airport and about 100 miles from home), we realized that my youngest daughter’s suitcase was still buried on the end of her bed. (Anyone that has seen Karyn’s bed will understand that it is possible to lose a small mountain in the menagerie of stuffed animals that sleep there…) While she had followed directions and packed a suitcase, she failed to place it with the other luggage as she left for school that morning. It never occurred to my favorite farmer that the pile of luggage in the hallway was one bag short!

karyn

The car got really quiet as it dawned on all of us that Karyn had no clothes for the long weekend trip. I quickly burst into laughter because it seemed to be the best available option of cutting the tension that permeated the car. It didn’t take long for Megan to join in my hilarity, and Ashley Grace to begin her typical litany of humorous sarcastic remarks—soon everyone but Karyn was smiling.

Exercising my savvy problem solving skills I pulled quickly into the Grand Island mall and bought Karyn some emergency clothes. We were back in the car within 10 minutes, and headed once again for the airport. We arrived just as the check-in desk was closing, and boarded the flight a few minutes later.

Laughter is good for the soul. Learning to let go and give it to God is a tremendous survival mechanism. What could have been a tensioned filled crisis became a source of humor that set the tone for a great family adventure.

annemattagmegsilly.jpg

I cannot recall exactly what day I made the choice as a mother to embrace the joy of chaos, but it has enabled me to trade tension for laughter — shifting my focus to the blessings that come from the gift of a family.

What is your survival mechanism?

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Filed under Family, General

Learning To Let Go…

Last Friday night, my daughter’s cat “Snickerdoodle” was hit by a car and killed on the road in front of our house.  I wondered why she had not come running the night before, as she usually does, when I called for her at bedtime.

Megan with Snickers when she was a kitten…

Snickers was an adorable gray and white cat that brought our family a tremendous amount of joy.  We buried her on the edge of our horse pasture wrapped in an old t-shirt that Megan had decorated with the message: “I love you Snickers.  You always made me smile and gave such wonderful kisses.  I miss you.  Have fun in heaven.”

Although she is no longer with us, this little cat received nothing but love during her time at the Feed Yard Foodie house…

In the last 15 years, our family has lost two dogs, three cats, and one horse.  We held a funeral for each of the animals, and all but the horse are buried in the pasture.  Every time that we are faced with this I find myself saying, the only thing worse than losing a beloved pet would be never having had them to love and enrich your life. Somehow, that does not seem to make saying goodbye any easier.

Holding a funeral for our lost pets allows my girls to learn to let go.  From the creation of personal prayers, to reminiscing about the lost pet, to singing Amazing Grace as we tearfully end the service, this ritual gives us the opportunity to grieve and acknowledge the loss.  It also provides hope and reaffirms our belief that God will welcome the lost animal into his spiritual oasis.

He is grown for the express purpose of providing food, but his life is still meaningful and it is my responsibility to provide good care to him…

Although I view my cattle at the feed yard in a much different light than our family’s pets, I still feel a sense of loss and disappointment when one of them dies.  It is as though I have failed in my job as caregiver.  I am supposed to care for and raise these animals with the goal of keeping them healthy and creating safe and wholesome beef—when one of them dies, it is like a personal failure.

For me to be successful, every single one of my animals must thrive on my farm…

We benchmark and track the percentage of cattle that die during their stay at the feed yard.  My goal is 0%.  I never seem to quite be able to achieve that, but it is not for a lack of trying.  Severe weather plays a large factor in determining how many animals I lose, but other factors also play a role.  The bottom line is that whenever an animal is stressed, he is more likely to get sick and/or die.

Good care starts on the ranch. For the animal to thrive high quality and consistent care must be provided from the first day that the calf is born…

Over the past 15 years, our death loss percentage at the feed yard has decreased significantly.  I believe that this is due to my focus on reducing total stress on each one of my animals.  It starts with how my rancher partners care for their animals early in their lives, continues with limiting shipment stress, and culminates with ensuring an easy transition and consistent comfort at the feed yard.

The continuation of good care at the feed yard ensures good health and high quality beef.

I tell my children, no matter how good you are—you can always get better and these words are forefront in my mind as I work to improve animal care and hone in on the elusive 0% death loss.  Today, my death loss rate is less than 0.5%.   Somehow, that does not ease the guilt that I feel when we discover a dead animal in one of our pens.

Although they are food animals, not pets, I believe that each bovine’s life holds value and a small part of my heart weeps every time that I lose one.  Living on a farm has made me a realist.  With that metamorphic transition comes the necessity to let go when one of my animals dies.  But, each time that I am forced to let go, I form a greater resolve to work harder to achieve that 0% goal.

I am personally responsible for each one of my animals…

All animals, whether they are pets or food animals, hold intrinsic value to our society.  It is all of our jobs to provide the best possible welfare so that each one has the greatest chance of living a productive life—whether it is a beef animal that is grown to provide high quality protein for human nurishment, or the beloved pet that our family said good bye to last weekend.

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Filed under Animal Welfare, General