Tag Archives: life lessons

Radical love…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of John 3:16

“For God so loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”


In addition to being in the Bible, you can find the above verse on billboards across the country. Its words are both simple and powerful as they encompass the heart of the Good News. God loves. Jesus saves. I don’t know what eternal life fully looks like, but my heart tells me that it is peaceful, joyful, and filled with the agape love that we strive to wrap our minds and hearts around during our earthly lives. Despite the fact that its exact description eludes me, I know that it is where I want to go.

But, I believe that there is more to it than that because eternal life (in my mind) begins today, not the day that God calls me home to heaven. Over the past few years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what makes up the rest of the message. What is my role on earth? Then, last week my Pastor said the words that allowed it all to come together. He started with the verse from the Gospel of John, “For God so loved the world that He sent his son Jesus.” But then he went on, “Jesus so loved the world that He sent us.”  The dots connected and the line was bolded and strong. I cried as I sat there, my eyes with a new level of insight and my heart with a deeper understanding of how and why He calls us to love. Not just those who return our love, but also those who do not.

He asks us to be there with our hearts ready and our bodies prepared to act.


Ever since Joseph left twelve months ago, I’ve wondered time and time again why God sent him to be a part of our family. At the time that the Holy Spirit put the request to love him on my heart, I assumed God’s ask brought with it a promise. Why wouldn’t it? Surely an ask of that magnitude came with a multitude of blessings? Visions of happily ever after passed through my mind as I believed that what was once an awesome family of five would become a beautiful family of six. Joe spent more than a year with us. The day he walked out the door, he took a piece of both Matt’s and my heart with him. I’ve felt a range of emotions since then; defeat, sadness, anger, and bits of joy as I remember the memories that we built together. Most of the emotions I am okay with, but the one that has proved the heaviest to bear is rejection.

I think that I finally hung that one on the cross last week as our Pastor’s words sank into my heart.

Jesus so loved the world that He sent us 
     - to love anyone and everyone- 
with no expectations for anything in return. 

It changes your heart to learn to love among and through pain. Rejection is a powerful emotion, and it incites a myriad of reactions (most of which are not rooted in love). It hurts. But, attaining the ability to love through it creates a light in the dark, an unexpected goodness in a time of crisis. Love enables forgiveness. It brings salvation and eternal life, but it also allows grace to permeate our earthly lives. Jesus is the ultimate source of grace, but every one of us has the ability to share that gift as we walk through each day. The more we share, the more it spreads.

I may not ever truly understand why God asked me to love Joseph, but I can understand that it wasn’t about me. It was about sharing. It was about unselfishly loving someone in a time of need. If I’m truly blessed, I’ll get to do it again before my heavenly Father calls me home. If I’m a good student, next time I’ll do it better – more like Jesus. I’ll leave the strings and the expectations out, and just focus on sharing radical love with the courageous boldness of grace.

Joseph gave great hugs. In those moments, I felt the strength of Grace. I took that for granted, and perhaps that’s my greatest regret. As he left, I told him that our door was always open. I’m not sure that I truly meant it at the time, but that’s the beauty of the Holy Spirit. Today I do, as my heart has gained a better understanding of the radical love that we are called to share.

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Courage…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week comes from 2 Timothy 1:7

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.”


What is courage? How does it tie in with fear? What role do trust and faith play?

I’ve spent significant time over the past couple of weeks thinking about the above questions. Given current circumstances, I doubt that I am alone in this type of mental exercise 🙂 I first starting thinking about it relative to the COVID19 challenge, but it spilled over to farm life as we recently took cattle to grass. Change can bring fear as “the unknown” often exists outside of our comfort zone. During those times, I am most successful when I lean into my faith and am reminded of who God calls me to be – a woman of power, love and self-discipline. This brings me courage.

Cattle are very different than humans (with significantly lessoned abilities for comprehension). However, helping them to overcome fear reinforces some key ideas that also aid me when I struggle.

  1. New circumstances can be fearful, but repeated positive experiences build the trust that enables courage.
  2. It doesn’t matter if you have all of the “answers”. What matters is having a heart that is inspired to care with empathy.
  3. Courage is not the absence of fear, rather it is the ability to move forward in the right way despite being afraid.

In the first few days when cattle are new to our farm, they lack confidence and curiosity. Instead of looking to me as a leader, they tend to shy away in fear. But, as I interact with them each day, trust grows and brings with it a beautiful sense of curiosity. After a few days, a handful of braver animals will approach and begin to look to us for direction. Not long after, curiosity tips the scale and their herd-mates follow suit. Soon, it becomes very easy to gather and check the animals despite the fact that they run on hundreds of acres of grass pasture.

What’s the secret to gaining their trust? Helping them to realize that their lives are better with us, than they are without us 🙂


I believe that the spirit that God gives us cannot fully emerge without the courage that comes from faith. I find that when my faith and trust are weak, then fear inspires timidity. Conversely, when my faith and trust are strong, then I find a source of power – fueled by love – that allows my natural sense of self-discipline to propel me forward. In those moments, I may still have some fear but it no longer has the power to drive my decisions because courage takes over.

We all have uncertainties in our lives. They do not define us, and they do not have to “own us”. God can do that if we let Him. Repeated positive faith building experiences, a heart full of love, and a desire to move forward to make a positive difference provides an equation for courage to thrive. Don’t be afraid to answer the call, life with God is far better than life without Him.

Are you in the front of the herd filled with courage and eager to answer God’s call?

Or, do you linger behind hindered by timidity?

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An Update From the Farm…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Micah 6:8:

“No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”


I’ve had a couple of people ask for an update “from the farm”. We are packing our faith to follow the advice found in Micah, and here are a few specifics 🙂

My favorite farmer and I both work in “agriculture” which was deemed as a “critical infrastructure industry” by the Department of Homeland Security, so daily life on the farm continues. Matt is gearing up for our growing season to begin and will be in full planting mode when the ground dries out enough to work the fields. While waiting for Mother Nature, he currently is working on his yearly organic farm certification, updating farms maps/yearly planning, and finishing up the equipment maintenance that dominants our winter months. He is itching to get to spring planting work, and smiles as he watches the Nebraska plains slowing turn from brown to green.

I am still spending my days servicing cattle feedyards and helping them to understand and implement the Progressive Beef program. I have about five more weeks before transitioning back to full-time with our family, our farm, and volunteer projects in our community. I am getting excited for spring/summer projects like grazing cattle on our pastures, coaching swim team, and gardening in my back yard. The alfalfa behind our house has started to grow, so this week the girls and I will take down the temporary winter fence and the horses will rotate from winter grazing to the spring/summer paddocks.

Ashley Grace is home from Notre Dame. Her school made the decision to switch to online classes while she was visiting for spring break, so we’ve got a car in Chicago and all of her belongings in South Bend, IN but she’s home and that’s what truly matters 🙂 Her summer teaching job in Panama City, Panama has been canceled so she is trying to figure out where God will call her to serve instead. She’s done an awesome job of going with the flow and choosing joy despite huge unexpected changes in her college life.

Megan and Karyn are figuring out the art of home schooling, something that honestly has never before been on their radar screen. In addition to doing learning enrichment via the internet, they are dutifully doing daily track workouts from home with the hope that there will be some sort of abbreviated spring sports season. This is not how either of them would choose to spend their Senior and Freshman springs, but they’re packing their faith to make the best of an uncertain situation!

Megan will celebrate her 18th birthday this weekend, and she has a quiet wish of getting to do all of the things that Seniors do: Prom, Senior Tea, Pen Pal Picnic with the 4th graders, graduation, and a chance to defend her two year pole vault NE State Title. I have been very proud of her positive attitude and ability to adapt to the disappointments of “missing some of the lasts” of her high school career. Both Meg and Karyn are embracing “zoom” weekly Bible study meetings with their high school girls small group, and trying to keep in touch with friends despite social distancing.


If I were to pick a rainbow to focus on, it is definitely the gift of having all three girls living at home again. My heart smiles as I take out 5 dishes each evening when I serve dinner. The time of family and fellowship is truly a blessing!  The above verse from Micah speaks to my heart, so I share it with each of you. It grants us instruction for today and the days to come. God asks us to:

Do what is right.

To love mercy.

To walk humbly with Him.

As I read Micah, my thoughts turn to the Prayer of St. Francis which I’d like to leave with you today 🙂

Dear Lord,
Make me an instrument of Your peace; 
Where there is hatred, let me sow love; 
Where there is injury, pardon; 
Where there is doubt, faith; 
Where there is despair, hope; 
Where there is darkness, light; 
And where there is sadness, joy… 
Grant that I may not so much seek 
to be consoled as to console; 
to be understood as to understand; 
to be loved as to love. 
For it is in giving that we receive; 
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying we are born to 
eternal life.

 

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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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The Heart’s Desires…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Psalms 37: 3-6

“Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.”


It’s always been a dream of mine to be a “mom”. One of the big reasons that my favorite farmer and I decided to move back to Nebraska was the desire to raise a family on the farm. As a farm kid with a MS in electrical engineering, Matt was likely “over-educated” for his professional choice. At the same time, my South Florida city roots and degree in psychology left me closer to the “under-educated” end of the spectrum. We were young and we followed our hearts, despite the mixed advice that we received from well-meaning friends and family.

When it came down to it, the question of whether or not we were appropriately qualified took a back seat to the strong call to follow our hearts’ desires

Twenty four years later, I look back and know that my heart did not lead me astray. Just as the God who put the call into my heart is trustworthy, so was my ability to find discernment and courage regardless of circumstance. The years have flown past, but the joy and the lessons proved bountiful. Together we learned to love deeply, to work passionately, and to respect each other and the farm that brought us all together. My girls can wield a scoop shovel with the best of them, and know how to work with a combination of smile and grit. They pack their faith well, fueled by servant hearts who look up for guidance and out to see those who are in need.


Life has stages and chapters. My girls are on the cusp of becoming women. Matt and I are in a new place that perhaps requires more trust and faith than when we decided to move from the East Coast back to the farm. Even though I know better, my heart is tempted to be selfish. It desires to hold my girls close even as I know that it is time to let God move them as He moved me all those years ago.

My favorite brunette sees her 21st birthday in 2020 and will spend more of the next twelve months abroad than in the United States. Teaching and mission work in Panama will fill her summer, followed by a semester living and going to school in Chile at the start of 2021. There will be a time this summer when all three of our girls will be in other countries doing mission work at the same time. As hard as it is to trust your own life to God, for me it is harder to trust the lives of my children. And yet, I know that it what I am called to do.

The Holy Spirit has been nudging my heart recently, reminding it of its job to trust and to share. On Friday morning at WayMakers, the middle schoolers acted out the Parable of the Three Servants (Matthew 25: 14-29) and we studied the purpose and responsibility of gifts or talents. Then, our Pastor reminded me on Sunday morning that blessings are meant to be shared. They are given to inspire selflessness, not selfishness. God loves a cheerful giver 🙂 Sometimes the ask is hard.

I know that God did not bless Matt and I with our girls for us to hoard them and hold them tight. He blessed us with them so that they, in turn, could bless others.

As I read the above verses in Psalms last weekend, my heart received another reminder. All those years ago, I trusted in the Lord and we’ve lived safely and prospered on the farm for decades. God gave me my heart’s desire as I became a wife and a mom. Now, Jesus asks me to commit everything to Him, to trust Him and live in the center of His will. He asks me to let Him guide those beautiful girls so that they radiate like the dawn and shine like the noonday sun.

Who am I to say “no”?

So I trust.

And I pray.

And my heart fills.

And my eyes water.

And, I pray some more.

And, I am truly thankful for this journey: the times I’ve experienced, and the ones that I have yet to come. Joy is a courageous choice, one that clings tightly to the heart and is fueled by the hope, love, peace, and forgiveness found in faith 🙂

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Doors and Boxes…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Proverbs 20: 5

“Though good advice lies deep within the heart, a person with understanding will draw it out.”


I have this plaque up on the windowsill in my girls’ bathroom. I bought it years ago when it caught my eye at our local drug store. My girls say that I have a goofy love for “one liners” and I maintain that they have served me well over the past 45 years 🙂 I believe that mantra statements help to serve as “quick guides”, perhaps that is why I love the book of Proverbs.

To me, life is full of both doors and boxes, both of which require our attention as we go through each day. Doors open and close as life takes us through its maze, and boxes can either inspire or consume us when the pressure is on to check them off with accurate efficiency.

I used to laugh to my favorite farmer that running a cattle feedyard was a great fit for me. I was as much a creature of habit as my animals. It’s been more than 3 years since I closed down Will Feed and we tore out the old feedyard. I still miss some of those daily animal care chores, but I’ve come to appreciate the door (gate) that closed that cold day in January of 2017.

Over time, I’ve realized that God continues to open and close doors in my life as my heart changes and evolves. As Proverbs reminds me, good advice does indeed lie deep within my heart. I find it when I search for truth with an intentional focus on faith. This spring I will walk through a new door again as I retire from Progressive Beef. I am thankful for the opportunity to improve animal welfare in service to God’s creatures and I hope that my efforts were meaningful.

Looking ahead, we will continue with our farm’s spring/summer grass cattle operation. I am excited to once again immerse myself in the peaceful chores that go along with daily cattle care. I think there is a part of my soul that is drawn to the land and the cattle that symbiotically thrive on the Nebraska prairie. God willing, my leg will continue to heal so that I can play a role in that partnership.

Some of you may wonder, “What else is Anne going to do?” That is precisely the question that my girls asked me when Matt and I told them in December that I planned to end my tenure with Progressive Beef. The answer is simple, yet complicated – known, yet unknown. I am going to follow the advice given in the above Proverb.

To look deeply within my heart to draw out God’s guiding discernment as I begin each day.


My life is incredibly full and God steadfastly blesses me. Matt, our girls, our farm, and various opportunities to coach and volunteer in my community pull at my heart daily. I am going to embrace the freedom of being able to faithfully answer those calls. A few weeks ago, our youth pastor asked a question that continues to be on my mind:

What single thing can I plan to do this year that will matter most in eternity?

I haven’t yet figured out all of the details, but I believe that they are tied up in my ability to trust as I walk through the doors that God opens. To focus, not on the boxes to simply check off on the list, but instead on the people that He brings into my life. I hope that you all will continue on with me here at Feedyard Foodie as I begin the next chapter in May of 2020 🙂

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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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