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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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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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Stubborn…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

 

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