Tag Archives: love

The Draw…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Scripture for today’s Wednesday Wisdom comes from Luke 6: 19

“Everyone tried to touch him, because healing power went out from him, and he healed everyone.”


The New Testament is full of stories that demonstrate the power of Jesus’s draw. His heart, full of unconditional love, worked as a magnet toward many. Two things happened on the farm this week that caused me to further focus my thoughts on the concept of the draw.

  1. I attended an educational summit on low stress cattle handling put on by the PAC Veterinary Consultants
  2. I took a group of yearling steers from the Lazy YN Ranch to our spring grass pasture by Willow Island, NE.

As a cattle handling tool, the draw acts like a magnet — inspiring movement toward something meaningful. The draw pulls cattle in a certain direction in an orderly and calm fashion. It provides an incredibly effective tool when you need to move your animals from one place to another.

Creating the draw takes a little bit of homework because it serves as an inspiration for cooperation rather than a forceful submission. I want my animals to naturally follow my leadership because this is how we are able to create a harmonious partnership on the farm. It takes trust and understanding, as well as patience and empathy.


While it is likely a bit unorthodox, I tend to draw parallels from being a cattle caregiver into my own faith. Just as I lead my animals, God leads me. He draws me in as we travel the journey together. It is a natural draw that inspires my cooperation rather than a forceful submission. As I abide in Him, we are able to move forward together.

My “cattle trail” is not a perfectly straight line, as I falter at times, but the draw seems to always bring me back. One of the things that fascinates me the most about the New Testament stories of Jesus’s draw is his ability use goodness to draw others into faith. Luke reminds us that everyone wanted to touch Jesus because of his healing power. That healing power was not just a physical one — rather it was one that also touched the soul.

  • Have you ever come in contact with someone who radiates joy?
  • Is there someone who consistently brightens your day and inspires you to mature in your perspective?

None of us are blessed on earth with the ability to physically touch Jesus, but we can receive His love and guidance through our relationship with the Holy Spirit as well as other people that we meet along the journey.

Perhaps we can all receive healing as we share God’s love together.

There is no greater gift than love.

There is no greater draw than the joy and hope that come from living in faith.

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Cranial Christians…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Today’s scripture comes from Hebrews 10: 23-24

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”


Good cattle caregivers are good students. They consistently strive to learn more about the animals that depend on them — seeking to understand what they need in order to provide the leadership that brings comfort and good health. Good leadership requires cranial cleverness.

However, *thinking* like a calf takes more than mental understanding, it requires a leap of faith as you must  leave your human tendencies behind to embrace those of the animal. When I handle cattle my very presence needs to change so that we can find harmony as a team. When I find the sweet spot of understanding with the cattle, my leadership creates a magnet that draws them in.

My animals don’t really care how much I know until they understand how much I care. 

What you know is important, but it is what is inside of your heart that inspires you to lead with compassion.


As a cradle Episcopalian, I’ve intellectually known God for more than four decades. I went to church on Sunday and attended Catholic school from Kindergarten through 12th grade. My parents taught me right from wrong and instilled in me a desire to help others.

I grew up a cranial christian. I knew about God — I believed in him. I tried to live my life doing the right thing because that was what I was supposed to do.

But sometimes I got tired as my cup seemed to refuse to refill. As a result, I wasn’t always a cheerful giver. Instead of my heart being grateful for the beauty of sharing, my head compared and judged — like life was a race and the “should do’s” led their way to the finish line.

God was in my head, but I had not yet let Him become a permanent resident in my heart. I was the worker ant who toiled out of duty. It was a hard and exhausting job. Fortunately, God is a good caregiver, and persistently pursued my heart. He knew that what was in my head would not sustain me without support from what needed to be in my heart.

I think it’s normal human tendency to rely heavily on our minds. We want to logically understand things and are quick to shut the door when things get messy. It take a leap of faith to lead with your heart — transitioning from a cranial christian to a heart-felt christian. Just as my animals don’t care how much I know until they see how much I care, God desires a place in our hearts — not just intellectual residence in our heads.

Perhaps that is the answer to inspiring unending motivation for acts of love and good works. With God in our hearts, the cup overflows and we learn that giving for the sake of sharing creates a special bond that not only helps others, but also refills our own hearts.

Through his gift of Jesus, God has the finish line taken care of — life isn’t just a race for goodness. When we trust in God’s promise, we open our hearts and life becomes a journey grounded in sharing the love that He abundantly places in our hearts.

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Making a Masterpiece…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Today’s scripture verse comes from Luke 4: 4

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”


Last weekend, I traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana to participate in the 2018 Food Waste and Hunger Summit. In the United States, we waste 40% of the food that is grown while 1 in 6 Americans are food insecure. The summit, put on by DC Central Kitchen and its Campus Kitchens Project, brought college students from across the nation together to brainstorm solutions to this challenge. It was truly an honor to lead a break out session and participate on a panel as a speaker for the summit.

In 2018, we have the best and safest food supply in the history of our nation. My favorite farmer and I are proud to play a role growing it. It is a sad story that neighbors go hungry while landfills are simultaneously filling up with wasted food.

We can do better.

We must do better.

It’s hard, but the road to excellence is never easy or comfortable. I believe that part of the problem can be solved by working to improve the logistics and integrity of food production and delivery, as well as inspiring responsible eating. But, it is bigger than that. While there is an obvious physical link to hunger, food insecurity finds its roots in a larger social challenge. We grow enough food to feed everyone, so why are so many of our neighbors going hungry?


Jesus reminds us repeatedly in the Gospels that we do not live by bread alone. While bread fuels our bodies, love must fill our hearts to heal our souls. Growing food is important and honoring it by limiting waste is critical.

But that’s not the entire story. The rest of the story exists in our ability to end the cycle of hunger by teaching skills and offering jobs — one American at a time – until everyone has a place on the team.

A team that brings love and opportunity.

A team that packs their FAITH to live with GRACE.

My trip home took an unexpected turn and I ended up driving from Minneapolis (that’s a story for another time). As I drove,  I kept thinking about how each one of us is a masterpiece in the making. God asks us to open our hearts so that He can travel the journey with us — impacting our attitudes and inspiring us to offer service and outreach to others. When we let Him in, He fills us with agape love to share. In that moment of joining, our lives become meaningful. The world looks different and our natural internal focus broadens as we look to share and contribute.

Imagine a world where everyone looks to serve instead of to receive.

Imagine a world where we are all members of God’s team.

It is incredibly powerful to realize that while bread is necessary for physical survival, it is truly God’s love and guidance that sustains us in our earthly journey. Our country faces many, many challenges in 2018 — From hunger to food waste to the daily violence that seems to stem from disunity and fear. When I closed my feed yard down 14 months ago, I promised myself that I would intentionally devote more meaningful time to serving others. I felt the call to share — to help the youth in our community to learn to love and to understand that they are loved.

Each one of us is a masterpiece in the making. Perhaps most importantly, all of our masterpieces fit together like pieces of a puzzle in order to heal both our hearts and those of our fellow countrymen. As we progress through Holy Week, I pray that each one of us intentionally opens our lives to share with others. Together we make a difference 🙂

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A Culture of Love…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Today’s verse comes from Hebrews 11:1

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.


Of all of the lessons that I have tried as a parent to teach my girls, packing their faith quickly rises to the top of the priority list. Faith allows for hope – it brings peace – and it enables you to live with honor to help create a culture of love. It fuels you with the inspiration to take the time to care and to spread God’s love to others along the journey.

Every time that I read Hebrews, those eighteen words jump off the page at me and inspire me to ponder their meaning. I believe that the heart of this verse is rooted in the Holy Spirit.

When I tell my girls to pack their faith, I mean for them to listen to God’s voice that manifests itself inside of them through the Holy Spirit. It is through the Holy Spirit’s influence in our lives that the reality of hope/peace/joy/love can be attained during our time on earth. Our relationship with the Holy Spirit brings closeness with God. It allows for a grateful heart as well as the ability to see the instruction and opportunities that God places along our path. Our eyes cannot see His presence, but our hearts and minds still receive his faithful guidance and support.



Learning to be a caregiver for cattle helped me to develop an attention to detail that aids me in my spiritual journey. It may sound crazy, but cattle are attune to the slightest movement – the smallest sign – and respond to caregiver leadership best when the communication begins with natural subtlety. To be a good cattle caregiver, you need to slow down, pay close attention and search for the non-verbal cues that the animals send to you. This allows you to balance your energy with theirs’ and find harmony.

I best understand God’s direction when I slow down, pay close attention, and search for signs of his guidance. Just as I lead and direct my cattle to ensure that they receive good care, God guides me on a similar journey.


I’m very much a work in progress, but I clearly feel the work of the Holy Spirit in my own life — offering direction and refilling my cup as I look for balance and harmony. There is an awesome sense of peace that comes from making reality out of hope, and finding the evidence of abundant love as we attune our lives’ with faith through the Holy Spirit.

 

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Hope is a Muscle…

I graduated with a degree in psychology from Dartmouth College in 1997. I remember clearly the phone conversation with my parents a couple of years prior when I told them of my chosen major. My dad struggled to find enthusiasm as he finally managed to say “Psychology’s not a very practical major. Don’t you think you should study something else?”

Two days after graduation, I moved to rural Nebraska where I used my psychology degree to learn to care for farm animals and coach young athletes. Over the almost 25 years that have passed since that phone conversation, I have routinely pondered why the science of the brain and the emotions that play critical roles in our lives fall into the “not practical” category of focus.

Mental health touches all of us. The mass shootings that all too often ravage our country were not even on my radar screen in the mid-90’s when I formally studied psychology; but the denial and feeling of shame that go along with smaller daily emotional  and mental challenges did permeate our mainstream American culture. Still today, we harbor embarrassment toward and quietly shun people who suffer from mental turmoil instead of reaching out in love and support. We chose to judge others, blame inanimate objects, and participate in rabid political debates after tragedy strikes rather than acknowledge the real problem and preemptively come together to focus on a cure.

Hope is a muscle.

When it is strengthened daily by love and faith, hope wards off the self-doubt, loneliness and fear that challenge and erode our mental health. The battle is real. No one holds immunity from it. Hope provides the inspiration that allows each of us to find value in life. It motivates us to reach out to others in love and support, instead of focusing inward with judgement and disdain.

A grass-roots effort is needed to create the cure. It starts with you and me – how we view ourselves — how we relate to others, as well as what we teach our children.

  • Do we focus on love of others and honoring the gift of life?
  • Do we respect individual differences while also working to find common ground so that we can move forward together as a team?
  • Do we accept that mental and emotional struggles are part of life and focus on creating the tools needed to find happiness amidst the challenge?
  • Do we have honest discussions with our children about faith that inspire them to love themselves while also recognizing that “we” is stronger than “I”?

Everyone matters.

We all have worth.

We are all children of God.

I believe that we begin to effectively improve the mental health of our country one person at a time – one relationship at a time – one loving action at a time. We waste precious lives when we judge instead of love. Repetitious acts of kindness build the muscle of hope. They not only help others, but they help us. We feel self-worth rather than self-doubt, focus on community instead of loneliness, and replace fear with faith as we look toward the future.

I spend a lot of time coaching and working with youth on the athletic field. While it may appear that my primary job is to build physical muscle and athletic prowess; I know that what I truly need to do is teach my athletes to believe in themselves – to truly believe that each one of them matters. Not just on the day of competition, but in the journey of life.

You see, hope is a muscle. When it is strong, it refills our cup and provides a beacon of light as we travel the journey. It keeps us honed in on the joy of giving. It tells us that we have something worth sharing and inspires us to reach out in empathy toward others. When we all work to build the muscle of hope, we rediscover the value of life. We are at peace and whole within ourselves through our faith in God which allows us to show love and compassion to others.

It isn’t complicated; but it requires dedication and tenacity both at the individual and community level.

Are you ready to build the habit of love and fuel it with faith in order to find hope for the future?

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Chores…

I was lucky enough to grow up down the street from my grandparents. Although they have been gone for several years now, when I think of them the word that comes to mind is devoted.  More than 70 years of marriage, the sun rose and set for them in each other.  As a little girl, I dreamed of finding a soul-mate — someone to build a life with just like my beloved Grannie and Dedaw.

Feb March 2006 017When I brought my favorite farmer to Florida for the first time, my Grannie loved him at first sight.  I still don’t know if she innately sensed that he was my one, or if she simply loved me enough to believe in my heart.  Either way, she showed me with her life that love required work — a good marriage necessitated diligently doing chores — and that the blessing of sharing your life with someone always topped the priority list.

One of the things that I love about Matt is our ability to work together in harmony.  After twenty years on the farm, I still love to do things with him. Whether we are checking fields, working on projects around the house, or building fence, we make a good team.  Matt figures stuff out, and I follow directions well 🙂

When you work well together, chores are not just a necessary part of life — they are part of what makes life fun.marchfence7.jpg

Last weekend Matt and I took down my winter horse fence.  Intermittent warm days inspire the alfalfa to green up and start to grow, so it is time to corral the horses and take them off their winter pasture. Since it snowed on Saturday, we opted to wait until Sunday to take down the electric wire fence. We traded the Saturday snow for a 35 mile an hour wind on Sunday. In hindsight, I’m not sure that we picked the correct day, but we bundled up and laughed our way through the chore.

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We brought along our favorite blondes as we’ve always maintained that families that work together find greater love together.

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We survived the wind, and finished the chore. I think perhaps the only ones pouting are the horses as they prefer their large winter grazing pasture to the corral 😉

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I spent much of the day thinking about my Grannie and Dedaw.  How my life on the farm is so different than their’s was on the Florida coast, yet how our days are actually so much the same.   When your better half provides the center of your world, love becomes much less of a chore and much more of a blessing…

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The Glow That Illuminates…

Last week, I joined Idaho rancher Kim Brackett to film a podcast for the monthly joint effort by Purdue University and Beef Magazine known as The Beef Roundtable.  Our podcast will run in December and offers information on “sharing the beef story”.  As I prepared for the filming, I found a quote that resonated with me.  I think that it provides a perfect point of reflection for the week of Thanksgiving.  James Thurber states:

There are two kinds of light — 

The glow that illuminates and the glare that obscures.

Finding the quote sparked some quiet personal introspection in the days that followed.  I asked myself:

  • Do my words and actions provide a glow that illuminates? 
  • Am I a vehicle that allows others to find new and beneficial knowledge for their journey of continuous improvement?
  • Do I make a positive difference in the lives of others?

There exists no greater honor than being a catalyst for positive change.  I not only believe that on a philosophical level, but I also try to work for that in my life.  It starts with a willingness to respect the thoughts of others, and continues with the quiet strength needed to persevere kindly amidst a myriad of opinions.

Over the weekend, I took my oldest daughter to visit Notre Dame University and then attend the Division 1 NCAA College Cross Country Championships. My favorite farmer and I believe that our girls will gain both knowledge and motivation by experiencing life outside of our farm.  While it is hard for us to imagine them leaving home, we realize that a broad perspective will provide an illuminating glow as they make their way to adulthood.

The trip accomplished a number of “bucket list” items for my favorite brunette.

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On the way to Notre Dame, we pulled off the road and found Lake Michigan.  The pure joy you see on my daughter’s face comes not just from seeing the lake and dipping her toes in the water; but also from her realization that I value what is important to her.

Sometimes the glow that illuminates exists by simply allowing others to realize that what holds importance to them holds similar importance to you — just because you care. 

I found this unselfish spirit pervasive on the Notre Dame campus.  It was obvious to me that the culture of compassion and respect found on campus provided a healthy and happy environment for the students. Just as I know that I will always treasure my daughter’s smile, I also realize that fueling it comes from her innate ability to find her passion and express it with kindness.  The true light that illuminates glows from an unselfish desire to improve the lives of others.

Creating this type of culture rests within our reach — we simply need to embrace it.

Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

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It All Started With a Beer…

Frankie Ballard has a new song out on the country music charts entitled, “It all started with a beer”.  There is something innately human about the song that really speaks to me.  The truth in the words of the melody pull at my heart and serve as a good reminder of what real life is all about.

There’s been highs and lows,

Fast lane freeways and bumpy roads
Cursed the devil and prayed to heaven,

Lost it all and we rolled some sevens
Been some smiles then there’s been tears,

Been more good than bad years
Ain’t it crazy baby how we got here,

Oh, it all started with a beer

annemattjeans.jpgMatt and I met at Dartmouth College at a party in the fall of 1993.  The life we started together in New Hampshire and then continued on the farm in Nebraska is wrapped up somewhere in the midst of those words coined by Frankie Ballard.  We celebrate 20 years of marriage this June and 19 years on the farm having experienced the joys of love, the trials of farming, and the journey of finding strength in togetherness.

When I look in the mirror today, my eyes do not hold the innocence and optimism of youth.  Instead, they carry the knowledge of life — the highs and lows, fast lane freeways and bumpy roads — the recognition that tackling challenges is just part of living.  Understanding that, perhaps, the tears and frustrations that come during the lows actually lead to a broader perspective allowing for a fuller life experience.

There is no doubt that the optimistic Ivy League graduate with stars in her eyes that landed in the heart of the Nebraska plains really had no idea of the journey ahead.  Sometimes it is hard to remember the girl who showed up at the feed yard that first day shaking with nerves, but determined to learn.  The years blur together, but adaptation is a curious process and I have (from time to time) both cursed the devil and prayed to heaven. 

The experiences of creating a family combined with the trials of learning to understand cattle and running a business have instilled me with patience and resilience.  The uphill battle of bringing positive change to an agricultural industry steeped in both testosterone and tradition taught me that small periods of failure often precede a roll of sevens.annemattjeanskiss.jpg

Through the decades, my favorite farmer has shared both my smiles and my tears quietly supporting me so that I would have more good than bad years.  His faith in me never waivers and the love that we have nurtured on the journey humbles me.  On this Valentine’s Day, it seems quite hard to believe that

It all started with a beer

 

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