Tag Archives: love

Searching…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of Matthew 7: 7-8

Effective prayer: “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”


Last week, we headed south to tour colleges in Oklahoma and Texas. Over the years, Matt and I have encouraged each of our three girls to search for schools within a region of the country that they are interested in visiting. The summer before their junior year in high school, we take a family driving trip to see them. After participating in each one of her older sisters’ college trips, Karyn was excited to plan and execute her own! We toured five schools in seven days as well as visiting friends in Austin, Texas. It was a wonderful trip, and very fun to watch Karyn seek – knock – and receive a warm welcome at each of the colleges that she chose. Megan was able to travel back home from Wyoming to go along with us, so we were only missing Ashley Grace on the family trek 🙂


All three of our family “college trips” have been meaningful, enjoyable and interesting. I think that is because we were very intentional about planning and executing them. Yesterday, the above Bible verses popped into my head. The Holy Spirit was reminding me that my faith journey is not so different from planning and experiencing a trip. It is my part to ask, seek, and knock. Those are action words and require my movement and intentionality. God’s part is then to help me to receive, find and ultimately to open the door. When the door opens, I again must intentionally move my feet to walk through it in faith. Salvation is a free gift from God. But, walking through the door and into faith with Jesus requires energy and work on my part.

I remember when I was growing up, my parents would say “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” At the time, I didn’t really give those words any deep thought. It took me a while to be inspired to ruminate on them. The “lunch” may be a free gift, but it costs me something to ask, seek, and to accept it. Once I accept it, I then have to eat it in order to experience it. All of that takes effort on my part even though technically it is “free”. Similar to the gift of a “free lunch”, God offers us a free gift of salvation. It is available to all who seek it and accept it.

I wonder how God feels while He is standing at the open door waiting for us to decide to love Him. I picture him standing there with open arms and a big smile on his face. I think of how patient He must be to keep standing there, to keep waiting for all of his children to seek, ask, and decide to walk through the door and into His arms. And, I cannot help but think of what a good, good, Father we have. One who pursues us with patience, creativity, and boldness. One who loves us so much that He gives us the gift of deciding. His answer is an open door. It is always “yes” because His greatest desire is to be with us 🙂

I don’t know where Karyn will decide to go to college. But, I do know that wherever she goes, Jesus will be with her. As she searches, she will find a well of love that fills her each day.

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under Wednesday Wisdom

What if…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Colossians 3:13-14

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves in love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”


There are several things in my life that are causing me angst right now. I am living in the above verses of scripture to help myself be grounded in faith as I walk through them. Karyn and I played a game of “what if” the other day as I tried to help her work through some hard stuff, and it got me thinking about how different our world could be if we all truly lived the above message from Colossians. The New Testament clearly states that Jesus wipes the slate clean and cleanses us from our sins when we repent and ask for forgiveness. It also clearly states that God requires us to do this same thing with others.

With each day that passes, the Holy Spirit keeps placing this message more and more firmly on my heart:

If Jesus forgives me and allows me to “begin anew” each morning, and the Bible tells me that I am supposed to live like Jesus, how could I turn my back and not do the same with the people that God brings into my life? How can I not lead in love when that is what Jesus does for me each day?

And, as I ask myself these questions, the Holy Spirit reinforces the answers that my heart already knows… “Anne, this is the gift of Grace. A gift that is meant to be shared with all.” 


I think these words are easy to read, but hard to live. Human nature seems to push us toward judging or retreating inward instead of forgiving, loving, and accepting others as we try to “meet them where they are”. I know that this is something that I wrestle with, and also something that God keeps trying to teach me as I learn to disciple. My heart knows what Jesus gives to me every day. My heart knows what Jesus asks of me every day. But, it takes constant reminders for me to truly endeavor to live this mantra. Fear of the unknown has a way of trying to thwart my heart as I go through hard things.

Today, I would like to ask all of you to keep our family in your prayers. I’d also like to challenge us as a “virtual family” to play a game of “what if”.

  • What if we intentionally choose to love first? Not just when it is comfortable, but every time.
  • What if we all were able to have glimpses of our world “through Jesus’ eyes”?
  • What if we all came together as a spiritual family to support, guide and grow together?
  • What if trust and faith trumped fear in our daily journey so that Jesus could truly live in and through us?

Some hard thoughts to ponder on this sunny Nebraska Wednesday 😊 Thank you ❤️

3 Comments

Filed under Wednesday Wisdom

25 Years…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from 1 Corinthians 13: 1-7

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it, but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”


A good friend read this scripture passage 25 years ago at our wedding. Back then, I think the words in the reading were an “ideal” that I strived for, but did not really understand. I knew in my heart that I loved Matt and he loved me. However,  I’m pretty sure that neither of us truly realized the value of a love like what is described above. I’m certain that I had no real idea how to live it out.

I believe that God brings people into our lives to help us grow. I was 18 when I met Matt, and we’ve spent more than a quarter of a century growing together. We’ve got a lot of stories – some that make us laugh and some that make us cry. But, we’ve embraced it all together and I cannot think of a greater blessing than getting to “do life” with him.

I could say a lot of things, but I think the Apostle Paul said it best. Love is the cornerstone, the evidence, the essence of God’s purpose for our lives. It is sometimes hard, but so are all things that hold meaning in life. Love makes the difference. It allows us to faithfully endure together.  There is abundant hope to be found in that. The kind of hope that inspires perseverance ❤️

Today, I am simply thankful for the love that Jesus puts in our hearts each morning to share. And, I pray that God will bring each of my girls a soulmate who will complete them and inspire them to start each day by looking up to receive the Grace that enables precious love to bloom 🙂

6 Comments

Filed under Wednesday Wisdom

Time and Love…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of John 21:18-19

Jesus says to Peter: “‘I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked, you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and other’s will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.’ Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, ‘Follow me’.”


This scripture reading provides a foundational basis for me as I deepen in my walk with Jesus. In all honestly, I read this passage many times before I understood it and I’m still digging in to comprehend it more fully. I blogged about it almost a year ago when I did a deep dive of study into it, and the words came back to me last spring when I was able to listen to Davidson College Men’s basketball coach Bob McKillop speak. Coach McKillop was addressing a group of Christian athletes and sharing “his most important life lesson”. Interestingly enough, his “most important life lesson” was not wrapped up in coaching Steph Curry, rather it was about the value of giving the gift of  “time” and “love”.

** I intended to write this blog post right after I heard Coach McKillop, but I got drafted to finish the school year for a middle school English teacher who was on maternity leave so the blog got put on hold as God placed one hundred and twenty five 6th and 8th graders into my daily life. Instead of writing myself, I got to help them hone their writing and their “life skills” 🙂


I believe that God desires our hearts and our time. In fact, I think that as humans it is almost impossible to fully separate the two. Our hearts tend to determine how we spend our time. And, as a result, how we spend our time reflects what or whom we love. Coach McKillop could have visited about many things, but he choose to talk about the value of sharing time and love – with our Creator and Redeemer – and how that “shared time” works to fulfill God’s purpose and brings meaning to our lives. Prayer, reading the Bible, and serving all glorify our heavenly Father because He desires to walk our earthly journey with us and through us. When we submit our hearts to Him, we are inspired to give the gift of time and love.

It’s been more than a year since I left my full-time job in the beef industry. For several years prior to that, I had been internally battling with whether working to improve cattle welfare was the continued life path that God asked of me. I felt him pulling my heart other directions, and asking me to yield that career in order to better give the gift of time and love. It’s hard to give up something that you worked tirelessly for over the span of more than two decades, but I repeatedly felt the Holy Spirit telling me to let it go. Some days it felt as though I was uncomfortably stretching out my hands as I gave up control. But, I promised Jesus that I would continue to follow as long as He guided me, so I left my routine and ventured further into the realm of the unknown.

Leaving my job was the not the first time that the Holy Spirit clearly directed me away from what was comfortable. Our family’s adoption of Joseph into our hearts and our lives provided that inaugural moment. Today, I still am actively engaged in both of these “Jesus journeys” as well as coaching and working with kids. And, God continues to use them to deepen my faith and bring purpose to my life. I’m not the Apostle Peter. But, as I journey, I better understand that I am a valued and inspired child of God.

Somewhere along the way, I’ve realized the importance of who I “worked for”. And, as my faith continues to mature, I better comprehend Jesus’s ask for me to joyfully share my time and the love that He places in my heart. I used to “work for Anne”. Today, I “work for God”. There are moments that He dresses me and takes me to places that I am not sure that I want to go, but I am finding that deep meaning and fulfillment exists in the midst of those times. As I continue to obey the command to follow me, Jesus leads me to greener pastures where He is able to use my gift of time to share His grace and love.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Wednesday Wisdom

Forgiveness is our Super-Power…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: 4: 1-3

“Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”


It’s been many years since the first time that I walked into Parkview Baptist Church. Ashley Grace attended Youth Group and Bible study there with a friend, and had recently begun to attend Sunday morning worship there as well. I was in the midst of a “rut” in terms of my own faith, and feeling a bit lost. My fourth decade on the earth was teaching me all of the things that I didn’t know, thereby eroding the confidence with which I was used to facing life. Amidst all of the unanswered questions, I knew in my heart that God was calling me to share faith with my girls. So, I followed the request of my oldest child and drove 15 miles down the road to Lexington, NE to see what she was inviting me into.

That first Sunday, I walked in the door with quite a lot of trepidation and absolutely no idea what to expect. My background in the Episcopal and Catholic churches did not offer me much of a window into the community of a Baptist church. Two very friendly and earnest gentlemen named George and Randy welcomed Matt and I at the door, and we found seats in the back of the church. I held Matt’s hand as we stood to worship and I spent some time wrapping my brain around a different type of church service. And then, a soft-spoken preacher named John Shields opened his Bible and started to read and share.

I had not spent significant time in my adulthood reading my Bible. It would be accurate to say that I’d done more wandering than journeying in terms of faith. I had gotten *stuck* dedicatedly working to try to earn my way instead of seeking to be in relationship with the Savior that humbly and steadfastly loved me. But, that day Jesus used Pastor John to begin to inspire me to dig into God’s Word to get to personally know the Trinity that was the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And, praying over and thinking about the message shared each week on Sunday morning began to bring me back regularly until Parkview was not just Ashley Grace’s “home church” but it became mine and our entire family’s as well. For the first time in my life, I intentionally joined Jesus’ church and it changed my heart and my perspective.

I was blessed to be a part of more than five years of Pastor John’s ministry. I have many favorite sermons and hundreds of pages of notes. But, I think perhaps what I hold the most value in are the times spent watching John lead with a heart full of Jesus and a resulting agape love that marks him as Christ’s own. He is what Paul describes above in the passage from Ephesians: humble, gentle, patient, and compassionate. His actions initiate an inspired call for us to unite in the Spirit. One of my favorite “Pastor John” sayings is that forgiveness is our super-power. 


On Sunday, John preached his last sermon as head pastor of Parkview Baptist Church. He reminded us that Jesus is the cornerstone, and called us to steadfastly radiate His love as we share the Gospel. Our church family has shed many tears over the past month as we’ve prepared for John and his wife Julie’s 25-year ministry to draw to a close. Honestly, that kind of loving leadership is hard to let go. John now answers a new call to serve and mentor pastors all across Nebraska and Kansas. He and Julie leave a legacy of love, passion, and faithful obedience to Jesus for all of us in the Parkview family to tend and grow on into the future.

I will always carry with me John’s reminder to harness my super-power of forgiveness in order to honor the invitation that I accepted when I joined Team Jesus 🙂 Thank you, John and Julie, for loving, guiding, and supporting our family as we journey in faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Wednesday Wisdom

The Refuge…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the book of Revelation 22: 17

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come’. Let anyone who hears this say, ‘Come’. Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.”


During the school year, I volunteer at “The Refuge” on Wednesday nights as a small group leader for middle school girls. This is my third year discipling and loving the kids that God brings us. It is difficult to describe the experience of this weekly ministry. If I were to create a “word mosiac” to describe our time together, it would be a unique blend of words.

I don’t know what I thought it was going to be like when I volunteered to join the team, but after three years of serving I can say that it is MORE than I ever could have comprehended. The first year that I helped was the year that Joseph joined our family. I think that year was the first time in my life that I deeply understood that Jesus loves through me. My eyes were opened, as this kind of blind love knows no boundaries and it brings with it a different kind of raw vulnerability. When Jesus moves in your heart to allow you to see through His eyes, it is impossible to ignore the needs of others. As you look in their eyes, you feel what they feel. Sharing someone else’s emotions while you help them to find light is a different kind of hard.

Psalm 62:8 says, “O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.” Before I said “yes” to this call to serve, when I was on the outside peering in, I felt fear and doubt. My mind was full of questions: Can I handle this? Will I empathize and see the world through their eyes? Do I trust that Jesus will be there so that they can see him through me? As I worried over all of these things, I realized that this was God asking me to live in faith — to not immediately have the answer, yet to trust in his leading. I discovered that finding refuge is not necessarily about finding answers. It’s about developing trust. I have a mantra. It is something that I often tell myself as well as the kids that God brings into my life. It is simply, “Pack your faith”.

God doesn’t necessarily call the qualified.

Rather, he qualifies those whom he calls. 


The book of Revelation ends the Bible with a look at heaven, and the urgent message that all are invited to “come”. God has a variety of ways of delivering this message, and one of them is through us. Do we value the invitation enough to respond? Do we trust that Jesus will lead us through the journey? The work that we do on earth has eternal consequences. Heaven is intended to be a very crowded place. Crowded in the sense that it is designed to welcome anyone, with enough room for everyone 🙂

We don’t need to worry if we are qualified. Christ is bigger than any crisis. When He calls us, He will lead us. And, it will change our hearts. It’s hard to describe, but it is the beginning of a beautiful life.

Leave a comment

Filed under Wednesday Wisdom

A Heart To Serve…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Matthew 20: 25-28 (also found in Mark 10),

Jesus called his disciples together and said to them, “You know that the rulers of this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

And also, 1John 3:11,

“This is the message that you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another.”


2020 provided a strange year. A time when community, service, and safety all came together in a way that caused tremendous confusion for me. Amidst the Covid pandemic, I felt the conflict between “stay home/stay safe” and Jesus’ persistent call to serve others in love. What did God want me to do in this strange, new environment? It was clear to me that I was called to continue to serve, but what did that really mean?

My brain batted this question around repeatedly during the spring months as schools canceled and the overriding cultural message was stay home to flatten the curve. I prayed for wisdom, and I prayed for patience. I postponed swim team practice, and I worshiped via the internet on Sunday mornings. And, my heart cried as I watched our country disconnect from each other and our kids flounder as their daily support structure crumbled away. Our community felt the wrath of the disease in a multitude of different ways as those we loved were sickened or lost, and possibly all of us in some way struggled to gain insight as to how to love as a servant loves.

Summer came and God made it possible to have local swim team practice. We also were able to meet again as a church family to worship each week and this brought a sense of community back that became a lifeline for me. In the fall, school reopened and Youth Group began again, and I learned to wear a mask. It felt strange, but God told me that above all else I needed to be a servant and to be a good neighbor. Leading in love meant sacrificing for others. When the kids that I coached asked me to mask up to protect them and to protect their season, I found clarity in God’s Word (Romans Chapters 12-15:6) and learned to make it work. As I wrote last week, in Our Covid Story, I still have more questions than answers. But, winter has brought some important revelations that have shaped my heart, my thoughts and my actions as we finished up 2020 and moved into 2021.


The first revelation is it is okay to have a servant heart. This is a core part of who I am, and it is directly aligned with my heart for Jesus. I love our church dearly because being surrounded by a church family who is dedicated to serving provided a light to me as I stumbled around in the darkness of 2020. Our pastors reminded me weekly of Jesus’ call to disciple, and inspired me to find ways to intentionally respond to that call. I learned that although details were important, when your core is in Christ that it is okay to lessen your grip and just trust and follow.

The second revelation is that a pandemic does not lesson the need for service, it amplifies it. I’ve seen a loneliness, a sense of “being lost” in the eyes of many (myself included) over the last ten months. Some looked lost because they stopped looking for ways to serve, and some because their need to be served was so great. There is a tremendous physical, mental, and spiritual need as we move into 2021 and I pray that we will all respond when God asks us to move.

The third revelation is something that I’ve learned to cling to. Love is what “moves mountains”. It saves and it binds us together as a family. Goodness is rooted in love, and God is love. We can come up with impressive and detailed theories, but it really is simple. When we serve in love, then Jesus is able to move in and bring change because He is the ultimate display of God’s love. He is Grace, a Grace that is meant to be shared.

I don’t know what all 2021 will bring, but I pray that each of us will reconnect with community and obey Jesus’ command to love one another in service.

2 Comments

Filed under Wednesday Wisdom

What’s in a name?

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Luke chapter 9: Jesus and Zacchaeus. Specifically, verse 5:

“When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. ‘Zacchaeus!’ he said, ‘Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.'”


We learn to understand our names as babies before we can even speak ourselves. Each of us has one, and it makes us unique. Have you ever spent time thinking of the importance of getting personal enough to call someone by name? I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot recently as I began my tenure as a substitute in our local middle school. There are a lot of kids (a sea of movement down the hallways with faces partially disguised by masks) but each one has a name and a unique blend of traits that makes them special.

The critical question for me becomes: How does each student know that I consider them valuable and special?

It starts when I call them by name – by the right name, pronounced correctly, and with a smile on my face. I’m masked up too, but I know in my heart that the kids can sense my smile. With about 200 students in the school, knowing each one’s name is not a simple goal. I’m lucky to have coached about a quarter of them, but that still leaves a large number of masked faces looking at me with expectation.

As if to put an exclamation point on the importance of this goal, the Holy Spirit inspired our Youth Pastor to ask me recently to read a book entitled, “It’s Personal”. The book, by Virginia Ward, Reggie Joiner, and Kristen Ivy covers how hope is intrinsically tied to getting personal with the kids that God brings into our lives. Getting personal starts with caring enough to call them by name.


How many people in your life have both a name and a story to tell?


How does it make you feel when someone you barely know calls you by name? How does it make you feel when someone you know fairly well mispronounces or forgets your name? While the book discusses the importance of getting personal with adolescents and teenagers, I would argue that our ability to intentionally take the time to notice and to care impacts the adults in our lives just as much as the kids. The best way to love authentically is to go deep. There is a vulnerability that comes from opening your heart to each person that God brings into your life, but there is also a deep sense of purpose that stems from choosing to take the risk.

The story of Jesus and Zacchaeus illustrates how Jesus felt about heart-felt relationships. Zacchaeus is one example of how Jesus modeled genuine friendship by taking the time to both notice and move in to understand the people around him. Zacchaeus was a loner, an unpopular tax collector struggling with greed and loneliness. When he heard that Jesus was to pass by, he climbed up in a tree to try and see the Messiah. Imagine how he felt when Jesus noticed him, called him by name, and invited him into fellowship?  When Jesus called him by name, I bet that he felt worth. When Jesus invited him into fellowship, I imagine that he felt hope. It’s so simple, but yet so awesomely beautiful.

What if each day there is someone that God intentionally places on your path?

Take the time to stop and look around.

There’s someone who needs you to see them.

It isn’t often convenient and it takes a unique blend of compassion, awareness and courage. Honestly, it’s hard. But it is so, so very important. I pray each day that I slow down to notice, accept, love and value the kids that God brings into my life. It starts by simply learning a name, but it leads to a promise of shared grace.

Who is your Zacchaeus today?

7 Comments

Filed under Wednesday Wisdom