Tag Archives: love

Worthy…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week comes from John 14: 27

“I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.


I love the life lessons that athletics teach. That is what fuels me on a daily basis to keep coaching. Sometime during my coaching tenure, I learned the hard lesson that a good coach loves their athletes more than they love the sport or the win. I don’t think that it was a passionate “aha” moment, but rather an on-going personal development in my leadership skills that led me to this realization. I know that it is something that I remind myself often as I wear the “coaching hat”.

Over the decades, I have noticed a recurring challenge that appears most often in my female athletes. Interestingly enough, it is also something that I struggled with during my own athletic career. It is a simple question that carries huge implications (both in athletic performance and in life).

Am I worthy of the win?

An innate sense of worth is critical to athletic performance. Google defines worth as “sufficiently good, important or interesting enough to justify a specific action.” I see it determine the way that the athlete perceives him/herself as well as how he/she internally formulates their role on the team. It dictates whether an athlete is all in and able to own the game. What the fans notice most is athletic performance — what I see as a coach goes much deeper than that.

Am I good enough to deserve to win sets the stage for the athletic performance. It can be both transient and permanent — it depends on the athlete and it depends on the day! While the status within each player’s mind might fluctuate, the effects of the answer are steadfast.

  • A worthy athlete plays with confidence
  • A worthy athlete plays with resilience
  • A worthy athlete is better able to look outside of themselves to play a leadership role on the team

Why girls?

I think that girls struggle with this challenge more than boys because they live in a world that constantly compares them and often expects perfection in order to grant value. As a result, girls are cautious. If they do not have 100% confidence that they can do it right, then they chose to hold back. In a teenage girl’s mind, there are different levels of failure. And, while none of them are appealing some hurt more than others. They believe that:

it is better to hold a piece of themselves back and fall short than it is to give it everything that they have and still not win.


A couple of years ago, I coined the phrase pack your faith to compete with grace. There are many implications to this mantra, but I thought of the young women that I coach when I put the words together. As a coach, I can run drills and practice so that my girls internalize what they are supposed to do and gain confidence that they can perform the tasks necessary to bring home the win. As a coach, I can also love them and encourage them to believe. But, I cannot fill their hearts with the peace of Jesus that will carry them in the moment of competition when they need it most.

I cannot. But, God can.

The apostle John reminds us in the above passage that Jesus leaves us on earth with a heavenly gift. The gift is peace of mind and heart. It is available for all those that reach for it. While it is offered to everyone, it is not forced on anyone. We each have the choice to say “Yes”. When we do, Jesus fills our hearts and the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our minds. The combination creates a new level of worthiness.

I wish that I had figured that out during my own athletic tenure.

I feel incredibly blessed that I figured it out during my coaching tenure.

God’s time isn’t always our time, and learning to trade fear for faith is a life skill. When we make this intentional choice, the results on the athletic field are tangible. But, more importantly, the impact on the confidence with which we live our lives is nothing short of amazing grace 🙂

 

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It’s okay to not be okay…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week comes from Isaiah 41: 9-10

“For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”


When I turned 42, my favorite brunette wrote me a letter entitled “42 Reasons We Love you”. It is my favorite birthday present of all time and I go back and read it often.

My favorite farmer and I love being parents. I think that both of us would report that we have enjoyed all of our children at all of their different life stages. Our greatest priority is simply to be with them and love them on their life journey. The adventure of parenting is not for the weak-hearted. We’ve shared smiles, laughter, tears, heart ache, anger, frustration and any number of varying emotions over the past 19 years. God has used each one to shape us as both individuals and as a family.

Sometimes I doubt my “mothering skills”. Worry creeps into my brain that I haven’t been patient enough – I haven’t been understanding enough – I haven’t supported enough. That’s when I go back and read that letter. It serves as a great reminder of the tremendous blessing of being a mom and gives me confidence that I have answered this incredibly important calling from God in a meaningful way.

Ashley Grace covered a lot of territory in her 42 reasons – from push up contests to forgiveness to fashion advice to faith. You can click here to read them all if God puts that desire on your heart. But, today I’d like to talk about the one that didn’t make the original list. I guess since I’m going to turn 44 in a couple of months that makes me eligible to change it to 43 Reasons We Love You 😉

#43: It’s okay to not be okay.

Hopefully Ashley Grace won’t mind that I added to her gift because I pray that my children all internalize this as they travel the journey each day.


I’ve lived the above passage from the prophet Isaiah.

  • I’ve been broken.
  • I’ve been afraid.
  • I’ve lacked hope.

I’ve not hidden that from my children.

  • They’ve seen me struggle.
  • They’ve seen me fall.
  • They’ve seen me look to God for help in order to get back up again.

All of those things have happened because I know that it’s okay to not be okay. That’s why God sent his son Jesus – to help us to become okay even when we’re not okay. While the initial moment of surrender is hard for those like me who prefer to be in control, the result ensures that we live with grace. When I carry Jesus in my heart:

  • He heals me.
  • He trades my fear for faith.
  • He fills my heart with love and gives me hope.

Although I may fall at times on the journey, I never truly fail because He fills the gap and picks me up so that I can continue the journey. God has chosen me as one of His own and holds me up with a victorious right hand. Each time that I fall, there is pain during the struggle but it is replaced with a deep sense of peace as I lean on God to find the strength to move forward in faith.

Our culture teaches that it’s not okay to not be okay. But it is. Jesus came to heal the broken. And that is perhaps the most beautiful gift of all 🙂

 

 

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Wholesome…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Isaiah 40:11

“He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.”


My favorite farmer’s business partner visited us in Cozad last week. While he was here, he asked, “How do you all stay so wholesome?” I think that Matt was not entirely sure how to answer that question, but when he came home and told me about it I had to smile a bit. I viewed the question as a very nice complement. It reminded me of a similar question that I had received earlier in the week…

I am a youth leader at The Refuge which is in the neighboring town of Lexington. I spend Wednesday evenings hanging out with some pretty awesome middle schoolers 🙂 Last week, we were talking about how Jesus calls us to love one another. One of the girls looked at me and asked, “How did you learn to love?”

What an awesome question!

  • How do we learn to love?
  • And, maybe more importantly, how can we grow in our faith so that we can love more like Jesus?

Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-5 that “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.” That type of a love is a wholesome love – and one that is given freely without conditions.

I looked at the girl, smiled and did my best to answer her question. I said, “God uses my children to teach me how to love. They inspire me to open my heart so that I can reflect the love that Jesus places in it.” Being a mom leads me on a journey of learning to love and it is one of my life’s greatest blessings. It is a beautiful and wholesome adventure. I still have a lot to learn, but I get better each day that I intentionally try to progress.


Above, the prophet Isaiah gives us a beautiful description of a loving shepherd. Although he lived hundreds of years before the coming of Christ, as I read the words from Isaiah 40:11, I think of Jesus. He is the Good Shepherd that carries lambs in his arms in order to hold them close to his heart. He is the God that gently leads us on our wholesome journey of love.

I opened my bible on Saturday morning searching for guidance. The last sentence of this verse jumped off the page at me. If Jesus leads the mother sheep gently as she follows with her young, then I need to lead gently as well as I strive to reflect His love. I’ve spent the majority of my life not being a very gentle person. I’ll never forget a few years ago when the Activities Director of our local high school called me to ask if I would serve as a volunteer coach on the Junior High and High School Cross Country team. He was looking for someone with “soft skills” to aid the team during a time of coaching transition.

When my family learned that I’d been hired for my “soft skills”, they laughed until they cried. My reputation more closely resembled a Drill Sargent than a mediator. But that phone call played a pivotal role in my personal decision to intentionally focus on love as I strived to learn how to be more gentle. It’s a journey that I still take today – endeavoring to love freely and lead gently – following the example of our Good Shepherd. I remind myself that I am after progress not perfection which gives me hope as well as goals for the future.

Perhaps the questions of last week are one of the little ways that the Lord uses others to shine His light on my path to enable me to leave the light on 🙂

 

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Leave the Light On…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Matthew 5: 14-16

“You are the light of the world — like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”


Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had about 24 hours of “windshield time”. I do not usually travel that often but my trip to OSU was followed immediately with another work trip to Kansas. The good part of driving time (especially in rural America where the traffic is light) is long periods of relative quiet. I am an avid Christian music listener so I fill that time with spiritual reflection.

Matthew West has a song out entitled Do Something that strikes a cord deep inside of me. It came on the radio on my way to Stillwater, and I thought about it often during my journeys. If you have never listened to it, I highly recommend spending a few moments of reflection letting the lyrics sink into your soul. The first stanza goes something like this:

I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now, thought
How’d we ever get so far down, and
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you”

How many times have you watched the news, read articles on the internet, or listened to the radio and thought, “Our country – our world – is just such a mess”? Are those thoughts followed by feelings of anger or hopelessness?

Do you shake your head and go about your daily life or do you “do something”?


I believe in the trilogy:

  • God the Father
  • God the Son
  • God the Holy Spirit

As I accept God the Father’s gift of Jesus in my heart, the Holy Spirit guides my journey and lights my path. Quite simply, it’s the way that God is able to leave the light on  — through each and every one of us. As we reflect His love, it creates a light for the world.

My favorite farmer and I have had hundreds of intellectual discussions over the years about the increase in violence and judgement (finger pointing) that currently exists in our country. We’ve debated politics, government regulations, morality, parenting techniques and a huge variety of topics trying to find a reasonable solution to take our country out of it’s current state of darkness and into a place filled with the light of love.

Each time, I found myself coming back to God.

For a while, I was like the song — shaking my fist at heaven and asking, “God why don’t you do something?

But then I met Joseph.

And God used him to answer my question. He said, “I did, I created you. Go and share my love.”

I learned that the recipe for healing is love. It is a universal display of loving actions that help to heal — one child, one person at a time. When we all take up that mission, the acts of daily love become countless and God’s light (expressed by each of us) overshadows the darkness. Only then can love trump violence and hatred to create a new culture of freedom.

God lights our path through Jesus’s gift of guidance through the Holy Spirit. But, we cannot reflect that light if we don’t move our feet down the path. Each and every one of us is God’s answer. Together we heal our world – one reflection of love at a time. It isn’t complicated, but sometimes it is hard.

Faith carries us forward.

I pray that together we will enable God’s grace to leave the light on.

 

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Celebrating 14 Years!

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week comes from the Gospel of John 3:21

“But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”


Today my favorite “fish” turns 14! While it’s hard to believe that my baby could be that old, it is one of my greatest joys to travel with her on the journey of life. There are many things that make Karyn beautiful, but it is her kind heart that constantly draws me in. Karyn loves deeply and quietly — with all of the joy and none of the drama. Her sensitive intuition allows her to radiate kindness and to help others when they need it most.

One of the most beautiful things for me to watch is how love makes Karyn bold. It turns the quiet and shy girl into a strong and courageous young woman. In honor of her birthday, I’d like to share a Karyn story 🙂

About a week ago, the Young Americans touring musical group did a workshop for students in our town of Cozad. Karyn and Joseph both enjoy music and decided to participate. After two days of practice, the Young Americans group performed along with close to 100 Cozad elementary, junior high and high school students. It’s a big deal for Karyn to get up in front of a group of people — that type of thing is not in her natural comfort zone, even in a group setting. The high school gymnasium was full that night with students, parents, and friends attending the performance.

Part way through the performance, one of the Young American actors announced that a few students were going to move forward to the microphones to share their stories of inspiration. The last thing that I expected was for Karyn to make her way to the front of the stage. I wish that I had thought to record her testimony, but I was so enthralled with the quietly brave young woman on the stage that I didn’t think of it.

Karyn spoke of how her family inspired her to always want to make a difference. She talked of each of her older siblings with the sweetness and genuine love that is so truly Karyn. She ended by publicly declaring her love for her new brother Joseph.

  • How she never expected to have a brother, but that God had brought him into our lives last April.
  • How the struggles of his life inspired her to live bravely.

Tears rolled down my face by the time that she finished. The simplicity of her message — spoken in that quiet yet confident voice – left me shaken. In a world that likes to make things complicated, sometimes it takes a reminder from the soft, God-inspired voice of a 14 year old to remind us how powerful love and acceptance can be in our lives.

 


Last night, Karyn – Joseph – and I read together from the 3rd chapter of John. It occurred to me that Karyn lived John 3:21 during the Young Americans performance. This quietly private young woman who prefers to avoid the spotlight stepped forward to publicly share the love in her heart for a young man that God called her to care for as a brother. Her unabashed acceptance of Joseph sent a powerful signal of faith to everyone in attendance. It was a vibrant moment filled with God’s grace.

There are very few things in my life that have touched me that deeply. Our journey as a new family with Joseph has not been easy, but it has been right. Blessings follow obedience and I thank God every day for the blessings that He bestows on my family. Sometimes as humans we make “God’s ask” complicated — Jesus asks us to love, not to be complicated.

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

Love Does.

Happy Happy Birthday to my beautiful Karyn who lights up my life and reminds me that patience, kindness and love trump all!

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Resilience

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration today comes from the five daily devotionals that I shared last week with the athletes of the Cozad Swim Team.

Mark 6: 31 “Let’s go off by ourselves and rest awhile.”

John 4: 14 “Those that drink the water that I (Jesus) give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh bubbling spring within them, giving eternal life.”

Romans 1:12 “When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.”

Romans 5: 3 “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us to develop endurance.”

Romans 8: 31 “If God is for us, who could ever be against us?”


Resilience provided the team’s weekly character lesson. Our focus quote was: “You must be the change that you wish to see in the world.” We asked some hard questions, but we also found strength in each other as we shared times of faith.

  • How do we keep going when things get hard?
  • How do we support others on the journey?
  • How do we let God be the coach of our team in order to bring honor to our efforts in the swimming pool?

Monday, Jesus reminded us in Mark 6:31 that it’s okay to take time to rest and recharge. Resilience requires both strength and patience. Prayer and reflection allow us to fill our hearts with God’s love and find strength and confidence in our faith relationship. Patience enables us to learn from our mistakes, but not let them define us. There is freedom to be found in giving it to God and focusing on the promise of the future.

Tuesday we learned of the living water that Jesus speaks of in John 4:14. It provides the foundation of our faith and stems from the eternal fountain of God’s love. It is the inspiration that leads to greatness. It is the motivation to face challenges with gratitude rather than with grievance. When our athletic actions are the result of God’s living water, then we bring honor to Him with our efforts.

Wednesday Paul reminded us in Romans 1: 12 that we are a family. We are brought together to create a cycle of encouragement. A quiet smile and word of kind support has the power to change our daily perspective: regardless of whether we are the one to give or to receive. God inspires us to have each others’ back and fills our hearts with His love to be shared. When we share love rather than judgement, then we strengthen the family (team). Building a cycle of encouragement amongst teammates allows everyone to share of themselves in a meaningful way.

Thursday we focused on creating a culture of positivity which allows us to rejoice in the face of trials (Romans 5:3).  We know that challenges make us stronger — build our endurance — and help us to learn how to persevere with grace. The challenge that an athlete faces in a difficult practice or competition helps him/her to prepare for life’s challenges. When we come together as a team to meet our challenges with positivity then we build the habit of living with grace.

Friday Paul (Romans 8:31) helped us to finish the week with the reminder that when we pack our faith to live with grace, that failure is not an option. God seeks us, supports us, and loves us through every experience. We persevere with resilience as we allow God to lead us and our team. We are defined by what is in our hearts — resilience comes from a heart filled with love and passion!


Here, I share week 6’s swim team journey in the hope that it brings meaning and inspiration to each of you. I have shared in the lives of many, many athletes over the past twenty years. However, this swim season will forever provide a turning point in my philosophy as a coach. I took a leap of faith as I made the decision this year to intentionally share my relationship with God. As our team begins each daily practice with a character lesson, a supporting bible verse, sharing time and a prayer,  I have learned that while loving God is so important, it is the act of sharing God that allows us to be the change that we wish to see in the world.

There is nothing more beautiful than seeing God’s hope spring eternal in the eyes of our children. What began as an effort to share my faith has evolved into a mutual sharing of faith as the athletes realize that we become #StrongerTogether as we reach for God. What an awesome lesson in resilience 🙂

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Faithful in the little things…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week’s Wednesday Wisdom comes from the Gospel of Luke:

“If you are faithful in the little things, you will be faithful in the large ones.”


On Friday, my favorite farmer and I will celebrate 22 years of marriage. I was twenty one years old when we said “I do”. My parents considered that to be too young an age to marry, but Matt and I held firm in our devotion to each other. We officially began our life journey together on June 15, 1996. On the day of our wedding, I looked up at him with all of my love shining in my eyes.

22 years later, my eyes shine even brighter.

Our family has grown to include three beautiful daughters and recently God called us to welcome a young man into our family as a son. The journey has not always been easy, but our love grounds us in faithfulness.

Matt and I still hold hands. Despite his mother’s concern, my forehead has not developed a callous from the multitude of kisses that he has placed there over the past two decades 😉 We often “embarrass” our children with our affection. I’ve learned a lot of things over the past 22 years, but perhaps the most important is how much joy there is to be found in sharing a life together.

If you are faithful in the little things, you will be faithful in the large ones.

I often think about the most important “life lessons” that I want my children to learn. Most of them can be found wrapped up in this short bible verse.

  1. Devotion is fueled by faithfulness.
  2. Love requires both discipline and commitment.
  3. Hope and hard work create meaningful relationships.
  4. Partnerships thrive in an unselfish environment.
  5. Integrity brings honor.
  6. Purpose gives life meaning.
  7. Passion flows from a faithful heart.
  8. Companionship brings peace.
  9. Trust allows for a leap of faith.
  10. Grace holds it all together.

Matt is my greatest blessing. I honor that precious gift from God as I honor the love that we share. Together we bring purpose to God’s mission as we reach out to share our love with others on the journey.

My grandparents celebrated more than 70 years of marriage together before God called them home. When I think of one word to describe them, it is devoted – to God, to each other, and to their family. Matt and I laugh that “when we grow up, we want to be like my beloved Grannie and Dedaw”. We have a few more years to go, but I know in my heart that we are on the right track 🙂

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The Greatest Of These Is Love…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from 1Corinthians 13: 4-7

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


My favorite brunette graduates from high school this week. In honor of the event, this week’s “Wednesday Wisdom” comes in a form of a letter to her.


Dear Ashley Grace,

Eighteen and a half years ago, we embarked on the journey of life together. I remember when your dad proudly held you in his arm for the first time. You were so little that you almost fit in his hand, but your exuberant cries assured me of your mighty tenacity. We grew together — you and I. Learning to pack our faith to live with grace. Sometimes I led you, and sometimes you led me; but God relentlessly inspired us to travel on this faith journey together.

Last weekend, I honored your request to have “homemade macaroni and cheese” at your graduation party. When you told me that was what you wanted most, it seemed a right and appropriate tribute to the completion of the first leg of our journey.

Do you remember the “mac and cheese night” ten years ago?

Dad was out of town for work, and I was in the midst of a barely controlled thyroid storm episode. I was heavily medicated to control my racing heart-rate, and so weak that my body shook. I sat down in the chair in the kitchen, overwhelmed by the thought of making you and your sisters’ dinner. I started to cry – my broken spirit getting the best of me. You came to kneel down beside me, with all of the love in your heart shining in your eyes. 

“Mama, it’s okay. I can help you. We can do it together. We’ll make mac and cheese. You tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”

You pulled a stool over to the stove top, and got out the sauce pan — carefully measuring and melting the butter, blending in the flour, adding milk, and stirring for what must have seemed like forever to your eight year old mind. But, you were patient — working with diligence and care — as though you sensed that we were both doing more than just making dinner. When the sauce finally thickened, you carefully grated and added the cheese. I had a moment of worry when the macaroni finished cooking and you had to dump the pasta out of the boiling water; but you bit your lip in concentration as was your habit and successfully completed the task. 

The heavy casserole dish was the next challenge, but somehow you got it filled and into the oven. By this time, Megan was your biggest cheerleader – doing her part to bravely fight the worry in order to support you. Karyn was too young to really understand anything other than we were having a new adventure — one that resulted in her favorite dinner. But, we all came together in our little kitchen to conquer a simple challenge in the midst of a very hard time.

I think that we both “grew up” that day — Realizing that together we were stronger. You learned to step up to the plate and fill the gap when someone you loved needed help. I learned to accept that when there is true love, it carries you when you need it the most.

In the years that followed, we navigated the hard times and celebrated the joy that filled our hearts. Your list of accolades is long, but I want you to know what I believe to be the most important result of our journey together. It doesn’t hang in the form of a medal around your neck. Rather, it fills your heart and guides your actions as you treasure and value each day.

It is love.

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

You grew up hearing me say “Take God with you.” You do that when you open your heart to His patient, kind, and unending love. A love so potent that your heart runs over so that as you experience it, you can’t help to share it with others. Sometimes life is hard and it seems that the love that you offer is not returned in kind.

But it always is.

Perhaps not in the human hearts of everyone whose life path crosses with yours, but your heavenly Father returns it in excess of what you share. If you take Him with you on the journey, then your heart never empties.

I may shed some tears as you embark on the next leg of your journey, but please know that there is something that geography cannot alter. You take a part of me with you wherever you go, and I hold tight to a piece of you. God’s love ties us together — in good times and in bad — in this life and in the heavenly life that awaits us both sometime in the future.

Pack your faith.

Live with grace.

Know that my love supports you wherever God takes you on this journey.

Perhaps life is really just like a delicious batch of homemade macaroni and cheese — when it is made with love, you can’t go wrong 🙂

Love,

Mama

 

 

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