Tag Archives: love

How big is your “try”?

Wednesday Wisdom 😊


Inspiration this week comes from one of my favorite verses in the New Testament; 1 Corinthians 15: 58 “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”


Yesterday, Meg turned 20. It seems crazy to me that my girls are 22, 20 and 17 as some days I could easily believe that just yesterday they were 8, 6 and 3…The last 22 years have been amazing, and I can honestly say that being both a wife and a mom has been my life’s greatest gift ❀️

As I look back on the things that I wanted my girls to learn growing up, one thing rises easily toward the top of the list. I believe that my girls grew up in a home filled with love, honesty, and just a touch of goofiness (thanks to my favorite farmer). But, they also grew up in a home where effort was an expectation. Chores were not shirked, and a good attitude was always preferred πŸ˜‰ God loves a cheerful giver 😊 (2 Corinthians 9:7)

In our family, “try” matters.

On the farm, there is always work to do and the day just goes better when everyone contributes! Our family is truly blessed as we work well together. Some of my most precious memories are working alongside my girls. We weren’t perfect, but we packed our faith to find purpose and meaning as we sweated (or froze) together.


Scooping bunks at the cattle feedyard during a blizzard in 2016…

It’s been a few years since we all scooped bunks together in a snowstorm, but I think the lessons learned still remain fresh in our minds. The Holy Spirit periodically reminds me of how important it is to pack my effort in order to offer a big “try”. And, it warms my heart to watch all three of my girls live with hearts that are packed with steadfast effort. After all, isn’t that what God asks from us?

Six years later, she is still brings a tenacious “try” as she packs her faith to let Jesus help her to fly high.

I believe that God asks for our hearts every.single.day. And, when He asks for our hearts, He asks for our try. If we truly believe and live for Jesus, then our hearts can’t help but work enthusiastically. God’s grace covers us so that we do not have to work perfectly, but it is important to God that we work enthusiastically. Nothing that we ever do for the Lord is useless — He uses it all for the glory of the Kingdom. He asks us to be strong. He asks us to be immovable in our faith. He asks for us to trust our hearts and our lives to Him. In return for our try, He offers grace, strength, hope, peace, love, and purpose.

As God moves through our try, it blesses others generously. Love is a verb – an action verb. And, what a privilege it is to let God move through us to accomplish great things 😊 We don’t have to offer our effort in order to experience the grace of Jesus. However, when we withhold our effort, we lose the ability to help others to see the love of Jesus as He shines through us. I pray each day that my girls will hold Jesus’ hand and let Him hold their hearts. A Jesus inspired heart works enthusiastically to share love with others in order to bring honor to the God whose steadfast love endures forever.

How big is your “try”?

2 Comments

Filed under Wednesday Wisdom

Love…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚

Inspiration this week comes from a variety of scriptures that draw on each other as we ponder how love is a mark of a Disciple of Jesus!


Deuteronomy 6: 5 “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”

Leviticus 19:18 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself…”

Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses? Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.'”

John 13:34-35 Jesus says, “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.”

1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 “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.”


We have a new head pastor at our church! Pastor Keith Strasburger and his wife Kristine joined our church family a little over a week ago. Keith and Kristine are known for their hearts for Jesus and a deep devotion to building relationships as they work to mentor disciples. They hale from Real Life Ministries in Idaho and, in a time span of less than two weeks, Nebraska has welcomed them with zero degrees, 70 and sunny, and most recently snow and ice. Perhaps it’s March on the prairie??!!

On his first Sunday preaching, Keith shared with us that we are not called to go to church, we are called to be the church. God created each one of us with a desire to be loved, valued, listened to, and to live with meaningful purpose. In order for this to happen, we must be the church as we live in love as described in the above scripture verses. I think it is very powerful to see how the Old Testament provides the foundation for what we are able to live out through Jesus’ teaching, discipleship, and sacrifice for us. The two commandments that create the basis for how we are asked to live as Christians can be traced back to the five books of Moses. God asked us to love Him, and to love each other.

God asked us to do it, and then Jesus came to show us how to get it done.


It’s hard to love genuinely. Genuine love requires a risk, a vulnerability, and an openness to others that takes courage. When we love as Jesus loves, we give others the power to hurt us. But, we also give them the power of Jesus. Spend a few minutes looking at how God defines love in 1 Corinthians 13. Then ask yourself some questions:

  • Am I truly kind?
  • Do I have an unending supply of patience with those that God brings into my life?
  • Do I think of others more than I think of myself?
  • Do I hold grudges?
  • Do I celebrate others?
  • Do I love the values that God loves?
  • Do I love regardless of circumstance?
  • Do I love with a hope that inspires belief?

I’d like to think that I do these things well, but the truth is that sometimes they are simply a goal that I fall short of. The better I walk with Jesus, the more that I find the courage and freedom to live this way. But, it challenges me daily. Proverbs 4:23 tells me to “Guard my heart above all else, for it determines the course of my life.” I don’t think that this means to guard my heart against others, rather, I think that God is asking me to do something very different.

God is asking me to anchor my heart to Him and to allow it to be broken, so that His love — the love that is described in 1 Corinthians — can determine the course of my life.

A few years ago, I started to pray asking God to allow me to see the world through the eyes of Jesus. I’m not sure that when I started praying this prayer that I really understood what I was asking. But, God kept putting it on my heart so I kept praying it. As God answered this prayer, he has allowed me to see parts and pieces of this world through a very different lens. Seeing these things breaks my heart, and it changes my life. It makes me cry, but more importantly it gives me the freedom to find a deep and meaningful purpose as I try to love as Christ loves.

1 Comment

Filed under Wednesday Wisdom

Holy Moments, take 2….

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.”


I first wrote about Holy Moments back in July of 2019. At that time, I was in the middle of coaching swim team for the summer and reading a book called The Biggest Lie In The History Of Christianity by Matthew Kelly. The kids and I spent some quality time that summer learning about and practicing “Holy Moments”! God has recently put the topic back on my heart through both the Experiencing God study that I completed last fall and an online course that I am currently taking through the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC). Since the Holy Spirit keeps placing it forefront in my thoughts, I am choosing to share it with you all this week 😊


Matthew Kelly describes a Holy Moment as a moment where you open yourself to God – make yourself available to him – and follow the direction of the Holy Spirit to reach out and share Jesus’ love with others. Another way to describe it is those times throughout the day when you let God move through you in order to share Him and His love with others. I believe that God is always reaching out to us. The Bible tells us that He steadfastly pursues us. Sometimes this occurs as God moves through obedient believers as they allow themselves to be a conduit for love to bless those in need.

Creating a legacy of Holy Moments 😊

I learned a new deeper concept for this type of action last week in my online course through AACC. The term is Ministry of Presence and the idea is that others (especially those who are hurting) are able to experience God as we become the channel through which God’s presence is manifested to them. In simpler terms, as I allow God’s love to move through me, His presence becomes real to the person that I am helping. In these moments, the individual no longer feels alone because I am able to share God’s presence and love with them. It reminds me quite a lot of the scripture verse above from the Gospel of John.

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 all have many, many different interactions with people as we go through the day. Do we take the presence of God with us in those moments? Do we participate in a daily ministry of presence to live out the above command from Jesus? Sometimes it is little things like complimenting someone and “building them up” or sharing a greeting and a smile as you open a door. Sometimes it is much larger as you sense a deep hurting in someone and are able to come alongside them to share a compassionate and gentle presence that comforts and reminds that God is always with us.

I am coming to realize what a gift it is to be able to be a conduit for God’s presence to others. What a blessing it is to know that God is using me to share Himself with someone else! What a beautiful responsibility that we can embrace together as we love, in the presence of God, in order to show the world that we are disciples of Christ and instruments of the Spirit. That is Koinonia – the sweet spot – that we talked about last week. God with us and in us, in order to be shared with the world — Holy Moments 😊

4 Comments

Filed under Wednesday Wisdom

Searching…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


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 πŸ™‚


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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚


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.”Β 


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 πŸ™‚


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,Β  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 toΒ 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.Β  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 πŸ™‚

6 Comments

Filed under Wednesday Wisdom

Time and Love…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


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 ofΒ  “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” πŸ™‚


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 πŸ™‚


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.Β 


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 πŸ™‚ Thank you, John and Julie, for loving, guiding, and supporting our family as we journey in faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Wednesday Wisdom