Tag Archives: Paul’s Epistles

Genuine hearts…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s epistle to the Romans 12: 9-13

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.”


Sometimes, I read the Bible and I struggle to figure out what God is trying to tell me. Other times, I read the Bible and the message is so obvious that it’s like a friendly smack on the face! I’ve experienced both of those feelings as I studied Paul’s letter to the Romans. Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, I’ve been mainly reading in the New Testament spending time in the Gospels of Luke and John in addition to studying Paul’s epistles. In all honesty, as I read God’s Word, I am searching for a daily roadmap. I need it as I strive to love and serve my family, my community, and the young people that God brings across my path. 2020 has been a year of challenge, and I have tried to be careful to remind myself each day “to look up to the audience that matters” in order to find discernment to lead me through it.

Some days I do a better job of that than others, but I pray that each day God sees my “try” and creates in me a merciful, servant heart.

I spent last week teaching 6th and 7th grade math as a substitute. I am still in the midst of the Cross Country season, so that meant 10+ hour days surrounded by kids. I was pretty well “immersed” 😉 One thing that God placed on my heart over and over again throughout the week was the need to be genuine. I remember an old horse trainer telling me decades ago – “Anne, that horse doesn’t care how much you know until he understands how much you care.” That day, the trainer was reminding me that “cranial knowledge” sometimes needs to take a backseat to the heart and its discernment of right and wrong. I thought about that repeatedly last week as I tried to remember middle school math and keep the kids moving forward in a disciplined fashion. I hope that they figured out over our five days together how much I care about them and the work that we were asked to do together. 


I don’t know why we are sometimes tempted to “pretend”, or to create a farce as we live our lives. But, I think that Paul’s reminder up above speaks clearly and boldly about God’s expectation of our hearts. We are called to be genuine, to love without reservation and with great affection. As we love with true hearts, we are also asked to work hard, to serve enthusiastically, to rejoice with hope, and to be patient in times of challenge. Perhaps most importantly, we are asked to be steadfast in our prayers in order to give Jesus the ability to replenish our hearts so that they continue to bless others as they run over with love. The expectation is that we lead with our hearts, always eager to help those in need. 

“God loves a cheerful giver” (2Corinthians 9:7).

For years, I thought that God cared most about my actions – for the work that I accomplished. The more time that I spend in His Word and around the kids that He places in my life, the more I realize that what God cares most about is my heart. I’ve decided that I don’t need a “task list” to give me a report card at the end of my day. Instead, I need a “genuine meter” that assesses the sincerity of my heart. Good work can’t help but spill out from a heart that loves with Grace. The works are the fruit of the heart and a demonstration of the love that lives there. This is the evidence of God’s presence in our earthly world. This is how the Good News is shared.

It’s okay to be different. It is good to be genuine. God asks us to be real. It honors and points to our heavenly Father when the sincerity and compassion of our hearts provides the roadmap to our days 🙂

 

 

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The difference between a good day and a bad day…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s letter to the Philippians 4: 12-13

“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”


I always seem to have a “one liner” that I try to intentionally live by and share with others. Over time, the words shift and change but I hold onto the old ones even as I transition into the new ones. The girls laugh that I don’t need to keep a written list as they are all tucked safely in between our ears 😊 My mantra for the fall season this year is, “the difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude”. My runners may not remember everything that I share with them, but they’ve got this one down. If I start the statement, they all chorus in to finish it for me. I believe it to be incredibly important. As we live in a world full of uncertainty, the one thing that we can control daily is our attitude.

There are a number of people who have come before me who get credit for the creation of this statement, and as I read through Paul’s epistles I see the message over and over again. We can control our attitude, how we approach each day, by making a choice to trust in the love of Jesus and being grateful for the joy that comes from that love. We live in a world of scarcity, but we worship a God of abundance. Love, hope, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, patience, perseverance, faithfulness, gentleness and self control – God makes those available to us daily, we simply need to choose to accept them. When my heart is soft and I pack my faith well, then I am filled with these gifts of the Spirit and able to see, experience, and share all of the rainbows that God places on my daily path.


Paul wrote the above words from Philippians while he was living in a jail cell. He couldn’t control his physical freedom, but he could control his attitude. He demonstrated how to be “full of joy in the Lord” regardless of circumstance. His secret weapon was Jesus’ love. On a day when he could not celebrate physical freedom, he could celebrate spiritual freedom and the ability to walk in love — not just any love, but Christ’s love. This love allowed him to speak of thankfulness, to find joy, and to focus on the rainbow instead of the storm. Paul could have been bitter, but he chose to walk in the joyous freedom of love.

It’s seems crazy, and yet it makes perfect sense. We can live in the world but not be of the world. We do this as we remember that God is the audience that matters and that His love is unconditional and omnipotent. We can choose the freedom to be found there, in an identity rooted in forgiveness and grace. When I draw strength from the big picture of God’s love, then I can find joys to celebrate and meaningful purpose amidst the hard things. My cup doesn’t run empty because I turn to Jesus to fill it. As my faith grows, I realize that it isn’t just full, it is running over. As it runs over, it blesses others and the cycle of love prevails. Even in the midst of hard times, that makes for a good day 🙂

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The Three P’s…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s letter to Philippians 3: 12-14


“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”


We are deeply in the midst of the Cross Country season. Like many coaches, I am searching for inspiring words to keep my athletes working hard and moving forward. This is a difficult time: bodies are tired, legs hurt, brains struggle to focus, and the temptation to settle is very real. We get trapped by thinking about how hard practice was yesterday instead of concentrating on the gift of being able to practice today. It is a time when success is found as we look outside of ourselves to be inspired by those around us. It is a series of moments when we can choose to press on in love.

In my almost 46 years, love is the only thing I’ve found that inspires me to sacrifice and to move into hard places. For me, love inspires the three P’s. When my heart chooses to love, I am driven with passion, perseverance, and patience. Those that know me well understand that passion to put in the work and to persevere are things that come naturally to me. I am a work horse with a belly full of oats who always sees and moves toward the home barn on the horizon. I’m one of those goofy people that lives to sweat and to push the envelop of the impossible. The one of the three P’s that causes me to struggle is patience. When the Holy Spirit blessed me with gifts, patience fell somewhere at the bottom of the list 😉

Being a mom and working as a coach has taught me to develop patience. I love the kids and that inspires me to work to become a better version of myself. Patience is still #3 on the list, but God is using love for those around me to inspire me to do it better. My leg has played an important role in that process. Those of you that have read FYF faithfully over the years, realize that I am almost two years into a struggle to gain full use of my right leg. A crazy ice-induced accident left the bottom of my leg shattered. Three surgeries and 19 months later, the three P’s – fueled by love – are bringing me traction.


I started trying to run again last spring about 15 months after the accident. My leg did not handle it well and I prayed for trust, for hope, for discernment. I stopped running and continued to rehab in the pool because I knew that I needed to put in patient work. I knew that I needed to press on in trust. I knew that Jesus struggled with me, and cried those same tears of frustration each time the pain left me limping.

I made a goal of running with the Junior High Cross Country team this fall because I knew that God had strategically planted me as an XC coach. I knew that the kids were going to need me as they embarked on their running journey. There is just something really special about a coach who sweats, hurts, and works with the team. It doesn’t just build good athletes, it creates good humans 🙂 That’s the coach that I believe God made me to be, so I believed that He would answer my prayer.

And He did.

We are thirty days into the season and I’m running. From 800 repeats to longer aerobic runs, God carries me daily. It’s not without work, sacrifice, and pain. But, it’s there. And, it fills my heart because I know that it is fueled by a God who shows up for me and for the kids that he brings into my life. He loves in a way that leaves me inspired – with passion, perseverance and patience.

Together, I pray that God will help all of us to more fully understand the beauty of running the race all of the way to the finish line!

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Beautiful, Awkward Grace…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Hebrews 4:16

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”


The Holy Spirit sometimes has to say the same thing to me multiple times before I figure out His message. Whether I miss it the first time, or don’t listen to understand, the Spirit does eventually get my attention 😉 This week we celebrated my favorite brunette’s 20th birthday. As I sit and think about all of things that I am grateful for, being a mom tops the list. Not just because my children bring me great joy, but also because God uses them to teach me so very much.

Ashley Grace played a huge role in bringing me back to Christ during a time in my life when I faltered and got *stuck*. The work of the Holy Spirit through her opened my eyes to the vastness of God’s grace. It is humbling and beautiful to watch Jesus move through the Spirit in the life of a teenager. It can be life-altering when that teenager is your’s. I had always thought that my faith needed to be perfect in order to honor God. As a result, I worked really hard but constantly fell short. I ended up tired and discouraged. My daughter taught me that grace fills the gap. It is perfectly and beautifully awkward because Jesus promises to always meet me where I am – not where I should be. Grace is what helps me to move toward where I should be, and it’s a good thing that I need divine interference to get there!

When we give our hearts to Christ, we never walk alone. Life becomes a beautiful, awkward journey full of grace.


As we move through the season of Advent, I pray that each of us remembers the gift of grace. It’s available to everyone, and it’s given freely to all those who believe. It never runs out and comes in the form of peace, hope, love, and forgiveness. We can look for it in a variety of places, but we’ll only find it in One.

Our earthly days are sometimes hard, but they are better when we walk in faith. And, (best of all) we are guaranteed a good ending! Jesus did that for us and nothing and no one can take that away. We live as awkward people in an awkward world. The Good News is that we have a gracious God with an unending supply of awkward grace that meets each and every one of us just where we are. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews reminds us to come boldly to the throne of God. There we will find mercy and grace when we need it most – complete with free delivery to wherever we are at the moment!

This year, celebrate the Christmas season with defiant hope because Christ came for us and will never leave us lonely – we simply need to accept that joy comes from what is happening inside of our hearts through Jesus rather than being contingent on the circumstances that we face on earth. That’s the beauty of grace.

As I look back twenty years ago, it seems fitting that my favorite farmer and I gave her “grace” as her middle name 🙂 Happy Birthday to my beautiful girl whose heart overflows with Jesus’ beautiful, awkward grace!

 

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“Mirror Therapy” for the heart…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”


Next week will mark 11 months since I fell. I continue to gain strength through Physical Therapy and remind myself to be patient in the healing process. I have daily pain and have become a bit of a “chronic”. Multiple traumas including the bone breaks, excess swelling in a cast, three surgeries, and two manipulations has caused my brain to become very hypersensitive when it comes to my right leg.

In short, my brain is like an overactive child who chooses to live with a drama meter of 10 😉

Last week I started “Mirror Therapy” in an effort to retrain it. The idea of mirror therapy is to use a mirror to create a reflective illusion of an affected limb in order to trick the brain into thinking that movement/stimulation occurs without pain. My favorite farmer cut a hole out of a cardboard box – I place my bad leg into the box through the hole – and we put a mirror up on the side of the box so that as I move and stimulate my good leg, the reflective image of it tricks my brain into believing that it is actually my bad leg.

Really, it’s pretty clever and gives the saying mind over matter a new meaning. I do it for 10 minutes each day in addition to the strength and stretching therapy that is included in my routine. Studies show that the brain prefers to prioritize visual feedback over somatosensory so it is possible to override a faulty system and retrain it to behave normally. Mine has developed a bad habit — I’ve chosen to intentionally work to train it to develop a better one.


It occurred to me as I read Paul’s letter to the Thessalonian’s that perhaps sometimes we all need mirror therapy for our hearts. Paul reminds us that it is God’s desire for us to live with unceasing joy, continual prayerfulness, and gratitude in all circumstances. A faithful person can do that fairly easily during the good times, but what happens when things get tough? Do we live joyful, prayerful and thankful lives or does our drama meter turn up and create a sour and hypersensitive attitude as we encounter trauma?

When our pastor preached on this topic a couple of weeks ago, he said something that really resonated with me. Jesus asks us to be thankful IN all circumstances. He does not ask us to be thankful FOR all circumstances. The difference in the meaning between those two sentences is huge because looking for a blessing within a hard time is an attainable goal. For me, it simply requires opening up my heart so that the Holy Spirit can train my brain to look for the positive. When I trust in the steadfast love that God promises, I can lean into my faith to find the hope that Jesus brings.

Over the past 11 months, I’ve learned that an attitude of gratitude creates the foundation for a purposeful and joyful life. When I get up everyday, I ask Jesus what’s on the agenda and then I’m able to look for opportunities to make Holy Moments through his Spirit. As I believe in the purpose of my life as a child of God, then I can look outside of my own pain to share the joy I find in faith. The mirror blocks the challenge so that the focus can shift outward. It tricks the heart and builds a healthy habit of joyful love.

It’s not about where you walk, it’s about who you walk with and what attitude you take with you on the journey!

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On the other side…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s letter to the Philippians 4: 11-13

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”


Life’s not perfect. As much as we might long for unlimited happy days where the sun always shines and the journey is easy, that’s just not what happens. I’m going to reach 45 years this February and my favorite farmer has been with me on the journey since I was 18. We’ve been blessed beyond measure, and yet we’ve been challenged beyond anything I might have imagined. It’s hard to wrap your brain around how those two things can go together until you read Paul’s letter to the Philippians. It is a letter of thanksgiving – written from a prison cell – during a time when he faced the very real possibility of execution. It is a great reminder that there is joy to be found in every situation, even those times of great struggle.

Last week I spent time thinking about what happens on the other side. Not just that “eternal high five” that greets us at heaven’s gate, but the other side of difficult times that we pass through during our years on earth. I spent five years battling Graves Disease and some unusual complications resulting from treatment beginning when Karyn was an infant. It was unexpected, it was hard. We had three small children (5 and under) as well as a farm to run. And, there were many days that I could hardly function. I looked anorexic, was terribly anemic and got so weak that I couldn’t lift the girls.

On the “other side” of Graves Disease 🙂

As hard as it was for me to get through each day, it was harder for Matt. Watching someone you love suffer has to be one of the hardest things that we are asked to do in our lifetime. It brings on a litany of emotions – none of which resemble the perfect happiness that we dream of on the day that we say I do. There have been times in our marriage where we have looked at each other and asked the question:

If God loves us, why does he allow us to suffer?


As I was visiting with a friend last week, the pieces all fell together and my brain made sense of this question. God uses every experience to shape us and to grant us various perspectives that help us to share His love with others on the journey. We can’t learn these things if we are never challenged. We can’t learn to lean into Jesus’ love and strength if life is never hard. We can’t have true understanding and empathy for others if we never hurt ourselves.

I’ve revisited many of these lessons over the past nine months as I spent long days on crutches and went through three surgeries to heal my leg. Today, I’d like to share the five most important lessons that struggling has taught me — looking back now that I am on the other side.

  1. Everyone has a story. Each and every person that we come into contact with battles a challenge that we may never get to see. A smile or a few words of encouragement likely makes the difference in their ability to find joy amongst the struggle.
  2. Life is not meant to be taken for granted. Each day brings the possibility of many blessings – the ability for us to share Jesus’ love with others. Slow down. Take the time to see those opportunities and then embrace the confidence of Christ in order to turn them into Holy Moments.
  3.  A loving spouse is a gift to be cherished. Matt carries a lot of medals on his heart. God’s placed them there as we’ve walked together through the past twenty seven years. He is an amazing man with a heart that never stops giving. Being his wife is one of my greatest blessings and inspires my heart to be grateful as we greet each new day together.
  4. Our children learn with us as we walk together – they learn from us and we learn from them. Never discount the power of TEAM. One of the greatest blessings that came out of my illness was our ability to come together as a family to find strength and remain stubbornly rooted in love. There’ve been days that the girls have carried us — spiritually and emotionally — as Matt and I struggled to make sense of things. Today I believe that there is nothing more beautiful than a child reflecting Jesus’ love and light to his/her parents. It not only helps them to own their own faith, it shows them the purpose of faith!
  5. We never walk alone. When I was sick, someone told me “Anne, God will never give you more than you can handle.” I really struggled with that as some days I was just plain not enough. The last ten years have taught me that faith allows Jesus to fill that gap. God often gives us more than we can handle on our own, but those are the times that Jesus comes into our lives to carry us through. He is the perfect Coach — the one with divine discernment and a never-ending well of love and strength.

I’m sure that Matt and I and our girls will face more struggles as we walk through life together. But, just as I know this, I also realize that there is joy to be found in each and every day. We find it when we abide in Christ and welcome the peace and strength that He brings. Just as Paul reminds us in the above scripture verses, the secret to being content in every situation is to recognize that we are never alone. God walks with us and offers the comfort that leads to peace – on the good days and the tough ones. It may be hard to see the value in the moment of hardship, but it becomes clear once we are on the other side.

 

 

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Hands and Feet…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s Epistle to Romans 12: 4-5

“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body and we all belong to each other.”


It’s college football season. My favorite farmer played both high school and college football, so my girls have grown up in a house that understands and celebrates the game. The other night at dinner, Karyn mentioned Army’s football uniforms. She loves the fact that instead of having the last name of the player on the back of the jersey, each team member’s jersey has “Army” printed where their name might be.

My dad was in the Army and I went on a college recruiting trip for swimming to West Point my senior year in high school. Although my heart led me somewhere else for college, I remember the feeling of “team” that permeated the campus. There wasn’t hardly an “I” to be found –  instead it was about “we” and the power of teamwork. As Karyn, Matt and I talked about Army’s philosophy, it reminded me of our call to be on Team Jesus.


The New Testament is filled with verses where Jesus asks us to do two things: Believe and Love. Intermixed with these callings is a clear message of service. I used to think of service as something that I needed to do in order to prove that I was worthy – to become eligible for God’s love and the ability to spend eternal life in heaven. During this time of my life, I did a lot of things that helped others. But, over time, my heart grew weary. I lost sight of the joy of giving as it became more like an obligation than a gift.

I’ve always viewed Jesus as my innate source of goodness, but it has taken time for me to fully understand what it means to be Jesus’ hand and feet. It’s not about an obligation to serve, rather it’s about taking His love into your heart in order to share it with others. It’s about abiding in Him. After all, you can’t be someone’s hands and feet without being a part of them. It is this intentional choice that brings us together as Christ’s body. It inspires us to belong to each other – to look outside of ourselves to share – to work toward the mission – to find the peaceful and joyous victory that our hearts seek.

We could call it by lots of fancy terms, but to me it’s walking with Jesus. He’s the coach and we’re the team. As his Holy Spirit guides us, we follow.  Together we make Holy Moments. 2Corinthians 9:7 reminds us that “God loves a cheerful giver”. Perhaps God loves a cheerful giver not just because He likes to see us smile, but because that is a sure sign that we’ve given our hearts to the One who asks us to be his hands and feet.

Last week I watched one of our Haymaker Cross Country teammates circle back during the “recovery” part of our interval workout to help someone who was struggling. This isn’t an unusual occurrence. Our athletes do a good job looking outside of themselves to be good teammates.  The concept of stronger together holds meaning for them. As I spend the fall season with the runners, I’m reminded of how simple it is to serve others with a joyful heart.

When Jesus takes up residence in our hearts, then our hands become His hands and our feet become His feet. Together we make the Holy Moments that help to keep the light burning.

 

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Courageous Faith…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week’s post comes from Galatians 2: 21

“I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless…”


I wasn’t going to write a post to share this week as we are going through some difficult times at home, and I am not yet able to share about them. But, here I am writing at 9:00 on Tuesday night as God has placed something on my heart. I opened my bible to read out of Galatians and the above partial verse jumped off of the page at me.

I love it when the Holy Spirit does that!

The more that I realize the depth of God’s love, the more I understand the vastness of His grace. When we walk through hard times, it is easy to be angry – to accuse God of not being there – to let frustration steal the peace that should live in our hearts. I’ve been tempted to do this, but God just keeps pursuing me. His steadfastness draws me in. It inspires me to lean into my faith instead of walking away.

Why?

Because Jesus shows up everyday. He is the ultimate demonstration of God’s grace and He uses the Holy Spirit to comfort and guide. He fills my heart with the courageous faith that inspires hope and grants the peace that passes all understanding. Even on the hard days – especially on the hard days.

He is there.

I write myself bible verses, quotes and sayings on note cards. I scatter them around the house and seem to find them on the days that I need them. A couple of weeks ago, I sat down and wrote: “Courageous faith is continuing to work with hope even during times of trial — trusting that God’s grace will carry me.” When we treat the grace of God with reverence and devotion and truly trust in it, then we are able to feel the full power of courageous faith. Its value is limitless.


 

I’ve experienced God’s grace often over the past several months. I’ve seen it in this goofy and loyal dog that has granted me company in the long days that I spent in the chair with a broken leg. I’ve seen it in my favorite farmer and our girls as they have circled in love and carried me when I failed. I’ve seen it in friends and those in our church family who have been there – waiting to fill whatever gap unfolds – supporting without question – and reflecting Jesus’ love with steadfast loyalty. I’ve seen it as I’ve continued to live, to coach, and to share my faith.

Sharing faith helps to create courageous faith. We are all meant to live in community. The more that I embrace that, the more I am able to experience God’s grace. Many times grace is found in giving – not in receiving. A grace-filled heart is a grateful heart. Grateful hearts make for cheerful givers. Cheerful givers spread God’s grace, even during times of trial.

Today I am thankful for God’s grace. I cherish the courageous faith that Jesus puts into my heart, and pray that in sharing it I can also help to spread His grace to others.

Thank you to all of you who have reached out in prayer and support for me over the past weeks. Please know how much I appreciate your kindness 🙂

 

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