Tag Archives: perseverance

Find your grit…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂

Today’s scripture comes via my favorite brunette who blessed me with this verse from Psalms on my birthday last week. Psalm 46:5

God is with her, she will not fail. God will help her at the break of day.

I love this verse for a variety of reasons. It speaks to the grit and determination that a successful life requires while at the same time reminding us that we do not travel the journey alone. I’ve experienced more than 20 years of sunrises on the farm. Each morning, I pause for a moment at the break of day to notice the beauty around me.

My memory book is chocked full of “dawn moments”, but likely the most poignant was the morning that I lost my steadfast partner. I arrived at the feed yard to read bunks and exercise calves a few minutes before six. My cowboy met me at the gate with a grim look on his face. I expected him to tell me that we’d had calves get out, — I never expected him to look at me with a tear in his eye and say, “Studly’s gone.”

There are animals that come into our lives and change our hearts. Studly was one of those. A big quarterhorse with a streak of loyalty that perfectly complimented his goofy personality, Studly brought a daily chuckle to my life. He was a bit lazy, but you could always count on him to take care of you while you were taking care of animal chores.

I loved that horse.

The day that I lost him was a hard one.

It’s been more than four years since that morning and I still blink back the tears every time that I think about it. The afternoon before, we left an apparently healthy and strong horse happily munching prairie hay. That morning, my cowboy found him lying dead in the pasture. With no sign of struggle, the vet diagnosed a heart attack as the culprit and I told myself that I should be glad that he didn’t suffer.

Life goes on — especially on a farm — where daily chores ensure that animals remain healthy and thrive. Death, even the death of a beloved partner, does not stop the chore process so I pressed on. I had a newly arrived group of cattle that I was acclimating, so I pulled my eyes from his unmoving body and forced my feet to walk away.

I exercised calves that morning with tears streaming down my face, telling myself over and over again to focus and move on. I wanted to crawl in a hole and bawl my eyes out, but I packed my faith and let God carry me through the day.

Dealing with loss and disappointment provides perhaps one of life’s hardest challenges. Learning to cope and press on provides a critical step on the journey. As I’ve gotten older, I have come to understand that I do not fail. I persevere because God has my back and faithfully fills the gap for me. He props me up on the hard days, and then sits back with a big smile on his face as I dig deep to find the strength to continue.

He is the master of balance — providing just the right amount of support — with a loving hand and a compassionate spirit.  

Each break of day brings opportunity.

Each sunrise brings the promise of peace and grace.

And as the sun crests the horizon, I remind myself that I only need to reach for it in order to fill my heart with the quiet strength of perseverance and the steadfast grace of walking with God on the journey.

It is particularly meaningful for me for my daughter to chose this bible verse to share with me. Her gift fills my heart with the knowledge that she gets it. And wherever her life takes her as she begins college next fall, she understands the need to grip tenaciously to the knowledge that God will never let her fail. He will help her at the break of each day and together they will persevere with greatness.

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Ashley Grace’s Heroic Journey…

Thoughtful Thursday

Heroic journeys, myths that tell the story of heroes, played an important role in early culture by inspiring and unifying the people.  My favorite teenager was tasked with writing her own heroic journey story this summer as part of the Duke TIP program at Trinity University.

On this Thoughtful Thursday, I challenge each of you to think of your life as a heroic journey and find inspiration in your own perseverance…


The Story of Me

            December 9, 1999.  It is a cold, snowy day, or so I am told.  In Cozad, Nebraska, Anne and Matt Burkholder are waiting for the birth of their first child. The baby, who has already tried to enter the world a few months earlier, has the umbilical cord wrapped around its neck, and the doctors order a C-section. Three weeks early, I am born at about 5:30 P.M.

My life had begun.

            I was a bossy child. Being the oldest, I spent my first 2 ½ years in a household where I was the queen. My world was rocked when my parents brought home my sister; again the world shook 3 years later. Shortly after my youngest sister was born, my mom was diagnosed with Graves Disease, an autoimmune disorder that caused her thyroid to produce its hormones too fast. Six year old Ashley was suddenly thrust into a world of responsibility; a world where I was the one cleaning and taking care of the kids while my dad worked. All I remember from this period was the house always being dark so that my mom could rest.

            Once she recovered, my mom threw herself into making up for the lost time. I did every sports activity offered in town. I participated in Destination Imagination, a program where teams are given problems to solve and they make a skit to display the solutions. I did speech and essay competitions galore. We went to Kenya for Christmas one year, where I learned not to take my life for granted.

            In seventh grade, I was allowed to do school sports. I soon fell in love with Cross Country, and have learned so many life lessons pounding the pavement of Cozad. I participated in HAL mod, where we took the ACT, and did Quiz bowl and History Day. Last summer, I went to the UK with my grandma, which prepared me for spending long amounts of time away from home.

            In January, I got an envelope from Duke TIP inviting me to come to a summer camp. That was really my herald, bringing the possibility of an adventure. I was all for it, but my grandma and guidance counselor/cross country coach had to convince my mom first. She finally said yes, and six months later I walked through the doors of Prassel Castle, not knowing what to expect.

            My plane had been delayed, so I arrived late. Consequently, everyone was at Orientation and I sat alone in the back. Afterwards, I didn’t know anyone, so I went back to Prassel inconspicuously following a group of girls, but not quite walking with them. I felt so alone. Once I was introduced to my RC group, however, I rebounded quickly. My roommate, Leah, and my entire group have become good friends and allies.

            The first day of class, I was so nervous that I wasn’t going to be as smart as everyone else. I had been having nightmares that I would get sent home because of my inadequacy. Of course, I soon learned better, and began to really enjoy class. Miss Wiley has become a sort of mentor, because she made me realize how powerful I am and that I can change the world.

            Running consistently has been another struggle I have faced here. The morning runs didn’t start until four days after camp began, and I stressed about whether I would be able to achieve 200 miles this summer. I have also had trouble setting my alarm, so I have not been able to go to every run. This experience has certainly taught me to be more responsible!

            So far I have tried so many things I never thought I would get the chance to, including, but not limited to, authentic Mexican food, Ultimate Frisbee, yoga, and brick painting. I also have an awesome tutu to show for this summer, and I can’t wait for the TIP-Sync competition and Tiger Fest.

            I think that my shadows on this trip have been my own demons. It has been my own insecurity or self-doubt that have plagued me during this adventure. The threshold guardians have in some way, been my family. My youngest sister would not let go of me as I climbed into the car, and my mom’s teary eyes almost made me give up.

            In the future, I hope these trials will have made it possible for me to graduate high school, (valedictorian, please!) and go to a good college (possibly Stanford, or an Ivy). I want to work with underprivileged children as a teacher and friend, in this country or others. Hopefully, I will get married and have children, and be as good of a mother as mine was for me.

My story has just begun.


Filed under Ashley Grace's Corner and The Chick Project..., General, Thoughtful Thursday

A Legacy of Strength…

Fourteen years ago today, I entered the world of motherhood.  After a battle of wills that lasted about 16 hours, Ashley Grace entered the world three weeks early weighing 6 pounds and 3 ounces.  I have wondered many times over the past 14 years which one of us is more tenaciously obstinate—I believe that the jury is still out

We make quite a pair...

We make quite a pair…

Motherhood has proven to be both my greatest joy and my greatest challenge.  Balancing discipline and guidance as my girls journey their way through childhood and adolescence provides an ongoing personal search for me.  While I love my girls unconditionally, I know that it is my duty to raise them to be strong, hard-working, and compassionate young women.

They also make quite a pair...

They also make quite a pair…

Ashley Grace is a wonderful enigma and, every once in a while, I find the need to step back and marvel at this child that is such a part of both Matt and I.  The take-charge personality that is so much like me, combined with the intellectual mind that is so much like Matt.  Add in the quirks and sarcastic humor that make her uniquely Ashley Grace, and the result is a fascinating package.

Worn with pride as she realized success through hard work and dedication...

Worn with pride as she realizes success through hard work and perseverance…

Whether she is running her heart out on the cross country course and the basketball court, or dazzling me with facts and philosophical ideas that her sponge-like mind seems to absorb at an astounding rate; I thank God each day for the ability to share my life with her.

A good brain and a love of learning earned her national honors in the Duke University TIP program...

A good brain and a love of learning earned her national honors in the Duke University TIP program last spring…

Three days from now, my favorite teenager will climb the steps to the pulpit at Bethesda By the Sea Episcopal Church and to read at her Granddaddy’s Memorial Service.  She will do this with both grace and composure despite the fact that she will look out amongst hundreds of family members and friends as she shares from the book of Revelations.

Bethesda By The Sea Episcopal Church: Palm Beach, Florida

Bethesda By The Sea Episcopal Church: Palm Beach, Florida

Her innate sense of compassion and self-confidence will lend her strength as she takes an active role in the celebration of the tenacious man who will always hold a special place in our hearts.  This act of selflessness will be performed out of love and respect for her grandparents—both the one that we say goodbye to, and the strong woman who will now persevere through life without her husband of 45 years.

I know that as I watch Ashley Grace give this gift, my heart will warm as my dad smiles down with pride.

Handing down his passion and skill for fly fishing...

Handing down his passion and skill for fly fishing in his beloved Absaroka Mountains…

It will be a beautiful continuation of the legacy of strength that was born with the life of her Granddaddy…


Filed under Ashley Grace's Corner and The Chick Project..., Family, General