Tag Archives: trust

The Third String…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of Luke 21: 1-4

The Widow’s Offering: “While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus said, ‘this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.'”


My favorite brunette is a student at Notre Dame University. Her daddy taught her to both love and understand the game of football from the time that she was a little girl. She’s a loyal Fighting Irish fan, and also works as a writing tutor on campus where she helps several of the football players with their studies. She traveled to the game in Chicago last weekend as the team took on Wisconsin, and managed to get an awesome seat in the first row. In the middle of the second quarter, we actually got to see her on TV πŸ™‚

My favorite farmer and I try to be “good Notre Dame parents”. As a life-long Husker, that’s a bit of a stretch for Matt but I’m proud of how he has embraced Ashley Grace’s dreams and the college family that she chose. As we watched the game, it struck me how seamlessly Notre Dame was able to transition from starting quarterback Jack Coan to third string quarterback Drew Pyne when injury plagued the Irish. Drew didn’t miss a beat when coach called him to the field, and his teammates clearly showed up to support him. They had a plan, they believed in each other, and they went to work. They gave everything that they had, and it was enough to lead them to a clear victory of 41-13 when the clock ran out in the 4th quarter. It was pretty clear to me that the Fighting Irish players were unconcerned with the “third string” label as they instead chose to value Drew as a teammate knowing that he was willing to give everything that he had as they fought together for victory.


Our church family is currently doing a fall study entitled “Experiencing God”. God’s placed many different things on my heart as we’ve begun this study, but I think that the most profound is a more complete realization of how much God loves each and every one of us. He doesn’t compare us or label us, instead he pours into us so that we can be in a deep and meaningful relationship with Him. I don’t think God calls any of us “third string”. We are simply the sons and daughters upon whom he bestows an unconditional love that leaves us baffled, yet blessed.

It amazes me what God can do through us when we let Him. He asks us for our love, our trust, our belief, and our obedience. He takes those things and puts them together to create light and goodness. He doesn’t count the coins, He values and empowers the heart that gives all. I am learning to not limit the God who loves me, and trusting that when He calls me to action that as long as I give my all, I will be enough. This helps me to be an active and energetic member of Team Jesus, ready to let God work through me whenever He calls my number πŸ™‚ I am more fully understanding that when I lean into Jesus, I cease to be the “third string” and begin being the one through whom God can bring victory.

When we give our all, it is enough. God blesses it, and then blesses others with it. Today, I am thankful to the Fighting Irish football team for allowing God to work in them and through them to help bring this message deeper into my heart.

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Our Covid Story…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from Proverbs 3: 5

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.”


Covid-19 found our family over the holidays. Meg was the first to decide that she didn’t feel very well. Ashley Grace and Matt were quick to follow. For the girls, it started with a sore throat and headache that came and went for days before escalating into full-fledged illness. As it progressed, they got pretty sick and we realized that it wasn’t just a cold. Matt was blessed and experienced a much milder infection. Honestly, if the girls hadn’t gotten so sick I’m not sure that we would have realized that Matt had Covid. All three of them rounded out the journey with a loss of taste and smell. Karyn and I ended up moving into the basement and wearing our masks all the time. As the other three came out of isolation at the end of their illness, Karyn and I both tested negative with neither of us developing any symptoms.

It was a strange time. A time with lots of uncertainty as we navigated sickness in addition to testing, CDC guidelines, and trying to figure out how to be a good neighbor. Β For me, these same days were also filled with moments when my heart swelled with gratitude as I watched God take care of us – little things each day that kept hope and peace in my heart, and inspired us to move forward in faith. Β I spent time in prayer, and walked lots of miles with both my family and our dogs. I am a firm believer that each day requires the “3 F’s”: faith, fresh air and fitness. “Coach Anne” melded with “Mama Anne” and Team Burkholder held it together.


There were many things over the course of the adventure that were unclear and perhaps even confusing.

  • Where did Meg get exposed to the bug?
  • Why did the older girls get much sicker than Matt?
  • Why did Karyn and I remain healthy?
  • Why was Meg’s testing experience inconsistent and more complicated than the rest of ours?

I could go on with the list, but what I learned over the past two weeks was that my own understanding, that human understanding, was not going to materialize. Our family has more questions than answers regarding Covid-19 even after going through the experience. The folks from the Nebraska Health Department were awesome to work with and super kind and patient with us, but they added to the list of questions rather than providing answers to ours. We are a house full of intellectuals. Truly, each of the five of us could easily be called “a nerd”. As my brain kicked in filling itself with “why’s”, I quickly realized that I needed to be intentional about “God’s Part, My Part, Other’s Part”.Β  As I did that, it became clear to me that I could trust in the Lord with all my heart instead of depending on my own understanding.


I spent a significant portion of my early adult life fighting against my need for Jesus. At critical times, I chose to stiff arm the faith that I felt in my heart in order to try to persevere on my own. I am so very thankful that I don’t do that anymore as this “covid journey” would have been much, much harder.

Recently, someone asked me why Jesus matters to me. The answer is simple: my life is better with Him. He makes me different. No matter what this earth throws at me, it’s better with Jesus. He’s my coach. He’s my Savior. He brings me hope as He carries me through this life and prepares me for Heaven.

I’ve found peace as I realized that I don’t have to understand, I just need to trust in the One that does πŸ™‚

 

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What kind of hope is in your heart?

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 1:18

“I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called — his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.”


In my mind, there are two kinds of hope. A hope that creates a wish, and a hope that inspires a confident expectation. If you take a moment to think about it, they are not the same thing. A wish is passive, while a confident expectation requires both trust and action. For example, our family has many Christmas traditions beginning with cutting down a tree on the day after Thanksgiving. In my girls’ minds, the hope to get to do these traditions together as a family is one of confident expectation. They don’t just wish to do them, they prioritize and set their schedules so that they happen.

Another tradition that we have is placing the home-made star (that my sister-in-law made us 24 years ago) on the top of the tree. For the past 20 years, Matt lifted one of the girls up to perform this cherished chore. Last week, the girls decided that it was Matt’s turn. They created a plan to work together to lift him up so that he would get a chance to place the star. The tree our family chose to cut down this year was over 9 feet tall so the girls had to get him quite a ways off of the ground. Their hope was not simply a wish, it was a confident expectation and they never doubted their ability to get it done. Matt never doubted it either. The trust that they had in each other and the value that they placed in achieving the commonly held goal ensured that they were successful. There was a beautiful joy created by this shared hope as they completed the task. I managed to get a video of it, and you can watch it here:


I think that sometimes our culture defines hope as more of a wish and less of a confident expectation. While that is likely a safer interpretation as it doesn’t really require either trust or work on the part of the believer, the effects of considering it that way severely restrict the benefits that it can offer. I don’t believe that Jesus intends for us to receive only wishes from our faith relationship with him. Rather, I think that Jesus calls us to share his active passion for love. He promises the endless supply of living water and light that will move through us to bless both ourselves and others.

There are many references to hope in the Bible and it seems clear to me that they all revolve around a confident expectation, one of belief, trust, and loving action. God’s definition of hope is not synonymous to a wish, rather it came to us in the form of the ultimate loving action: His gift of Jesus (Immanuel). As a result, it carries with it a need for the kind of trust which believes in a certainty of fulfillment.

What kind of hope is in my heart? What kind is in yours? I’ve thought about this often over the past three weeks as I’ve been substitute teaching at our local middle school. Do I carry the hope of Jesus? Is my heart flooded by the light that brings the confident expression of love? Do the students know how much I care about them? Do I have the kind of deep belief and complete trust that allows Immanuel to lift me up in order to place His star on the top of my tree?

These are the things that God is placing on my heart as we begin the start of Advent. I *hope* that as I celebrate the birth of our Savior, that I will trust and understand more deeply the ultimate spiritual gift that we celebrate on Christmas Day πŸ™‚

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Finding Optimism…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from Jeremiah 29:11-13

“For I know the plans I have for you”, says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord…


I moved from the city to the farm in June of 1997. Over the past twenty three years, I’ve come to know many farmers and ranchers in Nebraska, and (through volunteer work with the BQA program and the Beef Check Off) from all across the United States. A large percentage of our farmers and ranchers are people of deep faith.Β  Although these faiths stretch across a variety of Christian denominations, they carry a similar level of sincerity that just seems to flow naturally from the heart. At first I wondered what created such a unifying dedication and trust in the Lord, but I’ve now lived it for enough years that it is clear to me.

Living off of the land creates a unique perspective. It’s a life with many uncontrollable components, and one that is fiercely complicated yet basically simple. While the daily chores hold consistency, the circumstances surrounding those chores are ever changing. Sometimes the land yields to human tending, and sometimes Mother Nature chooses instead to teach a lesson in humility. Sometimes the markets move in favorable ways, but often the margins are slim and filled with financial risk. Despite detailed planning, things often change in the moment requiring both good problem solving skills and an innate optimism that ultimately everything will be okay.Β 

Last week we took steers weighing 600 pounds to grass. In typical Nebraska fashion, one day the temperature was close to 70 degrees but by Easter Sunday snow flurries buzzed about with 30+ mile per hour winds that reminded us of winter’s strong grasp. As winter and spring battled, I bought the cattle from a family with whom I have done business longer than my Karyn has been alive. I value them as friends and partners, so despite the crazy weather and dismal cattle markets I packed my faith and sealed the deal. The risk involved should likely keep me awake at night, but yet somehow I sleep.


The somehow is tied up in the above verses from Jeremiah, and I think it explains the deep faith and inherent optimism that exists within the heart of a farmer. When I care for my neighbors, my land, and my cattle, I believe that I honor the God that created us all. Through these actions, I am tapping into my “inner Jesus” – following the direction of the Holy Spirit and trusting the love that fills my heart. The Lord has plans for His people – for good and not for disaster, that will result in a future and a hope. I don’t know exactly what that looks like, but I know that God is with me and it’s my job to be faithful. When I pray, I believe that He hears me. When I look with my heart, I can hear a soft voice telling me that it is well.

A good friend has a saying that I often cling to, “When you can’t see His hand, trust His heart.”

As a country, we are in a time of great uncertainty with a diverse set of challenges. The list of “uncontrollables” is long, even by farmer standards πŸ˜‰ Fear seems to knock daily or perhaps hourly on our doors. While we can look to science for needed answers and tools, science won’t fuel our hearts. A courageous heart runs off of the hope and inherent optimism that Jesus brings. Today, I pray that each of us can deepen in faith to stay the course with optimism regardless of how difficult things are. Our heavenly Father asks us to believe even when we can’t see, to love with abundance, and to work tirelessly to care for one another!

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Prayer…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from Romans 12: 10-13

“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.”


I used to be afraid to pray. I was reasonably adept at reciting phrases that I’d learned in school and at church, but I shied away from truly opening my heart to God and trusting Him to hold me. While I don’t know exactly what fueled this fear, honesty requires that I admit that during some times of my life I have struggled believing that I am worthy of God’s grace – of Christ’s loving sacrifice – and participation in the mission to share it. I spent decades working really hard, but (when I prayed) I held a piece of myself back for fear that I would not measure up.

Instead of living in grace, I found myself caught in this cycle of clinging to belief yet drowning in bits of unbelief. I was like the father who brought his demon-possessed son for healing (Mark 9: 14-29).Β  The father believed enough to seek, but at the same time collective insecurity created an underlying level of unbelief that only Jesus could overcome. Interestingly, the last verse of the passage is Jesus telling to his disciples, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.”

Prayer is vital. It builds relationship. It builds trust. It fuels belief and brings the freedom to choose joy, regardless of circumstance πŸ™‚


I overcame my fear of prayer, by praying. By simply opening up my heart and sharing it with Jesus. I talk to Him. I share my day, my thanks, my fears, my desires, my faults, and my love.Β  As I’ve spent more time reading the Bible over the past several years, I have discovered God’s advice for prayer. He calls for us to pray with confidence, faithfulness, and dedication – regardless of circumstance. God asks us to pray boldly, fueled by the knowledge that He loves us and He listens.

I am currently reading a book called, Unquestioned AnswersΒ by Jeff Myers. He points out that when we pray we must be willing to do two things:

  1. To act on what God leads us to do.
  2. To expect God to move in the ways He has promised, rather than expecting that He will make things easier.

Myers says, “Military generals don’t long for opportunities to avoid the enemy. Rather, they request the equipment and personnel needed to obtain victory. Prayer is the same for us. God wants to give us everything we need to accomplish what he asks of us.”

I think that I used to be afraid to pray because I feared that I wasn’t important enough for God to remove the struggle when I asked Him to. Now that my prayer life has matured, I realize that I don’t actually pray for God to remove the hardships. Instead, I pray for God to give me the strength, the confidence, the hope, and the boldness to face the struggle head on knowing that Jesus steadfastly holds my heart. I’ve found freedom through prayer as I have deepened in relationship with Jesus.

Prayer ensures that we are never helpless nor ever hopeless. It prepares us to serve. As Jesus reminds us in the verses from Mark, there are kinds of struggles that can only be cast out by prayer. Perhaps this is because prayer is our ultimate source of strength and communication with the One who brings eternal victory πŸ™‚

Prayer may not change circumstances, but it shapes our hearts so that we can walk through the trials covered in grace.

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Faith over Fear…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from the book of Joshua 1:9

“This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”


I’ve probably shared this verse before as it is one that I have to be very intentional about. Fear is both very real and very powerful. Sometimes it keeps us from doing the things that we shouldn’t do, but often it keeps us from doing the things that we should. For me, the role that fear plays in my daily life is contingent on the strength of my faith. The stronger my faith, the less fear and worry affect me. Likewise, the weaker my faith, the more fear and worry wear at me.

The key question is: How much do I trust God and his love for me?Β 

Life is hard. Sometimes things happen that leave doubts in our minds as to the greatness of God’s power and his love for us. 2019 taught me that while I can’t change circumstances, I can choose how I react to them. I am in control of the attitude of my heart. Gratefulness is a habit that is fueled by hope. When hope comes alive, fear falls apart. I think Paul (in his letter to Romans 15:13) does an awesome job of addressing it:

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”


Over the past several months, I’ve experienced this on a deeper level. I decided to give my fear about my leg to Jesus. I handed it over in prayer, wiped the metaphorical dust off my feet, and quit worrying about it. I’ve gone back to living – packing my faith and knowing that with God all things are possible. I try to greet each day with an open mind and a steadfast dedication to trusting that Jesus is not just the best coach but also my biggest fan πŸ™‚

I still put in the work that I know will lead to healing, but I don’t let the daily pain and stiffness cause fear and discouragement. Instead, I focus on the freedom found in being strong and courageous. This week, I attained a couple of monumental stepping stones.

  • I rode my horse.
  • I ran a mile on the high school track.

I’d done neither since I fell and broke my leg, and many days over the past 14 months I have wondered if I ever would again. While I believe that time continues to heal my body, I also think that intentionally strengthening my trust in Jesus enabled my little victories. I stopped fearing, and started truly believing. Both riding Dandy and running were physically uncomfortable for my leg, but in my heart I knew that I could do them. I trusted that Jesus would carry me when I fell short, and that brought me a new level of strength and courage. Next time, it’ll be easier and hopefully someday it will become pain-free.

This week I am reminded that God asks me to be bold in my faith. As I give him my fear, He replaces it with courage. My girls have this saying, “Go big or go home.”Β I think that’s essentially what God is telling us in the above verse from Joshua. If you believe, you’ve got to BELIEVE — to live like you trust and be fueled by the hope that comes through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It’s rarely a comfortable process, but I’m not sure that we ever truly live if we don’t embrace it.

How can you be more bold in your faith this week?

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The Heart’s Desires…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from Psalms 37: 3-6

“Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.”


It’s always been a dream of mine to be a “mom”. One of the big reasons that my favorite farmer and I decided to move back to Nebraska was the desire to raise a family on the farm. As a farm kid with a MS in electrical engineering, Matt was likely “over-educated” for his professional choice. At the same time, my South Florida city roots and degree in psychology left me closer to the “under-educated” end of the spectrum. We were young and we followed our hearts, despite the mixed advice that we received from well-meaning friends and family.

When it came down to it, the question of whether or not we were appropriately qualified took a back seat to the strong call to follow our hearts’ desires.Β 

Twenty four years later, I look back and know that my heart did not lead me astray. Just as the God who put the call into my heart is trustworthy, so was my ability to find discernment and courage regardless of circumstance. The years have flown past, but the joy and the lessons proved bountiful. Together we learned to love deeply, to work passionately, and to respect each other and the farm that brought us all together. My girls can wield a scoop shovel with the best of them, and know how to work with a combination of smile and grit. They pack their faith well, fueled by servant hearts who look up for guidance and out to see those who are in need.


Life has stages and chapters. My girls are on the cusp of becoming women. Matt and I are in a new place that perhaps requires more trust and faith than when we decided to move from the East Coast back to the farm. Even though I know better, my heart is tempted to be selfish. It desires to hold my girls close even as I know that it is time to let God move them as He moved me all those years ago.

My favorite brunette sees her 21st birthday in 2020 and will spend more of the next twelve months abroad than in the United States. Teaching and mission work in Panama will fill her summer, followed by a semester living and going to school in Chile at the start of 2021. There will be a time this summer when all three of our girls will be in other countries doing mission work at the same time. As hard as it is to trust your own life to God, for me it is harder to trust the lives of my children. And yet, I know that it what I am called to do.

The Holy Spirit has been nudging my heart recently, reminding it of its job to trust and to share. On Friday morning at WayMakers, the middle schoolers acted out the Parable of the Three Servants (Matthew 25: 14-29) and we studied the purpose and responsibility of gifts or talents. Then, our Pastor reminded me on Sunday morning that blessings are meant to be shared. They are given to inspire selflessness, not selfishness. God loves a cheerful giver πŸ™‚ Sometimes the ask is hard.

I know that God did not bless Matt and I with our girls for us to hoard them and hold them tight. He blessed us with them so that they, in turn, could bless others.

As I read the above verses in Psalms last weekend, my heart received another reminder. All those years ago, I trusted in the Lord and we’ve lived safely and prospered on the farm for decades. God gave me my heart’s desire as I became a wife and a mom. Now, Jesus asks me to commit everything to Him, to trust Him and live in the center of His will. He asks me to let Him guide those beautiful girls so that they radiate like the dawn and shine like the noonday sun.

Who am I to say “no”?

So I trust.

And I pray.

And my heart fills.

And my eyes water.

And, I pray some more.

And, I am truly thankful for this journey: the times I’ve experienced, and the ones that I have yet to come. Joy is a courageous choice, one that clings tightly to the heart and is fueled by the hope, love, peace, and forgiveness found in faith πŸ™‚

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Doors and Boxes…

Wednesday Wisdom πŸ™‚


Inspiration this week comes from Proverbs 20: 5

“Though good advice lies deep within the heart, a person with understanding will draw it out.”


I have this plaque up on the windowsill in my girls’ bathroom. I bought it years ago when it caught my eye at our local drug store. My girls say that I have a goofy love for “one liners” and I maintain that they have served me well over the past 45 years πŸ™‚ I believe that mantra statements help to serve as “quick guides”, perhaps that is why I love the book of Proverbs.

To me, life is full of both doors and boxes, both of which require our attention as we go through each day. Doors open and close as life takes us through its maze, and boxes can either inspire or consume us when the pressure is on to check them off with accurate efficiency.

I used to laugh to my favorite farmer that running a cattle feedyard was a great fit for me. I was as much a creature of habit as my animals. It’s been more than 3 years since I closed down Will Feed and we tore out the old feedyard. I still miss some of those daily animal care chores, but I’ve come to appreciate the door (gate) that closed that cold day in January of 2017.

Over time, I’ve realized that God continues to open and close doors in my life as my heart changes and evolves. As Proverbs reminds me, good advice does indeed lie deep within my heart. I find it when I search for truth with an intentional focus on faith. This spring I will walk through a new door again as I retire from Progressive Beef. I am thankful for the opportunity to improve animal welfare in service to God’s creatures and I hope that my efforts were meaningful.

Looking ahead, we will continue with our farm’s spring/summer grass cattle operation. I am excited to once again immerse myself in the peaceful chores that go along with daily cattle care. I think there is a part of my soul that is drawn to the land and the cattle that symbiotically thrive on the Nebraska prairie. God willing, my leg will continue to heal so that I can play a role in that partnership.

Some of you may wonder, “What else is Anne going to do?” That is precisely the question that my girls asked me when Matt and I told them in December that I planned to end my tenure with Progressive Beef. The answer is simple, yet complicated – known, yet unknown. I am going to follow the advice given in the above Proverb.

To look deeply within my heart to draw out God’s guiding discernment as I begin each day.


My life is incredibly full and God steadfastly blesses me. Matt, our girls, our farm, and various opportunities to coach and volunteer in my community pull at my heart daily. I am going to embrace the freedom of being able to faithfully answer those calls. A few weeks ago, our youth pastor asked a question that continues to be on my mind:

What single thing can I plan to do this year that will matter most in eternity?

I haven’t yet figured out all of the details, but I believe that they are tied up in my ability to trust as I walk through the doors that God opens. To focus, not on the boxes to simply check off on the list, but instead on the people that He brings into my life. I hope that you all will continue on with me here at Feedyard Foodie as I begin the next chapter in May of 2020 πŸ™‚

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