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Holy Moments…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week comes from the Gospel of John 12:36.

“Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.”


A friend of mine recently gave me a book to read. It is entitled The Biggest Lie In The History Of Christianity by Matthew Kelly. It’s a great read as it covers an incredibly significant question – As Christians, can we find purpose and strength as we live in God’s grace under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in order to share Jesus’ love with others? What an awesome way to envision the Trinity working within us so that we can become children of the light!

The heart of the book is about what Kelly calls creating Holy Moments. A Holy Moment is simply 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.  Holy Moments fulfill multiple purposes as sharing love not only brings joy to the heart of the giver, but also creates an intentional mindset of kindness that allows ordinary moments to be touched with God’s holy hand. Perhaps the best part is that Holy Moments are contagious – causing a cultural shift toward stewardship and service as Jesus’ love creates common ground and fellowship.


Last week on the pool deck, our character lesson was “It’s the little things that matter most.” I truly believe that the little things matter to God, as the Bible is more than 1000 pages full of details. From the Pentateuch and the history of God’s people to the Book of Proverbs, the Old Testament clearly shows us that good daily habits play a vital role in our Christian journey. Jesus then reminds us repeatedly in the New Testament that he is most interested in our hearts – in the sincerity of our desire to take his hand and live in the light through Him.

I spend a good part of the summer hanging out with more than 50 swimmers. From the middle of May to the middle of July, we spend 6 days a week together learning how to be a skilled team. I used to think that teaching them correct strokes and how to work hard was the most important thing that I could do as a coach. Today, I view each practice as an opportunity to impact their hearts – to help them to realize that every day is filled with chances to make Holy Moments.

Our team is a great group of talented kids who generally finish each season with medals hanging around their necks. But, I’ve come to understand that the medals that will impact their lives the most aren’t the ones that hang around their necks after our Championship Meet – They are the ones that God hangs on their hearts each day that they chose to live in His light. Holy Moments show us that the little things matter. They demonstrate that good daily habits create a faithful focus. With each Holy Moment medal that God places on our hearts, our relationship with the Holy Spirit becomes stronger. Pretty soon we spend our days searching for ways to share Jesus’ light and become better versions of ourselves.

I think that sometimes we get stuck thinking that Jesus’ mission is too big for us. I used to withdraw into myself during those moments driven by a lack of confidence. Today, I intentionally chose to pack my faith to team up with God’s grace. As I take His hand, He holds my heart – together we make the Holy Moments that bring light to the world.

As our 2019 swim team season draws to an end this weekend, I pray that each one of the swimmers internalizes this lesson and builds the daily habit to answer God’s call to become children of the light.

 

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Worthy…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week comes from John 14: 27

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


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

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

Am I worthy of the win?

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

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

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

Why girls?

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

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


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

I cannot. But, God can.

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

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

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

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

 

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It’s okay to not be okay…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


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

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


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

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

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

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

#43: It’s okay to not be okay.

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


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

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

I’ve not hidden that from my children.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Nothing is insignificant…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the gospel of Matthew 3: 13-15

Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?”

But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” 


After I moved to the farm in 1997, I quickly learned that when you care for farm animals that it is the little things that matter most. Daily chores are a constant, and the quality of life for the animals is directly correlated with the quality of your workmanship. Nothing is insignificant. 

I think that one of the things that allowed me to find success as a cattle caregiver is my dedication to detail. If it affected the welfare of my animals, then I placed a priority on it regardless of whether or not I truly understood it. In the early 2000’s I delved deeply into “prey animal psychology” so that I could learn to think like my cattle. It led to a fascinating journey in mental and emotional health that continues to inspire me daily.

I’ll never forget the looks on my farm crew’s faces when I told them that I was going to start exercising cattle as a way to allow the animals to find a higher level of comfort on our farm. The expressions of bafflement might have been comical if I had not been so passionate on the topic. I knew in my heart that caring for God’s creatures involved a deeper level of commitment. Over time, my guys all became believers as the changes in animal care that I lead them on allowed for improved cattle health and well-being.


As I read Matthew 3, I can picture the look on John’s face as Jesus seeks to be baptized by him. It might just have been similar to the looks of bafflement that I received from my feed yard crew that day that I introduced them to cattle psychology 🙂 A lack of understanding can often lead to a human response of disbelief.

Why would the Son of God need to be baptized?

Because God required it.

Despite the fact that John did not really understand why he was being called to baptize Jesus, he preformed the action because God asked him to. He faltered a bit and needed Jesus to kindly remind him of God’s call, but together they moved in faith. If you read on further in Matthew we are told that “After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water; the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”

What happened when God’s call was faithfully answered?

Blessings followed obedience and the act of faith resulted in Jesus becoming fully equipped with the Spirit of God for his earthly journey. Something that seemed unnecessary in human eyes played a critical role in God’s plan for Jesus and ultimately for us.


How many times do we fail to respond to something that God has asked of us because we do not fully understand it?

  • Perhaps it scares us
  • Perhaps it baffles us
  • Perhaps it seems insignificant as a result of our lack of comprehension

I know that this is something that I need to work on daily. For me, the vital part of walking with Jesus to fulfill God’s mission is found in the intentional commitment to answer the call; regardless of whether or not I understand it. It is the belief that nothing that God asks us to do is insignificant.

It’s okay that we can’t see the finish line —

what matters is being faithfully committed to the journey.

 

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The Power of One…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week’s Wednesday Wisdom comes from Hebrews 10:23-24.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.


I think that this picture personifies the above scripture verse from Hebrews. Three very special people in my life who encourage each other to hold strongly to their faith — trusting God while also motivating each other to acts of love. They don’t always get it exactly right but watching them persevere inspires me.

Being a mother to them both humbles and honors me.

My heart wishes that my favorite brunette could have been in the above picture, but her presence is there — reflected in the love of her siblings — as we travel the journey together as a family.

We are closing in on six months of Joseph joining our family. It has been a time of great joy and also one of great challenge. Both hills and valleys have marked the adventure, but we are discovering the power of one. Interestingly, this is the motto of the Haymaker 2018 Football Team. Just as the team discovers how powerful one unified team is on the field, our family also discovers it off of the field.

It is very different to welcome a 17 year old as a son. Joseph was virtually a stranger to my family when I brought him home. We shared almost no common experiences, had made no “childhood memories” together, and brought very different life experiences to our perspectives.

  • He spent his formative years in a war-ridden country on another continent, fleeing by traveling on foot more than a thousand miles in search of safety.
  • My girls spent their formative years in a small rural town in peaceful Nebraska where “scary” meant watching Curious George be captured by the man with the yellow hat.
  • English is his 4th language and the culture of his home people holds very little in common with the traditions that we practice in the United States. Despite that, he speaks with fluency and is currently completing Honors English and American Government in the classroom.
  • My girls (and Matt and I) struggle to even pronounce his last name correctly — being unable to make our tongues create the gutteral sounds of the Zophei dialect of Chin. I encourage him to lead our nightly dinner prayer in his native language and regret that I am not savvy enough to truly understand his words.

We share a common christian faith, but our customs are as different as our skin color.

Why are we together as one? God called us to be a family.


Just as God is a relational God — always seeking a closeness to us in our daily lives — we are meant to exist in community. We are all made in His image, yet we are all unique. It takes patience and empathy to truly celebrate that diversity. He calls us to be a family — reflecting His love with our actions and searching for that same love in others.

I’ve learned many things since Joseph joined our family, but likely the most important lesson is that love trumps all.

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

1Corinthians 13:7

It allows us to experience “The Power of One” as we come together to create a community that radiates God’s love. It is possible for people of different cultures – different visions – different perspectives to come together and join as a family.

Perhaps it is God’s principal calling for us. I know that it has been a transformational experience for our family as we trust in God’s promise and motivate each other to acts of love in the spirit of togetherness.

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Faithful in the little things…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


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

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


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

22 years later, my eyes shine even brighter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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She Believed!

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week comes from Ephesians 3:16-18

“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is.”


For me, living with grace allows for my faith to be stronger than my fear.

There are many things in life that can bring fear to our hearts and minds — for example, new experiences, worry over how others view us, and concern for those that we love. For competitive athletes, races – meets – and games often bring a new level of fear.

Physical toughness and dedication to training play a huge role in an athlete’s success. But, victory requires more than just physical fortitude. Mental toughness and emotional/spiritual fitness often dictate continued success on the athletic journey.

“Am I good enough?”

How often do each of us ask that simple question? Four words that represent an 800# gorilla that can ride heavily on our backs. Recently, as the District Track meet approached, I watched doubt take hold of my favorite blonde cowgirl. Hampered by a pulled quadricep muscle that stubbornly refused to completely heal, Meg’s confidence plummeted and fear threatened to override the faith that lives inside her heart.

She struggled as a christian athlete.

I searched deeply to find the right words to share. I found them in the above verses in Ephesians 3.


As her mind healed, her leg seemed to follow suit. Two days before the Nebraska State Track meet, Meg looked at me and said:

“Mom, I’m good. I’m ready for Burke Stadium — I’m ready to compete.”

The day of the Class B Pole Vault competition @ Burke greeted us with gloomy skies that offered periodic cold rain showers. But, I knew that Meg was ready. I could tell from my seat in the stadium stands that nothing could dampen her fire. She carried God’s guidance in her heart with Jesus’s confident love flowing deeply in her body, and the Holy Spirit’s inner strength surrounding her as she journeyed into competition.

They delayed the Pole Vault competition twice due to hard rain: once during warm ups and once close to half way through the event. Meg didn’t miss a beat. She vaulted perfectly — not once missing until after she had already won the competition by clearing 11’2″ on her first attempt.

Her mind was calm.

Her soul was on fire.

Her body responded with strength.

I cried as we watched her realize victory. The joy in my heart came not from the gold medal that she proudly wore around her neck, but from the sparkle in her eyes that told me the depth of her faith.

She was good enough. God carried her when she needed Him the most and the end of the journey brought magic as she believed.

 

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Faith Is a Muscle…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration from today’s Wednesday Wisdom comes from the Gospel of Luke 16:10

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


This week my favorite brunette and my favorite blonde cowgirl will compete at the Nebraska State Track Meet. While I am incredibly proud of both of their accomplishments, the joy that fills my heart mostly stems from the knowledge that they will get to continue as track teammates for one more competition.

One more opportunity to learn to compete with grace. 

Twenty one years ago, when I held my first “coaching job”, I clung tightly to the competitive spirit that marked my own athletic career. I focused on teaching all of the little things that help to bring athletic success:

  • Hard Work
  • Dedicated passion for the sport
  • Developing the competitive mental mindset that allows for physical success on game day

Coming out of an athletic career where I trained for up to 5 hours per day, I was well versed in what it took to be both mentally tough and physically strong. I was faithful in the little things, and found success both in the pool and on the Cross Country Course. I understood the what but, as I matured, I struggled with the why.

Although I did the little things correctly, I never truly comprehended that I was traveling God’s journey. As a result, on race day I lacked the confidence and peace that came from a strong faith. I didn’t understand that when I accepted God’s call, He traveled the competitive journey with me. It was my job to work hard and compete with passion to bring Him honor — It was God’s job to carry me through the stress of competition that sometimes threatened to overcome the peace in my heart.

I never learned to give it to Him.

As a result, my fear was often stronger than my faith and I never truly competed with grace.


When I think of what I most want my girls to experience in athletics, it is the art of competing with grace. I believe that faith is a muscle. It strengthens as we use it. It requires trust, obedience, and intentionality to grow. I never really understood that until I ran a half marathon last fall. I competed in thousands of races over more than three decades before I finally got it right.

The first step is faithfully doing all of the little things, but it doesn’t end there — that is simply the beginning.

Blessings follow obedience

Megan asked me recently how I know when I pack my faith to compete with grace. For me, the answer lies in my heart. When I step up to compete with grace, the intensity of competition blends with a peaceful heart as I know that I am where God called me to be.

There is confidence that comes from obedience – From knowing that you are fulfilling God’s purpose with your actions.

That is how you compete with grace.

As both a mom and a coach, I find that I now live by a new definition of mentoring with my athletes. While my teaching still includes faithfully putting in the work and doing the little things, perhaps the most important lesson that I teach my kids is to believe that their competitive journey is a part of God’s calling for their lives.

Our job is to work hard and move our bodies with passion. God provides the guidance that leads to peace and confidence. When we learn to trust — to obey — to lean — it is then that we intentionally build the muscle of faith that brings us success on the journey.

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