Anne’s Blog

Why Relationships With People Are Greater Than Things

Why Relationships With People Are Greater Than Things

I saw a billboard recently that provoked my thinking about relationships. It read, “Lonely billboard….looking for a long-term relationship.”

It made me think about how little value we put into relationships. (A relationship with a billboard?)

Well, I must admit it is a clever marketing tactic. The message was clear. I knew what the sign meant.

The more I thought about it though, the more I began thinking about how shallow relationships have become and very often it’s because of our pain.

Many of us have lost our trust in people and we resort to connecting with things that give us a false sense of connection. Things like our car, home, food, sports, animals, shopping, our careers, ministry, and even a silly billboard! The list is endless.

We live in a society where real friendship and connection is replaced by things with no lasting value. Things were never meant to replace our human connections.

Things are not wrong and can give us enjoyment in this life but they will never satisfy our deep longing for connection. We were created to connect.

The problem is that we don’t want to interfere with others busy lives so we ignore the longing to connect and busy ourselves with things that may be important but have no lasting value.

A recent example of connecting happened as I was sitting in my courtyard enjoying my morning routine with a good cup of coffee and my time of meditation.

My next door neighbor was doing yard work. I watched for a while and kept thinking I should go over and help her. Her task was unending and I knew I could lighten her load by offering my help and equipment.

I nearly talked myself out of it because I didn’t know my neighbor. They had moved in a few months ago. Besides a quick introduction, I had never spent any time with her.

I wondered if she would be offended by me showing up to help out? Or if I offered my help would she tell me she would rather I didn’t help her? Would it make her uncomfortable?

After 30 minutes of the “should I” thoughts, I decided…why not? I put my work boots on, ran out to the shop, got the yard vehicle and drove to where she was working.

I’m describing the details to help you understand the effort it takes to be relational rather than staying in our own little world of “things.”

She smiled big and said, “I would love your help.”

Within about an hour we had completed her task. I was satisfied and she was delighted.

The best part of this connection was the next morning. She wanted to bring her special homemade carrot cake over for us. We met on my back porch and enjoyed a cup of coffee.

Two hours of sharing life and telling our stories left both of us feeling like we KNEW each other.

Since we met, we’ve talked several times and I truly feel like she would do anything at any time I was in need. She knows she can count on us as well. Her husband is in the military and she is alone for months at a time, which I didn’t know when I offered to help.

The beauty of connection is that it doesn’t cost a penny and it creates community.

When we connect, we build relationships that meet a need and longing we were created for. Healthy relationships satisfy our longing to be connected.

Being in a neighborhood where people know each other feels like my childhood days on the farm. The feeling of safety and security are only two of the benefits to healthy relationships.

I’m glad I decided to help my neighbor instead of going shopping and filling my life with more “things.”

Brene Brown says, “Being connected is what gives us meaning and purpose in this life.”

SO TRUE!


This article first appeared in Anne’s Weekly newsletter! To subscribe, click here. Each week, Anne sends a short inspirational email straight to your inbox. As a subscriber, you’ll also have first access to new events, books, and more! Click to subscribe.

 

Connection Over Isolation

Connection Over Isolation

There is a quote that has resonated with me over the years. It is, “Alone we die. Connected we live.” (Dr. Richard Dobbins)

I’ve lived this first hand and yet, being alone, or being in isolation, is a comfortable place to live when the pain is too much. Yet, we live in this place, hoping to deny what we feel. In the end, we die.

While at a recent speaking engagement, I shared my story one more time and I was reminded of how isolation plays a big part in how we respond to the pain we experience.

We all want to escape the pain of this life. When I have felt rejected, misunderstood, or just simply bad about myself, I resort to isolation.

I’m familiar with the trick of isolation. For me, I soothed myself by staying busy.

Being busy was a way to escape.

Being busy made me feel like I can make it through the day.

Being busy gave me a sense of fulfillment and confidence.

Being busy denied my pain and healing.

I experienced the nonstop busyness that was a result of my deep grief, despair, and depression.

After our sweet Angie died, talking about it was not an option for me. I had no one to counsel me through the trauma and grief. Silence became my response and staying busy seemed to be the right thing to do.

I discovered being busy kept me from feeling the loss. The problem was that as soon as I stopped, my feelings of grief were still there.

I would stay busy to numb my pain.

It took me seven years before I finally stopped long enough to go to a counselor. I stopped long enough to feel the pain that I had nearly forgotten.

I had stayed so busy that I had no memory about the details of Angie’s life, accident or her funeral. It took three sessions before the counselor could get me to say a word. I was locked up tight and thought I would never remember the accident.

When my counselor finally unlocked my feelings I couldn’t stop crying and my memory began working for me. After that session, I felt the pain of it all and didn’t know if I would survive.

This time I decided to wait it out and not busy myself. I sat with my feelings. It was like I was at her funeral for a solid seven days.

So much was revealed to me in that week and I began to connect with my pain. Remember, “what is not revealed, cannot be healed.”

After one week I began to embrace my memories. I began to feel and experience the memories again.

My husband says, “Our emotions are not meant to be judged. They’re meant to be experienced.”

I felt alive and I wanted to connect with my husband and our two daughters. I also felt more connected to my sweet Angie living in Heaven.

I began the very long journey of inner healing (there are no shortcuts) without the need to busy myself when the painful memories surfaced.

A lot of time has passed since my first visit to the counselor and God has walked with me every step of the way. Time and God truly have been my best friends.

When we live in isolation, we slowly die to all that is good. We can’t deal and we can’t heal.

If you feel isolated, find the courage within yourself to connect with someone that is trustworthy. Step out of isolation and begin walking with someone who can help you come alive. Find a professional counselor who will listen to your pain and give you new information that you need for a better way to live.

It’s up to you to take the first step out of your isolation.

You’ll LOVE your freedom.


This article first appeared in Anne’s Weekly newsletter! To subscribe, click here. Each week, Anne sends a short inspirational email straight to your inbox. As a subscriber, you’ll also have first access to new events, books, and more! Click to subscribe.

 

The Key To Staying Married

The Key To Staying Married

Recently, my husband and I celebrated 50 years of marriage! Marriage is a good idea. Marriage is Gods idea.

The best decision I made was marrying Jonas Beiler at nineteen years old. You may wonder how a teenager could even begin to know that getting married was a good choice.

I grew up in an Amish community where it was common for most to marry in their late teens and early twenties.

My mom and dad had modeled marriage and also taught me how to be a wife, mother, and homemaker. I never thought I was too young or that I missed out on anything life had to offer.

I had no college debt and no career to chase when we got married. All I wanted was to be a wife and have my very own family.

As is the custom of the Amish community dating is not allowed until the age of sixteen. I didn’t waste any time because I began dating Jonas in April of 1965, just three months after my 16th birthday.

We were married three and a half years later. On our wedding day, I was young, innocent, and knew nothing about the hardships of marriage. I thought we would live happily ever after. We promised in our vows to stay committed for better or for worse.

On my wedding day, I believed “better” and never thought about “worse.” My happiness was complete as we became husband and wife.

Within three years we had our first baby girl, followed by two more. I was living my dream as a wife and mother.

Fast forward to 50 years later. I cannot comprehend how that much time has passed so quickly and how much life we’ve experienced!

I’ve prayed, journaled, and written two books about my life that chronicles many of our successes and struggles as a married couple.

We’ve experienced the lows and highs, the sad and happy, the struggles and victories, the losses and gains, and times we were so distant from each other emotionally I thought we would not survive.

I remember times when I knew I did not want to grow old with Jonas. I couldn’t bear the thought of being stuck in a marriage I didn’t want to be in.

Those were dark and troubling years brought about through the disappointment of losing our second daughter, Angela.

But we survived and today I love Jonas in a way that far exceeds my expectations. As Jonas and I talked about our 50 years together as a couple we asked the question, “What was the key to staying married?”

His answer was simple. He was committed to marriage and worked hard to maintain it. He wasn’t willing to give up. He wanted our children to have parents and grandparents that loved each other.

My answer to what kept us together was different than his.

I stayed in our marriage out of sheer determination. I use the word determination because at one point I was faced with the choice to leave Jonas and my family because of my own failure to be faithful. When I decided to stay, it took sheer determination.

I began counting the cost and realized the price of leaving was too high. I remember telling Jonas that if he would still have me I was willing to stay and make our marriage work again.

He told me that he put too much time, energy, hard work, and prayer into our family to give up.

We were living out our vows, for better or worse.

We began the hard work of commitment and determination. This combination along with marriage counseling, lots of prayers together and unconditional love became our journey toward a completely restored marriage.

Our marriage is a miracle because we defied the odds. 95% of couples who lose their child as a baby or toddler end up in a divorce.

But our marriage is also a success because we worked tirelessly to become “one” again.

We experienced the miracle and success by helping each other, and depending on God when we were at the end of ourselves.

Jonas is the reason I had the determination to make it work because he loved me in a way I had never experienced from any other human being.

I believe we are married 50 years because Jonas loved me when I hated myself. He loved me when I felt unlovable, unchangeable and unforgivable.

The kind of love every marriage needs to survive is not flimsy, fickle or fault finding.

True love will love when everything falls apart.
True love will love when there is no loving response.
True love will love without expecting anything in return.
True love will love when everything says to give up.
True love remains a mystery to me. I have been the recipient of that kind of love and I’m still amazed by that.

Jonas will tell you that it takes two to work together to make a marriage successful. It’s what both of us did and that’s why we’re still one.

I am eternally grateful.

Marriage is a good idea.


This article first appeared in Anne’s Weekly newsletter! To subscribe, click here. Each week, Anne sends a short inspirational email straight to your inbox. As a subscriber, you’ll also have first access to new events, books, and more! Click to subscribe.

 

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

I don’t know about you, but excuses have kept me from moving forward in a number of areas of my life. I like to say that excuses are like toes, everyone has at least 10 of them.

Excuses keep us stuck from moving forward and reaching our goals. Since I talked about exercise last week, I thought I’d share my excuses for exercise as an illustration.

So, when it comes to exercise, here are my big excuses and some of my counter-arguments:

1. I don’t feel like it. This oftentimes wins the argument. This one really bugs me and is my current excuse for not running but I know I can change that.

2. I don’t have time. However, when I realize I have 24 hours a day and exercising only needs about 30 minutes, it’s doable!

3. It’s too cold.

4. It’s too hot.

5. It’s too rainy.

6. I don’t feel good. While not feeling well can be a fact for many people, the majority of us are well enough to do a little exercise. Exercise helps us to feel better.

7. I’m too tired. The worst of all excuses.

8. I just don’t like it. It’s boring. Then, find someone and make it a time to build a friendship.

9. I don’t have the money to join a fitness club. You don’t need any money to exercise. Go out your front door and start running or walking.

10. I’ll mess up my hair. Or I’ll get sweaty. Or any version of this excuse. I decided I would do most of my running in the evening when I knew I had plenty of time to shower afterward.

Bonus Excuse: I’m afraid of snakes. I’m not kidding. I live in the Texas countryside. This is a legitimate excuse!

When we moved to Texas five years ago, I knew by all the snake stories that running out where we live is NOT a good idea for me. I’m deathly afraid of snakes to the point I can not look at pictures of them and certainly not watch any live snakes on TV.

Even if I was never near enough to a snake for it to bite me, just seeing a snake cross the road would’ve given me a heart attack.

My fears were confirmed when my neighbor was bitten by a rattlesnake and airlifted to the hospital. He survived but could have died had someone not passed his house and saw him lying on his driveway.

Another time, my husband Jonas saw a big Rattlesnake cross our driveway. That meant I could not run out my long driveway.

I know there are plenty of valid reasons that keep us from reaching our goals but most are just flimsy excuses.

What are your excuses?

We all struggle with the same stuff in different ways but there really is nothing standing in the way of accomplishing what you want in life, except for ourselves.

There’s no magic wand that will make everything happen for us.

Only pure discipline and determination will get us on the path to the life we want.

An honest evaluation of yourself may be a good place to start. Grab a piece of paper and pen and honestly confess your excuses.

Write down all the things you want to do and then write the excuses that have kept you from accomplishing them.

An honest confession in written form or telling a friend is the beginning of real change in our lives. So why not call a friend, or ask your spouse to help keep you accountable?

Just take one step toward your goals today. Once you start, you’ll see how worthless your excuses are.


This article first appeared in Anne’s Weekly newsletter! To subscribe, click here. Each week, Anne sends a short inspirational email straight to your inbox. As a subscriber, you’ll also have first access to new events, books, and more! Click to subscribe.

 

Good and Bad Habits

Good and Bad Habits

Are you like me? Do you always have an excuse not to exercise?

Being healthy has always been important to me and after years of depression, I was determined to never allow myself to go there again.

We have the power to do a few things that will give us a better quality of life, like exercising. Good and bad habits can be formed and broken.

If you can find something you enjoy and build it into a habit you’ll find great satisfaction in doing it.

Today I took the high road and did a two-mile run. Before you’re too impressed I have to be honest and tell you, I’m not one of those marathon runners. In fact, I passed a man today who was walking and quickly said to him, “I’m not running a marathon!”

He smiled back as if to say, “I can see that.” 🙂

The truth is I run strictly for my own sake. (Actually, I really don’t run, I shuffle.) When I run, every step takes effort!

I never had the desire to run a marathon because I knew I would always be the last one across the finish line and I don’t enjoy competing. I’d rather just compete with myself.

For me, running is about paying attention to my body because I know it’s good for my health. I know what my body requires so that I can actually stay in shape.

I never thought I would enjoy running until about 15 years ago when my sister, Becky, would constantly ask me to run with her. We lived in the same neighborhood and I would see her pass my house on her run.

I had my excuses for her though! I’m too busy! My knee was giving me trouble at the time!

Those excuses were not good enough for Becky. She continued asking me to run with her. ( I finally caved after two years.)

As I huffed and puffed alongside her she encouraged me the whole way!

When I started my knee hurt and I could only run a few hundred feet but each run I did a little more. Before I knew it I was running a mile and then two and in a few months, my knee no longer hurt.

There’s an old verse I’ve known all my life that says, “Provoke one another to good works.”

My sister provoked me to do more than I thought I could. I committed to running every day. Rain or shine, ice, snow or bitter cold. I ran in 6-degree weather and loved every minute of it! I never missed a day even when I traveled.

It became my routine and my day was not complete without doing my run. It was one of my daily habits.

To create a habit takes 21 days. For me, those first 21 days were the most difficult but after that, it truly was a habit. (Thanks, Becky, for provoking me!)

One night as I was running up my hill I got off the snow covered road as a car went by. It was late in the evening and I stepped aside to be safe.

When I did I heard a twig crunch beneath my foot. Except it wasn’t a twig, it was a bone in my ankle! I still had a long uphill climb to my house. I had no cell phone on my person.

I didn’t have a choice except to hobble in the freezing cold. I walked because I had no other choice but quickly after making it home, I couldn’t walk another step. The next morning it was confirmed that my ankle was broken.

That was the end of my daily running I had enjoyed for a number of years. Breaking my ankle certainly wasn’t a hardship but it forced me out of my routine. I couldn’t believe one little misstep was all it took to mess up what I enjoyed for so long.

Good and bad habits can be formed and broken.

What I know about habits is once you’ve tasted a good disciplined habit you will always remember the benefits. That’s why today I still enjoy a good run.

Although I have to admit, I need to go back to the basics and start over by running for 21 days to rebuild that habit.

And I need to do it soon because my excuses are driving me crazy!

What about you? Any habits you know you need to form that you’re making excuses for? Try sticking with it for 21 days and see what happens. I’d love to hear about it.


This article first appeared in Anne’s Weekly newsletter! To subscribe, click here. Each week, Anne sends a short inspirational email straight to your inbox. As a subscriber, you’ll also have first access to new events, books, and more! Click to subscribe.

 

What Are You Planting in Life

What Are You Planting in Life

We’re in the middle of the summer season and fall is just around the corner. The fall season on the farm meant it was harvest time.

I learned at a very young age if we were to have a good harvest, planting the right seeds at the right time was a skill every farm girl needed to learn.

We planted many kinds of seeds – sweet corn, beans, carrots, red beets, spinach, squash, and more. Putting the seeds in the ground was actually the easy part of gardening.

After planting, there was plenty of work to do to ensure a good harvest.

One of the worst things about gardening was keeping the weeds under control. Weeding the garden was a daily chore we did as we waited for the sprouts to appear. Our garden was at least an acre, plus the acres of sweet corn and tomatoes we planted.

There were elements, like the weather, that was out of our control and determined how well the crops would produce. At times a storm would ravage the crops and that was a financial loss for the family.

One thing was certain, the kinds of seeds we planted produced exactly what we expected. We never had a crop of corn where we planted peas.

It was hard work but the reward of enjoying the harvest was worth it. I could hardly wait to pick a bushel of peas (my favorite) for dinner.

Reminiscing about seedtime and harvest reminds me of the importance of seed planting in relation to life and relationships.

Life is a garden. Your thoughts and deeds are the seeds. What you harvest will either be flowers or weeds. It’s up to you.

The kind of seeds we plant determines our harvest. It is within our power to have a beautiful garden filled with rich friendships, acquaintances, and deep relationships.

Planting seeds like love, kindness, forgiveness, tolerance, peace, and patience are some of the seeds you can plant. These will go a long way for the health of your own garden.

Just like planting a garden is more than hoping for a good crop, your garden of life takes more than wishing it was beautiful.

Planting your garden takes practice and intentionality.

Just like the weather or bad storms can ruin a crop, we also experience storms and hardships in life. We do not have the power to keep the storms of life from happening but we do have the power to bring sunshine to those who have experienced hardships. There’s a lot we can do to contribute to the well being of our family, friends, and strangers.

Seed planting is a task. Seeds do not plant themselves and someone has to plant them before anything can grow.

It’s the same in our lives. We need to be deliberate about planting the kinds of seeds that will produce a garden that satisfies.

Every year on the farm we started the routine of gardening all over again. The garden we planted last year didn’t automatically reproduce a new garden in the spring. (It was exhausting!)

The same happens in life. Last years successful garden doesn’t magically appear again.

So what does your garden look like?

Do you see more thistles and briars than flowers?

Sometimes we feel like we’re dormant, dead, and lifeless but start planting seeds again and you’re guaranteed new life.

Gardening is hard work and a takes a lifetime of learning.

Keep planting good seeds and you will enjoy watching your garden grow. It’s up to you what it will be.


This article first appeared in Anne’s Weekly newsletter! To subscribe, click here. Each week, Anne sends a short inspirational email straight to your inbox. As a subscriber, you’ll also have first access to new events, books, and more! Click to subscribe.

 

Human BEing Vs Human Doing

Human BEing Vs Human Doing

We are created as human BEings, not human DOings.

Yet we spend the bulk of our lives DOing and give very little thought to BEing. One of my lifelong struggles has been to simply BE instead of always DO.

I remember when I was first challenged by the thought of BEing.

The year was 1991 and we had started Auntie Anne’s Pretzels about three years prior. By this point, I was completely exhausted. The demands of this fast-growing company were more than I could DO even though we had committed, qualified, and loyal employees.

The responsibility of it all rested squarely on my shoulders. God had entrusted us with a simple pretzel which turned into more than just a pretzel.

It became about managing, leading, and DOing more than I was physically capable of.

One morning I was feeling completely overwhelmed with my to-do list because I knew there were not enough hours in the day to complete it all.

I fell apart and crumbled to the floor.

My siblings came to my aid and I assured them I was okay but I knew I could not keep the pace that I thought was required of me.

They were kind and gracious and did the best they could to make my load lighter. (I’m grateful for my siblings.)

At that time I had no knowledge about BEing. I was hard-wired to DO because I grew up on a farm and it was all about doing a task and doing it well.

During that time, my standard answer to anyone who would ask me how I was doing was, “I’m doing great and things are going well!”

But on one particular occasion, my pastor at the time wasn’t giving into my standard response. I guess my presence and demeanor were obvious because he then asked me again, looking squarely into my eyes:

“How is Anne Beiler DOing?”

He knew the difference between DOing and BEing. He clearly knew my task was overwhelming and that I could not possibly keep doing all I was doing.

My tears flowed and I told him that I can’t do it anymore.

“I can’t build one more store. I can’t make one more trip. I can’t do one more meeting. I am at the end and I’m exhausted.”

His response and words of wisdom to me that day changed the future of who I would become.

He asked, “Have you ever thought about using your gift?”

I didn’t know what my gift was and didn’t understand what that had to do with anything. He was surprised because he knew what it was. I was ALL ears!

He helped me understand that my gift was to inspire and encourage. I was puzzled because it didn’t seem like a gift. It seemed more like something I did naturally.

I learned that day that your gift is what you were born with. God gave it to you to use and it’s something that comes naturally. Your gift needs to be developed and you have a lifelong opportunity to use it.

The revelation that day set the tone for me to lead from a different mindset. Before that day it was all about DOing the task. After that, it was all about BEing the very best that I could BE.

The external life of DOing was all I knew at that time, but that’s the day the internal life of BEing became clear to me.

If it’s all about the external life of DOing we will miss the beauty and the joy that comes from the internal life of BEing.

Take some time to reflect on your internal life. When your internal life is at peace, your external life will be as well.

And, if you have not discovered your gift, it’s never too late.


This article first appeared in Anne’s Weekly newsletter! To subscribe, click here. Each week, Anne sends a short inspirational email straight to your inbox. As a subscriber, you’ll also have first access to new events, books, and more! Click to subscribe.

 

The Story of Angela’s House

The Story of Angela’s House

Two weeks ago I was sitting in my chair.

My chair beckons me to come and sit awhile. It seems Jesus sits there waiting for me to join Him. In my chair, my heart and mind are always able to focus more clearly on His presence. I’ve grown to love my chair.

It’s there I meet Him, sense His presence, meditate, pray, talk, cry, think and imagine. It’s where I’m able to focus more clearly on all the ways God has led, guided and directed my entire life. It’s where I’m able to find strength, courage, and confidence to press on when I feel like caving to the pressures of life.

I heard a statement by TD Jakes sometime ago. He said, “When nothing seems to be going right in your life, when you’re exhausted and there are no answers, simply sit still and wait. Sit until you can trust He is with you.”

It’s what I do when I sit in my chair. I focus on trusting Him.

Back to what I said at the beginning. Two weeks ago while sitting in my chair I was telling God I wish I could be a hands-on helper to children who are lost, neglected, used, abused, homeless, hungry, and without parents. For years, I’ve dreamed of a home for girls that have suffered this type of trauma.

My prayer may have come about because I see so much need and abuse and my heart fills up with compassion.

Having compassion and doing nothing about it seems so empty.

It’s not that I don’t do anything at all but what I do seems so small because the needs are overwhelming. I’m like many people I know. We give financially to those who are the boots-on-the-ground. The people who are compassionate and making a difference.

These people build the children’s homes. They rescue children from human trafficking. They travel around the world drying the tears, loving them, giving them food and shelter. They give them education and teach them there is a God who created them and loves them.

As I was talking to God and lamenting about my hands off compassion I got up from my chair trusting God would show me something new.

The very next day I received an email from a recent connection I made with Advancing Native Missions (ANM).

They requested Jonas and I come to speak at a dedication for a children’s home they were opening in Thailand. The date was September the 8th.

It struck me the dedication was on the anniversary of our sweet Angie going to her forever home. I gave it some thought and concluded, with regret, we could not make the event.

Our friend at ANM went on to say that after reading my book “Twist of Faith” he realized the day of the dedication for the children’s home was the anniversary of Angie’s passing. He and his wife were in tears as they realized the date of the dedication coincided with Angie’s date.

He felt like it was not a coincidence and asked if we would allow them to name the home after Angela.

Angela’s House.

My eyes began tearing up and then tears rolled down my cheeks like a stream. Immediately I remembered my prayer.

God orchestrated the answer to my specific prayer within two days.

Angela’s House is my boots-on-the-ground halfway around the world in a village among the hill tribes of Northern Thailand.

Our sweet Angie lived on planet earth only 19 short months but has left an impact on my life that I cannot put into words. My vocabulary is too limited and the levels of this experience through the years at times have left me speechless.

I know Angela is more alive than I am and so it should come as no surprise her life is still making an impact. This one just blew me away and then filled me with overflowing joy.

Angela’s House is a literal building for little girls who are used, abused, have no food, no parents and no one to tell them they’re loved.

Angela’s House will give them all they need in this life and they’ll discover there is a God who cares for them and they can know Him.

They will meet Angela in Heaven one day.

And I hope that one day I’ll look back and realize, this was God’s way of allowing me to be the boots-on-the-ground.


This article first appeared in Anne’s Weekly newsletter! To subscribe, click here. Each week, Anne sends a short inspirational email straight to your inbox. As a subscriber, you’ll also have first access to new events, books, and more! Click to subscribe.

 

Expectations, Experiences, and Prayer

Expectations, Experiences, and Prayer

I heard a great reminder recently. It was simply that when your “experience” does not line up with your “expectation,” God is trying to reveal Himself to you.

My experiences have truly revealed God when my expectations were not met. (And I admit I am guilty of high expectations.😊)

I can say with confidence that God DOES reveal Himself through our life’s experiences.

In 1970, I was a young wife with our first baby on the way. I had not yet experienced the highs and lows of real life experiences.

My “expectation” was simply that God would reveal Himself. I had a full-blown belief that God will give me “whatever I ask, whenever I ask, according to His will.”

During that period of my life, I received many answers to prayers and witnessed many miracles.

However, my faith journey has had its ups and downs. It’s easy to be up when you pray and the answer seems to instantly be on the way. What messes with me are the prayers that seemingly go unanswered.

Now after many years, I have learned unanswered prayer simply requires surrender. The trials and troubles of my own life have given me a more patient expectation about God answering prayers.

In our humanness, we expect specific answers to the prayers we pray and when we don’t get relief through prayer and doing all the right things, many times we go to alternative methods. What we experience is temporary relief.

Eventually, the grief, tears, and pain of life take its toll on our body, soul, and spirit.

Once again, we cry out for relief.
We ask God for peace.
During the dark nights of our soul, we sigh.
We ask God to hear and answer our prayers.

What I didn’t know back in 1970 when answered prayers seemed to be “just a prayer away” was that it is necessary to know pain. It’s in our pain that we experience the nearness of God and we learn to connect with others in pain.

I know now that there are no simple answers to the complexities of life but I still pray in faith believing ALL things are possible. I pray because I believe God hears my prayers.

I’ve lived a lifetime of praying and hoping. I’m sure I’ve complicated many prayers by asking for too many things that are more about answered prayer than about knowing God. When my prayers go unanswered, I hope anyway. When my expectations are not met, I pray anyway.

My experience has proven to me that prayer may not be instantly answered but I know that when we pray God hears.

I know He is near to us…
when we grieve,
when we sigh,
when we cry,
and when we wait.

As we wait for answered prayer, we experience God and that in itself is answered prayer.

Remember, when your “experience” does not line up with your “expectation”, God is trying to reveal Himself to you. Anticipate that God will reveal Himself to you as you wait for your prayers to be answered.


This article first appeared in Anne’s Weekly newsletter! To subscribe, click here. Each week, Anne sends a short inspirational email straight to your inbox. As a subscriber, you’ll also have first access to new events, books, and more! Click to subscribe.

 

The Garden of Life

The Garden of Life

We’re in the middle of the summer season and fall is just around the corner. The fall season on the farm meant it was harvest time.

I learned at a very young age if we were to have a good harvest, planting the right seeds at the right time was a skill every farm girl needed to learn.

We planted many kinds of seeds – sweet corn, beans, carrots, red beets, spinach, squash, and more. Putting the seeds in the ground was actually the easy part of gardening.

After planting, there was plenty of work to do to ensure a good harvest.

One of the worst things about gardening was keeping the weeds under control. Weeding the garden was a daily chore we did as we waited for the sprouts to appear. Our garden was at least an acre, plus the acres of sweet corn and tomatoes we planted.

There were elements, like the weather, that was out of our control and determined how well the crops would produce. At times a storm would ravage the crops and that was a financial loss for the family.

One thing was certain, the kinds of seeds we planted produced exactly what we expected. We never had a crop of corn where we planted peas.

It was hard work but the reward of enjoying the harvest was worth it. I could hardly wait to pick a bushel of peas (my favorite) for dinner.

Reminiscing about seedtime and harvest reminds me of the importance of seed planting in relation to life and relationships.

Life is a garden. Your thoughts and deeds are the seeds. What you harvest will either be flowers or weeds. It’s up to you.

The kind of seeds we plant determines our harvest. It is within our power to have a beautiful garden filled with rich friendships, acquaintances, and deep relationships.

Planting seeds like love, kindness, forgiveness, tolerance, peace, and patience are some of the seeds you can plant. These will go a long way for the health of your own garden.

Just like planting a garden is more than hoping for a good crop, your garden of life takes more than wishing it was beautiful.

Planting your garden takes practice and intentionality.

Just like the weather or bad storms can ruin a crop, we also experience storms and hardships in life. We do not have the power to keep the storms of life from happening but we do have the power to bring sunshine to those who have experienced hardships. There’s a lot we can do to contribute to the well being of our family, friends, and strangers.

Seed planting is a task. Seeds do not plant themselves and someone has to plant them before anything can grow.

It’s the same in our lives. We need to be deliberate about planting the kinds of seeds that will produce a garden that satisfies.

Every year on the farm we started the routine of gardening all over again. The garden we planted last year didn’t automatically reproduce a new garden in the spring. (It was exhausting!)

The same happens in life. Last years successful garden doesn’t magically appear again.

So what does your garden look like?
Do you see more thistles and briars than flowers?

Sometimes we feel like we’re dormant, dead, and lifeless but start planting seeds again and you’re guaranteed new life.

Gardening is hard work and a takes a lifetime of learning.

Keep planting good seeds and you will enjoy watching your garden grow. It’s up to you what it will be.


This article first appeared in Anne’s Weekly newsletter! To subscribe, click here. Each week, Anne sends a short inspirational email straight to your inbox. As a subscriber, you’ll also have first access to new events, books, and more! Click to subscribe.

 

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