Anne’s Blog

Dealing with Regrets

Dealing with Regrets

In my travels as a speaker and sharing my story, I have the privilege of hearing many people’s stories. One of the lines I hear a lot is “I regret that…”

Regrets can lead to sorrow and leave us a bitter person or we can rise above them by finding a better way to live. Our regrets can actually motivate us to change or cause us to freeze in time, powerless to make any choices that would give us a better future.

ALL of us have some regrets. (It’s only human.)

I remember as a kid in second grade, I thought I would be funny and hide my shoe in a clump of grass so that I could stay outside longer when recess ended and look for my shoe.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize there were clumps of grass everywhere and I forgot which clump was hiding my shoe! My teacher knew I was being a bit sneaky because I finally came into the schoolroom with only one shoe on. I regretted hiding my shoe and being embarrassed as I was late for the class. Today that seems like a silly regret with no big consequences.

As we get older, the regrets get deeper and are endless:

  • I regret not making good choices…
  • I regret being unkind to my family…
  • I regret marrying someone out of need and not love…
  • I regret not spending more time with those I love…
  • I regret exploding with anger toward my children…
  • I regret leaving my spouse…
  • I regret being a person that others cannot rely on…
  • I regret being too busy to live in the moment…
  • I regret missing out on things that really matter…

Regrets are like quicksand. They keep pulling us down into a mire of self-loathing. To live a life of self-satisfaction, we have to stop doing and saying things that we will regret.

I believe that when we do have regrets, we need to admit them. To admit regrets is simply taking responsibility for my actions instead of blaming someone else for the bad feelings I have.

I truly understand the difficulty of admitting regrets but I have learned the beauty of transparency. Confessing our regrets is a healthy way to move forward so that the regret no longer keeps you tied up in knots.

One of my greatest regrets in my life was neglecting my children emotionally because of my own grief.

There is no one on planet earth more important to me than my three daughters but the years slipped away and before I knew it they were all grown up. I had spent far too many years checked out.

Because of this, I’ve spent many years rebuilding emotional bridges. Little by little, I keep making progress.

The regret of hiding my shoe pales in comparison to the real-life regrets I’ve experienced but it IS possible to make peace with your past regrets so that you can enjoy today and actually look forward to tomorrow.

I’ve said it many times: Live your life in such a way today so that you can look back in a year, two years or ten years from now and say, “I have no regrets.”

My own regrets truly motivated me to change my future and today I am satisfied by living a “regret-free” life one day at a time.

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.


Doing the Little Bit

Doing the Little Bit

Do you ever feel like you can’t make a difference? Many times we see the needs around us and it feels like “too much.”

Our families, communities, churches, and society at large are overflowing with people who need to be loved and cared for. I am overwhelmed by the emotional pain of society and many times I feel if I can’t make a big difference then I can do nothing about it at all.

The truth is that we can do something if we get out of the way. We tend to be “self” centered rather than “others” centered. Our very nature is about “me first.” (Or maybe it’s just me.) But if we step outside of ourselves, we can discover the joy of doing a “little bit” on a daily basis to help others.

I was reminded of this recently while sitting at a concert. I was enjoying the music, the people and the spirit of it all. Towards the end, a lady came to the front row to take pictures of the artists.

At first, I was a little annoyed because she was invading my space. (Honest confession alert!) However, I noticed by her emotional response how much she was enjoying the music.

My friend who was beside me began conversing with this lady and in a minute she told her story.

In a whispered tone, he shared with me how this lady drove from Arizona to Tennessee for this concert. Just one month ago, she buried her 41-year-old daughter, who died in her sleep of natural causes leaving three children for this grieving grandmother to raise.

That’s all I needed to know. My heart broke and like a dam, the tears began to flow. Suddenly I had great compassion for this lady and felt the need to comfort her in a “little” way.

I sat beside her and simply put my arm on her shoulder, not saying a word. (We often try to fill the silence with unnecessary chatter.) Her tears flowed like a river as I sat by her.

I felt her deep pain at that moment and there was nothing I could say to comfort her. I was speechless. We had about 45 minutes together which is a very short time to comfort someone with such deep grief.

That’s when I remembered how bearing one another’s burdens is a “little bit” that makes a big difference.

I learned more about her story. Her only daughter had bought them tickets to this concert and they were planning a mother/daughter trip together.

After her daughter passed away, she struggled with making the trip but was encouraged by her friends and family to go.

As we finished our hugs, tears, and conversation she said to me,“Thank you for taking time to care for me. I think I came here for this moment.”

I was stunned because I hadn’t done anything except hug her but that was the “little bit” she needed. It was a much-needed reminder to me to do what we can.

The grief and strength of this woman is one I will always remember.

When you think you can’t make a difference, remember this woman and do the “little bit.”

What is the “little bit” you can do today?

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.


Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way

Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way

I recently visited my family in Arizona to attend Trinity’s, my oldest granddaughter, graduation ceremony. It was a special time that reminded me that with hard work and determination, and the support of others, we can overcome anything.

Let me explain what I mean…

I clearly remember the early school years as Trinity would want to read to me. She was so eager to read me a book but because of dyslexia, she couldn’t. Instead, she would page through a book and pretend she was reading. I would sit and listen as tears welled up in my eyes realizing she couldn’t read.

After struggling every day with learning even the basics, she was finally diagnosed in 3rd grade as being dyslexic. The teachers recognized her disability and did a very simple test that revealed her dyslexia.

I was somewhat aware of dyslexia because Jonas, my husband for those who don’t know, is also dyslexic. The difference between Jonas and Trinity is that he didn’t discover his dyslexia until the age of 32.

He suffered all those years wondering what was wrong with him. He thought he was just a “dumb Amish-man.” Which is sadly something that was he was told. As a result, he struggled with low self-esteem for many years.

Trinity’s teachers went into action and gave her the tools and educational therapy she needed to work through her dyslexia. (What a difference a teacher can make. The dedication of teachers who truly care for their students is a gift to our children. Their impact goes far beyond what we can see.)

She worked hard to overcome this disability and with the support of her teachers, the trajectory of her life changed.

Her determination, hard work, and support from her teachers were revealed her sophomore year of high school. Trinity told me she was tutoring students at her school. I was impressed 🙂

She asked me to guess who she was tutoring. I was clueless.

She was tutoring kids with reading disabilities!

Trinity was one of the 3.7 million high school graduates in 2018. But what’s more impressive, she graduated as a Salutatorian and summa cum laude!

Her graduation was meaningful because of her love of learning and working very hard. I couldn’t have been more proud as she gave a speech at her high school graduation.

My heart swelled with pride as I instantly reflected back to the time when she was pretending to read to me!

I don’t know what limitations or disabilities you may be facing but I do believe that with support and determination, you can overcome. Maybe you will never be free of it, but you can learn to manage and find ways to be successful despite it. (I often hear Jonas “talking” to his computer as it transcribes what he says. It’s one way he’s learned to overcome his dyslexia and still show up in life.)

I’ll end with the old saying many of us have probably heard: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

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.


Anticipating Change

Anticipating Change

Many of us don’t get too excited about change unless we know there will be no pain and everything to gain. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, “no pain, no gain”. Sometimes change can cause great pain and so we decide there will be no more changes for me.

We come into this world and we change with each passing day. It’s expected of us to change. We are encouraged by our parents, teachers and those who love us, to learn new things every day.

As a child, we anticipate and welcome change. If you’ve forgotten, just ask a four-year-old how old she is. I remember when my grandson was four years old. He was full of excitement about the changes he is making and the plans for his future were limitless. He had a clear understanding that he will need to grow in order to do all the things he wanted to do. If you asked him how old he is, he would tell you he is four and a half and very soon he will be five. He goes on to say that when he is five he will go to school and when he is six he’s gonna ride a real motor cross bike. His mind knows no boundaries!

As a child, change was necessary. As adults change is still necessary, however, we begin to think differently about change. We resist it, argue against it, and wish we could go back to the time when changing was exciting. But no matter how hard we resist it, change is inevitable. And necessary.

To live is to grow and to grow is to change.
Everything that is living is growing and no matter how old we are we should continue to explore, dream and learn. Learning is growing.

After nearly six decades on earth, I don’t get as anxious about change as I once did. I get comfortable with it very quickly. I like to change and grow. It’s exciting to learn something new. When it comes to change, I want to relax, sit back, and enjoy the ride.

When we were building our company, Auntie Anne’s, we grow rapidly in numbers and have experienced a lot of change over our fifteen years. Some of the changes were very difficult, some painful, some exciting and yet, all the changes enhanced my personal growth. I often say, “if we want to grow professionally, we must grow personally”. One without the other is lopsided and unhealthy.

We need to learn to anticipate change, which means we actually expect it, instead of fear it’s arrival. It’s a lot like an experience on an airplane. We buy our tickets, get comfortably seated, sit back and enjoy the ride. (At least most of the time.) We may unbuckle, find a comfortable position and possibly take a nap.

In order for us to get to where we want to go, we know we will have to land. We know our nap or our comfortable position is short lived. The pilot will announce the landing and the flight attendants will prepare the cabin. The anticipated change is that we will buckle up, put our seats in an upright position, our tray tables up and locked, all because there is a change ahead. As frequent fliers, we always anticipate the change for landing. It may be bumpy, windy or downright scary, but without the change, we would not be able to get to our destination.

It’s the same with life and growing as individuals. We will not be able to get to our destination without constant changes. Some of the changes may be uncomfortable, scary and even bumpy, but if we can learn to anticipate change we will have a safe landing and our destination will be exciting!

What changes can you begin to anticipate in your life?

The Release That Comes from Forgiveness

The Release That Comes from Forgiveness

There is a small painting that I have of a lion and a lamb. They are sitting together, staring off at something we can’t see. They sit side by side in a field of tall grass. Whenever I see this photo of the Loin and the Lamb, I think of forgiveness.

There is a passage in the Bible, found in Luke 6, that says, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

When the Bible was translated into the English language, there were at least 16 considerations for the word forgive used in Luke 6:37.

  • Relieve
  • Let Die
  • Put Off
  • Break
  • Release
  • Pardon
  • Put
  • Away
  • Destroy
  • Dismiss
  • Let Go
  • Set at Liberty
  • Dissolve
  • Depart
  • Loose
  • Loosen
  • Melt

As you can see, this is a wide variety of words. I think if it were done today there would be a much greater choice of words and who knows where it may have landed.

As I considered these choices the word release seemed like a good fit. Release, and you will be released. This understanding of the scripture helped me to personally be able to release those that have hurt me. I’ve been able to let it go.

Going back to the photo, when I quietly view this image it speaks something to me that is hard to explain. I think about what inward characteristics have changed that gives these two animals the ability to lay down together? Whatever was hostile before is peaceful now. The appetite for one to eat the other is gone. The fear of being mutilated or slaughtered has passed. The stage is now set where both can be at peace. (Now, whether they ever do anything together would be a matter of reconciliation.)

Releasing those that hurt you empowers you to go beyond the initial hurt and lead a productive life again.

To release the men that perpetrated my family was a difficult process, but as I worked through my thoughts and feelings, with the help of my counselor, today I’m in a much better place. I didn’t forgive because I felt like he needed or deserved my forgiveness. I released him because it’s the only way to get the pain and anger out of my spirit.

What do you need to release so that you can be released yourself?

The Ongoing Work of Confession

The Ongoing Work of Confession

I just read my very old devotional “God Calling” which I have used since the year 2000. In it, I have little notes about events that were significant to me at the time.

As I was reading, I noticed a note I wrote in 2006 that talked about having deep concerns because of the raw truth of my life being revealed as I began writing my first book, Twist of Faith. I was having sleepless nights and anxiety just thinking about what others may think of me after they read my story. I guess I was surprised as I read the notes in my devotional because 2006 marked 30 years after my abuse began.

The truth is our choices and behaviors have far-reaching effects and to face them takes courage.

I’m glad for the notes I kept because they remind me that the journey of confession is a long process and it’s difficult for women to tell their stories.

In 2006 I had already dealt with all my stuff and I was well on my way to a life of freedom from secrets. The process was difficult and many times I wanted to run away from my own pain. (Which, by the way, how do you do that? It’s really impossible!)

The lie we believe is we can self-medicate to relieve the pain but the truth is when the medication wears off, the pain is still there and hasn’t subsided. It seems like over time the pain increases rather than decreases.

In 2006 I was no longer living with any secrets and yet to expose my life through my written story was still a very high risk and emotionally draining!

Today, as I reflect on the note I had in my devotional, I am reminded of the delicate emotions of a woman living with secrets and how frightening it is to be open. In the beginning, it almost feels like you’re somehow imposing on another’s life when you begin to tell. It almost takes your breath away or you feel like you might collapse because of the anxiety you feel when you begin to talk. It’s easy to talk about being transparent but it’s hard to become transparent. When you take a step towards transparency, it will provoke anxiety just like I had when I started writing my book.

The question is, what do you do with your emotional pain? If over medicating doesn’t give you permanent relief, what will? There really are no other options except to share your story and our tendency is to do anything but that.

If you do not tell,
You cannot be well.
But as you reveal
You will be healed.

In my past, I did all the wrong things. At the very top of my list was never talking about what’s really going on in my life and never taking any responsibility for my thoughts and behaviors.

If I didn’t talk, that meant I kept ignoring how I felt. If I stayed busy enough I could actually forget my pain. Being busy was my medication of choice. It had no side effects. (Or at least I thought it didn’t.) The truth is the side effect of silence is a slow death to being fully alive.

Dr. Richard Dobbins says, “The tragedy is not in dying but what dies inside of us while we live”.

That’s exactly what was happening to me. In my silence, I was dying a little more each day. As I reflect on my journey toward healing I clearly see the miracle that came from my pain – A life of freedom and purpose! It was certainly not a supernatural miracle that happened with a quick prayer of faith but I still consider my freedom a miracle. I live in my miracle every day with a grateful heart because God gave me the ability to be strong and courageous.

What happened to you may not be your fault but how you respond to it becomes your responsibility.

We can either use the victim card and stay stuck in our pain or we can use our God-given power to respond in ways that will lead us to a life of purpose. Years later, it’s still hard for me to believe all the ways I hurt the ones I love the most. There are still thoughts of remorse I feel for the pain I caused. My life of abuse took me down a path of selfishness and inflicting pain on my family for which I could not forgive myself for many years.

Today I am able to remember it all without going into a full-blown state of depression because I have learned the secret of walking in the light. In the light, I see things clearly and there is no place to hide or isolate.

My husband says, “The rich things I’ve learned from the worst days of my life makes me thankful for the memory of them.” The memories connect me to all the places in me that we’re extremely sad, or happy. I am able to remember them with my emotions intact instead of a walking dead person with no emotion.

Your mind forgets nothing! It’s an amazing thing. Reflecting on your past is a gift God has given us. Today I can remember it all without feeling the pain and that’s the miracle.

This lifestyle of confession is a lifelong journey and cannot be exhausted.
Yes, my journey has been long and difficult at times and I wish I could give you a quick fix solution. On the other hand, I wouldn’t exchange my life for a pain-free life because today I see the beauty of my entire journey.

I look back over my life and see the times God clearly held me and carried me. I know He is truly a God who comforts the broken-hearted, helps the weak and forgives all my sin. As I remember my life, I remember my God.

An Introduction to Forgiveness

An Introduction to Forgiveness

There is not a one-size fits all approach to forgiveness because the magnitude of offense is different from situation to situation. So, when attempting to explain the how-to for understanding or applying forgiveness, I immediately question the magnitude of the offense a person experienced. Larger offenses where life is changed forever cannot be treated the same way as small things that we can easily overlook.

The goal of forgiveness is to get to a less painful place after you have been hurt, to diminish the stress, anger, and other negative side effects unforgiveness brings. Below are a few principals about forgiveness to help us understand forgiveness a little better.

Forgiveness is a choice.
Forgiveness is a conscious choice we make through our volition, motivated by freeing ourselves from the bondage of unforgiveness. The direct result of forgiveness is peace within and peace with God. But remember, a direct result is not always instant.

Dealing with the emotional aftermath is a process. Depending on the magnitude of the offense, working through the experience of what happened could take a long time. You start by sharing with a friend something simple like, “I’m struggling with this but I choose to forgive.”

Forgiveness is something you do for yourself.

It has nothing to do with the one who caused the offense. Forgiveness does not change the perpetrator or the one that committed the crime, but it can help releases the hurt of your past. Remind yourself occasionally you’re not doing this for the person that hurt you. You’re doing it for yourself. Self-care is not a selfish thing; in fact, taking care of yourself so you can reach your God-given potential is very important.

Healing Begins When We Share
Helping others with forgiveness is not as difficult as it may seem. Simply allowing people to share their story is the beginning of the healing journey. As a counselor, I would initially get people to tell their story. The things that seem to be deep in our spirit and trouble us from time to time begin to have a less destructive influence on our lives when we find somebody we can talk to and open ourselves up to.

Forgiveness is not reconciliation
We have to make a separate decision about reconciliation. Whether to reconcile with the person we are forgiving or keeping our distance is something that you have determine yourself because to be reconciled is a cooperative effort of more than one party. Don’t allow reconciliation keep you from forgiving. Forgiveness is not ignoring, disregarding, tolerating, excusing, overlooking, or closing one’s eyes to the mistakes and hurt of another person. You have to remember that forgiveness is something we do for ourselves, not something we do for others.

Forgiving Doesn’t Mean Forgetting
I steer away from using phrases like “forgive and forget” because there are very few times that applies. Oftentimes, we forgive because we cannot forget.

Learning to forgive is hard work but when you begin to understand some of the principals of forgiveness, my hope is that it will become easier with time.

Embracing The Winter Seasons of Life

Embracing The Winter Seasons of Life

Living most of my life in Pennsylvania. I’ve always enjoyed the four seasons and have very fond memories of the winter season. However, after a few months of playing games, enjoying outdoor activities like ice skating, sledding, and drinking lots of hot chocolate we always began to look forward to spring. The cold temperatures, snow, and high winds began to dwindle and as quickly as winter came it disappeared.

Just as nature has a winter season, we experience winter in our lives.Sometimes the season may seem harsh and cold but we can always look forward to Spring.

We often need connection with others to get through the winter seasons of life. Sitting by a fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate and a friend gives us the courage to hope for a better tomorrow.

One of my fondest memories was when my mother lived with me during the “winter season” of her life. When she first came to our home she was 92 years old. My mother was so tiny and fragile, weighing a little less than 70lbs. We settled her into her very own room full of windows and lots of sunshine. I didn’t know during this season I would experience a love for her that I never knew I had. A nurturing kind of love. Maybe the same kind of love she had for me when I came to live with her as an infant?

Every night, we would tuck ourselves into bed with the covers pulled up around us. We snuggled, giggled and talked for the five months she lived with me. We talked about all the things we never had time to talk about. We would laugh and sing old songs she taught me as a child.

Although her memory was fading she always wanted to talk about family and often ask the same questions. We never had deep conversations but we connected deeply. Many times she would look into my eyes and simply say, “thank you.”

When I took the time to ask her questions about her past she had the ability to tell stories with great clarity and sing songs to me her mother taught her. It was during this time we talked about the seasons of our lives. I felt like we were two little girls getting to know each other.

I knew she was in the winter season of her life and on any given day, her final season on earth would end. I knew she was going to Heaven, a place where the sun always shines. There was no need to pack because she had already prepared for this season. She had prepared her heart to face death and she knew Heaven was her next and final season.

As she took her last breath I could not comprehend the moment. As quickly as her winter season had come, it was gone. I am grateful beyond words to have been able to sit with my mother during her winter season.

Our lives are full of many seasons. There are some we cherish and some we wish to forget. The beauty of changing seasons is that no one season last forever. If you’re in a winter season and feel like it’s never ending and harsh, take a moment, sit by a fireplace, and call a friend. Find a connection with others no matter what season you’re in. Be sure and have a cup of hot chocolate ready to enjoy, engage in good conversation, and as you do, hope will spring forth in your heart.

A new season is just around the corner. Are you ready?

Forgiving In the New Year

Forgiving In the New Year

Most of us have experienced things in the past year that we need to forgive so we can start this year with a clean heart. However, the old mantra “forgive and forget” needs a refresh because while forgiving is possible, forgetting is not.

I love the quote, “We forgive because we cannot forget.” That makes more sense to me than trying to forget.

Going into the new year, what is it you would like to forget?

It’s amazing to me how hard we try to forget things that hurt us or things we’ve done to hurt others. Dr. Richard Dobbins says, “Our mind is an amazing miracle of Gods creation. It forgets nothing.”

Even as I’m writing I am remembering a number of times in this past year that I have said or done hurtful things to others. Even though I’ve apologized I still remember. When I remember it again, I forgive myself. I’m determined to always be mindful of my behaviors.

The new year gives us time to reflect and learn from the experiences we had.

I am not a great fan of new years resolutions because I’m not able to keep them for very long. I am a believer, however, in reflecting on my past so I can keep from making the same mistakes again.

As you begin this new year, let me encourage you that forgiveness is the right thing to do. It is good for our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health even though it can be difficult to forgive. Forgiveness is a choice and something that all of us can do. It doesn’t come automatically though.

Choosing to forgive has benefits that will help you through this new year and will keep your slate clean throughout the whole year.

Life is a journey and there are things that will happen that may cause you pain. When that happens, and you are able to forgive, then healing becomes your journey. Live your life today so that when you look back in one year, you will have no regrets. You may not be able to forget, but you always have the option to forgive.

Away In A Manger

Away In A Manger

Most likely the first Christmas carol I ever learned was “Away In A Manger.” It’s a favorite of many, although it was originally a children’s hymn.

Did you know there was a misconception that the lyrics of “Away in a Manger” were actually written by Martin Luther? We actually don’t know who authored the song but we do know that the music was composed by William J. Kirkpatrick in 1895.

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying He makes.
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven, to live with Thee there

I don’t remember my Mom teaching me that song. I actually don’t remember my Mom teaching me how to sing at all, but I’ve always known that song. It may well have been the first lullaby that my mom sang to me as she rocked me to sleep.

Dr. Richard Dobbins says that the strongest form of teaching is through role modeling. In other words, what we do as parents are more important than what we say. What Mom did every day of my life, which I remember clearly, was to sing no matter what she was doing. Her singing instilled into me the importance of having a song in your heart.

We had no radios, record players or television, which meant we entertained ourselves. Because Mom role modeled singing, at Christmas time, caroling is what we did. To this day I love Christmas carols and start playing Christmas music the first day of December each year.

Away in a manger paints a sweet picture of the birth of baby Jesus. When our grandson Ryan was three years old he became intrigued with manger scenes. Anytime he saw a manger scene, in a book, on TV, on an ornament, framed picture on a wall or any type of manger scene, he would stop and gaze at the manger.

I had one displayed in our home and he would stand and stare at it for long periods and at times I would hear him say, “there’s that baby again.”

I would tell him the Christmas story and sing “Away In a Manger” just like I learned it as a child. Although I never quite understood his intrigue with the manger scene, I believe the Christmas story stole his heart as a child.

I can’t imagine Christmas without singing this song. Listen to it, learn it and allow the words to transport you back in time to the manger scene in Bethlehem when unto us a child was born.

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