Auntie Anne Beiler is a speaker, author, and entrepreneur that inspires audiences with her authentic stories about nearly losing everything, finding purpose in the pain, and rising to a new level of success. It’s hard to walk though a major US airport or shopping mall without seeing Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. She and her husband parlayed her successful business into funding for their hometown Family Center to promote mental, physical and spiritual health. But life was not always pretty.
Jonas and Anne Beiler collapsed when a farm tractor struck and killed their young daughter, Angie. Anne’s pastor, whom she approached for assistance, sexually abused her during her first counseling session. The abuse continued for years as her marriage deteriorated. Eventually, the pastor was dismissed from the church and the Beilers began repairing their relationship. As he saw wise counsel benefited his own marriage, Jonas wanted to help others by offering free counseling services. To support Jonas’ vision to help others, Anne bought a concession stand in 1988 at a busy farmers’ market in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. Their soft pretzels were a hit and Auntie Anne’s Hand Rolled Soft Pretzels was born.
Anne’s work to support Jonas’ dream morphed into what became the world’s largest hand-rolled soft pretzel franchise. Accolades for her entrepreneurship recognized her efforts to inspire, serve and give. Today the Beiler’s Family Center partners with community organizations to offer counseling, healthcare options, education, and more. Anne credits God with sustaining her, quoting King David in the Psalms, “For you God are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory.”
“We all need that hiding place,” she affirms. “The reason I never wanted to tell anyone about the secrets in my life was that I was ashamed, and afraid, and scared that people would no longer love me. So I tried to hide my ‘stuff’ from everyone. But this kind of hiding only made it worse. … Confession allows us to hide in God and be surrounded with songs of victory and not floodwaters of judgment.” Anne now lives in Texas with her husband, Jonas, and she travels, internationally, sharing her story with women and entrepreneurs at conferences and events.
A peddler stood in the city square and shouted, “My merchandise can change your life!” A crowd quickly gathered and the peddler displayed a cart full of mirrors “Preposterous!” cried the crowd. “How can mirrors change our lives?” Most of the people scoffed and walked away. But three women stayed to take a closer look and to hear more. Each finally decided to buy a mirror.
The first woman bought a small, fancy mirror. “I don’t want to look at myself,” she thought as she walked home. ‘This mirror will have to change my life from another room,” she thought as she mounted it in an unused room where it was soon covered by dust and cobwebs. “I’ll not waste my time looking at that mirror. It will have to change my life as I go through with my daily activities,” said the second woman as she mounted her mirror in the hallway where she occasionally glanced at it on her way in and out.
“If this mirror is to change my life,” thought the third woman, “I must see it as much as possible.” She mounted her mirror in her bedroom and stared deeply into it each morning. Soon, she began to notice when her hair was out of place and would brush it. She saw old make-up on her face and washed it away. She noticed when her clothing was torn and mended them.
Soon others noticed the woman who was using her mirror. She was invited to teas, visited by her friends and courted by the most eligible bachelor in town. She would eventually marry him. By and by, she met the other two women who had bought mirrors. They were still unchanged. “We all bought the life changing mirrors,” the two said, “but our lives haven’t been changed like yours has. Why?” The changed woman smiled, “It’s all in how you use the mirror,” she said. “The more often you see yourself the way you are, the more you are able to change into who you want to be.”
THE LESSON! Think of one of the mirrors as the Bible. The first woman represents the kind of person who buys a Bible just to say they have one. The second woman symbolizes the person who has a huge family Bible on the coffee table so that those who see will think she is a religious person. But, the third woman stands for the Christian who reads and studies God’s Word to learn what is wrong with her life and sees how to change it. I believe that is what James 1:23 is saying. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
In Christ, Bro. Barry
A very wealthy man once bought a huge ranch out in Arizona, and he invited some of his closest associates out to see it. In an effort to show off his spread he took his group on an all day tour of the ranch. He explained how, on his 15,000 acres, he had cattle, horses and various other livestock grazing as far as the eye could see. He talked about the mountains and rivers and grasslands that he was now the proud owner of. At the end of the day he took the group back to his house. The house was just as spectacular as the scenery. Behind the house was the largest swimming pool you have ever seen. However, this gigantic swimming pool was filled with alligators.
The rich owner explained, “I value courage more than anything else. Courage is what made me a billionaire. In fact, I think that courage is such a powerful virtue that if anybody is courageous enough to jump in that pool, swim through those alligators and make it to the other side, I’ll give them anything they want, anything — my house, my land, my money.”
Of course, everybody laughed at the absurd challenge and proceeded to follow the owner into the house for dinner when they suddenly heard a loud splash. Turning around they saw this guy swimming for his life across the pool, thrashing at the water, as the alligators swarmed after him. After several death defying seconds, the man made it, unharmed to the other side.
The rich host was absolutely amazed at what he had just seen, but stuck to his promise. He said, “You are indeed a man of courage and I will stick to my word. What do you want? You can have anything — my house, my land, my money — just tell me what you want and it is yours.” The swimmer, breathing heavily, looked up at the host and said, “I just want to know one thing — who pushed me into that pool?”
Do you need someone to give you a little push to live the Christian life? It seems, at times, that life is like trying to swim the length of a swimming pool filled with alligators. When we try to live our lives in a way that completely leaves God out of the picture we’re just asking for trouble. Why not exert a little courage and stand up for those things that are right and get more involved? Need a little push?
The story is told of a county superintendent of education who had three applications to fill one vacancy among bus drivers. He devised a scenario for selecting the proper man for the job. The superintendent took the first applicant to a sharp curve on a steep grade along the road and asked, “How close can you drive the school bus to the edge of the road on the curve without going over the cliff with the children?” The interested driver replied, “I believe I can go within two inches and still be safe.”
The second person who had applied for the job heard the same proposition. He checked the curve and told the county official, “I believe I can drive within one inch of the edge and not go over.” When the superintendent took the third driver to the same highway and made a similar proposition to him, the applicant immediately asked, “Do you think I’m crazy? I’m not interested in seeing how close I can get to the edge with the bus. I’ll be trying to see how far I can keep away from the danger line with the bus!” He received the job.
There is a borderline between the church and the world for the Christian. The church means “the called out from the kingdom of sin.” John said, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in Him. ” (I John 2:15). One who seeks to stay just as near the world of sin as possible and still follow Christ has the wrong attitude. Our individual, as the driver, should stay as far away from the danger zone as possible. Paul wrote, “Abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good ” (Romans 12:9).
Charles Darrow was out of work and as poor as a pauper during the Depression, but he kept a smile on his face and a sparkle in his eye. He didn’t want his wife, expecting their first child, to be discouraged; so every night when he returned to their little apartment after standing in the unemployment lines all day, he would tell her funny stories about the things he had seen. His temperament was the color his wife used to paint her mood. If he came home weary and irritable, her spirits fell, and her smile vanished. On the other hand, if she heard him whistling a merry tune as he climbed the many flights of stairs up to their tiny rooms, she would fling open the door and scamper out to the railing to lean over and smile at him as he wound his way up the staircase. They fed on the gift of each other’s joy.
In his younger years, Darrow had enjoyed happy family vacations in nearby Atlantic City, and he drew on those memories to keep his spirits high. He developed a little game on a square piece of cardboard. Around the edges he drew a series of “properties” named after the streets and familiar places he had visited during those pleasant childhood summers. He carved little houses and hotels out of scraps of wood, and as he and his young wife played the game each evening, they pretended to be rich, buying and selling property and “building” homes and hotels like extravagant tycoons. On those long, dark evenings, that impoverished apartment was filled with the sound of laughter.
Charles Darrow didn’t set out to become a millionaire when he developed “Monopoly”, a game that was later marketed around the world by Parker Brothers, but that’s what happened. The little gift he developed from scraps of cardboard and tiny pieces of wood he had obtained from a scrap pile was simply a way to keep his wife’s spirits up during her Depression-era pregnancy; ultimately, that gift came back to him as bountiful riches.
Monopoly is still being sold by the thousands of boxes all these years later. Darrow created a special gift of joy, shared it with the world and the gift came right back to him a thousand fold. Isn’t part of our responsibility as Christians to share the joy of knowing Christ and the salvation that comes only through Him? Let’s make sure that is what people are seeing when they look at our lives. After all, we don’t have a “Monopoly” on salvation. It’s for EVERYONE!!