Mere Christians

Anne Beiler (Founder of Auntie Anne's)

Episode Summary

A remarkable story of trauma, redemption, and work

Episode Notes

How Christ redeemed Anne after horrific trauma and abuse, how her trauma gave her purpose and ambition for Auntie Anne’s, and how to stop overcomplicating the presence of God.

Links Mentioned:

Episode Transcription

[0:00:05.4] JR: Hey friend, welcome to the Mere Christians Podcast, I’m Jordan Raynor. How does the gospel influence the work of mere Christians, those of us who aren’t pastors or religious professionals but who work as programmers, carpenters, and researchers? That’s the question we explore every week and today, I’m posing it to the one and only, Anne Beiler.


She’s the Founder of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, the world’s leading pretzel franchise, which she sold back in 2005. Anne and I recently sat down to talk about how Christ redeemed the horrific trauma and abuse she experienced early in her life. We talked about how that trauma gave her purpose, and ambition for Auntie Anne’s, and how we can all stop overcomplicating the presence of God. I think you’re going to love this episode with my new friend, Anne Beiler.




[0:01:05.9] JR: Anne Beiler, welcome to the Mere Christians Podcast.


[0:01:08.1] AB: Thank you so much Jordan, I am thrilled to be on your podcast and excited to see what God will reveal as we talk.


[0:01:15.3] JR: I really wish I was eating a cinnamon sugar pretzel right now though, I’m not going to lie.


[0:01:19.2] AB: I mean, you could have run out somewhere and got you one.


[0:01:21.7] JR: I know I could have. You're everywhere, you’re everywhere. Hey, you were raised in Pennsylvania, in this Amish-Mennonite community. Your bio says it was there that quote, “Important life lessons were permanently weaved into the fabric of your life.” Give us an example of that, what did you learn growing up at a community like that?


[0:01:39.5] AB: Well, Mom and Dad, there were eight of us kids. I’m the middle of three girls and then there are five brothers and so living on a – initially, Mom and Dad were Old Order Amish, Horse-and-Buggy Amish, and when I was about three, they went to the Black Car Amish and so my whole world was the Amish community, aunts and uncles that were all Amish, all of my cousins at one point, and there’s a hundred and twenty-five of them on both sides of my Mom and Dad and they were all, at that time as growing up, we were all Old Order Amish or Black Car Amish.


So the community I grew up in was really, Jordan, it was all about faith, family, and community. Hard work was the order of the day. Mom and Dad took us to church every Sunday. Bible school in the summer months. What I experienced as a kid was, I mean, it looks idyllic almost. It would seem that way should you look in and I want to say that it was probably, as I look back at that, it was a very, very secure and very simple lifestyle.


Mom and Daddy were always around, I mean, my Dad may have been somewhere on the hundred acres, which we had, which is about the average size I guess in Lancaster County, farming but he was somewhere in the farm. My Mom was always in the house or in the garden or sometimes in the barn but what I learned – wow, even as I talked about this. I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity of having a mother and a father involved in my life and their presence there all the time.


I can’t even stress the importance to Moms and Dads today, we can still do this. You know, we can still do this today. It’s more difficult and I want to say, more challenging but we can still be with our families and I take the way we do that today is just by communicating, communicating to them clearly if we’re both working, if Dad has to be gone on a long trip. Maybe he’s a trucker, maybe he’s a businessman who is traveling overseas, whatever the case may be, I feel like communicating with our children, the reason we’re doing this, and as believers, I want to say the reason we’re doing this, being in business and you know, providing for our family but the bigger reason is for the kingdom of God and the reaching out into the world to make our world a better place and influence people wherever we go.


So, I think when our kids understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, we can still truly be Mom and Dad to our kids, in a world where it feels like families are falling apart.


[0:04:08.9] JR: We could do a whole episode I’m sure, on like how to talk to kids about work. That’s something I’m really passionate about with the kid’s books I’m writing and the adult books I’m writing. So you grew up in this community, you married young, and then tragedy struck your young family pretty early on. Are you able, are you willing to share that story with our listeners?


[0:04:27.4] AB: Oh yes, of course. I’ve shared my story wherever I go because God has brought me from a little Amish girl to where it was simple, safe, and secure. I believed that life is good and that God was harsh, meaning if I do it all just right, keep all of the 10 commandments, be a good girl, obey my parents, and please God, then life would be good for me.


I was confused because when discovered – now, I’ve lived over seven decades of life’s experiences of what I know today is that life is hard but God is good and I am not confused about that. So as a young wife, Jonas and I, Jonas grew up in the Amish culture as well and we were – during that time, I prayed and asked God to show me the man that I need to marry and Jonay Beiler came into my life at the age of 16 and we dated three and a half years and we got married.


It was really – I think that was very strongly in the Amish culture but I think back in that era and time, it was more common to marry young and grow old together, you know? So we were both very young but I can tell you, I was prepared for marriage because Mom and Dad taught us how to work hard, and Mom taught me how to be a housewife. I’d watched her.


She never sat down and told me how to do anything but role modeling is the greatest form of teaching and I think we live in a wordy, so many words that we say but we forget to role model.


[0:05:52.5] JR: Yeah, more is caught than what is taught.


[0:05:53.9] AB: Exactly. Dr. Richard Dobbins, who help me get my life straight after it fell apart, he said, “Role modeling is the highest form and the strongest form of training your kids” and so that’s what Mom and Daddy did. My Dad never, my Mom never said “I love you” never patted me on the back and said, “You did a great job.”


It was a quiet confidence, in their quiet confidence, they – and as watching them as a child, I would look up to my parents and I remember watching them, and I wanted to be just like them. I wanted to be a good Mom. I wanted a secure family and so I set out just like everybody else did in the community and we were married about seven years.


We had two daughters, Luana was two and a half when Angie was born and life was full. We were very involved in a very exciting church that we actually built. My husband and I and three other people had a vision for a church and my Dad gave us the property, and we built a church with 600 people to capacity and we were living in this very exciting –


It was the era of the charismatic revival across the country. It was then that our roots were planted deeply into Jesus, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We experienced that in a way that we never experienced in our Amish or Amish-Mennonite churches. We found Jesus there but we grew as we had built this church and became very involved there.


So right in the middle of all that, God is harsh, life was really good and I felt like I’m keeping all the 10 Commandments. God, I didn’t want to disappoint him. I know it sounds legalistic and sure but in my opinion, it’s a matter of growth. I grew into who I am today but the foundation was strong for me.


My parents really put me on – they taught me the values of the word of God and I feel like it was on a solid rock. Spiritually, my foundation was very strong but in the middle of this exciting growth, our youngest daughter, Angela Joy, was 19 months old and 12 days. She walked out of our front, double-wide front door.


We lived in a country, the double-wide trailer, she would walk to see my Mom and Dad almost every morning and it was a very safe place because we were in the country and I sometimes, I walked up with her, sometimes her sister walked up to be with my Mom and it was just around the corner from our trailer but between us, there was a barn that my Dad was making stone siding.


My sister would – was always driving the bobcat, loading and unloading the sand and she would always look for Angie and pick her up and put her – take her for a ride on the bobcat and they were just best buds. That particular morning. My sister did not see Angela as she was making her little trek to grandma's and she accidentally backed over her and she was killed instantly.


You know, Jordan, I remember that day like it was yesterday. The reason I remember it so well is because I never knew anything about trauma. I never had an accident in my life, I never experienced great disappointment but the reason I remember it so well that day is because that day, I was changed forever.


Initially, as we grieved the loss of our sweet Angie, she was blond hair, and blue-eyed. Everywhere she went, she made sure that you noticed her. She was just very, very busy and wanted to jibber and jabber with everybody that she met, couldn’t even hardly say – she could not keep a sentence but she was learning to say words.


So she was the joy of our life and when Angie – when that happened that day, it stunned me. I mean, like, everybody is stunned when tragedy happens. For me, it was I was a good girl, I was a good wife and a good Mom. So I was very confused and I wanted to – as Angie made her ascend into heaven that day, I began my gradual, very slow, and gradual descent into the world of spiritual confusion and emotional pain.


Those were two paths that I had never been on before. I was very sure about my spiritual walk with Christ. I never experienced emotional pain, didn’t even know what that was, and so when that happened that day, I began to slowly but surely isolate myself. I didn’t change anything on the outside, I went to church, and my husband and I stayed together but our marriage then became a silent marriage.


[0:10:06.7] JR: You just pulled away.


[0:10:08.4] AB: Pulled away.


[0:10:08.5] JR: I was reading this in Twist of Faith, I’m like, that’s what it felt like.


[0:10:12.0] AB: We didn’t know how to communicate, we didn’t know what to say so we pulled away and I’ve always said it, there may as well have been a Great Wall of China between us. There was absolutely no way to connect and that – so I lost Angela that day but also lost my best friend who was Jonas, my husband, and then my four-year-old daughter at that time, she went into her own little world of confusion and so it was a silent family and I think that’s when we actually began to experience dysfunction in our home.


So from there, five months of grieving so deeply and I would cry alone. I never didn’t want to cry in front of anyone and so I grieved alone and one evening, I just – one morning I should say, on my knees, I just asked God to – I need to talk to somebody and this somebody that came to my mind was my pastor at that time, who everybody loved and everybody thought he was a good man. There was no reason to believe that he was not a good man.


But I went to see him on a Monday morning and before I left his office, he took advantage of me and in my grief, told me clearly that Jonas could not meet my needs but that he could, and he took advantage of me physically that morning. Well, as ignorant as this may sound, I truly didn’t understand what just happened, what did he do and why did he do it. Then, so, I immediately believed, took all the responsibility, and believed it was my fault.


And so I walked out of his office that day and I made a choice, and this is really my story and this is how Holy Spirit has revealed to me, through the years now, the choice that I made that day was to keep his secret and why would I tell, who would I tell, who would listen, and who would believe?


So it’s what we do in our pain. Many of us do this, I’m not alone here, I know that but when it’s that bad, we don’t mind talking about it, I broke my ankle, we had a car accident or my aunt has cancer or my husband has an illness. We don’t mind talking about those things but when it comes to these kinds of behaviors, as the body of Christ, we don’t want to talk about it because we don’t know how. At least, I didn’t know how and who would listen.


Nowadays, there’s a lot more help out there, much more awareness and I understand that but back then, I made that choice. I had no idea that that one choice that I made not to tell anybody ever, kept me or actually, initially, took me into the dark world and I can tell you, when you enter the dark world, God doesn’t leave you. He didn’t leave me, he went with me into that world but satan gave me the tools that I needed to stay there for seven long dark years, in that life of secret.


Nobody knew, I never told, and in that position of that secret and the choice, not knowing what to do, I nearly died, literally. Emotionally I died for sure. At the end of seven years, I weighed 90 pounds, I had nothing to give, and there was nothing left inside of me. Now, I know that there are people and your audience that understand what I’m saying because one in every three women, I think the number’s probably higher right now, that are actually abused, sexually abused by the time they’re 16 and I do believe that number is much higher.


I was a grown woman and I stayed in this sexually abusive relationship for almost seven years. I knew better but there was no way out.


[0:13:32.4] JR: How did you get out? What happened at year seven?


[0:13:35.5] AB: After almost seven years of praying on my knees every single day, asking God to deliver me because I thought that He would and I prayed and asked Him to take this away from me but nothing happened except that I believe. During those years, God sustained me and kept me somehow, he kept me alive. There were a couple of times I contemplated suicide but I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my children.


So one day, I’m on my knees and I’m desperate. Like, now, I’m mad at God because he didn’t deliver me. I was prompted to go get off your knees and go tell Jonas your secret. Wow, well, short story is, I did. Heart beating, palm sweating, all the way to his body shop. I kept saying, “God, I can’t do this” because I don’t want to disappoint him.


Well, I didn’t understand the power of confession. I call it a new view of confession that’s found in James 5:16 and the verse starts like this: “Confess your false onto another. Confess your struggles, whatever is bothering you, your sin, your deception, your stronghold, whatever it is that’s bothering you, confess that to somebody, and in that confession then, you connect.”


All of these years, Jordan, I was connected spiritually to God. He was my – He was still giving me life to survive but when I made that, I went to the body shop and I had nothing to say except two sentences that I told my husband, that’s all I had. I didn’t hug him, I didn’t ask him to forgive me, at the end of my confession, I just said, “I’m sorry” and I’m a sorry person.


The look in his eyes made me, forced me, compelled me to turn around and walk away because I knew at that point that Jonas Beiler was going to divorce me. He didn’t say anything. He just looked at me and I walked away but the courage to do that, I cannot emphasize that enough for anyone that’s in this deep, dark secret world of secrets, it’s a dark place.


And you’re there, you stay there because you don’t know how to get out and I want to say, there’s only one way out, it’s actually telling somebody. It’s the confession, you got to free yourself, Proverbs 6:5 says, “Free yourself.” You do the work, you free yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the valor.


We have to do the hard work. Sure, we have our relationship with Christ but man, He wants us to have a relationship, a healthy relationship with our husband, with our families. He wants us to have peace with God, peace within, and peace with those that we love and that’s what began to happen.


[0:16:19.5] JR: What do you know now that you wish you knew before the confession?


[0:16:22.7] AB: Oh, well, I wish I would have understood that all I needed to do was tell Jonas. That’s really all I would have needed to do. I don’t know what would have happened but the damage was not the abuse for seven years. I mean, yes, it was but the worst damage happens because you keep that a secret, and when you tell that secret, you begin to feel the shackles are broken.


You’re not free to be who all God wants you to be in that moment because it’s been a journey, a very long journey for me but the shackles begin to fall off, and why? Because satan does not live in truth, he can’t live there. It’s impossible. I think that we underestimate the power of truth, we’re worried about what somebody going to think, and what are they going to say.


James 5:16 model says, “Confess your false onto another, pray for each other, and you’ll be healed.” It doesn’t say that you should think about or worry about the outcome. A confession is never about predicting an outcome, it’s simply being obedient to confess, to be honest, go tell. Tell your best friend, make sure that whatever it is that you’re into, somebody will listen to you more than they will talk to you because truly, you want to unload.


You want somebody to help you carry the burden but you can’t because you’re not telling anyone. I couldn’t – nobody shared this burden with me but truly, Jesus is exactly who He said He is to me. He’s my redeemer and I’m living in the place now, when I can remember and I can feel the joy, the tears of joy of what He actually did for me.


He paid the price for that. He took upon himself my sin, that’s great. We love the fact that Jesus died for my sin but Jordan, He carried and bore my shame, which I can’t go into that. That’s huge because I lived with guilt and shame for 28 years even after I made the confession.


[0:18:34.1] JR: Sure, as you're talking and sharing this, do you know the song, “He will hold me fast?”


[0:18:38.9] AB: Yes, I do, yes.


[0:18:41.2] JR: These lyrics just keep coming to mind. When I fear, because I’m sure you felt this way, “When I fear, my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast” because it’s His work and not ours that redeemed us and because we did nothing to earn our salvation.”


[0:18:54.5] AB: Absolutely.


[0:18:55.0] JR: There’s nothing we could lose it and lose the removal of shame that He bore on the cross. I was just reading a Tim Keller sermon the other day back from the early 2000s. He was talking about Jesus on the cross, lying there, naked, and ashamed, so that we don’t have to be.


[0:19:13.2] AB: Exactly.


[0:19:14.2] JR: That’s the picture there. Easier said than done.


[0:19:17.1] AB: Exactly but when I was able to confess over time, over time, many years later, Jesus spoke to me as I’m once again, fighting the demon of depression saying, “You’re not good enough. Everybody knows you as Auntie Anne, they all think you’re amazing.” I failed again and satan pops right up here in my little shoulders with a very loud megaphone. He accuses me time and time and time again.


In that position, in that place, God spoke to me and He said to me, “Anne, I have done everything there is to do for you. Will you forgive yourself?” Wow, I fell to my knees, and wept uncontrollably as I responded to the call. “Have I not done enough for you? Will you forgive yourself?” and I said, “Yes.”


As the waves of grace just kept rolling over my whole body and Jordan, from that moment that was in 2003, from that moment until now, I have never felt guilt or shame and it’s because Jesus paid the price for that. I’m free now, I’m free. That’s why I can tell my story, any part of my story. I don’t bare the shame.


[0:20:29.8] JR: Because Jesus is the hero.


[0:20:31.7] AB: It’s miraculous, it’s truly supernatural.


[0:20:35.2] JR: Yeah. When did you found Auntie Anne’s? What year was that?


[0:20:37.8] AB: So Jonas and I came out of our dark period in 1982, the very beginning of January of 1982. In 19, and we lived in Texas that time and it was during from 1982 to 1987. We recovered as a married couple and as a family and it’s an amazing journey, it’s all in my books, recovered spiritually and relationally, which was amazing and I was living this amazing life.


I’m like, “I cannot believe even now” We would often say, “We cannot believe we’re still together” and I could tell you the story about how Jonas responded to my confession but that’s a whole 30 minutes, we could spend on that.


[0:21:15.2] JR: Yeah, you started Auntie Anne’s in the late 80s?


[0:21:18.1] AB: Yes. So from 1982 to ‘87, we were able to restore and repair our marriage, and in 1988, ‘87, we moved back from Texas and I started working at a farmer’s market. That’s a whole other quick story there and didn’t know anything about soft pretzels but I found myself managing a farmer’s market stand.


There are lots of farmer’s market stands in Lancaster County and the Amish community and so I was asked to work and I did. Seven months later, we had somebody come to me and said, “Hey, there’s a market stand for sale, 20 minutes from your house, are you interested?” I was like, “Are you kidding? No, I’m not interested. I’m loving what I’m doing, I love Pretzels, I love managing and I’m not interested in a big kit after me and finance is okay.”


So we started Auntie Anne’s with a phone call to the people that wanted to sell their store and went to – and on the phone without looking at the location, they ask us$ 6,000. It was the asking price, we went to my father-in-law and he loaned us $6,000. We went to the people that sold us the stand, gave them the check, and from there, we went to see what we had bought, site and scene we bought that store.


So you can tell and I always say that Auntie Anne’s is a modern-day business miracle because we know nothing, knew nothing about business putting this out on an eighth-grade education. I am not ashamed of that, it starts my story and it’s not – you’re not qualified based on how much education you have or how little you have, you’re qualified because He calls you and then he trains you and so anyway, so we didn’t have anything but what I had was a great product in time.


Great, initially, we had a great purpose, we had a great product and then initially, great people, and our purpose became, out of our pain our purpose was born. We started Auntie Anne’s because I wanted to make money so that Jonas could do – he began to study psychology as a layman’s counselor and he studied out of Emerge Ministries at Akron, Ohio a number of years and he began to do marriage counseling and because of that, I needed to go to work because he was doing all of his marriage counseling for free of service to the Amish and the Mennonite people or anyone in that community because he had such a burden and a passion for families and Auntie Anne’s was started.


We built it for over 10 years, and we fully funded it, which became a counseling center, very professional counseling center with as high as 15 employees, some part-time, some full-time. Auntie Anne’s fully funded that for 10 to 12 years. That was our purpose was to give to the needs in our community and eventually, around the world.


[0:23:50.8] JR: That’s incredible. So you start this business in the late 80s, you had that moment where you dropped to your knees and finally forgive yourself in the early 2000s. I’m curious as you look back, obviously, a lot of your motivations for the business were very righteous. You wanted to provide these services for free. Do you think part of this was a work-based righteousness though? Like, “Man, I’m going to do this so that I can forgive myself.” Is that an element here?


[0:24:17.8] AB: I want to say no. So let me just think about this because even though I was experiencing guilt and shame during those years, I knew I was forgiven. I knew God had forgiven me and my husband. So I’m living, I’m basking in this unbelievable world, where I was set free miraculously, supernaturally from the dark world and Jordan, I could never get over the fact that God kept me and my husband loved me.


That still overwhelms me because you have no idea how desperate and dark my world was and so Jesus forgiving me, Jonas forgiving and loving me, I was so amazed by all of that. When we started Auntie Anne’s, all I wanted to do was honor God and honor Jonas. That was my motivation.


[0:25:12.7] JR: It’s such a beautiful case study of Ephesians 2:8th through 10. Paul reminds us, “Hey, it’s by grace you’ve been saved” right? That’s the picture you saw on Jonas, not from yourselves. It’s to get to God not by works but then he goes on to verse 10 and says, “Okay, you haven’t been saved by your works but you have been created in Christ Jesus and redeemed to do” –


[0:25:35.7] AB: To do good works.


[0:25:37.3] JR: The good works, which God has prepared in advance for you to do and that, I mean, you’re the perfect case study of this. You’re like, “I’m redeemed, I’m saved, and so part of my response to that is to honor my husband and honor my Lord through the building of this business” right?


[0:25:51.0] AB: That was it, that was it, that’s why, and as we grew, two stores in the first year, 12 the next year, 35 the next year, 65 the next, and from there, we grew anywhere, some 30 to 50 stores a year. So as we grew, I have to tell you, satan is always at work and all of them, the gifts that God had given me, redemption being number one, redeemed me from a life that was completely hopeless to now, living in the light.


Now, giving us the responsibility of an international company within the time we started to when we were international, it was about five years. Okay, so everybody now, my county and all the newspapers and all of the business magazines, I mean, all of them were, I was interviews on TV and flying to New York City and flying to California and all these things and satan tried to trip me up really and that’s because of fame, power, money.


It can really trip us up and it nearly tripped me up. It was very subtle but I kept going back to, “I’m here because of Jonas and Jesus and I cannot take the bait” and I can’t go into the story but how God actually brought me to my knees in 1995. It was actually through revelation that our daughter came home one day and told us that she had also been abused by the pastor when she was a little girl.


It wrecked me, this was kind of like at the height of our – not the height of our success but 1994, ’95, it was like –


[0:27:35.3] JR: These were good years, yeah.


[0:27:36.9] AB: Very good years, yeah and this is – information came to us through her and grateful, forever grateful that she told us. Forever grateful but at the time, it wrecked me. It was worst to know that your children have been abused, mothers out there, fathers, it’s actually worse than me experiencing the abuse and the secret. I couldn’t bear it but in a way, it was a good – God works everything out, good for our works, everything for our good.


He said everything, so it means the good and the bad but what that ended up doing for me, that’s when I started counseling finally in 1996. I was so broken by what had happened and even during that time me, making choices that were just terrible. I’m back to square one, I mean, I went and I wanted to find another man. I wanted to leave my business, I wanted to leave my family because why? I couldn’t bear the pain.


So I thought the only way out was to leave, that’s how I desperate – can you imagine? I’m the height of success, I would have walked away without a penny. I didn’t care anymore, I just didn’t care and listen Jordan, that’s why I love to talk about being authentic, being real, being open, being honest in the workplace because we lose it all if we succumb, first of all, to any fame, any power, or all the money that we’ve made.


We can lose it all but you know what? When you’re steadfast and you’re on the rock, which remember I said early on, my foundation was on the rock and the storms came, the winds came, success came, power came, money came, and I nearly lost it all but I was standing on the rock. On the rock, man, I was wobbling. I was wobbling and I didn’t know if I could ever get back to who Jesus wanted me to be.


[0:29:31.4] JR: It’s interesting that you put success and money in the same breath as other trials of wind and waves against the rock. Talk about that, you’re – 1995 the business is growing like a weed.


[0:29:42.9] AB: Oh, yeah. I think that success can actually be a burden to bear.


[0:29:47.0] JR: I agree.


[0:29:47.8] AB: Money, too much money or overnight success, it wasn’t an overnight success for us but I mean, it was quickly and it was like 24/7 from the very start. So it can become a burden to bear. We think about a burden to bear, maybe I have to go to Africa to be a missionary and yes, I had friends there. Wow, the sacrifices they make, right? But when God calls you into pieces and that’s your calling.


I could tell the story about how God was very clear with me that Auntie Anne’s was created as a vehicle for giving. That was clear to me in 19 – that three years after we started the company. In spite of that, the success and the money and all of it began to feel almost like a burden to bear because I’ve felt sometimes as business people and maybe I’m alone in this but I’ve felt misunderstood because I really was never in business.


There was nobody in my church that had ever franchised around the world. I mean, there was like I didn’t know how to talk about it to anyone, so it became kind of a – Jonas and I, we were connected during those years until 1994, ’95, when I just about lost it all. There was a huge disconnect again but it was the burden of success.


[0:31:05.9] JR: How did you get to the point where that wasn’t a burden anymore, you recognized it as this gift and you once again, kind of fully engaged in the business as a means to ministry?


[0:31:16.5] AB: Yeah, absolutely. It’s miraculous that I again, supernatural, God’s amazing grace, His purpose, I knew I was fulfilling the purpose. I knew that but man, I almost fell off the wagon but then I began. I remember one day in my office, all of this stuff was happening. It was about a two-year hard battle, ’94, ’95, going into ’96 probably a little bit and I walked into my office and I realized once again.


I said, “God, there’s something wrong with me.” I don’t know what that is because I thought I had been over the abuse and Jonas and I have been intact and we started the company and I mean, it looked like everything was fine but you know what? I said to myself and I said to God, “There is something wrong with me and I don’t know what it is” but the truth is, I had never done any counseling for all of this.


God directed me to a man by the name of Dr. Richard Dobbins, Emerge Ministries in Akron, Ohio and they’re still there ministering to broken people and I remember going to see Doc. I was so ashamed, I walked in, I said to him, “I’ll come but I have to come in the back. I don’t want anyone to see me.” Isn’t that crazy? We’d rather be sick than be open and vulnerable. It’s easier to keep a secret than it is to commit suicide.


I mean, that’s pretty strong but we do all these crazy things because it’s easier. We just can’t be open, honest, and authentic, and I can’t stress that enough as business people. So anyway, I went to see my counselor for the very first time and I was in counseling with Dr. Dobbins for about five to six years — during all that time, I begin to see who I was and in my innermost F, Jordan, there was still this turmoil of guilt and shame and I’m not good enough and I should have known better on the inside.


But on the outside, I am successful, and Dr. Richard Dobbins says that you want to deal with your internal life to the point that you’re external life and your internal life are one and the same.


[0:33:20.8] JR: Yeah, they’re congruent.


[0:33:22.0] AB: Exactly.


[0:33:23.0] JR: They’re authentic, they’re whole.


[0:33:24.7] AB: That’s wholeness. Wow, it took me years to bring the two together. I wasn’t trying to pretend, that I wasn’t trying to pretend to be somebody I wasn’t. I was just struggling to be the best that I could be and wow, when I was broken in 1995 that caused me to call for help and for counseling. I want to encourage people: do what you have to do — it’s hard initially but let me tell you when you are able to sit down with someone experienced professional, a Christian, trauma counseling or counseling for starters, to just go for help and begin to be real, open, and honest.


It was an amazing journey for me and in a number of years, I began to feel whole, completely whole, and eventually, I was able to tell my whole story and the beauty of that is that every time I tell my story even right now as I tell you my story, Jordan, it gives me life. It makes me feel even more free, it gives me even more appreciation as I reflect one more time on the power, the goodness, the redemption, and the grace of the God, who created the universe.


But He comes to me and He will come to you and what I know is in my darkness, He never left me but my body was so full of pain, blame, and shame that the guilt of it all kept me from feeling His presence on a daily basis. Today, His presence is enough. It’s enough, no matter how busy you are, no matter how successful you are, no matter how much money you have, if you don’t have His presence, you’re missing the best part of who He is.


[0:35:17.5] JR: Amen. How did you – you started to figure this out, kind of clear these hurdles in the mid to late 90s, what did it look like for you to practice the presence of God as you ran this global company?


[0:35:31.1] AB: When you’re busy in corporate life, you’ve delegated as much as you can delegate, and you keep delegating, you found people that are trustworthy. Sometimes, you realize, “Oh, I thought they were trustworthy, and hmm, something may happen” and you realize you’ve got to pull in the reins and there may be times you have to let someone go that you totally trusted and relied on.


So all of those things that you’re grappling with on a daily basis even though you’ve delegated all of that as the owner, the founder, and the owner of a company, it still rests on your shoulders. So delegating, being successful, during those years experiencing God’s presence, I have to tell you was very often on the run.


[0:36:21.1] JR: Yeah.


[0:36:21.7] AB: In my car.


[0:36:22.6] JR: But that’s real, that listeners can, I can hear listeners and see them nodding their heads right now. They get that.


[0:36:28.5] AB: And you feel guilty, you do. You kind of like – I don’t know if you’re like me. I’m like, “Oh, I wanted to spend more time with you Lord today. I wanted to get up and spend 30 minutes with you today but I didn’t.” So I’ll encourage people that we serve a God who is not here to shame us, to make us feel guilty. He has given us the Holy Spirit within us to convince us to move into God’s presence.


Today, I can tell you, I’m not sure that we understand the beauty of His presence and the instant instantaneous response as we stop and say, “God, I’m driving down the road. Okay, God, I wanted to spend some time with you this morning. I’m on my way to an important meeting and I’m sorry I did not take the time but come, come right now where I’m at.” He’s everywhere all the time, Jordan.


I believe that we’ve complicated God’s presence. We have made it a ritual, a religious experience if we do certain things, He comes. I will tell you, I believe in prayer. I have more time for that these days. I’m grateful that God is good, God is gracious, and when He calls you, He equips you. He knows when you are going into a fast world of business. So I believe that experiencing His presence and you may say I’m cheapening God’s presence but this is my experience.


God, from the very beginning of the Bible to the very end, I’m not a theologian, I’m not a preacher, I am not a pastor, I’m not whatever, I haven’t gone to Bible school.


[0:38:07.4] JR: You’re a mere Christian.


[0:38:08.5] AB: I do know His presence is mentioned constantly and it’s kind of like when I acknowledged Him and it’s not abstract, “Oh, I wish I could feel God today.” No, it’s not abstract. It is a matter of acknowledging His presence. He is here with me right now, right now.


[0:38:28.6] JR: This is what Jesus said, “I am with you always.”


[0:38:31.6] AB: Always.


[0:38:32.3] JR: To the end of the age, not just when you wake up in the morning and you’re doing your quiet times. I am with you. I think about Joshua 1:9, the Lord says, “I am with you wherever you go” and He is with you, believer, wherever you go, to your next meeting, listen to this podcast wherever we go. Hey Anne, before we move to the three questions we wrap up every podcast with, you got to tell our listeners about this new cookbook that’s coming out because I’ve been flipping through the pages with my eight-year-old, Ellison, who loves to cook. So we’re super pumped about this. Tell us a little bit about, Come to the Table.


[0:39:03.9] AB: Well, Come to the Table, so it’s twofold. I wanted to share with my people, people who love Auntie Anne’s and I just call the whole Auntie Anne family my people, even though I don’t own the company anymore, they’re my people and I wanted to share with them and my family and the world, whoever is interested in the things that were delicious to me in the Amish culture and it’s fun.


That part of it was really fun. I also wanted to share parts of my story growing up in that culture in the cookbook. I also had a, I’m going to say, a deep need in my heart to encourage people to come to the table, come to the table with your family. I know, okay, I know the answer to that is I can’t. “I wish I could, I can’t.” Okay, I get that. I lived that for a number of years, I couldn’t but I grew up coming to the table until I got married at 19.


Every single day, morning, noon, and night, we never had a meal without all of us being at the table. You couldn’t be sick enough or be out working too long or too hard, we had to be around the table. All right, I want people to understand coming to the table is a value that you are giving to your family. Even once a week, I don’t know, Sunday afternoon, Monday night, Friday night, just come to the table.


Shut everything off, sit around the table, well, maybe you can go out in the park and have a picnic, whatever you do but gather and come to the table and eat together. It’s there, Jordan, where I learned how to communicate, I learned how to fight, I learned how to actually be heard at times with eight kids, you know? I learned teamwork on the farm and around the table. Come to the table, people, bring your family. Do whatever it takes to make that happen.


[0:40:52.1] JR: As somebody with a busy life, I’ve got three girls under the age of eight.


[0:40:56.1] AB: Well, I know. Okay, tell me, how hard is it? Yeah.


[0:40:59.0] JR: This is hard but we do it every night, we’re all in town, we’re around the table together.


[0:41:04.1] AB: Just when you can, right, and that’s – I’m not trying to put any guilt on anyone. I just want them to experience it because it’s hard and there’s – very often, there is all these family issues and that’s why we can’t get together and sit around the table. We’re too, whatever, but break through the fear of that and just come together. Humble yourself, humble ourselves, come to the table, and connect.


[0:41:26.9] JR: Hey, three real quick questions before we wrap up. Number one, which books do you find gifting most frequently to others?


[0:41:34.2] AB: Gifting to others, I always, right now, I have written a number of books, and the one that I love to give out to people more than anyone in leadership is, Overcome and Lead, and there are many books that I have read along the way but there is one book that I don’t give to people very often but it’s called, Disciplines for the Inner Life. It is written by Bob Benson Sr. and Micheal W. Benson.


It’s really, Disciplines for the Inner Life, I share this because it’s a spiritual journey that you take into the internal you and it’s powerful.


[0:42:05.1] JR: Who do you want to hear on this podcast talking about how the gospel shapes the work they do in the world?


[0:42:09.8] AB: Yes. So I have a friend, her name is Katie Coffman, and she lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I really would love to put you in touch with her. She owned what they called Dutchland. They were a manufacturing plant of cement, like structures, bridges, and buildings, they were a great company and she is a believer and powerful. No one knows her except the Lancaster Country where she lives but you would enjoy her.


[0:42:36.4] JR: That’s a great answer, I’d love a connection, and hey, Anne, what’s one thing from our conversation you want to reiterate to our listeners before we sign off? What do you want to leave these listeners with?


[0:42:46.4] AB: I talked about it quite a bit in our interview and that is, I want people to understand the power of being authentic and the freedom that comes from being the real you. Do you know that the real you is the best gift that you can give to the world? But we try to be – we want to be someone else or wished we were like them or, “Oh my goodness, if I had that then I could be…” no, no, just find out who the real you is and that’s a lifetime, really.


I mean, it takes a while to figure ourselves out but be authentic and your family will appreciate that and your business will thrive. So authenticity is very important in the home and in the workplace.


[0:43:23.3] JR: Yeah, Anne, I want to commend you for the extraordinary work you do for the good of others. For, just being willing to tell your story and allow the Lord to take your pain and make something more beautiful with it, for the reminder of the called authenticity because we have no shame because Christ bore our shame on the cross and He will hold us fast, amen?


[0:43:44.3] AB: That’s a beautiful thing.


[0:43:45.0] JR: And friends, I would strongly recommend you to check out Anne’s books at Anne, thank you so much for hanging out with us today.


[0:43:54.4] AB: Thank you Jordan, it was my pleasure.




[0:43:56.3] JR: There’s some episodes where I just get lost in the conversation and just take no notes, this is one of those conversations. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Hey, if you’ve got a guest recommendation of somebody who is not known outside of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, or wherever your friend is based, I want to hear about it at Hey, thank you, guys, so much for tuning in, I’ll see you next week.