Dear Friends and Family,
“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.”
I love this song of praise that David sings out to God in Psalm 9:1-2, and I love that thousands of years later my heart connects with the joy that David must have felt because, I have such joy in my heart due to the gratitude of answered prayer. It wasn’t a prayer that anyone would consider grand, it was a simple prayer, a prayer of fellowship amongst believers, a prayer of clear skies and no wind, a prayer for hearts to be softened and my prayer was heard and God answered.
We had an amazing fall at the Ranch! God provided beautiful weather and beautiful hearts to bless the grounds of STR. Thursday night was the last evening of our fall programs and it was a time to step back and reflect on all the wonderful things God has done and is doing. There are so many to recount and I will do my best to bring praise to Him and how He is in every single detail of our lives.
The beginning of our season started off a little rough because I was ill with bronchitis which lead to costochondritis, which is extremely painful. My heart truly felt for those suffering with chronic pain and it helped me to appreciate living in a body with minimal physical sufferings. God also taught me to appreciate the little things in life, like rolling over and getting out of bed every day without feeling pain and when I felt pain to lay it down at His feet and still use it for His glory (trust me, I am not a martyr by any means, I did my fair share of whining). But in our world, there are multitudes of Christ followers suffering and dying for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus, so therefore, how can I complain about a minor physical ailment?! God taught me again to be thankful for the property of STR and the freedom to proclaim the Truth without fear of losing my fingers, much less my life. As long as I am there I will shout it from the mountain tops, or the barn roof…my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I am so thankful for the heart of our programs, which are the volunteers. If it wasn’t for these amazing people we would not be able to operate. There are so many faithful servants who come out and serve from such a deep well of gratitude it makes my heart swell and double in size thinking about it. I love the expression on people’s faces when I tell them that our staff consists of all volunteers. It is truly shock and awe! I love how God stirs in their hearts this desire to serve at STR and they answer His call, not mine…it always works out so much better that way. 🙂 I love the new volunteers that have come this season and their hearts are so full they want to bless STR with their gifts and talents to see STR to the next level of God’s will.
Moving on to our children, oh the children! How I love to hear the laughter, see the smiles, the enthusiasm and the joy. This is what God has made me to do; sharing this passion of horses with so many kiddos who love horses and just want to be around them and learn without the pressure of performance and competition. STR provides for these kids a place to come and feel safe, to use an English saddle or a western, to ride bareback if that is what they feel like doing on that particular day, or to just stand next to their horse and bury their sorrows in their mane. Our most important goal with the children is to provide a place where they know the love of Jesus through the love of the volunteers. When I step back and look around and hear the encouragement, see the hugs and hear the prayers, I have no doubt that God is providing.
To wrap up this fall blog I want to revisit our last night of fall programs, it was the closing program of GATES. We did things a little different this season with much of our time on the ground doing equine team building activities. We focused on topics like respect, fear, peer pressure, personalities, creativity, and safety, incorporating biblical truths from scripture into each of the lessons. The girls were asked to make a poster reflecting what lesson impacted them most during the eight week session and present it to the families on this final evening. I was blown away at the results!! Some of the posters will be hanging in the barn for those interested in seeing them. We also invited the families to partake in an equine learning experience with their girls. It was so much fun playing egg on a spoon with our horses. Lots of laughter filled the rafters of the barn on this final evening, what a wonderful ending.
But my favorite part and answer to prayer was this: for a long time I had envisioned having a fire pit outside the barn on a cool crystal clear night where God’s glory is so evident in the stars and so evident in the hearts of His people. On this last night God answered my prayer, which yes, seems simple enough but it is amazing how the distractions can steal even the simplest of joys away from us. This day started off extremely windy but God calmed the winds, provided a wonderful young man to “man” the fire pit and He brought the people around the fire who stayed well past the time to go home. As I looked at the circle of people united around the warmth of the fire there was no one on the outskirts, no one looking in wanting to belong. This was a gift, a glimpse of heaven where all are united around the heart of our King Jesus. What a beautiful inscription of our Great God at the end of our great season.