Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kids and Tornadoes

What a blessing Father gave us today! We had a special ed elementary school group scheduled to come this afternoon. Last night it stormed, and it was still raining some this morning when we gathered for devotions. Since everything is so wet, the plan was to have the session in the barn. As we headed out to our morning tasks, the rain had stopped and the sun came out. By the time we met in town for an early lunch, the sky was clear! The kids came and we had a great time; we did use the barn but we were able to take the kids for rides outside in the drive. While everyone was taking turns getting a ride, some of the kids fingerpainted on a horse for awhile. Amazingly, we were able to catch Penny in short time and she did great as an art canvas. Penny has only been here for a month and has established herself as boss of the herd. She and the former "herd queen", Glorie, are tight buddies now and they lord it over the other horses and egg each other on, especially when it comes to being caught. One of the other girls and I spent 45 minutes catching those two yesterday. So it was an answer to prayer that Penny was willing to be caught so promptly! After painting, the kids got to try grooming Noah, our three year old. At his age, Noah is greatly curious and can be jumpy and pushy, but he did well for a short time. Some of these kids probably have sensory issues and autistic tendencies, and a few of them were scared to touch the horse, but I think everyone got a chance to ride. All the kids were so excited and it was precious to see their joy and wonder. Maybe some of them had never been near a horse before. One little girl kept saying, "I love horses!" She wants so badly to grow up fast so she can be a cowgirl. We had such a short time with them and barely learned all their names. They won't likely be coming back during the summer, since it was a school field trip. Some of them may get to come back next year and some will probably never be back. We don't know their stories and their struggles, but Father does. It feels like what we did was so little, but only eternity will tell the impact this experience has on their hearts. I only pray they felt the love of Jesus. Overall it was a happy first experience. And the gift was this beautiful weather at just the time we needed. About an hour after the kids left, another storm moved in with heavy driving rain and there were tornado warnings all over the place. We all moved our cars into the barn in case of hail. I was a little late taking my car over and the rain broke loose as soon as I got in the barn. So I ended up running back to the house with a rather useless umbrella and I got absolutely soaked! I debated staying in the barn to see if it would let up, but I didn't feel too good about staying out there if a tornado really did come along, so I made the dash! It was actually pretty fun! And I didn't get blown away or struck by lightning, so it's all good!
We spent a short time in the basement while our area was under a warning, but now as I write the rain has stopped and the warning has cleared. We are so blessed. Thousands of people have already suffered immensely from these tornado hits across the country and things are still hot. I can't imagine what it would be like to go through that and lose so much. It's hard to know how to even pray for those people. I must confess that it's hard to care deeply about what happens to strangers in places removed from me. We need to seek the Lord for how we can reach out to our neighbors. As Jesus made clear, your neighbor is anyone who is in need, who you have the ability to help. I am guilty of standing by and doing nothing far too many times. May God press on our hearts real compassion and mercy for the physical and spiritual needs of people. May He teach us how to love in deed and in truth.

Thank you to anyone who prayed for our group of kids today. Next Wednesday the ranch officially opens for the summer! So please, as the Lord lays it on your heart, keep praying! Pray for the staff, that God will give us the wisdom from above that is pure, peaceable, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Pray for safety for kids, horses, and staff. Pray for God to meet each child here in a special way and that they know they are loved. Pray for great relationships of trust and respect to be built between us and the horses and among the staff. Pray that God gives us the grace to respond well to each character building opportunity, to be broken and humble before Him and each other, and to be poured out in His love into the lives of each person who walks onto His Ranch. Most of all, pray that we get eyes to see where God is working and simply step in to join Him.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned!

Saturday, May 21, 2011


One day recently I was having quiet time and thinking about my future here at the ranch and God brought this old favorite song to mind. That night I listened to it on my ipod and it brought back some precious memories. In August 2005, my little brother Justin was born. God designed him with an extra 21st chromosome, which we call Down Syndrome, and some significant differences in his heart. He was born at home but ended up in the hospital for about the first week of his life, and then had to go back in a second time during his first month. Just about one month after Justin's birth, I left home for a training and service program in Indianapolis, where I would spend a total of ten months. It tore my heart to leave at such a vulnerable time in our family; we didn't know what might happen with Justin and I was scared that he might take a bad turn while I was away. I was very fragile the first few days away from him. About a month or so into my training, Mom decided to send me a letter on tape. She recorded herself talking to me, and she even got Justin making a little noise on there, which was so special to me. But in one part of her tape Mom talked about this song that had become very meaningful to her in light of Justin's situation and all the unknowns. She sang it to me on the tape and it was exactly the comfort I needed at the time. I had heard the song before and was actually thinking about it, only remembering bits of it, around the same time she sent the tape. So, this special song has been in my mind again recently and it's such a beautiful reminder of how God has come through in my life in the past and I can continue to trust Him for the unknowns of tomorrow. So I'd like to share the words with you. It's called My Life Is In Your Hands.

Life can be so good
And life can be so hard
Never knowing what each day will bring to where you are
Sometimes I forget
And sometimes I can't see
That whatever comes my way, You'll be with me

My life is in Your hands
My heart is in Your keeping
I'm never without hope
Not when my future is with You
My life is in Your hands
And though I cannot see clearly
I will lift my voice and sing
Cause Your love does amazing things
Lord I know my life is in Your hands

Nothing is for sure
And nothing is for keeps
All I know is that Your love will live eternally
So I will find my way
And I will find my peace
Knowing that You'll meet my every need

He made you. He loves you. He binds up the broken hearted. He gives strength to the weary and power to the weak. He has written your name on the palm of His hand. He is God, and he is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. That is my God, and your God. That is Father. Oh for grace to trust Him more!

My New Digs

So I thought you all would like to see where I call home now! I know it's been a month already; time flies! Sorry it took so long! My good intentions to keep up this blog are lagging right now. But let me put in a plug for the ranch blog, because I have begun writing on there, and as the summer rolls on, the staff are being encouraged to write their stories. So if you want ranch stories, you might get more on that blog than this one. Just go to
Okay, so here you go!

the beds (before girls)

"Cowboy" trying out my bed

Our lovely closet (before)

the beautiful bathroom

stalls for horses, and stalls for ranch girls(it's just so cute I had to put it in)

Our living room

we don't really eat here, but it's a great spot for studying or whatever

little kitchenette area (it's alot messier now!)

the view outside our window

even a tv room we get to use!

the beds now

and the closet now

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The First Two Weeks

So I've been on the ranch for two weeks now and I decided that if I try to get into deep, philosophical musings and spiritual analogies, I will never post anything here! And those kinds of posts can be good sometimes, but what you really want to know is the simple stuff. What have I been doing? How is life out in the real Midwest? Pictures? That would be wonderful. Unfortunately I don't have the computer amenities to transfer my photos from camera to blog at this point, so you will have to patient.

My first few days here were spent unpacking my large entourage and settling in to the brand new girls' bunkhouse. Being the first to set up housekeeping has its advantages! I got to choose my favorite bed and my favorite spot; bed and spot not together? Nothing a little furniture moving can't take care of. I had time to get my stuff organized and out of the way before someone else's stuff came into the mix. Our place is in the basement of the lovely retreat-cabin style house pictured in my last post. When I get around to Starbucks and have the chance to load pics on a friend's laptop, I will post some show and tell. We have a lovely dorm-style room, large bathroom, and our own little sort-of-kitchenette/sitting room with a door to the outside, not to mention a tv room with a piano and a treadmill right off our apartment.

Two of my summer ranch buddies arrived during the first week; I had already met both of them last fall at the fundraiser and we got to know each other a little bit during the weekend. They are both here for the whole summer, and we are getting along fabulously. We've already had some great fun times and great conversation. Our fourth roommate is due to arrive tomorrow night. I have not met her before, but she has spent time at the ranch previously and she shares my name :), so, I imagine we'll all fit together pretty well. Though it is going to be weird calling someone else by my name. We've already been discussing nicknames so that everybody else can make a distinction between the two of us.

So the three musketeers (soon to be four) have been keeping busy with all sorts of odd jobs while our boss-man, Shannon Haerr, operator of His Ranch, has been working tirelessly to plant corn in the short period between rain when the fields were dry enough. God blessed us with about a week of beautiful summer weather, and today the rain and cold is back. But I think most of the planting is done! Pray that the crop will do well this year; the last several years have been too wet.

We have occupied ourselves with:
weeding a large and very wild flower bed by the ranch main entrance.
cleaning the welcome center.
sweeping out the barn (the stalls are another story)
organizing and cleaning in the tack room and feed room
learning and taking over evening chores
cleaning saddles and water tanks
getting to know the horses and trying to practice catching, tying, and grooming (some tries were more successful than others)
having informal horse classes with Cowboy Willie, the ranch's wonderful volunteer horse trainer
watching horse training dvd's by Craig Cameron, world's greatest horse trainer and possessor of a lovely sleep-inducing southern drawl ;)
going to church, Bible study, and a youth get together
going out for Mother's Day dinner as adoptees of the ranch family
going out for lunch
going out for ice cream
going out to Walmart
celebrating a birthday by exploring a nearby town, baking a cake, watching a movie, meeting a friend, and, you guessed it.... going out for dinner. At the coolest Japanese grill
Oh yes, and sharing female bonding time over dark chocolate. What could top that?

Life has been full, exciting, and full of new things. Next week promises to be even fuller, with more new people and new things, and hopefully, still fun and exciting! One thing I can say....I know I'm going to have plenty of opportunities to grow here. And it's not always going to be fun and exciting. And I don't like the sound of that, but it's okay. God knows where I am, He knows where He wants me to be, and He knows how to get from point A to point B. He knows what's around this bend in the road and the next one and the next. He knows how He wants to show Himself in my life and I'm just along for the ride! Pray that I will be soft to His touch, just as these horses must learn to be soft to our touch and submit to our plans for them. Pray that I will trust my Father in all the things I cannot see or know, just as the horses must trust their trainer and rider to guide them and take care of them and keep them from harm. Pray that I will hunger and thirst more for Him and love to be with Him, just as I am hoping these horses will learn to enjoy being with me and learn to respect me as the leader.

Thank you, my friends, for reading and praying. Adios until next time!