Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Day At His Ranch

Okay, I just found this post that I wrote way back in the first few weeks of the season and never finished. So here you go! A little out of date, but this gives you an idea of how the summer season basically went. Now that school has started, we'll be doing it a little differently, but we're planning to stay open through October!

Here at His Ranch, every day is different, so we don't have a problem with boredom. Granted, sometimes we're tired, hot, sleep-deprived, moody, or sore, but life here is generally full of excitement. It's always hard to describe an experience to someone who has never been there, but now that the season is in full swing and I've got a feel for it, I thought I'd take you through a somewhat typical day on the ranch.

We are open for lessons Monday through Thursday each week, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Each weekday morning we meet at 8:00 for staff devotions, usually at the ranch welcome center. We take turns sharing Scripture or something meaningful, and then have a prayer circle to start the day. After that, we talk about the plans and possibilities for that day, until our first session starts. For the first few weeks of the season, we have not had a full session schedule every day, but now we are getting busier. We've started to get a routine down so we know who is responsible for each lesson and generally we will have the same staff person with the same kids every week. Most of our kids and groups will come each week through the summer. We have one-hour long sessions from 9:00 to 12:00, an hour lunch break, and then sessions from 1:00 to 4:00. Then chores are done and we are free for the rest of the evening.

We have a lot of kids that come in ones, twos, and threes. So we usually pair each child with a volunteer for their session. Whoever is not doing the present session keeps busy with other things around the ranch or the office. Then we have a couple large groups that come, and everybody helps with that. Right now we have two groups of kids once a week from Transitions, which is the local special needs program. We also have a group of adults come from there. Last week we started having groups from the YMCA summer program. We had almost 60 kids between the ages of 4 and 11! The number may drop as the summer goes on, but that group will be coming every week. And a group of older kids also come from the Y. Ages 11 to 14 or so. That is a much, much smaller group. With those groups, we usually give pony rides, which means we lead them around on a horse. Depending on the size of the group, the ride might just be one circle around the arena. Then we sometimes get out another horse for them to pet and groom while they are waiting for rides. Sometimes we have someone working with a horse in the round pen so the kids can watch.

With one on one lessons, we take the student to the pasture to catch the horse (unless they are physically unable), and we have them do as much of the hands on work as they are capable of. Together, we groom and saddle, and then, depending on the skill level, the child will either get a pony ride, or they will ride on their own. We aren't giving technical lessons, since no one here is qualified to teach professionally and most of us have very limited horse knowledge and experience ourselves. So the kids who are more experienced riders basically come just to keep up on their riding and have a good time. A few of them even have horses, but come in hopes of gaining more confidence and experience in a safe setting. We are open to all kinds of people. Everyone has needs. Some are obvious, some are not. We are willing to embrace whoever God brings to His ranch, and we pray He will use us to love each one. But our heart is especially for the kids with specific physical, mental, or emotional needs. It is such a joy to watch the freedom and excitement that they experience on horseback, and the special connection that can form between kids and the animals on the ranch. Besides the horses, we have a dog, several cats, and a few ducks that wander around and torture the cats. We also have a goat that has been living away for awhile, because he got loose too often and tore up the gardens, but we hope to find a permanent solution for keeping him here and bring him back soon. Animals of all kinds have a special ministry to a child's soul.

That is where I left off. We did get the goat, Buddy, back on the ranch, and he's still here, though he has a contagious infection, so he can't be played with anymore and we might find him another home. We lost the dog several weeks ago and now have a new puppy named Mia who's cuddly and adorable now but when she's grown she'll be 150 pounds! She's had quite the initiation to the ranch; last week she got run over by the Gator! It's kind of like a golf cart that we use around the ranch. Thankfully, Mia got off with only a bruised shoulder and lungs and should be fine. One of the three ducks, who, incidently, thought he was a cat, was murdered by some creature on a dark night, shortly after the dog disappeared. That was a sad Monday. The YMCA day camp is over for the summer so those kids aren't coming anymore. We will be having a few morning/early afternoon sessions for our homeschoolers and the Transitions groups, and then we will have some late afternoon sessions for the other kids after school. We'll have a lot more time to fill in between, so we plan to work more with the horses and probably go riding more too! It's been a full, hot, challenging, and wonderful summer. We're looking forward to cooler fall temperatures, but I always take Fall in a melancholy mood because I know Winter is coming. But the seasons must come and go and there is beauty in each one. God has promised that as long as the earth remains, the order He has set up of days and seasons will never cease. We see His return drawing near, and we have the hope that when Time has ceased to be, we will ever be with the Lord. Let us hold fast to this hope and look towards That Day when we will see His face!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Welcome Home Kirill

I am sharing this video because it absolutely touched my heart. I'm going to put in a bunch of plugs today if anyone is interested in knowing more of the background of this story and the amazing work God is doing on behalf of the orphans, His special children. If you have never heard of Reece's Rainbow, you need to go to the site and check it out. I'll make it easy for you!

You also may want to go to this family's blog and read the story. I haven't read the whole thing yet myself, but I got enough from my mom to know it's worth reading, and I could just feel the incredible joy in this victory video! This little boy, Kirill, has just come home from Russia to his forever family. His parents had gone through most of the long road of being approved for adoption and all the paperwork and home studies and everything that it takes to bring these children home. They traveled to Russia the first time just to meet him, and then they have to go home and do some more stuff and then go back for the court date. So their second time in Russia, they went to the court hearing and the judge rejected their adoption application. They were heartbroken. All they could do was go home and file an appeal. They finally got a date for a hearing in the Russian Supreme Court. I haven't read the story of what happened there, but they said it was a miracle. I don't think the judges there seemed favorable to approve the adoption, either, but at the end, they did approve it, and now Kirill is home. This is the video of his homecoming and it is so precious! I cried all the way through it. If you would like to read Kirill's story, here is their blog:
This link is for the first part of the story of what happened after they got their Supreme Court date. You can go farther back or read as much or little as you want, but these are the kind of stories my mom and I have been following for a few years now since we found out about Reece's Rainbow and started reading about different families who were adopting. Seeing these things makes me want so badly to go and bring home one of these little angels. God works in amazing and mysterious ways. I believe He may be preparing my heart to do this someday. And if this post leads anyone else to support this ministry or to adopt themselves, it will blow me away, and I will be incredibly humbled and grateful and in awe of God. More glory to God! He is the Father to the fatherless and the miracle working God who uses the weak and ordinary and limited things of this world to showcase His power and grace. May He be lifted up....that is the goal of my life. Please watch this video. God, break our hearts with the things that break Yours.