Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I Don't Like It!

 God is teaching me to be humble and it's humiliating!  He's  teaching me to be patient and I don't like it!  
     Many would agree that patience and humility are good character qualities to have, but the process it takes to develop those qualities can be unpleasant.  God has slowed me down to teach me important lessons.  I am trying to look at my trial as an opportunity.  Each adversity is like a different sunrise.  There is beauty in each one because God is at work!

      Last week I separated a joint in my shoulder.  I have to wear a sling for 3 weeks.  Although I think that I could try to do my normal routine it would not be beneficial to my healing so I haven't been able to play piano or ride my horse.  Two things that are so special to me.  It's humiliating having to wear a sling, have every one ask you what happened, be educated on how dangerous horses are (although any animal can be dangerous it's falling off one that is the most dangerous!), and have someone else fix your hair and tie your shoes.  It's frustrating not being able to do the dishes, cook, or do laundry without help.  Yet it is good.  I'm learning that it's OK to ask for help and that I can help in other ways.  Things that I would rather not do are the things I'm still capable of doing such as cleaning.  Learning to do speech and physical therapy with my brother is important.  God must want me to help Mom with that and knew that He would just have to make me do it in order for me to realize that it's actually not that hard.  It's a good way to spend time with my little brother.  I've had to spend time with my family as they have to help me.  I now have plenty of time to give my sister piano lessons and she can brush the horses with me. 
    God has also been developing a special friendship between me and another young lady who is helping me clean (whom I may have never asked to help me otherwise).  Did you know you can clean with only one arm?  The arm that's doing the cleaning feels like it's about ready to fall off at the end of the day, but it can be done!  My cleaning helper and I have bee having a lot of good conversations about life and the Lord. 
   Another thing that I've had the time to do is study the Bible.  Have you ever been challenged on the authority of scripture?  I have recently and now I know the exact scripture references to turn to:  2 Timothy 3:15-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21, Romans 4:22-25, and Romans 15:3,4   It was so exciting for me to find how scripture backs up scripture.  I can tell you with certainty that all scripture is divinely inspired and all scripture is true.   The Bible was written to show us how to be saved from Hell, how to experience a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and give us the answer to what our purpose on earth is.  The Bible really does have the answers!

God's Word is light.  It breaks through the  darkness of confusion and lies.

In conclusion.  God has brought me to my knees once again and I have been reminded of how mortal I am.  I'm also reminded that when I pray, sometimes God uses creative ways to make the answer clear to me.  Do you suppose God is applying his appropriate pressure on me?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Appropriate Pressure


my training...


     In January I got a pony mare whom I've called Wildfire and others have called Spitfire.  If you haven't figured it out from her name, she is a spirited, sometimes wild little pony. A lot has changed in the past 9 months and she is a totally different horse. Here is a list of my struggles.
*It took us at least one hour to catch her at her previous owner's place.
*She would whinny, prance, and pull away from me when I would take her out of the pen away from the horses.
*She would snort, shy, and run when a lead rope was swung, twirled, and thrown, around, over, and on her.
*She would step away and snort at the sight and feel of the saddle thrown over her.
*You could not trust her to ground tie.
*I walk out and catch her. If she does walk away, she will turn back to me when I ask her to.
*She turns, faces me, and stands as I shut the gate and follows me quietly as we exit the pasture.
*She tolerates the sight and sensation of a rope being swung, twirled, and thrown around, over, and on her.
*She will stand with the lead line dropped to the ground while a saddle is placed on her back.
*She can be trusted to ground tie...well half of the time, it's still a work in process!

     Even with all these improvements and changes, she was still a challenge to ride (and the first picture you saw was what our riding used to be like). I have to give a lot of credit to the horse trainer/cattle rancher who was willing to take the time to teach me how to better communicate with my horses. This past month I have been blown away by the changes I experienced with Wildfire and even the horse trainer said she looked like a totally different horse. 

She has more bend in her body with less brace, she will side pass, move her shoulders away from pressure, move her hindquarters away from pressure, and can stay somewhat collected while moving forward.   She backs well with a nice collected frame and is learning what I think is a more difficult manuver—engaging the hindquarters. I understand that most of you are thinking, what is she talking about; can she write in English?   Hang in there, I'm getting to the point of this article.
Basically, Wildfire has learned to submit to my will.  Before she would fight with me and go rather crazy --going in the opposite direction I asked by pushing into the pressure I applied instead of moving away while moving her feet too many steps, rearing, and bobbing her head.  She was very good at distracting me from my goal, which put her in control and kept me from following through with what I asked her to do.  On the advice from the trainer, in went a bit and on went my spurs.  Now I had the tools I needed to follow through with what I asked and to teach this stubborn pony to submit and yield to pressure rather than press into it.  Now when Wildfire tried to fight, she was met with more precise pressure from the bit and the poke of a spur.  She became agitated as she realized that resisting was more painful now and it was so much more pleasant to submit.  As I learned to focus on the one thing I was asking Wildfire to do while blocking her other movements with my spurs and reigns, I realized that a little pain was necessary to get through to this pony.  I was not being cruel, nor heartless.  I remembered how the horses were not afraid to leave a mark on each other with a bite or hard kick when establishing authority.  My measly bit and spur was nothing compared to a powerful kick or bite from a horse, yet it was just big enough to establish my authority.  Applying more pressure actually made it easier and more obvious for Wildfire to understand what I expected of her.  It made her feel secure and safe knowing that I was her leader and in contol of the moment so she didn't need to be.  Now after a month, I rarely need to use my spur if only just to touch her lightly and her head bobs less and less as she finds comfort in feeling my hands through the bit and reigns.  Finally she had found that the right thing was easy and the wrong thing was difficult.

     This makes me think of those Christians whose relationship with God is similar to that of a rebellious pony, yet they as a reasoning human know what is right and what is wrong.   How sad and frustrating this must be for believers who have discipled and invested in these Christian's lives and even more so for God. God never loses focus of his plan for our lives.  He also knows the appropriate pressure to apply in our lives to make it difficult for us to keep rebelling against his ways and sometimes it's painfull.   Will we submit?   How far will God have to go with us?  Will He have to take our life if we refuse to obey Him?   I know a story of a horse trainer who had a very challenging horse.   This horse had many problems, and although he was able to demonstrate that the horse could be rode, he recommended that the owner put the horse down because it was so dangerous.   Unlike animals, we can change through the power of the Holy Spirit gifted to us at the time of our salvation, but it's our choice.   Even after salvation, we still must choose to live God's way rather than continue doing things our way.  God's way brings eternal peace and comfort, but the world's way brings eternal pain and suffering.  Like Wildfire, sometimes we have to experience pain before we can experience the peace, comfort, and joy in doing things our Master's way and for us as people that's God's way!

Horse owners/trainers:
Will you apply the appropriate pressure when necessary?
Will you respond to the slightest suggestions from God and if not, are you ready for God's appropriate pressure?

"There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."
Proverbs 16:25 

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, 
neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.  
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways
 higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." 
Isaiah 55:8-9 

"Doth not He see my ways, and count all my steps?"
Job 31:4

Thursday, August 22, 2013

When God Asks Us to Take a Step or Fall of Faith

     When I was about 7 or 8, our pastor asked for a volunteer for his sermon illustration.  I raised my hand not knowing what His plan for me was.  He asked me to stand up on the first pew with my back towards him.  "Now, cross your arms and close your eyes.  When I say ready, I want you to fall backwards and I will catch you."
     That seemed easy enough to me, until I heard his voice somewhere in the auditorium say,
"OK, Hannah, fall back."
"No,"  I rejected, worried.  "You won't catch me."
"Yes, I will.  I promise I won't let you fall."
     I knew that he was no longer standing behind me, how could he catch me?  I was scared and began to cry as the congregation encouraged me to do what I thought was impossible.  Then I heard my pastor say,
"Hannah, open your eyes and see who is standing behind you."
    I turned to see My Dad who had been there all along, waiting for me to trust him although unseen...waiting to catch me.  How foolish I felt in not trusting and disappointed that I had missed this opportunity for my Dad to catch me.
     How often are we like this?  The pastor challenges us to submit to God's will or God says,
"Would you do this for Me?"
"Sure, I will do that for You, God, " you say.
     Then we find out what God wants us to do.  First, it may seem easy enough or maybe right away the difficulties are apparent.  Finally as we're ready to do what God has asked of us and we're starting to pursue it, we begin to doubt God's plan: we're too scared, it seems just too hard, we convince ourselves someone else is more capable than we are, we think it won't work.  So we give up and feel foolish for missing out on an opportunity.  We are saddened and disappointed when we look back to see that our heavenly Daddy was there behind us all along…waiting,  waiting for us to trust Him even though we could not see Him...waiting to catch us.  Sometimes in life obeying God may mean that we are going to fall, but that is when God steps in to show us that He is there.  When we think it is ridiculously impossible, His Word and our brothers and sisters in Christ encourage us to do it anyway.  God is there to catch us and to show His power through our life.  *The One who loves us and gave Himself for us is in charge of our lives.  In ordinary circumstances and impossible situations, God can reveal His power. 
      Take a moment to reflect on God doing the impossible in the lives of people recorded in the Bible.  Think of Noah, what if God didn't make it rain like He said He would.  Noah really would have been the biggest fool in His day, but he wasn't.  What about Abraham?  He was 100 and Sarah in her 90s.  Surely God's promise of a son would not come true, but it did!  Many times the Royal line of David could have been wiped out, but God preserved it so this promise of the Messiah coming from this family would come true.  In Acts 12:1-11, we find Peter in Jail on a death sentence because of His faith.  Yet, he was asleep, willing to die for Christ, trusting God that He knew what was best.  Peter thought it was a dream when the Angel from God released him and even those praying for his deliverance were surprised to see him at the door.
     Don't be afraid to do God's will, if His word and His people are confirming this to you.  Sometimes you have to take that step or fall in faith, trusting in our God to make the impossible, possible!  Trust me, you won't be disappointed!

*Our Daily Bread, Aug. 21, 2013

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Dream Come True

A Gift from God

Ever since I was little, I always looked forward to my favorite part of parades: the horses.  As I watched them pass, this little girl with a cowgirl hat would envision herself riding on one of them.  One day I hoped to own and ride a horse--including in a parade.  At almost 19 years of age, this little girl's dream has come true. 

 Despite the fact that the school band was behind us, the horses became used to the drums and trumpets behind them.  I told Wally it was OK, and made it fun.  Pretty soon it seemed like we were prancing in front of the band in the street!

Thanks to God, my parents, and mentors this dream has come true. Three years ago, I would never have imagined that I would be riding the then 5 year old just been gelded stud. For this horse I prayed, a horse that cost me nothing, once not useful, considered second choice, and untrained, now proving himself faithful and useful. To God be the Glory. We have a God who can make all things possible!

Special Thanks to:
Thank you God for answering my prayers and giving me the desire of my heart--
even when You didn't have to.
Thanks for driving the truck and trailer and hooking me up with these riders.
My parents:
 Thanks for letting me have a horse.
These riders and horses:
Thanks for letting me ride with you!

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Clothing Mishaps of Farmers and Ranchers

Ever heard of cowboy/rancher writer Baxter Black?  This is my version of a Baxter Black story. Hope you enjoy it!   

     As farmers and ranchers, we encounter first hand what it takes to rip, snag, splatter, or loose our clothing.  If you are not careful to hold the barb wire down as you're stepping over, you may just split your pants, which your handy sewing wife says is hard to repair.  Climbing under barb wire fences has its own set of circumstances.  If you're casually crawling under the fence as a quicker alternative to the gate a 1/2 mile away, you may just get a small snag hole in your shirt or chore coat.  On the other hand if you're doing this to save your life from a mad stampeding cow, you may just find your clothes nearly ripped clean off or in a condition to cause a mending headache.  Ranchers have found that snap shirts are more practical than button shirts.  If your shirt happens to get caught on the saddle horn, you not only have your buttons pop off, the front side of your shirt becomes shredded, which for lady ranchers is quite disgraceful.  The remedy?  Wear an under shirt or the even more appealing option, a Western shirt with snaps.  These shirts quickly release you when in a bind.  They just snap open and all you have to do is snap them back up.   You and your shirt will be in one piece. 
     Hats are in a category all their own and the ways in which one looses them can be quite humoring.  If you're out working cattle, and a big gust of wind comes along, no matter how hard you've cinched your hat down over your ears, it's guaranteed to fly off at the most inopportune time.  If your lucky, the cows you've just gathered won't spook when it lands in the middle of them. You'll be even more lucky if your prized possession doesn't get trampled, pooped, or snotted on.  My favorite was a story a farmer told who was out raking hay.  He had his hearing protectors stretched over the top of his hat and somehow the wind still managed to flip the hat off his head.  He looked back to see his hat land squarely in the row as the rake buried it with alfalfa.  Grumbling over not having time enough to stop, he retrieved his chaff filled cap after kicking it out of the windrow.  I thought how funny it would have been if he had bailed it and a cow found it one wintry day while eating its lunch. 
    I could also tell stories of clothes being pelted with unmentionable substances while pulling calves, mucking the yard, or nearly doing a face plant while wallowing through knee deep mud when haying the farm animals.  Some things are better left unsaid. 
     Only the things a farm rancher would know!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Thoughts on Horse Slaughter

     I am a horsewoman, own and ride two horses, and agree with the horse slaughter plant in Iowa.  I know how much it costs to care for a horse and how difficult it is to manage one.  I agree that it is an unwise choice to use horse meat for human consumption, if it has been tainted with drugs.  I also know that other animals used for meat are vaccinated, and fed genetically modified and chemically treated feeds which are also unhealthy for human consumption.  That is another issue I will choose not to discuss in this article.  Horse slaughter is not any less humane than any other animal slaughter if done in a way where the animals are killed instantly.  God says, “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel (Prov. 12:10).”   I believe that whoever owns an animal is accountable to God for how he or she cares for it.  I also believe that we are to have dominion or rule over the animals (Gen 1:26).   Animals are not human.  God has given them to us for a purpose to use and enjoy.  Each animal has its own purpose and when that purpose is done due to an injury, health, or old age,  it is right to properly dispose of them.  Look at nature.  If an animal is sick or healthy, it may become lunch for a hungry predator.  That is the cycle of life.  A horse slaughter plant looks a lot more humane to me than the graphic and gruesome deaths you see on Nature Wildlife shows.  It is your own personal choice whether to allow your horse to go to a slaughter facility or have a good long life, but we should not ask the government to make the choice for us.  The more decisions we let the government make, the more power they have and the less freedom we have.  The Humane Society states that they are against animal cruelty.  I am against animal cruelty too: it’s cruel to not to put an animal down when it’s suffering and it’s cruel not to dispose of them properly.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Variations on Groundwork Exercises

Featuring:  Hannah with Wildfire
I am working with a 12 year old pony mare I've had since January of 2013.  She used to get very upset when I would take her out of her pen away from the horses and is still a very sensitive little pony.  Keep in mind folks that a sensitive horse is better than a dull horse who has no fear of humans.  In this video I am doing several ground exercises that have been taught by Parelli and other natural horsemanship trainers.  These ground exercises have been crucial to getting this little mare calm, attentive, and responsive.  I hope I'll be able to show more training videos in the future.  Thanks for watching.  I hope this is a help to you and your horses. 
Note: This video was not edited so I apologize for any background noise, low volume, or recording instructions.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Come take a walk with me
through my family's farm!
Flowers to greet you as you enter our yard.
Isn't the detail astounding?!

My special Knock Out rose bush given to me by a friend in mermory of  a special horse that passed away suddenly on Memorial day of 2012.


Took a walk through the pasture and what did I see?
All the grazing cattle are staring at me!




Hey, get out of my space!


This little heifer is enjoying her lunch.


That's All Folks!

Thanks for Visiting!  You All Come Back Now!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

"When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?  Jesus answered , If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?  You must follow me."  John 21:21-22 (NIV version, emphasis added, read the whole story in John 21:15-22)

Raise your hand if you like to have some one point out your flaws.  That's funny I didn't raise my hand either.  Let's admit it, we don't like to admit that we are wrong.  I had that moment yesterday.  I was sitting on the couch early one morning just finishing up my devotions when Mom walked in. "Can I ask you a question?" 

My mind raised a red flag with a giant question mark followed by an exclamation point.  "Uhhh.  I guess."

First she gave me the clue to the source of her question.  I had recently become very concerned about God's will for me.  The question preying on my mind had been "Am I doing what God wants me to do or is there is something else, something more that He wants me to do?"  I didn't want to miss out on God's plan by settling for less. 

Mom's words began to work like a hoe chopping at a big weed.  "Do you feel like you need to do something important in order to do God's will?  Are you comparing yourself to your friends thinking what they are doing is important and what you are doing is not?  You are a big help to me and our family.  By doing the garden for us you are providing for our food.  I need help with laundry and meals so I have time to teach your brothers and sister.   Living at home and serving your family is just as important to God.  There is so much that I wish you could help me with (she began to explain to me my brother with downsyndrom's very time consuming and hands on education needed for him to advance in his learning)".

Now, I really hadn't been thinking like that had I?  I had recognized that problem weed before in my heart, yet I did want to do something that seemed important like volunteering at a therapeutic riding facility in Iowa or training horses or giving riding lessons.  Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I realized she was right.  Although I had been trying to bury it with good intentions to do what I enjoyed for God, that weed of discontent kept poking to the surface.  I knew that I could do what I enjoyed at home and still be serving God.   I could and had been using my skills with cattle and horses to help Dad on the farm.  The biggest problem I had was the idea of God's will to be helping Mom in the house, possibly even helping teach my siblings.  I didn't mind cooking or baking for some meals and doing laundry once in a while, but on a regular basis with the possible addition of helping teach one of my siblings?  I liked to be outside gardening, training/riding my horse & pony, or helping with the cattle.  I explained this to Mom, ending with, "God will have to change my heart, because my heart is not in it right now." 

Not long after making that comment to Mom, Dad came in.  "I let the cattle into the cow lot since they were breaking their buts to get in there.  I don't know why they want to be in there when they have the whole pasture with long grass to eat.  The grass in there isn't any better if not the same." 

Let me reword it in the way God spoke to me, "I don't know why you want to be somewhere else when you have the whole pasture of opportunities at home and in your own community to use your abilities. The "grass" over there isn't any better if not the same as what you already have now.  The grass that others have may look greener to you, but it's not to them.  You need to be content with where I have put you, the pasture that I have placed you in."   I knew I had been selfish. It didn't matter if I didn't always feel appreciated or that I already had many responsibilities. The problem was that I was telling God what He wanted me to do rather than letting God work through me wherever I was and whatever I did. The problem was that I was only open to serving God in the areas that I liked and not open to serving God in areas that I didn't like.  God's needle of humility deflated my balloon of selfishness.  You are right God,  Mom is right.  I know I'm not going to like everything that you want me to do, but please enable me to be content and serve my family with a joyful spirit.  Thanks for reminding me once again to bloom where You have planted me.

Be ye strong therefore and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.
2 Chronicles 15:7
is tasteless, colorless, sizeless
hard to swallow.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I Can't Live Without It!

     What is precious to you?  What is something you may think that you couldn't live without?  Some things I would struggle to live without are my family, my horses, living in the country, ice cream, and my own bed.  You may laugh, but start listing a few of your own and you too will be surprised.  I have relized that I can live without these and God has caused things to happen in my life that have showed me that all I really need is Him. 
     I've learned that God gives me the strength to finish certain tasks on my own and will give me the wisdom to make the right decisions when my family isn't able to help me. 
     Living on a farm, and most of my friends living far away, my horses often become my closest friends.  God has allowed me to feel the pain from the deaths of 2 horses and experience some frightening injuries to the horses I still have in order to show me that He is my closest friend and will never ever leave or reject me.  I must daily remind myself that "of all that is precious, Jesus tops the list" (Our Daily Bread, May 1, 2013).
     In 1 Kings 10-11, we find that Solomon also had many things that were precious to him.  So much did he love these things, that he began to love them more than God.  His possessions and wives turned his heart away from God.  His life is a picture of what can happen when we begin to forget how precious God is.   Because he neglected his God, God was going to take away what he had from his son. 
     I believe that when we do not give God the glory for what He has given us, He will take it away.  He has given us what we have and can choose to take it back again.  I challenge you and myself to tell Jesus every morning when we awake, "I can't live without You!"