Sunday, October 26, 2014

One of Those "Interesting" Days


     It began as just an ordinary beautiful fall day.  Today was Wednesday and the day's schedule happened to be full, but I had prepared.  I had a plan that I was sure would allow me enough time to get each item accomplished.  The morning started smoothly.

    My first project after breakfast was checking the truck over with Dad before using it.  I learned where the oil, transmission fluid, engine coolant, etc. were located.  After sticking my saddle and bridle in the pick-up cab, I backed up to the horse trailer with Jeremiah's help despite the obstacles all around. 

    The horses were grazing at the furthest point, but I hadn't had much trouble in catching them lately so I left the truck running knowing I'd be back with a horse shortly.  Not so?  Just when I got within a few yards of them, Wally (of all the horses!) took a bee line for the ditch leading all on a proud gallop to the far end of the creek pasture.  I was on the verge of anger.  I called home to request for someone to bring the ranger out to me.  Not much time was spared as I was at the gate by the time someone was found to drive the ranger.  I drove fast and furiously to the end of the pasture.  The horses eyed me warily with heads raised and galloped back to the catch corral-the smart little pony in the lead.  The horses safely caught, I put away the ranger and marched down to the resting horses.  This time, Wally stood and allowed me to halter him.  He loaded willing as always. 
    When He saw that I was going to be  a while,  Dad had turned off the truck, not wanting to waste expensive diesel fuel.  So I turned the key expecting to hear the diesel engine roar to life.  Instead I heard two weak whines.  I tried turning the key again-same response!  No-o-o!  "Dumb old truck!"  I mumbled under my breath as I got out.

     "What's the problem?  It won't start!"  Dad yelled as he drove by on the tractor.  He hopped in the cab for a minute and the engine roared to life.  "Thanks, Dad!"  "Yeah, well, you better hope it starts over there or you'll really be screwed!  Maybe you should just stay home-after two strikes your out!"

     I drove out the driveway with a heavy heart, asking God to help the truck run well.  "I thought you wanted me to go today," I told God.  "You rearranged my schedule so that I could help them work cattle this morning."

     I turned the truck lights on thinking that turned on the trailer lights, making the turn lights work.  I wanted to be sure people following me would be aware of my direction since I had a line of cars behind me because of the road construction in town.  Besides, the last thing I needed was a ticket. 

Soon I was driving down the lane of my friends' ranch and was parking the truck and trailer.  The morning went well from there-Wally was Wally, but got the cows where they belonged while my knowledge increased on moving cattle effectively.

I got ready to leave and Miss L came with me to open the gates.  "I hope it starts,"  I said remembering how reluctant the truck had been that morning.  This time when the key was turned the truck was silent.  "Oh no,"  I groaned,  "This is not good." I thought, "It must have a dead battery."  That's when I glanced down at the pull out light switch.  I had left the lights on?  "Dad is not going to be happy!"  I moaned.

"We can jump start it,"  Miss L pointed out.  Smart friend, an extra brain when mine is clouded by discouragement.  Hope still lingered, but I had to groan and jump around like a defiant horse, reluctant to accept the pressure being applied.  I wanted to shake off the feelings I had inside.

Miss L was calm and called off my antics telling me I should be thankful, now I could stay and help them finish moving cattle.  I called to let my next appointment know I would be late and helped run the shoot system as the rest of the calves were treated.

I felt guilty having caused such a problem and inconvenience, but Mr. N didn't seem to mind as he pulled his truck and trailer down to hook up to mine.  To make a long story short, we all know more about starting horses than jump starting a truck and decided to leave the problem for an experienced mechanic like my Dad.

Mr. N was nice enough to offer to take my horse and I home since He would be taking a cow to be processed.  He tried to console me knowing that I was worried about Dad's response.  His advice helped, but I still didn't understand God's purpose in it all.

At the end of the day, Dad got the truck started after I got a thorough lesson in methods of jump starting a vehicle.  I also got this fact permanently  imprinted in my mind, "A trailer's turn signal will work when it's plugged into the truck.  You never need the light's on except at night!"  That is a blunder I will not repeat--at least not as long as it's daylight!

     The next morning in my devotions, two points stood out to me: Give thanks in everything and for everything. 
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Ephesians 5:2 
God spoke to my heart, convicting me about my responses the day before, "Had I thanked Him that it happened at the M's farm near our place and not at a horse event miles away?  Did I thank Him for a Dad that knows how a truck works and how to fix it?"  Instead of moaning and groaning, I should have praised God!

   The following morning, God once again spoke to me about how He wants me to respond to problems.  In Matthew 26:46-56, at the night of His betrayal in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus did not try to run way from the suffering he would face.  He even called off his disciples from fighting back.  Jesus knew God could send all His angels and wipe out the men coming to arrest him, but He knew that wasn't God's plan.  Although He didn't want to experience the pain, Jesus welcomed the most unpleasant crisis anyone could face, knowing that it was going to fulfill God's will. 

But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.
Matthew 26:56
     How had I viewed my "crisis"?  Had I looked at it as a fulfillment of God's plan for my life that day or had I wanted to escape my problems?  I have to say that I badly wanted to escape my problem because I was afraid of how my dad would respond when I told him what had happened to the truck.  Yet, I had to submit to God's plan, because there was nothing that I could do to change my situation.  I had to choose to give the right response and make the right decisions to mend the issue at hand and let God handle the reactions of the people involved.

     If I hadn't experienced that "interesting" day, God would not have gotten these points across in my mind.   I wondered why I couldn't have read these passages before what happened happened, but realized that what I read had been meaningful because of what happened.  Here's a quote that expresses this, "We must never mistake the process for the result."   Because of what I went through, I was blessed by God's character and truth and learned how to respond the next time I had one of those "interesting" days. 

If you are yielded to Christ, your life is not a series of accidents; it is a series of appointments.
If escape is your approach to life, then you are going to miss out on all the blessings God has for you.
Hiding your light under an escape hatch is no way to glorify the Lord.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

An Early Morning Butte Top Experience

 At 5:30 in the morning, Rebekah and I hopped out of bed, dressed, and packed our cameras as we headed out into the dark morning, lit by the city lights of Bend. We set out at a brisk pace for Pilot Butte, the ginormous butte that overshadows Bend. 

 Pilot Butte (in the second picture you can see the butte's shadow over the city).

We took the paved road and despite the slight nip we worked up a sweat as we tackled the slope with strong strides. Reaching the top, the air was cool and the wind permeated our thin layers chilling our ears and fingers. We huddled behind a rock wall for protection and warmth as we scanned the colorful horizon, waiting for the sun to burst over the hills. 

As I watched, the mountains and buttes once hidden by hazy clouds and darkness, were revealed as the sun's rays brightened the horizon more and more with each passing minute. 

It made me think how Jesus, God's Son, is like the sun. When I chose to have Him become a part of my life, He revealed (and continues to reveal) the hidden parts of my life that are not right—bitterness, selfishness, pride. All those things, I didn't recognize were there are exposed by the Bible and the counsel of other Godly men and women in my life. Sometimes how I respond to the events happening that I don't like or the differences I have between me and another person bring out the worst in me—things that I must choose to change. Just as the dark bumps of the mountains become beautiful as their snowy tops become aglow from the sun, so Jesus has taken the messes in my life and transformed them into beautiful mountains of trust, patience, unconditional love, and forgiveness. 

I jumped to my feet and quickly snapped photos as the sun burst over the horizon. Never before had I been able to watch the sunrise from such a high altitude and all directions at once. It seemed so cleansing and transforming.

Delighted, I found that the day's Bible reading reflected my thoughts. The comparison of light driving away the darkness took on a new meaning for me in that moment, one that I hope to remember for a very long time.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light."
"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them."
"But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.” Ephesians 5:8,11,13

Friday, October 3, 2014

Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch


Last Chance Trading Post:
The Gift Shop

   Red Rock Meetn' Hall
(The barn)


   Sandy Pants Arena:
The arena where children are allowed to ride bareback. 
                  If they fall off, they're sure to get sand in their pants!     
 The Office of the "Town Marshal":

Dizzy Horse Round Pen

Independence Arena
Established July 4, 1994
 The Ranch Office Headquarters

It's dinner time for the ranch horses!

 Forest and his Mother
Amos the rescue colt, also Forest's Playmate
An afternoon on the ranch is finished.
It's time to walk down the lane to the
car corral.
Hope you all enjoy the picture walk through of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Smith Rocks in Oregon

Sunday, Rachel took Rebekah and I to Smith Rocks.  A rock fortress that towers above the ranches in the plains.  We watched the sun beginning to set behind the mountains, making the peaks just glow.  The sun's rays appeared to shoot out of the mountain, turning the Smith rocks toward the North East a reddish color.  It was just as Rachel had said.  The closer we got the more beautiful it became.  Then as we gazed over the wooden fence into the canyon below, we gasped as the most beautiful painting was revealed.  It was hard to believe I was actually witnessing this in person.

We thought this glowing boomerang cloud was neat as it seemed to encircle the tops of the Smith Rocks.  What a beautiful ending to our first day in Oregon!

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Ride in the Clouds

It would be my first ride in the clouds.  Would I be scared, would I be thrilled?
The plain stopped on the runway and the engine got louder and louder.  I sat rigged in my seat.  Would it take off so fast that everything would be a blur?  I watched the flaps of the wings raise up and down as I assumed the pilot was double checking that everything was in working order.  The power with which the plain moved forward, pushed me back against the seat.  The airport whizzed by then, slowly, slowly my body was raised from earth in this metal contraption with stationary wings.    The ground how I had once known it got further and further away as it turned into a patchwork of greens, browns, and yellows dotted with the tiny roofs of houses and barns.  I chewed my gum vigorously as I felt my ears get plugged and my head grow tight from the drastic altitude changes. 

 My friend, Rebekah and I were on our way to Bend, Oregon to the ranch we've always dreamed about: Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch.  We flew out of Des Moines a half our later than expected due to a flicker in the airport's electricity from the rain storm.  We landed in Minneapolis, at 8:35a.m. only to anxiously wait 10 more minutes for an exit ramp to be brought to the door of the plain.  By then it was 8:55 a.m. and our plain was to depart at 9:00.  We raced across the airport passing people in our frantic state.  As we were halfway there, Rebekah stopped and said, "Wait, did that sign say it wasn't leaving till 9:30?"  "I don't know.  I'd rather get there sooner than later," I commented knowing that our luggage had already been loaded on that plain.  Sure enough the plain had been delayed (good thing for us).  As we hit the skies for Salt Lake City, we had a sinking feeling as we double checked our tickets.  We were going to barely make our flight to Portland.  As the jet landed, the stewardess listed off the flights that were departing, Portland being one of them.  We were discouraged as this meant we would not get to ride the bus that we had payed for.  Thankfully, Rebekah thought to ask if we could have our alternate flight be Redmond.  This way we could get ahead of the bus and still meet Rachel (the lady we'd be staying with) at the bus stop in Bend.   It was amazing to see how God worked out the details.  Through it all Rebekah had said, "There's no need to get worried about it.  God's worked things out this far, so He can work through this as well. There is nothing we can do about it so I might as well trust Him."  She was so right.  We had no need to be anxious with God on our side! 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

My Trip to Kentucky Part 3

Ryan looked up at me and asked quietly. “Do I have to do it?” “No, you don't have to, but at least try playing with it in your hands. Meranda the other team leader had similar thoughts to mine. Soon she and I had been convinced by the excited squeals of the campers and had our hands in the strange white gooey substance. I could ball it up in my hands just as Michael one of the leader's assistance had showed me, but when I opened my hand it dripped though my fingers. It was time to “walk” on it. Because constant pressure had to be applied, you had to “jump” on it so to speak and “run” on the water. If you hesitated, your feet started to sink and get stuck. Ryan one of the few boys who always managed to stay clean, looked up at me again and said, “I'm going to try it.” “Me too,” I told him and together we took off our boots and socks to join the others. All of us had so much fun, and surprisingly, it wasn't messy. This white water didn't splash.  When pressure was applied it became firm so that we could walk on the water. 

Friday, was a big day—Pony Express. Each of the staff was asigned to a “station” along the trail where a child would get a fresh horse and have a decision to make. They could choose whether to practice the fruit of the spirit or do things their own way.   One spot in the trail there was a road block created by a pile of branches purposely placed in the path.  The child had to choose whether to wait for the branches to be cleared or go around them.  If they were patient, they continued down the right path, if they were impatient they were sent on a rabbit trail.  In another spot they met a lonely, poor hobo who was seeking true friendship and love.  The children were to point her to the cross and tell her of Jesus who would love her unconditionally and be her true friend.    At the end of the trail their self control was tested as they were told they must get off their horse and walk all the way back up the trail.  If they responded with a good attitude, they were allowed to get back on their horse and ride up to the barn, otherwise they had to walk back. 

When Brystol asked me if I wanted to take one of the horses and ride the trail to make sure each station was ready, I was thrilled! I chose one of the Haflinger ponies, she had a smooth gait and I was so glad to have a chance to ride a trot and lope. On my return to the barn I was instructed to ride the trail once more, this time following some of the young pony express riders to make sure everything would go smoothly and none of the activities at the stations would spook the horses. I started out riding a tall brown horse, but switched halfway to a Tennessee Walker. Completing the pony express route, I was then assigned to lead or walk along side young riders. Once everyone completed the Pony Express ride, we all took turns cooling off in the pool and going down the slip n' slide, which was a long white slick piece of plastic tarp extended down the hill from the house.  Someone stood at the top spraying it down with a foam soap to make it slick.

Saturday's grand finale was a rodeo put on by the children for their parents.  I chose which of the four categories my children would compete in.  Two did pole bending, one did barrel racing, one did keyhole, and one did roping.  The rodeo started out with the staff and campers holding up a giant American flag while several of the girl campers sang the national anthem.  It was a hot day, but all the children did their best and had fun. After the campers left, the staff cleaned up the Reckner ranch and make sure everything was in its place.

I didn't go home till Monday as that was when a lady had agreed to take me and another girl to meet our rides home in St Louis.  So Sunday afternoon, the Reckners and some of the remaining staff went horseback riding.  That was a lot of fun.  I rode Spur who is a captivity born mustang.  Cantering him was really enjoyable as he felt so comfortable and balanced. 

I'm so thankful for all that God taught me out there. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

My Trip to Kentucky, Part 2

Back inside the bunk house, I read my Bible while the other girls were awaking and getting ready for the day.   Soon Brystol (Reckner) and Sarah were making eggs and toast for us. Brystol asked me, “Would you like to walk with Sarah and I? We do this often, especially during the camps and we pray as we walk.” “Sure,” I said. When one of her little brothers heard I was going to walk with them he said, “prepare to walk for 3 miles!” I thought he was joking, but found he was honest. I soon found myself walking as fast as I could and being amazed at the passion with which Brystol and Sarah prayed.  I admired these two dedicated young ladies who prayed powerfully and covered miles quickly!  I decided I would be both physically and spiritually fit by the end of my stay!

On our return to the house, I was given my assignments for the day, helping Kimberly in the kitchen: making a large batch of pizza dough (at least 12 pans in all), mixing up 72 granola bars, and cooking 20-30 lbs of hamburger.  Kimberly helped me find things and run their big commercial type mixer.  I was glad that I was able to see the preparation that goes into running this kind of ministry.  Saturday morning held a similar routine of working in the kitchen doing jobs that needed done or the family didn't have time to do.  At the end of the day, I once again moved my belongings, this time to the bunkhouse the girl's would be staying in during camp.  I picked a top bunk that didn't have any sides as the younger campers would not be allowed to sleep there.

On Sunday, the majority of the Reckner family and staff piled into the 15 passenger van to go to church.  It was about a 15 min drive through the narrow, winding paved roads of rural Sebree, Kentucky. The rest of the day was spent getting ready for the campers to arrive, staff introductions, and staff instructions.  I was assigned to be a team leader (Sheriff) of the blue group.  At 3:00 p.m., camp registration started.  My team's color was dark blue and when it came time for roll call, I had 2 boys and girls under my leadership.   After Timothy Reckner did an overview of the camp rules, we all tromped down to the arena to do our first horse event of the day—a water relay.  Each rider had to get a cupfull of water, mount their horse, ride being careful not to spill, and dump the water in a bucket at the opposite end of the arena.  The first team to fill their bucket was the winner. 

Next it was chore time.  Chore time was twice a day and consisted of at least 3 of the 4 chore areas: barn chores, dog & chicken chores, bunkhouse chores, and kitchen patrol. Each of the 3 team groups took turns doing the different chores so everyone had a chance to learn how to do each one. Barn chores consisted of saddling or unsaddling horses, mucking stalls, filling water pails, and feeding the horses.  The dogs' water and food was checked, as well as the chickens, except for the addition of checking the nest boxes for eggs.  As for the bunkhouses, there were contests morning and evening to see whether the boy's or the girls' bunkhouse was the cleanest; each was awarded according to cleanliness.  The dirty award was a string of dirty socks!  This motivated the campers to keep their bunkhouse both clean and orderly.  Kitchen patrol which was done in the evening, involved the campers in washing dishes, sweeping floors, and cleaning the bathroom in the Reckner's house. Surprisingly, the boys always asked for the job of cleaning the bathroom! 

Throughout the day a big bell was rung by the house to call campers to meals, give instructions on each team's next activity, etc.  At the sound of that bell campers came running from all directions, each team lining up from shortest to tallest.  Before speaking, the camp directors would make sure they had everyone's attention by yelling--”Eyeballs!” and the children would respond loudly with, “Click!”  Sunday evening, after the staff meeting, I entered the bunkhouse now overflowing with children.  I had know idea where some of my belongings were and to top it all off, I had agreed to sleep in the loft to give more room to the campers.  The top bunk bed I had used became launch pad and landing for those of us clearing the gap between the bunk bed and the loft.  I was glad I wouldn't be moving my sleeping space for a while.

The year theme for the camp was The Grace Rider: Enthusiastic young riders willing to risk life daily to carry the message of the gospel to the end of the earth.  Each night ended with a skit put on by the staff about a pony express rider name Ransom who got a job with the pony express had to decide how to respond to the other riders and frustrating situations in a way that pleased God.  Children also learned facts about the pony express.

The theme for the week was the fruit of the Spirit from Galations 5:16-22.  Each day focused on at least one or two of the fruits of the spirit.

Monday found Sheriff Hannah keeping five cowboys and cowgirls on the right trail to activities.  One of the most memorable moments of that day was our survival activity: building a fire.  Mrs. Winfree explained what materials are combustible and how to put them together in a way that will get it to burn.  The blue group had a contest to see who could burn through the line the fastest with the fire they built.  Deputy Wesley had the idea of how to build it and I helped instruct my campers on what materials to gather.   We made a tepee out of big logs, placing dry grass, small twigs, and dry leaves in the center.  Each team was allowed 2 matches to start their fire. The light blue team's fire was slow to start, but our dark blue team's fire lit and burned through the rope in about 10 seconds.  The children were elated, but then we were instructed to put out our fire because when learning to start a fire, one must also learn to put it out.  Mrs. Winfree challenged us to practice peace: Don't burn with anger, but be a peacemaker when we experience conflict.

Tuesday we learned patience as we attempted to play 3-legged freeze tag. Once we accomplished it with two people, then we were challenged to do it with 9-10 of us. We quickly learned those of us who were more patient with our fellow teammates and those of us who were willing to just drag and pull each other along.

Wednesday we were given materials to construct a boat that would then be tested for floating capabilities. Some of us didn't realize that we our goal wasn't just to make our boat float, but to be creative in the design. Our team's creativity and artistic abilities was definitely challenged that day, for we also had to design a marble works.

On Thursday, we received the addition of a sweet, energetic young lady named Gracie and our team of four campers turned to five. The day started out with a breakfast on the trail. Half of the 30 campers got to ride to the clearing where we would eat our breafast while the rest walked. Each of us received a sack lunch of an apple, granola bar, yogurt tube, and boiled egg.  A comical moment was when a couple of the younger boys attempted to make a seat by placing a branch across two stumps.   I worked for a while till one of the little girls decided to try it and they all quickly jumped to their feet when the branch cracked in two.  Faith was probably my favorite fruit of the spirit that was displayed in the educational event.  After watching children and staff walk by with white splotches on themselves, I was beginning to wonder if I was going to want to do the educational activity.

The title for this event said, "Walking on Faith" which one of the other leaders who had done it before us informed me that you actually got to walk on water.

“Hmm, this should be interesting,” I thought as I observed the children mixing the cornstarch filled water in the plastic swimming pool with their hands. “Wow! This is really cool. Look at this!”  the children called to me excitedly.  I watched, but stood back, not really sure if I wanted to join in as I looked down at my clothes wondering if I should have worn ones I didn't care about messing up.  “Don't worry.  It brushes off once it dries,” Brystol reassured everyone.  I was skeptical as I eyed the obvious white splotches on her outfit.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

My Trip to Kentucky: Part 1

 Kentucky.  Once I had been super excited to go there: a chance to get away, a change of routine, meet like-minded people, and be around horses. Then, my first volunteer application got lost in the mail and I had to fill out the 21 page application again.   Because of this delay, I was usable to go in June like I had planned and had to wait for the July27-Aug 2 camp to volunteer at.   During that time of waiting, God used the responsibilities and opportunities at home to diminish my excitement for leaving and increase my desire to stay at home.  I am glad God made me wait or I would have set my expectations too high and been disappointed once I got to Kentucky.  Instead I went bringing no expectations, just my service and an open mind willing to learn. 

After about 10 hours of driving we pulled in the long lain of the Higher Ground Ministry Mission, other wise known as the Reckner Family's Ranch. The huge mansion like house with the white pillars stood out at the top of the hill and about 10-15 slender horses grazed on short, dry grass. One of their sons came out to see who had arrived and Sarah one of their full-time volunteers came out to invite us inside. The Reckner family was very friendly and hospitable. They readily welcomed us for supper offering us Chili and Sweet tea (which is like sugar water! If I'd been a gumming bird I would have slurped it greedily!) It was a good supper and I was beginning to feel at home. Although the outward appearance of the house gave one the impression of a wealthy family, the atmosphere inside was just the usual down to earth ranch family that was using their house to minister Christ's love to others. I talked to their twin girls Kimberly and Bethany who were close in age to me—19.

 It wasn't till 10 p.m. that I was shown where I would be sleeping.  I was taken into the bunkhouse where the girl staff had been staying.  It was actually a small shed-type house with the one bedroom that had three of the four walls lined with a bunk bed that was three high. “Oh, my,” I thought when I saw my sleeping choices.  It was either a middle bunk or a top bunk which was about eight feet off the floor.   Because of my past nervous feeling about heights, I chose the middle bunk and proceeded to figure out how to climb into it.  I had three choices.

1      Step on the bottom bunk and do a push up combination jump while quickly ducking my head.
2      Climb up the end and try to avoid the ceiling fan blades while swinging into my bunk.
3      I resorted to climbing through the two foot by three foot gap on the end into my bed.  It worked and by morning, I was a pro at it! It made me smile to think how this camp was unique and different from large scale camps. It was truly something that this family had to just made do with what they had and hey, it worked!

I woke up around 6:30 a.m,  quickly stumbling about in the dimly lit room groping for my clothes and all the while trying not to waken the other girls. I hoped to catch my parents because I knew they hoped to see me before they left. I stepped out into the cool morning, a mist hung in the air.  The Reckner's big friendly border collie, Gunner, came over to greet me and as I bent down to pet him, I heard the van breaks squeak as my family's van stopped beside me. I gave Mom, Dad, Rachel, and Elijah all a hug and watched the van go down the drive way.  I looked down at Gunner sitting at my feet with a big doggy smile.   Crouching down, I sunk my fingers into his thick coat and asked,  “What have I gotten myself into?”

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Focusing on the Rear View Mirror

       Where is your focus, right now?  On the past or on the present?  I and my family received this challenge from Dad as we were driving down the road one day.  Have you ever noticed how the rear view  mirrors are smaller than the windshield?  What would happen if you took your focus off the road and placed it on what was behind you?  You would crash.  You must continue looking ahead to know where you are headed, focused on the present, the here and now, your future destination.  The rear view mirrors are important.  They remind us of what is behind us, the lessons we've learned, the mistakes we have done, and God's provision and protection.  It's ok to glance back, to reflect on the past, but we must not dwell on it.  We must move on.  We must start a new life and make the best of the present.   My family is adjusting to living in a new home.  We moved from the hilltop to the valley physically and spiritually.  After my grandpa died, we left our small house behind where my parents started their married life together and where all of us children had grown up.  To move into our grandparents big house adopting Grandma into our family, was a major change.  It's true that we had looked forward to living in this house with roomy bedrooms and lots of space, but now, nothing is the same as it was before.  My family and I keep looking back.  I want to move back.  When I start focusing on the rear view mirrors of my life, I emotionally crash.  Without Jesus Christ, I would be unable to go on and face the challenges of everyday.  Without him I would still be living in the past. Stepping out in faith, I'm driving onward.  Although I don't want to, I'm choosing to place my focus on the road ahead through the windshield.

     I have started to take note of the little bright spots, the familiar sounds, the new scenery of this new place. 

The horse pasture to greet me when I pull in the yard.
 The bright pink of the peony bushes just coming into bloom.

Sunlight at dusk highlighting a strawberry blossom and berry just waiting to ripen.
A dainty red rose against green thorny foliage. 
Timid but curious baby kittens with whom my brothers and sister like to play.

The sound of cows mooing in our neighbor's pasture as I fall asleep.

The call of a meadowlark as it flits along the fence line as I walk through the pasture to catch a horse.
My view up from the valley to the hills where the wind creates ripples in the long grass.
The misty mornings where quiet fog hangs heavy over the creak.
The horse's standing head to tail swishing flies in the sun.
An encouraging note from a friend.
Words of hope from the scriptures.
My final destination: Heaven.