Pudgy Pony Power

He is forty-something years old, and if there is one thing he loves more than life it is this pudgy, sometimes naughty pony.  His name is Frank, and he comes dutifully every Wednesday morning to help lead this pony while he carries his special people for equine therapy.  Frank, was not sure that he could be loved, but this pony demonstrated what few have demonstrated in his life- unconditional love.  While leading Buttons, he would sometimes say, “Miss Jill, I don’t think Buttons likes me.”  As if on queue, Buttons began to lick his hand in response to his insecurity.  This pony was proving what I did not have to say. 
“I think he just showed you how much he loves you Frank!” I began to laugh.  That’s my pudgy pony’s power, to make all believe in the impossible.  He has carried people on his back to victory, once placing 6th place out of 21 thoroughbred horses at a hunter show.  But his greatest gift is loving all that come here and for them to know that he finds each one as a true treasure.  Buttons graces this small farm in southern New Jersey and all that get a chance to meet Buttons knows that he truly has pudgy pony powers.
Buttons
He is as round as he is tall. But his heart is even bigger. He loves deeply, and if you ever had a chance to be loved by him, then consider yourself blessed immensely.
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Three Little Words Changed My Life Forever….

continued from last post ….

“Hmmmm, I’m confused, actually it is an impossibility, you are, uh, there is no evidence of cancer. Your DCIS and invasive cancer are completely gone. I’ve been practicing for thirty-seven years and this has never happened. I need to consult with the team. I’m not sure how to proceed,” she gave me the twelve page report with shaky hands.

I walked out of that office with winged feet. I was not on earth, I was healed by God. Certainty and assurance poured into my heart, embracing hope allowed me to know exactly where this healing came from. My crusty surgeon could not believe, but I could. Bolstered by this affirmation I began calling everyone.

“Jill, we do not believe that God heals,” a good Christian friend said.  She and her husband pastured a legalistic church

I was incredulous. How could one not believe that what He did in the Bible was what He would do now? I wanted to be respectful, but my healing was being questioned.

God was teaching me something new……

(to be continued)

Three Words that Changed My Life Forever…..

Just follow these steps- Hershey points the way!

I had two cancers, one was Invasive and the other was a pre-cancer. One would respond to chemo, the other would need to be surgically removed. I started chemo on October 18, 2017. That was the day that sealed my fate. I was receiving mustard gas, and it took two weeks for me to lose my thick mop of golden blonde hair that was my trademark.

I also learned that cancer tears at your soul. There is a brevity in all of the appointments, in the faces of the patients and the staff that cares for us. Precariously we stand on the precipice of life and death.

Cancer is not what necessarily kills you, but the treatments, surgery, and side effects of these chemicals that they pour into your veins. By the third chemo, I had been in and out of the hospital so many times, that I was a frequent flyer to our little country hospital. They would even call me by my first name before I even registered.

My white blood count was down to a mere 600, it should be 12,000. My liver was shutting down and my gray skin and black eyes staring back at me, confirmed what I knew. I was dying. Right in front of me, I saw a skeleton with gray skin, black circles under my eyes, and it was then that I knew what I had to do. I was going to stop the chemo.

The beauty of knowing the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, meant that I had total peace that He would embrace His child, me. Was my mansion on streets of glory ready to receive me?

My husband was horrified when I told him that I was stopping the chemo. “Please don’t Jill! I need you to live and beat this, you must give the doctors a chance to beat this too. Please don’t stop,” my big burly husband was trying to hide the tears that began to fall.

After fifteen years of marriage, there was something he knew, I was a fighter and resolute in decisions. He knew there was no turning back.

I had lost thirty-five pounds, lost all interest in reading God’s precious Word, praying, or growing closer to Him. It was just too much to bear. What is there to life, if I cannot grow closer to the One that I love with all of my heart?

Darkness was turning to dawn. I felt lighter and brighter in hope that my body would strengthen and spill out these poisons. After three weeks of stopping chemo, I could eat, not that I could keep it down, but I tried.

Funny now, but it wasn’t then. Dan would time everything so that I could get a clean shot to the bathroom after I ate. One time, I did not make it and he carried me to the bathroom while I cried over the mess. By the time I got out of the bathroom, he had cleaned it all up. Grateful for his kindness.

My doctors were very, very mad at me.

“This is your life. why would you stop what can save your life?” she tipped her head back, squinting at this weird subject in front of her that was not going to do everything she told it to do. She was perplexed at this pint sized specimen.

“My life is not here, and it is all well with my soul.”

“Whatever!” I made no sense to her and the disgust was palpable. “I am scheduling all of the tests to begin next week and we will go to surgery in two weeks,” and with that I was dismissed.

Two weeks later I was back in her office as she was going to go over the results, she pushed her glasses back and kept staring at the report. Her lips pursed together, her eyebrows lifting quizzically. Finally after a long sigh, she spoke, “Jill, I just don’t understand, but …………………….”

TO BE CONTINUED…………………………..

Three Words That Changed My Life….continued

beautiful summer day at farm

 

The journey that I never wanted to go on was commencing and it was during this time that I learned that a battle was raging, not in my body, but in my mind………

My prayers are ALWAYS for protection.  I am an offensive prayer.  I try to think of everything that could ever happen and pray against it.  Cancer is always my biggest one to rebuke and rebuff.  I thought I was covered under the blood of Jesus.  I am a believer in Jesus and His healing power, never doubted, not once.

“God, what do you want me to learn through this?” I implored in the early morning hours of August 31st.

“I want you to be able to relate to others, and for them to relate to you,” His still quiet voice spoke into my spirit.

“Ok, God, I want to learn.  Please Lord, help me to go through this with your victory and countenance” I said through tears.

What I learned would change my life……

 

Three Words That Changed My Life

“You have cancer,” I sat there in a paper thin hospital-green gown, staring at the doctor.

“What do I do now?”  I came in because they said they saw something suspicious on my mammogram.

“Unfortunately this is a very aggressive cancer and it can only be cured through chemotherapy and surgery,” she was slightly nervous.  Then she continued, “This cancer is a killer and we caught it early.  You are in good hands.  My assistant will go over all of the information with you.  Just get dressed and she will meet you in the office across the hall,”  with that she washed her hands and dismissed me.

I was signed up for chemo therapy, every third week for one year.  Then I drove home as if I were observing myself from afar.  There was an element of shock and disbelief, and I am certain that my chin hung on my chest.  The first person I called was my husband.  The second person was my prayer team, comprised of an army of believers.

The journey that I never wanted to go on was commencing and it was during this time that I learned that a battle was raging, not in my body, but in my mind………

HOGS TO HEROES

 

“Would you happen to know a family that would need help during this holiday season?” Suzanne asked me.

Suzanne, was famous at this farm. Her purple tresses, colorful tattoos, and love of children and horses, made her one of our favorite volunteers at this farm. She had just recently joined a motorcycle club that specialized in helping others, called HOGS TO HEROES. H- HONOROING, O- OUR, G-GIVING, S-SPIRIT, was a club made up of men and women that had one desire, to make this world a better place. Frequently escorting men and women returning home from military duty, assisting first responders, attending veteran events, and most importantly having fun helping others. They loved grandly, and it was evident in their fellowship amongst on another, and as Brian, their leader would say, they are family.

“Yes, I do,” I said, thinking immediately of a family of four very special needs children being raised by elderly grandparents. Money was tight, stress was evident, and their desire to do the best for these grandchildren resulted in money being spent for therapies. Their favorite and most successful therapy was equine therapy at my farm.

John, the oldest was mute, until he rode a horse. Now he says, “walk, whoa, trot, and games.” Isaiah, is very involved on a multitude of levels, and has a limited ability to tolerate frustration. But the horses have taught him patience, kindness, and most importantly how to bond in a relationship. Summerz, is a petite dark-haired beauty, that has little to no emotion due to trauma that she witnessed before the grandparents were able to adopt her. Last, is tiny Hannah with large blue eyes, and she is completely quiet, never speaking unless spoken to. But like her older siblings she has learned to trust a horse with her feelings.

I had no idea that nominating this family would have far-reaching effects on this farm, the surrounding community, and all that were involved in coordinating this event. We invited the family over to the farm on a mild-Sunday, the week before Christmas. We hid candy canes around the property for the children to find, until a fire-truck in the distance with its lights blaring led a brigade of HOGS TO HEROES riders and about twenty cars, followed by the brand-new ladder truck of our community. The children stopped what they were doing, distracted by the commotion coming down the street and streaming toward the farm. John started to sign his excitement. The other children stared silently, until Santa drove on his glistening Harley down the driveway.

I will never forget the look on the children’s faces as they tried to understand what was happening. That’s when HOGS TO HEROES took the gifts, which included bikes for each child, a hot pink battery-operated car, and toys into the house. The children gathered around Santa, and each gift was embraced and loved as this special family tried to understand a generosity never known before. While the children were distracted inside, the rest of the club piled gifts into my horse trailer that I would deliver before Christmas so that the grandparents would be able to give gifts to this very deserving family. The grand parents were even given gifts and gift cards to purchase whatever may be needed.

There were not many dry eyes that night, especially mine. It happens when kindness prevails even though never truly deserved.   I was a witness to love unspeakable by strangers that have chosen to serve others.

It is even more poignant for a season marked by the Son of God coming to earth to save souls. This group of caring people chose to serve and help without even knowing this family. Then I realized they have learned a valuable lesson- It truly is better to give than to receive!

Thanks HOGS TO HEROES for helping this family in their dire need, but restoring in me hope. What a beautiful gift you have given to everyone touched by your generosity, love, and kindness!

From Delivery to Dreams

IMG_4362Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life! Proverbs 13:12

He sat in the third row and I liked him immediately. I’m an adjunct instructor at a local university and this was my second class of the day. Because it was at 5:30 in the afternoon it was comprised of professionals seeking a part-time education and Bryan worked delivering pizzas for a local shop.

He was usually the first one to class, and he would readily share stories or gently add his “take” on a subject we were discussing. My class lends itself to working in small groups and I noticed everyone gravitated towards him.

One day he came extra early to tell me he would be missing the upcoming class because he was going to see a classical music rendition of rock. I thought, that’s exactly what I thought he would do in his free time. Bryan was a “think outside the box” and this sounded interesting just like him!

It was at this time he shared his dream. Someday he would become a physician. Sure he had “messed” up earlier in life by not taking his education seriously. By all accounts he predicted he would be a doctor by the time he was forty years old.

He shared that people thought he was just plain crazy, but he was resolute and determined to prove them wrong.

How many people give up on their dreams because they surround themselves with those that can’t encourage?  I pray and hope Bryan experiences the longing fulfilled of becoming a doctor so that he can enjoy the tasty fruits of the tree of life!  Go for it Bryan, enjoy the ride and never let go of a dream that will change your world.

This Made Me Smile, Laugh, Then Cry In That Order

Coming from 8 hours of chemo is a very long day until I drive down the driveway. On either side are hot pink pumpkins adorned with sparkly glitter.

At first I had no idea who would have done this, then I just knew it had to be my dynamic duo friends. Amy is our creative coordinator. If we need an idea for a craft she is on it.  She probably looked up how to paint pumpkins on some site and shared it with Suzanne. Suzanne or Purple as we like to call her, ALWAYS bedazzles everything with pop and sparkle. Put the two together and you get a driveway adorned with hot pink sparkly pumpkins for me to drive down knowing that I am loved.

What a beautifully kind and sweet gesture!

I am truly blessed!