“Daddy, please stop the car! Pleassse!” We were driving by a horse farm on a rural road near my home. The horses and ponies dotted the pastures, and one very plump Palomino pony was near the fence. He was irresistible, and my dad knew that this desire to be near horses was unquenchable.
“Jill, I don’t have time. Now stop whining!” My dad said in his gruffest voice.
I stifled a sob. I was five years old, and totally and utterly in love with horses. Knowing that riding a horse or taking lessons was out of the question, I moaned deep within my spirit.
At seven years old, I had learned to negotiate a bike, and I would steal away on day time excursions to this farm. For hours, I would watch the horses, laugh at their antics, and entice them with carrots I had taken from our refrigerator. They were unkempt and mangy, but to me they were valiant stallions. I would breathe deeply their scent, and it seared itself into my heart. Someday, I don’t know how, but I will own a horse, I said to myself!
I was unwavering in my decision. As soon as I graduated from college and got my first “real job” I signed up for three lessons at a stable close to my home.
Riding with tiny children that rode like champions was almost too much to take, but people my age were not starting lessons they were already accomplished riders. I stood out like vanilla in a sea of chocolate. I was in the beginner class, and the lazy Appaloosa that I rode every lesson was happy with one speed, super slow. I wanted to gallop and jump like I had seen the more advanced riders. It would take me three painstakingly long years.
Then the opportunity of a life time presented itself. A just-turned-four-year-old broken-down Thoroughbred cross was for sale. His bones jutting out against the scruffy red-bay gelding. His name was Raise Your Dreams, and his eyes, large and expressive were begging me to save him. I did not know that he would save me too.
Working in a job I hated, a broken engagement, and a life spiraling out of control, Raise Your Dreams gave me a reason to live. He was extremely bright, and I learned one of the most essential lessons a rider can grasp, a horse needs a reason to do what is being asked. Once I grasped this coveted concept, I excelled in my riding. I even rode with an Olympic coach who saw in me a heart destined for learning. People would remark about the beauty of my magnificent steed, his coat glistened, his eyes were bright and alert, his ears flicking in accordance with the aides (signals) I was giving him.
My heart still yearning for more, I became a certified riding instructor, and taught at premiere farms in southern New Jersey. Then something happened that was a true miracle.
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart, Psalm 37:4. I began a relationship with Jesus. My life would never be the same! What He gave me was far beyond my wildest dreams………………………………….
(this story will continue)
Who said horse farms are for riding horses? Caterpillars like to tickle and crawl, and it seems we have a gazillion here, and the boys find them irresistible! Horses are here all year and caterpillars are available only for a few weeks, and the little furry critters like to tickle! What can a horse do compared to a caterpillar?
I still couldn’t resist asking, “Who wants to ride a horse?……. No one???”
Jake said, “Miss Jill, we are catching caterpillars!” His tone exasperated, how could I not understand?
I guess I will ride by myself.
The sweltering heat is keeping everyone from riding. So, Katie practices with her doll.
The weather can’t break soon enough for Katie and her doll!
I am not sure who is more excited, Bella or me. Isabella is my neighbor, my right-hand-helper-do anything-for-Miss-Jill rider. She takes two to three lessons a week and has become a fabulous rider. Her leg is solid, hands steady, and she loves pushing herself.
So, when the opportunity came for her to ride in a horse show with her absolute favorite pony, Squirt, it was a dream come true. The little pony, naughty as the day is long, has become her best friend. He in turn showers her with affection by placing his head on her shoulder, licking her hand, helmet, and face. But his biggest demonstration of his love came one day while she was warming him up. He stumbled badly and fell to his knees. He could feel Bella falling forward, and he literally caught her with his head and pushed her back into the saddle.
That’s why I agreed to allowing her to ride this little brown and white pony that will try his heart out for his beautiful and elegant rider that loves him more than anything else in the world.
Stay tuned for news of our outing.
As I told Bella, ride with JESUS, He will never let you down!
Life can be hard, but I always found peace on the back of my beloved horse, RAISE YOUR DREAMS. He became an extension of me, and I was his. Many hours were spent at the barn with this special horse making my life right with my two-thousand pound hero.
Every Wednesday they pile out of the Deveruex van. They come to ride, pick tasty tomatoes organically grown, and to clean stalls of their favorite mounts. The countdown starts as soon as they leave, for stolen moments of freedom and fun at a little farm in southern New Jersey. They call themselves blessed, but it is me that receives the biggest blessings.
Battling cancer all year, two blown knees, and lymphadema in my left arm, I felt that I was broken beyond repair. Until I had an epiphany!
You are a child of God! You don’t have to live in despair! Claim who you are! God was speaking to me!
“Ok devil, I’m serving you notice! The battle is already won! I’m a child of the most high God! You cannot, will not be able to touch me!” Admittedly it felt good! I got up and started to walk, usually painful beyond belief. This time, I was going to praise God for the healing He promised me the day He died on the cross.
“Thank you Father for my healing! I walk in victory, I speak in victory! I am more than a conqueror through Christ!” Emboldened by faith, I knew that I was learning to live above my circumstances.
That night as I climbed into bed, my husband said, “You aren’t in any pain?” He was so accustomed to me complaining, moaning and groaning throughout my day that he noticed the silence of peace that comforted my heart.
“No, Dan! Do you believe it? God taught me that sometimes I just need to get violent!”
“Yup, violent with the devil! I beat him up so badly by claiming all GOD has for me, that he dare not come near me!” I laid down and a tear of gratefulness welled in my eyes. For the first time in a year, I felt no pain! I was healed, always had been, I just needed to claim what I knew I had!
Another terrible day laid before me. No longer did I see a sweet package to be opened, but a day I had to endure in excruciating pain. I had gone through chemo and I survived it only to have my left knee blow up. Literally it was three sizes larger than my right.
I begged my oncologist to allow me to get my knee “scrapped” because I couldn’t get a total knee replacement. She reluctantly agreed and on July 2nd at 4:00 in the morning I was slated first surgery at University of Pennsylvania Hospital.
But I was still in pain four weeks later, not because of my left knee, but my right knee was just as big from overcompensating for my left. Living a normal life, I could probably drag myself around. If you own a horse farm, own two businesses, and teach at a local university like me than this would be impossible.
My epiphany came birthed from anger. “I’m a child of God! He says I’m healed, well than I’m healed!” I said out loud to myself I was determined to put to death my pain and live in victory!
I got out of bed, tenderly like I always do. I put my shoulders back, grabbed my walking sneakers and took off at 5:00 in the morning. I was going to walk, speak, and think of nothing else but that I’m healed!
It took me 53 minutes to walk two miles, but I did it! The next day 51 minutes, today 43 minutes, and guess what- I’m no longer going to believe the lie that I can’t have life abundantly!
I’m a water-walking-child-of-the-King and if He says it is good than I am!
I refuse to believe the lie of death and destruction! Because WITH GOD I CAN DO ANYTHING!
What are you trying to overcome? Share and I will pray for you!
“Miss Jill, I want to pray!” Luke, the just-turned-seven-year-old-who-grew-one-inch, stood before me. He was part of the six-strong nuggets that lived next door to me
“Great Luke, what do you want to pray about?” I asked.
“I want to thank God, but I don’t know how to do it,” with that he tilted his head, seeking an answer.
“It is easy, just talk to God like you talk to me,” I held my hand out, a signal that we were going to pray.
He bent his beautiful head, “God, thank you for horses, Miss Jill, and Luke (a paint horse that had his same name), AMEN!”
He looked up at me, proud of himself for praying on his own.
As I walked into my home I was struck by his heart that sought Thanksgiving. When was the last time I thanked God for all that He has done for me? Thanks Luke for teaching me a lesson.