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……



Chicken Nugget’s Loss Echoes

“Jill, would you be interested in a super quiet Icelandic for your equine therapy program?” My vet asked me.

“Yes, of course!” I practically yelled. Quiet and docile these little troopers make excellent equine therapy mounts.

With 24 hours I had a fuzzy Carmel colored Icelandic named Negev which we quickly renamed Chicken Nugget.

He was a dream horse. Easy going yet energetic and enthusiastic during The lessons. In the field he enjoyed his friends, especially Brutus.  They would groom one another for hours and call to each other when separated.

One morning all the horses were laying down, which was highly unusual. When they heard me they all got up but Nuggie. During the night he had passed away.

Brutus refused to leave his side until one by one they said their final goodbye with a gallop around the field.

I’m comforted in knowing he is in an eternal kingdom but his loss is devastating.  Nuggie was not just an equine therapy horse- he was a friend and confidant to many here.  His loss echoes in the fields of RAISE YOUR DREAMS FARM!


Never Fear the Nuggets are Here!

IMG_0382The large rambling mansion held bedrooms that boasted of ample sitting areas and soaking-tubs in each bathroom.  It was a beautiful home and truly the talk of the town.  If I was describing where I lived, I would say I am right near the big yellow mansion and then my home could be identified.  Unfortunately its hefty price tag was too burdensome for most home owners.  My riding students and their families would frequently gaze at the mansion next door that stood vacant for over eight years and fantasize over living right next door to what they considered a dream.

To my utter surprise it was bought by a young family with six children ranging in age from two to nine.  Their mother is a tiny dynamo and she quickly shared why they chose to move from northern New Jersey to this little town in southern New Jersey, it was because it was next to horses.  Her girls had begun to ride horses in northern New Jersey and they all seemed to have been bitten by the “horse bug” and it could only be satisfied by close proximity of a horse farm.  It also helped that each of their back windows gazed out on my pastures where they could watch the horses daily.

The girls each enrolled in lessons and they would frequently ask if I needed help.  Of course I needed help, and this little next-door-army of helping hands were eager to organize the riding ring for the special needs children that came from a local school or muck stalls.

Each one had something different to offer.  The oldest, a determined young lady that soaked up everything that was taught.  I would mention something in passing and she had it memorized.  She was also eager to employ it, and I found myself giving her more responsibility each day.  She was a child I could trust because she knew that this was an earned spot at the farm.  The second to oldest child fell madly in love with our big Quarter Horse Paint.  She would ask me if she could meet her goal of riding him.  The day I allowed her on his back, she could not stop smiling or fawning over his massive body that glistened in the sun.  She would explain every little nuisance of each lesson.  She would critique how the horse did and how she handled it.  She was the one that would explain each goal she had and whether she thought she could achieve it.  The youngest one had an iron core.  She was tiny but undeterred and the day that Milkshake decided to do a drive-thru and grab a quick bite to eat of the luscious grass when she was leading him back to the field demonstrated her grit, because he had stepped on her little foot.  She squeaked and Milkshake quickly lifted his foot.  She hobbled over to the chair and we put ice on it, but her face was set, she would never let a horse do that to her again.

Everything has a nickname here.  After proving their unwavering devotion to the farm and our horses, we christened them THE NUGGETS.  We have grown quite fond of their generous spirit and desire to do their best.  It is quite refreshing to find children that love to please others.

They remind me of the verse in Galatians 5:13-

…..serve one another humbly in love.

They reflect what we all need to do for one another, seek to serve.

Do you know someone that has served you? Please share.

Zelda Speaks Love Without a Sound


Zelda has never spoken or written a single word in her life, but she writes everyday letters of love and hope on the hearts of those she has touched.  I’m blessed enough to say that I have witnessed it firsthand.

Zelda was born with cerebral palsy that crippled the left side of her body and in response her hands and feet have turned inward, making that part of her body useless.

No one is certain why she can’t speak or why she can’t hear.  But last night she heard the silent cry of a young woman in anguish and she answered it with all the love she has inside of her colossal heart.

Chrissy is twenty years old but looks more like she is forty.  Her life has left her heart broken.  She cannot speak and signs only two words Mommy and Hungry.  Her mom was unable to care for her once she reached adulthood, and she made the difficult decision to allow her to be with adults similar to her.  She found it in a wonderful group home for adults where she is cared for tirelessly by the most wonderful people who truly care about her.

On this particular Thursday she came to equine therapy with a sad face.  She was uncomfortable and frequently picked at her pants.  She was not going to ride because she seemed upset and she would whimper periodically no matter how much we wanted to see her buddy, Buttons, the fat pony.  She would shake her head vehemently and sit resolutely in our comfy Adirondack chairs.

That’s when Zelda came to the rescue.  With her numb leg she drug herself across the yard, which is the equivalent of crossing the Mohave Desert.  She sat in the chair next to Chrissy and tried to speak.  Her lips curled and her tongue puckered as dribble washed down her face.  She didn’t care; she wanted Chrissy to know she cared.  It did not matter that only grunts came out, her eyes and genuine smile said it all.

Zelda looked at me and signed love and then she pointed at Chrissy.  In her poignant and loving way, Zelda spoke the language everyone wants to hear- someone cares!

Zelda, you amaze me everyday!  I am the one who is richer for knowing a champion that conquerors everyday battles that all of us take for granted.  You do it all with a smile or giggle.

Keep loving all the people that you meet because I am the woman you have most changed!

Barbie and Her Best Friend


The dogs go into a furious rage of barking, Dan and I leap out of bed.

“What is that?” he asks.


“Dan, someone is banging on our door!” As a horse owner this can only mean one thing- OUR HORSES ARE OUT!

Dan I racing downstairs to be greeted by the State Police with a flood light fixed on our fields.

“We got a call, loose horses on this street, we are asking all horse farms to check and see if their horses are secure,” a boyish-looking-fresh-out-of-college officer stated in his best officer voice.

Dan ran out in the fields, our horses and ponies were all accounted for, phew!

Then my attention turned to we-have-to-get-these-loose-horses.

What got me was the officer’s description-

“One is real big and looks like a Barbie and the other horse is orange with a blue jacket.”

I tried not to laugh- he was describing the big palomino across the street and her best friend, a chestnut with a blue blanket on.

After wrestling the loose horses back into the barn, I said a silent prayer of thankfulness.

We climbed back into bed, thankful that our horses were safe, always had been.


Because we believe in the power of prayer, and the God of heaven and earth has my farm under his careful watch! THANK YOU FATHER!


Be Still and Know that I AM GOD!

In the rush of life, sometimes it is just good to be still, pray, and allow God to work in my life.  My students start every lesson off with prayer.  They have come to recognize the importance of asking God to be with them as they ride and work around 1500 pound animals that could spook because a simple plastic bag is flying across a field.  It is here that we begin with the most important aspect of RAISE YOUR DREAMS FARM!

Do you need peace?  Be still, pray, and allow God to work it all out!


Nothing Better- Loved by Great Pyrenees


Snowball watching over his kids!
Snowball watching over his kids!
Timmy and the boys- Frosty and Snowball
Timmy and the boys- Frosty and Snowball
Sweet Frosty greets even those that are afraid of big dogs
Sweet Frosty greets even those that are afraid of big dogs

Living in the country is full of excitement.  Skunks that have made their home in my barn, and I was inadvertently sprayed because I reached down to pet what I thought was one of my cats.  There was also the time that the bulls from across the street decided to stampede down my driveway and into my horse pasture.  Lest I forget the time that the horses got out and decided to stand in the middle of the road, stopping traffic.  This is my life on a glorious horse farm, named Raise Your Dreams Farm.

Unfortunately there are some people who also enjoy perusing the country-side searching for an easy target.  My neighbor heard noises coming from his basement only to find a bad guy hanging out.  So when our neighbor had her barn broken into, my husband and I began in earnest to find a dog that would be intimidating enough to scare any would-be robber into thinking twice about coming to our farm.

As luck would have it, we were watching the Animal Planet TV show and they were featuring the Great Pyrenees dogs.  They were excellent guard dogs and would defend their “family” even to the death.  Their size was intimidating enough, 150-180 pounds, standing about 3 feet in height.  We had the land, and of course the livestock that needed their protection, so we concluded that these might be a good dog to invest in.  We ordered two fluff ball puppies on the internet, brothers that we named Frosty and Snowball.

I could not imagine any puppy cuter than these rather large bundles of white downy fur.  They slept all the time, played with one another, ate, and then slept again.  Unlike my labs, these puppies enjoyed laying around more than being up and getting into mischief.

As they got older, we realized these were no ordinary dogs.  A baby in a stroller was something for them to protect and they would even block the mother from attending to her infant, a toddler learning how to walk, they would walk next to them slowly allowing the child to balance themselves off of their broad backs.  A loud truck driving by, now that was something to be chased unto its death.  Occasionally the township worker would blow their horn to incite total havoc in my yard amongst my fierce dogs.  We have an electric fence around our home and thankfully they respect it because I think a lot of joggers and bikers would be in serious trouble if they ever got a hold of them.

If you are visiting the farm for the first time, expect to be stopped immediately and then escorted down the driveway to the parking space where they want you to park.  Get out of the car and expect to be sniffed and nudged until satisfied.  They will never wag their tail, until they feel that you are an accepted part of their “family”.  If they find you suspicious, they will bark until my husband and I are alerted.

Their favorite activity is to bark, dig, and chase anything that should not be riding down the road.  This is their property and they will not have any shenanigans here.  But their soft side is always shown to all that come here.  They beg for pets, high-five the kids, and lay on you if you happen to lay down on the soft ground.

They are now eight years old, still extremely active, and somewhat celebrities in our town.  If someone is not sure where we live, all we have to say is the farm with the big white dogs.  “Ohhhh, I know exactly where you are.”

Wouldn’t you want to be loved by a Great Pyrenees?


The Amazing Suzanne

The amazing Suzanne
The amazing Suzanne

The one constant in Suzanne’s life, is her camera. She snaps pictures of the horses, clouds, her kids, moments, and all of these memories spill out onto her Facebook Page, Twitter Account, or Snap Chat.

One day my students were having a hard time trying to get one of the horses to go into another field. That’s when Suzanne told the kids she would get the horse to move and she did not even need a halter or leadline.

The kids stood back, as she walked into the field, complete with purple hair, high heels, and spiky red fingernails. They smirked as she waded into the mud. She tiptoed, pirouetted, and hopped over the big puddles. My seasoned students wanted to see this and a small crowd gathered at the fence to watch this larger-than-life parent wrestle our 1500 pound Hershey into the other field.

Hershey eyed her, and that’s when she grabbed her ever ready phone camera out of her back pocket.

“What a handsome man!” she coyly cooed.

The horse stood at attention and she started snapping pictures. He turned from side to side, enjoying her accolades and the snapping of her camera.

She slowly walked into the other field and he followed her like a big dog.

“See kids, that’s how it is done!” she flipped her hands through her purple hair and smiled broadly.

This woman just “schooled” my kids in how to get a horse to become putty in her hands.

Is That Steve?

I think I see Steve! Timmy pointed to a little dot flying high in the sky.

Hmmm, you think that’s Steve?

Yup, that’s him! He has come back to say thank you.

The bird descended slowly as it rode the thermal air stream. Was this my imagination?

See, that’s him!

How do you know? I asked.

Because he loves me. Timmy’s smile said it all.

Well, by golly I do think it is Steve. I patted Timmy’s back in agreement.

And with that the bird let out a piercing scream as if on cue.

Steve is a hawk that Timmy and I rescued after its parents had died. We found it on the ground and Timmy became the bird whisperer that day. He calmed the very big bird down by wrapping his arms around it and cradling it like a baby. We took it to a bird rescue and the woman was incredulous when I told her that Timmy picked it up. She told me it was a miracle. Most people would have been torn up she said and showed me a few nasty scars. That day Timmy named this majestic animal Steve. A few months later I got a notice that Steve had been freed into the wild. Ever since then Timmy has scoured the skies searching for his beloved friend. I guess today he came back to say hi to his human friend and rescuersteve-rescuer, Timmy.

Timmy smiled broadly reassured that surely Steve had come back. I’m always amazed at Timmy’s faith and simple belief that surely God would give him this sweet gift of knowing the simple truth- WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!

Fighting for the Finish- Chapter 1 Concludes

There was no way I could I explain, rationalize, work through, or find a solution to help me with this force that was unseen and unnamed.


I composed myself and started to let the last horse out, a beautiful Palomino Quarter Horse named Que. He was my favorite horse at the farm. His personality was quirky and he was always full of mischief. His favorite treat was honey buns and he loved to torture me by pulling on my clothing looking for the elusive honey bun that I would hide in a side pocket. He was quite a handful to lead because he would use his lips to tickle me. I spoiled him terribly. He was a great lesson horse and one of the favorite mounts for my students to ride. He always made me laugh, and I needed one now.


The sun glimmered in the sky and I heard the faint sound of a faraway owl. I could also hear the barn phone ringing. I knew I would never be able to reach it, so I took my time putting Que out into his paddock. I held up the honey bun and he greedily ate it. Then he licked my hands and I kissed his beautiful and dignified face. I let him graze on the sweet grass outside of the barn and buried my head in his strong neck. His sweet aroma gave me comfort, and I desired that more than ever. He pulled his head up as if to reassure me and I scratched him under his chin. I reluctantly put him out and secured his gate with two chains. He was a real Houdini and could undo any lock with those infamous lips of his. He stood watching me, and I told him there would be no loose horses on my watch. I reluctantly left him, not knowing what I would face once I got back to the barn.


As I rounded the entrance to the barn, I could hear the phone ringing again. Sharon met me in the barn office and sat on the sofa across from the desk. She wanted to say something, but there was nothing to say. I was slowly losing all dignity and control over myself. I placed my head in my hands and then wiped my eyes.


“I can’t take this anymore,” I said, fighting back tears. This is destroying me. The truth is I’m scared. I can’t fight this by myself. I am ill-equipped,” I said.


Sharon said nothing, but her face said it all. She knew that there was something here, a presence that was menacing and looming in every room, every stall. Its ominous and threatening presence hung over us like a dank odor. It intimidated us and convinced us that we were at its mercy. The jail sentence had been handed out, and what we were guilty of we did not know or understand.


The phone rang again. This time I did not hold it to my ear; instead I picked it up and slammed it down.  Anger recoiled like a snake and it lifted its ugly head from the depths of my soul. I gritted my teeth and grunted. Sharon sat with a look of horror on her face. We were both terrified.


I had met Sharon at the high school I was working at in the fall of 1990. She was the school nurse, and I taught special education. We had similar personalities, as we were both nurturing and caring. We loved the students, and we would mutually come to the same conclusions in helping many of our most difficult charges. We would encourage each other every day and would frequently spend the evening discussing the intimate details of our trials and tribulations. It was during this time that she started attending a small country church, after she discovered that her husband no longer wanted to stay married to her. It devastated Sharon. She found strength and peace in getting to know God. Frequently she would share the pastor’s lessons and teachings with me. I listened half-heartedly, for truthfully, I did not really believe in God.


Abruptly Sharon said, “I have an idea. Let me call my pastor, his name is Don, and he is wonderful. I told him about you last night, and I explained what has been happening here. He told me to tell you that you should call him.”


“No, Sharon,” I said. “I don’t want to talk to a pastor. What is he going to do?” I was incredulous. To me pastors were weak people with stiff personalities. Talking to a pastor, I thought, would be a waste of my time.


The phone rang again. I guess this was the theme for today. On other days, it manifested itself through strange noises, either humming in low frequency or loud banging, or chairs would move, lights would go on and off; or music would play reverberating through the house’s speakers. Today it was driving me crazy with a ringing phone. I shook my head as tears welled in my eyes. As I accidentally hit the bump that was now the size of a softball under my arm, I winced in pain, recalling the first assault of the day.


Sharon picked up the phone while I busied myself with straightening the papers on the desk. I knew who she was calling. I glanced at the wall clock; it was barely seven in the morning.


“Pastor Don,” she said, “I’m sorry to call you this early, but it seems that things are out of control here and I think Jill needs to talk to you. Remember, she is the girl who is staying at her friend’s farm while the family is on vacation? Yes, it is starting again, but it has never happened this early or intensely before. She was stung by a bee and the phone has been ringing incessantly with no one on the line. Would you like to talk to her?” She paused and then handed me the phone. She held the phone at arm’s length, and with her free arm, she waved frantically like she was holding the keys of hope for those in despair.


I vehemently shook my head and placed my arms across my chest to show that I would not take the phone, nor talk to her pastor.   I continued with my business of organizing the papers until she held the phone up to my face, and then she did the unthinkable, she walked away, forcing me to pick it up.


I held the phone up to my ear with trepidation. Choked with frustration, my voice came out cracked and weak, as I uttered “Hello.”


“Is this Jill?” His gentle voice was calmly reassuring.


“Yes, I understand that Sharon told you about me and what we are experiencing here,” I said. His calm voice evoked a feeling of peace, and I longed for it like nothing else before. I was like a weary traveler longing for rest, and his voice was a soft, downy pillow that was oddly comforting my soul.


“Yes, Sharon did tell me about you and where you are staying. I actually know the place. If I am correct it is one of the oldest historic sites in New Jersey. What exactly are you experiencing there?”


He wanted to know every detail. Like a faucet, I turned on the spigots full blast and spilled out the whole story. The music that would blare out of unseen speakers in the house, the TV that would change channels and how the volume would rise and fall without being touched, the chair that scraped across the wooden floor even though no one was near it, the chandelier that would only partially light, the screaming fight I heard on the balcony outside the bedroom that I was staying in the first night. I told him about the banging and thumping that would permeate the house and that no matter how hard I searched, I could not find the source. I shared how I would turn the lights off and as soon as I got to the balcony, every single light in the house would go on.



I told him about how my faithful dog, Amy, refused to step foot in certain rooms. She would whimper and at times her hair would stand up around her neck and she would snarl as if she were protecting me. She would stare and follow an invisible force that seemed to float above her. I told him about the flickering barn lights, the red welt under my arm, and the persistent phone ringing with a dead line as soon as I answered.


I realized I had been recalling all of these weird happenings without taking a breath. My heart was pounding and I began to involuntarily nervously pace in the small office.


Pointedly, I asked, “Am I in danger?”


He took a deep breath and said, “Yes, I do believe you are. Accept Jesus as your personal savior. He is the only one that has the power to break the stronghold of these demons. Once you ask Jesus into your heart, His blood will cover your sins, and you will be His. No one will be able to mess with you. You will have the power to overcome these demonic forces that are” he paused for a moment; “quite obviously harassing you. Now would you like to accept Jesus as your personal savior?”


He had put a name to these forces, demons. I had watched scary movies of supernatural forces, but I did not think that they actually existed. I was frightened and confused. Why were they harassing me? I wondered.


All I could think of was how much I disliked Christians. They always seemed so judgmental and condemning. Pastor Don was just the opposite, though. He had a soft, soothing voice, and it seemed that he had a lot of experience with people who were in trouble or frightened. He was calming me by putting a name to these frightening occurrences and most importantly he held out a solution. He talked about blood and the cleansing of sins. However, I felt I did not fit in with the other sinners of the world. I reasoned that I was a good person and that my sins were not all that bad.


He continued to talk about the blood of Christ, that all people are sinners and that they need a savior. I half-heartedly listened as he spoke, as I had always believed that Christians were crazy and I didn’t want to be one of them. I could not comprehend powers that I could not see, yet I seemed to be in the midst of them. It seemed that the only thing I was certain of was that I did not want to be a born-again Christian. I liked my life the way it was, and I was certain that it would go back to normal once I left this place. All I needed to do was leave this disturbed house and farm, and I reasoned that would be happening in precisely two short days, sixteen hours and thirty minutes.


“No thanks,” I said emphatically. I did not want to accept Jesus as my personal savior.


No sooner had I said those words than the phone started to ring while I was on it. I held the phone away from my ear and stared quizzically at it. Sharon quickly came back into the office thinking my conversation had ended. I motioned to her that I was still speaking with Pastor Don, but the phone was ringing again. Impossible, there was no other phone line. How could the phone be ringing while I am on the phone? My mind raced ahead. Would I be in this condition forever? Would I be harassed by demons for the rest of my life? Surely this was supernatural and demonic.


“If I accept Jesus as my personal savior, will this stop?” I asked, as the unremitting ringing of the phone interrupted my thoughts, and I began losing my concentration. What I really wanted at that moment was rest and, more importantly, peace. I knew this pastor had the answer for me.


“I don’t know,” Pastor Don replied. “What I do know is that if you accept Jesus you will have the power to come against these demonic forces because He will be in you.   Therefore, you will also have His power. Jill, whether you realize this or not, you are in a dangerous place. It is not only dangerous for you physically but spiritually as well. Jesus is the only one who can help you now. God, the father, Jesus, the son, and the Holy Spirit are the only ones that can help you now. I won’t be able to help you, Sharon won’t be able to help you, no one will be able to help you, except Jesus.” He said this so forcefully that I was frightened. I knew deep in my heart that what he was saying was the truth.


The phone continued to ring, interrupting our conversation. His words soaked into my brain. I was faced with the reality that I would not be able to escape this harassment, and it pierced the core of my being. A perfect compromise appeared and I leapt at the chance to use Jesus at this time to get rid of these forces. This was a viable solution to me. Then, I believed, I could forget all about this and resume my normal life.


“Okay, how do I accept Jesus into my life?” I asked, as the ringing continued.


He took a deep breath, and said, “First you need to confess that you are a sinner. Then you need to ask Him to wash you clean of your sins. Ask Him to dwell in your heart. That’s all.”


“But how do I accept Jesus?” The simplicity of salvation hadn’t sunk in yet. There must be more to it than this, I thought.


“Why don’t you repeat after what I say?” He didn’t wait for me to respond, he just plunged forward. “Jesus, I recognize that I am a sinner (he paused for me to repeat him). I ask that you wash me clean of my sins (he paused). Come dwell in my heart Jesus (another pause),” he said.


After I said the prayer, relief and peace inundated my thoughts and permeated my being. The phone had finally stopped ringing, and I felt free. In that brief moment of prayer directed by the pastor, I knew that something had happened inside of me. I knew that somehow I was different. I was hoping that all of this would stop and life would become normal again. Little did I know that things would get a lot worse before they would ever get better.

(I have never written a book before, but this concludes the first chapter.  What do you think?  Has it captivated your interest?  Your feedback is valuable and I thank you for your honest thoughts)