It was 2002 on Friday, May 31, that I sat at a table long enough to land a plane. I was signing my life away for a dream I never thought would be possible. Raise Your Dreams Farm was something that burned intensely in my heart, at times keeping me awake at night. It never diminished. On a teacher’s salary, it would be an impossibility.
The day a man knocked on my door at my home in Delaware, asking if I would sell him my house. I knew that God was at work. I sold my home, and holding in my hands was enough money to get a farm, the one that I would name after my beloved horse, Raise Your Dreams.
I found it on May 1, the first day that it was on the market. It was made for me. A sweeping tree-lined driveway led to a large home with a wrap-around porch, ten lush acres, and neighbors with horses and cows. I was in heaven.
A lot has happened in those eighteen years. I got married on the front porch. I started my equine therapy/riding business, wrote a book, conquered cancer, and lymphedema, and I have learned more in this period than at any other time in my life.
This farm was a miracle, and I would serve God through it all. I have been blessed with some of the best people that started as lesson students that I now consider good friends. I have witnessed miracles of children talking or walking for the first time. I have seen the smiles of the broken-hearted come with every ride on one of my horses or ponies. I thought I would bless others, but they have blessed me.
Happy 18th year, RAISE YOUR DREAMS FARM!
“Mom, I need a t-shirt because I have to be in my uniform!” Zoe made a statement as if truth was held in this precious shirt. Her mom laughed and grabbed a shirt resigned to the fact that her daughter loved few things better than this farm.
Zoe has been riding here for almost four years. She has “trained” all of our horses and ponies, and she loves each one as only she can. She proudly tells every new student or instructor all that she knows about each horse.
“Now BRUTUS, he is big!” She pats the big Fresian on the shoulder and her eyes twinkle with pride. “I trained him too!” She holds her hand on his massive shoulder and gazes into his eyes like a mother with her newborn babe.
Everyday when she walks to her mother’s beautiful car she tells all that one day she will work here. That day is finally coming. Her mother asked me if she thought Zoe could “work” here once school let out. Zoe overheard our conversation and said with pride, “Mom, you can just drop me off and I’ll work here!” Zoe can hardly wait to have the independence that she sees the other helpers have.
I easily have four to five helpers-volunteers everyday that tirelessly assist instructors, tack or untack horses and ponies, clean stalls, leather, tack-shack or sidewalk and lead during lessons. They are an integral part of my farm, and it would be impossible to run this farm without their unwavering support. Zoe has dreamed of the day when she would do what they do.
Last Saturday she got her RAISE YOUR DREAMS FARM t-shirt and it is with great pride that she will wear her uniform to work! When that day comes I know few who would be prouder to be at this little farm that holds hope.
Jill Mansor, owns RAISE YOUR DREAMS FARM. She is also a motivational speaker and author of FIGHTING FOR THE FINISH (available on Amazon or http://www.jillmansor.com)
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!
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.
My article was published in Renaissance Magazine, July issue.
Check it out!