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……

 

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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!

 

 

A Heart Overflows

Flowing in the wind are her deep violet tresses, she pushes her hair out of her eyes and her diamond rings catch the sunlight refracting into tiny prisms.  She adjusts her dark sunglasses and walks toward the small gathering of parents dropping off their children. She steps daintily around the mud, trying not to curse when her heels get stuck in the grass. Today she is wearing her favorite motorcycle jacket with chains that cross her chest. For a minute I think she looks tough, but I have known her for too long to be fooled.

Purple, as many people call her, is a fixture at this farm.  She can stir a posse of volunteers from her ample list of friends when we are in desperate need.  Her heart is generous to a fault.  She has been known to invite the hungry neighborhood child to a home cooked meal, or load her car with a gazillion burgers and fries for the volunteers here. She was never asked, that’s just what she does.

She is a lover of all people and completely aware of her ability to bring out the best in others.  She accepts all people for who they are and not for who she wishes they were.  Her school of hard knocks have taught her valuable lessons that she imparts to anyone hungry enough to listen.

She has been known to raise hope in the hopeless with her simple approach to life.  Be generous to a fault, love unconditionally, and above all else do what you can to help others is her motto for a successful life.

My life has been blessed with her unwavering friendship.  I know that if I should need anything, she is only a heartbeat away.  Not many people can say they have a friend like that, and therefore I consider myself immensely blessed!

 

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!

 

Hitting Kill Buyers In The Pocketbook

heatherclemenceau

Death came to this horse after agony and fear. How many other horses have been subjected to this new form of “euthanasia” – injected with amphetamines until they are allegedly flipped over backwards? After all his suffering, his bladder was then cut out of his body post-mortem, likely to avoid collection of illicit substances.

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Everyone knows that abuse, neglect, and disease are embedded in the trading of horses by unscrupulous buyers and flippers, beginning with the kill buyer and ending with the killing process.   But despite the number of sick or suffering feedlot and broker horses documented on Facebook, few purchasers contact authorities to report abuse, neglect, or contractual fraud.  Some people even choose to protect the kill buyer while praising him (or her) in being so kind as to offer to sell them the horse in the first place.  Quite understandably, many people may reasonably…

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Zelda Speaks Love Without a Sound

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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!