Many of you know that I wrote a book, Fighting for the Finish, a true story that will keep you turning the page and riveted to your seat. I am encouraging everyone to please like Fighting for the Finish FB page to win a FREE COPY. Please enjoy the first chapter….
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!
“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!
The 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 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!
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!
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!