“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………
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.
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?