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Paid Back in Full

23 Jun

Chessy is a Morab Horse

Chessy and his biggest fan, Jenna.

Chessy and his biggest fan, Jenna.

IMG_2128. Like an Arab, he is smart, discerning, and careful about showing his emotions to one he does not trust. Like a Morgan he is handy, fancy, and determined. Little did I know that this little horse would pay me back in a way I never dreamed.

It was a brutally cold day in December when I discovered Chessy standing at the gate. Like all horse women and men, you can read a horse’s body language as a conversationalist does with an audience. I intuitively knew that there was something wrong.

I opened the gate and walked towards him and that’s when he turned his face towards me. His eye was literally in pieces.

I grabbed a leadline, fearful to put a halter on his face. In my other hand, I held my phone and shakely called my vet. She happened to be in the area and made a hasty drive to my farm. Upon inspection she did not give me good news. He would have to be transported to the University of Pennsylvania or she could remove his eye. Either way, this was a traumatic injury.

To give Chessy the benefit of saving his eye, I decided to send him. We made the harrowing trip to New Bolton Center and they met me at the bay. They had called in an equine optometrist and she encouraged me to see if they could save the eye by cleaning it and putting it back together.

After two days, Chessy had a roaring fever and an infection that was threatening his life. She decided to do a corneal transplant. He was under anesthesia and not doing well. She called to tell me that he was not doing well. I did what I always do, I prayed.

That night, I crept into the still barn at 9:00. He had tubes protruding from his head, they had drilled holes through his skull to flush continual antibiotics into the eye so that he would not reject it. For days, he was in a precarious position. He would gently lay his chin on my shoulder. I would scratch his funny spot, but he would not react. He was hurting and so was I.

Then I got a call from the vet stating that she felt that he could go home with the knowledge that I would have to give him medicine into his eye every two hours. I quickly gathered volunteers that would be willing to take night and day watches. I cleaned the stalls with bleach and fluffed his stall with soft straw.

It was not to happen. The day of transport I was told that he had double pneumonia and he could not go home as planned. He was moved to the ICU and was in critical care. Again he was administered meds that kept him quiet and comfortable. I went to see him and cried. Now tubes were surgically placed in his neck.

Again, I did what I do best, I prayed.

Within two weeks he had recovered and we planned to bring him home. But then came the crushing blow of them all. He had gone into colic and the impaction was in the small intestine. This was fatal without surgery. They had drugged him with heavy sedatives and were waiting for my reply.

My bill thus far was over $12,000 and I could not go further financially. He had been through too much and I made the painful decision to forgo the surgery. I left work early and went into his stall. His head hung to the ground, tubes hung from every main vein, he stirred when he heard my voice.

He tried to turn and face me, but the sedation made him stumble. I prayed over him. Placing my hands on his stomach I asked God to miraculously heal him. That’s when I heard the leading vet clear her throat to signify her presence.

“Jill, I am sorry. We will keep him comfortable until we cannot control the pain. We will let you know when we put him down,” she placed her hand on my shoulder. Finality was in her voice.

I was not ashamed of my tears, for they flowed like the beautiful Brandywine River that Chessy had crossed when he was healthy.

“I am believing that God will miraculously heal him, I hope I get a call with good news and not bad,” my sobbing took over and I could no longer speak.

“Jill, this colic is a death sentence. I am sorry,” she smiled faintly.

I slept fitfully that night, waiting for a phone call, but it did not come. At seven o’clock in the morning, my cell phone rang. I grabbed it and heard the vet on the end speak with disbelief. My little Chessy had pulled out of the colic.
I got off the phone and sunk to my knees, God had showed up in a circumstance that everyone else said was impossible.

Today Chessy is the favorite mount in my lesson program. He is gentle and kind. Always the gentleman, he is aware of every rider and their needs.

Little did I know that he would pay me back with kindness. Six months later I had accidentally left the main gate open. The horses had discovered my mistake and were peacefully eating in my backyard. Upon opening the garage door, my ever diligent guard dogs went after each horse with a vengeance. The herd took off.

Down the driveway they galloped and onto a major road and ripping towards a very busy highway only feet away. I was devastated. I grabbed grain, buckets, halters, lead ropes, and ran for my truck.

That’s when I heard their hoof beats coming closer.

Leading the herd was Chessy. He took them back down the driveway and into the open pasture gates. He had controlled the herd, comforted me by bringing them back, and showed me that he had never forgotten my kindness of saving his life.

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The Farm That Faith Built

12 Jul

Prayer before we ride.  It is asking God to take us to our destiny.

Prayer before we ride. It is asking God to take us to our destiny.


Do you have a desire that seems to be halted? Does everything seem like an uphill battle and you are weary of the travel? I am here to encourage you and build you up.

I never wanted anything except to someday own a horse. It seemed impossible especially when your mother works in a Children’s Hospital and sees the effect of what horses can do. As an adult, working as a teacher and making a pittance seemed impossible too. But I kept at it. Food was a luxury, horses were a necessity.

I just want you to never give up on your dreams. Trust that if God gave you a desire, He wants you to achieve it too. He gave you that dream because He knew if you could hold on and persevere, then it would become a reality.

This is what I learned:
1. Pray without ceasing about your dream/goal.
2. Ask God to show you ways to make your dream become a reality.
3. PREPARE- read every book, talk to everyone that has what you want, purchase items that pertain to your dream to keep you focused, and do everything that you need to do to be ready for your goal.
4. Be ready for the nay sayers- there will be many. Like the story of the crabs in the bucket, people will try to pull you down because others feel uncomfortable around people that are determined against all odds. Know that some people you will have to cut out of your life because they will drag you down.
5. Right before you get your dream, you will go through trials and difficulties that will make you want to give up. It is just a test- God is trying and refining you. Hang in, you are going THROUGH it, you will not be stuck there.

I hope this helped. I want others to believe that God is no respector of a person. What He did for me, He WILL do for you.

Share your story about how you got your goal/dream/desire. I would love to hear about it.

Amen!

27 Mar

“Miss Jill, I wish I could ride a horse,”  Collin was here with his little sister, Katie.  She receives equine therapy once a week.  He would wait at the fence and watch the pony as it took Katie on a new adventure every week. 

I glanced at his mom, and gave her a thumbs up or thumbs down to indicate whether it would be alright if I gave him a ride after I finished with Katie.  His mother gave me the thumbs up and I told Collin that this may be his lucky day.  With that, he started to jump up and down.

After the lesson was finished he followed me to the gate.  Once inside the riding ring, he began to jump with excitement.  He ran, not allowed, to the tack shack and got a helmet.  Within seconds the helmet was secure and he was talking to himself, “I am going to ride a horse, something I have wanted to do all of my life.”

I told him to go to the mounting block.  As a normal and mandatory practice, we always pray before we ride.  We ask God to protect the rider, to teach through us, and that He would always be glorified here.  We hold hands and touch the horse or pony, forming an irregular circle.  At the end of the prayer we gently squeeze each others hands and say “Amen.”

That’s when the lesson begins, but for Collin the lesson began as soon as we started praying.  He was like a sponge thirsty to grab onto all that is done here at the farm.  His little body swung into the saddle, his body erect, he had overheard the many lessons for Katie and he told me he knew what to do.

Walking around the ring, he found a new sense of freedom and periodically he would shout out, “Amen!”

At first I thought he had misunderstood Amen to mean a command in riding.  Not wanting to embarrass him, I tried to figure out what he was associating Amen to.  It was haphazard, his Amen had no rhyme or reason.  I finally asked him why he was saying Amen.

“Miss Jill Amen means Thank You LORD!”

“You are right Collin, Thank You LORD is what we need to say when we are on a horse.”

He smiled his toothless grin and said that this was the best day of his life.  Riding a horse, shouting Amen (Thank You LORD), and enjoying what many would consider a great privilege. 

He sums up my farm, Thank You LORD for these children and the lives we touch.  Thank You LORD for these great ponies, and the opportunities you have given us.  To that I agree with you Collin, AMEN!

One Day At A Time

17 Mar

The alarm goes off, I can’t ignore it, my four dogs are nudging me to turn it off.  My husband rolls over, he can sleep through anything.  My alarm is in the bathroom, ensuring that I will most certainly get up, I have to turn off the incessant beeping.  I trip over the dogs, turn on the dimmer light switch and make my way downstairs to a hot cup of coffee.

My dogs content to check out all that has happened over the night, they survey the property ending up in the back of the house near the sun room sliding glass door.  It is here that they paw at the door and it is where they lay in various positions around the room as I read the Bible.  I read, slowly allowing the comforting words to soothe my soul.  I re-read certain passages, underlining and making notes.  My Bible is like a journal, certain verses touch a nerve and I record the message I am learning.  I close the Bible, pick up my goal cards.  Index cards that I write all of the goals I want to achieve.  Some are lofty- they will take me years, others are something I need to do everyday.  On the back of each one I have written a verse that corresponds with the goal.  I am reminded that without a vision, the people perish.  I am not about to perish because of my clouded vision.  No, I know where I am going and how I am going to get there.

Then I walk outside.  I have been up for an hour and a half.  It is only 5:00 in the morning.  The stars glisten in the sky.  I hear the sounds of my horses stirring.  I can hear the lone call of a coyote.  I feel the presence of God so clearly now.  I feed the horses with exact precision.  I have done this everyday, the same way without fail.  My horses like me love to eat and they hungrily munch on their grain.  Their warm breath billows up in my face and I love the smell of their sweet molassey breath.  I pat their faces, except Hershey because he hates to be bothered when he eats.  I scratch Brutus’s ears, rub Milkshake’s belly, tickle Quest’s rump, pat Chessy’s noble chest, kiss Chicken Nugget’s adorable face, rub Button’s broad girth, scratch Pumpkin’s belly and move to his shoulder, and then I walk the fields.  I have trails around my property, and it is here that I do my praying. 

I LOVE being under the stars guided only by moonlight.  I pray for friends, family, this wonderful country, my students, my high school where I teach, missionaries, foreign countries, and my imprisoned brothers and sisters suffering for their faith.  My walk is slow, the sound of the frost covered ground crunches under my boots.  I can hear the deer running from my approach.  I start to sing a hymn- How Great Thou Art.  I cannot help myself.  I feel His presence all around me and I am in awe.  I stand and stare into the sky, I close my eyes and open my arms.  Comforted to know that no one knows that I am here, cloaked in total darkness.  A tear escapes and runs down my cheek.  I just love spending time with God.  I am reluctant to make my way back to the house.

I take a hot shower, dress in lightning speed, make up applied in the dim light- it does not come out too well.  My students like to point out my missing mascara, or the blue shoes with my black pants.  I laugh and they laugh.  They tell me that I am not “normal” and I tell them to never believe the rumor that I ever was.  We laugh and they encourage me to tell them a story.  They love to hear my stories of achieving impossible dreams, believing in the impossible, and encouraging them that if it can happen for me, it most definitely will happen to them.  As I always point out, they are much smarter, prettier, and better than I ever was or will be.  I go through the day, grading papers, encouraging, cajoling, loving, helping, instructing, reaching, pushing, and prodding all of the students at WDHS. 

The day for many is winding down, but I must wind up as I drive home.  Like a bird in flight, I dive bomb the house grabbing jeans as I rush into the bathroom.  I throw on my Raise Your Dreams Farm sweatshirt and vest.  I grab my trusty Timex watch that is waterproof and put on my old boots feeling strangely relaxed, for it is here that I love even more than teaching at school.  I greet my students and the little ones hug me, the older ones slap my back.  My helpers are getting the horses and ponies for me.  We all gather in a circle with the horses joining us for prayer.  We grab each person’s hands. 

The little one says that they would like to pray too.  Of course I tell him.  He says, “Dear God, thank you for Milkshake and Pumpkin.  Thank you for McDonalds and hamburgers.  Thank you for Mommy and Daddy.  Thank you for Miss Jill.  I love you God. Amen”

With that we all gently squeeze one another hands.  My day is a success.  A child that never prayed before, now does.  A mother shares that her daughter is turning around in her behavior since she has been coming out to the farm.  A father and mother smile broadly as their son conquerors fear and rides the gentle Pumpkin.  A mother told me that her daughter no longer feels that she has no purpose in life, because when she is here, she is not only needed but wanted. She now knows her purpose in life, it is to someday teach like Miss Jill.

So, one day at a time.  I keep my eyes focused on the prize- to glorify the King of Kings.  I pray that He is well pleased with my efforts.  I hope that I used my words this day to build and not tear down.  I hope I used my hands to hold and protect.  I hope that I used my heart to expand and swell with love for all people, even those hard ones because they are the ones that need it the most.

Are your eyes focused on the prize?  Do you have a vision for your life?  Do you have a goal for your day?  If not, get thinking, writing, and planning.  Image

Problem Solved!

26 Jan
Tom working hard to carry the American Flag at the Opening Ceremony at Cowtown Rodeo

Tom working hard to carry the American Flag at the Opening Ceremony at Cowtown Rodeo

Tom has one dream. The dream? To ride a horse while carrying the American Flag during the Opening Ceremony at the Cowtown Rodeo.

To most people this would not mean too much, but to him, it is everything. It represents climbing out of a valley so deep and wide that most would be engulfed in depression and debilitating self pity. On a beautiful day, his freedom was taken from him by a drunk driver. He was pronounced dead at the scene, but Tom is not any ol’ man. He is one built on a foundation of determination, stubborn rebellion against the norm, and a love of all things fast.

In the hospital, he was told that he would never walk. He defied the doctors and walked. He was told he would never ride a bike, he bikes to the beach (a 100 mile trek). He was told that riding a horse may build his balance and strength. He came to my farm to ride. His dream is to gallop with abandon to the thundering applause during the National Anthem at the Cowtown Rodeo. He rides Pumpkin, who has one speed, super slow. He takes care of Tom, adjusting his body to meet the off balance movements that Tom sometimes involuntarily makes. We now trot. Only two “gears” away from a gallop. We are on our way. I start thinking that this could be a possibility.

I throw caution to the wind and call Cowtown Rodeo. I get the office and the daughter of the owner. She tells me that her father would have to approve it. She would discuss it with him. I hear nothing.

I am not daunted. I am fighting for Tom. As God would have it, the day I go to Cowtown, I park right next to the owner who happens to be getting out of his truck at the same time that I am getting out of mine. Boldly, I step up and introduce myself. He tips his Cowboy hat at me and says that he knows who I am. I tell him the story about Tom. Tears well in my eyes involuntarily. I apologize for my tears, I am so emotional, so hopeful that he will give this man an opportunity that will help him accomplish a dream, to defy what everyone said that he could not do.

He nods his head, “Yes, I think it will be ok if Tom opens the Rodeo.”

I grab his hand, then put my arms around his broad shoulders and tell him that this is a true gift and I am truly appreciative. He tells me that his office will be in touch.

Three months later, I get a call from a woman that says she wants to meet me. She has heard about my farm and the work that is done here. She runs the Cowboy Church. I am excited. During our conversation, I share that we will be doing the opening ceremony at Cowtown with Tom holding the American Flag. She tells me that she is the one that organizes the opening ceremony. Is that God again, giving us exactly what we need. The contact is there and she assures me that she will take care of us.

Pumpkin is a Quarter Horse with the kindest, sweetest nature of any horse I have ever known. He loves being scratched on his belly and loves being groomed by the girls. Unfortunately, he has a somewhat checkered past with hints of abuse. His face is malformed from a halter being too tight. He hates applause of any kind. He is also scared to death of loud noises. I have a big problem. How am I going to get this horse used to the Rodeo and safe enough to carry Tom?

Problem solved by God. I get a call from the woman that organizes the opening ceremony. She would like to give me her horse to use in the ceremony because he is an old hand at it and will take care of Tom.

I got off the phone, bowed my head as tears streamed down my face. God, You are so GREAT!! You care about the smallest things that are sometimes big.

Are you facing a challenge that you are not sure you can handle? Give it ALL to God. He loves you. Hand it over and watch God at work.

Need prayer? Need encouragement? Please respond. I PROMISE I will pray that God will show up and give you a solution that you know is right from Him. Then you can be assured that the problem is solved.

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