Thursday, May 25, 2017


There's been so much going on and we've been so very busy that you'd think I am just moving on.  But I'm not.  Forward, maybe.

But there's never an event we attend or hospitality we show where I don't think, "God, I sure wish he was here.  He would love this..."

I still cry almost every day.  I still long to hear his voice.  My arms still ache to feel his little body wrapped up in them.  My heart still feels shattered.

But even in the midst of all the grief that is so prominent, I am so very, very thankful that I got to be his Momma.  I'm grateful that I had 8 and 1/2 years to show love to that precious boy.  But now I have the rest of my lifetime to find a place for that love to go...

Monday, May 22, 2017

BTER Trainer's Challenge 2017

Whoa!  It's been a wild 4 months.  Honestly, I'm glad it's over.  I've really missed my girls!
But I'm also really grateful they get to participate in such a wonderful event.  I'm thankful for the lessons learned, both the easier ones AND the harder ones.

The Trainer's Challenge was held Saturday at the Shawnee Expo Center.  We are all so grateful to everyone who came out to support Abby and Sherrod on Saturday, who mentored them both along the way, who supported their dream, and who continue to love, support, and pray for them.  You all are amazing!

I've been trying to think about where to start.  There are so many aspects of this year's Challenge.  So many things were learned...about horses, about self, about others.  I guess I'll start with placing, although that certainly is not the most important aspect.  Abby placed 1st in the adult division.  A very sweet young lady named Kaidyn placed 1st in the youth division.  Sherrod placed 5th in the youth, which actually put her in last place and we all know that is a hard thing for anyone.
So, on to the rest.  I am unbelievably proud of both of my girls.  I'm going to start with Abby, since she's older.  :)  
Last year, Abby got the last pick, which really made her nervous as she watched all her top picks get taken.  She ended up with Prancer, who was actually on her list, but not a top pick.  Providentially, that was supposed to be her horse.  Prancer taught her so much!  And Abby didn't have to struggle her way through training.  Prancer was a great first run!  I'm so thankful that Abby had that experience to build her confidence and really help her step outside of herself.  She needed that so much in her life at that time.  However, there was this one horse that caught Abby's eye last year.  His name was Hooey. He was labeled for an adult trainer only, so she couldn't have picked him anyway, and, to be frank, he was too much horse for her last year.  But all year long, she's thought about him.  She felt drawn to him.  She knew going into this year that if she had the opportunity to pick him, she matter what else there was to choose from.  The day of the pick, she was surprised to learn that because she was last year's youth winner, she got to pick 2nd.  So she got her horse.  When she got home, she cried.  She said she felt like she abandoned him last year and that wasn't going to happen to him again.  It nearly broke my heart that day, but also as the days went by and I watched her struggle to get through to him.  It seemed nothing she tried worked.  There were a lot of down days as she watched trainer after trainer begin to ride their horse, but she couldn't get on him yet.  But she was determined to learn to speak his language and connect with him.  She sought advice from mentors, she took more lessons, she studied, she experimented.  And little by little it worked.  At some point along the 4mo training, she began calling him Obi (for Obi Wan).  She said she felt he needed a name to live up to.  And the funny thing is, I think that's about when he started to make his turn around.  They formed a bond and he became willing to do anything for her.  
Of course she hit me with the, "Momma, I LOVE him and I want to adopt him."  Naturally, I gave her the lecture about not being able to adopt every horse she trains.  😏 And she replied, "Only him.  It's only him."  Then came the conversation about needing to justify why in the world we would need another horse.  Which she did.  So after the competition came the bidding.  She had a limit and a lot of people knew she wanted him but there were others bidding on him, too.  He very quickly jumped outside of her original limit.  But before that happened, she had people coming up to her, offering to help her buy him!  I was absolutely floored.  Old friends, family, very new friends, and complete strangers...all trying to help her.  Before the auction was over, she had enough pledges that I don't think anyone would have topped her, but fortunately she did not have to call in all the pledges.  And she brought her guy home.  The whole day was such a humbling experience for her.
And Sherrod...what can I say?  I'm so incredibly proud of her!  This girl is a no-nonsense, no-excuses kind of girl and I love it!  She has done a great job with Sassafras over the past 4 months and even though she had a bit of a hiccup just before she entered the arena for her performance, she gathered her composure, altered her plan slightly, and pulled off a great routine.  I love how she handled 5th place, with grace and beauty because that's who she is.  I'm so pleased with her attitude.  She understands that she's really only competing against herself, always trying to be better than she was the ride before.  And she was genuinely happy for the other trainers.  I know quite a few adults in my life who could really take a lesson in character from this girl.  What a blessing she is!
Sassafras did not get adopted and that was the most disappointing part of the entire day for Sherrod.  It just broke my heart to see how personally she took that.  Sass is a great little horse and there were several people looking at her for a kid's (note: beginner) horse.  Sherrod said she wasn't quite ready for little children to be turned loose on her but with a little bit of work, one day she'll be a PERFECT kid's horse.  Unfortunately, that didn't help and she's still up for adoption at Blaze's.  That was probably the hardest part of the competition for Sherrod because she so wanted Sass to get adopted, with every fiber of her, but she also wants to be honest and not have someone get something they aren't expecting and someone end up hurt.  I'm really proud of her and I just know that Sass will get adopted soon and someone is going to love her forever!

Last, but certainly not least, that brings me to Blaze's Tribute Equine Rescue, itself.  The more I am involved with this rescue, the more impressed I am...from the owner's to Board Members to volunteers to trainers.  I am so thankful for the way they've taken my girls in and just made them part of the family.  I love how the trainers all cheer each other on and help each other out and give tips when needed.  Of course everyone wants to win, but the goal first and foremost is to help the horse and I think that's super cool!  There are a few trainers that we've just come to love.  It's funny, I think the trainers understand something that a lot of bystanders might not and that's all subjective.  Awesome trainers have awesome days but they also have off days.  The same is true of horses.  And if you replace only one judge, you might have a totally different outcome.  So, yes, winning is fun, but it isn't the ultimate.  It's more about seeing how far you can bring the horse.  And here's where I'm going to add a little side note that might upset someone.  Please, please, please don't tell Sherrod she should have placed higher.  Tell her she did an awesome job and tell her you're proud of her, but when people squabble about how the judges scored a participant, they really negate the whole process and invalidate the other trainers who have also worked incredibly hard.  All of the trainers had to overcome some wacky and difficult obstacles.  They all did amazingly well with their horses and I think they all have something to be proud of.  Sherrod is a determined young lady and she's already talking about next year.  This experience will definitely make her stronger.

For those who missed the competition, Selah was able to get decent video:



I couldn't be more proud of both girls (and horses)!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Little Thanks Goes a Long Way

Everyone is probably aware by now that we don't really celebrate holidays.  I mean, there's a couple of historical holidays but nothing religious.  That's a whole conversation for another time.  😜

I find myself dreading holidays, even if we don't celebrate them.  I don't know why I had such a dread for Mother's Day.  I am, after all, still a mother.  I think it's just because it's so hard to face any day, knowing that William will not be here to partake in it, but if it's any kind of a special day, well, that's just far too much.

As a side note, did you know that Mother's Day was originally instituted to remember and comfort mothers who were grieving the loss of their child? That's a far cry from where we are today. 

The couple of weeks leading up to Mother's Day were sheer torture.  Sleepless nights, waking up crying (I hadn't done that in awhile), crying daily, easy frustration, short temper, the desire to crawl into a hole... Finally, I could take it no more.  When one of those emotions would creep up and threaten to overtake me, I would simply stop and think of one thing I was thankful for.  Just one.  And I would turn my mind to that one thing and dwell on that for awhile.

Before long, I started feeling like I was making it back to the new normal, instead of falling into the deep pit of grief despair.  And the day turned out to be pretty wonderful.

Wallace was baptized.  Is there anything greater than that?

Our church fellowship met in our home, which was extremely helpful for me to not have to actually leave my door.  I know that sounds odd, but sometimes the thought of that is just more than I can take.

We had wonderful fellowship with dear friends into the evening.

And my children had a special surprise for me, which included a subtle memorial to William.  I love how they are so careful of my feelings and really take care of and protect me.  And how they make him a part of our celebrations.  Our big moments.  And our small ones.

Sometimes, it's the little things.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Lord Gives...

My questions have not been answered, but my faith has grown.  I do not know the "why's" of life, but I have no doubts about WHO.  I'm still totally in love with the book of Job and I've really come to view it as a love letter from God to His faithful, hurting people.

There's so much treasure on the book of Job.  I think about Job...A LOT.  I think it's interesting that God tells us, not just once but THREE times, in the opening that Job was blameless.  Job feared God and he turned away from evil.  Job's suffering was not connected to sin in any way.

And he loves God.  He knows God.  His first response, his instinct, is to immediately trust God.  He knows God is sovereign.  Job starts with faith, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I shall return.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21

Isn't that the basic response of Christians?  It's part of us...innate.  Of course we trust the Lord.  It's so easy to spend our lives saying, "God's got this."  "God is in control."  "God has a purpose and a plan."  "God knows what He's doing."  And it's all true.

But sometimes in this life things happen that we can't even fathom.  God's plan for us includes things we NEVER imagined He would ask us to walk through.  The pain seems unbearable and it catches us off guard.  We begin to question... Maybe we question God's goodness.  Maybe we question His plan.  Maybe we question His authority.  This is why Job is such a wonderful book.  Job walks through the darkest of places when reality sinks in.  He asks hard questions.  Moral questions.  Theological questions.  Philosophical questions.  Real questions.  He is accusatory of his friends, who are not compassionate, understanding, or helpful.  He actually questions God's ways, God's will, God's justice.

And, of course, in the end, God answers him and Job is humbled.  He realizes God is more than he could possibly conceive.  He repents and is restored into fellowship with God.  What Job comes back to in the end is that there is nothing but trust in God.

I think one of the great things that Job provides us is to encourage us to ask the big questions.  To ask those questions and let Him strengthen our faith, our trust.  We may never have answers.  Our circumstances may not change.  We would not be able to understand it, even if God gave us answers.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

I Am Still Me...Yet Not

I wake up every morning and look into the mirror at a stranger.

I don't really know her.  I like her even less.

I miss the woman who used to fill her place.

The carefree woman who laughed easily.

The confident woman who believed her prayers would overcome.

The fighter who saw hope at every corner.

I miss her.

I really don't know this stranger who peers back at me.

She is weak, worn and tattered...broken.  She is a tired woman with worry lines and gray hair and sad eyes.  I hardly recognize her.

She is a stranger who struggles with fear, faith, hope, and complacency.  She is a woman who lives with one foot in two different worlds, whose life has become a constant battleground.

As much as I miss her, I miss him even more.  What I wouldn't give to hold him in my arms again.