Thursday, August 31, 2017

Long Nights

The nights are long.  But they are quiet.  And I like them.  It's hard to find time to process my grief during the day.  So many things are pulling on me.  But in the prolonged stillness I am at peace and I enjoy it.  I can laugh or I can cry.  I can be angry or I can be joyful.  There is no pressure to be anything other than what is.  It is comforting.

Although my body might disagree.  The dark circles have become a permanent fixture.  I feel like telling people that I meet that I haven't had an accident...I do not have black eyes.  But that would lead to an openness that I do not care to venture into.

This was a fun day.  William's only try at laser tag (which he didn't like), but the candy necklace was a real treat!  And, of course, he ALWAYS loved go-karts!

I often find myself looking through old pictures.  It really bothers me that there will never be another.  Every new thing that happens here, he is missing from.  It's a joy I cannot share with him.  And it hurts.  It doesn't mean I doubt the Lord or His promises.  It only means there was a precious little boy who held a good portion of my heart and he took it with him when he went.  I will always miss him.  Maybe there will come a day when I won't cry but there will never come a day when I don't miss him.

"There are valuable life lessons that are only learned through the crucible of death and suffering. That is not so much a negative thing as it is a painful reality. At times I will conquer the fears and sorrow that share space in my heart and mind and at other times I will once again find myself overwhelmed by them. That is the curse of humanity – the cost of the fall of man. For as many times as others have suggested or implied that I should move on I wonder if my Savior is whispering, 'Stay. Linger with Me here in this hard place for just awhile longer. Talk to Me. Don’t turn away. There is a gift of great worth awaiting you.'"  ~Janet Boxx

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


I didn't sleep last night.  I should have posted then, but I just didn't think of it.  I've kind of gotten into the habit of posting on Thursdays (LOL).  I'm not quite sure how that happened.  I know I started that at first because of William's favorite day and the day we buried him, but I never really intended for it to become a permanent thing.  Oh, well.

Somehow sleep is eluding me again.  Too much on my mind.  So I thought I would post about a recent event.  Abby, Selah, and I headed to Texas last week.  Yes, just in time for the hurricane.  No worries, though.  We only got heavy, crazy rains. 😜

It was quite the adventurous trip, though.  Of course I booked on Expedia, as usual.  Our hotel was a bit shady to put it nicely.  I guess you can't trust those reviews after all.  We ended up moving hotels, which is a funny story all on it's own.  But it's probably too tacky to put on a blog so you'll have to say something to me if you want to hear the pool/poop fiasco.😳

So, on to the reason for the trip.  Abby decided 2 months ago that she was ready to pursue certification.  Mind you, it's typically a one year process.  But she worked hard and pulled it together and taught 25 hours of mentored classes and made it work.  The testing process is rigorous and stressful but she handled it well.  She was able to pass both components (riding and instruction) and is now certified as a PATH Int'l Therapeutic Riding Instructor (TRI).  I would brag on her, but it would only embarrass her, so I'll just say, SHE DID AWESOME! (Although I expected nothing less...)

This is the horse she was assigned for the riding component: Rip Van Winkle (Vannie).  She's quite the horsewoman.  I know, it's no surprise.  But it still amazes me, the natural talent God has given her.  Yes, she's put in lots of hours and tons of hard work, but still...God placed so much of it as just HER.  It's who she is.

I saw this quote the other day and I thought about how perfectly it fits her.  Trust is such a big ALL relationships.  It doesn't come easy.

It makes me think of our walk with God, as well.  I AM fearful of many things now.  But I trust in the Lord.  I know His love never fails.  But do I look to Him to find out what to do when I am afraid or confused?  I'm trying.  I just don't have an answer yet...

Monday, August 28, 2017

Happy 13th, Elly!

Around our house, the thirteenth birthday is a big deal.  While we try hard to teach our children when they are young the value of work and setting our minds on things above, after the age of 13 we really start encouraging them to behave in a more mature, adult manner.  On their 13th birthday we do a special ceremony, which is always a fun, encouraging, sweet time of fellowship and admonition.

It centers around the 13 pillars of Biblical womanhood.  I don't remember where I got this idea, but I'd like to give credit where it's due.  I'm certain it must have been from Scott Brown or one of the Father-Daughter retreats when they were being done at Calloway Gardens in Georgia.  I'm going to go ahead and post the details here, as so many have asked about it.  I did email the list out to several of you, but just in case I missed anyone, here you go!

We will do something different for our sons, but since this is from Elly's birthday, I'll share from that viewpoint at this time.

We want our daughters to have a clear vision of Biblical womanhood that does not arise from our personal understanding, spring from our own family culture, or come from their personal inclinations.  Nor do we want it to be based on cultural models around us.  Because Scripture is sufficient for ALL OF LIFE, we want their vision of womanhood to be defined solely by the very words of Scripture so that they "may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:17)

This post is actually one of the reasons I have disabled comments on this blog.  I won't respond via FB, either.  I am happy to discuss any matter in person, by phone, or email, but too often people just want to argue behind the screen of a computer and not discuss.  I believe God (and therefore Christians) have a very high regard for women and, as we can see throughout Scripture, a woman is made to be capable and sure.  Scripture does indeed place distinctive roles for women and men.  The reality is, you can either have it God's way or you can have it your way.  It is just that simple.  If you believe you can make up your own personal version of manhood and womanhood as you go, you will end up with just that...YOUR version.

These are in no particular order.  We had each of our children pick a BIBLICAL PILLAR, then pick a gift which they believed went along with that PILLAR.  With that in mind, here are our THIRTEEN PILLARS OF BIBLICAL WOMANHOOD:

Biblical Pillar of Womanhood: A Trustful and Submissive Wife
Gift: purity ring

A ring is a symbol of eternity. It is a circle that does not end. One day your husband will give you a ring signifying the covenant between the two of you that will never end. In preparation for that day, I am now giving you a ring that signifies the covenant we have both agreed to: my protection of your heart, mind, and body and ever faithful help in choosing a husband; and your trust and submission to my authority, committing to give your heart over for me to protect and not give it to any other man until which time we both agree that God has ordained.  Do you affirm your commitment to this covenant?....And I vow to do my very best to protect you and help you and to seek God’s wisdom for your future.
Ephesians 5:22-24 “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the LORD. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.”

Biblical Pillar of Womanhood: A Keeper at Home
Gift: Invest Kids set of books on finance by Gillian Houghton
As you already know, there are many aspects involved in being a keeper at home: caring for your husband and meeting his needs, caring for your children, teaching them in God’s Word and in daily education, cooking, cleaning, sewing, decorating, care of property, finance, and the list goes on. You will need to educate yourself in each area individually and find tools that are helpful for learning each skill. 
Titus 2:5 “To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” 

Biblical Pillar of Womanhood: A Fruitful Bearer of Children
Gift: Heaven at Home (Establishing and Enjoying a Peaceful Home) by Ginger Plowman
It is our desire that your view of children is the same as God’s view of children. You will do well to pour over God’s Word in this area because the world will constantly try to convince you of other ways. Always remember that children are a blessing from the Lord. Times may be hard and things may be hard, but when those things happen we need to look to God to see what needs to be different within us or what God is trying to teach us, not blame it on children and certainly not to cut off our seed. Do not fall into the trap of thinking there would be so much you could do if you did not have little ones. Remember that God is in control of all things and He places seasons in our lives for a purpose. When we try to remove control from God and place it in our own hands, we harden our heart to the Holy Spirit and open ourselves up for a bounty of sin.
Psalm 127 “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.  It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.  Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is His reward.  As arrows are in the hand of a mighty warrior; so are the children of the youth.  Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”
Biblical Pillar of Womanhood: A Woman, not a Man
Gift: Swim dress
God has created you with a special purpose. You are a completely different being than a man and God calls you to different tasks. Not only has He given men and women different duties and responsibilities, but He has made you to behave differently, to think differently, to look differently. God has designed you to be soft and gentle, compassionate and nurturing. He designed you to be feminine.
1 Timothy 2:9-10 “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”

Biblical Pillar of Womanhood: A Member of the Church
Gift: Do Hard Things by Alex & Brett Harris
God has chosen you. He has called you into His servanthood. You are an important member of the church and it is vital that you attend fellowship as often as possible. There are many ways you can serve in your congregation. Find what is suitable to the Church’s needs and your personality, but just be sure to serve the body.

Acts 2:39 “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”

Biblical Pillar of Womanhood: A Domestic Entrepreneur
Gift: Crochet Kit
The Proverbs 31 woman is certainly a woman to model after, but keep in mind that there is a season for everything. When you are a young mother, you will hardly have the time to devote to much entrepreneurship, as your time will be much needed with the precious blessings that God gives to you. However, now is a great time to begin entrepreneurial skills, such as cheese making and crochet, and you can continue them later on or teach them to your own children to use. The point is that God calls us to a life of work, not laziness. Our hearts find trouble when our hands are idle and that is when sin will abound. Make sure your hands are always busy and remember that you don’t have to be earning money to be fruitful. Pouring your soul into your children with “wisdom and the law of kindness” is a very fruitful industry that will be seen in their lives for generations to come.

Proverbs 31:10-31 “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”

Biblical Pillar of Womanhood: A Disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ
Gift: Valley of Vision (songs for worship inspired by the classic book of Puritan prayers) by Sovereign Grace and Scripture Memory Songs 2 by Scripture Memory Kids
God has created you to be a disciple, or follower, of the Lord Jesus. His teaching and Word should be forever on your mind, in your heart, on your tongue, and in your actions.
  Constantly meditate on them through His word, through prayer, through good reading, and through song.
1 Peter 1:15-16 “Bu as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
Biblical Pillar of Womanhood : An Image Bearer 
Gift: A Young Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George (this happens to be from a grouping of Elly's favorite devotional books)
You are called to be an image bearer of Christ. One of the ways you can accomplish this is by developing your character in ways that are consistent with the character of Christ. How can we develop Christ-like character?  By being constantly immersed in His word.  The things you do will be the Jesus others see in you.
Genesis 1:26-27 “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

Biblical Pillar of Womanhood: Given to Hospitality
Gift: The Christian Homemaker's Handbook by Pat Ennis & Dorothy Kelley Patterson
The Bible implores Christians to cultivate a deep, affectionate love for one another as brothers and sisters.  We are admonished not to neglect a vitally important aspect of our love – hospitality.  The Biblical injunctions to practice hospitality are nearly always found in the context of brotherly love.  Hospitality fleshes out love in a uniquely personal and sacrificial way.
Hebrews 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for thereby some have entertained angels unaware.”
1 Peter 4:8-10 “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.  Be hospitable to one another without complaint.  As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

Biblical Pillar of Womanhood: A Teacher of the Next Generation
Gift: Scottish Highland Adventures by Catherine Mackenzie (this has long been a favorite series amongst my children and Joseph's Shield by Pansy 1888 (Lamplighter's are another favorite around here!)
One of your most important tasks is to pass on what you have learned to the next generation. Do not let a Godly heritage die with your generation: teach, teach, teach! You can only do this when you spend a great deal of time with the next generation (your children). Do not be deceived into thinking that you can pass that responsibility on to anyone else and still do what God desires of you and have the blessings that He will pour out.

Deuteronomy 6:7 “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” 

Biblical Pillar of Womanhood: A Godly Mentor
Gift: Pattern and material for a dress for Elly to sew "all by herself"
One lie the world is trying to convince us of is that when we are older it is “our time” to do as we wish. The world tells us we need “me time.”  People will use this excuse for doing anything that pleases them. But we must remember that God has called us to greater things than the world has to offer. We are always to be working, no matter our age. We are always to be mentoring those younger than us, or those who are less mature in the Lord.  The entire Gospel is about relationships.  God commands us to love and to serve and we should always be doing those things.  Is it wrong to take time to yourself and do something you enjoy?  Certainly not.  But even in that time “alone” we can meditate, or God may bring someone into our life, or there may be some capacity we can be a servant in.  One way you can do this is by living your life in a Godly manner, in the image of Christ. Another way is by writing encouraging letters. You will find many other ways as you grow older, but always be looking for ways to serve.
Titus 2:3-4 “The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children...”

Biblical Pillar of Womanhood: A Demonstration of Unfading Beauty
Gift: 3-step facial cleansing's so fun to be a big girl now! 😍
While man looks at the outward appearance, God judges the heart. It is easy to make the outward appearance look pleasing, but it takes hard work and commitment to the Lord to soften the heart. Sometimes our heart is seen in our outward appearance, such as a smile or a scowl, a harsh or a pleasing word, ignoring a need or meeting it. Other times it may not be so easy to distinguish. We can force a smile or a kind word so that our heart may appear clean, but deep down it can still be full of dirt and ugliness. Only being washed with the water of the Word can make it truly clean and remove all of the gross sin from it.
  That said, it is not inappropriate to dress up, but remember that the heart, which is always seen by God, is where righteousness lies.
1 Peter 3:3-4 “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”
Biblical Pillar of Womanhood: A Helpmeet
Gift: Passion and Purity (Learning to bring your love life under Christ's control) by Elisabeth Elliot
As you do not yet know what talent your future husband may need for you to have, it is a good idea to start learning many different helpful skills. You should further your education and acquire as many skills as you can over the next several years so that your talents for being a helpmeet to your husband will be well rounded.  In the rare occasion that God should call you to remain single, those talents and education will be used to further His kingdom and for His glory.
Genesis 2:18 “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.”

It was such a joy to have an older generation here, speaking love, truth, and encouragement into the life of the next generation.  What a blessing!

This is a fun picture of all of us with our covenant rings:

And I couldn't pass this one up...isn't he just the cutest!

Saturday, August 26, 2017


On this day 93 years ago, God blessed earth with this very special woman. She was godly, joyful...beautiful. 

I don't remember a time when she wasn't happy. 

The smile you see in these pictures was a permanent fixture on her. And she had a musical, memorable laugh that I can still hear today. She found the good in everything and helped me find it, too. She and my grandfather introduced me to Christ and showed me what it was to live a holy life. 

As I grew into an adult, there were things we disagreed on...from politics to Christmas to large families and homeschool. I wish everyone disagreed as we did. She truly listened to me, I listened to her, and we respected and loved each other through our choices. I can't believe she's been home with our Lord for ELEVEN years! I miss her everyday! There's so much I would love to hear her thoughts on. She never got to meet my sweet William here on earth, but I know they are loving each other now. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Be Mighty

I'm having a very emotional night.  I'm typically pretty open, at least here, where I'm only staring at a computer screen.  But tonight there's just too much.  And since we are coming up on the 2nd anniversary of William's home going, it's the perfect opportunity to take orders for t-shirts again.  We never sell them, but give them away in his honor.  I love seeing our friends in BE MIGHTY shirts, doing special things, MIGHTY things...and in everyday life.  Thank you for remembering him.  And I love getting pictures when you see the shirts out in public.  Thank you for sending them!  It always makes me smile and think of how William would have laughed... Wow, I sure do miss that beautiful sound!

Last year we attended 2 conferences and had people ask for shirts.  I can't believe we didn't think to take any with us.  We did get addresses and mailed them out, but from now on, we're traveling prepared! 😜

If you'd like a shirt, please text or email me ( your size no later than September 15.  Also, please let me know if you want the original BE MIGHTY shirt or the new style.

William is wearing the original in this picture... I know you can't see it very well, but I recently found this picture on my computer and I love it!  He loved doing science experiments!  (T-Rex and BE MIGHTY on front, Ephesians 6:10 on back)
We're also having a new style printed up this time.  Special thanks to Sean for this great logo... (Black shirt, new logo on front, Ephesians 6:10 on back)
I love this logo!  This 2nd year has been hard...excruciating at times.  I'm still trying to let go of some bitterness, not just from William's death, but from the events which surrounded that time.  This logo not only reminds me of how much William loved Sheriff Woody, but also of how much he loved people in general.  It makes me think of the friends who have come beside me and held me up over these last 2 years, the friends who I know are loving me even without saying anything.  Their actions show it.  And it brings sweet remembrances about the great time he had on his Make a Wish trip.  It was such a special time for all of us and I'm so grateful that we have those memories!  I love that this logo includes Rex, since William also LOVED dinosaurs, especially T-Rex!  You know, ANYTHING that was strong!  I think it ties well with his other shirt.  William would have loved this shirt, too, and I know it would have been a favorite! And, of course, black was his favorite color!😀

One last thing, if you're ordering for friends or to hand a few extra shirts out, please let me know so I can include extra copies of the story behind the shirts.

So, here's a funny story.  I stood in my closet the other day thinking, "I have absolutely nothing to wear." It's been quite awhile since I've done my laundry. So I washed my basket full of clothes. I found it interesting what it consisted of: 3 regular shirts, 3 Right Path shirts, 2 Make a Wish shirts, 5 jean skirts, 2 casual shirts, 2 dresses, and 8 (count them, EIGHT!) Be Mighty shirts!!! So, if you constantly see me in the same clothes, you'll know that I've adopted my husband's policy...if you like it, buy several! 😜😂

UPDATE: Order deadline September 24.  We plan to mail them out the week of October 18.

Thursday, August 17, 2017


Last October, a wise friend told me that, in his experience as a pastor loving the bereaved, the second year is harder than the first.  He counseled us not to make any life-altering decisions throughout this year.  And we have not.  I've continued on with life as-is, often stuck in a rut, swallowed up in the darkness of grief.

But he was right.  This second year has been more difficult.  I'm not sure why, exactly.  Maybe it's because most people around me have continued on and forgotten, while William's death becomes more real to me everyday.  Maybe it's because they expect ME to move on and forget.  You know, I've had my year to grieve, now it's just wallowing.  Or not trusting in the Lord.  Or stubbornness.  Or whatever.

This second year without William has been a year of struggle.  I'm still struggling to accept the fact that he's gone.  I struggle to find myself.  I struggle to do what I know is right.  I struggle to build relationships when it's just so much easier to let go.  I struggle to push down the anger that is always lingering.  I struggle to find the confidence in decision-making I once had.  I second guess myself at almost every turn.  

Tomorrow marks 22 months since I last held my little boy.  The tears still come everyday.  It still takes effort to breathe.  I wonder what change lies ahead as we start allowing ourselves the freedom to think again.  I feel ready for change.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Sarah and Abby were gone at the same time recently on 2 completely different trips, doing things they totally love.  Abby went with Michael on her 21st birthday trip to watch the wild Mustangs at the Sand Wash Basin.  She tells about her trip here.  Sarah went to Austin, Texas, to learn about all things political at Patriot Academy.  She tells about her trip here.

These 2 girls.  Wow!  They are both so much fun, yet they are entirely different.  They both have great personalities, which are polar opposites.

Before their trips, I needed to take them shopping for miscellaneous items.  They each "needed" one thing.  I gave Abby 3 stores to choose from, she picked the 1st one we came to, walked in, swept through the store, chose 3 items to try on, and settled on one.  I asked her if she wanted to look at the other stores, just in case she liked something better.  Nope.  She liked those, they were a good price, we're done!  I think it took all of 8 minutes to find what she needed and be done.

Sarah.  Oh, Sarah!  😂  I think Sarah tried on every possible suitable shoe in the store in 4 different sizes before settling on the pair she liked.  We were there well over an hour.  As she's parading around in her 3-inch heels I said, "I wonder who ever came up with the idea of high heels?"  She replied, "I don't know, but they're a genius!"  LOL!  I retorted, "I was thinking he needs to be tarred and feathered!"  She ended up getting not one, but THREE pair of shoes that day.  (We actually went shopping again later and picked up MORE to match different clothes!)

Sarah is fun-loving, personable, goofy, and extremely outgoing.  Our social butterfly.  Abby is quiet, reserved, serious, and introverted.  Animals are more her speed.  Sarah gets excited (and LOUD) about nearly everything, while the most excited Abby gets is a smile across her face.  Everyone Sarah meets is a friend.  Abby is more of an "acquaintance" person.  Both amazing and two completely different ways.

Their 21st birthday trips reflect their personalities perfectly.  They both planned their own.  Sarah went to the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. last year.  And this year she had a great time at Patriot Academy, completely in her element!  She LOVED working the House floor and meeting lots (and LOTS) of new friends!

Abby has probably been planning her trip in her head for well over a year.  I think she knows every horse by name in the Basin.  There are around 700 of them!  She watches them closely and knows when a new stallion takes over, when anyone has a baby, when there's a change of any kind made to a band (family).  I loved watching Abby tell about her plans and watching the excitement grow in her!    She loved camping for 10 days and being out away from the "necessities" of civilization.  Definitely Abby!

I love how their trips were as unique as their personalities.  I also love how much they love each other, even though they're so different.  I find it interesting how 2 girls, only 13 months apart in age and raised by the same parents at the same time, are so vastly different in their personalities, likes, and talents.  I think it just shows how God loves variety and creates each person in such a unique way.  I am grateful that they embrace each other's differences and accept each other for who they are, looking for (and finding) what they love about each other.  They are both such grateful I am to be their mother! It's so good to have them back home!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

21st Birthday Trip

My family has a special tradition where our dad takes us on a trip, just the 2 of us, on our 21st birthday. He pays up to a certain limit and we pay anything over that amount. We plan our trip to go wherever we want and do whatever we want (within reason of course). Being the avid horse person that I am, I decided to take a break from horses for a while to go camping in the middle of nowhere and observe wild horses in the beautiful state of CO in the BLM’s HMA - Sand Wash Basin! We cooked our own dinners over open fires the whole time we were camping! We added a few other fun things in as well, and the best part was that we were on our own time schedule completely. We did end up changing our plans while out there, but more on that later.
We spent all the first day driving up there, then stayed in a small town at over 10,000 feet elevation for the next 2 days and went white water rafting & mountain top zipping. Quite the fun experience! We rafted in 9, level 4 rapids, in a 7 mile section of the Arkansas River. Then we headed a little bit further north and did some lake kayaking.

White water rafting the Arkansas River

After we finished, we drove another 4 hours to the NW corner to camp in Dinosaur National Monument, which was our base for the next week. We went to church in Maybell on Sunday and made friends with the locals who gave us some helpful tips to accomplish what we’d really come to do. Find the wild mustangs! For those of you who don’t speak my language, here’s a word key:
 BLM refers to Bureau of Land Management; they are responsible for maintaining the horses and land. HMA refers to a Herd Management Area, the area in which wild mustangs live. Sand Wash Basin, AKA the basin is the name of this HMA. A band is a group of 3 or more horses with at least 1 mare and 1 stallion (remember, there are no geldings in the wild). A pair is 1 stallion & his mare. A band stallion is the family stallion that controls that band of horses. The band is known by the stallion’s name. A satellite stallion is a stallion that lives with a band, but is not the band stallion and does not control it. He does help defend the band against rival stallions, but the band stallion determines how much contact he actually has with the band. A bachelor stallion is a stallion without a mare. Most of the time they live in pairs, but sometimes there is a group of them or they live solo. They tend to go around dogging bands a lot in hopes of getting a mare for themselves or taking over a whole herd.
Kayaking Lake Dillon

Map of Dino Monument - we camped in Deerlodge Park

Our campsite

We spent all day Monday in the basin, driving 65 miles just in the basin looking for horses. With almost 700 horses on this HMA, you would think they’d be easier to find. But the space combined with the user friendly, but guest resistant terrain and their broken or dark coat colors, made them extremely difficult to spot. We found the best place was within a 2 mile radius of the water holes, which there are about 5 during the summer. We did manage to find these bands that day, along with Storm’s band. He had the newest baby in the basin at less then a week old at the time, and didn’t want us getting close enough to get a good picture.

Storm band - has the newest baby, look on left side

Mateo band

Half Moon band

Buck, Mystic Wind & Whisp - Buck band

WildHeart, WildOne, Honey & Rainman - Rainman band

WildSoul - bachelor dogging Rainman band

Corsandra, Cortez, Katarina, Cachina, Asha & Joy - Cortez band

Asha & Joy - Cortez band

Flame, Refuge & Tecumseh - Flame band

Tuesday, we got back up and in the basin bright and early. We saw several bands; some wouldn't let us get very close and some were impossible to hike out to because of the terrain.

Chief & Brave bands

Buddy band

Eagle band

Tecate, Hopscotch & Streaker - Tecate band

JJ - bachelor

About 2:30pm, we heard a hissing sound and realized we had a flat tire. At this point, we’re 12 miles in the basin and then 17 miles from the nearest town that didn’t even have a school! We headed out and called one of the locals we had met Sunday, so just in case we got stranded, someone would know. He told us they had a tire guy that could patch it in the town, and he’d send someone out to check on us. What d’ya know! You only have a signal on the hilltops out there. We made it 14 miles and decided the tire could go no further so stopped at a ranch 2 miles outside the BLM land to ask for air. Three very nice gentlemen there, who barely spoke English, gave us the air and, after noticing our spare, insisted on changing it for us! Turns out it was a piece of greasewood. The tire guy in Maybell, Sid, then patched it for us and we headed back to the basin at 4pm. Got 1 mile in and realized we had another flat, same tire, but MUCH worse than the last one. Barely made it back to the ranch to change the tire again. Then back to Sid’s to patch another tire. This time it was a 3/8” blunt end bolt! Needless to say, at 5:30, we decided to just go back to camp, as tomorrow was another big day anyway.

Wednesday, we got up bright and early and headed out on an all day road trip to hit some nearby states we’d never been to. We also went to the Olympic Park in Park City, UT and went tubing down the 64km and 95km ski slopes!

Tubing down the 95km slope

Driving back to camp at night, through the mountains in WY was not fun. They have open range there. You cross a cattle guard and now you’re driving through the pasture! Here we are, driving in the mountains, with cattle, pronghorn, deer, and elk standing on the road. Thankfully, we made it back safely and did not hit any animals.

Thursday, we headed back out in the basin. We found a few scattered bands and bachelors here and there, then came across a large group of about 50 horses.  There were about 8 different bands and several bachelors hanging out together. We also got a third flat about 2:00. This time, it was a rock. Back to Sid’s it was, to get it all fixed up (after we stopped at the same ranch again for air).
Maggie & Thunder - Thunder band

Flynnigan Joe, Solitare & Straight Arrow - Thunder band

Twiggy - Thunder band

Large group

Cosmo band

Eclipse band - Brayley, Checker, Spirit Dancer, Eclipse & Mimi

Prince band - Prince, Moonlight, Sunshine, Twinkle Star & Stardust

Snowman band - Heidi, Snowman & Mayday

Mayday - Snowman band

Star band - Meteor, Riddler & Star

Meteor - Star band and the only palomino pinto in the basin

Haze band - White Sage, Acacia, Juniper, Haze, Shock Top & Cheveyo

Shock Top - Haze band

Dancer - bachelor
Hoot - bachelor

Bachelors Outlaw & Milagro

Femur - stallion  & Sand Shadow - mare

This time, we just headed back to the campsite to prepare for breaking camp in the morning. Originally, we were going to go back out in the basin Friday morning, spend half a day, drive to Colorado Springs to camp 1 night, and go to Pikes Peak on Saturday morning. With all the flats, we decided that wasn’t the best idea, so instead, we decided to break camp very early Friday morning, drive to Colorado Springs and visit Pikes Peak and Focus on the Family headquarters. Then camp 1 night and head home early Saturday which would put us home 3 hours early. So we left Maybell at 6am and drove 6 hours to Colorado Springs.
Pikes Peak

The road up

At the summit

We finished a lot earlier then we thought we would, so we decided to head out into Kansas and camp there. We got to our campsite at about 11:30pm and decided that since we were only 5 hours from home, we’d just push on through. So, instead of getting home at 11pm Saturday night, we got home at 5am Saturday morning. Meaning we drove over a thousand miles, plus stopping at a bookstore and going up a mountain, in just under 23 hours! We had a wonderful time, but are very glad to be home.

For those of you that know me, and know that I’m not a photographer at all, I took over 700 pictures! Mostly horses, of course! Special thanks to Victoria for letting me borrow her camera and take it on such an adventurous trip so I could get some good pictures. Even though Sarah wouldn’t let me take hers!!😜 

Posted by Abby