It is January 1st, the first day of the New Year 2014. I woke up this morning reflecting on my life since July 2005 when Mike and I moved to Wilmington, Ohio. The first words that came to mind were I’ll Risk It. In 2005 Mike was employed with Airborne Express and DHL had just purchased the company. We were living at the time on 4 acres in Molalla, Oregon and had a small riding business that provided riding lessons for children and teens. Our facility included a 9 stall barn, hay storage and a beautiful indoor arena. Ever since Mike and I had gotten married (1986) and moved from Oregon for Mikes military job our goal was to get back to Oregon by the mountains, the rivers, the beaches, our hometown.
So here we were, living our dream back in Oregon. But with Mike employed in Wilmington, Ohio, Mike was commuting constantly and was gone a lot. We decided in 2005 that we were tired of the commuting and it seemed that we were feeling we were being directed to move to Ohio. Yes that’s right, leave our home town again and this time leaving teens who were like family and a riding facility that was complete with an indoor arena. We would be starting over again. At the time Airborne had been struggling some but DHL had swooped in and purchased the company. It was still unsure what the future held for ABX but we realized it was time for us to move to Ohio and decided to “Risk It”. Our property somehow sold in 24 hours and the next thing I knew we were off to Ohio with 2 cats, a dog and 3 horses.
The property we purchased in Ohio did not have anything remotely resembling a riding facility except for the acreage. We had to build everything from scratch once again so we put up fencing for pastures and built a barn and an outdoor arena. By 2008 we decided we would go non-profit and we went to a training seminar in Bend, Oregon. On completion of that we felt confirmed that we were going to go non-profit and came back to Ohio to be greeted by the news that DHL was pulling out of ABX and a layoff was coming. We were faced with another decision do we continue with what we were so sure we were supposed to do or do we cut and run. We decided to “Risk it” and see where it would take us. The next 1 ½ years Mike was laid off yet we were able to operate.
Mike ended up getting a call back to work for ATI (a sister company to ABX) in July 2010 which was considerable less pay but it was a job and benefits. This came after we had invested a huge amount of our savings into some build outs to make our facility operations easier. Again, we were faced with the question do we continue or do we end. We again decided to “Risk it” for another season.
December of 2012 Mike was laid off from ATI. Again we were faced with the question Do we stay or do we leave. We decided to stay this time in spite of savings being less than ever and seriously no extra money to help the non-profit if necessary. We had our first banquet in 2013 and raised $17,000 towards the 2013 season. We were amazed and once again stayed open for another year. August of 2013 Mike got called back at ATI just as our savings was completely depleted. Then, the week before Christmas we received another layoff notice just before we were to bring in another horse into our program. We decided once again to “Risk it”. Yesterday, which was December 31, Mike got the call that his furlough was cancelled.
Up to the point of when Mike and I decided to move to Ohio we had been financially secure. We were comfortable in the fact that Mike had a great paying job in the military and then with ABX and were able to pay for all our needs and a very good retirement plan for the future. When we went non-profit that stability and living in the box mentality crumbled into dust. Everything we had decided in our life prior to this had been based on the fact that we did not have to worry about finances or how we would pay for things.
It seems in life that we are given crossroads where we are faced with choices. One choice is usually more comfortable and the other is generally one that would take us out of our comfort zone. When the choice is taken that takes us out of the comfort zone then we can come out of the box of ordinary and into the orbit of unordinary. In that land of unordinary all of a sudden God becomes bigger than we ever imagined and more real than ever thought possible. Things happen and you realize that there is so much more going on..so much more then you thought possible. It lets you know that there is more then what we see here and now…that there really is a heaven that can be experienced now and change is possible.
In spite of all the challenges of layoffs and lack of financial security we are still here. Our bills have been paid not only for our own personal needs but for the non-profit as well. As we kick off the New Year today we have down in our barn a total of 7 horses and our next banquet planning is underway. We have been able to provide a place of rest, peace and hope to many children and teens who call Stillwater Stables home. We have had teens allow us to walk with them as they have shared their deepest fears, struggles and weaknesses. We have seen a dimension at work that we never would have seen if we were still living in our comfort zone in Oregon, with a secure job and salary and of course what I miss the most, the indoor arena. Outside the box is scary, it can be outright bloody and stressful but when you have made the plunge, and you survive, not only does your own character change and grow but the lives you are around change as well. With that, it becomes ever more real that God is near, that He cares and that He loves. The things that are important to him become important to you such as loving yourself and others.
So this New Years if you have made a resolution to grow as a person, take new risks, or make a difference in someone else’s life I encourage you to “risk it”and take that step. If you are looking for a place to get involved with, please consider joining our team at Stillwater Stables. We have many volunteer opportunities available and I guarantee your life will never be the same!
Connie and Finder aka “I’ll Risk It”