It is with great appreciation that I sit down today and write to each of you as our 2014 season is coming to a close and the holidays are upon us. I want to start by thanking you for being such a valued part of our team at Stillwater Stables. Without you, saving lives through horses would not be possible.
The Christmas season is a reminder of hope; a reminder that something greater than us is at work. It reminds us that we as an individual are important, and love is the greatest gift of all. Jesus came to restore relationships with each of us as an individual, to bring us hope, and to show us that there is something greater at work than we often realize. He brings awareness to each of us that heaven is here, it is near, and can be seen and experienced not someday in the future but now, today.
Sadly, in our day-to-day living and stress, the horrors that happen all around us can easily cause this to get lost. Sickness, death, betrayal, terrorism, poverty, hunger, abuse, and sorrow often becomes all that is noticed and when that is the only thing we see and experience it is easy to give up and lose hope. With the loss of hope comes the inability to choose life or see that heaven is around us every day even in the midst of the difficult times that we encounter.
Stillwater Stables is built on hope. We are also about the individual and restoring trust, which in turn restores relationships. Feeling isolated and alone brings us to a point of desperation and hopelessness. Feelings of “No one will understand” or “No one else has been through what I have” or “What is the point?” causes a loss of purpose and a loss of seeing that there is anything greater than what they see in front of them.
Our horses are crucial in our ability to help restore trust and hope. The horses enable us to let each child and teen that comes here have the opportunity to discover that they are an individual and to experience the love and grace of God. They really are my co partners in this mission as they allow us to reach our kids in ways that are unique; with children who otherwise may have slipped through the cracks in life.
I have so many stories I would love to share with you, but they would fill many pages and make this letter way too long. I will, however, share one very life changing moment for a particular teen as an example of many other life changing moments that have happened throughout this past year. This moment and others like it surely would not have been possible without each of you doing your part. Be it following us on our fan page, reading this blog, giving encouragement, prayers , volunteering or financial support they each are important.
One of our teen students has been coming out for a while has been through a lot of difficult things. She’s had so many situations out of her control that has brought so much pain and trauma. Recently, on top of everything else she’s been through, someone she cared about a great deal unexpectedly died which just devastated her. She has felt that she can never catch a break and that her fate is ultimately just pain and darkness. Life has become robotic and about day-to-day survival, while hope has become something she often can’t see.
One day this teen and I were in the round pen with her favorite horse (ironically named) Hope. It had been a particularly hard day for her and I was not sure how Hope and I were going to be able to infuse her with life. As her hand touched Hope’s neck, though, she let out a sigh and a big breath followed. Life was penetrating through the wall that had been put up to endure the day. The problem with walls though, is that they may protect some of the pain from coming in and help us cope in the short term, but in the process it becomes a stifling, confining, isolating dungeon that sucks the breath and life right out of a person. I decided to have her work with the horse on some ground work exercises. With a 14 foot lead line attached to the halter, our teen had Hope move off at a walk onto a circle to the right. The more the teen breathed, the more relaxed the horse got and the quality of Hope’s walk became steady and fluid. Our teen then asked her to trot, and more relaxation became evident; Hope again became fluid, steady and even had a little lift to each step to the point where it looked like she was prancing. The teen giggled, which seemed to encourage Hope to prance even higher, causing her trot to become even more elegant. As she exclaimed how beautiful the mare looked she broke out into a big smile. Our teen had become lost in the moment of beauty and majesty. She had been pulled into something greater than herself and her life.
I urged her to ask Hope to canter, and when she did Hope picked up an adorable canter and our teen began to walk in order to allow for the circle to get larger. The teen was grinning at the ease in which she had transitioned into this gait, but Hope kept watching her and gradually began to increase the speed of the canter. As the speed increased, our teen had to switch from a walk to a jog and in the change her body became even more relaxed as she started to laugh. Hope took that as the sign to increase her speed which also caused our teen to have to break into a very fast jog to allow the circle to continue at the larger size. Hope was grinning from ear to ear with an eye on the teen, and our teen was laughing and running and breathing deeply. The connection between the two was undeniable. The teen had become lost in “Hope!” For that moment in time, Hope had drawn her into a different time and space, causing her to experience pure joy and a moment that was free from the pain she had been suffering from. It was like God was using Hope to reach deep into her soul and show her that she was not forgotten, to hang in there and to experience life…..to experience heaven here in that round pen. The round pen was no longer just a round pen with rails and sand footing. It had become holy….God was there and Hope was making that truth a reality by infusing hope and life into this teen who is so loved by Him.
You have joined with us to make this experience, as well as others like it possible. You decided that the life of a teen was worth saving, and as we have partnered together walls have fallen and hope has been seen and experienced that otherwise would have been missed. A God, who in this day is so often forgotten and misrepresented, is able to be present in a pure and raw form to create the opportunity for miracles to happen. Bringing back the essence of why Jesus came….