A Session To Remember April 20, 2012

This week has been a busy week but exciting that we are getting back into the swing of things. Our session slots are filling up and the horses have been happy seeing old friends come back and meeting our new ones that are just starting. One of the privileges of my job is getting the opportunity to get to know each child and their families and being able to walk with them for a time on this journey we call life. Each child is here for a different reason and it is exciting to discover why they are here and have an opportunity to make a difference in their life.  Some ways that we are here to help is giving children the opportunity to meet new friends, to empower them with confidence or better self-esteem, to show them that life is worth living or making a dream come true by providing them with the opportunity to work with a horse.

This past week one of our sessions took my breath away that can only happen in those perfect moments when time and space stand still and you witness something supernatural.

We had a new child start that is 10 years old. She has had multiple severe epileptic seizures that have caused scarring in her brain that prohibits some of the brain waves to connect. She is behind in school and attention can be difficult for her and is distracted easily. Her family is looking to the horses to help stimulate cognitive activity and growth in a way that traditional classroom cannot do to hopefully ignite areas in her brain that otherwise may not.

Her horse to work with was Cheeto and she was so excited she could hardly stand it. She had worn boots to school that day in order to be ready for her time to ride. The moment she sat in the saddle her face lit up like the morning sun. As she began to relax  her mind was able to slow down as she connected with Cheeto. She waved at her family as we walked by beaming from ear to ear. She began asking questions and telling us about her dog and her family in complete thoughts. At times she would rest her hand on Cheeto’s neck and slowly pat him, allowing her hand to linger at times. She noted how soft he felt and it seemed she could read so much just through the touch of her hand. She was content, happy, relaxed, and focused.

After the ride and she was on the ground, she took the time to look deep into his eye commenting on its size. She noticed that Cheeto was licking my hand and she put her tiny hand in mine in order to feel his tongue. She would slowly lay her hand on his neck and let it slide down the length of it savoring every moment of it. She put her hand by his nostril so she could feel his warm breath gently blowing on it.

So much went through my mind as I stood and watched this happen. Time had stood still for this child and her complete focus was on this pony. You could see the depth of communication that was transpiring through her senses and as she touched him it was as though they were having a private conversation that reached deep within this child. It was as though God, through this pony, let this little girl know she was special and perfect in every way.  At times people may not be able to understand her but at this moment, Cheeto understood everything and she was communicating to him perfectly.

At the end of her session, she wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him a warm embrace and kissed him on his nose. Cheeto willingly brought his head and neck down and did not pull away. At that moment, they bonded.

Everyone who has prayed for our program, contributed money or have offered words of encouragement were part of what made this special moment possible. There are life changing moments each day that we are able to be open. It takes quite a team for the outreach we do at Stillwater Stables to be able to happen. Thank you for making a difference in the life of this child and the others that are a part of our program.

For His Kids

Connie Patrick

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American Red Cross Heroes 2012

Today at 7:00 am Mike and I arrived at the Roberts Center for the 2012 American Red Cross breakfast. I was a nominee for the Red Cross hero in the Pet category for using pets (in our case horses) to help change the lives of our youth in Clinton County. In spite of the early hour, there was already a huge line for getting in to the breakfast by those who were coming to support the Red Cross and participate in the ceremonies.

Mike and I entered the special door marked for “hero nominees,” so we did not have to wait in the large crowd. Many of the other nominees were there already as I found my name tag and given instructions. As I looked into the banquet room, there was enough seating for at least 500 people.

The ceremonies began with the song “You are my Hero” as all of the hero nominees walked in a processional to the front of the room. After we were at the front of the room the flag was brought to the front by the Air Force Junior  R.O.T.C. squad and everyone stood together for the Star Spangled Banner.

As I stood at the front with all the other nominees I felt a sense of community and being a part of something greater than our Stillwater Stables program. Every nominee up there had in one way or another gone out of their way to make a difference in our community of Wilmington by saving a life, encouraging a life, or matching an unwanted pet to a new home. Each of us standing there had gone above and beyond our job descriptions and had made a difference…created heaven for someone here on earth…here in the community where we live.

As I looked out at all who were standing at their tables, there were well over 400 people here to support the Red Cross. They were also here to learn more about the Wounded Warrior Project from the guest speaker, Adam Widner, who had been injured at war. They were here to celebrate with the hero nominees the honor of receiving the award and for the hard work each of us do to make our community a better place to live.

Our town of Wilmington is a town devastated by the DHL pullout. We are a community that has struggled to survive after that horrible day. We are a town where many local business people have had to close their doors due to the economy.  But here at the banquet there were over 400 people helping a non-profit, The American Red Cross and showing excitement and enthusiasm for the heroes who were nominated this year.

I was born and raised in the large town of Portland, Oregon.  Mike and I have also lived in Sacramento, California while he was in the military. Mike and I moved here to Wilmington in July 2005.  I remember feeling so alone and so isolated and could not understand what I was doing in this town of Wilmington where the summers are humid and the winters are frigid. For several years I practically  cursed God daily for bringing me to what I felt was such a lonely, God-forsaken town.

Today, I was proud to be part of this community. I realized I belonged to a community that cares about people, that cares about the unfortunate, the broken and the lost without worrying what is in it for them. I realized I was part of a community that sees the importance of  non-profits and finding ways to support them in spite of the economy. I am thankful for the open arms this community has given to our non-profit Stillwater Stables and that we have been joining forces with the other great organizations and people  to make a difference in the lives of our town.

I realized today I no  longer felt alone here in Wilmington, Ohio but part of a team. Today I realized how much our community cares and that together, we can all make Wilmington a better and healthier place to live in spite of the hardships that the economy has brought our town.

I would like to thank all the volunteers from the American Red Cross for making this breakfast possible today and for finding it important to recognize others who are making a difference in our community. It is easy to overlook the important things that people do in their everyday lives that often goes unseen or we underestimate the value and impact it has on others and on our community. Thank you for taking time to celebrate the goodness in our town and how God has used so many people to bring heaven to earth.

-Connie Patrick

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Teddy’s Legacy

It has been quite a journey raising money for Teddy, the horse we are hoping to bring to our program. In the past, it would have been easy for Mike and I to make up the amount needed to reach the purchase price amount. With Mike’s change in jobs 1 yr and 1/2 ago from ABX Air to ATI we are not in a position to be able to do that. I have to admit it is frustrating since this horse is amazing and a perfect fit for our mission here at Stillwater Stables. But it also is a positive thing because our non-profit is not just about Mike and I making it work, but about individuals who believe in what we do and want to help make a difference in the youth who come to the program. I am excited to report that we have had over 40 people get involved by their donations, and to date we have raised a total of $1619. And this does not take into account all the people who are praying for our program and for this fundraiser. This is such an encouragement to me.

One donation that particularly stands out to me is from a 9 yr old girl. Her older sister is a part of our program and it has changed her life. Earlier this week, the 9 yr old girl placed 4 dollars on her sisters bed with a note that said “This is for Teddy.  I love you.” She later gave her big sister a hug and told her “I know how much riding means to you. I want the barn to be able to get Teddy.” Later this week, the 9 yr old handed her sister 6 more dollars for the Teddy fund. The older sister tried to give the money back because she knew this was all the money her little sister had.  But the 9 yr old replied, “I can do what I want with my money and I want it to go to Teddy.” The total of her giving  was 10 dollars, which was all she had. Her honesty, faith and love for her sister really touched me. She did not even stop to think that her amount was only a small portion of what we need. She simply believed that her amount was going to make a difference.  God never looks at the amount someone gives but at the heart. This young girl’s actions along with others of you who have given from your heart have really reminded me of that. Everyone who has been giving has been giving what they could and the total keeps rising. God can use a little to do amazing things. I have been learning a lesson in faith. It’s trusting and waiting to see who God prompts to help out with the cause and really relinquishing any control I thought I ever had.

I want to share a testimony from Teddy’s previous owner who owned him from 2000 to 2006. Her testimony shows that Teddy has great experience in changing lives through giving hope and friendship.

Hi, I’m Angie and I am 28 years old. I have volunteered at Stillwater Stables and have really seen how this program is beneficial. It has helped teens and other people that have come to the program through strength, happiness, leadership, love, and spirit.

I got Teddy when I was 17. The depth of Teddy’s heart speaks volumes to a human’s soul. The day he looked into my heart and smiled, I knew what life was like. If I hadn’t experienced that through what only horses can do, I wouldn’t be here writing this today.

Teddy and I had a six amazing years together eventing, doing dressage, and some hunter/jumper shows. Teddy and I laughed a lot! He is my best friend today, even though I have another horse and don’t own him anymore. Teddy is a horse of humor and he is truly a clown; as I can be sometimes. He knows my heart and the truth of who I am, even when I don’t.

I struggled with Bipolar Disorder, Bulimia, Cystic Fibrosis and Alcoholism. All of which Teddy saw me through. From treatment center to treatment center I went, and all that really mattered to me was being with my “Teddyspaghetty.” Even when I was just grooming him, it meant so much more to me than anything that I could’ve done being in treatment. Don’t get me wrong, I learned information in treatment, but being with Teddy – the smell of his coat, the nuzzle of his nose, to be able to wrap my arms around  his neck, those big brown and white eyes, the stripe on his face that looks like “the Grinch” – that was something treatment could never give me. Teddy healed me physically and my broken soul more than anything ever could. I can remember being suicidal and trying to hurt myself anyway that I could. One painful memory I cut my wrists with an army knife. When I went to the barn the next day with bandages on my arms, he nuzzled my arms and hair gently. Then, he lowered his head and I cried with him for a long time. He had this smile in his eyes like “Trust me, you’ll be ok. I love you.” Teddyspaghetty has never judged me or turned me away for something I’ve said or done.  I owe my life to him. He has been my guardian angel near and far.

It would be a gift and blessing for me to see Teddy bring this much love, healing and well-being to the kids at Stillwater Stables. I know he will change and save lives as he did with mine. Thank you for your donation and making it possible for his legacy to continue.

He is truly a gift from God. <3 Angie Dyer

Thank you for your love, support and prayers. If you have not donated and would like to you can use paypal on our website at:

http://stillwater-stables.org/ways_you_can_help

Or call me at 937-383-7793 to pledge an amount. We are currently on a bit of a deadline as there seems to be another party interested. Teddy’s owner is trying to get an answer/commitment from us by the end of the day.

Thanks again!!

For His Kids

Connie Patrick


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Merry Christmas

Dear Stillwater Friends,                                    December 25,2011

I have been reflecting the past couple of weeks the meaning of Christmas. I have seen commercials on TV enticing me to shop and get that perfect gift for my friends and family. I watch as those around me are stressed and exhausted by trying to get everything done for that “perfect” day. I have been asked multiple times if I was “ready” for Christmas like it is something that needs preparation done before it can happen. Others have asked me “what are you and your family doing this Christmas?” or “are you going home?. Is Christmas only going to happen if I do get “home” or if my family is able to get together? Then there is the whole other side that Christmas is only about Jesus’ birthday and not about the Christmas gifts, lights or trees which can be confusing because there is so much focus on that.

During the years of being married to a pilot, who first flew in the military and then switched to commercial flying, I have found myself often times without family on Christmas and often living in another city or state then the previous year. My family I grew up with is a bit dysfunctional and Christmas has never fit the perfect mold that society seems to want us to believe must happen. Society puts expectations on what a Christmas should look like when in reality it can be a time of feeling isolated, alone and depressed. It can be a time of comparing what reality is to what is supposed to be normal for the “Christmas” season.

Have you ever wondered what Christmas is about? I often times have struggled trying to figure out what Christmas is really all about.

In the past two weeks, we have had the opportunity to promote our program Stillwater Stables at Janet’s our Store in Wilmington, Ohio owned by Janet Schultz. She is about giving individual crafters the opportunity to sell their items in her store so they can grow their business. She finds it important for the community to know who is making the products they purchase and she feels it is vital for there to be a relationship between the maker and the buyer. She believes it is important for people to know each other and to help each other out. She believes that it is getting back to caring for each other and supporting each other and that will bring our devastated community back to life. This is a concept I am not used to. I have mainly shopped at franchise stores where I buy products from who knows where without thinking twice about who made them. Often times the items I buy are just mass produced without a lot of care or creativity put into them. When I shop at these stores I do not get the idea that people care about me or what my individual need may be as a consumer.

Janet is excited about our program and sees value in it for our community. We have a horse Ross who is in need of a nerving surgery in order for him to continue his job. The cost is $850.00 which the non-profit did not have. Janet felt the community would want to get involved to help so she designated a Saturday at her store where she would donate 10% of her sales that day to our program for Ross’s surgery. She told the community about us on her fan page and encouraged the community to meet us. She allowed us to speak with her customers and share with them about what our program brings to our community. I was there with 4 of our teen leaders who were stepping out of there comfort zone to share about something they believed in.

While I was there I noticed Janet and her sales associates interact with their customers. They cared about each of them. They asked each of them how they were and truly listened. They helped each customer who needed it to find the perfect gift they were looking for. They seemed to know which customers needed some space and those who needed more attention. They demonstrated and gave love, hope and faith right there in their store. They were creating good around them in the midst of a hurting community and during a stressful season. They encouraged their customers to check out our table and to help us with our need.

Those from the community who came to the store visited our table. They listened to us as we shared our hearts and passion for Ross and our program. Some bought our dolls, others bought our calendars and others put what they could in our donation bucket. By the end of our time at the store we had reached our goal for what we needed for Ross’s surgery.

We reached our goal not by one person but by a community. By many stepping up and saying we care, we believe in what you are doing, we want to make a difference, we want to help you. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and amazement. I was left speechless by the end of our time here. I was overwhelmed by the power of people caring for one another and realized the importance of relationships. How powerful it is when everyone cares for each other and works together to get through life.

Could this be what God intended for Christmas to be? Could Christmas be a reminder to us to find each other important and to work together for the good of each other? Could it be a reminder to us to love one another unconditionally? Jesus, was born in a manger, came to earth to be fully human yet fully God to bridge the gap between us and Him. Because of Love……. Love not just for a day once a year but everyday, 365 days a year. I still do not have all of the Christmas kinks worked out, but I am excited for my insight this year. With that I leave you with this:

“Peace on Earth Good Will to Men”

For His Kids

Connie Patrick

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Equine Angels

Dear Friends of Stillwater Stables,

I am very excited to announce that we have just completed our first ever Stillwater Stables calendar and they are now available for purchase.  Along with Mike and I, several teens put time into helping make this calendar possible. We reflected on the year as we searched for photos that would tell the story of all that has happened during the year of 2011. We wanted to inspire people yet give everyone an opportunity to peer into the heart of our mission here. Each page tells a story and each page shows how our horses have made a difference in the children and teens that were a part of our program during the year of 2011.

What is the common thread between each month of the calendar? It is the equine friends who are sharing special moments with our students. It may be a moment of understanding, a moment of confidence, a moment of love and/or healing, or a moment of trust. It is evident the bond that develops between the students and their favorite horse that they walk the journey of life with while they are here. Some of our students are scared, some are sad, some are broken, some just need a boost of confidence, some need a positive influence while others need to feel that someone cares and a second chance. The horse is the stepping stone that starts the ripple that tears down the walls that so many have built to protect against the world that can at times seem so harsh and unfair. The horse is ever patient and seems to know how to be what each student needs when they are here. Some ways a horse reaches to a student is through soulful eyes of love, a cheerful nicker greeting, a mischievous act or the thrill of sailing over a jump for the first time.  All this from a 800 – 1,000lb animal who can reach out and be sensitive and adapt to each student’s needs.

How is this possible? How can a horse be capable of such power and build such meaningful relationships? In the book Velvet Elvis written by Rob Bell he points out that “God is bigger than our words, our brains, our worldviews and our imaginations. “  Moses went to the mountain to hear God. In Deuteronomy 4:12 it says “Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice”. God of course was not the flame, but through the flame came his voice to speak an important message to Moses. I believe that through the horse, God is present and able to use this incredible animal to heal souls and change lives in a way that no other could. God is a God who operates out of a box and meets us right where we are in a way that is meaningful to each child, teen and adult. At our program, God uses the horse to show love and grace in the midst of a world that can seem to have forgotten that. He takes the stables and creates a safe place where walls that we put up can come down so we can have a chance to experience the true God who longs for each of us to know him. Not know of Him, but to know Him.

Our calendar through its 12 pages shares how lives have changed here at our humble stables. The pictures and testimonies show the miracles that can only happen when God’s love in its purest form can enter someone’s hearts.  Our calendar is now for sale for $10.00 per calendar plus $2.00 shipping.  For your convenience payment may be made through paypal at our website http://stillwater-stables.org/ways_you_can_help or through our fan page on facebook http://www.facebook.com/StillwaterStables?sk=app_4949752878. When you place your payment just write a note that it is for our calendar.  We want to share our story from this past year with each of you. By purchasing our calendar you will also be joining our team to make these miracles happen. Maintaining horses is very expensive and we will be using the proceeds from the calendars towards the cost of keeping the horses healthy and cared for. We estimate the cost of $400.00 per horse per month.Our calendars will make a great gift for someone on your list and at the same time you will be helping make a difference in a child’s life here at Stillwater Stables.

From everyone here at Stillwater Stables we would like to wish you a Merry Christmas!

For His Kids!

Connie Patrick

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Being the Church

Dear Friends of Stillwater Stables,

This morning as I turned out the horses I realized how beautiful this fall morning was. The sun was brightly shining, reflecting off of the light frost that covered the grass. I could see the breath of the horses in the crisp air and the excitement they felt as they headed to their pastures. The pond glistened as a light mist of steam rose from it. As I left the house focused on my morning task of “feeding and turning out” I almost missed all the beauty that was around me. I almost was too busy caught up thinking of all the items on my to do list that I needed to accomplish today that I almost missed the good that was all around me.

Do you ever feel that living life can so easily become this way? We focus on all that we need to “accomplish” each day like somehow our worth and value come from getting things done. It seems like the more we can check off on the infinite list of “to dos” it makes us feel successful and important.  We forget the value of enjoying the moment and what it has to offer and enjoy those we are around.

Does it ever feel that church can become this way as well?  We have our list of what we think is expected to be a good christian and how we should look to the world around us. It can feel like we have a code of do’s and don’ts to live by so that others will know that we are different. It often seems so natural to use this list to judge where others are in their life by what they do. Do they drink? Do they smoke? Do they go to church every Sunday? Do they tithe? Before we know it the criteria becomes a list of expectations and rules. Do you ever wonder if there is more to being a christian then that? Do you ever wonder if something greater is being missed?

On October 16, 2011 I took 4 of my teens to a Halloween dressage
horse show at Dancing Horse Farm in Lebanon Ohio. This was Martha and Daniel’s first dressage show and Katrina and Chasity came to help since there is a lot of work involved with going to a horse show. We had an amazing time being together and a great place to be the church.

How were we the church? On the surface it would look like we were a training barn at a horse show to compete. We were all in costume and there was plenty to do during our time there. Getting Daniel and Martha ready, making sure the horses were taken care off, getting into warm up on time and the riders in the show ring on time as well. But as I looked past all the list of things we had to do and all we wanted to accomplish, I saw so much more.

In Hebrews 10:24 it says “and let us consider how we may spur one another toward love and good deeds.” The past couple of weeks I have been reading  Jesus Wants to Save Christians written by Rob Bell and Don Golden. I love their insight on this verse so will include the following from their book: “The phrase “good deeds” comes from the Hebrew word mitzvot, which refers to actions taken to heal and repair the world. Its a concept rich with significance in the Jewish tradition. For the writer of Hebrews, the church gathers so that the body will spur one another on to live a particular way day in and day out.”

So while at the show, I looked deeper into what was going on and began to see it less as a horse show and more as being the church.  We were spending time with each other developing relationships and  having fun. We were encouraging Daniel and Martha to meet their goals at the show. Both have been working on improving areas in their character as well as in their riding skills. Chasity and Katrina were there with a servants heart. They cared for the horses and helped in whatever area we needed. Being a servant is a difficult leadership quality to master. They would see what needed to be done and did it. We were demonstrating purpose. Teens have an incredible amount of pressure from peers and media trying to define who they are and distracting them down paths that are destructive. At the show, the teens were being part of a community, building each other up and serving each other. Finding they can make a difference and they can rise above what the culture screams to them to be.

When I came home and reflected on the day. I was amazed at how much was going on behind the scenes. That we were just living the church like it was breathing. We were bringing good into each others lives and those around us. We were living how Jesus intended us to  live.

I encourage you to look around at your day. Look past the stress, the list, the expectations and see what you find. I am sure you will find good, and you will find that you are spurring someone toward love and toward goodness.

Have a great day!

For His Kids!

Connie Patrick

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