With all the world is showing
Sometimes God enters in and removes all doubt
There were 6 girls in this class and they all were able to pick their top 3 horses that they would like to work with for the next 6 weeks. There were 7 horses to pick from. That, by my math, would be 18 choices. They each took their journals out to the pasture and excitedly jotted down their hearts’ chosen horses.
This horse was not chosen. There were 18 choices for 7 horses and she was not in any of their journals. But I did not realize that until that last class.
During the last class, after the girls have begun to understand what horses can do for a heart, I do a demonstration for them to grasp a little more, Jesus’ heart for them. I have always used Shiloh in the past, but her lameness was too painful. I could not ask that of her. So I sat and I pondered and I prayed. It seemed obvious to me that using the unchosen horse would be good because none of the girls were working with her. I reviewed her story in my mind and began to put some thoughts together. But I was quickly encouraged to check their journals. That first confused me – why? But Jesus led me to look at the 3 horses each girl listed in their journals …. never before had this happened. Never before had a horse NOT been on any of the girls’ list.
I was excited and listening. As usual – I do not get the whole teaching before a demonstration. With Shiloh, I was very much aware of how Jesus would lead in the story of her redemption, but this was cautiously new. I did not know where this teaching would go.
Girls and Pardners line up around the round pen – I begin. I begin with what I know. I share with them that nobody chose this horse AT ALL. Nobody even noticed her enough to put her on a list. Nobody paid the slightest attention to her. I asked them how they felt about that for this horse. The pity came oozing out of their hearts. I let it ooze awhile. I was listening for the next step. I heard and then I asked them. “This not being chosen by anyone has not happened before. What if? What if God kept her hidden for just this time? For just this teaching from His heart for you? What if instead of pitying her, we realize that God hid her from your eyes because He had a different plan for her? Out of the ordinary. Hidden secretly. For a unique purpose.”
I stopped to let them ponder that just a little. I saw faces change. I saw eyes spilling. I heard the whispers – “that’s just like me”, “I feel hidden” (they came from a residential facility). Their eyes were fixed and hope was filling. Dare they begin to believe they were hidden for healing for a unique purpose with Jesus?
Then only God – one of those huge nasty horse flies dared to come and land right in front of me as I was leaning over this horse’s back. Another given teaching opportunity for these struggling hearts. This horse had experienced this emanate pain situation with me often. She learned that if she stood still and waited, the slap of my hand on her back, though it would hurt, would rescue from greater pain. I saw the slight bend of her head, letting me know she knew I was there to help. I saw the row of wide eyes watching through the rails of the round pen as I caused a little slap of pain for this trusting horse. She did not move. She knew she was rescued.
I asked them if they understood. I had to cause a little pain to prevent bigger pain. I cared about the bigger pain and in ‘real’ love caused a lesser pain. And this horse knew. She had experienced the rescue many times before. She waited in trust. The row of eyes looked down – maybe into their pained hearts?
I share with them this horse’s name – Kisses.
I hear the gasping in of hope from these hearts – trying to believe that this was really her name.
Only God – giving these girls kisses through Kisses.
Kisses in the lonely hurting places –
Kisses that invite trust in pain –
Kisses that invite hope in hidden –
Kisses that whisper truth –
Chosen – by Jesus.
Asking the bend of the horse –
Holy Spirit, ask me to bend –
During quiet time
During loud time
-into all that you have for me
constantly – please
–ask me to bend
She come bounding out of the van, running with arms open to hug, excitedly telling us that she has heard – we will be her new best friends and so will a special horse. Her eyes were full of life and ready to begin her time at the ranch.
The picture did not match what I knew of her. She had been abused. Her body had been used over and over and over again by those who just wanted to satisfy their own flesh. She had been a slave.
As I tried to make some sense of this picture, I could not until – until my heart was reminded that she had been set free. Lydia was not here to heal her old self; she was here to grow her new self. Her excited free self. Her joyful free self. Her Jesus’ freed self.
With the chores done, it was time to go observe and meet the horses. Stepping into the pasture through our outdoor arena gate she looked up and immediately stated – I know. I know which horse I will pick.
In bringing her mind back to the activity – she kept that horse on her mind.
Now it was time for the horse selection and Lydia went right to the one that got her attention. This horse was an in-charge type of horse. This horse looked commanding. This horse was beautiful and caught Lydia’s eye. This horse ignored her as she approached. This horse walked away as Lydia tried to rub her shoulder. This horse caught the challenge of Lydia’s mind. Lydia wanted a horse who seemed like her – so she could learn, by experience, with this horse how to help herself. Lydia was a little disappointed by the response of this horse – but this horse’s response lured her challenged mind even more.
Then we gathered to talk. What was Destiny doing? Destiny, another horse in our herd, would not leave Lydia alone. She followed her, she turned her head way around to hug Lydia and really pushed Lydia into her shoulder. She parked herself shoulder to shoulder by Lydia. Destiny’s pursuit of Lydia caused a “new-self” heart to feel and this heart could only spill out of wondering and confused eyes. Lydia shared that she knew right form the first glance what horse she wanted because she felt that horse could really help her. But now what? Was this horse chosen to help her? Did Lydia not need to help herself? She did not know how to accept being chosen. She could only cry.
I encouraged her in this seemingly confusing place. Did she want to go forward with the horse that caught her mind – the one who she was sure would help her because she was just like her old self? Or – was she willing to go forward with the horse that would not leave her side. The horse that touched her new self.
To me this decision seemed obvious. But I do not know what God has for her to walk through at this ranch. Lydia has to make this decision.
In the tack room, changing out of her boots and journaling, Lydia was still questioning this decision. But I saw soft eyes rather than excited eyes. I saw her struggle from head to heart. I saw her new self growing.
Her Destiny was pursuing her – – –
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I love the title. So many times, focus is placed on fixing or healing, forgetting that Jesus gives us a new heart and fills us with His spirit. It’s so hard with our new found faith (or dormant) to not push forward with that “can do” plan of making ourselves into His image, rather than to trust and rest in knowing He created us that way. For Lydia to be chosen without cost is probably hard for her to conceive. To go with the horse that caught her eye, or the one who caught her heart. Thanks for sharing with me and letting me a part of what God is doing.
That equation is for sure the best there is. It represents sooo much. It means relaxed. It means friends. It means horses. It means relationships that go on and on. It means not concerned for time – or at least not while 2N + 1 is happening.
Calling my husband, I tell him I am running to the barn for a little bit – checking on the horses (this was before we had our own place). He would question – your Pard going to be there? Yep – of course – we both have horses to check and checking together is so much more efficient. After just a few times – the engineer-who-loves-numbers put an equation on the ‘little bit’ of time I would normally spend – 2N + 1. Do I understand that completely – nope – but MY engineer does. Basically, I figured there was no actual time allotted – just whatever is needed to accomplish the checking. After all, there was a lot of checking to do and you just never knew how long each check would take.
I was grateful for the equation. It meant that he knew me. He knew how much this ‘checking’ did for my heart. He knew, just like his hunting and fishing, there was no need to have a clock when ‘checking’ was needed.
So, one year, when I became a year wiser, my Pard gave me this sign – she made it to remember. And that remembering list could go on forever. To just be and not think of time when all the ‘checking’ needs to happen at the barn.
And, one day, as I was in the barn, looking at that sign and pondering all that 2N+1 represented, I thought about my equation of time with Jesus. How would He write our equation of time together? Thoughts of guilt tried – no did – creep in. Oh shoot – not enough – not focused – not as enjoyable – not as lost in just being together talking. I was sad. I told Jesus I was sorry and asked Him for His equation – ready to hear the hard reality truth.
Really? Seriously? Yep – that sounded like my Jesus.
He spelled it out. >E + Te = R + Ni + Ty .
And He was sooo excited about the truth of that equation.
I cried a smile – I was, too.
We must make another sign –
Gary was down the hill tending a fire of all the windblown and dead branches that we had just picked up. I had filled the tractor bucket in the pasture and he had filled his truck bed around the barn and yard. We were “gittin’ it dunn”! Hopefully to shorten the work day.
Continuing the need to be efficient, after I unload the tractor bucket and head to the paddocks to start the daily task of picking up the manure.
As I was picking up a few of the piles I was questioning efficiency. I really wanted to be by the fire with him – because it was with him.
Decided “gittin’ it dunn” was not that important. “Gittin it dunn” together was the joy of this ranch.
So – I park the manure bucket and head down the hill – tending to the priority of together.
Topaz – beautiful – golden. Someday, I hope I can tell you how she came into my life and became a part of Returning Glory. But today I will tell you how she became very insecure in the season of inconsistency and our journey back to security together.
She had given a lot of herself to hearts who came out to the ranch. She gave anxious hearts quiet into trust. She brought humility to hearts that were too-bold. She extended a hug to hearts lonely. They were all different and she had to focus deep to help. But in the midst of all that inconsistency from others in their woundedness, she lost inner security. She had gotten many different forms of input. Different feel, different information, different way to be. In struggling to please each special heart, she lost her foundational training and in that she lost security.
Topaz has always been a joy to ride, one of the smoothest trots and lopes you could ask for. We have gone on many a trail ride together – though not perfect she always gives her all. One particular memory I have is going through deep deep mud on a trail. My concern as we moved forward through this mess soon change to joy! She was working seriously hard to bring each foot up out of the mud to keep my ride smooth – her back stayed steady. My heart loved her more for that effort for me.
But after this demanding season, I had a young girl ride her. My back and hip have not been able to give the horses what they need for a good supporting ride, so I found help. As this excited young lady, with all her athleticism, rode Topaz around the arena at the walk, the soft quiet trot and the ‘I don’t think so’ lope, I watched as Topaz became more and more difficult to ride. This was supposed to help her become confident again in all that she knew how to do. But that was not happening. Topaz was struggling. The soft trot became choppy. The request for the lope became a fight. She was resisting the turns, wanting desperately to go back to the gate. She was bringing her head down to get behind the bit. It was not going well – headed in the wrong direction for what Topaz needed. It had always been easy to get her bend with a gentle touch of her side – but now too hard a request was needed, if it was even gotten then. She seemed to just be done – a new rider was again an inconsistent feel – inconsistent in relationship.
So today I knew we needed to spend some quiet time together – rebuild consistency. We knew each other well – years of riding together – years of being by her side as she helped kiddos. It did take reassuring to get her up the back pasture and away from the herd, but we finally were in the barn. I wanted to groom her and quiet her to observe all the places of insecurity within that body and mind. I was saddened and a little surprised. Just standing in the barn with me seemed stressful to her. Her head would pop this way and that – anxious about what could be coming in the door – worried because she could not see the other horses. This year had been hard on her.
I invited her head to lower to get those feel good endorphins flowing. I asked for the bend to bring her attention back to me. I rubbed her ears. Massaged her gums to release more endorphins. Remind her of how we can relax and enjoy. Anything and everything I could think of to help her – help this one who gave away all her help and was left empty and anxious.
A big sigh. Blinking of eyes. Head lowering. Licking and chewing in the processing. She was struggling her way back into security.
I let her go to empty. I asked too much of her without filling. But now, after far too long, we were going back to the security of consistency.
The consistency that holds security.
We were practicing to get the pattern just right. Over and over we went, thru the steps of the pattern. Each step was carefully communicated around the cones. A little twist of my seat on the saddle – she begins her turn. A careful stopping of my movement – she beautifully responds with her stop. A soft upward shift with my seat – she quietly walks forward. A little touch of my heel – she gentle offers a soft bend. I put a soft boundary in the reins so the bend is not too big – she willingly stays within the line of the pattern.
A little improvement, then a substantial improvement, then backwards to the beginning. When will this horse get the steps figured out? When can I relax and just enjoy walking out the pattern? Still so much attention needed to each detail.
We continue practicing the pattern.
Wait. What did I just feel?
It was wonderful! Quietly, softly, deliberately she goes through the pattern. Shiloh is getting it! How I wish I had a video running – she must look amazing walking this pattern. Others would see the beauty. They would enjoy watching the pattern being walked out so intentionally by this magnificent horse.
But . . .
Empty . . .
We have been practicing and practicing this pattern together. We have finally arrived at the beauty of the pattern on display. But empty? How did that feeling come into my heart?
Searching deep as to the why of the “empty” . . .
Step by step retracing the process of learning the pattern. Back. Back. Back. Shiloh was doing amazing work – on her own. Walking the pattern out perfectly all by herself. The empty shows up – the pattern became just a pattern to walk out.
She didn’t need to listen anymore – she knew the pattern and it seemed wonderful.
But something in our relationship changed. I was just a rider on a horse walking out a pattern.
Empty. No connection needed.
Why? What entered my mind was my years of church going. I have gone to church all my life. Everyone saw me walk out the wonderful pattern. But going to the church gradually seemed empty. A feeling I became familiar with so it became normal to me, I guess. Why was it empty? It was very much an important pattern!
Oh, my heart! In this pattern-practicing with Shiloh I experienced this “church-going-emptiness” more clearly. Did going to church become just a pattern? Go to the church and do what I was taught to do. What had I practiced for years? I was doing the good work. But somewhere I must have stopped listening and was just doing the pattern on my own. I am not talking about listening with my ears – I am talking about the deep places of my heart listening and connecting to my Trainer. The listening that fills. Nobody else would have noticed that the listening had stopped. The pattern was so well practiced.
So – I stopped going. Yes, I really just stopped going to the church. I didn’t want to just walk a pattern. I struggled with my feelings about not going to the church. My pattern didn’t look good to others any more. I was told “shame on you”. When I was asked where I went to church I would honestly answer “nowhere” – their looks were puzzled and a little confused that I was off pattern. How could I do what I do if I didn’t go to the church – didn’t practice the pattern?
But I felt drawn to change my pattern. With the “guilt” of changing the pattern, I was struggling to find His pattern to practice. I felt the empty begin to fill. I was being invited to the deep place of His filling, His delight in my search of connecting, His joy just in me – not learning a new pattern but practicing a filling.
Shiloh – I will keep changing the pattern – no more practicing of a pattern. I will do this changing often so you keep the need to listen carefully – to stay connected. Maybe nobody else will see the beauty of no pattern – but we will feel the filling – the listening to fill – just you and me. Connecting with the attention to each detail needed.
Back to church I go – but with the absence of pattern. Enjoying the “heart filling” of listening.
April 2020 – the government says to stay home – no going to the church for awhile because of the covid-19 virus. Ummm . . . now thankful for an opportunity to practice not practicing a pattern – to focus on the practice of connected filling with my Father.
On His trail –
Roxanne Van Riessen
I went out to the pasture with the class to halter Destiny. On my way down, I felt a hint to get Lakota. Lakota was below the dam and as I came around the pond, that silly horse was right up against the fence standing under the trees. The horses have a tendency to say “Hi” to the neighbor horses and Lakota, being the ‘guardian’ of the herd, thought it best to get directly in the middle of things to guarantee that all was secure.
He glanced at me and offered a little nicker. How fun – he’s saying “Hi” to me! I went to love on him and on approaching, realized he was stuck–and stuck good! That “hi” was really “help!” Thick vines, wrapped around his front and back legs, held him prisoner. How in the world did he get in there? Puzzled by the challenge at hand, I was intrigued by Lakota’s quiet resilience. In approaching him, I anticipated some sort of quick movement – a panicked flight – a struggle to break free. However, he showed no signs of stress – sweat nor panic. He just waited – with seemingly a patient confidence in my ability to help him.
I tried to trace the vines to their beginning or end in order to pull them out – a bit like untangling last year’s wad of Christmas lights – with no end in sight. They were too large to break and too tangled to separate. I looked up the hill for the students; hoping one of them could get the nippers. Unfortunately, they were already just tiny silhouettes marching up the hill, into the paddocks to get their horses ready for class. It was up to me to struggle through this challenging scary mess with a #1000 horse. Lakota stood quietly watching … waiting on me.
With knowing I just had to ‘gitter dun’ I looked up and asked for Help. I stepped in to evaluate – fear trembling in my heart but voice and hands steady. Lakota needed me. I rubbed Lakota’s strong, still frame, my warm voice assuring him I would rescue him from this stuck place. Meanwhile, I anxiously wondered when his panic would begin to set in. Yet he stood quietly … and he waited.
I cracked a small tree so he would be able to step forward after I freed each and every leg. He just kept nudging his nose closer to me. I could feel his warm breath on my neck. I was his only hope in this stuck place, and he wanted me near.
A deep breath – the resolve to go in … the real work began. First, I tested his response by picking up his front leg and gently setting it down in the exact same place; he showed no resistance, no panic. So I rubbed him again as I moved to free that front leg. He fully yielded to me, so willing for me to pick up and place the hoof where I thought safest and best. I paused – waiting again for a sudden bolt, Lakota thinking he was finally free. No – he just waited.
I crushed a large vine under my foot to clear a path, hoping he would step over, but instead he whipped his tail back and forth with fierce determination. This is what I anticipated, he was upset and I braced myself for the worst. But no – there was no attempt to move? Lakota was simply telling me that his feet weren’t the only things stuck! His tail was wrapped in brambles. As if the vines weren’t obstacle enough, I had to go around the brambles to free his tail from the thorny rose brush. He took a step forward trying to follow me, so I put my hand on his chest – he obeyed and waited. After untangling his tail from those persistent brambles, I circled back around to resume the detailed work of untangling each stuck leg.
And … Lakota quietly waited.
I yanked hard at a vine under his belly and pried it loose enough to step on, so that he could step over it. I freed each back leg from another thick vine. All the while desperately hoping Lakota would continue to trust until he was completely free. Please – no panic into disaster before the final leg was out. I asked again for the Help needed. Lakota began to sense the beginning of his long awaited freedom, I could feel it. But instead of pushing forward on his own – he waited for me to give him the queue for each movement needed. He turned his head to watch me free him.
Finally, it was time to finish this horrendous task. Stepping on the smaller vine, pulling the larger toward me so it wouldn’t interfere with his forward motion, I opened the way for him to step forward.
And … Lakota quietly waited.
Instead, he bent his head toward me, nuzzled me with his muzzle for assurance, and waited. What was he waiting for? What was I missing this time? Everything looked open and a way was made.
Oh my! This horse! My heart didn’t know how to feel! Really? This horse was waiting for me to TELL him to go forward. He wanted to know from me that it was ok. Even though the way looked open – he was waiting for my queue to give him permission to go forward. I did not tell him to go forward – I only had opened the way. What a hilarious picture this must have been. I raised my other leg so I could free one hand to tap him on his barrel, encouraging him to step out of this stuck place. He softly listened to that prompting and carefully took each step, sensitive to possible snags. He nuzzled me one more time, his warm breath sighing heavily, and trustingly stepped out of this stuck place.
When free, he stopped, checked back with me – to see if I was ok? Then Lakota slowly, peacefully walked forward – it was no big thing to him.
WOW! I was in awe of this horse that could trust so deeply, and wait so quietly as I guided each step out of an impossibly stuck place.
Walking up the hill, thrilled and exhausted, my heart surrendered humbly to my Jesus. Yet again and without fail, He touched my heart with a horse.
In tired, teachable tears I asked my Helper- “When I feel stuck, help me to wait – trusting You. Wait for You to place each step where You know best. Wait for You to free every part of me that is stuck – no panic, no stress. Wait for You to untangle all my messes. Wait – even though the way seems open, wait for you to give the queue to walk through the opened way. Wait for only You to set ALL of me free.”
On His trail – Roxanne Van Riessen
Have not spent much time lately with this horse of mine – though my heart yearns for time with her often – life gets in the way – and I guess I choose to let it. The maintenance of house – office work – yard – everything! How do I slow it down? Why is there so much to fill my time that seems to need so much of my attention?
Not today. Today, I decided to let stuff maintain itself and I went to follow my heart – to Shiloh. I wanted to try a new saddle on this horse, maybe this one she would be comfortable with on her back. It was wonderful – English type tree with endurance seat. Did the usual ground work, grooming and tacking – all those necessary relational steps before the ride. I finally was on this amazing horse and it felt good. But, it didn’t take long at all before I felt – maybe it was not so good for Shiloh. She began letting me know that a buck was coming soon and that this was not an idea she agreed with. Quiet her down – and quietly I dismount.
What, girl? We just rode a week ago – or was it 3? Years of working together and we are again at this place?
Ok – I’ll get the saddle you have been used to for so long. Old sloppy saddle on and a little more lunging. A quiet mount up. Now what? An apprehensive walk, and jittery trot. Really? How many times, in all our years together, have we not been here? Again and again the “want to”, or even the “try to” seems to have to start over. Shiloh – you did not do this the last time “we” were together – remember? That time, three weeks ago, you did so much better – you were willing and trying to listen to my directions.
I know – I know – I know, our ‘we’ needs so much more time together. The ‘we’ was too long ago. The ‘we’ is not soft and smooth this time. You do not trust the ‘we’, again.
You are such high maintenance! I feel overwhelmed at how much time you demand to have good ‘we’ time.
It is our ‘we’ that is really the high maintenance. Sorry, girl – that I did not maintain our ‘we’.
Yep – I get it again. The ‘we’ of me and Jesus needs sooo much maintenance time. Too often I choose the maintenance of other things. He is waiting for me in our ‘we’.
Like Shiloh, I get a little apprehensive, a little jittery. “Jesus, I don’t have a feel of You? I can’t find the ‘we’.” Umm – when was the last ‘we’ again? A few days ago? I don’t recall – let me check my journal. Oh no – how can we be ‘we’ when it has been that long?
He waits. He knows I need high maintenance. He actually made me high maintenance – because He so enjoys the ‘we’.
Shiloh – you were made a high maintenance horse – so I could feel the longing of the ‘we’ with my Jesus.
It’s a good thing to be high maintenance – so we can be WE.