Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Be Still

...'The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes...(John 3:8)

This was part of my morning facebook post. When I sit here at the computer the window faces the back pasture and I can watch the horses as I work. I am always amazed at how horses and other animals 'respond' to the wind. And so...it had me thinking this morning...

'How have I responded to the wind'?

Not always gracefully, haha. Sometimes I am like my horses, who when the wind blows and bellows through the pasture they take off and run much like the wind, trying to escape it, or stay in step with it. We know horses are much in tune with thier 'senses', more so than we are. We are so dependant on what we see, hear and touch. But horses and other animals have developed a keen ability to 'sense' what is in 'the wind'.

In the past I can say that when the winds blew, I have not always responded to them in a way that was the most productive. And, when I needed to perhaps 'run' with the winds and let them carry me, there have been times that I have hidden behind the cleft of a rock to escape my percieved brutality of them.

And so...I am more conciencious than ever to 'discern' and 'respond' to the winds as they bellow and blow in life. To discern the importance of 'hiding behind the cleft of the rock, and escaping for safety sake. Or...is it a time to discern the direction they blow and run with them to take advantage of the ground that can be covered as they push me forward in motion...

There have been times where I literally see the horses standing in the brunt of the force of the wind, just standing and being still. And I always wonder, why dont they just get out of the path of the wind, go to the barn, hunker down and wait for them to pass. To this day I still dont completely understand why a horse will stand in what seems the brutality of a wind, when they have the place of escape. It makes me wonder, they choose to respond in different ways to the wind. The response is never 'the same'.

Make me more like the horse, make me more sensitive and discerning of the wind that blows. Confirm in me, when its time to run, time to hide, and time to stand still and feel the force of its power.

(the painting above is one I have completed titled 'Drinker of the Wind' it is a wild mustang stallion and such an expression of wild to me. You can see more on my website at www.runninghorses.weebly.com)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wings of Encouragement

I love watching the horse when the wind is blowing and thier mane and tail is catching the air. Had me thinking today on 'encouragement' and the impact it can make in ones life. There is a scripture that talks about how life and death are in the power of the tongue in the bible. This holds true to my heart as one who has witnessed both sides of the 'fence' so to speak regarding 'encouragment' or simply 'the opposite'.

A couple of weeks ago I was on Belle in the saddle, the wind was blowing, the branches on the trees were swaying and I guess from a horses point of perception, they were pretty frightning. I could feel her trembling under the saddle as I 'encouraged' her to continue towards the back pasture...because of the bears we have had they are on high alert when they go to the back pasture always watching for something to come out of the woods to get them. It was obvious to me that she was so scared and that the more I prompted her, the more skittish she became.

At that point, I had to make a decision. I wanted to encourage her to overcome her fears. I could have stayed in the saddle, but I wanted to get on the ground at her level and walk alongside of her and encourage her that all was good and safe, she had no reason to fear. I wanted to build her confidence that she would overcome and rest in the task at hand.

I dismounted, and took a little time on the ground with her, and then we proceeded in the same direction towards the back pasture. Her ears were back and forth, at one point she jumped away from 'whatever' but I maintained a calm and affirming posture with her to 'encourage' and coax to keep pressing forward. I didnt push her beyound her limits, didnt use a whip, or lead to push her. But I used my steady companionship to stand with her even when she wasn't performing in what I knew she had the ability to do.

We walked just the two of us for almost an hour back and forth and around in that back pasture. There was an ease that settled on her, she was breathing easier, her posture more relaxed, the nervousness had ceased, and she was more confident as we walked together.

I think of different situations and seasons in my life. Different people and the impact they have made in the method of 'encouragement' that was offered when my confidence level was down, or my 'performance' wasn't measuring up to my potential. It was the words of encouragement that helped me to keep moving forward despite the surroundings in my midst.

Those seasons where encouragement came, were seasons that I learned to fly when I had a hard time walking. Its easy to be critical when people are at thier worst. Criticism has become a devoted part of our culture. It incapacitates people to rise up, we really do have the power to help others to learn to fly.

 We can walk alone, constantly dealing with our fears and insecurities...
Or, we can be in the presence of a trusted friend who encourages when the heart feels low. Even the horse
knows how to be a source of encouragment to a friend. We can learn so much from these wonderful animals.
The life lessons they offer, can change us forever.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

...the longing still remains...

I seem to be on a word roll this week...I layed in bed last night with words just rolling through my head, I almost got up, but the idea of having to get up at 5am persuaded me otherwise.

In chatting with a good friend last night, I made this remark, 'I have peace in the solitude, but the longing still remains'. This had me thinking all night on things.

Horses are herd animals by nature. There is safety in the herd. They offer comfort to one another when fearful, the younger horses are taught by the older in the herd, there is a family structure in the herd. They adopt young baby colts when tragedy comes to a mare. Horses normally dont do well emotionally when they are alone, apart from other horses, they can become depressed, anxious, overwhelmed with fear.

I remember when we acquired our first horse, Jasper, He was about 9 years old, very seasoned to all kinds of stuff, so very well broke. He loved people. I dont think I ever saw a horse that loved people like him at that point. But he was alone. He was the only horse we had, and we had become his 'herd'. He adopted us and looked to us for the structure, safety and leadership that the herd offers. I think we had him for about 2 years before we got another horse.

I will never forget the day that we had our broodmare delivered. My brother had bought an appaloosa broodmare and her day of delivery finally came. As the trailer began clanking its way up the road, Jasper began to pace the fence, somehow he knew something was up. As the trailer pulled in, he began to whinny and trot the fence line of the paddock. There was an excitement in him we had never seen before. As 'ShezNoPrincess' (alias 'HalleyBerry') was unloaded he got so excited. His ears were so alert, he was right at the fence to welcome her.

It took a few days for Halley to warm up to Jasper, but when she did, they began a wonderful friendship. The spent thier time side by side grazing together, galloping the fence line in the pasture, napping, just doing horsey stuff. They connected, they tested each other in relationship, they formed a structure that worked for them. They became family. He still had an affection for us, but there was a definite shift as he connected to another horse. There was just a different Jasper. It was a good change. He had become complete in uniting with one of his own.

This had me thinking last night about the comment I made to my friend. So many times we 'feel' alone and isolated, feel the need to connect spirit to spirit, heart to heart with others in intimate relationship. In this day and age, that can be a real challenge it seems. The more people I talk with, the more I hear people saying the same thing...they hunger for deeper relationship. For a deeper connect. It is our nature, just as the horses to have this unique bond with others. It fulfills our human nature, just as being part of a herd for the horse fills thier horse nature.

Sometimes our 'need' to connect in intimacy is driven from an unhealthy place of finding our identity in other people. If that is touching a nerve, well, sorry. I am speaking from my own heart on this one, lets be honest, we all go through seasons in our lives where our identity is wrapped up around those we mingle and gather with rather than a deep intimate relational bond.

The more at peace we become with 'ourselves' the less we are driven to engage in relationships that are toxic or taxing on our interior being.  Some of you reading that statement may feel that sounds harsh, others of you know exactly what I am describing. And I can almost be assured that we have played on both sides of the fence in that situation at one time or another in our lives.

So where am I driving at with all this...
The need to 'connect' is critical to our 'makeup'. It fulfills a deep part of who we are. But its critical for the 'connect' to be a healthy connect. Not saying there will never be conflicts or dissagreements, and so we must learn to communicate at a greater capacity to engage in conflict to bring resolution in relationship. That said, is a mouthful that I am still learning on a personal level.

In sharing with another friend tonight...'what does love look like?' in response to dealing with relationships. What does it mean to relate to and resolve conflict in a way that says 'I value you as a person?'...I dont have all the answers, but I do know that the 'drive' for us to connect and have intimacy will never change, it is a part of who we are. Like the horse, we have been designed and created for relationship. There are a lot of levels of relationship that lend to different levels or skills of intimacy. And its important that we recognize our 'lack' when the 'rub' comes, and accept what our posture is to make the change in our own heart.

As a community of people, we must allow ourselves to be challenged, and humbled to learn, to accept, and offer grace when there is conflict or disagreements. Its a challenge for all of us, believe me, I alone feel so inapt so many times. But I long to recognize my deficiency and desire for it to mature. But in that, I have a responsibility...to allow my heart to be prodded and examined for whats 'really' in there...sometimes its very painful to look at what is harbored in our hearts, when seen for truth, it can hurt. But for us to grow, and to mature in relationship, we have to allow the finger of God to pierce those darkest of places within. Only then, can we be changed to walk in greater grace and compassion for others. 

Next opportunity you have to watch horses interact, sit for a while and watch. There is alot we could learn from these wonderful animals. Like us, they just want to connect, to belong, to be loved and accepted. Kind of sounds like us, doesnt it?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Doing verses Being

In recent days I have reconnected with a lost friend from our days in South Carolina. One of the beauties of Facebook, is getting reconnected across the years and miles. In reconnecting with this friend, I have been reflecting on the changes that have come and gone in those years that have passed to present. We were in the later stages of fore-running a coffee house/concert hall outreach to the community, it was an all consuming work, inspired with great passion to reach young people. I find it interesting how our passions can consume us and get us so busy 'doing' that we forget to 'be'. In my days of connecting with this friend, this was the 'mode of operation' I was in for so long. They never really got to know the 'me' that 'be's' rather than the 'me' that 'did'. Am I making sense to any of you out there?

In 'those days' I was lost in the work of 'doing' rather than 'being'. I didn't paint for about 10-12 years during those 'doing' years, and honestly when I finally did pick up a paint brush and begin the journey of 'being' again, it was a bit frightening. The idea of 'relaxing' in 'being'...was such a foreign mindset for me. For the last 14 years I had allowed myself to become a 'doer', losing the essence of just 'being'. If this isnt making sense to you yet, let me try a little harder to explain...

There are things we are created to 'be', and there are things we create to 'do'. None of it is wrong, but it isnt always necessarily right. I was created to 'create'. The gifting was deposited in me somewhere between conception and about 8 years old. Unsure, but that isnt the point, the point is that there is a gifting that was such a part of my 'being' from the time I was a child to present, that in the 'doing' I lost all sense of 'being'.

I dont know why it takes some of us longer to come to an understanding of accepting 'being' instead of striving through our 'doings'. But for me personally, I seemed to be on a mission of 'doing' rather than 'being' for years. In my journey of what I call 'healing heart hurts' from 'who knows where exactly'...I have finally entered the interstate of 'being' rather than 'doing'. I have accepted and welcomed 'who I am'.  A huge statement from a compulsive 'doer'.

Its a place I have welcomed in my heart, my life. Its a place that I have learned to 'value'. I have learned to accept who I am without 'doing', but rather 'being'. In this I have found a greater joy and passion in what I 'do' as 'I am'. (I love the word play here, lol) Things are less complicated, things are simpler, there is less striving, more relaxing as I 'do' what I was created to 'be'.

Life is different here for us as we have made our transition to Colorado. Life is different because we are different. I am different. I have learned over the years to be at peace with 'being' rather than 'doing'. Now to confuse the word play a little more...Its not that I dont 'do'...but its an effortless outflow of me 'being' rather than the work of 'doing'.

So back to the reconnecting with the friend...in my time in relationship I had not painted that I can recall even one painting. In reconnecting, my friend has had the opportunity to meet me in a way that was nearly impossible before. I am more me now, then I have ever been. Now, in the effortless attempts of 'being', my friend is reconnecting to who I really am, not just someone who 'does'. I am more honest in my relationship now than ever as the pretense of engagement is simply 'being' rather than the 'doing'.

In some regards I feel like I am breathing again, I have tapped into who I am like never before. My passion for horses is more alive than when I was a child, my creativity is being tapped into like a well gone dry that has sprung fresh water. I am thankful for the land of 'doing' as without living in that land for a season of my life, I may not have had the longing and desire to search for more...finding 'being' much more natural in daily rythm and definetly more lifegiving.

Cip, my husband and I took a drive to Estes Park CO yesterday. It was a wonderful day as I packed a picnic lunch and we just reminiced from our honeymoon a few months over 25 years ago. I was overwhelmed the same yesterday as I was then with the beauty of the mountain range. 25 years ago, I was 'being'...I was painting and creating, somewhere that part of me was lost for years. The journey of 'reclaiming' who I am, and learning to 'be' rather than 'do' has been a rough haul. I feel like I have come full circle in some sense, though I know I haven't arrived yet either. There is still much work to do within this heart of mine, but strides have been taken that have become the proving ground of good change.

On our way home yesterday my husband shared some insightful reminders that were encouraging to affirm that he see's the fruit of my 'being' rather than 'doing'. It was good to hear, sometimes we forget how far we have come until someone points it out to us.

The air was brisk the day before we left for Estes Park. I watched the horses in the pasture, Belle leaping on her daddy, Liberty, and them bucking, running and playing in the chilled morning air. They were 'being' who they have been created 'to be'. It was a gentle reminder as I watched them frolicking through the pasture together.

I encourage you, just 'be'.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Sweetness of Solace

This week we had a great friend come through and pay a wonderful visit while on tour. We met well over 14 or more years ago, and though we haven't spent a lot of time together, the times we have connected over these years have been wonderful times of learning and sharing together.

Friendship is a vital ingredient to making our lives full and complete. There are times in our lives that become a proving ground of what our friendships can endure, withstand and outlast. We have all experienced incredible seasons of contrast in relationships when these 'times of testing' come.

The Sweetness of Solace is a by-product of those enduring relationships that have been witness to the ups and downs and curves in the road as we travel covering miles of terrain and distance. I love words, and so I looked up the defenition of 'Solace' as this is a word that has been on my tongue over the last couple of days,

Definitions of solace on the Web:
  • consolation: the comfort you feel when consoled in times of disappointment; "second place was no consolation to him"
  • comfort in disappointment or misery
  • comfort: give moral or emotional strength to
In reflection, we all have 'voices' in our lives that have been a source of Solace in those times of dissapointment, misery, or when we just needed some moral support.  I am learning as I go through life, the importance and value of 'solace'. Not just for me, but for others that I am in relationship with. Recieving 'solace' can sometimes be the key to success for an individual or meer survival for the broken-hearted. How we give 'solace' is so critical sometimes. Sometimes 'solace' is a word, or other times...an action, or a deed. However its offered, the facts are...its a great welcome when given and recieved. Forming a stronger bond at times that is life changing.

I watch how our horses give 'solace' to one another. Those gentle nuzzles, or stepping closer to comfort where there is fear. I love when Belle approaches Liberty when she has become 'shaken' over something unfamiliar and he will just give her a head rub, or allow her to just step in really close to where she is literally pressing against him. Its a beautiful picture of 'comforting'.

My prayer, is that I become a greater aroma and flavor of 'solace' in the lives of others. Its a real challenge because it requires us to lower our walls of expectation and judgment towards each other. 'Solace' really is a greater expression of 'Love'.

I hope as walk through your week this week you have the opportunity to 'taste and be tasted' as that sweetness of solace...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New Horizons

5 months, thats the time that has passed since we made our transition to Colorado.

There was so much transition in those early months of our arrival here. We pulled in the driveway after an arduous 4 day haul from the east coast with my husband driving the budget rental truck with car in tow, and me in the pick up hauling our 3 dogs and cats. Our horses were left behind in the care of friends while waiting for the hauler to pick them up 2 weeks later. Those 3 weeks of empty pasture were gentle reminders of the reality of our transition. We made preparations and waited patiently with weekly phone calls to check on our two loved horses until thier time of departure to meet us and complete our 'family'.

The morning finally arrived early in TN for their journey to begin. We got the phone call and I started praying from that time for them to have ease in the transition that would follow. I often wonder what goes through a horses mind...here they are eating grass in pasture they have declared home for months at a time, and all of a sudden thier caretakers up and dissapear on them. No more hugs, familiar whistles and affection from the hands that have been thier provision from birth.

The truck drivers arrive and they slip the halters on thier heads and lead them up a ramp into a semi-truck loaded with other 'rider's'. The look on Belle's face from pictures recieved pretty much draws a picture of whats going through her mind. So for the next 4 days they ride day and night making new aquaintances in the trailer stalls next to them.

From there, they arrive in Colorado Springs, unloaded by 'new' hands again into a barn and stalls that have been frequented by a number of prior 'visitors'. I can imagine thier noses were going crazy with new smells and ears flicking with new noises. I wonder, were they looking for us, listening for the whistle that had grown so familiar?

And then, 4 days later...they are loaded back onto the truck, with a new host of friends for a 10 hour ride to thier final destination. Clueless I am sure, wondering where they were headed now, and where they would land when it all came to a stop. It was midnight when the truck pulled up to the driveway off the road. The drivers left the engine running and jumped down from his seat to open the doors. My husband and I stood anxiously outside the ramp, trying to eye our beloved horses in the dark trailer. I could see Liberty and Belle haltered to thier 'stations'. They looked weary, and unsure of what was going to happen next. Liberty stretched his neck across to the horse in front of him and they nosed each other as if saying goodbye, and Liberty almost seemed to be affirming him that all would be well. Tears were coming down my face as I saw our 'babies' after a long 31/2 weeks of seperation. Liberty came right down the ramp, eyes wide trying to percieve in the dark where he was. I don't think even then he realized who he was standing next to as Cip took his lead from his halter and held him waiting for Belle to make her way down the ramp. She wasnt quiet as anxious to leave, it took a little coaxing to get her to come down. More wide eyes full of fright not being able to see in the dark either, not sure of the voices she was hearing, but some familiarity at the same time.

So we bid the drivers a farewell as they left to deliver more loved ones to Montana that early morning. As we walked Liberty and Belle up through the pasture to the barn, I could sense thier weariness. It had been a long haul, a long week, and another long day of riding. So we got them to the barn, Liberty's legs were trembling from the exhaustion of the trip, his eyes looked so tired. We fed them good to begin to fill in thier ribs where the road trip had worn thier stamina and stolen some of thier body fat. They nickered as we bid them goodnight. We stood just outside the barn and listened to them as they chewed the hay and began thier new life with us in Colorado.

The next morning we went early to the barn to find them more awake and responsive to us. They remembered who we were, the whistles, the rubs and the familiar voices and hugs. We took a long walk around and through the pasture to welcome them to thier new home. I was so happy to have them, we were a family again, a complete unit.

After walking the pasture, we turned them loose and they cantered across to investigate thier new home. Liberty took a good roll in the sand, at which point tears fell from my face again, to see him be a horse, a happy horse, brought much joy and point of closure to a season of transition for all of us. After his roll in the sand, he trotted over to the fence line, and stood and gazed at the horizon for a half hour. Just looking at the mountains. I stood there with him and we just nuzzled and took deep breaths, wondering, dreaming of what was on the horizon for the future.

If you have never spent much time with a horse, this may all seem like nonsense to you. But horses have so many similarities in spirit and heart as we do. The more time you spend with them, the more you begin to understand how they think, what they think. The days that followed were days of re-connecting and bonding. I will always cherish those times as we walked together unbridled in the pasture and napped in the sun resting and regaining strength from the journey we had all just completed.

A new season ahead. New vision, new horizons to travel. A new maturity attained in our horses from being well seasoned over the last year of events. A new trust developed in relationship with them towards us, that even when it seemed uncertain, we were still 'with them, and for them'.

And so here we are, 5 months into our journey. I am riding Liberty our 4 year old, and Belle our 2 year old. The way they are responding to us as we continue training them is remarkable. The affection they hold for us is tender to the heart. They have learned that we can be trusted. They have learned that they can depend on us. This is the foundation of our remarkable beginnings, it will only get better from here.

And so the moral of this story...haha, there is always a deeper truth in the things we experience. The future is ahead. The past is behind. The lessons have been hard, but learned. We can trust our 'caretaker' Creator God. He is ever watching out for us, caring for us, providing for us, nurturing our hearts, even when with all good reason, for appearances sake, it seems we have been forsaken. He is there, leading, guiding, loving us with a whole heart, anxiously awaiting...our arrival.

You can visit my website to see an Original Oil painting that I have completed and titled 'New Horizons' from this story. Visit the web at http://www.runninghorses.weebly.com/

And remember...even when you think you have been left forsaken...He is planning, purposing for your future.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

why honest?

Horses never lie.
And niether should we.
Honesty is something horses don't struggle with, honesty is something we humans daily struggle with. Being honest with life issues, with ourselves. Here, I will do my best to be like my horses. Being honest in my daily reflections and revelations. Looking into the mirror of my heart and sharing reflections of life on paper in hopes to encourage and inspire honesty in all things.
Stay tuned...