Eyes Wide Open

IMG_0508-001This morning, I was reminded that in order to have a growing relationship with God, we must listen to Him-open our eyes and let Him show us all He wants to show us.

Just think about your closest relationships. What if you or the other person did all the talking? One of you would be sitting there like a bump on a log. There would be no “getting to know you quality time.” One person would dominate the conversation.

Isn’t that like how we are with God? We tell him our concerns, our wants, our desires…which is all good, but do we listen to what He has to say in response?James

I do that here at the Ranch. So often, I’m back in the office away from the arena. I’m in my little world, in my comfort zone. So often I miss the victories and the miracles that take place everyday, just a few feet from my desk. I tell Narda and Sam often that if I’m not in that arena every now and then, I forget why we are even here.

Isn’t it so easy to forget? To go throughout our day with our eyes shut, missing every little love note, every little reminder, every compass direction God shares with us with during the 24 hours He offers as a gift.

Just yesterday, we had two new riders conquer their fears and anxiety and ride their horses for an entire session. Our little “crayon” friend from a continues to make progress, riding his horse without interruptions. This place is full of everyday triumphs, if your eyes are wide open to witness them.

Are your eyes wide open today?

Stop Fighting…

ZacharyThis morning, one of the verses in my devotional was Psalm 46:10. The reference was familiar to me, but I couldn’t quite come up with the words, so I picked up my compact Bible with the very tiny print and flipped to the middle to find it.

The verse WAS familiar, but the version…the words used…were not and they captured my attention. Troy 2

You may know and can easily quote the verse, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” At least, that’s how I’d always heard it. In fact, at one time I had bought a wall decal and slapped the verse in my office as a constant reminder.

But, this particular wording was different.

The words “Be still,” were traded for “stop fighting”.

Stop your fighting—and know that I am God,
exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth. Psalm 46:10 (Holman Christian Standard Version) 

Those two words, stop fighting, intrigued me. At first, I thought of literal “fighting”…like what Rocky did and kids do on playgrounds.

Then, my thoughts drifted to the more symbolic synonyms of the word. I searched other versions and even found the word “striving”.

Claire November 14That’s when the light bulb began to flicker.

I began to think of all the things I was “striving” for and “fighting” for…mostly things that I wanted McDonald’s style…”My Way…Today.”

Then, I began to think of the Ranch and our kids.

They don’t seem to “strive” or “fight”…unless it’s to succeed at something new in the arena or in the classroom. Most of them have extreme challenges in life, but many never cease to wear a smile.

Even volunteers, teachers, parents and guardians seem to stop “striving” when they walk through our large front door. It may have something to do with the pace of our horses…slow and steady…but I believe it’s something deeper.

We’ve always said, even since the days of “Mrs. P.”, “God dwells here” at the Ranch. That’s what we “strive” to keep and not “mess up”. His Holy Presence permeating the very walls, nooks, crannies…even the dust…that creates the physical existence of Runnin’ WJ Ranch.

Since He calls us to “Stop fighting” and know He is God and He dwells at the Ranch, it’s like an automatic obedience to His words takes place once feet step over the threshold. Brittany riding

This place “commands” Be still…stop fighting… look into the eyes of those kids on their horses…catch the joy written on their faces…smile back…forget your grocery list…your bills…your to-do novel…your self…


The Crayon

This morning, Ms. Narda sent me a text asking me to come in for the 9:00 o’clock class. When I arrived on the back porch , Narda told me our student only made it one lap around the arena last week-and that was kicking and screaming.

So, I prepared to hold on tight.

When our rider came out holding the hands of his teachers, he also had a hold of something else. A magenta crayon. There were no tears and no fits. We all head our breath.

Then it was his turn to get on “his” horse. Although there was slight resistance, he mounted his steed and Ms. Narda and I took our posts on each side. pink crayon

With crayon tightly in tow, our cute little rider observed his friends riding on their horses and waved his arms in excitement. He squirmed a little, but not from fear.

In the outdoor arena, he squinted in the sunshine and seemed to enjoy the horse, as long as his crayon was in full sight. We even dropped it a few times without tears and without any concern.

One activity Ms. Shelly had for her class today was a basketball toss. At first, our rider didn’t seem too sure. However, it could have been because his horse was just a little too far from the basket for his comfort. He still tossed the ball to our squeals of delight and praise.

Next time, he was ready. We pulled him up closer to the hoop and after a few attempts and watching us place the ball through the net, he repeated our actions and made a slam dunk! We cheered and high-fived, so excited for today’s victory.

The sweet little guy made it through the entire class, even until it was time to get off the horse.

Another everyday miracle at Runnin’ WJ Ranch.

A look in his blue eyes reminds me…

This morning our “littles” were all bundled up for their riding class along with our volunteers in their coats, hats and gloves.

Blue EyesI bundled up as well and headed out with my camera phone to snap a few pictures. One of the boys stopped his horse for a close up. He smiled down at me with his blue eyes and long eye lashes as I snapped away and it was in that moment I was reminded again why we are here.

It’s all about loving these kids with the love of Christ and in return, we are the ones receiving unconditional love…from our Heavenly Father and from “blue eyes” and all the smiling faces of our students.

When a child picks up their reins, says “Walk On,” or acknowledges their volunteers, we experience everyday miracles.

The next time you’re at the Ranch, make sure to remember to look up into the eyes of our riders.

You’ll be reminded too.

February Edition of the Horseshoe Review

newsletter snapshot

Happy February Runnin’ WJ Ranch Family Member! We hope you are having an excellent first week of the second month of 2015. Can you believe it?

This month, we anticipate our Fifth Annual Benefit Cutting Event, scheduled for the 19-21 at Four States Fairgrounds Entertainment Center.

Despite occasional cold weather days, our riding season continues and smiling faces brighten our doors daily.

We hope you enjoy keeping up with the Ranch and as always, thanks for being apart of our forever RWJ family!

Encouraging Independence

IMG_0150Last week, on our way back from the sensory trail, one of our volunteers reached up to assist a rider who had shifted in his saddle. The rider adamantly responded, “I do it myself!”

With smiles and giggles, we encouraged the rider and allowed him to shift his own weight in the saddle.

It was music to our ears.

One of our biggest goals in therapeutic riding is to encourage the riders’ independence. Horseback riding nurtures a positive self-imageIMG_0224 and self-confidence as riding skills are learned. Riders often experience independence for the first-time in their lives when they are riding at Runnin’ WJ Ranch.

These are those “everyday miracles” we speak of.

If you have witnessed these “little miracles” as a volunteer, parent or teacher, we would love to hear your stories! Email us at rwjnews@gmail.com to share your story!