Carseat truth~

BabyBird isn’t a big fan of his car seat. In his defense, he doesn’t really go anywhere, both a blessing and curse of being born in a pandemic. He doesn’t go anywhere, unless it’s to pick up the grocery order, so he isn’t well practiced the way his brother and sisters were by eight months old. He is starting to speak some and he’s gotten really good with “her there!” when you walk in a room. He yells “mama” consistently and pretty much constantly all day. He’s also learned “all done”. He chooses to use those words most when he’s tired of his car seat. The fit of anger over the car seat turns into a pitiful, puddle of tears and repeating “all done” over and over. 

Today we drove up to the mountains and did some hiking before picking up our grocery order. BabyBird is happiest when he’s attached to me, in any way. He loves his carrier and because it’s snowy and cold here, he gets to bury his little face in my neck. He’s a good little rider as long as he’s with his mama. We completed our hike, grabbed the grocery order and headed home.

BabyBird in his carrier while hiking. Winter 2021.


And darn that old car seat.

Almost immediately, he began screaming. And within minutes, he was completely distraught and yelling, “all done!” over and over again. Despite stops to settle him, Mouse singing and comforting him in the seat next to him, he was still just done…and we still had an hour and forty-five minutes left in our drive home.

As I listened to my baby scream, knowing there was nothing I could do, I thought about how often I am “all done”. I thought of the many times since we moved to the Rez and then since the beginning of the pandemic that I’ve said aloud, “I’m done!” 

The truth is-he’d been fed, he’d burped, his diaper was clean and dry. We had held and snuggled and spoken to him in hushed tones so he’d know he wasn’t alone, that we were with him and he was ok. He was still “all done”. But y’all-I had to leave him in that car seat because it’s what was best for him. That seat keeps him safely anchored and IF something were to happen, he would stay strapped in and hopefully, prayerfully well protected.

Then it hit me. 

My good and His glory. 

Just like my heart squeezes each time BabyBird yells for me and says “all done”, I know my Father’s heart does the same when I say “I’m done!”. And yet, the situation doesn’t change. 

The car seat is for BabyBird’s good. He can’t see it, he can’t understand it and he wants the situation fixed and he wants it fixed-ten minutes ago…

As do I. As do you, yes? 

Have you asked yourself in the past ten months, will this end? I have. 

After today and the car seat fiasco, I want to remember that in the same way I’m protecting my baby-I’m being protected too. 

In the same way I want what’s best and can see the end game for BabyBird, I’m reminded that my Father does the same.

He can see what I can not.

He can do what I can not.

He knows what I do not.

Even when I’m done, He is not.

I’m going to lean into those truths this week, friends. Will you join me?

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In but not of…

As many of you may know, as a family, we decided to leave the world of social media. As the kids begin to grow up, Sissy is nearly eleven, we made a decision that would best benefit our family, our children. So, as of January 1, we are completely social media free.

There were many reasons that ultimately equated to our decision to leave that world behind, many thoughts, prayers and loads of research about the effects of social media on the brain, on our bodies as a whole…however, we tell our littles, nearly daily, that we are called to be in the world but not of it. For our family, that means, we will live our lives in such a way that others will see their Creator through our words, actions, deeds and even our failures because we choose to have real, authentic relationship with others. We will no longer depend on a social media outlet to provide connection to the outside world.

What does that look like, you might ask. Especially in this strange season of isolation, quarantine, potential shut downs, etc. Let me give you the long and short of it.

For our family, it looks like FaceTime, hand written letters sent via “snail mail”. It means intentional phone calls and personal thank you cards. When it is safe to do so, we hope many of you will choose to come see us and that you’ll make room for us to see your faces when we’re able to visit. It looks like penpals for our littles, reconnecting with old friends and setting aside time to love others well by learning HOW they best feel love. We will focus more on building our armor of truth and less time being concerned about the perfect family photo to post on Facebook or Instagram.

And for you, my readers, it means I will be intentional in posting to my blog. I will share photos of our week, I will work diligently to still provide an inside look at our lives here while also protecting my children, my mental health and theirs, while also protecting our Navajo family and friends.

Thanks for hanging with us. Thanks for understanding that our decisions are never made lightly but with much prayer and discernment and only after seeking wise counsel.

If you’d like to receive a hand written letter from one of the Galloway kiddos (let’s be honest-I can TOTALLY use this for multiple home school lessons), please shoot us an email at beautifulharvestproject@gmail.com and include your mailing address. We look forward to bringing you along on our journey to a better life, even in the midst of uncertainty.

Choose love. Choose kindness. Choose grace.

December Updates

Happy New Year!  It’s the thing to say right?  We were not in the camp believing on January 1st all of 2020’s concerns would magically disappear.  Again this month, I remind you that the Navajo Nation is still being devastated by COVID-19.  Each night there is a curfew from 8PM-5AM and on weekends 9PM Friday – 5AM Monday.  Churches have not met since March of 2020 but they have not been stopped.  We continue providing relief aid to several church congregations to distribute to their communities as well as the Utah Navajo COVID-19 Relief Program.  As I write this I can think of two handfuls of people that are fighting for their lives or praying for cures for their loved ones. 

During December we spent time hauling  and splitting wood for elders in the community to heat their homes.  It is strange to travel into places that you consider your other home and not be able to go indoors, give a hug or stay and visit for fear of making the elderly sick.  This is not our forever.  This is not God’s long term plan for his people.  This is a season.  

You may have noticed that we are no longer on social media (family and ministry).  To summarize, we are concerned parents for the long term well being of our children and feel like a social media free house is the way to go as our children age (privacy, safety, emotional well being).  We also were constantly seeking balance between keeping supporters in the loop without exploiting the Navajo we love so dearly.  

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”  Matthew 6:1

We are predicting that 2021 will look much like 2020 on the Navajo Reservation.  We have made plans and are budgeting for large amounts of relief aid for each of our congregations directing their attention to serving others.  We are not anticipating groups travelling from back east for short term mission trips.  Our goal is always to serve the needs of the Navajo partner churches and protect them from harm.  We hope that you will continue to join us in this effort through donations and prayers.  Please pray for us as a family as we push forward into the challenging task that our God has called us into.  To be transparent, we are tired but aware of our calling.  

October/November Updates

Psalm 126

Happy Thanksgiving Day!  The Galloway family is thankful for you, your prayers and your support.  We literally could not do it without you.  This year we are thankful for the benefits of this global pandemic.  It has given us reason to slow down.  Ashli and I have been feeling the pull to slow down for our family for some time.  We were being urged to slow down by some of our closest mentors.  We have worked diligently to take advantage of family time and spiritual growth.  We are participating with multiple congregations through live streaming services as well as children’s ministries for the kids.  We have spent much of our weekends out of our house camping on our land in Bluff, UT or driving up to Blue Mountain just a few minutes away and playing in the stream, hiking or even the snow more recently.  The outside time has been healing and rejuvenating for us.  We hope that you too have taken time for yourself and family.

October and November was spent distributing more relief aid to many of our partner churches.  Some of the churches request tangible items to be purchased and delivered to them.  They do not have the ability to go shopping due to being at high risk of COVID-19 or due to the daily and weekend long lockdowns on the Rez.  Other churches request that we send gift cards and certain amounts to be used at their discretion.  We love this idea and see it going to great use.  Some churches choose to buy in bulk and build kits or boxes to be distributed to families in need and others distribute the cards directly.  Dine Christian Church at White Rock Point recently let us know that they are giving the gift cards to individuals in their community who are going to pick their loved ones up from the hospital when released.  There is no local treatment for COVID-19 hospitalization.  The closest ICU’s are 5-6 hours away in any direction.  It is quite an undertaking for someone who lives below the poverty level.  They will also have the need of purchasing the additional supplies to care for their loved ones.  BHP is helping congregations spread the gospel in new ways and through strategies that we never imagined.  So for these things we are thankful. 

Perspective

I’ve been pretty quiet through this season of quarantine, social distancing, pandemic life.  I haven’t had much to say because I’ve been watching.  I’ve been listening and absorbing and looking at the way so many people have handled this season of adversity.  I’ve also enjoyed the extra time with J, as he’s been working from home for six weeks now.  I’ll admit, the first two weeks were quite interesting.  The littles and I have our own routine from 8-4:30 and its not one that requires any input from J…so, I’d be lying if I didn’t say there was definitely an adjustment period to him being here with us, all day, every day…while working…

For our family, that’s been one of the major changes.

The other major change is that we haven’t been allowed to visit our partner churches.  I touch base with pastor’s wives and our Navajo family throughout the week, I’m still working on supplying them with Sunday School lessons they can use at home, we’re coordinating the distribution of over 1,000 masks, bringing in donations of wipes, diapers and non-perishables and navigating getting them to the appropriate pick up sites, all while staying quarantined in our home.  Ministry doesn’t stop just because the world does and so we’ve found multiple ways to reach out to our beloved Navajo while also following the law of the land.

Many of you, my readers, have reached out to me, as you’ve seen major news outlets reporting on the virus on the Rez..the spread, the lack of testing materials, the lack of water and other much needed resources, the lack of PPE…many of you have asked if its really true that 30% or more don’t have running water and an even higher percentage live without electricity.  The answer is simply, yes.

I’ve had many of our supporters ask how our kiddos are adjusting in this season.  I can honestly answer by saying that social distancing is something they learned three years ago when we moved West.  The girls and Little Man are best friends.  They are very much accustomed to being home during the day and creating adventures for themselves in the yard.  Their imaginations are exponentially bigger than they’ve ever been and they can problem solve with the best… bicycle is broken, turn it into a scooter…need some string to make a swing for your doll, hay twine can hold just about anything together.  We have a family rhythm where we ask each other, each night at dinner, what the best and worst part of our day was and how we feel about the day.  Each night, we have different things.  Since the quarantine began, Little Man’s best part of the day has been that he didn’t have to go anywhere, he just got to be at home.

I have pondered that over the past two weeks.  I have stressed out and worried that maybe my introverted ways have tarnished his view of the world. I have asked him why he doesn’t want to go anywhere. I have thought through ways we can get him out of the house, safely, to let him see something other than our house and our yard.  Last night, as he again announced that his best part of the day was that he got to stay home and didn’t have to go anywhere, it occurred to me that this four year old fella gets the crux of this quarantine in a much more real way than his mama…

Don’t get me wrong, I have LOVED every minute of being home and not feeling obligated to be anywhere… (I’d be lying if I said I’m not looking forward to having my hair cut and colored AND a mani/pedi would be amazing right now) but again, I’ve worried that we’re missing something.  You know what I’m missing?  Truly?

I’m missing the way the sheep call for my boy when he walks to the corral at Masani and Grandma E’s house.  I’m missing the way my babies and their cousin brothers and sisters play together.  I’m missing the elders who long to teach my family the Navajo language. I’m missing laughing with Jaah and Tap.  I’m missing studying the Word with Mrs. Verna. And despite knowing we’ve made the best choice for our ministry, our family, the Navajo…I am already missing VBS this year.  I’m missing those sweet faces worshiping with me.  I’m missing those bright grins as we determine who gets a pie in the face.  I’m missing the teams of people who love the Rez, who have a heart for the Navajo and who have loved my family fiercely over the past three years. And yet, Little Man said it best.  We are BLESSED to stay home.  We aren’t stuck.  We aren’t ill-equipped for social distancing.  We have the privilege of being at home, together, as family, while so many others do not have the luxury.

Please understand, I do know the economy is hurting.  I know there are so many people who are struggling. I don’t pretend to know the ins and outs of opening America back up. I don’t envy those who are making those decisions nor do I wish them any ill as they are doing what they feel is best for each circumstance.  I will not pretend to understand the ramifications of such a large scale shutdown.

What I am saying is that my son’s outlook has benefited mine.  His four year old brain is comfortable, secure in being at home with his Mama, Daddy and big sisters. He is sure that there is nowhere else he’d rather be and no other group of people he’d rather be with during this season.

If I can turn my own perspective from one of disbelief, from an outlook of despair and boredom into one of gratitude, grace, love and adventure, this season will impact my family in such a way that it can only be explained as God’s grace and love.  If I shift my perspective, it causes a shift in my world.  And right now, my world is very small.  At some point, it will grow bigger again and my appreciation for the small will be even greater than before.

And you know what, living on the Rez taught me so much of the shifting in perspectives.  What I used to contend as essential to my life, was quickly replaced with those things God called essential. Three years ago today, I thought my life had ended as J interviewed for his job on the Rez.  Three years ago, I would never have believed I’d be able to find joy in a desert breeze.  I never would’ve believed I’d find joy out West…and yet, God changed my perspective and He’s changing it again.

Will you let Him change yours?

Room for it ALL…

There are two songs I’ve listened to on repeat since the middle of last year.  I have leaned into the truth of the lyrics so often I’ve wholeheartedly memorized them, as have the littles.  Mouse has even begun asking me to put them on in the car because “they tell the truth about who Jesus is” and that “even when Satan gets on my nerves and starts messing with me, God is gonna handle his business”.  Can I pause for a moment and say two things about this girl?  Yes? Ok, good.

She is nothing if not rowdy and rambunctious and FULL of energy ALL. THE. TIME.  Know what else though?  She knows WHO she belongs to and you won’t convince her otherwise.  I often look at her and wonder, if I had seen the beauty that is my Savior when I was her age, what would my life have looked like?

Anyway.

The first song is “Defender” by Francesca Batistelli.  Stop. Click here and listen to the words of this song.

Then, listen to “Rescue” by Lauren Daigle, here.

I won’t pretend that these have had magical healing powers or that I haven’t still had dark days.  I won’t say that they are a heal all, cure all, fix all the world’s problems…what I can say though is that without believing that Jesus is my defender and that He will rescue me, even on THE darkest of days or nights, I would drown.

When I said Christmas was hard in last week’s blog, I meant Christmas was hard.

Its a truly difficult thing to acknowledge the trauma that your children have experienced.  While, as a family, we know it was in our best interest and in the best interest of our brown eyed girls to move on, it doesn’t change the holes left in hearts.  Christmas brought joy and tears…and lots of questions, as I mentioned…it also brought lots of “I don’t knows” and “I wish I had an answer for you” from the adults in this house.  Children have an interesting way of asking just the right question that will stick you in the gut.  The grief on Christmas morning was palpable.  There was excitement as we opened gifts and there was excitement as I plated the chocolate gravy and biscuits…and then we sat down to eat and Sissy made the comment that we had just enough Christmas plates not to need extras this year.  Then Mouse made a comment about how quiet it was because there were only the five of us…and Little Man chimed in with, “I miss them.”

J and I stared at one another, swallowed and said, “Us too.”

And, I felt myself slide further into my hole.

You see, joy and faith, intermingled are wonderful.  They are what keep us afloat in hard times….and sometimes there is simply silence.  Sometimes silence and sitting alongside one another as we grieve is the best thing we can do for one another.

Ironically, I’ve been studying the book of Job over the last two months.  A verse that has stuck out so much to me is:

“And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.”-Job 2:13, ESV

Know what this says to me?

Jesus is okay with grief.  He’s okay with silence.  He is okay with the pain, the hurts, even the deep ones…he’s also okay with the darkness.  Many might read this scripture and think that Job’s friends didn’t know what to say in his time of terrible suffering and grief.  I firmly believe that God silenced Job’s friends.  There were no words to say that could bring any comfort to a man who was losing EVERY SINGLE THING that meant anything to him, other than his faith…and so they sat, in silence, for seven days and seven nights.

Isn’t there beauty in that, friends?  Isn’t there beauty in knowing that our Savior is perfectly okay with the darkness and the yuckiness.  If you truly believe in Him, in his saving grace and mercy, you already know that he went through the deepest, darkest, most painful death so that you and I could LIVE!!!!  And, if he’s seen the deepest, darkest, most painful parts of life, don’t you think we can trust him with all those parts of ourselves?

It doesn’t mean that the pain and grief won’t still come, it doesn’t mean that sometimes the joy and faith won’t mingle with the deep sorrow of a broken heart…it simply means there’s room for it ALL.

I’m holding onto that truth today.

…because I’m human.

J has asked me to write many times over the past months.  In all honesty and at the risk of being overly vulnerable, I haven’t had the energy.  I haven’t felt like I could write anything about what I was feeling because the feelings weren’t sunshine and roses. Not that I feel I’ve ever misled you…I’m just saying that our family has faced some serious darkness in the past five months. Really, the past twelve months. And after a while, all that darkness just piles up and it has nowhere to go…

When I was in Living Well, my facilitator used to tell me to say what I meant and what I needed to say…to let the words out the way I’d rip off a band-aid…so, fair warning:  This is going to be raw and uncomfortable.

Like a band-aid…

Last year, in January, we packed our brown eyed girls belongings and J drove them to their new home.  Six weeks later, in a matter of nine days, we found out we were expecting and miscarried.  In April, J was witness to a devastating accident involving a family with children. Over the summer, we moved into an octagon house…we are fortunate in that our octagon house has running water, electricity and an indoor bathroom.  These truly are luxuries on the Rez. In October, we hit a brick wall as a family and I watched as my children, my husband and myself sort of started to drown emotionally.

The holidays were very difficult for us…my littles had loads of questions about their brown eyed sisters. Were they safe?  Were they going to have Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner?  Would they be able to celebrate Jesus?  Were they being taken care of at their new home?

Christmas was a blur.  Buying for three kiddos rather than six is different, while less expensive, it felt wrong.  It felt like I was missing a part of my family when I only watched three tiny ones open gifts and not the six that were here the year before.

In December, we’d been in plans to put a house on our land for five months and things stalled.  The bank was dragging its feet, our payment was astronomically higher than we wanted and neither J or myself felt at peace about this decision anymore…we shut down the deal.

So, here we are, one year later.

Y’all I’m tired.

This has been a season of darkness and of pruning and it has been so uncomfortable.  We have put some boundaries in place for our family, for our ministry and for our children.

We are working hard to heal our hearts, to grieve deeply the losses from this past year, to move forward in truth and with our heads held high.

In 2014, J and I began the process to adopt a little boy from foster care.  Due to J’s job at the time, we were unable to move forward, despite having been selected by his guardian ad litem, his case worker and the current foster family.  I was devastated and my heart didn’t think it could handle losing that beautiful boy.  For the longest time, I couldn’t be friends with his family because I felt like he was supposed to be growing up in my house and not their’s. Until recently, I see his picture…I look at my own little guy sitting next to me as read another book about trucks and I think about how perfectly God is working behind the scenes…

I wrote all that because I have had to lean into the redemption of that story so often in the past twelve months.  He is working all things for my good, for the good of my family and for His glory…even when I can not see.

When the brown eyed girls left, there was a hole in my heart…if I’m telling the truth, there are still days when that hole feels wide open.  I’ll catch a glimpse of another little brown eyed girl in passing and think, oh, there she is…it’s not.  I know that, there’s just always this glimmer of hope that I’m going to hear “MOMMY!!!!” from across the room.

Six weeks later, I was driving alone, with all three littles, across country when I had a miscarriage.  The hole left by the brown eyed girls now joined a hole left by the loss of another child.  I look at my three children and think to myself, there should be four plus three.
While I know these holes will heal, the grieving that takes place isn’t an easy road to walk through. There was so much loss in such a short amount of time, there have been moments its been almost unbearable.

When I’m asked how many children I have, I’m often lost at what to say…looking at my family, I have three.  In my heart, there are seven.

I have the head knowledge that God will redeem these losses….that somewhere along the way, I won’t hurt quite so much.  That somewhere in the midst of the darkness, healing will happen and hope will be restored.  Its converting all that head knowledge to heart knowledge that I’ve found difficult.

Not because I’m faithless, or because I don’t believe in the goodness of my Father in Heaven who loves me.  I struggle, simply because I’m human.

I am re-learning grace for myself.  I am learning that old wounds are hard to heal…the fresh ones, the ones right in front of us, are the ones that send us quickly into the old coping skills.  I have chosen not to sink into those old ways…I have to choose that every single day.  That’s hard y’all.  Facing the pain and heartache each day can sometimes take my breath away.  Facing the truth is gut wrenching…and yet, I know, in my heart and head…facing the truth and the ugliness of last year and anything else that comes my way is the only way to make it out thriving.

So, I’m asking for some grace as I navigate through the muddy waters of healing.  I’m asking that you keep reading, even on days like today when its not sunny side up.  I’m asking for the freedom, from you as readers, to walk through this healing story without judgement or pity.  Stand along side me and lets do some healing together this year.

 

Good enough.

On Sunday morning as I sat on the back porch of my UPS driver’s home, soaking in the quiet sunrise and enjoying my coffee, I was reminded of how brutally I fought against this life. When I look at where I came from two years ago, I am astonished that I could love the serenity of this Kingdom life.

Yes, I said my UPS driver’s home. I’d been house sitting for her all week. The magnitude of that statement isn’t lost on me.

When I look at the ins and outs of our life, I realize how completely out of control I am…how completely in control He is.

As I reflect on where I’ve come from, where our family has come from to where we are now, I am brought to my knees by the sheer gratefulness that overwhelms my heart.

My birthday is tomorrow. I’ve a simple night planned with J and the babies. Cheeseburgers, chips and dip and homemade peanut butter pie…a few hours of training our horses and watching my handsome husband ride through the desert on OUR Diesel-boy…that’s what it’ll look like-and it will be enough.

I didn’t know what enough meant until recently. Oh, I thought I knew…I thought enough looked like being comfortable in my own skin, not feeling the pressure to please others when I should be pleasing God, walking a life that didn’t include busy-ness but looked a lot simpler. Enough meant saying no before I was at full capacity and walking in the strength I’m given because I’m a child of the one true King.

Enough is all of those things…enough is also the simplicity of a sunrise over the mesas, it’s the fall breeze in the morning and late at night that’s welcomed in after a scorching high desert, summer day. Enough is hearing my littles play a board game together while praise music plays softly in the background and the television never coming on, not once, all day. Enough is resting in the beauty of this life. It’s breathing in and out, comfortably, seeing life as it is and fully believing in the promises God’s put in my heart.

I used to pray John 10:10 over my marriage and family. I always knew the Bible said I could have that life but I don’t know if I believed it. Then we moved 2200 miles across the country. I walked into a place where I knew no one, I was completely out of my comfort zone and had minimal support in doing the biggest job I’d ever been given. And there, among the red dirt and tumbleweeds, amidst the cotton candy clouds and dry heat, between the brown hands of the Navajo and my own pale hands, He poured out a life greater than I could imagine. Not materially, no. But emotionally, spiritually, my life is abundant. He is greater than I could ask or imagine and because of that, my life is so much more full than I ever thought possible.

You see, the Navajo understand something that I never did. Maybe you haven’t either? They understand that at the end of the day God is ALL they have. They understand that a simple life, one with minimal distraction is often better than the busy-ness that comes with technology and growth. The longer we’re here, the more I believe that my Navajo family understands His intention for our lives in a way I’ve never been able to comprehend. I’m so honored to be a part of a culture that despite years of oppression and heartache, despite the odds being stacked against them, have taken the high road and learned a grace greater and deeper than most.

On July 31st, we hit the two year mark of living on the Rez. While I recognize the grief that came with our move here, I also realize and acknowledge how loving my Heavenly Father is to me. He has blessed me with treasures here I never knew I desired. Oh, maybe long ago, in some childhood dream…once upon a time…things that get tossed aside as we grow older. And then, out of nowhere those long forgotten dreams resurface and they are enough.

So, I’m going to sit in my version of enough. I’m going to bask in the love of my Jesus and sit in awe of this John 10:10 life.

God made a horse…part 3

About four weeks into working with Diesel, I realized he’d never been taught to back up on command.  My trainer showed me on several occasions how to teach D and then actually used him to teach his 4-H kids at the highschool. I still couldn’t get the desired response from Diesel and I could feel the doubt creeping in…can I really do this?  Am I capable of teaching him the things he needs to be successful?  Do I have the guts to stick this out and help him have an abundantly joyful life?

One afternoon I was out working in the round pen. J and the kids were down with me, watching, waiting…one of the high school students, L, came up and started asking about Diesel.  J answered her questions and she made a comment that I was struggling to get Diesel to listen to me when I attempted to stop him and back him up.  She noticed that I was flustered and asked if she could try.  Well, heck, who am I to say no?  She began talking to me as she walked D around the pen, telling me about field days she’d attended, how her grandfather taught her how to jump on a horse and hold on, how he’d taught her that sometimes what we see and what we want take time and patience. Then, she stopped. She stopped moving, stopped talking…and Diesel stopped. He didn’t push past her and then stop, he didn’t nudge with that big shoulder of his…he just stopped.

L would walk a little and then stop and each time, Diesel got quicker at his own stop.  She never had to say a word, never had to correct an undesired behavior, he just responded to her. I realized something at that very moment.

You see, I’d set expectations for Diesel and ultimately myself.  Expectations that neither of us were going to be able to meet because I was setting us up for failure.  What L could see, that I couldn’t see, is that D needed time and space.  He needed to be able to think about the desired behavior and he needed the space to get it correct.

After a few minutes, L had done what I’d been working on for days.  She turned, loved on him and then proceeded to work on backing up.  She jiggled the lead rope and he immediately took a step back.  She let him lick and chew for a minute and then jiggled again…two steps back.  Again..the next time three steps back.  L created a safe space for him to learn, to make a choice about his behavior and to achieve.

Isn’t that how God works?  He guides us, teaches us, gives us the tools we need and then gives us space to learn and to choose.  We set expectations for ourselves and others and then are frustrated or disappointed when our expectations aren’t met.  We often fail to give others the space to learn and choose…we even do that to ourselves.

As a culture, we forget that not everything is instant gratification.  We forget that our expectations of others and of ourselves are self-imposed.  Are the expectations we’re setting based on what God says or what society says?  Are we setting achievable expectations or are we consistently setting ourselves and others up to fail because we are prioritizing the wrong thing?

What L gave me and Diesel that afternoon in the round pen was a clearer understanding of what it would take to make this thing work…time and patience.  Walking into the round pen each day with no expectation other than loving and being loved.  Even while working, celebrating even the tiniest accomplishment, acknowledging when something isn’t right and then moving forward.

What would happen, friends, if we began to truly live our lives this way?  Loving people with no expectation of who they should be, what they should be, what place they will or won’t have in our world?  What if we chose to love unconditionally, the way the Father loves us? What would our culture, our world, our town, our FAMILIES look like if we did away with the expectations and simply chose to see others through His eyes and love like Jesus did?

I know I say this often and I’ll probably continue to say it until I’m older and gray-er. Ha.

The Navajo teach me more than I’ll ever teach them…

Love without expectation is my heart’s desire…all because of a tiny Navajo girl and because God made a horse…

God made a horse…part 2

So many times since we began our westward adventure, I’ve thought to myself, I never would’ve dreamed….fill in the blank. Most every aspect of what I dreamed our life together would look like has changed. Including our walk with the Lord. Our walks are deeper, more meaningful, fuller and so much more vibrant than I ever imagined they could be. Our life in general is that way. Fuller, deeper, purer than its ever been. And I love it.

A horse was never in my dream for our family. Then J started riding when we moved here and fell in love. I always thought we’d eventually get him a horse. Then came Diesel.

Oh, I knew I’d love him, I just didn’t realize how I’d connect with him. I knew I’d take care of him, I just didn’t realize how he’d force me to take care of my heart issues so he could take care of his.

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A horse who has had a traumatic experience will use the reactive side of their brain, as humans do, to initiate their fight or flight response. Horses have this innately as a defense mechanism because they are prey animals. There’s loads of neuroscience behind horsemanship and I obviously don’t know it all, although I’m enjoying learning. The basic gist though is that a horse reads your body language, he feeds off your tension or lack there of and he depends on his human to tell him if he’s safe or if he should be afraid. Diesel’s humans haven’t always been kind with him. They haven’t always handled his heart well, haven’t always taught him appropriate responses to external stimuli and certainly haven’t always loved him in a tangible way.

Here’s the thing, we’re a lot like horses. People aren’t always kind, we aren’t always loving, genuine or safe. People can be aggressive and mean, the exact opposite of what God designed us to be in the Garden. We live in a fallen world and because of that, we deal with sin and death and the enemy, not God, guides many folks. Because we live in this broken world, many of us, including myself, have experienced trauma. We’ve been harmed by the very hands of those who were supposed to love us. We’ve seen darkness in the eyes of men and women who were supposed to be light. We’ve had angry hands harm us rather than gentle hands show us love.

The truth is that when we experience trauma, more often than not, we live out of the fight or flight portion of our brain. I am a fighter. Trauma doesn’t scare me, it makes me angry. It makes me seethe and I will fight like a dog with a bone. On the flip side, I know many who run. They hide. Neither of those mechanisms is safe in the long term…we don’t know that in the middle of a trauma though. We don’t know that when the trauma is over and we’ve removed ourself from the traumatic situation, that not every other person in our life won’t harm us.

Diesel didn’t know that either.

Gaining the trust of someone you love who has experienced trauma is a process. Teaching them, showing them you love them in word and deed takes time. I knew all this, I knew from experience that trusting your heart to someone after severe trauma is intensely scary.

Then I met Diesel.

I saw a beautiful creature who was petrified of all people…because of a few people. The trauma he experienced caused a generalization that ALL people were bad.

Y’all, we do the same thing…someone hurts us and we assume all people will hurt us. We build walls to keep others out when God clearly created us for relationship. For healthy, full, meaningful relationships that point us to Him.

Each time I step in the round pen with my big Diesel-boy, I’m reminded that just like I used to fight when I was afraid, Diesel runs. It’s my job to teach him when to be afraid and when he’s ok. Friends, we have to turn to Jesus. We have to ask Him to give us discernment, to show us the difference between truth in love and the lies of the world, the lies of fear. And then we have to listen…

I want to lean more deeply into the truth and less into my fears. I want to fight less and love more.

…all because God made a horse.