Friday, September 21, 2012

Welcome Home

We recently "adopted" a 20-something mare who was used in a church camp for years. We don't have much background on her. Who knows what adventures she has seen, what pastures she has grazed, or what pleasures or abuse she may have endured in her life. It doesn't matter to me at all what her past was...I'm just so happy she is here and she is ours now. We want to pour our love and attention on her and she is already happy to give it back. We named her Willow because we passed by the most beautiful, flowing willow tree on our way to meet her and we had been considering names which were calm and peaceful since we had been told that was her temperament.

As she takes shelter today in the lean-to because of the rain, I see a tired horse who prefers to be protected from the elements. She looks worn yet kind-hearted and in need of people who want to spend time with her.

I washed her halter today. It was full of dirt and was worn on the edges. As I washed it, I felt as if I was cleaning out the grime and dirt of her past....creating a shiny new halter to help her feel pretty and special. Now don't get me wrong, she was probably taken care of very well, but we all have our stories and pains that we wish we could just wash away and retire to a place of green grass, soft breezes and kisses from children.


As I scrubbed the halter with a brush, I felt an overwhelming sense of thankfulness and love. Isn't this how Jesus feels about us? Isn't this what He did for us? He takes us in with the understanding of our past; but with a promise to provide a forever place of love and acceptance. He makes us clean and new. "If any man be in Christ he is a new creation. The old has passed away. The new has come." 2 Cor. 5:17.

I'm finding that owning and taking care of Willow is more satisfying than I could have ever imagined. My first intention was to have a "kid-safe" horse...and that is what we got....but I was given so much more. I gained an understanding of how much God loves us. He wants to provide a place of love, acceptance, care and "forever-ness" that we cannot find anywhere else.

It doesn't matter where you came from. It doesn't matter where you lived, what you did, how you spent your previous years or whether or not you were labeled "useful." He loves you just because. 

Just like we love Willow.

Welcome home girl.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Trial and Error

This year I took a shot at a garden. I have never tried anything like this fact, most living things (besides pets and people) wither when I just look at them. With plenty of space, good friends with a rototiller, and a pioneering spirit, I embarked on a new adventure (one of many!).

I kept telling myself "if you get only ONE vegetable, consider yourself successful!" Well, I DID get a vegetable! My first "fruit of my labor" was a cherry tomato. Now I must confess, it came from a "starter plant" from Wedel's. The little devil on my left shoulder said "It doesn't count" yet I enjoyed it very much!

Soon, we saw huge plants! Nothing growing on them....but HUGE plants nonetheless. I had no idea that squash leaves were so ginormous.

Next up: we waited. 

And waited.

And waited.

Finally, a new veggie presented itself: Green pepper! It still felt like cheating because it also came from a starter plant from Wedel's.

Finally...we had SQUASH! Cut little budding squashies! And then zucchini! Almost as cute as the squash. And we had planted them ourselves (my sister-in-law Debbie helped me with the planting process...thank you Deb!).

So you would think I would feel pretty good at this point. But my head was telling me "Kerrie, you only have three green peppers, three cherry tomatoes and some budding squash and zucchini!"

Next up: Weeds. And grass. LOTS of weeds and grass. So much that I had trouble finding the things we planted! And so, like a good little gardener, I pulled and pulled and pulled this weekend. Piles upon piles of weeds and grass are now around the outside of my garden (with some select, juicy grass tossed to the horses).

At this point I'm thinking "Really? All this work...tilling, planting, weeding, waiting, watering, and watching for THIS?" My next thought: "Thank you farmers who do this for a living, for I certainly could not." (quick prayer said for farmers).

As I weeded the zucchini, I found myself among a very unwanted pest - grubs. Gross looking white slimy things. Lots of them. And they had eaten the root/base of my zucchini!!!! How DARE they?! Sigh...two out of three zucchini plants down. One was left struggling to supply life to its dangling zucchini offspring who were wearing brown, wilted flower hats.

Are you still following me? At this point, I am discouraged. I always like to feel that my time is well spent. I invest a lot of time in my kids, my husband, my home, my church and my animals. And as a result, I think I have some pretty good relationships and surroundings. Well, I am not feeling like the time invested in my garden is providing the expected return. So, as I do with most happenings around here, I look for the lesson. I am tossing around found a few possibilities.

1) There are some things in life in which we invest time an energy which will never reap a strong harvest (at least not in our eyes or during our time on earth) because the experience is meant for our growth and for God's glory. 1 Corinthians 10:31
2) Some failures are successes because they teach us lessons (just ask Thomas Edison)
3) The process may be more important than the goal (aren't most things this way?)
4) Patience is a virtue....the greatest harvest may be yet to come. Hebrews 6:12
5) Sometimes you just don't get what you expect. Change your expectations or change your direction....don't just sit around and complain.

Whatever the lesson is today, I am enjoying some steamed zucchini (the first and last of my garden) and squash. Eating in the moment.  Perhaps tomorrow will bring some new tomatoes and even some melon. Yum!

Friday, May 25, 2012

In Certain Situations, One Should Keep His/Her Mouth Shut

Today's lesson is brief. I used the riding mower for the first time ever to mow the lawn (and really enjoyed it!). But learned you should keep your mouth shut while mowing.

I probably could apply that lesson to other areas of my life as well :)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Surprise Wonders

Since this blog is about lessons learned, I thought I would post the video that was taken tonight of me riding my Haflinger, Jake. I knew that my riding was not very good...and that was OK. I am a "green" rider on a fairly green horse.

The trainer had recommended that I have someone video my riding so I can see what needs work. So I did....and I certainly see many things I can work on. My hands are too high; my stirrups might need to be lowered so my heels are more in line with my hips and ear, I need to "keep my seat" better, etc.

But the wonderful thing about this exercise was what I noticed instead. Instead of paying attention to my riding on the playback, I noticed the VERY green grass. The grass that my son mowed on our riding mower for the first time today. I'm very proud of him!

I also noticed the birds....they must chirp all day. I hope I have not become immune to their song already. Tomorrow I will pay more attention.

I also noticed the sun and shade and shadows. What a glorious evening. Even with the bugs darting and flies landing, it seemed more like a garden than an overgrown field of long grass and weeds.

And finally I noticed my pretty and patient. Even though he did stop completely short on me when I didn't ask (I think he wanted grass - still figuring that out), I was proud of him. A horse who would not stop well, back well, or stand still has now come a long way and always seems willing to take me around in circles (or figure 8s, or diagonals, or whatever).

Lesson learned tonight: While looking at one thing, you might notice five more things...or more...which are even better than what you were originally after. I started out focused on myself and my own riding but ultimately saw the beauty around me. Next time, I'll be sure to notice it all while I'm on the horse - not just by video later.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Gathering Was Had! Update Post.

So blessed that our new home and property were used for the fellowship of family
on the best day of the year! Photos say it best, reflecting the things that define family.

Thanks to my brother Tim for some of the great photos.

Cousins played chess...older ones made moves while
younger ones observed and plotted future strategies.

The horses were more than happy to take the attention....and grass.

Easter dresses and cowboy boots. Of course they go together!

Even the dog was happy!

The front looked like a parking lot, which was a great feeling.
That meant lots of people showed up.

Coffee and smiles always part of the day.

Easter egg hunt! A tradition lives on, only this time it was on five acres.

Eggs were found in fun places!

Laughter was a given.

The infamous "Blue Lips" picture. It just gets better every year.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

There Shall Be a Gathering

So much anticipation for this weekend....Easter weekend.

A weekend of incredible significance for me as I reflect on the ultimate sacrifice and then celebrate the risen Lord!

Feelings of renewal, joy, excitement, and thankfulness are building. Building for an incredible time of fellowship at our home.

Easter has become "our holiday" to host and I am more than happy to take it on each year. The day, which was already "monumental" in my heart, is even more meaningful because I reflect back to the first time we "hosted" Easter. We lived in Indiana (2008) - close enough for family to travel down for the day. I remember the pouring rain. Sheets of rain which slowed travel. Siblings, nieces and nephews (lots of them!) ran from their cars toward our house, heads down and shielded as best possible.  Pellets of rain shook from their shoulders as they bounded onto the brick porch. There was no need to knock (is there ever?), as the door was open before they even had their car parked.

I have three other distinct memories of that day.

1) My brother Kevin wearing bunny ears as he hid the eggs for the children.
2) My brother Kevin playing my son's new guitar so Noah could hear "how it sounds when it is played really well." (my request)
3) My brother Kevin lingering in the foyer as everyone said goodbye. He was the last to leave.

I have reflected back over and over again to figure out if that was the last time I saw Kevin. He went home to Jesus days later. I met Kevin and Deb at Panera for coffee around that time too. Was that before Easter? Or was it after? For some reason, it still bothers be that I can't piece the timeline together, even though my head tells my heart "it's OK not to remember."

So, you see Easter is a time of tears and laughter; pain and joy; of sadness and celebration. Sort of like Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Both necessary....both so important. BUT....the good news is that joy prevails. The Resurrection is real and the gathering which will occur is going to be sweet and comforting. So as I prepare to have the family over at our "Double B Ranch" this Easter Sunday, I prepare my heart and home.

Preparations for:

  • A hurting heart, as I still miss Kevin terribly
  • Daughter's first participation in the Easter service (as a dancer). I'm so proud that she is willing and excited to dance for Jesus
  • Arrival of siblings, their children, and loved ones through my door. Once again, it will be open before they can even park their car.
  • Wonderful food prepared and shared. Family classics like "bunny cake", cabbage salad and deviled eggs (prepared by one sibling in spirit of another who cannot attend)
  • A circle of linked hands and authentic prayer around the table - usually offered up by an older brother (God gave me three because he knew how special they are to me)
  • Laughter and song (a given with this crowd)
  • Annual egg hunt
  • Weather permitting, pony rides (a new addition since our move to the country)
  • Annual "blue lips" picture, sent immediately to parents in Florida via iPhone

Those last bullets were left blank intentionally. It's a given that they will be filled with new moments and memories this weekend. May you experience the significance of this holiday.

In memory of Kevin.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

This Makes Me Happy

I took a break from shoveling the grass and weeds off the new found path I was uncovering and walked out to the front of the house. My husband was taking a farm gate out of his car that he had just purchased (used....$40 - like-new shape - bonus!). I told him "This makes me happy." He said "What"? I repeated "This makes me happy...doing this...scraping up the pathway; working hard on our property; being outside in this beautiful weather."

The winter months had not given me the same feeling, although I had many sweet moments tending to the horses in the barn in the bitter cold. The" boys" are currently off the property, as our haflinger gets some much-needed groundwork and basic riding training. I miss them so much...their trots to the gate when I walk out...their morning greetings when I feed them in the early morning hours.

For now, I am concentrating on "spring cleaning" inside and out. There are rock gardens and borders buried, with just the heads of the rocks struggling to be seen. Plans to dig them out and reveal their beauty and function are forthcoming. Fences need both repairing and a fresh coat of paint - and so we also contemplate moving the fence lines in the process. Weed killer needs to be sprayed, decks power washed, and flower beds thinned so the bright yellow daffodils (another find) can flourish.

The kids have also been enjoying the property. My oldest has ridden his bike up, out, in, over and around the grass and hills, conditioning his body for his pending 200 mile bike trip this summer. The younger ones have created a "nature club" which meets under the pine trees in the front and one of their club "tasks" is to seek out trash and recyclables in the grass. My husband has repaired the barn door where the previous owner had obviously missed the opening with the tractor (oops!).

All this makes me happy. Work to be done makes me happy. Watching my family outside makes me happy. But I have purposefully paused to enjoy the warm evenings gifted to us so early in the season this year.

 Last night I had the rare opportunity to enjoy an evening with my niece. We sat outside on the deck as the sun went down and laughed so hard we cried. We tested out the echo between the house and barn, discussing the challenges of extended family producing music on the property for a certain upcoming important Sunday. This increased my happiness as I experienced flashes of future gatherings....snap shots in my head that have not yet been taken, but already experienced.

I'm in awe of the year already since it's only the middle of March! A neighbor came by this week when she saw us outside - introduced herself and invited us to come see her horses and property just down the street. Moments later, she returned with two dozen fresh eggs from her chickens. Both a gift and an outreach, of which I am thankful and happy to receive. Neighborly kindness is not a thing of the past.

So I finally come to my lesson of the month (since this blog is really about my lessons on the property). Hard work and an attitude of discovery can unveil happy feelings and hidden treasures. Approach each day with expectancy. Expect surprises and treasures, but be ready to work for them. For the hard work makes the joy even sweeter.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Because You're Here Now

Today's entry and lesson is best expressed by my 7 year old daughter who wrote this song today:

Because you're here now,
I feel better, Now that you're here

You can help me,
Now that you're here

In a situation like this
I'm glad you're here

Because you're here now,
You can drive me through this
I love that you love me so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so much.

I suspect she wrote this song in response to an event this weekend which put my husband in the hospital. He got a virus, which was compounded by stress and it triggered a thyroid response (released a great amount of thyroid hormone into his body in a very short period of time). The response required IV meds consisting of anti-inflammatories, a beta-blocker, and a prescription of reduced stress and follow-up care for up to 6 months.

We had quite a scare, because the first diagnosis was "Thyroid Storm" which is likely life-threatening. Luckily, they changed the diagnosis after the initial blood work came back. The new title "Subacute Granulomanous Thyroiditis" was still nerve-wracking and even amusing to the immediate care doctor and hospital staff since they "don't ever expect see a case of this in their entire career." Apparently, my husband was "textbook case" but the hospital did not even have standard discharge orders they could print out because of the rarity of the condition.

Things like this keep us down on the lower rungs and that's a good thing. It causes us to count our blessings, re-assess the pace of our lives, band together, remain humble and treat one another with greater kindness and respect. It's also a testimony of the power of prayer, as several family members (and some friends) were praying within minutes and the initial blood test results were encouraging, which caused the doctor to re-think his initial diagnosis.

Today I am more thankful to have a partner to share this country life with me; the 24 hours when he was at the hospital was more lonely than the several weeks he traveled during the year. And I am encouraged by my daughter's song and will post it where we can all see it each day.

My personal lesson this week is best expressed in many single descriptive words :
Determined (to not ever forget how much my loved ones mean to me)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I moved up a rung!

I did it! I got on him! The horse that broke my finger and ran off on me!  With the assurance of my trainer, I hopped on (with my helmet of course) and rode him around the small pasture. Ahhhhhh, small victories lead to such big feelings. No defeat. No fear.

OK, maybe a little fear.

But a step up to the next rung for sure.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Learning New Normals

There are times when we have to learn new normals. Many not by choice. After a death, a move, a lifestyle change, loss of a job, or a birth of a baby.  I’ve been in the midst of learning my new normal in the country and now I’ve added another one to which I will need to adjust: I resigned from my full time job as Department Chair for an online university. 

You may have heard that stress is stress…even when it’s good. I would reference that with a valid and reliable research quote but I am enjoying writing something which does not require research and referencing. Just take my word for it this time.  Well, as excited as I am to be “home” full time (I’ve actually been home physically, just not mentally and whole-heartedly) I am expecting a small amount of stress, as I learn a new normal. New daily schedules, new ways to discipline my time, new adventures with the kids in the middle of the day (Gasp! In public! [home school joke]).
Because we home school, we have a certain amount of freedom in our schedule. Experience and observation has shown me that getting school done in the mornings is always a good thing – leaving the afternoons for individual activities, down time, field trips, and more. But for us (because of my work) my entire day was busy…from the first check of email to the last meeting of the day. We said “no” to many activities like field trips and park days and I was always left with a feeling of guilt and inadequacy. I coined the term “ping ponging” to describe what I have been doing for 2 ½ years…, kids, work, laundry, work, kids, dishes, work, phone, kids – and so on and so on and so on (older readers: like the 80s Faberge commercials. Go on it!).
Focusing on only one thing at a time will be a new normal for me. I anticipate it will be wonderful,  but will probably be accompanied by a learning period. A good friend of mine told me this week to give it time and give myself a chance to adjust…not expect too much too soon. What wonderful words which have also rung true for our life in the country.  There are so many things we want to do with the property – all great things – but they must be done at the right time and not too much too soon.
Her advice brought me to Ecclesiastes 3
A Time for Everything
 1 There is a time for everything,
   and a season for every activity under the heavens:
 2 a time to be born and a time to die,
   a time to plant and a time to uproot,
 3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
   a time to tear down and a time to build,
 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
   a time to mourn and a time to dance,
 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
   a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
 6 a time to search and a time to give up,
   a time to keep and a time to throw away,
 7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
   a time to be silent and a time to speak,
 8 a time to love and a time to hate,
   a time for war and a time for peace.
I’ll just leave it at that as I look forward to Monday and my new normal.

Monday, January 16, 2012

"You Don't See That Every Day"

Awhile back, my daughter asked me "What's special about today?"  It made me stop and think "Hmmmmmmm, there must be something special about today" and I did finally come up with something that was special about that day. Since then, she has continued to ask me this question almost daily. It has become our "thing" in the morning and causes us both to stop and consider what is on the agenda. More importantly, it has made us reflect on God's wonderful blessings and surprises which He springs on us. Sometimes with warning; sometimes not. But nonetheless, it's always something I surely do not want to miss because I wasn't paying attention or didn't pause and reflect.

Since we've moved to our property, I have added a phrase to my reflection time: "You don't see THAT every day."  It's more humorous than my daughter's question and it's usually paired with a chuckle, an expression of disbelief, or our eyes popping out of our heads.  I enjoy the moment because it makes us stop once again and reflect on being witness to something new, unusual, unexpected, or even quite odd. More blessings not to be missed.

Today, it was a man. We all see men daily (most of us anyway). Not so unusual, you say. This man was walking.  Again, not so unusual, right? This man was walking.... in the field. OK, I'm sure many men walk in fields. This man was walking in the field... next to our home. NOW we are getting a little off the beaten path, since our home has always been in a neighborhood. This man was walking in a field with a gun slung on his back. THERE WE GO! "You don't see that every day."

Now, some of you who are reading this might see that every day. Not us. The idea of "modern day man" walking by with a gun is usually coupled with thoughts of crime or fear - IF you were raised in the suburbs and your family does not hunt.

Initial thoughts: YIKES! "Why is there a man walking by my house with a gun?" Secondary thoughts: "Get the kids in!" Tertiary thoughts "Silly me, he's going hunting. Take a chill pill, Kerrie!"

Remember, my view is now from the lower rungs, where things look quite different. As I learn to feel more comfortable with the horses and slowly climb, I'm sure I will also feel more comfortable with the thought of people walking by on their way to kill their dinner (OK, so maybe he was just hunting for the sport and I really don't live in the "wild" where our next meal is dependent on my husband's best shot). But, you know, I could say...."You don't see that every day."

What was special about your day? What will you see tomorrow that you don't see every day?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Things Look Different From Down Here

I recently moved to a "country" property....5 acres. Not too much, but enough. Enough to fulfill a life-long dream of having land and, particularly, horses. Where does this desire come from? I feel I share this desire with other "like" individuals. I've heard about the desire to "move to the country" from many....fellow homeschoolers, colleagues, family members, friends, and individuals at church.  I've watched others do it - and followed their journey intently, soaking up every word of their blog, Facebook post, or conversation.

So I find myself in the middle of that dream. Almost 2 months have passed since we moved and a day short of a month that I have been a horse owner. Every day I marvel at the lessons I have already learned. And my vitae grows daily. I don't have the patience or the creative writing experience to develop a long, rich, interesting lead-in so I will just dive into the list of experiences that are "firsts" and "learning experiences" and THEN I will explain the title of my blog.

So far I have learned:

1) I need to go to bed by 11:00 in order to be rested enough to get out of bed by 7:15 am and feel truly rested.
2) Carrying full water buckets is better than any bicep exercise I have ever done.
3) If you aren't getting out of bed by 7:30 am, you are probably missing some very beautiful sunrises.
4) There is no modern-day solution to keeping the "barn smell" out of your hair, but tying it up and tucking it under a hat helps tremendously.
5) Cats really aren't that bad - when they are kept outside.
6) Picking up doggie poo is a breeze after mucking stalls every day (sub-lesson: it's all perspective).
7) Never get so comfortable with everything you do that you aren't challenged in some way.

There are more....but I shall leave those for future essays. 

And now, for the explanation of the blog title and #7 above. Being a horse owner has knocked me down. In a good way.  What have I spent the last 10 years doing? Things that come easy to me...or at least, if they take any work, it's work that I am successful at quite quickly.

Example: Parenting....always found it easy and just "knew" how to do it. Of course, all the babysitting of my nieces and nephews had something to do with that.
Another example: School. Although it was harder than childbirth to earn my PhD, school was something that I was always good at. I studied. I got A's. I graduated. Easy, right?
Yet another example: Working in higher education. How do I state this as to not sound boastful? (please tell me I'm not boastful)....I'm not too bad at what I do. Not the best, I'm sure. But I have always earned high teaching measures and good reviews from my faculty and superiors. Higher education has come easy for me.

So, you see, I have been up on the ladder......not at the top, but on a higher rung, for awhile now. It creates a sense of comfort. Is it a good thing? Sure. It's always a good feeling to be successful at something. But I realize now that something important should happen now and then to make a person better....and that "thing" is being knocked down a few rungs on the ladder.

That is what has happened to me since I have been a horse owner.

I prepped well. Read LOTS of books, articles, and paid attention during my kids' riding lessons. We leased a horse (Tango) for 9 months and learned how to retrieve him, lead him, bathe him, groom him, tack him up, ride him, and the kids even showed him at the local 4H show. The time came to get a horse and we chose "Jake" - a 6 year old haflinger who had been trained English and was used to kids leading him and riding him on the trails. Why a haflinger? Well, for one they are cute! OK, should not choose your horse because he/she is cute. But, he seemed to fit what we wanted for our family. A horse who had some training, was not too old, and a breed that we liked.

So Jake not only came to live with use (purchased) but we were blessed enough to have Tango (our leased horse) come live with us. His owner was gracious enough to allow us to have him for a few years...give or take...until we found our forever second horse.

Lesson One: You can't learn everything from a book.  I took Jake out to lunge him since he was not getting any exercise (we didn't want to ride him until Tango's owner, our trainer/instructor, was present). To make a long story short, Jake did not take too kindly to this, bolted in the pasture pulling the 20 foot rope from my hands and it broke my left middle finger. Yes, he came back....quite quickly actually. I didn't remember reading anything about what to do if your horse is afraid of lunging and thus bolts. I took off Jake's halter, called the trainer, and then went inside and cried.

Now, don't feel sorry for me - this was a pivotal moment. I was knocked down a few rungs and found myself in a new place. A place that was scary but a place that was recognizably one of growth. And not just growth as in "a lesson or two and we got it down pat." Growth that is characterized by baby steps of learning. And I was still crawling. Doubt, fear, uncertainty, lack of confidence, frustration, regret, pain (remember the finger actually broke), and defeatism. I felt it all. And I found myself in a new place.....personally. Not physically (as I had moved several times over the past 15 years) but emotionally, spiritually, and "gutty." Yes, I know that is not a word but it was a place in my gut I cannot explain.

Lesson Two: The need for companionship, friendship, acceptance, and love is not limited to humans.  Last Friday it was a beautiful day....warm and sunny and very unusual for Michigan in January. I thought it would be a great day to groom the horses with the kids. So my plan was to take them into their stalls and then set them up for grooming - we would take turns brushing, picking, petting, etc. Sounds like a perfect way to spend the afternoon, right? Well, I walked out to Tango and put on his halter (he's so trained....stands there so still like a statue) and led him to the barn. Of course, Jake was right behind him as he always is. I led Tango into the stall and, as I was closing the door, had to push Jake's large head out of the opening and shut the door quickly so he wouldn't follow.  The minute I shut the door, Jake freaked. That's not an understatement - he freaked. Whinnies, gallops, bucks, pacing. Anything and everything he could do to show his disapproval of my taking away his buddy, his leader, his new friend.

I tried to calm him down by going back outside the fence and calling him over to me, offering a carrot for comfort (he's a foodie). He took one snip and off he continued with his tantrum.  I, of course, was quite panicked and found myself at the bottom of my ladder. Almost like I had fallen completely off. Laid back Tango was still in his stall, waiting for his beauty appointment. I knew at this point that I did not have time to run inside and Google "buddy sour" or "horse freaking out when you bring one into the barn" so I let Tango back out into the pasture. My teacher/Mommy instincts told me NOT to do that because that would be rewarding Jake's tantrum. But my inner self, who had just been knocked down another few rungs, knew that it was all I could do with my experience and knowledge.  Tango immediately went out to Jake and nipped him on the butt, as he often does to tell him "you idiot." The two of them went back to their easy, posh life of grazing.

Luck would have it, the trainer called within minutes and I explained the entire ordeal. I was broken, tired, frustrated, again feeling all the incompetent, awkward feelings that you feel when you are a "beginner" at anything. I was ready to sell Jake - or even just give him back to his owner - because I did not get into horses to train them. I just wanted to enjoy them.  Which leads me finally to lesson three for this entry.

Lesson Three: Don't give up so might miss an incredible opportunity to learn. A lot! By the next morning, I was ready once again to tackle horse ownership - and apparently horse training - and was actually excited and looking forward to the new lessons I might learn. It was a new day. A new opportunity. A chance to learn something new. How many times had I advocated lifelong learning in my role as an academic administrator for online and professional/graduate studies? It was time to take my own advice, stand up and put my foot back up on the bottom rung. Time to start climbing again.

I wonder what I'll be able to see this time from the upper rungs of the ladder? I'll never find out unless I commit to this new experience. Buck up, Kerrie. God has some new plans for you. New lessons to be learned. New experiences to live. And ultimately I believe some new nuggets I can share with others as I learn to climb back rung at a time.

Thank you for sticking with me through my unedited ramblings. I have so many more lessons I'd like to share, so please come back soon.