Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Life lessons learned on horseback

My family has just returned from our first horseback riding vacation in the Shawnee National Forest in Illinois.  Croix and I had been many times before as children and we even spent a week there for our one year wedding anniversary.  For about 10 years we have been without horses, but t 2 years ago we began praying "Lord, if you want us to have horses again than make a way."  He did and in those 2 years we have been blessed with 4 free horses.  We took our kids on an amazing long weekend road trip and I have to say I learned some leadership lesson from my kiddos.

We set out for our first ride and I think we were all a bit nervous.  Picture it if you can.  Lilli is on her sorrel horse Knee-High. Lane is riding his little mare Skip. I'm on Jeff and I also have on my Snugli pack with Ledjer strapped in. Knee-High, Jeff & Skip all have had many hours of trail time. . Croix on the other hand was on Jade. Jade is a 4 year old he has broke himself. He has lots of experience and he has done an amazing job.  My man is quite the horseman. Anyway, Jade has never been anywhere but the good old southern Indiana dirt path.  We weren't sure how she would react to the rocky Illinois trail.  Croix was ridimg her and Lijah would be on front with him.  Anyway, here we were heading off into the woods for our adventure to see some amazing rock formations.  My parents were along for the ride too.

We had quite the day enjoying God's creation.  Everyone loved it and after about 4 hours we found ourselves back at camp safe and sound.  I observed my children that day and I learned from them and I think these are lessons that you may learn from too.

1) At one point on the trail we were going down hill, it became rocky and Croix says to Lane "Just give Skip her head and she will follow the other horses." Lane followed his daddy's instructions and wouldn't you know Skip didn't follow the other horses.  She veered from the path about 2 feet, took a less traveled section of the trail and stumbled a bit.  I'm watching my son hold onto his saddle horn for dear life. I'm thinking the horse is going down and Lane is going with her.  No, that's not how it happened. Skip got her feet under her and kept right on going. Lane straightened his back, adjusted his cowboy hat and road on.I was so very proud of him. Isn't that the way it is in Christian walk sometimes? We follow the voice of God and do what He says, but then we stumble a bit. Things don't go how we expected and we have to decide are we going to hang on and ride it out or are we going to let our fear keep us from hanging on for dear life? I've found that when I ride it out and my trial or struggle is over I can set straight and adjust my hat, thankful that I road out the rough spot.

2) Another mile or 2 down the trail I hear my Lilli start yelling at her horse.  Knee-High has somehow got herself wound up in a vine.  This is making her very agitated which in turn is making Lilli really scared. When she is scared she raises her voice and sounds angry. The peacefulness of the woods was taken over by the screeches of my daughter as Croix tried to talk her through the steps to getting free from the vine.  She kept saying "I can't. I can't do it."  She was beginning to cry.  Finally her horse walked out of it on her own and all was well.  You know fear has the ability to do so much damage to our goals and our desires. My Lilli wanted to ride, she wanted to take in the scenery and maneuver the trails, but if she would have let her fear in that moment of being bound by the vine overcome her, she would have headed back to camp and called it quits for the weekend.  She didn't! She hung in there until the obstacle that was scaring her was no longer an obstacle.  She felt empowered after it was all over.  She knew that she had conquered something inside of her. The next time a scary situation arose  she would know better how to handle it.  She was also so glad that she hadn't missed what was just up ahead.  She saw caves, crevices and sandstones like she'd never seen before.

As I reflect on these two illustrations, I realize that the reasons I often have not stuck with the things God has called me to do is because of my fear of failure. Sometimes I've quit when the trails gotten too rocky. On more than one occasion I have been so overcome with fear that I've stopped dead in my tracks. I may have stopped just before the lookout point of something magnificent. I'm no longer going to do that. What about you? Have you pressed through a hard time or overcome your fears? I would love to hear about it.

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