Friday, January 27, 2017

Horses Help Heal Hurting Hearts

Faith was born in Russia. We adopted her at age 5.

She joined our family with a passion for horses already in place. She drew horses. She researched breeds. She wrote stories about horses. Finally when she was about 12, we were able to provide riding lessons for her. The passion within her heart for these majestic beauties simply heated up with each exposure Faith had to one of them.

At age 14 Faith finally reached the age where she could volunteer for the local stable that provides therapeutic horseback riding for those who are disabled. Faith's older sisters, Kirsten and Christina, had each gone before her in volunteering at the stable. The girls helped one evening each week with leading or walking alongside the horses as those noble steeds carried their very special riders around an arena. Eventually the girls were asked to help train the horses on Tuesday mornings. This meant a great deal of riding time. What a sweet gift from our good God!

Another horse blessing was provided by God to our daughters. Unbeknownst to us for years, a barn sits at the bottom of our street hidden from view by the hilly landscape. When our daughter, Kirsten, needed a stable to board her horse, Magic, she called the number on a sign hanging from a corral fence that was visible from the street. It was then that we discovered, how just how close the wonder of horses could be for our family. A stable within walking distance with an indoor arena! Amazing!

This past year, Faith has had the opportunity to develop a strong bond with a horse named Zee. Zee is a former roping champion so she's way out of our price range. However, the owner of the barn who is also Zee's owner, allows Faith to lease Zee. This has been a glorious opportunity for Faith, and she's developed a deep friendship with Zee.

One day late last autumn, Faith helped both girls grow more comfortable around the large, powerful animals. Until that time, both of our youngest girls had felt nervous and tentative near horses.

Faith helped Hope grow confident in leading Zee.

As Faith prepared to saddle Zee, Hope had the role of holding Zee still. This gave our precious 14-year-old the chance to gain confidence in being close to Zee's face. The mare seemed to delight in Hope's delicate stokes.

Faith is so petite (She stands less than 5 feet tall) that I'm not sure how she hoists the heavy saddle onto Zee, but she does it like an old ranch hand.

Once Zee was saddled, Hope rode the gentle horse. Hope was hesitant at first, but with the Faith's encouraging words and ongoing instructions, Hope's confidence grew.

By the end of her time on Zee, Hope was riding like a champion thanks to her sister's kind coaching.

As I took these photos, I was so grateful to Faith for helping Hope surmount a long standing fear.

And I was tickled to see Hope and Zee's friendship begin to blossom.

This was a beautiful afternoon in every respect!

Eliana also got the chance to grow more at ease with the big beast that Zee is. Eliana has loved petting the horses that are boarded at the stable, but there's usually been a fence between her and the horse. This time she stood close as she fed Zee handfuls of grass. Much to Zee's delight!

For Eliana, this afternoon of being bathed in Faith's attention and coaching brought a real breakthrough. She laughed and bathed Zee in kisses, giving up the former nervousness she'd had around horses.

Eliana and Zee became pals that day!

It's one thing to relish a horse for your own pleasure. The world abounds in horse lovers who spend as many hours riding as they're able to work in.

However, on that slightly chilly autumn afternoon, Faith had taken her horsemanship to a new level, a stretching of her heart that would please Christ. She had shared Zee. She'd laid down her own desires for riding time and served her sisters. Her love for her little sisters and her passion for her horse had collided in exquisite wonder.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Daddy and Daughter Tickle-Fest

When Jillian tried to climb her daddy, he got her with some serious tickling, which they both thoroughly enjoyed!

And then they were tickled out.

By this time, Daddy was tired,,, was his littlest girl.

Jillian is too far young to remember this riotous tickle time, but I'm guessing that Aaron won't soon forget this very special evening with his 13-month-old just days before his first son was born. God gives such good gifts!

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Wonder of Water Play on a Hot Day

During Anna's overdue wait, we passed one day by going to a nearby splash pad. A free treat for the little girls.

Eliana and Hope had wanted to cool off on the splash pad with Brielle and Evelyn, but the age limit was 8 years old. So instead, they sat with their sister and watched their nieces' fun.

After plenty of time for joyful squeals as they kept cool, Anna dried them off for ICE CREAM...Cincinatti's own "Graeter's". Seriously YUM!

Our splash pad adventure was rated a success by us all!

Monday, June 13, 2016

After Tying the Knot

Very soon I'll be able to share Kirsten and Nick's wedding photos. However, as we wait for those, I thought I'd bring you their gift opening which we celebrated on Saturday.

This gift was given by a kind couple who supplied the newlyweds with some necessary baking supplies. A note saying that whenever the wife moves into a new place, one of the first things she does is bake to bring coziness and familiarity to the new surroundings through the yummy smell.

This gift included a wall plaque that said, "When life gets too hard to stand, kneel." Great wisdom!

Throughout the gift opening Bella longed to help!

As soon as the gifts were opened, Kirsten turned her attention to our dogs. I think the bride has missed her puppies!

As it turns out, Nick's mom, Lori, is quite a dog person. Faith, Bella's trainer, was encouraging the good behavior of the mutt.

She spent quite a bit of time winning shy Bella's heart. But, in the end they were fast friends.

While Bella and Lori were developing a friendship, I was enjoying watching the newly marrieds interact. What a joy of this mama to watch their love story blossom!

I know I'm biased, but I think they're really cute together.

I'm also grateful for how attentive Nick is to Kirsten in a group setting. You'd think she was the only person in the room! Of course, this is just as it should be after 2 weeks of marriage! We thank the Lord for their union, and our family prays every day for their marriage to grow strong and more beautiful! Kirsten's youngest sister, Eliana, (who grew up in the same Russian Orphanage) is quick to remind us if we forget to pray for the Bride and Groom at each meal. May God bless and keep this precious young couple!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Her Creativity Makes Up for Her Youth

Anna has an ingenious 2-1/2 year old. With greater accessibility to Mom's make-up while staying in our home, she decided to use Mommy's mascara wand to stir her Mommy's foundation. And, all of this while she was supposedly napping.

But Evelyn quickly learned that the act of experimentation then requires clean-up.

In this case, the clean-up meant a whole lot of scrubbing...

...and scrubbing.

You might notice in this photo that Anna is sporting a baby bump. She's due in mid July with their fourth child. Hmmm...I wonder what antics number 4 will think up...

Evelyn was very patient with the scrub down...

...which went on...

...and on...

...and on.

Until Mom reached the best part, Evelyn's exceedingly ticklish neck! This step resulted in uncontrollable laughter for the miscreant.

One would think that this long scrub would bring an end to Evelyn's interest in experimenting with her mommy's make-up. But, no. Anna put her toddler back down for a nap and returned to discover that Evelyn had colored herself with Anna's lip gloss. I do believe that all of Anna's make-up is being stored on the top bunk in the family's temporary quarters. Just writing this gives me the sudden urge to go check on the location of all the permanent markers in the house. Ta ta for now, dear readers!