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I'm a redeemed child of God and the momma to four vivacious daughters. I'm passionate about finding hidden blessings in the trials of life, living it out in an honest and open way, while encouraging those around me to believe in better.

12 Mar

the equestrian life {and other technical details}

Given horses pretty much consume our time lately, it’s kinda crazy I haven’t posted more about it. But then I guess, there was that whole losing my voice thing, and the whole busy, busy, busy thing and well … with uploading photos, editing, posting … I just didn’t do any of it. And now I feel like my heart is bursting to tell you more about it!

I’m currently sitting in a golf cart, at a horse show, in front of our camper. We’re camping over the next two weeks while we’re here … and yes, we have a camper and not a tent, so it’s not like we’re roughing it or anything, but for the record … I do enjoy more than a thin pad to sleep on and a trickle of water in a shoebox to shower with!

Anyway. Seemed only fitting to write this post now.

And don’t worry … even though we spent most of last year at horse shows — so many I’m not sure I could count them — I promise not to recap every single one!

To give you an example of how many shows I’m talking about … here are the girls ribbons from 2013:

Wynter’s

Taylor’s

 I’ll try not to get too technical on you, but just give some basic information. :)

The riding discipline the girls do is Hunter/Jumpers. Wynter does hunters, and Taylor primarily does jumpers {with a few equitation classes here and there}. And there are two types of shows they do:

  • Local shows {that aren’t really “local” — they’re an average of two hours away — it just means they’re unrated shows and don’t count on the girls “professional” riding record}.
  • Rated shows, which are a bigger deal and do go on the girls permanent/professional record, and can be found all over the world.

That said, the only type of shows we’d done were local shows — until last August when Taylor did her first rated show in Kentucky. Since then, it seems like we’ve been in a fast-forward mode trying to get her record beefed up for college {when she goes to try out for a riding team}.

This particular show was at the Kentucky Horse Park and very, very different from what we’d been used to with our local shows! And actually, Taylor had ridden at the horse park when she was 12 for a Pony Club event. But it wasn’t a competition, it was a clinic that’s held every three years for Pony Club.

Needless to say … this was a big deal for her!

This is my very favorite photo I captured from the week.

Sorry … here comes some technicality … if you’re not interested, just skip over it! :)

When Taylor does Jumpers, it’s all about speed. Basically, the fastest time wins. But it’s not about being a cowboy and plowing over the jumps as fast as you can. It’s about walking your course, knowing how many strides between each jump, knowing what your horse can handle as far as quick turns and the best way to get to the next jump … and one hundred other things that I’m probably not even aware of. It’s about speed … but also skill {and safety!}.

Most of the time in her classes, there are two parts. The first, you need to go “clean” — which means not knocking down any rails, or poles, as you jump over them — and you also can’t have any time faults. You’re allotted a certain amount of time and you need to get through the course in that time.

The second part of her class is called the jump-off, and if you go clean as I’ve mentioned above, then you move on to the jump-off {if you don’t go clean, you don’t get to move on}. And the person who has the fastest time in the jump-off {with the least amount of faults} wins.

The two images I have posted here were taken on separate days. In the photo above, if you look at the monitor, you see she has 4 faults. That means she got a rail down. The good news is, the ride was her jump-off. So she’d gone clean in the first round and went on to the jump-off. Her time for the course was 42 seconds.

Technically, she could still get a good ribbon if the other competitors had more faults and/or a slower time.

And in the photo below, you can see on the monitor, Taylor’s time was 66.249 … she went clean … and moved on to the jump-off.

I hope that wasn’t too bad in the technical department!

Overall, Taylor ended up taking reserve champion in her division. It was a great experience for her and I’m so glad we were able to do it!

After Kentucky, the girls did a whole bunch of local shows, and then in October and November, Wynter got in on the action as they did three rated shows in Raleigh {with local shows on their weekends off from Raleigh}.

The video below is of one of Taylor’s jump-offs {and yes … maybe I do pray while she’s riding!}. At this particular show, Taylor won grand champion in her division. And extra special … she did it by placing 1st in each class! It’s all based on points, so one can still win grand champion even if they didn’t place first in each class.

{if you’re reading via email or rss feed, please click here to see the following video}

At a different show in Raleigh, Taylor competed against some top riders {ex-Olympians even — although they were competing to train clients horses, different than competing strictly for themselves}, and she placed 2nd!

Taylor’s come a long, long way. It’s not been an easy road for her and this show we’re at in Florida has rocked us upside down and caused a lot of soul searching for my girl. We’re starting our fourth week … two weeks here, two weeks home, and two weeks back here again … and she’s still processing all she’s learning.

And then we have Wynter! This girl is following right in her sister’s footsteps! I shared about Wynter and her pony, Spanky a few months ago, but this girl has come a long way since then too! Here’s a photo of her doing crossrails with Spanky. As far as the ribbon department goes, it was slow going and she placed mostly in the bottom six, or didn’t place at all. But in the growth department {both personal and physical!}? Off the charts!!

She’s got a new horse … Wilber. :) And she moved up to showing in the short stirrup division. It’s kind of like going from training pants to big-girl underpants! Sorry for the crazy analogy, but it’s the first thing that came to mind!

I posted the below photo a week or so ago, but bear with me? This is Wynter and Wilber showing in Florida. So far she’s taken reserve champion three out of five times showing … in one of those she didn’t place, she was diagnosed with strep that morning {but more on that another time}!

I’m proud of her determination and budding passion for this sport. I’m telling y’all … horses are the best thing you can do for a girl! I’ve seen it in Taylor, and I’m seeing it all over again with Wynter.

I feel like they learn life isn’t just about them. But somehow they have a bigger to purpose to take care of this animal and grow as an equestrian and care-taker of their new best friend {and dare I say, first boyfriend?!}.

Below is a video I took of Wynter here in Florida a couple of weeks ago. It’s a little long {and probably boring if you’re not into the whole horse thing}, but it warms my heart to watch it and know how much it means to her to be riding this boy, and now showing in big-girl shows, in a big-girl division, with her big-girls pants {sorry, couldn’t resist!}.

And the last video is a bonus of her riding one of Taylor’s horses! That’s the best part about having two riding girls … they can exercise each others horses and save me some trainer expenses! :)

{if you’re reading via email or rss feed, please click here to see the following video}

{if you’re reading via email or rss feed, please click here to see the following video}


Posted in riding, taylor, wynter


7 Mar

psalm 130 – #shereadstruth

During this Lenten season, I’m joining SheReadsTruth in their request to have their readers, become their writers. Follow that?

So … each week the ladies at SheReadsTruth will post a scripture for their readers to study and pray over. Then on Friday of that week, the goal is to have their readers write a devotion on the intended scripture.

This week’s scripture is Psalm 130. I’ve read different versions of it, but like The Message best:

A Pilgrim Song

Help, God—the bottom has fallen out of my life!
Master, hear my cry for help!
Listen hard! Open your ears!
Listen to my cries for mercy.

If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings,
who would stand a chance?
As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit,
and that’s why you’re worshiped.

I pray to God—my life a prayer—
and wait for what he’ll say and do.
My life’s on the line before God, my Lord,
waiting and watching till morning,
waiting and watching till morning.

O Israel, wait and watch for God—
with God’s arrival comes love,
with God’s arrival comes generous redemption.
No doubt about it—he’ll redeem Israel,
buy back Israel from captivity to sin.
Psalm 130, The Message

I think my most favorite thing about this chapter is that David calls it, “A Pilgrim Song.” The very definition of a pilgrim, is one who’s on a journey to a holy place. Most often a pilgrim is described as a traveler who is journeying by foot.

Think of Abram and his long pilgrimage toward the holy land. And David, the author of Psalms, as he journeyed through the desert waiting for God’s faithfulness to reveal itself.

I don’t know about you, but one word that comes to mind when I think “pilgrim,” is weary. Weary is a word I know well, and David’s “Pilgrim Song” is one that resonates in my soul.

Other translations start Psalm 130 this way:

  • “From the depths of despair …” NLT
  • “From the depths of disaster … ” The Voice
  • “Lord, I am in great trouble … ” NCV
  • “Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord … ” NIV

Any way you translate it, I read pain and weariness.

David is crying out to God to hear his plea for help. For mercy. He’s using his life as a prayer, waiting to hear from God. “Waiting and watching till morning.” Did you notice? The “waiting and watching” was so important, David wrote it twice.

And then for emphasis, he writes one more time … “O Israel, wait and watch for God.”

You know what though? As much as the weary, crying out for help resonates with my soul … the promises might resonate even more so. Psalm 130 goes on to say — promise — upon God’s arrival comes love and redemption. “No doubt about it,” David writes, He’ll redeem Israel!” {exclamation point mine}

Wait. And watch. And He’ll be faithful.

I can’t think of a more beautiful promise to start us off on this Lenten pilgrimage to God’s revelation of His ultimate promise … resurrection day!


Posted in bible, bible study, she reads truth


3 Mar

and … we’re off again!

Not everyone can hear the silent language
between a horse and rider.  Not everyone
can trust their life with a 1200 lb animal. And
not everyone has the guts, blood, sweat, tears,
and dedication needed to be a part of this
world. But equestrians are no ordinary people,
and horses are no ordinary animals. The only
ones who truly understand this world are the
ones who are a part of it. {quote via tumblr}

I promise, I really was committed to meeting you here more often. But this happened and it’s taken every lovin’ ounce of energy I have to recover from it. And this morning we’re headed off to do it again. “You’re a glutton for punishment,” you might think? Nah, it’s not that.

The fact is, I love seeing this girl on a horse. When I watch her ride … time stands still {my heart too … them jumps be gettin’ high!}.

Taylor’s learning so much about who she is and what she’s capable of. This whole equestrian world is playing a huge part of that for her and I’m thrilled she has these opportunities to shape and mold her.

When I say I’m proud of her … it’s not for her performance {there were many classes she didn’t ribbon in during our last trip}, it’s for her accomplishments, her perseverance, her determination, and her growth.

And one more reason we’re heading back into this black hole of an energy suck? This girl right here! Can you say, “following in her sister’s footsteps?”


Posted in family photos, riding, taylor, wynter


14 Feb

where we’ve been …

I’ve desperately been working on a post sharing all about the girls riding activities. It’s been over two weeks in the writing, and I still don’t have it finished. Basically because we’re at an event right now and it’s taking almost every waking hour, and I haven’t had much down time {or alone time}. And we’re in a camper. And it’s been hard to get to my computer.

Anyway … Taylor was presented with an amazing opportunity to ride an amazing horse, at an amazing show, training under a well-known and respected Canadian Olympic rider.

It took a lot of thought, planning, and sacrifice and finally decided I we’d do it.

And so we’re here now. In Florida. For two weeks. Then home for two weeks. And then back for two weeks.

Taylor brought her two horses from home. And she’s also showing the above mentioned “amazing horse.” Wynter’s showing too and brought her new horse. The girls trainers from home are here, as are some of the other girls that ride at the barn and their horses.

We have just a few days left of this first run. It’s been quite an experience. Some good. Some bad. But always learning and growing experiences.

Below is a photo Taylor and her newer horse, Performance Colorado {aka – Colorado}. It was just her third time showing him and they were amazing {as shown in the video below}. :)

They went clean their first round and made it to the jump-off. In the jump-off, she had a respectable time, but got a rail down. And for the record, that other post I mentioned I’m working on? It’s probably got too many technical explanations … but — if you don’t know much about the riding world — going “clean” and making it to a “jump-off” will make much more sense after reading it.

{if you’re reading via email or rss feed, please click here to see the following video}

Her ride starts around 38 seconds …

So anyway. That’s that. I’ve been wanting to check in, but just haven’t had a chance. So here’s a little snippet of what’s been keeping me busy the last couple of weeks!

Have a blessed weekend everyone!


Posted in family photos, movie, riding, taylor


3 Feb

notes from the blue bike :: blog tour

This post is part of the Blue Bike Blog Tour, which I’m
thrilled to be part of. To learn more and join us, head here.

As part of the Notes From a Blue Bike blog tour, we’ve been asked to write about what it looks like to live slower, simpler, or with more intention. I have to be honest, as a currently single mom of four girls I struggle with this quest daily.

I have a friend who innocently suggested I find more margin {or white space} in my days. When first hearing her, I admit, I was pretty defensive at the statement, thinking … “Um, that’s easy to say when there are TWO of you managing the house and kids.” I know every situation is different, but I promise you … know matter how little you think your spouse does … when they’re suddenly gone, you realize how very much they actually did do.

Never-the-less, her statement has haunted me last few months.

Margin? White space? How?

With four girls and no one to help, it seems I’m running from crisis to crisis. At an appointment with one, while another calls from school sick, while I need to meet another at her appointment … this was my last Friday morning. And while the situations vary, it seems this is my most everyday.

Then there’s the age old statement, “You don’t have to do it all.” Or, “The dishes can wait.” Or when I post a silly note on Facebook and get the comment, “That’s what you have four kids for.” {meaning they can take care of the task I’ve posted about.}

Trust me … I’m no martyr! I definitely don’t try to do it all. I know my limits. And when the dishes can wait, they wait … or the kids take care of them. When I need to call it a day, I wrap it up and call it a day … after all, there’s only so much we can do in day. And when you’re struggling with MS, there comes a point in the day when you literally can’t do anymore.

I long to live intentionally! Heck, it was even my “one word” a couple of years ago! I long for a simpler time … like the times we were able to take a four week sabbatical to paradise!

So when Tsh’s book came along and I heard these words from her — “If slowing down meant a richer life, it would require our family’s attention, energy, and collaborative effort” — she grabbed my attention in a big way.

And while I admit, I don’t have it all figured out yet, I can admit I’m being called to lead my girls in a life of intentionality. The busy, crazy, and crises will still surround us … I may not always be able to create margin, but I’m learning it’s what I do with the margin that’ll make a difference in my life and the lives of my girls.

And so … whether you’re looking to create margin, slow down, live intentionally, or just create adventure with your family, Tsh’s Notes From a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World is worth every minute you take to read it!

{if you’re reading via email or rss feed, please click here to see the following video}

This book is about LIVING LIFE instead of life living us. ~ Tsh

Notes From a Blue Bike is written by Tsh Oxenreider, founder and main voice of The Art of Simple. It doesn’t always feel like it, but we DO have the freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions. Grab your copy here.


Posted in gift idea, intentional, resources, review