At the end of 2014 I began to search for a therapeutic riding program for Mikayla & Hope. The only one I could find was an hour away from home. I filled out the papers, got our doctor’s referral, and sent the papers back. We were placed on a waiting list. Spring, summer, and fall of 2015 all passed by without the girls getting to ride a horse. I was so disappointed. At the beginning of the year my cousin sent me papers for a therapeutic riding program that is only 30 minutes away from home. I filled the papers out, sent them in, and then the call came. 2016 was the year we would see it happen. The first 2 weeks were canceled because of rain. But last Tuesday was the exciting day that I would finally see our girls ride a horse.
I didn’t tell the girls where we were going. I told them to get in the van and we were going to a surprise. When we pulled up to the arena Hope yelled “horse” with great enthusiasm. I asked “Would you like to ride a horse?” They yelled “yes” in unison. They were so excited. Hope has always been fascinated by white horses. So I wasn’t surprised when a white horse immediately caught her eye. She quickly announced “I wanna ride the white horse!” The workers put a safety strap on Hope and had her ready to ride. A brown horse was in front of her waiting to be mounted. Marti, the lady in charge, said “Hope is going to ride the white horse.” They walked the brown horse away and brought the white horse up. As Hope was mounting the white horse I knew that we were in a safe place. A place where people will listen to our girls hearts. A place where they will be loved unconditionally and accepted exactly as they are.
Hope was all smiles when she mounted the white horse named Babe. Mikayla’s horse was named Angel. Both of them started out leaning forward too much and seemed unsure about this new experience.
But they quickly relaxed and had a great time. The girls worked hard. They held a pin wheel and shot baskets.
And Hope lit up like a Christmas tree when she got to ride her horse backwards. She thought that was the greatest thing ever.
Mikayla didn’t ride backwards but she still had a great time.
Every Tuesday evening from now until the end of September we will be at the horse arena. And it’s because people are willing to take time out of their lives to love kids and make them smile.
When Brynna was little she dragged the card table to the end of the driveway and put a “flowers for sale” sign on it. She walked around the yard, picked flowers, and tied them together with purple yarn. Great-Grandpa showed up to buy some flowers. He reached in his pocket, pulled out $20, and purchased a small bouquet of clover. And before he left he reached into his pocket again, pulled out $20, and he gave it to Taylor just for standing there and looking pretty.
Great-Grandpa passed away in April and then 8 weeks later Great-Grandma left us as well. He was 94 and she was 91. They were 4 weeks away from celebrating their 73rd wedding anniversary when Grandpa passed away. It’s hard to imagine life without them. Great-Grandpa was always the life of the party and Great-Grandma was his sweet, quiet companion. Right now we feel like our hearts have been ripped out. A friend told me the other day that it doesn’t get easier it just gets different. Yes, life is different now. Two very special people are missing each time we have a family get-together. Great-Grandma and Grandpa won’t be at anymore birthday parties or Christmas Eve breakfasts. And it hurts. A lot.
We visited Great-Grandma the week before she passed away. Brynna took me over to a cabinet in the dining room. She smiled as she showed me the clover that Great-Grandpa had bought all those years ago. He had taken his clover home and hung it from the handle of the cabinet. The clover was special to him. So special that he put it on display for everyone to see. Brett was at Grandma and Grandpa’s house the day before Grandma’s funeral. He saw the clover and he brought it home to Brynna. He knew it was special. That dried up clover holds a memory that Brynna shared with Great-Grandpa.
We went to church on Sunday. I still felt numb from the funeral and just didn’t feel like being there. During the worship service I couldn’t sing because I had a lump in my throat and tears trickling down my face. I began to think about the high price that Great-Grandpa paid for that clover. Why did he do that? He paid a high price because he loved Brynna. She was worth it. And he saw Taylor standing beside Brynna and he gave her the same gift. She didn’t do anything to earn it. But he gave it to her anyway. Because he loved Taylor. She was worth it.
The tears continued to flow down my cheeks as I realized that Great-Grandpa’s love is an earthly example of the love that Jesus has for each one of us. He paid a high price for our sins by dying on the cross. Why did He do that? He did it because He loves us. We are worth it. We don’t have to do anything to earn His love. He gives it freely to each and every one of us. All we have to do is accept His love and share His love with others. That’s all that really matters. Loving Jesus and loving others.
As we watched things leave Grandma & Grandpa’s house it made us pause and really think about life. Things just really don’t matter. We spend a lifetime accumulating things that we can’t take with us when we leave this earth. The most important thing that we can leave behind is a legacy of love. We can create memories that can be passed down through the generations. Perhaps one day Brett and I will celebrate our 72nd wedding anniversary. And we will gather around his Grandma & Grandpa’s table and Brett will tell our kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids about the time that Grandpa Jimmy paid $20 for clover. And we’ll laugh and remember the greatest lesson that Grandpa ever taught us. He taught us how to love.