Another Great Expo

The Southern Equine Expo is over.  I’m completely exhausted, but oh so grateful for the experience.  For an introvert, talking to people for 3 days is draining, but I’m already looking forward to next year.  As usual, the expo featured wonderful horsemen and horsewomen from a variety of disciplines.  Because I had the opportunity to moderate the lecture series, I was able to interact with some of these amazing members of the horse world and come home inspired!
Colleen Kelly of Rider Biomechanics:
I have admired this spunky Australian for years.  The work she is doing in helping riders developer better seats and give horses better, more balanced riders would be more than enough to earn her my esteem, but she has also worked to develop coaches who can continue her work and continues to advocate for helmet awareness.  Her lecture was informative and funny, and she is as gracious and generous as she is knowledgeable.  If you’re interested in learning more about Biomechanics, contact Level 1 Coach Amy Vanner at Training & Riding Academy of Chattanooga.
Amanda Tidwell of Simply Beginning Horsemanship:
I’ve been seeing Amanda’s ads on Facebook for a couple of months now, thinking “I really need to take that class!” We recently brought our horses home, and it’s been nearly 20 years since I studied First Aid.  Not only did Amanda reinforce the need for that class, but she really inspired me to want to help get the word out in the horse community that we all need to be prepared to help our horses in an emergency.  Her presentation was standing room only and for good reason.  The information is important, and Amanda is an excellent teacher.  I’m signed up for her April 2nd class and am looking forward to getting certified to teach equine first aid myself.
Celisse Barrett of Equestrian Chaos:
Celisse and her husband John are remarkable people.  They brought me to tears with their stories of teaching trick riding to disabled children.  The pride they take in their students is so heartwarming.  They see these children as part of their family and are doing remarkable work in helping these children believe in themselves and achieve more than they dreamed possible.  I didn’t get a chance to catch their show, but as a fundraiser for their school and therapeutic riding program, I will definitely pay to see it any time I can!
Samantha Szesciorka of the Nevada Discovery Ride:
This exceptional woman was such a treat.  Anyone who knows me knows I hate trail riding, so there’s no way I would ever long ride, but I loved listening to her stories from the trail.  As a passionate long rider, she also has great advice for other long riders.
Jennie Jackson of 4Beat Dressage:
I admire what Jennie Jackson does for the gaited horse community.  I love listening to her talk about Dressage.  Even as someone who doesn’t ride gaited horses, I still learn something.  I love to watch her ride.  One of my closest friends participated in her clinics and learned so much, she’s still on cloud nine.
Steuart Pittman, President of the Retired Racehorse Project:
I love what this man is doing for Thoroughbreds in this country.  When I was a teen riding hunters, people were turning to European warmbloods, and more and more Thoroughbreds were heading to the slaughter houses.  Now that the slaughter houses in the US are gone, many of them are ending up in rescues or worse…  Headed to Mexico or Canada to be slaughtered.  People like Steuart Pittman are changing that by raising awareness of the versatility of these horses and helping young trainers build skills and gain experience.
Julie Goodnight of Goodnight Natural Horsemanship Training:
If you’ve been around horses for more than 5 minutes, you’ve heard of Julie Goodnight.  Not having a TV, I don’t spend much time watching trainers on TV.  I’ve never seen her show and had no idea what a skilled teacher Julie is.  I loved her two lectures on equine language and building confidence, and I love even more that she rocks a riding helmet!
Dr. Johnny Haffner, Associate Professor at MTSU:
This was my second time hearing Dr. Haffner’s lecture on Equine Dentistry, and I learned as much the second time around as I did the first.
If you haven’t been to the Southern Equine Expo, clear your calendar for the last weekend in February next year.  You won’t be disappointed!

Christian Fidelity

Wedding-111I routinely find myself astonished by people’s cavalier attitudes toward marriage and fidelity.  I find myself particularly astonished when those people are Christian.  If you take a tour of Christian Facebook pages, you’ll often find Biblical quotes justifying one political position or another but rarely will you see a Christian publicly quoting Matthew 5:27-29:

27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery. 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (NLT)

Let’s face it.  Christ was pretty clear about that one.  There are plenty of places in the Gospel open for interpretation, but this is NOT one of them.  Clearly, the standard is not so much as a thought about sleeping with someone other than your spouse.  Of course, we all know that we fail, and God forgives, but the expectation is still there.
Marriage isn’t easy.  As my husband is so found of saying, if it were, they wouldn’t make you get up in front of your friends and family and swear to God you’ll stay together.  There’s a reason so many churches require counseling prior to the wedding.  Spending the rest of your life with one person through thick and thin requires commitment.  It requires choosing every day to honor and cherish that person even when s/he can’t seem to figure out how to get socks in the laundry basket, even when s/he has the flu, and even when s/he makes you miss all the good parts of a movie because s/he can’t stop talking.  Yes, even then.

I’m certainly not an expert on marriage, but I can tell you exactly why my first marriage failed and why my second marriage won’t.  I walked into my first marriage thinking I could save him, thinking that if I was a good enough wife he would quit drinking and get his life together.  If I had found Alanon 15 years sooner and been committed to the man he was rather than the man I wanted him to be, we’d still be married.  I wouldn’t be as happy or as fulfilled as I am today, but the marriage would have worked.
This time around, we dated for 8 years before getting married.  Probably longer than necessary, but we knew exactly what we were getting into.  We’d been through almost 3 years of couples counseling, and we were perfectly clear on what our expectations were.  We both took the commitment VERY seriously.  We’d both been divorced and were NOT going down that road again. We’d also been miserable in our respective marriages, and we were NEVER going to do that again either.  We were determined to work things out and to treat each other with respect.
Don’t get me wrong…  We have days where we’ve fail miserably.  We yell and scream and say things we can’t take back.  BUT…  We also apologize and agree to do better.  Just as God forgives us for our failures, we forgive each other.  Not just say we forgive only to bring it up again next week, but really forgive each other.  Above all else, we honor each other by never putting ourselves in situations that would dishonor each other.  We put God first, and we do our best to live up to the standard set out for us in our wedding vows.
I’m not judging.  I promise I’m not.  But I do think that Christians need to talk about what it means to be in a Christian marriage and to be real about what the expectations are.  We need to do more to live up to those expectations.  We also need to do more to support each other in honoring our marriages and our spouses.
What have you done today to honor and cherish the love of your life?

Honoring the Sabbath

Last year, I read 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life by Matthew Sleeth, which examines the role of the Sabbath in our lives.  Since then, I have been working to honor Sunday as my Sabbath.  I think that of all the commandments, this is the one our broken world needs most.  More than anything, we need to slow down and learn to just be.

The Lord asked Moses, “How long will these people refuse to obey my commands and instructions? They must realize that the Sabbath is the Lord’s gift to you.
Exodus 16:28-29 NLT

For me, the transition has challenged me to evaluate my priorities and adjust my thinking.  The Sabbath really is a gift–a gift that renews and restores us.  Ignoring this commandment hurts us as individuals and as a society.  We’re neglecting our mental and spiritual health, and it shows.
My Sunday this week looked like this:

  • 6:45 AM: Put dogs out, feed horses, and bring dogs in.
  • 7:00 AM: Shower and breakfast.  (Husband made me a very yummy sausage, egg, and cheese omelet!)
  • 7:30 AM: Clean stalls and fill water buckets.
  • 8:30 AM: Leave for church.
  • 945 AM: Facilitate Adult Education discussion.
  • 11:00 AM: Sing with the choir at church.
  • 12:30 PM: Cursillo reunion group.
  • 2:30 PM: Late lunch/early dinner with my husband.
  • 3:00 PM: Ride and feed the horses.
  • 5:30 PM: Feed the dogs. (My boys are big babies and won’t eat without their mama.)
  • 600 PM: Shower and jammies.  Time to curl up on the couch with the dogs and a book.
  • 8:30 PM: Tucked in bed for some prayer and meditation.
  • 9:00 PM: Fast asleep!!!

The things that make me feel closes to Christ are spending time with my church family, my husband, and my animals, so those are the ONLY things I do on the Sabbath.  Well…  That, pray, and worship.  😀
In driving back and forth, I make a point to listen to my favorite Christian music.  I don’t stop for TP or milk.  I might stop for a Diet Coke or a Vanilla Chai at Dunkin Donuts.  But literally NO work.  I was up until 10 the night before making sure everything I consider “work” was done and out of the way before bed.  I don’t even answer email or touch my Bullet Journal on Sundays.  (Anyone who knows me, know that THIS is a struggle!)
The most wonderful part of a day spent in close connection to Christ is waking up on Monday morning refreshed and ready for my week.  My Mondays start with a heart full of love and the desire to do go work in the world.  The Sabbath has become the Lord’s gift to me and the anchor of a balanced, Christ-focused life.
Don’t get me wrong…  I have to work at it!  I have to make a list Saturday morning of everything that needs to be done over the weekend, so Sunday can be a day of rest and worship.  It’s an active, conscious choice, but one very worth the effort.
Do you honor the Sabbath?  If so, when and how?