Sunday, October 30, 2011

Remembering Jack, part I

1976 - 2011

On the 19th day of October, 2011 in Edmond, WV
was laid to rest the greatest horse I've ever known...

my beloved and most noble friend.
It is difficult to know where to begin in eulogizing my friend, Jack, or, Jackson, as I called him in especially proud moments.  The memories are plentiful and go back a long way.  How can I possibly encompass in writing his benevolent nature toward people and animals, his gentle disposition and the peace and joy he brought to my life?
I have to try because he deserves all the acclaim and honor I can bestow upon him;  he gave far more than he ever received from me.  This is the first part of three posts to honor the memory of a wonderful friend.

The Early Years
Little did I know in 1983, when Dad traded lumber for this lanky, unwanted, grade gelding, that he would become something far more than my hobby and after school activity.  When I look back, considering my ignorance about proper riding and care and how he must have suffered for it, I cringe with guilt that such a good-hearted animal would be willing, still, to meet me at the gate the very next day.

A very rough looking Jack when we first came to know him in 1983

I learned along the way and, thankfully, those days of ignorance were few.  We learned together in fact, as he first became a trail horse and we explored so many paths together!  Not just ambling our way through unchartered territory, but leaping over fallen logs, galloping through the woods, climbing steep muddy banks and traversing deep culverts on old strip mine jobs.   We went swimming too, although I'm sure he was only willing because I asked it of him.  He loved to run and I loved it, too.  To feel that power in him with the sun on my face and wind in my hair;  there's nothing quite like it in the world.   Jack had 4 gaits:  trot, canter, gallop and 5th gear. He hated to walk and always preferred to be first on our trail rides with others.  
I often said that he ran like a freight train... that 5th gear was something else!   You know that feeling you get when you’re passing someone who’s going the speed limit on a two-lane highway and you have to floor it because you’re runnin’  out of room in the face of oncoming traffic?  Yeah.  It was kinda like that.  I think Jack would've made a great addition to the Pony Express in an earlier era.
Trails, Rails and a Great Trust
During one occasion on the trail, I came to know the heart of this horse in a poignant way.  It was a summer day when our group of 15 or so set out for a day-long ride, leaving from my uncle's farm.  We had packed our lunches and planned to ride up to an abandoned strip mine site where fields now boasted lush grass and provided ample space for picnicking.  It was a wonderful time!  I can remember laughing and joking all the way up the mountain that morning.  After a good rest and lunch, we packed up to head back to the farm, returning by the same route.

Jack wearing my favorite Buena Vista saddle for trail rides.  Mid to late 80s

On the way into the fields, we had to span a rocky man-made ditch that took a little effort and caution.   Good trail horses know how to use their feet and cross places such as this with care.  Jack had done a good job going over.  On the return trip, however, he decided it would be far easier to skip all this slow sure-footed approach and simply leap the culvert in one bound.  I wasn't on his wavelength.   So, totally unprepared for this monstrous leap, I fell off.  I didn't just fall...I did some kind of unique gymnastic maneuver that left me flat on my back, looking up at my horse's muzzle, with one ankle tangled in the rein!    I can still recall that scene, some 20 + years later.  
I can remember how he was breathing so hard and his head was pulled down slightly because of my ankle in the rein...and here is the remarkable thing:  when the daze of what happened had past, I realized that I was laying on rocks in the culvert and Jack was precariously anchored on them, too, above me.   Never did he make the slightest move to free himself or jump clear of the rocks onto the dirt road.  He stood firm until I could get enough wits about me to free my leg and stand up.   
At the end of our trail rides, worn out from a full day of riding, we'd make it back to the barn and as soon as the bridle came off, I would turn my back to Jack.  This part he loved, for he would rub the sides of his face up and down my back to scratch those hard to reach places beneath the bridle.  It felt good on my back, too.    In winter, when my hands and toes would be numb from the frigid air, it seemed like bliss to slip my frozen fingers beneath the saddle blanket, next to his back and let the warmth seep in.  

Jack & I, mid-80s at my Uncle's farm

As my husband has said, you don't just have memories, you have eras of memories.  I've always enjoyed the trails, but there were other eras in Jack's life that included the show ring.  We tried our hand at barrels, but that was really just for fun.  Where Jack really shone was in the jumper arena.  This era lasted from 1985 - 1988.  I had a trainer who told me Jack would never do well in equitation, his gait was too rough and choppy.  Even so, we still entered the hunter classes occasionally and I was proud of Jack's effort.  He did everything I asked of him, with the exception of walking at a slow enough pace.  Jack came to life in the jumper ring, even if I usually held my breath all around the course! 

Jack & I competing in the jumper arena, 1987
Jack would rather knock a rail than to refuse a jump.  He had heart and courage for a fairly small guy, at 15.3 h   I clearly remember the day in Kingwood, WV  when Jack dethroned the well bred Thoroughbreds we often competed against.  He took top prize for going clear in the jump off and with record time!  In a class where form didn't matter as much as effort and speed, Jack did very well.   Dad was just as proud of him as I was.  

Jack & Dad at the end of the show day

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Social Media Frenzy / Izzy McManaway

With so many people twittering and facebooking about my niece...I've posted this on facebook and ask you to share it:

"With love, I respect your care and concern for Izzy, for my sister and her family. But PLEASE take care in the information you are posting and twittering. If you don't know the facts, please contact me and I'll be glad to inform you. It's disturbing to read falsehoods through twitter and to know how fast that misinformation can travel. And above all, PLEASE DO NOT post messages to contact Izzy's parents for information, for interviews, for ideas, for updates...for anything. My sister is exhausted - EXHAUSTED! Her spiritual, mental and physical health is far more important than Izzy meeting Justin B. Please remember that as you continue to grow this community and, inadvertently, create a frenzy that may have detrimental effects on people I love the most. "

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Notes of Encouragement much going on right now! I miss writing and there is so much to tell that has happened this month. If we get a rainy cold weekend, I'll have the time to tell you more about it.

For now, I just wanted to take a moment and show you the new cards I've created and ask you to pass them on : ) I have a little online gift shop in connection with my photography business and this card set is special since a portion of the proceeds are going directly to my sister and her immediate family to help offset the costs of driving to Morgantown for Izzy's radiation treatments.

This verse from Isaiah is Jenny's favorite she sees first hand how a little child leads others toward the Kingdom of Heaven. Whether or not you take time to view/ purchase a set, please share with someone who may be blessed by this today... thanks much.

This set is called the "Encouragement Assortment" You can view all card sets here.

This card is blank inside. Both cards tell a little bit about Izzy on the back.

The inside of this one says, "Just wanted to send a few positive words your way..."

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Calling Out Beauty: Izzy Update and Request

The following is what Jenny, Izzy’s mom, posted today via facebook:

"Thank you all so much for your many prayers. The results of the biopsy showed that the cancer (rhabdo) is back. The tumor is in her upper chest right above her lungs. We've decided to do radiation but we're reluctant to do anymore chemo. Our decision has been to keep her home with as much comfort and happiness as can be. These past few weeks Izzy was in tremendous pain, but this morning she woke up with none :) (answered prayer) Don't be saddened for us because the Lord has given us much peace about this and he continues to show us that he's INDEED with us and VERY much in control. "If I smile, the devil will be mad. So I'm gonna keep smiling" ~ Izzy McManaway Isaiah 11:6 "

Even if you have already read her update, please read and share the following request:

We love each and every one of you who remember us and pray for Izzy. Jenny has told me that she survives on your prayers, can feel them and this is why she & Corey have peace.

When you see them out at the grocery store or sporting events or at the park with the kids, please share a smile and your love, but please do not share your sadness at this latest news. Please do not ask Jenny or Corey to relay all the details of tests, scans and the information on rhabodomyosarcoma. It is exhausting for them to go over this again and again and again...somewhat defining each day by this one trial. They have many more blessings in their life and these they would love to share with you! Pass on your love and ask about Izzy’s sisters as well.

Take care in sharing your words, especially when Izzy and her sisters are present, as they are most sensitive to your emotions. Help to create an atmosphere of praise, faith and thanksgiving, as this is the type of atmosphere that Jesus always created before a healing miracle. Do not give in to your sadness or despair, especially when you encounter Jenny & Corey in your day to day life; they remain steadfast in God’s love and healing mercy and I ask the same of you.

Met. Anthony’s words to call out beauty in others is most fitting at this time. Do not look and see a child distorted or suffering, but instead, look at a child and see life, spirit, truth and nothing but heaven’s blessing:

"Unless we look at a person and see the beauty there is in this person, we can contribute nothing to him. One does not help a person by discerning what is wrong, what is ugly, what is distorted. Christ looked at everyone he met, at the prostitute, at the thief, and saw the beauty hidden there. Perhaps it was distorted, perhaps damaged, but it was beauty none the less, and what he did was to call out this beauty." ~ Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh of blessed memory.

Her update is the only info to share at this time, but please direct any questions about Izzy to me (heartjoys2002(at)yahoo(dot)com) or our mom. Thank you for reading and please share this...

To God be the glory for all things †

Friday, October 7, 2011

What Demons Dread

A friend just posted this "bumper sticker" on Facebook and it's too good not to share:

I love it! I think I’ll print it out and tape it to my desk where I’ll see it each morning. It begs the question, just how to be that woman? Read Proverbs 31 and you’ll get a glimpse into the life of a godly woman, to whom the demons have reason to fear. She rises early, works with her hands, extends help to the poor and needy, is cloaked with strength and dignity, speaks with kindness, looks after her family, is trustworthy and fears the Lord. Her children bring blessings to her and her husband praises her.

My children asked recently, what exactly does it mean to fear the Lord? To be afraid of God? they wondered. I told them a fear of the Lord means to fear displeasing their Heavenly Father, to fear being out of fellowship with their Creator. To have a loving reverence for His will, as their King and Lord.

In days gone by, I regarded a “godly” woman as one who is mild, submissive and never heard. A pious woman, but not necessarily one that I admired or wanted to imitate. This has to do more with my pride and being a Type A personality than anything else. Now, a few decades later, I see differently.

I’ve realized that the people I admire most, those who have wisdom, patience and spiritual strength and stamina are godly. They fear the Lord. They are meek and they are the strongest people I’ve ever met. They are the ones who are slow to anger, obedient in prayer and usually quiet and reserved when conflicts exist around them. They are the listeners who think much before acting. They are the anchors in a chaotic sea because they are close to Christ. I want to be one.

As per my last post, our family is going through some trials. My sister is exhausted in every regard and I wonder why it is that God cannot grant her just one restful night sleep. So many are praying for her; does God not hear? She told me, “I feel like satan is right there -- right beside me just waiting for me to cave, to curse God”

I can hear Coach (if you’re a fan of Facing the Giants, you’ll know who I mean) yelling in our ear, ‘It’s right now! It’s right now that you have to be strong! When you want to quit, when you’re tired and worn out and can hardly breathe, it’s now that you have to dig in with all you’ve got’

Demons tremble at the name of Christ, for they know of the spiritual reality of God and His heavenly kingdom. (James 2:19) We cannot give up, we will not give in, we will finish the race well. God have mercy on me to be stronger than I am †

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Izzy, Myrrh-Streaming Icons and Prayer

Many of you have followed the story of my niece, Izzy, and her battle with cancer. She continues to do remarkably well since her leg was amputated this spring. She gets around just fine with her colorful prosthetic leg and enjoys showing her friends how she can paint the toenails on her artificial foot. She has enjoyed cheerleading most recently and I cannot overstate the exuberance and hearty spirit of this 4 year old little girl. Just last evening I was at my sister’s house, joining Izzy and her sisters in a round of “Just Dance” on the Wii.

You would never know by watching her that she experiences pain each day -- now in her back and chest. The most recent body scan showed a “suspicious area” in her upper back and now the family travels north once again, to Morgantown, to have this area biopsied. Please pray with us? This is scheduled for Thursday morning, October 6.

Earlier in the week, I was telling of my experience from the weekend to Izzy and her mom (my sister), Jenny. I, along with my daughter, went to the Hermitage of the Holy Cross in order to take part in their 25th Anniversary Celebration. View the video of this special event below:

It was a wonderful experience; the cold temperatures and steady rain did nothing to dampen this outdoor occasion. How could it? The miraculous myrrh streaming Hawaiian-Iveron Icon of the Mother of God was present and it streamed myrrh throughout the liturgy. All of the pilgrims were blessed and anointed by His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York. Wanting to share this blessing with Izzy, I touched my scarf to the anointing myrrh on my forehead so I would have something of that blessed moment to bring to her.

Myrrh streaming icons are a miracle and even the Orthodox faithful meet them with awe; how much more so to Protestants who have never heard of them. I’m not sure Izzy understood what I was trying to tell her about the blessing and the beautiful scent of roses that now clings to that scarf... but she sat still and allowed Jenny & I to pray over her. God is so good!

Please continue to pray with us, for Izzy’s continued health and amazing spirit...she has touched so many lives through this ordeal with cancer!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Spiritual Warfare 101

Standing firm against the first fiery darts of the enemy.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

A bit presumptuous of me, being neither a theological scholar nor the slightest bit wise, to share with you something of the nature of our enemy. It’s the brutal reality that prompts me to write this, nothing more.

Since my last entry, I’ve spent more than a few hours educating myself about child sex trafficking in the U.S and the non-profit organizations that help the children who are victims of this horror. I’ve spent time talking with people who successfully operate non-profits and also counselors, to understand what children need most who have been victims of sex slavery. In all essence, it comes to this, again and again: we strive not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of darkness. My entry today is to encourage you to own Ephesians 6:13-18; to heed these words from St. Paul, to truly understand, not just in a poetic sense, but to stand against the powers of darkness. Our Mighty God, our Father of Lights provides the armor, but we must put it on!

13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Apart from Holy Scripture and the wisdom of the saints, it is to J.R.R Tolkien and C.S. Lewis that I attribute much of my spiritual growth and understanding. The imagery from Lord of the Rings is befitting to illustrate the weapons of our enemy, those flaming arrows and wicked hands; our enemy is savage, consuming and demoralizing... and yet -- our enemy cannot comprehend the Light.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” -St. John 1:5

This verse spells victory, if we did not already know of Christ’s victory over death upon His crucifixion, burial and glorious Resurrection. Only the Light knows and understands the darkness. It is because of the Light that darkness is overcome, only because of Christ using a weapon of the enemy, that the enemy is overcome.

My own experience teaches me important lessons about spiritual warfare and the lesson driven home recently is this: the first flaming arrow of the enemy is to shock and overwhelm the senses in order to render paralysis and inactivity.

Take notice of how you or those around you react to daily news. I’ve observed that some pass over harsh headlines, while others dwell on them. Some tune in to follow courtroom sagas for care or concern or entertainment and others look away entirely, either in denial or apathy. And, most of all, when it comes to really ugly stuff, like crimes against children, some are rendered dazed and numb while others sob and fall depressed. I’ve been in that dazed and numb category too long. It’s in recognizing this first flaming dart of our enemy that allows us to dig in to higher ground.

I am blessed to know some beautiful souls -- people that have overcome great trials in life and use their energies and time to bring joy, solace and comfort to other hurting souls. Here is a beauty on this earth! This is the God-given light in the human soul that no darkness can overcome. You can find this Light in the darkness of communist prisons, the death camps of Nazi Germany and upon the cross at Golgatha. Darkness cannot overcome it, will never overcome it. This is the Truth and what should be gird about our waist as we contemplate wickedness around us. We can fall to our knees in despair or we can stand firm.

Our enemy would have us in despair because there we are useless for the Kingdom of Heaven. Despair is a ploy of satan, a tool to keep you from responding to the Truth of God. According to Tolkien, despair is a mistake, for no one knows all ends; hope is born of Jesus Christ. Did those not despair who loved our Lord and witnessed him murdered on the cross? And were they not mistaken to have despaired?

One of my many faults is to do nothing in the face of wickedness... to give in to shock or fear, disbelief or despair. I’ve learned that to do nothing is to do something for the enemy. And so, I’ve resolved to dig get past that first fiery dart and make it to higher ground where I can be useful to God. Please pray for me, a sinner.

Related Posts with Thumbnails