Why God Isn’t In Control
While God is absolutely in charge, He has no desire to be in control.
When God created mankind, He gave the greatest gift possible. He gave us our freedom. Freedom is of the highest value to God. His passion was for a people who were free to choose Him…or not.
He knew that giving us that freedom to choose would mean that some people wouldn’t choose Him, but it was a cost worth paying. The potential to have men and women, made in His image that He could walk and talk with freely was His greatest dream. God invites us into His loving lifestyle for the joy of traveling with us through all of our life’s circumstances. He revels in the joy of being in charge of our process of redemption.
Far too often, the unfortunate history of our lives has given us an image of God that is not accurate. We have made Him into our image, instead of realizing that He is intent on making us into His.
That is God’s primary purpose: to make us to be like Him.
The Nature of Freedom is God’s true nature. When we understand the finished work of the cross and how it impacts our perceptions and thinking, we are forever transformed. This is a KP [Kingdom Principle] which means it is portable. So this is how we do life with the animals here on the Ranch.
Unlike our relationship with God, we do not strive to make our animals “like us.” We do, however, want them to “LIKE us.” So we nurture them in “a lifestyle for the joy of traveling with us through all of life’s circumstances. Even though we are absolutely in charge, we have no desire to be in control.”
Because God gave us the greatest gift possible, we strive to cultivate that safety net around the animals we steward here. And like all KPs, it works – beautifully!
Being Known – Lindsay’s Lens
Expectation positions us to see miracles, big and small. It sharpens our vision and focuses our attention towards God. It liberates us from apprehension that blinds us to the majesty before us.
Her whimsical hat barely contained her spirited pleasure as she sampled and savored the plethora of shades, textures, sounds, shapes and smells popping out around every corner. A playful breeze tossed our loose hair as we meandered like a lazy brook through the maze of wonders, tossing the ball of chatter back and forth. Like a connoisseur at a royal banquet, Lindsay scrutinized the budding garden, appraised the chorus of hens, giggled with each nibble of tiny goat lips, and sighed up at the canopy of summer leaves brandishing their charm overhead. The emerald meadow peppered with a wildflower rainbow drew her like a magnet. It was a day of such abounding life, one could pity the worm the robin pulled. For on such a day everything seemed to have the right to live and be happy.
I studied her, intrigued at the paradox – the sophisticated depth cradled in her childlike virtue. A well-rehearsed KP jumped to life: When we prepare ourselves to expect the best of God’s true nature in every situation we face, we’ll see things we would have missed. Apprehension, fear and doubt are lenses that are looking for negatives—so they find them. Expectation prepares us to see God at work, regardless of our circumstances.
Lindsay had learned to use the “EXPECTATION” lens! Amazing! Now I was expecting God to so something very special. Within a few minutes, I was full of anticipation for the adventure ahead—leaving no room for apprehension.
I bounced the ball back to the Father. “What next? You created this unique masterpiece. What makes her tick?” A beckoning wind strummed the trees, mingling the scents of new grass and old history, then a pause. “Consider her lens of color.”
“Humm, interesting thought.” Lindsay squealed at the slobbery horse lips sampling her ears, delight exploding like a sparkler. “What color was your day yesterday?” I blurted benignly. One sparkler burst into six as she skipped around me like a tether ball circling its pole. “No one talks to me in color,” she said, her festivity bubbling over. “I’ve been trying to have this conversation with so many adults and no one can talk to me in color. They think I’m weird, or maybe they just don’t understand.”
She threw her head back, freckles dancing, and squeezed her eyes tight framing her colors. Finally, expectantly, she said, “I would say yesterday was a shimmery gold with brown overtones and pink threads.”
Wow! What an observation. I closed my eyes to compare the colors of my day yesterday. Not even close. “Why did you chose those colors?”
“I’m not sure really. I just see them painted that way and it makes me feel happy!” Her animated skips punctuated her declaration. Her delicious joy pounded deposits into the land. “What an angelic gift,” I thought, savoring all I could not see.
I leaned on the fence, receiving snuggles from Tory, and tried again to paint my yesterday and wondered why Lindsay didn’t choose the shade of her fruity dessert or the pigment of her favorite shirt. She didn’t assign a chaotic color of disappointment or the Eeyore grey of boredom. What about the compounding shades of pain and grief or the fiery reds of frustration when it just wasn’t fair? No. Her description didn’t mirror her natural experiences at all.
I savored the wonder of this unique perspective that could access higher plains of creativity. Fascinated by her inside-out purity, I wondered if these colors highlighted what she didn’t see. Was this Lindsay’s “lens?” Her perspective on life?
“My friend, you have an extraordinary gift to experience your days as color. To be able to interpret your story through an artist’s pallet speaks volumes to the beauty in your heart. You create a window for me and I can actually see heaven through your eyes. It’s like you see God’s glory in everything. But you don’t just see it, it’s actually part of you. Am I right?”
Freckles animated her face-splitting smile as she drank in the legitimacy, the dignity of who she was. Finally! A kindred spirit, someone who “knew” what she saw – and said “it was good.” Regal’s nose and upper lip quivered in a soundless whicker as she leaned against her. The horse sniffed her hand then inspected her hat and her shirt, snuffling and tickling. Regal heard and “KNEW” exactly what Lindsay saw.
As the intimate transaction floated between us, a vibrant swallowtail swooped down to kiss our atmosphere, a gift of gold from Heaven. We entered the inside-out moment together. The Father smiled and asked, “Now, what color is your day?”
Perhaps the rainbow of “New Beginning?” Wait, I think I see the Edges of Dark Glory hemmed in the Deep Purple of Majesty.
Equine Assisted Spiritual Encounter or EASE!
Reflections from a Volunteer
What a blessing to partner with Sky today. He honored where I was frail and offered the need to just ‘be,’ and in turn I desired the same for him. It felt so good to be on his back again. His rocking, rhythmic gait allowed the aching muscles in my lower back to release. RELEASE…there’s that word. That morning, the leadership team prayed this over me, redirecting my focus from my initial intent to serve, to “give.” Doing life had left me with a heavy heart and an aching back and I found instead, I needed to “Receive.”
What I always appreciate about 8th Mountain Ranch is the dance that occurs around giving and receiving. Much like the “Warp and Woof” of weaving fabric, these form the essential bedrock, the footing or keystone of any signature organization. Classically, the warp refers to thread holding tension on the frame up and down, while the woof defines the threads that run across weaving over and under and over again. Together, they create the design of the fabric. Without these dance partners there’s no rhythm, chaos would cause the thread to settle disproportionately, producing a product that’s loose and unbalanced.
This was one of those days. I came “loose and unbalanced, wobbly with no rhythm.” My dance with Sky was “therapeutic” – the warp – and “restorative” – the woof. Sky eagerly entered the “exchange” – my pain for the Father’s dreams – which is the fabric of his design. Selfless, faithful, patient, gifting wholeness and peace. That’s our Sky.
I dismounted and ended my time with a bit more groundwork before returning to untack. I gave him a gentle, maybe prolonged, brushing, and then blessed him with a horse cookie. I felt my own tapestry strengthen under the newly taught warp, able to accept a fresh layer of woof to bring balance and healing to both my body and soul. I whispered in his fuzzy dwarfed ear, “Thanks for bearing my burden today, Sky, my friend.”
As I walked to my truck, it saddened me to watch him head to his cribbing post. I should’ve taken the time…sigh. I regretted not laying hands on him with a hug and a prayer to release him from my burdens.
On the drive home I chatted with God about my encounter with Sky, and I had a Holy Spirit revelation of sorts!! I call it Equine Assisted Spiritual Encounter or EASE! Much like a military commanding officer will address a subordinate or his troops with “at ease”, it means to relax or be as you were; Sky assisted me to be at ease, to relax, and “be as you were.” And my hope was to help him feel the same. I guess that’s what saddened me to see him crib. He had seemed so very relaxed while I rode and untacked him. Perhaps another time I can take him for a walk to just graze and let him “be” with no agenda at all, and maybe leave him in a more peaceful place.
Julie – Wholeness in the Pudding
It was seventeen degrees. Earth, snow, and sky converged into a milky emissary, whispering a timeless message of hushed peace. It was January, and a glorious ice fog had coated every blade and branch with a one-inch layer of spiny grime. The frozen filigree embellished everything with its delicate crystal creations. Muted light shrouded all living things, now held captive in the icy embrace. The silent landscape murmured the promise of deep, abiding rest.
Hot cider and a warm crackling fire on a blizzardy afternoon drew me into faraway places. There was an immediate awareness that Jesus was very close, his flannel blanket of mercy wrapped around me, exuding the warmth of covenant love. Yet, outside in a cold and hostile storm wandered a lonely soul in desperate need of the comfort I so lavishly enjoyed. Winter has a way of setting up a stark contrast between hope and isolation, belonging and abandonment. I lingered over the memories, tasting their powerful sweetness.
Desperate to escape the teen culture, Julie dangled her feet in the pool of rebellion, and practiced the dance of plunging and withdrawing from the unfulfilling experimentation of a modern day adolescent. Joy rides and rule breaking only satisfied for a moment until the reality of a verbal lashing or harsh correction from various authorities whipped her back toward the straight and narrow path. “God” was relegated to an icy compartment that Julie feared to access – even when desperate. The “man upstairs” was a distant figure who judges harshly, watching ever so closely to catch you in a sinful act, just an omnipotent policeman out to fill a quota of citations, mocking your every effort.
Julie’s relationships drifted down river leaving her empty, time after time. Compounding her dismal social life was the oppression of a listless learning environment, where its parched grounds mirrored the barrenness of the footprints who walked on it. Dry. Desolate. Despondent. Julie existed in a hopeless place of isolation and despair. Numb and empty, she cried herself to sleep in puddles of misery. Time passed, and eventually Julie’s depleted heart suffered an “attack”….an impenetrable fortress which fiercely defended her woundedness, deflecting any arrows of love. Ultimately, her walls held her captive. Merely extracting her from this toxic slough would not break down this stronghold, it would take an epic move of God to free her godforsaken heart….
BUT GOD! One day, an unexpected orchestration occurred and Julie tumbled onto the scene of 8th Mountain Ranch. It was a day of wind and sunshine. Crows sauntered across the sky, carefree as hobos. The soft hues of summer had begun to settle on the surface of the fields in a hazy radiance, a marvelous light that seemed to breathe out from the earth and stream through the sky.
She was downcast, chin down, head down; only her eyes lifted briefly to look at me. They were beautiful, pale blue pools with dark rims: intense, intelligent, and profoundly sad. While her family eagerly investigated various places and activities, her phone provided a convenient hole to crawl into. Eventually conversations began to swirl nearby creating an icy chill – new conversations of God’s active participation in our lives and His intentional, unwavering love for His children. These suggestions shocked Julie’s core perception of the deity she claimed to know. Without the noise of daily life, the wrestling began.
“Who is this God? A Father? Could He be so lofty and still care about what matters to me? I don’t know where I am with all this! I don’t know if I can trust this God or devote my life to His ways when all I feel is mind-numbing pain. My experience tells a very different story. I don’t see the signatures of God’s love anywhere.”
With grace and elegance, the angels went to work and orchestrated a rare moment where she found herself alone – yet not alone. Soft breezes whispered through the wispy foliage as the sun began its wise descent. And then it happened. He spoke! Waves of heat swept through and over her, like crashing waves. Tears welled up from her toes and exploded from her heart. Lightning bolts of color flashed all around her. She began to tremble. She didn’t question – there was no need. A living force, bigger than she could ever contain, held her, breathed into her, sang over her, rocked her. She KNEW who it was.
Her arms gripped her chest squeezing with pain. “Oh God, help me,” she groaned over and over. “I never knew, I didn’t understand, I couldn’t . . .” He answered so sweetly, “Peace, be still. Invite Me in. I AM life.” She wanted this more than anything. Her heart responded like snow to a spring thaw. . .
Under the final applause of what had been a violently beautiful sunset, Julie was captive no more. Julie arose! Out of the stone chamber, she heard the voice of her Father and leapt into His saving arms. Awakened to a new day, winter became spring inside Julie’s garden….a fresh new beginning!
Though weeks have passed, Julie’s countenance continues to radiate life. She is fully alive! Free from the insurmountable ramparts, she pulses with creativity, dancing through the days with new found joy and purpose. Wholeness in the making. The lonely soul once wandering in the blizzard encountered the warmth of Mercy and the fiery Covenant Love that burns with passion singing, “You are mine!”
In one simple moment, the King of the Universe spoke! Hope displaced despair. Adoption replaced isolation. Belonging evicted abandonment. Life overcame the grave. In one simple moment, another child is free to run with the horses.
Lindsay’s 8th Mtn Fundraiser
Honor and Dignity
Another one of our signatures at 8th Mountain Ranch is offering Honor and Dignity – to people, animals, the creation with its land and occupants, its sunrises, sunsets, seasonal deposits and weather. What’s the difference?
Ours is a culture of honor, but not dignity. Honor is extended to someone for their achievements. We honor people with money, a gold medal, a embossed certificate or an honorary dinner when they work hard and achieve. Dignity by contrast is the recognition of essence. We see the potential in someone, long before they can be honored for it. And when we celebrate someone for their essence, that is dignity.
Sadly, horses and kids spend much of their time learning how to perform in the culture, how to achieve success and “honor.” Unfortunately, they are on the receiving end much of the time, of a lot of dishonor – in offhanded ways, instructional criticism, peer dissection, sarcasm, teasing, callous remarks, put-downs in a joking sort of way. Honor is only achieved by swimming up stream against the currents, waging a long and hard war. Dignity is rarely celebrated. The difference is seen in the “pudding.”
Lindsay and her siblings graced our ranch this summer, leaving a precious impression on our staff and herd. Out of her heart of gratitude, she went home and told her mom she wanted to help raise money for the ranch by doing what she does best – creating! Her drawings flowed effortlessly from memories already painted on her heart, the priceless awe-inspiring landscape alive with birds, butterflies and bridles: her brother’s diligent creative craftsmanship, baby goat cuddles, rich relationship with Johnny, and queenly rides on Ari. Not only will these masterpieces chronicle a rich summer of encounter and healing, but they are meant to bring joy! May the lens of this child inspire you to savor the textures of your life and give thanks!
She has created beautiful Note Cards to sell and donate 80% of the proceeds to the Ranch
-Each image is hand-drawn by Lindsay, age 10, and depicts 8th Mountain Ranch experiences she and her siblings have had at the ranch.
-Packs of 10 cards featuring COPIES of Lindsay’s drawings; one variety pack with two each of five drawings, and packs of 10 of each drawing
-Available for preorder until Nov. 26; will ship on Dec. 2
-$8 of the $10 charged for each pack will be donated to 8th Mountain Ranch ($8 for 8th)
Consider blessing her. You can view her cards here https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheBCChickadee
Have you seen our interview on Adventures in Odyssey?
Here is the direct link that bypasses the need to “Join,” Feel free to watch it again and enjoy the beautiful job they did.
Bringing Heaven into the Earth Takes a TEAM EFFORT
Our God is endlessly creative in the ways He deposits gifts into His children. We have seen His provision flow through all types of people, with a variety of talents and favor. One of our favorite ways to enjoy His provision is through those who are gifted in networking and creative resourcing.
For many of you, this is your favorite way of helping – building a platform of success under those you care about. So for those of you who are a genius at networking, motivating groups and organizations to donate, or digging up raw materials to build with, here is a look at our current immediate needs for your imaginative fingers to dig into.
* T-Shirts for Volunteers: $12 each, or 10 for $100
* New T-Shirt Design Project for Participants: $150 cover cost of design and printing of 10 shirts. Help us Welcome New Participants with a “You Are Loved” gift.
* 12 Crayola Washable Assortment Tempera Paints: $40 Orientaltrading.com
* Traffic Cones: Variety of Sizes
* Gift Cards from Walmart, Lowes, & Home Depot
* Water Damage Repair $300
* Retaining Wall Repair $15,000
* Tractor: A local Kabota dealership is offering 8th Mtn a special purchase price of $25,000
*All gifts are tax deductible
We value and appreciate all of you contributions and prayers! It’s a privilege to share the fruit with you and we sincerely hope you feel integral to the work and ministry that takes place here.
“My Master has riches beyond the count of arithmetic, the measurement of reason, the dream of imagination, or the eloquence of words. They are unsearchable!
There is no love like His, neither earth nor heaven can match it. To know Christ and to be found in Him–oh! This is life, this is joy, this is marrow and fatness, wine on the lees well refined. My Master does not treat His servants churlishly; He gives to them as a king giveth to a king; He gives them two heavens–a heaven below in serving Him here, and a heaven above in delighting in Him forever.
The unsearchable riches of Christ! This is the tune for the minstrels of earth, and the song for the harpers of heaven. Lord, teach us more and more of Jesus, and we will tell out the good news to others.” Charles Spurgeon