Welcome to Narrow Gate Horse Ranch

By Jessica Rolph
Reprinted from a March 19, 2019 article from First Farmer’s Bank and Trust.

The first things you notice when you get to Narrow Gate Ranch are horses. The large barn is surrounded by gently rolling acres. The horses graze in small groups, some galloping a few yards as the mood takes them, most still and watchful. It’s not far from downtown Kokomo, but the flowing land and calm presence of the horses leaves you feeling far from anything you’d find in the city. It’s a peaceful scene, and one that Susan Zody appreciates.

For the past few years, Susan has been running the Narrow Gate Horse Ranch. Susan wasn’t familiar with horses when she started on this journey. She had been searching for a way to get the kids to continue coming and engaging with a youth outreach program where she volunteered, and remembered an article she’d read about a therapy horse ranch. After raising the funds through donations and researching therapy ranches, Susan was able to take a group to a nearby facility. The funds continued to roll in, and Susan started seeing the impact the visits were making on some of the kids in the program. Grades improved. Behavior improved. The kids started making better decisions. She was impressed, and committed to continue providing this to the children.

“They come here really, to build a relationship with a horse,” says Susan about the draw for the youth she works with at the ranch. These young people have sometimes suffered abuse and neglect, and an adult seeking to mentor these individuals will often face an uphill battle. But a horse, patient and calm and not demanding, can bridge that divide.

As donations continued to come in, Susan had to ask herself if there was more that she could do. Was it just the small group of children that she currently worked with that were meant to benefit? Could something else be done? It was a crossroads for Susan. She knew the need was greater than what could be met by visiting a horse ranch an hour way. She could see the improvements, but her kids, and the kids she knew needed connection in the community, would benefit from a slightly different approach. One that focused on building relationships and making better decisions, and ultimately, one that had its foundation in faith.

This was where Susan found herself in 2016 when she invited a group of people from the community to a discussion. Would the community support an organization like what she envisioned? Were the resources there to make it successful? Her plans were met with enthusiasm and support, and a board was formed. In a short three years, Narrow Gate Horse Ranch has been established and has weekly classes.

Narrow Gate’s target audience is at-risk youth in the community. In Howard County, Indiana alone, over 4,000 children live at or below the poverty level. At the Ranch, these children are able to grow their confidence, leadership skills, and communication skills.

“I want these kids to gain some confidence and to know that if they do things correctly, there will be a good ending.”

Scott MacDonald

When we visited Susan at the ranch, we also met Scott MacDonald, the equine specialist at the Ranch, and Kelsey and Autumn, two sisters who volunteer. Together, Susan and Scott shared stories that more often than not brought tears to the eyes of both speaker and listeners. The horses at Narrow Gate have faced their own challenges, much like the youth that works with them. The kids relate to the horses. They see their own struggles, and they work together to overcome challenges. It’s a rewarding experience for everyone involved, and one the team at Narrow Gate never tires of.

It was an honor to meet with Susan and Scott at Narrow Gate Horse Ranch, to be introduced to the horses, and to meet some of the youth benefitting from this wonderful operation.

I’m Afraid Not

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” — Ryan O’Neal, Love Story, 1970

“That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard,” — Ryan O’Neal, What’s Up Doc? 1972

We Baby Boomers and The Greatest Generation before us suffered the whiplash of sudden cultural self-awareness in the 1960s followed by the grinding self-indulgence of the “Me Decade” in the 1970s.  Christianity could barely catch its breath.

Not that I was a Christian at that point.  Navigating my middle-teen years and the bounty of intelligence, introspection, and worldly wisdom (cough, cough) I was to gain through college and into my early 20s and subsequent career, I had drifted completely away from my religious youth as an altar boy in the traditional Episcopal Church.

No, I didn’t know Jesus, but Father Cooper was a wonderful and kind man, and I knew the old communion service by heart.  It wasn’t until 30 years later that I came to understand and appreciate the beauty and depth of those words I could recite at 14.

The difference later was that I came to know Jesus, the Bible, and met so many Christians who were everything I didn’t think they’d be.  They were smart, kind, creative, educated, funny, generous, prosperous in their faith, highly productive in their vocations, and unwavering in their belief that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the living God, trusting Him as their Lord and Savior.  I learned all that in a church that reads the Bible.

None of that last paragraph would have made any sense to me prior to 2001, at age 47, when I very suddenly “got it.” Jesus made sense and the church came alive.  Most importantly, from an operational standpoint, the Bible mysteriously, magically, wonderfully before my eyes turned from opaque gibberish into utter clarity.  I saw God’s person, Jesus’s truth, humanity’s great fall but great opportunity, and the excitement, adventure, and joy of so much of life making an eternal kind of sense I had never seen before.  Why, even my childhood church liturgy morphed into a new creation of wonder.

All these lights coming on comprised the greatest gift imaginable.  They provided to me a life-changing, mind-altering, priority-shifting, and truth-testing reboot not just of worldview but of hope (eternal), understanding (divine), and love (other-directed).

So, here’s my point, which despite the preceding autobiography is really nothing about me.  It is everything about why and how we are encouraged to go to church, be in Christ, seek comfort and wisdom in the Holy Spirit, discern God, and consume our hearts with the grace, peace, trust, and compassion of Jesus.  What I’m saying is:

Fear and guilt can never build a loving relationship; trust and responsibility do. A self-focused life will imagine that “being loved” means “doing whatever I want.”  My own glory requires, “I gotta be me!”  Ergo, one never has to say, “I’m sorry.” Rubbish.

A worldly, liberal church going overboard to make your magnificent “You!” front-and-center relevant misses the key message of Christ that this life is about God’s glory more than mine or yours. And a church holding everyone’s sin and stumbles in constant reproach for the “price Jesus paid” and the “punishment we deserve” is preaching worldly transaction and retribution instead of extolling God’s divine grace in Jesus.

That’s when freedom and love die at the altar of control by fear and guilt.  Amen.

Satan applauds self-focus because it creates comparison, envy, and division.  Loving relationships grow amid mercy, encouragement, and trust, not self-obsession.

Still think it is all about you?  Sorry… I’m afraid not.

Walters (rlwcom@aol.com) is not afraid of God; he is thankful God is there. For more of Walters’ columns, see commonchristianity.blogspot.com. For his books, see www.lulu.com/spotlight/CommonChristianity.

I’ve Not Forgot

“Oh, no!” says the Lord.
“That’s not your lot.
“Look unto me; I’ve not forgot.
“Give Me your hand,
“And come my way.
“You have a future.
“It’s a brand new day.”

Margarett Inez Bates

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15)

Christian philosopher, Bible teacher, author, and prolific poet, Margarett Inez Bates is a graduate of Mount Vernon Bible College with a Bachelor’s degree from the Christian International School of Theology. Actively involved in Christian service for over forty years she currently resides in her hometown, Kokomo, Indiana. Margarett has published two books: Poetical Insights: Lifting Up a Standard, and Poetical Insights Vol. 2: A Closer Look. You can read more of her work at Kokomo Poet.

So God, What is the Next Step?

The room is filled with deafening silence except for the tick of the clock and the periodic roar of the blood pressure cup inflating. We find ourselves once again in life’s waiting room. Dad has just come back from having his heart cath. He sleeps. I write. We both wait for the doctor to inform of us of the next step.

These days seemed to be filled with waiting and unknowns. My prayers of adoration often become overshadowed by prayers of desperation. “God, what is the next step? Just tell me and I will do it.” And just like we wait now for the doctor, I wake each day waiting for God to step in and provide light for my next step. Next steps for…

  • Dad’s health
  • Wisdom for caregiving
  • Guidance in my job
  • Answers for hurting friends
  • Stewardship of time and resources
  • Strength for my weary body

I glance toward my father. His deep breathing now adds to the rhythmic sounds being played out in this room. As my eyes witness the gentle rise and fall of his chest with each breath, my mind replays his favorite verse. The one I need to hear right now in the wait.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.
 

Isaiah 40:31

This “doing heart” of mine is unnerved with waiting. You too? To just sit seems so counterproductive. I would much rather be busy, moving around. At least then things are accomplished. But are they the right things? Are they the best things? 

As I reflect on this familiar passage, my eyes move past the phrases at the front end and land on the “doing” words. “They will walk, they will run, they will soar.” These are the words that grab my attention when steeped in turmoil. However, these action words give me a false sense of control when life is filled with uncertainty.  Then God draws my attention to the first half of that scripture.  My eyes shift and I stare at the uncomfortable part of this passage… they that wait. 

It is in the waiting light is given for the next step we take. It is in the waiting wisdom is gleaned for the race we run. It is in the waiting courage is gained so that we may soar higher than we dare dream.  

Perhaps this is due in part to the desperation that comes in the silence of waiting. Our hearts yearn for comfort, direction, and wisdom.  We intentionally lean in anxious to hear answers to the prayers we have poured out in the night season. We strain to hear the Father whisper hope to our worn heart. 

My friend, maybe you can relate to the season of waiting. I am right there with you. One thing I know…God speaks in the wait. It may not be within the realm of our comfort zone, but He does speak.  So, we must resist the temptation to rush ahead. The slow pace of waiting affords us precious time in His presence that is often stolen by the fast pace of life. It is in this time, waiting at His feet, that He does a transformative work in our hearts.

Let’s hold tight to Him knowing that He is with us in the wait. He is renewing, strengthening, and transforming us.

Until next week, let’s find hope in the journey.
Evelyn Sherwood

Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of Evelyn’s columns, see her blog Hope for the Journey.

Who Are My Neighbors and How Do I Love Them?

He asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

This past Sunday, Steve preached a message about what it means to start each day by “putting on Jesus.” What does it mean to get up each day and lay down self to be clothed with Christ? In the sermon, he shared the story of the good Samaritan from Luke 10:25-37. One I grew up hearing.

In short, a Jewish man gets beat up, robbed and left for dead. A priest walks by, sees the man and crosses over to the other side of the street. Then an assistant at the temple walks over, takes a look at the man lying in a crumpled heap, and turns away from the desperate scene. Finally, a Samaritan, despised by the Jews, sees the wounded man and has compassion. He cares for the man’s wounds then goes even further by ensuring that his medical needs were cared for. Jesus asked which of the three was a neighbor to the man. 

This morning as I climbed into the car for my morning commute, the question Jesus asked so many years ago, haunts my heart. I will most likely not come upon a physically wounded stranger.  But I may find myself surrounded by those whose wounds and scars are hidden to the natural eye. But I want to put on Jesus. I want to walk in compassion. How will I know if I don’t have His eyes to see? This line of thinking prompts a prayer on my lips, “Lord, who is my neighbor today?” 

That was the prayer, plain and simple, nothing more. But that simple prayer set my heart on a journey. It was an invitation to journey with eyes wide open to the wounded. An invitation to embrace my neighbor and wrap their wounds with grace. I arrived at work ready to meet my neighbor.

What a surprise God had in store for me. Instead of God sprinkling my path with neighbors to love He brought neighbors to love on me. I was the wounded one, lying in a heap and I didn’t even know it. But God let unassuming strangers see me. They saw past the facade of “I’m fine, really I am.”

It started with the lady at the flower shop who heard me as I shared why I needed pink flowers. “My friend is still in the hospital battling cancer. She loves pink.” With that, a few extra flowers and greenery were added to the mix at no additional cost. With an encouraging word and a bit of wisdom, “Don’t forget to take care of yourself,” she sent me on my way. 

It was in the smile of the barista who looked me in the deep in the eyes and asked, “So, how is your day going?” Her gaze at me reflected a heart that genuinely cared. 

It was the bubbly teller at the bank, the one who threw her arms up in excitement as I entered the building. She had mistaken me for a dear friend. Though I was a temporary embarrassment, the kindness, smile, and conversation that proceeded, brought a ray of sunshine to both of us. 

While I had hoped to be a neighbor to others, God taught me a lesson today.

When we love the Lord with our whole being and demonstrate that love by serving our neighbors with compassion, He, in turn, wraps our wounded places with His grace and mercy. 

You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, 
all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ 
And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Luke 10:27

I can’t wait to see who my neighbors will be tomorrow!

Who are your neighbors?

Until next time, let’s find hope in the journey,
Evelyn

P.S. If you know someone who is weary, struggling to hold tight to hope, please invite them into the journey with us. Let’s encourage one another on to love and good deeds. 

Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of Evelyn’s columns, see her blog Hope for the Journey.

Embrace the Pleasure of Delight

Lately, I keep hearing the word “delight” whispered to my heart. It has been following me through the day like a puppy longing for attention. So tonight, I turn to face this word head on and ponder why God keeps dangling it in my view.

I retrace the steps of my day looking for clues. Woke up, prepped for the day, ate breakfast, grabbed the to-go coffee cup, and headed in to work. On my drive to the office, I spent time in prayer. Told God all my requests, my hopes, my dreams, my burdens, my sorrows. Arrived safely and jumped into the piles of paper on my desk. 

Then it hits me- I have been so caught up in me that I have been missing Him.

Did I notice the sunrise this morning? On my way home did I take note that the farmers were finally out in the fields prepping to plant due to a day filled with sun rather than rain? Even now as I type this out, I am catching hints of God’s daily presence; the songbirds outside my window, the hummingbird as it lands so delicately on the feeder, and the fresh blooms dotting the backyard with color. 

The pleasure of delighting in Him had slowly been replaced by the duty of doing for Him. It happens so swiftly and yet subtly.  This has been His whisper.  He has been calling me back to His heart, to the simple act of delighting in Who He is. To delight is to give keen enjoyment or to take great pleasure in. 

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires. –Psalm 37:4

Several years ago, while experiencing a waiting time in my life, the Lord impressed upon my heart this little essay/song. It rocked my heart then, and today it calls me back to the joy of delight.

Hush. Be Still. Don’t rush away.

Don’t just settle for a touch from Me.

Stay. Linger. Come know Me.

As did Adam, come walk with Me

In the cool of the day.

Know Me. Know my heart.

Do you see it? 

Do you see the delight in my face as we walk together?

It’s because of you. 

I created you and I bought you. 

You are my precious treasure.

I do-I do delight in you.

Do you delight in Me?

Sarah Young once wrote in her devotional Jesus Calling, “I begin each day with a sunrise, announcing My radiant Presence. By the time you rise from your bed, I have already prepared the way before you. I eagerly await your conscious thought. I rejoice when you glance my way. 

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24

When was the last time I truly delighted in, took great pleasure in the person of Jesus Christ? Today, may we take time to glance His way. To delight in His love, His grace, His communion with us, and to behold His beauty.

“The one thing I ask of the LORD— the thing I seek most— is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.”Psalm 27:4

Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of Evelyn’s columns, see her blog Hope for the Journey.

Celebrate Recovery – April 2019

Monday, April 15 at 6:15PM
Woodland Church of God (3401 S. Webster St., Kokomo)
A light meal is included

A new day every day! Celebrate Recovery is a Christian-based, safe place to learn how to be FREE from hurts, habits, and hang-ups.

Addictions. Guilt. Hurt. Control. Relationships. Whatever is stopping you from living a full life.

Want to learn more? Come join us. We will meet weekly beginning Monday, April 15th.

For more information, email celebraterecoverykokomo@gmail.com or visit Celebrate Recovery Kokomo on Facebook!

Be in Health Real Solutions Tour 2019

We want to invite you, your friends, and your family to join us in 2019 to attend 1 of 16 conferences we are doing nationwide on our Real Solutions Tour. There you will learn the foundations for healing and restoration in every area of your life and find the Real Solutions you have been looking for.

Friday, April 26, 1PM through Saturday, April 27, 6PM
DoubleTree by Hilton-Cincinnati Airport | 2826 Terminal Dr. Hebron, Kentucky

Many people have come to us after many years of trying everything, frustrated and tired, but were rejuvenated with hope and experienced lasting healing they found nowhere else.

Along with teaching we will also be doing laying on hands ministry at the end of each conference to allow our Father to come and work powerfully in our brothers and sisters lives.

There is no fee to attend. Freewill offerings will be taken and our resources will be available for purchase.

During the conference, we will have two exclusive Q&A events with the Be in Health® team. Dinner Friday evening and lunch Saturday afternoon. Seating is limited so reserve your seat today!

For information, see the Be in Health website.

Dr. Henry Wright and Be in Health® would love to teach you how to be an overcomer: to come alongside you and show you how to recognize the root issues behind disease and to overcome the works of the enemy in your life. Issues like, bitterness, rejection and fear, anxiety, and stress (just to name a few) that break down relationships and lead to disease.

May we lead you into restored relationships with God, others and even yourself?

We believe that when your spirit is healed and recovered that your body with follow suit. Thousands of people are healed and whole because of the principles they’ve learned here at Be in Health®. And we strive to provide a safe, nurturing environment for you, our brothers and sisters.

If you were given the opportunity to learn not just how to survive but to truly thrive would you take it?

We would like to extend that opportunity to you right now. We invite you to walk with us in our mission to establish generations of overcomers: “May the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

When God Roared

In 2004, a dear sister in Christ wrote a book called When God Roared.

In its chapters, she unfolds the healing path God walked her along to step-by-step overcome childhood abuse and its fallout. This is the path standing open to you in your journey to know your Father and His abiding, ministering love.

Now, 13 years later, we are making this book available online for the first time.

Each day, we will publish a fresh page from this book.

Come back often, and share with a friend!

The journey has only just begun…

When God Roared

Cultivating Lovely – A Women’s Conference

What makes you lovely?

This question is so easy for us to answer about others but not so easy to ask ourselves. As women, we need to redeem our appreciation for who God created us to be. We need to discover what truly makes us lovely.

This conference, Cultivating Lovely, is by and for young adult women. It will take place from April 29 at 6:30PM to April 30 at 1PM at Hazel Dell Christian Church’s Student Center (14501 Hazel Dell Pkwy., Carmel, IN). For more information about each speaker, see cultivatinglovely.com/speakers-1.

By the end of this conference, our hope is that you will confidently be able to answer this question and learn how to cultivate and find your lovely.

 

Schedule

Friday, April 29 | 7-9PM

Doors open at 6:30PM
Conference begins at 7PM
Worship – Kyle Hastings
Ashley Scott Onusic – What Makes You Lovely?
Hayley Morgan – Being Under His Banner

Saturday, April 30 | 9AM-1PM

Worship – Kyle Hastings
Ashlee Edgerton – Loving Him by Loving Our Body Image
Krista Dunbar – Loving Him Despite Our Emotions

Breakout Speakers:

  • Anna Scott – Marriage
  • Leah Hahn – Singleness
  • Jessica Bello – Mamahood
  • Liz Henderson – Loving Him through Tragedy

Q&A

Are you in? Tickets are $25 and available at cultivatinglovely.com/register.

For more information, see the conference website at cultivatinglovely.com!