Where Does My Help Come From?

“I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip– he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you– the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm– he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

Psalm 121

This chapter has been my very lifeblood this weekend, as I’ve muddled through stormy marshes of every kind.  I’ve been busy beyond my craziest nightmares, and while some of what I’ve been doing has been very fun and a blessing from God, there has been so much constantly going on that I haven’t been able to stop, take a breath, and appreciate it. I am mentally and physically more drained than I ever remember being, hurting for a friend of mine, praying over another who’s having both health problems and problems at work, missing my friends that seem so far away, and now caring for a horse that hurt himself out in the field. Again. 

Needless to say, there’s been a lot going on and I haven’t had any time. But even in this swirling, twisting, turning, painful mess of circumstances I’ve found myself in, God has held my heart. His arms that hold the universe have been wrapped around me in a warm embrace, and I’ve felt Him moving in everything I do. I can’t understand why He’s putting me through this from this side of the mountain, as I’m trapped in the valley, but as the psalm says, I can always raise my eyes up to the hills. And I can be confident that my Almighty God, the Lord of Hosts, is at work in me. Whatever it is he’s doing, it’s for the better, and someday I know I’ll look back on this time and say to myself “wow… God is so good. I never would have imagined that something as wonderful as this could have arisen from such a time as that.” God is perfect, and everything He does is for a reason. I may not understand His reasons until I’m standing on that mountain top, looking back into the valley I’m trudging through today, but I can find peace and strength in knowing that none of this pain is in vain.

Proverbs 17:3 tells us that “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts.” The fires of life may burn and scar, but the purest gold comes from the hottest furnace, and the most beautiful metal sculptures were hammered again and again to reach their state of perfection. God puts us through these trials to form us into his perfect, shining image, and for this reason I can be proud of my scars. There is no greater honor than to suffer as my Savior suffered for me, and in His strength I can push on through anything.

So, the reason I post all of this today is to, hopefully, encourage you in your own valleys of persecution. I’m going through some hard times, but I know I’m not the only one. I can only pray that perhaps this post will speak to one of you, and help to ease your burden just a bit. In closing, I’m sharing two songs that have spoken to me, and served as beautiful reminders that God is with me and working on and through me.

.

Flattery, Fun, and Pain

Tonight will have to be a quick one, but I wanted to post a quick update on life in general.

The last weeks have been long ones, hot ones, but mostly good ones. I’ve fed a couple Country stars, interviewed Judas, worked my rear end off, taken care of my horse who has thrown three shoes in the last two weeks, worked my rear end off, started writing a new book, held the first summer chirp meeting, and much more. God has sustained me, even as I’ve healed (miraculously quickly) from a strange foot injury the last few days. Today, he brought me a great source of encouragement. One of my fellow writers and wonderful friends came to me for help with a character biography she was writing, as well as help titling one of her works. She then told me that she has stalked my blog for inspiration and ideas for a while now, which is one of the greatest compliments a writer can receive. This was a major lift to my spirits.

This weekend holds great promise of good times and memories. As I type, I am hanging with the always wonderful Reilly band, who is spending the next two nights with us. We’ve already had a fun night, eating, swimming, and quoting Brian Regan and Jim Gaffigan. The night holds ice cream, movies, laughter, coffee, and fellowship. Tomorrow we will embark fairly early for the ALIVE Festival, where they have two sets to play. I’ll be driving behind their band bus to the festival, watching their first set and hanging out for a little while afterwards (backstage of course), before driving my brothers and I back for work. They’ll be back to our house about 1am after playing the late cafe show, we’ll play some Rock Band and probably swim some more, and bid them farewell Saturday morning. Sunday, I will be hanging with some OHVA friends at my first Summer Outing. This will be an absolutely smashing time, especially with the voice-less RoboPrez making an appearance after ALSO hanging out at the ALIVE Festival. I’m hoping perhaps we’ll run into each other there as well.

So, all this to say that God is good. Life is hard at times, but it’s far better than I deserve. And though I may fail, His strength will always shine through me. I just have to live my life striving to glorify Him, and trusting in whatever He has next for me. How about you, precious readers? Has God been your stronghold in the last season of your life? What trials have you piggy-backed through on your Saviors shoulders lately?

Sometimes, We Forget

So as I’ve been saying, my life has been entirely insane lately. At least, that’s what I thought.

With pressure coming from every angle and no light at the end of the tunnel, I have been in a deep struggle with my heart for the last couple months… and the trials keep pouring in, adding one atop another until they have created a waterfall, majestic from a distance, but deathly powerful up close. But I have come to realize that, though compared to the culture around us these days I have it rough, compared to most Christians throughout history and even in other parts of the world today, I have it easy! My life may seem tough with financial, church community, etc. etc. trouble, but if you compare it to just about any of the main characters from the Bible I have nothing to whine about.

One example would be Noah. We all know the story of Noah’s Ark. But have you ever considered putting yourself in his shoes? Not only are you surrounded by evil (ie murder, beating, stealing, lying, cheating, etc etc etc), but then you are told to build this giant ark to save you from a flood… in the middle of the desert. Your neighbors, friends, and even your own family claim you a crazy fool. Then, once the flood begins and you are closed up tight, you must bear witness to the biggest natural catastrophe in history. You hear the cries of every living creature, watch the home you built, the places you grew up in, and everyone you’ve ever known besides your own family be torn, changed, washed away, and killed. You then spend 11 months trapped in this boat-which most likely started to stink of animal and human feces after the first day, and after the first couple days the smell of the dead bodies would have enveloped the boat as well-with a bunch of wild animals, and your family members. Imagine being trapped in an enclosed space with your family for over a year, with no escape route! When at last you are let free, you enter into an entirely different world. And you are all alone. But somehow, you can still worship God! But there are more examples.

 

Another is Joseph. Everyone knows this story as well. He was the youngest, and obvious favorite of his parents, in a family of 12 (including him). After he spied on his brothers as they watched their fathers herd of sheep, they threw him into a pit. His own family sold him into slavery! He then traveled miles and miles across the desert. When at last he reached Egypt, he was bought by Potiphar, the Pharaoh’s Captain of the Guard. But the Lord blessed everything he did, and Potiphar saw this. He would have entrusted his life to Joseph. But then Potiphar’s wife, after many unsuccessful attempts to seduce him, she got him into trouble with his master. He was thrown into the prison there, surrounded by bad people and the worst of conditions. But even there, the Lord blessed his handiwork. After living there for TWO YEARS, having been forgotten by a servant of Pharaoh’s, he was finally summoned by the Pharaoh to interpret his dreams.

He did this job to such satisfaction that the Pharaoh gave him the highest position of honor other than his own, placed his signet ring (which was how the Pharaoh would sign laws. Nothing was more powerful than this.) onto Joseph’s finger. A series of events occurred, in which Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt for grain in the famine. They did not recognize their long-lost and suspected-dead brother. He found out about a full brother that had been born, Benjamin. He was told that his mother had died, and his father was in bad health. Eventually, God used him to save the entire nation, and through his line of descendants, our Savior was born.

 

Yet another example is Job. For centuries, people have looked to the book of Job for comfort in hard times. Job was a man of God, with a strong faith. The Lord allowed Satan to test Job. The only exception to this testing was the Devil could not take his life. Job lost everything. His wife, his children, his belongings, his health, everything. Shortly after, his 3 friends came to “comfort” him. In reality, they only heaped coals on his head and made him even more miserable. But yet again, we see that Job not only did not curse God’s name, but in Job 1:20, immediately after he has been informed of the great tragedies that befell him, we read that “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.” How could that possibly be? This man has just been thrust into hell on earth, and he is worshiping!

 

In the New Testament, we find a whole new set of trials. For centuries, the people of God were persecuted for their faith. Stephen was stoned to death for refusing to renounce his faith. John the baptist was beheaded for preaching the gospel. The main author of the NT, Paul, was beaten nearly to death numerous times, run out of town again and again, imprisoned, the list goes on and on. But every single one of these men were not just bearing this pain. They were worshipful, happy even! They continued to push the message of the gospel forward. Upon them, the foundation of Christianity was laid.

 

After Bible times, there were hundreds of thousands of martyrs who died protecting and encouraging their faith. Every single one of them died willingly, ready to meet their God. (I have not listed any for the sake of time, but all you have to do to find a couple of the stories that actually have been told is look up “martyr” on Google.)

 

We here in America have it amazingly easy. And yet, we complain more then any of the others. When we experience a slight trial, or in some cases a couple of slight trials one atop the other, we get mad. We blame God, we blame each other, we second guess our faith, etc. We have become, forgive me, terrible witnesses of Jesus Christ. Really, compared to decades past, our lives are about as easy as they come.

 

Now, you fellow Christians out there are probably thinking, “Um, CCG, you are kinda leaving out the MOST IMPORTANT MARTYR EVER TO WALK THE FACE OF THIS EARTH!” right? Well, I’m not. See, this is where the truth of Christianity shows. God allowed his own Son, Jesus Christ, to be tortured and murdered for us. We who think that we’ve known suffering, us prideful, self-righteous “people of God”, often overlook the greatest sacrifice ever made. Jesus led a perfect life. Not a “good” life, a perfect one. He faced every trial, every temptation, everything we have experienced and more, and yet He remained sinless. But He offered himself up, gave his own life. He suffered a more gruesome and painful death then anyone nowadays can even imagine. But that is not the worst part. He faced the full wrath of God. His own Father turned His face away. No one has had to face this terrible truth. There is nothing, NOTHING worse than this pain. And He did it for us. He paved the way for us to be with our Heavenly Father for all eternity.

Now, what do we, in full honesty, have to complain about? A couple of temporary trials? Our sinful hearts try to hide this truth from us in our pain. But, unlike the movies from Hollywood would tell you, we must ignore our hearts lies and run to Him, the One who gave it all for us. For only in Him can we possibly find peace and rest forevermore.

MOOSE!!!! = D

I LOVE MY HORSE! AND I LOVE MY TRAINER! AND TODAY WAS AWESOME!

Ha ha sorry for yelling. So, today I had my first ride in about 3 weeks, and my first lesson in about 3 months. My trainer is the best, sweetest, most caring trainer EVER. She may put on her tough-girl act, but inside she’s a marshmallow. I found out today that she bought me a saddle! It is a German made jumping saddle, and it is SO COMFY! It fits me and my horse as near to perfect as you can get from eBay, which is where we ALWAYS get our saddles from. Here is a picture of it:

Thanks SO MUCH HOLLY!

She also taught me a new method to help me get Moose to set his head right. Because he is from the track, his head is ALL OVER THE PLACE. We need to correct this, not just for appearance, but because he has arthritis in his hocks. His stifles are not very strong, and so we need to strengthen them. But since I am not the rider I need to be right now after a long lay-off to get him traveling right, we will use this method she came up with, which she likes to call the “Rope Trick”.

Rope Trick:

Remove saddle and nose band.

We have a black lead rope/draw reign with clips on both ends. You lay it across his back (where the saddle would be), so that you have 1 clip on each side. You bring the right side up between his front legs and clip it to the LEFT side of the bit. Then you grab the left clip, bring it through the front legs, and clip it to the RIGHT side of the bit. You then lunge them like this. It only takes a few minutes at the walk trot and canter. The rope is not tight, and does not PULL his head down. It is just a very LIGHT contact that uses a slight left-right motion, just like I would from the saddle. It acts much like draw reigns would. This way, he learns the correct way to carry himself without me on him, and I can do it without anyones assistance. It also allows him to work out any kinks without me having to ride through them. It keeps me safe, and it does not cause any fear or pain to the horse. After 10 minutes or so, I remove the rope, tack him back up (with the noseband), and I can ride him. Now, we are using draw reigns on him right now, but it is only until he has figured it out. We may in the future return to it when needed (as you always should do. The really successful horses and riders are those who will take a break, go back to the basics every now and then. Because if you haven’t mastered the basics, how can you possibly master the high levels?), but it will not be something that we use CONSTANTLY. Once he gets it, there is no need to continue. Now, say, if I had another lay-off season or something, or there is a day that we are having a lot of trouble. At that time, yes I would come back to this. Now, this should NEVER be tried without a learned and experienced horse person with you. If you do not know exactly what you are doing, you could get yourself and your horse in a lot of trouble.

Anyways, after we worked him for 15 minutes on the line (we did longer today because it was his first time and my first time, so it took longer to get the kinks out.), I got up on him and had the most amazing ride ever.

The second a put a slight contact on the draw reigns, he was holding his head like a level 3 dressage horse and acting like a perfect gentleman. That’s not to say we got through it perfectly, but it was a pretty darn good ride for an ex-racer and a teenage girl who have been out of it for months!

I also discovered that I have permission to go to the barn alone now, so hopefully I can go much more often. I am SO HAPPY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Moose is the best horse on the face of this earth. I never could have made it this far without him, both in my horsemanship and in life period. It still amazes me that God would have given me this perfect horse when I wasn’t even looking for him.

And as for Holly, I will never forget her. She is an amazing trainer, and a gift from God. If it wasn’t for her, I’d still just be a girl with a dream, some book smarts, and no real talent what-so-ever. I love you Holly!

That’s all for today!

-CCG

Fall Hike!

The last couple months, Sunday has been hard.

I go to church (usually getting there just as, or even just after, it starts), worship and listen to the message, the I get 5-10 minutes with my friends before heading up to Zack’s to open.

Those 5-10 minutes are all I get of my friends for the week, other than those who work at Zack’s with me or the occasional friend dropping by. And today, we visited a new church. I knew no one, and not a single person even said hi.

But yet, I’m happy. How? Well, there are two reasons. The first is I have an AWESOME God, and He is always there. He cares for me, and He knows me better then I do. He will never leave me, and He is my strength. As one of my favorite songs says, “I have a shelter in the storm, when troubles poor upon me…though fears are rising like a flood, my soul can rest securely…Oh Jesus I will hide in you, my place of peace and solace”.

The second reason is that I finally get to go on a Fall Hike with my church’s Youth Group today! The first (and possibly the only) Hike I will be going on this year. And better yet, afterwards we will be playing Ultimate Frisbee, the best game EVER… In the rain! YES! Ha ha

So obviously I’m not excited at all. 😉

–CCG

Hey Peoples!

I am soooooooo sorry its taken me so long to write! (I guess I got my mom’s blog genes! lol)

It has been pretty busy around here. I have been watching the boys, doing school, going to horse shows, working at the barn, memorizing dressage tests, etc.

So, let me get you up to date. My friends at the church and I have been doing a bible study group. We memorize different passages from scripture every week, then say them out loud to each other while someone else reads along w/ you in your bible to check your work. Right now, we are memorizing the beatitudes.

This month is dressage month at the barn. We are learning dressage moves and tests, then, at the end of this month, we will have a show at our barn, kind of like a recital.

Two of our team members made it to zone finals (zones for short). One of them almost didn’t make it through regionals. The judge didn’t see another rider brake his canter, and it knocked her out of the zones. (Only the top five from each class make it through, and the one that broke his canter came in 5th. She came in 6th. If the judge had seen the other guy brake the canter, he wouldn’t have placed at all.) Then, about a week before zones, the girl in front of her decided to pull out, and she made it in anyways! (the zones are tomorrow.)

I had to take this week off from the barn because I injured my hand. I have loose joints, which means that the ligaments in my joints are loose and relaxed. So relaxed, in fact, that my joints will sometimes pop out of place and back in. When this happens, all of the muscles, ligaments, tendons, etc around that area become enflamed. It feels like a sprain. This happened to my right wrist, so I couldn’t even write for almost a week, much less ride, lead horses, carry saddles/groom boxes, etc, etc, etc.

I have been reading a book called “Disciplines for Life” written by CJ Mahaney, and it is VERY good.

I will write more soon, but (as usual) I am watching the boys. (David is trying to take a shower by himself, but he can’t find the soap.) 

God Bless!

–CCG

Go Team Go!!!!!

Today I went to church, even though my team was at a show. I was recieving texts all day from my teamates,

who were kind enough to keep me up-to-date. Sammy, who had her best ride of the season, did not place. Then Leann WON her class. Soon after, Anna, our “newbie”, came in 2nd out of 9!!!!!!!! Overall, we rocked today! I am soooooooooooo happy!!!! Gotta go, we have company.