A Letter To My First Horse

A Letter To My First Horse

Thanks for making me the rider I am today.
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A girl only has one first horse, and I'm so glad mine was you. You were everything I needed as a young rider and girl. As a shy girl with low self confidence, I didn't have too many people I could trust. But you were always there to listen. You may not have been able to talk back and tell me it was going to be okay, or that you were there for me, but just being around you was so therapeutic for me. It was hard to be anything but happy when I had you next to me asking for a treat in the cutest way. We shared a bond that I can never replace with any other horse or human.

Not only were you a good listener, you were a very good and patient teacher. Not just on the ground, but especially under saddle. I learned more about how I should and shouldn't shift my weight, you taught me how to ask for things the right way. Without you, I wouldn't be half of the rider or person that I am today. You taught me a lot about love, and that the right decision wasn't always the easiest one. We walked away from the show ring with a lot of blue ribbons, and a lot of discouraging moments to go along with them. No matter how we did as a team, we were always back at work the day after a mistake ready to rebound and be better than the last time.

Since I was lucky enough to call you mine from middle school until the middle of my senior year, you were with me through it all. Every breakup, bad grade, or fight led to me heading straight to the barn for a long ride to clear my head. You were always there when I needed you the most, and you somehow knew to be on your best behavior when I was at my lowest. You were in my senior pictures, met all of my friends, and saw me at my absolute worst. I am so privileged to have been your owner, and while our time together may have gotten cut short, it's comforting to know that you're making hundreds of little girls smile every week.

So thank you, for being so much more than a pet to me. You were by my side in the darkest of times and taught me or than any teacher or lesson plan could. I'm very thankful that you have a great home with wonderful people taking care of you, because you deserve it. I always pictured that I would have you until you got well into your thirties, but life doesn't always turn out the way we expect it. Thank you for giving me the ability to make the best decision for both of us, not just myself. I'm grateful for every moment that I spent being your owner, and I'm blessed to say that I can still have you as a part of my life; just not as frequent as we both may want.

Loading you up onto that trailer knowing that I wasn't coming with you was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I love seeing pictures of you on Facebook with the little girls that you're teaching every day. I'm sure that they realize what a special guy you are, and even though you won't be able to read this ever, I know that you know that I love you. Thanks so much for the great memories and for making me a better person. Horses truly do leave hoof prints on your heart.

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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A Walk Through The Woods That Eased My Pain

After a week of constant pain, a walk through pine flatwoods helped me feel alive and at peace.

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A week of constant pain left me exhausted. All I wanted to do was lie in bed. I didn't want to go anywhere, but my husband wanted to work from the park, so we went. After sitting on the bench for a while, uncomfortable and aching, I remembered sometimes when you're in pain it helps to walk it off, so I decided to take the trail through the woods.

The woods at this park, like most parks in Florida, are made up of various tall pines and low-lying shrubs. It is called a pine flatwood. I walked the path slowly, not in a rush to get anywhere, just there to enjoy it. The pine left a sweet odor. Slash pines and longleaf pines towered above, their long straight trunks topped with long bright green needles that stood against the blue Florida sky.

My back still ached a little but felt much better, so I kept moving. The path weaved through the woods. Partially shaded by the trees. People passed me, but I didn't mind. They were busy exercising; I was busy enjoying. I loved the dense saw palmetto that lined the forest floor. Some woods are darker or mostly brown colored, especially on the floor that is often covered in fallen wood and leaves, but not these woods, these woods are vibrant shades of green, green that makes you feel alive. It made me feel more alive than I had in days.

Typically, when I take walks in the park, I spend time watching the birds, seeing which ones I can identify. This time on the trail there weren't many birds, so my attention was drawn to the pines, palmettos, and other plants instead. Often, these plants go unnoticed, serving as a backdrop to the more exciting parts of nature. But as I turned my attention to the trees, I noticed how stunning they were.

I looked up noticing how their branches spread in front of the sky. Then I looked at the endless palmettos, extending through the woods. The trees towered above me, yet they were a comfort, a shelter, that helped take my mind off the aching. The trees are still and peaceful, helping me to be still too. To stand confidently and breathe, and to also rest, clear my head, and know that it'll all be okay.

I walked through the trees for a while, not wanting to stop. It's important we all learn from trees. In their still, patience they know things that we fast-paced humans often forget in our busy lives. Life needs to be enjoyed, slowed down and still, our minds and our bodies. And when we do, it's healing. Walk slowly, take it in, notice the trees that we often forget to notice because they are still, but that doesn't mean they aren't the wisest of us all.

My aching was not cured, but as I returned from my walk, I felt at peace, rejuvenated, alive. Like the bright green towering pines, I stood proud and breathed in the fresh air.

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