Giving Thanks

O wonder!
How many godly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t.

These words come from “The Tempest” (actually spoken by Miranda, but not OUR Miranda!) by William Shakespeare and are also the foundational plot line for Aldous Huxley’s “A Brave New World.”

 

But “beauteous” is not largely the adjective that would best describe our current times.  Though beauty can always be found in the natural world around us or in the eyes of friends and loved ones, the news it seems lately, is filled with ugly strife.  Both far off and at home, we are living an odd parallel of the twisted dystopian society that Huxley created in 1931 and set in the mid 2500 AD.  Huxley, a social satirist, was inspired by H.G. Wells and two of his utopian works, “A Modern Utopia” and “The Sleeper Awakes.”  The latter portrays London on the cusp of martial law and civil war.  Governmental tyranny has dehumanized society which has slumped into base behavior and hopeless squalor.   Huxley referred to his brave new world as a negative-utopian novel.  No offence to Mr. Huxley, but I think the term “negative utopian” is a bit of an oxymoron.  Maybe not.  It is a liberal belief, it seems, that blindly clings to illogical paradox.

 

If you have not read it, you might simply want to stay abreast of current events, the read is not far off our current sociological set of “norms.”   Individual responsibility, thoughts and actions are discouraged.  Historical literature is banned as subversive, children are taught by the state through hypnosis, reproduction is mechanized but sexual expression through perversion and orgies, drug use and movies with added tactile experience are heralded as the new strength and freedom of the ages.  Hedonism is the rule of the day.  Chastity, monogamy, and fidelity are ridiculed as obsolete or religiously oppressive.  (I’m talking about the book synopsis, just in case you might have confused it with 2015).

 

One of the most devastating effects of this brave new world, in the same way that Orwell wrote in “1984” is the judicious, incipient, slow twist and careful revision of history.  “Thought police” and “Think crimes” rule an increasingly socialistic society where you are taught what the answer is, not what to think about it. Questioning is forbidden, disagreement is dangerous. Remembering will get you quietly and permanently removed.

 

In 1947, Dylan Thomas wrote “Do not go gentle into that good night.”  Largely considered to be a poem in reference to his father’s pending death, the refrain, “Rage, rage against the dying of the light,”  has become a much quoted rally cry in the fight against the encroaching passiveness and languor we find ourselves battling as of late.

 

Our history is the shaping feature of our future.  It provides us with a view of the consequences for our actions, not in theory but in historical fact.  It provides both a warning and a hope.  It is our heritage for good and for bad.  It both molds us and allows us the ability to break that mold to throw off the chains of tyranny and with the full knowledge of history, provides us a beacon to guide our way.

 

As certain factions in our government seek to rewrite history for their own political power point, control and manipulation;  it becomes increasingly important to stand up and become the torch bearers.  We uphold the banner, we remember and we will not forget nor will we silently sit passive.

 

Recently we have been told that our founding fathers were not the Christian examples that history set forth.  We are told that they were self-aggrandizing deists who saw a creator that designed the boat but pushed it out to sea, to float and function on its own. Sink or sail.  Disconnected and disinterested.  I see a Creator deeply and intimately involved in the minutia of our everyday lives, both historically and currently.  A Creator who sees when each sparrow falls, notices each tear shed in private, and numbers the hairs on our heads.  He will not sleep, he is not out of touch or behind the times.  Technology does not confuse him, terrorism does not alarm him.  He is I Am, and He is our history, our present and our future.

 

We are then reminded of our founding fathers imperfections; argumentative, uneducated, given to drunkenness, struggling with debt, depression and debauchery… time and technology change, the fallen nature of mankind does not.  This country was not built on perfection, but on perseverance and courage in the face of fear and struggle.  It was built on a firm foundation of faith.  Not on perfection or ability or strength did Peter walk on water, he did so solely and only on faith, with his eyes firmly fixed on the purveyor and author of that faith.  We know what happened when that vision strayed from the mark.

 

I live in the midwest.  I know what it means to be cold.  It is numbing.  That is the problem.  The stinging pain and burn of severe cold reminds us of our small human frail frame.  It keeps us humble in the face of a force greater than ourselves.  The pain of cold is both alarming and invigorating.  It is motivating.  But after too much extreme cold has been repeatedly ignored and overlooked, there creeps a subtle numbing.  The cold becomes less (so it seems but rarely is) it lulls us into a sense of complacent despondency.  It is not then the cold that steals life, it is the choice to accept abject apathy.  Become a helpless victim.  Refuse to accept the warmth and safety just a step away.  This is the numbness that seeps through the message of those who tell us that our “misguided notions” about history are romanticized and overdrawn.  That honor and integrity and character are mere fictionalized projections, a figment of our desire for historical heroes, not factual representations.  That the fulfillment of all we can be, is to get, not give.  That servanthood and sacrifice are synonymous with weakness and should be eradicated at all costs. We are bombarded with the lauding of self-adulation, self-actualization, self-promotion, self-esteem, self-presentation.  But history, the repeated battle cry of our heritage, tolls a different bell.  Self-sacrifice.

 

In a time of gluttonous ungrateful demands for more and more, we have lost the concept that gifts cost the giver.  Illusory superiority, a new term that liberal progressive ideologists have coined in the desperate hope that the term “self entitlement” will die away and slip into obscurity.  It will not.  We will not be fooled by semantics.  We will remember.  Because history teaches us where that slippery road leads.

 

May we always remember the truth of our history.  That as strangers in a strange land, we gave thanks.  We were thankful, not only for the bounty of the harvest, but for the simple warmth of hearth and home.  The comfort of friends and family.  The great gift of shared community.  Not proper high-society community with bone china dinner settings, polished silver cutlery and neatly dressed, finely attended homes.  We were thankful for savages, who bestowed upon strangers a grace uncommon.  We were a people marked by a thankful spirit for the little we had, because we understood the magnitude of those little things.  Stripped bare of the frills of easy living, we valued family, friends, food and home.

 

2015, the season of getting is underway.  I hope that we can pause for a moment to give instead of get.  I am not referring to the giving of tangible things.  I am talking about the extending of grace, the giving of thanks.  I pray that I will be remembered more for what I gave, little though that may be.  Lord, make me like that poor widow, who though only giving two small mites, gave out of a poor purse, but a rich heart.  I pray that our house will always be a home, warmed and lighted with laughter and simple grace, better by far than any amount of finery.  That we will always value simple things.  That we will hold hands when we pray, and hold tightly to each other when we greet and again when we must part.  I pray that I will be thankful for the life given me, the struggles from which I have been allowed to learn and grow,  the path in front of me, wherever it may lead and most importantly, the friends and family who stand ever with me on that path.

 

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.  Ephesians 1:16.

 

May that be the touchstone of this season.  “Thanks for you”  not things for me.

 

Thank you, to all who read this post.  For your presence in our lives, for your encouragement and prayers and your light in an often dark place.  Grace and peace to you.

 

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

 

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Tell me the Story of You!

I have struggled greatly with the guilt of knowing that this blog is not really a service or benefit to Mark and Miranda as I had hoped it might be.  I intended better but we all know where that road leads.

 

Last week when Miranda and Erin Sisson were visiting, they asked what I’d like to do, and this was first on my list.  I had tried to find a way to record Skype and Facetime calls so I could conveniently interview them but apparently the FBI and CIA take a dim view of that sort of thing and have made it incredibly hard!  I tried contacting Hillary because I was sure if anyone could figure out a way around the system, she would have that in the bag, but apparently she lost both my number and my e-mail.

 

It is no great mystery that Mark and Miranda are talented.  I would go further and say gifted.  Talented implies the ability to learn, retain, and utilize data or a skill to a highly effective level.  Many people have talent, at any number of different things.  Gifted, is somewhat outside the scope of human hands.  That does not mean that gifted people do not also work hard to hone a skill and talent, they surely do or should, but those who are gifted have an almost ethereal ability that is not found in the best of textbooks, the finest institutions, or the most rigorous and exacting training regimen.  It is not just talent, it is a gift.

 

 

So intentions and excuses aside, I wanted to hear how Mark and Miranda started.  Furthermore, I wanted you to be able to hear it. Actually audibly hear their voices.  There is something personal in hearing the style, lilt, and syntax that makes up a person’s voice. The small pauses, the choice of words, the emphasis, all those things bring us closer to the speaker.  It draws you in, in a way that written words cannot.  The following represents an attempt at that personalization.   It was not an entirely successful venture, for which I apologize to you as an audience, and more importantly to Mark and Miranda.

 

I was unaware that I could not post audio in a blog unless it is hosted by a third party.  That made me grumpy.  I have, on occasion, gotten in a LOT of trouble by not taking “no” as an acceptable answer.  So I had to upload the audio to Youtube, where I learned that you cannot upload audio alone…  That made me grumpy.  It was at this point that my kids retreated to the barn to do their schoolwork.  After wanting to pull my hair out …  I downloaded software to merge audio and photo.  After a few hours of talking in vicious undertones to my computer, and a few more hours of clipping and sewing and stitching like Dr. Frankenstein in his lair, I am hoping that the resultant product of Miranda telling her story will help you see and hear her in a new light.  Maybe it will also make you see yourself in a new light as well.  Maybe it will inspire you to record your own history. Perhaps you will grow your story and attend a clinic or blaze your own path in some uncharted adventure.

 

I want to credit the photographers who took such wonderful pictures of such a beautiful woman.  Beauty that, despite the great skill of a photographer, can never be truly captured because it is not born on the skin but deeper in.  I take responsibility for any infringement and will be more than happy to edit or correct the video if necessary or as needed.

I did my best to edit out my own voice, other than a couple questions, but I know very little about proper editing.  The voices you hear in the background are Erin Sisson, who wants to be a food critic, (you’ll have to listen to get the joke!) and myself.

Enjoy.

 

 

I am hoping that Mark will be kind enough to allow me the same pleasure of recording his story and will post it whenever he manages to get off a horse long enough talk…  You might have to wait a bit on that one.

 

 

Why stand we here idle?

If time and distance and death were no hindrance, who is it that you would most like to meet?

I did a little research and looked up a top 10 list of historical figures that people say they would most like to meet.  (This comes from the San Diego library and ranking system, 2013)

  1.  Jesus Christ
  2. Princess Diana
  3. William Shakespeare
  4. Albert Einstein
  5. Marilyn Monroe
  6. Leonardo Da Vinci
  7. Elvis Presley
  8. Roald Dahl
  9. Freddie Mercury
  10. Martin Luther King

Wow.  Whaaat??  You’re joking right?  Freddie Mercury?  Frankly, there is only one person on that list that would have ever made my own!

Whoever you might have on your list, I have advice for you.  Throw it out.

Don’t get me wrong, there are people I admire historically.  One pretty high up for me would be Patrick Henry.  The following is an excerpt from a speech he gave in 1775, St. John’s church, Richmond, Virginia.

 

I shall speak forth my sentiments freely, and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony.  The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country.  Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not?  For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

We must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?

We are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us.   The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.

Why stand we here idle?  Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

 

This speech was made by Henry to raise up a private militia (times change, needs rarely do, we could use that militia right now!)  This speech makes the blood pound in my ears.  I agree!   But so often we seem to feel that these are the kinds of words that are spoken in a bygone time by long-ago people, with antiquated ideals and past tense issues.  I disagree.  Completely and strongly.  Those words are timeless.  And they are held timeless by brave men and women still today.  They are held by guardians of freedom who refuse to stand idly by.  They resolutely refuse to be silent and helpless, throwing up their hands in apathetic hopelessness.  Strong men and women who wont play the victim, who hold the standard and the banner, not in bitter anger, but in the hope of a future that they are courageous enough to influence.

I am not sure I believe in heros.  We are inundated these days with notions of super-humanity.  Perhaps I have grown jaded, or maybe I have simply refined what I expect of that moniker, hero.  People who can fly, turn green and huge and powerful, spin a web, pick up an impossible hammer, fly and move metal with their minds, or ride on ice… really?  Why we have this need for abilities outside our own is a bit of a mystery to me.   Remember that song…. He’s gotta be strong and he’s gotta be fast and he’s gotta be fresh from the fight.  He’s gotta be sure and it’s gotta be soon and he’s gotta be larger than life.

What is larger than life?  This question has been drilled home to me in recent days.  I admit that this little trained monkey has a bit of a pet peeve and here it is:   “I’m going to give it 110%!”    My teeth grind just a little and I have to quietly remind myself that what is important is more the spirit in which it was said and not the technicality therein.  But… you cannot give more than 100%.  100% is all.  Don’t look to give more, give that.

Hero or Heroine is defined in the dictionary as:  A person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities.

Nowhere in that definition does it say, “able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.”  Why?  Simply unnecessary.

 

I hope someday someone asks me the question, “Who would you most like to meet?”

I am ready with my answer.  I have met them.  They are not people of the past.  They are alive and well.  Though not all of them.

I met a man who struggled daily.  Panic and anger and fear haunted his dreams and many of his waking moments.  He was demoralized by large crowds, his hands would grow clammy and he would back into a corner.  A simple restaraunt meal would find him jockeying into a position to see all entrances.  Easy it would be to relegate him to the slag-heap of cowardice, until you peek behind the curtain.  He had spent months walking a razor wire in Iraq.  He had looked down the scope, sighted in on the moving figure, and pulled the trigger.  He had lost companions and friends and brothers-in-arms.  He had paid, and dearly.  It was to be his habit and life and waking breath to walk the line out on the road, intent for any unturned rock hiding an unseen landmine.  He had spent countless nights huddled in the green claustrophobic haze of night vision goggles, waiting, listening for the click and pop from the shell and his own impending end.  He had lost a leg in his service.   He returned to a largely thankless country, ashamed of his “murders and heinous acts.”  The same acts that allow me to sleep safe in my home, free and able to carry on with only the small worrys of my here and now.  I remain forever in his debt.  Humbled by his life.  And he carries on.  He stands not idly by.

I met a child who died from cancer.  Her death made me see life in a very different way.  She cried when she was stuck, she was angry and expressed it all.  In the end, her cape was pulled quietly over her head.  She fought.  Not with bullets or fists, but she fought none the less.  She did not stand idly by.

This blog is about Mark and Miranda so it doesn’t take much of a roadmap to realize at least part of what I think and how I feel about them.  I am not an easily impressed individual.   I do not trip through the daisies with any person who happens to throw a few nice words my way and I am more likely to remain silent than to offer mindless compliments of my own in return.   I hope though, that at the end of my days, it can be said of me that I encouraged people somehow with something in some small way.   Compliments are nice, and we all appreciate a sincerely given praise.  But we often grow more from kind and honest correction.  Encouragement is an entirely different thing.  It is the practice of emboldening someone.  Producing in that person the courage to move forward, often through  adversity.   It is the ability to revitalize flagging confidence.  To build and grow a person, to motivate and inspire them and their dream.  To plant the seed that will flourish and bloom and produce ten fold.  THAT is what Mark and Miranda have done for me.  And not only me, but countless others.  They have through persistence and patience and encouragement and humor, breathed life into many and certainly me.  They have changed my life.  They have changed the lives of my girls.  They have changed my horses.

When I look to the best of life; things like that empassioned speech that Patrick Henry gave.  The best of our great country, the wildness and spirit of the men and women who shape it.  I do not look backward.  I do not live nostalgically for past leaders.  I look forward to people like Mark and Miranda.  Why?  They do not stand idly by.

If I can encourage, in any way, to any wandering or questioning person, call, go to a clinic, seek, ask.  Help, encouragement and hope are waiting and available.   For me, it started with a simple admission of need.  I need help.  That’s what I said, almost those exact words.  Hard, a bit humiliating when I see myself juxtaposed against a sea of more talented, more experienced and all in all, much better people.  I had little to offer, but “little” was enough.  Little, was enough to change my life.

“We are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power.”  

Do not stand idly by.

 

M & M Horsemanship