Today I brought my kids to a Refuge Horse Farm; a place where unwanted or abused horses and ponies are boarded.  Jordan and Maddi loved petting the horses and walking around to look inside the barn and sit on the big hay bales.  We learned there are a total of sixteen horses on the ranch.  Three of the horses are blind.  But, that didn’t stop them from trying to eat Madelynn’s apple.

The farm was open for Halloween and had many activities for children:  a bonfire and marshmallows to roast, an apple-bobbing contest and pumpkins to decorate.  In a hurry, Jordan and Maddi grabbed markers to color their pumpkins.  As soon as Jordan began his artwork he commented, "I am making a letter on my pumpkin for Daddy."  The volunteer helping him said, "Oh, that is so nice of you to make something for your dad."  I didn’t explain to her what had happened to Jordan and Maddi’s father.  Jordan acted so normal with the interaction that I decided to follow his lead and let it be normal. 

Last night we talked about our plans to visit the farm today and Jordan asked, "Mommy, can we call daddy and tell him to come down from heaven to go to the horse ranch with us?"  I am not always exactly sure how to respond to his daily questions, but I always welcome his comments and give him the freedom to express what he needs to share. 

We saw a horse that was badly beaten by his owner, he still has scars and another one abused with a bowed back.  They are handicapped in various ways.  Sometimes I feel handicapped without Shawn; there are invisible scars to prove it.  But, seeing these animals today reinforced a deep belief.  A handicap does not need to be a crutch.  There is still great beauty in life.  The ranch we visited was quiet and still and had many beds of flowers growing.  The animals seemed rested, peaceful, calm, secure, content and full. 

I pray Shawn’s death continues to be a revelation to me of the beauty found in a life that trusts God.  His death on so many occasions could easily be used as my crutch or excuse to conceal myself, obscure God’s purpose, surpress my feelings, become defensive, and overall just tolerate living.  I would rather be transformed.  I want my life to be peaceful, calm, secure, content and full.  I want my life and the life of my children to be full of God’s beauty.

When we left the ranch, I directed my kids to look at the black horse in the pasture.  Jordan corrected me, "Mom, that is not the black horse.  The lady said that is ‘Beauty’."

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