Over the last 9 months, we have been learning as a family, what it takes to run a farm….. And, during this time, we were given 3 incredible horses (and our newest will be introduced in another article). Now, I grew up working in horse barns, but it’s been a long time. And, re-learning has been fun….FOR SURE…….
But, over the last month the Lord has provided a new opportunity to learn and grow in horsemanship and life learning and it is through working at a barn called Small Miracles Therapeutic Equestrian Center. Recently, I accepted the position of Volunteer Coordinator and Program Support in hopes that I could contribute to an organization that I have long respected. But, the lessons that I have learned in the past 4 weeks have been immeasurable, and I can’t help but share.
Over the years, I have heard of Small Miracles from many people and always with the underlying theme being respect and awe. Then, my daughter, who had always longed to have a horse found out that she could volunteer at this facility at the age of 14, so the best gift of her 14th birthday was knowing that she could begin to volunteer at Small Miracles.
Once she started, she was hooked. That was 3 years ago, and she is still volunteering consistently today……And, early into her volunteering career, I visited one day to watch a lesson (as my daughter had been begging me to “see this place in action”).
I distinctly remember walking in to the barn that day and feeling only what I can describe as the feeling of “Home”.
You know that feeling where you walk in and you breathe a big sigh of relief????….where you know the troubles you experienced during the day don’t have to follow you in……where you know that every person inside the walls of this home love you and care for you….where you know there’s no judgement……where there’s praise for progress but never the expectation of perfection, nor the shame that comes when not meeting it….where you are not defined by your abilities nor inabilities…..where you get to be you…..???? Yes, that was the feeling of HOME that I experienced.
AND while spectating at the half-hour lesson, I cried…I laughed, and I delighted in this haven as I watched my daughter engage with a horse, with children with special needs, and with a leader who made all of this a life-changing, fun experience, that taught every person involved to live in the joy of the moment.
Well, of course I wanted to be a part of this. So, I started volunteering as well…then our son volunteered, then our foster children volunteered, then my husband joined in the fun…
Later on, job obligations did not allow me to schedule volunteering hours except for rare occasions. But, my heart always prayed for this incredible organization…. And, during these past 3 years, while our daughter has stayed active, we also watched as God unfolded our life changes, including the farm and 3 horses, through the influence and direct contact of Small Miracles (but that’s also a really cool story for another day.)
Anyway, after some great conversations and lots of prayer, the opportunity to come on staff became an option, and it was a no-brainer to jump on board and hope to bless them as much as our family has been blessed. And, here I am….my first month learning and growing and coming home each evening feeling as if I’d been at “HOME” all day. It’s a great place.
But, I haven’t even shared the great things that the barn does each and every week. And, those are almost too numerous to mention….but, I’ll just share a little:
So, on any given week, there are equine lessons for students having special needs varying from mild to pervasive. There are groups of high schoolers from a local alternative school that come twice a week to care for the animals and one more time each week to volunteer as helpers for an elementary class for students with special needs. We have a group of at-risk middle-schoolers who come to care for the horses and learn empathy, kindness, coping skills, etc. There are male and female group homes who participate in the care of the animals and facility. We have a grief support group for teens who have experienced loss that offers them the opportunity to learn coping skills through working with horses. We have a program for veterans which simultaneously celebrates their contribution to our country and offers them a safe place to heal from the hurts they sustained on our behalf. We offer opportunities for college students to earn services hours while volunteering….and the list goes on….
And, the part that blows me away is the reciprocal relationship of all involved. My daughter and my family have grown because of the volunteering we have had the opportunity to be a part of and the relationships built there. The staff have poured into my daughter’s life in ways that have given her a heart to love. And, on the flip side, my hope is that we, as an organization and as volunteers, bless the students and offer them a safe space to live judgement-free and learn a sense of adventure and boundless opportunity.
So, God gave us the gift of each person’s uniqueness being a perfect fit in harmony to each other. Then on top of that, He gave us the gift of caring for animals and their reciprocal gift of sharing so much knowledge and comfort back with us. Each morning, I wake up thankful for these gifts and pray to offer others those same gifts from our farm at home and through Small Miracles as well.
And, if you would like to be a part of this special organization and are located around Northeast, TN, we would love to welcome you as a volunteer, as they are the ones who make so much happen day-to-day. Click here to find out more about volunteering at Small Miracles. (And, don’t worry, prior horse experience is not a requirement, just a heart open to being a part of something extra special. )
AND, we have a Western Derby coming up that we hope will be a time to offer the community a chance to hear more about this wonderful organization and to be blessed for an evening of fun. Tickets are $20. And, this a VERY FAMILY FRIENDLY EVENT! We hope you will come and enjoy an evening of food, fellowship, and fun. Click here for more details.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on our website. Click here to Contact Us at Serenity Valley Farm.
And, more than anything, we’d love prayers that Small Miracles continues to bless so many people and families.