“In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't.”
Before you make any judgments about me blindly supporting the Jefferson County School Board, hear me out. I am quite disappointed in their inability to communicate effectively, at times making statements that seem to be uninformed about specific issues. My goal here is not to make a statement about whether the board or the teachers is right. These reasons are non-political.
Fortunately, the walk out has not reached her school in any significant way (although there have been some students who wanted to participate).
Once again, my daughter has become a pretty talented writer. In this creative writing assignment for school, she recounts her fall of a horse two years ago and the journey she has been on since.
By: Catrina Byrne
Flashes of the white wall zoomed by me. I heard my trainer yelling for me to turn. Everything was a blur. I was going too fast. The horse, Feyo, turned the corner much too sharply. I flew off my horse and slammed into the rail. I hit the ground with a thump. I felt intense pain in my right ribs. It was then that I realized what had happened. I had fallen off my horse.
As I laid flat on my back, panic creep inside me. I was breathing quickly. I couldn’t focus on anything but the pain. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I cried out for my parents. My dad tried to comfort me. Everyone tried to sit me up but somewhere in my back hurt. The trainer who had been teaching me called 911 and was asking me questions. I didn’t want to answer them, I wanted the pain gone. Despite the tears and the pain, I managed to answer her questions. Every now and then I would cry out, “ It hurts!”
The ambulance arrived and the paramedics managed to get me on the stretcher, then into the ambulance. My ribs felt like they were on fire. I wanted my mom. The paramedics told me that she couldn’t be in the back with me but she’d be up front. That was not what I wanted to hear. The situation worsened when they had to put the IV in me. I despise sharp objects being pushed into my skin. Everything else was a blur until I got the pain meds in my system later. I was told I had fractured five ribs and a small bone connected to my spine. I remember little about what happened between the accident and my dad taking me out of the hospital in a wheelchair. Nor do I remember much of the weeks that followed, except a few visitors and hobbling around the house like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. The real struggle was not recovering from the fractured bones, the real struggle came after I healed. The real struggle was to get past the emotional barrier my accident had caused.
The doctors had informed me that 8 weeks after my accident I could ride again. But I did not ride in 8 weeks; it was 14 weeks before I rode again. Not because I was physically unable to, but because I was unsure if I ever wanted to ride again. My dad sat me down and told me, “Catrina, I don’t care if you stop riding but you have to get back on a horse at least once.”
I knew he was right. So I scheduled a lesson to ride again perhaps for the last time. My lesson came all too quickly. So many thoughts filled my head as I took Hogan, a chestnut draft thoroughbred, out of his stall and into the crossties. I shoved those thoughts aside and began tacking Hogan. I tried to put my brave face on as I led Hogan into the arena. I mounted and realized that from the top, Hogan looked exactly like Feyo; shivers went down my spine. No, I was not going to go there. I focused on the voice of my trainer, Veronica, as she instructed me, reminding me of the things I already knew.
“Are you ready to trot?” Veronica asked. There it was; the question I had been dreading. I did not respond. My eyes fell on Hogan. But I wasn’t seeing Hogan; I was seeing Feyo. The accident replayed in my head. Cueing Feyo forward, Feyo mistaking my cue, and going into a gate I could not control yet. The speed. The turn. The rail. The pain. I began to cry.
“I can’t.” I sobbed.
“Thats okay. We can just walk today.” Veronica smiled encouragingly. I wiped my tears and walked Hogan forward. We focused on the walk.
That was not the last time I rode. I rode many more times until I was confident enough to trot again. But trotting again was not the end of my trouble. I struggled to regain my confidence at the trot. I also made it my instinct to lean forward at the trot and could not fix it. I was constantly told to sit back, put my heels down, look up and be the boss. It was hard to go so slowly when so many of my friends had advanced on to new levels while I was stuck behind because of a habit I could not break. I never gave up; I was determined to overcome my habit and move on to the canter.
In August 2013, a full year after the accident, I made a goal to canter by my 15th birthday. I told my parents and Kindra, one of the other trainers I ride with, and they pushed me harder than ever. It payed off. It was December 26th, 5 days before my 15th birthday. I was riding Wrangler, a brown and white paint, in a group with my favorite trainer, Courtney. The other people in the group were beginner canterers and I was an advanced trotter. Courtney was having the group take turns cantering. I expected to trot when it was my turn but I was wrong. Courtney turned to me and said,
“I heard about your goal to canter by your 15th birthday. When is your birthday?”
“December 31st.” I answered.
“Would you like to canter today?” Courtney questioned. My mouth fell open. Courtney explained, “I think you did well today and are ready. Do you want to canter?”
“Yes!” I exclaimed. Courtney then told me what to do and I listened, careful not to miss a thing. She told me not to hold the horn of my western saddle but it was ok to grab some of Wrangler’s mane. Once Courtney was finished she told me to go. I took Wrangler out to the rail, cued him to a trot, then made a kissing noise with my mouth and squeezed him forward with my leg. Wrangler went into the canter obediently. I felt a new sense of freedom as the wind blew against my face. I loved everything about the canter. I loved the feeling it gave you, the connection created between horse and rider, and even the speed. Wrangler did not canter long but I loved every second of it. I cantered again, loving it even more. My dad came out of my house and grinned, pride all over his face. He took pictures to remember the moment when I let my fear of cantering go. I had done it! I had cantered! I felt so joyful and so free having known I had succeeded. It felt so good to finally be free of the past and move on.
It has been almost a year since I cantered for the first time. Cantering for the first time started a new chapter in my life. A new riding level in which I continue to advance. There are times when I struggle but I overcome whatever troubles arise. My fears no longer control me. I’m not afraid to fall because I am a courageous cowgirl standing tall.
The following is an english assignment my daughter had to write. The assignment was to write a fictional Native American myth. She got a "A". Please enjoy.
Once long ago, there was an ancient tribe led by Chief Tall Mountain, who was very tall. Chief Tall Mountain and his family were loved by all of his people. No one was more loved than Chief Tall Mountain’s adventurous daughter, Hopeful Song. Song was so loved by all that her father never had to worry about her safety for everyone who met her loved her. Her father told her,”You may go wherever you want in our territory, except near Shining River. It is a dangerous place.”
“Yes, Father.” Song responded. Song obeyed her father’s orders until one fateful day when she was riding her handsome paint horse, Free Spirit, when she stopped for a small break and did not know where she was. Nearby, Song could see a silver blue river. Suddenly song[a]know where she was. She knew all the rivers in the territory and there was only one she had never been to before; Shining River. She knew she should leave but the river was like a magnet pulling her in. She rode toward the river. A few feet away from the river, Song stopped hesitant to go forward yet hesitant to go back. How could a river be so gleaming, so beautiful, and so clean? Song had never seen anything like it before but her father’s voice keep her from moving further.
“You may go wherever you want, except near Shining River. It is a dangerous place.” Song knew that being near the river was disobeying her father’s orders but something held her back.
“Hello.” A smooth voice hissed. Song turned to see a thin black and white water snake on a rock near the river.
“Hello.” Song said.
“Do you want to swim the river?” the serpent asked.
“Yes, but my father says it is very dangerous.” Song replied.
“It is safe. Your father simply does not want you to be great and wise like he is.” The snake hissed.
“I do not understand.” Song stated.
“Oh, child. Didn’t you know that all the great chiefs have swam in this river and became great and wise?” The serpent lied. Song said nothing trying to understand.
“My father would not lie to me.” Song declared at last.
“Your father does not want you to be greater than he.” The snake remarked. The serpent, a great deceiver, had played this game before. He had said the same thing many years ago to Tall Mountain’s brother before he drowned. Song pondered what the snake had said. The snake added,” Only the brave can swim this river. Are you afraid?”
“No!” Song snapped. She got off her horse and walked to the river and knelt besides it.
“Do not worry. It is an easy swim.” The snake hissed slithering toward her. Song looked at the water. It didn’t look to hard to swim, a small current perhaps but nothing she couldn’t handle. In truth it had a very strong current that only river life could handle but Song did not know this. Song wanted to be great, wise and brave like her father so she dove into the water. The current overtook her and she soon drowned. The snake grinned and slithered into the water. He would have a large meal in his underwater cave. Hopeful Song’s tribe mourned her for many years but her father, mother and younger brother mourned the rest of their lives. Hopeful Song’s story is passed on from generation to generation to prevent others from making the same mistakes as she.
Making Marriage Easy
Can marriage be made easy? Is it even reasonable to think such a thing? Divorce rates are around 50% for first marriages and they are much higher for 2nd and 3rd marriages, if it was so easy wouldn't the divorce rate be lower? Wow, good questions. One would think that if marriage could be made easy everyone would do it and divorce rates would be much lower. I have to confess, my own marriage has not always been easy. My wife and I have had to work through a few tough spots along the way. Could it be that instead of making marriage easy, a lot of people make it hard? Maybe, what would an easy marriage look like?
First, an easy marriage would start with picking the right kind of person to marry. With eharmony around, this should be easy right! Well, maybe not. Perhaps we should have our parents pick our spouse like Abraham did for Isaac...that might not be the best idea, but it might not be the worst either. Parents often have a lot of wisdom to offer their kids in this regard, but they can be a little overzealous too. Perhaps the bottom line is this, start by doing the best you can to make sure you marry someone with similar beliefs in the area of faith. Don't equivocate on this one, it is essential!! If you do this, your marriage will be much easier than if you don't.
Second, don't be selfish. We all know that is pretty easy right! Just because we have been selfish all our life leading up to marriage doesn't mean we have to continue in that way. Most of our life prior to marriage we don't have to be selfless. As a baby someone gets our food, changes our diapers, etc. Even later in life when we have all of that mastered, we are able to spend money on the things we want without having to think of others, go where we want when we want, and do pretty much whatever we want. So, when you get married, just change all of that and your marriage will be easier, at least easier than it will if you don't.
Third, realize that you and the person you married sin sometimes, and be forgiving. No one's perfect, and if we would all just realize that, it would go a long ways. Of course most of the time when we say people aren't perfect we mean they might not pick up after themselves all the time or maybe they will tell a little "white lie" from time to time. That isn't what we see in Scripture, we see people really messing up: adultery, murder, denying Jesus, etc. Further, Romans 3 doesn't describe "other people", it describes you and your spouse. What if your spouse really messes up? Are you willing to forgive? What if they spend money and get you in debt? What if they look at porn? What if they hit you (this could be either spouse by the way)? What if they ridicule you? I know, we usually don't go into marriage thinking these things will happen, but they do. If you expected that none of these things would ever happen in your marriage, you were probably wrong. If you can remember that neither you nor your spouse are without sin, and you can learn to forgive, your marriage will be easier, at least easier than it will if you don't.
So, you want a blissfully easy marriage? Do these three things and you will be well on your way.
Parenting: Before You Judge...
A blogger for the Huffington Post recently bloviated about how she wants her young boys to see her naked. While I don't condemn her intentions, I seriously question her methods. It is more than an accidental exposer, it is more like flaunting. There is another story regarding running back Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings. This second example is difficult, I am a Vikings fan and an Adrian Peterson fan. Peterson has been rightly charged with child abuse for the punishment of his kid. I will not recount the details here, but the physical damage was significant. My own personal story involves spankings that in todays world would likely be considered abuse. I was never harmed in the same way that Peterson's son was, I don't recall having any kind of significant injury, but I am certain that my but was very sore on numerous occasions. It was common for my spankings to include belts, paddles, hangers, kitchen spoons, and probably other objects.
It is very important to judge what is right when it comes to parenting, but it is not as easy as you might think. Before you judge, let's consider several factors:
We should also consider Scripture. Parents should not spare the rod, punishment is essential (Prov. 13:24). Parents should not exasperate their children either (Eph. 6:4). While there are no guarantees, parents need to train their children for life and generally speaking, they will follow it (Prov. 22:6). We are to pass on our faith to our children and teach them (Duet. 6:4 ff). Discipline helps children, it is good for them and it gives them hope (Prov. 19:18; 22:15). In all our discipline, it must always be for the good of the child, to give them hope and not to discourage them (Col. 3:21).
In the end, Both the stories I mentioned at the beginning are discouraging. In both cases the intent of the parent seems to be good, but the methods also seem to be harmful. This mom may be creating unhealthy perspectives for her kids and Peterson is causing physical harm to his kids. Perhaps grace and retraining are more appropriate in these cases. My prayer is the Peterson can get through this and find some people who will mentor him regarding his parenting. My prayer for this mom is that she will begin to cover up sooner rather than later and find other more appropriate ways to communicate the intended message to her boys at a more appropriate age.
History, Islam, and 9/11
History is a funny thing. There are such things as objective historical facts, but they are almost always viewed through a much more limited and biased lens. For instance, FDR is often seen as a great president both because of his economic policies and because of his war time leadership. However, when someone takes time to look at the facts of history we find out that most of his domestic policies were ruled unconstitutional and most of the ones that were not ruled unconstitutional had a detrimental impact on the economy. It is the fact that he was a great war time leader that influences most people to assume that he was a great president in every way.
Thirteen years ago 19 men hijacked plains and successfully crashed two of them into the twin towers and one into the pentagon killing more than 3,000 Americans. That event is a pivotal event that sent us into war in the middle east, and here we go again. What is interesting is our view of history. For many we don't remember the previous attacks on the westernized world by those claiming the religion of Islam. We assume that Islam is a peaceful religion that was hijacked by a few "extremists". Maybe we have it all backwards. Maybe it is the extremists who are being true to the Quran and the Sunnah and it is the moderate peaceful Muslims who have hijacked the religion.
The truth is we have been fighting Muslims since the founding of our country. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams met with Arab diplomats in 1786 to ask them why they had continued to commit terrorist acts of piracy against American ships. This is why Thomas Jefferson owned a Quran, so he could better unIn a letter written to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay, Jefferson said the following about that meeting:
We took the liberty to make some inquiries concerning the Grounds of their pretensions to make war upon a Nation who had done them no Injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our Friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation. THE AMBASSADOR ANSWERED US THAT IT WAS FOUNDED ON THE LAWS OF THEIR PROPHET, THAT IT WAS WRITTEN IN THEIR KORAN, THAT ALL NATIONS WHO SHOULD NOT HAVE ACKNOWLEDGED THEIR AUTHORITY WERE SINNERS, THAT IT WAS THEIR RIGHT AND DUTY TO MAKE WAR UPON THEM WHEREVER THEY COULD BE FOUND, AND TO MAKE SLAVES OF ALL THEY COULD TAKE AS PRISONERS, AND THAT EVERY MUSSELMAN (MUSLIM) WHO SHOULD BE SLAIN IN BATTLE WAS SURE TO GO TO PARADISE.
Islamists have been attacking the U.S. as long as the U.S. has been around. It isn't because we attacked them first and it isn't because of some foreign policy, it is because it is a foundational part of their religion. The Quran commands them to kill and destroy those who do not believe (Surah 3:32; 48:29; 5:33; 9:5; 9:29-30; etc). The list of terrorist attacks against the U.S. prior to 9/11/2001 is long, but those attacks are forgotten because they were minor in comparison. 9/11 isn't an aberration in history, it is, to this point, the culmination of the religious ideology of Islam. Islam's history is not one of peace and prosperity, but of war, conquest, and oppression. In spite of those who would like to re-interpret history the truth is that, Islam is, and always has been, a religion of violence and conquest. The United States is, and always has been, in their sites. ISIS has not hidden this fact.
John Byrne is a pastor who has been spouting off his opinions his entire life (just ask his mom). This little blog is his venue for continuing in this tradition.