It is my delight to volunteer at Roanoke Ranch’s horse camp for elementary kids from United Methodist this summer on Tuesdays. Last Tuesday, June 26, was particularly memorable. Roanoke Ranch has been in my life for 3 years, a steady source of love and healing I’ve always been able to come back to. It’s been therapy for me just as much as the therapy I’ve been able to give to hurting children through horses. I am so grateful to be able to share the healing power of horses, nature, and God’s love with these precious kids at camp this summer.
I have 4 little ones in my group I lead, and these 2 sisters, Izabelle (age 9) and Layla (age 6) melt my heart just about every moment. They are always so excited to be there and can’t wait for whatever activity we are doing next, whether it be Journal Time, picking up rocks, or grooming or leading horses. It was Layla’s first time she had ever led a horse, and I was so proud of her for conquering her fears and bravely leading Ozzie while I walked next to her. She was looking forward to it, but she was scared and wanted me to be with her. Her joy was uncontainable and I am continually blessed by her smile and outlook on life. She makes me laugh several times an hour.
We had an amazing time in our Journal Time as a group with me and Delaney, another volunteer, as leaders. Journal Time is where we all split off into our groups and go over the Bible lesson and questions in our journals and discuss how it relates to horses and our own lives. On Tuesday the word was “fear.” We talked and read about how we can easily be afraid, as can horses, and we talked about what we do in the midst of that. Do we trust God is with us and or do we forget that and let fear control us? What situations make us afraid? Thomas said he got scared when he was in a cave, but he remembered God was with him and it helped calm his fear. Izabelle explained how she really does trust God is with her and that brings peace to her heart. The kids were leading this conversation and were very engaged, and somehow we started talking about coloring. Layla looked at me straight in the eye and exclaimed, “God knows that when we accidentally scribble, He helps us color!” That got right to my heart, as my life feels more full of scribbles sometimes than beautiful artwork, but she is right, God takes our crazy lines and circles and dots and turns it into something beautiful. She might not have understood the gravity of what she was saying, but Delaney and I caught it and, gosh, this 6-year old girl is deep. She has the heart of God in her little heart and says profound things more than I’ve ever heard any other child say. Her joy is straight from heaven and she is truly God’s beloved child. She is young and wise beyond her years but with an innocence that refreshes my 24-year old heart.
On the coloring theme, her sister Izabelle tenderly said, “When we melt, we are like crayons that are melted together that still make something beautiful.” These children are full of wisdom and they don’t even know it. I look inside them and I see beauty. They look inside me and they see love. I love them like I won’t ever see them again because I don’t always know if they’ll be there next week. The kids sometimes change from week to week. I try to shower them with love and hugs and listen to their stories and questions and make them feel loved, seen, and known. I’ve heard some of the rough things these girls come from in their background, and yet you’d never know. They are the sweetest, most grateful children.
Izabelle’s comment reminded me of a line from Jason Gray’s song “Where We Go From Here” which I quoted for them. It goes, “As broken as I say I am, You see me like broken crayons, and they still color beauty in Your hand.” That song means the world to me as my life has been pretty broken but I see God making beauty out of it. And to hear these girls say these things about coloring and crayons that mimic the line of this song… my heart was overflowing. Thank you, God, for speaking through these children. We need to listen to them. They share God’s truth more than anything else and if we could just look at them, love them, and wrap our arms around them, we’d see “Jesus in disguise.”
Toward the end of our Journal Time, Layla raised her hand and was so excited to tell us something. She said, “Did you know that when God dies, He comes back to life really quick??” So true, and I LOVE how she put it! These kids are learning about God and they make Him applicable to their everyday lives. I love seeing this faith of a child and how simple it really is. God doesn’t require more. He just wants our hearts. And these kids get it. They teach me what it is to know a Father who loves us and to embrace all the gifts He’s given us. I love these girls so much and will hate to say goodbye when the summer ends, but I am so thankful for the opportunity to pour into their lives through faith and horses. I find myself being way more blessed by them than I think they are by me.
Roanoke Ranch camps are powerful, vibrant environments for God’s love to come alive. Roanoke is a place for children’s and adults’ hearts to be revived in a 200-acre property of rich meadow greens and sky blues and all colors of horses. It’s a beautiful palette where we see God’s colors of Creation and are able to let our true colors come out by God breathing His life into our broken places and filling them with love. You’ll find lots of smiles and laughter if you stop by at one of the camps, and perhaps you’ll learn to see in a few more colors than you knew before.