Hop in the Saddle


My oldest, 9-year-old Elizabeth, has always loved horses.  She even chose to have a horse-themed birthday party when she turned 6 years old.

Despite her love for horses, she has never actually ridden a full-size horse.  Well, this summer Adam and I decided she was old enough to handle the responsibility and danger associated with this sport so we signed her up for a week long horse camp at our local equestrian center.  Her Granny and Aunt Erica hooked her up with some sweet cowgirl boots and trendy new bedazzled t-shirt.

As we drove to camp on the first morning I asked if she was nervous.

“No, I’m not nervous at all.  But I am imagining that it is going to be a small place with one little horse that we all have to share.  That way I won’t be disappointed.”

Who does that? Sets their expectations low so they won’t be disappointed.  (Her dad! Her dad! Her dad!)

It’s so funny to me because I cannot relate to that life strategy.  I tend to expect great things and then sometimes I am disappointed. But Elizabeth and Adam both share this strategy of setting their expectations low so they can instead be pleasantly surprised.

How do you set your expectations?

Often in my work I am confronted with the very real reality of death.  The families that I talk with daily are facing a life-threatening illness head-on.  I have often considered how I would handle this challenge.  It has caused me to realize that I actually EXPECT to live to be 100 (or at least 90).  I EXPECT to have good health.  I EXPECT to wake up each morning and have no pain and limbs and organs that function well.  As reasonable as these expectations are they are very high.

We live in a world that is full of disease, pain, hurt, and death.  Why should I EXPECT to escape those things each day?   I can hope and pray that I will be spared these sorrows but the reality is we all will die one day.

What if I began living this day with the expectation that it may be my last?  I’m not talking about a morbid depressive attitude of despair.  I’m talking about a purposeful and intentional way of living that focuses on making the most of this day, of this moment. I want to practice what we preach at an Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreat and work on leaving a lasting legacy. I have met so many wonderful families at our retreats that have embraced this opportunity and I want to follow their example.

When we pulled into the equestrian center for horse camp, Elizabeth had set her expectations low so she could be pleasantly surprised.

Well pleasantly surprised she was!!!!

We pulled up to a huge barn with 32 horses!!!  Each girl got their own horse to care for and ride.

When I picked her up after Day #1 I learned that they not only rode their horse by themselves but they also went on a 3 mile trail ride and even started trotting.  Day #1!?!?!?  She was so excited!!!  Even someone like me with high expectations would have been happy with this day.

Day 2-4 continued to improve as she learned how to post (going up and down in the saddle), trot, gallop and jump!

On Day #5 all the parents were invited to the horse show where the girls were able to present their horses in the ring while riding for us and performing their skills.

Elizabeth did a great job!! She certainly enjoyed the week and is already looking forward to the next time she gets to hop in the saddle.

For me, I am hopping in my own proverbial saddle today.  I am going to seize this day and make the most of it!  Ironically I am EXPECTING great things!!!!!

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Lisa Fields

    Jill, How exciting for Elizabeth! You can tell her that I rode a horse for the first time in 2008 (I was 41). I never did learn to post. I had to get on my horse via handicap platform. I was at a Deaf Camp in Murfreesboro, TN. It was sooo scarey for me but I am so glad I can now say… yes, I have ridden a horse! If you are ever interested in the Deaf Culture and in Sign Language, the Bill Rice Ranch is AWESOME!!. (on a side note, only 10% of the Deaf culture is churched and only 1% of those are born again Christian). I have a bit of a mixed reactions with my expectations. For the big things (lottery ticket..great job..etc) I get expectations low… so I don’t get disappointed. The little things (craft projects turning out good, having a quiet day with the hubs..or my car not breaking down) I expect great things! I guess you could say I am a hybrid. (LOL). I love you guys and miss you so much.. wish you were here to give me a hug. (your hugs are AWESOME!) Blessings! Lisa Fields

  2. Sue Rausch

    Another great blog Jill!!! Keep up the good work. If we can’t actually see each other, it’s a great way to keep up with you guys and the wonderful things you are doing. Lots of Love, Aunt Sue

  3. Judy Guerra

    Love this!!!! So true!!!

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