Brotherly Love

I know my siblings love me, and they show their undying love and devotion in different ways.  My sister Hannah and I are vocal in out love for each other.  Sure we fight and disagree, but in the end, we both know that we love each other.  My youngest brother Ethan is kind of the same way.  He’s not afraid to say, “love you sis” over the phone or in front of his friends.  He can be such a punk sometimes, but what little brother isn’t?  It’s kind of their job.  My other younger brother Tanner, is more of the silent type.  He doesn’t always voice that he loves us, but it’s understood
 However, the other night he was very vocal when it came to expressing his love of his dear, oldest sister.  So you’re going to hear about it.  And get a really crazy story to boot.
Disclaimer: these events actually happened.  They are in no way fabricated.  There are many, many witnesses.
I play on a volleyball team on Friday nights, and my consists of my mom, my dad, Tanner, his fiance Catherine, my friend Brooke, and myself.  On this particular night, my dad was out of town, my mom was not playing and Hannah, her husband Cory, and Tanners friend Blake played with us.  Tanner played sports all through high school, and some in college.  He is competitive.  Brooke is a two time all American in college basketball and also played sports in high school.  She is competitive.  Cory played sports in high school and intramurals in college.  He is competitive.  I played sports in high school and intramurals in college. I am competitive.  Blake is also competitive, but I don’t know is sports history.  Hannah and Catherine aren’t quite as crazy as the rest of us, but they like to win and we still love them.
So let’s recap.  We are a competitive team, but we also like to have fun.  We don’t pitch a royal fit if we lose and we don’t gloat if we win.  We like to play and have fun and laugh.  The end. 
The second set of games we played was against the number 1 team and they were undefeated. Their name is something like Court Crashers, but you might as well call them them Team Amazon or The Hefty Hunnies because every man and woman on that team looks as if they could kill you.  When we show up, they are practicing their hitting and bumping, and they are running through all of their plays.  Perhaps this was to intimidate us, but we were too busy laughing and mindlessly bumping the ball around to notice.
I should have known this would be an interesting game right from the coin toss.  They won the toss and chose to serve first.  So I got to pick which side of the court we started on.  Well the side that I chose is the side they decided to warm up on and then they didn’t move.  Warning bells should have been going off, but maybe the knowledge that we were about to play the number 1 team was consuming my thoughts.  That and the fact that I am nonconfrontational.  Usually.
The first game happens and we won!  But it was not without controversy.  It seemed like every single time we got a point, they complained to the ref.  We were called “cheaters!” more times than I care to count.  They would go up to hit.  Tanner or Cory would get an AMAZING block and the whiny chorus would start up –  “Ref!  He’s cheating!  He hit that ball over the net!  He can’t hit!  They are cheating!  They’ve been cheating!  Do something!”.  Oh my word but it got old.  One of us would hit the ball over and it would land on the line and they would scream and rage that it was out when clearly it was in, and then they would scream and rage at us for daring to challenge them. 
Basically they were being served some humble pie and they DESPISED the taste.
After the game, we slap hands under the net, “good game, nice job, good hit…etc” and one hefty hunny refused to stick her hand out.  So I tapped her on the arm and told her, “Good game!” loud enough so that she, and her team could hear. 
Kill them with kindness you know.  And Spite.
Game 2 happens and we win again!  Oh happy day!  But once again, they scream and rant and fuss at the ref and at us.  Every. Single. Time. Tanner or Cory or Blake got a block, or we got a point, it was because our team was cheating.  Now, I am a calm, easy-going person.  It takes a lot to get me mad, but they were doing a great job at awakening the beast within.   So, whenever the boys would get a block, or any of us girls would get a hit, or any of us would get an ace off a serve, our reactions got bigger and louder.  Lots of yells and cheers!  Which, we yell and cheer and laugh anyway, but these may have been louder and more directed across the court.  Yes, that’s right, you’re whining and complaining about every little thing and we’re still beating you. 
After the game, we slap hands and again, hefty hunny avoids us.  But I let her go this time.  Let her sulk.
Game 3 is where the crap hit the fan.  Our loyal and devoted fans on the sideline, Monica, my mom, Karie, and my sister, all said they could see the tension and the emotions building up by this point.  Something was going to happen because team Amazon wanted to vomit their humble pie all over us.
So we start to play.  They continue with their trash talking and insulting.  And their insults are not just directed at us.  They rip the poor ref apart too, which, I’m sorry but that won’t win you any points. At one point they told the ref he needed new glasses because he was missing so many calls.  And he was already wearing glasses.  Rude hefty hunny.  Rude.
So.  They serve.  Someone on our side shanks the ball.  It hits the ceiling.  Falls to their side.  On the way down, Tanner jumps up and knocks on their side.  But because it hit the ceiling and was going on their side, they get the point.  We understand that.  So when we laughed about Tanner getting the point we were joking.  We like to laugh and joke and have fun.  Oh sorry, have I said that already?
So.  We are laughing and getting ready to receive their serve and OF COURSE they start up at the ref “What the hell ref!  THEY’RE CHEATING!  Use your eyes and see they are cheating!!!”  I remember the ref saying at one point, “How many eyes do you think I have?!”
Well a couple of us start to giggle because I mean really?  Team Amazon you are just embarrassing yourselves.  And at one point, Brooke says “You guys need to calm down, we were joking, it was a joke.”  To which a hefty hunny says, “Well you need to shut the hell up!”  Brooke just gave her the, uh really? look and we got ready to play.
I got mad.  That’s the straw that broke the Katie’s back.  You don’t tell my friend to shut the hell up when you have been back talking and trash talking the whole game. I’m sorry, that’s not how it goes. 
They serve.  It’s a perfect pass.  Blake set me.  I hit the ever living crap out of the ball.  They block me and it goes out.  Point for us.  And in the heat of the moment I may have said, “That’ll shut you up!”   Instant regret.  But I turned around to serve and as I turn the gym erupts. 
I see Tanner, my quite, non confrontational brother, take the volleyball, slam it in his hands, and charge under the net yelling, “You don’t talk to my sister that way!  You want to take this outside!?”  The team who was sitting on the ground, waiting for their turn to play all jumped up yelling “Ref!!  You do not let someone talk to a woman like that!  Get him out!” 
I’m watching this all unfold in slow motion, and I didn’t hear what the man had said to me.  (Turns out he said, “That don’t shut no one up B****!) But I saw Tanner just charge the guy and I knew he had said “my sister”, and I almost started crying because I knew he was defending me against something.  Brooke and Cory jumped in behind Tanner and the hefty hunnies were yelling something and trying to hold Tanner back.  The guy who yelled was backpedaling so fast he looked like he was going to trip over himself. 
I ran up and Tanner is saying again, I think, (it’s kind of a blur) “Don’t you talk to my sister like tha!t”  And hefty hunny 1 says “Well tell your sister not to cheat!”  And I said, “Excuse me, but how is killing the ball on your side cheating??”
The ref was standing on his stand not saying anything.  I don’t think he was even looking at us.  Brooke says she looked at the other court to see if that ref would do anything, and that those games had stopped and everyone was just watching us.  It all kind of ended when the man who called me a b**** came over, offered me his hand and apologized.  I still didn’t know what he had said, but I wanted it to be over so I said something like “fine, whatever, let’s just play”.
So the game finished and we ended up losing the 3rd game but it didn’t matter because the record will show that we won the match.  Once again when we slapped hands, hefty hunny 1 ignored us, and I may have been so jazzed on adrenaline that I thwacked her on the arm and told her good game again.  One of the guys from the other team who had jumped to defend my honor came over after to make sure we won and to tell us we handled ourselves wonderfully. 
After the game I just hugged Tanner.  I still get teary eyed if I think about it.  He never loses his temper.  Ever!  And he was willing to pound that fool into the ground for what he had said to me.  I told him later that that ranked up on my top moments of feeling loved.   Mom says she’s never seen Tanner lose his temper like that, nor have I, even when I was a bully when we were young (oh the guilt).  But he was defending me, ready to fight for me because of what someone said to me.  And not to discredit anyone one else who reacted, I was just as touched by Brooke and Cory jumping in after Tanner and the guys who jumped up behind me, but I just had never seen this from my brother before.  I am loved I tell you!  Loved!
And I shall just say in closing, Team Amazon is lucky that 1) Hannah didn’t hear what that man said because she can fillet a person with her words and 2) that it was over before Monica intervened because between the two of them, Team Amazon would have cried for death before the end. 
Mischief Managed

A dream deferred, a dream awoken.

What is it to ride a horse?

I’ve been pondering this question often lately. I don’t believe I’ll ever have a 100 percent completed thought about how I feel about horses, but it’s better to attempt writing it down than to never express how wonderful they are. Since my job is with horses, sometimes I take advantage of the beauty I get to be involved with every day. This result is unfortunate, but there are times, like now, where I reflect on the blessing God has given me. Not many people have jobs that don’t feel like a job. I recognize it as work, but I don’t count the hours until I am done for the day. Days fly by, and there are times when I am left in the pasture wondering, “When did I get to this moment?”

I was pretty young when I first got a taste of the wonder that is a horse. I rode a horse named 550 (cause that was how much he cost), and I fell in love. I dreamed of having a horse, but I lived in the city; a horse would have cost even more of a fortune to keep than it would have had we had the land, and my parents probably thought it was just a phase I was going through. (I don’t blame them. I went through a lot of phases. I like to think it helps my writing because of all the different experiences I had as a child.) Anyway, the dream faded some but was reignited on a horse named Princess when I hopped on and went for speed. I was an immortal teenager who now had the ability to fly. I did not ride often, but the dream was still there. Maybe one day, once I was a veterinarian, I would be able to have my own horse.

In 2009, I got to be a wrangler at Pine Cove; they taught me pretty much everything I needed to know about basic horsemanship. For 7 weeks, I “owned” 37 horses with three other wranglers. It. Was. A. Blast. A whirlwind of events happened, and I am now a barn manager at Pine Cove with “my” own herd of 50. I love each and every one of those horses like they were my own kids. God is so good. He knows the desires of a person’s hearts. If you love God, know that those desires in your heart are from Him, and He will bless your life accordingly.

Back to the original question of riding a horse…I’ve heard it described as a way to fly or to ride in the sky. To me, riding is as natural as walking. I feel no awkwardness on a horse. I feel confident and strong and wise. If I am riding poorly for the moment, there is nothing like finding the movement of a horse. Just breathe. It’s a perfect reminder to relax in life, continue to move on, and all will be well. The less you think, the better you ride.

A little bit like faith. God cherishes a child-like faith, not because He finds seeking knowledge sinful, but because a child-like faith simply recognizes right from wrong. The what-ifs adults try to follow (Yours truly is guilty of this) lead to justifications and manipulations of God’s opinion of sin until we have become a part of the world we swear we are set apart from. Random side note. Lucy Pevensie, the youngest of the Kings and Queens of Narnia, is the first to hear Aslan and is a constant source of faith. She recognizes the power Aslan has and stores that closely to her heart without a doubt that He will not be there for her and her people in their time of need.  

Every time I get on the back of a horse, I remember my own relationship with the Lord. He knows me well, and He knows that I needed this constant reminder. The Lord is good. He knows what is best for me just as I know the plans I have for the horse and it is not to harm him, but to give him a future and a life better than he could ever have dreamed. He may try to guess what I want for him, but he learns through the lessons I provide that I am always there guiding him. All he needs to do is wait on my instruction. When he tries to turn from my instruction, I rein him in and with an “ask, tell, command” he learns to trust me. The less he thinks of his own agenda, the less pressure he receives from me. A whisper of a movement is all he needs and away we go.

When he runs, I am flying. He is an extension of my legs; there is only one body. Just imagine running with God as if you are an extension of Him. How crazy would that be? Our creator and you, one.  What would that look like? Could it be running through time with Him? When I am riding on a horse, it’s as if time has stopped. I know it continues on because the sun is moving (or should I say the earth is rotating…hah!), but I can work with a horse for hours without realizing I’ve missed lunch.  Could being one with God be traveling throughout the world and looking on His creation, His people? I am only human, so my view is limited, but both of those ideas seem wonderful to me.

God has blessed me. He knows I’m a dreamer, and He’s given me a snippet of Him through a dream that is actually reality.

Naptime with Country

Another side note: it’s raining! Amen!

Lauren signing out!