Where do I start? I became a Christian in 1978 when I was 13 years old. Yes, that makes me 40! After a roller coaster ride of emotions, good and bad decisions and I guess “life” in general I have come full circle. During high school and college I worked very hard at being a “Christian” and an “All Around” cowgirl. My senior year in high school I had a goat tying accident and tore ligaments, tendons, cartilage and chipped a bone in my knee. Needless to say it required surgery that pretty much set me back 6 months or longer. Boy was I angry at God, first because it happened and then because I did not have a miraculous healing. I can not stress to you how hard I worked and practiced before and after surgery and then in rehab. I went on to receive rodeo scholarships that saw me through 4 of my “5″ years of college. And yes, I did graduate and receive my Bachelor’s degree. (a requirement to stay in good graces with my dad). I felt very blessed to have received the scholarships and again worked very hard. At the time they took the top two to the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Finals. I consistently ended up falling just shy of qualifying for the finals. After the surgery my senior year in high school and then not getting qualified after working so hard in college rodeo I was even more angry at God! Ever since I was 13 I felt like I had done all the “right” things to be a “good Christian” and in return he would help me accomplish “MY” goals.
I struggled for years with my past and why I didn’t accomplish those goals. I had been told all my life that as long as I applied myself and tried my best I could achieve anything I wanted to. Well, fast forward through some more roller coaster years and we arrive in 1996. My son Justin was born. It didn’t take long to tell that there was something different about him. When he was two years old he was diagnosed as having a duplicate 15th chromosome and as a result is considered “autistic”. I lived in fear of the future for him and I both for the next couple of years.
One day I was driving home from work (I have an hour and half commute one way) and it occurred to me….. If only I could love my son into “our” world. If only I could convince him to trust me and allow me to lead him into a whole new dimension. But it doesn’t matter how much I love him, how much I try to persuade him to follow me or trust me, he is very strong willed and has his own thoughts, own ideas, and does his own thing. But I feel such a love for him even when I think of the pain and fear. And BAM!!!!!! it hit me as God Himself said plain as day…… “That’s how ‘I’ feel about you and all my children. No matter what you do or say, ‘I LOVE YOU’ and I’m always here for you with open arms.”
That is the day my life changed and the rest is history. First thing I did was change some things in my life that I knew were not pleasing or glorifying God. How could I expect so much from my son when I was not being obedient to my Father God?
That was the first revelation bright to me by God through Justin. Not long after that, He also showed me that I had lived with the fear of failure for years. All I could see when I looked back on my college rodeo career was failure. Really the only thing I did not accomplish in college was making the rodeo finals. What I did accomplish was getting a college education, met people that changed my life forever, traveled and experienced so many positive things in my life that make me who I am. Still, I hesitated to put every effort into my son for fear it would not make an impact in his life and we would fail. But the second revelation came when I realized it is not about the end result but about the journey. God’s love has a wonderful plan for each of us! All we can do, is the best we can to accomplish what He’s set before us on a daily basis. We have to trust Him with the outcome though. I can not worry about the end result in Justin’s life, in my life, or in my barrel racing. We may not be able to control the end result, but we can control what we put into it. We can wake up each day and decide to give 100% and live every day enjoying the journey. After all, it’s the “gettin’ there” that makes us who we are.
Fast forward again and that brings ups to 2005 and the present. It’s amazing what happens in our lives when we learn to be obedient. Since I have learned to let God drive it’s amazing all the wonderful things that have happened in my life. I don’t love God anymore for what he can do for me, I love God because he first loved me and sent his Son to die on the cross for our sins. Justin progresses every day (he calls me “mom” and tells me he loves me. There was a day I thought I would never hear that from him). I have a wonderful family. My parents and sisters are very supportive and loving. And I truly believe that I have the most awesome group of friends any one person could ever be blessed with (90% of them are ABRA members).
I didn’t start off 2005 going to ABRA races to win the use of a trailer for a year. I went because I love what they stand for and to support a growing organization that isn’t afraid to advertise that Jesus is the center of it. I love the Christian music played at the races and the ABRA members are the best. You can feel the difference. You can feel HIS presence. We were ¾ of the way through the season when I saw the advertisement for the Featherlite Scholarship program. At the time I did not have a church to tithe to and I was feeding off Danny and Melissa Justman’s ABRA church services on a regular basis. So when I saw the ad to encourage people to donate and be a part of helping kids get an education I jumped on it.
I used to tithe on and off for years, but never on a regular, consistent basis. Let me tell you what, ever since I have started being obedient and tithing on a regular basis, the blessings keep coming. Remember, we shouldn’t love God for what he can do for us in return. BUT, the Featherlite trailer is a perfect example. After winning it for a year I was able to sell my trailer and am going a year without a trailer payment. And the blessings keep coming. When we open our mind and love Him with all our heart, He can and will provide in ways we can’t even imagine!
Thank you ABRA staff and members for being such an awesome organization to be a part of. Keep up the good work and “Shine on and Ride on ” for Him.