I was asked to write how H.U.G.S. Ranch came to be. This isn’t easy to do, so I will share the best I can in writing.
H.U.G.S. Ranch all started from the book, Hope Rising that was given to me from one of my riding students’ parents. I shared that I love God, children and horses but I was too shy and my plate was to full to even attempt something like that.
Two years later my daughter was really struggling so I gave her the book to read. Being in 4th grade she, immediately, said Mom we can do this. Little did she know that I had prayed and told God that if we could stay living on the farm we would use it to his glory. Never in my wildest dreams did I think God would call us and use us to start a ranch like Crystal Peaks.
I shared the book with one of my coworkers, Jill Glass, and she was excited to start the journey. I have to admit I kept trying to close the door but also kept hearing me say, God if we can stay living here, we will use the farm to your glory. Trying to raise three children on my own and working, 3 jobs, I thought how is this even possible. Looking back now I see how God equipped us each step of the way.
My journey as a single mother of three children and their different struggles from anger, anxiety and depression led us to truly start the ranch. It was so hard to find support groups that understood what we were going through. Lindsey kept encouraging us to start a horse therapy ranch. We had support from our Church, family and friends, and no one really knew what we were facing on a day-to-day basis and even one minute to the next. I couldn’t find a support group or even find the time to be able to go to a support group.
Working full time, raising my children and trying to run the ranch took a toll on me. So after five years, I really prayed and asked God to give me direction because I was exhausted and knew I couldn’t go on. God came to me that night. It was like He was standing right there and said, “No, you can’t quit H.U.G.S. Ranch”. So I went to the Board of Directors and asked if we could take a leap of faith and pay me a little so I could work part time and run the ranch the rest of the time. The Board decided to take that leap of faith.
So the journey continued only for me to hit exhaustion again. I prayed for God’s guidance. Once again he said, “No, Lisa you need to continue the ranch”. So I went to the Board, again, and asked, “If we could take a leap of faith”. I quit my part time jobs and did H.U.G.S. full time. So once again the Board was willing to trust and have faith that God would provide.
We did get down to our last dollars, but we continued to have faith. We always said we will do our best to raise the money and minister to these children and families, but if we come up dry we know that God wants the ministry to end.
God kept providing, each step, even after the summer of 2016, when I hit exhaustion once again. You see my children were also really struggling and we were dealing with a lot, in our home, plus trying to keep the ranch going. So yes once again I asked God, “What do I do”?
Then, two days later, the tornado hit. I came out of the basement only to see all the damage and thought, “How do we go on”? I couldn’t cry I couldn’t really hardly do anything. The thought that ran through my mind was that God was trying to tell me to quit H.U.G.S. Ranch, but how would I even do that. In the days following it was evident that the ranch needed to continue reaching out to children and families who were struggling.
Now we are here, 13 years later, celebrating God’s love and faithfulness. He has led so many volunteers and session families to the ranch. One of our goals from the beginning was to raise money for an indoor riding arena. My father would always say, “If it is meant to be, God will provide and the timing will be right”.
I always feared getting an arena, wondering if I would be able to fulfill all that was needed to keep all the programs going. I have found peace and know that it is time. I know that no matter what storms may hit, God is with us and will guide us through each step.
I am honored and humbled to say that money, has been donated, to build an arena in memory of my father. Today is a special day as we reflect back on all the years of God’s faithfulness and all the volunteers, prayer partners and donors he led to the ranch. It is truly a blessing to have a family of believers who have helped us each step of the way.
I would like to thank all of you, for your support . With God leading us and all of you, I am here today. Please continue to pray for the Ranch as we move into a new chapter for H.U.G.S. Ranch.