A Dance of Hope
Let me introduce you to my friend, Alexi. Early in his young life an accident occurred that altered his life forever. I have had the privilege of being a part of his hippotherapy sessions for a few months now. As you can see, Alexi is not an independent rider, rather he is one of the most involved I have served. He has limited use of his arms and hands, ability to lift his head on his own for only brief spans, and communicates verbally in ways that only those closest to him understand.
We have had some adventures with Alexi this summer! On two occasions we had him on the horse to begin his session and storms blew in! God was gracious to protect us all the first time when the hail came down and some how we got Alexi off Poko-dee and carried to his vehicle. (I spent a few minutes in the tin shelter with the horses waiting out the storm!)
Alexi has days when it is more than he can do to respond at all in his therapy. It seemed like weeks went by as we patiently coaxed and cajoled to encourage him to participate. I know that, whether he engages or not, having him on the moving horse works his body in helpful ways, but we always hope for that sparkle when he participates
Then the day came! Offering whatever we could to engage him, we promised him a “happy dance” if he would do the three things Theresa asked: use his arm/hand, lift his head, and vocalize. That day I had to summon my inner child and whip out not one, not two, but three versions of a happy dance for him! Apparently he thought I was pretty crazy and worth the effort! (No, we didn’t capture these on video … they are special gifts for just Alexi!)
I just realized I have been sitting here a few moments searching for the way to put words to how Alexi speaks hope to my soul. It may be the way he has endeared his caregiver to himself and how she persistently watches over him and loves him. She shines light on his special qualities. It may be how just being himself brings out Theresa’s joy which she infuses into him toward fuller life. It may be that celebrating him gives me reason to dance. Alexi is a treasure whose broken body is not all there is to him! God in his mysterious way has assigned to Alexi a very difficult yet very inspiring life. While his circle of influence may be small, those who know him are changed by him. I am moved to compassion, gratefulness, and, well, to DANCE! Little else has moved me in that way in life. I am humbled and grateful for the gift of Alexi.
With the end of summer came the return to a full load of course work. I had a whole week between when I took my exam for my summer course and the start of the new semester! It seems a most common question regarding my degree is “how long?” or “how many more classes do you need?” I am halfway there as I have completed 25 of 50 credit hours. Lord willing, I will complete my course work by May 2017, do my CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education “internship) in the summer, take my comprehensive exams in the fall, and graduate in December 2017. There are a lot of pages to read, papers to write, and formation to occur in that brief time!
God continues to shape me and the ministry of Under His Wings. Through work with four ranch ministries, I am learning so much about operations, struggles, successes, challenges, and opportunities.
Suzy MacKenzie of Eagle’s Nest Ranch offered this: “I want to express my appreciation and gratefulness to those of you who are supporting Gwen while she is in school and helping horse ministries. As the Executive Director of Eagle's Nest Ranch, I have found Gwen's help to be invaluable. She frequently helps me as an editor for our newsletters and other written material for our non-profit ministry. Additionally, she updates our website on a regular basis. I am thankful that she is available to help in these and other ways due to your financial support. I am thankful for her and thankful to you who choose to support her which allows her to be available to share in our ministry.”
May God give you reason to dance today!
"Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings." (Psalm 63:7)
Under his wings,
God is our provider, and he does that through people like you.Thank you!
- You can use the attached form to send a check payable to Under His Wings PO Box 702558, Tulsa, OK 74170-2558.
- Or, to give online visit www.gobgi.org, from the Menu bar choose "Donate Now," set up your account and then choose "Under His Wings (Gwen Hanna)" from the drop down list.
Sometimes I am asked if there are particular needs. A couple come to mind. It isn’t an emergency, but soon I will need to replace my nearly 25-year-old refrigerator! So far so good, but I know I’m pressing my luck! (Denver area friends, I would love any upgrade—it doesn’t have to be new … just in case you hear of an available fridge 31.5 wide x 30 deep x 65-67 tall).
Also, my 2003 Subaru Outback has a list of repairs that have been suggested. I travel distances to the ranches, so it would be good to take care of those. Contact me (info below) if you have ideas or connections for these. Thanks!