In my mind, thoughts are always spinning. They flutter between what has to be done in the here and now and what is planned for the near and far future. So, focused thoughts on tasks to be done today and this week (along with connecting with people) play tug of war with what’s planned in the next couple of months and this year. And then, there’s the never-ending wish list of what takes years to build, but we long for now, such as a bigger ranch team, more sessions, and additional structures. All of these things are great and definitely worth mulling over, it just means that my brain is busy most of the time and learning to shut down all of that motion in order to reflect takes intentionality.
I’m so excited about this year, especially since Olivia and Candace are taking on sessions as mentors, and it’s not just me anymore. How wonderful to have amazing team members for the ranch who care so deeply about the next generation and want to share the Hope Jesus offers! It feels so good to multiply these mentoring opportunities, and I know the more mentors we have on board, the more opportunities we can create for kids and teens to be introduced to Jesus and to take steps in their personal growth and healing.
In all of the excitement in gearing up and starting sessions for this third year of ministry, I’ve been able to soak in some wonderful moments and reflect on where we’ve been and how far we’ve come already. Here’s some of what’s happened:
- 2 years ago, the first fence post was placed.
- 1 year and 8 months ago, the first two horses came to the ranch.
- 1 year and 6 months ago, the first participant came to the ranch for the very first session.
- In that first year, we had over 100 volunteers, over 100 donors, 15 sessions in 2 short months, 1 mission team come to the ranch, and we built three paddocks, a dry lot, and a run-in shelter.
- 1 year ago, we started the first full session season.
- 9 months ago, we brought on 2 ponies to add to the herd.
- 6 months ago, we held our first Round Up that reached 13 at-risk kids and teens.
- In that second year, we had over 120 volunteers, over 200 donors, 125 sessions, 35 participants in sessions, 2 mission teams serve at the Ranch, and built a guest area, riding arena, a round pen, ran electricity, and solved a mud/water drainage issue.
Everything at the ranch looks so different from where we’ve started, and that’s just the land, structures, and horses. And, we didn’t do this alone. We’ve been blessed by all the people who are behind the scenes – we like to call these amazing people Champions. Champions? Yes, Champions. A Champion can be anyone who gives of their time, talent or treasure to help further the cause of inspiring the next generation toward Hope. So, the person who helped place fence posts or scoop poop in the fields or mow grass? A Champion. The ones who have given us countless hours of coaching, praying, graphic design, mentoring or printing? A Champion. And those who have given $1 or $1000 or who have donated hay or tack or who have let us borrow their equipment or truck? Yep, definitely Champions. Each one of those examples (and so many others) are part of what it means to be a Champion for the ranch. Without our Champions, there would be no Bright Side, that’s for sure. In these start-up years, the ranch has been fully funded by individuals and created by volunteers. Other than what only large equipment can do (such as grading for the arena), every structure at Bright Side was built by volunteers. And, the programs are made possible through individuals and families who give sacrificially so see others find Hope.
Bright Side is an organization that is rooted in, surrounded by, and built through Champions. We love them and are ever so grateful for them. And we see each name, face, and heart and praise the Lord for their compassion, efforts, and passion.
So, you may think Tia or Devin are special, but really it’s our Champions that make it all possible. And the One behind all of it, weaving it all together in a beautiful tapestry? He’s the foundation of it all, the ultimate source of anything good that is happening over here.
We just want to make ourselves available to Him.
So, join me in celebrating where we’ve been; help me cheer on our Champions and praise the only One who is worthy. And, come along for the adventure of a new session season and all that God has in store for it. I can’t wait to see what He does this year and all the wonderful Champions who join in the work, and I’m excited to see the stories of hope that will come through the sessions this year.