Here is another post by guest blogger daughter, Alyicia Neighbours. God speaks to her in the dailiness of her life and she shares those lessons with such wit and depth. I am thrilled to share this post as I pray you will see how God so wants you and me, especially in this busy holiday season of parties, baking and family (in addition to work, home, church, etc.!), to focus on the beauty around you rather than the “what ifs” and “uh ohs” of life. May you rest in Him this “Christ”mas!
God shows me a lot of life lessons when I’m with my horse, Hondo. It could be because I pray a lot (Dear Father, please don’t let him spook) or it could be because when I ride I’m usually alone and that’s when I listen the best.
The other day I had a lovely little ride while we were in an indoor arena. I set up cones and we practiced all kinds of little drills in the nice enclosed area where distractions and dangers are few. It’s easy to feel safe when you’re in a controlled environment.
After I unsaddled Hondo, I had a few giant apples to share so I led him out to the front where there is still a small amount of green grass. I let him have his treats and continue enjoying grazing. As I stood there listening to his munching, winter seeped in past my jacket and I got quite chilled. Since Hondo is a mammoth this time of year with his winter hair, I decided to hop up on him and let him act as a heating pad.
Now I’m not quite the athlete I was in my youth, so after body slamming him about 5 times and not achieving appropriate vertical lift, I led him to the back of my vehicle and used my bumper to scramble up. After I got settled in the sweet spot on his back, I urged him back to the grass.
Through perfectly timed events, he stumbled a little (being too lazy to lift his feet) and my car keys tumbled out of my pocket. My husband is always getting on to me about how much junk I cram on that key ring and as it clattered to the ground every tiny metal piece clanged together as loud as it could. Hondo, being of sensitive nature and not the one you’d throw a surprise party for, lurched forward and I grabbed his mane while looking down.
I saw mostly small rocks, but there were plenty of big ones half the size of my head with nice pointy edges. Since this was an unprepared ride, I didn’t have my helmet and my whole body cringed at the thought of hitting those rocks. I must’ve stared at those rocks for a good five minutes while planning where I needed to fall to avoid the most damage.
Hondo’s huge sigh snapped me out of my focus. He had almost fallen asleep while I was busy planning my demise. The moment of possible damage had long passed and yet I was immobilized by the sight of the rocks. I started petting his head and noticed the sunlight hitting the silver locks in his mane like tinsel on a tree, his warmth underneath me and the light breeze stirring all around me. I had almost missed the joy of my journey being focused on the “what ifs.”
It’s a nasty little habit I have. Worrying about the things I should’ve said…obsessing over a possible mistake I might make before I’ve even begun a project…fretting about outcomes of a meeting I haven’t even walked into yet…my brain becomes so focused on the rocks that it steals my joy.
Then God sighs.
If only I would take a minute to look up from the rocks at the beauty around me. I pray as I begin to move into the new year that I might begin to look at those rocks a little less and let joy swirl around me as He intended. Instead of worrying about what I should’ve said, I pray that my interactions just pointed towards a God of grace and love. Rather than worrying about joining a group of people, may I walk boldly among them and allow God to use me to make a difference in His kingdom, not mine.
Daniel 4:34 tells us of the king’s praise as he returned from his discipline due to disobedience, “But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.”
Raise your eyes toward heaven and see Him today!
Thank you Father for the big lessons you whisper to me through the breeze between my horse’s ears. Help me look up from the rocks and see You!
You can connect with Alycia Neighbours on FaceBook. A resident of Hendersonville, TN, she’s a wife, mom, writer and quite an amazing artist. She focuses her art pieces to be deeper than just a drawn image. She got her start through illustrating scripture and sermons to help her grasp a simple message through somewhat complex passages. In sharing this type of art with others, she found her God given gift and passion of “sketch-notes”
Alycia has taught several classes to others focusing on hand-lettering, simple images to convey words and how to express what is auditory into something visual. Her sketch-notes and Bible Journaling pieces have been shared nationwide and opens the door for many other opportunities, including special commissions through her ink style, watercolor, acrylics, pyrography, sculptures and crochet.
She enjoys an active lifestyle in nature which she credits to her inspiration for art. Whether riding her horse through trails, kayaking the local lakes, hiking with one of her 4 dogs, tending her mini-farm of goats and one sassy pig; she looks closer to find textures hidden in all that surrounds her. When Alycia is not busy raising her 6 kids at home or off having an adventure with her husband, you can find her busy sketching these images out in hopes of touching more and more people to look deeper.