I remember the first song I ever memorized on purpose. When I was in elementary school, I copied hymns and choruses into my notebooks during church services so I could practice them at home. I started with my favorite chorus, Make Me a Servant. I don't know who the song was written by, only that we sang it in church when I was growing up.
Make me a servant
Humble and meek
Lord, let me lift up
Those who are weak
And may the prayer of my heart always be
Make me a servant
Make me a servant
Make me a servant today
My taste in music has changed drastically since then, but I return to that first song I loved because it is a good representation of my life's purpose: to glorify God, specifically by pursuing truth, using all of the resources I have been given to the best of my ability, and loving humans, acting in a way that builds them up and provides them with what they need to live their most fulfilling lives.
A few years later, when I was in my pre-teens, I read two books written by Kim Meeder, one of the founders of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch. The non-profit faith-based organization was founded by Troy and Kim Meeder, who nursed a broken piece of land, a bunch of broken trees, and several broken horses in order to offer hope to humans, specifically children. They tell their story better than I ever could. I encourage you to check out their website here. I also strongly recommend you read A Bridge Called Hope and Hope Rising by Kim Meeder. I'm sure her newer books are just as incredible, I just haven't read them yet.
Appealing to my love for God, my love for horses, and my desire to help people, the stories I read attracted me to the realm of equine-assisted therapy. I heard God calling me to serve. It seemed like I had been created for that job. For years I planned on starting my own faith-based ranch for the same purpose. I planned out the name and even drew (very rough) floor plans. As I grew up and matured, I realized that there is more responsibility and skill involved in founding this kind of ministry. I abandoned the dream, only to drown in overwhelm. I lost myself in future possibilities, none of which called to me like Crystal Peaks had. I continued to read the newsletters, donate to the ranch, and pursue my education in horse training and psychology.
I started looking for internships as graduation loomed close. When I discovered Crystal Peaks had an internship, I talked with friends and family about maybe applying. Maybe. The application process opened in November, so I had a few months to consider it. As the deadline neared, I commented on one of the ranch's Instagram posts "Excited for volunteer applications to open on Friday!" Yes, in my excitement, I wrote volunteer instead of intern. Silly Jenna.
In October and November, a series of unfortunate events hit me like a brick wall. I broke my finger, was informed that I wasn't a good enough rider to take a class I really, really wanted, and crashed my car into a deer. I lashed out in frustration, fear, and anger at God as I desperately tried to pass my classes and get to work. When I finally bought a car, I had to spend the little money I had left to repair it's brakes and blower motor. It was the lowest I've been since my first horse died.
Trying to look on the bright side, I joked that maybe this was all part of God's plan to get me to Oregon. I didn't mean it. I had an attitude similar to Sarah's when she laughed at God for promising her a son in her nineties. My experiences left me with a new awareness of just how little I was trusting God. I placed my entire life and worth in my own ability to achieve and succeed. I had no intention of following through with the internship. I needed to stay home, work, and recover from the stress.
Thankfully I had a friend who called me out. If God wanted me in Oregon He would provide everything I needed to get there, she reminded me. I ignored her. A couple days later, CPYR staff responded to the Instagram comment I had written, "the intern applications? We will be looking for it!" Uh oh.
I applied, knowing I did not have the money or resources. I specifically applied to the last three months of the season so I could earn money in the early summer months. A few days later, I recieved an email asking for an interview. A few days after that, I was offered the internship on one condition: I had to start in June. The unspoken question sat poignantly in the air. Do I actually trust God to provide?
Since choosing to pursue the internship, God has providing in incredible ways. Most of this year's college tuition will be covered by scholarships from my workplace and a family has offered to host me during the internship. I am fully confident that God will provide everything I need, and more. In fact, all the money that is left over from my fundraising when the internship is over will be donated to the ranch.
This internship will allow me to learn more about my dream job. I will be around horses every day, riding about once a week. Only interns and staff conduct one-on-one sessions with a child and horse, so I will be able to serve in ways I could not as a volunteer. I will be working on the ranch doing the "menial" task as well, cleaning stalls, feeding, and fixing fences (I love this kind of work!). But most importantly I will get to play a part in an amazing organization that has provided hope and safety to so many people!
Please consider donating. If you can't or don't wish to donate at this time, please share my fundraiser with as many people as possible. This is more than making my dreams come true. It is an opportunity to play a hand in God's plan to spread hope to children. I am going to the ranch primarily to serve God, serve the horses, and serve the children. I am thankful for any and all support.