- Ranch Life
Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch
By Amanda Settle
Emily’s story is one riddled with brokenness—the kind that makes you feel sick inside.
She comes from a family that has experienced some of the worse types of trauma. For many kids who have a past similar to Emily’s, the journey toward healing and recovery is slow. Each child requires time to build trust and to share the pain that they‘d rather hide.
None of this was true for Emily. There was no hiding. The pain was right on the surface. She was raw, visceral and honest. Her actions seemed to plead that someone, really anyone, would listen. She needed to know that she was worth being heard. In the midst of the mess, her soul was desperate to be seen. She was convinced she was alone; the only person on the face of the earth who’d walked this horrific road.
But, she wasn’t alone.
From the first day I met Emily, she captured a special place in my heart. The connection that I felt with this broken girl was also felt by one of our small horses named Cassidy. This tiny mare’s fondness for Emily was different from what I’d ever seen her demonstrate before. Every time Cassidy—who was a loner in our herd— would spot Emily, her ears would perk up. Often as we ventured out into the paddock together, it was not uncommon for Cassidy to walk up the hill and meet us halfway with her silent, sweet greeting.
It didn’t take long before Emily’s time with Cassidy became a bright spot in her painful journey of walking through her past brokenness and into a new future of wholeness. I saw Cassidy’s presence minister peace when there was turmoil. The mare gave companionship when Emily was lonely, and she brought a steadiness to a hurting soul when it seemed that everything in life was being shaken. During Emily’s extra hard days, when talking seemed to only stir up the pain, I would quietly suggest that she trot Cassidy around the arena on her own. Without fail, I’d hear her sweet little voice, singing to Cassidy as she rode toward freedom. Within this simple place—for a moment—pain was overridden with peace.
Rarely is there a quick fix for years of trauma. However, step by perseverant step, I’ve seen change. Cassidy’s gentle and ever-so patient nature has helped to build Emily’s confidence and has empowered her in ways I can’t quite explain.
Emily recently expressed in her own words what Cassidy has meant to her:
* Name has been changed
By Emma Jansson
The very first time Bethany came out to the ranch, she told me that she has always dreamt of riding a Clydesdale. I informed her that she was in luck, we have a Clydesdale cross named Little Bear. I told her all about his story. After that, she couldn’t wait to ride him!
Once Little Bear was all groomed and tacked up, we started to work him from the ground in the round pen. She and Little Bear connected. He joined up with her, and followed her around the round pen, matching her step for step. She couldn’t help but break into a big smile and continued to wear it the whole time!
The look in her eyes said to me, “I’m special. I feel wanted.” She rode him bareback for the last part of our session, beaming from ear to ear. During this time, I stepped back and prayed for her. I felt God saying that He had saved Little Bear’s life just for her.
After we put Little Bear away and went to get a snack from the kitchen, I got eye level with her and said, “You know what I think? I think God saved Little Bear many years ago just for you. Just so you could ride him today and make your dream come true.” She looked close to tears and couldn’t say anything in response.
The next time she came to the ranch, she informed me that she told her brother that God had saved Little Bear just for her. Her brother had doubtfully replied, “And hundreds of other kids too.” Bethany looked at him and said, “Jesus would’ve died on the cross if it was just for me . . . so why wouldn’t He save Little Bear just for me?”
I was so proud that she knew of Jesus’ love in the pure way of a child. Later, in our time together, she was gazing thoughtfully around the ranch from the back of a Ranger. When I asked her what she was thinking, she smiled slightly and said, “I think this might be the happiest place on earth.”
By Sarah Robinett
“Sometimes I feel like I want to be brave.”
I stood in silence as I let the words sink in. The girl who sat across from me during our Harvest Day class was painting the word “Brave” in large, bold letters across the wooden board in front of her. I remembered how just the day before, I’d been looking at what seemed to be a completely different child.
This same shy 10 year-old, who we’ll call “Hannah,” stood off to the side as our Greeter paired kids with their session leaders. Her name was called and she came my way. I noticed that she was very tall for her age and walked nervously and somewhat awkwardly as she followed me to start our session.
When I asked her what she wanted to do, she wrung her hands and responded, “I guess maybe . . . we could . . . ride a horse.”
“You guess maybe we could?” I countered with a big smile.
“Oh… um… sorry. Let’s ride a horse.”
At that moment, I had an odd thought. It was more like a deep knowing than a thought. This girl needed to ride Phoenix, more commonly known here as, Phoebe.
Phoebe came as a three-year-old mare from the most extreme rescue the ranch has ever been a part of . . . a backyard breeding program of over 300 starving, emaciated and dead horses. Dogs roamed everywhere too, living and breeding in piles of junk. The dogs were also starved to the point of attacking and eating the carcasses of the horses who’d died. Amazingly, Phoebe survived the rescue and transportation to the ranch and the staff here at Crystal Peaks lovingly nourished Phoebe back to health. Still, however, she sometimes struggles with fear and trust. To be successful during a session, she needs a strong, confident leader.
And Hannah was anything but confident.
Unsure of the combination, but trusting the Lords urging, we set out to halter Phoebe. Hannah listened intently as I told her Phoebe’s horrific story of survival and her current need of a confident rider. I also explained to Hannah that once someone earns Phoebe’s trust, she becomes one of the most loyal horses I’ve ever met.
Once in the arena and atop Phoebe’s back, I was amazed at the transformation I saw in Hannah. She quietly and confidently directed Phoebe around cones and through obstacles. Each time Phoebe acted a bit nervous, Hannah calmly regained her focus. My new, young friend rode like a champion. While riding, she started to talk—and tell me stories—and laugh! She came to life! I stood amazed at the miracle unfolding before my eyes. . .a timid, little girl teaching out to a timid, rescued horse. . . and showing her how to be brave.
“Sometimes I want to be brave.”
I jolted back to the present. “Hannah, yesterday with Phoebe . . . you were brave. It was incredible to watch you work with her so well. It takes a pretty special person to be able to do what you did for such a broken and kind horse.”
She smiled up at me and quietly went back to work. At the end of the class, I looked again at her board. Behind the word “Brave,” was a painted horse silhouette running into the wild colors of a sunset. I couldn’t help but think that horse must have been Phoebe.
We have an exciting announcement!
Focus on the Family has selected Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch to be their featured organization for the Adventures in Odyssey Club (AOC) during the month of September! The purpose behind the AOC is to introduce parents and their children to other like-minded Christian organizations and the impact they’re making through high quality audio dramas. The 30-minute audio episodes combine the faith lessons parents appreciate with characters and stories that kids love.
We’re thrilled to be featured in an episode that will be heard by over 19,000 families who are a part of the AOC. In the latest exclusive Club adventure, “Angels in Horsehair,” Whit & Renee travel to a horse ranch that reaches out to hurting kids through rescued horses and the love of God. Don’t miss this heartwarming tale of renewed hope and healing based on actual events in the ministry of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch. Each Odyssey episode comes with a special video documentary and a set of activities, called Web Quests. The episode, documentary and activities will relate to or feature Crystal Peaks in some creative way.
The episode will be available online beginning September 1st, 2017. The club offers a free 14-day trial (no credit card needed) for families who are not members of the club and wish to listen in. You can sign up for the free trial and listen to the featured CPYR episode titled, “Angels in Horsehair” by clicking here.
In addition, we have created a kid friendly landing page for the CPYR website. This special page invites kids from the Adventures in Odyssey Club to explore our website and learn more about the heart behind the ministry. If you would like to visit this special page, click here.
By: Sarah Aydt
Ever feel like you just don’t get the point?
Or maybe you do understand the point, but you still seem to be missing some major part of what’s going on? This is the perfect description of me every time I’m asked to work with a horse in a round pen.
Many of you may not understand how to train a horse in a round pen and perhaps now would be the best time to explain this concept. However, since I’m still learning, let’s explore the concept of round penning together.
About a month ago, the Lord asked me to work with a horse in the round corral for that specific week during our Crystal Peaks staff horse class. Even though I work on a horse ranch, I’m still a relative beginner with horses. Stepping up to the call made my heart alternate between excitement and nervousness.
Although I still had very little clarity as to why the Lord was moving me to choose this activity, I voiced my desire to Jeff, our equine manager and fabulous teacher. I did my best to explain what I was hoping for during class that day. I was guided to work with Little Bear because, as Jeff put it, “He’s a pro!”
Jeff was right. Little Bear was great in the round pen. The moment I took off his halter, he began to move with thoughtful purpose. The massive buckskin gelding closely followed the wall while I stood in the center of the round corral. Working within my limited understanding, this was the first step of reaching the goal: to ask the horse to circle around you.
My hope was to encourage the horse to consider “choosing me.” This equine choice, or ‘join-up’ is the beautiful process of when a completely free horse chooses to trust, yield and bond with a human. This is demonstrated in several ways, the most powerful being when the horse stops all forward momentum and turns to face you. And then, with no more invitation than extending your palm, the horse moves into the center of the circle and touches your outstretched hand with their muzzle.
To be chosen by a horse . . . is a powerful experience.
It was only a matter of minutes before Little Bear turned to face me. I watched in awe as his giant feet moved toward my extended hand. At this point, I thought the session was over. Little Bear had done what I had hoped for.
I turned to Jeff to explain my thoughts and request guidance with how to best use the remaining hour of our time in the round pen. He answered by giving me some ideas of what I could do to strengthen my new bond with Little Bear. I asked the giant gelding to change directions at a trot. Each time he turned back towards me. I quickly realized that there are many teachable moments in round penning. Finally, Jeff prompted me to request Little Bear to slow from a trot to a purposeful walk. He suggested I do this by simply taking a deep breath. Much to my surprise, the horse DID slow down to a walk. It was a seamless transition from a trot to a strong walk all from a simple and subtle cue.
A major “Ah-ha” moment filled my heart in that same instant. The ultimate point of working in the round pen is to guide your horse to attune to you—and you to your horse. It’s through this process of learning to ‘read’ the horse you’re working with and encourage them to ‘read’ you—that communication in the round pen reaches its full training potential.
That is what the Lord wanted to say to me on this day. “Sarah, your purpose isn’t found in finding the right answer and getting the job done. Your purpose is found in the daily relationship of getting to know ME.”
What I am slowly learning is this: it’s within the pursuit to know God—that all His fruit through us—falls into the hands of those who are hungry.
As we keep our eyes on Jesus and practice following His lead, we will start to grasp His voice quicker and more quietly. We will be watching for His subtle cues to ‘turn in’ and ‘join-up’ with His plan, ready to follow Him at any moment.
Do you feel like you’re in the round pen with God?
Have you felt as if you’re running in circles, looking for the right answer to fall before you so you can take the next step? Friend, be encouraged. Take a moment today to stop running and striving for the answers—and start to just pursue the character of God. Turn into HIS plan and HE will give you the next step. Look to Him for who He is—your God.
As you grow in your relationship with Him, you won’t have to run after the answers—instead—He just wants you to run after HIM. The ‘answers’ you seek won’t feel quite so much like the point anymore . . . they will feel more like pursuing the ONE who already knows the way.
By: Sarah Aydt
One of my favorite seasons to walk up the ranch hill is when winter is turning into spring. On my way up to the office, I search the garden beds that follow the hill for little specks of green. The new growth shares such hope with my heart that life is coming. These new plants push through nearly frozen ground! They’ve been tucked away, buried beneath soil for the stretch of winter.
I suppose the plants sort of “retreat to their roots” for the harsh season. Then they faithfully return to display their beauty when spring arrives.
Seeing this beauty emerge from the frozen ground reminds me so much of our faithful Father. Many of His promises come to mind as I walk slowly up the hill and allow my mind to soak in all He has done. He creates beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3), He makes all things new (Revelation 21:5), and He makes everything beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). The simple truth of these promises is enough to make my soul sing.
Yet, the Lord calls us even deeper.
Not only are these promises true from God, but they are true of YOU in Christ. Because of Jesus, in His time, all the pieces of you are being made beautiful. Even the deepest parts of you are made new. This isn’t just His will for His people, it’s His will for YOU.
If you’re like me, sometimes this isn’t an easy truth to live out. I once asked a treasured friend of mine, “If I know what’s true of me in Christ, how do I live like I believe it, even if I don’t feel like I do?” Her answer wasn’t one I loved at first, but it’s stuck with me ever since. She simply said, “You just live like it’s true.”
So I began to ask the Lord, “How do I live the truth of something I struggle to believe?” His answer was right within the hope I gain from those flower buds that arise from the frozen ground every spring. He asks me to tuck myself away in Him to draw from His strength. Just like those plants, when I need to soak in life, I “retreat to my roots,” which is Jesus Himself.
As we walk with the Lord, seasons of life will come and go. What doesn’t change is our faithful Father. If our roots are in Him, those won’t change either—no matter what we face. So when life around you seems hard to endure, take time to return to your roots and find yourself at the feet of Jesus.
My friend, if you return to the deep place of His Presence, you will see Him lift your heart from the frozen ground and spring new life from it. You will be renewed every time—and your beauty will shine like those flowers reaching up toward the warm spring sun.
For those who desire to know their worth and beauty in the Father, this is my encouragement: Seek Him in the process. He desires to guard you and keep you, to mend you and mold you. Most of all, He wants to hold you secure in His arms, teaching you who you are in His eyes. The way we find His heart for us is by resting in what is true of Him. When we rest in these truths, we learn that these things are true of us, too.
Finding our roots in Christ is foundational to living. It’s the bedrock of life that springs from death, light from darkness, beauty from ashes, and new from old. Trust in the One who is able and see Him work in you.
“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.” (Ephesians 3:17, NLT, emphasis added).
“Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
(Colossians 2:7, NLT, emphasis added).
For many years it has been a dream of Crystal Peaks to create something that would allow kids to take home even a small amount of what they see here at the Ranch. We have been working hard for over the better half of last year to make that dream come true and are very excited to present to you our new product!
Crystal Peaks has created a coloring book! Partnering with local artist Danae Swan*, we now offer a 48-page work of art that can become your very own work of art! Inside you will find hand-drawn pictures of your favorite Ranch sights teamed up with some of our very favorite Ranch kids’ quotes and Bible verses.
We hope this little book will capture your heart the way it did ours when we first saw these pages, and that you enjoy bringing these black and white pages to life!
*Danae Swan is an artist located in Bend, Oregon. She is a multi-media artist who enjoys capturing the life and personality of her subjects. Danae and her husband Tyler have loved and supported Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch for many years.
For those of you who’ve been around the ranch for a while and for those who happened across this post, we have exciting news!
This year, Crystal Peaks is participating in #GivingTuesday! Being only a three year old program, Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving, designed to provide a place for people to give back to their community by donating to the organization or project of their choice. Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.), Giving Tuesday will take place on November 29th this year.
A few years ago Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch was gifted the resources to purchase the ranch property located across the street from the main ranch. This tremendous gift has afforded us the opportunity to expand what Jesus is doing in and through this place. Since that day, we’ve been seeking the Lord in how best to utilize the many facets of the new 51-acre property. One of the most exciting aspects of adding this property to the Crystal Peaks campus is the 70-year-old dairy barn. It stands beautifully placed on the property.
In His goodness, the Lord has provided us this space to invest in a larger meeting hall. Perfect for remodel, our strategic plan is to turn this 70-year-old barn into a Conference Center we will call the “Big Barn Conference Center.” Our project team has formulated a plan for the remodel and the design will safely accommodate up to 400 people! We share all this information in hopes that you will join us in becoming a part of this project.
We would like to invite you to choose Crystal Peaks this #GivingTuesday and donate to the restoration of the Big Barn. Help us transform this old dairy barn into a beautiful conference center!
We have a few new products for you to browse in our onsite and online store! We hope you enjoy these new views!
Quarter Zip Sweatshirts & Mugs
One of the highlights for those who visit the Ranch is the view of the mountains. The Three Sisters stand loud and proud and seem to be “watching over” the Ranch. You’ll see them painting a beautiful backdrop in almost every direction you look from the top of our hill.
The constant presence and view of these mountains has inspired a new logo for the Crystal Peaks Mercantile.
On both of the new men’s and women’s quarter zip sweatshirts, you’ll find our name, Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, tucked just under the outline of the Three Sisters Mountains.
Also, just in time for fall, the Ranch now has two new mug options in our online and onsite store! Both mugs display our new design as well, so you can remember Crystal Peaks as you sip your favorite fall drink.
Pray, Listen, Do Tee
Kim speaks often of these three little words that really are the simple answer to all circumstances in life.
“God is talking to men all the time . . . and so is our enemy. We each must choose whom we will listen to. When we PRAY, those who belong to the Lord recognize His voiceLISTEN to it, and follow/DO it! (John 10).”
These shirts provide the perfect opportunity to share the simple truth of following Jesus with everyone you meet. This tee is soft and light by nature with a beautiful heathered red color as the canvas for the message to be printed; this will indeed become one of your favorite shirts.
Find all of these NEW products and more in the CPYR online store.
*Click any image to see that item in the store.
Christmas is right around the corner. For many that means sending Christmas cards to family and friends. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could print your family cards and support Crystal Peaks?
Well, this year you can!
Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch has partnered with Picaboo to provide an opportunity for you to create a family Christmas card and support the Ranch.
Picaboo is a web-based image publishing and printing company best known for its industry leading line of photo books. Customers can upload their digital photos through Picaboo’s in-browser application and create a variety of personalized photo products including photo books, cards, calendars, canvas prints, phone cases and more. Your life is worth printing!*
This collaboration provides an opportunity for you to make a family Christmas card AND support the Ranch. In fact, 50% of your total purchase will be donated right back to Crystal Peaks!
By following the link below, in a few simple steps you can create a card that includes your pictures and a personalized greeting. Your card is completely customizable, which means you can make it specific to your desires and unique to your family. One side of your card will display your personal card and the other side will share about Crystal Peaks and the saving hope of Jesus.
We hope you will consider supporting the Ranch this holiday season by ordering your Christmas cards through Picaboo and choosing Crystal Peaks!
For more information and to order your cards—follow the link and directions below.
1. Choose your card design at www.picaboo.com/non-profit-holiday-cards/crystal-peaks-youth-ranch/
2. Fully customize your card by adding your own photos, greeting and text
3. Place your order using promo code NPOCARDS to get 50% off
If you have any questions along the way, Picaboo has an awesome support crew ready to help you.
You can find the information you need to contact Picaboo by following this link: Customer Care
*Description by Picaboo