Friday, June 28, 2013

"Feature Friday- Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch"

Howdy Folks,

I had the pleasure and honor of interviewing Troy Meeder co-founder of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch for a story to be published in my Heartbeats column, in the September issue of Trail Blazer Magazine. Crystal Peaks is a faith based organization located on a tiny ranch near Bend Oregon where discarded but rescued horses help to give troubled youths a new start on life.
 Founded in 1995 by Kim and Troy Meeder, there have been tens of thousands of young lives touched and changed by the gentle ministry. With the help of rescued horses, kind hearts of volunteers and God's love the youths who visit the ranch experience one on one sessions at no charge. The only commitment is that they want to be there.
Over 5,000 visitors a year come for healing. That number includes all family members and that's important for one of the pillars at Crystal Peaks is strengthening the family. Sessions vary from one time visits to children being involved with the ranch for years, and everything in between. Seventy percent come more than once. Most of the youths come often, come for years, as often as they can be fit into the program. The staff is allowed to set up forty percent of their sessions for youths they want to mentor, who need the time, the continued guidance.
When Kim published her first book, "Hope Rising," and Kim and Troy had their first interview with founder of Focus on the Family, Dr. James Dobson's show, Family Talk in 2004, people far and wide began contacting them, explaining that they've always wanted to do something like Crystal Peaks to help horses and children. Knowing that God was leading the way, in 2006 they held their first Empowerment clinic, a 4 day clinic teaching what they had learned about starting and running a faith based healing center. Kim and Troy assumed that clinic would be a onetime thing. Shocked by the demand they have held 2 clinics a year ever since and over 2,000 people have attended.

The Empowerment clinics help folks create Similar Ministries of their own to help young folks find firm footing. There are currently 156 Similar Ministries throughout the United States & internationally, including Australia, Canada, England, Honduras, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Romania & Slovakia. Crystal Peaks continues to receive applications from new locations each month.

To learn more about Crystal Peaks, or to inquire about starting a healing place visit their website .

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Thursday, June 27, 2013

"Perhaps I Just Lived Too Long" .- The First of my "Grandpop" stories

Howdy Folks,

"Perhaps I Just Lived Too Long" started out as a stand alone short story. Over the next few months I've had reason to write more "Grandpop" stories. Coffee Clutch friends have told me they enjoy visiting with Grandpop. I hope you'll enjoy his company too. You can read our second visit with Grandpop "Independence Day" (HERE)  

Perhaps I Just Lived Too Long.

He sat on a straw bale looking out at the horses seeking shade under the lone oak. "Good lookin' bunch aren't they?"  His hand shook uncontrollably as he fumbled with the pearl white snap on his shirt pocket. Finally he pulled out a black bill fold, as weathered and worn as the unsteady hand holding it. Folding it open with gnarled fingers, he tugged and tugged until he retrieved a tiny, cracked and faded black and white photo from its hiding place behind his driver's license. Passing it to me he said, "4 of us from right here in Liberty County fought together for 3 years in that hellish place over there. Why I even marched right into Paris ... Only 2 of us made it back home." He dragged a shaky hand across his eyes then pointed to a tall grinning youth in the background. "That was my brother, Jim. He wasn't one of them."  With tired eyes that held the alertness of eyes that had seen much, he caught mine. "We didn't know all we were fighting for then, but we knew something was very wrong."
He pulled out another faded photo. "Got married in '48." Those tired brown eyes beamed when his unsteady finger pointed to a beautiful woman holding a fine looking young boy. "My wife, Lucy, don't reckon you ever met her. She died in '70 a year after we lost our son, Shane, in Viet Nam." 

He took the picture, traced the pretty face. "We sure had some fine times together, Lucy, Shane and me. Built this ranch with our own hands and sweat. Worked hard, played hard." He looked at me and grinned. "Loved hard too, young fella." He snatched his cane, nodded to the horses, "Let's go have a look at those mares."

As we walked he talked about the struggles and joys of building the ranch, and the love of family, God and country. When we reached the tree, most of the mares kept their distance, but he draped his arms over the back of a Bay he called, Fancy. "Things feel a little wrong here right now, young fella." He looked up through the branches of the oak, pulled off his faded and dusty hat. "I don't want to pretend I understand very much, but things just feel out of whack. Feels like something is very wrong. This group of people hating that group of people. Half the kids getting out of college and finding no work. Why heck my neighbor told me Clint Eastwood said something like 23 million folks are out of work. Everybody looking to the government to fix everything."

He stroked Fancy's mane, then went on. "I was proud to vote for John Kennedy. Prouder still when we watched his Inaugural speech, on the first TV we ever had." He chuckled then went on, "You're a might young to remember that, but he had a line I never forgot, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." I don't know if folks care about that anymore. And there is something wrong with that."

As we walked back to the barn and he told me he didn't understand all the folks calling themselves hyphenated Americans. To him it felt as if they didn't know who they wanted to be. "I heard John Wayne once say that little dash separates as well as connects." He explained. "Aren't we all Americans?" He said he didn't understand when so many folks decided it was wrong to be proud to be an American. Or right to hate somebody that started a business and hired people. "Something just feels wrong with that. I was downright happy to find a job cowboyin' as soon as I got home and I was never jealous of my boss' cattle … When my day came, Lucy and I just started our own ranch."

We had one last cup of coffee, I got in my truck and watched him fade into the darkness of the old barn, then drove back to town. 

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Read the next visit with Grandpop "Independence Day" (HERE) and you'll find a link to the third story there too.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"A morning Coffee Clutch Stroll"

Howdy Folks,
The past few mornings have been quite humid, hot and still, so the fan in the barn had whirred along, doing its best to move the heavy air. While Kessy's fan is great for that, its steady whir tends to drown out the bird song, and since this morning's air was bit lighter I switched it off. On my way to the barn I'd heard a Mockingbird singing variations of at least half a dozen song-bird-solos and wanted to listen to his entire show. So the fan needed a break.

As I puttered around doing my morning's this-and-thats, tending to the chickens, Saturday and Kessy the Mockingbird's soliloquy floated deftly on the air accompanying me. Others joined in too. For the first morning in a while I heard a Scarlet Tanager, he was some distance in the woods, but his notes filled the tree tops. Mr Wren darted here and there chirping his delightfully busy chatter, and several Phoebes called their names as if to make certain they were recognized as part of the ensemble. A special treat was Mr. Bluebird's solo from somewhere high in the big Oak.
Kessy, Saturday, Miss Kitty, Tigger and me
 Settled in my chair next to Kessy it was delightful to take in all the birdsong, and Kessy's slow, sleepy, hay munching. Other birds joined in as Saturday, Tigger and Miss Kitty reclined with me. The squeaking of Chipping Sparrows, trilling of a Robin and even the call of a passing Crow filled out the bill. Then as if by request, the air rumbled gently with the low vibrations of a distant train. And then the whistle blew.

I tipped my hat to the Creator, gave thanks for the splendor of it all, and decided to stroll about before heading in for my morning ration of boiled oatmeal. Ravishin' Robbie had spent last afternoon and evening touching up her gardens and everything looks lovely. First stop the wild looking patch next to Kessy's bedroom just bursting with color from Brown Eyed Susans, Lilies and Daisies. A brief pause at the back porch steps to say good morning to Mrs. Phoebe who settled on our porch light as the most perfect spot for her second nest of the summer. Any day now tiny peeps will be peering over the nest edge.

Saturday, Miss Kitty and Tigger trailed along single file as I moseyed to our campfire area where Robbie has 2 tranquil shade gardens. I must admit to not knowing all the plant varieties there, but the border of Coleus is brilliantly red and orange.

Off we trekked to the front of the house where Robbie's vegetable garden fence is sporting the greenery and brilliant reds of Cardinal Climber. If you've never planted this delightful climbing plant, do yourself, and your Hummingbirds a favor, and plant some, the flowers are tiny cups of velvet red. The interior of the vegetable garden is looking great too, but I'm a flower kind of guy, and since this year Robbie decided to forgo the Marigold boarders, well it's boring to me.
Robbie's Herb Garden
Her Kitchen herb bed is jam-packed with all sorts of hearty, happy herbs, many of them blooming now too. Hummingbirds and butterflies love this garden and so many were there it looked like a convention! The Clary Sage has a  lovely light blue flower and the Yellow Swallowtails were loving it. I checked the Blue Bird nest there and it looks like they are starting their next nest, too!

Robbie's Flower Jungle
I lead our little troupe to the big flower jungle next. This is a big bed where 7 summers ago we had planted full of Zinnias and Cosmos. It was our first flower bed when we moved here. Each summer plants reseed themselves in it, and it's been expanding annually. The flowers are so thick it never requires weeding! This morning the Larkspur was in charge creating a dense bouquet of sky blue. The Cosmos are just beginning to open, and the Zinnias too, adding just the right touch of red, yellow and orange.

Thanks for joining the Coffee Clutch family on our morning tour. Hope you had fun!

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry