Biographical Non-Fiction posted November 13, 2017

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Not a Waste

A Second Chance

by MelB

For those who don’t know, I’m the founder of a nonprofit called Bridle of Hope.  We restore the health of abused and neglected horses, and pair them with broken and hurting women and children.  Guests come to the ranch to meet the horses, brush and spend time with them, and/or learn how to ride.  Riders go through different horse obstacles, play games, or paint the horses as a form of therapy.  We just completed our third season, where we had 148 visitors between May and October.  Whew!

We saw some heavy cases of anxiety, depression, fear, and suicidal ideation this summer.  The suicidal cases are always tough and taxing on me.  It’s heartbreaking to think these kids feel there is no way out, other than to end their own life.  Once I get to know these kids, I feel responsible for them, and I don’t want anyone harming themselves on my watch. 

I received an email on our website from a mom who was concerned about her daughter.  When mom found out she was pregnant, she told the father.  He desired termination of the pregnancy, and when she refused, he bolted.  Mom stated her daughter, *Cassie, is seventeen years old, and knew her father had abandoned them, but didn’t know about the proposed abortion.  Cassie had sunken further into the deep spiral of depression, despite treatment with antidepressants.  I’ll never forget the end of mom’s plea.  She said, “Please can you help my little girl?  I just want her to be happy again.”

There is no set formula or pattern for what I do with each visitor who comes out here.  I pray before each one arrives, and seek out what I sense the Lord telling me to do.  Sometimes, it’s a gut feeling, and I will walk away, allowing the person some quality time with the horse.  I will make up some excuse for having to leave, like going back to the storage shed for another brush or piece of equipment. 

I can’t help myself, and sometimes I turn around or peek around the corner of the house to see what’s happening.  I often see visitors brushing the horses, talking to them, or with their arms around the horse’s neck receiving a hug.  I don’t return until I sense the horse’s “ministering” time is finished.  My goal is to build a bond or trust with each visitor, and figure out whether they need to discuss what problem or trial they’re going through in their life or whether their time with the horses is enough.

Each time Cassie arrived, her face lit up and she was giddy around the horses.   I tried twice to get Cassie to open up about her problems, but she was not ready yet.  On her last visit, mom informed me that Cassie’s step brother overdosed on heroin.  I talked with Cassie about it, and attending the upcoming funeral.  The next week, mom cancelled, as it was homecoming.

Three days later, I received a message from Cassie’s mom that she had tried to overdose on Wellbutrin and Zoloft.  She took a total of 18 pills, so this was not a call for help, but in fact a suicide attempt.  The next two days involved many messages with mom.  I wanted to visit Cassie at the hospital, but had to speak to the social worker first.   She said, “I don’t think Cassie is stable enough for a visit.  Her speech is slurred.  She needs assistance walking, and she has no short term memory.  I don’t think she would remember your visit.”

“I don’t care if she remembers I’m there.  I just want to pray.”

“I don’t think she is stable enough at this time.”

I called the next day, and there was no answer in Cassie’s room.  I was told to call back later, but received a message from Cassie’s mom that she had
been moved to a mental health facility for children.  I visited Cassie there, brought her a devotional book, a bookmark with scripture verses on it, and one of her favorite chocolate bars. 

Cassie seemed in good spirits, but mom had informed me that the suicidal thoughts were still present.  Cassie’s best friend told her she no longer wanted to be her friend the night of homecoming.  This, coupled with the family member who had overdosed, and the abandonment/rejection from the father she’s never met, was enough to warrant the suicide attempt.

I had a great chat with mom and Cassie, and talked to mom for the second time about doing individual counseling, since the horse season was coming to a close for the year.  Before I left, I asked Cassie if she was still experiencing suicidal thoughts.  She was, and I asked if she would like to get free of those thoughts.  Cassie expressed she would like to get rid of them.  She also expressed seeing a shadow or feeling a presence behind her while standing in her room.  I asked if this happened at home too or only here at the mental facility.  It was going on at home as well.

I asked and received permission from Cassie and mom to pray.  I also asked if I could “lay hands” or place my hand on Cassie’s shoulder while I prayed.  I had mom put her hand on Cassie’s other shoulder while I prayed.  I thanked God for sparing Cassie’s young life, and commanded murder, death, and suicide to leave by the power and authority of Jesus Christ.  I asked for the Lord’s protection over her mind, body, and soul. 

As Cassie, her mom, and I opened our eyes, we had tears in our eyes.  Mom said, “The entire time you were praying, I felt God’s presence here.”

“I felt it too,” I said.  I looked up at Cassie, “The enemy tried to take you out here.  Praise God that didn’t happen!  God loves you so much.  Do you know that?  Your mom loves you, and so do I.  God has given you a second chance, sweetheart.”  

Mom said, “I’m so thankful for that.  When I arrived, she foamed at the mouth, her pupils were blown, and she went into the ‘death rails.’  I thought I’d lost her.”

“Praise God you didn’t.  I do believe this has been a wake-up call.  Now, it is not a matter of if you want to talk about things.  It has now become we have to talk about things.  I’ll see you next week.  Your mom and I will get a day and time set.”

Cassie spent a week at the mental health facility.  She didn’t have another suicidal thought while there.  Before she left, the case worker contacted me, to send records and to make sure Cassie had an appointment with me.  She mentioned that Cassie denied any suicidal thoughts.  It’s a good thing she couldn’t see me smiling through the phone.  I believe Cassie denied them, because she simply wasn’t having them anymore.  I believe in the power of prayer, and even more, I believe in the healing power of Jesus Christ.
I’ve seen Cassie for three sessions so far, and she still hasn’t had a suicidal thought.  We have many layers to work through, but if Cassie will put in the work, she will heal from her past.  Sometimes, I believe God rattles our cage, to show us we can’t do this life without Him.  He wants to draw us close to Him, and if we will give Him our pain, He will take it away.  If we invite Him into our shattered hearts, He will mend and repair every broken part. 

Cassie received a wake-up call, but God held her in His mighty hand.  She has been given a second chance, and I believe it is one she won’t waste.   



*Cassie (not her real name)

"I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you." Luke 10:19

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