Mom, Wife, Horse Enthusiast, Author, including her new book, “Country Soul: Inspiring Stories of Heartache turned to Hope”
How long have you loved horses?
Since I watched my first episode of “Gunsmoke” back in 1980. I saw Matt Dillon ride up on his horse and I thought that was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. His buckskin wasn’t bad either.
I am a person who struggles with an awful lot of self-doubt. So being tasked with writing a book that is meant to benefit other people who read it, well, that was tough for me to work through, especially because I know that I am such a mess-up myself.
When I was writing “Fields of Grace” (the book before “Country Soul”) I kept struggling with the feeling that God was going to bail on me in the process and leave me with a deadline I couldn’t deliver on. So I let a lot of anxiety go this time around with “Country Soul” by just believing that God tells the truth and that He would not leave me alone. God is never going to advocate for self-reliance.
Before writing your book, did you know you wanted to include horse stories?
Horses are a major part of my life and I’ve learned a lot about the character of God through horses. So, naturally, they would show up in a lot of my stories. But I didn’t purposely include them. Some of my stories include dogs, cattle, etc. since I grew up on a cattle ranch. I do know that a lot of folks, including myself, would rather be around horses than most people. People can be so complicated and our relationships with them can sometimes come with conditions. Horses are always just so honest with us and forgiving. Horses are also accepting of us just as we are, but so is Jesus. He loves you just as you are right now. I always had the misguided idea that I had to clean up my life before I could be acceptable to Him. But that’s not true at all. Jesus takes us in as we are and loves us so perfectly He refuses to leave us that way.
What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
I’ll be honest. I don’t have a lot of favorites in the writing process. In fact, I don’t consider myself an author; this isn’t a career for me. I also don’t profit from any of my books. My portion goes to charity.
As I said, I deal with a lot of self-doubt and these interviews and writing deadlines make my armpits sweaty. I hate the stress of it all. But I love Jesus and I want everyone who reads this book to know that they are here in this moment because God wanted them to be. Your life is on purpose and you are loved.
What’s your biggest achievement in the horse world?
I guess I would have to say that I was able to earn the respect of my Norwegian Fjord Horse, Gus. He’s not a huge fan of humans. Gus really loves being a horse and being around horses. So when we first met each other, it was mutual disgust. I thought he smelled like a meat locker and he let me know I have B.O.
Gus was originally used for packing elk out of the woods in Montana. Well, I was able to turn him into a fancy carriage-pulling horse. We took third place in a carriage competition once. I should also mention that there were only three entrees. But so what? We showed up and we did great together. I sure love him now and it’s a mutual affection. Although he still lets me know I smell. Gus is honest with me, which I also respect.
Tell us about your animals you have on your farm.
I have three mini donkeys that were rescued, and two mini Highland steers. I know a lot about cows and raised those two steers on the bottle since they were one week old. I’ll admit, I know very little about horses, but when I got those donkeys I knew nothing about them at all. What was even more challenging is that the female donkey was pregnant at the time. So I called a local donkey rescue and was able to ask them lots of questions about how to raise donkeys. Yes, they are somewhat similar to horses, but they are also very different. So I appreciated the wisdom and am so glad I didn’t let my lack of knowledge scare me away from taking them in. They have been a great addition to our farm and they are so sweet.
And then, of course, there are the horses. You know about Gus, whom I just talked about. Then I have a mini named Cupcake whom I write about in the first chapter of “County Soul.” She’s a hard one to read and I’m not sure she even likes me. She has been here for years as a companion to a Shetland pony named Tucker whom I unfortunately lost last December. I’ve been working with her and she is now paired up with Sven, or Fat Benny as we all like to call him. He’s a food-obsessed Norwegian Fjord who acts more like a golden retriever than a horse. I have to keep hot wire around his pasture because he has figured out how to use his body weight to flatten fencing and get to the real green stuff on the other side. I also have another Norwegian Fjord named Ret who just recently was diagnosed with some arthritis and a stifle injury. So I’ve been finding ways to help him manage it. He’s a pretty old guy so I know I’ll be making some hard decisions with him sooner than later. But he’s getting around alright for now and he isn’t depressed about it. So today he is enjoying his life in knee-high grass.
What do your husband and kids think about your book?
I know they’re proud of me. Dan says out of all my books, this one is his favorite. Other than that, we never talk about it. But we also aren’t that focused on Mater from “Cars” or Larry, the Cable Guy either. I would say as a family we are definitely more focused on the things our kids are passionate about.
What is the best thing about your life?
My relationship with Jesus is the best part of my life. Because of what Christ did on the cross, my future has never been brighter.
Best-kept secret about what you do?
Well, if I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret. But something interesting about me: I’m extremely allergic to horses.