Raising Hope Ranch
I spent the weekend in Gentry, Arkansas, at the now famous Raising Hope Ranch, with Sharla... who was a dear friend long before she became famous! :) I love going there so thought I could share some of the reasons why I do.
Setting: Drive down a gravel road, wind through the country to a big chicken barn at the bottom of a hill, aka the tack shed, then up another big hill, and up a steep driveway, to a house. It is just the house you would picture for a place like RHR... Dark wood siding, a big wrap around porch, and big trees in front, and a great view of the sixteen horses in the pasture below. Inside, there are five bedrooms (Miss Lora's is very nice-sized... perfect for the relaxing, quiet time she never gets!) and four bathrooms. The kitchen is big and open, and very much needed, because you never know how many people are going to be sitting on the four long benches around the table. The place is FULL of buildings... a couple of chicken barns, a big hay shed, dog kennels, you name it. And there is an in ground pool also. Sharla will eventually get a barn with a second story apartment, but now she is still living in her trailer several miles away.
Characters: The characters vary a lot... Horses come and go, volunteers fit right in for a while, then move on, parents visit, and of course the children staying there are always working to go home to their families. Right now tho, there are 6 girls and 1 boy in the program, 2 volunteers, and then of course Sharla and Lora. (The kids affectionately call them "the authorities") There are 13 horses (5 are mustangs) and two miniature donkeys. Sharla has a bunch of cats down at the tack shed and then there's Jazzie, Paris, and Bahama for dogs.
I love looking around the place for new things people have added to make it beautiful. Last time it was the elephant painted on a coral bathroom wall by a couple of girls. This time, there was a big tire "pedestal" for the horses to stand on in the pasture, and a bridge to practice crossing.
In closing, I think these words describe so well the message that the ranch is offering to the families they reach out to...
Truth is harder than a lie The dark seems safer than the light And everyone has a heart that loves to hide
I'm a mess and so are you We've built walls nobody can get through Yeah, it may be hard, but the best thing we could ever do;Is bring your brokenness, and I'll bring mine 'Cause love can heal what hurt divides And mercy's waiting on the other side If we're honest!
Don't pretend to be something that you're not Living life afraid of getting caught There is freedom found when we lay our secrets down at the cross;So bring your brokenness, and I'll bring mine 'Cause love can heal what hurt divides And mercy's waiting on the other side If we're honest!