HORSES SPEAK OF GOD, LAURIE M. BROCK, & CHOCOLATE HORSE CANDY – Recovery and Spiritual Journey Book Review

HORSES SPEAK OF GOD: HOW HORSES CAN TEACH US TO LISTEN AND BE TRANSFORMED by Laurie M. Brock is spiritually delicious and full of goodness. I highly recommend it to anyone hungry for a taste of the divinity which occurs between our animal friends and us.

Full Disclosure One: Laurie and I are Lent Madness teammates and friends even though we haven’t met in real life. Yet.

Full Disclosure Two: I’m a cat person. I don’t ride horses, and I don’t foresee myself ever riding horses. But, I have had experience hanging around horses while my daughter took riding lessons — I love to watch, pet horses, and feed them carrots, apples, and peppermints. Oh, and photographing them! I LOVE doing that. Also, I have two horse movies in my Cinema Therapy collection — Hidalgo and Secretariat. Horses rock. Not as much as cats, of course. But certainly, horses rock. A lot.

Here’s a gratuitous photo of my niece, Victoria, jumping with Santiago. Such grace and form. Such poetry in motion in a way completely unlike my writing.

Speaking of writing, Laurie has a beautiful way with words. Wait a minute. I can’t use “beautiful.” It’s on the list of forbidden overused adjectives. And, “way with words,” a cliché, is also forbidden. Let me try again — Laurie Brock’s writing is an ideal model which encourages me to ever increase the diligence level in my own craft. Much better. Right? Of course, right.

Raise your hand if you can tell that I’m stalling. Yep. I’m stalling. (Pun not originally intended. But, there it is.)

Okay. A quality spiritual book will get you right in your issue. Every. Single. Time. *sigh*

And, it seems my issue of late is fear.

It started in the Acknowledgements which I read first even though it’s at the back of the book. This line in particular:

Writing also comes from a nourished soul.

That’s it! Recovery and Laurie’s words make it clear to me that I don’t always have to be the one nurturing. I need to be nurtured, as well. That’s what’s missing in my life. That’s always been the missing thing in my life. Maybe that’s even why I’m attracted to saints. Maybe, just maybe, they’re the ones who nourish my soul because their souls are so filled with Jesus, He keeps spilling out into mine.

I want to write books about the saints. But, I’m afraid. I’m afraid I’m not ready. I’m afraid there’s so much more I have to learn before my words can become concrete in hard copy without opportunity to edit or update based on new research.

But, when I look at it square in the face, as Laurie’s words helped me to do, I see this fear is irrational. I mean, the way of good non-fiction authors is to write new books including the best of their earlier books along with what they have learned since then. Most of the time, a research-based, non-fiction first book is great even though it’s missing the research and ideas of later books. I have the stacks of books by the same authors in my office to prove it.

Writers say to each other all the time, write the crappy first draft. Right now. Just do it. So maybe the advice I need to give myself, repeatedly, like on a Post-it note on my coffee maker is — write a book, seek publication, and know that any missing information from book one has a place waiting for it in book two and beyond.

You know what else Laurie reminded me of? I don’t write alone. My Muse is my guide and editor. Or as Laurie put it on page 20:

“When we know more, when we experience a different viewpoint, when we have our vision changed, God loves us into movement. God loves us in our willingness to walk into newness of love.”

Those who follow my blog and Laurie’s blog might recognize that she and I are victims on both sides of the Church – she was hurt by laity, and I was hurt by clergy. And although it’s not each other we have had to come to terms with, I think what we’ve learned about each other through our writing over the years has helped us come to terms with our own experiences. This is true for my part, but I don’t actually know if it’s true for Laurie’s part. However, I do know that a sign of a good writer is their readers’ belief that stuff was written with them in mind.

As abruptly as a new section without a transitional phrase, the FEAR chapter showed up. I began reading about Laurie’s childhood and a fall off her horse, and I was all, uh oh. This is the part that’s for me. And, um, I really, really don’t want to turn these pages. But, of course, I did:

No matter how much we grow physically, our soul lives eternally at all our ages at once. All the trauma, joy, and life of our young years lives within our cells and memories. Growth physically doesn’t mean we outgrow the heartache of our past. We may have more distance from what is within us or allow our present life to distract us, but the shadows of our past, especially those which cause us pain, do not disappear.

We don’t simply outgrow our pain.     . . .

I was shocked to discover that medicating someone else’s wound did not have any impact on mine. Jesus offered me another option; to collaborate with God to heal the wounds within myself. Bring them forth into consciousness and let the wounds and God’s healing of them change me. – Page 34

As much as I didn’t want to say the words aloud, I realized I needed to give myself permission to admit I was scared of riding, and especially scared of riding my own horse. Apprehensive and shrinking denial in the face of fear simply makes the fear grow like Kudzu. Pretending not to be afraid is a lie. Feeling the fear is more courageous. – Page 36

Fear. I’m in the thick of it right now. I want so much to believe God and His plans to prosper me and not harm me, plans to give me hope and a future. But, when I breathe into the reality of it, I realize I’m afraid for my future.

I’m afraid for my financial future. I’m afraid of the possible battle to come. I’m afraid of rage. I’m doing my best to trust the system provided by the professionals we’ve hired. I’m doing my best to trust that amicable means amicable. And, I’m doing my best to believe that my best is good enough.

You know what else I’m afraid of? Dating. There. I’ve said it.

So funny that the cliché advice for this condition is to get back in the saddle. I mean, I’ve only had one serious boyfriend my whole life. I’m 51 years old, but maturity and experience-wise, I feel like I’m 22.

The other day, an attractive man seriously, “How YOU doing?” ed me in the parking lot of my apartment complex.

“Fine, thanks,” I squeaked as I scurried off to my car. I mean, it was nice. But also, *eeeeeeeek*.

I’m not sure if he’s a neighbor or if he was visiting someone in my building. No doubt he has a girlfriend. Also, underneath those sunglasses, he was probably 25-years-old or something equally embarrassing.

It’s so weird to be feeling like an inexperienced 22-year-old but also terrified of the whole cougar reputation thing. When I spoke to my best friend about this, he said, “Twenty-five works! In fact, it sounds like twenty-five-years-old is just the ticket. Nothing wrong with it!”

Well. I guess now that I have his permission to date men half my age, everything’s just fine then.

Hahaahhahhaahhah *sigh* (By the way, this whole thing is reason number whatever as to why my recovery counselor won’t let me date yet.)

But then, I saw that Laurie wrote the meaning behind my best friend’s words:

Even when healing has occurred, even when change has come, the residue of fear remains until we give ourselves permission to find our way to courage and confidence. – page 37

And so, I sat on my couch without a cat and faced my truth. I’m afraid of fearing for my future. I’m afraid my life isn’t all sunshine and daisies, and it hasn’t been for a long time. I’m afraid if I admit these fears and feelings, I will allow my sadness to rise to the surface, and I’m afraid that if I wade into my sadness, it won’t ever go away. Nevertheless, Laurie and her horses gave me no choice – hello, sadness.

Thankfully, she didn’t leave me to fend for myself like a seven-year-old on a field trip to a petting farm without a signed horseback-riding permission slip. She’s a good mom who came equipped with hugs and tissues:

Faith is being fearful, and fear is part of the life of faith. It is falling off and being bruised and getting back on. Fear is being aware of the risks of love and loving anyway. If we bring forth the fear within us, we will also find courage. We will also find God. – Page 39

And that’s what this book is all about, Charlie Brown. Read it. You will find the chapter that speaks to your heart, AND you will find the encouragement to take up the reins of your life and giddy up.

No more spoilers except for this scrumptious line I want to believe Laurie wrote just for me:

I made a cup of Earl Grey tea and enriched myself with two-chocolate chip cookies, because making a list of people I called enemy needed spiritual courage, both from God and chocolate. – Page 52

It’s as if she knew of my affinity for Captain Jean Luc Picard and his repeated phrases, “Shields up,” “Make it so,” and “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.” Also, it really is much easier on me if the author simply hands me their recipe idea.

I’ve already written a post on Friendship and Chocolate Chip Cookies. So, I’m thinking it’s best to go simple and pure with:

CHOCOLATE HORSE CANDY

Ingredients

Some chocolate to melt. I used Trader Joe’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks

Equipment

Candy mold. I used one from C K Products.

Directions

Pour up to one pound of chocolate chips or chunks in a bowl. Microwave on high for 30 or 15 second increments. Stir in between. Repeat until chocolate is melted and well mixed. Be careful not to burn it because burnt chocolate is also known as garbage.

Spoon chocolate into mold cavities. Hold both sides of the mold and tap it a little bit on the counter to level out the chocolate and remove any air bubbles.

Place the filled mold in the freezer on a flat surface for at least 10 minutes.

Remove mold from freezer and turn it upside down and gently tap it on a flat surface. The horses should drop right out. (Frankly, I can’t believe how easy this was.)

If necessary, trim away extra chocolate with a sharp knife.

Bonus Material:

Once upon a time, I cobbled together a horsey picture book, starring my sweetie pie, Julia. The one who just announced her college acceptance. Yeah. The youngest. *sigh*

In a way, this scrap book illustrates HORSES SPEAK OF GOD and, metaphorically, the baby steps we need to take to find confidence in our own balance. (You might have to click on each image to view it clearly.)

Freckles was the better show pony, but she had a reputation for biting children due to the bratty kid who owned her. Or so the gossip went.

Nicki, on the other hand, was gentle and patient, and in the way of the bestest of pretty ponies, loving. We told her all the time what a good girl she was, but, in years and experience, she was older than all of us.

Look at this Christmas card photo she let me take of her. Some of our aunties actually believed she was our pony.

Time passes, barns close to lessons, ponies retire, choices are offered, and decisions are made. Julia preferred to be a Julia-of-all-trades and explore as many opportunities as possible throughout her childhood. This completely worked for her. And sometimes, giving a kid the thing they most want when they want it is key.
Thanks to Laurie’s example in HORSES SPEAK OF GOD, its good to know that Julia can return to horseback riding, if and whenever she wants.

Here’s another one of Victoria with Coffee. *pat pat pat*

And this is my niece, Ava, with Sam. *kiss kiss kiss*

 

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1 Response

  1. JoAnna says:

    I wish I’d had shields up and sensors on when I started dating post-divorce. I finally learned (the hard way) to focus on friendship, myself, and God, not necessarily in that order. God had a plan and it was way better than my efforts. Horses might help, too. They ARE beautiful. And strong. Maybe that’s why I was so attracted to them in my youth. They kept me out of trouble for a while.

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