This week’s story is a unique and special story about how God weaves together talent, passion, pain, and hope to join his people in his mission.
Aly Pflugfelder and her husband, James,
have a ministry in Arizona that brings
together rescued horses and children.
Grace Falls Farms’ mission:
“Rescue the Horse, Mentor the Child, Heal the Hearts of Both.”
Their website reads:
In April of 2004, James and Aly purchased their first horse and, with that, a new love was created between them. One year later James and Aly, along with additional horses, got the opportunity to own horse property with the backdrop of the famous Superstition Mountains in their front yard. The farm quickly became a place of drawing people together, with a very special draw between the horses and children.
In 2010 a dream was born to create a place where kids could experience the love of a horse without the expense of one. And, vice versa, it would be a place where the rescued horse would gain the trust of a loving child. Together a unique bond could form that would withstand the test of time.
Today James and Aly give God all the glory for what He will accomplish here on the Farm. It is purely by His great love for us and His creation that we are able to offer this type of program.
The story below is the behind-the-scenes testimony of God weaving many elements of this story together. Sometimes we get so focused on “mission” and being effective that we forget that God uses real, broken, hope-filled lives to accomplish his work.
What’s your story? Who are you? What have you experienced in life that makes you who you are? These are the questions that have plagued my life for years. I didn’t want to share my story with anyone. It wasn’t a happy one. It wasn’t glamorous. I felt like a failure. I was ashamed of who I was. At thirty-one years old I was a college dropout, I had just experienced my fourth miscarriage within three years, I was slowly drowning in the sorrow I had for the babies that should be in this world, but I pressed on for the sake of our newly adopted daughter from Ukraine. Just when I thought life couldn’t get any messier my OB/GYN found a mass in my uterus and sent me to an oncologist for further testing. For weeks I felt like a lab rat. Tests results came back with not only a mass in the uterus but a small tumor on my pituitary gland. The only conclusion that made sense to all the doctors was an immediate hysterectomy. I was devastated. This is a surgery for old ladies, I thought, not women in their thirties!
In one of many conversations about this James, my husband, came to me tenderly one day. I had wanted a horse of our own now that our boys were taking riding lessons. He cautiously listened as I presented what a good thing this would be for our family. This is what he said, “If you make it out of this surgery cancer free I will buy you a horse.” For the first time in a very long time, there was a glimmer of hope in my life. It was something I had dreamed of since I was a little girl on my uncle’s horse farm but never thought it would come true.
Six weeks after surgery and deemed cancer-free we owned our very first horse. He was a young horse and not the best fit for our family of green riders. We tried for a year but time showed us he was a danger to keep. I was encouraged to sell him and look for a safer horse. Those inadequate feelings from my past began to bubble up to the surface and again I felt like a failure. So began the search for a new horse.
There she was, to my amazement! Albert Einstein says it best, “The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain, children, all our lives.” I was a child again. Dreaming of the picture of this horse made every picture of every horse I had ever seen pale in comparison! She was the most beautiful horse I had ever seen. One phone call later and she was bought! The only problem was she was in Kalamazoo, MI and I was in Phoenix, AZ. It took a week to get her here but it was sure worth it! I had named her “Gracie” before she ever walked off the truck that day. She was mine and I was hers. But I was too afraid to ride her. Several days after getting here my friend’s husband offered to ride her for the first time.
“Aly, this horse isn’t for you,” is all I remember him saying. How could this be? This horse entertained girl scouts. Why wouldn’t she behave for him? I lay awake that night going through every scenario with this horse. With only a few hours of sleep under my belt, I quietly snuck out the back door with my boots in hand insistent on riding this horse for myself. The sun was just beginning to peek out over the mountains. I didn’t want to get caught in case I got bucked off. The last thing I wanted was any “I told you so!” I had to figure out what the problem was and decide if it was correctable or not. Putting my foot into the stirrup I whispered, “It’s okay,” reassuring not only her but me that everything was just as it should be. One step. Two. A “whoa” to check for brakes and I was on my way! I never could figure out what happened the night before with Gracie and my friend’s husband but there was one thing I was sure of …THIS WAS MY HORSE.
From that morning on my step was different. I had a new air about me. The touch from this horse was waking senses in me that I once thought were dead. It was a contagious feeling that I didn’t want to end. For once there was someone who didn’t care about the scars of my past if I put my makeup on or not or the fact that I held no titles or diplomas. She loved me. She loved me in spite of the fact that I didn’t love me. She convinces me with each ride that trust is easy when love provides a way. God also convinced me through the love of a horse that I, too, was beautiful. “To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory,” Isaiah 61:3.
God and Gracie have carried me over many a mountain side and dirt laden trail. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank the Lord for sending me my big yellow horse! I may still be a sapling in God’s eyes but I’m okay with that. I grow new leaves each day. My story….well, it’s still not all that glamorous or fun to tell, but it’s my story. I’m just glad I get to tell it with my favorite four-legged friend at my side. I have thrown off the cloak of sadness and mourning and chose to stand like a great oak for His glory.