Would you like to find a place that heals the soul, mends the heart, and makes you feel whole again? Well, look no further than a little-known place I love called Reigning Grace Ranch!! This is a place that can do all of the above and even more. Let me introduce myself first. My name is Chris and I am the lucky daddy of a special needs son with an incredibly rare genetic syndrome called Rubenstein Taby Syndrome or RTS for short. We are a part of the best church on the planet at Highlands Church in Scottsdale and they have partnered with RGR for Cowboy Sunday, a day out on the ranch for the special needs ministry at Highlands. I was the first to sign up as a volunteer with the church but also wanted to take my little guy with me. I attended a training session on a Sunday afternoon and that training session changed my life! I have been around horses and worked with some good ranches, but this ranch takes the cake when it comes to how they treat the horses and the incredible gentle way they handle the horses and the volunteers! Chris and Amanda the owners are some of the best people I have ever had the honor to meet! They know their way around a horse and they are just pleasant to be around. RGR was what I needed in my life and didn’t even know it! After the training session, I was hooked! I knew I needed to be a part of this blessing. I went back the next week and took my wife and daughter with me to show them this magnificent place. My wife knew I was hooked and she felt moved there as well. The first Sunday we did Cowboy Sunday with Highlands I was a volunteer and dad! We brought the gang (my wife and the kids) out with the other special needs ministry participants for that day and never looked back!
I have never been so moved and touched in an afternoon as that day. I watched kids of all ages get to ride horses and feel like they were just normal kids for an afternoon. I will never forget the smiles I saw that day on the faces of some incredible young children and even some teenagers that, some of them for the first time, were up on a horse. This is what it is all about, the feeling you get when you are up on that horse and you just feel whole for again. I know that for me it made me feel whole again. It made me feel like all was well in the world for that afternoon. You see not only did the special needs participants get the therapy and healing they needed but so did every parent and volunteer that day. Parents were watching their kids do things that they never thought possible, things that doctors might have said would never be possible, things that the kids never knew they would do but now can’t imagine doing. This is what RGR does for the soul!! I know my son was having a blast looking at the horses and “talking” to them, but when it came time to ride one he was scared and didn’t seem to be willing to do it. After chatting with Chris, the owner, he allowed me to saddle up and try to convince my son to ride with me! Little man was still scared but he came to me up there and together we rode!!! I’m getting a little teary eyed just writing that part! We went around the barrels, over the “jumps”, bridge and even went a little fast! My son had a smile I have never seen before up there! Through the tears and fears of course! At the end of the “ride” he didn’t want to get down but then he found a new friend, and this has sparked his interest. His new friend was “Stormin Norman” the cow! He became infatuated with this cow and still to this day when you ask him who is Norman he will say “Stooooooooormin Nooooooorman” in the cutest drawn out manner! He’s considered non-verbal by Dr’s, but he has this way about him that just knows how to chat in his own way! RGR not only does the special needs ministry Cowboy Sunday with Highlands but they do mentoring, coaching, they work with children that may never have the chance to see a horse up close! They do so much for the community and honestly, I can’t give them enough of the credit!!
Chris and Amanda know the Lord so well and follow His words not only in theory but also in doing. They are the most genuine people I have ever met, and the most humble!! God sure knows what he is doing with this amazing ranch and if you have ever thought about giving some time to a great cause or wondered just how can I help, then this is the place for you!! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to be a part of Reigning Grace Ranch!!!
Guest blog contributor – Chris McGraw