An arctic cold front came to our part of Texas this last weekend. It brought temperatures down to the teens in some parts. As a Texas girl who loves hot summers and warm spring and fall, winter is truly the time of year I feel like just hunkering down to let it pass. Those who know me will attest to the fact that I am a "cold weather wimp". Even though I grew up in some pretty cold areas of the world, I have grown accustomed to the heat of the south, and I love it! Thankfully here in the Texas Hill Country we only see a few weeks of the season get this stinkin' cold, and this last week was one of them and came a little early too. So I piled on my layers of clothing, raided my cold-weather-junkie-husband's winter clothing for extra protection from biting wind, and dredged out to feed the herd three times a day. This herd must feel the same way I do about the cold weather, they were a bit grumpy about it too! They also tend to hunker down, and get sedative through the day, sticking close to the hay barn for wind break and probably the hope of extra hay, which I always give them to keep them warm when it gets this cold. I can only let them do that for so long though. Horses were made with very complex digestive tracts, and when they don't get moving physically they can get in some trouble. See, they are grazing animals with about 70 feet of intestines wound up inside their body cavity. So it is pretty important that they physically move a lot during the day and night. My strategy to keep them moving during this recent cold front was to wheelbarrow their hay out to their 15 acre pasture, putting small piles of hay all over to make them do a lot of walking. Even though it meant more time feeding in the dreaded cold and biting wind, that is a whole lot better than having to walk a horse for hours with colic in the cold and biting wind.
As I was walking across the pasture several times today I was thinking about how we too get "stuck at the hay barn" at times in our lives. You know that comfy place that blocks the cold wind of our circumstances. It can also be called complacent. Stuck. Denial. Unfocused. Distracted. To name a few. It happens in our marriages, our work, our parenting, and yes even our horsemanship. Sometimes our circumstances really do make us want to hunker down til the storm passes. But is that what God calls us to do? And aren't we too, like our horses, made in a way that needs movement? I find that we are. We are made to need movement towards God. Especially in those storms of life . No matter how big or small they are, that is what He tells us, and that is what He sent His son Jesus to do, to make a pathway for us towards relationship with Him.
So what do we do to get moving again? For me, it came in confession today. Confession of my fears to Jesus, because He indeed asks me ifor them. Fear of not always knowing what my children need as they change and grow up faster than I ever could have thought possible. Yesterday in church my husband and I watched a tender moment between a 4 year old little boy and his daddy sitting in the pew in front of us. His father held him in his arms while he sang worship songs, and the little boy had his arms wrapped around his daddy's neck with his little hands clasped together, finding every bit of comfort he was needing that moment safe in his daddy's arms. I thought about my own children at that age and how much easier it was to know what they needed then, now as teens and tweens they seem to be a little more complicated. I confessed my worry of not knowing how to be the best wife possible, and even more the worry of how to be the woman God wants me to be, instead of the one the world tells me to be. And there I was getting unstuck from the hay barn of my circumstances today. One by one I put them in the wheelbarrow to Jesus and wheeled them across the pasture. And one by one He reminded me that He is with me in all of them, and will provide me every day with what I need to keep moving. It is a gift to care for a herd of horses every day (in the cold too), but it is more of a gift to have my soul be cared for by my loving Savior, Jesus.
His Teaching Cues:
Are you "stuck at the hay barn" today?
What are your circumstances that need to go into the wheelbarrow to Jesus to get you moving again?
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
We horse chicks know about pressure and release. It is how our horses learn. When interacting with horses we are constantly applying pressure and releasing pressure. To begin with, just being a predator and trying to communicate with a prey animal is pressure for them. We can at any time in the presence of horses take a step back and see how pressure is being applied and released. We are either carefully aware, or unaware, of how it is affecting our horse in our process to create trust and partnership. Pressure comes in many forms and one could, and several have, written pages about it. Today God has me thinking about pressure and how it relates to my walk with Him.
So about the pressure we as humans experience. I have been experiencing some anxiety off and on for the last couple of days over an upcoming event in my life. It is nothing new for me, just the "thorn in my side"/adversity that God is using to grow my faith in profound ways. As always the anxiety comes from one of the old lies that the enemy loves to use against me. I say "old lies" because at one time I believed those lies. But not today. I have walked through those dark places with Jesus, and He has delivered me from them. Praise the Lord! But the enemy knows that even still today there is residue of those lies in my heart and mind, and he takes full advantage of my weak moments. As always Jesus faithfully delivers me from each attack, every single time. Today, in wake of one of those attacks I have been chewing on how the pressure of those lies makes us turn our thoughts inward. There is a pattern in humans to always focus on the negative, there is even research that shows how the brain is wired to remember negative events more than positive. Just like our horses' brains are wired as prey animals to push against pressure and we have to teach them to give to pressure. When we teach a horse about giving to pressure, it is in the release that the horse learns. When the horse stops pushing towards the pressure and gives to the pressure of our gentle touch it can be a moment of complete learning if we release the pressure at just the right time. Our tendency, just like the horse, is to push back against those pressures we are experiencing. And as the imperfect sinful people that we are wired to be, we tend to direct that pressure inward towards ourselves. Often we do this by playing old tapes of those lies, or current ones, we listen to what others are saying, or we become so focused on trying to bend that pressure to our own will that we forget, or do not know, that God is calling us to give that pressure to HIM. But you may ask, as many a horse chicks have done before us....how do I give to the pressure? Just like our horses' brains are wired to be on constant alert, so are we. God's Word tells us to be "self-controlled and alert, that the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." I actually think God just right there told us to be like a horse! First, be alert...be aware of when you begin to feel those physical sensations of the pressure, just like you notice them in your horse. The next step, be self controlled. Just like when your horse is triggered and ready to go into fight or flight mode, you ask them to go back to the foundation you taught, and focus on your cues. God is asking the same from you....turn your focus away from yourself, and focus on Him, praising Him as your savior and telling him how much you love Him. The next step, submit your repentance to Him. Here is a very important thing to know about the enemy you are to be alert for...he has a nickname, it is "the accuser". His goal is to beat you to God and tell on you and bring forth shame on you. So learn to be faster, and wiser, and beat the enemy to it by quickly, in prayer, asking for forgiveness for your doubt, your worry, your fear, your self-reliance, your sins. And then look to God, and in humble prayer ask for help from our Lord, our Heavenly Father. And then find rest in the release of the pressure that comes from turning to Him as our refuge.
** The next time you see your horse be alert let it be a reminder to you, that God is asking you to do the same! **
His Teaching Cues:
1. Identify the pressures you are experiencing. Physical or mental.
2. How are you inwardly focusing from them?
3. Make purposeful time today to release that pressure to God using the steps listed above.
4. Just like our horses learn from consistency, so do we. Be purposeful and consistent in spending time with God, in humble prayer and plea for His compassionate help.
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. " ~ 1 Peter 5: 6-8
"Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." ~ Matthew 6:10
For further encouragement read:
Luke 12: 22-31 "Do Not Worry"
Matthew 14:22-35 "Jesus Walks on the Water" addresses Doubt
Ephesians 6: 10-17 "The Armor of God"
We horse chicks know all about a thing called "Herd Bound" or "Separation Anxiety". Yes, sometimes we horse chicks also experience this when away from our horses, but I am writing here about what some horses experience when they have to be separated from their herd. This is common in the world of horses because horses are herd animals and they all experience this on some level whenever they are separated from their herd. It is how God designed them, and serves a very important purpose. They are designed to need their herd for safety from predators. "Safety in numbers!" But what about how God designed us? In the perfection of His plan, He designed us to need also. To need dependence on another. I can honestly say that all of us at some time in our lives have focused that need of dependence on someone or something other than God. Just like our horses were made to need their herd, we were made by God to need Him....to need His love, His direction, His compassion, His comfort, His strength, His provisions....the list goes on and on. Yet we so often replace that dependence that was meant first and foremost for Him, with self-sufficiency, personal saviors in our loved ones, money, success, addictions, work...and again that list could go on.
When I have a horse that is "herd bound" or experiences anxiety when separated from its herd there is training to be done specifically for that. That training always begins with our relationship of trust between each other. I keep in mind though that my relationship with my horse will never be as safe as his relationship to his herd. I can, over time with my horse, build enough trust that he can feel safe to leave his herd and go where I lead him, but I know his complete and wholehearted trust and dependence remains with his herd of horses; as it should. We are just like the horse...we can build trusting attachments to our loved ones, dependence on our professions, belief in things we "depend" on, but in the end the dependence we most seek can only be filled by relationship with God our Heavenly Father.
His training cues:
"Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness."
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me."
It is interesting to me how the horse's purpose in our world has changed over the years. Once used mainly for work and transportation, in our civilization today their purpose is quite different, instead fulfilling the needs of people in the ways of relationship, hobby, sport, and even therapy. Several of the horses at Tyson's Corners have ended up here because of a very common situation in the world of horses. A change in their purpose. More often than not it seems that our biggest problem in working with horses is that we don't share their mind or buy into their true purpose. Other mentalities capture us, and we expect them to fit into our perceived purposes. We create a box unto which to fit them into. And then when we cannot fit them into that box any longer we become overwhelmed with the results we created by trying to put them into that box. The box could be dreams or goals, but for certain that box will change as we accept our own realities, as well as the reality of our horse.
Most of my days consist of working these horses who got off a path and somehow found their way to Tyson's Corners for refuge or a fresh start, out of the box they had once or even many times been put into. Their lesson plans consist of the same things....trusting again, maybe finding the ability to relax in the hands of a human again, or even for the first time. Everyday as I stand in the middle of the round pen at the end of a 22 foot long line, and ask them to just breathe, slow down, connect with me, trust the feel of my energy, my hands on the rope that connects them to me, I think about God. I ask the horses to yield to my touch on the rope, to the sound of my voice, the change in my body, to my care and love for them and their purpose. As I ask this of my horse so does God ask this of me...and oh how He thankfully does it with so much more patience, mercy, and grace for me. He also asks me to look at His horses with eyes of reality, what they are bred to do, what their temperament is suited for, what their own life experiences have conditioned them to do. Because that is their reality, and therefore must be mine as well. Realities can at times be extremely hard. Whether they are realities of our selves, of loved ones in our lives, the state of our relationships, finances, professions, or even our horse, they are not always easy to face. Throughout the Bible we read stories of real people facing real and very difficult realities. We also read the words of God telling them and us, "Do not fear...slow down...connect to Me...listen for My voice...trust My hands at the end of this rope with you...you are where you are because this is part of your reality and your purpose. Have Faith."
His Teaching Cues:
What is the box in your life? The mentality you are believing in?
What is the reality God is leading you into or holding space in with you?
Are you giving Him your faith in His ability to be at the end of the rope with you?
"Therefore, I urge you, sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-which is your spiritual worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will". ~ Romans 12: 1-2
"But my eyes are fixed on You, O Sovereign Lord; In You I take refuge..."
~ Psalm 141:8
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
For more encouragement read Psalm 139.
From my first memories as a child I remember loving horses. I thought about them all the time. During the day I pretended I was a horse or that I owned horses, I drew horses, I read books about horses, my room was always plastered with posters of horses, and at night I dreamt about horses. When I was a little girl these were my dreams: to own and care for horses, to marry my Prince Charming and be a Mom. Many days of the week I pause and look around at how God has made those dreams come true. Sometimes he catches me in the middle of a tiny moment, like when I sling a halter over my shoulder to go get my horse and suddenly I am 7 years old again dreaming of what it would be like to sling a halter over my shoulder to go catch my horse, but in reality it was just a dog leash. Or those first few seconds on my horse's back and I remember as a kid how I looked forward to every Saturday morning's lessons and how for an hour I was an Olympic equestrian in the making. The Olympic equestrian dream did not come true, well, not yet. But so many of my childhood dreams have come true...but not without some heartache in the pursuit of them.
Over the Labor Day weekend we lost one of our beloved horses to the dreaded horseman's nightmare of colic. And in the 13 hours of medicating, walking, trailering, vet visits, praying, pleading and more walking, I feel like I watched a little part of a dream die. Roger was a dream horse. He was horse perfection in my eyes. A beautiful pure bred Arabian, sound, healthy, well trained, sweet and loving disposition, the list could go on and on. The guy even loved to chase a cow! He was the rock of our equine assisted ABA therapy program, and when he was in a session you could tell he knew his job was just as important as the therapist's. Roger just always kind of "knew". If I had to list a flaw the only one I could ever find, is he liked to give one small buck when you asked him to move into a canter. After awhile I actually just came to find it kind of cute about him. I've been experiencing a lot of grief about the loss of Roger, not just in my own heart, but in the hearts of all the others, especially our little kiddos who loved Roger. He was many people's dream horse. He was the star lesson horse that many a beginner started their love affair of horses with. This week I have found myself asking God, "what now?" How do you fill that spot? I relied on Roger and trusted him with many a precious cargo in therapy and lessons. In the herd he was my most reliable member. How do you find that again? I am still waiting on God's reply to that question. But through my worry about that it has me bringing to God the loss of dreams within our dreams. How we love to cling to our dreams...even when they are not ours to cling to. Roger came into my life right when God intended to start using my dream of owning horses to help people. He must have known we needed a dream horse to get started. He was God's horse from the beginning...I mean really how else do you land a horse like Roger for just $500?
Laying a dream to rest....is something God calls us all to do, even though it is our very human and sinful nature to cling to dreams. We find love, connection and belonging, sometimes even our identity, in our dreams. But God instructs us in His word to cling to Him first, and He will make all of our dreams come true. I woke up early this morning struggling with some discontent. As I wrestled with the details of each of my dreams that I did not see working out lately to my expectations, God reminded me that He asks me to be content in any and every situation. To me Roger is my reminder today that just like my Prince Charming and my beautiful children, they are His first, and by clinging to my Heavenly Father and not to them, I can then be all His dreams for me require me to be.
His teaching cues.....
What are those dreams you are clinging to? Is God asking you to take a look at them with Him, reevaluate their priority, or even lay them to rest?
Can you trust that He has your best dreams in His plans for you?
Can you bring Him today the details of your dreams and thank Him for the grace He gives you through every last detail of them?
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be as well."
~ Matthew 6: 19-21
"No one can serve two masters. Either she will hate the one and love the other, or he will devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."
~ Matthew 6:24
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! . . . I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
~ Philippians 4:4, 12
Last hours with Roger
Guest Blog post by fellow Horse Chick and friend, Rachel Loscomb, a woman who loves God and horses too. It is with great esteem I welcome her to the ranch to share how God works in her life through her horse Ahmbi.
One of the greatest ways that I've found to exercise my mare is by long lining. This seemingly observable "easy" technique can quickly turn into a tangled ball of rope and horse if you aren't paying attention! The long lines serve as extendable reins, a direct connection of my hands. When my mare and I first started this journey, I had no idea the implications it would have on both of us.
Now Ahmbi has the type of personality where she is never overly excited to work and tries every trick in the book to find a short cut to the exercise she is asked to do. The classic "mare face" is unleashed when the time comes to work! However, once she understands the task I'm asking of her she gives it her whole heart.
Often at times when I'm working with her I often think of the situations that I've tried to find life's short cuts or faster ways around what was happening in my life. Ducking, weaving, evading-all common themes I saw in my mare at first that I've found my own self perfecting for most if my life. Why work harder when you can evade? Run away? As the months have gone on, I've noticed that as I learn to convey the right amount of pressure paired with releasing at the right time, Ahmbi's learned that her evasion techniques can't work in our partnership. Now, this doesn't mean she doesn't try and I have to always be that one...or two steps ahead of her!
This is how we often approach our lives with God. We duck, dodge, weave around His plans in hopes that He didn't see that latest defensive tactic because it makes us feel uncomfortable or it doesn't jive with what we hoped our lives would look like. Sometimes we get in a pattern of living like this that we instinctively hit the repeat button and try it again...over and over again. But just as I have learned to be patient with Ahmbi to teach her, I realize that we are both teaching one another! Stability, trust, genuine love...all core components of a working team! The long lines serve as an overreaching extension of the trust and respect we share, which can be a positive or negative experience depending on the hands holding the reins!
God wants us to approach with a willing attitude and not one of resistance and contempt. Most of the time this is easier said than done and it's something that I constantly fight with. A futile fight that God ends up winning. Every time.
I've learned over the last few years that you don't train a horse, you don't break a horse. You come into partnership with your horse, you teach one another, you allow one another to enter each other's lives. Ahmbi is an incredible teacher and I am truly blessed each day to have such an incredible gift from God. She's showed me how to love, play, and trust. Most importantly, to be in the present, showing me the person God has always intended me to be.
Have you ever met the one? You know that one who at first glance you didn't see it, but then upon second glance you could not look away? You know just like all impactful things happen in your life, you didn't see that one coming? That has happened a couple of times in my life now. First it was meeting and falling in love with the most amazing man I have ever known, being blessed with the honor of marrying him and answering the call to be his spiritual battle buddy in this life we're adventuring through. The second time was the day I met Buck...a horse. The day I went to collect Buck and bring him home, I spent 4 hours training him to get into a trailer. Yes, four long excruciating training hours with a very tall, strong, spirited and fearful horse. However, it turns out not just any horse, but a horse who became a messenger of God in those first several hours together at the trailer. Hence the second glance.....in that four hours of our one-step-forward-two-steps-back dance at the trailer, God spoke. And He spoke truth, and He spoke about trust, and He spoke about this process of reconciliation with Him, and to Him. Feeling exhausted and defeated by a horse's natural fear of a trailer, I drove home that day without Buck, but with the promise of a return in a few days with sedatives! On that drive home, I heard God asking me, as He asks everyone at some point in their walk of faith in Him, for me to take that last step and "get all the way on the trailer". God and I had been doing a lot of "trailer training" in one particular area of my life leading up to that day. And to my dismay there was one more final step He wanted me to take. And I would like to tell you that I bravely stepped up to the trailer right away, but truthfully I balked, reared and kicked the whole 2 hour drive home with God about that last step. It was really scary. And it was the step that required me to say "okay, God, I choose to trust you with that deepest hurt and worst fear....I am willing to hand it all over to you, to get on that trailer, and ride through whatever happens, trusting in Your promise that You will be with me no matter what happens." I did courageously obey God that day. I want to also tell you that it was about a 7 month long training process of the one-step-forward-two-steps-back dance that got me to that point of trusting Him with that one very broken part of me I had been clinging to the fiercest. And God knew this too. And He was and still is my most gentle and compassionate trainer. He never put me on a timeframe with the promise of a sedative to get me on it. No, He always led me one loving step at a time, patiently waiting for me to courageously put the next foot forward, trust Him enough with that step and then work on the next one. Just as He asks us to do for our horses, He will always do for us. And I am happy to report that getting on that trailer that day, turns out, was the most freeing choice I have ever made!!!
His Teaching Cues: What "trailer" is God asking you to trust Him with? Is He asking you to get on it? Or is He just merely asking you to look at it with Him?
"Into Your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth. ...I trust You. I will be glad and rejoice in Your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place" Psalm 31: 5-8
"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever."
"Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble and He delivered them from their distress.....He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains....He sent forth His word and healed them." Psalm 107: 1, 6, 20
For further study and encouragement read Matthew 14:22-34
Ok, for those of you non-horse chick people who are offended by that less than lady-like title, I am very sorry. However, when you become a horse chick, you become the kind of chick who starts taking honesty real serious...like especially serious when you're on the back of a 1200 pound animal who is ALWAYS honest. When you start getting face to face with that kind of honesty you come to realize if you're not honest with the horse and yourself, there's gonna be trouble. I mean the kind of trouble that can land you laid up in the hospital kind of trouble. So you start to call things as you see it. And sometimes there is no other way to call it except "some days we just get pissed on and pissed off". Today is one of those days for me. Now, let me just say that I argued with God about not wanting to write about this today because I really want to come across that I am always the calm, gentle, zen-like, always-in-control-of-her-emotions horse-chick that I always tell others the horse needs you to be...but shocking as this may be, I am not perfect. Either. Today was another one of those "gate" days with Siena. Morning feed in the stall, BIG Appaloosa anxious to get to her grain, and then me, already feeling pissed on by a people herd member and not focused. We get to the stall, she gets jumpy, and jumps her back hoof into a fresh puddle of horse urine, splashing it all over me. Picture the scene....me, smoke coming out of my ears, mud and urine all over me, and unfortunately a whip in my hand (Yes, God, thank you for that tangible representation) and Siena's big rump in plain view as she ravishes her grain. I would really like to write that I stayed on my good horse trainer box at that moment and did not emotionally react, but I cannot lie. Because I am honest. With God, me, the horse and you as well. (Sigh) And here I am, now showered and clean, reflecting on what we call in the equine assisted therapy world, "using what comes up". And what is coming up is my people herd. Specifically that one I feel has just "splashed urine all over me." In all honesty, I had that moment this morning where I had a different kind of whip in my hand, this one is called the tongue. And as I took my stewing anger at this person's "urine splashing behavior" to God this morning and was too quickly flipping through the scriptures from my devotional, He stopped me right here... Romans 8:9 "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you...if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness."
And there it is, that call upon my heart that God so wanted me to hear and asked His Appaloosa mare to drive home. We are not called to respond by laying down the whip of the tongue. We as Christians are called to obey God, not give way to our sinful desires to pay hurt with hurt. And in fact if I had done that this morning it would have hurt another member of my people herd, the one who did not cause the "urine splashing behavior" but the one who would have directly been impacted by it. Getting pissed on and pissed off is as honest and normal as Siena wanting to get through that gate to her grain as fast as possible. And God knows this about us. And he longs to take the whip out of our hands. He longs for us to turn to him instead and bring the deep cutting feelings of "it's not fair!", "this sucks!", and "I'm so hurt!" to Him, and just let Him be the Father to us He so longs to be.
His Teaching Cues: Have you been going to that whip to deal with those who "splashed urine" on you? What is that whip you are using in your life? What is that gate God has you at over and over?
Romans 8:13-16 "Therefore sisters, we have an obligation- but it is not to live according to the sinful nature. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die (*your relationships will die*); But if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are daughters of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave to fear, but you received the Spirit of Daughtership. And by Him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children."
One of my all time favorite things to do in this life of mine is to occasionally, though not often enough, spend time with the herd when they are resting and napping under one of their motts of trees. This morning was one of those days. After breakfast there was a slow and steady drizzle of rain that lured me down to their sleepy huddle. As I moved among them, taking in each of their warm nuzzles, curious sniffs, requests for scratches, and in general what felt like their sweet appreciation of my stop into their world, I breathed in the ease of their comfort together. I watched Jinksy, the tall and lanky Thoroughbred dozing quietly with Wildfire, one of the two youngest males in the herd, at his hip. That is where I find the two youngest males quite often, at the hip of Jinsky. I squeeze myself quietly over to Jinsky's sleepy head and he presses his big forehead into my neck as I kiss his big gentle eye. And I tell him what a good job he is doing raising up the young ones. He keeps on dozing off. Then Bella comes over and nips him on the nose to move and he just simply takes a couple of steps back and then returns to dozing off, Wildfire still at his hip. I look over at my shoulder just a few feet away at Buck and Scottie scratching each other's backs, Roger and Tink resting in a quiet moment together, and then suddenly behind me I feel the warm nuzzle of Cheyenne's nose in my hair as she scratches me behind my ear. Watching them all honestly show their affections to me and each other, communicate their needs, accept their roles, take correction and discipline from their elders, respond to the expectations of the herd as a whole, I was deeply moved at how in tune and connected they are to their relationships. They even make it look so easy! Why doesn't it always feel that easy with my people herd, I wonder! Looking at the herd I realize something profound...the horses do not feel disappointment in each other. They do not have sin in their soul. And they are always devoted to the herd. Fulfilling their role within the herd is their top priority. It is in fact a matter of safety for the horses to act appropriately in their roles so the herd is safe, and as a result then each individual is safe. I suddenly feel as if I am standing in the Garden of Eden right before Eve gave in to Satan's temptation and ate the apple. This is what God intended, for us all to sit in the safety of His herd, not knowing sin and disappointment. Just knowing our role within His herd. I ponder some more.....how do we appropriately function in our herd when we live in such a fallen world? My God-Made soul yearns to function how He intended for us to, just be like a horse and move with ease and total comfort among my herd mates, free of expectations and disappointments. Living in a fallen world, among others who sin just like me, I have to cling to my safe "herd": God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. That holy trinity was gifted to us to fulfill His purpose of first relationship with Him, and then relationship to the other members of the herd. Devoted, even amongst the sin and disappointments. Our role is to stay devoted to Him.
His Teaching Cues: What herds are you in today? What are the struggles(sin, disappointments) you need to bring to Him? Are you functioning from a place of self devotion or herd devotion?
Ladies, I encourage you to pick up your bibles, His word is the instruction manual to living in this fallen world. Dig in, Seek Him, bring Him your soul that was designed to function in a perfect world. He will show you how to be like His horse, and be devoted to your herd.
"For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by man. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification." Romans 14:17-19
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and Love your neighbor as yourself." Luke 10:27
Appaloosas....for some of us that word makes us cringe remembering that one "Appy" that crossed our path and forever left an impression on us (hopefully not in the shape of a hoof). For some, that word taps into a place in our heart of treasured equine partner, maybe it's that one who crossed your path and made you a better horsewoman. Sink or swim comes to my mind when an Appaloosa crosses my path. My Appaloosa, Rebel, is close to 37 years old now. He is the grandpa of our herd. And my friend Cyndee owns the other Appaloosa in our herd, named Siena. Appaloosas are tough and hardy, which I assume has a lot to do with the the fact that the breed was developed in the mid 1700's by the Nez Perce Native American Tribe. The tribe was known for their horsemanship skills and even used their Appaloosas in many well known battles. It's just not a sissy breed, and Siena and Rebel ain't no sissies either. So around our herd a lot of learning takes place in partnership with these two, which at times I have to admit does not always feel like "partnership", some days it's just down right survival! Siena has lately taken to running people over at the gate to her stall when you serve up her grain, not seeming to care about anything or anyone except getting to that "bucket full of goodness". So now at feeding time she gets schooling in how to appropriately enter a gate. There's always issues about gates with horses it seems. Leave one open and they're either always bound to go through it, or they're so scared of them it becomes a lifetime training challenge. But it always gets me thinking about our own gates in this world. Siena today got me thinking about that bucket full of goodness. As frustrating as it gets having a 1200 pound animal want to run you over to get to that tasty stuff she thinks is the most fulfilling time of her day...are we really much different than Siena? How often do we run over the relationships in our life to fulfill that hunger for (fill in the blank) that we think we need to feel ok? How often do we run over God's Fatherly discipline of us because that need for (fill in the blank) has become greater than our need for Him? I think quite often.
His teaching cues: What gates are open in your life today? How is God asking you to go through them? Or is He asking you to simply not go through them? Or perhaps even to wait? Consider the relationships God has stood at that gate.
"Therefore as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on Love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Colossians 3:12-14
For further study and encouragement read all of Colossians 3