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 occasionally, though not often enough, is 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 at his hip, one of the two youngest males in the herd. 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 attuned 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
Over the many years of our ministry here at Tyson's Corners we have watched our healing herd grow from one retired old US Army Cavalry horse to a herd of 16 at one time. There have been some that came to the herd in middle age and are now elders, some that were born into the herd and have lived their whole life here, some whose path stopped them here for just a short while. All have become an intricate part of the ministry here.
The newest members in our herd are Buck & Scottie, both 10 year old gelded males that ended up together three years ago and then just a few months ago in need of a new home. Their time here has already been quite the unique teaching experience for many of us who work with the horses on a weekly basis. Opposite personalities and environmental backgrounds, different breeding , and methods of early training have certainly molded them into two different horses. When they were ready to merge into the herd we quickly noticed that Buck wasted no time finding his "survival of the fittest" instinct as he quickly asserted himself into the herd so as not to be the one eating last, and consequently never getting a bowl full of grain to enjoy to himself. Scottie, on the other hand, from day one always hung back, even at first keeping his distance so far from the others that he would not come in at all to eat his hay and grain. Over the weeks he slowly began to inch a little closer and then a little more closer. He has now after 2 months settled in to eating last and he seems to ask me every day with his big, sweet and submissive eyes, to bring his hay as far away as he is comfortable. I kindly oblige. Scottie has already shared with me his stories of early pain experienced at the hands of humans, through his subtle responses to pressure to the obvious ones like several different brands on his body. So I do often find myself wanting to protect him from further harm by holding some space for him to feel safe again. This morning as he slowly ate his grain I felt the need to do this again as Buck came over and started eating Scottie's grain. So I firmly asserted myself as protector of Scottie's last bit of grain from not only Buck, but then three more who came to take his grain. I stood there for many minutes, letting sweet Scottie eat every last bit of grain and I thought to myself....how often I am like Scottie. How often I let the circumstances of my life steal my happiness. God tells me in His word, that I will have troubles. He also tells me that for much wisdom comes much sorrow. And I look at Scottie's brands and I think about my own brands of sorrow. I think about how God always creates a safe protected space for me to bring Him my weaknesses of grief and fears. And how it's when I'm in that safe protected space with My Savior that He begins His teachings of wisdom upon my heart. Thank you, God and Scottie....for reminding me that my happiness is not found in things always being good or even fair. My happiness comes from knowing my Heavenly Father and simply knowing that the beauty of being vulnerable to this life of sorrows means I am His child. I do believe that one day I will be Home in Heaven with Him, meanwhile I cherish that He is holding that space for me to finish my grain.
His Teaching Cues:
What circumstances of your life are you allowing to steal your happiness? Where do you see God holding space for you and your weakness? Jesus promises to us, "...You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy." John 16:20
John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!"
Ecclesiastes 1:18 "For with much Wisdom comes much Sorrow."
The rain in Texas is sporadic to say the least. We've been months now without much but a small shower or two. The heat has been in triple digits and the land has turned brittle and dusty under the oppressive rays of the sun. However, today there thankfully sits a very large rain system over a huge part of our area. Looking out the window I see our herd of horses is huddled together under the canopy of the Live Oaks, patiently waiting for the downpour to subside. Tails tucked under, heads hung with water dripping from their soft wet noses, they wait. As do I...from the life storm that is raging on the field of my heart. With every drop of cold rain I hear God's voice..."I am in control". And I want to squeak out among the great sound of rain falling from His Heavenly Kingdom, "Please, make it stop, Father, please!". But lest He cannot make it stop, for my role as one of His flock is to seek refuge in Him, even among the worst of storms. It is discipline that He teaches me through this storm. And patience is the fruit of that discipline. So I wait, like my herd, under the canopied shelter of the most High, comforted by the promise that He is with me in the storm, and He will deliver me once again.
His teaching cues: What is your storm right now? Are you bringing it to our Heavenly Father? He is the one who tends to our herd....He promises to His daughters, "Because she loves me, I will rescue her; I will protect her, for she acknowledges My name. She will call upon me, and I will answer her; I will be with her in trouble, I will deliver and honor her." Psalm 91:14-15
Psalm 27:14 "Wait for The Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." ..