Today’s post is the result of many bunny trails of thoughts deriving from a photo on Instagram. (To hop on another trail for a moment: I recently saw a video called “Laughing Your Way to a Better Marriage” and Gungor’s thought on women’s brains is completely accurate—although he makes it seem like our wiring is a bit on the fritz at times, which is ridiculous. Our thoughts always make sense. Always.)
My friend Jacey posted about a ballcap she got from Pine Cove, which made me think of mine that I sadly left at home in Kansas.
I miss my cap, burn holes and all. There are a four years of memories attached to it…memories consisting of sunrises, both cool and hot summer mornings, fall fires, fire ants and scars, tractor rides, freezing my fingers off in the sleet and snow while feeding hay, telling kids about Jesus Christ and helping them memorize and understand Scripture, teaching adults more about their relationship with the Lord, and then there were the horses.
A horse, to me, is the story of the Gospel all wrapped up in four powerful legs and one stubborn brain. While I worked at PC from 2009 to 2013, I would go in everyday and be taught more about the grace, the might and power, the brilliance, and the beauty of God. I learned more about myself, how I should strive to better and more passionate and where I needed to submit and humble myself.
During my summers as a Barn Manager, I would ask the summer staffers to pick one horse they were the most like and one horse they desired to be more like. This was for three purposes: one, so the wranglers would observe the horses and their personalities, two, so the wranglers would connect the horses to themselves (this was especially for those who were not extremely fond of their work), and three, so they would see the horses as a platform for growth in their character and their journey with the Lord.
I tried to pick a different horse for each half and each year, but that didn’t always work despite the fact that I had 50-115 options depending on whether I kept it limited to Towers or all the barns.
One of my choices was the beautiful and late Jem. She died in 2011, and it broke my heart to see her go. Still, she did not live in vain because she definitely spoke into my life so that I may in turn speak into others. Jem was feisty, stubborn, and opinionated, but she was also at times incredibly gentle, loving, inviting, and obedient. When I first arrived at Towers, she was not one of our go-to horses for the scared riders, but by the end she was one of our most dependable rides, ready to work and a fairly good listener. It took her long enough, I know, seeing as she literally had to have a firecracker thrown underneath her to wake her up to reality (before my Towers experience). In many ways my life has looked like this, though thankfully, I have grown and try to be humble and determined as opposed to blindly stubborn and wise as opposed to just opinionated.
Though I had many examples of horses I would love to be like: Shiloh, Desperado, Jasper, JEB, Vacquero, Peeta, Rodeo, or Doolittle, I would typically choose One-derful. In many ways she is the opposite to what Jem was. She is not very pretty (although all horses have beauty). Jem was beautiful. Beautiful confirmation. Tall. Striking colors (black and white paint), and she was almost never alone. One-derful is short, squatty, has a fluff of mane that looks like she’s been electrocuted, and she is a loner. The thing about One-derful is…her spirit is beautiful. She can and will do almost anything you ask (within reason). She’ll stand next to Lefty in the barn even though he tries to steal her food and will try to get in her space.
She can do Trail Class away from the other horses, trail rides, arena rides, and Castle Rock rides. She will take any rider, although the weight and height is limited because of her age and her size. If you have a scared rider, she is just the right size for them and just the right temperance. To that child, she is perfect. She reaches the hard to reach and is gentle where others are not. Sure, she can be a grumpy mare at times, but what female doesn’t have her moments?
I remember clearly, as if it was yesterday, a time when I had the privilege of spending a week with this one camper girl with special needs who had permission to ride but would not the entire week due to fear. Finally, on Thursday, the last day for her to ride, she said she would get on the horse, but only if it was One-derful. And she did! And THROUGH that horse and that connection, she asked if I would lead her in prayer to join in the family of Christ.
Now that is the type of person I would like to be. Not dependent on my physical attributes or my own agenda. I want to use the desires and talents in me to be a tool for those who can’t speak or don’t know how and someone who will readily spread joy and the grace of the Lord. Because He is so much more than just a Sunday service or a convicting sermon. He’s a lifestyle that isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely worth the freedom and the joy I experience because I have been grafted in to His family.