Saturday, April 12, 2008

Weekly Word for April 12, 2008

Weekly Word - April 12, 2008

My voice rises to God, and I will cry aloud;
My voice rises to God, and He will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord;
In the night - my hand was stretched out . . .
(Psalm 77: 1 & 2)

The sun had just barely risen, when she awoke that morning. She quickly threw on her heavy clothes, grabbing her winter boots as she headed to the kitchen. She only had a little time to get something to eat, before it was time to leave. Even though the calendar said it was the beginning of April, here in Vermont, it still felt as if winter would never let go! Turning the key in the ignition, the car groaned and sputtered, before it finally started. Without stopping to let it warm up, she headed off to the barn.

As she drove, she couldn’t stop thinking about Pepper, and wondering how he was doing at his new home. The week-end before had been full of stress, as everything at the old farm was moved - to a brand new facility. All the workers, including Jen, had spent the entire week-end lugging everything from equipment to kittens, over to the new farm. On Monday, the time to move the horses had finally come. The thought of putting Pepper on a trailer, had Jen worried though. It had been a very long time since he had been in one, and no one knew how he would react. He had been through some tough times over the winter, and he definitely didn’t like to be in small areas. So when it was his turn to go - she carefully walked him out to the trailer. She talked softly to him, encouraging him with her words as well as lots of carrots. When he got to the trailer, he stopped - making it plain he didn’t want to go on. But with lots of coaxing, and her standing with him until it was time to leave - he finally left for his new home. As the trailer drove away, Jen headed for work. Even though she was late for a meeting, she couldn’t stop worrying about Pepper. But her friends had promised to call if anything happened, and so she drove on to work.

My voice rises to God, and I will cry aloud; . . .
In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord;

It had been three days since the move; three days of trying not to worry about Pepper, as her work kept her very busy. No one had called, and so she hoped that meant he was doing well in his brand new home. She had heard that he had fallen as he was taken out of the trailer. But Jamie (the owner) had told her that he was doing just fine, so she was hopeful. Pulling up to the big barn, she couldn’t help but admire how much more room the horses would have. There were extra fields and pastures for them to run in, as well as places inside, and out - for riding. It really was a beautiful new place.

As she came out of the barn and headed up the hill, she saw him standing at the top of a little hill. He was surrounded by all his old friends, and they seemed content in their new surroundings. She called to him, and his head bounced up and his ears came forward - as he whinnied back to her. Carefully, she made her way through the mud and the ice, thankful that she had on her big winter boots. As she walked, she saw Pepper start to head toward her. Slowly, he moved his legs - and she wondered what was wrong. Watching him struggle toward her, she didn’t want to believe it. But she knew it was true - - - Pepper was lame!

My soul refused to be comforted. When I sigh, then my spirit grows faint.
I am so troubled that I cannot speak . . .
(Psalm 77: 2 - 4)

As she went about her chores that day, she kept checking on Pepper. He seemed happy enough, but he definitely had a swollen knee. Jamie told her that it was probably from the fall, and she believed he would get better. Jen wanted to believe her, she wanted to hope that he would be OK, but her insides were in knots and she wasn’t quite sure what she thought. The past few months had been so difficult, full of hoping and praying - even when others had told her to give up. But she hadn’t given up, and Pepper had pulled through. But now, she wasn’t sure if she could go through it - - - all over again.

As darkness set in, Jen and her friends finished up their work for the day. She waved as they left, and then she headed off to see Pepper one last time. The rain was coming down now with a vengeance, and so she decided to put some extra hay under the “lean-to” for Pepper and the others. They were all huddled underneath, as she finished up with the hay. Pulling an apple from her pocket, she gave Pepper one last treat. As she stood next to him, she couldn’t help but wonder “why” these things always seemed to happen to her. Lost in her own thoughts, she didn’t hear the ruckus behind her. An older mare had decided to join the “boys” and get out of the rain. What happened next - - - Jen had no clue! All she knew was that the mare had somehow gotten between her and Pepper. The mare’s eyes were full of panic - and she was pushing and shoving against Jen. In what seemed like slow motion, she was falling - and rolling - and hooves were pounding above her. For just a moment, she just laid there - her mind a jumble of everything that had happened. Then, very slowly, she got up - making her way back to Pepper. When she got there, she threw her arms around his neck - finally letting the tears wash over her . . .

. . . We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed;
Perplexed, but not despairing;
Persecuted, but not forsaken;
Struck down, but not destroyed; . . .
(2 Corinthians: 4: 8 & 9)

I still remember the day I met Pepper. Ted and I had traveled to Vermont for a visit, bringing Emma our oldest granddaughter. For months, Jen had been riding a little chocolate mare. She had sent pictures and told us all about her. And then for whatever reason, the mare was sent to another farm. “It’s OK mom” she had told me. “I am going to ride Pepper”. More pictures had followed, and I have to admit - I wasn’t quite sure what to think of this pudgy, short gelding. He had a big round belly, and legs that seemed too short for his body. But Jen was excited for us all to meet him, and so we headed to the barn.

It was late August, the time of year when the summer heat can still be felt, and yet there is a chill that foretells of autumn. On this day, the sun was no where to be found. It was rainy and cold, and we all wore our jackets pulled tightly closed. Jen had brought Pepper into the barn, letting us pet him and introducing us to him. Jen had Emma help her brush him, and soon they had his saddle and bridle on him. As she worked, she told us that Emma was going to get a chance to ride him. At that, Emma beamed back at her “Auntie Jenny”. The rain was still coming down pretty hard, so Jen took Pepper into the inside arena. As she did, I could feel a nervousness take over. Pepper didn’t want to hold still, and I wondered if he was alright. Finally, I held his head while Jen climbed onto his back. As I let go, he took off! He was jumping around, bucking and kicking - and I was sure that Jen was going to get hurt. Emma had backed into my legs, and I knew she was terrified watching this happen. “This is Pepper?” I thought. I wasn’t so sure that this was the horse I wanted my daughter to be riding!

I will give Thee thanks with all my heart: I will sing praises to Thee before the gods. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, Thou wilt revive me; . . . And Thy right hand will save me.
(Psalm 138: 1 & 7)

From that day on, I wasn’t sure what to think of Pepper. Jen sent pictures, and called each week - telling me all about her lessons and how good Pepper was doing. I wanted to believe her, but I was still afraid of him.

As the months went by, Jen started to tell us all about a horse show she was going to be in. “Can you come watch me?” she asked. I told her we would try, and soon we were planning another trip to Vermont. She and Pepper had been learning “Dressage”, a type of riding that demanded that both horse and rider work totally together. When she told me about it, I couldn’t believe that she and Pepper would actually be able to do it. So as we headed north, I wondered how the show would go.

The week-end turned out to be wonderful. There was something very special between Pepper and Jenny, something that I hadn‘t seen there before. They seemed to trust each other; and it was evident that Pepper loved Jen almost as much as she loved him back! As I watched the two working together, making circles and patterns in the ring, I held my breath. They were so beautiful together. When the awards were announced at the end of the day, Jen and Pepper had won! We laughed and had such a good time, and I took so many pictures of the two of them. And then it was time to leave. As Jenny finished rinsing Pepper off, getting him ready to go back out in the field, I found myself just watching the two of them together. She had brought him to the gate, and he stood there just waiting for her. As she brought him inside, he turned around to face the gate. Standing there, she threw her arms around him, telling him something that only the two of them could hear. As she closed the gate to head back toward us, he stayed right where he was - watching her the entire way. They truly did love each other, trusting the other - with their lives . . .

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, Thou wilt revive me; Thou wilt stretch forth Thy hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Thy right hand will save me.

It was that trust, that Pepper would need in the months that lay ahead . . .

When the phone rang that day, I smiled - knowing that Jen was probably calling me, as she headed home from the barn. But the smile quickly vanished, as I listened to my daughter’s shaking voice. “He’s lame, mom!” she told me. “He can’t even walk!” she continued. She told me how she had found him out in the field, and that when she had called, he hadn’t come to her. When she got to him, she realized he couldn’t put weight on his front leg. It had taken her a while, but somehow she had gotten him down to the barn. There, the owner had called the veterinarian. Things didn’t look good, and Jen had started to shake when she heard them talking about “putting him down”. My heart sank, as Jen told me how bad his front knee actually was. “I wish you could come up and lay hands on him mom” she said. And at that, I actually laughed a little. “You can do it Jen” I told her. “He loves you and trusts you, you’re the one who needs to pray for him now.”

“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.”
(Jeremiah 29: 12)

No one was sure if Pepper could survive, but they listened to Jen as she begged them to try to save him. The vet gave him a shot in the knee, and he was given heavy pain meds as well. His knee was smeared with a medicine that smelled awful, and he was put in the barn to wait out the night. Finally, Jen left for the night. As she did, the owner called another friend to be on standby - just in case she needed his tractor to dig a hole for Pepper’s body . . .

“Come - and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.”

The next day, Jen and Pepper’s routine began. Jen would give Pepper his medicine each morning, mixed into his grain. As he ate, she would check his knee, unwrapping it and getting his medicine ready. Each day, as she put the medicine on Pepper’s knee, she prayed for him. As she did, he would reach down and pluck her hat from her head, playing with her - - - loving her! Later, she would put her hands around his neck, and the prayers continued. No one knew about those prayers, except her and Pepper - and the Lord.

As the days turned into weeks, Pepper’s knee seemed to get better. The vet checked on him quite often, and was surprised by the fact that he seemed to be getting better. Everyone warned Jen though, not to get her hopes up. “Maybe he can be a companion horse, or a barn horse” they told her. But riding him again, well - - - those days were done. As Jen listened to them, she told them that was OK. She didn’t care if she couldn’t ride Pepper. All she cared about - was that he lived!

And if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
. . . Love is patient, love is kind, . . . (it) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails; . . .
(1 Corinthians 13: 2, 4, 7 & 8)

Pepper lived! He got healthy and strong, and defied everything that everyone had believed would happen. As Jen walked him around the ring one day, she heard Jamie talking to someone. “He is our miracle horse” she said. And Jen just smiled as she knew he really was! The day that she rode him again, Jen thanked God for healing Pepper - for granting her a miracle. And then - - - he got hurt again . . .

Love - bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things . . .

As Jen sobbed into Pepper’s neck that day, she wasn’t sure that she could “believe” in another miracle. Her heart hurt so much, and she didn’t know if she could dare to trust again. As he finished munching his apple, he looked over at her. As he did, she knew that he totally trusted her. “I’ll do my best” was all she could promise him. And then, holding his neck - - - she prayed . . .

Love never fails; . . .

To this day, I don’t understand why Pepper got hurt again. He had been given a miracle, and yet - he was hurt a second time. I guess we don’t always understand how God can be right there with us, giving us good things - and then something bad happens. And when that happens, it is so easy to forget - the yesterdays, and the blessings. Truthfully, each day is brand new, holding both good and bad, blessings and pain in it. It is up to us to ask God to be with us, every one of those days. When we do - - - miracles happen - again, and again, and again . . .

It is my hope and prayer that through every trial and every blessing - in every day that you walk this earth - you will ask God to walk along with you. Together, you can face - anything!

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity - to give you a future and a hope.”
(Jeremiah 29:11)
God bless you and keep you, until we meet back here again!

In His Amazing Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers