Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

God's Grace & Oreo

Hi Friends,

As some of you already know, our little horse, Oreo, died in our arms on Friday. And I will never be same.

Not so much because I've lost a special, wonderful horse that we all loved, but because in her passing, God showed us His grace in amazing and powerful ways.

As you know from previous posts, Bryan and I have been thinking about how we might and we must cultivate an attitude of gratefulness in ourselves and in our kids instead of an attitude of entitlement. And so, when we found out Oreo had cancer, our prayers became ones for wisdom for how to guide our girls through the experience of Oreo's sickness and upcoming death in a way that would be healing for them and help them to see God more clearly and be thankful.

That day for wisdom came on Friday, while Bryan was out of town and the girls were all at school. Pop called from the horse pens to say that Oreo was laying down. I went to her and found her lying on her side, and I knew she would never get up again. So, the question came - should I call the vet and ask him to come out so Oreo would be gone and buried before the girls came home from school, or should I see if Oreo could hold out long enough for the girls to say their goodbyes? I prayed for wisdom. God gave it. So I prayed that He would give Oreo the grace to hold on until the girls came home and we could pray over her, say our goodbyes, and be there for her. Then, I waited and I watched. Oreo held on.

Later, I went to get the older girls from school. On the way home, I told them about Oreo. They wailed and wept, and little Joelle cried out, "But I didn't get to thank her for everything she did for me!" So, I prayed some more, that God would let Oreo live until Joelle got to say her thank you's.

Oreo held on. She was laying quietly when we arrived. We ran to her, gathered around her, and held her, petted her, and told her how much we loved her. Joelle thanked her. We talked about heaven and being made new. Then, we prayed. We thanked God for the time we had with her, thanked Him for how much Oreo meant to us, and for the gift of her. For 40 minutes we stayed with her, with Joelle at her head, talking, praying, petting, holding, and crying.

Then, Oreo gave one last shudder, stretched, and died in our arms. As she passed, the little girls started to pray again, prayers of thankfulness, of gratefulness to God, and requests that Oreo be taken to God's pastures in heaven. Then, they looked up into the sky and called out their final goodbyes.

It was the most heartbreaking, beautiful thing I've ever experienced. To witness God's grace in allowing us to be there in Oreo's final moments, to feel His tender care, to see the work He did in my girls' hearts taking them from "why doesn't God heal her, why didn't we get more time with her, etc." when we first found out about the cancer to "thank you, God, thank you, Oreo, we love you," and seeing God's grace and blessing in the midst of such sorrow when she died.

The next day, we put flowers on her grave and all four of the little girls prayed, and Joelle prayed such a sweet prayer of thankfulness that my heart broke all over again. And I thought about how she had been baptized just a few months ago and had made her very serious commitment-to-God-for-a-lifetime pledge and how God took her through this so soon after, deepening her faith and her vision of Him. I was left breathless in wonder.

And so, this week we're grieving, and sometimes I see Joelle staring off with a serious look in her eye, and I know she's thinking of her Oreo. And sometimes, I see her eyes turn red with tears. But we're healing too, and we're still thanking God, and we're grateful that we can see and experience His love and grace in the midst of losing the little mare that we loved so much.