Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Thursday, April 8, 2021

When All You See is Muck

 Hi Friends,

I've been pondering this story lately. For anyone who is stuck in muck and nothing seems right ... here's hope!



What's in the Muck?


It looked like mud. It smelled like mud.  It sloshed like mud.  But my 12-year-old daughter, Bethany, insisted it was just a vial of pond water she was supposed to study for her science class.

She set the vial on the kitchen counter.  “This is going to be awesome.”  

I scowled.  “Awesome? You’re studying mud.”

“Teacher says we’ll  be surprised at what we see.”

“I see mud.”

She laughed, then jogged upstairs for the cheap microscope we’d bought her for Christmas.  Her voice floated back down to me.  “Just wait, Mom.  You’ll love pond scum.”

I shook my head.  “We’ll see about that.  Now hurry up.”

A moment later, she trotted back down the steps, set up the microscope, and carefully placed a drop of dirty pond water between two slides.  She slid the sample in place and bent over the eye piece.  Her hand fiddled to adjust the focus.

I waited.  Surely there was nothing good to see in a bunch of mucky water.

“Oooo, I knew it.”  Bethany leaned closer to the eye piece.  Then, her head shot up.  A huge grin spread over her face.  “Ha!  Told you so.  Look at that!”  She stepped back and jabbed her finger toward the microscope.

“I still see mud.”

“You won’t when you look through the lens.”

I moved toward the microscope then peered into the eye piece.  I caught my breath.  Bethany was right.  I didn’t see mud anymore.  Instead, I saw life.  The water teemed with amoeba, paramecium, and tiny specks of who-knew-what.  The creatures waltzed through the water in a silent dance that was, indeed, awesome.  Tiny legs swooshed.  Tiny bodies floated with exquisite grace.  As the creatures continued to glide and spin, I glanced up at Bethany.  “I had no idea there was so much life in a little bit of muddy water.”

Her voice softened.  “You wouldn’t see that in clear water.”

“I guess not.”  But I’d wanted clear water - water that was sparkling, pretty ... and lifeless.  It was in the murk, in the mud, in the guck, that real life was found.  

Bethany again moved toward the microscope and bent to look through the lens.  As I watched her, I remembered all the years of infertility I’d endured before she was born.  Month upon month, turning to year upon year, of soaring hope followed by crushing disappointment.  Over a decade filled with painful procedures, failed tests, miscarriage, and a thousand questions about God’s love and faithfulness.  Back then, life was a lot like that drop of pond water.  Nothing was clear.  Nothing made sense.  I didn’t know how I’d see my way through.

But in that moment, as I looked more closely at those 11 years, I could see life.  I could see how God was at work, breaking me of the need to measure His love by my happiness, using every bit of muck and mud to form me into the person He wanted me to be.  Despite all the murkiness, those years teemed with life and growth, even when I couldn’t see it.  Even when all I could see was the mud.

Faith, then, is like a microscope.  Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  Faith allows us to look into the muddy, murky, stinky, yucky places of life and see God at work.  Through faith, what may seem like pond scum can become a thing of beauty.

In the 13 years since Bethany’s birth, I’ve found that life has a lot of murky moments.  Things rarely go as expected.  Plans go awry.  God’s workings are often unclear, difficult to see, and hard to understand.  But when I look at life through the microscope of faith, through the lens of hope -- when I focus in on God and his truth, then I truly see.  God is moving.  There is life in the murkiness, and there is purpose even in the muck.

And while I still prefer my water clear, I’m learning, little by little, to appreciate the pond scum. I’m learning to focus in through the muck, see the waltz of God’s workings, and whisper, “Oooo, I had no idea there was so much life in a little bit of muddy water.”


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

When You Need a Wildflower Crown

Hi Friends,

I'm reminding myself of this story this week as I seek to rejoice in God's love...

WILDFLOWER CROWNS

 



            They came in giggling.  All six of them with dirt smudges on their noses, grass stains on their knees.  Laughing and dancing and flopping on the floor in a bundle of bubbling sibling delight.

            “Don’t make a mess!”  I gripped the dishtowel in one hand and peered out the kitchen.  “No dirty shoes on the rug!”

            “Don’t worry,” Joelle called.  “We won’t.”

            “Did you clean up the basement for community group?”  I went back to drying the dishes.

            No one answered.

            “We’ve got a lot to do.”  

            Only another burst of giggles answered me.

            I put my fists on my hips and stomped around the corner.  “Hey, you --”  The words caught.

            My three-year-old skipped toward me, one  hand on her head.  “Look, Mommy, look what I’ve got.  I’m wondrous beauty!”  She pulled a crown of wildflowers from her hair.  “See?”

            I did see.  I saw them all, with flowers adorning every head, with crowns woven of daisies and dandelions and little purple wildflowers. They were beautiful.  Wondrous.

            “Jayden made me a crown.  Purple, your favorite color.”

            I bent over and squeezed her tight.  “You are a beautiful princess.”  I stood up.  “All of you.”

            “Not me!”  Jayden took the crown from his head and tossed it in the air.  “Boys aren’t princesses.”

            His sisters laughed.  “You make the best crowns, though.”

            He made a face and brushed sand from his hair and onto the rug.

            Bethany, the eldest, stood.  “Come on, let’s go make some more.  Let’s make one for Dad!”

            They jumped to their feet and raced out the door.  

            I shook my head and dried my hands on the towel as the door slammed shut and they scurried out onto the lawn.  I paused by the window, watching.  Legs scampered across the grass, hair glistened in the sun, small bodies flung themselves toward the patch of flowers growing near the driveway.  Sunshine and color and beauty and hope, adorned with wildflowers.

            A moment later, they were sitting in a tight circle.  Fingers flashed as they wove stems into head-sized circlets. Joelle placed a crown on Jayna, Bethany put one on Bria, while the littlest one worked hard to weave one that I knew would be for big brother, who would wear it even though he was NOT a princess.

            With crowns complete, they stood and began singing at the top of their lungs.  They danced in circles.  They ran; they leapt; they rolled on the grass.  And I was reminded of Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV), “The Lord your God is with you... He will take great delight in you; in his love he will...rejoice over you with singing.”  

            This is what rejoicing looked like.  This wildness, and joy, and dancing, and running, and tumbling.  And singing that was more like a shout than a song.  This was the kind of joy God offered me in Zephaniah 3:17.  

            He offered me a crown of wildflowers.

            I looked down at the dishtowel, still in my hands.  There was work to be done, dusting and laundry and dishes and food preparation for our group.  I had a to-do list a mile long.  How would I get it all done?

            Then, came a whisper in my soul: “Do not worry about tomorrow... (Mt. 6:34) ... I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these ... (Mt. 6:29)”

            Not even Solomon was dressed like one of these children, with their dirt-smudged noses, their grass-mussed knees, their flower-crowned heads.  God had adorned them with beauty, not because of their work but because of his love. They were princesses (well, except for Jayden), with crowns to match.  They were daughters of the King.

            And so was I.

            I dropped the dishtowel and called out the window.  “Hey, who’s going to make a crown for Mom?”

            Then, I danced toward the door.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Do You Have Poison Oak in Your Life?

Hi Friends,

The poison oak is starting to flourish here on our property and sure enough I caught it the other day. Ugh! Nasty rash on my neck, face, shoulder, and hands. And while I was trying not to scratch, I was reminded of the story below and how it's perhaps time to get rid of the poison oak not on the property paths but also in life.

Maybe God is saying the same to you?


The Choked Oak

 

It was tall.  It was green.  It was bushy.  But something wasn’t right.  

I crossed my arms and looked up at the fat, green oak tree.  Beside me, my husband sighed.  I shook my head.  “I don’t want to do it.  Do you want to do it?”

“I don’t want to do it.”

I stepped back.  “Someone’s got to do it.”

“It’s an ugly job.”

“That thing will be right outside the window once we build the cabin.  We can’t have it looking like that.”

“I know.  But still . . . ”  Bryan crossed his arms over his chest.

I put my hand on my hips.

            For a moment, we both stared at the oak and didn’t say a word.  Shiny green and red leaves poked from all parts of the tree.  But they weren’t oak leaves.  Thick vines twisted around the trunk and branches.  Those didn’t belong to the oak either. 

            I shivered.

            The green wasn’t the green of a healthy oak.  Instead it was a sign of poison.  A huge batch of poison oak had grown up into the tree and twined around every branch.  The tree was thick with it.  Lush and green, but with nasty poison.

            Bryan tugged on his sleeves.  “Okay, I’ll do it then.  But get the bleach ready for the laundry.”

            Four hours later, the laundry was in, Bryan was taking a cool shower, and the tree was clear.  I tromped up the hill and looked at it.  It wasn’t lush anymore.  And it wasn’t green.  Scraggly branches with a few sad leaves spread from the trunk and reached toward the sky.  

            “Ugh, it looks awful,” I murmured.  

            As I looked at the now-bare soil beneath it, I noticed there were no acorns scattered on the ground, and no little baby oaks growing around it. 

            Then it struck me.  That big, strong oak was stifled by that little vine.  The oak was bigger, taller, thicker, and more established.  And yet, that small, thin, poisonous weed had nearly choked the life from it.  

            As I stood and gazed at the tree, I was reminded of Jesus’ parable from Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8.  In that story, seed fell on four different types of soil.  In the third, the seed sprouted among thorns and the life was choked out the plants, just as the poison oak had choked the oak tree.  Jesus likened the thorns to the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and desires for other things.

            If something as small as poison oak could choke the life from a big, strong oak, how much more vulnerable was I to worry and wrong desires?  After all, there are so many things in life to worry about – finances, schooling, job concerns, health, family crises.  It’s easy to allow those to twine around my mind and shove poisonous leaves through my branches until there are acorns of God’s word dropping into my daily life.  No little oaks springing up around me.  I had to ask if I was I producing any kind of crop in God’s Kingdom.  Was it growing stronger through me, or was I just barely getting by?  

            As I asked those questions, I realized that I had some poison oak in my life – worries that kept me from focusing on God, goals I was pursuing that were good but weren’t God’s plan, things that were distracting me from fully living the life God had for me.  And just like we did for the oak tree, I had to cut off the poison oak at its base and peel away all the vines from the branches of my life. 

Over the past few years, we’ve kept the poison oak away from that oak tree, and now the tree is full, healthy, and green with leaves all its own.  In time, it recovered from the stranglehold of the poison oak.  It became the beautiful tree God meant it to be.

And I know that if I, too, keep the thorns away, I can be full of the greenness of true life.  I can be all God intends me to be.  I can be a tall, strong oak in the Kingdom of God.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Packing a Load of Worry??

Hi Friends,

    Lots of things I was dreading this week  (including a diagnostic mammo when the last two mammos caused a lot of damage, and a tense meeting with a teacher, among other things. But both are behind me now and as it turns out, God was so gracious for all the things I was dreading. He helped me stay calm and thoughtful before and throughout, then graced me with positive results as well.

As I was pondering the week and the icky feeling I had leading up to the week, and to the various not-looking-forward-to-that appointments, I came across this article I wrote eons ago. The story spoke to me again, so I thought I'd share it with you. This past year has been, for almost everyone I know, a time when the pull towards worry has been and continues to be particularly strong.

Praying for freedom from the heavy load of worry and fear for you, and for me too!

 Packing a Load of Worry 

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 

1 Peter 5:7 NIV 

 

"Ow!  Ooooo!  Ugh!  Ack!," I cried as my thirty pound backpack settled with ponderous severity on my tired hips and back.  I tightened the strap around my waist, feeling the nylon dig into my sides and shoulders, pressing unmercifully into the deep purple bruises that had formed during yesterday's hike.  How much more wonderful it would be to be able to backpack without having to carry anything!  If only it could be so!  If only someone else would carry the burden and allow me to bound along through the forest unhindered.  I sighed and looked down at my dusty feet, wondering if I would be able to move them at all with that heavy load on my back. 

But, move them I did, trudging forth along the trail as playful wisps of dust rose up to tantalize my nostrils and settle quickly on my face and hair.  I sneezed and adjusted the pack as I made my way up the gentle, yet torturous, climb to my day's destination.  Thud, thud, thud, went my feet along the path, echoing with the weight of my body plus the backpack.   

After a few more hours, though, I no longer noticed the weight of the pack.  My feet still plodded heavily in the dust, but I had gotten used to the additional burden.  The thirty pounds weighing down my shoulders seemed almost natural.  I practically forgot about it all together.  I no longer remembered that it was the source of my weariness, even as my breath came in ragged gasps to my ears.  I had come to accept the burden, hardly being able to imagine hiking without it.  I ceased to wonder at the fact that simple walking had become such a chore, that even a flat path was a trial.  I forgot that there was ever such a thing as traveling without a burden on my back. 

Living our lives with worries and fears is a lot like hiking with a heavy backpack.  When worry first comes upon us, we groan and cry out and wonder how we will ever get through the day with such a heavy burden weighing down upon us.  But soon, as worry becomes natural, we accept it as normal.  We put our worries on every morning like a great, heavy pack, and carry them through the day as if that was the only way we had ever known to live.  Soon, we forget what it's like to walk through life without our fears strapped tightly to our backs.  Then we wonder why we are so weary, so tired of the endless trudging from one day to the next! 

Happily for us, there is Someone who has offered to carry the load for us, Someone whose hand is extended even now to take the burden of worry and fear and carry it Himself.  Peter tells us to "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you" ( 1 Peter 5:7 NIV ).  Jesus will carry the backpack for us, so that we can enjoy and relish the hike of life!  All we have to do is hand over the burden to Him, allow Him to unstrap the worry from our backs and free us. 

Just like backpacking, life is much more fun without thirty pounds of fear strapped on our backs.  We can tread lighter, easier, freer, and, most importantly, travel much further toward our destination of Faith and Holiness!

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Ice Plant and Enduring through all Seasons

Hi Friends,

Today, I'm feeling weary. Covid stuff drags on and on. Problems I think I've solved don't get solved and need to be revisited again and again and again. Doctor appointments need to be made, people need to be called or emailed, forms need to be filled out, the kitchen needs to be cleaned AGAIN, taxes need to be done, kids need help with stuff, repairs are waiting to be done, and redone, animals need their daily care. So, I need to head out to the mailbox, and the barn (I will avoid the kitchen for now). On the way, I'll see green grass which will die out in a couple months. I'll see some wildflowers which will die out sooner. And I'll ice plant. Lots of ice plant. Ice plant doesn't die out. It NEVER dies out.

Today, I need the lesson of the ice plant . . .

 

The Beauty of Ice Plant



            I hate ice plant. At least, I used to. 

            It grows wild all over my 16-acre ranch. It grows in the pasture. It grows in the lawn, it grows in the dog area. It grows in the landscaping alongside my husband’s office. It even grows in the dirt circle in the middle of my driveway where even the weeds die. And then it grows over the pavement itself. 

            Last fall, I decided I had had enough. Armed with giant metal rakes, thick gloves, fat clippers, sharp hoes, and fierce determination, I tackled the most prevalent patches. I ripped, I tore, I pulled, until every bit was demolished from my driveway. 

            Or at least I thought so. 

            The driveway remained ice-plant-free over the winter. But then, as the spring came I began to see the start of new plants breaking through the soil. By the beginning of summer, the ice plant was back in all its glory. Its flowers bloomed purple and yellow all over my property again, not just in the areas where I had pulled it out, but also in new areas where new patches had sprung up.

            As summer draws on, there is no longer anywhere I can walk on my property where the flowers of the ice plant aren’t visible. 

            And I have to admit (quietly, mind you, and never out loud), that ice plant can be, well, rather beautiful. There’s just something about it that has started to stir my soul. Perhaps it’s because of all the flowers that bloom, ice plant may just be the one that God most wants me to emulate. 

            James 1:4, 11-12, (NIV) reads, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. … For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed… [But] Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

            To not wither in the heat of life … that is blessedness. To be not easily uprooted, not easily beaten, not easily discouraged … that is blessedness. To be determined to grow, to flourish, no matter what the circumstances … that is blessedness indeed.

            God, by his grace, can make me an ice plant. He can give me the endurance, the grit, to bloom where there is little water, where the dirt seems dry. And he can give me the grace to grow back strong and healthy when circumstances, or when others, do their best to pull me up and cause me to wilt. 

            So, what does it take to grasp that grace, to thrive and bloom, to grow back fuller, stronger, more vibrant after significant setbacks?

            Maybe we should look more closely at the ice plant. It stores water in its leaves so it doesn’t need much sustenance from around it. We store God’s truth in our hearts so we may draw on it during dry and difficult times. The ice plant is resistant to salty environments. We, too, can be resistant to the saltiness and spite of others. When there’s too much rain, ice plant disengages pieces that are beginning to rot so that they don’t damage the whole. We too should look to cut out the rotting places of our lives so that what is healthy can flourish. Ice plant can be easily propagated. We too can cast the love and goodness of Christ far and wide that it may grow and spread.

            I think of hot house roses that die without the proper care. I think of the beautiful lilies that my family got me for Mother’s Day, that quickly withered and turned brown. I think of the African violets that I love but can never keep alive. They’re beautiful, for a time. 

            But I don’t want to be a rose, a lily, a violet. I want to be an ice plant. I want to bloom even in the fiercest opposition. I want to fill the land with beauty even when I’m not liked, even when I’m not appreciated. 

            I want to bloom anyway. 

            Because God loves me. And he has made me to endure.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Lessons from the Storm

Hi Friends,

Wow, we got A LOT of rain and wind last night. Pens are flooded, ponds are everywhere. Some of our horse shelters needed repair this morning. As I ponder the pools and puddles, I'm thinking about what we can learn from the floods of life. Here are some thoughts . . .

Flood Warnings

By

Marlo Schalesky

 

I gripped my umbrella in tight fists and stared through the rain that careened off the fabric above me.  Then, I took a few steps forward and waved at the yellow, husband-shaped blob that stood a few feet away, the image obscured by the water pouring between us.    

Bryan tugged at his mustard-colored rain slicker and didn’t wave back.  In fact, he didn’t even turn as he sloshed through the foot-deep water that threatened the foundation of our house.  

“Hey, you need help?”  I shouted the question over the roar of the rain.

He glanced back and squinted.  “Get a hose.”

A hose?  With all this water, it seemed that the last thing we needed was a hose.

Bryan waved his hand toward the garage.  “Get all the hoses you can find.  Hurry.”  He knelt down and starting digging into the hole where the drainage pipe was supposed to be.

“What happened?”

“Drains must be plugged.  We need to siphon off this water before it damages our foundation.”

I nodded and jogged to the garage.  There, I found three hoses and hauled them back to the ever-deepening pool over our patio.   

Bryan grabbed the first hose, shoved it under the water, then pulled the other end downhill to the lawn.  After a few minutes, he stood and strode back toward me.

I held out the second hose.  “Is it working?”

He grimaced and took the next hose.  “Yeah, but it’s slow.  We really need the drain pipes to work.”

“Why aren’t they?”

“I don’t know.”

Bryan set the second hose to siphoning while I worked on the third.  But even with all three hoses, the level of the water didn’t seem to be lowering.  And the rain just kept pouring down. 

For the rest of the afternoon, we labored in the pounding rain to keep the water from flooding our basement.  It was hard work with pumps and hoses, buckets and brooms.  We sloshed, we hauled, we siphoned, we swept.  We watched, we waited, we hoped, and we wondered what had happened to the drains.

In the months previous, when the sun was shining, nothing seemed wrong.  The patio was clean and shiny.  The drains looked fine.  But the first big rainstorm of the year proved that something had gone wrong.

The next day, after the rains had let up, Bryan came in from working in the yard.  He called to me from the front room.  “I figured out what happened.”

I peered around the corner.  “What?”

“Seems that a bunch of grass had grown into one of the pipes, plugging it.  The water couldn’t get out.  That’s why it backed up.”

“Guess we should have checked that.”  

“I didn’t even know that pipe was there.”

“Well, we certainly know it now.”  And now, we’d know to keep it clear.  But it was too bad we hadn’t paid enough attention to the pipes while the weather was good.  It took a storm to show us that everything wasn’t as clear and free-flowing as we’d thought.

Life is a lot like that, too.  When the sun’s shining and all seems well, it’s easy to think our faith is all right.  It’s easy to forget to keep things cleared out and the pipes flowing.  I miss my regular time of Bible study and prayer and think, “Oh well, I’ll just do it next time.”  Little issues pop up, and I simply deal with them, forgetting to cast all my cares upon God, because he cares for me (1 Peter 5:7).  

But then the rainstorm hits.  Something hard and unexpected happens.  Fears, worries, doubts pile up and threaten my foundation.  And in the midst of the storm, it’s hard work to clear the flood.  Instead, it’s better to pay attention when the sun’s shining.  It’s better to keep the lines of communication open and flowing freely between me and God before the rains start to fall.  

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) tells us “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.”

By praying continually, by being joyful, by giving thanks, I can keep my spiritual “pipes” open so I won’t be caught by surprise when life’s storms hit.  I need to pay attention while the sun’s shining so that when it rains my faith is ready to flow freely through pipes kept clear by prayer and faithfulness.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Got Fear? Two Wild Horses Teach Trust

Hi Friends,


I'm thinking a lot about trust these days. On Saturday, I officiated a wedding for a couple who was in my young adult college group a couple years ago. It was a beautiful wedding, filled with the presence of God. But the next morning, the groom came down with a fever. Today, I'm waiting for their test results to come in to see if they have Covid, and so to see if I could have it too. 

Everything in the world tells me to be afraid. To be very afraid. What if I have Covid? What if I get sick? What if my family gets it? What if they get sick? What if I die?

Fear.

It seems forced on us these days. And yet . . .

Yet.

Perhaps it is time to trust God more fully, perhaps it is time to learn the lesson of two wild horses:

Two Wild Horses

 

            Two new horses. Untrained. Barely handled. I looked at the two in their stalls in my barn. Both were sweet, both had a kind eye, but one gazed back at me with trust while the other snorted with suspicion.

            I walked over and pet the mare, Cookie, who turned her head to accept my embrace. Maverick snorted again. I raised a hand slowly to touch his face over the fence. He allowed the touch, but no more.

            I sighed. A few weeks earlier we had picked both horses up from the equine rescue. My daughters wanted to train up a couple horses for the rescue so that they would be more easily adoptable. A summer project, they said. To help the horses and the rescue.

            I’d agreed. 

            So there they were, two wild horses, ready to be transformed into the animals they were meant to be.

            Weeks passed. My daughters worked diligently with both horses. The mare loved the work. She loved to have people come give her attention. She trusted her young trainers, listened carefully, and met them every day at her gate. With each new lesson, she tried to learn, endeavored to understand. She even allowed the farrier to trim her hooves and keep her feet healthy.

            The gelding wanted to please as well. He wanted to learn. But he was afraid. He stood at the back of his stall, unsure if he could trust a person enough to walk forward. What if someone hurt him? What if it went badly? What if those training him were cruel instead of kind? He tried too. He endeavored to understand. But his fears interfered with his training. He wouldn’t allow the farrier near his feet, even though they were badly in need of a trim and hurting him. So he had to endure too-long hooves with chips and cracks.

            The end of the summer drew near. The mare was already being ridden, learning reining cues and how to stop, turn, start. She had come a long way from the horse who knew nothing except that her trainer was to be trusted.

            The gelding had come a long way too. My daughters could touch him, lead him, and saddle him. But he still couldn’t be ridden. A rider scared him too much. Once, he’d kick one of my girls. Another time he’d spun and kicked out at another. And his hooves were still long and broken.

            My daughters had spent their summer simply trying to gain his trust. And they’d been able to move forward. But the horse who was able to trust had learned so much more. She was happier, healthier, and ready to accept new challenges. Fears had not held her back.

            In the end, we ended up adopting the mare. She trusted us, so we could trust her. The gelding was scheduled to go back to the rescue to be further trained and worked with until he could have his feet trimmed and learn to trust a rider.

            As I thought about those two horses, I saw that trust is key to growth. When I am like the mare, trusting God, eager for his presence and his lessons, I move forward in relationship with him with less pain and able to accept his love. I can hold still for his care and move forward with nice, trimmed toes.

            When I am like the gelding, snorting, holding back, fearful, God still works with me, loves me, trains me, but the task is more difficult and filled with unnecessary pain.

            Sometimes, like the gelding, I have good reasons for my lack of trust, lack of faith. Things in my past have hurt me, made me suspicious, cautious, and sometimes fearful. But whether I reasons or not, the results are the same. Fear hurts me. Lack of trust and faith keeps me from fully becoming who I was created to be. 

            Reasons or not, trust is better.

            Psalm 112:6-8 (NIV) tells us, “Surely the righteous will never be shaken…They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear…”

            So, as I stand in my barn, considering the difference between two wild horses, I know that I want to be more like Cookie, the mare. I want to dare to trust more, believe more, love more. Despite my past hurts. Despite past pain.

            I want to dare to trust the God who loves me, and let him guide me as a rider guides the horse he loves. I want a steadfast heart that trusts God without fear. 

            And I want to be his forever.