Friday, February 22, 2019

"Kill 'er with Kindness"

I came across the following story in my files that I’d posted on Facebook a few years back. As I read it again, I decided to post it on my blog :) ...


It wasn’t the opportunity I expected, nor honestly wanted.

As I sipped my coffee one morning enjoying the mountain views, I prayed, “Lord, I pray for opportunities today. And help me to see them when they come.” Satisfied with my request, I picked up my Bible and read for a bit.

Later, Bruce and I peacefully moved through our morning with horse chores, breakfast, and what-not. Suddenly the sound of a truck roared across the gravel road next to us. That’s a little close, we thought. 

We watched in disbelief as a woman and her young friend blazed through our campsite, made a U-turn, and nearly took out our trailer slideout. The woman promptly drove over our electrical cord to our horse fencing and stopped … about three feet from our trailer.

We were parked on wide-open public lands. Better parking spots, complete with water hookups, dotted themselves across the prairie. “Are you kidding me?” we said in disbelief as it was clear this woman had no regard for … well, anything.

Something rose inside me and I realized I had to confront her. I prayed for grace and headed out the door. I’m not ashamed to say I was shaking a bit—I hate confrontation.

“You’re parked right in the middle of our campsite,” I said as I looked up into the icy blue eyes of a 5’ 9” woman in her 60’s. “And you’re parked over our electrical cord,” I chided.
“We wanted to park here so we would be near the bathrooms and water,” she retorted. “And don’t worry about the cord, my truck didn’t hurt anything. We’re experienced,” she added with a slight tilt of her chin. 
 
Experienced at what? I thought.

But I held my tongue, watching the face of her thirteen-year-old friend. I knew that look: sheer anticipation and excitement of riding a horse. I could have said and done a lot more than I did—I had the right. But I decided there was no way, no matter what, I would pursue a reprimand for her guardian’s actions and ruin the day for this little girl. However, I confronted ole Miss-Icy-Blue-Eyes just enough to allow the girl to see this kind of behavior was unacceptable.

As they saddled up, I cleaned our horses’ pen. I tried to ignore the fact that the woman’s pony tromped precariously close to our electrical cord. The little girl actually made an effort to keep him off of it, but she hadn’t been taught the correct way to handle a horse.

As I raked manure, I prayed. “Lord, help me deal with this. You know I have an issue with bullies, and I can see this is no coincidence. This woman did not need to park here, and for whatever reason, she’s targeted us.” I raked some more (albeit digging into the ground a little harder than I needed to).

“Kill ‘er with kindness,” came the answer. That’s not particularly what I wanted to hear. I also heard, ‘“Vengeance is mine,” saith the Lord’—I liked that one better. 

Our “Boys” taken care of I walked back toward our rig, glancing at the woman and girl as they prepared to mount their horses. “Have a nice ride,” I called. 
“Oh, you too! You too!” the woman said, her words tripping over themselves as they spilled out. “I hope it’s not windy like it was yesterday,” she added. 
“Yeah, I know. It was crankin’,” I replied. End of round one.

Later on when they returned, I observed further disregard: Without asking, they used the camp host’s hose that watered a fledgling tree. The horses tramped on the hose while they endured a cold water bath in the frigid wind. The hose was then left without replacing it on the tree; A manure pile graced our electrical cord next to their trailer; And a rotten apple littered the ground. It was quite obvious the range of this woman’s knowledge or give-a-hoot was just this side of nothin’.

When they left, Bruce surmised that they parked close to us to hide—they didn’t want to pay the $5.00 to use the water and figured they’d mooch off our spigot. And they never did use the bathroom.

I’d like to say as soon as they drove off, so did my issue with the whole situation.  But I still had to deal with myself and the fleshly side of me that wanted to throw down. However, the contrary thoughts I entertained would not have landed a good outcome.

There was no doubt I had done the right thing, backing off in respect for the little girl, but I needed help. I felt the old rage rekindle deep within me—a rage against the bullying spirit. And I couldn’t shake it. The Lord knew it and confirmed the word He impressed on me in the horse pen: I felt led to read a story in my email from Chicken Soup for the Soul called the “Kindness Cure.” The girl in the story was being bullied. In tears she went to her mom for help. “Kill ‘er with kindness,” her mom advised. The girl did, and the bully backed off.

“Thank You, Lord,” I laughed.

Even so, I still needed a tad more help. Granted, I could think of worse scenarios of bullying. But apparently I needed to start small, at square one, with the elementary version of “How To Handle A Bully God’s Way 101.”

I stood behind our rig gazing up at the gazillion stars like I did every night. I was reminded, yet again, how big God is and how much He cares about every detail of my life. So I humbly asked Him for help. He reminded me that to truly let it go, I had to forgive. And, after I’d “killed ‘er with kindness,” forgiveness would further get me off the hook and also allow Him to fully do what He needed in her life.  After all, she and the girl needed Him too. “Remember, you’re not fighting against flesh and blood,” He impressed. “You’re fighting against the principalities and evil forces that drive people to do ignorant stuff.” (Ephesians 6:12)

The way He instructed me to handle this encouraged me that I had permission to stand up to a bully and not flatline like a doormat. I could look a bully in the eye, but on His terms, in His way.

That night I slept like a rock. I woke up to birds singing (seriously, I did), enjoying the peace I needed. Of course Satan tried to bombard my thoughts again with the previous day’s events, but I just told him to shut up. I was diggin’ this peace and determined to hang on to it.

This opportunity was indeed not what I wanted, but it’s exactly what I needed.  Thank you, Jesus.




But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit—Galatians 5:22-25.

www.ponyexpressministry.com

Book: Walk Like a Warrior: Inspirational True Stories of God's Encouragement on the Trail Less-Traveledhttps://www.amazon.com/Walk-Like-Warrior-Inspirational-Encouragement/dp/1512774812




Thursday, January 31, 2019

Of Cows and Chaos


“My grandson just had to walk away,” our friend, Roy, shook his head as he snapped his flip-phone shut. “If he quits me, I know we’re in trouble.” This should have been our first clue that moving these cows might not be as easy as we expected.

Our friends, Roy and Virginia, invited Bruce and I to hole up at their ranch in southern Colorado for most of the Spring and Summer. When we weren’t singing at various venues around the valley and beyond, we helped out on their ranch as well as other places in the area.

This particular day, Roy had asked us to help out by moving the lessee’s cows to a water tank located on his land. Somewhere around 30 miles away, 30+ head of these cows and calves, and a bull, were being loaded into a potbelly cattle trailer. They were to be at the corrals by 9:30am, but they had yet to show. That’s when the phone call had come in.

We patiently sat on our horses and pondered the situation. Even though that proverbial ‘red flag’ waved in the wind, we were still game to drive these cows to the tank. Besides, it was about a long-arrow-shot from the corrals. How big of a deal could it be?

We scanned the distant highway for any sign of the cattle rig. Nothing. Well, at least the weather is nice, and we had an excellent view of the surrounding Sangre de Cristo Mountains, I thought. 







Finally we heard the rattle and banging of the potbelly bumping along the washboard, dirt road. Roy’s grandson, apparently rejoining the lessee’s crew, slowly backed the semi-truck and trailer to the loading ramp. The door crashed open and hooves clattered down the ramp as the cattle trotted into the old wooden corral. Dust swirled and bovines bellowed as calves mothered-up with their mamas and matching ear tags were snapped on the calves ears.


They began to settle, and it appeared that they’d be a quiet bunch. Except maybe for a bald faced cow that watched us like a hawk. I reckoned that might be the lead cow.

Roy returned from checking the water tank and Bruce and I got in position. Roy swung the gate open.

The herd meandered out, sniffing the ground and eyeing us. They moved a little further and three of them stopped and stared at Nocona and me. I inched towards them, and they turned, walking in the direction of the tank. I reined Nocona in so not to pressure them too much. We wanted them to move along nice and slow.

Everything looked good…for about 5 seconds. Ole Miss Bald Face decided nice and slow wasn’t her style. Like a wild hair blowin’ in the March wind, she blasted off like a rocket, veering the opposite way… and taking the rest of the herd with her! There was nothin’ for it but to spur Nocona and bolt after her to try to head her off. Nocona, however, felt fresh as the morning dew and decided to let out a little steam. So, bucking and tooting, squeaking and snorting, we bounded through the sagebrush, dodging prairie dog holes and unyielding foliage.

Daylight shown through the gap between my rear and the saddle seat, and I about lost my hat. Trying for a death grip with my thighs to stay seated, I grabbed at my hat with one hand while my other hand white-knuckled the reins. By some miracle, we caught up with Baldy and turned her towards Bruce, who held the line on the other side of the herd.

The lead cows finally slowed when they got to a wide, shallow water hole with good, plentiful marsh grass. They dropped their heads in the shallow lake to drink and graze. Perfect. The water tank peeked through the greasewood, and we could smell victory. I swung Nocona around and headed back to check for stragglers.

The rest of the group moved in a tight bunch, so I slowly moved to the front of the herd. Suddenly Baldy threw her head up and charged across the lake like her tail was on fire. Bruce and I watched in dismay as the rest of the herd followed suit. There was no way to catch them over that terrain, and we had to let them go. 



What the heck just happened?

And then we saw Bailey, the ranch dog, happily bounding above the sagebrush in hot pursuit of a jack rabbit, ears flopping in perfect time with every bounce. She sailed away into the deeper brush, oblivious of the chaos she just caused. And, I ain’t gonna lie. Our thoughts were none too friendly towards that dog, right then!

Bruce called Roy to give him the unpleasant news. We saw the cows in the distance, settling around a huge rock pile. Suddenly they spooked again and plowed through the rabbitbrush. We had no idea where the end of the pasture was and for all we knew they could keep running for decades.

“You can go after them, if you want,” Roy said. “If not, we’ll try for them later.”

We scanned the horizon. There was just no “give up” in us. These cows needed to know where that tank was—when the weather warmed, the natural water holes and canals dried up pretty quick. Finally we spotted them. They had splashed across the wide canal, taking a breather next to a cross fence.

As we swung our horses towards the canal, a tiny brown calf appeared through the sage. The abandoned calf stared at us, unsure of what to do. We moved in behind him and gently drove him within earshot of the cows.

Reaching the canal, we noticed another abandoned calf. Huh. Funny what fear will do—the helpless get left in its wake. The two calves joined each other and decided to take refuge on the soft bank. The black calf plopped down amongst the brush while the brown calf decided to explore the edge of the canal for a way to cross the water.

About that time, low, throaty murmurs from a large black cow drifted across the pasture—a mama calling her calf. We assumed that she was looking for the black calf—solid black cow goes with solid black calf. Right? Not. She was aiming for the brown calf. Her scrappy little fella took the plunge in the water and waded the width of the canal to join her.

The black bull-calf rested in the brush, his sides heaving with exhaustion. Odd. Smaller calves than him made the trek, so why was he struggling? We climbed the embankment, out of his vision, so we wouldn’t further stress him. As we waited, we prayed.

While contemplating the calf, we faced another challenge. How do the two of us maneuver those flighty cows back through the canal, over the path between the waterways and into the pasture that lead to the tank?

OK, Lord, need some wisdom here.

As we pondered what to do, we watched in amazement as the herd began lining out along the fence and splashing back through the canal…like unseen riders drove them. They fanned out in the wide, grassy depression and continued moving in the direction we needed them to go.

Sweet. Now…what to do with the calf. Do we leave him? Stick with him? Call Roy to bring the ranch truck to pick him up? More prayers. In the meantime, “nature called” and Bruce and I took turns behind the rock pile.

Bruce cautiously walked to where the little guy lay. The calf jumped to its feet and limped across the embankment. We saw the cause of his troubles: He walked on the tip of his toe. He could’ve gotten hurt in the cattle truck or in the pen. But most likely, he got hurt when the cows stampeded to the back of the pasture. Who knows? At any rate, Bruce and I mounted our horses and slowly, gently moved him along the trail, not wanting to leave him for any lurking predators.

After about 100 feet, he found a sparse area between some scrub brush and plopped down again, tuckered out. We glanced at the cows. To our astonishment, the whole herd was moving steadily in our direction like an unseen force, again, drove them. Cowboy angels? I have no doubt!

As they moseyed past the calf, its mama finally showed and claimed him. They were officially mothered-up. If nothing else had worked out that day that was the most important!

Before the cows could get any ideas about crossing the canal again, Bruce and I moved around them and slowly turned them back towards the way they had come. As I drove them along the canal bank, Bruce swung down into the sloppy ground to keep them from turning from the direction of the water tank.




I prayed and held my breath as we reached a cross-fence: The cows needed to turn left across a small dirt bridge. I blew a sigh of relief as they drifted left.

They continued drifting into a low depression on the other side of the bridge and spread out across the pools of squishy grass. We tensed as we moved over the marsh. We were all too familiar with dangerous bogs, having dealt with these tendon-blowers in the past. Thankfully we splashed and sloshed through the shallow water without a problem.




We worked to keep the herd in a semi-tight bunch as we all emerged onto drier, brushier ground. We were home free! Almost. Unfortunately the bull decided he didn’t like his herd going the direction we wanted. For every foot we moved those cows, he’d push them back. This belligerent bovine charged back and forth in front of them, blowing, stomping, and pushing them with his nose to turn them around. We’d never seen anything like this.

Brush crashed and split to our right. We whipped around in time to see Bailey, once again, leaping over rabbit brush chasing cottontails. (Insert eye-roll here). However, we cooled our hot-heels in the realization that, though painfully slow, we were miraculously moving the herd, (albeit inch by inch), closer to the tank.

Finally we reached the edge of the pasture where we had started … about four hours before. We realized the bull wasn’t giving up, refusing to let his herd move any further; The cows weren’t complaining as they contentedly munched on marsh grass; And the calves decidedly flumped onto the soft sand, signaling the end of this whole broo-hah-hah. It was time to let ‘em be.

Well, except for the two cow/calf pairs near to us that were still wandering around. We drove them across a small water-filled ditch and onto the hard dirt next to that water tank. (Maybe they’d get the word out to their friends?) At any rate, we knew we’d driven the herd near enough to the tank for them to scout it out for themselves.

We swung our all-too-willing horses towards the ranch and happily trotted home.

P.S.: For those wondering what happened to our little friend—the black calf, we checked on him later that day and he was back running with his buddies amongst the sage. :)



“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”—Joshua 1:9.


www.ponyexpressministry.com

Book: Walk Like a Warrior: Inspirational True Stories of God's Encouragement on the Trail Less-Traveledhttps://www.amazon.com/Walk-Like-Warrior-Inspirational-Encouragement/dp/1512774812

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Trail Less-Traveled


I looked across the table at her frail frame. The smoke from her cigar curled a white trail through the air. Her heavy heart was palpable as she stared out the window at nothing in particular. The deep lines that coursed down her face gave testimony of a hard trail ridden. A year ago to the day, they had buried her son—his life taken by the effects of doctor-prescribed drugs. They had buried her daughter a short time ago too though she couldn't bring herself to give details.
 

What do you say? How do you help this broken woman? What could you possibly say to help ease her pain? I sensed the Lord telling me, "Just listen." So, this was my "action" much of the time during the following days...
 

We were in Albuquerque when we got the call—our friend needed help working in the sewer holes in a particular town in New Mexico. Huh. "OK, Lord," we prayed, "we've done a lot of things besides teaching and singing in our ministry. But working in sewer holes? You’ll need to confirm this one."

No calls came in for singing dates ... for any dates—just the looming prospect of the sewer work. We decided that the final confirmation would be the price of the horse motel where we would need to stay. We set the we-won't-go-over-this-much price and made the calls. After unsuccessful attempts to find a reasonably priced motel, we decided that this trip was a definite "no."
 

Then, one of our friends volunteered to put out the word to her rodeo group to see if they knew anyone in the area where we could stay. The word came back: "Yeah, there is one place. But the lady's pretty cranky." 

Well, in our ministry, we've handled 'cranky' pretty well, so we gave it a shot. I called her up and the price was right. She also had room for us. As we chatted, I found out she was an elderly woman and desperately needed the money. I felt a tremendous peace as I hung up the phone. If we're going to invest our money anywhere, I'm excited that we can help her out.
 

She was a bit on the crusty side, but I found from that first conversation, I liked her. We ended up coming in a week early and so, stayed at "Miss Haddie's" stable and RV park for a month and a week.
 

While Bruce spent some "iron sharpens iron" time helping our friend rebuild manholes in the sewer system, I spent most days in a smoke-filled room with my newfound friend—or trimming trees, feeding horses, and running trash to the dump for her. I discovered that in the middle of that hard shell lived a woman with a heart of gold.
 

The lingering question of "was coming here the right thing?" answered itself as I sat with Haddie, listening to her talk about her family, her joys and frustrations, her questions ... her life. I was grateful we chose to follow this "trail less-traveled." This adventure was out of the ordinary from our music ministry, but we knew we weren't supposed to be anywhere but here—for this woman and for our friend in the sewer holes.
 

We filled the role of protective neighbor as well. My phone rang about 8:00 one evening—a distressed voice meeting me on the other end. "Hey, I need you! Get over here, now!" Miss Haddie was in a panic.
"Miss Haddie, what's wrong?"
“Just get over here!" Click.
 

Phone in hand, I bolted out the door and raced for her house with Bruce hot on my heels. Looking back, I guess it wasn't too bright of us, running through a half lit stable yard toward who-knows-what—we just prayed and ran.
 

Rounding the corner of her house, we nearly careened into the man who rented the space next to us. "I don't know what's going on," he blurted out. "She's crazy!" I noticed, however, that this man's words were just a bit slurred. And, as he turned his head, I caught a whiff of the "spirit."
 

Leaving Bruce to talk to the man, I sprinted up the trailer house steps to Miss Haddie's front door.  
"Miss Haddie, it's Shara," I called through the door.
"Come in!"
I pushed the door open and nearly collided into my friend—with a pistol in her hand. She was scared and ticked off.
"Come with me," she commanded. I walked with her back out on the front porch (careful to stay clear of her pistol-hand), and we addressed the situation.
"I just wanted to borrow your ladder," the renter slurred in his defense.
"Well, you just kept bangin' on the door, yelling you were in Space 519," she retorted. "We don't have a Space 519. I didn't know who in the ___ you were!"
"Sorry, Ms. Haddie," he apologized. "I didn't mean to scare you."
 

Tempers cooled, and the situation was quickly resolved.
 

“You still want to borrow my ladder?" she asked.
"Yeah, but I'll get it tomorrow," he replied as he shuffled away.
 

Living at that little stable was definitely an experience. But it was well worth it. At the end of our stay, we saw Miss Haddie, a woman shrouded in depression, transform as she escaped from that spirit and joy engulfed her. And we saw our friend at the sewer holes receive crucial answers to some issues he faced.
 

Sometimes the Lord sends us to places that aren't necessarily our comfort zone—sometimes it’s more like a war zone. But we serve a very personal God Who will do whatever it takes to reach someone crying out—or to reach someone who a loved one is crying out about. (Luke 15:1-23)
 

The questions: Are we willing "to lay down our lives"—lay down what we aspire to be ... our desires and plans? Are we willing to leave the "ninety-nine" (our comfort zone) and go after the one (or two) who need the touch of God's love on the "trail less-traveled"?

"This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends”—John 15:12-13. 

 

Shara's book: Walk Like a Warrior: Inspirational true stories of God's encouragement on the trail less-traveled: https://www.amazon.com/Walk-Like-Warrior-Inspirational-Encouragement/dp/1512774812/
 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Blessings in Disguise and the Start of All Things Horse



If it had four legs (more or less), be it fiberglass or human, I rode it. The back of my middle-aged Grandpa, my older brother, or the shoulders of my favorite uncles were fair game. (My Grandpa submitting to a living room rodeo are still fond memories.)

When I wasn’t pouncing on one of my human-horses, I straddled my fiberglass hobbyhorse and rode into adventures only I could dream up. Puffs of air blew back my bangs as I pulled on the handles below its tan ears and threw myself backward, and then forward. The metal springs creaked and groaned as they strained to their max—sounding to me like hoof beats galloping down the trail.

My next thrill was the privilege of riding a steed whose legs actually moved. I was ecstatic! I sat proudly on its black and white painted back, grabbed the reins, and took off into brand new adventures. Staring across the mountains, I wondered what was on the other side. I imagined my horse and I flying over the ridges, exploring new territory. At four-years-old, my heart soared with the endless possibilities.

In the midst of my exciting escapades, however, there was an emptiness—a void only a real horse could fill.

On a quiet afternoon, I played with my plastic horses, trying to teach my Barbies how to ride. The devout ladies in my mom’s prayer group sat in a pious circle in the living room. Tranquil murmurings filled our home as the women prayed through their list.

Somewhere around the last name, the faint rattle of my dad’s pickup and trash trailer rumbled up the driveway. Intent on successfully bending the Barbie’s legs to fit around the barrel of her Breyer, I barely gave it notice.

And then, we all heard it. The reverent “Amen” had scarcely been uttered when a rather peculiar noise blasted through the air from inside that trailer.

The appalled look on Mom’s face was along the lines of, “Oh no, what did he bring home now?” (to add to our two goats, a couple of dogs, hamsters, and a colorful assortment of 20 or so cats).

“What was that?” Squeaked the lead church lady as the rest of the women stared out the window in wide-eyed silence.

Apparently my dad found an awesome deal on a donkey. I’m sure you could hear his Hee-Haws in the next county! Donkey Ode (Don Quixote) wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, but he had four legs and a tail and I was happy. He, however, was a utility-type donkey, bought to tromp down weeds and clear land. My brother and I did attempt to ride him while Dad led him along the wash road. But he wasn’t too thrilled about that and promptly bucked us off in the brush. He remained a “utility” donkey, and I resumed my pony-dreams.

Not too long after, I was “helping” my mom with dinner when we heard my dad roll up with the trash trailer again. I raced to the dining room window just in time to see him open the door of the trailer. There was something moving back there!

How fast can a five-year-old run? Fast! I bolted across the room, out the door, over the front lawn, leaped the wall and nearly collided with my new present. The first lesson I learned was never run like a crazy thing up to a horse. It could spook them and all.

The story? On the way home from the dump, my dad discovered a pony for sale by the side of the road. Unable to resist the desire of his daughter’s heart, nor the sob story of the pony’s owner, the Shetland was purchased and loaded into the empty trailer.

The next day, growing suspicions of Sandy, our new family addition, surfaced. This placid little pony from the street corner showed signs of a more spirited, mischievous steed in our backyard. In the name of safety, my parents solicited the help of one of our horse-neighbors and her arena. 

As the horse people we knew weighed in with their doubts, the verdict became unanimous that our first lesson as new horse owners was: “beware—the horse trader.” Our little friend had obviously been provided with some “happy juice” to calm his personality, and the trader had laid in wait for someone to take the bait.

But even when others pull a fast one, God has a plan. That pony taught me how to ride. His lively shenanigans of twirling in circles and nipping at my legs taught me to balance. His sporadic bucks taught me to grip. And I learned to outwit him, anticipating his evilness, when he decided a frolic across the field would be great fun.

In fact, years later at age 18, my ability to stick to a horse like glue came in handy when I applied for a wrangler job at a local stable. The interview with the foreman included the challenge: “If you can ride that strawberry roan out of this stable yard without gettin’ tossed, you’ve got the job.” I got the job.

However, at 5-years-old, my limited expertise in the equine world warranted a search for another horse. A nice lady with five rambunctious boys bought Sandy and assured us he was going to a good home. But she also assured us that Sandy would continue his comeuppance with her fearless bunch.

Shortly, I was rewarded with a black and white pinto pony, King. We rescued him from a lonely existence in a friend’s pasture after her sons decided they liked motorcycles better. I moved on to learn more solid horsemanship skills on a more amiable horse.



King
  

Sandy, nevertheless, will always have a soft spot in my heart. Although a holy terror, he was beautiful, he was mine, and he was the start of a long legacy of my love and amazing adventures of all things horse. 

Midnight Rebel



Tari


At 55, I still have horses. They are a vital part of my husband and my ministry. I sit here grinning and grateful at the thought that sometimes a blessing may not come in the package we expect. Even when a “trader” targets us with less than stellar deeds, God, in His goodness, has a way of turning even that into a beautiful gift we can use. 


Rocky and Nocona


And yes, I explored the other side of those mountains … and many others. 


Nocona

('And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose'—Romans 8:28)
 


Shara's book: Walk Like a Warrior: Inspirational true stories of God's encouragement on the trail less-traveled: https://www.amazon.com/Walk-Like-Warrior-Inspirational-Encouragement/dp/1512774812/

Thursday, August 30, 2018

In Memory Of ...

It’s been kinda rough around here. My father-in-law passed away last week. We, like so many others, are wading through the waves of grief, yet holding on to the treasured memories of a man who left his mark on “this side of the fence.”

So, in honor of him, Henry Joe Repka, I decided to repost this story—the first story I posted on this blog. Henry loved his family, loved his life as a lifelong, accomplished musician, and, boy, did he love his dogs!


I invite you to ride along with us as we remember a very special man…

                                
                                       Chico and the Man

 "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all"—Psalm 34:17-19.

My father-in-law, Henry, loves dogs. Years ago his original "dog plan" was to breed Rat Terriers as a business adventure (yes, adventure). However, as the puppies were born, he became so attached to them he couldn't bear to sell them. His brood grew to a lively bunch of seven. I have fond memories of watching him walk his dogs next to the cow pasture. With Henry leading the way, his little entourage followed him like the Pied Piper. Or, when he drove his "Mule" to the back end of the property, one of his bunch would proudly sit in the passenger seat—mouth open, tongue hanging, and ears blowing back in the breeze.
 

Henry also has a huge heart for homeless or unwanted dogs no matter what size or breed. As each one of the little Rat Terriers eventually moved on to the "Happy Hunting Ground of Heaven," a stray or unwanted dog would, without fail, show up "on the door step."   
 

He discovered Smokey, abandoned and wandering, around a gas station pump. She stole Henry's heart and became his constant companion for many years.
 

When the inevitable time came and she passed peacefully to join her former companions, my father-in-law was heartbroken. It is never easy to lose a loved one, be it human or animal, no matter what the age or reason.
 

It was a lonely drive as he traveled to the family farm for his monthly visit. He tried to steel himself as he passed every rest and potty stop that he and Smokey would frequent during that long trip. Finally, he couldn't take it anymore. "I can't deal with this," he cried. "Lord, You're going to have to help me." He drove on to the farm, parked his car, and wearily began to unload his things. 
 

Suddenly something caught his attention—a tiny figure next to the farmhouse door. He moved in for a closer inspection and discovered a lively little Chihuahua investigating the porch.
 

Daily inquiries were made until it was apparent that this little guy was homeless … dumped on the County Road to fend for himself. At this realization, Henry immediately made him part of the family and named him Chico.
 

Chico has proven to be a family project. Scared and defensive, no one could get close without him yelping. One day my mother-in-law, Betty, was lying on the couch and her hand slipped to the ground … right next to Chico. A "Grrrrrrrr!" immediately resounded from somewhere under the coffee table—her hand pushing the boundaries of his comfort zone.
 

However, as Henry and Betty persevered in their patient care of this little dog, Chico began to progress from whimpering at them to whimpering for them when they were out of his sight. The latest feat was actually picking him up, which,had not been a tolerable move until now. With heavy BBQ gloves to protect against defensive teeth, they crossed this last hurdle. But they needn't have bothered with the gloves. Chico lay perfectly peaceful in their "armory" … no animosity, whatsoever, expressed. He has now become Henry's faithful companion, following him everywhere and sleeping next to him in a little blanketed, cardboard box next to the bed.
 

The Lord displayed his grace by bringing these lives together: one with a broken heart, the other abused and homeless. He knows that in this life we will go through trials and heartaches. But He promises, through Jesus, to deliver us out of them all in victory and with strength. His love is so great that it will reach out in answer to a simple prayer—even bringing an abandoned little dog to a man's door step to help ease the pain of a loss. (1 John 4:14-16; Lamentations 3:21-23)  



Shara's book: Walk Like a Warrior: Inspirational true stories of God's encouragement on the trail less-traveled: https://www.amazon.com/Walk-Like-Warrior-Inspirational-Encouragement/dp/1512774812/