Friday, December 15, 2017

Trust for the Trail


I focused on the path in front of us and kept my seat centered as my horse Nocona and I rode along the narrow trail. The steep mountainside rose above us, and Nocona’s hooves ambled inches from the plummeting precipice falling away. As his hoof sunk into a soft part of the trail, the distinctive click of a loosed pebble made my heart skip a beat as the stone bounced off the side, sailing off into space.

Trust. I was grateful for the many hours spent hanging out with my horse. That bond of trust and love developed over time, throughout the years. We ride trails like these only because of that friendship and bond. I know his character and he knows mine.

Building the Relationship

It started out small. When Nocona was a colt, our first encounter involved putting a halter and lead rope on him—he’d never seen either. This was a must as I needed to load him in the trailer to take him to the ranch. On a hot, humid Texas morning, I watched him as he stared wide-eyed at me. Sweat trickled down my face as I spoke softly to him. His ears flicked, and he slowly dropped his head and relaxed. Our relationship began.

Trust is synonymous with relationship. You can’t truly trust someone you don’t know. I had spent years as a Christian, but not fully trusting the One I claimed allegiance to. When adverse circumstances ambushed me, I realized the hard way that my relationship with Jesus was sorely in need of maintenance. I found myself floundering, my foot searching for the solidness of the Rock. (Matthew 7:24-25)

In desperation, I looked for Him. He was already watching me. In that ever-so-loving still, small voice, His Holy Spirit prompted me to start at square two (I was  already firmly planted on square one, having accepted Jesus as my Savior). He gently guided me to read Jesus’ words, written in red. As I studied every word, an amazing picture formed—God’s strong, open arms in unconditional love. As I read about His kind, solid character, I relaxed. And a real relationship began. I found a personal God who loves us all dearly and wants to take us to heights we have never known—heights that may make our heart pound, but have beautiful, breathtaking views.




A Love That Longs for Trust

In the beginning Nocona was a feisty one, but I never gave up. I slipped my hand around his neck and slid the halter over his nose, around his ears, and buckled it. It was a foreign concept to him, and he bolted. I stayed with him, letting him test the lead rope, all the while continuing to speak softly to him, reassuring him that all was well and I would not hurt him. We continued building on our relationship from that solid foundation. (Proverbs 3:5)

I suppose some schools of thought would have suggested I lasso him and then “show him who’s boss.” But what good would that have done? I would have created a relationship where he only obeyed me because he had to, or worse yet, feared me. It would have been a life of slavery for him and a chore for me.

Many times the Holy Spirit revealed His wisdom, but because it was foreign to me, I bolted. But He stuck with me, eventually earning my trust and moving me further toward my destiny in Him. (Psalm 73:28—But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God that I may declare all Your works.)

The Acid Test

Life can be a trail of unknowns. The acid test of our trust is what we do when confronted with one of life’s unforeseen surprises. Fear of the unknown (the “what ifs”) can easily keep us from fully enjoying life. Courage is required to take the leap of faith, believing God’s Word is truth.

While riding the trail, scary things tend to “jump out” of the bushes:  A rattlesnake angrily buzzed his tail, warning us that we were in his self-proclaimed territory; A mountain lion dashed across the road ahead, chasing a herd of deer. Nocona stood his ground and just flicked an ear, all the while listening for my instruction.

In this fast-paced, don’t-have-time-to-breathe society, listening has become an antiquity. But it’s a must to develop that solid trust. In life, circumstances will shoot out of nowhere, putting us in a position of decision. Do we run? faint in fear? or stand our ground on that solid relationship we meticulously built in the peaceful times? We might “flick an ear” at the scary thing, but immediately flick it back toward the One with the instruction on what we need to do with that thing. (Proverbs 1:33—“But whoever listens to Me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”)

Trust That Continues to Strengthen

As with any relationship, there is constant adjustment and tuning-up. Though it is built on a solid foundation, maintenance will always be an ongoing process. Even the apostle Paul was in constant growth and learning: Philippians 3:12—“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

Just like Paul, I haven’t “arrived” yet. I’ve learned my relationship with the Lord requires forward motion. There are always new things to learn about myself and Him, along with old things maybe I’ve forgotten and need to remember again. I’ve come to realize that a trust-building relationship is a step-by-step, day-by-day process. But it’s an exciting one. It’s a process full of adventure, offering hope as I discover the depth of God’s character and His love. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)




Sunday, December 10, 2017

PRICE PLUNGE!

GREAT news! Just in time for Christmas! 💖 Amazon continues to drop the price on my award-winning book: Walk Like a Warrior: Inspirational True Stories of God’s Encouragement on the Trail Less-Traveled! I don’t claim to know the reasoning behind their pricing, I just note when it drops. I know that I’ll be jumping on that price plunge before they pop it back up again! 😀  https://www.amazon.com/Walk-Like-Warrior-Inspirational-Encouragement/dp/1512774812/




I invite you to join me in giving the gift of encouragement! 💖

Thursday, November 30, 2017

I Did It MY way...BAD Idea!

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him”—James 1: 5.


The Lord speaks to us in many ways: the Bible (His Word), dreams, visions, a “still small voice,” and on the rare occasion, audibly—just to name a few. He also “speaks” through everyday circumstances. He taught me a thing or two through this latter type of communication.

My husband Bruce and I rode with our friend, Bo, for one of the ranches in northern Nevada. Our job was to help drive six bulls across the pastures, through a gate, and “kick” them up a canyon. We gathered the bulls and drove them along the fence line. “Can you get the gate?” Bo called over the sagebrush. “Sure,” I called back, trotting my horse to the gate. Dismounting, I tried to unlatch it.

Two wire loops, attached to the main fence, were wrapped around the end post of the gate—one over the top, one around the bottom. Simple, right? I thought so. Besides, we have this kind of gate all over Texas. Trying to pop off the top loop first, I grabbed a hold of the post and pushed ... nothing. I pushed as hard as I could ... still nothing. Then I commenced to pulling that post ... nothing! Frustrated and scolding myself for getting soft in the muscle, I’m not sorry to say, I also called for angelic help.

The urgency? Six HUGE bulls were trotting up the trail toward me, and that gate wasn’t budging. As the minutes ticked by, Bo figured there was something wrong and sent Bruce to help me. Bruce stepped off his horse, grabbed a hold of a metal lever (that I didn’t see), and cleanly and simply popped it up—releasing the loop around the top of the post. Gate open, the bulls charged through, and we chased them into the canyon.

I had to chuckle at myself. Apparently, this handy metal lever is called a “Lady’s Aid”—this advantageous invention was lost on me! As we rode back to the ranch, the Lord spoke to me in that still, small voice of His, revealing a couple of lessons to be learned:

Lesson One: sometimes, when told to do something, we jump in and tackle the project the way we’ve always done it or how we think it should be done. After all, from a glance, we assume the situation resembles what we’ve dealt with in the past, and we use the same old strategy that worked before. The problem is, we assumed.

We try to accomplish the task in our own strength and knowledge. The Lord tries to tell us He has provided a better, easier way. But we’re so focused on our opinion, we ignore Him and end up making it harder on ourselves. (Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”)  He told me, “You cannot do what I’ve called you to do in your own strength. You may succeed a little (I did get the wire loop pushed up near the top of the post), but you’ll never get the job fully done.”

Lesson Two: unity. I couldn’t figure out that gate, but Bruce could because he had the knowledge. We need to let others help us—there are no Lone Rangers in the Kingdom of God. We are all called to uplift, encourage, and exhort one another, helping in each other’s destinies.
(1 Corinthians 12:1-11)
 

Thank you, Lord, for caring enough to speak our language when we need a little “tunin’ up!”


                

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Behind the Scenes




“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts”— Isaiah 55: 9. 

Twelve hours and counting, we drove on into the night. You’d think it would be somewhat easy finding a rodeo grounds in the West to hole up for the night with a horse ... not.

We were headed for the northernmost parts of Nevada to work and minister with the buckaroos (cowboys) on their remote ranches. Our original plan was to stop for the night somewhere in Utah, but we couldn’t find a place on our route. So, on we trekked into the evening searching the Internet and road signs for a rodeo grounds in Nevada.

Finally, our Internet search paid off. Struggling to keep our weary eyes open, we headed for the rodeo grounds in the small gambling town of West Wendover. As we drove around the fence, we prayed that the gate would be unlocked. Rounding the corner, the gate was wide open. “Thank You, Jesus,” we breathed in unison, and squeezed our big rig through the small entrance. We shut down our truck, turned our horse, Nocona, out into a cow pen, and settled in— for about 10 minutes.

I glanced out the window and spotted two sets of rig lights inching down the fence line and turning onto the grounds. Oh, please don’t park right next to us. Dog-tired, we just wanted some peace and quiet.

Bruce and I looked on as they pulled in— right next to us. The man stepped out of his truck and headed for our door. As I cracked it open and peeked through, my mouth dropped. It was our friends from New York who had recently moved to California! What were they doing in Nevada? Their entire family, horses, dogs, and the whole shebang were packed into two vehicles and two horse trailers.

Jason? No way!” we exclaimed, throwing the door open. “What are y’all doing here?”

Jason grinned as we exchanged bear hugs and handshakes. His wife and their four kids piled out of the vehicles and ran to our rig. Through happy tears, our friends described the exhausting events of their evening.

They were moving back to New York to settle some things. Their day had not been a good one. Planning to stay in Utah as well, they called ahead to a horse motel, but it was booked up. They, too, prayed for a rodeo grounds to spend the night. Tired and hungry, they also figured they’d have to spend the night in their vehicles just to keep an eye on their horses.

As they crept around the fence line, the kids had spotted our rig. “That’s Bruce and Shara!”, “That’s Bruce and Shara!”
“Kids, no, it can’t be.”
“YES, it IS! IT’S THEM!” they insisted.
Sure enough, as they drove closer, they recognized our Paint horse, Nocona, and realized it was indeed us.

As we helped our friends unload their herd, we assured them we would be that “watchful eye” so they could get some food and a good night’s sleep in town.

God is so good! Greatly encouraged, we all continued our treks the next day knowing that the Lord is always working on our behalf, even when we can’t see what’s going on “behind the scenes.”  



 (Proverbs 16:9--A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.)

www.ponyexpressministry.com

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-ebook/dp/B071SFQP2T
 







 






Thursday, September 28, 2017

Power of the Sword



 
"For the word of God is living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”—Hebrews 4:12.  

My insides lurched as I clenched the receiver, trying to wrap my mind around my brother's words on the other end of the line.

"Dad's pretty ill, Shara," my brother said. "He's been diagnosed with a debilitating disease that affects the muscles in his eyes and throat. The condition could be life-threatening. The doctors gave him some medication they hope will work, but his speech is already severely impaired." He paused. "It doesn't look good."

I called my parents’ house and talked to my Mom. While on the phone, my dad suddenly motioned to her to call 9-1-1. That was only the beginning.

The year was 2006 and everything we considered normal life abruptly came to a stand-still. Leaving Bruce to "hold down the fort" in Texas—tending to our horses and music ministry—I flew to California. In one phone call, I had suddenly become the foreman, secretary, and bookkeeper in my dad's construction business, as well as a caregiver when he was at home.

My plan to stay a week and a half turned into two months. My dad would get treated at the hospital, then be released. All would seem to be going well and then a few days later, I'd either be calling the ambulance or rushing him to the hospital myself. I finally quit booking flights home because I kept having to cancel them.

I needed help beyond the physical. I needed God Himself to show up in a big way.

Sitting in the emergency room once again, I stared motionless at the scene around me: Doctors and nurses hurried from one section to another; A gunshot victim groaned through the partition on one side; And there was some sort of unidentifiable commotion on the other. I looked over at my 75-year-old dad—a very resilient man—whom I had only seen really ill probably once in my entire life. It was nearly unbearable to see him in a hospital bed with a bunch of tubes hooked to him. I choked back the tears and tried to stay strong. What was going to happen? The tightening sensation of fear threatened to suffocate me. I felt so alone, so vulnerable. All the Bible verses and sermons I had heard went straight out the window—I remembered none of them. At that moment, all I could say was "Jesus, help me."

A "still, small voice" stirred within me, "Didn't you bring your Bible?" I reached for my bag and yes, there it was. Blinded by the fear that gripped me, I never saw the tabs and bookmarks that revealed my favorite verses. I just opened my Bible and numbly, randomly started flipping. On my second "flip" it opened, miraculously, to 1 Corinthians 2:5: "that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God." Encouraged, I flipped one more time and again, miraculously, the pages fell open to 2 Corinthians 5:7: "for we walk by faith, not by sight." The Lord knew I would need these two verses that night and throughout the entire two months. I grabbed a hold of them with a white-knuckled grip.

His Presence in the emergency room jarred me loose from the paralyzing grasp of fear. His encouragement caused me to reach for Him through His Word, giving me hope even through distressing doctors’ reports and procedures; the stress of running a construction company; and other unthinkable situations that tested me during that time.

God's Word saved me and in turn, saved my dad.
 

It happened one night as I was sitting with him in his hospital room. Suddenly, for no reason, his blood pressure shot up into the danger zone. The Lord’s urgency spurred my heart as He told me to start reading His Word—out loud! I grabbed my Bible.

By this time, my dad's face was beet-red. I looked at his face, looked up at his patient monitor, looked down at my Bible, and started reading. As I read, a nurse came in with a shot. Lord, no! Please, no more medications for my dad! Now, I have no medical training whatsoever, but I sensed in my spirit that shot was the wrong thing to do. I was close to panicking as the nurse stood there with the needle poised. All I could do was sit there, read, and pray. Curiously, though, the nurse wasn't moving. She quietly watched the monitor, and I kept reading the Word. As suddenly as his blood pressure rose, it dropped. I stared in amazement as my dad recovered and he was safe. The nurse, visibly relieved, said, "Good, I really didn't want to give him this," and walked out of the room.

Later in the evening, I found her at the nurses’ station and asked her what had happened. She confirmed there was no explanation as to why my dad's blood pressure sky-rocketed. And then added thoughtfully, "I heard you reading the Bible when I walked in."
"Yeah, I just felt I needed to," I replied.
"Well, I’m quite sure that is why your dad's blood pressure came down."

She then shared something with me I will never forget. "In all the years I have worked at this hospital," she said, "I have seen powerful things happen when the Word of God is read to patients. In fact, I have seen a marked difference between the patients who have the Word read to them and the ones who don't."

Wow. The Word of God, as it proclaims, is life.

From then on, I read to my dad every day without fail. I knew for a fact now that God's Word spoken out loud was a powerful force. Sometimes he was awake, sometimes he was asleep. But I continued to read, if only in a whisper, putting his name in all the personal spots of the verses: "John Bueler, Sr. will live and not die"—Psalm 118:17; "No weapon formed against John Bueler, Sr. will prosper"—Isaiah 54:17, etc. (Hebrews 4:12-16; Psalm 119:50; Isaiah 55:11)

Today, my dad is recovering very well. In fact, his doctor says, "He's a miracle." She called the Mayo Clinic and other medical facilities that have dealt with this disease, and my dad is the first person they have ever heard of who has recovered this quickly ... if at all.

Praise God! "Don't rest on the wisdom of men, but the power of God,” and "walk by faith (in Him), not by sight"!
(Isaiah 53:5; Romans 15:13; Ephesians 6:10-18)





This year (2017) my dad turned 86. Not to say he hasn’t had any more challenges in various things (don’t we all?—life’s a journey). But the one thing that never fails in facing these challenges is the Word of God; The action that wields that Sword is believing the promises He gave. Through a most recent challenge, we all were in fervent prayer … and in the Word, running to our only source of Life. And God spoke: “Do not be afraid of sudden fear”; “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place; “You will not be ashamed” … and we weren’t.


www.ponyexpressministry.com

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 31, 2017

Angels Drive Freightliners



One of the cool things about traveling around the country is the people we’re privileged to meet and the testimonies they share with us. Following is an amazing true story from a friend we met in the West. She was rather shy in relating this story as she didn’t want to be labeled a kook. But I appreciated the encouragement I received from hearing it. I am a total believer in all the ways God can show up in our lives. There are no limitations with Him, and He will find us wherever we are, by whatever means He deems necessary. I’m renaming our friend to honor the fact that she is a private person. Other than that, the facts remain intact.

Before the life-changing inventions of cell phones and call boxes, traveling America’s roads was not just full of simple adventure, but a bit more like walking on the wild side. Pulling onto the highway meant facing potential dangers with few lifelines …
 

It was a far piece from the tiny, one-horse town of Rodeo, New Mexico to the big city of Denver, Colorado. Erin eyed her truck which was anything but reliable. But, it was all she had and her only choice to shuttle her to a new job and a new life.

Loading up a small suitcase, a plant, and her cat, she pulled out of the driveway for the last time and started the journey toward Denver. Gusts of snow flurried and stuck to the roadway as she gripped the wheel and leaned forward. The truck struggled and groaned, and she prayed. Somehow it chugged all the way to Glorieta Pass, northeast of Albuquerque. She caught her breath as the old pickup finally stalled and gave out.

The snow stopped falling, and Erin stared out the window at the clear, starry, empty night. No houses were visible in the inky blackness. She was totally alone. And it was cold. Really cold. So cold, in fact, that her plant froze, and she couldn’t feel her feet. She envied the cat with its thick, fluffy fur.

She grabbed her CB. “I need help!” she cried over the airwaves. But she discovered, along with the heater, the CB had died too. What am I going to do? She sobbed. I’ll freeze to death out here!

Suddenly vehicle lights reflected in her rearview mirror and two huge semi-trucks rumbled up. One of the big rigs parked behind her, the other swung around and parked in front. Both drivers jumped out and strolled to her window. Tentatively she cracked it open and peered up at the two truckers. 

“Are you OK?” asked the first man, the lines in his dark features deepening in concern.
“We heard your cries for help over the CB,” said the other man, his blue eyes piercing into hers.
Hmmm, the CB? she thought, but just replied, “My truck won’t start.”
The first man, who introduced himself as Charlie, strode to the front of the pickup and busied himself under the hood. Strangely enough, she trusted these men. She opened the door.
The second man, who called himself “Midnight Cowboy,” crouched and reached for her feet, rubbing the circulation back into them.

“All set,” came a voice under the hood. “Fire it up!” Erin turned the key and the truck roared to life. Unfortunately, the head and taillights didn’t work.

“We’re on our way to Denver same as you,” said Midnight Cowboy. “I’ll lead out, and Charlie will tail you since you have no lights.”

Funny, I don’t recall saying anything about Denver, Erin thought. Oh well. Relief flooded over her. She relaxed, knowing that if her truck died again, she’d have help. The two men hopped in their trucks, and the little convoy rolled down the road toward Denver. 

Bright lights from a truck stop gleamed on the horizon, and they pulled in. As she sipped her steaming coffee, she noticed her newfound friends never ordered anything, not even coffee.

They continued their journey; the trio stopping periodically at weigh stations. They figured out a routine: Erin drove around the stations, waited for her friends to pass through the scales, and met them on the other side. Before they hit the highway again, one of the men kindly rubbed the circulation back into her feet. She appreciated that neither of the men ever made a pass toward her—they simply helped her.

Sunlight peeked over the distant mountains as they pulled into the last weigh station. When they met on the other side, they hugged and said their goodbyes. “It’s morning so you should be able to make it safely to where you’re going,” said Midnight Cowboy. Erin thanked her new friends again, and they all pulled out onto the highway.

She traveled through the morning light, pondering the events of the previous night. She wondered at the fact that her friends’ rigs had no company names or writing on them anywhere. 

Midnight Cowboy’s rig rolled ahead of her. But something wasn’t right. Her vision seemed to blur. She quickly glanced to the side of the road to double-check her eyesight. Shifting her gaze back to her friend’s semi, she stared wide-eyed as it faded like a mirage and disappeared.  The open road and the bright Denver lights shown directly in front of her. I’m going crazy, she thought. She jerked her head up, peering into the rearview mirror. Charlie’s truck was still behind her. And then, just like Midnight Cowboy’s, Charlie’s semi faded and disappeared.

Stunned, she drove the last few miles to her destination where the pickup promptly died in the driveway. She called a local mechanic who towed it to his shop.

“Where did you say you drove from?” asked the mechanic, eyeing her from beneath the hood.
“Rodeo, New Mexico,” she replied.
“That’s impossible,” he said, staring at her.
“But I did,” she insisted.
“Look, this truck couldn’t have gone five feet, let alone 786 miles.” He shook his head. “There’s an engine part missing.”

That evening, she related her entire adventure to her Pastor-friend, elaborating on the truck drivers who came to her rescue. “So, what do you make of all this?”
He grinned at her. “Did you ever think that you might have met up with some angels?”
“I never thought of that.” Her eyes narrowed. “But wait a minute, if they were angels, why didn’t they fix the heat too? Or the lights?”
“I don’t know,” he shrugged. “Maybe you needed to stick with them to get you safely to Denver.” He chuckled. “At any rate, I know there’s more to this than just a couple of truckers helping a gal on a lonely highway.”




“For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways”—Psalm 91:11.








*Exciting announcement!* Walk Like a Warrior: Inspirational True Stories of God's Encouragement on the Trail Less-Traveled is now available in print and Kindle editions through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the WestBow Press bookstore.

https://www.amazon.com/Walk-Like-Warrior-Inspirational-Encouragement-ebook/dp/B071SFQP2T/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1496082052&sr=8-1&keywords=walk+like+a+warrior+book
 


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

FREE Download!

NOTE: The "Free Download" Promo is done, BUT you can enter for a chance to win the eBook copy here: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/08d9fa076fb8073d


Hey! Everybody likes FREE! So, here it is: In exchange for your honest review (on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, etc.) you can download a FREE copy of my book, Walk Like a Warrior: Inspirational True Stories of God’s Encouragement on the Trail Less-Traveled, through Story Cartel: https://storycartel.com/books/walk-like-a-warrior (for a limited time). Pretty cool deal!  

My prayer is that you are encouraged as you enjoy the many photographs and travel this trail with us, living the adventures!

Happy reading! 😃




Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Art of the Ear: When God Speaks

But whoever listens to Me will dwell safely and will be secure, without fear of evil”—Proverbs 1:33.




Giving God our ear. Hmmmmm. What does that look like? How does God speak to us? Many ask this.

For me, His voice has different “sounds”: He gives a strong impression in my spirit about a particular situation ... a gut feeling, if you will; The truths in His Word will come alive as I read and revelation hits me right between the eyes; He will move on someone to be His voice, giving me an encouraging word; He’ll give me a dream while I’m sleeping; Or, He may use pictures in His amazing Creation to illustrate His character.

When He speaks to me through His Creation, that’s incredibly cool. One time, I was out feeding the horses trying to work through some stuff in my head. I glanced up and saw the most magnificent full rainbow I’d ever seen— and a double one to boot. The colors were so vibrant and alive. I ran to the trailer and grabbed my camera. As I stared at that rainbow, profound thoughts eased my mind: Our Creator created incredible beauty out of mere mist; Every rainbow from the very first one is the same—the same colors, the same lines, the same form. They don’t change. He doesn’t change. His promises never change. In this world, we can’t count on anything. But we can count on Him—encouragement I needed right then and a word in due season. (Isaiah 52:7)






He used a gentle breeze to encourage an acquaintance of mine. She was reading her Bible outside, troubled by a circumstance she faced. The breeze kept blowing the pages to a certain scripture. Every time she tried to turn back to the previous spot where she was reading, the breeze would flip the pages right back to that other place. She finally looked down where the breeze stopped—there she found the answer to her problem.

He likes to speak through people to give His encouraging words. Years ago I was asked to sing at a trail ride in Texas. When I pulled up on the ranch, my heart was heavy. I had a new truck, two beautiful horses and looked as though I hadn’t a care in the world. But on the inside, I was hurting and scared. I had two jobs: one in an office, one on a ranch. A “friend” betrayed me and stole the ranch job—the one I had based my truck payment on. Single, with no other means of extra support, I was afraid of losing everything.

A few days before I drove to the trail ride, I prayed, “Lord, please make yourself real to me.” Until then, I did not believe the Lord really knew I existed—unless I hung out with people I thought were spiritual. Let me tell ya, the devil had deceived me good!

I parked my rig and made my way over to a big oak tree. I leaned against it, quietly watching the other singers on the stage. A man and his wife, whom I had never met, walked up. “I have a word for you from the Lord,” he said. That man “read my mail.” He told me, “The Lord said, ‘all your needs are already taken care of.’” I was floored. I had not told a soul what I was going through, not even my closest friends. How in the world did this guy know my situation?

One week later, I received some cleaning jobs that perfectly dovetailed with my day job at the office. The wages from the cleaning jobs covered my old ranch wages to the dollar.

Two months later, the same man gave me another word from the Lord: I would be given one job that would take care of all my needs. Within three months, I quit my cleaning jobs because the office I worked for offered me a higher position in another department with a lot more pay.

I have learned that He is always directing us with that still small voice of His ... or trying to. I’ve blown right over the top of it— more than once, I’m afraid. One time, He impressed on Bruce, my husband and me to clean up the pine needles under the high-line our horses were tethered to. We didn’t, getting distracted with some other project. Our “Hoover”-horse, Rocky, decided he very much liked the taste of pine needles, proceeding to suck up every strand in the area. He promptly colicked. We were way out in the National Forest with no phone service. Prayer and the painkiller Banamine played veterinarian. He was pooping pine needles for the next day and a half, but he pulled through.

In all my years with horses in the mountains, I have never seen them eat pine needles. I never, ever imagined that Rocky would do that. But it didn’t matter what I thought or what my experience was. The Lord told us to rake up the pine needles ... period. He knew what would happen. Lesson learned ... again!

Fine-tuning the art of the ear takes practice. Sometimes total resurrection. But it’s an art worth bringing back to life. It means laying down our own desires and agendas. It takes not just being hearers of the Word of God, but doers of what He’s asked us to do. (James 1:22-25)

And the reward? We can live a life of victory and peace, encouraging others in the same. (John 15:12-13)

Listen ... Listen ... Listen ...



www.ponyexpressministry.com

*Exciting announcement!* Walk Like a Warrior: Inspirational True Stories of God's Encouragement on the Trail Less-Traveled is now available in print and Kindle editions through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the WestBow Press bookstore.

https://www.amazon.com/Walk-Like-Warrior-Inspirational-Encouragement-ebook/dp/B071SFQP2T/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1496082052&sr=8-1&keywords=walk+like+a+warrior+book


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Walk Like a Warrior: Inspirational True Stories of God's Encouragement on the Trail Less-Traveled is released!


   At long last, Walk Like a Warrior: Inspirational True Stories of God’s Encouragement on the Trail Less-Traveled has finally been re-released! Whooohooo!
   In life’s challenges, do you search for the testimonies of others that could encourage you in your journey? I know I do. And that is one of the reasons I wrote this book—to encourage others. And, to keep my own testimonies fresh in my mind as a reminder of God’s faithfulness and kindness in my own journey. 
   Walk Like a Warrior reads like a Chicken Soup for the Soul-type devotional of our road stories, growin’ up stories, and stories of others … with loads of photos!
   Check out this award-winning book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the WestBow Press bookstore (available in print and eBook versions).
   Come on, join us on the trail, live the adventures, and be encouraged!

https://www.amazon.com/Walk-Like-Warrior-Inspirational-Encouragement-ebook/dp/B071SFQP2T


www.ponyexpressministry.com





Wednesday, May 31, 2017

H.A.L.T.



I love acronyms. Whoever thought of this memory-jogger was a genius.

My husband, Bruce and I were introduced to one of these creative gems at a youth Bible study. But like other pieces of useful information that get crowded out by life, I needed a reminder of this helpful acronym during a situation we faced.

I figured it might come in handy for others too, so I’ll share it with y’all. So, here goes. H.A.L.T.: Halt if you are:

H: HUNGRY 

Oh my. When I’m hungry, I fall into the “whatever” mood category: “I don’t care, just get it done.”; “Let’s just get there.”; or, “I don’t care what we do, I just need a snack.”

And everyone knows to never go near a grocery store with a growling stomach. The junk food retailer’s stock skyrockets every time on this one!

*A: ANGRY: Stay tuned. I’ll come back to this one.
 

L: LONELY
I’ve made some pretty bonehead moves when I was lonely (I won’t elaborate).

T: TIRED
I figure I’d better not do anything while I’m tired. I may be convinced I’m coherent, but realize later…hmmmm, not so much. I’ve glanced at sent texts and emails and realized: Yeah, should have waited.

*A: ANGRY:
I’ve left the “A” part for last. Being lonely, or tired, or hungry can drive us to make less than stellar decisions. But angry? This one might be the worst decision-driving emotion ever. For it’s with anger that words are said, actions are taken, and destinies determined that may never, except by the grace of God, ever be fixed.

A healthy dose of self-control curbs emotions and can be a handy little tool to douse the spark that could cause a potential wildfire—a wildfire that destroys a lot of ground and a lot of people.

Which brings me to the following “situation we faced” and thankfully in this case, I listened and obeyed that Giver of self-control …

The wall our back was shoved against left indents in my shoulder blades. And the friend who could have helped us, betrayed us.

My hands shook as I pounded out a text message on my cell phone in response to one of her stunts. My thumb hovered over the send button when a still small voice cut through the flame, “Don’t do anything in anger.” I knew this to be true, but I so wanted to fire off that text!

However, I paused. I glanced over at Bruce who, not 15 minutes before, snapped, “That woman’s gonna push me too far!”

I read him my text, a little part of me hoping for validation and the confirmation to hit that little green button.  He looked around at me and to my surprise said calmly, “Don’t do anything in anger.”

Like cold water on a hot flame, I realized God was confirming His word to me. My phone fairly flew across the counter as I shoved it away. I knew one twitch out of me would have sent that text flyin’.

I cooled down, grateful I didn’t send this text. The day before, as I was ranting and flinging manure across my horse’s stall into the bin, the Lord gave me a serious command: “Hold your peace, vengeance is mine.” And then started chatting with me about forgiveness. It would not have been wise to ignite any fires with my message. (“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil (Ephesians 4:26-27).




God knows what He’s doing when He tells us to H.A.L.T. before making a decision. Take a breath, scarf an energy bar, take a nap. Whatever it takes that’s moral and decent with no side effects, we need to do it. Nothing is worse than having to undo an unwise move. I’d rather not spend the energy to apologize, lament over an excessive grocery bill, or explain why I sounded like a dork. I’d like to act right the first time and avoid cleaning up a mess.

So, the next time we face a challenge or a decision while we’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired … and we will … join me in implementing H.A.L.T.. Our lives will be much more peaceful and productive for it.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).

 


www.ponyexpressministry.com

*Exciting announcement!* Walk Like a Warrior: Inspirational True Stories of God's Encouragement on the Trail Less-Traveled is now available in print and Kindle editions through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the WestBow Press bookstore. 

https://www.amazon.com/Walk-Like-Warrior-Inspirational-Encouragement-ebook/dp/B071SFQP2T/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1496082052&sr=8-1&keywords=walk+like+a+warrior+book


Monday, May 29, 2017

Beauty from Ashes



The morning sun flecked the curtains as shock waves coursed from my chest to my gut. The events of the prior day, November 24, 1980, had not been a bad dream. The nightmare was real.



My classmates and I smelled smoke from a distant fire and figured the mountain backcountry was burning again—like it always did during the high, autumn winds. But when the smoke drifted over our school, apprehension rose. Rumors ricocheted through the hallways, “Structures are on fire at the base of the mountains!” My home stood in those foothills. My hands shook as I called my family from the school phone—no answer. I panicked and raced for my truck.



Patrol cars blocked my way home, so I detoured toward my grandma’s house. Gripping the steering wheel, I drove through the smoke and screaming wind. Loose pets and livestock darted between buildings and across the road. I inched my way through the chaos, fearing the worst. 



As I pulled into the driveway, my family met me on the front lawn. Thank You, God. They’re alive, I breathed. But my brother's two words said it all: "It's gone,” he whispered. And I knew, in one afternoon, we had become homeless, losing nearly everything but the clothes on our backs.



With nowhere to go, my dad, mom, brother, and I crowded into my grandma’s two-bedroom, one-bathroom house. 

                                       
Do Unto Others



As I drove to my grandma’s after school, I glanced down at the passenger side of my El Camino—everything I owned now fit on the seat.  



As I opened the front door, piles of trash bags met me in the entryway. “They’re filled with clothes,” my mom said, pulling them out of the walkway. It was surreal to be the recipients of charity. Life isn't supposed to be this way, I lamented. 



I fumbled with the plastic tie on the nearest trash bag. Stuffed inside were blouses from the ‘60s, skirts from the ‘70s, torn jeans, and stained shirts—a virtual circus of clothes. Bag after bag revealed more of the same with only a few of the items fit to wear. As a newly homeless 17-year-old, this felt like rock bottom.



But a funny thing came over us as my mom and I numbly eyed the clothes now piled on the living room floor—a spark of God-given resolve. One by one, all articles of clothing became fair game as we picked our prize and headed for the back bedroom. Reappearing in a puffy, lime-green blouse—complete with stains on the front—I sashayed into the living room with chin in the air and hands on my hips. "How does this look?" I beamed. “I’m so in vogue, don't you think?"  



"You look mah-velous, dear,” Mom chirped as she disappeared into the "dressing room." Out she strutted in bell-bottom jeans with a tear in the pocket. With pivot turns and a flip of the wrist, she wore Christian Dior on a Saks Fifth Avenue runway. 



"Those jeans just become you, dahling!" I applauded. 



In the midst of our antics, someone knocked on the front door—a childhood friend had sent me a package.  Tucked between the tissue paper was a note and a model horse. But it wasn’t just any horse—it was King, her prized possession. I embraced him and read the note: “I know your entire horse collection burned,” she wrote. “King was my favorite, and now he belongs to you.

”

My friend’s selfless gift helped soothe the pain of receiving others’ rejects. Luke 6:31 (the golden rule) became my new motto, and I vowed to always give the best I had when another's need arose. 

                                          
 Helping Hands



My best friend, Dorothy, and I slowly walked together up the long driveway. My once beautiful childhood home stood lifeless, the concrete shell standing in the midst of white ashes. Gaping holes where the windows once set now stared blankly at me like a ghost. As my hands flew to my mouth, I felt her arm resting around my shoulders. 



In the days that followed, friends, family, and even strangers stood shoulder to shoulder with us. They sifted through rubble, brought food and wearable clothes, and replaced photos that burned. They prayed and consoled us as we cried.



A rancher had caught my horse as she galloped through town, graciously trailering her to the safety of his corrals. My plea for her in the local paper united us.



Actions comforted more than wordy platitudes of, “You can rebuild.” Or, “At least your family didn’t die.” The Good Samaritans sympathized with our shock and discerned what we needed, sometimes without asking. We witnessed God’s Word walking as our town worked in harmony to help all 280 families who had lost their homes. 



After a few weeks and frayed nerves in my grandma’s little house, our prayers were answered for another place to stay. A friend phoned my mother. “I don’t know if you’d be interested or not,” she said, “but some friends of mine are going on vacation for a month and need a house-sitter.” Within a week, our family moved into their lovely, two-story house.  


The day before the owners returned, a rental house became available on a lake in the mountains. And we realized that God had not forsaken us; He was restoring us. We stayed in the rental for a few months until my dad, a general contractor, built a house for us in a nearby town.  

                                  
It’s The Little Things



The aroma of popcorn and chocolate chip cookies drifted through the air as raccoons loafed on our rental’s deck rail, and squirrels peered through the sliding glass door.  We eagerly anticipated this community of critters that scampered across our deck to indulge in our weekly handouts.



Finally, with popcorn bowl in hand, Mom slid the door open. The temptation was too much for one young squirrel—he blasted through the gap like a rocket. Squeals and popcorn peppered the air.



Up the walls, over the counters, bounding over the couch, that squirrel flew like his tail was on fire. Mom grabbed a broom as I ran in circles, flailing my arms at this fly-by furball. We nearly collided as he squeezed between us and shot up the curtains.



Before the white flag waved, we somehow corralled him and he careened out the door. Mom slammed it shut and slid down the frame in hysterics. We laughed so hard tears flooded down our faces. 



These characters of God’s creation appeared at the perfect time—a merry heart indeed does good like a medicine.
                                                         

No Longer a Victim
 

Life hurts sometimes, but God is faithful to His Word. I found that time does not heal, but God does. He abundantly restored us, honoring our trust in His promises and in Him.  He also helped me break the bonds of materialism, which remain broken to this day.  As 1 Timothy 6:17 encourages, I can enjoy the things God has given, but never cling to them for hope and stability. 



He gave me a newfound compassion that rose from the ashes to help me comfort others suffering loss. I can now come alongside them with the hope of Psalm 27:13: “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”



“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified—”Isaiah 61:1-3.

Beauty from Ashes joins other inspirational stories in the newly re-released, award-winning book, Walk Like a Warrior: Inspirational True Stories of God’s Encouragement on the Trail Less-Traveled, available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the WestBow Press bookstore.
 https://www.amazon.com/Walk-Like-Warrior-Inspirational-Encouragement-ebook/dp/B071SFQP2T/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1496082052&sr=8-1&keywords=walk+like+a+warrior+book



Sunday, April 30, 2017

Even the Flowers Face the Sun




Funny how a simple walk up the pasture can reveal the wisdom of God.

I do well with pictures. When someone is trying to explain technical or difficult things to me, it’s better for all of us if they can paint a picture with their words, or show me a drawing. God knows this. He created me and is well aware of my idiosyncrasies and brainwaves.

As I wandered through the grass, I noticed the wild flowers. The sun was bright and lit up the pasture like a coat of many colors—yellow, lavender, blue, pink, fuchsia.

The yellow flowers grabbed my attention the most. Every one of their countless little faces, faced the sun—petals outstretched and unhindered, soaking up the life-giving rays. They took full advantage of the sun’s offering before it dipped behind the horizon.

And God spoke to my heart: “Even my Creation looks to Me, turning their backs on the shadows to receive the nutrients they need.”

My husband, Bruce and I are facing a pretty huge challenge. We’ve faced some big ones in the past, but this one’s a doozy. And there is nothing we can do about it, except stand firm in our beliefs and pray.

The flowers in their silence spoke volumes this morning. No matter how strong the breeze, they flexed and bent, but never turned away from the sun. They didn’t shake their fist at the sky and complain about the wind. They didn’t huff at the cow pies that littered their green carpet. And they didn’t scoff at their fellow flowers who seemed to be enjoying a calmer existence. They just kept their focus on that consistent sun that rises every morning to give them what they need.

I was encouraged: the winds of life are opportunities to learn endurance; the cow pies add much needed fertilizer that promotes growth; and the calm others enjoy, well, praise God they’re getting a break for awhile.

So, I’m taking my cue from the flowers, from God’s voice teaching me through His Creation: Keep my eyes on the Son. No matter what the outcome in this challenge, I know it’s all good. Whatever plan He has for us, it will be a good future, full of hope, and a great testimony of His goodness. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

And if, in a weak moment, I start to wilt with worry, I think I’ll take a stroll back out in the pasture and sit next to those little yellow flowers … just to remind me.

Psalm 25:15: My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He shall pluck my feet out of the net. (NKJV)





www.ponyexpressministry.com
www.trail-tails.blogspot.com


*Exciting announcement!* Walk Like a Warrior: Inspirational True Stories of God's Encouragement on the Trail Less-Traveled is now available in print and Kindle editions through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the WestBow Press bookstore. 

https://www.amazon.com/Walk-Like-Warrior-Inspirational-Encouragement-ebook/dp/B071SFQP2T/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1496082052&sr=8-1&keywords=walk+like+a+warrior+book


Friday, March 31, 2017

The Power of Praise




"Be exalted, O Lord, in Your own strength! We will sing and praise Your power”—Psalm 21:13.

Nursing homes are never an easy place to be. Many times they are the last destination for ones that have lived a fairly long life. Most residents are not in the minds they once knew, and all ail from one sickness or another.
 

Bruce's 93-year-old grandmother had been in a nursing home for quite some time. No longer able to stay with her family because of medical issues, she became a permanent resident.
 

Bruce, my mother-in-law Betty, and I made our way to the secured area of the facility where she resided. She sat in her wheelchair, absently staring at the floor. As we approached her, she looked up, sheer delight spreading across her face. We hugged and kissed her, wheeling her into the little living room reserved for private family visits.
 

Although happy to be sitting there together, our conversation started to get a bit strained. Grandma was hard of hearing, couldn't talk very well, and suffered from memory loss. Long silences filled the gaps in our conversation.
 

There had to be some way of communicating together.
 

Suddenly, I felt the Lord impressing on me to sing. However, I choked up with emotion as I fumbled around for a starting point. I sensed the impression again, urging me to continue. Pulling myself together, I asked, "Can we sing?" With great relief, all three of us plunged in, enthusiastically singing out the old familiar hymns: Amazing Grace; What A Friend We Have In Jesus; How Great Thou Art.
 

Grandma's face lit up and away she went! The strain was chased from her face as she sang with us at the top of her voice. The wheelchair seemed to melt away. We were all lifted up and out of that nursing home to a familiar and happy place where communication gaps and sickness don't exist. For those moments, we enjoyed the same space and the same time.
 

Intrigued, I watched her joyfully expounding on every word. She remembered the words!—words she had sung long ago that had been tucked away in silent rooms somewhere in the recesses of her mind. The melodies of those old hymns led her heart straight to those rooms, unlocking them like special keys to forgotten doors.
 

Apparently, the singing from our little room wafted through the entire wing of the nursing home, and more than one heart was unlocked that day. The nurses still talk about it. God's Presence had a profound affect on patients and staff alike.
 

Praise in the form of music is powerful and transparent, walking through any wall that has been erected and unlocking every door that has been tightly shut. It knows no boundaries. 
(Acts 16:25-26)



www.ponyexpressministry.com

*Exciting announcement!* Walk Like a Warrior: Inspirational True Stories of God's Encouragement on the Trail Less-Traveled is now available in print and Kindle editions through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the WestBow Press bookstore. 

https://www.amazon.com/Walk-Like-Warrior-Inspirational-Encouragement-ebook/dp/B071SFQP2T/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1496082052&sr=8-1&keywords=walk+like+a+warrior+book