DREAMS DO COME TRUE
When my kids were in elementary school, I wanted to start a pony ride business to make enough money to stay home with them, or just get rich. And when I say elementary school, I am talking many, many years ago. I went out and bought the cutest pony I think I had ever seen. He was a blue roan with a flowing black mane and tail. I just knew he would be every little girl's dream horse when they were upon his back. Well, when they were upon his back, he bucked. Yes, my darling pony bucked every child I put on his back. Don't worry, only my children and children of friends and no one got bucked off or hurt. But, the fact was, he was not the dream pony I had dreamed of. So I gave him away to a friend who had no cares of his temper tantrums. She thought he was cute too. And I put my dream on a shelf and never gave it another thought...ever.
My husband and I have always enjoyed giving rides on our horses at our church events and wherever else there were children that wanted to ride. A couple years ago, my husband thought we should purchase a pony or miniature horse to give rides to those little tykes who are afraid of the full size horses. So the very first one we looked at was the cutest little white miniature horse named Topper. He is such a charm. The more kids around climbing over him, under him, hanging on his neck and tail, the happier he is. We were also taking a kitten named Kelso that we had bottle-fed since he was two weeks old to all of our happenings, as well as an Easter bunny named Bandit that my husband surprised me with. So our trio of critters went everywhere with us bringing smiles to all. Well, those three little guys started a whirlwind of excitement and now there are many, many precious critters that we travel with in hopes of bringing a smile to a child's face, peace to a troubled heart, comfort to the young, the old, the ill, the weary, and to make that difference for all who meet our precious furry friends.
I was recently gazing back to where we started and how far we have come and I remembered. I remembered that awnry little pony and my dusty, old dream. It was a WOW moment when I realized that I was living it without making it happen. But, why now and not then? You know that little voice inside your soul that says the most unexpected, unimaginable things that you know, without a doubt, you would never have spoken in an eternity. Yes, I heard Him say, "Because THEN, it was about YOU, and NOW, it is about OTHERS." It is so totally amazing how when choosing to live God's will for your life, He, in turn, gives you your dreams in doing so. DREAM BIG, LIVE LARGE AND DO ONLY THAT WHICH ALLOWS GOD TO SMILE UPON YOUR LIFE!
BUCKET OF NAILS
I grew up on the land that my husband and I live on now. So my family has owned this land for about 45 years. Before my parents built their home here, this land was farmland with left behind evidence of long ago barns, sheds and memories. When we put our horses on the property, it was not long before one found an old rusty nail from long ago and embedded it in her hoof. Shortly thereafter, another limped up one morning with another nasty old nail in his hoof. So with every rainfall, I would go out and pick up all the old nails that made their way to the surface in hopes that I found each and every one; but, with disappointment, there were always more. My prayer to God was to please watch over and protect each of my horses from stepping on a nail. I repeated this prayer daily without fail.
One day, my husband bought me a magnet to be able to find and snatch up each and every one of those nails. I went out everyday and everyday I put old nails that I endlessly hunted for in a pink feed bucket. Then one morning, I was walking along with my magnet and bucket and was thinking how heavy my bucket had become so quickly. It was about to overflow with hundreds of rusty old nails of all sizes and shapes. I stared at my pink bucket in amazement of how many nails there were hiding among the dirt and that is when I heard Him. "That's how many times I have answered your prayer." I must have prayed that prayer a hundred times, but God answered my prayer hundreds of times without me knowing. That is how much He cares for us; that a prayer prayed but even once is endlessly answered as He watches over us.
MY LITTLE LAMB
My husband and I have been blessed with stewardship of the God's Little Critters Ministry. Since the beginning, there have been smiles, laughter, tears, hardships, lack, abundance, but amidst it all, faith is what gives rise. The most impactful lessons I have learned on this journey are...LIVE WITH PURPOSE and FINISH WELL! Herein you will meet Christian and hear his story.
In December, 2010, two weeks before Christmas, my husband was unexpectedly sent home from work because the company no longer had the funds to pay him. Paul is self-employed, but was contracting exclusively with this company. So he had not done any of his own contracting in a couple of years at this time which meant no immediate contacts in hopes of bringing in an income. My shoulders sank and the only thought I had was how could God allow the only income we had to feed all these animals, animals that we believed he put in our care, to be taken away. Shortly afterwards, we had been out and about one morning and upon our arrival home, we saw our neighbor's dog in our yard. My husband said, "You better get her so she doesn't go under the truck." As I walked towards her, I saw one dead rabbit. I stared for a moment that seemed forever and realized it was my Paxton. With urgency, I started moving towards the rabbit cage and I saw another dead rabbit, another, and another, and another, until I just did not want to look anymore. When Paul saw something was wrong with my actions, he got out of the truck and saw the slew of bodies. But where was Bandit, our first Easter bunny who was with us from the beginning of our travelling petting zoo? I just hoped and hoped he was hiding in the bushes and he would come as we called out to him. As I was turning to look for Bandit, I saw Paul walking up with his lifeless body hanging in his arms. My hope was now dead with my sweet Bandit. I just rested my head on Paul's chest and asked him, "What does God want from us?" With a whisper, he answered, "I don't know how low he needs us to go." The neighbor's dogs had gotten out and chewed through the wired rabbit cage and had a frenzie killing bunnies. My shoulders now lifted with anger towards God as to why he would allow such a horrible thing to happen to these bunnies whose lives were being spent to serve Him.
In January 2011, I received a call that a little lamb had been born and the mother had rejected him so would I take him to bottle feed. He was but one day old when we picked him up. He was so fragile and thin. He was all legs. He was tiny, helpless and needed someone to care. On the way home, I asked Paul what we should name him. He did not hesitate to answer "Christian." Christian lived inside with us because it was the cold winter months and, yes, Paul tolerated this kindly. For weeks, I fed Christian his bottle every two hours, day and night. I was relentlessly dedicated to Christian and fell more and more in love with him each passing day.
My little lamb traveled everywhere I went and he was the most playful, exuberant little guy who brightened my every day. Christian has had many pictures taken of him with his head hanging out the window at gas stations and stores by people who had never seen a lamb. Or, perhaps, just had never seen a lamb in a car before.
As time flies, Christian grew stronger with each passing day and would follow me everywhere I went. He would romp around the yard in the cutest ways and he never failed to make me smile. After a little while of noticing how Christian followed me to all ends of the property without fail, without question, with full trust of where I was taking him, I heard His voice in my whole body, "That's what I want from you." Remembering I had asked the question, I was so moved to know He was still there. But what of how I had responded to Him in a time of trial? I did not reach the mark. I did not rise to the occasion. I had failed to hang on to the truth that God is good all the time in a world that hands out hardships liberally. I cried, "But how?"
Weeks passed as I hung out with my precious lamb. I witnessed Christian growing bigger, stronger and becoming much more independent. As I wandered around doing chores, he would venture further away from me grazing and exploring new things. Then, when he would suddenly realize that he had traveled too far and I was out of his sight, he would call out "baaaaaa baaaaaa baaaaa" with a terrified voice. I would stand in place when I heard him and call out, "Christian, here I am. Here I am." When Christian heard my voice, he would run as fast and as hard as he could to stop right at my feet and look up at me with relief. I always felt at this moment that he was not going to be able to stop and that he would plow me under; but, he has always miraculously haulted with perfect timing. It was such a humbling experience for me to have this fragile, innocent creature so whole-heartedly trusting in me. Christian's unfailing trust in me created an undescribable bond between us that I cannot put into words. It is a bond that is carved into my heart that makes me smile each morning when he greets me. It is a bond that makes me ache when he is not feeling well. It is a bond of selfless love for another of God's creations.
The days passed. The weeks became months and everyday was still the same with Christian and I. He continued to grow stronger and more independent and I continued to answer, "Here, I am." Then the day came when Christian cried out in his voice of terror, "baaaaaaa baaaaaa baaaaa." And I called out, "Christian, here I am. Here I am." Here my little guy came...Christian running around the corner as fast as his legs would carry him. Christian planted his feet right at mine and looked up with his big eyes glistening with relief that I was still there for him. And, for the first time, as I caught his look, I followed Christian's trusting eyes and looked up to hear, "That's how." That's how!!!
To live with purpose and finish well, you must be a follower of Christ. You must choose God's plan for your life. There is no other way to finish well.
If you are a follower of Christ and have wandered to far off to hear God's voice...cry out His name...run back to Him...look up to him...there you will find comfort in His arms. He is loving. He is accepting. He is forgiving. He is your Father God who has longed for your return home. Be forged in faith and walk His path diligently.
If you do not have a relationship with God, reach out to someone who does, pick up a Bible...seek Him. Ask how...to show you the way. Hear His voice...run to Him...look up to Him...follow Him. Be forged in faith and walk His path diligently.
I heard Him speak, "Follow me!" I cried out, "But how?" I heard him speak, "Look up to seek me! That's how!"
God Bless You Everyone!
" Look up! Get up! And don't ever give up!"~Michael Irvin
September 22, 2013...My morning began as normal for a typical petting zoo/pony ride day. Fed animals, loaded equipment, groomed animals, loaded animals, ready to head out to celebrate two birthday parties for two little girls with ponies and barnyard petting zoo. Jumped in truck excited that all went well and now leaving on time...click...click...click....and truck will not start. Now, no doubt, September 22, 2013, was going to be my worst petting zoo day ever. Right!!!?
I called a friend and she never hesitated to come to our rescue. Upon her arrival, the chaos began of chaining the truck and trailer to be moved, unloading equipment, reloading equipment, rehitching the trailer and heading out one hour behind schedule. Stressful, to say the least, but we were finally on our way to celebrate life with two families.
As we were arriving to our first party late, all the children met us in the driveway so anxious to meet the animals We quickly unloaded, setup, decorated, saddled and finally took a breath. The mother of the birthday girl was such a blessing. She was so helpful, kind and understanding. When I offered her a discount for her trouble, she instead handed me additional money because she was so pleased. She said God had a plan and His plan worked out best today and that we had been their blessing. Off we went to our next stop. It was a last minute scheduling for a father who wanted to surprise his little girl with a pony because she is crazy about them. And now we were also late to celebrate her day. But upon arrival the little girl was speechless when she saw the pony and the father was more than thankful and said we were their blessing. Our day began in a way that could have been filled with anger, discouragement or negative words. Instead, God filled hearts this day and our cups overfloweth!!!
I received an email from the mother of the little birthday girl of the first party. It read, "Just wanted to say thank you again for today!! It was so wonderful. Everyone had so much fun!! Tonight at bedtime, Ella prayed "thank you God for the best day of my life." The little girl's prayer touched my heart in a special way because my meant to be worst petting zoo day ever became a wonderfully blessed day for all. I then closed my eyes with an unforeseen sense of peace and thanked God for the best day of my life, September 22, 2013.
WHERE IS YOUR FAITH?
NOOOOOOO...don't go Hachie...don't leave me...I love you Hachie...please don't go.
On June 11, 2013, my husband and I made the drive to pick up a llama who the owner did not want anymore because he was not a very promising guard llama for his goats. The owner had watched a coyote snatch a goat while the llama stood nearby so he wanted him gone. When we got this llama settled in and had him sheared, he was very skinny beneath all that fur. That skinny llama took my heart as his own and I named him Hachie (short for Waxahachie) because he was now home.
Hachie became my hang-out llama buddy and I pampered him. When it was cold or rainy, Hachie was blanketed and slept in a stall. All his meals were outside of the pasture with me to ensure no other pet took them from him. He grazed by my side as I did chores. Because he was so skinny, he was on supplements and fed grain twice a day. Hachie may have put on 15 pounds with all the special attention, but even though underweight, he was always bright-eyed and energetic to start a new day.
One day when I was putting Hachie back in the pasture after eating his breakfast, he hesitated and wrapped his long neck around mine. I knew it was an intentional hug because it lasted and lasted. I told him he was safe, he was loved, he was such a special boy and thanked him for loving me back. I know it was his "thanks for loving me" moment.
When Hachie fell ill, I cried out to him, "Nooooooo...don't go Hachie...don't leave me...I love you Hachie...please don't go". And he didn't. Hachie fought. He fought hard. I had blanketed Hachie and put him up with a heatlamp. I was relieved to think he was getting better. He ate. He drank. Then Hachie fell worse. I begged him to hang in there...we would go to the vet first thing...hold on sweet Hachie. As I begged...as I cried...Hachie fought. I held him, held him, and held him. I wasn't ready to say good-bye to my buddy. He was getting worse fast but he was fighting to stay with me. I knew it was time and I knew Hachie was staying for us, for me.
As my tears flowed for my sweet friend, God asked "Where is your faith?" And He laid a bible verse on my heart. The same bible verse that we print on our God's Little Critters shirts. "Let every creature praise His holy name forever and ever."~Psalm 145:21. Tearfully, I embraced my precious Hachie and whispered it was going to be okay, that I loved him so much, but it was good to do as he needed. I asked God to welcome Hachie for me and told Him what a good and faithful llama He was getting tonight. That was at 12:20 a.m. on December 22, 2014. I could tell Hachie was still fighting for me so I sorrowfully walked away for a bit. When I returned, he wasn't breathing. I looked a moment, laid his head in my lap and cried for the loss of my Hachie. And then a huge gasp for air he gave. I whispered "Hachie, I'm here." I caressed him until 1:30 a.m. when Hachie took his last breath.
When with my animals, working around them doing everyday chores, is when I hear God. I believe it is because that is when I am the quietest, the most at peace and the most open-hearted for him to reach me. I love his presence, his words and his spirit in me. God is with us all the time. In every moment of everyday, is His testimony of our lives. For me, I hear God clearly through my animals...for you, it may be different...but he is with you...listen!!!
Below are some of God's testimonies in my life. God has moved us to share our walk with others; therefore, we are available to share these testimonies with the appropriate animal in a public forum. If you would like to schedule or would like more information, please call Gina at (972) 351-6117.
LET EVERY CREATURE PRAISE HIS HOLY NAME FOREVER AND EVER.~Psalm 145-21
I feel that through death is when love pierces our heart the most. I have no supreme clarity as to why we hurt so much for so long when we have loved and lost. But what I do know is that Hachie was my gift of love in this life of ours. I do know that the Bible is a love story to us. I do know that Jesus suffered and died out of His love for us. I do know that to walk with God we must walk in love. In life, Hachie loved me, hugged me, touched me, made me smile, helped me live. In death, Hachie will praise His holy name forever and ever. "Where is your faith?"
I first loved horses. Then, through my horse, Poncho, I learned that God loves me.
Poncho's Hope is the hope that we all believe, accept, and follow God's Son, Jesus Christ, and fill our hearts with God's command that we are to love one another.
Please read about each of my horses in "Meet Poncho, Meet Bara, Meet Boomer, Meet Reba, Meet IzGrand and Meet Marley." (Other horses can be read about on Facebook Page, Poncho's Hope) These horses are my gift in this life and I believe that we are to use God's gifts to us for his glory. It is my hope that this site be one of inspiration and encouragement. That it be an opportunity to share with one another how, through our horses, we are being encouragers to others. . .how we are uplifting our gifts to help bring joy to another's day in the name of God. . .how, we, ourselves, have been touched with love when least expected.
Meet PONCHO . . . Poncho is my angel. He is a beautiful black and white paint. He is a loving and dependable horse, yet stubborn and pushy at times. He is 22 years old and still dominates the herd. He is strong-willed and fights through his struggles without complaint. Here is Poncho’s story. . .
On October 17, 2003, Poncho was to be delivered to our home. When the driver went to load Poncho and another horse, she walked to the trailer with both horses and allowed the horses to walk in as they wanted. The other horse went in first and Poncho followed. It was getting late in the evening and I began wondering why Poncho had not arrived. Then the phone call came. The trailer had disconnected from the driver’s truck, rolled ever so smoothly into a ditch, and then struck a concrete culvert. The other horse was propelled out the front top of the steel trailer. The horse lost his life in the initial impact and opened the way for Poncho to come through the hole of jagged metal for his chance of survival.
When I arrived at the vet clinic, Poncho was already being mended. He had a hole between his ears that was approximately 7 inches long and 4 inches wide. His pole had been ripped away and only jagged bone was left. His spinal cord was exposed. His ears were crooked and limp. He had a hole between his front legs where his breastplate had been splintered. He had another whole in his chest that was large enough to put my hand into. The skin on his chest was ripped apart like a jigsaw puzzle. He had a large gash on his rear leg that seemed minor in comparison to all else. He looked so hopelessly broken as his head lie in the arms of those working on him. All was solemn and not a word was uttered about ending Poncho’s life. Only compassion filled the room that night for a horse who, unknowingly why, was still alive.
The doctor said that Poncho’s condition would worsen before improving. The stitches in Poncho’s chest opened up as the skin died away. The wounds were exposed and became very painful for him. We were in the winter months now, and, because of the injuries to his chest, Poncho could not be blanketed to protect him from the elements. The hole in his chest made it impossible for him to use his front left leg. He would sit back on his haunches and hop forward to land on his front right leg as he moved around his paddock. Poncho never stopped moving. He never succumbed to this being his end and always expressed strength, diligence and determination while “hopping” through his pain to recovery.
Poncho’s recovery was a slow process. There were many struggles along the way. His head bandage had to be changed every other day. The medicine would drain down his nose and dry like sap. We had to wash and curry comb it away daily. His nose would become very sore from this process. All other wounds had to be washed twice a day and medicated. Even when our care was causing him added pain, he stood quietly before us. As time passed, he started showing signs of severe muscle atrophy in his right collarbone. The bone protruded out as the muscle died away. We had a chiropractor work on him, but were told not to expect the muscle to completely recover. Poncho was well enough by this time to begin light exercise and, within a few months, the muscle did completely heal.
Eight months after the accident, my daughter attended a 4-H meeting and Poncho went with her. He loaded in the trailer with the other horses like a champ. As my daughter rode him around the arena, he nickered to every horse there every time he passed them. He held his head high with excitement and pranced around beautifully. When it was time to leave, we loaded the other horses. But when it was Poncho’s turn, he would not go into the trailer. He was not acting scared or angry about loading. He just kept looking around and nickering to the other horses. It was frustrating at first, but then I realized he just was not ready to leave. He was not ready for it all to end. This was that moment when Poncho's steadfast walk toward healing spout out the darkness and inhaled the tranquility of the light. The moment that shouted to all “I’m alive and lovin’ it.”
There are those times in life when one might fill their mind and heart with the depressing realities of this world: the hurt, the pain, the suffering, the loneliness, the sadness, the daily challenges, the hopelessness, the worldliness, or just the downright meanness of some. Sometimes these evils overwhelm us and the joys of this life seem a lifetime away. So, what does Poncho mean to me? I was at a time like this in my life when I decided to have a horse again. I have always loved horses deeply and my childhood horse was my best friend. I have trusted my relationship with a horse more so than with people. I believe with all my heart that God knew that, while I was stubborn about listening to others, I would hear him through a horse. A horse named Poncho.
Poncho never gave into this pain. He stepped up to his challenges and boldly faced all that came his way as if he knew of hope and faith. Hope and faith became a necessity in my life, a way of life that had to prevail to continue the fight for my friend.
Then, there was that moment. When Poncho refused to load in the trailer and I took that single, most upward reaching stretch to really know what was happening with him, I truly felt him. Poncho felt joy for being alive, for feeling good, for getting out of the pasture, for hanging out with other horses, for playing in the arena. He wasn’t held down by his past circumstances, but lived in his present triumph. It was joy at its purest. I saw it...I felt it...and now I wanted it...God's joy in my life.
Poncho was so brave and diligent about his survival. He wanted to live. I found myself consumed with his plight and my everyday, mundane problems became a distant whisper. To live with purpose became the goal.
Hope . . . Faith . . . Joy . . . Purpose . . . each embraced on a journey with a horse named Poncho. Some may say coincidence, accident or it was nothing at all. My heart says nothing less than God’s love for a horse and girl who needed His light.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."--Romans 15:13
PONCHO ROMPING THROUGH THE SNOW. TEXAS SNOW!!!
PONCHO FALLING FOR SABLE.
PONCHO has always been the most gentle boy when it comes to being around kids. He has given rides to many kiddos. Including children with illnesses and physical challenges. It saddens me that he no longer can do most of what he enjoys because of an old injury to his knee that has now limited his ability to have someone on his back. Poncho is happy though in his retirement pasture. He still hangs out with Sable and tells all the other geldings what to do. And they still listen to him!!!
"...God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."--1John 1:5-7
I began to ponder about the "best day" of my life. Was it one of the birthday parties that my parents had thrown for me as a child, was it that special Christmas gift I will always remember, was it when my dad brought home my pony, was it my graduation day, was it landing that job I had so hoped for, was it the day I met my husband, married my husband or the day my babies were born, was it the first step my babies took, was it their first birthdays, or was it September 22, 2013. Which one could I say was really, really the best day of my life? Then I heard His whisper so clear, "Live a lifetime of best days of your life." What a wonderful life it would be!!!