Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 31, 2013...Prayerfully Looking Back....for the Last Time

I've done a lot of that...looking back.  While some of that looking has been fond and memorable, much of it has not been.  It's been more about "what could have been", "what was not", "what if", etc.  So starting tomorrow, my prayer is for it to be different.  Looking back will only be in preparation for how I got here, what's to come, and what's around the corner.
So here's to 2013 and every year before it....I bid you adieu!

Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus.
- Matthew 14:29 (NRSV)

Philippians 3:12-14
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

Encourage One Another, continuing the journey on fresh paths.

Blessings and love to you, xoxo, and happy trails!

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Cozy Swap

Back in November, one of my blogger friends, Jennifer, of Amusing Provincial...


posted a participatory event called a "cozy swap".  Here's how you play...
"To participate you email me your mailing address and favorite Christmas and or cozy things you love (including color scheme).  For example I love hot chocolate, fuzzy socks, chicken flicks, decorating magazines etc,   in about a week I will give your info to another participant and give you someone's info. By the appointed date you will shop for this persons favorite items spending 25-30 dollars. Then you mail them their gift! I like to include a card with a little about myself too. I hope you can join :) "

Generally, I am not comfortable with purchasing gifts for folks who don't literally pick them out first and tell me what they want.  However, I decided to stretch myself and I decided to play...
Here was my list...

Fun or warm socks
Scents amber and patchouli
Horse anything
Cowgirl stuff
Decor=romantic western or country
Colors turquoise or green 
Vintage anything and vintage Christmas things

(Does this sound like me?)
Here's what I received...

Here is what April told me about my gifts..."I wanted to give you a sampling of some of the homemade items up here in northwest Missouri:).  My sister in law does the scentsy tarts.  Her friend does the goat milk soap.  I make the jewelry.  I know you like horses so the bracelet is from old horse tack.  I also make the snowmen I hope he survived ok:)"
She included some white hot chocolate mix and a bright mug to drink it from; some holiday ho ho ho socks; a cute little red bird clothes pin.
April made this adorable snow girl angel...very sweet.
These cranberry/fig items smell phenomenal!  I love goats milk anything...country girl that I am!
This piece April handcrafted.  It says Faith Always and has a precious jeweled cross attached.  It's fabulous.
This piece is my favorite!  It's a piece of horse tack, my guess is part of a bridle, that she made into a cuff.  She stamped "Good Life" on it...the name of my blog.  I will treasure this.  April was amazingly attentive to my favorite things and I could not be happier with my "cozy swap".  That April is a talented gal!

I only hope my "swapee" was as happy with what I sent her and I am with what I received.

Luke 21:4
All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Romans 12:6
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.

Encourage One Another, continuing the journey on fresh paths.

Blessings and love to you, xoxo...Happy Trails.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

It's a Bit of a Sweet Little Dream Come True

My grandboy is all boy.  He's a little bit shaky when it comes to bugs, however, anything else he's all boy.  If a sport's got a ball, he can name it and he can play it.  If a sport's got a helmet, he wants to wear it.  He is a puzzle master and a Lego king.  He's not afraid of the dark and doesn't need a night light.  He's not all lovey dovey.  Although this is a very frequent conversation between us.
Him..."Annie?"  Me..."yes sir".  Him..."I love you!"  Me..."I love you to!"

Seldom to never has he wanted to sit in my lap and watch a show.  Occasionally he will sit beside me to read a book.  However, he is NOT a lap sitter....until last Monday.

His parents had been gone for several days and he had been staying with his other grandmother and I.  Monday morning was a Pajama Christmas birthday party for Jesus at his school, so he wore his pjs to HH.  I picked him up and when he got home to my house that afternoon he just left them on.  Usually on the days I pick him up from school I do not have him take a nap.  This day was no different.  We were busy watching all his Christmas DVDs (you know the ones, Charlie Brown, Frosty the Snow Man, etc., Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer).  At some point he crawled up in my lap and laid in a reclining position to watch.  We initially did this.

Then he curled up sideways and watched...in my lap while I wrapped my arms around him.

He was still and quiet.  He stayed there a long time.  I was not sure that he was not falling asleep.  In fact, I think he would have had his parents not shone up when they did.

It was just so sweet.  I've always wanted to just sit and hold him and snuggle.  It was a special treat for me to cuddle up with my all boy grandboy!  It will be a Christmas memory I will not forget (especially since we did watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer three times).

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Prov 22:6.

Love the Lord our god and serve him with all your heart and with all your soul...fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.   Deut 11:13-19

Encourage One Another, continuing the journey on fresh paths.
Blessings and love to you, xoxoxo and Merry Christmas.

Oh My How I Love Those Clydesdales!!

Enjoy these 8 minutes...you'll be glad you did!  If you can't link to it, paste in your browser!




Monday, December 9, 2013

Home Where He Belongs

 Thanks Mom and Dad....again.  And thanks Chad for letting this boy come home!
Encourage One Another, continuing the journey on fresh paths.
Blessings and love and happy holidays to you, xoxo.

Luke 2:10-14

New International Version (NIV)
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Miracle on County Road 138

I don't believe in coincidences.  I believe in God's timing.  And I believe in miracles, even if they are just small ones.

You know how much I love my horses....well, here's the story.
Forty one years ago my parents commissioned an artist to paint a portrait of the first horse I ever bought with my own money.  They gave it to me for my 18th birthday.  Truthfully, the markings were the same as my horse, but he didn't really look like my guy.  I had this painting for years, much longer actually than I had the horse.  I owned this horse, Gin, all through high school and college and into my married life.  I sold him in about 1982.  About 15 years ago I had a garage sale.  For some stupid reason I put this painting in that garage sale.  As I was closing things down that day, a lady came and bought it.  I reluctantly sold it, really having second thoughts as she walked off, but it had just been sitting in a closet.  Time went on and I sort of forgot about it.
In May of 2003, quite a number of years after that garage sale, my mother passed away.
Shortly after that I had a lady that was cleaning my house.  A particular day I had to take money by to pay her one afternoon.  She was at her mother's house.  When I walked in that house, the first thing I saw was my horse painting on the wall.  I cried.  I expressed to her that I should have never sold the painting, and that now it was even more valuable to me since I had recently lost my mother.  The elderly lady found no sympathy in that, nor did her daughter.  It was her painting and she did not want to part with it.  I was heart broken.
Today, ten years later, I ran into the housekeeper at an estate sale.  The estate sale was for a friend of mine who recently passed away.  I happened to see the signs for it on my way to church and decided to stop by on my way home.  I said hello to the housekeeper and just right off the bat asked if her mother still had my horse painting.  She told me that her mother had passed away in 2007.  She expressed that her mother had left everything to her two nephews (she got nothing).  There apparently was some estrangement in the family about that which was sad to hear.  I asked for and she gave me her sister's name and address.
As soon as I left the sale I went to the address.  A young man in his 30s answered the door.  He said his mother, Faye, was not home.  I told him my story, of how years ago a painting of my horse was sold in a garage sale and how I had found it years later in the home of his grandmother...and how badly I wanted it back due to the death of my mother (and now my father as well) and how adamant his grandmother was about keeping it.  I told him I had heard his grandmother passed away and wondered if they still had the painting.  He took my name and number and said he would give it to his mother and tell her my story.  I left there thinking, surely God would not have lead me down this path if by some miracle I was not to get this painting back.

Matthew 17:20
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

About an hour later this young man's mother, Faye, called me back.  She told me her son had told her my story. She said her son understood why and how much I wanted this painting back.  She said when her mother died she had given the painting to her son, Chad.  Chad was who I met at the door.  Chad was willing to give the painting back to me.  I cried.  God is truly an awesome God.
Tomorrow morning I am going by her house to pick up the painting of my horse Gin.  Tomorrow, some 41 years after it was painted, and some 15 years after I let it go, I will get my horse painting back.  Tomorrow I'll post a picture of the painting.  Tomorrow will be a good day!

Acts 19:11-12

New International Version (NIV)
11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

Encourage One Another, continuing the journey on fresh paths.
Blessings and Love to you, xoxo.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Wisdom From the Front Porch #1

If an oak tree grew from every acorn planted by a squirrel, the world would be a forest.  For three days in a row I have watched up to three squirrels from the porch climb up, gather and acorn, climb down, search, dig a hole, bury the acorn, and cover it up with their paws, meticulously and with great speed and intent.

Repeatedly as fast as they can do it, they do it again, and again, over and over.
My yard has to be covered in buried acorns.  I suspect the squirrels are preparing for the winter, but only God in his ultimate knowledge and wisdom could know and remind those squirrels where those acorns are that they buried.  And come to think of it, that knowledge must be what stops the world from becoming a forest...because the squirrels must go back and GET THEM!  Praise God!
God's knowledge and wisdom can guide us as well.  He is always there, giving us direction.  We just have to ask him and then listen.  He is truly all knowing.  Remember to lean in to him, he will catch you, he will hold you up, and he will direct you the way in the way that you should go.

1 Samuel 12:22-24

New International Version (NIV)
22 For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own. 23 As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against theLord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. 24 But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what greatthings he has done for you.

Psalm 25:5
Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is inyou all day long.

Encourage One Another, continuing the journey on fresh paths.
Blessings and love to you xoxo.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

True Love

I don't remember a lot about Robert Carter in high school.  Since high school I know he career served in the armed forces, married Kay and had children.  He has been the center of organizing our reunions for as long as I can remember.  He has a sweet and kind heart and appears to be a great man, husband, father and friend.  He asks for prayer when his family is in need.  His mother has been very ill lately.  His wife passed away earlier this year.  Today I read his post, which I've included below, and was just speechless.  To me it just showed his vulnerability and his true love for his wife.  One of the comments below his post was from his son.  It said "we love you dad!"
I just wanted to share one of the sweetest thing I've read in a long time.  Wouldn't we all love to be loved like this....

De ja vu
Well over the years November has been a bad month for me. Me being activated, Kay getting sick every November. But last night was a good memory, I could not sleep and Kay had been on my mind a lot. So I got up as usual and sat in my chair the dogs came also. As I sat there I saw the cassette player was on and had been since Kay passed away. She would sit and listen to old country music and relax. So I got up and turned it on and started listening to a instrumental country band that played for Roy Rogers .
As I sat back and started listening it was waltzes and slow two step music. I soon fell asleep and de ja vu. I dosed off and there she was, we danced for hours then she looked up smiled and I kissed her good night. Then I got up and went back to bed. I love and miss you

Genesis 2:23-25

New International Version (NIV)
23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
    for she was taken out of man.
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Encourage One Another, continuing the journey on fresh paths.

Blessings and love to you, xoxo.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Roadside Photo Op...Black Colt

I always like to travel with my camera close by.  I never know when there might be a photo opportunity I can't pass up.  Last week I had one.

There's a place up by Luling that raises Friesian horses.  If you've never seen these horses, they are huge and incredibly beautiful with long flowing manes and tails.  I've contacted them and they have told me I can come to take some photos but I've not had a chance to do it.  I'm always turning my head their way in case the horses are close to the road.  I've driven by there a hundred times and never seen them up close.  Until today.  This is what I saw.

I did a great big u-turn.  It's a bit of an off season for colts to be born.  Most of them are born after January 1st.  Regardless, I could not pass up this chance to photograph this guy.  The two of them were not really close to the road but using my telephoto I was able to get some pretty good shots.
This boy loves his mama.  It's amazing how that instinct is so strong from the very beginning.
 "Wanna dance?"
Perfect.  Adorable.  Beautiful right?
Here he is rubbing on her and pushing her with his rear end saying "move over mama"!
Leaning in.
"Mom, mama, mommie, mom, mom, mommie, MOM!"
I love this photo.  I love photos from behind.  
Then something spooked them from the highway.

Here he is with all four feet off the ground...flying!
Then they just got quiet again.  No harm done.  He never gets more than about 10 feet from her.

I love it when God surprises me with gifts like this one.  He knows how much I love horses and how much I love photographing them.  This was truly a devine moment created by him just for me.  

    Psalm 37:4
    Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart

Encourage One Another, continuing the journey on fresh paths.
Blessings and love to you, xoxo.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

"Is It Real?"

I have found out that you can't fool a squirrel.

Back in the summer I went to Tractor Supply to buy a squirrel feeder and some corn to feed them.  They are constantly trying to steel from the bird feeders and doing all sorts of acrobats to get inside them.
(See that here...


So I thought I'd make it a little easier for them.

They had these "prefab" corn cobs that were actually corn somehow molded together to be round and long.  They didn't really look like a corn cob but seemed easier to manage than a big bag of dried corn on the cob, so I bought them.  I thought they'd be happy to have anything.

Well, I was wrong.  Let me tell you again, you cannot fool a squirrel that a prefab corn cob is a real one.  I think I saw a squirrel there one time and never again.  The ONLY thing that had anything to do with those things were the grasshoppers during the grasshopper plague!  I ended up throwing them over the fence thinking maybe something more grateful or hungrier might eat them, like the grasshoppers.

So off to the store I went and purchased a big bag of those dried corn cobs and voila, the squirrels are everywhere and they are so happy.  

Here's the one that discovered the real thing.

 "Yum, now this is what I'm talking about!"
 "Let me just try a few more bites to be sure."
"What are you looking at lady?  Thanks for realizing we are not easily fooled.  Thanks for getting us something we really like."
"See you later ma'am, but I'll be back."

Well, they have been back.  They seem to throw a lot of corn on the ground too, so I let them clean most of that up before they get another cob.  I'm wondering if I'll have stalks of corn growing under this oak tree in the spring.

I love being able to watch them out my glass storm door (a new addition) from my chair in the living room.  The squirrels are also enjoying the many acorns growing on these trees.  It's harvest time and they are taking advantage of the plenty!

Genesis 8:22
“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

Encourage one another, continuing the journey on fresh paths.
Blessings and love to you, xoxo.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Do You Have an Old Friend?

Do you have old friend?  Not friends that are old, but friends that you have known since childhood.  Some of those friends are ones that you may not see for a while, sometimes a good while, even years.  But when you get together it's as if you've never been apart, you just take up right where you left off.  Catching up only takes a few minutes and then your just right back where you were the last time you saw each other and in those early years of friendships.  Those are lifetime friends, friends that you developed a relationship with through the thick and thin of life and they will always be your friend no matter what. They are friends you've shared you most intimate secrets with and your biggest joys with. They are a permanent part of your heart.  It's just gotta be a God thing.  My friend Judy is like that.

In my deep sadness, I could not figure out why I was so deeply affected by the situation with Gus.  I have not actually OWNED him in 9 years.  Gus had  belonged to someone else.  While I have seen him through these years, I have not ridden him or been around him for any length of time.   I've had numerous horses since Gus and two now.  But Tuesday it was if I was losing my only horse, my best friend, my comrade, and a piece of my heart.

Today it hit me.  I realized it was because he was like one of those old friends that you take up the relationship right where you left off.  Tuesday, as I leaned over him, kissing him and telling him goodbye, he was that old friend, the one you hope you'll never lose.  All of our time together just came racing back into my heart and mind as if it were yesterday.  In a flash, I remembered so many good times with him and some difficult times too.  Our relationship was not void of some trials and hardships too, but we made it through together, he and I.  This realization has mades sense of it all now and it has blessed me to see this so clearly.

Today I am so grateful for those treasured memories and treasured friendships.  God is so faithful to give us treasures in our hearts, the kind we will take with us till the end.

One of the best things about Tuesday was that his current family was with me or should I say, I was with them.  There was this bond between us that neither of us had ever known, but it was as if our love for Gus individually had bonded the two of us together as well.  There's  no other way to describe it.  There's just this spiritual thing between horses and the women who love them that only those women know and feel.  It would have been too hard to do it alone, but we were there for each other and for that I am eternally grateful.  There were angels among us.

I found this reading and scripture this morning in my Jesus Calling devotional that sort of said it all.  I sent this to Gus' mom.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

This scripture is as if Jesus said to us.....
"When you need comfort, I love to enfold you in My arms.  I enable you not only to feel comforted but also to be a channel through whom I comfort others.  Thus you are doubly blessed, because a living channel absorbs some of what is flowing through it.  No matter what losses you experience in your life, no one can take away my constant companionship with you."

God, I thank you for your loving arms that hold and comfort me all day long, in good times and in bad.  You are my Savior and I praise your name.

You know me.  There will be many more trails and tales of horses in my life.  There will be a zillion memories to share and hold dear to my heart.  There will be more horse love than I know what to do with!
So here's to happy thoughts and happy trials and swishing tails and hoof prints in the sand!
Matthew 6

19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Encourage One Another, continuing the journey on fresh paths.
Blessings and love to you, xoxo.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Happy Trails My Sweet Boy

March 28, 1992 -- October 15, 2013

As the trumpet sounded, the heavens parted, making a way for him, a beautiful horse, a kind soul,  a kindred spirit.

The day I brought him home.

 Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
Happy trails to you, keep smilin' until then.
Who cares about the clouds when we're together?
Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.
Happy trails to you, 'till we meet again.
Thank you for every mile we traveled and every trial we conquered.  Thank you for blessing my life.
You are a great champion.  When you ran, the ground shook, the sky opened and mere mortals parted.  Parted the way to victory, where you'll meet me in the winner's circle, where I'll put a blanket of flowers on your back.

Good by my sweet friend.  I'll see you in heaven as the trumpet sounds.

Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane?
Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror with his proud snorting?
He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength, and charges into the fray.
He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; he does not shy away from the sword.
The quiver rattles against his side, along with the flashing spear and lance.
In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground; he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.
Job 39:19-24 (NIV)

** In honor of the Anna, Denise, and Jimmy who gave him many wonderful years of a great life and loved him as much as I did!**

Monday, October 14, 2013

Gus...the Rest of the Story

It is with great sadness and concern that I tell you the latest of Gus' story.

I actually initially wrote the previous blog and story about Gus ... http://thegoodlife54.blogspot.com/2013/10/it-just-time-to-tell-you-about-gus.html ...
back in September of 2012.  I was asked not to publish it until the author's book had been written. It has now been written and it will be published and out on Amazon in April 2014.  So I held off on blogging my story until last week in regard to that.

However, last week, something happened that made it important to tell you our story now.
I got a text from Gus' current owner that he was ill and most likely has EPM.  My heart sank.
Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis is also known at EPM.  The feces of opossums may contain sporocysts-cysts that contain spores that can reproduce asexually.  Horses can ingest these sporocysts with feed, grass or water contaminated with opossum feces.  The protozoa can leave lesions on the spinal cord and brain stem.  This is likely what has happened to Gus.  It is this neurological damage that can cause the various symptoms of EPM.  Some of the symptoms may include loss of coordination, muscle atrophy, difficulty swallowing, sore back, stumbling, roaring, weakness, dropping eyelid and head tilt.  It is a horrible de-habilitating illness. Treatment can be lengthy, expensive and often unsuccessful.  If treated early, it can be treated, but often those affected will not always recover fully.  They will need a long treatment period first and then a long rehabilitation period if they are treated successfully.  They need lots of physical therapy to recover their muscle mass and strength.  Often these horses are just put down.

My sweet boy Gus is 22 years old.  When I saw him back in the spring, and took photographs with him for the book, he looked well and healthy.  Last week when I saw him he was thin, his muscles had atrophied, his back was swayed and he was sweating, staggering and unstable on his hind end.   His mane was not flowing.  His eyes were no longer bright.
While he loved the snacks I brought him, and ate them eagerly, he did not seem to know me.  He had no other interest in me.  He turned away, again and again.  I kissed him anyway.  I pulled him to me and hugged him.  I cried.  And cried.  My heart cried too.  To see him this way made me so sad, and I felt so helpless.  I choose to believe that his attitude toward me was part of his illness.  I choose not to believe that he no longer knows me or loves me.  I choose to believe that our hearts are still connected, our lives are still attached.  We were bound by love many years ago, the first day I brought him home with me and all the days I took care of him and nursed him back to health from a chronic foot injury years ago, and on that day in 1998 when our hearts were bound together forever.
His owner told me they were going to try some medication on him and see how he did after a week.  Truthfully I cannot imagine much progress in a week.  It will take much longer than that to see progress I believe, if there is any.  He needs a miracle.  I don't know what they will decide in a week or anytime after that.  I offered to do anything I could for his owner or for him.  I did tell her however, that if they decided to do "anything" that I wanted to be there with him.  I do not want him to suffer or be in pain.  He's lived a good life.  He's been loved by all who have owned him.  He is still loved.

For him I pray for comfort and for healing.  For his owners I pray for comfort and for wisdom through doctors who best know about these things.  I pray they will make the right decisions.  And I will be there no matter what.
Sweet boy know I love you!  This is not the end of our trail.

Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend.  John 15:13

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”   Matthew 17:20

Encourage One Another, continuing the journey on fresh paths.
Blessings and love to you, xoxo.

Great Horse Stories: Wisdom and Humor from Our Majestic Friends  by Rebecca Ondov  (April 1, 2014)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

It's Just Time to Tell You About Gus

My blog/inspiring story.......

The "Hoose"
For the longest time, when you showed a photo of a horse to my grandson and asked him what it was, he would reply with it's sound...a "neigh".  He did not give the word for it.  After that he began calling it by it's name....a "hoose", (like loose, only with an "H").  That worked for me!  When referring to my horse who he met early on, whose name is "Mosey", he called him "Moomies" with along O.  Since then his pronunciation is pretty accurate.  He in fact has become somewhat of a cowboy...on occasion.

However, this is a story about another gray horse of mine that I owned some years ago, Gus.  An author friend of mind suggested that I write a memorable horse story, one that I had a special connection to.  She was planning to write a book which included stories about women and their horses.  While I have many, this is the one that came to mind.

The county in south central Texas where I have spent most of my life is prone to flooding.  There are two major rivers that converge, just above the actual town of Gonzales, the Guadalupe and the Comal.  At that point, in a little town called Ottine, it just becomes the Guadalupe River.  The Guadalupe runs just to the west of downtown Gonzales and through our big park just to the south of the city.

In 1998, the Guadalupe River flooded.  It was called the 100 year flood.  It started raining on Thursday, October 17 and rained through the Sunday the 19th.  It rained for four days straight, hard!  Approximately 22" of rain fell around and north of Gonzales in Austin, San Antonio, and the Hill Country.  This rain created flooding of all the rivers, streams and creeks throughout all south central Texas.  Some counties had warnings that the flooding was coming.  Some did not or it arrived before prediction.  Some 31 lives and countless wild animals and livestock were lost.  Roads were blocked with roadblocks and water for days.  It was truly frightening.  You could not drive down to our park much less drive through it.  You could, unfortunately from the road in town above it, view the rapid rushing river water that was way out of it's banks.  It flowed across the highway, the baseball fields, the play ground, and the golf course.  The highway was not visible.  You could see cows floating down the river, their heads barely bobbing above the water.  Or you could see them stuck on some small island where you could hear them calling out, frantic.  You knew they would eventually be swept away, and they were.  It was such a hopeless sight.

I was stuck in town as all the roads out of town in every direction were blocked.  My horses were at our ranch in the country, some 17 miles out of town.  I could not get to the ranch to see if they were ok. 

I prayed many prayers that week that my family, my friends, and my animals would all be protected.  For many animals, that flood water just swept everything away.  There just was no escape for them, even if they got to higher ground.  That water took everything in it's path.

There is a huge creek in the pasture where the horses were kept. When it rains a great deal, the creek gets way out of it's banks in that pasture.  It is not surpassable during those times by anything or anybody.  I only hoped my horses were on the "barn side" of that creek where they would be on high ground.  Every day I prayed.  I knew God knew how much I loved my horses.  I believed he would keep them safe...but I kept praying.
Finally, on Tuesday, one of the roads, the "long" way around, could get us to the ranch.  Driving there we could see land that was just ravaged by the flood water...truly devastating.  My heart raced the closer we got to the ranch.  Much of the water had run off by this time but so many of the roads and pavement were damaged and "gone" that traveling was still dangerous.

We arrived at the ranch and I immediately went to the barn to count and check on the horses.  Five where there.  One was missing.  One of mine!  Prayers commenced along with hollering as loud as I could "Gus.....Gus".  It brings tears to my eyes at this very moment remembering how afraid I was, how fearful I was that I had lost him.  This gray horse had had a long history of an injury that I had nursed him through time and time again.  That had made us especially close.  Plus, he was just one of those horses that just loved people and loved me, gentle and kind eyed.  The creek in the horse trap was still full, all the way to the top of it's banks.  It was very deep, probably 10' - 12' in places.  The rushing water made it almost impossible to hear anything I was sure except that surging water.  "God", I prayed, "if he is in there, please let him hear me, please let me just see him to know that he is alive...please God".  I walked as far as I could on the barn side of the creek, literally screaming his name.

All of the sudden I heard some crashing of brush and trees.  Then I saw him.   "Thank you God" as tears of joy filled my eyes.  I gently said his name, "Gus", and told him he would be ok.  He kept coming closer and I could see that he was ok and did not appear injured.  "Thank you God".  I could also tell he was anxious and that I was the only friend he had seen in days as he had been separated from his buddies.  They had been on the safe side of the water and he was on the other side, alone.  He ran all the way up to the bank on the other side of the creek.  The water was running swiftly in front of and between us.  I could see sticks and stumps and who knew what all rushing swiftly down the creek.  If you've never seen rushing, flooding water, it is powerful and frightening.  Gus stopped for just a second on the other side of the creek. He nickered loud and then he just KEPT coming.  My mouth was open as I watched him.  He jumped off into that violent running water and swam to me, literally swam in that rushing water. The creek at that point was about 12-15' wide and about 10' deep.  All I could see was his head.  He some how, miraculously and by the power of God was not swept down the creek but popped up on the other side with me, shook the water off, stopped and lowered his head, exhausted and weary.  Tears of sheer joy streamed down my face as I hugged him and petted him and calmed him and thanked God with all my heart.  He followed me back to the barn to be reunited with his buddies.  They too rejoiced to see him.  I believe I had witnessed a miracle.  Yes, he probably would have been fine until the waters receded and the creek went down and he could have crossed the creek walking instead of swimming.  But it would have been days.  I also witnessed the love between a woman and her horse, between a woman and her friend.  It was a blessing and a moment I will never forget.  

God taught me that prayer works and miracles happen.  He taught me that I was valuable enough to him to work a miracle in my life, with something that was so important to me. God knew that riding my horses was a great relief to me after working 40 hours a week in Child Protective Services.  It was my way to gain my perspective back that to know that not all of life is tragic.  It allowed me to rest my mind in the quietness of the country and refill my mind with beauty.  God showed me that if I trusted him, he would bless me.

A miraculous day in October 1998, gave me many more great rides through the pasture and the woods on that ranch in Gonzales county.  There were many great trail rides with beautiful weather and views of incredible wildlife.  There were days of fun working cattle on Gus that always brought joy to my life.  
                                                         Gus and I
Gus lives today, retired in green pastures, getting fat and loving life!  And so do I.  

"Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend." John 15:13
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”   Matthew 17:20

****Flood stage for the Guadalupe River in Gonzales is 31 feet.  The river crested at over 51 feet.

Encourage One Another, continuing the journey on fresh paths.
Blessings and love to you, xoxo.