Enjoy the Ride! Or Not!

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I grew up fascinated with horses; I grew up in Houston. The two did not go together too well. No matter how much I pleaded, I just could not have a horse. So my mother did the next best thing. She drove me faithfully, every Saturday morning, 45 minutes one way to Westheimer Stables where I rented a horse for one hour.  Every week it was the same, the horse plodded away from the barn at a rate that would make a sloth jealous.  No matter how much prodding I did,  no matter how hard I kicked, I could never get them to break into a trot leaving the barn. I took, what seemed to me , like forever to get anywhere.  Every week, I hoped, this would be the Saturday I was successful in getting the horse to go even a little bit faster. Every week, I failed.

Returning to the barn,  however, was totally different. What took 50 minutes to cover at a walk, now took 10 to cover at a gallop.  No matter how hard I tried, I could never get them to do anything less than all out gallop. I grew to love that part. It only lasted a few minutes but it was the highlight of my week (once I got over being scared).

Looking back, I can’t help but wonder about what seems so obvious now. Why spend so much time trying to change something I couldn’t change? Why not instead, sit back and relax and enjoy the slow, seemingly tedious walk away from the stables. If I had, maybe that part of the ride wouldn’t seem so frustrating.  Maybe with a little practice, I would have noticed enjoyable things along the way  – the sun on my face, the rhythm of the horse, the wonderful sound of hooves on the ground.  Who knows what wonders I missed? Those rides took place nearly 45 years ago and yet, I can remember them like they were yesterday. I remember thinking that if I did something different this week, the horse would respond better. And when every attempt of mine failed, I remember thinking that it was my fault. Weird, right? I mean these are rental horses who do this daily over and over and over again like robots. But I wanted my ride to be different and when it wasn’t I felt like I failed.

That theme replays over and over again in my life – trying to change what isn’t mine to change and letting the failure of those attempts lessen my belief in me. If there is a lesson in the rental horses, it should be just this – if I truly employed the message of the Serenity prayer, I could sit back and enjoy the ride cherishing the parts I like without letting the parts I don’t like steal too much from me.  I can only change what is within my power to change and rest in the fact that God can take care of the remainders.  And prayerfully, with God’s grace, it won’t take me 45 years to know the difference.

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pic credit: besthorsesupplies.com

pic credit: whiskedawaykenya.com

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Shoulders

When confusion’s my companion
And despair holds me for ransom
I will feel no fear
I know that You are near

When I’m caught deep in the valley
With chaos for my company
I’ll find my comfort here
‘Cause I know that You are near

My help comes from You
You’re right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders

Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue
I don’t have to see to believe that You’re lifting me up on Your shoulders
Your shoulders

This song by for King and Country has been stuck in my head for days now. Usually when that happens God is trying to tell me something. I have a list right now, it’s not short, of things that concern me. Things that if I didn’t give them over to God every few moments, would consume me. They wake me up at night, they are my first thought in the morning and they dog me throughout the day. I try hard to not let this show on my face, come out in my words, but it’s there and I see it and hear it. Probably no different than any one else going through a difficult patch. One line in this song that stands out to me is this:

I don’t have to see to believe that You’re lifting me up on Your shoulders

I don’t see the answers; I seldom do. But I know they are out there. Maybe a moment away, maybe days away or maybe months away, but they are there. Waiting is hard work for me. Sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it – waiting and working? But for me they go together hand in hand. I have to work at keeping my thoughts in control, I have to work at choosing peace, I have to work at letting go and not having answers. It wears me out! But I have tried throwing tantrums and they don’t work. I have tried taking matters into my own hands and that doesn’t work so well. I tried denial for a very long time and while it did work for a while, it didn’t work all that well. So now that I have looked this situation square in the face and seen it for what it is, now that I have let go of the things I can’t change and thrown my temper fits, I have nothing left but to wait and trust that God is lifting me up on His shoulders ever though I can’t see it. He is pulling me through even though I can’t see that either. I do know this – the day will come when I will look back on this episode of my life and say with certainty – He was there all along!

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Letting Go

mare & colt

Do everything in love.

1 Corinthians 16:14, NIV

 

Years ago, I owned a beautiful mare named Raza. I bred her to the handsomest stallion I could find and waited expectantly for eleven months for her delivery day.  It came early one spring morning and I assisted her birth, which means I stood off to the side and watched. Everything appeared fine, the birth was normal, all signs were good and before me lay a beautiful bay filly.

Over the next few hours, though, it became clear that not everything was fine. The filly made no attempt to nurse. She was walking, she was approaching mom but not willing or able to latch on and receive the vital colostrum her mother had to offer. Her mother nudged her as a good mother would do.  Her mother kept nudging but it was becoming apparent that the nudging wasn’t budging the filly. I called the vet and we made a bottle.  She wouldn’t latch on to the bottle either. Even if we dribbled the warm milk down her throat she wouldn’t swallow. After several days and many, many nudges and bottles and coaxing, the vet suggested putting the filly down. Failure to thrive, he called it. It happens, he said. We had no choice but to let her go.

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, someone we love continues to make bad choices. Choices that harm, choices that endanger, choices that make no sense to the people who stand by helplessly watching. It seems so futile, so tragically wasteful of a life.  And yet, we are unable to enact change. Failure to thrive. It happens.

Letting go is so hard. I knew exactly what would happen when we chose to let go of that filly. She was put to sleep. Letting go of someone who is bent on practicing addictions that can only lead to death leaves one with more questions than answers. What will happen if…..?  What if I had….?  What if I hadn’t….?

Letting go means trusting the outcome to someone far more capable of handling the situation than I am.

I turned my beautiful filly over to the caring hands of my vet. 

I am turning the life of this precious person that I love dearly over into the caring hands of our Father.

I am letting go.

Finally.

Letting go of that filly was an act of love;

letting go of my loved one is an act of love as well.

I am mourning like crazy, this is breaking my heart, but even so, I am letting go – in love.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can;

and wisdom to know the difference.

Amen.

 

pic credit:  allposters.com

Catch and Release

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Many years ago, I had the opportunity to go deep sea fishing in the Sea of Cortez.  We were about five miles out when something unseen grabbed the line and began pulling us farther away from the shore. The two guys on the boat began speculating about what could be doing this.  At that time (and maybe now for all I know) catch and release was the gentleman’s way of fishing in Baja. Catch a good one, let it go. So the discussion was about how they would let it go. They were gentlemen, right? This went on for well over an hour without even knowing what was on the line. But they had agreed – catch and release. Gentlemen.

Then the fish jumped out of the water and we were able to see for the first time what was dragging us along – a huge blue marlin. It seemed to hand suspended in the air just over the horizon while we all stared, open-mouthed, but speechless. It was incredible!

Immediately, the talk changed. All the discussion about catch and release disappeared as quickly as the marlin disappeared back into the sea.

The first thing out of the mouth of one of the men was, “how much freezer space do you think you have?”

So much for catch and release.

Another hour or so later, the marlin lay on it side by the boat and they were able to determine that it was about 17′ long. Magnificent and tired, it lay there, awaiting its fate.

While the guys were discussing what to do next to keep it, the marlin caught its breath, broke free and swam away.

It’s so easy to think that we hold things lightly, that we are willing to let go, if need-be, that we truly get that what we hold dear in our hearts and in our hands was given to us by God and He rightfully owns it all. It is easy to think that, until we are faced with letting go.

I am facing letting go of reasonable expectations and hopes about our future. I am facing letting go of my plans, my dreams, my ambitions even though none of them were ungodly. I am facing letting go because cancer has invaded our family and put dreams and expectations and plans on hold indefinitely.

I am choosing to release but it hasn’t been easy. I don’t like change, especially when it is imposed on my by something out of my control. That marlin was magnificent in its release; my hopes and dreams will be magnificent in release also. And only God knows when and how and if they will be caught again. Until then, they are in His hands.

There is something freeing and frightening at the same time about letting go. About laying aside carefully thought out plans and dreams and learning to take things one day at a time. Be my peace, Jesus, be my comfort while I open my hand and let go of all that I have held onto so tightly. Help me, as I purpose to take one day at a time, to enjoy the simple moments: the sunshine, the flowers, the smile from a stranger, preparing the dinner we all love and the family and friends You have blessed me with. I trust You with my hopes and dream. Amen.

picture credit: tropicalfishing.com

Cast Your Cares

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.  I Peter 5: 6-7

I just finished a great book called “Teach Us To Sit Still”, written by Tim Parks.  The man is a self-proclaimed skeptic about religion and alternative methods of healing, but after living with constant pain for years, he stumbled upon some relief which he shares in this book.

A lot of his relief came from simply giving up the fight against the pain and learning to accept this present moment for what it is.  I discovered when I read it how much of my time and energy is spent trying to deny or ignore the pain as opposed to just accepting that it is what it is and finding my peace in God in these present moments.  The energy spent is fighting the pain only makes it worse.  It adds tension and fear and stress that rob me of joy and peace.

He talks a lot about being at peace with your body which he admits is a lot harder to do than it seems, especially when the body is wracked with pain.  I discovered this through his writings; I am not at all at peace with my body.  I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about my body, what I can do to make it better, what have I done to hurt it, etc.  Not exactly being at peace.  Now I am choosing to practice letting go of my need to rail against the pain and all the unknown concerns that go with it.  Not an easy thing to do.

What about you?  Do you spend a good deal of your precious now moments wishing away pain or disease or talking about it or feeling sorry for yourself because of it?  I know I have.

I have to purpose to let go of the fight.  I can by reminding myself that God is for me; He is infinitely involved in the small and large details of my life.  Nothing that has happened to me or will happen to me is beyond His knowledge or His ability to take care of.  Nothing. I can cast my cares on Him because He cares so much for me.  Is it easy?  No.  I am learning to take one step at a time.  To moment by moment recognize when my thoughts become so totally focused on me and my pain and not on Him and His care.  In those moments, I speak this verse over and over again as many times as I need to until I am once again, focused on Him.  And I have discovered that the pain has lessened when I do.

Father, teach me to be still.  To let go of my need for everything to be fixed right now.  Help me to cast my cares on You because You care so much for me.  When I am fighting against my pain, help me to remember that Jesus took that pain, the fight has been won and I can rest in Your peace.  Amen