Monday, July 21, 2014

Saving graces in unexpected places.

Chance's Story

I have always been a horse lover. As a girl, I would find photos of horses and hang them around my room. When Lisa Frank stuff was the thing to have, mine would be the horse ones. I would beg and dream and hope that one day I would get to have a horse. Even as a highschooler, I picked a blanket with horses running on them, although I knew that a horse wasn't a reachable dream for me. As much begging as I did, my parents were not about to decide a horse would be something we would get.

I think even then, God was preparing me for this greater plan of His. Something that would save me in ways I didn't think was possible for an animal, and something that would ultimately bring me close to Him and see Him in ways I never would have imagined.

He never fails to know what I need, Chance was one of those things.

My life was in a low, dark place. The past storms of hurt had beaten me down and left me crawling through life, scared, alone, and with confidence the size of a peanut, and that was a good day. It was dark, I could see nothing but black, let alone any thing that would get me out of the continuous hurt. I tried to be happy and specifically remember being surrounded by people at a bonfire, taking pictures and smiling, but inside knowing that happiness was so far from where I was, that it was way beyond sight, let alone grasp. 

God knew the way out, I just didn't know that He was where I needed to turn. 

This place in my life, one of the lowest, was shortly before May 2013. Leading up to then, I still can't say happiness was something I knew. It was a stranger, passed briefly on the street. If I found it, it was brief, fleeting. It was better than my lowest, but not much.

Then God started a roll of events that would begin to change my life, a light in the dark that I was drowning in.

In April, my best friend took in three rescue horses. I was excited for her, but the way things were going, that happiness, like all, was fleeting. I only got to enjoy stories of the horses, although I begged to see them, meet them. In the rush of student teaching and the place I was in, it was nearly a month later before things finally came together and I got to go meet the horses. There were three: a mare, a gelding, and a stud. That, at the time meant nothing to me but I loved seeing them. Then expenses set in for my friend and she had the bright idea that I should also get a horse, the stud specifically. Not able to care for all three, he was on her list to go. Not ever thinking a horse was an option for me, I kinda laughed the thought off. It wasn't possible- was it? After shrugging it off a few times, I began to actually entertain the thought. Could I have a horse? How would I do it?

Then came the consideration questions- if I could have a horse, would he be the right one? Am I capable of riding him? By then, I knew what being a stud meant, and although he didn't act studly, I wanted some opinions. The response I got was discouraging. A stud wouldn't be a good beginner horse was what I was told and I was advised not to get him. I was a little bitter, I mean this girl I am pretty sure was telling me this because she was a horse lover with no horses who didn't want to see me get something she couldn't have. But, I didn't know much and felt as if following her advice would be wise, even if her motives weren't right. Little did I know that this was the first disappointment that was in fact God setting me up for what I needed.

After entertaining the thought, I couldn't shake the idea that I did want a horse and since I couldn't have him, I needed to see if there was one I could have. What is a better option for me? I didn't know, so I again followed different advice. All I knew, is that I wanted one now and I wasn't going to pay for one if  I could get one for free. The same person that told me to say no to the stud, found a free mare that I could have. After thinking on it, I was pretty sure it was something I wanted to try. I wanted a horse now, and didn't want to be stopped.There were some important details though- parent's approval was first. I approached my mom and talked to her about it a few times, but finally came to her about it seriously. She sort of laughed. I, to this day, still believe she didn't actually think I would get one. After her laugh, she responded with "sure, but it is your responsibility. You know you have to pay for it, because I won't." I knew that, I wasn't planning on doing it any other way. But then, where would I keep it? Somehow, in a crazy way that was only God, it fell together. My friend who had the rescues kept them at her neighbors, and somehow ( I don't even know how, since I didn't even know this family ) the family agreed to let me keep a horse there to. It was all God. No other way it could have happened.

But, I had a little learning to do before God provided exactly what I needed. I didn't know this was a lesson then, but I do now.

With things all set, I set off to get the horse, the mare, named Hope. I went to see her, decided then, loaded her up, set off, got back and got her settled in. I was ecstatic! A horse of my own! Finally! But, it wasn't the one God wanted for me. Although determined and excited, I was also clueless and starting to get confused. Hope, didn't seem to like me much. I couldn't even feel safe going up to her stall, she would turn and kick and just be mean. Turns out, it wasn't just me but everyone else at the barn to. That's when I was advised that it was best to return her (the old owners said they would take her back). I didn't want to- I had dreamed of a horse! I finally had one! And, I was supposed to give her back? I didn't understand. I felt like there was something I could do. After a few more days of this and being told that this could put me in the ER quickly or worse, I decided that it was the best choice to take her back. I was devastated. What would I do now? 

Turns out, God had a better plan. A more perfect plan. Although I didn't know then, he was putting me through a little test of trust. Something that I can reference even now and say, you know, God had better for me then, even when I didn't think or didn't understand or didn't even know Him. I made the decision to let go of something I wanted and thought I should get to keep and God filled my empty hands with the exact thing that needed to be there.

He came as a Zero, but he is my perfect Chance.

After I took Hope back, my new horse filled heart couldn't just not have that four-legged companion. I hurried home that night, sad yet determined. I jumped on Craigslist searching for a new horse. free, free, free. Which one was for me? I looked for a couple days I believe, not getting very far. Then an add caught my eye "for sale or trade" and it was a town within five minutes from me. "Well," I thought "I guess I could see what they want for trade. I am not going to pay money for a horse when I could get one for free but it is worth looking into, especially since he is close."

The next day, I called about that horse. Asked about a trade and really got an answer I didn't want to hear. "Well, I don't know. We honestly want money for him so we can buy our daughter a new saddle for her mini." Fair enough, but I didn't want a horse I would have to pay for, even if it was cheap for a horse. But something reeled me in. I ended up talking to this lady on the phone for a good 20 minutes. We talked about disposition, how this horse was and what I did not want to find in a horse because of what I went through with my last one. We talked about personalities, conflicts, and how she thought this could work. To end the conversation, I told her that I graduate college in a few days and asked if it was possible that I come take a look at him after I graduate. She agreed.

This is where God is seen so clearly again, it is unimaginable.

In the mix of graduation and such, I didn't get back to that lady for about a week. I called back not knowing what to expect, but God knew that I needed this horse. When I called I found out that many, many people had contacted her about him but she wanted to give me the opportunity first, since she had talked to me first. And she waited until I called before she let anyone else come to see him. This in itself, was huge. People are money driven and not always patient. For the price of this horse, he was a good, and I mean good buy ( I know that even more now then I did then, given I know how good he is now and the fact he is young as well ) but she decided to wait on me first. Wow. Hello God! I know this is what you wanted for me! Even more so now than I did back then- I know God meant him to be mine.

After going to see him twice and debating whether or not this is what I wanted, the purchase became final and to his new home he came. He came mid-afternoon and within the hour he was saddled and we rode around in the round pen to see how he would do. He did really well, we were impressed, although him and I both had a lot to learn. We even decided to see if he would walk beside me, saddled, and follow me without me holding him. Only one other horse at the barn did that- would my new fellow do that? He sure did. Followed right along side me, like he was meant to be there all along. We started our bonding there and have continuously strengthened it ever since.
Chance and I the same day I got him.

Next thing on the list, was his name. His name when I got him was Zero. It didn't take me but a hot second to know that I wanted to change it. What to change it to? What a decision that ended up not being a decision at all. Some how,  the name Chance came into my head and stayed there. I didn't think that is what I wanted it to be and was making lists and thinking up many different names I thought I would try on him. I even ran some by my best friend and after listing a few and laughing at what she thought of, I threw Chance out there and she didn't have any weird associations and actually said she liked that name. I wasn't convinced yet, but shortly after and no other names that really struck a chord for me, Chance it was. Since then, I have decided that Chance really is the perfect name for him. The name not only fits him, but it has deeper meaning to me as well. Although, the deeper meaning I have found in his name is a story for another day.

I never thought I would get a horse of my own, despite being a crazy horse loving girl as a child. More so than never expecting a horse of my own, I never expected a horse to be a saving grace in my life, to reach me and provide me light when I was in one of the darkest places I had ever seen. I am now out of that dark place in my life, but Chance is still a saving grace for me, a saving grace I never expected to find in a horse. I am so thankful I did though, and I am thankful everyday for the fact that I have him.

I am closer to God because of Chance to. I see God in the magnificence in this creature that He created. I see Him in the gentle and loving nature, that an animal that is powerful enough to kill me at his will, chooses each day to love me and humble himself to me each and every day. An animal that chooses to bond with me and love me instead. I see God's creation and beauty not only in this amazing creature He created, but as I take in the world and the beauty around me as I ride around on His back. Filled with a peace and a calm, connecting to God and His beauty, that I can only seem to find on the back of a horse. It really is a magnificent thing.

I thank God each and every day that sometimes His biggest gifts of grace are found in places we least expect it.

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