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Archive for the ‘Hope’ Category

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS

The “Battle Hymn of Love” was playing when I walked down the aisle.


And BATTLE we did…
two strong-willed arrogant egotistical individuals looking to form a rock solid relationship.

He would only consider marriage if I agreed to make God the foundation of our family. I certainly had nothing to lose.  So, I  surprised him with the “YES” on my way in, instead of the “NO” that he thought would be his way out.

 

 “And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house

and could not shake it, because it had been well built.”

It’s been 25 years today! The house the Halls built is still standing. I laughed when I saw the verse from Luke 6:48 this morning. We sang, “The Wise Man Built His House Upon The Rock” when we were just kids in Sunday school. But, this morning, a deeper truth presented itself.

“…WHEN a flood arose…” 

It doesn’t say “IF.”

We’ve survived some real floods, some actual fires, a few financial catastrophes, job changes, children, sickness, and devastating deaths. 

It was harder in the beginning, when we battled against each other instead of together.

It’s still hard.

Times change, people change…strangely our entire world has changed.

Last Wednesday night, you might have been willing to bet we wouldn’t make it another minute.

We don’t always stop to process what’s happening, before we arm ourselves with bitter words of blame.

But more than ever, we now realize our only option has always been our firm foundation.

One of us usually remembers there’s a path to peace.

It requires we pray, and sometimes we are so angry we resist.

It takes time.

It takes patience.

Humility is often involved, though neither likes the way that feels.

Resilience.

Determination.

And a strong will to keep walking.

Just keep walking.  

We all know there are more battles up ahead.

 

“Till the battle is won, I will not run. Till my death I will stand by you.”

 

The Hall House

Est. May 27, 1995

 

© Copyright 2020, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserved

 

“The Battle Hymn of Love”

Written by: Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz

Performed by: Kathy Mattea and Tim O’Brien

Produced by: Allen Reynolds

Mercury Records

What If?

     A couple weeks ago the Book of Joel came to my mind. Then a few days ago the Book of Joel came to my mind. And at 4:00 this morning, I woke up, and there it was again. I don’t know about you, but when thoughts reoccur, I try to trace the origin or move in the direction I feel I am being led.

   The word of the Lord that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel: Hear this, O elders, And listen, all inhabitants of the land. Has anything like this happened in your days Or in your fathers’ days? Tell your sons about it, And let your sons tell their sons, And their sons the next generation. 

     I read it, and then read it again a few days later, and I wonder, what if we really just follow God’s advice to Joel?

   Joel 1: 14 Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.

Joel 2 : 12,13 “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

     Joel 2:15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast call a sacred assembly.

     Fasting was something we read about in church when I was growing up, but it wasn’t something we did. As an adult, I can trace some of the most significant breakthroughs in my life, to prayer and fasting.

     We’ve watched, we’ve waited, we’ve hoped, we’ve prayed, we’ve sheltered at home, and kept six feet apart, and yet we see no end in sight. We don’t even know how it will end, or what the world will look like, when it does. 

     But we do know what the Book of Joel says.

     There are certainly many other references to prayer, fasting, and crying out to the Lord. Jesus even told his disciples when they couldn’t cast out an evil spirit that, “This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.” Mark 9:29 

     Four days ago Brazil’s president called on his entire country for a National Day of Prayer and Fasting.  It’s also part of our history as a country in times of great distress. I read about that too!

Good Friday is two days away. What if we just took that one day …just that one…the day we commemorate the crucifixion… and every time we feel hungry we choose others over ourselves and we cry out to the Lord.  

Just one day, not 40. 

     Just one. 

What if?

     Surely we see by now God is the only one who can save us!

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Matthew 6:16-18

 

© Copyright 2020, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserved

The Fiercest Battle

     There are some battles you cannot fight alone.  It is 5 a.m. when I am awakened by thunder in the distance and feel a deep burden to go boldly before The Throne.  Our dear friends, and my spiritual mentor, will today stand face to face with their greatest enemy.  By the world’s standards, they will stand alone.  A banking Goliath is coming after everything they own.  Unsatisfied with his previous buffet of their businesses, the giant now wants to devour their very home and all means by which they are able to make a living.  Their lawyers have quit.  Sometimes, the fire gets turned up seven times hotter and those close to the flames scatter.  Other times, those who could and probably should be helping have been turned back from the very battle they trained to fight.  It’s not their fault.  This round belongs to the Lord.  And so I pray.  I pray for mercy.  I pray for intervention, for favor for them, and I pray for the federal court judge.  I ask the Holy Spirit to intervene in prayer for them.  I ask Jesus to defend them.  And I believe.  I believe they will be rescued.  I believe they will be saved.  I believe the best way for God to be glorified is when Goliath, like Nebuchadnezzar, sees the 4th man in the fire.

Gideon’s army was not reduced so he would suffer blame and shame on the day of battle; God stood in Gideon’s defense and designated him a Mighty Warrior.  

King Jehoshaphat faced an attack from the Moabites and Ammonites.  The King pleaded for help and was told through a  prophet, that the battle was not his, but God’s.  As Jehoshaphat’s army began to sing and praise, “Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever,” their enemies were defeated. 

I know my friend is praising him. She sings praise songs when most people couldn’t speak. She’s a witness to others, fixing her eyes on the Lord and crying out on their behalf.  Scriptures fall easily from her tongue.  She rightly divides God’s word and is always wearing her armor.  

We are waging a war of our own, up against the greatest foe we have ever faced in our family.  I wake to a warning, a reminder that by earthly standards we have no weapons to fight.  But I suit up just the same, trusting in truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Sword of the Spirit, and prayer.

And so I pray. 

I pray for our friend’s enemies…not because I want to…because I am supposed to. 

Obedience is not optional.

I cannot fail my friend.  I cannot fall back asleep and pretend it doesn’t matter. She is always there for me, interceding on my behalf when our problems seem to pale in comparison to hers.  But she knows we’re not up against the powers of this world and, with that perspective, she prays. 

And then we wait.

We watch and we wait, and we surrender.

We pray for our own enemies…not because we want to…because we have to. 

And just when it seems the ship will still go down and all will be lost, we draw closer and cling tighter.

Days still turn into weeks and weeks turn to months.  The wait surpasses any we have ever encountered.  But, despite the length of time it will take…the rescue will come quickly.

It arrives as a treasure hidden in darkness.  Long before we knew how desperately we would need help…help had been hidden…set aside…to someday save us.

I knew the day, but not the time.  His goodness, so overwhelming in its immediacy, felt physically fatiguing…his power causing us to tremble in his presence.

Word came that our friends were also rescued.  At the midnight hour on July 4th, they got word. Favored and set free!! Not by the Judge, but by the bloodthirsty bankers…formidable foes caving under the crushing weight of The Rock on which we all depend…forever changed by what had to happen. 

They are glad it happened.

We are glad it happened.

Daily he sustained us.

We watched and we waited.  We worried and we relinquished.  We laughed and we cried. We prayed and we pleaded. 

He never left us.

We are different now.

Can’t go back. Don’t want to go back. Never want to forget all that he said, all that he did, and all that we learned.

It is a deep well from which both families will be able to draw.

He is who he says he is.  And by surrendering to his will, we found the way!  

You will too!

“And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches.  I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.” 

 Isaiah 45:3

As God would have it, my friend and our families ended the year together, celebrating her daughter’s wedding.  There was a grand and glorious feast with music, laughter, dancing, and, of course, much PRAISE!

We look forward to a new year, new blessings, and new possibilities.

 

 

© Copyright 2019, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserved

Hemmed in on Every Side

           If there was a photo or video, one of them might have captured the sheer hopelessness of the situation.  But the fear that surged through my body, partnered with regret, and an onslaught of guilt, could never be caught on camera.

          We had just gone to bed when the phone rang with news that flash flooding we thought would miss our area had, in fact, turned its destructive face toward us.  Through the pounding rain, we jumped in our truck and drove a mile and a half, cautiously crossing an area of flooding we had never seen before, in order to reach the pasture where we keep horses and donkeys. Massive lakes of water filled the normally dry land on both sides of the road.  We could barely see it in the dark and yet there was a strong unmistakable sense of its looming presence.  The roar of the creeks, out of their banks and feeding this natural disaster, was louder than my frantic pleas and prayers to our Almighty God.  “O God, the rain has to stop!  O Lord God, save my babies.  O, Father tell us what to do.”

            There was no place to pull over so we drove a few miles, desperately searching for an area without flood water that was large enough to turn around.  It was dark and desolate.  But it was then I felt a calming peace that made no sense under the circumstances. We parked in the middle of the road and my husband got out to shine a flashlight.  Allowing my fear to then override the peace I felt, I couldn’t imagine how the horses would have possibly survived.  There was just too much water.  But there they were… huddled together chest deep…forced up against two locked gates…with our little donkey’s head barely above water.  Our boss mare, an old Palomino, turned to look at us with pleading eyes, while our little donkey cried out to us… and I cried harder.

          I know 911 is for human emergencies but we didn’t know what else to do.  The operator was gentle and kind.  And then a deputy, already passing our way, stopped just long enough to tell us they were going to help, but they had others who needed them first.  We understood and were grateful.  Their willingness giving us hope.

Horse RescueThe landowner was the next one to stop.  As much as we wanted the horses free, we pleaded with him not to attempt it alone.  As the rain began to back off and the water considered receding, the rescuers returned, tied ropes around him, and he waded through the rushing waters to unlock the gates.  Our horses, led by the oldest and lowest in the herd, muscled their way across the rapid water and walked calmly and peacefully through the flashing blue lights illuminating the road already blocked and ready for them to crossover.Horse rescue 2

          And, just like that… hemmed in on every side…chest deep and neck deep… in an instant, they were free and walking out on dry ground.

          The image of the Israelites approaching The Red Sea, hemmed in on every side, with God as their only hope, came quickly to mind once we were safe.  It’s not just our horses, in an unexpected flash flood, that poses a threat.  We are often hemmed in by other circumstances.  Sometimes it’s finances.  Sometimes it’s deadlines on work projects we need to deliver.  There have been lawsuits in our lives that sought to destroy us.  Sickness, injury, and accidents encircling us and setting their traps.  And yet, there is God.

          I like to stay closely connected but when the sun is shining, there’s money in the bank, all the deadlines have been met, and no one is being nasty, I figure God will understand if I get back with him a little later.  I have things to do and life gets busy.  But, let me get hemmed in on every side and you will hear me cry out to the Lord with a loud and proud pleading voice.  I am a Daughter of the Most High King, he knows my name, he knows the sound of my voice, and he comes to my rescue!  Not because of who I am, but because of who he is.

          This morning, our son suggested I pray and ask God to give me peace from the memories of that night. It’s been almost two weeks and I confess I still see each image way too vividly.  But there are even more reasons why I need to pray.  The Red Sea of our circumstances will threaten us again.  As Jesus told us, in this life we will have trouble.  So, my mind returns to the Israelites looking for an analogy…hoping for an example…recognizing their manna only lasted for one day.  And I know, like them, I will cry out again.

What has you hemmed in?

Finances? Family? Friends? Your job? A substance?  An addiction? A betrayal?

Maybe it’s the pressure to perform, maintaining multiple social media accounts.

What are the circumstances that threaten to destroy all that you hold dear?

 

The very next Bible verse in my prayer journal, following the flood,
 was Isaiah 43:1-2.  What are the odds, really?

 “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.  I have called you by name; you are Mine.  When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.”

And, then, the next morning from

Sarah Young’s “Jesus Calling” Devotional, I read:

“On darker days, My Peace stands out in sharp contrast to your circumstances. 

See times of darkness as opportunities for My Light to shine in transcendent splendor.

 I am training you to practice Peace that overpowers darkness. 

Collaborate with Me in this training. 

Do not grow weary and lose heart.”

Rescue 7

          This was the fourth flood since Christmas 2017; so losing heart was certainly up for consideration…not just for me, but also for my family and our horse friends.  They stood with us in the darkness stunned by the magnitude of what they were seeing.  Saddened by the damage they saw yet again.  

It might be easier to give up than to keep fighting to repair gates and fencing after each flood.  But we can never give up loving these amazing horses.  Five of the eight are rescues and all have brought joy to countless numbers of visitors. 

The chains have been broken, the shackles released, the horses are temporarily on higher ground and like the Israelites we will move forward toward The Promised Land!Rainbow

The road where we turned around that night, we later learned, was the same place a mother trying to move her SUV to higher ground was swept off a bridge and could not be rescued.  I’ve cried for her and her family many times since that night.  I don’t know why things happen the way they do,  but I believe in an all knowing, all caring, all loving Sovereign God.  May He have great mercy on her family and be especially close to the broken-hearted.

© Copyright 2019, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserved

 

Twenty-Seven Dollars

     The iPhone ping came in at 4:59 AM, exactly one minute before our scheduled departure at five. It was a notice from our bank warning us that we only had $27 in our checking account, significantly less than the $100 minimum we set up as an alert point. Ironically we were about to leave on a seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruise, a vacation that had been purchased months earlier when the bank balance was much higher.

      I dug deep into my resolve, remembering the words in Proverbs 31. She laughs at the days to come.

     I knew God had already been with us as we planned the trip. It was actually bought with someone else in mind. Circumstances changed and that someone decided not to go. And, even though the cruise coordinator assured me we could not get our money back, I asked if I could speak to a supervisor and explain our situation. While I was on hold, I got down on my knees and thanked God for his favor. When the coordinator returned to the line, she was way more astonished than I. “This has never happened before,” she said, “but we are going to give you a full refund for the fourth person.” It’s times like this when I feel like it’s okay to move forward. So despite no real desire to go on a cruise, except to take the person who now wasn’t going, we were about to leave home.

     “Is this a mistake? How did this happen?” These were among the questions my husband and I were asking ourselves, still mulling over the timetable of leaving on a vacation when the check we needed to pay additional expenses had not made it to the bank on time. We pondered all the possibilities and recognized that not going would only cause us to lose the money we had already spent and wouldn’t do anything to help the situation with our account.

     So, instead of stepping OUT of the boat on faith like the Apostle Peter, we stepped on to the boat knowing our financial circumstances were completely out of our control. Tropical music, the smell of sunscreen, and the unlimited food buffets went a long way in allowing us to forget our finances.

     But, now seven months later, we’re not so sure our trip had anything to do with our faith walk, our finances, or a family vacation.  

     Shortly after we settled into our new normal on the ship, a particular photographer captured our attention. And, a Divine Appointment started coming into focus.

     I thought it was her haircut that caused her to stand out. She had those super short bangs cut straight across. But, the more we watched, the more it seemed her ability to be an amazing ambassador was what intrigued us. Out on open water, we saw her on the pool deck, the walking track, down on the dinner floors and then at the gangplank for destination stops. Each time, she was smiling and happy as she took hundreds of photos. Keep in mind, there are many other photographers on the ship but we just kept seeing the same one.

     A Christmas concert, we would normally have not attended, ended up on our itinerary when the cruise director promised a snowfall. It did snow; it was spectacular, and there she was again taking photos in front of the tree. This time, we talked with her at length. What she shared with us is that, in order to take all of these family photos she has to leave her family, in the Ukraine. She’s married, has a young son, and spends six months of every year on a ship along with her husband so they can earn enough money to support their little boy. Just as astonishing, she’s only working as a photographer. In reality she’s a singer. But, isn’t everyone? We’re from the Nashville area and…well, we’ve heard that story a few… dozen… hundred times.

     We see her again and again…talk to her every chance we get…offer her encouragement… and continue on with our cruise.

     The last day came quickly and, as usual, all those guests so anxious to get on the boat are just as much in a hurry to get off. So, we found the only seats available to wait it out and there she was once more. It seemed clear to all of us that at this point exchanging email addresses and Facebook information was quite appropriate. She showed us a photo of her little boy, we shared some pictures we took on the trip, and we said goodbye.

     In the days that followed, we actually found her on YouTube and realized that this “would be singer” really IS a singer. There are several videos and hundreds of thousands of viewers. This beautiful young woman was working as a photographer on a Carnival Cruise Ship when she has an amazing voice and a large online following. There are so many shows that involve music; it just didn’t make sense that she was taking pictures.

     We had already been praying for her. But we decided it was time to go boldly to the Throne of Grace, as she so deserves to be recognized for the talent God has given her. Even so, there was still a heavy burden to say something, to do something, to reach out to Carnival on her behalf. So when our post cruise survey finally arrived, we took great pleasure in pleading for someone at the top to see the singer who was standing right there in front of them on their own ship.

     And just as quickly as she first caught our attention, news came that she had been selected to sing…not on the ship we were on…not the one where she worked as a photographer. No, she was chosen and called to perform on one of the newest and best ships in the fleet.

     Did our letter reach the executive branch at Carnival Cruise Lines? We have no idea. Did God answer months of prayers for Lidiia? Prayers were certainly answered, but I feel sure we weren’t the only ones praying. The Bible tells us if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our hearts. Lidiia delighted in the photography job God gave her to do, and she did it as if she were doing it for the Lord.

     She messaged this week to let us know her first few shows went really well. It’s still a bit surreal for her as it all happened so slow and yet so fast. Dreams that come true sometimes seem that way.

    As I type this story, she is somewhere out in the Caribbean, in the center of a soundstage, on one of the newest and largest ships to set sail.

     She’s in the spotlight…she’s singing…and this time someone is taking her photo.

      Our cruise started on a Saturday and by Wednesday we got word that the check we needed had
arrived back home. The person who was supposed to go on the cruise was actually the one who took it to the bank for us. We had only one bill due, so I paid it with a ship to shore phone call, and laughed at the memory of our $27 bank balance.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Romans 12:12

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 4:16

 

 

© Copyright 2018, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserved

 

A Walk with Willow

     There is a secret among some equine enthusiasts who desperately desire to own their first horse. One is good. But two are better. Three will love you. Four will thrill you. Five is uneven. And, six will complete you…unless you have room for one or two more.

     We already had five horses when Willow came looking for me.   She’s a six-year-old quarter cross, (half Quarter horse/half Tennessee Walker) seized with several others in a serious neglect case.
Since she was strong enough to survive on her own, rescuers attended to the sicker horses, and let her go out to graze.

     An unexpected email in my inbox asking if I might be interested in this black beauty peaked my curiosity. Since I didn’t go “looking” for her I thought it was safe to say this might be part of a grander plan. So, I put out a fleece like Gideon did in the Old Testament book of Judges. I asked God to confirm for me if I should attempt to take this untrained horse home. In my mind, if she let me halter her, and obeyed a few simple commands, then I had God’s “go-ahead” and Willow was mine.

     She did everything I asked and I accepted her obedience as a big bold YES from God.

     But then a few weeks later when it was time to transport her, she put up an incredible fight refusing all
attempts to load on the trailer. Three stressful hours later, with much persuasion, she finally submitted; but by then I was having second thoughts. The entire painful process left me walking on wobbly knees of wavering faith.

     By the time we got home she had settled down, she unloaded gracefully, walked slowly into the round pen, and posed for pictures.

     Then the rains came, the snow blew in, and the ground froze up.

     By the time the ground thawed all that was left was thick, slick, mud.

     I’m not opposed to suiting up in my outdoor armor…coveralls, neck warmer, insulated ski gloves, ear band, double socks, and muck boots but it was way
too dangerous to work with her. So, she stood her ground and I stood mine, squaring off like two gunslingers at high noon. I would move to the right, she would move to the left. I would move to the left, she would move to the right. I would reach for her halter and she would tremble and turn away.

     One friend recommended a natural supplement that would help calm her…it worked wonders…for two days.

     Another person suggested I ignore her, walk away, and let her stew in her own stubbornness. I did. She did. It only worked once.

     And finally another friend said, “This might not work. You may have to admit it was a mistake and send her back.” Thank God He does not feel that way about me. I probably would have been returned a long time ago.

     Since I am, at best, an amateur, I consulted a professional. The trainer recommended I be the only one to feed and water Willow so she would see I was now her sole source of survival.

     Willow understood. But, she is very smart and by Day 17 she was only inching up to the bucket of oats. She shuddered at the slightest move of my hand as I made many attempts to touch her.

     Remember, this is a horse I haltered and took for a walk the very first day.

     Since I believed God had given me the go-ahead to bring her home, I assumed she would respond to my requests. I was praying the whole time, but while I was dropping to my knees, my mind was already outside in the round pen. And, I struggled.

     One hundred days is the amount of time some of the Mustang tamers take…so that was the amount of time I told my friends and family I was prepared to train. What I really meant was more like two weeks.

     I was okay not being able to ride her. I just wanted to touch her. Hug her. Kiss her. I wanted her to recognize this relationship was good and I wanted her to love me. Those were the words that came pouring out when I was right on the verge of giving up.   And, my husband reminded me of the words spoken by Jesus, “…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

     If you only read my horse stories you might think me a failure. I sometimes feel like a failure; well actually I feel that way a lot. But, then I go over to see the other horses and I am reminded to take my time and trust. As my husband gives me a leg up and I hop on our horse Judah who stands perfectly still out in the middle of our pasture…the wind blows, the sun beams down, and I thank God for the moment… remembering that in some ways Judah was once worse than Willow. It took me months to catch her and a couple of years before she decided she was as hopelessly in love with me as I was with her.

     Judah still walks away from me at times…she heads out as far away as she can get only to discover there is no one out there who will clean those little boogie things out of her eyes, there is no one to dig the packed mud out of her big flat feet, there is no one to prick the ends of their fingers picking cockleburs from her mane and tail… and she returns. She nudges me with her nose, let’s me kiss all over her face, bears up under the full body hugs I press against her neck, and she fully submits to the fact that I am her Alpha.

     So I decide yet again, to submit to mine. Every day I try to inquire of the Lord. There are days, sometimes weeks, when I don’t work with Willow. I try to be patient. She seems to be learning from the herd, so I let it be. There are other days when we accomplish what I consider to be serious milestones in her training. We are not all the way there. But the difficulties continue to draw me and I inquire again and again.

     Willow is becoming more social, allowing others besides me to groom, feed, and lead her.
I’ve been up in the saddle several times; and Sunday September 10th, with the help of my husband, son, and a
dear friend, I rode her in a few round pen circles. You can tell she’s a bit confused but she remained calm. We brought her home in December and I didn’t get to ride her for the first (2nd, 3rd, 4th…) times until September. I’ve now fully accepted that horse training cannot be measured in hours, but understanding…hers and mine.

     There were many late nights listening to praise music together. Mornings when all I did was sit close by and let her relax on my watch. I still find myself bypassing the prayers and running right out to the pen, anxious to see what we can accomplish. But, every time I think, “I’ve got this,” God reminds me that I train on his terms and his timetable. He’s going to do a mighty work in Willow. I can sense it. And, so, I wait.

“For the dream comes through much effort…”

Ecclesiastes 5:3

 

“Breaking a pony is the fast way, gentling a pony is the sure way.”

~Grandpa Beebe, Misty of Chincoteague

 

“Ask often, be content with little, reward generously.”

~Jack Brainard, Legendary Horse Trainer

 

God often puts us in these places because no matter

how much we know, we still have to be reminded.

~Greg Mangrum, Farrier

How is God working in your life?

What is He teaching you?

What draws you to Him time and again?

Do you inquire of Him or go it alone?

 

© Copyright 2017, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserved

Willing to be Wounded

Star must have taken many blows.  

The marks on her body displayed the evidence.  

Sweat had dried and hardened her golden hair.  Her eyes were weary, yet strong, and determined.  

While every animal instinct should have had her on the front line of defense, she had turned and faced her own herd, in order to protect Princess Olive, a young, previously mistreated, and now permanently deformed filly.  She took much of what was actually meant for the little interloper. 

Although, by all appearances, a horribly cruel encounter for any new one, it is but a necessary reshuffling of the hierarchy in order to determine the parameters of the herd.  Each equine encounter ends in a

showdown decision.  One will dominate; the other will submit. When Star saw the overwhelming odds against Olive, she stood her ground.  As the only mare in the pasture who has ever given birth, we believe she knew the difference in this little defenseless lamb and was determined to defend and protect her.

Initially, as is a good practice when putting any new horse in an established herd, we placed them in separate pastures.  We even put our little donkey with Olive for overnight protection. But when we turned our backs to retrieve water, she effortlessly jumped the 4-foot dividing fence and ran right into the middle of our anxious herd.  We were paralyzed by the absolute awe of it.  Here we were trying to help this little rescued fragile filly and yet she was gutsy enough to run right into the middle of six healthy horses more than twice her size.

We run right into the middle of many messes.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Unfortunately, Olive was wounded in her foolish attempt to force her way into their world.  But her wounds are healing.  Star took most of what was meant for Olive, put a hedge of protection around her, and stood so Olive could lay down and sleep.  We lost an entire day of work just watching this unique display of selfless love play out in our little leased pasture.  God does some of his greatest miracles in what we might all perceive as the most unlikely of places.

It has taken a few days but, literally, the dust has settled. Olive has been accepted.  She has established herself in herd position and gets to push the little donkey…because she can.  She ventures out alone looking for
him…hoping to prove her dominance.  We’ve also seen her push the mares that rank upper middle. She struts her stuff when they move out of her way.  But, what we see, that she doesn’t see, is Star standing guard, parting that path, giving Olive confidence, and making a way where there is no way.

I was pushed back and about to fall but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my defense he has become my salvation. Psalm 118:13

          Our Lord’s lessons play out all around us.  Some we see, some we take for granted, and more often than we ought, we take credit. He is still our rock, our refuge, an ever-present help in trouble…our bright and morning STAR!

 Princess Olive was rescued by an amazing agency whose volunteers found her on a filthy farm, locked in a horse trailer with no food or water.  They cleaned her up, gave her lots of love, and now she lives with us…fostered by a friend of ours who also exhibits selfless love.

We are humbled and honored to have the opportunity to teach Olive that she is a Princess and that her physical disabilities do not devalue her sweet existence.  She is worthy of all the love we can lavish on her.  And we look forward to all that God has planned.

Father, forgive the man who abused her…for surely he knew not what he did!

© Copyright 2017, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserved

Guatemalan Getaway

Heavy black exhaust fumes are unwelcome visitors barging in bus windows we have quickly opened to escape the heat.  We are two hours from the Guatemala City airport and there’s no quick way out of here.Getway 6

Not now.

We are officially committed on a nine-day course.

Our tag team of new age missionaries has set out to make monetary modifications; while our first visual encounters threaten to submerge us in a sea of hopelessness.  Poverty has clearly permeated every community in this war-torn country. So, in self-defense, we make jokes about the “chicken bus,” the obnoxious horns, and the extra-large Taco Bell.

Getaway 2

Still, it’s hard to ignore the little tin huts and greasy auto repair shops that are all around us as we head deeper into the abyss. The obnoxiously rude blaring bus horns continue to assault the senses and the smell of blackened filth seems to sit all around us.

Just as the sun is setting low over our arrival in this third world country, we pull into the place that will be our refuge. There is barely enough light to see and a hot shower is considered a luxury. Even when we have hot water, it is so contaminated we are warned not to get it in our eyes or mouth.

The temperature has dropped to a brisk 54 degrees with a noticeably cooler breeze blowing.  The rain started, but quickly stopped, and everything feels just a little damp.  It might dry out in the heat of tomorrow, but more than likely another little cloud will drift in again.

Yet, we feel incredibly blessed.

We were expecting much worse conditions.  

Our guard goes down and we settle in.

 

Morning comes with hot pancakes and coffee.

Our arrival is anticipated in the Guatemalan village of Getaway 31Patzicia where their reactions, and ours, are mixed with apprehension, anticipation, and excitement.  It’s a pleasant place with happy home visits, a few minutes at the market, and a spontaneous soccer match.

We are good to go on.

 

Bland refried black beans for the next breakfast, with grainy unseasoned corn tortillas, signal that the trip is about to change.  Our initial introduction into this mission is finally morphing into the real reason we are here. Happy home visits segue into an introduction to small hidden huts not fit for human habitation.

Getaway 30They are homes for families with five or ten children.  The despair runs deep.  The necessities for their existence are lacking at every level.  Our hearts sink.  Our emotions steel. We take inventory of what we have to give and we get to work.

Prayer is priority as our God sees and He knows and He is able.  We dole out compassion, understanding, encouragement, and love. Getaway 29  We offer up hugs, and smiles, as laughter seeps through the cracks and out into the courtyards.

God is in this place.

And, he has more for us to see.Getaway 33

 

 

Up on a remote mountain, where we experience a million miracles just riding safely in that chicken bus, we see and smell a society so far removed from our own that we are stunned!
Children, under the age of five, are dying here in San Antonio Nejapa on days when the smoke inhalation is more than their Getaway 12little lungs can filter and fight.

We are anxious to help solve this unnecessary situation and we set about installing new
stoves.Getaway 13

The inventors of this quickly assembled contraption should be honored at the city gates, as they have been given the great gift of God’s wisdom.

Getaway 15

We are humbled.

Truly humbled to help.

Our iPhones are pulled out of pockets and backpacks for the sole purpose of taking pictures so this moment of meeting on God’s terms is recorded outside of our hearts for others to see.

Getaway 17We have to share their story.  We have to tell about the stoves.

They are not expensive. In fact, their affordability is astonishing.   Who among us would not give $110 to save the life of a child?

Getaway 16

 

Time is running out.

It’s not the setting of the sun, but thick white clouds coming down on the mountain that send us back to our weeklong refuge.

The revelation of all that we own will be a bit more relevant tonight.  We gather together around a fire to sing praise songs, share stories, and make plans with a new purpose.

It doesn’t have to be us. It can be anybody.  It can be you.  There are volunteers trained in the art of stove assembly.  They just need people who are willing to pay for the life of a child.

 

 

We walk reluctantly back to our rooms.

There is still barely enough light to see.

We know that a hot shower is a luxury they have never had.

 

Getaway 19

“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,

and he will reward them for what they have done.” 
 — Proverbs 19:17

http://www.compassion.com

© Copyright 2016, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserve

I did it His way

          If not for the 25th chapter of the book of Psalm, the confrontation would have come as a complete shock.  But that morning, as I His way onebusied myself with the routine of feeding, mucking and watering, the reminder to do my Bible study kept pressing on my mind.  I finally set all the chores aside and submitted. 

           The words written on the tattered and torn pages were a warning to my heart and soul.  And, so, instead of going forward ill prepared, I put on the full armor of God and waited for what was about to happen.  

           I almost laugh every time I think back on it because, somehow, I think we all thought it had something to do with us.  And, maybe, at some point, it had. Maybe there were things said, and done, that had set the course in action.  But, in the end, as in the beginning, it was a test and God was offering us a choice.

          I am grateful for the compassion of the one who had to tell me I was losing my job. I am grateful for the honest words I was allowed to speak.  I am most grateful for the peace that passed all understanding at a time I could have chosen a much different path. In the natural, my normal reaction might have been anger and resentment. His Way It would not have been unlike me to say things I would later regret.  But, in the presence of a Holy God, I did my best to remain silent and wait. 

          There were bouts of blame. I mainly blamed myself.  And, even though I participated in parties of pondering…who, why, what, where and when…I was quickly reminded to go back to The Word.  The next few weeks were spent about as close as I could get to the One who warned me, the One who already knew, the One who would know what to do next.  There were days of grief, sorrow and repentance.  There were times spent praying for those who made the decision. There were messages of hope, sent periodically, by those who knew I needed encouragement. 

          At every turn, I asked God to please tell me what to do before I hit the deadline to pack up and leave.  In response, God made me wait even longer.  He showed me that His plan had a purpose and that He was not bound by a date circled on the calendar.  He brought me out…so He could bring me in.  And this time, I trusted.  I watched.  And, I waited.  There were so many things He could have done…so many things I thought He was going to do.  But His way  has brought more happiness than I had even imagined. 

           Every time I am placed in a position where I must trust, I find myself promising I always will.  But each walk in the wilderness His way 4is different, and it is always the unknown that leaves us vulnerable to the accusing voice that says, “What if he leaves you this time? What if he abandons you now? What if you are left out there alone to fend for yourself? What if you look like a fool for your faith? If this is your fault, shouldn’t you be forced to face the blame and the shame?” 

          But I find that voice can always be silenced by going to God, by staying in The Word, by watching, by waiting, by also recognizing the voices of those who try to convince you to do it their way.

          This time I did it HIS way and I have in fact received an amazing reward!HIs Way 2

 

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

 If you are facing a time of uncertainty, a disappointment, an unexpected occurrence, or any change in your life that has left you afraid and confused, lift up your head.

He is the light. He sees, He knows, He has the answers.

Just wait. No matter how long He takes.

He may not be early, but He is never late!

HIs Way

© Copyright 2014, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserve

 

 God of mercy sweet love of mine

I have surrendered to Your design

May this offering stretch across the skies

And these Hallelujahs be multiplied

 Written by: Bo and Bear Rinehart

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGF-MGGLpB0

God, I run into Your arms

Unashamed because of mercy

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

Music & Lyrics: Mike Weaver / Phil Wickham

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiGb14tTaH4

 

Coffee Shop Community

          The old man held court in the corner of the coffee shop. It seemed every other person, who came through the smudged glass door and braved the blinding rays of sunshine cast through the wall of windows, made their way to his table.

Coffee Shop 1He smiled and greeted each one with, “It’s a beautiful day isn’t it?” His salutation seemed amusing, given the fact that it was freezing outside. The younger crowd could be heard mumbling throughout the room about the unexpected drop in temperature.  It’s all in the perspective I guess.  As I watched him entertain a young, long-haired coffee shop employee on a break, then take company with a frazzled sweat-clad, errand-running mom, talk to a dad with a young child, and congratulate a pregnant woman, I looked on in fascination and remembrance that–even in this fast-paced technology-driven world where I frequently communicate with my own husband, daughter and son, via text message– we are still in need of personal, face to face, one on one, affirming, loving and entertaining socialization.  Years ago, this same older gentleman might have found a seat out on a park bench in the town square or down at the corner hardware store.  But his well-placed position here in the coffee shop serves him well as he caters to the needs of a younger generation more desperate than they know for his words of wisdom.

            We were created to live in community.  No matter how much we feel Facebook connects us into an online world of communal living and no matter how we feel connected to our tribe through the 140 characters allowed on Twitter, we still need some real genuine, authentic, in person, huggable, loveable, face time.Coffee shop 3

            The little girl hugged tightly to her daddy’s arm with the biggest, sweetest smile on her face.  The older gentleman reminding her dad of the innocence and beauty he was charged with protecting. The frazzled mom in her peach sweat suit, took time to talk to the little girl eye-to-eye, attention full on, and was quickly rewarded with a big bear hug before the girl followed dad out the door. The older gentleman and the mom were beaming.  And I wasn’t the only one watching.  Several people stopped to watch it all; the hope, the promise, the expectation that all will be well with the world regardless of how it sometimes seems we are losing our societal grip.  Sure, that little girl will probably open up a new iPad on the next Christmas morning or text her friends on her new iPhone; but today, she stopped to smile at the old man, to hug the frazzled mom, to cling tightly to the daddy who loves her more than anyone else.

          The old man’s attention turned to another visitor who came straight to his table. This one was sporting a new engagement ring and anticipating a brand new life.  He gushed right along with her.  Then, one by one, each visitor went out the smudged glass door with their backs to the rays of sunshine.  He reached for his coffee cup and, with a shaking hand, picked up his fork to finish off a piece of Coffee shop 2lemon cake.  He’ll probably be back tomorrow.  You could tell from the steady stream of visitors that he is here a lot, in his corner seat holding court, for anyone who has time to stop and talk.

 

© Copyright 2014, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserve

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