Rodeo Dream Realized on a Horse Named Smoky
“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4–NIV).
Ever since our daughter Allie was a wee one, when her sudden presence in our home still seemed much like a dream come true, she’s loved horses.
Unlike many children whose imaginary friends are other humans, Allie’s were horses. There were Pepper and Chili, just to name two, and her favorite television program was an animated show called Horseland.
In more recent years, she’s been to a 2-week horse camp where she celebrated her birthday and has enjoyed dozens of trail rides, as well as graduated to her current favorite show. It’s no exaggeration to say that she’s watched every episode of Heartland at least twice, if not more. Like many of the characters in this Canada-based television show, Allie, too, has moved beyond mere western riding, which is more common in our pocket of North Carolina, and completed a full year of English-style lessons at a nearby farm called Chestnut Valley Farm and Stables. Her teacher, Ms. Karen, has helped her improve her horsemanship, posture, and overall riding ability.
Horses have been and continue to be Allie’s absolute favorite thing, and her best friend is undoubtedly a Missouri Foxtrotter named Mick who, at nearly 30 years of age, is happily out to pasture. No longer able to manage long trail rides, he is who we’ve affectionately nicknamed Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, the keeper of our flock of a dozen sheep or, as we call them, our “hobbits” on the hill.
Allie desires more than anything to have a horse of her own–one that she helps pick out and can ride for hours on end. And that day’s coming, to be sure, but for now she enjoys caring for Mick and taking her hour-long lessons each Wednesday, where horses named Twister and Oscar are helping her grow and become a true cowgirl and well-trained rider.
Imagine Allie’s delight then when, on our recent 2-week vacation to the wonderful, wild West, she was able to experience her own dream-come-true. While visiting family in Paris, Idaho, she had the opportunity to participate in her first ever rodeo–riding a horse named Smoky in two events at the Cokeville Rope and Run in nearby Cokeville, WY.
Our hearts soared as we witnessed our daughter commanding this lovely blue roan Quarter Horse around barrels and poles, loping back to the finish in true Western-style. I must admit–my heart flip-flopped as I offered up prayers for the girl we’ve raised to reach for her dreams while committing them to her Savior.
Many years ago, as I waited for the fulfillment of God’s promise for children, Psalm 37:4 became a theme in my barren season. What I’d once believed to be a good word concerning God automatically giving me whatever I desired became a charge instead, calling me to participate, to press in to His heart–take delight in Him–that He might fill me with the desires He had for me, making His dreams for me my own.
We have no doubt that God gave our Girl an innate love for these creatures that have, for hundreds and hundreds of years, served and delighted humans–in wartime, on the frontier, and in dusty arenas where spectators gather to watch courageous cowboys and cowgirls rustle cattle and spin and twirl through obstacle courses. One day, Allie’s dream horse will likely join us on Selah Farm or somewhere else that we’ll perhaps call home.
For now, we’re encouraging her to offer her dream back to God, to delight in Him–the One who created her to be just who she is, that Girl He brought to us nearly a decade ago. As she spends time with Him in prayer, Bible study, and in fellowship with other believers, He’ll continue to plant His dream seeds in her heart and, as part of His plan, will bring her the perfect horse in just the right time. Of this we really have no doubt.
Until then, she’ll savor the memories of a horse named Smoky as she returns to the Smoky Mountains of western NC–believing that the One who knows her best will be faithful to give her the desires of her heart as she leans on, presses in to, the heart of her Father.