The rumbling thunder grew a little louder. I pleaded, "Lord, what are You up to?" I watched our two 7-year-olds just ahead of me ride with pride and excitement. I looked at the sky and frowned. I glanced over my shoulder at my husband. We exchanged a worried look and a nervous chuckle.
I probably wouldn't have gone through with it, but our graphted-in daughter has never ridden a horse before. It was promised and predicted the week before – one of our surprises planned over break – horse back riding! My natural daughter has ridden several times. I might have tried to coax her into waiting for another day, and probably she would have agreed though disappointedly.
But - here we all plodded along, not listening to logic, but instead encouraging a brokenhearted little girl to lead us into the unknown, on an adventure. (Yes, it's very symbolic!) To complicate my own hesitancies about possibly riding in a storm, this youngest, newest romper of ours is terrified of storms. She clearly recalls and mentions often last year's tornado. One of the first things she asked when she moved in was the details of our family's tornado plan. She repeatedly has told us of her fear of storms. It's with a certain amount of dread that we have waited for the coming summer storms. Even noises like dump trucks and water heaters invite her to worry, create fear, and have often disrupted her sleep. However, on this day, she didn't seem to notice the rumbles of occasional thunder - at least at first.
Ten minutes in, it was drizzling. Our newest horseback rider looked over her shoulder and asked timidly, "Do horses get scared of the rain?" A moment later it was, "Do horses get scared of thunder?" Unfortunately, those were followed soon by, "Emily, do horses get scared of lightening?"
Yes, we were in an all out downpour at this point with thunder and lightening to boot. She looked back at me – I flashed a huge smile, "This is awesome!" I reassured her. It was several times at first I could see the hesitation. I could see that there was fear behind those eyes. She looked at me, and I offered her bravery by being present with her. I commended her courage as Jesus helped her work through her fears. And, she did it!
When we got back soaked and covered in horse hair, I hopped off the horse and immediately went to the girls. "Sweet Girl, God gave you such a gift today. You thought you were afraid of storms, but you rode your horse in one. Wow! Thanks, God." Our new adventurer beamed. It was a perfect gift for her. My oldest one had a different gift. Maybe because she was not so afraid of storms. Her horse sometimes had a mind of his own. She had to listen as the guide coached her on how to get him to go faster and stay on the trail. It was a gift to her to be the one in control. She used her listening skills and applied his instructions to get results with her horse. It was awesome gift; and we thanked God too.
As I stood up and walked hand and hand with the girls to the van (and by the way, the rain had stopped! Of course!), I felt gratitude. I repented to God for thinking I knew best, and I thanked Him. A verse from Psalm 119 ran through my mind that I have often pondered, "I know...that in faithfulness You have afflicted me." Only God would know that the perfect way for my newest kiddo to face one of her greatest fears is on the back of a horse with all of us right in the thick of it with her, soaked to the bone. What felt like an "affliction" of sorts at the time, ended with a beautiful memory for us all, newfound courage for the our little rider, and a song of His grace and gratitude in my heart.
Hubby and I think none of us will ever forget that ride. This mom will always remember and be thankful for the lesson. Yes the lessons for the kids, but maybe most especially for the momma.