Here I am, sitting and typing on an iPad, in a wooden swing hanging under an oak tree. Directly in front of me, approximately 10 ft away, with a gate between us lays, curled up sleeping, a 24.5 hour old calf named Little Ness. He’s all black, perfect and crazy cute in every way. Beyond him at 12 o’clock lays his mother, Flicka, the brangus cow that was so severely wounded and emaciated that she was left to die in a field across from our 5 acre ranch that sits atop a hill in Zephyrhills, FL.
The veteranian described Flicka as “feral”, like a feral cat, and she is grossly underweight to be a mother, approximately 1100 lbs, yet healthier today than I’ve ever seen her. The vet also advised me not to let her gain much weight due to the injured right rear hoof, which she won’t put weight on, but my husband, myself, and our prayer partners are believing for the healing of her hoof. Flicka was named by a beautiful 16 year old neighbor girl whose parents have allowed me the privilege to speak into her life since we relocated to the Tampa Bay Area, May 2014. The vet, along with other ranchers I’ve been consulting in the area, think Flicka is 2-5 years old. She had no complications delivering adorable Little Ness yesterday morning, although I, at the request of our veteranian (with whom I had been on the phone immediately that morning when I suspected she was in labor!), was standing by, ready to assist pulling Little Ness out, if necessary.
It was approximately 6 months ago, while taking a ride on the acreage, from which the rancher had moved his cattle out of the 900 acres (Approximately 500 is under development), that Handsome Boy (15 year old Tennessee Walker, one of the original therapy horses for me and Beauty From Ashes™ Ministries) discovered her. She had large, open wounds on both sides, in multiple spots, and could barely move. After sending videos, pics, and a location marker to the rancher, he told me that I didn’t have to wait there, but I begged my husband for his blessing and approval for me to go buy cow feed to at least help nourish her until the rancher returned for her. Her movement was so bad, multiple ranchers couldn’t determine what her injuries were, at least one of them was certain though, she had been attacked by something.
There was something about Flicka that really touched my heart. She reminded me of the women to whom I’ve primarily ministered to over the past 15 years, an often misunderstood, marginalized population, that has in one way or another been used, abused, wounded, rejected, and abandoned. The rancher never did come for her, but I continued to feed her daily, either riding a horse or an all terrain type golf cart to her. As her health improved more, I would have to look longer to find her in various places of a greater area of territory, where it’s likely she was born and raised, obviously with no human handling … until I noticed that she seemed to be coming to meet me. I was able to develop her trust enough that she followed me and the cow cubes I was feeding her, something recommended by a rancher. He indicated that she would be able to be “towed” from the golf cart if I was patient and worked with her daily to increase her trust in me. Finally, a few days after we had recovered from Hurricane Irma, I led her across the street, through our ranch’s front gate and out into the pasture on our property, where she has lived ever since.
It felt like, sometimes, one step forward, two to three back, trying to gain her trust … a familiar feeling I’ve encountered countless times when working with wounded and broken people, including in my own personal healing journey. With an attitude of commitment, no matter what, we can embrace the journey and progress forward in the process of healing, which is ultimately based in relationships, I’m convinced.
We were designed for relationship: ongoing, personal, life giving, protecting, unconditionally loving relationships. The time I’ve spent with Flicka has been an investment in our relationship. I thank God that this new momma trusts me enough now to be as close as I am to her newborn calf! She did charge at the fence at me yesterday so I’ve deliberately given her space, literally retreating to show her respect … a practice with which I am very familiar having been a professional helper for over a decade, and something I’ve done since I began feeding her the day I found her in a semi thick wooded area less than a mile from our home. She and I communicate regularly because I am intentional in spending time with her. The result is that there is trust between us, even peace, evidenced by the present situation only a little over 24 hours since Little Ness was birthed here at our sanctuary.
I am experiencing a sense of joy like I’ve never experienced before. Think it not strange that it’s on the cusp of me getting triggered, repeatedly by interactions with the inlaws, who moved in on November 1st. A few days ago, I was ready to move my horse camper to the back of the property and set up my own sanctuary there for a while! As I processed the situation(s) that led up to my “I’ll fight, because there is no way I’m running any more” attitude and began to put into perspective what it was that triggered me into survivor mode, it was obvious the roots were lies I’ve believed about myself, mostly from childhood and past painful situations, like betrayal, abandonment, and rejection. I’m connected to Flicka like I am to so many of the guests (as we prefer to call those we serve) here at the Shematz Sanctuary. It’s because I can relate to what she’s been through, something each guest inevitably experiences with one or more of the animals here, most of whom are special needs. They relate to the animals overcomer stories and build relationships on trust, something that organically grows between one another. This experiential approach has a more expedient, positive outcome than any other mode of therapy or counseling I’ve experienced.
Equine and Animal Assisted Therapy was and still is a big part of my healing journey. I still can hardly believe I’m sitting here, living the life I am now. It is so incredibly, exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond what I ever asked for or imagined. God has turned what was meant for evil around for His good in countless ways and will be faithful to do so in the future. The ongoing miracle has been how during those painful times that God has healed my heart, mostly in layers … layers like an onion and when I couldn’t stand the pain anymore and was willing to allow Him to examine my heart to remove lies embedded in my identity, it was often painful, but a pain that I began to trust over time, as it resulted in deeper healing, which means less triggers and the accompanying damage control we’re obligated to implement when we realize we’ve wounded someone else. After all, God did give us the ministry of reconciliation. It’s evidence of maturity in Christ. The thing that interferes with reconciliation is pr’I’de. The opposite of it is humility. If we are willing to make humble pie a regular part of our diets, we’ll live the abundant life God promises to Christ’s followers. Peace that surpasses understanding in any situation and exceeding joy, restful contentment, and fulfilling the great commission while living a life that is beyond what you ever thought possible … is possible when we surrender all and are willing to embrace the journey of knowing Christ and making Him known.
Wanna know a secret petition to God that I had? I wanted a cow and a baby calf to add to our farm. I mentioned it to Steve, my husband of over 14 years a few times. It was a fantasy idea that God brought to pass. He continues to blow me away with His goodness and kindness. He’s truly a Dad that wants to pour blessings out to His children. He only wants what’s best and He knows what’s best because He created us. The crazy thing also, is that we are created in His image! How cool is that? Selah (Stop and think about that).
Like Little Ness is created in Flicka’s image. Even though Flicka has been through, literally only God knows, what happened out there in the field or woods, we know she’s really resilient. Against all odds, she made it out and is in a position now where she and her calf can be cared for. Whether or not she will receive the love and resources available to her, only time will tell. Having never had biological children, this is closest thing I’ve done to raising an infant. Building trust with a feral, brangus heifer will require complete reliance on my higher power for positive outcome and basic common sense. I’m embracing the journey and hope you will too as well. Whatever it is that it’s time to face, versus run away from, or freeze, (where we risk becoming stagnant) embrace the journey. Ask God to help you and you’ll see, sooner rather than later. I’m praying you do so and enter into a holistically abundant life, where your desires and secret petitions manifest.
In the meantime, I will continue to post pics of Little Ness, Flicka, Fanci (5 mos. old miniature horse foal), the other 6 horses, chickens, gardens, and hills of central Florida in the day to day to day operations of Beauty From Ashes™ Ministries on my Instagram account. If you’d like to smile and be encouraged daily, with a TON of CUTENESS, check out my Story!
Know that you are loved, valued, have purpose, and nothing you’ve done can stop you from fulfilling God’s destiny for you, when you’re willing to trust and obey. Obedience as content will likely be another blog. Again, thanks for taking the time to read my blog and God bless.
P.S. I apologize that Ness was born on 11/29/17 and the blog wasn’t posted until 12/4/17. I’ve not touched it in days, but struggle with perfectionism … thinking I shouldn’t post it until it’s nearly perfect … which I’m beginning to belief that unless you have a lot of spare time and/or an assistant or editor, that it’s going to be impossible for me to blog regularly if it takes me 5 days post something, because I’m afraid of posting something that has errors in it. Crazy thing is, even though my faithful husband has been editing my writing since before we married over 14 years ago, it’s rare I don’t discover an error (usually many) after it feels like we’ve checked it countless times. Here’s a deal, for those of you reading that care … message me your suggested edit or letting me know my grammar needs corrected, PLEASE? The blogs may be ongoing developmental pieces and I’m going to try really hard to post more often! Please pray I NOT develop OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) checking it after it goes live, in the name of Jesus’. Again, thanks for joining me in embracing the journey.