Running and running through a daze of appointments, reports, and schedules, fraught with effort to reach above the never ending rise of “to do’s” . The garden needs attention, the horses need attention, the volunteers need direction, the kids need to be served, the pasture is once again overrun with the evil burdock, the newsletter is late, the state reporting is due, our apples need pressing (if I could just figure out how to put the press together…) and I just heard about this incredible NEW opportunity that I really, really should look into, the sink is full of dishes and yes, If anyone cares to judge, this IS the third day in a row that I’ve worn these jeans and the clean-ish state that they are in will not suffice for tomorrow. I live in a special place, a place where respite is not hard to find; the pastures, the river, the trees, and the animals. It is a beautiful place, but today this beloved ranch feels demanding and obnoxious. Struggling through the seemingly never-ending responsibilities, I sit with a state of mind that reeks of exhaustion, leaving my heart longing for a change. The calm that I would like to believe defines me has been replaced by a self-induced frantic pressure to perform, while balancing the spinning plates that wobble right above my head. Peace, even though it is right in front of me, won’t be found because I have allowed my heart and my mind to focus on what I can do and what I have left to finish. In forgetting His great love and steady hand of protection, I’ve lost sight of what He can do and what He has done. I’ve always been one to run into opportunities with blazing and sometimes blinded passion, ideas flooding through my mind producing more adrenalin and potency than the black coffee I enjoy. Addicted to the rush of good ideas becoming good programs, birthing more ideas, I thrive on forward motion, or at least I often think that I do. Yesterday, Angel, our buckskin Morgan mare, was showing her mood with sporadic ear pinning and head tossing. She was clearly not impressed with my idea to bring her up from her grassy frolicking pasture time for a bit of work. Not even half way through our stroll from the pasture to the barn, she stopped, and swung her head at me, grabbing me by the bicep with her open mouth, she bit down enough for contact but released me without any harm. I yelled out and backed her away with the end of my lead rope. We stood facing each other for a moment, both of us processing what had just happened. Angel lowered her head as if to say she was sorry. I just stared at her, feeling both shocked and furious. “What the heck was that about!?!” I yelled. She of course had no reply, but she did keep her big, now kind, eyes locked on mine and her softened demeanor made it impossible not to step in, forgive her and with the genuine love that I felt for her, I pressed my check against her neck and took in a deep breath. Horses are prey animals with a well-developed fight-or-flight response, but they can and do act like predators to defend their territory or herd. They create social hierarchies, which lead to a complex pecking order with the “herd boss” being at the top. Angel lives in the west pasture with two very mild mannered geldings. Up until last week a third very kind but dominant horse lived with them. Sampson was the best kind of herd boss, assertive but not aggressive. He was young and healthy so we were all shook when Sampson was found laying in the pasture, his eyes telling us a story we didn’t want to hear; he was not okay. 32 hours later I stood weeping over his grave, heart sick and grief-stricken. Officially, he was my husbands horse, but to me, he was always my guy, my heart horse. It hadn't occurred to me until after Angel’s meltdown, that she too had lost a friend and to add to her stress, she no longer had a dominant horse to oversee her and her little band of horses. In the aftermath of Sampson's passing, Angel was trying to figure out her new place in the herd and with me. Instead of trusting me to lead her, she needed me to prove that I was able to, she was looking for me to be confident and present, and I came to her both bothered and distracted. Like Angel, instead of trusting God, the one who is leading me, I have been flailing along pushing my way out from under His unfailing peace into the chaos of my own making. But, unlike me, God is the perfect leader, always present and always able. Father, in this moment I choose to trust You, to surrender my agenda and lean into Your love, resting calmly in the truth that Your plan for me never includes more than You have already prepared me for. Your perfect plan for me is to a simply and passionately act justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with you, my Father, my God, Amen!