NOT 20 FEET DOWN THE DIRT DRIVE, THE BRONC-RIDING CALCUTTA OF ALL CALCUTTAS COMMENCED; HOWEVER, I HAD PAID NO ENTRY FEE, THERE WAS NO PURSE AND HAD NO CONTENDERS... OR SPECTATORS, FOR THAT MATTER. MY CLOTHING SHOWED NO REGARDS FOR A SPONSOR AND FOR SOME REASON I HAD ELECTED TO OVERRIDE THE CRASH HELMET, KEVLAR VEST AND MOUTH GUARD. IT WAS "PENDELTON IN THE 20's", BABY! A SUDDEN-DEATH-RIDE-OFF, WITH ME, MYSELF AND I. THE STOCK WAS DRAWN, NOT CHUTE RUN...AND I HAD NO RIDER TO PLUCK ME OFF THE LEATHERS... THE CLOCK WAS RUNNIN' AND WE WERE OFF!
I HAVE BEEN ON SOME SORRY S.O.B.'S IN MY LIFE, BUT THIS ONE INSTANTLY TOOK THE PRIZE...AND SO BIZARRELY (is that a word?) DIFFERENT THAN THE REST. IT DIDN'T CROSS MY MIND TO BE CONCERNED WITH MY FORM, AS HE COMMENCED TO TRY TO RID ME FROM SITTING ON HIS SPINE. I'D LIKE TO THINK I ABIDED BY THE 8 SECOND LIMITATION AND MY HANDS CERTAINLY DIDN'T COME IN CONTACT WITH HIS MANE OR NECK, BUT THAT DIDN'T SEEM TO MATTER TODAY. IF IT WERE UP TO ME TO DETERMINE THE SCORE, IT WOULD BE IN THE 90's, NO DOUBT!
SPECTACULAR AND EFFECTIVE BUCKING WAS DISPLAYED IN THOSE SHORT MOMENTS OF "RAG-DOLLING" AND BEFORE I COULD NAME A WELL KNOWN WOMAN BRONC RIDER (or my name for that matter...), I FELT THE ROAD INTERCEPT MY SACRUM AND THEN, MOST INSTANTANEOUSLY, MY HEAD WHIP LASHED BACK TO CATCH THE OTHER PART OF THE ROAD, SLAMMING MY TEETH TOGETHER LIKE A PRISON CELL - SOUND AND ALL! I DO REMEMBER SEEING HIS SHOES FLASHING IN THE SUN AND A GLIMPSE OF THE CINCH UNDER HIS BELLY, AS HE LIT OUT BUCKING AND SNORTING ACROSS THE PLOWED FIELD THAT WOULD HAVE PROVIDED A SOFTER LANDING, ONLY INCHES FROM WHERE I LAY.
INTENSE PAIN RIVETED FROM THE BACK OF MY HEAD TO MY JAW AND DOWN TO MY PELVIS. IF NOTHING WAS BROKEN, IT WOULD BE A PERFECT MIRACLE FROM GOD. I LAY THERE FOR A SPLIT SECOND, GATHERED MY WHEREABOUTS AND GOT TO MY KNEES WHERE I WAS ABLE TO STAND OK. I THOUGHT TO MYSELF, "IF I HAD BROKEN MY PELVIS, I WOULD BE IN MORE PAIN THAN THIS....RIGHT?" EVERYTHING WAS JARRED AND OUT OF ALIGNMENT. BIG BOY WAS DOWN AT THE FURTHEST CORNER OF THE PLOWED FIELD, BROKEN REINS, DISHEVELED SADDLE, WIDE-EYED AND NOSTRILS IN FULL FLAIR. I HOBBLED THROUGH THE DEEP DIRT TO WHERE HE WAS, STOPPING A HANDFUL OF TIMES TO CATCH MY BREATH AND HOLD THE BACK OF MY HEAD. NO BLOOD...THAT WAS A GOOD SIGN, I THOUGHT. NO GOOSE-EGG THOUGH...THAT WASN'T A GOOD SIGN...WAS THE SWELLING GOING INWARD?
AS I MADE IT CLOSER TO WHERE HE STOOD. WE WERE BOTH IN SORT OF AMAZEMENT AS TO WHAT HAD JUST TAKEN PLACE. I TRIED TO CALM HIM WITH MY WORDS, AS HE SNORTED AND THREW HIS EARS BACK. I GOT HOLD OF THE BROKEN REINS AND LEAD HIM BACK TO THE PEN. HE DIDN'T RESIST.
AS I REPAIRED THE REINS, I DECIDED TO CALL TOMMY AND SELL HIM BACK THAT DAY. I QUIETLY ADMITTED THAT I WAS JUST TO DAMN OLD FOR THIS RODEO STUFF...TOMMY'S PROFESSIONALISM AND INTEGRITY TO STAND BY HIS WORD WAS PROVEN THAT DAY AND WITHIN A COUPLE OF HOURS, BIG BOY WAS SOLD BACK INTO THE LIFE OF A WORKING COW HORSE. I CAN'T HELP BUT THINK THAT HE IS NOW WISHING THAT HE WAS BACK AT "THE LOVE FARM", WHERE HE WAS TOTALLY PAMPERED AND LOVED ON.
WITH ANYTHING, ESPECIALLY HORSES, YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT EACH DAY WILL BRING. GOD PERFORMED A MIRACLE THAT DAY AND WITHIN THE NEXT 2 WEEKS, THE PAIN FADED AND MY GAIT WAS BACK TO NORMAL. THE X-RAYS, 2 DAYS LATER, SHOWED NO SHIFTING OR BREAKAGE OF MY SACRUM, AND AFTER 10 DAYS, MY SEVERE CONCUSSION WAS NO LONGER MAKING ME SUFFER. I HUMBLY THANKED MY JESUS FOR MY MIRACLE AND RECOVERY.
BY THE FOLLOWING MONDAY, JUST AS I WAS STARTING TO FEEL WHOLE AGAIN...I CONTRACTED ACUTE INFECTIOUS BRONCHITIS....AND I CAN TELL YOU THE DAY AND THE PRECISE HOUR OF THIS INVASION........ ONE OF THE CONS TO WORKING IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM, I GUESS! NO MORE LICKING MY FINGERS TO COUNT HOMEWORK PAGES...I'M BREAKING OUT THE FINGER CONDOM, LIKE THEY USE IN THE POSTAL SYSTEM...
I DID NOT RETURN TO SCHOOL THE REST OF THAT ENTIRE WEEK - THANKS, IN PART, TO A BAD WEATHER DAY ON FRIDAY. SO, IT WAS BACK TO THE BED FOR 5 MORE DAYS! SLOWLY, AFTER A SHOT AND A RIGOROUS ROUND OF WIDE-SPECTRUM ANTIBIOTICS, ON THE 5TH DAY, I WAS SORT OF BACK AMONG THE LIVING. ALTHOUGH ON DAY 3 AND 4, WE HAD A POWER FAILURE...AN ICE STORM HAD REAKED HAVOC ACROSS NORTH TEXAS ENCASING ANYTHING EXPOSED IN A HALF INCH OF ICE. THANKS TO THE BLESSING OF OUR WOODBURNING STOVE, LAYRES OF CLOTHING AND DOWN COMFORTERS, WE MADE IT THROUGH. THE COWS WERE DRIPPING ICICLES AND EVEN AFTER CUBING THEM TWICE A DAY THEY SEEMED TO CRY AT THE FENCE FOR SOMETHING MORE. HOPEFULLY THIS ADVERSITY WILL ALSO RUN ITS COURSE AND WE WILL AGAIN BE VERY THANKFUL TO GOD FOR HIS GRACE AND MERCY TO GET US THROUGH.
THE POWER WAS RESTORED AFTER THE 2ND DAY AND GOD WAS GLORIFIED AS I HEATED MY CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP IN THE MICROWAVE.
DURING THE POWER OUTAGE...I DECIDED THAT JUST LYING IN BED HAD ALREADY GOTTEN OLD LAST WEEK...I DIDN'T FEEL LIKE MAKING JEWELRY, OR GRADING THE SACHEL OF PAPERS THAT NEEDED MY ATTENTION FROM BEING OUT FOR A FULL WEEK. AS I WAS CUPPING MY HANDS AROUND THE RADIATING HEAT OF THE WOODSTOVE, GOD WAS ABLE TO USE THAT ADVERSITY TO GUIDE ME TO AN AMAZING BOOK BY CHARLES STANLEY CALLED, HOW TO HANDLE ADVERSITY. A GOOD FRIEND HAD LOANED IT TO ME, MONTHS PREVIOUS, AND WITHOUT DECENT TIME TO READ, IN THIS CRAZY LIFE OF MINE, I HAD PLANNED TO GIVE IT BACK TO HER SO THAT SHE COULD PASS IT ON TO SOMEONE ELSE. I HAD EVEN HAD IT IN THE CAR FOR SEVERAL DAYS, READY TO DROP OFF AT HER HOME AT THE NEXT AVAILABLE TRIP. AS I GLANCED TO THE TABLE, THERE IT LAY...IT WAS A SIGN. LOUD AND CLEAR. "WHY DON'T YOU READ?" THE VOICE WAS ALMOST AUDIBLE. I BURIED BENEATH THE 4 BLANKETS ON MY BED, READJUSTED THE CAT THAT HAD BEEN SLEEPING THERE FOR HOURS - HOW DO THEY DO THAT, ANYWAY??? AND CRACKED THE COVER OPEN. WITHIN THE FIRST FEW, EASY TO READ AND DIGEST, CHAPTERS, A NEW LIGHT, A NEW RENEWING AND A NEW OUTLOOK FILLED MY SPIRIT. IT WAS GOD. HE WAS THERE. NO DOUBT. THE TWO THINGS THAT REALLY STOOD OUT FOR ME SO FAR IN THIS BOOK ARE:
first...Adversity is God's most effective tool for deepening one's faith and commitment to Him. The areas in which you are experiencing the most adversity are the areas in which God is at work. Once that is understood and identified on your spiritual level, then God can continue to bless you with the peace, comfort, strength and conversely, the joy of what ONLY HE can provide.
secondly....The best way to identify God's involvement in your life is to consider your "response" to adversity. God uses adversity...period. And as Charles Stanley, so clearly states it, your response to adversity determines whether or not God is able to use it to accomplish His purpose. Further, adversity can even have a part in the destruction of your faith. If you don't respond correctly, adversity can put you into a spiritual "tailspin", as he puts it, from which you may never recover. It all hinges on your response.
So, as the title of my posting for today asks, What is your response to adversity in your life?
If this is nothing more than being therapeutic for me to express myself through this blog, so be it. However, I pray that someone out there finds this to be uplifting, encouraging and a totally new view on what you're going through right now. Prayer is real. God is real. Adversity is real. We make choices with every breath we take...I pray that your choices are those that God can use to accomplish His purpose for your life.
I wonder what blessings the other 11 chapters hold.....