Weaning and Learning To Be Content

With the arrival of autumn on our ranch, a new season begins in the lives of our foals who have spent the last few months learning at their mother’s sides how to navigate the basics of life…what to eat, where to get water, how to stay in fences, and about…

People.

I spend a lot of time with the mares and foals.  Sometimes if I am unable to go out and see how they are doing, I will get them to come to me.

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A foal, a few weeks old, stretching his legs

I love to call out “Horses!” and watch as they lift up their heads and look in my direction.  Their ears are perked forward as if trying to determine if they have heard me.  By the second call a few are start to walk, and by the third call they are whinnying to each other and coming towards me at an energetic pace.  The foals will trot alongside their mothers, caught up in the excitement.  When they reach the spot where I am, they see the oats that I have placed out for them to eat, and within a few minutes the air is filled with the sound of crunching:D

As I walk spend time with each mare, at first her foal will hide…usually on the opposite side that I am on.  When it becomes evident that I am not going to leave right away, some foals get a bit offended…

Who is this “thing” that dares to encroach upon “his” mother?

Haha:D

But as is almost always the case, his curiosity will overcome his fear and/or his disgust, and with time he learns to accept that having me around is a part of his life.

By the time the warmth of summer begins to fade, and the air takes on a crispness that announces the arrival of autumn the foals have grown and have become quite competent in tackling forays of their own.

It is not uncommon to see a group of 3 or 4 foals trotting to the other end of the fence with their tails lifted into the wind proudly proclaiming that they are going out…

Without their moms.

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The Explorers

The minutes tick by as they romp and play tag, investigate that blade of grass that looks so very different from the others, and walk along the fence line.  But, without fail, if they see something “scary” or when they remember they need a drink of milk, they will race back to their mothers…

For although they have begun to grow up, they are still connected to their mothers.

When the foals are around 5 months old, the day arrives for them to become truly independent from their mothers.

Weaning day begins by bringing one or two mares with their foals into our round pen, and then leading the mares out, but leaving the foals behind.

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Five month colt ready to be weaned

There is a lot of frantic whinnying that goes on as the foals circle the fence trying to reach their mothers.  As I lead the mothers to a different fence, some will trot along beside me and not make a sound, while others leave me wishing that I had hearing protection.

The foals continue to call out to their mothers throughout the first night.  By the next day, while they are still pacing the fence, they are not calling out quite so much.  By the second day, they will look up and call out in sporadic intervals.  By the third day, their anxiety level has calmed, and they are learning to be comfortable on their own.

They are weaned.

For a period of time in their lives they needed their mothers to feed, protect, and teach them the basics of learning to navigate life.  But as they grow, to continue to be tied to their mothers, becomes a hindrance.

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Foal watching as his mother leaves

In truth, when I hear the frantic whinnies of the foals and watch them circle the fence, I hurt for them.  They are confused and they don’t understand why their mothers are being taken away.  In their minds, this is a cruel, scary step.  Yet, this process is for their good and is necessary to move them forward to the next stage of their lives.

TRANSITIONS OF CHANGE

David uses the imagery of weaning in Psalm 131.  There it says,

My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.

As I read these verses, I am reminded that just as I wean the foals to help them move forward to their next stage of life, God uses the process of weaning to help me move forward in my relationship with Him.

The process of weaning – or the transition of change – often involves two parts:

  1. The Removal:  the taking away of something from my life that has been a constant…something that I have come to rely on, and which in many cases God has given for the purpose of moving me forward to a certain point in my life.
  2. Moving Forward: whether or not this includes new circumstances, it will include transitioning to the change of living life without that which has been removed.

The Removal

There may come a time, when the very gift that God has given to me, which He has used for my good to move me forward in my walk with Him…

Is removed or allowed to be removed.

By His hand.

When this happens in my life I am like the foals that cry out and run in circles when their mother leaves them.  I don’t understand why this is happening.  I panic…keep looking back…and try to figure out ways to get back that which has been removed and lost.  In my way of thinking it seems cruel that God would allow such a situation or circumstance to happen, and I question if He really knows what He is doing.  It can be hard to not become frustrated, discouraged and bitter in these times of removal.

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The process of removal is not comfortable

Moving Forward

When I think of moving forward I often think of Peter walking on the water.  He knew how to walk…he knew how to navigate on the water in the boat, but the time came when Jesus called to him to come, and the only way forward was to leave the boat behind and walk on the water.  I have found that moving forward without the familiar can be fearsome.  It can be hard to not keep looking back and trying to regain that which has been removed.

KEYS TO REMEMBER

God Knows What He is Doing

Although I may not understand why things are happening the way they are in my life, I have to remember some important truths…

God knows what He is doing, and He has promised that He will work it all together for my good (Romans 8:28).

Contentment Is Gained as I Learn to Trust in God

Like those foals that learn to be content with the transition of change that is going to bring them into the next phase of their lives, I too can learn…weaned-3

To calm down…

To quiet myself…

To be content…

Even when I don’t understand “why”.

This happens as I learn to trust in my Father who loves me.

My Trust in God Grows as I Discover the Depths of His Love For Me

The intensity of God’s love for me is like the thundering hooves of a multitude of horses, and yet as tender as a bird that protects her young under the cover of her wings, giving them refuge.

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His great love for me is higher than the highest heavens…

His steadfast love for me is unshakeable and unmoveable…

His surrounding love encompasses me as He holds me in the palm of His hand…

His zealous love is actively working all things for my good…

His tender love simply delights in gazing upon me as His child…

His compassionate love sees my helplessness as He hides me under the shelter of His wings and provides for every need…

His merciful love does not give me what I deserve, but instead forgives me when I wrong Him…

His gracious love teaches me that it is ok to be weak, because He is strong…

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His costly love gave all – His One and Only Son – so that I could have life…

His refining love removes the dross so that I will come forth as gold…

PUTTING IT TOGETHER

For myself, as I have discovered that the love of God is indeed better than life, I have found it easier to trust God…

Even when I don’t understand the “why” behind what is happening.

In His wisdom and through His Word, God reveals to me what I need to understand, but there is also a point at which I have to see that some things fall under the title “Realm of God”, and they are not for me to know.

And I need to trust in Him, His love, His goodness towards me and His promises for me.

As a result, when He removes those things from my life which…good things which up until this point He has been using to teach me and bless my life…when He moves me forward into new situations without that which I am familiar…

I can calm myself…quiet myself…

And be content…

As I trust…

In Him.

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I have calmed and quieted myself.  I have learned to be content, because my trust is in the One whose zealous love for me is continually working all things together for my good.  Therefore, I will not worry or fear when I don’t understand.  I won’t be discouraged or dismayed when faced with the unknown.  Instead, I will pour out my heart with all its fears, questions, pain, confusion and bitterness to the One who holds me in His hand…and trust Him… and follow where He leads me.