Joni Eareckson Tada is the founder of joni&friends.
A recent Daily Devotional—Hand-Tailored Hardships—
has been so helpful to me.
I’m sharing it here hoping it will
prove insightful for you, too.
God’s grace is the only thing that’s getting us through this!
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A friend of mine would say, “Leslie, you can’t make stuff like this up.” She’d be right! What you’re about to read is my firsthand account. Good thing ALS hasn’t messed with my memory!
When was the last time . . . you encountered two hefty male iguanas? My first and hopefully last time was 1976 in the central plains of Colombia (Llanos Orientales), South America. Keep in mind . . . my idyllic childhood took place within the backdrop of the small southern California town of Sierra Madre where the only reptiles we observed were small lizards.
You might be wondering what I was doing in Colombia? During the early 1970s while employed by a lucrative feed and grain brokerage firm in southern California, I began sensing God nudging me to volunteer in Colombia as a short-term assistant (STA) with Wycliffe Bible Translators. My home church in Sierra Madre had an engaging program for young people who wanted to experience missions work abroad. My accuracy and speed in typing could be of value to linguists who develop reading primers while translating the Bible into languages of indigenous people.
After submitting my resignation to my employer, I boarded a jet at LAX in September 1975 for what would become a yearlong, life-changing adventure in Lomalinda, Colombia. There were many “firsts,” but what I’m about to share ranks right up there with one of the most harrowing incidents of my entire life!
On a picturesque afternoon under the canopy of a brilliant blue sky accentuated by unforgettable puffy, white clouds, I was walking alone to my resident house through an open field along a well-worn trail. Minding my own business—probably in thought about the remainder of the afternoon and evening—I was perplexed to sense the damp clay soil beneath my feet begin to vibrate. Simultaneously, coming from behind me, there was a bizarre sound resembling the deep rumble of a locomotive. I stopped in the path and with much trepidation, slowly turned around. To my utter horror, not one, but two very large iguanas—at least three feet in length—were barreling down the same path at full speed—aimed straight at me! It happened so suddenly, there was no time to process what was unfolding. Not enough time to think, to run, to scream . . . and no one except God could have heard me scream anyway. So I just stood there—frozen—no doubt with the expression of outright panic on my face.
Just when the massive creatures were within a mere 18 inches of my feet, without slowing their pace they made an abrupt turn to their right and headed into the adjacent brush. What ensued was hair-raising snarling, growling, and snapping of jaws unlike anything I’d ever witnessed! Two male iguanas viciously fighting—apparently over the right to mate with a certain female. Horrific. She must have been a real piece of work!
Perhaps one day I’ll learn whether there were angels—commissioned by God but invisible to me—to fend off those enormous iguanas. In the meantime, what is certain . . . I’m still alive 44 years later to share the vivid memory with you!
It’s easy to forget or downplay my reasons to be thankful—even more so when I’m not firing on all cylinders. So here’s my short list to help remind me of God’s countless, undeserved perks.
crops to sustain
food for dogs
food for hens
GOD Who loves me
home health service
hot water heater
new car tires
property taxes paid
. . . compiled from information on the internet
Unlike the name suggests, horse blinders, also known as blinkers or winkers, do not blind horses. Horse blinders are firm leather squares or plastic cups that attach to a horse’s bridle or hood and prevent a horse from seeing behind and beside him. Horses that pull wagons and carriages wear blinkers to prevent them from becoming distracted or panicked by what they see behind or beside the wagon.
Horses have peripheral vision. A horse’s eyes are located on the sides of his head, allowing him to see a panoramic view of the world. In fact, horses can see a nearly full circle around themselves except for a small blind spot in front of their noses and behind their tails. Blinders cover the rear and side vision of the horse, forcing him to focus only in a forward direction. The reduction in vision for horses wearing blinders is significant and can reduce a horse’s vision from >180 degrees to as little as 30 degrees, depending on the size and depth of the blinders.
What does trust look like? Consider again my first bloodhound, Agatha. The girl with such potential began her life in Las Vegas. She and her mother were picked up together as strays and impounded. When they were scheduled to be euthanized, someone from Nevada SPCA rescued both girls and brought them to their no-kill shelter. Soon after, Agatha’s mother was adopted; but Agatha remained at the SPCA for seven long months.
Agatha was transferred to Bloodhounds West in Laguna Beach, California—that’s where we found her in 2001. We weren’t aware of her deep-rooted insecurities and the challenges we’d face. Agatha didn’t know me and vice versa. She had been through tough situations that resulted in her “shutting down” emotionally. It soon became clear that many new experiences and unfamiliar sounds terrified her. So we began learning that while having me by her side, she could begin to realize the frightening things weren’t too scary and she could get a bit more brave each day. It was a golden opportunity to prove myself trustworthy so Agatha could learn to trust me. A process that cannot be rushed. It takes dedication and time.
One by one, we tackled her fear of—
Bottom drawers, including file cabinet drawers
Noisy, stinky trash trucks
Our family lived right across the street from Sierra Madre Memorial Park . . . home of:
1905 World War I Howitzer Cannon
Annual Easter Egg Hunt
Horseshoe pit for retired men—I never saw women pitching horseshoes!
“Park House” for social and civic events
Playground for children
Santa arriving every Christmas Eve via fire engine—
sirens blaring and red lights flashing
Summer evening concerts for the whole family
and my personal favorite . . . TOY LOAN
Let me take you back with me . . .
Nestled near the playground was a small “house” painted pink. Whether the modest building was constructed as the home of Toy Loan or previously existed to later be converted to Toy Loan is unknown to me. Per Sierra Madre Historical Timeline—
January 20, 1949:
Sierra Madre Civic Club begins Toy Loan program
What an amazing idea! Many details have faded from my memory, but here’s what stuck:
- Hosted by community women volunteers
- Open weekly—limited days and hours
- Participation restricted to Sierra Madre residents
- Minimum and maximum age limits
- Requisite respect for all borrowed toys
- Card file system utilized to record child’s name and toys on loan—including date borrowed and date due back.
So many cool toys for girls and boys! An efficient tracking system enabled the volunteer women to verify toys were returned on time in good condition with “stars” affixed to the cards as rewards. When enough stars were earned . . . DRUMROLL . . . the child was invited to choose a brand new toy from the top shelf—to keep. Such incentive!