Wednesday, September 8, 2010


When I climbed into the saddle for the first time in over forty years at Deer Valley Ranch a few weeks ago, I felt confident and secure. Until the wrangler who sounded like his voice had barely finished changing told me what I was doing wrong. “Don’t let Buttons eat. She’s supposed to be working. If she tries that again, jerk her reins straight up, to make her uncomfortable.” I failed to tell him it was too late—while he was saddling the other fourteen riders, Buttons had stripped half the hillside of grass.

During the hour-long ride, another wrangler barely out of diapers used me as an example of what not to do. “Buttons is thrashing her head around because she’s agitated. You need to pull the reins back toward your belly, not straight up into the air.”

I whined, “But the other boy, I mean man, told me to jerk it up, so she wouldn’t keep eating!”

“Yes, she likes to eat. But you need to show her you’re in charge, or she’ll take advantage of you.”

Now I was as confused as a pogo stick at a triathlon. Jerk the reins up to keep your horse from eating; jerk the reins back to keep your horse from getting agitated. I wanted to jerk the person who gave this hungry, ornery horse to wimpy me.

I never did excel at discipline. One day I let my kids eat Lucky Charms, skip their baths, and stay up ‘til ten. The next day I’m yelling, “We eat too much junk around here; Have this carrot stick and like it. Is that dirt I see behind your ears? Baths twice a day from now on. You have dark circles under your eyes; bedtime is now 7 p.m. until you go to college!” My Who’s in Charge Meter kept changing its mind. I couldn’t seem to strike a decent balance between allowing the kids to be kids and setting healthy boundaries. Riding Buttons was a thorny reminder of my inability to take charge without being a dictator.

Although the stinging sensation in my eyes threatened to turn to tears, I joked that riding Buttons was like trying to get a two-year old to co-operate. Everyone laughed, and I snuffled the tears away. Then later that evening on my way back to the cabin, the Lord surprised me with a prickly thought.

“You think Buttons was hard to manage today, Jeanette? She reminds me of you. Always champing at the bit to eat when I need you to work, trying to lead Me rather than following. Yet I continue to be patient with you, gently guiding you with My spirit. I will never give up on you, My child.”

Wow. No wonder He’s God and I’m not. While I’m ready to pitch a plan, a project, or even a person because I’m impatient with things not going the right way—which usually means MY way—the Lord is barely tapping into His storehouse of longsuffering.

Just like me with Buttons, He needs to jerk the reins repeatedly to keep me focused on His purpose for me. The major difference is, He doesn’t get discouraged after 100 jerks. He doesn’t cry in frustration when I won’t listen to Him. His mercies are new every morning, and His love never fails. His investment in me is eternal. So, He’s willing to wait until I finally “get it,” and obey His lead.

I’m not there yet. I still need more jerks on my reins than I’d like. You, too?

But let’s not get discouraged that we aren’t learning as quickly as we’d like. Instead, let’s rejoice that God never gives up on us. And let’s pray that we’ll learn to obey better than Buttons.


  1. He's had to jerk me back from running forward down my own paths ready to implement my plans!

    Forget the horse! I'm often more like a mule! LOL!

    Your post was just the message I needed this morning. I'm going to try harder to be obedient to the tug of the reins and enjoy the "trail ride" He has in store for me.

  2. Oh, I agree with Donna. I'm more of a mule in many areas of life. God has to do a lot of jerking to keep me in line. ;)

  3. Wow! That was an incredible story, Jen! I can't wait to hold a book of yours in my hands and read more like that! Seriously! I'm praying your agent is making some good progress for you!

  4. Oh wow, can I be buttons when I want to be.

    Is it wrong that I think it would have been kind of fun to see you take charge of that horse? :D

    ~ Wendy

  5. GIRL, this is gonna be in a devo soon.

    AMAZING writing.

    Love the wrangler barely in diapers.

    Your stuff just keeps getting better and better. And not just b/c you're my firend.

  6. Thanks for sharing this! Love the analogy. Some days I think maybe my middle name is Buttons. :P

    Love the pictures. Oh, and that final one is wonderful; that background suits you!


  7. Amen!
    Letting go and just falling into trusting can be so hard.
    Why do we resist His love and guidance? Lovely post.

  8. I thought my middle name was "Kay." Now I know it's not. Rats.

    Love that last picture of you, girl. Seriously.

  9. Oh Jen, I've got a permanent case of whiplash from all the jerks I get. Great post!

  10. Wonderful pictures!

  11. What a great story/analogy, and so, so true! I take encouragement from those words: "His mercies are new every morning." I get to start fresh each day, always praying that this time I'll do better at following His directions.

    Blessings to you!

  12. Hahaaa! Here I was, grinning at your comparison of Buttons to a three year old (even a six year old would work!) and then you turn the whole thing around on ME. As if I would do that to God.


    Yeah. LOL Great post Jeanette! Here's hoping I'll have a softer mouth to feel that bit.

    Wonderful pic, btw. :-)

  13. Jeanette, ummm...Buttons here. I hate to think how often God jerks the reins outta' my hands. Loved your picture and cowboy hat! :)

  14. Me too, Jen, me too. Sigh.


  15. You are so right. On both the funny parts and the serious ones. I agree with you that I am not as consistent as I want to be. I also agree that I have to let God do the directing and have patience with others. Don't you hate it when people make exanples out of you in front of the whole group, though?

  16. Oh I loved this post! It really shows your writing style. And you wrote it for me! How sweet:))

  17. Jen:
    This is so true of my relationship with God. I want to do things when I want to-not when I am supposed to.
    Sometimes, I want to be the one calling the shots. And then, something happens. Something I can't control. Then I have to say something like-"God, I can't handle it. Here it is."

  18. What a great analogy this is. Yep, were an unruly bunch just like old Button. Let me tell ya'll I probably have whip lash! Heeehehhe!

    I'm just so very thankful He care enough for us He yanks us back on the trail.

    God bless ya and enjoy your day!!!

  19. I can relate to your battle with Buttons. I am stubborn as well--and we do have some Lucky Charms in the cabinet that I serve to the little ones for a special start to the day.

  20. What a great post, Jen! Love the analogy. I'm so much like Buttons, I can't stand it. I even had to laugh out loud when I read about your challenge to discipline. We must be cut out of the same cloth! Although your horse ride sounds like it was fraught with some difficult moments, I like the fact that you're still smiling in the picture you posted at the end of your entry. Also thankful that our great God still smiles over us in spite of our orneriness! Have a beautiful weekend basking in His blessings! :)

  21. Jen, whadda you want go & talk about me like that? Hmmm? :) I'm so glad God's God and not the other way around. What a mess the world would be! LOL

    Thanks for a fun (& pertinent post).


  22. I think I rode Button's sister the other weekend! After not riding for years, I took a lesson, but was embarassed to find that I couldn't stop the horse from eating - grass, leaves pulled from the plants in the corn field we passed - and we even had to turn around and go a different way when it came to the alfalfa field! :)

    What a great lesson to learn from the experience!


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