Smoke and Aaron – A Testimony

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I started this with the intention of sharing my horses story. Boy was I wrong. It ended up being about us, our journey and story together. It tells how God has worked in our life. I was hoping Smoke’s story would inspire or touch at least one person. Now I am hoping our story will inspire people to believe and not loose faith. I want to say thank you to my friend Rita for inspiring me to write this. I also wanted to thank a horse named Snickers and his friend Annie for sharing their story with the world. God has used these great horses the people from Western Days Ministries to inspire me to and serve God. I hope you enjoy, God Bless.

Twelve years ago this year a horse was born that would change my life forever, and I didn’t even know it. He was a grulla quarter horse named “Look of a Legend’ or “Schat” for short. I was sent a message through Facebook and knew my wife at the time would not turn down a free horse, especially one that was registered. So I decided to take on another “project horse” not really knowing anything about this horse.

On the three hour drive home I thought about what to name him. I decided on Smoke On The Water. “Smoke” for short. I got home about two in the morning and turned him out to pasture with the other horses. The next day I got Smoke out and realized I had my work cut out for me. Smoke was very high headed and very hot. He did try hitting me with his head when I was riding him, and he was mean and very pushy on the ground with no regards to anybody. He pushed me around and bit me many times. He had my whole arm in his mouth on several occasions. One night when I was feeding the horses, I was just about to open the gate to exit the feedlot, when I turned around and there was Smoke. He looked at me than my foot;. He did that about 3 or 4 times and than stepped on my foot and pushed me over. Smoke than looked at me than my chest and did that about 3 times. He than stepped on my chest and twisted his foot. I herd a loud crack and felt a lot of pain. I panicked, rolled out and came up swinging. I was in defensive mode. He finally backed away. I ended up with a cracked sternum.

After that I worked on building a bond with Smoke the rest of the winter. I did ask for Smoke’s forgiveness. It took me a lot of very frustrating rides on him to start to figure him out. He was always high headed and wanting to go. So, I let him go one day. We ran for about 3 or 4 milaaron-smoke-3es until Smoke slowed down. When Smoke was slowing down I could see a beautiful smile on his face. He was truly happy. I later found out Smoke was never allowed to go above a walk in “training” or at all in eight years. I just recently found out he was shown in western showman ship when he was 5 years old. The young lady that showed him was always kind to him and treated him right. It wasn’t until he was put into training the next 3 years when his story changed. Smoke was a very small 5 year old. He was put into 2 different trainers over the next two-and-a-half years. Where the owner spent thousands of dollars trying to make him into something he’s not. He was hit in the knees when he wouldn’t stand to be trimmed. He also has rope burn on his back right leg from being tied up to trim his feet. They tried to use the fear method and all it did was turn Smoke into a train wreck. That first year we overcame a lot!

I’m a firm believer in having an all around horse, just for the fact I cant afford a lot of horses. I needed Smoke to be able to work cattle and to be used for my son to ride as well. So he needed to learn how to neck rein. That was a task in its self. I taught Smoke two different kinds of neck reigning. Up high is for working and going fast and down low is to go slow and for kids riding him. I also had to teach Smoke how to move off of leg pressure. Once all of this was done it was time to learn how to rope. This didn’t go very well at all. I finally had enough one day and pulled my old cow horse Molly out (Who I retired the previous fall.) I could see smoke come into the feedlot to watch us, but he hung back. When I started to build a loop and roping he drew closer to the arena. I kept watching him out of the corner of my eye. He watched us closer and closer almost studying us. When I was done I looked at Smoke and he nodded his head and trotted off to the back pasture. I thanked Molly and turned her out. The very next day Smoke acted like he has been roped off of all of his life. I’ve never seen anything like it. By that fall we were roping and dragging pretty decent together.

I ended up getting a divorce and that spring we left my farm. The first day at the new place Smoke and I moved to, a big Percheron did a double leg kick at me. I didn’t have time to move but Smoke threw himself between us and took the full kick for me. Thankfully he didn’t get hurt and was just sore. We had to move 2 other times in the next two months. The last place I lived I boarded with a lady, she invited me to go to church. I was really scared and nervous to go. But I went. It was the first time I had ever been to a church and could relax. The people were great and I was able to really focus on the message. I started to look forward to going.

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Before we moved I had started using smoke for dragging bulls and barrel racing. Smoke loves working bulls almost more than anything in the world. The one thing Smoke loves more than working bulls is his kid, my son Ty.
Ty lived down south with his mom and I decided I wanted to be closer to him. I made the move to the Wayland area. Smoke does anything for Ty. I know it was hard for Ty and Smoke not seeing each other for 3 months until I moved to Wayland.

When I moved down here I didn’t have a place to live a job or a home for smoke. Because of this I only had one choice on where to keep him. The only good thing was that they had cattle there that we worked all the time.

A lot of things ended up happening in my personal life and I didn’t set foot at that ranch for a month. I had a friend groom him and love on him for me. I would sit on the side of the highway and just watch him. When I went and got him I parked across the street at a friends house and had another friend go and get him for me so I didn’t have to set foot on the property. When I met them in the road he had his head down and looked depressed. When I said his name with tears down my face he took a deep breath and wrapped his head around me. He walked a little taller with a pep in his step when he got in the trailer. I hauled him to where he is now.

We’ve had a lot of ups and downs together. While we were out riding one day that summer,  – they just laid gravel on the road – and a truck decided to floor-it when they passed us throwing gravel at us and almost knocking me off of Smoke. Smoke started backing away from it and almost ended up going in a ditch backwards. Luckily a van that was right behind us blocked the road until I could regain control of Smoke. The following week we were out riding again and the same truck did the same thing again except for going the other way. After that, I couldn’t ride Smoke on the road anymore with out him freaking out or getting really hot. We could be in the hay field 400 yards away from the road and he would freak out and act crazy when he looked over and saw that spot in the road.

There was a time in there that I couldn’t drive because of medical reasons. It was very hard for me to get to the farm to take care of him. Basically to feed him and that was it. I lost the bond that I had with him. I had a very hard time riding him because he was so hot. The only time he acted normal was with Ty. Ty could ride him anytime and he would be fine. I was at an all time low and told him the only reason I didn’t sell him was because of Ty.

Then came the day when everything was going wrong and I broke down crying on my knees and told Smoke that I hated him. I just sat there on my knees crying. Smoke stood there and then came up to me and wrapped his head around me. I just melted into Smoke and asked for his forgiveness. I stood up and said, “Lets do this a different way.” I told him we were going to put God first. Since then we have crossed a huge mountain. We have been road riding and can walk quietly past that one spot in the road. I ride with Ty and his pony and other horaaron-tyses. Then one evening I decided to see if I could crack a whip off of him. I was very nervous because all I had was are longe whip. I had to remind myself to put God first and it will be ok.

“The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”
PSALM 121:8

So I grabbed the whip and got on Smoke.

Through Christ all things are possible. When I doubted, God showed me He is the ultimate Horseman. Smoke pretty much just stood there.

We also did something I didn’t think we could do, but it was Gods will that we do it. This past summer we loaded my saddle bag full of Western Days flyers and road 8 miles one way to Wayland. We took Division all the way there. (Division is a major road that people treat more like a highway.) We rode through subdivisions and the park talking about Western Days. And for the first time in my life I found myself sharing God’s word by myself.

We rode through downtown Wayland to my churches office. We got caught in a thunderstorm at the stop light down town. The tall buildings echoed and the thunder and made the lightening sound a lot worse. When we were at the stop light a semi turned towards us and it made me feel like I was getting boxed in I couldn’t imagined how it made Smoke feel. But he handled it fine.
As I look back at it now, I realize it was God saying “Look I got this” just have faith. Since those days Smoke and I have had the privilege of dragging bulls and being a part of Western Days Ministries events in both Allegan and Adrian. My pastor has also done a video on us for church, using our testimony and sharing my story after I was baptized.

There are so many things I could keep writing but I will just say this. God is great, very forgiving and never quits on you, so don’t ever quit on him. As for Smoke and me? Our story has just begun, but with God riding next to us it will be a great ride.aaron-smoke-2

God bless
Aaron Mulka and Smoke

Remember Why

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In a couple of days we will celebrate the American Thanksgiving. Undoubtedly, many of us have been in the throws of preparation for days or even weeks now. I personally love Thanksgiving. I love that it is a time dedicated to showing and sharing gratitude. It challenges me to look even in the darker years at the many blessings we have been bestowed, and, so long as you are not living under a rock somewhere, it should not be that hard to see the graciousness of God in our lives. Especially if you live in America (which I presume most of us do.)

But, if we are not careful we can still fall prey to ungratefulness, even in a season dedicated to seeking and embracing it. You know what I mean; the budget is too tight to get the big Turkey. The lines are too long at the store. Work still has to be done on Thanksgiving day. Loved ones that have always been with us, won’t. I don’t think I need to mention the stress and tension the recent election has had on the relationships within both family and friends. The house is not clean enough, we burn the pies. We have to make extra trips to the store. The kids are fighting, the husband is napping (not mine of course *wink*) etc… The list goes on, and slowly, slowly we find our thankfulness being edged out by complaints and concerns and with it so goes our peace and our joy. We forget so easily, and so quickly we let the provisions of God slip our minds. I know I am so guilty of this.

Last night I was exhausted and as I looked at my to-do list, it only had two items checked-off for the day. Just two. I felt Defeat creeping in bringing his best friend Overwhelm along with him. I felt my throat tighten and I heard my words getting sharper. I knew if I didn’t do something and quick this night would go down in history like so many others, where this Mamma lost it and the kids would have one more sour memory to add to (their already too well deposited) memory banks. This is my struggle, and I often feel powerless to stop it. 

My typical course of action is escape. And sometimes a breather is good. If you need one take one. But, I have learned that it doesn’t solve the issue. This is a heart issue for me and as long as this organ beats in my chest it will follow me around, unless I deal with it. 

No, escape doesn’t work. 

Prayer? Yes. I toss one up in hopes He’ll catch it before the next sharp word leaves my mouth.  And what happens next? I look down and catch the disheartened eyes of my son. He knows where this night is going. 
And just like that, all of the reasons “why” come rushing back to me. 
Why I am working my fingers to the bone and still only accomplishing two things. Why Thanksgiving is so important to me – It’s not for me. It’s for God and it is for them. 

If we want to have a holiday season filled with thanksgiving, peace and joy, we must remember the WHY. And that “why” is why we have the holidays in the first place. 

God instituted Feasts for the nation of Israel to help them remember what He had done and where they had been as a nation. He also put them in place to help them remember his provision and to cultivate faith in the coming Redeemer. Of course the American Thanksgiving was not one of the original biblical feasts, but it is a feast of our culture and it is important that we remember the “why” and its purpose.

What is interesting as I read about the feasts of Israel, is that while many of the feasts included a sacrifice, the feast itself was part of the sacrifice. And if we recall, a sacrifice glorifies God only when the heart behind it is in the right spirit. 

So, as the day approaches, here is what I purpose to resolve, that when I feel my Joy begin to slip away, or when I begin to loose my peace and feel frustrated about things not going “according to my plan.” I hope to take a breath and remember why.
Why we make this sacrifice of time, resources and routinely comforts to honor and thank God who has so richly blessed us. 
I leave you with this:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
since as members of one body you were called to peace.
And be thankful.

Colossians 3:15 NIV

God Bless you. Have a wonderful time of Preparation. 

 

~Rita

 

One More Day

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“God,
Isn’t it your wish that none should perish* but all should come to know you and have eternal life?* Lord, if it be your will, allow us a little more time. We have so many to reach.“

This was part of my last prayer as I was driving to the polls on election day. Feeling the pressure, as we all were, and reflecting back on what could only be described as a taxing and yet miraculous year.

Those who know can correct me if I’m wrong — and perhaps it is that I am just now at a maturity level to be aware — but I have never heard of so much prayer going into an election as this one. From every corner of our Nation. From pulpits, on the Radio, on Social Media, as I talk to people in passing, it has been about prayer, and repentance, standing up for right and sharing the Cross of Christ and the free gift of Salvation. There have been whole movements like the Franklin Graham Crusade where thousands gathered at every state capitol across the Country to pray for our leaders and our leaders to come. There have been others as well. Like our own Western Days Ministries, who on a smaller scale are gathering the body and encouraging churches to walk out of their buildings to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their own communities. And they are doing it, or are refreshing their efforts to share, love and meet people wherever they are. People are gathering in homes, at fairgrounds, rodeos, concerts, on the streets and certainly in churches praying, calling, reaching for the hearts of our nation. I’ve heard calls to pray, to repent and calls on God’s mighty name to heal our land.*

And now we are witnessing a shift. We will have a new president. And people are so incredibly baffled as to how he came to be? Christians are baffled, Non-Christians are concerned. How could we elect such a man? Not only that, how could our Nation elect such a “conservative” House and Senate? How is it that half our Nation seems to be on one side of the line and the other half on the other? Who really knew we were so divided?

Do I have the answers to these questions? No. I don’t. But, this is what by the grace of God has been revealed to me.

We have one more day.

…and we must not waste it.

For those of you who think “we have won,” I urge to not to think so. No, we haven’t won. We have just elected a very flawed human being as our Nations Leader. What we have done is exposed just how much needs to be done.

For those of you who think “we lost.” I challenge you. This is your chance to rise above the rhetoric, to live out, and run full force into the battle before you. You are the hands and feet of Jesus. You are created for just such a time as this.*

God has given us one more day to bring in his harvest.* We can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines and just cheer our team on. You have been called onto the playing field.

“But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News
about Jesus wherever they went.”

Acts 8:4

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* 2 Peter 3:9[NIV]
* John 3:16 [NIV]
* 2Cronicles 7:14 [NIV]
* Esther 4:14[NIV]
* Matthew 9:37 [NIV]

~Rita