MAGNOLIA'S PERFECT BIRTHDAY
(Trussville, AL USA)
"Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; Your judgments are like a great deep. O LORD, You preserve man and beast." (Psalm 36:6)
This nice warm story, written by my church friend, Jan Bradley for her granddaughter, portrays a young lady, whose love for horses got her the one birthday wish of a lifetime, her horse "Cider". There had always been horses on her father’s ranch, but Magnolia wanted one for her very own, one that was only hers. As you read about the family's misfortune, do not anticipate the story ending, as it may fool you. A good earthly story with a heavenly meaning.
Magnolia had long, black hair and dark brown eyes, and stood tall for her age. She lived in Colorado and loved all animals, but horses in particular. She just couldn’t get enough of horses. When she came home from school each day, she would go to the barn or field where the horses were, just to be near them. Her father had taught her how to clean out the horses’ hooves, how to brush their coats till they shone and how to feed them and keep their stalls clean. She was there when the veterinarians came to give the horses their inoculations or to treat them when they fell sick. She and her father rode almost every day, to keep the horses exercised and to train them.
She drew horses, had pictures of horses on the walls in her room and dreamed about horses. But the one thing she wanted more than anything was a horse of her own. Each birthday, she begged her father for a horse just for her, but each year he said, “Maybe later.” Magnolia had even prayed for a horse, but it seemed her Heavenly Father was also saying, “Maybe later.” This went on for several years.
Then one year, as her birthday approached, when she got home from school one afternoon, her father met her in the barn, wearing a big smile on his face. He said, “Take a look in that stall over there.” She looked in the stall he was pointing at, and saw a beautiful young mare, light brown, almost blonde in color, with a long dark brown mane and tail, and soft brown eyes. She gasped and rubbed her eyes, and said, “Oh, Dad! She’s beautiful!” He replied, “I hope you like her, because she is your birthday present.”
Magnolia slowly entered the stall, being careful not to startle the mare, and put out her hands for the horse to sniff. The mare drew in long breaths, as if wanting to get to know Magnolia. Sighing with delight, Magnolia began petting her horse, scratching behind her ears and admiring her lovely color. Her father said, “You’ll have to come up with a name for her.” Magnolia replied, “I know what her name will be. I will call her Cider, since she’s about the color of cider and I do love apple cider.” She added, “Thank you, Dad!” She also silently thanked God for the answer to her prayer.
Then began a time of supreme happiness for Magnolia. All her spare time was spent caring for Cider, training her and riding her over all the land that was part of their ranch. And Cider loved Magnolia back, and looked for her to come home from school each day so they could spend time together. Cider learned to trust Magnolia, and Magnolia trusted Cider as well. Magnolia made sure that the places she rode Cider were free of holes that would hurt a horse’s legs if stepped in. She kept Cider’s water trough filled with fresh water and her feed bucket full of the best oats. She cleaned out Cider’s hooves and brushed her coat, mane and tail. She thanked God every day for her beautiful horse. Cider never tried to buck Magnolia off or kick her, and stood patiently while Magnolia brushed her and cared for her. Magnolia loved Cider and Cider loved Magnolia.
One evening a storm came up over the mountains, with a bit of rain but mostly lightning and thunder. Magnolia was at the kitchen table working on her homework. Her father was on the front porch watching the storm. Suddenly a bolt of lightning struck the barn and set it on fire. Magnolia’s father shouted, “Maggie, we’ve got to get the horses out!” He ran toward the barn. Magnolia jumped up from the table and ran out the door. As they ran, they were both praying for God to help them rescue the horses.
Magnolia’s father shouted over the roar of the thunder and the flames, “I can get the rest of the horses out, if you can get Cider!” Magnolia nodded and they ran together into the barn. She hurried to Cider’s stall. The horses were terrified and screamed and reared in their stalls. Cider was so afraid of the sight of the flames and the smell of smoke that she kept backing away from Magnolia and would not let her catch her halter. Magnolia grabbed a lead rope from a hook on the wall and tried to speak soothingly to Cider, but the terrified horse could not listen. Thinking quickly, Magnolia took off her jacket and threw it over Cider’s head, blocking out the sight of the flames. This enabled her to get close enough to use the sleeves to tie it around Cider’s head, covering her eyes. Cider quieted almost immediately, and allowed Magnolia to clip the lead rope to her halter. Hurriedly Magnolia led Cider outside and away from the burning barn. Her father had brought the other horses out and they stood together and watched the barn burn. Magnolia put her arms around Cider’s neck and hugged her. She spoke soothingly to her horse and took the jacket off Cider’s head.
Suddenly there was a sound of sirens, and two fire engines pulled into the yard, with firemen jumping off the sides. They ran water hoses and began to spray the barn down. Eventually the fire was put out, the firemen left and Magnolia and her father put the horses in the corral, away from the burned barn and went inside to bed. They both thanked God for helping them get their horses out safely, and for keeping them from harm as they did so.
In the following days, her father rebuilt the barn, with the help of friends and neighbors, restocking it with hay and feed and equipment. Magnolia rode and trained Cider and the other horses, and continually thanked God for sparing them from the fire. She had learned that God hears and answers her prayers, because He loves her. Magnolia was a happy girl.