Leopard Appaloosa, Gelding | DOB: 2004 | ARRIVAL: 01/04/2021 | 15 Hands HANDS

Sitting down at my desk, I turned my full attention toward reviewing a new horse donation application.  My assistant, Deirdre, had already alerted me to the high potential of this prospect.  The horse seemed to be an exceptional fit in every way.

The gelding was a 16 year-old Pony of Americas (POA)/Quarter Horse.  His bright white coat was splashed with an even covering of red and black polka-dots—a color pattern known in the horse world as “leopard appaloosa.”  The horse’s health, temperament, and training all spoke volumes of his care and handling. 

On paper, he appeared to be a wonderfully gentle, beautiful and ridable horse.  If he were put on the horse market, there was no doubt he would’ve been quickly purchased for a high price. 

A wave of sorrow washed over my heart as I read the story of why he needed to find a new home. “Jody,” the woman who contacted us, clearly adored her precious horse.  The only reason she sought a new home for him was because of tremendous personal hardship.  Her husband of twenty-five years left her and her two daughters.  In the process, she lost her home.  Now, this hurting woman was left to relocate the remaining shattered fragments of her beloved family. 

Jody’s parents willingly agreed to take her cherished equine companions.  Shortly thereafter, her dad lost his job and—like his daughter—was losing his home.  The horses had no place to stay.  Jody’s only option was to find a new location for each of her chosen equines. 

By the time she contacted us, all but one of her horses had found a home.  Without the ability to pay for board, but unwilling to sell her highly prized four-footed friend, Jody sought another option.

Humbly, she offered to gift her horse to Crystal Peaks.

With gratitude and wonder, we arranged a time to go meet her beloved boy.

When the day finally arrived, several staff and I made the two hour drive over the mountains.  My mind connected the dots as we drove through the charred ruins of the towns destroyed in the 2020 Oregon wildfires.  Somehow the blackened remains seemed to parallel the scarred remains of the family we were about to meet.  Jody and her girls—along with their horses—had been through similar devastation.  Burned, abandoned, and homeless, they were left to rebuild with little but stubble.  The twisted framework of their demolished hopes and dreams must have been as raw and brittle as the melted iron beams of the fallen structures we passed.

My heart filled with a simple prayer, “Oh Jesus, show us how to love and help this family. Please Lord, restore their hope and joy.”

Soon a beautiful woman waved us into the barnyard.  Jody approached us with her horse in hand.  Tears of love for her four-footed companion streamed down her face.  Clearly, it was heart-wrenching to even consider him being placed into another home.  This woman had lost her marriage, her family, her home . . . and now was losing the ability to keep her beloved horse.

Even behind the tears, Jody met us with a warm smile and what looked like rising joy in her eyes.  She told us she believed God had a special plan for her horse.  More than anything, she wanted him to be instrumental in others knowing the hope of Jesus Christ.

Despite the loss and pain of her own life, Jody chose to lay every piece of her broken family at the feet of Jesus.  Her faith in God’s promises rocked all of us.  There was hardly a dry eye in the barn.

We moved forward with our routine evaluation.  Jody’s horse exemplified all that we look for in a children’s mount.  With kindness and respect, he complied with our requests.  His sense of humor also surfaced when they pulled out a tiny tic-tac mint.  Eager for the miniscule treat, the spotted horse raised his upper lip in a goofy equine grin.

By the end of our time together, we knew the children of Crystal Peaks would absolutely love this stellar gelding.  Even still, both parties agreed to take two weeks to pray and seek God’s will for the best place for him.

During those two weeks, I dreamt about Jody’s horse.  In the dream, God gave me a new name for him.  I argued with God because I thought it sounded odd, even girly.  Nevertheless, when I woke the next morning, God’s chosen name—and command—continued to echo in my heart.

I shared my dream with Kim and Deirdre, who were also praying.  Their wholehearted agreement with what I’d shared only added more weight to the many confirmations that we were to receive this special gift.  Deirdre called Jody and found a date that worked to pick up our newest equine minister . . . Friday, April second.

When I realized the significance of this date, my jaw dropped in amazement. The day we were to pick the horse up was the Friday before Easter. As if circling the date with a neon highlighter, the Holy Spirit reminded me of my dream and the unusual name God had given me.  The name was “Hosanna.”

“Hosanna” would be arriving at Crystal Peaks on Good Friday.

My mind swirled in wonder.  While praying over this horse, the Lord shared the importance of the name He had chosen.

“Hosanna” is a prayerful declaration meaning, “God save us!”  It’s also a joyful exclamation. I could clearly hear in my Spirit: “Sarah, when I save, I save to the point of restoring joy.  I resurrect hope from ashes and turn it into joyful celebration.”

I thought about the beautiful horse coming from a broken family.  His whole life, home, and place of safety had fallen apart.  Like an earthquake splitting a rift in solid earth, the polarizing divide of divorce tore a chasm in what he knew as a loving home.  Now this precious horse was falling through the cracks.

In the midst of the terrible plunge, the displaced horse landed safely in the palms of the Savior’s scarred hands. 

Thinking of what his new life would look like at Crystal Peaks, I imagined the laughter and love that would soon surround him.  I could envision children using his unique coat as a canvas for beautiful, hand-painted masterpieces.  His entire appearance already looked like a confetti-filled party.

A smile spread across my face as I again pondered his new name, “Hosanna.” God had saved him . . . and was preparing to fill him and surround him with joyful celebration.

Similar to this horse, I knew Jesus was preparing to do the same for Jody and her beloved daughters.  Our Savior desires to catch and heal every broken child who feel as if they are falling through the cracks.

Hosanna’s story would be an example and reminder for many—when God saves—He restores our joy.

A few weeks later, Kim and I returned to pick up our new gelding.  On the way, we were delayed a full hour due to blackened debris removal and construction in the burned areas.  The transformation was incredible. Fallen trees were being harvested for lumber.  Power lines were repaired.  Grass was growing.  Flowers were blooming.  Rebuilding had begun and new life was spreading across the land.

Jody, her girls and her parents all met us for the special occasion.  With tearful generosity, they led one of their most treasured family members into the horse trailer.  Hosanna followed with trust and confidence.  While most horses call nervously when leaving their companions, Hosanna stood peacefully.  It was as if he knew God had caught him and was now placing him securely.

All too soon, Jody and her dear ones sent us off with loads of love . . . and with a pocket full of tic-tacs.

Matthew 21:9-11a says:

“The crowds that went ahead of him [Jesus] and those that followed shouted,

‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

“When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, ‘Who is this?’”  The crowds answered, ‘This is Jesus . . .’”

Hosanna means God saves.  It means we’re freed to celebrate.  And “Hosanna” is also meant to spur the question . . . “Who is this?  Who can save like that?  Who has such wonderful power to restore joy?”

There is only one answer: Jesus.

For those who feel the devastating scars of a personal wildfire . . . or are displaced from every form of security . . . or have fallen through the cracks of shattered promises and broken dreams . . . KNOW THIS—there is One waiting to catch you. 

His name is Jesus.  And when He saves—He restores our joy.

What seemed like the end of a story for this horse . . . was actually the beginning.  What may seem like the end of the story for you—in Jesus’ hands—is only the framework for a divine rebuild.  Like Hosanna, who walked through the ashes of his black circumstances, will you trust and follow the Savior’s gentle leading into a new life?

For those who accept His free gift of salvation, a family bigger than anyone could imagine waits with open arms. 

Hosanna will forever remind us—Jesus is faithful to rebuild and restore.