Archive for July 2017

Storms and opportunities

A few weekends ago, I went on a motorcycle trip with three buddies. We had originally planned to go to southern Arkansas, work our way up to the north, and then head back home. The weather report forecasted a ton of rain, and it ended up flooding in Arkansas. My buddies and I decided to go somewhere without rain.

We jumped on our bikes and headed south to Waco, Texas. On our way there, we did a big loop around the western side of the Metroplex down to Waco. We planned on doing a big loop to the east on our way back, plus a loop back toward Gainesville.

On Saturday, we woke up in Waco and checked the weather. We had been dodging storms and watching the weather most of our trip. We knew we had to be home by Sunday, so we tried our best to plan a route to get us there around the storms. We started north, but we couldn’t take I-35 all the way north because of storms. We were on highway 34 and 78 for parts of the trip.

Whenever we saw a storm, either by the clouds or by our phones, we’d turn right and head that way for a while. Then, we’d turn left and head back north. If you looked at our route on a map, you would see a huge line of zigzags and backtracking. We just wanted to be sure we were not hit by the storms. We finally stopped in Ardmore for the night on Saturday.

We watched the weather and found out Myrtle Springs, Texas, got hit by an F5 tornado and four people had died. We had passed through Myrtle Springs an hour before the tornado hit. If we had made different decisions, we could have potentially been in that tornado’s path in a place we weren’t familiar with. We didn’t know where to find shelter, what roads were dead ends, or anything else necessary to keep us safe.

During breakfast that morning, we talked about the opportunities you have in life. How many times in life are you able to sit still? To turn left? To turn right? To still go forward but decrease your speed? There’s a reason for everything, like our directions and our speed. Sometimes I am so busy and distracted by the noise that I don’t listen to what the things around me are telling me. Are you?

Do you listen to what’s going on around you?

If there is one date that I’ll never forget, it’s April 19, 2017. It was right after our busy season, and Holly and I were headed home after dinner. Our neighbor, Ed, called about 5:30 telling me not to panic about all the Luther police and Oklahoma County sheriff cars. Ed’s neighbor had his daughter and granddaughter visiting him, and the 4-year-old granddaughter had gone missing.

I was concerned because there are wild dogs, coyotes, bobcats, and cougars that roam around my property. Since we were still on the road home, Ed was checking my barns and around my property to make sure she wasn’t playing hide and seek. It had recently rained, so there weren’t any tracks in the mud. The police were using search dogs, and they requested that we not walk across the properties because if our scent crossed hers, the dogs might get off track.

Once we got home and were allowed back onto our property, three drones went up to provide an arial view. We decided to check a few more places and to stay in communication, just in case we found her. I went to do some chores and walked towards my paddock. One of my draft horses, Penny, was staring straight north and not moving. I leaned against the fence and watched Penny, then I changed positions so that I could see everything that she was seeing.

I kept telling myself, “Listen to what she’s telling you.” She turned to the northeast, and her body posture completely changed. I jumped the fence and started sprinting to the other side of the paddock to get a better look, because I knew what she was trying to tell me at that point. The cattle were running away from one of the north ponds, so I knew something wasn’t right. I saw a head pop out of the pond and realized it was the missing granddaughter. I called the neighbor to ask what the girl was wearing (a baby blue coat) and her name (Charlie).

I jumped the paddock fence and ran towards the child, calling her name. I ran a quarter mile from the house, and when I picked her up, she just started sobbing. The adrenaline rush dropped, and I felt like I was about to pass out, even through the excitement of finding her. We got her back to her mother and grandfather, and as you can imagine, it was a happy reunion.

Charlie wrote me a thank you card that said, “Thank you for finding me. You’re a good neighbor.” She drew pictures of the horses, me carrying her, and us walking home. Holly told me that they had come over with the card and banana nut bread. Ed said that Penny tried to tell him the same thing, but he just didn’t hear it.

Animals have this amazing ability to let us know what’s going on, even without speaking. Their posture, actions, and demeanor can show how they feel about their environment and if something isn’t right. You don’t have to have words to listen to the world around you. Keep listening, and listen harder.