Bullet Holes and Flying Horses



“Um. Is that a bullet hole?”

Leslie and I stared at the egg-shaped hole in the first floor window of the white-paneled rental house we were staying in for the next two nights. We were stuck on the front porch, trying to get inside, torn between moaning and laughing.

I think we did both.

Around us, evening pressed away the day’s sunshine in quiet, quaint Millersburg, Kentucky. So far it had been a fun, whirlwind afternoon. After a short deplaning on my early morning flight from Tampa, my sweet Ohio friend picked me up in Dayton and drove us to Kentucky’s Creation Museum. We spent a couple of hours perusing the museum and the pretty gardens outside, enjoying the face-to-face time, already wishing for more.

From the Creation Museum we headed on another word-full, wonderful drive through gorgeous horse country to a little town outside Lexington where we’d stay for our weekend visit.


We planned to spend Saturday at The Rolex, a three-day equestrian event held at the Kentucky Horse Park each April. Leslie had attended with her daughter a few years back, and the fact that we both loved horses and walking was reason enough to plan our only full day together around Saturday’s cross-country jumping event. We couldn’t wait to walk and talk and watch the magnificent horses run the course.

We arrived Friday night at the cute two-bedroom, one bath renovated home complete with kitchen, washer and dryer, and VRBO-approved “super comfy” couch (and it was, though I think even the lumpiest furniture is comfy when you’re around dear friends you can laugh with).


From the small front porch that evening, Leslie and I eyed the unexpected bonus memento to our weekend home-away-from-home. A bullet hole in the front window.


“I’m not sleeping in a room with a bullet hole in the window,” one of us mumbled. (Probably me. Leslie’s more daring than I am.)

From there, the problems piled on like fire ants on flip flops.

First we had trouble getting in touch with the owner of the house; there was a code to get inside and we still needed to make sure this was the correct house. Adding spice to our stuck-outside-rental-home-helplessness were the random men walking up and down Millersburg’s main street, obviously curious about our confused goings-on.

Friendly neighbors? We hoped so.

Then came an alarming comment from a local gas station clerk that “she’d gotten a call about that house, I think,” referring to the home we were to stay in. Finally, the number-out-of-service-message when we dialed up the Millersburg police station to inquire about the owner and the house was a bright red maraschino cherry-on-top of our evening.

The police station was out of service?

So, we giggled. We shook our heads, discussed sleeping in the car (many hotels in the area were booked because of the Rolex Event), and giggled some more.

Leslie reminded us to pray, and sure enough, the owner finally returned our calls with the code and an apology because the next-door-neighbor, who was supposed to give us the house code, wasn’t home that evening.

We finally settled into the cozy home, ate dinner and enjoyed a movie, a bag of Cadbury eggs, and much more chatting. Thankfully we could both sleep on the second (bullet-hole free) floor, so the questionable window decoration wasn’t a problem.

The next day was absolutely breathtaking – serene Kentucky horse-country surrounding us, spring blooming on the tree tops, and horses galloping toward jumps I could barely climb over with a ladder. The cross-country event was an amazing show of equine and human athleticism, with flying horses and pounding hooves.


Leslie and I walked, talked, she laughed at me while I gawked at the multitude of horses and dogs (there were dogs everywhere!), and tried to take selfies during the beautiful day (which will never see the light of day). She gained a copy of my – gulp – (finally printed out, rewritten) fiction book and I gained a renewed love of flying (in an airplane, not on a horse).

And we both gained warm memories of bullet holes and flying horses.

What a gift God has given us in the laughter, care, and concern of the friends of our heart.

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…” Philippians 1:6


The Shape of Dirt

“Can I break it now?”

Mom and I shared a big-eyed look as Chase excitedly tested the cumbersome weight of Trev’s hammer in his small hands.

We were smashing my small ceramic turtle pot in order to free the dirt and plant inside for repotting. Cole was busy climbing the oak tree in our backyard and his brother eagerly offered his services for pot-smashing. We were also making our Easter garden and repotting a couple other plants, and bags of potting soil and shiny new pots dotted the grass around our feet.

After making sure his safety protection goggles were secure, we backed up and he squatted down to tap-tap-tap away. I experienced a moment of nostalgia for the little turtle container. I bought it when we lived in Cape Coral nearly four years ago and it had graced the plant shelf by both houses’ front doors since. But the spindly, unusual cactus had outgrown the small container and we were giving a good chunk of it to Trev’s green-thumbed dad for his birthday present.


Two hits later the ceramic turtle lay in a few fractured pieces and Chase wore a huge grin. We shared a giggle as mom pulled the dirt apart from the broken pot pieces, revealing a semi-dry mound of turtle-shaped dirt.

Months and months of the plant and its dirt pressed snuggly inside the ceramic turtle molded the soil into the shape of a small amphibian. After a few hammer taps, some cracking, and a couple gentle tugs, the plant was placed into a bigger pot that would allow more room for growth. Mom carefully pulled a piece of the cactus apart from the rest to be potted in a separate container.

I’m a sensitive soul, and I cringed for the plant as we separated and repotted it, pouring in fresh soil and pressing down to make sure the roots were deep enough then damp enough. For a little while it was a precarious mess strewn about under our oak tree, but it’s thriving in its new pot.  

Later I couldn’t help thinking about the solid, stubborn, turtle-shaped dirt and how it was now a beautiful new creation. 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

I was struck by the similarity to the Christian life. We shy away from that painful breaking and reshaping process, the cracking and chipping of our old self in order to be shaped more like our Savior. Just as with the broken ceramic turtle, the mold around our lives may fracture into pieces. It’s messy, sometimes frightening, and often takes a long time to break away from the pieces we’ve held to for so long.

But when we’re saved by faith in Jesus Christ, God’s word assures us that greater power is at work and His purposes are for His glory and our good. “Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them” Isaiah 42:9.

“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.'”

~ Isaiah 55: 8-9

Oswald Chambers said, “Sinful men and women can be changed into new creations, not through their repentance or their belief, but through the wonderful work of God in Christ Jesus which preceded all of our experience.”

Our Creator is in control, with plans we can’t comprehend or imagine, and our confidence should be “that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6) Hold fast to God’s word and allow yourself to be molded by His capable hands.