Traveling Mercies-“You mean the Wheel can fall off?”

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My horse Foxy on one of our camping trips!

Driving down the high way (once upon a time, but a true story), I was on my way home from a trip that was several hundred miles away from home.  I was towing my 4 year old horse, in a very old, but refurbished (to the best of my ability) bumper pull horse trailer. In the Jeep with me was my Aunt who was about 60 yrs old and my kids one of which was about 4 and the older one was 9.  We had been camping with my friend, her nephew and daughter, but I had not wanted to be away from my husband as long as she wanted to camp, so I made it a shorter trip for us.

Before leaving to go home, I decided to leave her some blankets as her dogs had peed on hers and she didn’t have more, and also the rest of my horse feed and hay except for what was in the hay bag.  After all, I wouldn’t need it, I was going to be home that night….or so I thought.

Well everything was going very well, I was finally in dry clothes with dry feet and on my way home.  I can tell you that while the Smokey Mountains are very beautiful, they are also very wet.  At least at the time of year I was there.  If my oldest daughter hadn’t brought along some flip flops I would not have had anything for my feet after the first two days.  It rained at least twice a day for the entire time that I was there.  I would get soaked, then lay my clothes out on the car to dry and as soon as they reached the stage of being just damp…it would rain again and soak them down.  Well, mercifully, our tent was new…both my husband and I came home with a new tent that we found on sale the same day…they were different sizes so we kept them both.  That was pretty wonderful, especially since he wasn’t even going on the trip with us.

Anyway, so we had a really good time, but we were wet for at least 50 percent of the time. However, back to my story of the trip home.  I was driving along, and had reached the State of Kentucky so I was within just a few hours of home at the time.  Suddenly, I have this maniac pull up next to me and start honking their horn and pointing madly to my rear.  My heart went into overdrive, they scared me very badly.  All sorts of visions went through my head…things like, “What?  Is my horse hanging out the back of the trailer or something?”  “Did the back of the trailer somehow have the ramp fall down?” (Now the horse couldn’t possibly have fallen out the back, because that ramp had the hardest most humungous springs on it, to even get it closed, much less open on its own)  Or “What are these people wanting from us is this some new trick?”  As I kept looking I saw in my side mirror that there was smoke billowing out of the wheel on the driver’s side of the horse trailer.  That did nothing to help me to feel better.

Naturally, I started praying fervently in a complete mental stress and worry about what I was going to do.  I pulled over to the  side of the road and the other folks (notice they are folks now instead of crazy people) pulled over with me.  They knew what was going on, and so they told me as they walked up, “it looks like your wheel bearing is going out on that trailer!”  “I said, “Oh, is that what it is, it looks like the wheel is on fire!”  (It wasn’t but for someone who had very little real experience with trailers, except for the ripping out of a floor and putting a new one in it and making new pads for the horse and painting it, it sure looked like something was burning!)

So these very sweet and kind folks seeing that I had a couple kids and an older lady in the car and no “men folk” said they would follow me to the next exit.  They did this, and I really appreciate their kindness. I appreciated them stopping me and telling me even more about 15 minutes later when the trailer was jacked up and the wheel literally fell off.  However, I am getting ahead of myself here.

I forgot to tell you that this was happening on a Sunday and it was about 8pm in the middle of no where in Kentucky.  As I was pulling off at the exit, I see this big sign that says, “No truck repair available at truck stop!”  As you can see there were no apparent resources available to me for repair….instead of being home in a few hours, I was now having visions of putting the kids and my Aunt up in a hotel room and myself spending the night in the car in the parking lot guarding my horse.

Now, if you knew me, then you would know that I am not much of a panicking type of person.  I can be frustrated and some words of the sailor’s variety do come forth on occasion (that is a sin I am still working on and repenting for!) but I am a thinker, so when things go awry I tend to look for solutions instead of falling apart.  Not to say that I don’t feel panicky, I do, and in this situation I was not feeling really confident or competent.

A big part of my solution to panic is to immediately when I start feeling panic call upon God to, “Please Lord, help me, make this be okay, please make it okay!”

Well, I was mentally repeating this prayer unceasingly from the moment those folks started honking at me!  Coming off that ramp and seeing the “no truck service” sign I reiterated the prayer again…now this is the amazing way that God handled this problem for me.  I do mean, that God did it, and he took care of the problem so well that I really had no time to panic!  From the moment those folks pulled me over, God was already taking care of things.  This was one of those moments where like it says in Psalm 91 the angels bear you up so that you don’t dash your foot against a stone.

The sequence of events is as follows…I drove off the ramp and into a quickie mart type of gas station, got out of the car and went in and explained my problem to the people working there and asked if they knew any hotels around and anyplace where I could get the trailer fixed the next day.  They not only helped me find a hotel for the night for (I kid you not) $43, a young man who worked there said, “I don’t know horses, but I know cows, so I can look at your trailer for you!”  He did and said that he could jack up the trailer and remove the tire off of the offending axle.  He informed me that since it was a dual wheeled trailer and I only had one horse it in that I could drive with only three wheels okay, until I could get it fixed.  Now this was amazing news to me!  So he had me pull over and unload my horse so that he could jack it up take the wheel off.

As I said earlier, the wheel literally fell off as soon as the trailer was jacked up.  I was really shocked.  I didn’t know that a bad bearing could allow a wheel to fall off.  (My husband and I had quite a conversation about this and how it is different on cars after I got home! I also became a bit manic about needing to know when the wheel bearings need to be attended to on the trailers.)

Funny thing happened, that before the young man could jack up the trailer, I had to unload Foxy, and God had arranged it that this particular gas station had a large grassy area on the other side of a fence on a hill right by the area where I was parked.  So my horse could be tied to the fence and allowed to eat some grass in safety while we worked on the wheel situation.

Suddenly, a very large gooseneck horse trailer and truck pulled into the station.  A couple jumped out and said, “Are you having a problem, because we were on our way home from riding in the state park and saw your horse was unloaded, and we never unload when we are traveling unless it is an emergency! So we thought you might be having a problem!”  I explained the problem to them.  They asked me if my horse’d had a Coggins test.  For those of you who are not familiar with horses this is a test for Horse Infectious Anemia which can kill a barn full of horses in a matter of days if one animal comes in that is a carrier.  I told him that, “no, but I have had her all of her life.”  He looked her over, and said well, we can load her into our trailer we have an empty spot at the back and you can follow us to our place and your horse can spend the night in the round pen there.  We can also show you in the morning where to go to get your trailer fixed.

I was at this point absolutely in awe of God’s work here, on my problems!  The mental prayerful thank you’s that were going up from me to him were endless.  Inside of 20 minutes God had solved everything about that situation from the hotel, to the repair place for the wheel, to a place other than the trailer and a parking lot for me and the horse to spend the night…it was awesome how he arranged all of this in such a short time for me..but he is an awesome God, and in actuality…he had already set all of this in motion long before I got into the car that day to go home.  I mean, for everyone who helped me to be in just the right place to be in a position and to have just the right knowledge that I needed to help me took a lot of foresight and arranging.  God used all of these willing people to help me, and he wasn’t even done yet.

The next day, we got to the shop and they were busy to the max, backed up, but when they found out we were traveling they looked over their customers for the day, and decided to rearrange things, and told us to come back at 4pm. So my Aunt, and kids and I went to a movie, and had lunch, and when we got back to the place around 4pm, the trailer was ready to be hooked up and driven away.  The fellow who fixed it said that he literally redid the threads on the bearing, and that if I ever went long distances again I should probably replace it as he couldn’t get the parts today, but it should get me home.  I tell you that he did a magnificent job with that bearing.  My husband, (who can fix everything) checked it when we got home and said that it looked great, couldn’t tell it had ever been fixed or needed it.  The cost of the repair was $90.

We drove back to pick up my horse, and I tried to give the nice folks who housed her some money for feeding and housing her for the night, but they just wouldn’t hear of it.  I thanked them so profusely, I cannot tell you how grateful I felt to them for their kindness.  All told, it cost me less than $150 for this problem and God had it all fixed so fast through all of these kind hearted people that I didn’t even really have time to panic at all!

I know this story was a bit long, but I cannot stress how joyful I was about this example in my life of God’s loving care, and I didn’t want to leave anything out in retelling it!

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