“It’s just a little Texas boot Christmas ornament.” Tom said as he placed it in my hands at the Fort Worth Cattle Stockyard.
We were visiting our friends in Arlington, Texas, and they wanted us to see ‘the real Texas’ just like in the olden days. A cattle drive at the FW Stockyard.
The smells, the sounds took me back to a time in my childhood and I remembered my daddy’s beautiful red cows with snowy white faces. It was a big day in the tiny village of Walthall when he moved the cows from one pasture to another. Anyone who could ride a horse joined in the fun.
But the best day of all was the Cattle Sale. Daddy would round up the calves to take them to the sale, and many times my older sister, Chalie, got to go with Daddy. She came back talking about the auctioneer and how he rattled off words so fast it sounded like a he was yodeling. She ate hot dogs and drank Coca-Colas for lunch. Oh, My! It sounded like a grand day. I was assured that one day I’d be old enough to go to the sale too.
That day finally arrived. All week, Daddy had said I could go with him. My excitement soared as I tried to decide how many hot dogs I could eat, and for sure at least two Coca-Colas.
Early that morning I could hear the heifers lowing as Daddy loaded the calves into the trailer. My day had arrived. I ran out to be sure he didn’t forget me, but Mama stopped me at the door. She told me that one of Daddy’s friends showed up and wanted to load a couple of his own calves with Daddy’s and there would not be enough room for me in the truck. I must stay home this time.
Crushed. Disappointed. Shattered. Those words hardly scratch the surface of my wounded heart. I ran to my room, crawled under a table and cried and cried and cried. Mama was so sweet to me that day, knowing how disappointed I was. When Daddy came home he brought me a present, but somehow it just didn’t make a difference any more. I had missed the big event. And life moved on.
I don’t remember dwelling on it, but for years I noticed a huge fear of disappointment. It seemed that the pain of disappointment for me was a little out of proportion. At a restaurant, if my order was incorrect I would be so upset I could hardly eat. Or if someone didn’t fulfill a promise, I was deeply wounded. Rationally I knew this was ridiculous and I was always asking myself, “What is wrong with me?”
And then Tom Schleuter placed a little Texas boot in my hand. Suddenly tears came to my eyes and I could hardly talk as I felt the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit. This little boot was a gift from my Heavenly Father.
I heard that gentle voice speaking tenderly to my heart. “Your Daddy didn’t realize how disappointed you were that day. He had a job to do, herding cows to the sale, and he did it. But I saw every tear under that table. I saw and I grieved for you.”
“I am a good Father, Ruthie.” He continued. “I have brought you to the most famous sale of all: The Fort Worth, Texas Cattle Stockyard! It doesn’t get much better than this one. Spend this delightful day with me watching the people have a good time; listen to the music of guitars; see the sidewalk bronze stars like Wild Bill Hickok; breathe in the smell of the cows and horses. This is our day together at the Sale. Enjoy this day to the max! Release the pain of that little girl crying under the table. I’ve waited a long time to bring you to the best cattle sale of all.”
After that trip to Texas, I took a morning alone time with my Father. Oh what a delightful time remembering every step of that day at the Stockyard. I laughed, I cried, I praised and I worshiped as I held that little boot. I realized once again how specific our heavenly Father is and how extravagantly he loves us. There is never one tear wasted, nor hurt so small that he does not notice. I had actually forgotten that day under the table, but my Father had not. When Tom placed that little boot in my hand it all came rushing back, every detail so vivid, but no disappointment. What joy to see how my Father remembered all the details and met every expectation of my heart.
Since that time I realize that when I am disappointed, it just doesn’t hurt quite so deeply.
After all, my Dad took me to the Cattle Sale at the Fort Worth Texas Stockyard and healed my heart.
And I have the boot to prove it!