God cares for the Sparrow, and the baby donkey, and the hearts of little girls

For the short version of our crazy week, you can read the news article that Fox did by clicking the link here...

For the rest of you....here's the rest of the story.

I read a book once about a missionary in Africa. She shared how it was harder for her to have faith in America, where she could depend on herself and have everything she needed. She said that in Africa, with her orphans, it was easy to have faith, because they had to depend on God for their every need.

I thought at the time how amazing that would be. How fun, to get to see God work on that level...

I was an idiot.

It's not fun. It's humbling. And hard.

And, did I mention, humbling?

In America, independence is a badge of honor. You never ever admit you need help. And you definitely don't ask for help. Never. Ever.

Especially if you're a Christian. Everyone knows that good Christians are #blessed.

And #blessed equals #Disneyland #Vacation and #FarmhouseStyle.

But the last few months have been #hard. We've gone through sickness #again and drought, and the FDA. We've sold donkeys that were born on our farm to help pay for hay. And we've seen miracles of God providing when we had no idea how we would make it though.

I had plans for this week. Making moisturizer. Homeschool. Catching up on sales, housework, and the usual busy farm mom stuff. Self sufficient stuff.

God had other plans.

On Monday, Wendy had her baby at about 6am. Wendy has been struggling through this pregnancy, so it's her last baby. It's smaller than usual, but everything seemed ok at first....we named her Tinkerbell. 

 At first, everything seemed fine. Tinkerbell was a little on the small side, but otherwise she and momma Wendy were doing great.

Later that day (Monday afternoon) we realized something wasn't right. Our vet was out of town, and our backup Vet was sick...but it seemed like a hernia. Hernia's are serious in a baby donkey...but there are a few things you can do that can help. Like this.

On Tuesday afternoon, things took a turn for the worse. I went out to check on Tinkerbell and she was burning up, and her umbilical cord was oozing something nasty. Worse, the flies were swarming her. Flies always know when an animal is sick. 

Our Miracle Vet (read the story of Snow White to understand) told us to get them to the OSU Vet Hospital right away. It's about an hour from our farm, but Wendy and baby Tink both did great. 

 The team of Doctors and Vet Students at OSU were absolutely amazing. We were expecting them to take her in for a routine hernia surgery, but they insisted on doing an ultrasound and bloodwork first to see what was going on. They were absolutely right...it wasn't "just' a hernia. A hernia could have killed her, but the operation would have been fairly routine...what we were dealing with was much more rare, and much more difficult to deal with. Baby Tinkerbell had torn her umbilical cord on the INSIDE and urine was leaking into her abdominal cavity...a deadly scenario. This was a huge problem and required immediate surgery to save her life. Without it, she would die.

Even worse, the surgery was VERY very expensive. And the FDA still hasn't release our milk ($14,000 worth...completely shutting down half of our business, for three months...) And we're still working on buying all the hay we need for the herd for the winter....hay that costs twice what it cost last year. 

I had a very difficult conversation on the phone with our vet...

And then I had an even more difficult conversation with our daughters.

It's one thing to lose a baby donkey when you've done everything you can to save them.

It's another thing to lose a baby donkey because you can't afford the surgery that would possibly save their life.

My girls, my brave, brave girls, went in to say goodbye to Tinkerbell. I said goodbye. And we all cried. The worst for me was knowing we were going to have to put that precious baby down when we could have saved her, and then we would have to take her momma home without her. I've seen a donkey grieve over her baby before...it's heartbreaking.

My husband stayed to tell the team we couldn't do it and to explain our reasons why. "The FDA. Three months of lost income. The draught. The hay. A surgery that costs thousands of dollars and a hospital stay...and the baby may not make it through...it's just not impossible." He gave them all the reasons why...but none of them seemed good enough.

Milking donkeys is hard. The FDA seizing our milk is hard. But this felt like a failure on a new level. To not be able to save a new life when you could have...

Maybe we aren't cut out for this donkey milking gig after all.

Maybe this is the final straw. The nail in the coffin. God telling us to quit.

Throw in the towel and go back to "real" jobs with steady paychecks and regular hours and less gut wrenching heartache.

Or maybe not.

I can't tell you the details of how it all happened, because His servants with skin on tend to be humble like that, but my girls got to see yet another miracle on Tuesday in the waiting room that day.

We had already told them we couldn't do it. We were literally minutes from them putting her down.

And then...everything changed. And suddenly what had been one of the saddest moments in our donkey milking life, turned into one of the most amazing, joyful moments. 

Because God cares for the sparrow.

And He cares for the baby donkey.

And He cares for the hearts of little girls, and moms and dads that are on the edge.

Tinkerbell got her surgery. The surgeon called at 1:00 am to tell us she had made it through. Wendy had apparently protested, LOUDLY, through the entire thing. Because that's what good momma's do when their babies are hurting.

Sometimes I wish God's servants weren't so humble...because I'd really like to brag on them more. 

The hay in the field.

The baby donkey in the hospital.

The unexpected blessings that come not a minute too soon.

I know we don't deserve them. 

But we will never forget them.

Thank you for being His instruments here on earth and caring for the least of these.

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

“Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today."

Matthew 6:19-34




  • Sara

    Thank you so much for sharing this testimony of God’s faithfulness and His care for us. I came across this in the middle of a hard season and needed this reminder- that God sees us and cares for us.

  • Lauri Peythieu

    Hello, Saundra! Thank you so much for posting this story. It had me in tears and so thankful for God’s provision. This year has been a trying time for our family, as well, n many domains and your story was yet another reminder from God that He always takes care of us. Thank you and I’ll be praying for the milk situation with the FDA!

  • Pat Willems

    Thank you for telling us how God provided for you and baby Tinkerbell. It brings tears to my eyes, and yet, we know that God is ALWAYS faithful. God bless you as you continue with your very important work.

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