Changing Pastures

Driving down a country road near our house, I tried to ignore the donkey’s odd behavior. God had spoken to me a few months earlier through this same pasture of donkeys.

I didn’t have time to decipher another donkey message, so I pulled over on the side of the road, snapped a quick picture, and planned to figure it out later.

That was two weeks ago.

This morning, I got tired of pretending I hadn’t taken the picture, so I enlarged the image on my computer screen to study it.

The donkey was hanging his head over the fence grazing.

Such a peculiar sight.

I zoomed in closer.

It was a barbed-wire fence.

I drive past this field almost every day. I’d never seen the donkeys or horses doing this.

Okay, Lord. I’m listening. Sorry it’s taken me so long. Is there a message here? Should the donkey be content inside the pasture? Is that what You’re telling me? He has an entire field of green grass behind him. Plenty of friends. Plenty of water. Everything he needs.

But for some strange reason, he’s stretching his neck out over a barbed-wire fence to eat.

Why did You draw my attention to this?

Help me.

Talk to me.

What are You saying? 

Is this a lesson in contentment? 

Probably so, I decided. That’s the logical explanation. I should be more content.

But this answer didn’t satisfy my soul.

It’s deeper, isn’t it, Lord? Are You asking me to risk sticking my neck out? To stretch myself? To go outside my comfort zone? Something beyond my regular routine? 

Are You calling me to trample new territory with You? 

I’d been running from this conversation for a long time. I have a writing idea. One I can’t possibly do on my own.

At that moment, I felt my heart grow warm.

Julie, my daughter. I have so much more for you. Let go of what feels safe. Draw closer. Let me be your Shepherd. I’m leading you to a new pasture. 

God had been whispering to me the whole time. I just had to be still enough to listen. click to tweet.

He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…they follow because they are familiar with his voice. John 10:3-4 MSG

Can you relate? Have you ever sensed God calling you to take a risk? To trample new territory with Him?

Please share!














  1. Anna Haney says:

    Yes, I have. Since breast cancer, I have found myself trusting Him more, listening to Him more, and discovering (my word for this year) things He has for me. At work, I have started to see non nursing students. At first, I wasn’t sure. I was so familiar and comfortable with the prenursing curriculum. But a month into this, I love it. I feel more creative and less likely to be burned out. Not as stressed.
    I was so excited to see this today. Its seems so long since your last one.
    Love you,

    • It’s a whole new way to live, isn’t it, Anna!

      You sound totally refreshed. Revived. Wish we could sit and talk a while.

      Thank you for being first to pipe up and share your heart.

      I love you. Always.

  2. I just love that donkey Julie. He has the whole pasture of grass yet he wants the more delicious grass just out of his reach. He’s even risking getting pinched by the barbs on the fence to eat it. We might get a little pinch here and there when we stick our neck out too. But he looks pretty content to me! 🙂

    • Yes, yes, yes. Everything you said Peggy-Meggy. He’s taking some risks, isn’t he.

      Glad the animal expert believes Mr. Donkey is okay. Whew…..

      Thanks for reading and commenting!


      • Jan says:

        He might even be scratching an itch on the barbed wire as he reaches–our ponies used to back up to our fence and scratched what itched them–might have been the woven wire part of the fence though–it’s been too long! He also might have nibbled off most of the leafy part of the grass and weeds on his side of the fence, and be looking for fresh greens.

        • Never thought of that, Jan!

          Thanks for reading and chiming in.


          • Jan says:

            Took me back to the pony and horse days of my youth!
            Never had a donkey though

  3. Marion West says:

    Oh yes. I’ve almost become a recluse. What a marvelous illustration. And I adore donkeys. And you,my literary daughter.

    • I’m smiling. Thank you, my Literary Mother. You passed down the gift of seeing life through my heart.

      I love you~

  4. Vicky says:

    You’re speaking to my heart today, Julie. I have been pondering this very idea. 7 years ago in March, I was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. I was being led into a brand new world filled with a language I didn’t speak, with confusing steps to learn how to navigate all the way through. I’m so fortunate to say I’m still on this journey and while the landscape is more familiar, it doesn’t ever really feel comfortable. It has truly taught me to lean in and choose Him over and over again as the master navigator to follow. That sweet donkey truly represents what it feels like in a lot of ways. The sweet rewards of our journey are just on the other side of the prickly points that pinch us along the way- we just need to keep sticking our necks out! I just love the message that you felt and shared with us! So much truth. Thank you! Love you!

    • (Chaplain) Debra-Diane (DD) McDonnell says:

      Praying for you, Vicky, as you continue to walk on your journey.

    • Ohhhhh, sweet Vicky,
      I always get so excited to hear your “voice” in the comments. Our hearts are just connected. I’ve loved you all the way from Georgia–probably right after you started blogging.

      You write with your heart. Feels like you’re my sister.

      Thank you for understanding what I’m feeling. Means so very much.

      All my love,

  5. (Chaplain) Debra-Diane (DD) McDonnell says:

    As always Julie…..BULLSEYE. I cannot wait to see what His plans are for you that you have not yet experienced!

    He has something new in store for me as well…..a bit frightening as I wait to see what walk He will have me begin….but I am trusting Him and His promises….”plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.” “OK Lord; my hand is ready to take Yours and walk wherever You would lead me….for indeed, You have NOT given me a heart of fear.”

    • Chaplain DD…..

      Wow–we’re walking a similar path. Something new. Yes, a tiny bit frightening. Maybe this is how we’re supposed to live every moment of every day. Being willing to stick out neck out over barbed-wire to follow Him.

      Praying for your new adventure. Thrilled for you!!

      Much love,

  6. That is one adventurous, determined, courageous donkey. We are like that as writers. Sticking our necks out when we have no idea at all if what we write will be good enough, will sell, will help someone. But God knows. And so we follow the direction of the donkey. And we feel good. ; o )

    • YES. YES. YES. YES. YES.

      So glad God brought the two of us together, B.J.

      YES. YES. YES. YES. To everything you said.

  7. I feel like that’s where I am right now, which explains my almost constant state of bewilderment. However, I know that even in my bewilderment, God is present and it’s because of this feeling of weakness, that I am constantly calling out to Him. Like you said, Julie, we can’t possibly do it on our own. Love you. Speaking of donkeys, I loved Rachel Ridge’s book, Flash: the homeless donkey who taught me about life, faith, and second chances.

    • Bev, I’ve never heard of this book!! Sounds like something I’d love. I have no idea what’s with the donkeys–why something inside me keeps being drawn to them.

      Bewilderment. YES. YES. YES. YES. Such a good word. And you’re right. The only way to push through is to constantly–and I mean constantly–call out to Him. Thanks for the reminder and for understanding.

  8. Doris Shaw says:

    I am on a new journey, a new chapter of my life has begun since losing my husband 2 weeks ago I understand that I need to be still and listen to God and not be afraid to tread a new path

    • Cathy Mayfield says:

      Doris, my heart goes out to embrace yours at this time. I will pray as the Spirit leads for His closeness on that path – sometimes leading you, sometimes beside you holding your hand, and sometimes carrying you in His gentle arms.

    • What? Oh, Doris…… I’m so very sorry. My heart hurts for you. You and I instantly connected at CCC. You are such a beautiful encourager. Has you home address changed since we went to CCC?

      Praying that “He heals the broken-hearted and binds up your wounds.”

  9. Cathy Mayfield says:

    Oh, Julie, why did you have to go and do that?

    “I have a writing idea. One I can’t possibly do on my own.”

    “My daughter. I have so much more for you. Let go of what feels safe. Draw closer.”

    “Have you ever sensed God calling you to take a risk?”

    You wrote my heart, my fears, my indecisiveness, my words from God…my blessing.

    At the beginning of this year, I shared about my word-of-the-year (NOW!) and the project God led me to begin. Since then, challenges have waylaid those positives and opened the door to the enemy’s lies of negativity. I haven’t written a word for over a month – on that project – although I have worked on a proposal for a book which could be a forerunner for it. Still, I succumbed to the negatives flooding my heart, mind, emotions, and body with aches both physical and spiritual. I retreated to what feels safe – launching my blog site, taking care of grandkids, working on getting my house in order.

    But God has been drawing me in…asking me why I’ve stopped working on what He obviously gave me…showing me the blog launch was fine…except for the contentment I’d thought it would bring didn’t occur.

    No, He has something else in mind. Something only He and I can do together. Something far from my safe storytelling of home and family. Something with risk…big time.

    And like a stubborn mule, I dug in and almost refused to budge…until you, my friend, decided to write this post. And like you, I feel I must open my heart and mind a little farther, give myself a little more slack, let myself bleed a little more, and grab hold of God’s hand with all my strength.

    And receive my blessing.

    But, oh, I’m scared. I’m weary. I’m ready…but maybe not as willing as I want to be. I will pray for you as I know you will pray for me. Blessings, sweet Julie!

    • Cathy, I put off writing — or even thinking — about this donkey for days. Even when I wasn’t sure of the message.

      Then Monday, I saw down at my desk and sort of sighed and prayed. Okay, Lord. What is it? It wasn’t until I saw the barbed-wire fence that something connected in my soul.


      I’ve been trying to get really quiet. I haven’t blogged as much lately. I want to draw closer, just like you.

      I’m praying for you. I can say, I understand a little about how you feel. :/ Beverly above described it as, “bewildered.”

      Praying for you, believing He will lead us over this barbed-wire fence.

      • Cathy Mayfield says:

        I started thinking on your last line in your response to my comment, and I remembered a run-in I had with a barbed-wire fence when I was a teenager. We were on vacation in the only place we EVER went on vacation (which was totally fine with all of us!!) – a cabin in the mountains of Potter County, PA. A creek ran in front of the cabin and crossing it on a rock dam we often had to repair put us in an old cow pasture. We would cross the creek in the early evening and walk up the hill to wait for the deer to come down.

        This particular day, my dad and mom, myself, and my two younger brothers crossed the teetering “bridge” to the opposite bank. Preoccupied with whatever woes my teen mind was consumed with that day, I forgot the warning my dad issued often, “Watch for the hidden barbed wire in the grass.” The posts holding the barbed-wire fence to keep the cows in the pasture had long ago deteriorated, and many sections of the barbed wire had fallen to the ground. I stepped off the dam and shuffled my feet without looking, right into a nasty, rusty piece of barbed wire.

        Not only did I hit this wire, but an entire barb embedded itself into the upper part of my foot. I cried and moaned and my dad had tears in his eyes as he twisted and twisted the wire to get it out. It took several minutes and left a gaping wound requiring an emergency trip to find an old country doctor. When he poured on the merthiolate, I held my breath expecting more pain than that of Dad getting the barb out. However, it didn’t actually hurt because it was a puncture wound.

        So, why did this come to mind just now? Maybe to remind me that, though there are unseen troubles to this project, God is there…guiding me, telling me what to watch for IF I pay attention to His voice, and waiting to pull out the barbs if I fail to avoid one. And if I do and He does, His medicine will not be hard to take, nor hurt as I expect it to. He knows my fears, my insecurities. He knows the dangers, the troubles, the barbed-wire the enemy has placed to trip me up. Sometimes, He may have to fix me up….and I need to trust that He will. The latter part may be more important than His protection.

        So look out, barbed wire! I’m coming through! Do your worst…because I have The Best!

        • Cathy,

          Holy GooseBumps! This is so powerful! Wow………..

          So glad the Holy Spirit brought this to your memory.

          Thank you for sharing. “Sometimes He may have to fix me up…and I need to trust that He will.”

          Now. To live this way daily. In total trust and dependence on Him.


  10. I am older now…and God still tugs at my heart and says pack a suitcase for a new journey. I fuss and say I don’t have a passport(skill set) for the new land. He says that if He calls me he will provide a scribe. I say the new land is far off…He says I will carry you. Love this post. I will pray for your journey. Thank you for the comment about Brooke who has taken the ultimate journey home. love you bunches.

    • I’m sitting here looking at your beautiful–peaceful–face as I type this. Dee Dee, you have the most gentle spirit. You draw people closer to Jesus. I love seeing Him in you. You just encouraged me, and I’m sure anyone who’s reading this. There’s no other way, is there–but to trust and obey.

      Your precious Brooke. Tears. Love.

  11. While reading your post, one of my favorite verses came to mind. “Be still and know that I am God”. Psalm 46:10. If we would only slow down and really listen, God’s voice will become clear to us.

    Isn’t it hard though, even when we hear his voice, to let go of what feels safe!!! I struggle with this constantly.

    Sending love, Julie.

    • Yes, letting go of what feels safe is hard, Eileen. And only when we let go do we really LIVE.

      Thank you for reading and commenting, my friend.

      Hugs from all the way down in Georgia. ~~~

  12. Julie Gilleand says:

    Julie, Julie — just the other day, one of my FB friends posted, asking if anyone had a link to the donkey cam. , a live cam online watching donkeys. I had it saved so sent her the link. It reminded me of your previous post about the spotted donkey and here you are again with the donkeys! Because I watch so many bird cams and have seen so many instances of hurt birds needing rescue and rehab, my first thought seeing this new picture you took of the donkey was — he’s stuck, he’s hurt, go back, go back, help him!! I was relieved to hear that the donkey was just fine! Well, the time God pulled me through the barbed wire to set out into new pasture, was when He led me my ex-husband and me back together again. I guess that sounds like going back to the old pasture, lol, but really it was new. During our 10 years divorced we both had changed in many ways. It ook a year of confirmations to change my heart and a trip up Pikes Peak to try and hear God’s voice clearly once and for all. I came back down the mountain knowing it was His will. Now it has been 10 years since then, and as you well know, this new pasture has not been without its struggles and pain. And I run into doubts all the time, whether I heard God right or not up on that mountain. But every single time, He comes to me and makes me know I heard right. And isn’t it interesting that as we are thinking about where to go on vacation this year, out of the blue, he is talking about wanting to go to Pikes Peak?! It surprised the heck out of me because he is afraid of heights! When I mentioned that to him he said he isn’t afraid of heights as long as his feet are planted on the ground. Only when he’s up in a plane or something like that. I hadn’t known that. So who knows, maybe this summer we’ll stand up there together! New ground for him too. He’s never even seen the mountains before.

    I will be praying for your new adventure / pasture, whatever it may be. I am excited for you!! Thank you so much for sharing. That donkey has no idea how many people are talking about him and are inspired by him!!

    God bless!

    — Leafy

    • I’m laughing, Leafy. If only the donkey knew we what we were saying. 🙂

      I love the story about you and your hubby–how you heard from God on Pikes Peak. I don’t think any pastures are EVER without struggles and barbed-wire fences too!

      And look at y’all–planning to go to PP together! That’s so romantic~~ And he’s never been. Hope you take lots of pics.

      Thank you for your prayers. I feel the love from my bloggy-friends.

      Other Julie, or Leafy 2.

  13. Julie, I love this. I so enjoy my neighbor’s donkey, Sugar. I always hope she’ll be nearby when I’m walking our property. Please stretch your neck through the fence to love on me, Sugar. And oh, yes, I’ve so felt God calling me to stretch my neck out, through the barbed wire. Especially regarding public speaking. God knows that is my greatest fear. That barbed wire really hurt that first time. But you know what? After about 4-5 years of it, though I haven’t spoken much (once or twice a year), it’s not my greatest fear anymore. Hallelujah! Because God always comes through for me. And that knowledge of His provision is my confidence. xoxo

    • I understand. With all my heart. I understand. Public speaking–it doesn’t get easier, but God always, always shows up, doesn’t He?

      I have a feeling if you and I could sit down and talk, we’d talk for weeks.

      THRILLED about your news!!!!!!

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.