Last night, I had a dream...

I lived in a small, peaceful house on a gentle hill overlooking a vast expanse of countryside full of waving prairie grasses and rolling hills. Little trees dotted the landscape here and there. An old, gray barn planted about forty feet from my front door appeared to be seconds away from falling completely down. A child's swing gracefully rocked back and forth with the breeze blowing through the branches of the tree the swing was attached to. My baby girl, Mercy, happily cooed from her perch in the swing, and I sat on the front porch steps enjoying the breeze and the sunshine and the beautiful blueness of the sky.

Suddenly, a sharp whinnying sound blasted from the barn! Determination mixed with a "no-not-again" feeling, and I hurried towards the barn to keep that horse contained. I held the double-doors shut, but the rotting boards, frantically pounding hooves and leaning structure created a scenario that made even closing the doors an almost impossibility. I stood there, focusing all my might on keeping that wild horse inside, while my mind raced after possibilities.

I knew it would be easier and safer to take Mercy inside the house and let that horse run free, but in order to cross the yard to my baby, scoop her up and run with her into the house, I would have to let go of the barn doors. Letting go would immediately release the horse and allow him access to my daughter. Instinctively, I knew that her harm would be his first priority, and those flashing hooves near her face were not something I was willing to risk. I stayed at the doors, knowing with every second both Mercy and I were in more and more danger. But what else could I do?

Abruptly, the scene shifted.

I stood in my real basement near our couch with the pull-out bed inside, watching this beautiful, proud, completely white stallion snort and stomp in the large room. His stance and shake of his head showed no restraint. No conscience. No boundaries. A beautiful creature, yes, but extreme danger lurked in his eyes.

He rushed me just as the edges of a plan seeped into my brain. Without enough time to think the plan through, I popped a cushion off of the couch and shoved the horse into the hole created. Somehow, the bed inside the couch was not there, and the horse fell into the hollow space under the cushions. I quickly replaced the cushion and sat on it. On his back, the horse jabbed his hooves upward over and over through the cracks between the cushions. My seat bucked repeatedly.

In vain, I attempted to keep his hooves down, but I only had two hands, and he had four hooves. They kept coming.

The scene shifted again.

I was back at the barn holding those doors closed. The doors that even in normal circumstances would not stay closed. My determination began slowly to give way to despair, and tears that I refused to acknowledge seeped from my tightly closed eyes down my cheeks and onto my chin. "Help me, God. PLEASE!" I whispered. Did I whisper it aloud or only in my heart? All I know is that prayer was tinged with more than a little desperation. Bleakness settled over my soul. I knew the end was near, and I could envision my sweet little Mercy Jane destroyed in moments after that horse got free.

I looked down and noticed for the first time, a latch hanging on the barn door. I stretched one hand down toward the latch and lifted it. In a circular motion, the wooden bar pivoted and then dropped onto the corresponding knob on the opposite door. I let a little of my body pressure off of the doors. The horse reared onto his back legs and walloped the doors with as much might as his upper body and front hooves could produce. The doors shook and bulged outward, but they held!

Relief, joy, motivation and a myriad of other emotions jumped through my veins. I ran towards Mercy's tree-swing, knowing I only had a short opportunity to get the two of us into the house. I snatched her from her seat and ran towards the porch with her so quickly that the top half of my body out-ran my feet, and I almost tripped in the yard. I stayed upright by sheer will-power only, knowing what a fall could mean. Behind us, I could hear the wooden doors splintering, and the lightning-colored horse's triumphant and defiant whinny.

I clutched Mercy tightly to my chest with both arms. My right foot reached the first of the three porch steps, and then I woke up.
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