Answering the door 2

”Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

There are times when life takes an unexpected turn, for which there is no human explanation. This is one of those times for my dear friend, Wendy Pendleton Harvey. On June 9, 2016, her beloved Mustang, Desert Sands (Desi) died much too young. Desi was bigger than a horse: I know firsthand.


Even though I accepted Christ as my Savior at eight years old, as an adult I wandered away for about forty years. One day in 2011 I had an immense urge to ride horses again. I asked myself, “Why?” I had not been on a horse’s back for as long as I had been away from Jesus. At the time I did not think there was any connection between riding horses and Christ.


Wendy Pendleton Harvey, Desert Sands (Desi), and Helen, Camden, Maine, by Marty Saccone


Near our home is an award-winning stable where I could have gone for riding lessons. However, after researching on-line, I was drawn to Wendy Pendleton Harvey’s stables in Camden. Travel to “Equine Connections” is a seven hour-round trip.

Upon arrival, I met a Christian lady and a Mustang named Desi. This was not what I had expected, because at that point, the cross that Wendy wore around her neck made me nervous. I was a skeptic about religion, as I had lost my faith.

After brushing Desi, I had what I call a pony ride, with Wendy walking beside us in the ring. I was terrified at the thought of Wendy leaving Desi’s side. Yet, something drew me back, and it was not horseback riding.


Ocean surge, Quoddy Head State Park Lubec, Maine, by Marty Saccone. Nikon D800E, Voigtlander Ultron 40mm lens, f/8 at 1/4 second, matrix metering mode, ISO 50, Manfrotto tripod. Strong ocean swells and high sea conditions provide spectacular scenics. MS


I returned for groundwork for over twenty lessons. During those visits Desi’s behavior revealed that I was lost. I thought I was a good person prior to meeting Desi but being good was not enough for God. I needed to return to Jesus.

This well-trained Mustang that was gentle with young riders, would sidekick at me when I entered her “safe” space during grooming and groundwork sessions. Wendy and I discussed thoughts and feelings and at times we were silent. Desi allowed me to be in her space as my heart began to come in alignment with God’s wishes. In fact, one day she even nuzzled her nose into my neck. When I first arrived at Equine Connections, Desi had seen my heart the way God was seeing it and fortunately she revealed my human failings.

The long and short of this story is that Wendy, a woman living her faith, and Desi, a Mustang, were God’s messengers. He sent me to them so I would renew my commitment to His Son. As a result, I picked up my dusty Bible and began my journey back to Jesus, my journey Home.


Late summer grasses, Lubec, Maine, by Marty Saccone. Nikon D800E, Nikkor 70-200mm lens, f/11 at 1/125 second, matrix metering mode, ISO 200, Manfrotto tripod. The early morning light saturated the greens and magentas of these wild grasses. My lens and focal point were chosen so the near grasses were compressed against the distant soft focus flora. MS


God loves us in our brokenness. Whether a skeptic, as I was in 2011, an agnostic, an atheist, or a believer, we are all broken but still loved. God may choose unconventional ways to reach us with His message of salvation. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

I am eternally grateful to Desi. During our last visit she nuzzled into my neck—I had renewed my commitment to Jesus. Desi, thank you; I mourn your passing.

There are no words to describe the depth of Wendy’s monumental loss. Please keep her in your prayers as she grieves the passing of her dear friend, Desi. This, too, is a great loss for all who will never experience the Desi I was blessed to know. The unexpected turns of this life are often painfully unexplainable.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalms 46:1

Nature Photographer Magazine
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