Archive | August, 2010

Cupcake

31 Aug

Awhile back, I took my daughter Kaitlyn horseback-riding in the mountains. Nothing impressive, just one of those guided trail rides through the forest where the horses plod along nose-to-tail and don’t even think about galloping. Kaitlyn got to ride on a fine-looking horse named Roja. I got to ride on a mule named Cupcake.

Our trail guide, obviously a seasoned cowboy, must have been all of 14. He informed me that guiding these trail rides was just a summer job. His real job was bull-riding. And apparently he was pretty good at it because he had won a few blue ribbons and only got trampled by a bull three or four times.

As he got me situated up on Cupcake, he said, “I gotta warn you. Cupcake likes to eat.” Don’t we all, I thought. “So I’ll need to keep a tight hold on the reins?” I asked. He shook his head. “Won’t matter,” he told me. “She’s a mule. She’s going to eat.”

And she did. Clumps of grass, bush leaves, and even small tree branches. Cupcake strolled along that trail as if it were an all-you-can-eat buffet.

I didn’t mind at all.

When I was a child, my dad had taken me horseback-riding on trail rides like this one. Fond memories. I wanted to share that experience with my own kids. But cancer had done its damage, leaving me with little upper body strength and plenty of pain and discomfort if I over-did it. So horseback-riding had been removed from my things-to-do-list. Until now. Because there I was, for the first time since I had been diagnosed with cancer, riding on Cupcake and loving it.

Mules aren’t the only ones who can be stubborn. I too was being stubborn in my determination that the joy of horseback-riding would be worth the price of pain that I would have to pay.

And it was.

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The Family Dog

27 Aug

My son Connor taught our dog to climb a tree this summer. I know, dogs don’t climb trees. But apparently that’s just because they have never been taught. Of course, Ranger can’t climb just any tree. The tree has to have low, sprawling branches and preferably be occupied by robins.

But now, instead of climbing trees, Ranger has spent the past week with his nose pressed up against the dining room window, holding vigil till the kids return home from school. When the first one arrives home, his tail starts wagging and the celebration begins, until everyone, including my husband Dan, has returned home for the day, and the family is together again, as it should be.

Because families are special. Just ask our dog.

Life is Good

24 Aug

So quickly summer ends… Swimsuits and shorts are replaced by school supplies and sack lunches. And the summer’s fun adventures are reduced to pictures in a scrapbook.

Although my family and I did many fun things this summer, my best memory is of an afternoon where we did nothing at all. Camping in the Idaho mountains, our days were full of swimming, fishing, wake-boarding, and hiking. However, on this one particular afternoon, we chose to do none of those things. Instead we simply sat together overlooking the lake and doing nothing more than enjoying each other’s company.

I remember closing my eyes that afternoon, the pine-scented breeze warm on my face, the scars and reality of cancer fading away–not completely, but enough. I remember thinking how good it was to be alive.

Even now, I can still almost feel the warmth of that summer breeze and see the sparkle of the water and hear the laughter of my children from that special afternoon–a reminder from our Heavenly Father that life indeed is good.

A New Day

20 Aug

When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. Remember that one? I’m not sure why it was a favorite. Maybe it made me feel better to know I wasn’t the only one who had ever woken up with gum in my hair. Or whose mother had forgotten to put dessert in my lunch box. Or whose Mickey Mouse night light had burned out.

We’ve all experienced a few terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, haven’t we? Awhile back, I not only had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, I had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. Two years, actually. First, without any warning whatsoever, I got diagnosed with breast cancer. I spent the next year undergoing 4 major surgeries and trying to survive. Then I got hit by a truck. Really. And just as I was starting to get back on my feet, I watched my wonderful father die. From cancer. Even Alexander would have to agree that I was having a very bad two years.

But amazingly, it wasn’t all bad. Because the Creator of everything that is good in this world was right there with me, holding onto my hand. And if there is one thing I knew for sure during those two awful years, it was that He would never let go of me. He continuously covered me with His abundant, powerful love. When things got worse, He would simply pour out more and more of His love till I was saturated in His goodness.

It took me awhile at first, but I learned that Alexander was right—no matter how terrible things may seem today, tomorrow always brings a new day. And things do eventually get better. Even when you have cancer.