Summer Set-Back?

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Little Man has mono.

Poor little fella; his entire body is covered in the freakiest looking rash I ever have seen.  One of those ones where you have to be really careful not to make the gagging noise when you look at your child (not a safe place to be for me).

This delightful little bug first entered our home about ten days ago, when Little Man got a fever and started complaining about a sore throat.  Now, one thing you need to know about LM;  his drama factor is out the roof!  He used to freak out so badly when we trimmed his nails (yes, trimmed his nails) that we actually called the doctor to see if there was any possibility at all that he could be experiencing pain in his fingernails and that they might be yelling at him to stop the torture as we ripped their already dead heads off.  Confirmed: no feeling at all.

That’s what we thought.

So when LM started griping about how he was “gonna die” because of the pain in his throat, I got out a piece of paper to help him compose his Acadamy Awards acceptance speech.

And I ignored his complaints.

Three days later, fever was gone, but he was still complaining of a sore throat.  Ok, time to look.  YOWZA!  Nasty!  Giant swollen tonsils, but not much else.  Figuring it was strep throat, I took him into urgent care where they said (after seeing him for about 25 seconds), “It’s either tonsilitis or strep, and we treat them the same.  We can run a strep test, but it is an extra $50 for the same treatment.”

Skip the $50 (and the shoving of a rod down LM’s throat…no thank you) and give him the antibiotics.

“Oh, one more thing to consider, Mrs. W.  I guess it could be mono.”

What?  Mono?  Have you seen this kid playing?!?!  I don’t think so.

But something about that word stuck with me.

Fast forward 7 days to a mid-day siesta at Yogurt Moutain, when over a sea of cookies and cream, gummy bears, and sprinkles, I smiled at my little antibiotic-filled almost 8-year old, and stopped dead in my tracks.  “WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THAT?!

A network of red dots was making its way out of his shirt and up to his face.  “Buddy, let me see your tummy.” And this is what I saw:


That’s just not good.

So back to the doctor we went, with a “confirmation” that he was having a delayed allergic reaction to amoxicillin.  Instructions from here:  take him off the meds immediately and give him Benadryl if he gets too uncomfortable.

“Oh, and one more thing, Mrs. W.  It may be mono.  We’ve seen this rash in mono patients who are given amoxicillin.”

There’s that word again!  Mono.


So off the meds he went.  The rash flared and Benadryl was given.

The next morning, Little Man starts throwing up.

Are you kidding me?!  This just can’t be right.

And once again, for the third time in 8 days, we went back to the doctor.  But before we did, I looked up his strange symptoms online and was met with one word:  mono.

No way in the world.

My child hasn’t stopped moving for one second!  I knew mono as “the kissing disease”; you know, the one you get from swapping spit?  The one that makes you so tired you can’t get out of your bed for a month?  Not the headache, fever, sore throat, weird rash, strep-like creature invading my mini human’s body.

Doctor number three gave us the final verdict; the clarification we had been needing:  Little Man…positive with mono.

Maybe it’s from all the handrails I can’t get him to stop licking.

Maybe now, he’ll stop licking them.

Anyway, the good news is that he is doing just fine.  What could have been (or still could be) a pretty significant setback to the fun free-for-all of summer seems to not be slowing him down a bit.

But it did get me to thinking:  in my life, germs are the enemy.  Specifically, anything that could make you see your lunch a second time…and not in leftover form.  The school year in particular, brings on Aug-May anxiety as daily I dip my children in the sees pool commonly referred to as “school”.  So come May, I am FINALLY able to breathe a sigh of relief as I can fear not the germ while the sun shines high.

Or maybe not.

Little Man’s encounter with the microscopic antagonist has been a life lesson to me reminding me that I am once again (dang it) not in control.  Not even of when I can choose for my child to be healthy or ill.  Beyond the lack of control, it reminds me that God does not operate on a time line.  He doesn’t say that the sun can only shine from 7am-9pm (think of Alaska!) or that there can only be 365 days in a year (think of Leap Day!) or that there can only be germs during the school year.

There is no doubt that the unpredictability of God can be anxiety producing…if we let it.  I certainly more naturally fall into that category than any other.  However, I have decided in the past year that maybe there is another side to God’s “flexibility”, if you will, that I may rather enjoy.  That perhaps I could revel in the not knowing, in the uncertainty…in the surprise.  Like riding on a surfboard above rough waters, it’s all smooth sailing while the sea churns beneath.

Maybe, just maybe, it could all be fun.

Is that crazy to think?

Meanwhile, what unpredictable thing is God doing in your life today?

A Near Miss

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For the last 11 years, our family has spent a week or two of our summer break at Wind River Ranch in Estes Park, CO.  Wind River is a family Christian ranch described as a “mountaintop experience for the whole family”, and that it truly is.  Wood cabins lodged at the base of Twin Sisters peak provide a family oasis where EVERYONE has something to do.  From horseback riding to hiking, archery to swimming, basketball to volleyball, fishing to ziplining, the ranch provides countless opportunities to play, explore, live, and enjoy.

And all in the name (and with the love) of Christ.  Every opportunity meant to draw you closer to Him. Which is why, from the moment we arrive, we open the car doors and let the kids RUN FREE! Off they go like the gazelles that roam the forest trees.

“See ya, Mom!”IMG_4641

And maybe I will.

Or maybe I won’t!

The kids’ freedom is one of the glories of the ranch.  It is the only place I know of where I can let them go.  I’m in a place where I know my cowpokes will be cared for no matter where they roam.  The staff watches out for every child there, making sure they have the time of their lives in a safe and Christ-centered environment.  I can actually stop being a helicopter parent and let them roam.  THAT is vacation for all of us!

Every year, our kids look forward to our time at Wind River Ranch months before we actually go.  Cowboy hats come out of the closet, boots find their way into our daily attire, and glory stories of lines zipped and elk sighted start to ease into conversation.

As you can see, “the ranch” is a place near and dear to our hearts…and to so many others.

And Sept. 12 of this year, that may have all changed. Everything gone in the blink of an eye.

For three days prior to September 12, rain soaked the parched Colorado terrain.  An unceasing deluge of precipitation dropped an unprecedented 18 inches of rain; the equivalent of over two years’ worth of Colorado’s typical accumulation.

The unsuspecting land simply could not withstand the torment it was receiving and began to give way.  By midday of Sept. 12, staff members were taking shifts sweeping the oncoming flood away from cabin doors.  The dirt roads began to erode in earthquake-like swiftness.  Shovels came out as the mud began to pile up and ooze down the roadways of the ranch as though somehow awake.

Throughout the day and into the evening, staff worked their bodies to the bone, shoveling, sweeping, sand-bagging, digging, hauling, praying.

As nighttime fell, the weary-worn workers continued their vigil; the backhoes now running to redirect mud and water away from cabins.  Into the night they worked, prepared to stand firm against nature’s onslaught, trusting in God to protect them.

Come 11:30pm, the Head Honcho of the ranch was in one of the guest cabins getting them situated for what seemed to be just as long a night as it was a day.  During his brief visit, a new noise joined the chorus of others they had been hearing all day: rain, shovels, brooms, backhoes, and…what was this new noise?  Sounded like the horses stampeding…but not quite.  Sounded like backhoe scraping its metal teeth against the gravel…but not quite.

What was it?



The foreign noise grew increasingly louder until the ground began to shake…

“MUDSLIDE!!!!  RUN!!!!!

And just that fast, the weary-worn staff grew legs of fire and ran as far and as fast as they could, away from the now-deafening noise.  Head Honcho grabbed his guests and huddled in a corner, not knowing if they were about to be taking their last breaths.

Louder and louder the noise grew; rocks tumbling, mud and water rushing, trees tearing from the ground.  As the terra around them began to shake, prayers were lifted high and heavy.  The impending darkness of the night sky seemed to veil both staff and guests in a blanket of prayer-laced anxiety as their fate quickly became uncertain.

And all in a moment’s time, the mud, rocks, trees, and land arrived at the ranch.  A 22-foot high, quarter-mile wide swath of living earth roared through the property at 45 mph, eating everything in its path.  Cabins, hoses, people, and memories all laid before its razor-like teeth.

And just as quickly as it came, it ended.  No more roaring.  No more ground-shaking.  No more heart-pounding.


Waiting now until daylight to see what-or whom-was left after the earth gave way.

Slowly, radios began to come to life as those in charge began to try to collect as much information as they could.  Who remained?  Who was hurt?  What had happened?!  Decisions were made, a location chosen in which to gather, and a few brave warriors dared out of their hiding places to try to collect as many shaken souls as they could.

One by one, guests and staff assembled until all…every one…was standing together.   Every single staff member and every single guest had been spared. Not just their lives, but even from injury.

(Thank You, oh thank You, most Precious Jesus!)

The rest could wait till morning.

All souls made their tattered way to staff housing, where the staff quickly and selflessly ripped the sheets from their beds, replaced them with clean ones, grabbed a blanket or sleeping bag, and headed to the basement to sleep on the floor, sacrificing the comfort of their own beds for the betterment of their guests.  Rest would not and did not come, but the house was alive with the feebly strong prayers of those whom God had just chosen to protect.  To save.

Daylight eventually came, and with it, the chore of assessing what was lost and what was spared.  All roadways now riverbeds, traversing the land became a chore of vehicular necessity.  The same brave few to venture from their hiding places during the night were now the ones to begin the assessing.

The guest cabins: somehow untouched.  The dining hall:  unscathed.  The rec hall:  no roadway left, but building secure.  The playgrounds:  some destroyed and some survived.  The pool:  swimmable.  The 100+-year old barn:  still standing.  And the horses?  Huddled in a mass in a patch of pasture, surrounded on every side by mud, and all…every one of them…protected.

God had provided a miracle of dynamic proportion.  The 22-foot wall of death had missed the furthest guest cabin by a mere 30 yards.


Every road was gone.  The firepits destroyed.  A family obstacle course ripped to shreds.  But the building, the people, the horses-the things that mattered-guarded and secure.  As the survivors looked up the mountain to see what had happened, they noticed an unusual sight:  a rock formation (one we affectionately refer to as “Gorilla Rock”).  The formation itself has stood as a landmark for the ranch.  On the vast landscape of Twin Sisters peak, Gorilla Rock marks the spot directly above the ranch.  If ever you lose your way, look for the rock, and it will lead you home.

The mud path came down the mountain, heading directly for the ranch.  Until it hit Gorilla Rock.  That instrumental landmark was the only thing strong enough to divert the slide.  As the slide hit the rock, the moving earth shifted from certain destruction of this 100-year old, memory-filled destination to missing it by a mere 30 yards.


“On Christ, the Solid Rock I stand.  All other ground is sinking sand…”

So down the rush came, a fraction away from taking life after life.  And as the torrent flowed, it hit a trench–an eyesore and point of contention to ranch staff.  The trench had been dug as part of a zipline system, but as Twin Sisters gave way, the hole in the ground became a stop sign.  It filled with mud, catching enough to slow the flow and save even more lives.  For directly on the other side of that trench stood every one of the ranch’s horses.


God works in amazing and mysterious ways.

The landscape of Wind River Ranch is now vastly different than it once had been.  Life doesn’t operate as smoothly now.  Roads need to be re-routed.  Rocks need to be removed.  Waterways need to be built in.  New horse trails need to be cut.

IMG_4618But all of that work takes on a new and lighter burden in light of what God did that dark and uncertain night.  There is no doubt, no question, no discrepancy about God’s divine, direct, and purposeful protection over Wind River Ranch.  A place that has been so “magical” to so many people now has a story of “magic” all to itself.

I stand amazed by God’s divine protection in this story and am reminded about the seemingly limitless number of times He has used storms in my life. To teach me.  To grow me.   To redirect me.  To serve me.  To protect me.

To save me.