Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

Breaking the Bubble via Dude Ranch

Entry to the ranch. (May 2013)

Entry to the ranch. (May 2013)

Am I the only one who feels stuck inside of a bubble oftentimes? Maybe you don’t get out very much, stay inside a small radius of your home, or haven’t experienced as much as you would like to. Perhaps your life doesn’t cross the borders of your comfort level. For me, the diagnosis of cancer has continually tried to envelop me inside of it’s bubble. And sometimes, it’s quite difficult to escape.

With frequent doctors appointments, trips to the hospital, and numerous days where I have been held hostage inside our home by my immune system, it’s often hard to get away. Sometimes no matter how hard we try to penetrate it’s walls, the cancer bubble keeps us contained. With this diagnosis and ensuing battle, finding time, energy, and health to enjoy a vacation has been nearly impossible. Key word: nearly.

Check out the side of that barn! (May 2013)

Check out the side of that barn! (May 2013)

This past weekend, we hightailed it out of our bubble. We managed to escape it’s walls and fully enjoy a memorable adventure together. I haven’t had chemotherapy in over a month, so I have been feeling pretty good. My energy is still lower than I would like, but I am further along than I was four weeks ago. And yet again, God has placed a blessing in our lives… continual proof that He never leaves us.

Months ago, we received an invitation from a family friend to spend a weekend at Lost Valley Ranch. Until a few weeks ago, we had found it difficult to get away. However, this past weekend we packed our bags, hopped in the car, and drove two hours through the mountains to arrive at our destination, the ranch. The incredibly majestic gem hidden away from everyone and everything. No cell service. No TVs. No internet connection (besides one “hotspot” in the dining hall). Therefore, no texts nor calls, no emails, and no appointments nor reminders. We were away from any distractions, and were able to focus without cancer looming over our heads like an unwelcome thunderstorm.

Heaven on Earth (May 2013)

Heaven on Earth (May 2013)

This getaway ranked high on our list of memorable moments. In fact, we agree that it came quite close to our honeymoon in Cancun. Needless to say, it was a much-needed and long overdue break. And not only a break, but a fun-filled adventure. Something that has forever impacted our lives, and has touched us dearly. Memories we will hold close to our hearts for many years to come.

Lost Valley is a guest ranch; A dude ranch. Genuine cowboys and cowgirls. Horses… more than 100 of them. Ponds and creeks full of gorgeous trout. With multiple acreage, the number of activities to experience is practically limitless. They offer a gamut of activities for all ages, and everyone can be assured to have a fantastic time. The food and cabins are superb, and the staff is one of the best we have ever seen. They aren’t your typical “employees,” but are rather a large global family. One that you immediately feel a part of when you cross over the cattle guard and enter the ranch. It’s apparent that they are passionately focused and determined to be ushers of lifetime memories, and our gratitude for that is immense.

We're officially in the Family Album! (May 2013)

We’re officially in the Family Album! (May 2013)

This weekend we made wonderful friendships, roasted s’mores over campfires, square danced until we dripped with sweat, rode horses for hours, caught seven beautiful rainbow trout while fly-fishing, ate incredible food, saw breathtaking mountain views, caught a rare glimpse of five Bighorn sheep, and laughed until our sides hurt. I was brought to tears a couple of times because my heart was overwhelmed with such joy. This weekend will truly last a lifetime. We have come home feeling refreshed, renewed, and centered. Our getaway proved more than we ever dreamed of, and we so look forward to venturing through the mountains and driving down the nine-mile long “driveway” to the ranch once again.

Lost Valley Ranch is truly anointed. What they offer is priceless, and it’s obvious that God has His hand on their property. So obvious in fact, that during the devastating Hayman Fire of 2002, the ranch was completely protected from the flames. Surrounding all sides are vast miles of dead trees, yet LVR was unharmed. If you need to break through your bubble, I recommend journeying to Lost Valley. If you need to press pause on your daily life, check it out. If you want to harvest memories that won’t soon be forgotten, Lost Valley is the place for you. Trust me.

Hangin' out at the corral. (May 2013)

Hangin’ out at the corral. (May 2013)

With this getaway to Lost Valley Ranch, I learned quite a few things…

  • I’m a cowgirl at heart… peel back those city-girl layers, and soon you’ll find a boot-wearin’, horseback ridin’, fly fishin’ cowgirl.
  • Wigs are aroma sponges. Get around anything with a strong scent, and rest assured, you’ll be sportin’ that aroma for a while. I’m still debating whether I want to wash the campfire smell from my locks. It reminds me of the square dancing, s’mores, and riding we delighted in.
  • Cancer can’t steal memories. So make as many as you can.
  • Denim on denim is appropriate cowgirl attire.
  • Southern accents rub off. Pretty soon I was slingin’ cowboy lingo in no time flat.
  • God continually surrounds us. When you can’t see or feel Him, have faith that He is there. He will always show up and show off.

And last, but not least…

  • Bubbles are not impenetrable. Break through one and you’ll discover life in an entirely different way.
Horseback riding through the Hayman burn area with our guide, Paul... the London cowboy. (May 2013)

Horseback riding through the Hayman burn area with our guide, Paul… the London cowboy. (May 2013)


Isaiah 55:12-13 (MSG Version)

“So you’ll go out in joy, you’ll be led into a whole and complete life. The mountains and hills will lead the parade, bursting with song. All the trees of the forest will join the procession, exuberant with applause. No more thistles, but giant sequoias, no more thornbushes, but stately pines. Monuments to me, to God, living and lasting evidence of God.”


Baby Brother Went Bald

Today’s a big day, but let me first address this weekend. We went out of town- thumbs up! Who knew that going out of town in this midst of this journey would be so refreshing? It was very nice to get out of the environment that has now turned into the treatment zone. My husband and I flew to Oklahoma City, OK on Friday and just returned yesterday (Sunday). The reason for our travels was for the college graduation of my baby brother. He walked the stage Summa Cum Laude at Oklahoma State University on Saturday morning. I can’t even begin to explain what an honor it was to see him accomplishing such a remarkable feat. He’s the last of my brothers to graduate from OSU. In December of 2010, I had the privilege of watching my older-of-the-two brothers walk the same stage. I cried then, and I cried this weekend. The pride I have for my two younger brothers is overwhelming. In many ways, I look up to them. Not only are they towering over me in height, but their vast knowledge about, well, many things, inspires me. Although we were all raised in the same home in the same way, our views are all different, and I love learning from them. They have taught me so much, and will continue to; of that, I am sure.

Not only was this weekend special because I had the chance to spend time with my brothers, but I was also able to see my grandparents, dad, and step-mom. Spending time with family that I don’t often see rejuvenates my spirit. And all of us being together, celebrating the same occasion, makes it that much better! In addition, the location of celebration was vital. For those who don’t know, I love Stillwater. I love the Oklahoma State campus. It’s overflowing with good memories for me. It sounds like I went there myself, right? Well, I didn’t. But that, in no way, stops me from acting like I’m an alumni! My pride for that school is uncanny. I wear OSU orange as proud as the rest of them. As does my husband. We are true cowboys. In fact, I’m a little surprised when the blood taken from my port isn’t bright orange.

The biggest highlight of my weekend happened during the graduation commencement. My husband and I, along with the rest of my family, were seated and admiring the bagpipes and entrance of the soon-to-be graduates. I was made aware that my brother and his girlfriend were sitting right next to each other, so when my mom turned around and asked if I could see my brother’s girlfriend, I said yes. However, I couldn’t find my brother. Mom explained that he was walking in right behind his girlfriend. I became increasingly confused, because the guy behind her in no way looked like my brother. This kid was bald. No sooner did I realize it, when he found his seat, turned around, and took his cap off to show me. My baby brother was bald. The bald kid was my brother! Needless to say, the tears began to rush from my eyes. This was a huge surprise that everyone kept from me. I had absolutely no idea he was planning on shaving his head, let alone for his graduation. That’s a big statement, and I acknowledge it and am deeply touched by his gift to me. In addition, when his name was finally called, and once he walked across the stage to receive his diploma, as he walked down the center aisle back to his seat, he removed his cap and walked the rest of the way proudly. If you haven’t been to a graduation ceremony before, no one removes their caps during the ceremony. It’s unheard of. Until now. I found out later, that the morning of graduation, instead of doing things soon-to-be graduates do, such as ironing their gowns and meeting up with their friends, he was sitting in his apartment getting his head shaved. Wow. I wish I could put into words the impact that has had on my life. My brother blessed and honored me on his day. For that, I will always be thankful. His bald head is the best gift I have ever received from him. (Although, the Michael Kors watch last Christmas was pretty cool, too…)

This past weekend was much-needed. I feel refreshed and ready to continue on with treatment. Every now and then, getting away is good. I’ve learned that, and will use that knowledge throughout my battle. More weekend trips might occur. In fact, my husband said he wants to go to Chicago or New York sometime, so maybe that will be our next trip! We’ll see…

Hebrews 10:22-25 (MSG version)

“So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.”