Grasshoppers bounced off the front of the Polaris Ranger as we bounded down the dusty ranch roads. We tried not too smile too much--those grasshoppers landed just about anywhere! But we were having fun. Just the five of us, a family, enjoying the coveted family moments that come by sacrifice and disappear in blinks. The summer evening cooled us, the still green hills softened the hazy landscapes of cedar and sage, and the giggles and questions from the kids made us smile. And then the Ranger died. Completely. Michael and I tried to heave it up the hill so we could coast as far as possible before we had to walk, but we try as we might, the Ranger stayed put. Nearly two miles from the house, and with night approaching, two boys started asking frantic questions and exchanging worried glances. After a couple more futile attempst, Michael turned and said, "well, boys, lets start running!"
Run they did, a long set of man legs and two sets of boy legs. They ran down the mountain towards the house. They promised to return as soon as possible, but the mosquitos started biting and Emma and I started itching. The sun disappeared behind the hills, and a rosy shadow fell like a fog. I lifted the soft baby-ish, but growing up too fast, girl onto my shoulders and we started to walk. The sky became a glowing masterpiece of summerish oranges, reds, pinks, blues, and puffy cream clouds. A chubby cheek leaned down and smooshed mine. "Hi Mom," she said. The next instant she almost leaned all the way out of my arms, pointing to a clump of Indian Paintbrush, and in ecstacy said, "Oh! So pretty!" I stopped, noticing and acknowledging her find. We continued on, my heart happy with the perfect scene unfolding. Yet, we had a couple of miles more to go, and it wasn't getting any lighter. Then, no more than two steps later, she lunged at another clump of flowers--this time Bluebells, and exclaimed the same "Oh! So pretty!" After a few more "pretty" finds, I realized the next two miles would probably take a long time. I set her down on the ground, she put her chubby hand in mine, and we continued on, one or two steps at a time, before she found the next "Oh, so pretty!" and we talked about it. The sky continued it's sunset's granduer, each moment prettier than before, and we made time to enjoy it.
Soon, a flashing light from the shop truck heralded us--our rescuers had returned. Three sweaty boys made room for us, and before we knew it, we were back home, clean and mosquito free. But we had seen so many "Oh, so pretty's" and the dust and mosquitos hadn't overwhelmed us. Still, it was nice to back with the boys.
I learned a lesson that evening. We had started out on a good family adventure--one that was worthy and righteous. And then we hit a bump--a big bump for us at that moment. We had to change our plans--our future wasn't to be what we had planned or intended it to be. More effort and different roads had to be taken. But if we hadn't hit the bump, I would haved missed all of the "oh, so pretty's". In the end, not only were we safe and happy and together, but Emma and I had experienced beauty beyond description, and my soul was sanctified. Sure, the mosquitos had bit us, my feet and pregnant body were tired, and we were covered in dust, but all was right with the world, and better than it would have been otherwise.
So, as the past few months have passed, I've remembered this lesson. More appropriatly I've realized yet another tender mercy from a Heavenly Father that knows all, loves perfectly, and desires to bless us with all He has. Sanctification doesn't come from figuring out what will make us happy and doing it our way, but from humbling our wills and trying to put them in accordance with His will. And, as we do this, our paths will be covered with bounteous moments of "Oh, so Pretty!"