Kara's Collection: Latigo Ranch

from an article originally posted July 2, 2014...

Jesus loved our family bigger than we could have ever imagined when someone made this once in a lifetime trip possible for our family. We had no idea when we said yes what huge grace we were saying yes to for our family. Months ago when this opportunity came to us, we saw what a gift to our children this time in the mountains would be. The generous offer came and we simply walked through a door knowing there was a blessing on the other side and life to be captured with our children.

We did not know months ago what the week before this trip would hold. We did not know it would hold crushing news, new treatment, heartbreak. We could not have known. When I went to my kind-faced oncologist I told him about the trip. He was nervous to start a new treatment with me far from him, but he agreed. He knew I needed to grab life while the grabbing was possible. So we scrambled and found the pills, bought the cowboy boots at the thrift store, packed the denim, and left town in a whirlwind.

What greeted us was grace. Each need was anticipated, each joy handed to us to embrace. One evening we struggled with the right medicine and I found myself in the night vomiting with gusto. Sleep finally came. The morning came and I jumped up and dressed for my morning ride. Jason looked at me bewildered. I said, It was pills that made me sick, not a virus—I’m going. This place has so much to grace us with today; let’s go capture it. Jason changed from his shorts to his jeans and joined me on our horses and seeking endless vistas and overlooks. We learned so much about riding, nature, quiet.

Latigo Ranch is a sanctuary of gentle, quiet grace. I left thankful that I would have a break from cooking for a week, but that was only one small piece of that beautiful pie. I have never cried leaving a vacation like I cried leaving Latigo Ranch. The kids were deeply loved, we were deeply loved, we laughed when the previous week all we could do was cry. I went to the owners and simply cried that their ranch had restored hope to us in a way we weren’t sure could ever be restored. They helped me get up each day and remember to keep capturing the best of life. I came home broken from my diagnosis, but moving—still moving—to find life. We have struggled returning. We have struggled facing what we have avoided, but Latigo helped us find great joy in living.

Latigo understands that children need to get dirty—crazy dirty. Latigo understands that parents need a little time together, time connecting with other adults, and amazing, nourishing, and butter-rich food. Latigo understand rest in a way no place I have been understands. My children NEEDED joy, they needed play, they needed to get wildly dirty and learn something new and exciting to do: ride a horse. The staff extended themselves in love to create a sanctuary for the family to reconnect. The kitchen staff, the wranglers, the maintenance staff, the owners, they brought BIG, giant love to everything they did.

Our week at Latigo we were joined by 27 amazing people. AMAZING. Sunday afternoon we all met as strangers; Saturday afternoon we parted dear friends. I remember sitting down next to a mama Lacey for the first time. She told me she had been at Latigo 15 years. She told me how her daughter had graduated and she was flying away to college. Then she turned to me and said, I really like my daughter. In that sentence, I knew I found a friend. All week those were the families I met. Busy, hardworking, caring families that wanted to run away to an amazing place to enjoy each other and enjoy life with their kids. Latigo provided that. I understand why Lacey and her family have returned for over a decade.

For me, simple me, with my hard story. I would simply look around and think, My kids will never forget this place, and I’m here. I’m here in these memories with them. Is there a bigger gift? Bigger grace for a mama facing what I’m facing. Thank you, Latigo. Words don’t work in expressing what you gave our family. Consider running away and capturing life—you will not regret it for a minute.