Saturday 1-12-13 The Hump

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Silly Siberians

My alarm went off at 3:50 am this morning, followed by a very quick dressing, dropping dogs and loading the last few items, and we were on the road again by 4:30.  Got to work to drop off my sled (so I didn’t have to pay the over height charge for the ferry home, which ends up being double the ticket price), fed and dropped dogs again, and drove the last few miles to the ferry landing. 

While yesterday I woke up feeling healthier, even though I got up at a crazy early time, today I’m actually feeling excited for the upcoming races for the first time in weeks.  I feel like we’re over the “very-steep-learning-curve-of-a-hump”!  I’m actually catching myself wondering about more mid-distance races next year!  (GASP)  I know we have one more week of training, but what could possibly go wrong?  (JUST KIDDING!!!)  If I’ve learned anything this season, I’ve learned that it can ALL GO WRONG very quickly, and it is ONLY BY God’s Grace that any of it ever goes right!  We truly have no control in this sport.  We can feed the best food and take our dogs for quality Veterinary care (if the Lord has provided the funds for these things), but beyond that, all we can really do is schedule training runs!  After that, it’s completely out of our hands.  It becomes all about the weather (temperatures, snow conditions, road conditions to get there), the health of the dogs and the musher (during flu season, no less!), and who’s doing their jobs well, including SnoPark parking lot plowers and trail groomers!  You never know what the next run will be like, when the dogs’ training will make you proud or their sense of adventure or desire to socialize (or not) will embarrass you on the trail.  You never know when a suicidal raccoon will come down a tree and get snatched by your leaders or they will perfectly On By a mindless deer.  You never know when you’re  going to expertly wrestle the sled around giant obstacles reaching out to flip you over on the turn, or when you will be dragged on your face… it’s always a surprise!  Our last training runs before race season are complete unknowns… but not for long!  We are finally just a week away from traveling to our first snow race in two years, the 62 mile Eagle Cap Extreme in Joseph, Oregon.  I’m so so thankful for so many things today as I realize we’re about to experience the things that we’ve been training so hard for, not to mention thinking about and planning out so many things from what to carry in the sled (and where and how to pack it) to how much/what/when to feed the dogs and I trail snacks, to how many booties and what type of runner plastic, to what layers to wear, etc.  I’ve been organizing and purchasing needed items and sewing and fabricating new systems that will work better out on the trail when both running and camping.  I’ve been trying hard to keep our questions to our experienced friends to a minimum and figure things out on our own, which has taken a lot more time than just asking!  I’ve been reading race rules and equipment lists and planning lodging and meals and driving directions and time off work and how to fit in work responsibilities while on the road.  I’ve been trying to keep up on some of the house work and provide my wonderful husband with some good meals from time to time while relying on his amazing sense of patience and support for me doing these races while I’m failing miserably! 

So I’m THANKFUL for where we are right here, right now… it’s just where the Lord wants us and has led us to be.  I’m even thankful for getting sick because it was perfect timing to allow me to be healthy during the races now that my immunity is built up and I’ve recovered most of my strength again.  I’m definitely sore after yesterday’s workout but am feeling pretty sure I’ll be strong enough by race time to not be such a weak “weakest link”!

 

As I’m waiting on the ferry, my thoughts turn once again to some of the spiritual lessons and pictures of Christ I see as a result of Mushing my dogs.  His Mercy and Goodness to my little team of mostly rescued dogs was clear yesterday as I watched these precious creatures enjoying their time on the trail.  I laughed at their silliness when we stopped for a snack, burying their whole faces in the fresh powder, throwing themselves on their backs and wiggling all around, and screaming and jumping to tell me they wanted to go further.  The Almighty cares for even the forgotten and unwanted ones in this world.  This little team is healthier and stronger than we’ve ever been before, including the two newbies on the team who must just be amazed at the blessings of LOVE in their new lives!  Having only been adopted a few months ago from a life without love, I know they are So Appreciative and So Happy to be with us.  To think that last year at this time there was only rough treatment and lack of food and petting that Cicely was struggling to live through, and only lack of basic care, protection or socialization that Tkope knew, and now to see them both LOVED and safe and happy members of their new pack, running with their team and then coming back home as spoiled sofa-dwellers, well it brings tears to my eyes to think of!  It’s much like the life of this believer- The Lord lifted me out of my old life full of and controlled by sin (including my failed attempts to be “good enough” to earn the Love of the Father) and gave me my new life by the best Gift of all, Faith in His Son, through which He saved me by His Grace.  This is where the illustration departs from Cicely and Tkope, because they ALWAYS DESERVED LOVE.

 

But the new lesson that’s brought to my mind today centers on the LOVE that the Lord has for His people.  For years I’ve known that the Lord has an infinite love for His people, especially after seeing all that He gave to save me (His Only Son’s Holy Life for my sinful and unthankful soul).  But thinking about the Love of the Lord that rejoices to simply make us smile is wholly different and surprises me on some level.  I don’t have to mush my dogs to be happy, but when I mush my dogs, I’m happier!  He enjoys blessing His people with the things that we enjoy, and that is an AMAZING thought!  The Almighty Ruler of the Universe gave me a deep love for dogs, for the outdoors, for the beauty of the snowy wilderness, and then Sovereignly directed me to discover mushing, and has made me dance!  How WILD is that thought?!!!  

Mushing is something He allows me to do, rather calls me to do, for my enjoyment, but He doesn’t just leave me with worldly blessings from it, He actually uses mushing to bring me closer to Him. 

 

Thinking back to yesterday’s magnificent and exciting run, He was teaching and ministering to me each step of the way.  He allowed me to go high on top of His mountains and enjoy beautiful sweeping vistas that I never would have seen otherwise, but He also showed me Tiny Fingerprints He left behind, as from an Almighty Artist.  I looked down beside the runners and saw individual sparkling snowflakes laying perfectly flat on the ground, layers upon layer of them, that are all different from the others.  I can appreciate these details while traveling with my team since I’m not having to constantly help them up the hills (and missing everything because I’m concentrating on poling or kicking) and they’re not going so fast that my surroundings are a blur.  (I love my team!  They are perfect for me!)  I looked around and saw both Great and Small examples of His Artistry and Power.  I saw avalanche slides along the trail and looked up and wondered how the snow was staying on the vertical rock faces far above us.  I saw several big trees standing together that were snapped off 15′ off the snowy ground from a larger slide years ago, and I saw small trees mostly buried from the most recent slide.  I rejoiced in the clear, crisp air I took deep into my lungs as we made our way up and up and up and basked in the bright reflecting sunlight that warmed my face.  I looked down into gorgeous valleys and the trail below, able to see where we had come from.  I looked up into the deep turquoise sky and saw clouds taking on intricate shapes (from a long flowing ribbon to a perfectly round ring with a hole in the middle).  I saw completely snow-encrusted trees high on the hills above us, and sweeping panoramas of various peaks and ranges for miles and miles in all directions.  I noticed and appreciated the peace and quiet of being alone with my team on the trails, with the sense of adventure and excitement He allows me each time we venture down a trail for the first time. I thought on the Wonder of His Care for the Rabbits and Ravens high on the hills whose voices we heard and tracks we saw (and scents we hunted!).  I saw ever-changing colors in the skies and weather conditions while we were out on the trail.  I noticed huge old growth trees that have withstood so many years of trials and still remain ALIVE by His Care.  And I realized once again that it’s not just in seeing His Amazing Creation (so beautiful, so wisely and powerfully designed, built and maintained) that is most important and brings me the most Joy, but it’s in “seeing” the Creator Himself within His Creation and learning more about Him that is the Ultimate Joy I get from mushing.  It’s like loving and enjoying a beautiful painting but enjoying and appreciating it on a whole new level after meeting the Artist.  I have found that as I learn more about the Lord and know Him better, I love His creation more, I love His creatures more, my joy is more complete and my hope for the future is more sure.  These things are true whether I am ever allowed to take my team out again or not

Habakkuk 3:17-18– Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, [though] the product of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls, 18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation!

These truths are stable in my life no matter what else is changing or falling apart.  Mushing inspires me to know the Creator better and to bring Him glory while appreciating His creation alongside my dog team.  I am INCREDIBLY THANKFUL to be a musher, INCREDIBLY JOYFUL that the Almighty God has used this crazy sport with our crazy Siberians to spiritually work in my heart and soul! 

Romans 8:28– We are assured and know that all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.

Who would have imagined that this Joy has come to me as a result of adopting a carefree little Siberian mix from a Colorado shelter some 22 years ago! I certainly NEVER dreamed Mozo would have led to my life of JOY today!    

Oh the JOY He gives me from being on the runners with my team!  Oh the Joy that He gives each one in my team as they trot down the trail!  In His Gift of Joy, we collectively praise Him as a team from His mountain tops!

 

Psalm 148: 1-13- Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise Him in the heights!  2 Praise Him, all His angels, praise Him, all His hosts!  3 Praise Him, sun and moon, praise Him, all you stars of light!  4 Praise Him, you highest heavens and you waters above the heavens!  5 Let them praise the name of the Lord, for He commanded and they were created.  6 He also established them forever and ever; He made a decree which shall not pass away [He fixed their bounds which cannot be passed over].  7 Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps!  8 You lightning, hail, fog, and frost, you stormy wind fulfilling His orders!  9 Mountains and all hills, fruitful trees and all cedars!  10 Beasts and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds!  11 Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers and judges of the earth!  12 Both young men and maidens, old men and children!  13 Let them praise and exalt the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted and supreme! His glory and majesty are above earth and heaven! 

 

Psalm 150:6- Let Every Thing that hath breath, praise the LORD.  Praise ye the LORD!

 

May The Lord continue to carry us “On By Grace” to more amazing adventures and joys!

 

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