Saturday, April 2, 2011

Worth Every Step

Our suburban city is pretty flat and sorely lacking for spectacular scenery.  We were craving some of the Georgia beauty we tasted last year while on Spring Break.  So we headed off to Starved Rock State Park.

We studied the visitor center information, carefully chose our trail so as to get in a view of a waterfall and set out on our way.  I think I was the most enthusiastic of the five of us.  I love being outdoors and always have.  I led the pack and hurried on to the trail.  Until I saw what began the trail.  A giant staircase.  Larger than I had imagined.  About one hundred or so more stairs than I imagined.  Steep stairs.  They were daunting.  My soaring spirits sunk to the soles of my shoes.  I was so doubtful and bewildered at the thought of climbing all of those stairs with only one good lung, on chemo meds and more than a few extra pounds.

If you have been to Starved Rock, you know exactly what I'm talking about and you know that even a healthy person with two good lungs might struggle to reach some of the high points in the park. 

The girls barreled on ahead of me and Andy tried to stay behind with me, but his worry about the girls forced him to maintain a speed I could not keep up with.  Now there's a man who knows what it means to conquer.  The guy has six crushed vertebrae and still soldiers on. He never uses it as an excuse and never fails to challenge himself. 

My girls and Andy reached the top in no time.  My rescue inhaler and I paused and panted and stared longingly at my family waving back at me from the top.  My girls yelled encouraging statements, "Common, Mom, you can do it!"   

Finally, I arrived at the top of the daunting stairs.  Huffing and puffing, legs shaking and adrenaline pumping.  Above all that, pleased, satisfied and grateful - SO grateful to have made it all the way up there.  The girls giggled wildly while skipping along the path, Andy was busy keeping up with them and worrying about one of them falling off a ledge while I continued to lag behind.  Then I turned a corner only to discover more stairs. 

I began to chuckle to myself rather than cry at the site of more stairs.  I quickly drew the parallel between life and Starved Rock State Park.  Isn't life just like this?  On one day we may be staring in the face of a seemingly insurmountable climb and on others we are pleased and grateful to be resting comfortably on top of the mountain?  Then, once we become content in where we stand, we turn a corner only to see another hill right in front of us.  Often we arrive at the hill just after we have barely caught our breath. 

I finished that hike tired and weak but also strengthened and rejuvenated and ready and willing to take on more (in the future, after a nice nap).  As I struggled to climb to the highest points in that park, I know Jesus was there, too.  In some moments, he was in front of me, just like my children, cheering me on and in others, holding my hand, helping me up.  So it is also with life.  It is so important to remember that we are never really climbing alone and that life is far more beautiful when it includes vacillating scenery.   

I cannot wait to return to Starved Rock to tackle another trail.  I know it will be difficult to climb all of those stairs again.  I will probably look up and doubt that I can do it.  I will most likely stop halfway up and consider climbing back down.  I will forget that Jesus is there with me and curse the fact that I'm there working so hard to get there.  Hopefully, I will reach the top and relish in all of those same emotions I experienced on this trip.  I want to look around and take in the views.  I liked who I was and how I felt when I was finished - stronger and renewed.  I want to hear that voice in my spirit that says, wasn't it worth every step?


  1. Hi.
    I grew up in the Chicago area.
    Stopping by from the UBP to say hello. Have a great weekend!

  2. Howdy!

    I am so happy to have found your blog. I am stopping in from the Ultimate Blog Party and this is my very first year participating and this is SO VERY exciting!! LOL

    Anyhow...please stop by my blogs and follow whenever you get the opportunity:

    So Stylilized is where I am currently offering FREE Custom Blog Designs at

    And...Jessica Lil Corner is where I am blogging about family and life at

    I welcome your visit at either or both of my blogs and hope to have you stop by and follow really soon!!

    Have a very blessed day!! :0)

  3. Still blog hopping even though the party's over. I visited Napierville several years ago and fell in love with the town. Hope all is going well with you.