Getting back on that horse


It cannot be just me who needs this saying this week. I said it as a mom of three boys when they fell off their bikes. I said it when they had a bad day at school. I said it when they sank underwater during swimming lessons. I said, “If you get bucked off the horse, you got to get right back on!”

Whether it applied or not was not why I said it. I said it because my mother said it. She probably said it because her mother or father said it. And it worked, too. Most of the time. Those boys of ours rode their bikes again, went back to school the next day and even eventually learned to like swimming underwater. So, if it worked for them and it worked for my ancestors, it has to work for me, right? Nope.

It is my Christmas cards. He-Who-Took-Long-Steps and I sent out cards and letters every year for 54 years of marriage. Mostly because we loved the cards and letters we got in return. Keeping up with friends and family was important to us.

A year ago was my first Christmas without He-Who here to help. I did it. (He always did the envelopes and stamps. My job was the letter and addresses.) There were still people to notify that he had gone to heaven and my dad, too. That was last year.

Back to the horse. I have tried several times to get the task done this year. Bought the cards. Got the photo ones so I could show his blue spruce tree now big enough for Christmas lights. Bought the stamps. Got the list. But cannot make myself get back on the horse … and send them out. I have tried.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer Jan. 31, 1992. I took time off from writing my weekly newspaper columns while undergoing surgery and treatment. I finished 33 radiation treatments in April of that year. I thought about resuming the column then. That concluded the daily 260 miles round-trips five days a week from Colstrip to Billings for radiation.

It was another time I could not make myself get started. I decided to wait until my six months of chemotherapy finished in August. The horse was still standing there. Better wait until I get stronger.

But then Jehoshaphat got in the way of the horse and saddle. The story of Jehoshaphat in II Chronicles Chapter 20 became so important to me during treatment that I started writing a book called “Breast Cancer and Me.” I kept working on the manuscript. The column could wait. The horse was still standing there.

Then there was He-Who’s gift to me of a plane ticket to go with him on a business trip to Florida in December to celebrate life again. Then it was Jan. 31 and it had been a year. I was still finishing the book.

But I knew that horse had stood by my desk long enough. I needed to write the column again. As I prepared to saddle up I talked to myself. “Why fear a weekly deadline, not having anything to write about, wondering if anyone ever will read it, will there still be space in newspapers, what will I write about?”

“Lois, just get back on the horse! God will answer prayer about words and deadlines. He doesn’t specialize just in ‘Bless this food’ and ‘Heal me’ type prayers!” So I did. That was 25 years ago and a column every week since.

For crying out loud, Lois. Write the Christmas cards! While I do that, maybe, just maybe you have a horse you need to get back on as well?

Read II Chronicles 20 — it can help you. OK? And I will be praying for you, too.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Lois Olmstead is an inspirational speaker and author who lives in the Shields Valley. Email her at or visit