Of Risk and Reward: A Year of Life on the Ranch

Last summer, we packed up our three-bedroom suburban life and trucked it out 40 minutes to a sprawling five-bedroom ranch. The latest risk in a string of many we have taken over our thirteen married years.

I’m not sure when the dream began, but my husband and I have often talked of our country-living vision. The simplicity and beauty of country life beckoned to us from the suburbs, although neither of had ever lived it.

Every time I read books like Charlotte’s Webor Mr. Brown’s Farmto my kids, I would imagine ponds and ducks and children running in fields of green and yellow.

Living in the country this past year has definitely held its excitement; barns to explore, woods to walk, and views to see. But I’m not gonna lie here and say it has been all Fern and Wilbur. It’s been an adjustment. Because you can take the girl out of the suburbs, but you can’t take the suburbs out of the girl.

Target and Starbucks are my people. I just can’t help that. Most may not be proud to be from the cookie-cutter community that exists 30 miles outside the city limits, but I am not one of them. The country is wild and quiet. So unlike the noisy pre-planned community I am used to.

The first few months on our dream property were like a honeymoon. We woke up to golden hills topped with a bright orange sun, and were in awe that this was all “ours.” Eyes wide open we would go exploring and adventuring, learning the land and feeling free.

Then we began the first of many renovations. And like my husband is always apt to do, we went big instead of going home. We (I mean he, with a rope and a truck and a couple of saws) tore down our old unstable front porch. We filled three full size dumpsters with demo from the porch and treasures from the barn like old T.V.s, canned food, and carpet.

We replaced 16 windows, created a man cave in the barn, rebuilt our front porch, replaced siding, installed a new front door and built a beautiful brick staircase leading up to it.

Our first family picture on the ranch! Pj’s, bare feet, bellies showing, biker shorts (on me) and all. I actually love it. 🙂
We were so anxious to start hosting events, we signed up perhaps a little too early. Getting ready for a staff Christmas party in early December, there was a day we felt like we were on Extreme Makeover, Home Edition. We had plastic hanging in our hallway for guys patching drywall, someone painting the trim around our front door, guys taking down doors and painting in the man cave, laying brick, drilling on siding, and an interior designer trying to hang pictures in the hallway so our house wouldn’t look so bare. I felt like a bride getting ready for her wedding. I was pulled in a million different directions and asked a thousand questions which needed answers on the spot. And then there were kids. Five of them. I’m so thankful my parents were there through this season making sure nobody stepped on a nail or super-glued their head to the carpet.

We made it through those few crazy weeks and January left us tired and happy for the quiet and peace we finally felt in our new home. But then it got a little too quiet. And then with baseball in the spring, too busy. And it seemed as if we had in fact moved, which of course we did. We knew we were moving to the hills, far from our friends, but we hadn’t felt it until now. We are people people and we never want to lose the connection to our beloved suburban community. But the 40-minute drive was feeling farther than it had before.

Nine months later, spring left us wondering if country living was all it was cracked up to be.

It was a hard place to sit. When you risk it all, you have to be willing for the potential reality that things won’t turn out like you were hoping. That you will in fact, have chanced it all and lost. When we moved, we knew it was a big risk. We knew we didn’t know what it would be like to live in the country having been suburb kids our whole lives.

But we felt (and still do) that sometimes it’s better to try than to wonder, and so we took the chance and bought the farm.

And as I sort through feelings of missing crowds but enjoying space, I’m reminded that any change we face in life is like this: full of pros and full of cons, of risk and reward.
Now we were wrestling with that decision. Was it all we imagined it would be?  Did we want to move back to the land filled with bagels and flowing with lattes? (I love bagels and lattes).

Although we aren’t shutting out the chance that we may someday risk again and move back to the burbs, for now we are staying. Even in the worst of summer’s offerings (heat and dust aplenty) we’ve renewed our determination to stay. We’ve remembered the reasons we moved out here. Fallen in love with a mucky pond, four-wheeler rides and some barn dancing–just us.

There are a lot of hard things about suburban kids going country. But there are also a lot of perks. There’s painted sunrises and sunsets that we can actually see, horses to pet, trails to run and bikes to ride over gravel hills. There’s porch swinging and sipping and some pretty sweet campfires (in the rainy season of course). There’s dreams yet to be dreamed and room to explore.

And as I sort through feelings of missing crowds but enjoying space, I’m reminded that any change we face in life is like this: full of pros and full of cons, of risk and reward. Risking, venturing, change–all these are unsettling things bringing unsettled feelings.

To any decision in life we make, there are perks and there are drawbacks. Advantages and disadvantages, pros and cons. We can never be free from both.

And something I’m learning more recently is that there is risk in taking risk, but there is also risk in not taking it. It’s risky to get married, to have children, to move to a new city or take a new job. But there is also risk in NOT doing these things. In order to save ourselves heartache or loss by staying close and keeping safe, there’s a world out there of things we miss. Things we never knew we would love or people we never meet.

High risk, high reward, my husband likes to say. The risk is that there may not be a reward. But how will we know unless we try? And if we try and fail? Well then, we have learned to be brave. We have learned to live unencumbered by fear of failure, and that in itself is success.

Because like hockey great Wayne Gretzky said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Me and the ranch man.
So we took a shot and we’re giving it one. We are committed to continuing this country thing, and letting the rewards of peace and quiet seep into our souls. We are taking the good, the bad, and the ugly (a.k.a the tarantula we saw on our front porch) and being extremely grateful for the opportunity we have before us. The opportunity to raise our kids in the great outdoors. The opportunity to live big and love big. To host parties and people and use it for His glory. The opportunity to live beyond our limits of comfort and find new strengths in new seasons.

Waiting on the Wind

You guys!! By God’s great grace, something I wrote was posted with (in)courage today! I am so grateful for this opportunity to share what God has shared with me. You can click on the link below to read more.

Thank you friends for all your encouragement to me along the way.

God bless!

 

Waiting on the Wind

I’d Rather Be Real

About Brooke Frick

 

I sent this picture out as our Christmas card last year. My husband thought I was crazy. He still thinks I am. We’ve certainly taken better family pictures, so why I chose this one he didn’t understand.

But this is my family. This is our house. And this is one of my all-time favorite pictures of us. Why? Because it’s real life. It’s crying and pouting kids and a big ‘ol messy house. Yes, if a picture is worth a thousand words, this one describes us.

I’m ever grateful our house doesn’t look like this anymore, but it still isn’t perfect and neither are we. And what this picture reminds me, and hopefully others, is that even when things look a little better on the outside, life still isn’t perfect and it never will be. And I’m beginning to think God’s more concerned with the process of redemption, than the result of perfection.

There are a lot of “Instagram stars” out there these days. People with lots of followers who post pretty pictures with perfecting filters, and whether they mean to or not, they make life appear better than it really is. To be fair, it’s hard to be real, it’s hard to see real on social media.

It’s easy to get caught up in the rat race of social media. It’s easy to want people to see us as pretty, happy, stylish, women. Women who discipline their kids perfectly, decorate like Joanna Gaines, and age like Jennifer Anniston. Women who have it all together.

I know people can look through my Instagram account and see a different story than the one I know, even if I didn’t intend them too. And that is why I love this picture. It’s my chance to be real and vulnerable with you. To open the door to my house, (or front yard) and show you the reality of my messy wonderful life.

Because in the end, I’d rather you walk away from time with me feeling relieved and encouraged, than impressed. I want you to know you aren’t the only one with piles of papers on your desk, or piles of rotten wood in your front dirt. You aren’t the only one whose children pee in the grass and run through the aisles at Target.

Instead of leaving you fascinated, I’d rather leave you encouraged. I’d rather be real.

So I’d rather not impress you with our house, our children, or my sense of style. Instead, I want you impressed with the fact that we are all in this together. Impressed with our collective desperate need for a God who gives us infinitely more grace than we give ourselves (and each other).

I’d rather a friend or a stranger leave my presence– in person or online–grateful for her own gloriously hard mom life than envious of mine. So I’ll post this picture all day long, if it encourages us all to live life a little less filtered, a little more vulnerable, a little more real.

 

 

 

Bursting My Buttons

Week 25.

I wore a dress today I had been saving. That was a mistake. The buttons are nearly bursting. I should have worn it earlier. It’s a super cute denim shirt dress, and it will only get worn about 2 weeks, if that. It’s a shame to waste a cute maternity dress. Especially when it’s your last pregnancy.

I’ve been saying I want to savor this pregnancy because it is my last. But that is quite a difficult thing to do when TWINS are your FOURTH pregnancy and you have three other active boys to take care of. Savor? Pregnancy? With twins?

After this one, LORD willing and the tubal ligation works, we will be done having children.

This is my last rodeo.

After this pregnancy, I will never again experience heart burn in the middle of the night (hopefully), or wake up to tingly fingers and a full bladder several times at night. I won’t see a basketball protruding through everything I wear. I won’t have problems bending over, and I’ll be able to comfortably wear my wedding rings again.

But I will also never feel a baby move within my body again. I won’t see the flicker or wave of an elbow just beneath the skin of my abdomen. I will never again have the amazing awesome responsibility of growing a life (or two).

So ladies, I am trying. Trying to squeeze my eyelids shut, pause, and make mental note of my last adventure in the most miraculous, mysterious, and fascinating event in the annals of motherhood: pregnancy.

So whether my buttons are bursting from joy or from an enlarged abdomen, may I be grateful and pause to remember this season of my life. For just like everything in life, it will pass. And like that cute maternity dress, it will never come around again.

How Sweet the Sound

The other night I snuggled up with my son to read books before bed. He picked one of his favorites, a Bible story book with cool illustrations of Noah’s Ark and Jonah and the whale. He doesn’t quite have the attention span for the whole story, so I usually just flip the pages and say a few words about each one. We came to the resurrection story and I read the verse at the bottom of the page.

It was Isaiah 25:8: “And the LORD God will wipe away tears from all faces.”

And like someone turned on a faucet, tears started streaming down my face.

Now, I am a woman. And a woman prone to tears at that. I cry for many different reasons, in many different ways, but I’m not sure crying has ever caught me so off guard like it did that night.

Why would a statement about God wiping tears from our eyes make me cry?

Homesickness.

There is something about doing familiar things in an unfamiliar place that reminds you just how far away from home you really are.

We went and got our Christmas tree on Saturday. As we were driving to the nondescript parking lot, I realized that the leaves were still on the trees! Yellow, orange, maroon, gold–I have never picked out a Christmas tree with the fall colors in the background.

We set our tree up in the living room, but I didn’t even feel like decorating it. I didn’t want to listen to carols or deck the halls. It didn’t feel like Christmas was coming at all.

I thought the same about Thanksgiving. The palm trees were swaying outside the window as we sat down to our Thanksgiving meal. Not the usual backdrop for our turkey feast. I am used to seeing barren twisted tree branches curling up into clear blue skies through the window as we eat our green bean casserole.

Still, we had a nice meal. We lit a fire. We watched football. We had company. We even ate Indian Pudding, which we were told was a traditional New England desert for Thanksgiving. But I missed my family, and those barren tree limbs.

All these feelings I welled up in my heart, trying to deny their existence. Then I read a verse about Jesus wiping away our tears and it all came out. I was sad. I was homesick. But it was okay. He knew I was feeling down and one day He’s going to wipe all those tears away. What a beautiful thing for the LORD to say to His children. I am so glad the Bible includes verses like that one.

When things are going well in life, I say things like, “God is so good.” I know it’s true. I believe it. God is always good, in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, God remains the same: good.

But I’ve been realizing lately, that the presence of so many good things in my life is not a result of God’s goodness. It is a result of God’s graciousness.

To say that I have these things because God is good in some way implies that He gives these things to me because I am also good. And so good people do good to other good people. But there is no way that I deserve all the wonderful the things I have been given. I am not that good.

I have these things because God is a gracious God, not because He is good.

There are so many wonderful attributes of God, but grace just may be my favorite. Undeserved merit. Kindness. Forgiveness. Grace.

It is enough to bring a grown man (and of course, a woman) to tears. It truly is amazing grace.

So what am I thankful for this Thanksgiving season? God’s overflowing, ever present, abundant, and humbling grace. Without which I would be lost and forever homesick, with no one to wipe away my tears.

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