I knew I was getting close to (or had passed) my eight year anniversary writing this little blog, and I’ve been wanting to write a little something to that effect, and in gratitude for the people who read my blog. Some of you have been following along for years, and that means a lot to me. So to satisfy my curiosity I went back in my archives and, what do you know, eight years ago today I published my first post!
As I look back at some of my early blog content, a lot of things bounce around inside my head. One, what in the world was I doing with that camera? There are a few good pictures, mostly by accident. But more importantly I’m reminded of the excitement and difficulty of moving to South Dakota, of moving into an 800 square foot cabin with my parents and two of my three sisters, of sharing a bedroom with siblings as an adult, of starting over as an adult, beginning a new life in a new place and of learning to trust God with all the outcomes.
I look back and see so much change. I see struggles and losses and failures and dreams that were made and broken. I see so much growth – personal, emotional, relational, and spiritual. Yet I see at the same time I see so much sameness, heart longings that made no sense at the time, common threads woven through my entire life that speak to God’s love and His authorship of even our hopes and dreams.
I see seeds of desires that God has satisfied, one way or another, in His own time. I look at the beauty I was trying to capture with my camera, the things that tugged at my heart strings, and it amazes me to think that I am so wonderfully immersed in those things my heart was just starting to love. I look back at my early attempts at gardening, my love of the beauty of the Hills and the beauty of the agricultural lifestyle, and I see seeds for where God finally planted me. And then I look back further. When I was 10 or so, I had a memory book that had questions and space for written answers. One of the questions was “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I answered, “I want to live in South Dakota and have horses.” Little did my 10-year-old self know that it would take 15 years to get to South Dakota, but that I would in fact get here! And little did I know in 2015 when I was working for the rancher who runs cows on my family’s place, and falling in love with the work and the outdoors and the dirt and the sweat and the smell of horses and cows, that eight years later I would be the wife of a rancher and a neighbor to the rancher I had worked for. Funny how life works. Correction, funny how God works. Sometimes those heart longings that make no sense are God’s way of foreshadowing the work He’s doing.
I look back on my early blogging and see an at times very lonely 20-something single gal, with desires that could only be satisfied by God in His own timing, doing her best to thrive where she was, growing in her trust of God, knowing that God is a loving God Who knows our needs and even cares about our heart desires, clinging to some of those hopes and dreams that honestly seemed hopeless, dreams of marriage and a little home in the Hills and a garden and maybe a couple of chickens.
I see the winding road, yet not so winding, that it took to get here. I see the little side roads I took, that filled life with spice and adventure and highlighted what was truly important to my heart, and made the “Yes” I gave to my rancher the most obvious decision of my life.
It’s like a garden. The first year you plant perennials, some do well, some don’t. Some die off over winter, others come back pretty hardily. There is growth in those first few years, and then they just take off and there is no stopping them. That’s the impression I have of my life, looking back on the 8 years since starting this blog, and the 8 years, 1 month, and 21 days since moving here. I see seeds planted that were slow to take off. Some did well but were pruned out eventually. Other just died off, and that’s fine. Others were slow to get started and have just exploded.
Life has overflowed. I came here with my books and my family and a college degree, and that was about it. I had no friends here, no community, a jumbled mess of recently-rediscovered dreams and disappointed hopes, and I hoped I would find somewhere I belonged. God has given me so much. He has brought struggle and loneliness and has allowed pain, and has been faithful through it. He has given me a life I love with a husband I adore, work to do with a new family that feels like blood family in a community that warms my heart and brings so much meaning to life. He has brought into my life all the spice and savor and sweetness I had dreamed of, and then more.
So I’m just sitting here thanking God for eight years in South Dakota, and eight years of this blog, and for those of you who read this blog and let me know when it touches your hearts. I’m thankful for growth. I’m thankful for change and sameness. I’m thankful for dreams and answers to prayer. I’m just thankful.