Last year we went on vacation – the first one we took as a family of five since my mother was diagnosed with cancer, since my father was diagnosed with Lewy Body dementia. We had found a wonderful home health care provider we trusted and felt like we could leave with our children for a vacation. We went to a favorite childhood spot of mine, the Black Hills of South Dakota. We got snowed into a small two bedroom cabin. We played UNO – a lot. Around the time we were thinking, “wow, this vacation is a bust,” the girls exclaimed in unison, “best vacation EVER!”
Okay, admittedly, we hadn’t taken care of us – our family of five. So for the kids, it was the best vacation ever. We felt led to do something crazy at that point.
A month later, we bought a cabin in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, off of a dirt road, about an hour away from our house. For the last year, this place has become our refuge, our place of healing, our place to get away from what can seem to be an out of control and broken world.
After a particularly difficult fall and winter, we were up at the cabin and my daughters walked in with a poster they had designed. It had our family of five drawn in a heart and said, “God wants us to live in Estes.” And in an inset picture they had drawn grandpa and it said, “Grandpa will be okay.” Cute, but, of course, as sweet children tend to be, totally unrealistic.
All of the arguments for why moving permanently up to the mountains jumped to the forefront of my mind. How will we be able to maintain jobs? What about dad’s care? And so on.
But here is the other side of this. Over the last few years, if we have learned one thing it is that life is full of uncertainties. You can have the most amazing plans. Great plans. Plans you work tirelessly to bring about. Yet, sometimes the universe has other plans. I am no theologian, and I don’t want to guess why these events happen in our lives that are so painful. Is it because we live in a broken world and “shit” happens to everyone? Is it because in my last life I really screwed up? Is it because God is shaping me in some way I don’t understand? I don’t have any clue. But, it happens, life happens. Your plans get really, really messed up.
We are intimate with the messed up life at this point. The out of control, “did that actually just happen?” life. So somehow, the idea that this move would not be possible just didn’t make sense anymore.
I mean, “Can’t we just give everything up and live up in the mountains?”
My head rationed, “No.”
My soul screamed, “Why not?”
I looked at the girls and found myself saying, “Yes!”
They say the devil is in the details right? And if you think about anything too hard, that is exactly what will plague your mind. So many little details. How often do the details keep you from doing and risking and jumping when you should?
One of the biggest details was that, this is a much smaller house than the one we are coming from. That led me on a mission to essentially start getting rid of what seems at times like everything. Material possessions were a stumbling block and I realized in stark clarity how much “crap” I had been lugging around and protecting. Time to let it all go. I didn’t need it. I am not sure I ever even wanted it. It was an amazing feeling to start purging my life of material possessions and I watched as it freed me from consumer culture as well.
Another devil detail was that this new community – though sought after by tourists world over – is at heart, a rural place. No more running to the store at 10 pm. No more plethora of kid activities at our beck and call. It is quiet and dark at night (of course with a lot of visible stars – amazing night skies). But, this means less too. Less activities. Less night life. And, while we will miss that life, it is freeing as well.
The most difficult part of this life for us right now is to put pain and grief into a context that is instructive rather than one that would just bury us. This means we have to allow ourselves to grieve our loses, be vulnerable, and then to be able to stand up and walk out. It isn’t for the light of heart. You learn to never ever ever ask the question, “well what is the worse that could happen?” Because the universe is fully ready to reply.
Walking out of darkness and into light seems to take more bravery than soldering on in the darkness. If you open yourself up to joy and have felt the bitterness of grief or loss, are you not more susceptible for a harder fall?
It takes a lot of faith to stand up again. To climb out of that valley. To believe that God really does have that perfect plan for you, even if it isn’t what you thought it would be. To still see how freaking amazing life is. It is like learning to walk again.
And in our case, that walk took us up a dirt road, right into the heart of the Rocky Mountains.
The adventure is honestly just beginning. We have a few books locked in us, waiting to come out. I know I have some homeschool curricula begging to come out too. Please keep tabs on us at Cozy Cabin Press.
Life – it’s always just beginning.