In the summer of 2011, about four months into our homeschooling journey, I declared a thought aloud to my husband. “I think I’m ready for my little house on the prairie.” Yep, the one in your mind’s eye; where the land takes precedence over the understated house. He wasn’t surprised by my comment, but understand, we mostly gravitate to beach destinations. In fact, we had recently returned from Mexico, and were searching for a second home in Tybee Island, GA. But something was stirring inside of me and our internet house hunting search quickly changed to zip codes beginning with eight.
In the Fall of 2003, we set our sights on a storybook-esque, three-bedroom, rolled-log cabin set on 16 rolling acres just outside of Breckenridge, CO.
We envisioned weekends away from our primary residence in south Denver hunting, fishing, boating on the nearby lake, driving ATV’s or snowmobiles, and sitting out on the small deck basking in God’s creation. We thumbed through the novel-sized HOA regulations and all the aforementioned activities were illegal on the property except basking. Ugh. At the time we couldn’t afford more land and less rules, so we closed the storybook cover on the dream.
Shortly afterwards, God planted adoption into our hearts and we soon understood why He steered us away from the cabin in the woods.
Fast forward seven years, our thoughts turning back to that adorable cabin but hoping to find it on more land with no HOA and within driving distance from our primary residence. I’m still a beach girl at heart but, with no plans of buying a private jet, spontaneous weekends a car ride away fit the bill while keeping our home in the city, close to the mall.
After some day-long car trips, due diligence, and prayer, we signed the closing papers on my little house on the prairie. Well, little houses, plural. The previous owners ran a commercial guest ranch, but 16+ years of painstakingly hard work and the depressed economy forced their exit.
We fell in love with the land, 99 rolling acres 25 minutes outside of Steamboat Springs, CO, surrounded by 360 degree mountain peak views. Across the street, we can enjoy summer water sports on Steamboat Lake or ice fishing in the winter.
The main house, a three-bedroom, rough-sewn wood house is a simple abode, however, in addition to my little house, the purchase also included a rolled-log lodge complete with a commercial kitchen, a two-car detached garage, a tack shed and loafing shed for horses, and nine, yes nine, fully furnished cabins along with four apartments to house the ranch hands.
We have no intentions of operating a guest ranch but rather hosting family, friends and community events from time to time.
Freed by our homeschooling schedule, we’ve enjoyed a significant amount of time on the ranch after having just closed on it two months ago. Last weekend, we went for an overnight to check on the fireplace renovations in the main house. Saturday morning was perfect. Blue skies. Forty degrees. Snow covered ground. Perfect for my husband to take the kids on their first snowshoeing expedition. Perfect for me to drink coffee in bed while watching chef’s cook on TV. Perfect for praising God for his provisions, faithfulness, for keeping promises. He has repaid us for the years the locusts have eaten. (Joel 2:25)
Often times, I’ve resented the sacrifices we’ve made adopting/raising three kids. I’ve never sugar-coated the truth. It’s been hard. I recently shared coffee with a prospective adoptive mother and my advice to her: it’s the best thing if it’s God’s will for your life and you’re willing to yield yourself to Him daily. Yielding. That’s the hard work and sacrifice. I faced the fact that I’ve called myself a christian for years but didn’t walk my talk. I wanted a savior, not a Lord over my life.
In my selfishness, I considered the past seven years of our adoption journey as the years the locusts have eaten. But no. The years the locusts have eaten were, for me, the christian years spent with one foot in the world; missing out on the true freedom Jesus Christ offers. Since having adopted these kids, I’ve jumped into God’s arms with both feet. The trials, suffering, difficulties, valleys that made me seek Him alone; that’s the repayment, the grace, the mercy. Adoption is the vehicle that God has used to draw me to Him in intimate friendship. The work continues. Thankfully, I’m still making forward progress. He has my whole heart and I praise the name of the LORD my God (Joel 2:26), basking in His creation in my little house on the prairie, without rules or restrictions.
Nicely done! Kate and I thank you for sharing your heart.
Love, love, love this story. However, I was @ work reading this & tears are streaming down my face. So next time I read one of these I will do it @ home by myself.
I so feel that way to, of all the trials & tribulations of my life. You just put into words my heart.
Love you & so happy for you Little House on the Prairie. If you ever decide to open up for buisness, I will come help you run the place. Very beautiful.
Thank you for sharing your heart, I’m sure as I, many will be blessed.
Thanks Roxanne. Sorry to make you weepy. Come visit our ranch anytime.
Natalie – we have so much in common! We adopted from Ukraine in 2007 and again in 2010. It’s not for lightweights is it? It’s a daily die to self kind of thing. I’m still working at mastering it.
Oh sister, you understand. Let’s commiserate over coffee sometime.
You have such beautiful words ….obvious from a beautiful heart. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you Kandy. I appreciate your encouragement. Miss you gal.
Wow, what an amazing journey you’ve been on and to God be the glory! I think it’s a grand idea and I’m glad God has revealed Himself to you through all of your journey with the adoption and where He wants you to be in your relationship with Him. I was so sad when we left CO and was miserable here in TX for awhile, but this last April and through the next 4 mos., God made His plan really clear to me. I needed to be in TX! But that’s a story I will leave until we get some time together. God bless! We love you.
Mary Ann, Thank you for sharing your heart. Now that we’ll have a kid at Baylor this Fall, Dallas trips will be a mainstay. I’ll let ya know when we’re in town so we can share some tea together and get caught up. Love ya lady.
so inspirational, Natalie! Still trying to perfect my walk with Christ. I suspect that I too have spent way too much time trying to please man, and not enough time allowing Christ to rule as the king of my heart. I appreciate your candor, I needed your words, at this very moment.
Jesus is King!
Thanks Matt for encouraging me to write with honesty. It’s tough to bare our imperfections but in our weakness, He is made strong. I’m so glad that you took the time to comment. Blesses me. I’ve been following your spiritual walk on FB. Great to watch a man seek after God’s heart. Stay in touch!
Natalie, as ever I’m humbled and impressed by the grace with which you have carried yourself on your journey. I’m keeping you and yours in my prayers and close to my heart. Hugs to all.
Oh Sandy, wish we could share a cup of Joe together…love ya lady. Thanks for your sweet words.
Your words are such a perspective check and a reminder. I love the following:
“The years the locusts have eaten were, for me, the christian years spent with one foot in the world; missing out on the true freedom Jesus Christ offers. ”
What a wonderful reminder for our daily trials, trimmings and valleys. What freedom God provides through and during those difficulties if we would just fall into his arms to lift us, guide us and strengthen us.
Kerry, that was my aha moment. The biggie. I’ve always thought the trials or the suffering was when the locusts were eating. NO. That’s the repayment. Best revelation in my christian walk! Thank you for reading and posting a comment. Love ya.
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