Where do I even begin?
Let me channel my inner Sophia from Golden Girls…
“Picture it. Montana. May, 2020.”
It was a pretty big surprise to our family and friends a couple of months ago when we told them we were leaving “home” and I think an even bigger surprise to others when I announced one morning on Instagram and Facebook that we packed up everything and moved that very morning.
I think people thought we’d never leave home and usually, when someone is making a big life change like this, it gets talked about quite a bit… at least for a while, before it happens.
Well… not us.
We pretty much kept our plans of moving out west, on the down-low.
A Quick Video of Our Story, in a Nutshell
In case you prefer listening, instead of reading!
→ Did we stay in Montana? Update on Living in Montana
Why the Move?
It’s the question we’ve been asked the most since spilling the beans, and well… the answer’s not a simple one, but it IS an interesting one, to say the least.
A Hellacious Three Years
Before I start to give the details on why we moved, I think it’s important that you know that the last three years of our lives have been, well, hell.
Why didn’t I say anything?
Well I kind of did, but in a private, “heads up” kind of way, because I love to be transparent and real with you all… but telling you everything that was going on, just wasn’t something I was ready to do.
In today’s world, it’s so easy for your private life to suddenly become “everyone’s” business if you let it (and honestly, even if you don’t let it… sometimes it can still feel like everyone is in your business) and, as I’m sure you would in the same situation, I wanted the one place I had online to be a place of joy and inspiration where I could escape, rather than be a dark, uncertain and scary place like our life was at that time.
I’m still not ready to talk about that dark and scary time. Mentally, I’m in a good spot, and going back to dredge up any details of the insanity that was taking place in our lives, may allow my emotional state to go backward… and that’s not something I’m willing to do today.
Will I share the details in the future? Maybe. Because I think a lot of GOOD can come from the bad and the EVIL that lirk upon us in today’s world and sharing those things may just help explain why we as humans can start to feel so low, attacked and defeated… and it also may allow for a chance for us to connect and relate to one another in some way and even play a role in the part of the healing process for everyone involved.
I Would Have Rather Poked my Eyeballs Out…
In high school, my husband and I (boyfriend at the time of course) spent some time visiting my husband’s favorite place on earth…a ranch in Montana that the family of his childhood best friend, owned.
Fast forward a few years in to our 20’s, and we were making more and more trips out to big sky country for long weekends.
And although I LOVED the views… I just wasn’t in love with Montana. To be honest… I despised going to Montana.
Why? There are a few reasons, but I blame it mostly on the time in our lives and our immaturity at the time, rather than the state itself.
But although my horrible feelings toward Montana were all self-inflicted… I still felt so strongly that I didn’t want to visit much and definitely didn’t want to live there. Actually, I would have rather poked my eyeballs out.
My husband? Well, it was a place where he could go and feel like he could leave the hustle and bustle, get back to his roots, and was a place where he actually felt “home” and happy.
So needless to say, he would just about give his right-arm to live there, at least during the summer and fall, so it was always something he dreamed about… but knew that I’d never be on board with moving there, so he pretty much let the dream go.
He Said “Mountains”
And then… God.
Man, you know it’s going to be a good story when it begins with “And then… God”. Am I right?
During the three years of awfulness, I found myself on a roller coaster of emotions.
(My husband did too of course, and I might as well tell you now that he’s going to share his story one day too, so just know that this is MY viewpoint, which does NOT take away from how my husband or boys suffered or may have been feeling during this time too. It definitely affected our entire family, but they’ll be able to tell their stories one day.)
Anywho, back to “And then… God.”
I Felt Like I Was Done. Really Done.
I couldn’t get out of bed. I didn’t want to get out of bed. What was the point? If I stayed in bed, I could ignore that “life” was actually happening outside of our home and no one could see me in there.
I even made it to where the boys could hang out in the bedroom with me most of the day and we’d watch their favorite tv shows, just so I could lay in bed and hope the tv kept them entertained for me.
Some days I managed to get up and feel like I could actually make dinner, but the fear of someone looking in our windows (not that people were actually doing that… it just felt like everyone was watching) would send me right back to my “safe place” (the bedroom) and then it would turn out to be another pb&j night for the boys because that didn’t take as much time or effort.
Some of the days would be so dark that I’d even find myself wondering if everyone around me would be better off if God would just take me right then and there.
I mean, I had a blog that could generate income without me so they’d be taken care of, and maybe my boys would no longer have to deal with a stressed-out mom who didn’t know how to live life anymore.
Looking back, I know that’s not the case at all, but if you’ve ever been so “low”, those are the types of thoughts that go through your head and it’s a scary, scary feeling.
5-Minute Closet Prayers
During these roller coasters of emotions, I found a few things that would help drag me out of the darkness… at least for a little while, and one of those things was my “5-minute closet prayers”.
Some days, the pain and hurt would be so overwhelming that I’d physically get up and go hide in my son’s closet (so the boys couldn’t see me) and just cry. I’d cry out to God… beg Him… plead for his mercy and ask Him to just take all of the bad away.
During those moments, I wanted to “hear” God speak to me like so many had claimed He had done before but I found myself getting really frustrated, wondering what “hearing” God actually looked and sounded like.
I mean, would it be like in the movies where God’s voice sounded like Morgan Freeman and the message would be clear as day?
I even asked my pastor what it was like… and what he said didn’t click for me. But I was longing for it. Begging God to speak to me, and to open my heart and ears so I could hear whatever He wanted me to hear.
I’m not going to lie… some days, it felt like I was just talking to the clothes hanging up in that closet, and some days it felt like God was actually listening because I felt some sort of peace come over me; at least enough peace to make me feel like I could go back out and put a fake smile on my face so the boys could have some sort of normalcy.
But then one day, I heard it.
I heard…and I FELT… God speak to me.
What Does That Feel Like?
Well I’m not sure if everyone feels this way, but for me… it was a sense of calm. A sense of peace… and a sense of feeling in my heart and even a feeling of goosebumps.
Is this how everyone feels? I have no idea. But it was a feeling so strong that I can’t deny and can’t explain HOW it could be anything different.
So What Did He Say?
He simply said “mountains”.
It was a random thought that came to my mind and left me asking,
“Where did that come from?” and “What in the world do ‘mountains’ have to do with anything right now?”
And that right there was another sign to me that it was God because it was the most random thought I’d ever had and it made no sense whatsoever to me at that moment.
I also felt like it was a very private thought and that I wasn’t supposed to say anything about it to anyone.
(Maybe that’s because as an imperfect human, I would have felt “silly” for telling someone that I felt like God spoke to me. In a closet. With a random word. Or that maybe it wasn’t the right time to say anything to anyone.)
So, naturally, as I feel any person would do… I shoved the word “mountains” and the feelings down inside and went about my day.
Well, that was until God kept putting the word “mountains” in front of me and it was completely undeniable.
It was everywhere!
The word “mountains” was in a song that I heard over and over again in the car… (“Do it Again” by Elevation Worship)
A 4-week message at church during this time had the theme “Moving Mountains” that spoke so deeply to the situations that we were dealing with.
And even “little” things like fortune cookies mentioning moving mountains or seeing commercials on tv talking about the mountains… it was as if God was using modern-day ways to keep reminding me of what He told me in the closet that day.
He Said “Mountains in Montana”
Then, during one, very unromantic evening while watching LIVE PD with my husband (I know, I know) it was as if God knew it was the perfect moment to speak to me again and He said,
“You need to be in the mountains in Montana.”
The feeling was so real, it was as if someone walked up to me and slapped me in the face.
“Um… I don’t like Montana.”
I could feel my self arguing internally with my thoughts, and resisting any type of suggestion that I was supposed to be in the cold, mountain air, in a place that I despised.
But it was a feeling so strong that I couldn’t keep it quiet or to myself any longer.
So I looked over to my husband and said,
“You’re going to think I’m crazy… but I think we’re supposed to live in Montana for a little while.”
It was as if those words fell out of my mouth without any control over what I wanted to say and what I didn’t want to say.
He looked at me like I was a crazy person because he KNEW how much I despised Montana and wondered what in the heck was going on.
But it was at that moment that I explained to him about hearing God talk to me about the mountains and how I had a feeling we were supposed to be in Montana, in the mountains, for some reason.
I wasn’t sure why we were supposed to go but it must be God’s plan because there was no way on earth I’d be willing to go, let alone have it be my idea to move to Montana… if it wasn’t God giving me the peace to do so.
Needless to say, my husband beamed with light.
You see, during these last three years, his favorite place on earth (the ranch that he grew up loving so much) actually sold and a little piece of his heart went with it. He knew that there was no way he’d ever be able to go back to that place that he dreamed of spending more time at one day… but he made peace with the idea that he would just hold on to the memories and would hopefully find a new place in Montana to visit.
So with the excitement and quite honestly… the “shocked” feeling… my husband picked up the phone and called a friend (who was actually still the manager of the ranch in Montana) and said,
“Well, I don’t believe I’m saying this… but my wife said she wants to live in Montana for a little bit. Maybe this summer when the boys get out of school? Do you happen to know of anyone renting out a house for the summer in the area or know of something we may be interested in? We just want to be in Montana, doesn’t really matter where.
to which his friend replied,
“Well as a matter of fact I do. The new owners of the ranch (my husband’s dream place) asked me last week if I knew of anyone that may be interested in renting out the main house on the ranch this summer.”
(Keep in mind that this is the ranch that my husband thought he’d never get a chance to see, let alone, stay at again.)
What?! How is this even possible? Why would they even want to rent this out? This was a new thing. They’ve never done this on the ranch before!
But it was as if almost every question we had, there was a logical answer.
It was as if God drew a road map out and guided us along the path that we were supposed to take.
And considering the life that we had been living the last couple of years at the time, we just knew that this opportunity was too good to be true and that it could (and probably would) slip away from us.
So we knew that if we just kept our heads down and kept listening to God and following His plan for us, that this dream may actually become a reality.
Soon, not only did I have peace about going to Montana… I had an excitement about going to Montana. A feeling I had never had before. I just KNEW that He was making all of this happen for some reason; a reason that I didn’t know…but I knew it was because He wanted us here.
So What is the Reason?
Well, at the time of writing this post, we’ve been here 2 weeks now, and you know what? I have no idea yet.
I’m not sure if it’s to help someone here specifically…
Or if it’s to reach out and help others online and being here will give us a better opportunity to connect with others more easily…
Or even if it’s just to use this time to reflect and rebuild our lives and get it to a place that will make us stronger than ever to help others.
No matter the reason, I feel strongly that it is to help someone, in some way, and being here has only magnified that we are right where we are supposed to be.
It just feels right and although I find myself wondering,
Jessica, why WOULDN’T it feel right? You’re on a beautiful ranch, in one of the most beautiful places on earth…
…that’s not what it is. Sure, it’s beautiful and so far the experiences have been insanely dream-worthy… but the feeling of being right where we are supposed to be, has never felt so clear.
Are We Crazy?
Well, it depends on who you ask, I’m sure.
Trust me… we’ve heard everything from,
“Wait… you don’t know how long you’re staying in Montana?”
“You don’t know where you’re going to go after the summer is over?”
“You don’t really even know why you’re there?”
And to be honest… my type “A” personality would normally question the same things and even rebel in what we’re doing.
But for some reason, I’m just going with the flow and seeing where God takes us and leads us.
Because if I can hear him so clearly in that little bitty closet that day… I can surely hear Him, a little closer to heaven, high up on a mountain top.
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