Year twenty-nine, age twenty-eight: September 2010-2011.
When Nathan and I moved to the mountains in Colorado, we dove right in to life. The day that we officially moved into our church house we knocked down at least one wall. We started up a new business recycling used automotive oil, which we aptly called, Green Thum. It took several months to start up, of course, so we were poor for a while and could only afford to entertain ourselves with free internet TV.
It was actually pretty easy to meet people and make friends in our small, mountain town. First off, it is a small town so it felt like everyone had heard of us, the couple that bought the old Presbyterian church, before they met us so many of our first interactions with people happened like this: Someone would come up to us and say, "Aren't you the couple that bought that old church?" and we would reply something like, "Yes, I'm Nathan and this is my wife, Ashley."
Nate and I also pursued the opportunity to be involved with Young Life in the valley, as it was just starting up for the first time in more than a decade. I, of course, have a huge heart for Young Life as it was one of the greatest influences on my life and Nathan has a heart for me, so he gave it a shot. Now, I kid you not, every time Nathan gives thanks for a meal that we are about to eat at our house, he prays for the high school kids in Grand County and asks that we can continue to be a part of what God is doing there.
There was definitely a time during our first, long winter in the mountains that Nathan deeply missed the place he called home and the people he called friends for the first thirty-one years of his life. It felt like we were floundering for a bit trying to start our business and we were inside at home pretty much all the time, escaping the snow and cold and working on one thing or another, so it was hard to tell when it was supposed to be time to relax.
But soon enough our business started to become more than a pipe dream and we started to meet people through Young Life and the churches we were visiting and this young-adult hang out that we would go to every couple weeks. So by the time January rolled around, Nathan was attending the first Bible study of his life and I found one as well. We were really starting to connect with people on a deeper level and these were people we could really call friends.
Toward the beginning of the year I was offered a part time position at Crooked Creek Ranch, the Young Life camp about twenty minutes away from my house. It turned out to be a really great job for me and it allowed me to still maintain my responsibilities as C.E.O. of Green Thum, which is my official title because I said so.
It was during this year that I really started to feel this sense that so much of the waiting I had done for all those years in my early- to mid-twenties was for such a time as this. I was finally getting the satisfaction and joy from my jobs that every person wishes they could have. I was in a happy, happy marriage with a person who is 100% right for me and we had three wonderful pets. I had many wonderful friends, both near and far away, and a home and community in a place that inspires me. I even felt like, after I had married into a wonderful family, I had a mom for the first time in my life.
It's not that I looked around and thought to myself, "I've arrived," but I definitely thought, "now, I see." Now I see how the heartache and loss and longing were meant to do something in me rather than to me. Now I see how all those jobs and adventures were equipping me to be successful, even-- or, especially-- if it weren't in a traditional way. Now I see how it didn't really matter where I lived because I will end up where I belong when the time is right.
There was a time last year when I felt like I wanted to write everyone who had supported me during my internship year at Frontier Ranch and thank them for that, because in supporting a wandering twenty-one year-old, they had given me the opportunity to end up where I am in this time. I think it is important to support people in whatever they feel purposeful about because it gives us the opportunity to be a part of that greater purpose. When I look back on all the people who gave me financial support, prayers, late night phone calls, a couch to crash on, words of encouragement and station wagon moving services, I want to bottle up my blessings and give each of them a drink because that is their victory, too.