What are these things I’m feeling inside?

When will the thoughts of insecurities subside?

Why does one make me feel this way when others do not?

Where can I shove my idiotic moments to rot?

Which way do I go to follow my pride?

Who is worth it, to put my pride aside?

The Dude Ranch [Email] Diaries: First Night

Disclaimer: It seems I have just bumped into a treasure trove. Whilest looking for the initial sketches of my tattoo, I found all the emails I sent back and forth with friends and family back home during my stay at the Californian Ranch. Nothing quite tells the story like my email drawl of my 19 going on 20-year-old self. Enjoy the poorly typed, yet raw and real experience.

Hey all!
So i made it to Cali safely and i’m chilling in my temporary room, considering it’s dark out and raining… not quite what i was hoping for, but tomorrows a new day… currently i’m the only girl staff member here, which is fine, but i’m definitly not at bethel nemore… it’ll be good tho, once more staff come in about two weeks, in the mean time, i’m going to adjust and get to know the people here. the cook, picked me up at the airport and he’s a pretty cool guy.
So it’s def. not what i thought it was going to be like, but usually things aren’t, tho i’ve been reassured that i will have lots of fun this summer, i might even be able to go exploring to the red woods and over to the coast! Things will get better when i start working and business picks up in about two weeks! so i’m excited… but for now… i’m just praying and reading my bible, and getting closer to God, because, yeah life is much different here.
No worries… I’m good.
I love you all !!!
God bless!

Hi Sarah!!

I was so happy to hear from you – sorry to hear that sunny California
wasn’t sunny yesterday but I’m sure things will improve.  You will be having an
awesome summer and I envy the experiences you’re going to have.  You’re
right – things will be much different when business picks up and your time is occupied a little better (maybe too much!).  What will you be doing the next two weeks before the other staff arrive?  Have you met the owners and are they nice?  I bet you can’t believe that you’re actually there. Keep in touch – it was really great to hear from you.
I love you, Sarah – have fun!!
(Auntie) Paula

HI Sarah….glad to hear from you as I was thinking of you on Wed. as you headed west….sure hope you have fun along with all the work you will be doing….keep me posted as I will love to hear from you…know that I love ya lots…all is ok here and taking one day at a time….

(Auntie) Adira

Hey, Sarah,
Glad you made it safely to CA.  Yes, I will be praying for you alot!  This is a new adventure, but God is there for you!
Sending a hug,
(Cousin & Prayer Warrior) Lrae

hey Sarah! thanks for your email! I’m glad you’re good… just curious..
do you have your phone with you this summer?? How is it  being two hours
behind us?? I always thought it was cool as I felt like everybody was
living in the future… heh… and I was assured that life would be okay
as everyone had lived fine up until that point in the future, you know??
like Charles Schulz says, “Don’t worry about today. It’s already tomorrow
in Australia.” A mi me gusta esto. =)
So it sounds like things are a wee bit slow.. hmm? A wee bit quiet?? I am
glad you have a positive attitude here and are using it for some God time
and reflection. And of course, you’ll get acquainted well before everybody
else is there, so that’s really good for you. The Red woods and the Coast
sound super awesome as well. Huh?? Oh Sarah!! ::big hug::
(Bestie) Leta

Re: Leta
Hey dear!!! Leta!!!
how are you??? I don’t have my phone… it lost service like two hours
away from where i’m at… two hours behind is fabulous!!! i can get up
early and it doesn’t bug me much!!! Thanks for the Charles Schulz quote->
it’s good stuff:)
It’s a whole new world over here… I’m definitly NOT at bethel anymore…
many prayers are welcome… well i got to send another billion e-mails so… i’m going to try to call
you soon!!!

Re: original email
SOoooo good to hear from you!!
Not what you expected….what do you mean?????
SOOOOO PROUD of you doing this…many would not

Re: Mom

it just looks diff than i pictured… but it’s all good, i got to explore
and clean cabins today, and for the whole serving thing… i actually
don’t have to remember much except for breakfast, otherwise i just bring
the food to the table and people serve themselves!!! so it’ll be lot’s of
cleaning, but otherwise pretty easy!!! it’s all good:) I got to meet the
co-boss, the boss’s daughter-in-law and we cleaned the cabins together and
she’s super sweet… and then there’s this older wrangler guy and he found
out i am a Christian and he told me there’s tuesday night bible studies
and he offered to have me come along!!! i’m so excited… he was also
thinking about starting up a study for workers:) so i’m glad that i have
someone i can share my faith with here.
everyone’s super nice here… yeah
Love you,


It is sooo good to hear from you again!!
I am glad you sound a bit better. I am thrilled about the Bible studies!!!
What an awesome opportunity.
Who knows…maybe you will be a leader in the group!! God works in
mysterious ways.
You say it loos different than you thought…HOW?????
I miss you around but I will be OK
Keep in touch…I llove hearing about your time there.

Love you bunches,
God bless you

Re: Mom

It’s a bit more rustic than i expected…
but i’m now having an awesome time!!! i talked with this guy for like
three hours about GOd and life and the Bible!!! It was sweet!
Don’t miss me, just know that i’m working hard and having the time of my

Love you forever and for always!!


Oh…. How hopeful I was at the beginning…

Beloved: A Psalm for 2018

I want to learn to love from a place of knowing – actually feeling on the surface, and in the depths of my being- Your love for me. I want to have a grasp on Your love for me – I want to be rooted in that, so when I share You with others, they will actually feel Your love too. I want to be able to receive Your love, and not just shrug it off – I don’t want to be able to ignore You as You pursue me deeply and lovingly. And yes, thus I am asking Lord that this next year, You will pursue me like You never have before. Crash through my walls, break down any barriers, and evaporate any fears, because Your perfect love casts out all fear. Make my knees weak, my heart flutter, and my soul yearn for more. Serenade me with Your truths, encourage me with Your words, and root me in Your Presence. Guard and protect my heart. Cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Woo me, unhinge me, hold me, and show Your love to me deeper than ever before. So from this, I will be able to love, as You have loved me. 

In Your Holy and Beautiful Name, Jesus,

❤ Amen 



The Dude Ranch Diaries: Tattoo

“I will never get a tattoo.”

I spoke those words adamantly as his BMW sped along the curves of the northern California hills. They fell somewhere between my “I love Jesus,” spiel and, “I don’t mess around, so don’t mess with me,” speech. It was approximately an hour drive from the airport, due north towards the ranch, and our conversation (steered by me) covered all my essentials. Meanwhile, I observed with clear caution the large green pot leaf tattooed on his right arm with the cursive, bold, black words scripted, “God’s Gift,” as I shared my I don’t care what you do, but this is how I live beliefs.

“You’ll get a tattoo by the end of the summer,” Mr. Chef replied quite confidently.

“I’m sorry, but no, I will never get a tattoo,” I replied with gusto.

I was so sure of myself at the beginning.

Yeah, things clearly changed.

I shared an A-frame cabin with two other girls, or was it three? By the end of the summer, I had the place to myself because the other girls had either left, or moved into the cabins of their boyfriends. The cabin was one room, with high ceilings and a small deck out back overlooking the stables. Each of the four corners had a twin-sized bed, with a ragged old couch and a couple worn out shelves and dressers scattered along the available wall-space. Our front door didn’t fully close, which I positively accounted to the rustically, “roughing it” experience. Living. The. Dream. I must admit I was somewhat relieved when I had the place to myself because we all had to share a tiny bathroom.

In this tiny bathroom, there was small plaque that was push-pinned into the wood paneling. Squished beside the small shower, and toilet cubby space, and above the sink and dirty mirror were these influential words, that would absolutely affect the way I lived out the summer.


“If you don’t do it, you’ll never know what would have happened if you had done it.”

-Ashleigh Brillant

Ever since the moment I muttered the word “Never,” I knew I’d live to regret it. Because early into the adventure, early into the craziness, I realized that I kinda, really wanted a tattoo. Not just that I wanted one, but I had a sense that I needed it. Back and forth, back and forth, I prayerfully struggled with my “no tattoo” beliefs. And each morning before work, and each evening before bed, those words would inch their way closer to my heart.

Until I let go…

I started thinking of ideas. Rustic. Cross. Horseshoe. Something to commemorate the dude ranch experience, and the things that helped get me through. And once my creativity took way, I knew I was a goner. I knew I needed this tattoo of my dreams.

I sent my ideas to my best friend back home, because I wanted her to draw it! It would add to the “meaningful” part of the experience. She sent me a few designs…


Then I responded to her revisionary ideas… and then she sent THE ONE. It. Was. Perfect. This tattoo would be more than ink etched into my skin. It would be proof that if I could survive this ranch experience, then surely I could survive anything!


The day after my 20th birthday, Mr. Chef to whom I proudly proclaimed that I would never, ever get a tattoo, not only drove me to the tattoo parlor near the ocean, but he also purchased it for me as a birthday gift!

I really enjoyed the experience. My dear (I say that sarcastically) friend, decided that he would describe the pain as similar to a couple hundred bees stinging me all at once. However, for the hour or two that the tattoo artist was working on me, the most pain that I felt was having to lie on a metal table in the same position for that amount of time. The monotonous buzzing sound would have eased me into a sweet slumber, had I not been so uncomfortable. Though, much to the tattoo artist’s excitement, I jumped a bit as the ink tore into my ankle bone. “Oh I got you there!” he stated satisfied.

Next to me was a sociable lady being tattooed for the who knows how manyth time. The current tattoo was a black outline of two coffee stains. She told me the story of how she and her significant other met in a diner, and the intertwining coffee stains resembled their love story.

The only negative detail about the tattoo experience was that I got it with a few weeks left in the summer – which meant a couple weeks without hot tubs or swims. We also poorly planned our trip, because we went to the ocean after I was tatted. So it was all looks and no feels with Mr. Pacific Ocean.

Originally, I had planned on keeping the tattoo black and white, like the image my friend had drawn. That would keep it nice and affordable for the wallet of Mr. Chef. However, while the tattooist was sketching out the actual tattoo, he recommended creating a larger image, as well as adding shading and color. Generously, he offered to stick to his initial quote in price, and with that information, Mr. Chef and I were sold! Here’s how the finished product turned out with a glistening coating of Walgreen’s A&D ointment:


  • Cross – Jesus, my center, my everything, especially through the terrible times.
  • Wooden – To fit to the rustic, ranch theme, and as the cross was – two wooden planks that our Savior was nailed to.
  • Flame – A combination of two songs that helped me survive the summer – “Consuming Fire” recorded by Hillsong UNITED and “Consume Me” by DC Talk.
  • Barb-wired heart – God, as my consuming fire, is the true lover of my soul. And though I didn’t know it at the time, it is also a reminder of God’s ability to redeem us from our painful memories and experiences. Can I get an Amen? Plus, do you see the cool “S” at the bottom? Yeah, that was on the bone…
  • WWJD – I know some people think it is cheesy, but really, “What Would Jesus Do?”
  • Horseshoe – To commemorate my love of horses, line-dancing and the ranch experiences. It is facing upward so that the luck won’t spill out. Which is one of the better lessons I learned from my boss.

Oh… You’re wondering how my mom felt about it all? Apparently, I told her it was going to be smaller. But, don’t worry, after the shock wore off, she eased into enthusiasm about it, and its message.

And I must say, I have not ever regretted it. I knew, like the grand message of the small plaque in our miniature bathroom, that had not done it, I never would’ve known, how much I would adore it.

So what’s your story: “If you don’t do it, you’ll never know what would have happened if you had done it”?   

Painful Memories

Old emails flashed across the screen,

Of words I’d once spoke.

Experiences I used to joke about,

When really my heart, they broke.

. . .

It’s easy to reminisce the good,

And even the embarrassing moments too.

But when it comes to my terrible self,

I’d rather quit and say, “I’m through”.

. . .

I think this is why I kept these memories,

All ruffled and unsorted in a box.

Now as I plunge into their depths,

Their hauntings return, sly as a fox.

. . .

It was on that ranch that I became,

The me who I didn’t want to be.

With those memories I return again,

To visions that I don’t want to re-see.

. . .

The stories I will continue to write,

As truly I promised I would.

But with the pain of these memories,

Here, I will bury them, for good.



The Dude Ranch Diaries: The Intro to My Terribly Wonderful and Wonderfully Terrible Experiences in the World of Agritourism

The summers following my freshman and sophomore years of college, I spent living and working at dude ranches out west. The first summer was set in northern California, and the second set just west of Denver, Colorado. A “dude ranch” by definition is not a ranch full of dudes, but an upscale, yet rustic ranch vacation for singles and families alike. It is a form of argritourism, to be fancy. It was on these ranches that I experienced the most wonderfully terrible, or terribly wonderful experiences of my life. Either way, it is not one or the other, but most definitely both. Though I could probably fill a book with these stories, (I’m already working on one for Kentucky) I’ve decided that this blog is where I would like to share them, and now is the time to start writing.

Each volume will have the consistent title of: “The Dude Ranch Diaries” and a subtitle such as the unnecessarily extended edition I included for the intro. They will be posted on Friday nights, filled with love, laughter, and lunacy to ease you into the weekend. #flashbackfridays They will exist until I run out of stories. I’d say there’s a good six months worth. Some will be longer, some shorter. Some will be stories of hope, and others will seem hopeless at times. Each story will start with the setting so readers will have an idea of which summer it was (i.e. “One day in the hills of northern California…” or “Fog spilled over the ranch that called itself home just west of Denver…”) One final important detail is that these posts will NOT be in any specific order. They will be posted simply as they come to mind to create an eau du spontaneity, and perhaps even to (in a sense) protect those involved – not that they need protecting.

Because it is real people’s lives that intersect with my story, I will be using pseudonyms for all the people and places in these excerpts. I apologize in advance if you do not like the way that I portray you or if you have a different perspective of how these stories happened (then I encourage you to write your own story, because all of our stories matter).

What? You ask, is so important about those five months out of the 353 months of my life? Well…

It was on those ranches that I became friends with people I never expected to, and experienced true community.

It was on those ranches that I learned about who I didn’t want to be, because at times, I became that person.

It was on those ranches that I met some of the most, dedicated and passionate, but down-on-their luck people.

It was on those ranches that I met families that were up-on-their luck, but still took the time for a summer-dude-ranch employee to share her story, hopes, and dreams.

It was on those ranches that I got to be a country girl that loved horses, rocked cowgirl boots, and acquired epic line dancing skills.

It was on those ranches that I clung to my beliefs like a security blanket.

It was on those ranches that I let go of some of my beliefs like a red helium balloon drifty slowly, and then swiftly away.

It was on those ranches that I remembered how important it is to love while you can, because you never know exactly how long you have with another.

It was on those ranches that I learned how to swear and “stand up for myself”.

It was on those ranches that I learned how deeply you can care for someone, even after only knowing them for a couple of days, or a week, or a few months…

It was on those ranches that I learned how not to treat people.

It was on those ranches I experienced life like each day was the last.

But ultimately,

It was on those ranches that I learned how to love. 

So buckle up! (You think I’m kidding, but seriously, buckle up!) It’s gonna be a wild ride.

Silent Night

Disclaimer: Here lies the final Christmas carol reflection of the holiday season. Thank you for joining me on this journey. I pray that you and your friends/family have a love and joy-filled Christmas. May you also enjoy the blessings of a Silent Night.

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace (2x)

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

Composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber. Lyrics by Joseph Mohr. Originally in German.

For easy listening: 

I am so thankful for today. God’s present to me this year is quality time shared in His Presence. I’ve always wanted to spend a Christmas free of all the nuances – I’ve always desired to have Christmas be about Christ. So often we get lost in the buying of gifts, preparing of food, activities, and family time. So often we think that Christmas is about family. And though it is a nice time of year to gather with those we love, if we think Christmas is solely about gifts and family, then we are truly missing the point. Though we can vibrantly experience God’s love through each other, we must not forget to approach the source – For He loves when we graciously seek Him.

Jesus humbly came to be PRESENT among us on Christmas. Our Heavenly Father wanted to spend time with us so much that He sacrificed His comforts and came down in the form of a dependent babe to experience life with us.

And so on this Christmas Eve, all I ask is that you will put off your comforts – whether it be food, drink, Hallmark movies, or family traditions – for a moment, and reflect on the true beauty of Christmas. Try taking ten minutes of silence, and reflect on the following questions. Then with your responses, take a moment and thank God for all the ways He has calmed, moved, loved, and blessed you this past year.

  • In what ways has God provided inner calmness despite the busy and troubles of the past year?
  • What light are you drawn to? How does God evoke bright joy and bright hope in your life?
  • What about God and His Presence makes you literally quake? How is God moving you?
  • What comes to mind when you hear the lyrics “loves pure light” and “redeeming grace”? How has God shown you His love this season? What redeeming grace moments have radically changed your faith walk this year?

Dear God,

Thank you for being present with us. Thank you for leaving your comforts behind to be Emmanuel – God with us. What a beautiful name. Help us to leave our comforts behind as we seek to draw nearer to you. Draw us close to you. I pray that throughout the next few days  you will grant us time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, whether we do so in community or on our own. Thank you for coming. We love you Lord. We need you Lord. As we journey into a new year, may we continue to focus on Your Presence by seeking out time with you, and by being present in the lives of those around us. Thank you for being the perfect example of love.

In your Holy and Beautiful Name, Jesus,



When You Walked Into My Life

When you walked into my life,

You opened the door to possibility.

All the dreams I didn’t know were possible,

That I kept walled in,

That I kept locked in,

So they couldn’t hurt me,

Came rushing free.

. . .

When you walked into my life,

I remembered all my dreams.

In sleepless nights,

I began to ponder all of the possibilities.

Now I understand why they say,

Love hurts,

Patience is pain,

A raw life is not easy.

. . .

When you walked into my life,

Along with you came a hope,

Along with you came a joy,

That I didn’t even know I was capable

Of feeling.

I can’t sleep.

I can’t concentrate.

But oh how I long for you,

To walk into my life again.