After an eventful year, I am back in the saddle to chronicle life around here! When we left off about a year ago, we were about to wrap up GI fellowship training, about to move, about to start building our house at the ranch, and about to start living…
So, here we are a year later! Steven has been working as an attending GI doc for a Christian based non-profit hospital system for almost a year (he got the summer off last year before diving in), and has done a great job cultivating a fun, efficient, and caring work environment for the growing GI practice he’s building. It has also given us opportunities to support our community and get plugged in with some of the kindest people west Texas has to offer, and we’ve loved getting to know and spend time with others that have a heart for west Texas like we do. We’ve also had a sweet year of getting to have lunch with Daddy whenever we’re in town on weekdays, having a much more consistent schedule, and getting to see him so much more than we did while he was in training- more time with him has been the best!
We found a church that has been like our second home. We are there at least 3-4 times a week between services, Bible studies, and other group get-togethers, and have found that 90% of the people we hang out with on a regular basis we met through church. These are such sweet friendships because our common love for Christ initially bonded us, and then the relationships blossomed over mutual interests in many other things, like ranching, food, kids with similar ages, etc. We’ve had fun opportunities to serve through teaching Bible class, hosting the youth group for parties, and starting a fellowship Bunco group, plus Steven has had the opportunity to pulpit preach a few Sunday mornings. I’ll be forever grateful for the Lord’s faithfulness in bringing us to this group that has loved us (especially our kids!), and submerged us to a deeper level of faith as a family.
Along the same vein, we’ve made wonderful friends here that I am so grateful for! I prayed for a long time before we moved that we would find our “people”, and boy, the Lord showed up and showed out! We’ve had a fun year of play dates at parks, the zoo, children’s museums, play places, and the playground at the church, plus date nights, dinners, family game nights, and parties. We’ve never experienced truly living life with friends (because everywhere we’ve lived is somewhere we knew was temporary so we didn’t really plug in), and it has been so sweet to see what living in community really feels like. Never more than this year has it really hit me that the Lord makes us to live in community and what a blessing that can be.
We ended up with the fun experience of moving twice in six months, with the second time unexpectedly sooner than we thought. We had first moved to a rental to live while we finalized building plans and then built our house on the ranch. Our rental was placed on the market about two months after moving in, so we opted to buy a spec house in a development about 2 miles from the ranch and end our lease early. We moved again the first weekend in December once our new house was complete, and are now on track to start construction on our ranch house in the fall and hopefully be moved in by next summer. This gave us the opportunity to really develop house plans that we love and have full confidence in our builder to get it done without having to be in the rush of a lease. Our current house is beautiful, and a fun intro to building because we got to pick finishes, but didn’t have all the stress of a fully custom build.
We really stepped out of our comfort zone and decided to go big or go home on our first post training family vacation in April – we spent a week in England! I think the kids turned out to be better travelers than us- they loved flying and Henry actually slept 75%+ of both 10 hour flights. They were champs on tube rides, ancient British history tours, and trying to figure out public transportation schedules and locations. As a huge British history fan, it was the trip of my dreams- Steven indulged me because he’s the best husband like that! Anywhere we can be together and make memories is a great time, but this was better than I imagined!
The kids had a great year of two-day preschool at a local church in town, and Liv is now prepped to start kindergarten in a few weeks. She’s still our tiny dancer, and we’ve completed our last year of baby ballet and are on to ballet I after Labor Day. Henry still has an undying love for all things ranchy- cattle, tractors, trucks, etc. but has also developed a new undying love for all things dinosaurs. Occasionally, we have a crossover of loves when he plays Jurassic Park and lowers a cow in to feed the dinos, haha! They turned 5 and 3 this spring and are growing so quickly! It has been a sweet gift to stay home with them full time since moving and really love on them before launching them to school full time over the next year/ few years. The days are long, but the years are short, and while there are definitely times I think “Really, Trace Adkins? You really think I’m going to miss THIS?”, I know that I’ll never have as much time with them as I do now and it truly is a gift.
One of the most eventful areas of our life over the last year has been ranching! We made a large pivot and decided to transition from registered longhorns to cow/calf and beef production, so we sold off all the longhorns at the beginning of last summer. This was also during a time of unprecedented drought in our county, so it was also good to give the ranch a little breather over the summer to grow back some grass after overgrazing. We added some Brangus (Brahma x Angus) and Ultrablack (Angus x Brangus) bred heifers in the early fall from a local breeder, and commercial Angus heifers from 44 Farms in November. We started calving in January, and ended up with 4 in our first calf crop- two heifers and two (eventual) steers. We attended our first 44 Farms Bull Sale at the end of February and added our first official herd sire to the mix by early March, so we will start calving our first breeding matches in December- January of this year.
What we love so much about ranching is the connection it brings. We’ve met some of the absolute best people on this planet through ranching over the last year and made wonderful relationships and friendships as we’ve gone along. We love being able to share this as a family, and build something for our kids and future generations to take on. More than anything really, our goal is to spend time together, building something to last for the glory of the Lord.
What we’ve probably learned more than anything over the last year is to follow the Lord’s leading and live unapologetically in that calling. We’re trying to lean in to what brings us joy and pull away from what steals our peace. We are working to live in the space between striving and contentment, and letting the Lord show us what we need and protect us from what we don’t. It’s been a wild ride for as long as I can remember, and it doesn’t seem to be getting boring any time soon, so we’d love if you came along. Welcome to Red Bank Life!