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Dear Wyoming,

It’s with the best intentions I write to you. Less of a good-bye letter, more of a thank-you-from-the-bottom-of-my-heart note. We’ve had our ups and downs, you and I. Like summer days with blue skies that stretched to the tips of the mountains in my backyard, barely hitting 85 degrees but feeling like it was 100. Sitting on the deck soaking in the whirrr of the hummingbirds, the swoop of the hawks, coyotes at dusk, grass as green as a velvet blanket. But you had to blow it when summer came to a screeching halt, short lived, ending practically overnight as temperatures plummeted and daylight ran. Okay, okay. I’m not here to tell you what I’m angry about. This is a litany of thoughts as we pack our bags and move on.

When we arrived, Regi and I were running on empty in some ways. The opportunity to move hit us out of the blue–but at the best time. You may or may not know this, Wyoming, but parenting is difficult. It’s messy, nothing like they (whoever they are) promised. It’s like being handed the fanciest, priciest, most technologically savvy vehicle, then being deprived of the key, let alone the instruction manual. Quite frankly, it sucks at times. And so we left Nashville with our parent tank nearing empty, in agreement with our little family that moving meant refocusing, reorganizing, restarting.

I’ll never forget packing up the stuff, all our stuff, and making that cross country move. While we were drained emotionally and mentally, at least we had a semi truck full of things we held dear. Like furniture we’d collected over the years but never used, boxes of Grandma’s china and our barely used wedding china, baseball cards and various collectibles I won’t acknowledge, photos –triplicates, blurry ones, the ones of people we chose not to acknowledge anymore. Once we moved in, we still couldn’t bare to part with much of our stuff so it never made it to the living room. I’d held on to Christmas decorations that never should’ve crossed state lines, plastic bins stuffed with yellowed Kindergarten papers from my school days, dozens of Rolling Stone Magazines from the 70s, scary looking collectible dolls, passed down stuff that I couldn’t even remember who did the passing down. Luckily this move brought us a nice basement which became the perfect place to store our best intentions of sorting through the boxes one day, some day, maybe never day.

Then life happened. Instead of the emptiness getting filled, the hole grew. So much occurred, so much screaming, wringing of hands, so many tears of anger and hurt. Like we’d been side swiped by a Mack truck and were waiting on road side service–who never showed up. You know what I’m talking about, Wyoming. You know the sleepless nights, fits of rage, the unrest, the slamming of doors, the ultimatums, the fear. I thought moving to this bubble was going to shield us. It didn’t.

I have to say, you stood strong, Wyoming. Never let me down. You challenged me–that’s putting it mildly–and taught me more in this four years than any other time in my life. Among other things, like how to drive in driving snow, how to shovel and plow all that snow, and how to laugh after running into snow banks, completely buried, because I refused to believe ice was that slippery. I dusted off my rusty skis and learned to enjoy the mess in front of me. You gave me friends who kept calling and pushing me to new limits, like hiking through mountains so high and so difficult on hot summer days just to enjoy the view. All for a new perspective I’d otherwise never experience had I not dared myself to go a little further.

You know what hit me recently? For the times I felt like an utter failure, all I had to do was look out any window of our home and catch a sunrise that was more beautiful than any I’ve ever experienced. Those towering mountains capped with snow filled evergreens, the sun shining her morning light as she peeked over the tips. Sunsets that plunged those green mountains with bold purples and pink. Words cannot describe the beauty that prodded us with the gentle reminder that no matter what, tomorrow would bring a new day overflowing with tons of mercy. You reminded me daily that God has His hand on each aspect of my life and though it may have been difficult and felt like I was going under, you reminded me to look up. To enjoy nature and strengthen myself for what was ahead.

But at some point along the way, with the dust settled and the snow thawed, we realized it was time to go. Time to pack up, move out, be on our way. This time though, we surveyed life through a different lens, with different discernment. Who we’d become, what we’d experienced, was no longer housed in all we’d amassed in the basement, the workshop, the bedrooms. And as if we’d shaken the dirt from our boots, we came to the same conclusion: we didn’t have to hold onto the past any longer physically or mentally. And so, in complete family agreement over a warm bowl of pasta, we decided to sell almost everything. Gave ourselves permission to be free of the self-inflicted guilt over stuff that didn’t matter, stuff buried in boxes for years. I finally crushed the lie that I’d never be able to replace my favorite bookshelves or the piano or the things Sophie and Eli shouldn’t be saddled with because I refused to let go. Once we started, we couldn’t contain ourselves. We donated, burned, and sold it all. Yep, the mattresses, gone. Refrigerator, left behind. Armoires, sold to the friendly neighbor, along with the ATV, beehives, washer and dryer, pool table and couches. At the end of a day, the only things that stayed were the things that mattered.

And guess what, Wyoming? It’s the freest we’ve ever felt! In turn, we’re leaving as different people thanks to you. Scarred but resiled. Relieved, able to laugh at what we thought would take us under. Not because we did anything right, but because we survived. That boy we raised, stubborn and temperamental, polite and handsome, misguided and reckless? Took his ambitions and fearlessness, and is serving this country proudly. Sure, he took the winding road, but he found the way. You had a lot to do with that, WY, but ultimately, it was God who held him. And us. It sounds silly, I know, but we came here with a snot nosed middle schooler who knew everything, and we leave with the confidence of parents who raised a fine young man.

You know what else? Sophie, my strong willed daughter, has become my closest friend. Confidant and confident, she brought me to my knees at times, sent me to a place of begging God for something, anything. Now she sings in my ear, a beautiful melody of perseverance and strength, a different person than when she arrived. Full of life and a smile that warms a room, she’s given us a gift so great I can hardly contain my thanks. A boy named Hendrix who rocked our world when we thought it would be shattered, whose laugh mirrors hers, whose joy is uncontainable. How things change when follow the path God has for us, not the one others carve for us.

And so, Wyoming, we walk the driveway one last time. The moving trailer may have less than when we arrived, but oh–our hearts are full. Thanks again for the adventure! If you ever need to get away, please come visit. I’d love to show you the sunset as it slips away over the ocean and watch you feel the sand between your toes. This is what I call living!  ♥♥

All my love,

Kim

57 Comments

  1. Kim, the perfect read this beautiful Friday morning! Thank you for sharing and for reminding me of….well, so many things!

    Safe travels my friend. elina

  2. Beautifully written. I enjoyed your videos and pictures of Wyoming, but mostly hearing about your adventures and God moments. You had a lot of those! To be grateful amidst the struggles shows just how strong you are. You and your family are an inspiration. May God continue to bless you as you begin your new adventures in Florida!

    • We’re so excited to be back in Florida. It just feels right! Thanks for your encouragement. You’re just one of those who always takes the time to say something nice and it’s so refreshing. xo

  3. Kim you have a way with words that brings tears to my eyes. You are so talented and real! Thanks for being so open and sharing your lives with us.

    • Thank you for that!! I hope they were good tears. We all have a story, I’m blessed I get to share ours. Thanks for reading!

  4. All I can say is WOW! You truly are a prolific writer and your words should be shared with more than your FB friends.

    Your writing and pictures and videos of your life as a family, made me feel a part of it all not just observing from the sidelines.

    • That was the fun part. Inviting people to our experience what we got to be part of. One thing is for sure; I have a feeling the fun isn’t over. 😉

  5. Such a rich perspective of comprehending what is real and meaningful. Thank you for sharing your most intimate thoughts. The word blessed in Hebrew means: empowered to prosper. I ask God to prosper you in all that you do and experience. May you have even greater experiences in Florida. Jim Patterson

    • Thank you. We’ll take that prayer. God has always been so good to us and we know we go with His blessing. Life is never just easy, but God is always good. Being in Wyoming gave us such a perspective of how good He is!! Thanks for stopping and reading.

  6. This is really beautifully written. I was just reading this morning Romans 5 and verses 3-5 stood out as I read your thoughts. So thankful through it all to land on hope. I’m so happy you are leaving one place with gratitude and entering a new place with new freedom and energy. I hope Florida is good to you all!

  7. Beautifully expressed. Godspeed on your “next”!

  8. Kim, what a beautiful adventure. Looking back it’s easier to see Gods hand in our lives than when we are in the mist of it. I cherish our moms group and often reflect on all we’ve been through with our precious children. Parenting is definitely not for the faint of heart and our moms group is a group of bad a$$ women. Enjoy your next adventure and toes in the sand

  9. Love this so much, it has been a joy watching your journey even from a distance. I pray that your new life in Florida is so blessed and peaceful. I’m sorry I couldn’t see you off I really wanted to be there.

  10. Kim,
    You are an absolute treasure.
    I’m crying and completely elated at the same time. You packed so much color, humor, encouragement and wisdom in these few paragraphs. Thank you so much for sharing.
    Jenny
    P.S. Writing is your super power!

  11. As I began reading, I had to stop and wake myself up, I am reading our life also, so many similarities and yet along with you, with all the ups and downs, the frustrations and I remember, thinking “ this doesn’t happen in our family” oh how pompous and arrogant, yes, I’m talking about me. I look back, I see the present, I wouldn’t change the ups and downs etc…. yes, we will always have them, but God, He knew all along this path, I stand in perfect peace and love this path He lovingly ordained, FAMILY, that’s it! Keep writing and blessings to you all as your journey continues❤️ Keri

  12. What a beautiful letter to a beautiful place and time of healing and growth for your family. The tears of a content and thankful heart are rolling. Thank you for sharing that precious piece of literature and reminder to ALWAYS look up and look to Him for our guidance and sustenance! Love you and yours!!!❤

  13. This so touched my heart. And gave me strength ‘for the journey’. Love you all so much! Excited for your new adventure.

    • Thank you, Dianne. So nice to hear we all need strength…not just us. 🙂 When you’re down our way, we’ll definitely have to connect. How fun would that be??

    • Thanks for taking the time to read. 🙂

  14. This is written so beautifully and with such heartfelt truth!!
    God bless you, Regi , and family in your new life!!
    Betsy

    • Thank you, Betsy!

  15. Dear Kim,
    Thank you my Dear Sister in Christ. My Heart sings for you and your family. The beauty of God’s Grace shines so bright through your soul.
    I always wanted to set and have coffee with you and share the joys and wonders of our glorious and magnificent God. Time flew by quickly and I never took that opportunity. Our short times together I truly enjoyed.
    Enjoy your new and wonderful journey. Your words speak wonders to my soul.
    Love you,
    Ms Vicky

    • Oh Ms. Vicky…you’ll be so missed. Always full of sunshine and love. I’ll miss our chats and your encouragement. You’re such a gift and I’m confident of God’s great plan for you too. The journey is just beginning. Love you.

  16. Dear precious Kim, I am sad you and your family are no longer just down the road but rejoice where God is taking you both spiritually and physically. You have such a gift of expressing what so many of us feel. God’s not done with you! I love you, dear friend and sister in the Lord. ❤️

  17. Love this, and looking forward to seeing you again.
    Sarah

  18. How beautifully put, It was so honestly put and filled my heart with love and admiration for all. Thanks for sharing these wonderful words of comfort and wisdom. Wishing you all well, do keep us posted. Thank GOD for His guidance all the way. Grace

    • Thank you for reading. I think writing has become my way of getting things out that I otherwise keep bottled up. Glad to have someone who takes the time to read it. I so appreciate it.

  19. TEARS. Y’all are in a different place than we are currently, but surprising similar in ways. We recently had the inside of our house painted. ALL of it. I’m doing so, every room was destroyed. Things pulled off shelves, furniture pushed to the center of each room. Piles of STUFF everywhere. The painters finished Tuesday and left us in piles. Piles that I have been going through piece by piece to keep it move on. Only I really know what can stay or go. Today I gathered a stack of hard bound cookbooks that i use to collect, yet cooked little out of bc I mostly make up my own stuff as I go. Better Homes, Southern Living, Christmas Cookie, ETC. All going to Goodwill bc let’s face it, if I need a recipe, the Gen X in me will look it up on the Pinterest. I feel the freedom coming while at the same time feeling buried bc our house is such a wreck. The good news and bad news is, company is coming next weekend. The sound of that makes me want to drink heavily. BUT, it will push me into finishing no matter what time of the night it may be. If only I didn’t have to homeschool through it all, I might stay sane and sober. Anyway…By reading this, you have literally just helped me throw more away and only keeping the cook book that matters, my grandmothers, with her handwritten thoughts in the margins. ❤️ I’m going to be using one room to house the things that I will be getting rid of. The in laws will be here soon so i must get back to work. But THANK YOU SO MUCH for being transparent. I am thankful FOR the time you guys had there and as ugly as some of it may have been, I am grateful for what God did in, through, for and to you. ❤️❤️

    • Absolutely beautiful Kim. Your words bring to the surface all of the emotions I have experienced living in Wyoming. I lost count so long ago the number of times Wyoming has knocked me down to my knees and humbled me to the point of tears. Then like extending a hand up Wyoming will drop a sunset on me that brings tears to my eyes all over again. Wyoming at times feels like a stern authoritative parent. Wyoming teaches you to be brave to brave the winters….to be humble to humble yourself to ask for strength and to self reflect to realize we do nothing alone. Wyoming’s grace is the warm summer season.

      • Only those who have lived through a Wyoming year can understand. But wow, the lessons we all learned while here. Never will I forget a single one of them. What a privilege to be here…now, moving on is a welcome sight for us. So many new adventures ahead!! I hope our paths cross on this side of the sunset. You’d love it hear!!

    • Oh, this is beautifully stated!!Thank you for sharing. I told Regi recently I should rent myself out…will work cheap because I’m so into to purging, recycling, whatever!! I felt very grieved when some of the stuff went, but I realized it was okay to feel sad. I know it’s a matter of time until we’re in our new place and when God gives back just what we need. Otherwise, it’s as though we don’t have anything to trust Him for!! By the way, much of our purging was due to us downsizing so it had to be done. it makes us keep the things that matter and to focus on those. Keep it up. Sounds like you have a lot to share with the world too!!!

  20. Kim,
    It seems like Wyoming was the perfect place for your family at God’s perfect time and because you all were obedient to His call, you’re now free to move on with your cup overflowing! God bless – love you!! ❤️

    • My feelings exactly. When we felt the release, we simply knew it was time to go. It didn’t make it easy, just easier! Being back in Florida, although still a ways from family, is a blessing and we’re excited to see what’s next. When it comes to our family, one never knows. xoxo

  21. Kim, I’m crying! I have never met you, but heard so much about you from Reggie when he visited us one time in KC via Lance Winkler. From KC we bought a home in Key West to retire but we also have a place in Sheridan, Wy. It’s not as pretty as Jackson, but the views and the weather and the sunrise you speak of are the same. You didn’t mention the beautiful stars at night! BTW, I prefer KW over WY, but summers are great there. Much love and Oceans of Blessings to you both!

    • Oh, the stars. I’m just telling you…this WY we share is just a breath taking beautiful breath of fresh air. Aren’t we both blessed that we could experience such beautiful sunsets?? KW sure is a beautiful place too. We spent some time last summer there and, well, I sweated the entire time. HA!! Thank you for reading and who knows, maybe we’ll get to meet somewhere along the way. xo

  22. Beautiful words ! God gave you beautiful memories of Wyoming and He has more for you on this new journey!! When we walk with the Lord what a glory He sheds on our way!! (That would make a good song!). Trust and Obey! He will honor you in your obedience! Love you all!!

    • Love you, Ann. I need to write about all our bum-dials and fun chats we’ve had. You’re always in my heart when we face another move. Well, more than that, you’re always the one we turn to. Love you much!

  23. This was just awesome to read. I promise to take care of your bookshelves!!
    Best of luck on your new adventure.

    • Thanks, Jeff!!

  24. Wow you made me cry. I wish I could be that strong. I did get away to the pan handle this year for 4 days yes the sunrise and sunset warms your heart. See a dolphin swim makes you think he is there just for you to see. God bless your entire family god please keep his eye on your son as he proudly serves thank you and him for his service. If I sneak away again maybe we will run into each other. God bless.

    • I didn’t mean to make anyone cry but then again, that’s a good sign!! 🙂 Trust me, it took a lot of coaxing, maybe a little threatening, and then once the process began, it just became easier. Some things were more difficult to let go of but I couldn’t help but think it needed to be done. In a way, we need to give God a chance to show up on the other end to provide for us. Make sense? Having a beautiful church and friends to walk through some of our families dark times was a blessing. We all need each other. I’m excited to see what’s next for us here. Please stop in next time you’re this way.

  25. How beautifully amazing!! Thank you!

    • Thank you for taking a minute to read. I love seeing old friends and their comments…just does something for my heart. 😉

  26. Such a beautiful writting of your story, I am grateful I was there to witness little bits of it unfold, and while Wyoming has my heart, I too am shedding the years behind, moving more freely, into an unknown future. Our Lord always makes a way ahead of time, all that is require is faith and submission to His will over ours. I hope our paths will cross again
    In warmer sunsets.
    Much love to you all, thanks for the music, and the memories.
    Lolo

    • Your words are beautiful, Lolo. What a beautiful journey we got to share together; so many God moments and reminders and nudges…hmmm. I guess He knew right where to put us as we traversed the journey. 😉 I have a special place in my heart for you and I will take you up on watching a sunset from a warmer point of view. You know, we let go of a great deal of stuff on this end. It was difficult and I honestly grieved in the weirdest way for some of it then realized it was okay to feel sad for a while. I came to the conclusion that my hope, my security, is simply not in earthly things. Getting rid of the old means allowing God to give us something different when we need it. Maybe we need those trust moments to walk it out. Love you dearly, my friend.

  27. That was a beautiful thank you note. You all are beautiful people and God will bless you in your journey. I am so glad I got to know all of you. You will be missed but we will see you again. Much love and many prayers to you daily. Vonnie

    • Thank you, Vonnie. Everyone in WY will always hold a special place for us. You all loved us through some tough times. We were right where we were supposed to be and that is the greatest feeling ever. I will never ever forget your sweet hugs each and every time I saw you. You are a blessing. Much love to you.

  28. Sometimes, words aren’t enough. But Kimberlee, you embue them with such insight and passion that it’s a joy to read them. Thanks for your words, but thanks even more that I can call you and Regi “friends.”

  29. Kim, you are such a writer, so able to put into words your experiences that so many of us cannot do. I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed being a part of your life, the joy of showing you just a small part of Wyoming that I love, the joy of seeing you find treasures in the forest, your enthusiasm for whatever challenges I threw at you in this rugged beauty of mountains and streams, all without complaint and always with determination to get to the destination no matter the challenge. Going to miss you and your family so much, seeing your children grow and mature, seeing Hendrix’s smile and his joy, listening to Regi’s worship music that took me to new levels of worship and praise for our blessed Savior. My memories of our times together are forever etched in my heart. I pray God blesses you ALL in this next chapter of your lives.
    Love you guys!
    Mary

    • Your words touch my very soul, my friend. You have no idea how much you’ve meant to me over these years. Your perseverance and desire to show me this part of nature is by far my greatest memories and biggest challenges accomplished. You are a true inspiration. Thank you so much for never giving up on me and prodding me to new place and higher mountains. Your generosity is as large as your heart and I’m in awe of your strength and grace. Thank you for your friendship and love.

  30. As I was reading this beautiful and honest journey, it reminded me of younger days when my husband and I with 2 young sons left my home of N.C. to take a ministry position in Jacksonville Florida. We were there for 7 years, before we felt the call to come back to N.C. I feel I left a part of my heart there, in that home where the children’s voices echoed ..they are grown with families of their own now..have you written any books? If not you should. So beautifully expressed.

    • Thank you. We share many of the same sentiments. I decided as we left WY I would not lament the things that meant the most, rather I’d express my gratitude for what we were allowed to experience. It helped the letting go become much easier. Thank you for your kind words. xo

  31. This is everything!!!!! I can’t love this enough!!! You are such a strong and inspirational person in so many ways I don’t think you even realize. Thank you for being you!!!

    • Love you. Your words are always the most encouraging and I’m thankful you’re always willing to share. xoxox

  32. I love your letter. ‘Hoping the pain wasn’t too bad. ‘Praying for you that life will become the best you guys have ever known. Peace, love and countless blessings. e

    • Thank you. As you, Wyoming is a good place for many things. For us, it was an adventure we’ll never forget. So much good came from being here. Now we’ll take what we learned and head to the beach. We’re leaving the wool socks behind!! 😉


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