This time last year, I was waking up in the middle of nowhere in a new house and a new city. I was completely out of my element and far away from what, to me, was safe and comfortable. Let’s be real. It was terrifying. I had never lived so far from my family, and there were a lot of unknowns (which y’all already know, I am not about). But as I stared out at the place we now call home early that morning, I could feel excitement building up inside of me – our grand new adventure had begun.
Cameron and I have always tried to be as obedient as possible when God says “jump”. So when he was contacted by a friend in November of 2016 asking him to be the Dean of Students at their ministry start up, we jumped. Boy, did we jump.
Their ministry, New Life Roadrunner Ranch Ministries, serves as an after-care program that provides transitional living for young men who have gone through and graduated from a rehabilitation program and need a safe and stable place to go to get their feet on the ground and start living a sober life on their own. The residents live in a bunkhouse that was built on the ministry’s 65-acre ranch, and are given the freedom they need to grow and develop in a home-like setting, all while being surrounded by people who can support, mentor and do life with them.
We didn’t know much about it at the time, and when we arrived, the ministry itself was still in the very early stages of development. But we immediately fell in love with everything about it – the space, the plans, the vision, the heart. If you know me or Cameron at all, you’ll know that his heart beats strongly for the underdogs and those who have had a rough go of things, and my heart beats to love the unloved. As you can imagine, it didn’t take much for us to know that this was where we were supposed to be. This was where God was calling us.
We taped up the contents of our lives in bubble wrap and cardboard boxes, and, on February 1, 2017, moved 2 ½ hours away to good ol’ Paris, Texas. Cameron immediately began working on finishing the bunkhouse and laying the groundwork for the business end of the ministry, typing up forms, hammering out the details, reaching out to contacts and forming much-needed relationships in the world of rehabilitation. I took over social media, and worked at growing and marketing our name and mission. We jumped into it head first, expecting things to start happening immediately, because, you know, God called us to this! Surely it’s all just going to work and flow smoothly and perfectly. Right?!
It was slow-going. Very… slow-going. I’ll admit, for a while, I wasn’t sure what we had gotten ourselves in to. We whole-heartedly believed in the call and the vision over the ministry and we trusted that we were brought here for a purpose. But we uprooted our entire lives, moved away from family and friends, and really had no clue what any of this was going to look like or how it was going to pan out. So we leaned into what the Lord was saying and did our best to follow His lead. Even through the struggles, frustrations and unknowns, the peace never left us; we knew we were in the right place.
We received our first guy three months after officially opening our doors, and since then we have gained a lot of amazing momentum. We currently have two residents living in the bunkhouse. One works construction full-time in addition to helping start a media company, and the other works part-time and is about to start GED classes at the local junior college. They are mentored weekly by trustworthy and mature men who pour into them and do life with them. They attend Quest through Fellowship of the Sword upon arriving to the ranch, participate in monthly outdoor camping and hiking trips, have weekly group hang outs called “Bro Nights” with the ministry staff, and have Friday night worship sessions with a bonfire and delicious food. We have the most amazing support that just continues to grow from all over North Texas, and we could not be more thankful for the prayers and wise words that have been shared with us over the last year. It’s been absolutely incredible to see God working and moving throughout the ministry. It’s been even more incredible to see Him working and moving in our guys.
We’ve grown to love Paris for what it is in our lives. We have met some awesome people, tried lots of great food, seen the Eiffel Tower (because... you know, priorities), and settled into the small-town country life. Lucy walks freely when we are outside and took to herding the cows extremely well and quickly. She’s living the farm dog dream! Me? I was able to work from home for the first six months we were here. Then, in the same week as launching Happily Ever Ginger, I transitioned into a new administration job with Young Life. I guess you could say that Cameron and I are truly living the ministry life – we eat, sleep and breathe it. And we love it. It’s what we were made for.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always easy. In fact, most times it’s not easy. It’s hard, and messy, and frustrating. There is a lot of time and effort demanded of and required for running a ministry. It’s a 24/7 job; you don't just shut it off at night. Not to mention, you’re working with people – sometimes hurt, lost and frustrated people. But it’s an honor and a blessing to steward their hearts as they push forward, take control of their lives and steadfastly pursue the Lord.
It’s been a whirlwind of a year, that is for sure! We are so thankful for all that He is doing through New Life Roadrunner Ranch Ministries, and for how He is using us to impact those that our hearts were made to connect with. We can’t wait to see this ministry grow and blossom into something far beyond our wildest dreams. Praise the Lord!