Random Acts of Kindness & Dreaming BIG

[Previous Rural Farmgirl, April 2009 – May 2010]
Have you ever had those moments when you just get so emotionally exhausted trying to figure out the next step? You know, times when you find yourself praying—begging really—that a plane would fly past pulling a banner with the answer clearly written on it? Boy, I have. I find myself standing at the crossroads of change and I feel frozen as I debate the “right” path. I would imagine that no matter what one does for a living, we all take pause to evaluate life from time to time. Yet now that I’m finally doing what I always dreamed of doing, it is easy to be convinced that dreaming of more is somehow selfish.

I am your average rural girl. I grew up in a small farming community where the majority of the town farmed, worked for farmers, or worked for a company that serviced farmers. My dad’s family members are dry land wheat farmers. My dad went away to college and came back to this same small town where much of his family still lived. He taught school, coached, and became a school administrator…sort of the Mr. Kotter of Coulee City. After graduation, I met and married my farm boy and became a stay-at-home mom with the white house, picket fence, and four little ones. Life was grand.
As the boys got older, I entered the workforce like the rest of my friends. I climbed the ladder of success, but I discovered that I was getting less happy with my life. It surprised me. I had bought into the American Dream that “more is better.” I had bought into the idea that more money, more possessions, a better car, and attending all the social events would bring happiness. So when it didn’t, I found myself standing at the crossroads with my spirit demanding change. Instinctively I knew I was on the wrong path.
Recently I saw a cartoon in a business paper that seemed to describe that time of my life best. It showed the “ladder of success” with lots of people on it… about ¾ of the way up there was a person yelling, “EXCUSE ME, I WANT OFF”….of course there wasn’t an easy way down except to jump. I have to tell you, when I jumped, many people in my life thought I had lost my mind, but I have never been happier. I learned through this experience that crossroads aren’t bad when they are faced head on.
It has been three years since that particular leap of faith, so when I found myself staring down another fork in the road recently, I was surprised to be there. In that moment I was glad that I was able to recognize that I was standing at a decision place. I wondered how many of those I blew past before, not noticing them on my way up the ladder. I was able to recognize the growth that had taken place inside of me, and I was much more aware of the small choices that we make (or don’t make) that get us either where we want (or don’t want) to be.
As I looked down each of the roads at the current crossroad, I found myself once again praying for the answer. This time it came delivered by the mail carrier, an unexpected gift from a fellow farmgirl. Farmgirl Mary Jo designed and made me a necklace and bracelet that reads DREAM BIG. It may not have been a banner that is pulled by a plane, but it certainly was the message that I was searching for. Thanks, Mary Jo. I wear them always now as a reminder that our dreams are there for a reason. Go ahead and DREAM BIG.
Check out Mary Jo’s work at www.redhouseranch.com

  1. Catherine says:

    What a wonderful answer to your prayers. I love that it came via a fellow farmgirl!
    Praying your big dreams come true!
    Thanks for the encouragement to continue following my own dreams, as well.
    Catherine 🙂

  2. Beautiful post and wonderful bracelet! love it!

  3. katmom~Grace says:

    Oh No! you are going to give in & become a Guinea Pig Rancher? lol!
    hahah, you know I am just kidding…
    Love ya & support ya in heart & prayer girlfriend.
    "Tag…U.R. it"
    : > )

    April & June are fast approaching…is Back-40 ready?

    Gracie, What would I do without you? Back -forty is a little behind schedule, but she will be ready to roll.. (Back 40 is my vinatge trailer) I will be posting more about her.  Gracie sent me the cutest pillow for her…

  4. krla says:

    How true! Too many time we blow past new opportunites & don’t even take the time to think of all the wonderful new things that could be waiting for us. In this world of new technologie, electronics, & whiz bang toys we often miss the quiet moments we are meant to savor. Turn off that phone & take a walk-watch the robins who are back for spring! Yes, get off the computer for just a bit & look out your window because the grass is starting to turn green & you don’t want to miss it! Go out to the garden because you just might find something to surprise you-I know I did. I have spinach that over wintered in Iowa-what a rare treat that was! Fresh spinach in March!Yummmmmm!
    Slow down & look around you-the world is waiting to be discovered!

  5. Gary says:

    Good Bloggie Rene’…!
    What a timely Gift that is…
    You are right about those "crossroads"… we usually "get" an answer to our deliberations, and often it is from a unexpected source.
    Looking back over the years, I can see that some of the events, which I considered disasters at the time, were actually just God clearing the way for something new and better.
    Whatever our Hopes and Dreams are, if Love and Faith have a place in them, then we will be Happy when we get them.
    GodSpeed to Y’all…!
    in Tampa

    Very well said, Gary. Thanks!

  6. Robin says:

    I, too, am at a crossroads waiting for the universe to nudge me forward. Thanks for the inspiration. Best wishes. Robin

    Crossroads…. they are our friends. I am sure of it.. Best wishes Robin!!!!

  7. April says:

    As a young mother of 2, I was climbing the ladder of so-called success and thought I was on the right road until recently. I have never "fit" into the corporate life and have also felt …wrong. Then our sweet Lord sent a word – I have not given you a longing for the ability to do things you are not able to do. Your longing is your path I have enabled you to do for me….just thought I would share. Thanks for the encouragement
    April – South Carolina
    Keeping it Simple Sisters – KISS


    Love the KISS.. too cute! 

  8. Susan says:

    What a lovely answer to prayer!! I love it!

  9. Valynne says:

    Wow. Love this post, Rene. It seems like more of us are replacing "more is better" with "less is more" these days…how freeing!

    Paul and I have simplified (in a BIG way) this past year – neither of us miss the huge house or the extra car or any of the other "stuff". Everything is clearer, now.

    "I was able to recognize the growth that had taken place inside of me, and I was much more aware of the small choices that we make (or don’t make) that get us either where we want (or don’t want) to be"

    Cheers to honoring your decision place. And I love how your prayer was answered! Here’s to climbing your own ladder and dreaming big while you are at it!



    It is always such a joy when I hear from you. I am glad that you an Paul are doing well.  I feel so honored to have met you (in person) at Farm Fair.. Keep me updated girl, you are one of my favorites… such a sweet spirit.

  10. Yes I know. We are living our dream as well. Although we still have so much work ahead of us. But that is life – a work in progress.
    You will know what is right I believe, if you pray and listen.
    Warm wishes and joy, Tonya

  11. carol branum says:

    Hi Rene,Just what I needed today..I have been takeing a class for the last 6 weeks at the University of Missouri Extention office called Annies Project,or how to marry a farmer ,we all joked,Its been a lot of fun,and I met 25 new ladies,most, from different counties other than mine,I have learned a lot about estate planning,farm business planning,fence laws,insurance,It covered everything I need to know to start farming.I highly recomend the class to everyone of your readers.The ladies and I plan to keep meeting and have started a new farm girl club.I signed up to be a chapter leader,but need some more information from you.I haven,t had time to look up all the infor…But…It made me start worrying myself sick about needing more money,But,just when I think things are hopeless,I get this shot of encouragement,thanks,I have to keep thinking positive.I need this bracelet!I love your blog,and thanks to Mary Jane for changeing my entire life,Can you believe just a year ago I was ashamed of being just a farmgirl?Now,I see myself in a entire new light.Blessed be,Carol Branum,Lamar Mo.,themofarmersdaughter@blogspot.com


    I am so jealous, I am so intreged with "Annie’s Project" and have read up on it… You have to keep me updated on all that you are learning.

  12. Timi says:

    THANK YOU! I needed this post today. I have been sitting here wondering what to do, should I do it, should I wait, should I react or just let it go?
    Thank you! I’m going to dream big and go with it!


  13. Heather Hansen says:

    Oh I loved this article. I have some dreams too and not sure what to do about them yet. Yes, it’s important to DREAM BIG 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 and no it’s not selfish at all. I think God puts those dreams in your heart for a reason. Sometimes we don’t know what that is yet. Sometimes we may never know. But I know that I’ve been encouraged by the dreams of others..and that gives me hope too 🙂 🙂
    Another thing I firmly believe is to keep committing all of those dreams to prayer… and just because we don’t get the answer right away, doesn’t mean no..it just means "not yet"..
    Oh thank you so much for writing this 🙂 🙂 Yeah…I’m going to dream big for myself 🙂 🙂 🙂

  14. Judy says:

    Always thought things would make one happy. Oh this would look so nice there or there or the kids would love this and now have a house full of stuff and it doesn’t matter. One needs crossroads to change things about ourselves and situations that we don’t like. Dream Big that’s the only way to know what you need for you.

    I so agree…. crossroads always produce the oppertunity for change.

  15. Tammie says:

    Thank you Rene for sharing your inspirational story!
    I have been touched not only by your words but by the thoughts and stories shared by each of these sisters that have responded to your story as well!
    In 2004 the slogan was "Less is more in 2004". I don’t know how six years have passes since then so quickly but I am finally down sizing and getting rid of all the clutter.
    I can see the light at the end of the tunnel though and it truelly looks sweet.
    My new favorite slogan now is in the words of Mary Jo… KISS (Keeping It Simple Sisters) Love It!!!!

    Tonya I went to your blog as well and found it more than touching and inspirational. What a wonderful way to raise your family and by the way your little guy (the two year old) looks like he loves learning!
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts everyone.
    Tammie in Oklahoma

  16. Shery Jespersen says:

    Dear Rene`,

    What a masterful job of creating a movie in my mind…and with a great ending too…so important in a good movie. It is so amazing how the Lord works within ALL circumstances…and in the hearts of others who minister to us when we most need it. The answer to your question is right there on your wrist if/when life might try to make you question the size of your dreams. Wow, what an uplifting message for you…and then for us. Yessiree Bob, why dream your way to the middle.

  17. Judy Hall says:

    Someone told me once Rene’ that "Life is a Gift, the Purpose is Joy". I think this goes right along with "Dream Big" – follow your dreams, do what you love to do, and think positive thoughts always. The sky is the limit! Thanks for this inspiring story Rene’. Change is the one constant I have learned to live with. Isn’t change wonderful, and so are people like the reader that was thoughtful enough to send you that bracelet! Joy, love, & Happiness are the words that are speaking to me right now after reading this article! 🙂

  18. carol McElroy says:

    Don’t you just love how just the right little something shows up just when you need it most.

  19. Blair says:

    As usual you have hit close to home with me on this subject. I am at a crossroads of sorts…trying to figure out how to be happy and still make enough money to have the things I need and want. I love Aprils Keeping It Simple Sisters motto.
    Farmgirls rule!! 🙂


    It can be a tricky balance for sure….. But I think one worth finding… Living life with eyes wide open was the first step for me, as it seems I lived much of it on auto pilot. Once I became clear on what I wanted… the rest were/are doable.. even those jobs that just pay the bills… because I was now able to put them in their proper place…. I too love the KISS, too cute needs to go on a tee shirt!

  20. Reba says:

    Hey Rene, Isn’t it amazing how so many are thinking along the same line? I get encouragement from reading yours and others comments. I remember writing at the first of this year about "revelation" instead of making "resolutions." That has stayed with me, and now I am at a crossroads. It is exciting, scary, breath-taking, tiring, and all the emotions you can think of wrapped up in oneself at times. But I am ready to move forward. It is a whole new life, waiting to be lived and to "dream big" for the next part. There is no guilt over missed resolutions, only room for more revelation. Thanks for the thought-provoking type of writing that you do. I always look forward to it.


    There certainly is sisterhood in the shared experiences…. I am always so grateful for the comments people leave as it reminds me that none of us are living life "alone". It often helps me to connect with the fact that if  I am experiencing it, I can be fairly certain that someone else is too or has experienced it….I have come to like crossroads as I know that they lead to personal growth no matter what path is chosen.

  21. Marisa Hayes says:


    Reading your words, always brings me peace and comfort. I, too, came to a crossroad a couple of years ago. When I lost my mom in 2001 I just couldn’t sew or do crafts again. It was a part of "our" lives together since I was about ten. I sold "all" my sewing thing at a yard sale, and didn’t sew for about five years, but then, my youngest daughter wanted that "unique" prom dress, that was simple and "her", and then my oldester daughter blessed the family with a granddaughter (Lily – our Lilybug – can you guess why I go by MyLilyBug), and she wanted those "unique" dresses that no one else has . . . hence, sewing at full throttle again …. I quit my job, and now have my own little clothing business making little girl clothes. It was a very hard decision going from two nice incomes to one, but sewing again, and being available to help with my granddaughter has brought me more happiness than any amount of money can bring.
    Simplify and be happy. Marisa


    What a beautiful tribute to your mom as well; being able to pass "her" onto the next generations. Way to go

  22. Debbie says:

    Do tell….! Are you really considering Guinea Pig farming? I just knew you would eventually fall in love with them…!
    O.k. all funnies aside… 🙂
    I love this post because it’s really about serendipity and keeping the faith… You are not alone my farmgirl friend…I think we have all been at a crossroads at one point or another and need that extra " praying or meditation" time to get a clearer idea of which fork in the road to take…10 years ago I left a very rewarding 18 year career and a business to be a stay at home mom, which turned into homeschooling. All these years as at home mom have allowed me to grow so much as a person, and to tend to the things that my heart longs to do…I have grown and stretched and many " bracelets" have come to me along the way to guide me and keep my on my path.

    I belive it’s the gifts of insight (or braclets ) we recieve along the way that make these times more bearable and rekindle our faith in spirit! We are once again reminded that we are not lost… we are just unsure because we have lost faith. I think we talk ourselves into feeling less hopeful when we allow our doubts to take over…

    Times like these remind me of a phrase a dear friend and I used to say," The MIND is a terrible thing to listen too"! Best to listen to your heart!"
    Many blessings!
    Deb ( who has no doubt you are just where you need to be )

    Beautifully stated Deb.. I knew we were friends friends for a reason…LOL.. and NO, there are still  no little furry friends in my future..LOL

  23. Margie says:

    This is the first time I have logged onto this blog, after receiving my first Mary Jane Magazine. Your story has inspired me. Here is my story… I am 48 years old and have always wanted to be a "farm girl". We have bought a house in the country with 4-5 acres (I know that is not really enough land to be a "farm", but to us, it is a lot.) and the ability to have some farm animals and a garden. My 11 year old son needs me at home, and I have a need to keep a good home. I keep thinking God has been trying to tell me this is what I am meant to do. Yet, I am sooo afraid to quit my job. How can I quit a good job with the economy the way it is, and so many people out of work? My husband is supportive of this change, but what if, when we can no longer afford to have or do the fun things we are used to doing, everyone complains? What if my husband gets sick and can no longer work? I will really regret giving up this job. However, if I suddenly were to get terminally ill, I would feel I had not fulfilled my true calling. My son is growing up so fast and will be a teen soon. Do I remain practical and deny my dream and him my time, or do I close my eyes and jump? Any feedback will be appreciated.

    WOW… been there, I do get it. It is so scarry…Please keep me updated on where your story goes from here…

  24. Deb says:

    What an inspiration ! I find myself sitting at the crossroads myself as of tuesday i will have to make a descion that will greatly alter my life .DREAM BIG ! Just what I needed to hear thanks for being my airplane in the sky ! Blessings Deb

  25. Nancy says:

    So many times the answers are there for us, if we look for them. You were lucky that this message hit you right in the face, so to speak, and it was able to guide you to your next decision. We often forget to stop and take the time to enjoy what’s around us and just "let go" and find the right answers.

  26. Heather says:

    I am always amazed at how God works in our lives. He drops little signs here and there, like Hansel and Gretel leaving breadcrumbs behind so that they can find their way back home. Our pastor this past sunday gave a sermon on dreaming. He said that God intended for us to dream, and dream big. Not only does He want us to dream, he is pleased when we do, and when we follow through. I say anyone that has a dream should take a leap of faith! We only live once; might as well do it right and enjoy every minute wholeheartedly!

  27. Janet says:

    I too am at a crossroad in my life. I have been in an upper management position for the past 11 years, while the money and benefits were great, the stress was killing me. Everyone thought I was crazy when I decided to resign this past september.I have been teaching part time but the salary is much less and no benefits. My husband supports my decision and I really enjoy the teaching. I have been told how much better I look without the stress (never knew I looked stressed). We have 4 acres of land in South Carolina, which is part of a farm my mother grew up on.I feel so blessed to be here, to be able to enjoy the smell of fresh plowed land, hear the whipperwills (? spelling), and enjoy the fresh smell of sheets hung out to dry,etc. Recently I feel God is telling me to do something here to supplement our income but also to still have the ability to be home. We have a very small garden and I love canning and freezing everything I can get my hands on. I am looking for some ideas for a small farm business if anyone might have something to offer. I love Mary Janes magazine and read every inch of it. Thanks for listening and God Bless

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