taking risks, changing course


taking_risks_changing_life_courseMark resigned from his job this week, a somewhat spontaneous decision following months of weighty conversations after dinner or over morning coffee. He and I are generally not the risk-taking types–more often falling into the first-born, responsible, plan-ahead category–so it feels weird and uncomfortable to shrug our shoulders at what might happen next. We’re not really quite sure. In the course of our fifteen years together, I can think of two similar and spontaneous course-changing decisions: the first, deciding to marry after one date, and the second, selling our previous home without knowing where we were going as a family (for the long-term). This decision will mark the third.

At some point, I suppose we all pull back the covers of our own lives to peek at what lies beneath, to expose the course, to evaluate the parts that expend and fill our time and energy. We give ourselves up to dream for a bit and consider the optimistic what if? But the practice of doing is complicated. Life is complicated, even when the course seems simple and clear. Ben Franklin admonished,”Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.” It is the 18th century version of YOLO, although I’m sure the phrases are not equally applied. Mark and I both have so much in us to write, to say, to do. We have a very specific vision for our family. The tricky part for us, and any parents working to provide for their children and home, is knowing when the ideal time arrives to make the leap, to leave one path and forge another. At what point do you have enough money saved, enough opportunity available, or enough courage swallowed to start something new? Again, I’m not sure. But I do know time is a shifting unknown variable, and when I reach the end of mine, I’d like to know I at least tried, regardless of the outcome.

Do not squander time. It’s almost haunting to hear these words from the past, like Marley’s ghost warning against misused opportunity. I realize none of these words imply one should stop a salaried job or even reconsider a life trajectory, but perhaps for our family, they do. Perhaps it is time to move on, even though we’re not yet exactly sure where or how. Perhaps, again, in this third radical departure from our life plan, the most sensible route is not necessarily the best one.

Mark and I are both reasonable enough to that know plans rarely flesh out the way we’ve imagined. We know that although he has left one piece of his career behind, a much harder work looms before us. We’ve shifted to a minimal budget (again), preparing as best as we can for the pinch of an immediately smaller income. He will continue working a flexible freelancing schedule he maintained the last four years in addition to his full-time job, but he’ll also be involved with more of the homeschooling, something that feels even more special for all of us as our children grow older.  I, on the other hand, plan to materialize some pocketed dreams I’ve had for this space, and again, feel an extra surge of gratitude for your readership and support. Naturally, we do at times face a twinge of panic and doubt.  But we also feel expectant, trusting the path will open before us as we begin stepping forward. The future, for all of us, is always somewhat blurry, but it is also bright.


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  1. This was so lovely Bethany. It is something I needed to read as myself and my family venture into the unknown, yet exciting new chapters in life (i.e. writing, homeschooling, and much more!). I just got finished reading the Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and I am currently reading the Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown, so your words definitely resonate with me. Thank you so much for sharing, and may God bless you all on this new journey!

  2. How very exciting for your family, Bethany. We, too, have begun a new chapter, risking and trusting… and learning and growing heaps through it all. It is a beautiful journey, and one that is worth the risk. I hope you can be encouraged in the unknown because together, with our Creator and the ones you love, anything is possible.

  3. Oh Bethany… Such an exciting/scary/daunting time for you all… But how wonderful to know we have a God who is sovereign, and knows every day before one of them even came to be! Will bee thinking of you all as you set out on this new adventure, and looking forward to seeing what you have in store for this little space!

  4. Thank you for sharing. We too have been struggling with deciding to continue the safe, pre-planned course or take a turn and let life happen. Your words and thoughts resonate through me and insight courage. I wish your family the best of luck in your next chapter.

    1. Author

      Thank you, Betty. It’s hard to discern the path at times, especially when considering decisions for an entire family. I’m grateful to hear so many people in similar crossroads, willing themselves to leap.

  5. Leap! Leap! Leap! Proud of you and your family. Thank you for sharing. Sharing bravely when you do not have the answers or the outcome or the next step.

    1. Author

      Thank you, Betsy. The reality hasn’t quite settled yet, but as it does, I know these encouragements will be so valuable. x

  6. I love this. I’m excited for you guys. It’s the family in the arena that counts, not those who idle. I always get a thrill when my boys muster the courage to “go for it”, and it always sharpens my focus on them. I believe the Father’s heart must react someway similar when we muster courage. He brightens His lights, the Son stands, and all the heavens lean in to watch the children dare greatly.

    1. Author

      I’ve thought about the arena often since reading Brene Brown’s books. It shifts the context of decision-making to think of yourself as the leading actor of your life, opposed to merely the spectator. Thanks for the reminder, Felix. Love you guys.

    1. Author

      Funny, I tend to think so, too! Although I recently listened to a TED talk on the Optimism Bias, and now I’m wondering if I’m just optimistic. At this point, it doesn’t matter. We’re in it and moving forward regardless. ;)

  7. I am new to your space here, but I am loving your words here today. Our family is on the verge of a similar situation as well, which can be overwhelming, but we are looking forward to the joy it brings to us in this “one wild and precious life.”

    1. Author

      Welcome here, Amber. And I completely agree. I’ve read bits of Mary Oliver’s latest release, Felicity, and I’m always moved by her simultaneous action and stillness. Her words always inspire rising to something, but also the patience to notice what’s happening right where you are. I love that, and it feels like a timely description for life right now. Moving forward, paying attention, and as you noted, enjoying one wild and precious life. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Excited to see what is in store for your family!! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Oh, Bethany, I am so excited for you. Change can be paralyzing and invigorating all at once; the possibilities are endless! Put one foot in front of the other. I have faith that you will get caught up in a healthy forward momentum. xo

  10. So happy for your family! Our little fam of five is also going through a major life transition- and it’s been the most overwhelming yet satisfying work ever. sending lots of love & prayer your way friend! Xoxo

    1. Author

      Thank you, Chelsi. It’s funny how courage-building it can be to know we’re not alone. I appreciate you. x

  11. This is very exciting and encouraging. Our little family is in a similar place, excited to see how things unfold for you guys.

    1. Author

      Thank you so much, Joel. It’s so good to know we’re not alone in these hard, courageous decisions. Blessing you all with smooth transitions in yours.

  12. What an exciting opportunity! :)
    We’ve made some interesting choices along these 18 years of marriage. While not always easy, we have followed some dreams. Some have been more successful than others (!) but at the end of it all, we will have tried.
    We pray, and move in faith, even if others can’t see it.

    1. Author

      Yes! Thank you for sharing this. It’s always nice to hear about other’s journeys into unknown places, too. Warmest as you continue yours.

  13. How exciting! We dream of doing something like this at some point too. It’s always inspiring to see families embarking on a new journey and I look forward to following along. I was greatly encouraged by your message at W+F and love following your posts! xo

    1. Author

      Thank you so much, Nicole. I’m so heart-warmed by your compliments and encouragement. I hope your summer is so sweet for you and your family. x

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