Imagine driving down a 9-mile dirt road, with a sheer drop-off on one side, no guardrail and zero cell service…sound a little like what the last few weeks have felt like? Well, it perfectly describes the road to my friend, Brooke Warnock’s home. The difference is that her dirt road leads to a beautiful log cabin that is nestled in the middle of 40,000 acres of Pike National Forest, just outside of Denver, Colorado.  For many of us, I think it feels like our dirt road is only leading us to the middle of no-mans-land and not really anywhere we want to go. 

Brook has lovingly been referred to as an “opportunist” seizing every chance she gets to make a good memory or experience life outside of the box. This spirit of wanderlust included making sure her summers were full of lasting adventure. Little did she know that one fun summer job at Lost Valley Ranch would change the trajectory of her life forever when she met her husband, life long cowboy and rancher, Tony Warnock. What started as a way to avoid a “real-job” over the summer, has now become her and Tony’s life work – managing a dude ranch, serving people, mentoring young adults and homeschooling their five children.

As romantic as parts of this story are, today Brooke opens up about how living in seclusion, especially while raising small children, left her feeling extremely isolated and alone.  She talks about how that experience brought her out of her comfort zone in the early years of her marriage and also how it led to self-discovery, restoration, and a complete shift in perspective as she learned to live into her calling. Brooke takes us back to a moment when she realized she felt entitled to a life of comfort and how she was challenged to unpack that belief when Tony said, “At the end of the day, this isn’t unhealthy, this is just hard.” She shares the transformation that took place in her life as she started leaning into growth and shifted her perspective to see the beauty around her instead of focusing on the parts of her story that didn’t align with what she believed she deserved.

When we recorded this conversation just three short months ago, much of what we talked about felt like it was meant for “that one person” who was feeling isolated, or struggling with their life not looking exactly like they expected it would. Little did we know that it would be airing at a moment when we are all facing many of these thoughts and feelings as our worlds have been completely flipped upside down. Brooke speaks to the culture of comfort we are accustomed to in America and reminds us that there’s so much to bask in that’s good, outside of circumstantial comfort, especially when things aren’t going exactly as we expected.

I was so graciously reminded via this post by a friend, that although we are all weathering the same storm, we are not all in the same boat. Maybe you’ve lost your job during this pandemic or you are working on the front lines as a medical provider. Maybe you are enduring compounded grief as you navigate the loss of a loved one amidst this crisis. I don’t know what you are facing, or what the future holds for you, but I want you to know that you are not alone. 

Brooke has shown me that experiencing true life change and deep joy comes when we choose to show up and be present in our life, regardless of our circumstances. She says one thing she has learned along the way is if you’re living out your calling, you better believe it’s going to be hard, but also so very worth it!  I hope after hearing Brooke share her story, you will be encouraged to shift your view in the middle of these challenging circumstances and look for ways to refocus your mind and heart on that which is beautiful along the way. 

Speak Life with Taylor Nichols is a podcast committed to keeping it REAL and RAW — real people, real stories, and real life. Be sure to subscribe so you never miss a conversation! {You can listen to the show right HERE and to make sure you never miss an episode just hop on to your favorite podcast app (ie. iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify) and subscribe today! I hope you will consider sharing the show with your friends and if you have a friend with a story you think we need to hear, please nominate them right HERE!}