Home in the Hills

Our fam­ily took a leap of faith and moved where we be­longed.


ome­thing about the Black Hills has al­ways tugged at my heart. My par­ents held their wed­ding here, and our fam­ily’s his­tory is rooted here.

Mem­o­ries from many fam­ily gath­er­ings and ex­plo­rations made it my home away from home. For a cou­ple of weeks ev­ery year, the whole fam­ily would “go home”— back to the Black Hills, to stay with my grandma and grandpa. So ever since I was a child vis­it­ing this won­der­ful place with my fam­ily in sum­mer and at Christ­mas, I knew that I loved this land.

SHome-school as­sign­ments and old jour­nals re­veal my dream of liv­ing out here, but that dream slipped to the side, lost in the ex­cite­ment of school and church ac­tiv­i­ties. As a stu­dent at Eastern Illi­nois Univer­sity, I stud­ied vo­cal per­for­mance and whole­heart­edly pur­sued a ca­reer in mu­sic.

That is, un­til one piv­otal sum­mer when the re­al­iza­tion struck me like a freight train—I adored the Black Hills more than any­where else on this earth, and noth­ing was more im­por­tant to me than liv­ing there.

When one of my sis­ters and I first brought up the idea of mov­ing to our mom, we were hes­i­tant but se­ri­ous. We thought our fam­ily needed to go home, be­cause the Black Hills were home in a rather in­tan­gi­ble way that Illi­nois just wasn’t. Deep con­ver­sa­tions came next, then Dad’s de­ci­sion to sell the fam­ily busi­ness.

The fol­low­ing two years were the long­est of my life, fin­ish­ing my col­lege de­gree and wrap­ping up that chap­ter while I waited for our one-way trip to South Dakota.

And the day fi­nally came! We left the prairies and corn­fields of ru­ral Illi­nois for the rolling hills and tow­er­ing gran­ite of the Black Hills.

We left a lot be­hind in Illi­nois: our fam­ily busi­ness, long­time friends, our church, post-col­lege ca­reer op­tions that “made sense,” and even a sis­ter, Jess, who was get­ting her ca­reer es­tab­lished as a far­rier and start­ing a life with her hus­band. That was the hard­est one.

The re­lo­ca­tion re­quired a leap of faith, and we took it. I felt like we

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