“The day I left my company, we drew an imaginary line on my office floor. When I stepped over it, my purpose is no longer about growing my grandfather’s legacy. It now only about moving toward a kingdom-focused mission.”
Let’s set the stage. Vern and his wife Michelle moved to the Texas Hill Country from Anaheim, Orange County, California. After handing off the reigns of his third-generation family business, and closing up Michelle’s 30 year old chiropractic practice, they could go anywhere they wanted, but together, they decided to leave the known for the unknown. Isn’t it funny how life goes sometimes?
What is it like for someone to move to Texas from the West Coast? That’s a huge leap in economics, politics, religion, personality, atmosphere, weather, etc. So taking a high level look at his transition is a great way to frame all this.
Firstly, Mark met Vern then the latter came as a buyer to one of Mark’s listings. Mark doesn’t really see a difference in people, everyone needs to be served, so he jumped right in to his “reality of ranch living” speech. He wanted to make sure Vern was looking at the right place, something that would fit the vision for his next season of life. Something that worked with the purpose. So they talked, and Mark listened.
Go where the family is. One of Vern’s daughters spent some time at a little university called Baylor, in Waco, it ultimately pointed her to Austin where she married a TAMU grad and there they settled. Vern’s a family guy so being close to the kids was important. But too close wasn’t an option, there needed to be a healthy distance. “We can plan a weekend out at the ranch with a little advance notice but it’s not like I’m just ten minutes down the road.” At the same time, he moved his 82 year old mother to a greatly improved care facility in Lakeway, and found a rental place near long-time friends in Spicewood. So there are key relationships here, and as we all know, that makes a heap of difference in what kind of life you live.
But, still, there’s a lot of space in the Central Texas area, the Hill Country isn’t tiny. A Mark Harman piece of advice goes something like this, “Choose the town you want to base out of, then pick a ranch that’s a realistic distance from there.” Too many folks get stuck in a spot that’s idyllic, but way too far from the town they like. Not everyone is going to enjoy being truly remote, so strike the right balance. And that’s what Vern discovered. He fell in love with Fredericksburg, it just felt “right” to him and he found his ranch just 7 miles south of town.
Then it’s on to building something special. “I want to use this ranch, I don’t want to put in a full day of manual labor seven days a week, but a gentleman’s ranch sounds kind of nice.” That’s doable! He has visions for a beautiful and unique home, something that will suit not just his needs, and the needs of the kids; here’s where the story gets interesting. His “purpose” isn’t retirement at all. It’s about serving his calling, however that manifests itself, he’s not the type who will be content to sit by the pool five days a week. The man needs to be about his work!
“God never leaves me very long without something to do.” This ranch is just the beginning. Vern’s on a Kingdom mission to pursue opportunities to steward his money and his ranch with intentionality. He knows you can’t take it with you, so this place isn’t all about leisure, it’s a launching pad for more than we could honestly write, but we’ll try.
A mission for the land
Our conversation turned a variety of directions. But core to Vern’s attitude is a desire to steward his resources toward effecting change in the world. Much of what has been lost in the landscape of American culture has been a result of the demolition of the family unit. So, this place could change that. It can be a retreat for sweet family moments for his children (and hopefully grandchildren), it’s a location to host friends and their families. A place to rest and restore away from the traffic and noise of the big city. A place from which to build community with a 200 year old local history. “You don’t move to a place that believes the exact opposite of what you do, you go somewhere with similar values.” Hard work, friendliness, and good storytelling are a few of the things he’s already uncovered.
“I know I will jump into these community service opportunities. I have so much I can do and give still! I love to find funding, to give money, to lead teams and help make events happen. God gave me this gift to make things profitable. I love seeing how people here are leaders, they’re involved in the life of the community.”
“Going a step further, how could this acreage become a summer camp for orphaned children? Who knows?” Quietly, he’s begun to dream big. He wonders if parents looking to adopt could become counselors, if the percentage of children who are adopted in the USA could increase? If his ranch could become a spark for larger cultural change? The reunion of the family unit itself, If families could become a reality for those who never dreamed of having one.
It’s never just about a “Ranch”
You may think you’re coming to Texas to avoid income tax or associate with folks who align with you politically. That’s a start. But what Vern’s story illustrates is that there is much more to the picture than just a ranch and a quiet life. Those are absolutely achievable, but high character land, when combined with high character people becomes something so much more than the sum of its parts.
You won’t want to sit on your porch for the rest of your life. There’s 200 years of hard work in that soil beneath your feet, the German settlers must have left some kind of enchantment here. You’ll find rest for sure, but you may start to find a sense of purpose too. There’s so much that can be done when you start a new life somewhere, and often-times that’s what we all really want after-all. Too much rest doesn’t sit well with people who are used to living a pretty full and impactful life (a trait we’ve noticed time and again in the people we work with and serve).
A Mark Harman core value goes something like this: EFFORT=CARE. The level of effort you put in equals level of care people receive.
Don’t just get excited for a narrow view of what ranch-life brings, get excited for the big, wide wonderful palette on which you can begin to discover and live your purpose for this next season. Your years have meaning. Your presence in the community can make a difference. There’s so much more to enjoy here than you can imagine. Join in!