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The Prairie Became Home

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24 years ago, my 18 year old self and my 14 year old brother took what I thought would be my last drive down Ol’ 16 west of Murdo. As we crested the railroad bridge, I knew I needed to stop and photograph the curve of the rolling old highway. Little did I know that I was taking a photograph of what would be my home five years later. And the last of eight moves I would make for 19 years and counting.

June 2000

This month marks 19 years of sinking roots deeply into the prairie soil. 19 years of watching the sun from the moment it crests the eastern horizon until the last note of light in the west.

19 years of howling winds from the north west, and hot summer blasts from the south east. Anticipating and listening for the return of meadow larks in the spring and purple cone flowers lifting their faces to the wide open sky.


All these years of low water pressure many times I wash dishes, for the cows seem to think that’s the most opportune moment for the whole herd to visit the water tank.

19 years of riding some pretty wonderful horses and truly experiencing “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” (Winston Churchill)

Eowyn | 2008 – 2024

I don’t know how many storms I have witnessed, some from unlikely places and others from my hill top vista. All beautiful, powerful and shouting the handiwork of the Lord who made them.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.

Psalm 19:1
Fragrant Fury

The prairie became the birth place of my children to a vastly different lifestyle than I’d known, for them to grow and thrive. No matter the heartaches and no matter the pain, this vast space is home.

Dry Creek Fire | March 2021

The prairie captured my soul during my high school years when my family lived in Murdo. The west facing window from my desk in Northfield, IL for four years after that often left me longing as I watched the sky across the tops of hundreds of houses.

Never did I expect to return and truly dwell. And dwell, I have.

The prairie is one of the Lord’s most delightful gifts to me. For He used the prairie to help me find my voice in photography, to be challenged and tested in ways I never would have asked for, to learn how to be a wife and mother, and continually grow in knowledge of Him and of His goodness.

South Dakota Prairie

Upon entering my booth during the Black Hills Stock Show a number of years ago, a gentleman was immediately drawn to South Dakota Prairie. He told me, “My father would look at this and say, “What a waste!” My brother would say, “How desolate!”‘

“Well, what do you say?” I asked him.

“It calls to me,” he responded, “it says, “Saddle up your horse and come.”

Cover photo: Fire in the Sky

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Laurel Schriever

    Love this. You are not just an artist with photography, you’re an artist with words.

    1. Cristen

      Awww, thank you, Laurel! My brain was having a hard time putting out my heart’s thoughts. I had to walk away, return to the keyboard and this is what came out. I erased all the garbage I’d written before walking away. 🙂

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