Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Only in a Small Town

I have lived in the same small town on the border in Texas for 19 years with my husband and children. Truly I must say that for the first 15 years I spent trying to find a way out of it. My first friend in this town told me, “Oh everyone who moves here wants to move away, but it will grow on you and you’ll stay.”


I replied, “Yeah, right!” I begged and pleaded with my husband to put in for transfers. When he did, I didn’t want to move to the places for which he applied. Those places are more remote than where we are. Oddly enough when offers came up he passed them by or he wasn’t selected. So we’re still here.


At the 14 year mark, my husband’s job sent him to Charleston, South Carolina, for six months. The boys and I packed up and went with him. We had a great time. We got to experience all the things the city offers—museums, weekly family activities, beaches, fishing, canoeing, great restaurants, multiple movie theatres, plenty of golf courses, choices of schools, lots of books stores, libraries, community clubs, churches, high speed internet, digital cable and lots more (especially noting a Starbucks inside a Barnes & Noble—my favorite place). Nevertheless, we had something to do every weekend. The boys and I were on a six month vacation.


When the six months ended, we came back to our small Texas town on the border. I had city withdrawals for a spell. I did not have high speed internet; we were fortunate to have dial up back then. Only one small book store. One movie theatre. One library. Few community clubs. Few choices of churches. No Starbucks! (I was addicted to Starbucks by this time and had severe withdrawals.)


But one day shortly after returning from South Carolina, the Lord let me see some things that are great about small towns. I went shopping at the local Wal-Mart (which while we were gone they opened the Super Wal-Mart—we were moving up). While I was paying, I was chatting with a neighbor that lives down the street from me. Unknowingly, all the bags did not make it in my cart when I left. I loaded the bags in the car and started to leave the parking lot. As I was driving out, my neighbor stopped me and told me I forgot two bags of groceries and he was on his way to bring them to my house. I was so grateful. I remembered then no one even talked to me in Wal-Mart in Charleston much less made sure I got all my groceries. I didn’t know any one there.


At that moment I was grateful for living in a small town. Four years have passed since that small town experience. I’ve been slipping back into the “I miss the city” mode. The Lord knows I needed another reminder and He kindly let me have another experience this past weekend.


I was helping my friend, Jenny, who lives on the other side of the block with a surprise party she had for her husband. I had some tables and folding chairs set out for her to borrow. She called on Saturday afternoon and told me she was sending her nephews over in the truck to pick up the table and chairs. I told her to let them know it’s the house with the white Yukon and a trailer in the drive way. The chairs are against the trailer. An hour had passed and I had to leave to go pick up some items for the party—the best homemade tortillas in this state. I called her to tell her that the boys hadn’t arrived yet. I had to leave so I would drive around the block and leave them in her driveway if she would have the boys meet me outside. Sounding surprised, she asked, “Are you sure they didn’t pick them up?”


I’m loading the last chair in the Yukon and I said, “Yes. I’m on my way over.” Then I hung up. I didn’t think much of it because they’re teenage boys and who knows what happened as teens in general can be unpredictable.


When I drove around the block, I saw another neighbor and friend, Karen, passing by with a confused look on her face waving at me. She went and parked her truck and walked over to where I was unloading. She said her son called her and someone took tables and chairs from her driveway. Jenny’s nephew met me outside as I started unloading and told us that he got the table and chairs from the house down the street. Someone even helped load them in the truck. Karen informed them that was her house. Her house fit the description I gave. There was a white Yukon with a trailer and tables and chairs! Why wouldn’t these teens think that they had the right house?


I couldn’t contain the laughter for a good five minutes. I truly had one of those really good belly laughs. Where else can you live where you have more than one neighbor who has a white Yukon, a trailer, with tables and chairs for you to borrow in their driveway?


Only in a small town!!


What a precious gift I received from the Lord this past weekend. I have wonderful friends in this small town. Real neighborly neighbors. I am glad I live here and I’m glad for the friends the Lord has given to me in this small town.


As children of God, He has determined the time and the place we are to live. As Paul spoke to the Athenians in Acts 17:26-28, he said:

“From one man he [God] made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'”


We are to seek the Lord; reach out for Him. That’s why He determined where we are to live.

2 gracious comments:

Karen said...

Shonda,
This is too wild. I was reading your post on living in a small town. And lo and behold, you quoted the exact Scripture that stood out to me today while I was speaking out some Scriptures. It stood out to me so much that I looked up Greek terms for some of the words in that passage and began looking them up in my Zodhiates reference book. You see, isn't it just really neat how God works? I had to draw my line today. The enemy has been trying to work on me with fear again. I was at the hospital this past Friday because we needed to make sure everything was okay with this precious little one in my womb. Even though I have felt that everything is going to be fine with this pregnancy, I got to that hospital and my body just started reacting. My blood pressure was high, my heart rate was fast. I was scared. While we were waiting for the doctor to come to the cubicle, I had to really work hard with God to calm down. I felt I trusted God. Yet, I was having a hard time physically calming down. My husband and I began speaking out Scriptures. Then I started singing hymns and praise songs. Finally, God and I talked. He helped me to realize some things. Amongst them was that I was afraid to go to the doctor. You see, not long after we found out I was pregnant, we moved (from an urban area to a rural area :) ) I was wanting to get settled and then look for a doctor. Yet, really, deep down I was putting it off because I was scared. I guess because of what has happened in the past. As God and I talked in that hospital room, I felt myself calm down. I wasn't completely calm but I was much better than before! The doctor came in and I asked her if she would do the ultrasound first because I knew as soon as I saw that everything was fine I would be much calmer. She was a wonderful doctor. I prayed for a Christian doctor and God answered that prayer. I told God that day - "Let's do the thing." In other words, let's get that doctor's appointment set up and do what we need to do. Understand I'm not that far along. I'm actually right in the time frame when doctors like to set up your first visit.

I've realized that the enemy wants me to cower into that fear again. And I had to draw my lines. I had to let the enemy know - this girl ain't going there again because I've got the victory in Jesus.
Amen!!! I was speaking out Scriptures today and I landed on this one in Acts. I truly believe God is trying to help me understand that I can be at ease because my whole being is in His hands. Understand, I know this. I know God is in control. But today for some reason, this particular Scripture resonated with me. Maybe it's because it's time for me to get that head knowing to the heart knowing. When the two line up, that's when we begin walking it out more fully. I think it's then that our theology and our reality begin matching.

This verse tells me that God determines the boundaries of our habitation and we can't exist without God. For it's in Him that we live, move and have our being. Such a powerful Scripture for my arsenal against fear.

I'm no spiritual giant that's for sure. I've grown tremendously in my faith walk and have learned a lot. But now it's time for me to step it up a notch in my faith walk. And I think this has been the first step in that direction.

I know I need to share this on my blog. But I just had to write to you and share this. God is amazing!

My God is about freedom. I know because He's brought me so much. And I know He has more to bring me. Hallelujah! Praise His Name!

Jenny said...

First I want to share how I feel about this small town. I grew up here off and on when I was younger and then moved back in '92. I didn't really want to move back and wanted to leave even more when I got here. But it does grow on you. I have my moments when I want to leave, actually a lot of moments. But then there are those times when you feel like people here are your family. When you go somewhere like Wal-Mart and see people you know and get to talk to them it makes you feel good. It's like you are a real part of the community. I'm not much of a social person, but it is nice to know that when you go somewhere there is always someone to talk to. My neighbors are really nice people that I've gotten to know very well in the short time I've been on the block. When I get that feeling of wanting to leave I try to remind myself to be content where I am. I believe that if you are content that's when God will take you to the places you really want to go. When He knows you are content and not complaining about your circumstances. Anyway, I'm preaching to myself.

On another note. I'm the one that had the party and those were my nephews who went to the wrong house. It was very funny. I'm still laughing about it. I think I must have told everyone the story already. When I told my nephews where the house was they acted like they already knew. I guess that's why they weren't really listening when I told them it was on the next street over not across the street. Luckily the person they took the chairs and tables from was also a friend and hopefully wasn't too upset. I guess she thought it was pretty comical too.