Sunday, April 29, 2007

Our New "Neck of the Woods"

I just have to share a little bit about what it's like to start over in a new area of the country, knowing essentially no one, and not having a defined place in the community. When we moved to a new area every other time in our marriage, we served in ministry at a church, and had an entire church community welcomed us with open arms. Now, we had a single family to welcome us. Well, we also have our Realtor.

Here's the thing, though. We've only attended 2 services at First Baptist Church of Fulton, a month between visits, and yet they treat us like family. They are willing to help us unload the truck when we get the house, and to help us get settled in. They want to befriend us. The music minister's name is Russ and he's from Missouri (sound familiar?) and he is already thinking of lots of opportunities for my Russ. In fact, he knows of a church who needs an interim music and maybe interim pastor in the area-so my Russ will be looking into that ASAP as one of his new jobs. The two Russes will meet soon so my Russ can discuss his new ministry concept. He hopes to meet with the pastor of the church too.

Here are some other bits & pieces of small town observations and also reflections on how I feel about starting over:

I was shopping in Wal-Mart and a complete stranger walked up to me and said she had noticed a product in my cart that she had a coupon for, and would I want the coupon. How nice is that?

We dropped in on our new State Farm Insurance office, and they guessed who we were even though we came unannounced, and they knew about our entire insurance "binder" (house and 2 cars). They assured us that they considered us covered with them so that there is no lapse in coverage, and that they would take care of the belongings we have stored in U-Haul even though the State Farm in our previous town said the belongings could only be out of our home for a certain period of time and be covered. It just seemed they went the extra mile for us. Another small town bonus!

I checked the median income for our town, and I make more than the median income. That's the first time that has ever happened in my life! I'm not bragging, I'm just saying the cost of living is less here, and people tend to MAKE less here too.

Today at Lowes, I was short 26 cents, and rather than use my debit card, the cashier chipped in the change from his own pocket.

Nelda, my Realtor, is already having fun brainstorming with us about the house, and hopes to come get some cuttings of one of my plants for a church flower arrangement when it is her turn to provide one where she worships. We enjoy each other's company. She attends the First Methodist Church, is a part of Habitat For Humanity, and has a love for the Historic District in Fulton.

We were eating in Pizza Hut today after church, and several families from church stopped in. They all came up to talk to us and acted like we were already family. We went to Wal-Mart and ran into another guy from church, and talked to him like we were already friends. This is what it is like to live in the South in the Bible Belt!

These are just a few of the neat examples of our short time here in Fulton.

But there are scary things too. We are starting over. Will we have enough money coming in for the bills? Will we remember people's names and start to build relationships. Will we have the discernment to pick the right friends? We will be friendly with EVERYONE, but there will be some we naturally connect with more than others. After being hurt several times in a row, are we ready to risk the vulnerability of new friendships? Of course, not being in local church ministry, we probably won't be the target of attacks and false accusations like we have been in previous situations. Maybe we will be safe from the darts. No one is exempt from heartache, but maybe we won't be hit by the same types of arrows as those who serve on staff at local churches. Russ will still be in ministry, but it won't carry the same risks of betrayal and rejection. It has it's own set of risks.

I'm all about the "settle down" at this stage of my life, rather than "new and exciting." I'm all about the "roots" rather than the "adventure." I'm all about stability rather than flexibility. The Lord knows I'm trying to be open-minded to whatever He brings our way, but my humanity is begging for some time in one place to really dig in. I'll still get to do the adventure stuff by traveling with my business, but if my HOME could be in one place for a while, I'd have that same ONE PLACE to come home to every time.

For the past month I've not known that connected feeling of HOME. I long for that again. For now, our U-Haul is like Noah's Ark to me. Everything to connect my past to my future is in that "ark." They say home is where the heart is, but a woman needs a nest too! It doesn't have to be big or fancy (in fact, even though my individual income is above the median household income for Fulton, our home is costing us less than the median value of a Fulton home). Just give me a place to land. A place to develop my own routines and habits and ideosycrisies. A table to serve food to guests and a guest bed to offer comfort to overnight company. Let me always use what I have to serve God and others, whether it is little or much.

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