Thursday, September 14, 2017

Small Town Blessings & Sharing the Bounty

In the past couple weeks we’ve been blessed by many moments that make my heart swell with gratitude for small-town life.

It all started at the school open house. I have to admit, I was a little nervous to send our first child into the big, scary world of pre-school. Believe it or not, Marion seems big compared to the K-12 school I attended. My nerves were immediately calmed, though, when Nate proudly pointed out the coat peg he himself had used as a kindergartener. One look at the class list and we recognized a handful of familiar last names. These country roots run deep.
A few days later, we went to the county fair where the smell of fried food and shavings instantly transported me to my dairy and swine showing days. We watched a few rounds of swine showmanship and I was shocked when Louisa expressed an interest in participating in the Pee Wee division. Fortunately, it didn’t take long to find an FFA member willing to take her under her wing. They’re planted in fertile soil.
That Sunday, we attended my favorite little country church where Victor decided to lay on the floor under the pew while the two-year-old behind us mirrored his posture. Little did the two boys know that they are actually fifth cousins, but their strong German genes give them the same fair skin and wispy blond hair. The branches are strong and wide.
At one point, we found ourselves sitting around a circle of friends while the mob of kids hunted for frogs. It’s hard to believe that a few years ago it was just us adults. What will these gatherings be like in ten more years? Will we be watching our kids compete in homecoming football games? In twenty more years, will we be celebrating the wedding of two of these munchkins? The harvest will be plentiful.
I cherish this small-town life. To me, the barn quilts that dot our rural roads represent the warm spirit that blankets our community. We’re enveloped by our history, our farming heritage, our families, and our faith.
At the same time, my heart aches for those in our midst who feel outside of the blanket. The foster child whose last name is unrecognized or carries a shameful reputation. The autistic child who could so benefit from interacting with a fair animal, yet all the local farmers seem to have no room in the barn. The child in church whose skin and hair color doesn’t match the child behind him. The child who’s rarely invited to birthday parties or playdates because no one knows her parents.

We’ve got a good thing going for us out here in God’s country. As we approach a new school year this autumn, I’m resolving to share the bountiful harvest with all the neighbors around us.

I hope you’ll enjoy us for our first annual Pigeon River Oktoberfest this Saturday. It’ll be an event to celebrate heritage, community, family, and local businesses. The event will also serve as a fundraiser for the development of CASA of Shawano and Waupaca Counties, an excellent way to extend the warmth of our communities to those who need it most. CASA is an acronym for Court Appointed Special Advocates, and the organization will pair community volunteers with children involved in Child in Need of Protection and/or Services (CHIPS) cases in our court systems. Volunteers work to establish a trusting relationship with the child in order to develop resilience and advocate on the behalf of the child in court. Come to Oktoberfest to find out how you can help support this worthy organization!

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