I'm a small-town mama passionate about faith, marriage and parenting. I write to preserve stories worth remembering and to encourage women to embrace the lots they've been given.
There’s no mall. There’s no movie theater. The job opportunities are limited. So why would anyone choose to live and raise a family in a small town?
When I tell people that my husband and I moved back to my small, hometown after we had our first child, I can read the looks on their faces: “Why?” Well, I’ll tell ya, it wasn’t because of the private school options or the chance to move up the job ranks. It was for reasons that – to me – are way better. Much deeper. And far higher than any seat on a corporate ladder.
Growing up, the coming of fall meant a couple of things to me – Friday night football and Saturday Razorback football (both of which I loved). But when I started dating my now husband at age 14, I was introduced to a whole new world, in a sense. The leaves changing and the breezes cooling didn’t signal the chance to yell “Woo Pig Sooie!” For him, it meant the time had finally come again when he could creep out into the woods, watch the squirrels scurry by, and climb a tree to watch nature be itself. It was hunting season.
I think back to as young as I can remember, and I see myself sitting in my Nana and Papa’s living room. I’m Indian-style on the carpet, scrunched between sixteen first cousins, and the grin plastered on my face is identical to theirs. We’re all talking a notch louder than usual, and the room is shaking with excitement.
In a society where bullying and humiliation are the norm, along with airbrushed and surgically-enhanced models, girls are made to feel anything but perfect. To counteract the culture, I’ve concluded that parents can’t build up their children too much.
The story is timeless. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love and get married. Boy and girl live happily ever after. But in today’s times, the story doesn’t always end that way. A growing number of American love stories now end in divorce rather than at the promised “til death do us part.”
First born children have a way of re-orbiting the universe so that it revolves around them. For the past 20 months, the sun in our house has been a brown-eyed girl with wispy curls and a big personality. But a small stick just informed us that in a few months, she’ll have a little brother or sister. Competition.
It was the first Christmas after Tyler and I were married, and we were back in his hometown, sitting at his parents’ kitchen table. We were both in college, but when we came home for weekends or holidays, we were kids again – catered to, doted over and cleaned up after...
Ask a small-town kid what he wants to do with his life, and you’ll get some version of this: “Move anywhere but here!” From childhood, rural kids plot their escape for “as soon as they graduate.” They build a list of reasons as tall as their water tower. The drama. The gossip. The lack of opportunities. The lack of knowledge. I know because I was one of them, and I had my reasons like everyone else.
Not everyone is Jesus followers. Santa Claus is a huge part of our largely secular culture, and he is everywhere. Not only is he at the mall, on TV, and in catalogs, but he’s in conversation at the super-market and at family get-togethers. “Have you been good little girl? What’s Santa Claus going to bring you?” Personally, I would not feel right about cutting off well-meaning family members and other adults with a “We don’t believe in Santa Claus.”
From the outside, I’ll admit, my life looks as simple as they come. I’m a small-town girl who grew up, briefly left, and wound up right back where I started. I live a whole three blocks away from my parents and the house where I grew up. I rarely get on a plane, take a trip or experience the adventures thatothers crave. Heck, I rarely get out of my town and visit the mall. But this life that I live – this small-town, simple life – is the one that I’ve chosen.
As I get older, I realize more and more that this journey of faith is just that – a journey. Though I’m only 26, I became a Christian as a small child, so I’ve walked this path for some 20 years already. And I’m starting to realize that there truly are seasons of life, as well as seasons in my relationship with God.
Isn’t it beautiful and awe-inspiring the way our God created seasons? He is the original flame of creativity that placed that spark in all of us. And none of His works are more beautiful to me than the revolving seasons, which each year, right in the nick of time, part the clouds and bring us spring.
So I’m deciding now to spend them praying and preparing. Doing the Hokey Pokey in the kitchen and belting out Bible school songs in the car. Playing “Two Little Monkeys” after bath time and to never missing prayers before bed.
Because you only get to build a foundation once. And we have 12 months to build ours as strong as it can be.
I’ve been blessed to come from a long line of believers. My dad was a preacher, along with two of my uncles and my maternal grandfather. Even my great grandparents were people of strong faith. Without (I hope) sounding boastful, there is one word that comes to mind when I think of my family tree: legacy. In my family, there is a legacy of faith that I’ve always been proud of and hoped to pass on to my children.
Each year more and more Arkansas parents are choosing not to vaccinate their infants and small children. According to Dr. Dirk Haselow, medical director and section chief for communicable disease and immunizations at the Arkansas Department of Health, the number of parents seeking exemptions from the mandated vaccines has doubled every three years since 2002, when exemptions for philosophical reasons were first allowed. Why? If vaccines prevent all kinds of serious diseases and protect the population against widespread outbreaks, why would anyone choose to opt out?