Monday, June 20, 2011

The Town that Raised Me...

I knew the question was coming eventually.  And then it did.  Kyle asked Jacob (my sister's soon-to-be groom) why he waved at every person we passed as we drove to retrieve some ferns for the reception.  It was neat to see my hometown of 3500 people in West TN through Kyle's eyes.  Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest along the I-5 corridor and never having traveled to any of the cozy, sleepy towns below the Mason-Dixon, I knew it was bound to be an experience for him.  And it mattered that he see it.  My heart was grown here.  It was nurtured and encouraged and inspired and advised and equipped to fly in this place. 

My little brother is now using his college summer to work at the bank that's now run by a man that my mom watched grow up in our church.  He's given me financial advice, and he married our former babysitter and one of my mentors.  And now he's mentoring my brother, who's been working as a teller.  This is PERFECT for him since he 1. already knows most of the folks in my town and 2. never meets a stranger.  Kellen has personality for days.  He's quick-witted, kind, and even a little mischievous.  He'll go far in whatever profession he chooses because people will LIKE him.

Jada just married Jacob, her high school sweetheart of 9 years this weekend.  They've both been through many years of school and life, and now that she graduated pharmacy school and can move back, they decided it was time.  Jacob's taking over his dad's insurance business, and they already have the 4 bedroom house that will house their future lineage.  It's perfect.  They're set and ready to move right into the community pillar role that both their parents have played.  I've gotten to see them both grow up and grow together.  I'm blessed to call them family. 

This whole wedding was an example of the warmth and hospitality that happens in a small town.  A blessed and extremely generous couple not only agrees to let us have the reception on their grounds, but puts in countless hours and funds to get it newly sodded, landscaped, and the outside building upgraded just in time for the occasion.  To hear them talk about it, you'd think they were as excited to host the party as we were to throw it.  Mom's friends put the reception together in terms of decor and flow and layout.  THEN the rains came... and it kept coming.  Friday morning there was standing water on the dancefloor.  We were rethinking location.  This was AFTER most of the arrangements had been made.  Some interventions were tried, but Saturday morning, the puddles remained and the rain came harder.  We were a somber group getting ready for pictures.  There were even tears involved.

 But 30 or so men from the community gathered together with my stepdad to screw plywood onto 2x4's to make 8,000 square feet of flooring inside the tent.  They finished in about 6 hours.  It was people from the bride's side, the groom's side, church friends, family, and out-of-town guests.  They made it happen.  And we had a beautiful reception.  THAT's the beauty of my hometown.  I love being from there, and I love coming back to visit.

Kyle flew in from Germany to surprise me, and boy, was I surprised.  But I think I was the only one.  I'm pretty sure my whole town already knew and was excited to meet him.  He got to shoot guns, see farms that don't have animals, and understand the camaraderie that goes down to your bones when you've grown up in small-town West Tennessee.  It was perfect.  

I love my story.   I am proud of my life's trajectory.  It's overwhelming to look back and see God's Hand at work at so many turns in the story.  And I know He's not done.  I look forward to see where He's taking me if where I came from is any indication of the blessings.