Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Redneck Swap and Shop

     I think it must be programmed into a man's DNA, or passed down from generation to generation.  I'm talking about the innate desire to trade something you have of value for something that you see someone else has that you need or want.  It reminds me of a man's mall.  We women go to a mall to shop, but men are constantly shopping everywhere they go.  "Hey, look at that guy's collection."  "I wonder where he found that..." and on and on.
     We here in redneck country thrive on the bartering system. I'm sure that is how the Dog-n-Gun got its start.  A bunch of guys trading their stuff back and forth, and one of them decides to organize it all and charge admission.  Pretty smart fella!
     Of course, we also have the General Store on the radio every day. Great entertainment if you need a laugh!  Someone in our county also started a facebook Swap-and-Shop page where you can trade, barter or buy anything from farm equipment, houses, babysitting services and of course, dogs and guns.  It's also a great place to announce events, pass along road conditions, or gossip about what's happening around town.
     This week I experienced the oldest form of the Swap-and-Shop that has been going on since the beginning of time.  I call it the Redneck Swap and Shop, just because of how it happened.
     My husband bought a red truck from his cousin.  We family members like to keep vehicles in the family ( and selling such items to each other is a great way to "borrow" money without having to pay it back!).  It is a nice cherry-red Chevy, the same make as several of our other trucks (yes, I said "several").  When he got it, it had a bright blue tailgate on it, most likely replaced at one point with the intention of painting it to match someday.  (By the way, we also have a gold truck the same model. My man joked about replacing the red hood and doors with the gold and naming the truck "Iron Truck"....)
    Several weeks ago our employee made an observation.  A friend of his has a blue truck, same make and model, that had a red tailgate. Ironic. So, last evening, my husband met a complete stranger and they traded tailgates.  Here's the before and after: (I guess it looks more like the "after and before"!!)

      At the end of the evening there were 2 happy guys who now have a complete pickup, all because of word-of-mouth and old fashioned neighborly kindness.  I had wanted to go along and take pictures of the exact transaction, hand shake and all,  but my husband didn't think that would be a good idea.
      It really is a great deal.  I'm sure there will be grins and mutual waves every time these 2 trucks meet on the road.  We made so much more than a great trade.  We met a new neighbor, made a new friend, and gained a great story all in one night...........but, you'll get that in a small town!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I Love a Small-Town Church

     Did you hear the one about the church that was so small, when the pastor said "Dearly beloved", his wife blushed?  Well, I grew up in small churches like that and have come to love the family atmosphere that surrounds a small town church. I am not just a face in the crowd, but a vital member, a sister, a friend. When I walk through the door, I am greeted by name with a smile.  I am there not just to be encouraged, but to give encouragement. When my seat is empty, I am missed. When I am hurting, I am comforted. When I rejoice, I am not alone.
      There are many advantages to attending a small church. It reminds me of a family gathering together around the supper table. We are there to be fed, but there is so  much more than just eating going on. There is conversation, interaction and learning.  I am reminded of the words of a song by Lanny Wolfe that states:
 "And sometimes we laugh together, Sometimes we cry.
Sometimes we share together heartaches and sighs.
Sometimes we dream together of how it will be
When we all get to heaven, God's family."
          I also love the old-fashioned feel of our services.  We meet to be fed from God's Word every week.  We are not there to be entertained.  It is not the goal of the church leadership to try every different crowd pleasing trick to draw numbers of people into the building.  When someone stands in the pulpit they are there to minister, not entertain. We have often seen a brother or sister minister from the pulpit in tears as they pour out their heart.  Our goal is to learn from God's Word and to seek out others who desire to please HIm.  We sing the old hymns of the faith and we read from the Old Book.   As a mother of young children, I love the fact that  my children have also been given the opportunity to learn to minister in our church.  They are involved in the childrens' program that our church has on Wednesday evenings, and about every other month, they share the songs and verses they have been learning with the congregation.  They also are learning to play the piano and have opportunities to play and sing specials in church.  I have seen larger congregations in which only the most accomplished are permitted to minister/perform in the service, no doubt, because it is a performance and not a ministry.  Even in our Christmas program every year, every child, from the college and career ages all the way down to the 2's and 3's, that is involved in Sunday School is given a part in the play or program that they do. We have learned to love the simplicity found in a child's ministry, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem in the eyes of the world.  I, for one, am grateful that my children are learning to encourage through music and Scripture in the church services.

    In our congregation, we work together.  What a joy it is to have a common goal and to see the results of our labor after the work is done!  In a small congregation, we all pitch in and do our part.  In a mega-church, it is easy to just disappear in the crowd and not feel obligated to do your part because "someone else will do it." I think that is why a lot of people are drawn to large churches. They can sit and soak up the benefits, but not feel the need to join in the work. They like the anonymity of being able to slip in and out when they want to and not have the responsibility that comes with it.  In our small congregation, we know each other's strengths and weaknesses because we know each other so well.  We each have been given a special talent that we can use to build up our church family and when the time comes to work, we do our part, not out of obligation but out of love for one another.  And, when our pew is empty, we are missed.
     We also cry together.  That is the beauty of a family of church members who know each other well and love one another.  When any member is hurting, it is as if we ourselves are going through that trial with them.  We have often walked through the valley with another who may not be our blood  kin, but we feel their pain just as much as if they were our family.  Many earnest prayers have been uttered on the behalf of our brothers and sisters in need.  And when it is our turn to suffer, we know we too will be surrounded by the loving care of our family in Christ.

     As any family will, we also laugh together.  Our church services are often full of laughter as we share the joy of the Lord.  We remember the boy who lovingly called the pastor "Pasture", and the child who was so enthusiastic about getting baptized that he entered the baptismal  waters cannonball style. We well remember the time the pastor wore his microphone, while still "hot", out to the bathroom to blow his nose. We tease about likes and dislikes.  We have our own "family jokes" and can laugh together about our foibles and mistakes. The joy of the Lord is our strength!
         I love my small town congregation.  We are so much  more than just a group of people who meet together every week.  We are a family of brothers and sisters who care for one another.  What a blessing it is to be a part of this family!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Meteor Shower-- Small Town Style


We set our alarms for 3 a.m. I woke my kiddos and they grabbed blankets and we headed to the car. It was touted as a potentially huge meteor shower.  Some even called it a "meteor storm".  We are only a few miles from country darkness, so we decided to find a dirt road, far away from town lights.

     We were surprised by a spectacular display of light-- blinding, white, blue and red-- in our rear-view mirror.  I saw the officer headed toward us as we drove through town and he turned around just as we passed. He followed us for a few blocks, then turned on his lights and pulled us over. He said my license plate light was out.  Aren't license plates reflective?  Is a license plate light something required?
       I felt a little sheepish as I sleepily handed over my driver's license.  I'm sure he noticed the  wide-eyed, pajama wearing kids in the back seat. Should I tell him what we were doing?  I didn't offer an explanation.
      After mentioning the license plate light being out, he said he was just checking for impaired driving: (Translation: anyone driving this time of night must be either insane, drunk, or high on something.)   He did not test my blood alcohol level or make me walk the line.  He just took my license and grabbed his shoulder radio.

     Now, we live in a small town, and our police budget is limited, so our police cars are not equipped with the latest technology-- like computers.  So, the officer, while standing by my open window, proceeded to spell out my full name "Juliet, Echo, November, November, India, Foxtrot,Echo, Romeo"....and so on over his radio.  Being from a small town, and knowing that there are insomniacs out there who listen to the police scanner nightly, I knew I would hear about this later.  Our family has been in this area for many generations and is well known.  I'm sure there were many questioning why the Baptist preacher's daughter-in-law's name was called over the scanner at 3:30 in the morning.
     He received word back from the police station that my license cleared and we were free to go.  We drove a few miles outside of town and found a quiet road to sit and look at the stars. We watched a sliver of moon just peeking over the horizon, first pink, then orange, then white as it rose further into the sky. My girls and I talked about stars, and the moon, and the facts of life and law enforcement.  I answered their 9 and 10 year-old questions about everything.  We saw lots of stars, the Milky Way, constellations and only one meteor. But we still had fun making memories.
     I must admit, I was afraid to drive back into town for fear of getting stopped again.  There were no other cars out at that time of night, so it would have given the officer something to keep him busy.  All-in-all, I am grateful for our police department, no matter how Barney Fife-ish they may seem at times.  They play an important role in our community and it is a blessing to have that kind of protection.  If they'll stop someone for a license plate light being out, they'll find those crooks too!!  But, you'll get that in a small town!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Country Winter Olympics

     Our family has been enjoying watching the Winter Olympics this week in Sochi, Russia (you know, that place near Siberia where it has been 40 degrees warmer than the temperatures here, and they actually have to make the snow-- oh, the irony).  As I reflected on our rural life this frigid winter, I realized that a lot of our everyday tasks could be like Olympic sports! Here's the official list:

1.Ice Dancing-- that beautiful pirouette your car did just before landing in the ditch

2. Moguls-- your first attempt to get out of the driveway just after the snowplow went by.

3. Double Axle--  Both axles, locked and loaded.  Four-wheel drive: don't leave home without it!

4. Giant Slalom--  What others affectionately call your steep, winding driveway.

5. Speed "Gating"-- That mad dash in sub-zero temperatures from the warm truck to open the cattle gate, and then back again to close it.

6. Snow Boarding-- Having to spend the night because of a snow storm at your friend's house, a stranger's house, your church, school, barn, or pickup cab.

7. Bronze "Metal"-- a.k.a. rust

8. Silver "Metal"-- that last nickel in your pocket after paying your heating bill for last month.

9. Cold "Metal"-- They say your tongue will stick to it.....but, will it REALLY????

     What fun to watch our fellow Americans compete against the world. GO, Team USA!  We love hearing about the heroes from small town America, who became experts at doing what they love...............but you'll get that in a small town!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Ode to my Snowplowing Man

Ode to my hard-working, snow-plowing man. 
(Written this morning at 3:30 a.m., after he left to go plow more and I couldn't get back to sleep!!)

Cell phone rings, are ya' listenin'?
Customer calls, snow is glistenin'.
A pitiful sight,
I'm out all the night,
Plowing in a winter wonderland.

Gone away is my sanity,
Here to stay is the reality.
I sing a crazy song, 
Because the coffee's all gone.
Plowing in a winter wonderland.

In the church lot I can build a pile,
15 feet for kids to slide it down.
Another call, I answer with a smile,
"I can do the job when I'm in town."

Later on, I'll perspire,
As I fix another wire.
I'll face unafraid
The snow that has laid
Plowing in a winter wonderland!

*Poems are made by snow-bound fools like me.............but you'll get that in a small town!!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Small Town News #3

 I'm wondering if anyone else in our area caught the latest typo in the recent newspaper:

     I have wanted to ask for an editing job of this particular newspaper many times, but I would greatly miss the once-in-awhile laugh I get from their many mistakes. 'Hope this brightened your day...........you'll get that in a small town!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Small Town Festivals

     Every small town has at least one.  That special time of the year when the town celebrates its uniqueness by highlighting some product or hobby that is prevalent in the area.  It is a great opportunity to attract other folks from other communities to your  neck of the woods. 
     A small town festival is made up of many different facets, and each town has it's own special way of celebrating and attracting out of town tourists.  There is usually a theme, whether The Corn Festival, Strawberry Festival, Bluegrass Festival, Watermelon Festival or, as in our town, The Mule Festival.  Each town has their own special area that is their line of expertise.  There is always food of all sorts.  Maybe the Catholic ladies set up a tent to serve meatloaf or home-made beef and noodles, the Lions serve their famous homemade ice cream and the local boy scouts have a lemon-shake-ups stand.  Private vendors also attend hoping to tempt your taste buds with Kettle corn, Funnel cakes, corn dogs and anything else they can batter and  fry up for you.
     Most towns have some sort of a parade through town.  It's always a chance to show off your fancy truck or tractor, or get your business name out there.  Often there are car shows, dog shows, tractor shows, engine shows, baby shows, and any other item you may own and want to show off to try and win the prize.  I honestly never understood the baby shows.  Dress up your little one so people can come by and judge which baby is the prettiest. And, what happens if you don't win?  Sorry, babycakes, you weren't the prettiest?  Hmmm.
     Of course, there are always contests.  We country folk love to compete.  We can haul in our livestock so people can judge whose is the heaviest, and the strongest, and the best looking.  We can haul in our baked and canned goods for people to judge which is the tastiest.  We can haul in our old junk cars and drive them around an arena with a bunch of other junk cars trying to hit each other and see whose will last the longest (which, by the way, is known as a demolition derby).  We can haul in our souped up tractors and pickup trucks and see whose can pull the greatest weight. There are plenty of ways to compete in the country!
   I was recently perusing our local "Shopper" newspaper.  It was crammed full of ads for festivals, since this is the time of year that we celebrate the nearing of school and the end of another farming season.  One particular ad caught my eye:
     Seriously?  Just seeing that headline conjures up some disturbing images and some rather unusual questions, like,"Do they provide gloves?" "Does chicken poop make the game somehow more enjoyable?" "Fun for all ages?" Sorry I don't think toddlers should participate. Sometimes I think we country folk try too hard to be rednecks and come up with stunts like this.  Maybe next year I'll see an ad for The Chicken Poop Festival.....but you'll get that in a small town.