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My Love Affair with Small Town America

My Love Affair with Small Town America

The qualities that drive away others are what endear me to my community.

Like a marriage vow, our family has committed, for better or worse, to living here and doing our part to bring life to the nooks in which we dwell. Because we don't want to be mere consumers of place and hastily bolt for a "better" one, and also because we are bound like barnacles to the rock of our friendships, we stay. Staying means advocating for parks, volunteering in classrooms, coaching youth sports, serving on wilderness protection boards, being involved in our tiny country church, pulling off endless fundraisers, shopping locally, and (with grimaces) paying our overdue library fines.

A particular piece of real estate in which I, and others, have invested serious hours is a formerly neglected piece of cracked asphalt on the campus of our public elementary school. Once a graveyard for broken equipment and a wasteland of waist-high weeds, it is now a colorful, pulsing, thriving garden. We grow food, and we also grow character, community, beauty, citizens, skills, academics, and stories.

One of our best stories begins with parent volunteers deciding to buy a massive table to sit in the heart of the garden for gathering, eating, and teaching. We looked at everything from school-grade lunch tables to cast-off picnic tables. Then we hit upon the idea of commissioning a table.


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When I learned that kids in my city couldn't swim, I started to rethink how much I'd invested in overseas missions.
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Furniture Fit for the Kingdom

For Harrison Higgins, building beautiful furniture is not simply a steady job but a sacrament unto God.
Faith in a Fallen Empire

Faith in a Fallen Empire

Detroit's list of maladies is long. But some Christians' commitment to its renewal is longer.
'Daddy, Why Do People Steal from Us?'

'Daddy, Why Do People Steal from Us?'

How I answered the question would prove crucial to addressing racial divides in our D.C. neighborhood.

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Peter K. Johnson

December 20, 2012  12:44pm

Yes, yes, small-town rural living has its challenges, but the positives outweigh the negatives. People care for one another more and don't rush around like in the suburbs. Some even visit one another. Materialism and appearance take back seats in many ways. And the beauty of creation shines every day. The mountains and forests speak great sermons - be still and know that I am God.


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