Sherry Carter, Reformed Engineer

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Igniting Thoughts

December, 2012

Big City Girl in a Small Town World

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. Hosea 2:14

As you might imagine, it's been a big adjustment moving from Baytown , near Houston, to Seminole, a small town in far west Texas. There are 6700 people in Seminole—that might not seem small to some of you country people, but it's microscopic to me!

People ask me what I miss. Friends, family, church, and green. Yes, green. When you're used to the greenness of the gulf coast area, stark desert is a shock. It's all just dead. We're in a severe drought here so I've been told it's deader than usual. How can you be deader than usual when you're already dead?

The biggest change is weather. Dry as a bone. We all celebrate when the chance of rain soars to 10%. I should buy stock in lotions. And DUST! What—you didn't know dust was weather? Forecast: Windy and blowing dust. Wind means dust—clouds of dust. The clouds even show up on radar!

My plan to deal with the dust? Well. . . when the Marys and Josephs in my nativity sets have little sand dunes at their feet, I'll dust. Little did I know that would be once a week! I'm surprised the little drummer boy hasn't flopped down and made dust angels right there on the shelf!

On the good side, Dust in the air is responsible for amazing sunsets. Sometimes we see ones this beautiful in Baytown but it's an almost an every night occurrence here. God's paint brush works miracles here!

One more thing: it snows here. Two or three times a year. It's beautiful when it snows—of course, I stay home so I don't have to drive in it. West Texas also has "cotton snow". Imagine driving along through the barrenness and coming upon this scene. The cotton field looks like snow, as far as you can see. It's breathtaking and, since this is the #1 cotton-producing county in Texas, "thar's green in them thar fields." (Money, for you non-Texans)

Now, to what you came for. . . the differences between living in Baytown and in the small town of Seminole. There are lots of clichés about life in a small town . Which ones are true?

Small towns are quaint. That's sure true! When I drove around Seminole I was shocked. What?? No Kohls? No Kroger? Olive Garden to gobble up yummy breadsticks and salad?? Not even a mall? Seminole has small, locally owned shops and restaurants. And Wal-Mart? The one here's so small I call it the baby Wal-Mart. If you really want to go shopping, you have to go to Midland or Lubbock, both 60+ miles away. If I hear one more time, "You have to go to Midland to get that," this short, slightly plump woman is going to have a temper fit. And that won't be pretty! On the good side, I won't spend much money!

Everyone knows everyone. That's true, too. There's a sense of community; everyone is family. The shopkeepers call everyone by name—except for me. I get this funny look that says "You're new here." It's hard to break in as an outsider. But, as you all know, I'm not shy. I introduce myself any chance I get. I do have a few budding friendships and I go three times a week to splash around in water aerobics with all the other gray-haired ladies. Before long, everyone will know me, too.

Kids can hardly wait to escape to the big, wide world. That's certainly not true! There are generations here! Parents, aunts and uncles, grown kids and grandkids, sisters and brothers and in-laws—they all live here. There are lots of "way back when" stories to be told. My family is scattered all around the country so we don't see each often, usually on holidays. I envy the close bond I see in the families and friendships here.

Small towns move at a slower pace. AMEN!! Why do it today, when "mañana" will do. Clocks are just on a different time scale here. How about The sidewalks roll up at 6 PM? Yes siree, bob! Actually they start to roll up about 3 PM and they're done rolling by 6M. Except for Wal-Mart, most stores, even the grocery stores, close early. Restaurants close at 3 or 4 PM. They expect me to know how to cook! I can't say Charlie gobbles up my dinners. For someone who likes to move at 90 miles an hour it drives me crazy . . .but maybe it will be good for me to slow down.

Small towns are suffering economically. That's true in many small towns but not here! In Baytown, money has a fragrance—chemical plants and refineries. Here, cotton and peanuts are cash crops but the biggie is oil. There are pump-jacks everywhere; I called them rocking horses as a kid. They're in parks, and in fields. As you drive along, the landscape is covered with them. And as you can see, they're even in people's front yards. I wonder who gets the mineral rights for this one?

So. . .the differences are hard for me to adjust to, but God knows what He's doing. Maybe. I know I need to learn contentment and trust—again! It seems like I fail in those all the time. You've got my attention, God. I'm listening for you to speak tenderly to me!


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