On The Road: A Small Town Tour

The class I am taking over J-Term is called “On The Road.”  In it, we look at on the road stories from classic movies, literature, and the Bible.  We just finished the book “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac, and all week we’ve been reading through Genesis, looking at the road stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.  But today’s assignment was a little bit different.  We were put into groups of 4 or 5 (mine had 5), and we were instructed to drive in a square, stopping at each corner of the square and talk to locals/see attractions/etc.  That’s it, there was no more instructions except guidelines for our presentation each group will be showing to the class next week.  As mentioned, there were 5 in my group.  I think the idea was to form a community within the group.  I’m not actually sure how well that went, but we were also to compare our road trip to that which Kerouac writes of.  We headed east!  Our first stop: Lester, IA.  We visited a few places there, including Keith’s Korner (gas station) and the Dutchland Pastries.  Did you know they make butterbraids and puffins there?  In Iowa?  Also, the community was great.  Small town, you know.  We kept a video journal of the places we went to and some of the people we talked with.  Next, we headed north and arrived in Pipestone, MN, where we found a diner to eat dinner at.  We didn’t even have to go other places!  Just being there and eating at the bar, we learned so much!  The waitress knew everything about everybody, and there were some older guys talking in a booth not far away who also knew everything and everybody.  After that, we headed west and found ourselves in Wentworth, SD.  Wentworth was by far the smallest town we visited, and it was DEAD.  The population is 200, but people go to school in other towns and work in other towns.  The only people we found were in a church.  The two bars there had closed their doors years ago.

A question we had kind of been wondering and asking others is whether a small town holds contentment?  Are people happy where they are?  Are they restless for a bigger city?  Sioux Falls is the smallest city around, but compared to everything else in the area, it really is a city (although that’s argued among some, not people we met on this trip).  In the Kerouac book we just finished, the characters were continually restless.  In Genesis, people only left if God told them to go; otherwise they were content with where they were.  We watched “Stagecoach,” a John Wayne film, and some were actually kicked out of town (reason for their travels).  Whether a character is going to or running from a place, they are on the road.  A lot of stories we read, see, or hear of elsewhere, in everyday situations, are road stories.  But the question remains: small town or city?  It probably depends on where you grew up and how you were raised, and there are so many other subjective factors involved.

I have discovered that everywhere is the same.  It doesn’t matter what state you are in or how far it is to the nearest Starbucks, the people make the places.  There is always somewhere to go, and even if there’s nothing to do in town, there’s always people to be with and talk with.  I personally wouldn’t mind returning to a rural life somewhere, just not where my rural life was.  But I wouldn’t have to, either.  I’ll just wait until God tells me to go somewhere, probably, because I’m pretty content with where I am (both location and life, I think).  The Lord promises, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

I have two semesters left with school, and I’m pretty sure I know what I’m doing directly after.  But after that?  I’m still waiting on the big man upstairs.  My blogs recently have turned more into conversations and reflections, I guess.  No promising they’ll stay that way (see my blog’s subtitle, “Anna’s Random Writings”).

 

Anna 🙂

 

Are you content with where you are?  Why?  Would you prefer to hit the road and go somewhere else? 

When Things Go Wrong….TRUST

For the last few weeks, I’ve been reading through Genesis.  God is quite awesome in all of the stories I read there, and I’ve been learning so much.  The biggest constant that I see everywhere is also what I’ve been struggling with in life.  When things go wrong, God’s got it under control.  Things always work out according to his plan.  When Ishmael was born without that being God’s promised child and Ishmael’s mother hated by Sarah, God made Ishmael great and his life mean something.  One of his daughters even married Esau, Isaac’s son.  After the betrayal and fall-out between Esau and Jacob, Esau welcomes his brother on good terms again, even though Jacob fears the worst (and why does he fear? God is obviously in control).  When Joseph, Jacob’s favorite of his sons, is sold into slavery by his brothers, he goes on to achieve greatness.  When things seem to be going wrong in every way possible, God whispers, “It’s not going to be all bad.  Just trust me.  Good will come from it.”keep calm and trust God

Lately, I feel as if tons of things seem to be going wrong.  I’m a type-A in denial, though I’m not as bad as I used to be.  Okay, so maybe not AS much better as I think I am, but there’s gotta be improvement there (I HAVE been working on it).  So many things that seem to go wrong in our everyday lives either aren’t important or have a different purpose.  I have found in this last semester that whenever I’m in a bad mood, I need to get my eyes up off of me and onto eternal things, onto God.  In Genesis, Abraham didn’t even SEE what God was going to do that was started in Abraham.  Jacob was given Leah in marriage instead of Rachel, but both women became the mothers of nations.  Even though Joseph was sold by his brothers, his attitude was adjusted and God was with him wherever he went.  He helped out so many more people than he could have from shepherding flocks for his father his whole life.  He saved a nation from starvation!  Genesis alone has tons of examples of things working out according to God’s plan, and that’s just the first book of the Old Testament!  The rest of the Word is FILLED with stories of God’s perfect plan, giving US here and now evidence that He is faithful!  (Gah!  It just gets me so excited!)

I am so gosh darn blessed for what I have and what I’ve been given in my life.  I have an awesome family and awesome friends.  I do have Multiple Sclerosis, and it sucks.  But given that, I can do so much more than I could do without it (I don’t know what yet…still working on that part).  I have no idea where I’ll go in the next season of my life, but God is with me, and I TRUST him.  (For those of you who’ve been reading my posts for a while, you may see that this has been a theme, and it’s kind of a big deal for me to completely trust in God with my all, even though it’s something he wants from each of us every day.  It’s taken a while, and I still battle, but my faith and trust are his.)  Bad things that happen to us or go wrong in our lives make us who we are today, even though it TOTALLY doesn’t feel like it.  Remember, these things don’t define us, but they add to our character.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5)

So many things that bother me are really temporal, and good DOES and HAS come from the things that have passed.  And the thing that haven’t?  Well, I simply have to trust and pray that those things work out, as well.  Even if I can’t see it, in the bigger picture, I believe that all things work out for the best.

I hope you can keep the line of my thoughts connected, as sometimes they go a lot faster than I can write.  Where have you seen God take something bad that has happened in your life and used it for good?

 

Anna 🙂