Quirky Qualities of Boiling Springs

Last week, I posted about my favorite things about Boiling Springs. It is a really great place to live. But as with all new cultures and communities, there are some quirky things about living here too. Being quirky isn’t bad, it’s just interesting. Let’s face it, I live in a house of cultural diversity, and we celebrate what is different about each of us as much as what we have in common. So please understand, these quirks make me love Boiling Springs all the more. But there are some things that give me a giggle. Every. Time.

1. Livermush. It’s on every menu. Though I have lived in the South for the last 11 years, I apparently missed out on this delicacy of disgust. I had to ask our realtor what is was, and then I looked it up. Wikipedia defines it as “a Southern United States food product composed of pig liver, head parts, and cornmeal. It is commonly spiced with pepper and sage.” Oh the humanity, what!? As if liver wasn’t bad enough, “head parts?” I can’t think of anything in a pigs head that would make me think: Yummy! It is served on buns, deep fried, and even in sushi at local restaurants. Each serving contains approximately 30 grams of fat. Was this dish created on a dare? I consider myself a pretty adventurous eater. I love things like kimchi, barg, okonomiyaki, and falafel. I draw the line at livermush.

 

2. Our kids teachers are Mrs. Smith, and Mrs. Wesson. That’s right, Smith and Wesson. Addie and Palmer have been extraordinarily good at their new school. Do they really have a choice?

 

3. Everyone is related to just about everyone else. I have literally had this conversation with multiple people: “Since you are related to everyone in the area, which one of your relatives is an _______________? (auto mechanic, photographer, social worker, etc.). The answer usually goes something like, “I’m not related to everyone! Although my cousin _______________ is a _________________.” Never fails.

 

4. Now, since everyone is related to just about everyone else, there is little need for the internet when looking up local products and services. The most efficient way to get information is to ask someone. If that fails, should one look it up on the internet? No! One should pick up one of these nifty little things called a PHONE BOOK. I’m not kidding. I thought phone books were only used as booster seats for small children and to put in the bottom of your outdoor garbage can to keep it from tipping over on windy days. Here, they use these phone books to look up addresses and information because most local businesses don’t have a web site. And since the phone book covers several different towns, but does not always list which one, it can be slightly confusing to try and use the phone book too. This is why relatives are the primary means of finding out about products and services.

 

5. This entire confusion about how to source information in Boiling Springs has led to delayed discovery of this fact: We are living in a Baptist commune. Out of the 2 dozen or so churches in population-3800 town of Boiling Springs, all are Baptist, except for one United Methodist church. And if you have known us for any length of time, you know how we feel about the United Methodists after our experience working for them. (Our married senior pastor with a wife and four kids was having a homosexual affair with two men on staff at the church, and embezzling money from the church’s stewardship campaign to pay off one of his lover’s mother, who had hired a private investigator to find out about the affair. We were given 72 hours to get out of our house when we brought what we knew to light to the church board. When the senior pastor confessed, he was given several months sabbatical and then promoted to a larger United Methodist church in another area of the country.) Our chances of attending a United Methodist church are just slightly higher than converting to Mormonism. And while we love the Baptists, there are several theological implications that are difficult for our family, such as limited atonement. Our children already have the sense that they were cheated out of a lot by being born in the Congo. After all, the tooth fairy has had to do back pay, and Santa has had some serious explaining to do. While those are just childhood tales to explain away, being cheated out of being “chosen” until they came to America is not something I want them deal with. Women in ministry is another. I want my children to grow up seeing women in ministry as Christ intended, not being limited to only teaching children or other women. I tend to think that the Holy Spirit has used me to speak to males in many instances over the course of my life. I want that to be celebrated, not shamed. The Holy Spirit doesn’t make mistakes in who He chooses to communicate through or to.

 

6. The last peculiarity about Boiling Springs comes in regard to cuisine. There are 4 fast food restaurants, and 5 other casual dining restaurants in town. The variety is adequate, but we have missed the upscale street food of the Nashville food trucks. I had conferred with my food truck foodies before I left Nashville, and they had assured me that there were great food trucks in Asheville and Charlotte. When I saw that the Boiling Springs annual street festival was going to feature famous food trucks, I was elated! However, when we arrived at the festival, I found that their famous food trucks were concessionaires — with hot dogs and hamburgers and fried stuff with cheese, not farm fresh upscale fusion cuisine. It was like a knife through my foodie heart. Fixing my foodie craving for exotic foods will take some work. But in the words of Robert Browning, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”

 

Boiling Springs is definitely growing on us — like another member of the family, quirks and all. We’ve found more sweetness and hospitality in this town than we ever expected, and we’re looking forward to staying a long time!

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The Beauty of Boiling Springs

We’ve been in Boiling Springs almost 2 weeks now, and we are really enjoying it. Many of the things that caused us undue stress have melted away, and we are enjoying getting to know our new community. Most people are surprised that I love living in a small town again, but having grown up in a town of 1,520, the 3800 population of Boiling Springs is just right. Here are some of my favorite things about our new town.

1. We live in the “law enforcement” subdivision. We knew that our neighbor was a police officer, but our neighbor across the street is the magistrate. And when I went to get fingerprinted for my North Carolina medical license, I met 5 of the town police officers (of a total of 9) and they told me there are 5 law enforcement officers in our neighborhood of about 50 homes. Crime is virtually nonexistent in our town — and they even joke that because they are not responding to shots-fired calls or burglaries, they have plenty of time to spend with a radar gun.

Which leads me to my next point . . .

2. No one speeds in Boiling Springs. People use their turn signals. We have yet to be cut off, tailgated, flipped off, or experience road rage. Either we’ve suddenly become better drivers, or the drivers around us have much fewer anger issues.

3. The commute to anywhere in town is 5 minutes. To drop the kids off at school in the morning and then drive to work takes 7 minutes. Total. I have actually decided to go to a bigger grocery store when I need specialty items in the next town. It takes 8 minutes to get there.

4. Our house is 2 1/2 times the size of our previous home. We have TWO bathrooms with FOUR sinks. In our previous home, we had one bathroom with no vanity and just a pedestal sink. Now we each have our own vanity. More than one person can be in our kitchen comfortably. We can have conversations without everyone in the whole house hearing every single word. The kids have their own bedroom, and their own playroom. While I don’t regret being super close to our kids the first 18 months they were home, we were all ready for a little more space. The fact that we have a larger home doesn’t have much to do with living in Boiling Springs, except for this — our mortgage payment didn’t go up.

5. There is one stoplight in Boiling Springs. We previously had 27 stoplights between us and the church, which meant we had to tack on an hour to every church event for the commute, and what time we would actually arrive was completely unpredictable. We actually get to places –like Lowe’s, Chick Fil A, and Sonic — faster, even though they are in the next town.

6. No one seems to be in a hurry. Perhaps because no one is sitting in their car in rush hour traffic every day, the pace just seems slower. Everyone seems to have a joke or story to tell. And they want to know our story too.

I have still yet to get to really know our town, but what I’ve experienced so far has been delightful. I’m thankful for a good start to a new chapter.

Lessons Learned in Nashville

I moved to Nashville 11 years ago with Ken, ready for PA school and life with 200 boys in a dorm. Now I have just departed our first home, with our first two dogs, and two new-to-us kids. My time in Nashville has been a turning point in my life on many different areas. I’ve confronted death, heartbreak, accomplishment, defeat, and celebration. As I look back over my time in Nashville, these are a few of the most important lessons learned.

 

Integrity

 

If I am honest, do what is right, and trust the Holy Spirit to guide me, I will have no regrets. God defines success as obedience. The world defines success in many ways that don’t really matter. Most problems in life come when we forget the difference.

 

Appreciation for life

 

Before I moved to Nashville, I had very mild exercise-induced asthma. My first year here, I was hospitalized for asthma, and several times since. I once went to the doctor’s office and begged them to admit me so I would have the option of a ventilator because I was so exhausted from just trying to stay alive. Nashville was really hard on my lungs. But in the moments I laid in a hospital bed, or on my couch, unable to breathe well enough to even walk across the house by myself, I realized that life is not about me, or breathing. It’s about glorifying God in whatever He calls me to.

 

I never have been able to get rid of the cough that has now become known as my “funky Africa cough,” since it struck me just after I arrived back in the United States from our adoption adventure. I now understand what the Apostle Paul talked about in 2 Corinthians and how God used the thorn in the flesh to strengthen him.  “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Every breath is a blessing, and every cough a confirmation that He is my strength.

 

Poverty is always more than it seems

 

I must admit that a decade ago, I had a lot of misconceptions about poverty. I fell into the “just pull yourselves up by your bootstraps” category. And then I actually met some people trapped in poverty. And I fell in love with them. I heard their stories of broken relationships and broken systems that kept them frustrated and trapped in poverty. One of the most interesting things I learned is that for the most part, they really didn’t want my money, or my handouts, or my instruction. In fact, those things sort of made it seem like I thought I was superior. They wanted friendship, a hug, to be seen as equals, to be loved.

 

And really, I was a jerk. I was a jerk for thinking that our relationship was a one way street, and that I was the one who had more to offer. I am ashamed of my conceit. When I started to hear their stories, understand their needs, and find ways to work together toward solutions, it changed my life. I never would have expected that a group of people who feel like they have no power would radically change my life for the better. In fact, I feel a bit selfish now — that they gave me more than I ever gave them. If you haven’t surrounded yourself in a community of the poor before, I highly recommend it — especially if you’re of the “bootstraps” variety. Whether here or in third world countries, no one wants to be seen as a charity case. What they want is dignity.

 

No wonder Scripture calls us so many times to care for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the foreigner among us — it’s primarily for our benefit, not theirs. When we can recognize the character of God in the “least of these,” we realize that the “least” is really us.

 

Sovereignty of God

 

Through our adoption journey, my bouts with illness, the stress of difficult work situation, God has been faithful. I may not understand where He is leading me or what will happen in the the days and years to come, but that is what makes Him God, and not me. The situations in which God places us are not by mistake, but so that He can accomplish His will. Sometimes that means that things will go well for me, and other times, not. When Scripture tells us that all things work to the good of those who love Him, I must remember that God defines what is good, not me.

 

Nashville was a great city to live in. We have many cherished memories and treasured friends, but most of all, life-changing lessons learned. I can’t wait to see what God has for us in Boiling Springs!