I often think of and ponder my hometown of Buchanan, MI, in the Southwest corner of Michigan. It is a beautiful town, largely rural and lovely with a rippling brook going through the town center. And it is a sweet, wonderful town with a sweet shop and local grocery store and all of 5 lights, I think. You can get across town in 5-8 minutes and the landscape is quaint and peaceful. Nice high school with two tennis courts. McCoy creek park had baseball and softball diamonds and the creek and bridges and playground and a great sledding hill in winter. Such a sweet area. And the church I grew up in (still going, with family and church family I still love) was Buchanan Christian Church with three full stories and a great parking lot we rode bikes in and a great park across the street. It was a great place to live. It is still a great place to live. God blessed me with Buchanan, Michigan. God blessed me so much. I am exceedingly grateful.
I had prayed and had, to be honest, given up on being able to go home to Buchanan Christian Church for my Daddy’s memorial service with our family and friends. From central Florida to Buchanan, MI is a lot of money and a lot of hours. And I get a call from the Preacher of my home church and he tells me the church wants to bless my family and help my mom and I get there. Mom cannot because of her medical history but I had prayed to go. And the my mom blesses me with help from Daddy’s trust for my kids to go too so my hubby didn’t have to take off work. (My husband has work so can not go.) So here is this amazing blessing poured from God through Buchanan Christian Church and my daddy’s trust to go honor him, my precious daddy, with our family and friends from home. I am so honored and blessed. I go up Saturday and leave Monday out of Chicago, so am just there for the day but it is a very special day on October 23rd at 3:00pm to honor my daddy, the best man that I know. Please come if you are able. All are welcome because that is how daddy was. Celebrated his life with us. And I thank God for my home church, the absolutely best church to grow up in. I miss them so much, but hard to attend from Florida. What a blessing. I am so thankful. May God bless my home church and strengthen and grow her for His glory!
When my mind is fluctuating from calm to crazy, as is its custom of late, a much sweeter remembrance, my way of refocusing is to go back to my original home in Buchanan, Michigan. My life was not perfect but it had perfect moments I can focus on and gleen from. I had moments of singing or playing the piano on stage in church as a solo or with my choir friends, led by Judy Earnst, who always got the best out of us and I appreciate to this day for doing so. I remember riding bikes with my best friend Shawn Quick (now Shafer) and meeting her for a slushie at the 7-11 on warm days or by McCoy creek or the park across the street from her house on Moccasin Rd. I remember spending the night at her house and going down to the donut shop in the morning and splitting a long john. I remember running the fields with Sheba, our black lab, or working them to pull the rocks or weeds out as need arose. I remember mowing 14 acres of grass on the riding mower. I remember breathing in the night air while laying on my thinking rock and watching the stars. I remember homemade ice cream Daddy made and how amazing it tasted. I remember softball and my succint pleasure in hitting that ball as hard as I could and surprising everyone with how fast I could run. I remember my grandparents, both sets, and how very thankful I am that I got to know them and be related to such wise, amazing people. I remember walking through the woods in the back yard on the trails and enjoying sitting quietly enough to see deer come close by and rabbits hop about and foxes eye me up. I remember the smell of freshly cut hay and how heavy a hay bale is. I remember how beautiful downtown Buchanan was to me and loved riding by the Jordan River, that muddy murky river always on the move, always interesting to see. I remember swimming at Phil and Dale Weldy’s pool with the church or my friends and swinging on their amazing tree swing, how high that would go! I remember my amazing Aunt Rosie and long to see her and love how encouraging she has always been. There are so many beautiful treasures of memories all snugged in my mind. These are my roots I fall back on, my core, my happy place. Here is where I have needed to be of late, so many ugly things happening in the world around us, so many difficult things happening personally. So I go back. I long to take off and visit my family back home. I want to see them so badly, it has been too long, but I must content myself with fond memories of those simpler times and appreciate such a beautiful collection of happy thoughts to sort from. These moments are gifts. And even if life was rough, as mine often was, there are always those options to choose to focus on and draw from to help you remember you really grew up as God’s child. He never leaves you without some blessings. He never leaves you completely alone. He won’t now.
When people ask, I say I grew up on a crop farm in Buchanan, Michigan. That is true but not the entire story. Truth be told, up until I was 10 years old, we lived in a trailer park on Red Bud Trail Road North in the back row. People didn’t call them “mobile home” parks at that time and truly it would have been too fancy for the place. We were at the farm a lot helping with things on weekends but largely, we were there. There were wonderful neighbors and questionable ones, some were the best of the best and some were pretty scary. In the middle of the park was my true hangout, a huge (seemed like at the time) playground with the tall swings, taller monkey bars (the square steel bar ones), a really high metal slide that mostly gave you butt bruises at the bottom, it was so steep. And free of charge, for no additional money, came plenty of rough and ready children (and I am using the term loosely). And of course, plenty of time for me to practice my boxing skills Daddy taught me because my mom used a huge triangle to ring us when to come home for food and of course rough and ready children think this is a great way thing to tease a child about (once). 🙂 We (my only living sibling, a sister) had bikes, but I was at the playground alone because she never wanted to play. So I would pedal back after I heard the annoying bell and after making sure my pride was intact from the bullies and eat contentedly. Rainy days were hard because my bedroom was small and gloomy because of dark fake wood paneling and one small window. I was every superhero I knew of at some point in that trailer. It was my imagination that saved me from the fate of so many there, some abusive, some abused, most poor, some held down by their own belief that the insults hurled upon them through life were true, but fairly some extraordinary and the most generous souls alive. When Grandpa Batterson died and I was 10 and my Daddy cried for the first time ever, I think, Grandma bought a modular home on the hill of their property and our family moved into the old farmhouse. And that began the best, most hard working childhood I could imagine. From darkness to light the contrast was. From cats only to cats and dogs and guinea pig and fish and hermit crabs because there was plenty of room. All that to say this. When we have lived in a dark place for a long time, the dark looks like it is as light as day, we get used to fighting to get by, we protect ourselves by escaping into our minds, we are always on guard with brief moments of splendor, like when we went to church. But just because your eyes have adjusted to the dark does not make it light. When we move to the light, when God graces us with light, the darkness is revealed and light can start to dispel that darkness in time. We don’t have to be bound to the darkness. I say I am from the farm not from the trailer park. I don’t own that bleak time. I own the light. It is my choice, my decision to change my point of view and focus on what saves and not what crushes. Everyone has that choice in life. Everyone can choose the light.
There are several places I have vacationed where you feel you are truly somewhere else really destressing and beautiful.
1. One place is my home town of Buchanan, Michigan. Were it not so cold and gray half the year I would still live there. But alas. In Buchanan (see my post on Buchanan, Michigan), you are truly in a small town friendly farm community far from the street noise and smog. You feel you are away from the hustle and bustle and yet are only a half an hour from the big city of South Bend, Indiana or a half hour from Warren Duns beach and Tower Hill on Lake Michigan. And there is no place in the world better for fishing blue gill than Ronnie’s beach. Fabulous vacation spot!
2. Another great getaway place is Niles, Ohio. There is a fabulous Victorian bed and breakfast there that inspired friendly relaxation. Again, tiny town and superb library complete with cafe and bistro but still close to big town of Youngstown, Ohio, which boasts one of the best Art Museums I have been to (apart from the mansion one in Philadelphia, PA). I stumbled upon it and have longed to return since. Perfect restoration place!
I will rack my brain to remember more, but these two spots may get you relaxing and reviving from stress elsewhere if that is your desire. It is fabulous to see great places and let them wash over you and I believe these need to be shared and not kept to one’s self. God gives beautiful people these fabulous places to share with others and I think that is what should be done! 🙂