Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Kind of Gal You Want to Thank....

Photo by Tarkio Avalanche, Megan McAdams
I remember the first day I dropped Aaron off at daycare. It was a rough morning when I walked away from those chubby cheeks and big brown eyes. My eyes filled with tears as I put the car in reverse and hit the gas. Suddenly my backward progress came to a screeching halt. My car had found a tree, newly planted, in Dennis and Phyllis' Martins front yard. My face, already streaked with tears was now red with embarrassment. I jumped out of the car, pushed the tree back into an upright position and hit the road. When composed, I called Phyllis to confess.

I'll never know for sure, but I suspect Phyllis and Dennis might have been giggling inside. Of course, Dennis doesn't really giggle per say. He chuckles rather, the kind of laugh that puts you to laughing too.

You see, Phyllis knows about new moms. She knows the tears will come.  She knows most of us had other plans. Plans to stay home, make our kids lunch, walk them to the park and tuck them into our afternoon nap. As Phyllis knows, and many of you do too, those plans don't always come to fruition. Life happens and you realize that providing for your children may not mean play dates and morning cartoons, but instead means a career, a steady paycheck, insurance benefits and a warm and comfortable home to tuck them in at night. That first day, not only do you leave your baby, but you leave those plans behind. For many mommies, its the worst day of their new life as mothers.
I know well the first day back from a blissful maternity leave. I've pulled out of Phyllis' driveway now three times over the last 8 years. While it has never been easy, I've left each time in the confidence that my children are safe and loved in a home that I know well.

No interview was needed when we decided Phyllis would be our daycare provided. I guess you could say the interview had been conducted. The Martins door was always open when we were teenagers. It was prime territory on Friday and Saturday night, before basketball games and for Christmas movies during winter break. During those visits, the house was full of children many of whom are adults today. Phyllis managed it all....babies to teenagers...she showed each child love and patience and still managed to joke around with what I suspect were sometimes obnoxious crowd of Tarkio teens. When I called her for the first time to ask if Aaron could be "Phyllis kid" she said "Oh, I hoped that you would call." And I know she meant it.

This last Monday, many of our Phyllis kids got the chance to say thank you by presenting Phyllis with the Tarkio Community Betterment Employee of the Year Award. For 25 years, she has run a business.... that's commendable in itself. But more than that, she's been there for many, many children when their parents could not. She has been an integral part in raising confident, well-behaved, respectful (and potty trained) children in Tarkio and her contribution to this community deserves recognition.

I'm proud of my community for gathering each year and saying thank you to those that work so hard on its behalf. I'm grateful that I get to work each day to make this community a better place. I'm blessed that when I go to work each day, my children continue to receive the kind of love and care I wish I could be there to give them.

So thanks Tarkio for being the kind of town that says thank you. And thanks Phyllis for being the kind of gal that we all want to thank.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Heaven Can the meantime, there's Tarkio!

Up this week is Casey Martin - high school teacher, drama enthusiast, Tiger and Indian alum, and patient resident in a house full of gorgeous girls. For those of you who are fans (and if you aren't, you should be!), the next THS play is coming up next weekend. (Thanks to Megan McAdams for letting me steal a pic from West Side Story, one of Casey's recent productions, for this post! :) ~MMB

Hello, My name is Casey Martin and I am proud to say that I am a life-long resident of Tarkio. Now I didn’t always plan to be, but sometimes things turn out for the best. Yes, there are lots of things that I could be doing and a lot of places I could be living, but I have never regretted the life that my amazing wife Jackie and I have chosen. Tarkio is my home. It has been a great place to raise our little sorority house consisting of my three beautiful daughters, Grace(11), Sophia (8), and Claire (6).

I went to the University of Missouri in 1990 after high school graduation and enjoyed my time at Mizzou greatly. When I graduated from Mizzou I was offered a chance to work at Tarkio Academy on the old campus of Tarkio College. I needed a job and was soon to marry Jackie. Jackie is an RN and can easily find work anywhere in the country, but she agreed to come home with me and work at Fairfax Community Hospital and this is where we plan to stay. After two years at the Academy the opportunity to work at my alma mater—THS fell into my lap and the rest is history.

Our families live here and we feel connected to the community on a deep level. When you work in a small town high school or the community hospital you get to know everyone, or at least they know you. In my time at THS I have coached HS girls basketball (State Champs 32-0 in ’99), Head Boys basketball for 7 years, 6 years of junior high football, sponsored two classes, put together 5 yearbooks, announce football and basketball games, clerk for the track meets, read for Brain Bowl meets, coach 5 grade girls basketball, am currently National Honor Society sponsor, teach 7 preps a day, help keep a house with a wife,3 daughters and dog that keep me more than busy with all their activities, attend St. John’s Lutheran Church…and that is off the top of my head.

The project that I am most passionate about is the school plays & musicals. I am currently directing my 18th play at THS next weekend---Heaven Can Wait (April 21 at 7 & April 22 at 1---check it out) I do a musical in the fall with Brad Mathers and Melody Barnett and a drama in the spring on my own. This is something I have always loved to do and the kids I have worked with the last 10 years have gained a better perspective in all that they can become. Jackie and I are truly blessed to live in a community where we can be so involved and feel so loved and appreciated, and we try to give that same energy right back to the community. Thank you Tarkio, I don’t know what we would be without you.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Find a Seat Tomorrow

 Aaron and Lizzie just finished stuffing 120 eggs. They stuffed half of what we’ll need for the annual egg hunt at Tarkio First Baptist Church. Tomorrow all the brightly colored eggs will dot the front lawn of our church and kids of all shapes and sizes in their Easter best will make a run for it.

We’ll rise early tomorrow and hide the Easter goodies in the super-sized eggs purchased at Hobby Lobby. In Lizzie’s stash, a boy Barbie, by request, and lots of chocolate. Josh will land a toy truck and in Aaron’s, his first Bible, his name embossed on the front cover.

At church, we’ll worship with our friends, many whom I’ve been attending church with for over 30 years. I’ll sit next to my family and many friends and neighbors I’ve known for over 30 years. I’ll remember my first Easters in those pews with my white knee socks in the dresses sewed by my Grandma singing with the M&M choir Easter songs that I still remember all the words. I’ll think of the Easter my pastor and his family came to town. I was 14 and they shared Easter dinner with us.

If we are lucky, our local sheriff will sing his rendition of He’s Alive, the local attorney and hospital board member will play the piano and my kids will sing with the children’s choir. We’ll breakfast together and return to our homes with the words of Up from the Grave He Arose on our lips and the joy of a risen Savior in our hearts.

You don’t have to travel far out of Atchison County to find many critics of churches and of Christians. Religion is viewed as something appropriate for the uneducated, the small minded and those of us from the backwoods sheltered from the diverse peoples and problems of the world.   Christians, at times have earned this reputation. I’ve seen it in my own church and community when the doctrine of loving your neighbor is forgotten.

In the vast majority of my experience with small town religion, I’ve seen the good that comes from a group of people bound by common beliefs, supporting each other in both the joyful and difficult times. I’ve seen churches help the needy by supplying clothes, appliances, court fees and travel expenses. I’ve seen the tears of sorrow when a fellow parishioner is suffering from cancer and the outpouring of consolation and casseroles when a loved one is lost. I see the stacks of Christmas gifts for needy children, the turkeys at Thanksgiving and the full schedule of volunteers when meals need delivered to the homebound.

I still have the handwritten card delivered to our door when my husband lost his mother.  I smile at the memory of my pastor carrying my sick child on his shoulders when the IV in his foot prevented him from walking. And in those first years of marriage when our hot water heater broke and a church member supplied us one for free…it still chugs out hot showers after a long day at work.

In my community, churches provide for spiritual and physical needs in manner far more efficient than any government agency. There’s no paperwork, or forms to fill out or long lines…there’s just a need and a group of people, filled with a desire to meet those needs in a spirit of love and hope.

I hope tomorrow that you find yourself in a pew somewhere in Atchison County. You won’t need fancy clothes or an invitation. You won’t be sitting by people that are perfect or who don’t routinely make mistakes. But I know that if you can find a seat, Love will find you.