A season to be thankful for

Nov. 17, 2012 @ 05:55 AM

I have always been flummoxed by the question “What is your life’s calling?” It just seems such a daunting commitment to have one over-riding mission that, above all else, you must work tirelessly to fulfill.

My adult Sunday school class is wrapping up a course this week about prioritizing what really matters in this modern age of distractions. To do so, you need a clear understanding of your current “season” in life – what you are personally and presently engaged in the most.

This is a far more manageable perspective for me than trying to parse out the singular reason I was put here on earth. I know exactly where I’m at right now: I’m a mom.

I also help out sometimes in my church’s nursery and do a little volunteering at Spindale Elementary. Plus, I coordinate a weekly play-date for mothers, babies, and toddlers at the Spindale House every Thursday morning. (Come on by - it’s free and coffee’s always on.)

I was talking with someone the other day about how I ended up involved in all these child-centered activities. Being a parent is a big part of it, but I wasn’t this active in Colorado. Moving to Rutherford County really got the ball rolling. And not just for me; I know several people who quickly got involved in community activities for kids after moving here.

I think I know why.

When you take a look around and see all that has been done to make Rutherford County such a good place to be a child ... well, you want to do your part to keep it that way.

It seems easy to do so, too.

In my own little town, we have a wonderful gathering place in the Spindale House, thanks to the generosity of one of the first families that settled here. And, thanks to a town board and parks and recreation department that is committed to keeping it a place for the people.

I’ve had a few ideas about family activities at the Spindale House, including the morning play-dates, that have been relatively simple to arrange. I can only envision the headaches involved if I’d tried to do this in a big city’s recreation center.

Then there is the value Rutherford County places on education. You can see this in the fine facilities our children enjoy, whether they attend a traditional or charter public school.

I view this as a very impressive achievement, especially since many were built in the years after so much manufacturing moved overseas. Hundreds of other communities in America suffered the same exodus of jobs – but have been unable or unwilling to keep their schools up. Rutherford County is a distinctive standout here.

And the doors to these schools are open. They welcome volunteers. You can do so through the school, like I‘m currently doing, or through the program Communities in Schools. (Rutherford County’s CIS branch is one of the best in the state; maybe even the country.)

I could write several columns on what the churches in Rutherford County offer our children. For now, I’ll just say this: they offer a refuge for real, face-to-face fellowship. This matters when you’re trying to raise a child in an era of electronic technology that increasingly walls us off from each other, even from our own family members in our own homes. And even if we call this “social” networking.

It is very important to me that my son has this touchstone to turn to as he grows older. It’s a big reason why I’ve gotten active in some of our church’s programs for children – and why I’m grateful for the people who do the heavy lifting and actually run them. From our very first visit, they have made my family feel like we belong there.

Having taken this mental inventory of where I’m at right now, and how I got there, I guess you could say my present calling is to give my son a happy childhood. Millions of others are living this same season, of course. But it feels especially right to be living it here.

Thanks, Rutherford County.

And Happy Thanksgiving.


Stephanie Janard is a mother and full-time copywriter. She lives in Spindale. To reach Stephanie, email sjanard@msn.com