While our kids play, we have a little "hen party" at the counter. It's not uncommon for me to run into a few other "chicks" I know at Iron Horse-- including my next door neighbor, Debb! When she joins the party, we discuss how we should have carpooled, agonize over just what on earth we're going to fix for dinner and roll our eyes about how our dogs eat fancier food than we do. Sure, a dude or two pops into the store as well, but there are a whole lot of ladies filling their vehicles with everything from bales of alfalfa to hoof trimmers.
I have plenty of stores to choose from when it comes to dog food, but a lot of commercial brands would make poor Bela and Tanky sick, incredibly itchy or both. My aussies have a lot of food sensitivities (like owner, like dog!), which means that I go to the vet (and pay a king's ransom), a specialty pet store or a feed store to acquire their food. The pet store can feed my dogs just fine, but you sure won't find chicken feed or stove pellets there! No, this dear little store fills our needs in a way that even a larger feed store wouldn't. I have NEVER had to carry a heavy bag to my car. If we don't like something for any reason, she'll do whatever she can to make it right. When I ask for shavings, she knows to double check and make sure her loader grabs pine shavings, not cedar. Cedar could kill my dear chickens-- which, of course, I purchased from her when they were two day old chicks. She asks how I'm healing from my surgery. I was at her third child's baby shower. This is a special store, owned and run by one awesome "chick"!
I will never forget the look on my husband's face when she brought a ton of pellets to our barn. This tiny woman carried two forty pound bags at a time and kept up with her (much brawnier looking) husband! Let's face it, you wouldn't have seen a woman running a feed store and slinging bales of hay when my mother was growing up. It didn't mean that women weren't working their hearts out along side their husbands on farms across the country, it just wasn't something visible in public, and there certainly wasn't female leadership involved.
You want to know where I'm going with this, don't you? Well, I'm about to compare my church to a feed store. No, that wasn't a typo! You see, the "chicks" I hang out with at my church aren't just sitting in sewing circles or making casseroles for potlucks. Sure, that's part of our identity (well, not MINE on the sewing front-- I was born without a sewing gene. But I digress ...), but we also have women teaching adult Bible studies, feeding the homeless and contracting the new worship facilities we're in the process of building. These women aren't just lovely, they're hard working, dependable and strong. They don't just serve God from the quiet confines of their homes, they're deeply involved in keeping the church going!
Remember when I mentioned that dog food was easy to find, but SPECIALTY dog food, chicken feed and stove pellets were not? It's also true when it comes to community events for my family. We could keep busy doing anything from martial arts to watercolor painting classes, courtesy of our local parks and recreation department. We could have fun, visit with people and maybe even do a little something here and there for the people in our area. We love where we live and we love being involved here. However, the community center doesn't meet our specific needs like our church family does. Accountability, support and grace from our church family keep the home fires burning. (That's right, I just called my dear brothers and sisters in Christ "spiritual stove pellets!" It's a good thing they love me ...) There is spiritual food we cannot get anywhere but with our fellow believers. There are also dark times in our lives that require earnest prayer, a helping hand and sometimes a willingness to break a sweat. And as much as we aren't crazy about admitting it, there are those times when our lives break out in silent, almost undetectable sins that slowly eat away at us. (Yep, if you have animals, you know where I'm going with this. My church family can sometimes administer the Word of God like spiritual FLEA MEDICINE. Deal with it, peeps-- you've got Backwoods Betty blogging here, not Manhattan Molly! I call 'em like I see 'em!) Church for me is also a place where my family's little quirks (autism and food allergies, for example) aren't a big deal. Sunday School and VBS teachers give Wyatt transition cues, so he's not deeply upset when an activity ends. I have gluten-free communion wafers that enable me to partake in the sacrament of Holy Communion with everyone else. Nobody expects my husband to sing a solo or for me to do anything regarding paperwork of any kind, because they know which one of us is the bubbly extrovert and which one is the quiet, brilliant counter of church donations and logical stacker of chairs.
So why do I love Iron Horse feed store and partying with my church peeps? I don't know, I guess it's just a chick thing ... :)
In Lenten Love and Friendship,