Living in Montana for fifteen years I enjoyed being out of the flow of busy life. Montana is a destination. It's not someplace people "drive through" or "stop by." Life has a slower pace, too. Maybe because there is snow on the ground 6 months of the year. Maybe because the views of the meadows, mountains and lakes make you remember what's really important in life—God, family, nature—and not the to-do list.
Imagine my surprise when I traveled up to the West Kootenai area and discovered a slower pace still. My daughter Leslie and I had lunch in the West Kootenai Kraft and Grocery and noticed neighbors running into each other and sitting down for an impromptu lunch—Amish and Englisch alike. There were little boys driving four-wheelers and a few girls riding horseback down the country lanes. Another teen boy was mowing the field behind the grocery but his attention seemed to be drawn to the sky and the mountains on the horizon as much as the weeds he was trying to whack down. People in the store chatted about their gardens and yesterday's rain. I thought my life had been slow-paced in Kalispell, but being in the mountains of West Kootenai I felt like I'd taken my first deep breath.
Since writing Beside Still Waters I've moved to Little Rock, Arkansas. Things are busier here. There are more cars, more traffic, more things to do and see. The challenge for me has been not to get caught up in the flow. To remember that just because people around me have full schedules doesn't mean I have to do the same. It's something I'm still trying to figure out.
Yet being in the West Kootenai has taught me a few lessons I've tried to incorporate, and you can, too.
1. If you run into a friend, whether you're at school or at the grocery store, try to chat for even five minutes. Ask about that person's day. Ask how they really are.
2. Take a few minutes to enjoy nature. Yes, that means putting down the phone for a few seconds. Really stop and look at those beautiful vegetables you are bagging up at the grocery store. Pause to appreciate a flower bed at the park or even in front of your favorite store.
3. Take a big breath and sit back and enjoy lunch on a weekend with someone you care about. You don't need to be on vacation or spring break to make time for a friend.
4. Finally, appreciate God's handiwork in your area. He's created each place with joys of their own. Don't forget to thank Him for that today.