Shore Blog

other side of the tracks.

summer weathers on as the fallout from july 4th fireworks has settled and the unrelenting sun continues to shine each day. however, I am grateful for the consistency of seasonal rhythms even when other aspects of our lives whirl in less predictable patterns.

one of such consistent occurrences this summer has been the sweet introductions to the community members of yadkin county. from rotary club breakfasts to front porch story-telling, the more I learn the more I am fascinated to see how God’s plan unfolds in this county.

during such gatherings, small or large, we discuss the Shore property, brainstorm ways in which God might desire for this space to be employed for the benefit of the yadkin community, and simply get to know one another. the signature southern kindness and willingness to share has marked each of these conversations, something for which i am deeply grateful.

one of the unavoidable topics throughout our conversations has been the needs faced by individuals in yadkin county. while our approach to community development is asset-based (that is, “what are the strengths of this community and how can we build off those?”) the not so hidden hurts of the county are bound to rare their head in conversation. from the issues of poverty, to race, to shame, to the effect of history upon the land, the neighbors aren’t shy about sharing their hearts and life experiences living in a tight nit, friday night lights kind of town.

earlier this week, a community member made a statement during one of such conversations that (convictingly) struck a chord. he spared the fanciful language and put it plainly:

” you can’t grow up on the wrong side of the tracks here. there weren’t any tracks to begin with.”

i leaned back against the kitchen windows as we sat around the kitchen table and let his statement sink in.

he was right. there truly were not tracks to begin with in Yadkin county.

in the mid 1860s, the Yadkin Valley, Boonville, and Elkin communities were intentionally excluded from the expansion of the railway system due to “incomplete information” while the railroad expanded to other portions of the state.

in return, this left the community trapped in a disadvantaged economy which could not keep pace with other surrounding communities who were privy to the benefits of a functioning railway system for the advancement of their crop sales and subsequent economic prosperity.

maybe understanding poverty is less about finger pointing and more about seeing the whole-picture? 

the exclusionary actions of those decision makers during the reconstruction era maintain their ripple effect today as 45% of families of four in the county are considered “low-income” and over 20% of children in the county are living in poverty.

maybe asking the hard questions doesn’t matter to us because we’re afraid of the truth of the matter?

we’re all sharing that same carolina blue sky.

but the poverty faced by yadkin residents isn’t as “obvious” by conventional definitions such as being surrounded by concrete and graffiti and cramped apartment complexes.

it’s the quiet, underlying kind of poverty- equally pervasive- but much more hidden in the grand landscape of things. although less flashy, it’s a deep and unrelenting pain nonetheless. contributor to the Atlantic Alec Macgillis exposited this reality in his 2012 article stating, “The demoralizing effect of decay enveloping the place you live cannot be underestimated.”

pain doesn’t discriminate by skin color or location or background, it’s just a crying shame that often the overlooked individuals struggling near the typical middle class white american are those who share the same color of their skin and a not so different story from them.

maybe we should worry less about pulling up bootstraps and more about listening to another? 

kacey musgraves is right, it really is the hurt in every heart-same trailer, different park. 

while there are immense challenges to be addressed in the yadkin community due to systemic poverty, individual sin, and the effect of brokenness in the world- the truth gospel is big enough to cover.

prophet isaiah reminds us of God’s faithfulness-

“instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall posses a double portion they shall have everlasting joy. For I the LORD love justice.”

the Lord has not forgotten the hurting in yadkin county and our prayer is that the Shore home will be a reflection of God’s heart of love for all of us. while we may not all suffer in physical poverty, we do all share in the common struggles that come by virtue of being human. our continued prayer is that through the home of Mr. Wayne Shore the residents of East Bend, Yadkin County, and the larger community would experience the permeating love of the LORD.

there may not be a rail line in yadkin, but there is a life line that is, the good news of Christ. 

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farther along.

JUNE 28, 2018 BY JUSTMORGANJANE

humming along to the twang of old gospel music, i drove the winding backroads out to the Shore property this past week to an evening filled with much anticipation of God’s continued work in this haven of a place.

as in southern tradition, most friendships are forged over an extension of hospitality. thus after a week of porch scrubbing, rocking chair assembling, and porch light hanging, the home felt ready to extend a welcoming hand to neighbors and folks invested in the yadkin county community.

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plates filled with barbecue and cups brimming with sweet tea accompanied the evenings conversation as we listened to stories of Wayne Shore’s life and reflected on the power of unquestioning faithfulness. as told by his closest living friends, Mr. Shore’s life could almost be summed up by the following sentiment:

“does anybody need anything?”

how often do I forget to ask this question? or even dare to ask it? to think beyond myself and trade self focus for an others minded orientation? the life of this beloved tobacco farmer convicts me more every day.

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Mr. Shore selflessly helped those in need well beyond the bare minimum. he stuck around when everyone else cleared shop to pay for the tire on a busted up truck for the even more tired and tried single mother. he’d listen to those with something on their mind. his life was marked by kindness and a truest type of mercy.

hasn’t it been said before? 

“truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

the beauty of community conversation continued to unfold throughout the evening as his faithful property caretaker shared of how often all Mr. Shore wanted was a friend and someone to talk to.

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it’s these simple virtues- of connection, authenticity, understanding and listening, we seek to honor through the legacy of his homestead in this deeply rooted community of east bend.

although a bedroom community with a population just a dash over 600 kind folks could appear insignificant in the eyes of this world, this could not be further from the truth.

just because the is tempo slower doesn’t mean the song is any less beautiful.

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there’s a certain type of dignified arduousness which wells up from years farming the ground and actually knowing the land and knowing your neighbors. it’s these communities which formed this nation and whose legacies it would be a crying shame to forget, or worse- disregard.

through the home and property of Wayne Shore we so desire for each and every resident to know their worth and how deeply loved they are by a Father who loves us more than we could ever imagine. our evening spent dreaming, listening, and remembering reflected the power of such quiet love and it’s power to transform the lives of individuals and communities alike.

although the vision for this shared space is still forming, molding, and growing- of this I am sure,

we’ll understand it, farther along. 

rinse, lather, repeat.

sometimes the slowest days reap the most bounty in life lessons.

immersed in the repetitious work of scrubbing the porch, all saturated who knows how many years of memories and morning mugs of folgers and nightime firefly light shows, myself and sweet friend/mentor/sister Ladonna, armed with bleach laden paint rollers, chatted throughout the day, accomplishing what could easily feel like the most menial task.

despite the sting of clorox and oppressive humidity, the joy of learning from another woman with a few more years and exponentially more life experience than me allowed the hours to pass quickly.

the determination of a lady like ladonna on a mission is not to be underestimated and I re-learned lessons of thoroughness as we carefully wiped down every board, scrubbed even the unseen ceiling eaves, and weeded the all but forgotten flower bed.

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ladonna shared with me stories from the scrapbook of her life, how she was raised with the tenacity of a farmer father which manifested into the grit of a high school teacher yet attention to detail of a professional interior designer and tenderness of the mother she would eventually become.

incredible what you can hear when you aren’t filling the air with your own hot air.

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as the morning turned to afternoon, she continued to encourage me with her brave testimony. she shared with me that even though the years wore on, wore her out, and wore the scars of adversity, she persevered through fiercely loving her family and faithfully loving Christ.

sometimes the hardest one to love is the one with whom you share the same blood. 

it has been said that you are only as holy as you are in your home and ladonna’s testimony of her unwavering commitment to loving “her people” provided me a true picture of this sentiment.

the evil one wants to trick us into thinking our behavior within our homes or how we treat our relatives does not matter as much as we love ‘the other’, ‘the oppressed’, or ‘the poor.’ oh what a delicious lie he would like to feed us, but this could not be further from the truth.

after all, our families are called our “loved ones” for a reason? 

while living out the gospel in our homes and to our families may not appear ‘as glamourous’ as shoving our lives into the newest osprey, priming our passports, and moving to some far flung place to serve-within our homes may be the most important place to ever put our belief into action. 

to look our mothers, brothers, sisters, and fathers in the eye and tell them we love them and follow up those words through kindness and faithfulness in our actions towards them

to resist the urge to snap back, prove wrong, always be right, or have the last word

to relish initiative, ask hard questions, truly I believe the gospel would/could/will spread like wildfire through this truth hungry nation

to realize our days are but a breath and we ought to be loving those around us with the love of Christ, not guilt, as our daily motivation

to rest in God’s grace when we fail, because we will, if you are anything like me, every day, maybe more than three times an hour

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this is the venture that Christ beckons us upon- of daily sanctification and daring to love from our smallest sphere of influence outwards

this is the upside down gospel of Christ. as we are transformed from glory to glory it’s rarely in momentous leaps or showy productions or lavish accolades

instead, maybe the boldest thing you can do today is to love that person sitting across from you at the breakfast table and continue to love them over and over again

maybe you’ve forgotten what this looks like and need to start again. maybe you need to ask forgiveness or extend forgiveness to the one who has wronged you.

maybe all you need is to simply step outside, wipe down the old rocking chair, and see what you can learn, from listening to life shared on the front porch

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hurry up and wait

in this part of the country, there’s hardly an easing into summer, rather a baptism by fire kind of introduction to the heat that’s likely here to stay till at least mid-september. however sweat inducing and taxing on the air conditioning bill, the summer sun tells us that the world has come alive again and growth. And I am thankful. 

in the words of ann voskamp, “thanksgiving always precedes the miracle” so gratitude must mark these days of beginning and newness. this post grad journey leads me back to my roots, to the muddy waters of the Yadkin river, humid front porch living, and abundant smiles from strangers winding down back roads.

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the days brim with opportunity, much like the freshly planted fields surrounding the homestead where we dream, pray and wait expectantly for the Lord’s design for this property. in between sunrises and sunsets, there’s down salsa garden planting, coffee shop hand shaking, and plenty of sweet tea sipping- the ebb and flow of looking for the activity of God and then the actually joining Him in that work. 

while I anticipate all the Lord will do in and through this place, I must remember to wait upon Him and His perfect timing. His purposes will be accomplished with or without us, which can honestly bring comfort when the self-induced pressure to produce lingers. 

quantification doesn’t equal sanctification.

nor does quantifying our human activity equal justification nor salvation for that matter. the real life, real messy, and real time it takes to build community isn’t something I can plug into a computer algorithm or curate overnight.

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rather, like the farmer and his crops, you must tend relationships in order for them to grow. you cannot rush beauty nor force the ground to yield the harvest. it’s in the place of waiting for the movement of the Spirit and the space needed for friendship that this journey unfurls. 

countless examples throughout scripture invite us to rejoice in seasons of patience and waiting on the Lord- Ruth waiting with Naomi, Abraham awaiting a child, Esther unsure of the future of her people, Joseph tarrying in foreign hands, Paul waiting for release from prison, Jesus waiting for His death and resurrection in the garden. 

He could have saved us in a second, but instead He sent a child.

instead of bemoaning the interludes in life or forsaking the complexities of genuine relationships or disregarding the perspective of the other, let us embrace the fullness of His new morning mercies. 

the Lord has planted you, rooted you in whatever season you find yourself in today. although we often suffer in the waiting, question God’s faithfulness, and find ourselves tempted by the seeds of doubt planted by the evil one- let us remember—- “He who has promised is faithful.”

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