Sunday, July 30, 2017

My City

Year 5-Day 212: Today, I am grateful for my city.

I love Peoria. We don't live in the city, but it is close when we want or need things that require a big city. 

Yes, it has the problems of any large urban area, but there are always people working to address the problems looking for solutions. The overall feel of the city is friendly. The churches are a positive presence and the social service agencies keep fighting an uphill battle to do more with less. Local businesses join in to give help and hope at the holidays and some help with back to school needs. 

We can see a Broadway shows on a weeknight with parking that costs less than most fast food meals... and be home and in bed by 10:30pm. Being a large city, three hours or less from Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis... and two from the Quad Cities... we are a crossroads for the entertainment industry and a good place to book Midwest shows. Yes, we win! 

Yesterday, we drove into Peoria. Because the Love of my Life was driving, I simply enjoyed the view. The moving river and the downtown skyline hold a deep affection for me. It is a city I know pretty well, thanks to my first social service position that took me everywhere in the city and Peoria county. 

I love Peoria. It is old and full of history. Randy and I took an intentional drive down Moss Ave to see the Frank Lloyd Wright home. It is just one of many stunning architectural pieces in that historic neighborhood. Vaudeville, the Illinois river with its barge traffic, the industry and the farmland surrounding Peoria helped develop a unique culture and plenty of history in our fair city. 

Frankly, growing up less than an hour from downtown Chicago, Peoria wasn't that intimidating. I could drive to Lake Shore Drive much faster than people who come from Chi-towns real suburbs. For a season, I did it frequently. If I could manage that, Peoria was no big deal. Perhaps, I was too young to be smart enough to be intimidated by Peoria. Youth is great. Right? 

One great thing about Peoria is the main roads are a fairly easy to learn grid. If you know Prospect, Knoxville, Sheridan, University and Sterling, and that Columbia Terrace, McClure, Forrest Hill,  War Memorial (Rt 150), Lake, Glen, Northmoor and Peoria Park run the other way, you can get most places. Downtown is in Presidential order from the river. but the one-ways are tricky until you are familiar. If you get confused, Take Main Street all the way up the hill past Bradley University, where the road curves and turns into Western, takes you back downtown to start again. Easy, peasy Peoria! 

What a difference it makes when we choose to love the city we are in. Not criticize and condemn, but work to build it and its people up. To be a part of the solution and not just complain about the problems. Build up... not tear down with our words and attitudes. 

Jesus often met people's needs before he addressed the sin in their hearts. He would offer them help and hope in a moment. 

For the women at the well, he addressed her need to be acknowledged and invited to share before he spoke of her brokenness. He changed her with his sincere interest. Not in what she had done... but who she was. It is a great recorded encounter. 

Then to the man freed of demons, Jesus declared:

“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.

First he set him free. He engaged the broken, lost and hurting and met them at their need.We are called to be his hands and feet. If we aren't a part of the solution then we are part of the problem. Love is an action verb. 

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." -Matthew 5:14,16

I am at completely at home in our little village of Morton, but am very grateful for the healthcare, wares, culture, food and opportunities across the river within the city. Most of all... I am grateful for the people. Peoria isn't perfect, but it is our city. 

What is your city? 

Today, I am grateful for my city.

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