Sunday, May 23, 2010

Just Starting Out

Written by Shaila Creekmore, illustration by Brittney Guest, as printed in the May 2010 edition of Jonesboro Occasions.
Eleven years ago this month, I received my diploma from Arkansas State University along with nearly a thousand other people ready to tackle “the real world.” Many of those walking with me already had jobs lined up to start within days or weeks of graduation. Others, like myself, had decided to wait until the summer to look for employment.

I was more concerned about my June wedding and honeymoon and was certain I could find a job afterwards. My soon-to-be husband had graduated in December and had spent the spring semester substitute teaching.

We were young, jobless and without a care in the world. We didn’t even care that we didn’t have jobs when we returned from our honeymoon. That would all work itself out. We had an apartment, degrees and enough money saved up for about three months of expenses.

Our parents said we were living on love. We laughed and said don’t worry about it. They would often bring groceries on visits or send us home with a bag full of food, extra things they bought and didn’t need. My mom would mail me coupons, just in case there were any I needed. It was their way of helping out without butting in.

For two months, I spent time setting up the apartment and Kevin played lots of golf. In early August, I said, “I guess it’s time I got a job.” I made a phone call, had an informal interview and started working four nights a week as a copy editor at The Jonesboro Sun. Later in the month, Kevin received a phone call that one of the Jonesboro elementary schools needed an additional fourth grade teacher and he started the day after Labor Day. See Mom and Dad, it all worked out – no worries!

But that was a decade ago when jobs were ready to be had and a career was only a phone call away. You could drop off a couple of resumes and wait on a phone call. I knew very few people we graduated with who were worried about finding a job.

Today, students graduating with college degrees are waiting tables and working at Wal-Mart while sending out hundreds of resumes and hoping that someone is hiring. Some are pursuing a master’s degree instead of entering the workforce just so they can remain on their parent’s health insurance.

During college, my husband and I only worked summer jobs to earn extra money for the school year. Now, more college students are working in their degree fields part-time or through internships just to try to get a leg up over the competition while working their way through college.

Looking back now, I can see that the world I entered 11 years ago was in many ways not “the real world” after all, but ideal circumstances that I happened to be lucky enough to encounter without realizing how fortunate we were.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Town

I'm linking up to Kelly's Korner for Friday's Show Us Where You Live.

I too live in Arkansas, but on the opposite side of the state in a small city atop Crowley's Ridge.
We are the second largest city in the state in area and the fifth largest in population, but constantly growing. We still have a great deal of agriculture in the area, especially in our surrounding cities with rice and soybeans being the two major crops. (Yes - these really are 2 of our local farmers! This is a photo from the magazine where I work on their farm and our Farmer's Market held in the spring and summer. I work for a local magazine - Jonesboro Occasions - and many of these photos are from our publication or my own.)
We also have strong industrial production with major food companies like Frito Lay and Post and green industries are quickly moving in as construction on a wind turbine producer is currently being finished.
We are home to Arkansas State University - the other big university system in the state (don't worry, we're still big Hog fans too!) My husband and I both graduated from here and is where we met.
We are home to the Red Wolves...
Until 2 years ago, we were the ASU Indians, but the NCAA required us to change our mascot or face not being able to compete in tournaments or bowls. So, the Red Wolves were decided to be the new mascot.
When I first moved to Jonesboro 15 years ago, it had an old, run down mall, very little shopping and only a hand full of restaurants. Wow has that changed! About 3 years ago, a business developer in our town built a brand new mall that has now become a model for many other malls built around the country. It's fabulous and we no longer have to go to Memphis (an hour away) or Little Rock (2.5 hours away).
The kids and I spend way too much time and money here now!
And we now have great restaurants, both local and chains, where we can eat. Especially Downtown...
Like many cities across the country, we too went through a Downtown Revitalization. But ours really worked. Our Downtown is now a destination with little shops, great local restaurants and music...
and Art. We have a great art community including 3 downtown galleries and the community ran Foundation of Arts.
The Foundation has art, music, dance and theatre classes for all ages. It also produces 6 plays/ballets/musicals a year all with community members.
And I have to brag on our Parks & Rec. I say all the time that I think we have one of the best park systems in the country! This is one of our playgrounds at Craighead Forrest located just 5 minutes from my house - and basically in the middle of the city. This playground is handicap accessible and was built by our Rotary Clubs completely on donations.
Just across the lake is our newest playground, The Fort. There are similar playgrounds, splash parks, community centers and tennis courts scattered throughout the city.
Also just about a 7 or 8 minute drive from my house is Crowley's Ridge Nature Center, an educational building/museum, gardens and trails - a great place to spend an afternoon.

I am from Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, but I've come to really love this town! The people here are very giving, friendly and while most of the country has gone through very difficult financial times, we've survived basically unscathed. I love raising my boys here!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


No, I didn't forget my password or run out of stuff to talk about. Life just got busy and focused in other directions the last couple months.

One of my great desires for the past few months has been to get deeper in the Word of God. I don't mean studies on how to be a better parent or "woman of God" (although I think there can be time and places for those types of studies), but I mean actual scripture study. What does it say? What does it mean? I feel like I have moved beyond the desire for studies that "apply to my life." I want to meet God. I want to see exactly what He had the authors of the Bible write for us. It was so important that God had them write it down - shouldn't we as believers read it, study it, find out what it means? And if appropriate, see what that scripture means for us today and how it can affect our lives today?

To go deeper, my husband and I moved to a new small group at the beginning of the year that has challenged us in completely new ways. We both grew up in Southern Baptist churches - every Sunday morning, every Sunday night and every Wednesday night. We are well churched! But it has been such a reminder that there is so much more to learn and to look at scripture with new eyes - not just accepting it as it has been taught - but looking at it for ourselves. I have also joined a new small group on Sunday night that is also reaching into the word of God. My husband isn't able to do this group with me because he serves in the sound and media booth on Sunday nights, but I have really enjoyed it.

As far as personal Bible Study, I was able to join Bible Study Fellowship in February. I had attended the very first intro class in the fall, but there is such a long waiting list (especially if you are bringing your child(ren) into the program as well) that it took until Feb. for me to get a spot. I was able to do the last several chapters of the Book of John and learned so much about the Resurrection of Christ. It also gave me the great opportunity to discuss it with some incredible women of God.

In March, the publishing company where I worked launched a new publication that I am very excited about and spent a lot of time working on. We had a similar publication before, but suspended it two years ago while our company went through some changes. This spring, we made some changes, revamped it with a slight name change and we are very proud with what we came up with. I wrote 5 of the articles for the publication: the cover story featured two sisters who found through the death of their father a way to reach others with their new company called HopeGlass which makes glass crosses; for our children/youth focus I wrote about two churches who are using Bible Drill to teach their children basic Bible skills; our mission focus was on a local team who went into Haiti just a couple weeks after the first earthquake and have partnered with a ministry to send a team one week a month for the next year; our family focus was on a family who's 4-year-old son was diagnosed with Leukemia in Nov. and how their church family has come alongside them to help through this time; and our Leap of Faith (business) profile featured the couple who owns our local Chick-fil-A franchise who have grown the store into the top 1% of CFA's in the country. We also had a story on local college students who attended Beach Reach written by one of our other writers and we also have 3 columns written by local writers. It takes a lot of my time to prepare and write the stories, but I really enjoy it. I felt as a young teenager that God called me to work in some manner for Christian publications, but never had any idea that he would give me that opportunity through a locally owned publishing company (we live in a small city in Arkansas of 50,000 people).

And of course there's my family! I sometimes can feel very overwhelmed with all we have to do and places we have to be, but I realized that I wasn't really enjoying it. I was just living it hoping to get to tomorrow. I have decided to try to really enjoy it in the moment. If that means dishes sit in the sink while we go to the park, then so be it! I currently have 3 baskets of laundry waiting to be folded and put away, but tonight, there was ball practice. Tomorrow there is Kindermusik with my little one and a game tomorrow night with my oldest. If it gets done, it gets done, if not, do you think they will remember that? No, but they will remember getting on 2nd base and the cute little songs we sing.

So that's where I am. Letting it go, letting God and enjoying it.
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