Imagine my surprise when it was announced by the local media that our little town was on the Bloomberg's Business Week list of best places to raise a family. It ranked #1 in Kansas and #6 in the United States!
Belle Plaine, Kansas
Median age: 35.2
Median household income $ 48,387
Kansas median income: 47,817
Median home value: 78,054
KS median home value: 125,500
Standard of living index: 81.8
National average: 100.0
Having raised five strong willed disciples, I know its' true. It wasn't easy - after all they come from strong willed and opinionated lineage (dad too, lol)! Our decision to leave city life and live in a smaller but more family oriented community help make it a little easier. Ed and I were able to help his mom as his dad suffered with Alzheimer's and now are beginning elderly care as she is 83. Our kids spent lots of time with Grandma and Grandpa Burrows and have tons of funny memories to share. Constant face to face encounters with extended family was not possible living in the big cities of Anchorage, Boston, and Seattle. And even now, two girls see Grandma quite often. Each child had a chance to explore and discover their leadership skills and develop their talents in the local school and community activities. And as I have shared in a previous blog, Ed and I couldn't be prouder of the people they are.
In a scientific study they undertook to choose from 4169 cities that fit the follow profile: crime rates less than 10 percent above the national average, populations between 1,000 and 50,000 people, and median family income within 20 percent of the state median. From those communities, they did a scientific study to determination the BEST places to raise a family. Factors used in the calculations were: Bloomberg Rankings, real estate information from Onboard Informatics, school scores, air quality, crime rates, child-centered amenities, and income. Each state had one city selected and then the list was ranked nationwide. Our average school math score is 89.67 - the state's average is 85.95; and our reading score is 92.44 while the state's average is 88.88. Our town's median family income is $74,463.
Statistics don't tell the whole story. What really matters is every day life in Belle Plaine. With good school facilities, opportunities to participate in a wide array of sports, music, journalism, student government, service organizations, and the like parents and kids alike are kept quite busy.There is even a small city pool for summer enjoyment, a community swim team for those interested, and city parks with a skateboard course.The local Presbyterian church which closed recently is being sought as a future community center. So if you choose to live here, you will have small town living with easy access to the city life of Wichita, Kansas. Why you must not miss out on the Warren Theaters, there.These jewel features Art Deco design, state of the art sound, and dining in your seats as you watch first run movies. Choose from IMAX view @ 21st Warren or the wide screens of the 13th Warren or Old Town Warren. If you need some uninterrupted adult time, the Old Town Warren allows no children after 8:00 pm.
One of the jewels right here is Bartlett Arboretum. The beauty of God's creation is boldly seen in iris, tulips, and trees blooming each spring and summer. A gorgeous venue for weddings (see our daughter's wedding pics), the Arb also hosts the Tree House Concert series from April to late July each year. Bluegrass music fills the air as artists like Nitty Gritty Dirt Band play to those fortunate enough to purchase one the limited tickets. Your housing options may soon change. Jeff Lange Realty, small real estate brokerage from Wichita has recently purchased a large tract of land just outside the west city limits. (The same side of town as the Arboretum). Steps have begun to secure from Sumner County officials the necessary requirements for a development of custom homes on large lots. Or perhaps you dream of doing your own house rescue like on television? With a little money, lots of desire, and sweat you can find a neglected older home and give it new life. And who knows, you could be the star of the next 'must watch' on HGTV or DIY Networks!
But for us, the best part is the small church with which we worship and work.While we dream of someday returning to the joy of full time ministry for the 16+ years when our children were young the congregation is not able to support staff. Ed, our son Phil, and two Lawless brothers take turns preaching and teaching.Ed and I strive to use our talents and experience to build up the Body of Christ and lead others to Him, but there is so more we would like to do if there were time and funds to do so. 'A Different Direction' is the primary source of income for our family. We were hit very hard by the recession and we are just now seeing the light at the end of tunnel. But it has come at a great cost of time and energy to get it back on solid ground. So thank for your business and ask for your continued patronage and prayers.Know that when you choose to shop from us, souls will be saved and lives changed forever. You are empowering us to do what we love - mentoring the current younger disciples, reaching out to produce more disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything that God has commanded (Matt 28:18-20). God bless you!
Currently the band of workers of this church is small with many having been recently call home to the Lord. But that only causes us to rely on even more for help. Just see what He has already done: Sept 2011only 1 teen was left and a handful of young children and their Christian parents worshiping together. But already the Body has seen prayers and hard work begin to open hearts. Here are just a few:
- 25+ teens coming to activities - 6 of them High School
- 5 - 8 elementary and early middle schoolers allow me to teach them about God and His word
- Several seeking families are worshiping with us on Sunday.
So why not plan a visit to what was called 'Paradise Valley' by the early settlers. Why not catch one of bluegrass concerts in the Tree House Series or,how about Tulip Time Festival and enjoy Art in the Arb in April? Better yet , come worship with us. You will hear God's word shared and you will meet people that care. Potluck is the 4th Sunday - the ladies and men are good cooks. And if you want, you can come to our house where we will feast on cupcakes and a cup of tea or coffee and continue our chat.
So what do you think?