I experienced my first Fall der All this year in Van Alstyne, Texas. Neighbors and neighboring towns gathered in the city square for an afternoon of boot-scootin’ live music, handshakes and hugs, homemade treats and talents, classic cars, and a downtown parade that Norman Rockwell himself would have been inspired to put to canvas.

 

I spoke to many people, learning about their ministries, businesses and hobbies. I touched pottery, stained-glass, paintings, clothing and jewelry. I smelled bath salts, perfumes, flowers and candles. I tasted brisket, cupcakes, cranberry bread and candies. And I heard music from classic rock to ukulele Hawaiian music, people making introductions, laughter and the sounds of community.

 

But what I saw is what took me back the most; or rather, took me in. You see, I couldn’t fully engage without first entering into each tent. I had the choice to either just walk down the street and have one experience, or enter into the lives of those under the tents and create new experiences. One is safer; certainly more predictable and less vulnerable — comfortable. The other, I never know who or what I may find: controversy or a cause for celebration.

 

I chose the less comfortable route. I figured speculation wouldn’t get me very far if I wanted to appreciate the detailed beauty inside each tent. Whatever hesitation I was feeling I had to own. The tents weren’t going to move: I had to move.

 

Philippians 2:4: “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

 

Romans 15:7: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

 

In getting out of my comfort zone, I was able to step into the tents and experiences of lives I may not generally encounter on a daily basis. God positioned me to see His grace and love at work in the hands of a talented potter who makes crosses, a woman who helps unwed pregnant mothers, a senior citizen who hums Amazing Grace in-between breathes while selling me baked goods. These were just a few of the “God sightings” which took me in because I was willing to let God lead.

 

How many believers just walk down the middle of the street rather than engage as loving servants of Christ? Do we really take the time to understand the people around us? Or do we just get really good at speculating? Have you taken for granted gossip and not given someone the benefit of the doubt? Has this happened to you?

 

John 8:7: “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone….”

 

May you have many “God sightings” this week. And may some say their “God sighting” came from you being brave enough to step into their tent.

 

SGLY, dear readers.

 

(Smile, God Loves You.)

Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian writer, an opinion columnist and a fine art photographer. To submit feedback on SGLY or to offer a specific topic idea, please contact Chartier at news@amtrib.com. Follow Chartier on Facebook: facebook.com/tiffanychartier and Twitter: @tiffanychartier.