When I moved my family here, back to my wife’s hometown of Ashland, Missouri 23 years ago…Ashland was a small place where everyone knew everyone and everyone knew everyone’s business. Coming from the big city of Raytown, Missouri, I was impressed by the God-fearing, moral-loving, family-oriented town and it was exactly where I wanted to raise our family. My wife was hesitant. Growing up in this small town wasn’t the ideal place for her. She was “too close” to it and already had her fill. The big city change was what she’d always dreamed of… not me. I saw something special in Ashland on our first date. The whole town showed up at 4pm to watch a high school baseball game and people actually showed up to church (our second date) in fashion. To me, that was special. Something I’d never experienced. She trusted me and my vision and of course, here we are. Twenty-three years later and still excited about our decision to move back to her home town. Why? Because it IS special! That’s simply what I want you to see… Although Ashland has grown a ton over the years, it has the best school system you can ask for. The best churches you can find in the Midwest. A great outdoor lifestyle, jobs, places to shop, things to do and most importantly of all… the best friends. That brings me to a recent loss in our community. Misti Post recently passed away. To all that had the pleasure of knowing her, well… let’s just say we are really blessed. She loved this community more than most and supported it in so many ways with her presence and involvement in everything. I saw Misti out and about almost every time I was attending a school event, community activity or even a meeting of sorts. Each time she was full of smiles and happy stories eager to share. After 23 years of watching this small town grow into a small city that competes with the best, I noticed that the numbers continued to skyrocket and I didn’t REALLY know everyone like I used to. BUT, there was always Misti and a select few that helped mold this small-town community together over the years. As I attended her celebration of life and conversed with the people that I knew this past Saturday, I found myself struggling with the loss of such a good friend. I knew that God had a plan for her even though her life was cut so short. Misti loved and supported her family more and better than anyone I knew. It just didn’t seem right, but her legacy and love for this small-town community is what helped me realize how blessed we really are. There are so many good things in this ever-changing and sometimes negative world around us. We simply need to open our eyes and realize how many friends we have and how blessed we are to have known her, or someone like her, and to have the opportunity to live in such a great place like Ashland. Small town America and the dreams it holds true are real. Just open your eyes and appreciate it. I love this small town. I love what Misti stood for. I love how she treated others and how she loved back… I love how she loved her family mot of all. God is so good, especially in hard times. She was everything I love about Ashland. A Friend.