A year ago we set up this blog anticipating our move to Challenge House 1 and excited about all we would experience and have to share as we embarked on our adventure. The year has not disappointed in experiences and adventures….we have made new friends, learned many lessons, and had so many new experiences.

What I quickly learned is that my lofty goal of blogging on a weekly or monthly basis was much harder than I had dreamed. Writing has been a favorite past time in my college days and something I have longed for years to do again. It is not for lack of content that I had writer’s block many times over the past year, but rather often due to “living” out the experience and then having so many emotions to process along with all that has transpired.

We have no doubt after a year in our home that God appointed us to live here and is transforming our lives, our thoughts, and our faith through this calling. We have had so many wonderful moments, but they have often been in the midst of very hard things. Either by naivetés or rose-colored glasses or maybe even being wrapped up in our own lives…we somehow missed some very big things in the lives of those around us…this “ignorant bliss” of prior years is probably one of the hardest things to process.

So first to start with the good things….

Our neighbors are such wonderful people…we have been so welcomed and in many cases taken under the wings of others to teach us about the culture of our neighborhood, the history and tradition of where we live, to come along side us and work to share the love of Christ with those around us. We have shared stories, meals, and wonderful conversations.

Our neighborhood association…under Reverend Jones’ leadership…this group of people have made me feel so welcome and included. They have given us a voice and also given us advice.  I could not ask for a kinder group of people to have as friends and neighbors.

Our church family…from the beginning when the Hillcrest 20/20 youth prayed with us and our friends from church and the community came to commission and pray over us, our home, and neighborhood…prayers, encouragement, and sometimes listening hearts have proven so precious to us. Then there are those that have come to our home and served with us, whether handing out bags, picking up trash, or sharing times with the kids of our neighborhood…those who are serving with us are treasures to our souls.

Then there blessings that we could not have known before moving here…Kerri Pepper and the Holiday Elementary volunteers that tutor the students….John Allen and Kelly Jackson with the orchard project…the many Project Hopkinsville and backyard Bible club volunteers….so many people that see the mission and vision of Challenge House and love the people of Durrett Avenue.

So many other people and things that I fail to capture with mere words…

Then there is the hard.

Hard to endure, hard to process, hard to believe to be true.

There are times when serving in a ministry like this is so lonely…you know there are others available if you need them, but sometimes it is hard to know what to ask or how to convey all that you learn and see. Then there are some that you expect to be there, but they cannot do the hard with you…

Hard things – kids with no food…families with no electricity…families with no homes…kids with absent parents…friends that are trying to make a living, but are 10 steps behind and struggling to keep hope…neighbors that are lonely, because their family have moved on to better jobs, nicer neighborhoods…broken families…neighbors that once served our country in honor, that struggle to have their own kids show them respect….people that are lost and seeking salvation in alcohol or drugs…teens that are seeking approval in relationships leading to teen pregnancy…kids that reach out for help or those that cannot trust because they have never been in a truly safe place to learn trust…kids that we reach only to learn they are gone to another town or state….

In all of this hard…the reality is…these hard things are not isolated to our neighborhood here. It is likely that some if not all of these “hard things” existed in our former neighborhood…hurting people are not isolated by income, gender, race, locality…pain is no respecter of persons…yet we did not see before…how many do not see…cannot imagine…

Yet amongst all the good and all the hard…we have learned perhaps above all else that God is faithful. When we feel alone, we do not know what to do, when there is hurt we cannot fix…there are the promises of God that stand as a foundation. He does not falter even when we are emotionally exhausted and heartbroken…He has the resources, the answers…He is faithful.

So as year one at Challenge House 1 has come to a close…I hope once again that next year will be just as full as this one with wonderful and hard things…for it is in the hard that we have seen God’s hand moved so precisely.