Sunday, July 23, 2017

Hoops, Slides, and Summertime

During the summer we spend many afternoons or nights at the Boys & Girls Club park just a block from our Challenge never fails that the kids will find a friend to play with, I will find a parent to chat with, and we will enjoy the spirit of community that lives in our neighborhood.

Tonight as we walked to the park it was with a bit of the spirit of observation and a bit of sadness at the state of humanity. You see, earlier this week an article was published in the local paper about land being condemned in our neighborhood to build a new park. It is a project that I am quite familiar with as discussions have been on-going since before we moved to our street corner. The comments in response to the article were mostly unsupportive, but the tone behind them ranged widely from disapproval of land being taken in general to disparaging remarks about the people that would frequent "another inner city park." I had to stop reading as an anger in me rises at the ignorance of people that have likely never even stepped into our neighborhood parks.

So with these thoughts still fresh in my mind we took our one block walk. On the way we passed the soccer field catty-corner to our house where there are soccer games every Sunday from spring to fall. The remaining families were walking the parameter of the field with trash bags cleaning up the field and stands from anything tossed aside during the day....we exchanged waves as often we do as I do not speak Spanish and many of the ladies do not speak English. However, a smile and a wave can convey so much in a community.

As we approached the basketball goals I immediately noticed three courts were in full action. An older gentleman with a grey beard and bright yellow hat completing his island look was coaching boys that looked to be 9-11 years old...layups, running laps, preparing for a game this coming week. 

On another court a group of middle school boys shot hoops. One of the moms gave them pointers from the sidelines...while high schoolers sat on the hoods of their cars watching. These young guys looked like they could play for hours, whereas their younger counterparts where ready for a rest on the bleachers.

On the third court was a middle aged man, going through different moves alone. You could envision an opponent on the court as he would, turn dart and weave. Finally a few Highschool boys asked to shoot with of the boys I had known since father-figure, lots of energy and often misunderstood. I watched this boy shoot sporadically looking for the approval of the older player...shot after shot bricking off the rim. The original player would shoot with a finess only gained through years of playing the sport...a hard-earned love of the game...

My eyes glanced to the playground as my kids joined a group of other kids climbing up thon slides, going down others, chatting at the top in their makeshift fort, before running to the swings. A girl, maybe on the brink of adulthood, maybe just a teen came over to where I sat and my kids ran over. The little girl with her had a bright red bow along with a dozen flower barrets holding her braids...she was beautiful and a curious 2-4 year old.

"What's your name? What are you doing?"

My kids jumped right in sharing names, inviting her to our Challenge House for snacks and books...they love to invite friends they meet at the playground for snacks, because sometimes they will stick around and play for a while.

As the misquotes began to bite we started our walk home. A little boy was leaving with his dad. I asked if he liked soccer and he nodded yes as he kicked me his mini soccer ball...I kicked it back and waved to them both as we headed home.

Arriving home my heart is full of hope and contentment as I think of the amazing childhood my kids get to experience from our city park. The mentors they get to see on the courts, the friends they get to make on the swings and slides, the example that is set by those that take pride in keeping the park clean. 

City parks may not be understood by is sad I think that some families do not get to experience the Sunday afternoons and evenings we get to enjoy. It is a community like no other...

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Summer in the Neighborhood

Summer is in full swing in our neighborhood...we have had 5 Day Club, the Orchard is producing fruit and the garden is growing. The activities are full with Chess Club, BBYBL, and Fourth of July fireworks.

Our blessing amongst all of this? After VBS and through 5 Day Club our little one was asking many questions about a relationship with God and salvation. Actually we had been discussing and answering questions for months, but it had never moved passed head knowledge...until last week when our youngest child surrendered to the call of salvation. Perhaps the best fruits of the labor done in our ministry in the neighborhood...a soul saved...

Of course I always think pictures speak volumes, so here are some of the past few weeks...

The Community Garden - growing through the weeks:

The Community Orchard - ripe for harvest:

5 Day Club Welcoming Us Home:

BBYBL...we love seeing adults in our neighborhood mentoring kids!

Happy 4th of July from the corner of Central & Broad...

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Growing Fruit - Growing Community

It was so timely today to pull up this post from March 2013:

...not only have we been working in the Garden and Orchard...but this morning our Sunday School lesson was on Mark 4 and the Parable of the Sower -- the same passage as discussed in Luke 8...

This morning we talked about soil types, the work required, and the relationship we have with those around us. It is amazing how much working in an orchard or garden teaches you about life. In the end just like a fruit tree we are known by our fruit or lack thereof. I have much to ponder and work on in that regards.

The post was also timely as I stopped with the kids by the Broad Street Community Orchard to check and see how the Blackberry bushes and Apple trees are doing. It was such a delight to see the branches weighed down with has taken 4 years of the roots firmly growing, but now the fruit is growing too!


When the Orchard was planted we had no idea the lessons it would teach us...

Strawberry beds are massive work...hours per week and four were way too much for one person to the end of the second season we opted to remove them from the garden.

UK Extension Office and Kelly Jackson are rockstar in the horticulture fields. Kelly and his staff pruned the trees and all the other things needed to ensure the trees were growing the right way to be strong and healthy for years to come. It takes hard work and knowledge to have a thriving Orchard. 

A neighbor that taught us more about being a neighbor than anyone ever has...this neighbor grew up on the Orchard plot when there was a house there. He takes pride even today with the homeplace gone and has four years mowed and kept the Orchard looking beautiful. His dedication to our community and this place that holds a special place in his life is such a beautiful lesson for us all.

When I think back over four years it has been a time of not just growing a beautiful Orchard, but for our family it has been a time of pruning and work as we have faced a child with significant health needs...we have had neighbors that have gathered around and continued the mission of neighbors helping neighbors when our family was weary and we have seen shining examples of love and caring...I look back and see not only has an Orchard been growing, but also a community that we treasure so much!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Adventures in Gardening

As a child I remember my daddy tilling the garden...our job was to then fill our buckets with rocks, so that the garden would grow. I don't remember all we planted or how well the gardens grew, but I can remember breaking beans, shucking corn, and mama canning them along with tomatoes.

I have not ventured to far in gardening as an adult...I can grow tomatoes, peppers and herbs from a plant, but never ventured into planting from seeds. After finding I was allergic to corn  pollen I could no longer frequent our large community garden.

Our neighborhood association as a collective decided the large, lot-sized garden was a bit much to manage...last summer the rain and weeds beat us all out! We talked and dreamed of attempting a small raised bed garden and if it works planting them throughout the neighborhood. Thankfully some friends blessed CH1 with our first raised bed plot!

Last week we went to the Hopkinsville Christian County Public Library and picked out 7 packets of seeds from the seed library. Along with the ones we already had on hand we planned an evening and planted our plot!

We are definitely learning as we go, but can I just add how delightful gardening with a friend is...just made it not feel like work at all...although we had plenty of dirt and sweat on us by the time we finished!

If our green thumbs prevail, then we should have in the DANA/CH1 Community Garden:

- Tomatoes
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Banana Peppers
- JalapeƱo Peppers
- Spinach
- Green Onions
- Lettuce
- Red Okra
- Cucumbers
- Zucchini
- Turnips
- Collard Greens
- Snap Peas


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Free Little Library

Today there was an article in the paper on the Free Little Library...we also had a knock at the door with a neighbor and her son's sharing two bags full of books! We love getting to meet and visit with our neighbors and share books with our community!


Thank you so much to the Ross-Outland Sunday School Class at Hillcrest Baptist Church for your hard work on this project!

Lessons from the Street Corner

Last night late in the evening we heard barking...a constant, loud bark with hardly a breath between. Finally after what seemed like 15 minutes my husband went out to investigate and I heard an, "oh no" from outside. I quickly threw on my shoes.

As I walked out a cat came over and began to meow with the same constant insistence...I looked in the direction they were making their pleas to see a little honey brown pit bull pup lying on the sidewalk and breathing laboriously.

We shewed the barking dog and cat toward their home and my husband went over to check out the poor pup. It had been hit by a car and could not move anything, but it's head. We stayed as he rubbed it's head and talked gently to it and a few minutes later it passed.

Around the same time the other dog stopped it's incessant barking...almost as the plea for help could stop. Suddenly sleep was not quite the priority as we contacted animal control to help. A neighbor stopped by to chat and share good news on how he is getting on his feet again.

It struck me how adamant that dog was in crying out for help and the cat, too. I don't think I had ever seen this behavior before in animals...but these three run the streets together...we had seen them often over the past few weeks and commented on hoping they stayed safe.

As we returned inside to sleep I pondered the pleas of these other animals, their stick-togetherness. It made me reflect on how adamantly I call for help if I see another in of my pack...

So...slow safe and be on watch for children and animals that may roam our streets...look out for those around you and never stop trying if you know one of those you do life with needs help...

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Spring Blessings

Last Sunday as I was typing up the blog post about summer dreams my husband had a friend at church ask what they could do to help us at CH1...

We initially mentioned snacks are always used and quickly realized they wanted to know a project or projects that could bless our ministry. We mentioned our "summer dreams" of a community garden and Free Little Library...and ya'll I cannot begin to express in written word my excitement today as our dreams became a reality...

So...without further ado...let us show you how these volunteers spent this afternoon blessing our neighborhood!






Can you believe it? Amazing!!! We are so blessed and so grateful not just for the project these men did, but the servant hearts they displayed and the prayers they prayed over each completed project...that the garden will flourish, as will the faith of those that work in it and that the books will be a blessing and lead to many opportunities to share love and our faith with others.

While they worked our little guy also had a great surprise of getting to play with friends, while I moved the hosta plants to our planter box...


We hope you have had a wonderful Sunday afternoon! Please share your Spring blessings with us in the comments.