It's hard to believe, but this past weekend marks two years since we moved to Jackson, MS, and we can honestly say it's definitely starting to feel like home now. When I was growing up, I moved every two years until I was in middle school. I remember my mom saying that the two year mark was when you just started feeling really settled, so it was always hard to leave at that point to begin anew elsewhere (although it was always a fun adventure, too). I definitely think she was right. We are feeling settled. We love our church, are developing some great friendships, and we have several favorite restaurants (which isn't hard to do with all the great local spots!), a sure sign of being settled, right?
When we first arrived in Jackson, we moved into the church's "intern house" (so named because ministry interns and their families had lived there before) thinking it was just temporary until we sold our home in Atlanta. We even packed our belongings into two categories: things we need right away, and things we'll unpack at our next house in Jackson. Little did we know that the Atlanta housing market would continue its downward spiral, and we would be left with no choice but to rent our house and remain renters here in Jackson.
Two years later, I am attacking the second group of boxes. All this week, I am taking advantage of cooler mornings to vigorously prepare for a fall garage sale to rid us of superfluous things, realizing that less really is more. It's amazing how we've adjusted to a smaller space! Our home here is a small 3 bedroom, one bath (yes, that was an adjustment!), built over half a century ago as a part of a GI neighborhood (now known as Broadmoor) for troops returning from WWII. It's really a cute house with lots of charm, and it's right behind the church. Ryan literally walks to work every day-you can't beat that for a commute!
This new found enthusiasm to simplify and settle in more in our current home comes from many conversations as of late that Ryan & I have had. God has been working in both our hearts to really develop a love for this community where He has called us to serve. Broadmoor is the neighborhood where many of our youth, and almost all of Redeemer's tutoring students, live. We have recently become involved with a new neighborhood association and are getting to know more of the people who live here. Since we live in the neighborhood where we serve, we often have some of our students stop by to see us, visit, and in some cases, stay for dinner :).
To say that God is working in our hearts concerning the neighborhood should lead you to believe that we weren't so fond of it in the beginning. To be perfectly honest, I was leary of living in Broadmoor when we first moved here because it was quite a change from Hanarry Estates (our old neighborhood) in Lilburn. I certainly didn't feel as safe when I went on walks by myself with the kids due to wandering dogs and random men walking around. In fact, I just stopped going without Ryan or a friend. We often hear of break-ins in our neighborhood, and for the first time in my life I live in a home with an active security system. I could also tell you a few interesting stories involving cops, missing criminals, etc., but that's a whole different post.
Despite these differences, Broadmoor does feel like home now (and don't worry, the street right behind the church is safe and pretty quiet too!). Ryan & I believe that this time we spend living in the community we serve is a gift from the Lord because we are able to better understand those He has called us to minister to. I am currently reading Generous Justice by Tim Keller, which is incredibly practical for our current ministry. Keller does a wonderful job of showing how God's generous grace should lead us to care for the poor and help to bring justice to those in need (I won't even try to explain how Keller makes the argument because he's much better with words than I am, but if this topic interests you at all, READ THIS BOOK!). One of the ways he says true transformation of communities happens is when people actually LIVE in the community with those they are trying to serve. Now I realize this isn't always practical for everyone, but it's cool how God has provided us this rare opportunity. I'll leave some of the ministry details for how this is working out practically in Part Two...trust me, you'll want to read it to see what God's been up to here in Broadmoor!