New School Beginnings

Well, after a short delay, the school year is off and running for the kids. While so many schools around the country are offering hybrid options, our school offered two: full in-person 5 days a week or full virtual.

Coming from NYC and having what I would describe as PTSD in regards to Covid and social distancing and mask wearing, I wasn’t comfortable with the full in-person option (let’s be honest…I wouldn’t be comfortable with a hybrid option either), but after praying and talking about it with Ed, we decided the full in-person option would be best for our kids. Emotionally, academically, given our situation with me doing ministry and Ed working at Grace, moving to a new place, needing to make friends and put down roots here, and experiencing such intense isolation the last few months, not to mention how extremely difficult it was/is to do virtual schooling with 3 kids in school and 1 at home but not in school, we made a decision and are moving forward, even despite our fears. Had we been in NYC with community already, our decision would likely have been different. While not everyone will agree with our decision, and while we may not be 100% sure we made the right decision, I heard a pediatrician saying “There isn’t a right choice for everyone – pick one and move forward in confidence. That’s the best you can do as a parent.” So that is what we did/are doing. I commend any parent this year for making a decision for their family, instead of being paralyzed by fear and the what ifs, even if it isn’t what we have chosen – there is no right or wrong answer.

Their first week went great and I told Ed that if they only got these 4 days at school this whole year, it was worth it for how excited they were, making new friends, and getting out of the house. Emerson capped the week off with bringing home Student of the Week for Patience – she was the one chosen for her class. The smile on her face is so worth it all. 

It is so interesting all the differences I noticed on the first day between NYC and SC. People always comment on it being different, and it 100% is, but on the first day of school, those differences were glaring. Here were a few I noticed:

  1. During drop-off and pickup, we noticed huge spaces between the cars while waiting in line and huge gaps between the cars when they parallel parked. In NYC, you could barely slide a kid through the cars while parallel parked OR waiting in line, as every single inch of space was used. 
  2. I waited 45 minutes to pick them up the first day. In NYC, most parents walked or they parked their car and then walked up to the school. Carpool lines didn’t exist, at least in the sense of teachers bringing kids to cars.
  3. Ed and I noticed three girls going into the school commenting on their matching outfits. In NYC, they didn’t do matching outfits for siblings.
  4. The huge bows that girls were wearing. In NYC, you were immediately out of place if you wore them. And the monograms, everywhere. I was raised in the South so I am no stranger to the bows and monograms, but wow…
  5. Blake said anytime they walked anywhere, he was always in the back of the line for his class. I asked him why and he said it is because the girls have to go first. That, again, isn’t a thing in NYC – its a free for all…no southern manner of boys letting the girls go first. 

Overall, our kids are such phenomenal troopers and are adjusting so well. The days of us missing NYC are getting fewer and further between (9/11 was a weird day for us as we have been in the city for it the last few years and in the city, its a very somber remembrance day). They are starting to make friends. We are starting to make friends. Things are starting to feel more “normal.” 

Radio Silence

Radio silence – that is the term I would use to describe my absence since my last blog post on June 18. I have missed blogging and updating you on our ministry and life, and yet it has been so good for me to pause as we figured out a new normal in a new place that feels like a completely new world. I am hopeful that I will resume regular blogging now that school is starting, but realizing there is tons of grace as I adapt to what I/our family needs.

First, I want to update you on ministry….I am officially serving on the Clemson University staff team!! I will also be working at Anderson University, which is right here in our little town.  God sure does have a sense of humor to put this Carolina Gamecocks fan at Clemson, and though I can’t guarantee I will wear orange anytime soon, I am really excited about what God is doing/is going to do at Clemson and Anderson. This year has already looked WAY different with most meetings still being held over Zoom and staff meetings and Bible studies outside and constant counting to make sure we don’t go over Cru’s people limits for meetings, but we are already seeing some fun things happen and our students are rockstars. More updates to come!

Ed has started his job at Grace Church. At times, he feels like he is drinking from a fire hydrant with all the new info being hurled at him, but he is slowly learning the ropes and feeling more confident. He is loving the variety in his role, helping with student ministry but also getting to help with adult small groups. He is being trained at the Grace downtown campus for the first 6 months before he will transition full-time to Anderson. While I think it is brilliant that they train him and he serves next to and under experienced people before he jumps in on his own, we will be glad when he is closer by everyday.

It is so weird moving in a Covid world. Not only has it been a big transition to move from NYC to SC (culture change, city to suburb change, seriousness about Covid change), but it is extremely hard to get into a new normal or make friends or put down roots when everyone is social distancing and wearing masks and staying away. The kids will start school this Tuesday – full five days a week in person as long as it lasts. While it makes me nervous to send them to school 5 days a week in person, I had to admit that there wasn’t a schooling option that I was excited about (virtual, 2 days a week in person, etc.). So, when considering the options and praying about it, we decided that socially and emotionally, going to school was what our kids needed in this season of just moving and trying to make friends and establish roots in a new town. Had we been in NYC, this decision may have been different. While I don’t know that anyone is extremely confident in the schooling decision they have made, us included, we are making a decision and moving forward, trusting that God will guide us whatever comes. Here is a picture of the kids at the kindergarten open house at their new school.

We are slowly settling into our new house and making it our own. Our family is LOVING having more space to run around (hence the girls wanting their beds de-bunked as they now have a little more space to do that) and we have been busy at house projects now that we actually have a place that is our own to do them. Thanks to my mom and my friend Amy and their amazing decorating talents, I have been able to create such fun places in our house. 

The last three weekends Ed has worked tirelessly to extend our patio area in our backyard to create more living space for our family (thanks to our neighbor who guided him on it every step of the way). I LOVE how it turned out and we are definitely using it every.single.day. Someone looking at buying the house next to us said it looks like we are ready for a party and I said “well, we have 4 kids so everyday is kind of like a party.” haha. Here is the before and here is the after, both at night and during the day.

Here is a photo from Fourth of July as we celebrated at my mom’s house – thought I would include one of everyone for your enjoyment 🙂

More updates to come….

 

Big Life Changes

It is hard for me to write this post. One, so much has happened in the last month and a half and I have not had enough bandwidth to take time to post. Two, my heart hurts to write out the very bittersweet reality of what has happened in the last month and a half with our family.

First, Covid happened. Which was a huge deal in NYC, as most of you know from the news coverage. What you saw about how bad it was – all true, from someone who was in contact with doctors and hospitals and people who lost loved ones. Then, after George Floyd, the protests began. While most protests were peaceful, there were plenty of people who took advantage of it to loot and cause havoc across our beautiful city. Stores that were just opening had to close down or board up because of the looting and violence. I have included pictures from around the city and from our neighborhood, both of peaceful protests and of the damage done by people who went crazy. Our pastor and church even participated in a protest with our churches in our neighborhood, with our pastor leading the prayer of lament. 

And right in the middle of it, we found out that we would be moving back to SC. Last fall, Ed applied for and began a process to see what would happen with a church in SC that he really respected, Grace Church in Greenville, SC. He actually applied for a AV/sound position because that it what he enjoyed and from there, the Lord closed down that opportunity but began the opportunity for him to apply doing other things in the church. It was an extremely long process that began with him applying for an AV position, going through probably 20 interviews, us flying down to SC to visit the church and for him to have more interviews in person (right in March when Covid was beginning in NYC), and that culminated with him accepting a position. Here is what we wrote in our most recent newsletter to ministry partners when we were announcing (we wanted them to hear first which is why I have been silent about it all and somewhat absent on here):

For the last year, while Ed has enjoyed what he has been doing with Cru in NYC, he has sensed the Spirit doing something in his life. He applied for a position at Grace Church in South Carolina, just wanting to learn more and see if it could be a fit. Over the past few months, God has made it clear to our family that this was the place He wanted us to be so Ed said yes to the job when they offered. In June, our family will begin the transition of moving to SC. Ed will be serving at Grace Church in South Carolina at the Anderson campus as the Student Director and Community Life pastor. Ed’s time with Cru has given him excitement, vision, and experience for this role and we see how God has used His time with Cru to prepare him for this.

April, on the other hand, has really enjoyed leading our team and coaching Cru staff women this past year. She still feels God is leading her to continue investing with Cru in winning, building, and sending college students, so she will continue as a missionary with Cru on a local campus team (most likely with the Upstate SC team which includes reaching Anderson University in our town). We are still figuring out exactly what she will be doing, but there is a possibility that she could continue in a leadership role by helping to lead the team in SC. Bittersweet is the word that comes to mind when we think of this transition. We are very sad to leave NYC as our hearts are still very much with this beautiful city we have called home the last 3.5 years. It is hard to think of leaving NYC, even much more in a Covid world when we can’t really say goodbye to people or places. It is hard to think of leaving our team, students, and community. We are very aware that we will face some reverse culture shock as we adjust from urban life and a “coming down” of sorts from city living. However, a wise friend shared with us that if it hurts when we leave, it is because we have invested deeply and that is a really good thing. We are excited to see where He takes us and to deeply invest in the upstate of SC the same way we have here in NYC.

How does this affect your partnership with us? We still need faithful ministry partners to come alongside us to pray and give financially so that April can continue to serve as a missionary with Cru. We are asking that you would continue your partnership for the next few months as we are transitioning but then that you would continue on with April as she continues serving with Cru.

Needless to say, once we found out we would be moving, we tried our best to soak up all that Covid made possible in NYC. We couldn’t visit some of our favorite places and restaurants because they weren’t open or because protests were happening, but we tried to the best we could. Our friends did a phenomenal job saying goodbye to us in a Covid world, complete with drive by goodbyes from our teammates, social distancing goodbyes across our front yard from classmates, and our small group even did a sweet video (that of course made us cry) and a zoom call and our favorite NYC foods day where they had delivered all day foods that we loved from NYC. In case you are wondering, it was bagels for breakfast, pizza for lunch, our favorite bakery for afternoon snack, dumplings for dinner, and ChipNYC cookies for dessert after dinner. It was a good thing since our house looked like this!

We left NYC and traveled down to SC, being careful to make as few stops as possible and being as careful as we could when we stopped at the hotel to not touch or interact with people. We stayed with Ed’s parents, closed on our house the next day, and moved in. Whew, what a whirlwind!  Also, we have never bought a house blind so that was a first. Thankfully, Ed’s parents live about 45 minutes away and looked at it for us as well as was here for inspection and walk through – couldn’t have done it without them. When our movers left, I was so sad…they were local NYC movers from our neighborhood and they felt like our people – I kept thinking “don’t leave us…you know our world…you know what we have gone through the past few months.” We are self-isolating except for small runs to the store, and learning how to engage in a different world. Our kids have noticed that people don’t honk as much here, that everyone talks to us, that they love running circles around our house, and that we feel like the oddballs wearing masks. Great observations kids – we aren’t in NYC anymore 🙂 Cases are rising in SC though, so we feel a little like we just walked back into it. 

The next few weeks will be filled with finishing school with the kids, getting things squared away like changing tags and licenses, my taking a seminary class with Cru, and taking some vacation time so we can recharge before digging back in. We are so very, very exhausted because of the last few months – spiritually, physically, mentally – and we just need space to rest and recharge and spend good quality time with family and Jesus. To finish off, I will leave you with some beautiful pictures of our neighborhood.

Oh NYC…the Lord may be calling us elsewhere but you will ALWAYS, ALWAYS have a special place in our heart. City living may be hard, especially on large families, but the culture, diversity, food, influence, and grandeur of this city will never be matched. We will be back. Until next time…

 

Our New Normal

Today was Day 49 of self-quarantine for our family. Truth – it may be a little more or a little less as we didn’t put a star next to the day we all started “staying in”, but you get the picture. I haven’t posted in quite a bit, mostly because our days feel super full with balancing school for the kids, ministry and caring for our team and students, caring for and leading our church small group, and helping out in our community. Then, when breaks are had or when night comes, I find myself wanting nothing to do with technology or Zoom and for my sanity, needing to pull away from social media and news updates.

For the most part, our kids have settled well into schooling at home. We have had more days lately where they actually like their new “teacher” and the tears have become few and far between. While their teachers aren’t doing any online instruction, per say, other than a few Google Meets to gather the class, they are doing a phenomenal job dealing with the hand they have been dealt. Blake’s teacher posts daily small videos singing a song or reading a story or playing her ukulele. Kinsley’s teacher has gone above and beyond to help them understand, be challenged, and offers to do private sessions if they are struggling with something. NYC just officially canceled school for the rest of the year yesterday, and while there were some tears from Emerson of not being able to see her friends, they were okay with this expected blow. It has been fun to learn along with them – from writing about the American Revolution to vanishing points in art to coding in media arts to the history of NYC in Social studies to comparing decimals in math to erosion in science – our material has been vast 🙂

We keep being asked – do you get to leave the house? Ed and I have continued running during this, though we go early in the morning when people aren’t out and we stick to less populated neighborhoods so we don’t have to wear a mask. One of us will go about once a week to the grocery store to pick up supplies. We try to get the kids outside once a day to play, whether it is in our small backyard or going on a short walk around the neighborhood with masks on. We have started doing things we have never done before like “taking drives” and running cards and homemade bracelets to friends to leave at their door, anything to give us a reason to get out safely. Yes, there has been a ton of bracelet making.

Ed is still helping with the skeleton crew at our church doing audio for the online services. They wear masks, stay six feet apart, and try to use the same people each week so there is limited exposure.

Last week, on a pretty sunny and warm day (which haven’t been common lately), we told the kids “screw it” and let them take off their masks and ride their bikes in our street. There wasn’t much traffic and there weren’t many people so we felt they would be safe to be six feet away from people without masks and to be out of danger riding in the street. And honestly, we just wanted them to do something different and fun. This little man surprised us by learning to ride his bike without training wheels, which provided some fun excitement in our family. While I know there was lots of judgement from our neighbors about us letting them do it, sometimes you just have to say (safely) screw it.

Here is an update I posted on our prayer letter we just sent to ministry partners:

When we moved to Queens NYC, we could never have foreseen all that would unfold over the last few months. Covid has hit our diverse borough like a wrecking ball. 48,382 confirmed cases, 3,581 deaths, 16 suicides since March. So many unemployed that NY State is running out of money. Front line workers running out of PPE they so desperately need to help crowded ERs/ICUs. Everyone knows someone who has been affected.

Our students are no exception. One student nursed her parents as they battled Covid, got it herself, and lost her uncle to Covid. Another student has lost multiple people in her church, including her brother’s best friend’s parents, who died within a week of each other. Another student is an international student from Belarus who lives with a family and because the family is so fearful of getting Covid, she is only allowed to get food once a month early in the morning and was desperately running out of food because the store was out of stock.

While our team has added in things like extra Bible studies and short devotions to help our students spiritually, we feel very convinced that God has allowed us to be here to also help “love our neighbor” by providing for practical needs as well.

In partnership with other local groups and partnering friends, we have been able to provide care baskets for our students who have been affected. We have been able to provide masks and groceries for students who needed them. We have been able to provide gift cards for groceries for people in our small group who are unemployed. We have been able to make 3 trips to Elmhurst Hospital to deliver much needed supplies.

Ed and I have been spending a lot of time in Psalms, both in our personal devotion times and with our students and staff team. It has been life-giving to watch David lament but also to have hope in who the Lord is and His character. God is sustaining us and when we start to feel overwhelmed, fearful, in despair, sad, or any of the other emotions we have felt, we keep reminding ourselves that his mercies are new every morning and he will give us THIS DAY what we need.

We are hopeful that we have turned a corner and that things are getting better as the number of cases, hospitalizations, deaths, etc. is decreasing and things begin opening up (our favorite bagel and pizza joint just reopened so THAT gives us a feeling of light at the end of the tunnel).

Thank you so much to so many of you who have texted us, encouraged us, prayed for us, provided things for our students like care baskets, masks, hand sanitizer, food, gift cards for food, etc. You have been a visible reminder to us of the Lord’s care for us and our students and our borough. You are showing us (and even our kids!) what it means to carry one another’s burdens and to love our neighbor well.

 

 

Counting my blessings

In full honesty, life is hard right now. It’s not that God isn’t sustaining us, or that we aren’t in the Word and being reminded of truth like He is in control, or that we don’t have hope, because He is, we are, and we do. But I also believe we can hold on to the truth and cling tight to Jesus and still grieve and lament and feel sadness. Psalms is a great example of just that.

Today, I want to share with you things that have brought us happiness these last few weeks.

Small walks and scoots around the block, even if we have to wear masks (or fight toddlers to wear them!).

Enjoying our small backyard where we can go mask-less. It has become a little haven for our family in a lot of uncertainity.

Getting to learn and do school, even at a distance. And while I HATE preschool (oh the cutting and preparation required for a 10 minute lesson), and remote learning hasn’t been without kinks, the kids are learning and happy (well, most of the time) and healthy. And their teachers are doing a FABULOUS job with the hand they have been dealt.

This was posted by one of the women in our small group. Fam says it all. Love this family that has become a lifeline in this precarious time.

Funny memes – this has to be one of my favorites. Seriously, talk dirty to me, tell me about the good times…

While Easter festivities looked a little different this year, our kids still got to enjoy most of them. We dyed eggs, did an egg hunt in our little yard, watched our church service online, watched the kids service online along with doing their fun activities, and talked with family and friends through FaceTime. We even took our family Easter pic, Corona style. Including a debut of our beautiful masks that a lady from NC made us. The Lord has allowed us to see lots of glimpses of his providing for us – these masks, Ed’s brother shipping us hand sanitizer from NC, someone from our church delivering a bag of goodies for the kiddos, a friend finding toilet paper on Amazon and shipping it to us, another friend giving us a few masks and gloves until we could get more. So thankful!

I have said it before and will say it again, I am so thankful for this little house that we were able to start renting 1.5 years ago. Thankfully, we have a basement where Ed has been able to work AND we had room to say yes to storing all these supplies that are waiting to be delivered to the hospital. We got involved with this group that is providing SO many things to hospitals in Queens – blankets, pillows, phone chargers (so patients can stay connected to family since they can’t see them), snacks, keurigs, coffee, meals, girl scout cookies, personal protective equipment, and so much more. The hospitals only have so much storage space so we are storing things people have donated and will transport to the hospital once or twice a week. So grateful for all those working on the front lines and want to be a part of caring/supporting/supplying things for them the best way we can. So grateful we can live out in a small way Jesus’ command to love our neighbors.

Turning the big 1-0!

Kinsley turned 10 this past week!  She was bummed about not celebrating with her friends and having to cancel her party (that we only let them have every 5 years so it was a big deal!), but she felt celebrated with a mid-day call from sweet friends who told her things they loved about her, calls from friends and family, and a making of her favorite strawberry cake. The cake layers ended up sliding because the icing was too runny, but she still loved it.
 
Thank you so much to all who have reached out to check on our family as we continue living in the epicenter of Covid in the US. Recently, in response to an email from a ministry partner, I typed up a brief summary of how we are doing and what life is like for us right now. I will post my response here as an update.
  • Thank you so much for checking in on us! We are still in NYC – hunkered down in our little safe house – what a provision from the Lord when he provided this house for us 1.5 years ago – he knew we would need this place to survive because it would be a brutal time if we were still in our apartment. We only leave these days for a run, short walk, or a quick trip to the grocery store (complete with mask, gloves, and Lysol spray down and change of clothes when that person comes home!). 
  • Life is for sure challenging right now and heartbreaking to see our city suffering      so much – NYC was locked down way too late and by that point, the virus was    rampant. Thankfully, we, our students, and our close friends aren’t sick, though we know others who are. We also have friends who are working on the front lines as doctors and nurses and risking their lives daily. Our community is doing a great job of rallying around them, but it is challenging to support them when we are having to be stuck inside for our safety. The kids are doing pretty well – we had to cancel Kinsley’s 10th birthday party and they are sad about being away from their friends, but they are really handling it all like champs.
  • Our life now consists of homeschooling the kids using their teachers’ assignments (April), hosting Bible studies and discipleship appointments and leading staff meetings and caring for our team virtually (both of us!), trying to get creative about how to reach college students and still try to move our ministries forward in evangelism and discipleship and networking (our whole team!), caring for and leading our church small group virtually, and leading the Cru campus staff in the city about how to handle this crisis and next steps (Ed as the NYC Crisis Director). Thankfully, our students live in virtual worlds, so the only huge shift is not being able to see them in person and having to get creative about evangelism and meeting new students.
  • It’s a full load for sure and we end each day weary and exhausted, but we are making sure to have good rhythms and connect regularly with Jesus to fill our cup and empower us to do what has to be done. We are so encouraged by reading our Bible, listening to church sermons online, and listening to praise and worship – it is balm for our thirsty soul and we are able to sympathize a lot more with New Testament believers. We are learning much about being still and waiting on Jesus and turning to Him to fill us and carry our burdens and not other things that numb us but leave us empty. We are also learning much about what is looks like to serve others, even we feel empty, and how Jesus empowers us to serve them – for instance, our community, our small group from church, our kids, and each other.
  • Please just continue praying for us and warn others to take this seriously – we are so disheartened by people who think its “just a flu” or “political propaganda” – we don’t want them to be where we are in a month…learn from NYC. Even when we moved here, we said NYC sets the trends for the rest of the country and is ahead of it in so many things – this time, use what is happening here as a warning! Pray for us to lean into what God wants us personally and us collectively to learn during this season. Pray for our kids to thrive during this time and that we would be diligent to teach and encourage and love them versus feeling like we are having to balance them and ministry and making unhealthy choices with that. Pray that we wouldn’t be anxious about possibly losing support with all that is happening with the economy and trust God for what tomorrow brings. 
The following pictures are of:
  • a busy street in our neighborhood known as the “Boulevard of Death” because it is so busy and hard to cross
  • a post on social media from a good friend who is a PA at a busy hospital in Brooklyn
  • supplies that are being donated to hospitals from people in our community as they rally around the front line workers.

Our New Normal

Honesty here – I have tried to write this post for DAYS, but when thinking of writing it, I could find myself getting choked up or upset or just at a lack of good things to say. Here is my fifth attempt….

This morning, we watched another Sunday morning worship service online from our church. In it, our pastor reminded us that God is asking us to find shelter under his wings and that he encouraged us to not only continue to live in deep community with God and others, but to also take care of ourselves. He asked us to think about these questions:

I and the girls processed this together this afternoon and a lot surfaced about how we are feeling: sad about Kinsley’s birthday party being canceled, sad about how many people here in NYC are being affected by it (current count is 9700 infected and 63 people dead and hospitals running out of room and supplies), mad about how many people still think this is media-induced hype and political fear mongering, sad about the reality that my kids will likely finish this school year talking to their friends by video chat or 6 feet away across the yard and have to endure having me as a teacher, glad that we have a job that we can do virtually and that it has actually freed our students up to connect more virtually, glad for more family time and a realization of what is important, and sad for those all around us who are losing money and wondering about how they will pay their outrageous rent or mortgage payments. The list could continue, but these were some of the things we processed.

That being said, I am encouraged by how I see our community loving on each other and caring for each other during this time. I am encouraged by how well my kids are adjusting to all the changes. I am encouraged by how well our bosses are caring for us in such a stressful time. I am encouraged by people who are thinking about not only themselves, but willing to stay inside to save the weak and vulnerable among us (not an American concept by any means), I am encouraged by the doors God is already opening for us to share with friends and neighbors about the hope and joy we have even in this situation because of Jesus. I am encouraged by ALL the work our teachers have done to switch everything virtually and support parents and students so that no child gets left behind. Again, the list could continue.

Here are some of the ways we are occupying (who are we kidding – managing our little time is probably more appropriate) while we are in quarantine:

Switching everything we do with students on campus to a virtual platform. Honestly, it hasn’t been that hard, but we are having to think so creatively of ways to increase engagement with new students – that is more of the challenge!

Stocking up on groceries (not hoarding, though when shopping for a family of 6, people do think it is hoarding). Every store now has a line formed outside due to social distancing and everyone trying to buy things. I know this isn’t a new thing anywhere across the country, other than it has been going on here for quite a while and it continues.

Enjoying all the new memes during these time – both the funny and serious ones.

Due to allergies and Covid, we have started doing daily breathing treatments for little man. To be clear, he doesn’t have Covid, but because he already has breathing issues and can struggle to breathe with a cold, we started doing them as a precaution. He has been a trooper through it all – its almost second nature to him now.

Moving EVERYTHING virtual – church small group, staff meeting, meetings with students, classes for the kids, EVERYTHING. So thankful that we were already familiar with so many platforms and that hasn’t been an adjustment. And so thankful for our staff team – so grateful for family in a home away from home.

Trying to homeschool the best we can – this was our schedule this week and it worked really well. This next week, the kids have actual work from their teachers so it will change quite a bit, but I am noticing just as much as I need and crave structure, my kids do so even more. This drawing was by Kinsley and is her self-portrait – so thankful that so many people are offering free and educational things to do during this time!

Will you pray for our family? We have no clue what tomorrow holds – a stay in place order goes into effect tonight, we have heard talks about the national guard being brought in, and we just have no clue what to expect. Even if we left NYC, we would have to self-quarantine somewhere for 2 weeks. With Ed being the NYC Crisis Director, he feels responsible to stay here and see this through for the staff who are still here.

Can we pray for you? With more time on our hands (maybe?), we would love to hear for you and pray for you with how this is affecting your family. Please shoot us a message or an email or a text or let us know. We would love to hear from you!

Covid Changes

What an insane few weeks! In addition to helping to lead our Cru Queens campus team, Ed also has another role in the city: crisis director. Mostly, this role has involved developing a protocol of what to do in a crisis, doing trial runs, and getting trained on how to handle crises while learning from the US Crisis Team. It is mostly a few hours a week job, but as you can imagine, it has blown up by epic proportions over the last week.

Close to 3 weeks ago, some really good friends of ours came back from spending 3 weeks overseas visiting her family in South Korea. They self-quarantined themselves upon returning because Covid had come to their city in S. Korea in the last 48 hours they were there, and we joked about their quarantine. At the same time, Ed got put on the National Crisis sub-team and instructed to send in regular reports about how Covid was spreading in a number of countries including S. Korea and Japan. So way before it hit the US, he was watching it closely.

But then, about a week ago, the first confirmed case was found in NYC. It honestly wasn’t a shock as I had been saying for a week that I felt the virus was here and people were either not being tested because of lack of insurance or because they were undocumented or because they weren’t being given the test (YES! we heard of this happening!). But we couldn’t have imagined how it would spread. NYC has close to or over 200 cases now, including taxi drivers, bus drivers, EMT, lawyers, and a 7 year old girl. Whether people are freaking out over nothing is beside the point, but when we were joking with our friends 3 weeks ago about their quarantine, we would have no idea how it would affect our lives.

  • We had to cancel two weeks of Spring Break trips that were coming into our city from around the country. Not only does this result in lost evangelistic momentum and months and months of planning, but it results in a HUGE financial hit to our teams here in the city. Hotels don’t let you out of contracts just because of Covid.
  • Several NYC universities have closed and moved their classes online, including St. John’s University. The resulting effect is a sucker punch to the community and momentum of our movements.
  • Kinsley’s 4th grade classes have been learning ballroom dancing in class and were supposed to have a competition this week (this picture is them performing for the parents). They canceled this because of the virus.
  • The saddest thing for me so far is the canceling of the NYC Half Marathon. On a whim, I entered the lottery back in the fall for the half marathon (along with Ed and Erin, a friend and teammate – but I was the only one picked) and I started training back in the fall. Many cold, cold mornings, long runs, painful foot injuries, sore muscles, and so much more have been a part of training. I even have pushed through getting diagnosed and suffering through bronchitis two weeks ago. We found out today that they canceled the race because of the amount of people that would have been gathering and the potential for it to spread. I am so, so, so sad and disappointed and while I was not as prepared as I wanted because of the bronchitis, I was still looking forward to checking off a bucket list item and never doing it again…haha.

Will you please pray for us? For his protection for our family and friends, for our ministry as we manage the changes that have already begun in what we do, for Ed as he deals with the majorly increased workload, and for our city in general.

That time I ended up at a hookah bar

Do you remember that one time (well, maybe more than once) I said that when you have a blog and write things for everyone to see, crazy things happen to you. Case in point…

Last Thursday was my birthday. Most birthdays just feel like another day, but this year felt very different. I started the day with a nice 7 mile run (cue alone time 🙂 ). The kids were out of school because of winter break (this wasn’t even a thing in the South), so we started the day bowling with a friend and her kids at a local bowling alley. What I imagined to be a disaster bowling with two moms and 6 kids turned out really well. My friend even brought a sweet little mini cake and candle to celebrate my birthday. It was so sweet of her to celebrate my special day. Susie, I am so sorry for being more concerned with getting in trouble over a burning candle than truly appreciating your gift – it’s the rule-follower in me!!

Then, we grabbed some lunch, the little kids had naps, and we had a fun dinner of my choice along with cupcakes for dinner. The kids LOVED celebrating with me and I love that they make birthdays so fun!! Also, Ed did a great job picking out presents this year. A fun movie set AND this book about all the different people groups living in NYC (most of them in Queens!) that I had spied at a friend’s house and liked a lot. I also got a few other sweet gifts from friends and from my parents and Ed’s parents.

Then, this is where it gets interesting. Amy, my friend and teammate, went out with me to celebrate both our birthdays (her’s was a few weeks before) and she picked out this fun place in Queens called “Sugar ‘n Coal”. She noticed online it had good reviews and that the desserts looked really good. After arriving, we enter this restaurant with low lighting, a very eccentric smell, and a DJ playing music in the corner. At first, we and another couple were the only people in there (and the DJ of course who was shooting live videos and carrying on like he had a whole host of people there). When the server came to the table, she started sharing about how they make their own hookah flavors and their desserts and their Indian food they serve. We had no clue it was a hookah bar! I can say that is a first for me. Imagine these two moms of 7 kids between the two of us eating our delicious desserts in a hookah bar. It was still a good experience, but lesson learned, read further than the name and the desserts next time. 🙂

Overall, the day was really fun and I felt very loved and celebrated by family and friends near and far!!

Then, last night, we had our team social in the city and enjoyed ice skating at Bryant Park, including time watching the bumper cars on ice, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and eating Korean fried chicken at Turntable (which had really fun jazz decor and music!). We had a great time – so, so, so thankful to love our team and enjoy spending time with them!

 

Eye Surgery, Improv, and Weird Sketches

What would you say is the weirdest place on the body to get surgery while you are still awake? I don’t know what I would have answered that question with two weeks ago (maybe my mouth?), but I most definitely have an answer now – my eyelid!

I had a mole grow on my eyelid after college (not sure when but I do know it wasn’t always there?), and my dermatologist and ophthalmologist has been watching it for many years. After concern was expressed about it growing a little year after year, they recommended that I get it removed. Of course, because it was on my eyelid, not just anyone could do it. So, they sent me to a oculoplastic surgeon – which I didn’t even know existed until now! – who could remove it with the care of a plastic surgeon. I visited him in the city and he confirmed that he thought it was a mole, not a cyst, but that he wanted to remove it to be sure. Let me just tell you – he must get paid the big bucks because you couldn’t pay me ANY money to operate on someone’s eyes.

I was a little nervous about the surgery just because I knew it was going to be a local anesthetic used but I knew he would be operating on my eye with my eye open. When I got there, they numbed it and then poked it with a needle 3 times to get the anesthesia to take – I seriously think this was one of the worst pains I have experienced in my life – imagine a needle poking that thin skin right next to your eye – ugh! Then, they lay you back in a chair, put a sheet over your face with a hole for the eye that is being operated on, and then he does the surgery while looking over you with a bright light. So, not only do you want to close your eye because he has a bright light shining into it, but your other eye is covered which makes you want to close both of them, AND they tell you to keep it open wide and look up and to the right. I had to literally tell myself to breathe and not to close my eye and to keep it open wide. I seriously hope I never have to do that again – next time, just put me under!

Here is a picture of me before the surgery (notice the mole on the right eye (my left but when you are looking at me, its on the right) and then the next picture is after he cut it. They don’t even cover it after surgery…they just let you walk out with it oozing and bleeding a little. I was so thankful Ed came home with me so I wouldn’t have to worry about navigating directions with a hurt eye that just wanted to close and that was throbbing when the numbing wore off.

In other news, we had a really fun Improv training at our house with our student leaders from Queens College to learn about listening. The students loved it and one even used some of what she learned during an outreach they had on campus today! Erin, one of the staff women on our campus, had a creepy run-in at Queens College with a 40 year old guy who approached her and told her he had been drawing a sketch of her. He also asked her what her major was and gave her his business card. So creepy!

I got the joy of celebrating a good friend’s birthday at an amazing bakery near my house. This food wasn’t on my eating plan but it was ohhhhh soooo good! And such cute decorations in honor of Valentines Day!