Preparing for the students

We arrived in NYC on Sunday evening, Ed had meetings on Monday to prepare for the staff and students’ arrivals with the rest of the leadership team, and then the rest of the staff team arrived on Monday afternoon.  Then, we had meetings all week to prepare for the student’s arrival, time in prayer at a local park, time on campus at Columbia University, team bonding in the form of ice cream and laughter :), and lots of good food together!  Yesterday, we had a day off to rest before the madness begins so we decided to take the Staten Island Ferry so we could see the Statue of Liberty.  Then, today, the students arrived.

As we learned more of the vision for the project (with my husband as the director, you would think I would have heard it already, but alas, this was the first time), heard more about the students who are coming, and have gotten to know the city and the local community around here better, I am so excited to see what the Lord is going to do in this city!  It is so, so different from the south in regards to openness to Christianity and spiritual things, people talking about God and Jesus, and everyone is so concerned about themselves and getting where they need to go and doing what they need to do.  Don’t get me wrong, its not that they are mean or bad people, it is just so, so different.  I knew this would be true, but being here for more than a few days make it so much more obvious.

We are learning to live life in the big city, and to do it with children.  Now that I have remembered anew how to navigate the subway, figuring out which stops have what, found the local Target and mall, and have located a few great parks, I feel like life is in business.  I keep thinking, this is good and I can do this – things are different but once you figure out how to do them in the city versus the suburbs, it is good.  The girls love the subway and Kinsley keeps asking when we get to ride it again.

Two other things I am really loving here so far:  1 – the food and 2 – running in the park.  I always hear everyone rave about the food in Charleston being the best in the country and while it is good, all restaurants do a little different variety on the same things.  Here, the food is all so different and everything you try is so good!! Its like they all specialize in something, and when I say specialize, I mean do it right.  We have eaten at a pizza restaurant called Julianas (amazing!), pasta place called Enzos (probably one of the best Italian restaurants I have eaten at), and a sandwich, pasta, and salad place called Cafe Hestia (I could eat a salad from there for every single meal).  And there are so many more places to try!  Good thing we walk a lot to walk it all off!

Here are the last few days in pictures:

These are pictures from the ferry and of the staff kids looking out of the boat –

This picture is so funny to me.  Emerson is strapped into her stroller on the subway but anytime she can, she grabs onto the pole to hold on, because she sees everyone else doing it.  So cute!

Today, on the way back from the park, we passed by a fire station and they invited the kids in to sit in the truck.  Kinsley was in one of her moods and didn’t want to sit up in the seat, but Emerson didn’t want to get down.  It was fun to remember the history of the FDNY and thank them for all do and have done.

We had a big welcome dinner and then started briefing the students tonight on the history of New York, project norms, and how to navigate the subway.

Hopefully, I will be able to update more regularly this next week or so as such much is happening.  Thanks for letting us share this journey the Lord has us on with you!

We made it to the Big Apple!

Thank you for all of your prayers, support, and encouragement!  We have made it – to NYC that is!  Here is a little photo journey of our trip:

Emerson goofing around before we left for the trip.  Silly kid!

The first day, we stopped at a rest area to eat.  The girls loved being able to run around and thought they were so big sitting on the “wall”.  Then, we stayed the night in Maryland.  We finished the trip the next day, including a stop in New Jersey to see a current ministry partner of ours who has been on our team for 7 years but we haven’t met yet!

When we got to the city, the girls were amazed at all the tall buildings and traffic everywhere.  We got to our apartment, unloaded, and then went to get dinner and some groceries before bedtime.  Talk about sticker shock over the price of groceries – how do people afford to live here full time??!??!  One of the girls’ favorite parts of all of this was finding this horse to ride for only $.50 a ride (and it goes on FOREVER!).  Good thing – they love it.  Bad thing – it is only a block or so from us so they want to do it often.

The girls have settled into our apartment nicely.  It has enough room for us and once we maneuvered a make-shift gate to put in front of the very steep stairway going down to the bottom floors, we have been in business.  To bear telling all the details and to avoid complaining (since that totally isn’t my heart since I am SO thankful for a place to stay in a great location), there are some things that are hard about living in this apartment so please pray for contentment and perspective.

Ed and I have been both been scoping out the area during our runs – Ed chose to run all the way over the Brooklyn Bridge and back and I ran around the park (well, I ran 3/4 of the way and then I realized how dang big it was – seriously, not to self – check distance around the whole thing before you just start running).  These are pictures of his view during his run and my view during mine.

While Ed had meetings on Monday, I ventured out to the park with the girls.  After that, the other family that is living with us arrived and it was fun watching the kids hit it off! Then, last night, we met the rest of our staff team, had dinner at an amazing New York pizza place, and got to see the pier in Brooklyn with the beautiful views of the city.  The girls also rode the subway for their first time.  Thankfully, they loved it though Kinsley was a little concerned about it being so dark when we were underground.

All in all, we are adjusting well to life here and are excited to plan for the next few days for the students’ arrivals, greet the students, and then hit the ground running with ministry.  Thank you again for your prayers, thoughts, support, and encouragement.  We are excited to make a difference here and to see God change this city

Nothing Could Be Finer….

….than to be in SC!  This past week we were very, very busy!  We traveled to Georgetown to speak at/visit two churches, attend a Missions Conference at another church, visit current ministry partners, and meet with potential new ministry partners.  Ed also had lots of planning meetings for New York City and I was busy working my job getting new staff reviewed and their information collected for our summer and fall trainings.

I am often amazed at the way the Lord graciously and abundantly provides for our needs as missionaries.  This week was no exception.  We saw the Lord provide many new partners who joined our team monthly as well as a significant amount come in to go towards our summer costs.  Almost 7 years of being on staff and I never cease to be amazed at the way the Lord works in peoples’ hearts and leads them to partner with us to make an eternal difference.  It is often overwhelming the week before making a trip like this because there are so many calls to be made to set up appointments, on top of our normal responsibilities.  But, once getting there and seeing people, I am always reminded why I LOVE that we are required to raise our support and why the Lord orchestrated that we be provided for by concerned individuals and churches who want to be a part of what the Lord is doing in Eastern NC and around the world.

In the midst of all this busyiness, we did find some time to play and the girls got to spend lots of time with family.  We went to the beach, swam in the pool, played in the sprinklers, rode in the boat, fed the fish in the pond, helped a baby goose find his mom and dad, went fishing out in the bay, ate my parent’s good food at the restaurant, went to the park, walked on the Harborwalk and got ice cream, and had a mother’s day cookout.  Whoa, looking at this list, I am thinking “How did we fit all this in?”

Playing in the sprinkler – the different personalities of our girls are so evident here – Kinsley turns away from the water and doesn’t want to get “too” wet while Emerson basically stood right in the middle of the sprinkler the whole time.

Eating Ice Cream downtown and walking on the harborwalk.  What is a good sign of enjoying your food?  Lots of napkins and food all over your face.

One of the only “somewhat free” days we had, my mom watched the girls while Dad took Ed and I salt-water fishing in the bay.  This has to be one of my favorite things about living in SC – the availability of good fishing and hunting, lots of memories, and great scenery.  As we were riding, I kept having a few thoughts – 1) Keep a hand on my hat so it doesn’t fly away,  2)  God’s creation is so beautiful and I love that I get to have a relationship with this creator and 3) Nothing can be finer than to be in SC.  I have traveled a lot and can tell you that nothing much can beat this view and smelling the salt water and marsh.

The only thing better than this view was actually catching fish.  I caught a 4 foot shark!  Uh yea, not kidding.  When I hooked him, I saw it jump out of the water and knew it was something big.  I started reeling it in just to hear Dad and Ed say “Reel it in faster and put it in the boat” to which I replied “I can’t, he is taking my line and running away!”  I called in backup and kept begging Dad to not let him break the line or pool because I wanted to see what it was.  I have caught sharks before (though not that big) so I wasn’t surprised it was a shark, but was surprised by its size.  We also caught some whiting, a few stingrays, and a whole butt load of baby croakers.

Then, when we got back from fishing, Mom met us at the landing and we loaded the girls up for a boat ride.  Again, as evidence of their different personalities, Kinsley didn’t like the ride because it was too bumpy (to her defense, it was pretty rough) and Emerson was squealing from delight.  Can you tell that from this picture?

Here are the girls wearing the shirts my parents brought them from their cruise.  They, of course, LOVE the fact that they change colors in the sun.

It was a great trip – ministry wise and personally.  Emerson can now officially say “boat”, “pool”, and “beach”.  And she isn’t held back in how much she says them either 🙂

DIY Update

I have been dying to write this post for a while now, but one of the projects I completed was a present for Mothers Day.  So, now that Mother’s Day has come and gone, I CAN WRITE IT!!  I will start with the projects I did, and then move on to the recipes.

Burlap Wreath

Verdict:  This was probably one of my favorite projects – it was easy and turned out beautifully.  I love that I can take off the bow and letter and put on different colors/things for different times of the year.  I also love that it wasn’t $60, which is what I would pay someone to make one for me.

 Mothers Day Canvas for Gammy

Verdict:  Again, this turned out great!  It wasn’t difficult to do, love the different fonts and the saying, and best of all, it almost made Mom cry.  I included the link above (if you click on the title) which shows where I got the idea from.  Can I say again how much I love my Silhouette?

Palmetto Tree and Moon Car Decal

Verdict:  LOVE THIS DECAL!!  I originally wanted a Gamecocks decal, but couldn’t find the design to buy or create, so I went with this instead.  It turned out great!!

Clean Showerheads – I saw this idea on Pinterest and wanted to give it a try since I hadn’t cleaned the showerheads since we moved and I am a little paranoid about bacteria and fungi getting on us through the water (crazy, right?)

Verdict:  Not sure how much cleaning it really did.  Had a problem with cleaning solution coming out through the top (maybe due to angle of my showerheads?).  Probably won’t try this again, even though I am paranoid about the fungi and such.

DIY Dishwasher Detergent – Every time I have to buy dishwasher detergent, I am always amazed at how expensive it is and how quick it seems to go.  So, I decided to try this DIY detergent.

Verdict:  It took a lot of special ingredients that cost over $7 to buy the first go round.  While the recipe works and definitely gets my dishes clean, we all know that I am not a fan unless it is cost-efficient.  Given the initial investment (which could have bought me two things of dishwasher detergent), I was a little skeptical but I will have to say that those $7 go a long way!  I mixed enough in the first round to last me a few months and that $7 will make enough for probably 4 rounds, meaning it will last the better part of a year.  You have to keep buying white vinegar to put on the bottom, but that is inexpensive.  All in all, it isn’t as convenient as throwing a pack in the dishwasher, but it is more cost efficient and it definitely works.  Planning to keep using until all the ingredients are gone and then decide.

Ritz Chicken in my Deep Covered Baker – 

We received this Deep Covered Baker from our sweet friend and supporter Sandy Felkel (a Pampered Chef consultant) – so generous!!  I was a little skeptical about the Deep Covered Baker but I love it! It is so quick to cook, easy to clean, and the meal was delicious.  We have another recipe very similar to this that we like better, but I am already itching to find more recipes for the Deep Covered Baker.

Cheese Sauce for Fries

Verdict:  Uh no.  I was so looking forward to this recipe as I have great memories of a sauce that Wendys used to make during my high school days. My friends and I would buy this sauce and dip our fries into it.  I was hoping this would be a good substitute and revive those memories but it feel way short.  It was too think and just not very good at all.

Blueberry Bread Pudding

Verdict:  I made this recipe for our Staff Brunch Team Social we had.  It was a huge hit!!  We couldn’t stop eating it and I will definitely make it again.  PS – this website where this recipe comes from is by a friend of mine and she has great recipes!!

I also made a Car Seat Cover for my friend Jenn as she just had a sweet, sweet baby boy.  It was adorable, but seeing as she is a little busy with 3 kids to send me a picture, I will have to show that later.  It turned out great!!

Way to go Ed!

This weekend, we traveled to Charlotte so that Ed could do something absolutely crazy.  Go boating on Lake Norman?  No.  Go to Ikea?  No.  Climb a skyscraper?  No.  He competed and finished the Carolina Half – which is a half-ironman triathlon. In case you are as clueless to what that means as I used to be (before I got initiated into this crazy world of athletics), it means that he did a 1.25 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride, and a 13 mile run (same distance in run as a half-marathon).  Uh yea – not only does it seem crazy to me to do a half-marathon, but then add everything else on top of that.  He had a few hiccups that caused him to not quite get the time he wanted (he only missed it by thismuch) such as blowing two tubes on his bike and having to go #2 in the middle of running (he is going to kill me for writing that but I think it is so funny – what is it with men and their poop?), but he kicked tail in the swim and beyond that, he completed it and I think that is AMAZING!!  He has been really sore and he said his body was shaking, but come on, what else do you expect after that?  See that cute little cheerleader waiting for him at the finish line?

One of the other great things about Ed racing in Charlotte was that we got to stay with and see my older brother and his friend Tim.  The girls loved seeing them and loving on their cats and dogs.  We also got to eat some amazing food, Italian and Mexican, and visit their church with them.  It was great catching up on each others’ lives and seeing his house and neck of the woods.  The girls loved dancing at the Mexican restaurant to the live music and the food was amazing (you know it is good when you are the only non-Hispanic people in the place).  Thank you for a great weekend!

Really looking forward to doing a DIY and Recipe Update on the next blog.  I have done and tried lots of fun things that I can’t wait to show but it has to wait until after Mother’s Day 😉

12 Months to a Healthier You: Mays Challenge

As I shared here, I am joining Crystal from Money Saving Mom for this 12 Months to a Healthier You Challenge.  At the beginning of the month, she’ll introduce the focus area and encourage you to set a small goal for that specific area and she’ll share her goals.  Then, every Friday, she’ll have a check-in post where she’ll encourage you to share your progress & struggles and she’ll share hers, as well. If you want to blog about your progress, she’ll include a link-up at the end of the post so you can share your blog posts on this challenge.

The challenge for January was to exercise regularly by getting active 5 days a week.  I have kept this up through April so yeah for that!  The February challenge was to eat more fruits and veggies – I did okay with this but haven’t seen a big improvement from my old habits.  The March challenge was to drink more water by drinking at least 8 glasses of water per day – I have continued doing this for the most part (or at least thinking about drinking more) and have noticed when I am parched because of not drinking enough.  The April challenge was to cut back on sugar.  How did I do?

I failed miserably.  Honestly, I thought about this the first few weeks and really did think about consuming less sugar.  But then Easter happened, and to be real, I didn’t even try anymore.  I can say that I have thought the past few days about needing to eat less, because once I eat sugar for a few days in a row, I am hooked and can’t stop.  So, I am going to try and do better throughout May.  Along with May’s goal.

The goal for May is to Get More Rest.  Talk about a challenge that comes at the right time – I had just been thinking that I feel like I work constantly, am always doing, and have been struggling to get enough sleep at night.  So, I am all in for this one!  My goal is to be to bed by 11 each night (and not distracted by good books that I can’t put down) and to take Sundays to really rest and not do any Cru work or housework.  I may think of more ways to incorporate rest but this is a good start for me.

Will you join us in getting more rest?