The First of the Goodbyes

Pre-warning:  This isn’t a happy-go-lucky post so if you want a blog post to make you feel good or to entertain, look elsewhere.  This blog is to show you what is going on in our lives and ministry – the good and the bad – these days, its not bad, just hard.

Bittersweet….that is the word I would use at this point to describe moving to NYC.  We began saying the first of our goodbyes here in NC this week.  We had a end of the year party at Campbell where we filled our bellies, played some games, and said goodbye to the students who have been in our lives for the last few years.  Because I haven’t been going down to Campbell every week to lead Bible study this year, I didn’t expect it to be an emotional night.  For Ed, yes, as he invests there every week and is super close to the guys.  For me, no.  But as I drove away from campus that night, my kids were talking loudly in the background and I had to say “Mommy just needs a minute.”  Ed said “I think it would be easier if these guys were seniors and moving on, but knowing they will be there next year, and we aren’t sure what is going to happen with the ministry, is hard.”

At NC State, the last few weeks have been filled with lots of things – a vision dinner to raise campus funds, a dinner to honor the East campus leadership team, a dinner to honor the graduating students, a womens beach retreat for students and staff, and the last weekly meeting.  So, in the midst of the busyiness, the end of the year just snuck up on us.  So, this week, Ed had some hard days on campus saying goodbye to the students that he has invested in this year.  Again, all of them are juniors, which made it harder.  Then, we had our last staff meeting with our staff team and headed off to the beach for our staff beach retreat to close out the year.  I think equally hard as saying goodbye to the students and campuses, is saying goodbye to our staff team.

You see, they have been such a highlight of our year.  Our team is huge – like 30 people counting full-time staff, part-time staff, and interns – and this has been a hard year for our team with things like deaths, illnesses, marriage problems, etc.  I think we figured up that out of the five families on our teams, every one of them had been to the ER for something with their kids in the past year.  But even in the midst of that, our team was a healthy and safe place for us to recover from the last few years, to be used by the Lord, to grow in our ministry skills, and to process where the Lord wanted us next.  We can honestly say that we could stay here forever, and it would be a good place, but that the Lord is calling us to something and it is taking major trust to believe that what He has for us is better than this.

While I could say something positive and rave about every person on our team, I want to brag on one couple in particular.  Mike Mehaffie is one of the team leaders at NC State and his wife Sharon, has been meeting with me this year (Mike has been meeting regularly with Ed).  We first served with Mike and Sharon on Santa Cruz summer project in 2009 when I was the Operations Director and mike was the Project Director.  We got to spend lots of time with them that summer and loved them, so when we got placed on their team at NC State this year, we were so excited.  They both have such a servants heart and you see them often doing the dirtiest jobs that no one else wants to do.  They are so generous and are constantly giving, giving, giving…they would give you the shirt off their back if they could.  They are so wise and knowledgeable about so many things.  They truly love the Lord, spend time with him, are prayer warriors, and lead from an overflow of their walk with Him.  They are so passionate about winning students to Christ, building them in their faith, and sending them out to impact the world…they never graduate from this and don’t feel a need to make things flashy for students…they just think you need to share the gospel and see the Lord do the work.  They love people so, so well and are often in deep conversations because they ask people great questions and really care about the answers. Mike and Sharon, thank you for bringing us in, building into us, believing in us, caring for us, and loving us so very well….we wouldn’t be where we are now if it wasn’t for you.  If you ever get the chance to serve with or rub shoulders with them, do it!  And soak it all in!

Because I am officially in tears now, reliving our goodbyes, I am just going to share some cute pictures of our kids at the staff beach retreat. Enjoy!

A Big Move Coming…

We have big news.  Big, big news.  Some of you may have already heard but we are officially letting the cat out of the bag…announcing it on our website and on Facebook.  Here is our snippet that we put in our prayer letter to our ministry partners explaining what we will be doing next:

“Go pack! Go pack!  We have loved chanting this, showing our kids how to make the wolfpack sign, serving with a great staff team, and seeing God move at NC State University.  This year has been one the best we have experienced since being on staff.  But……For the last year, we have felt the Lord was working in our hearts and moving us to the next place He had for us.  After lots of prayer, searching out options, and surrendering our fears, we have figured out what that next step is.  We will be moving to NYC!!

Lots of people are asking us why?  Why NYC?  Here is a great quote from Tim Keller and a little more about why we feel NYC is so strategic.

“NYC competes with LA as a media capital, Paris as a fashion and art capital, London as a theater and literature capital, Tokyo as a financial and corporate capital, DC as a power capital, and Boston as a student capital. No other city excels in all these areas together. No other city has as much impact on national and world affairs as does New York.”         —Tim Keller

Over 140 colleges and universities sit within New York’s 310 square miles.  These campuses are densely populated with thousands who already are, or who will soon become, the world’s gatekeepers.  In diversity, influence, and scope, there is no place on earth like New York City.  The goal is to leverage change in this city that will roll throughout the world culturally, economically, politically, and most importantly, spiritually.

Step one of this plan is getting the right leaders in place to take on this great challenge. That’s where we have been asked to step in.  When this school year is finished in April, we will work on growing our team of ministry partners and once our team is 100% complete, we will be moving to Queens, New York.  

Queens is home to 2.3 million people, almost half being foreign born.  This patchwork of “villages” forms the largest borough and includes the most culturally diverse zip code in the US. We will spend time working on campuses in Queens such as Queens College and St. John University.  These campuses are made of an incredibly diverse group of people that will likely continue to live in Queens or the rest of NYC after college.

When we share this news, the next question is usually “How are you feeling?  Are you excited?”

Can I be honest?  It is very, very bittersweet.  While moving ahead is exciting, we honestly loved our team here, our ministry here, and our community here.  As we pulled away from Campbell tonight after our end of the year party and saying goodbye to students, Ed and I both found ourselves getting emotional – we have so many memories here, have seen the Lord work in huge ways, and dearly love the people.  And lets not even think about saying goodbye to our team.

But, we are very excited to move forward and to go where the Lord is calling.  We know that to stay here would be disobedience and despite the sad feelings, disobeying the Lord is NOT something we want to do.  So we will say goodbye, prepare to move, and cry lots, cherishing and reflecting on our time here but trusting that the Lord has something even better planned for us.  We are ready to take a big ‘ole bite out of the Big Apple!



Hospital Mania

When you don’t think life can get any crazier, it does.  Ed planned to be out of town last weekend on a camping trip with some guys from Redeemer Campus Fellowship at Campbell.  I was at home with the kids and to make the time pass quickly, I had all these fun plans – movie and popcorn one night, gym for them to play one morning, church one morning, Chick-fil-a with friends, and some other fun things.  But, then, life happened….

Kinsley has been struggling with allergies pretty badly the last few weeks – runny nose, coughing, sneezing, etc. – which, when allergy season is as bad as it has been around here, everyone has been struggling.  Saturday morning, she woke up coughing like crazy, so I gave her allergy and cough medicine.  She seemed to get better, so we continued on with our day, but as the day wore on, she became tired, very lethargic, started coughing so much she was throwing up, started wheezing, and was breathing hard.  She took a nap, which she never does, and was still acting exhausted.  I really suspected pneumonia, so I loaded her and Emerson up (left Blake with a neighbor since Ed was out of town) and we headed to Urgent Care.

When we got to Urgent Care, they took her oxygen, saw how low it was, and started freaking out on us.  I had no clue what was going on and they didn’t explain anything other than we are sending you to the Pediatric ER and we need you to go straight there and get there as fast as you can.  What in the world?!?  Lesson #1 – Use an Urgent Care that explains it better to you than what they did.  I knew I needed to get Emerson home somehow, I needed to try to contact Ed (even though he was at a place that gets no cell phone reception), and I needed to get to the ER.

As we are driving to the ER and I am using my phone for directions, it dies.  All I could think was “Are you kidding me?”  Lesson #2 – Always have a backup charger or backup way to get directions.  We finally get there, after a few wrong turns and a lot of time later (at least it seemed), and they take us straight back to get her started on oxygen.  They also ruled out pneumonia via a chest x-ray, gave her fluids, gave her two breathing treatments, and took some labs.  In the meantime, our neighbor got in touch with Ed, our church small group co-leaders came and got Emerson to take her home, and my neighbor put Blake to bed.

The doctors decided to admit her since she was still pulling hard to breathe, was wheezing, and was vomiting, so after Ed arrived, I took a trip home to get some things for us and then headed back to the hospital to stay with her.

The next day, they weaned her off of oxygen slowly, gave her another breathing treatment, and then decided she was safe to go home with an inhaler of albuterol in case she struggled to breathe again. By this point, she was feeling better and because she wasn’t hooked up to things anymore, the hospital turned into this really fun place – she had a dog come visit her and do tricks, she got to pick whatever she wanted for lunch and dinner (I can really have mac and cheese and ice cream – at lunch?), and she was getting time to play games and read books with just her, mom, and dad. I think she was ready to go home, but a part of her was sad as well. As we traveled home, I kept thinking “Did that really happen?  Did we just stay overnight and I am still not really sure what happened to her because it was all so fast?”

The doctors described her as having a viral infection with lung spasms which caused the coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, etc.  They think that it could have something to do with allergy and asthma, but only time will tell.  Our first night home, she vomited a few times and the next morning, was tired and pulling to breathe, but after giving her a few puffs of her inhaler, she turned a corner and has been doing much better.

To top it off, when we got home, I got a stinkin’ virus and spent all afternoon and evening in the bathroom.  Not sure if it was related to hers or something I picked up at Urgent Care or the hospital, but it stunk!  All that to say, instead of saying “Rain, Rain, go away” we are chanting “Sickness, Sickness, go away – Pollen, Pollen, go away!”  Please chant with me 🙂

“Get Over it!”

So, this past weekend, we decided to just “Get Over It.”  We ran the Cooper River Bridge 10k Run in Charleston.  I walked this race years and years ago with some of my family but wanted to do it again.  After years of trying to do it and it never working out in our schedules, we finally made it happen!  We even dragged my mom, aunt, and cousin along with us.

We stayed at my parent’s house in Georgetown, which is about an hour from the start line of the race, so we left the house at o-dark-thirty to make it there in time.  No, seriously, this was the start line when we arrived.

One of my favorite memories of this race years ago was watching the Kenyans run the race.  This year, because they put you in different waves depending on your time, and because my time is obviously nowhere near theirs, I didn’t get to see them start.  Huge bummer.  The winner of the race finished in 29 minutes, so he was finishing just as I was starting.

Being the third largest 10K in the country with close to 40,000 people, the race was so stinkin’ fun…they had bands all along the way (seriously – all along the way – from the corral where we waited to start to the top of the bridge to the finish line), people on the side waving and cheering you on, and a costume contest for the participants (everything from bananas to superheros to teenage mutant ninja turtles).  I tried to snap a picture of these dudes dressed as Batman and Spiderman, but they turned around just as I snapped the picture and I didn’t want to stop to get a picture.  Enjoy the lopsided version instead.

According to the weather, we thought it was going to pour rain on us the entire time, like even maybe thunder and lightening.  Praise God, it just sprinkled at the beginning while we were waiting to start, and then it majorly cleared up.  At the bottom of the bridge, the sun was bearing down and it was HOT!

I completed the race in 1 hour and 3 minutes, which was an average pace of 10:16 per mile.  I wanted to be under 10 minutes per mile, but that bridge kicked my tail and I knew while running that I had to kick it into gear to get that time, and I just couldn’t.  So, I ended up with a little over an hour.  I had already heard from others that you couldn’t just focus on your time with this race, because there are so many people that it makes it really hard to run for a good time.  So I was prepared for my time not being as good as I wanted.

And, as I thought back, though, I was very pleased with myself.  Just last June, I ran my first 10k and finished at an average pace of close to 12 minutes per mile.  I told Ed then, “If I am going to keep this running thing going, I have to get faster – I don’t want to be the last person and I am not happy with that time.”  So, considering that was just last June, and I have dropped my time considerably, I am very, very pleased.  I will say that though the race seemed like it would be easy other than the bridge, it wasn’t super easy and I am proud of myself for pushing my body through it.

I am even prouder of my mom, aunt, and cousin for doing it with us and accomplishing a feat as well – even walking/running 6 miles is challenging!  And did I mention Ed?  Uh, he seriously rocked it.  Let me brag on him a little – he finished in 48 minutes and 54 seconds – thats a pace of 7:52 per mile.  He only finished 19 minutes behind the top guy and only had 1000ish people finish ahead of him (out of close to 36,000).  He wanted to finish it in 45 minutes, but in my mind, he blew that race out of the water. Great job babe!

The best part of the race, other than doing it with family and having fun? The food at the end – seriously, everything from muffins to fruit to bagels to cake to doughnuts to brats to pizza.  And man, those brats were unreal.  Johnsonville Brats pulled a huge truck that looked like a semi to the race – the whole back was a grill that opened where they cooked the brats.  Those things were delicious.  I may have had multiples 🙂

Thank you to Dad and Michelle for watching our kiddos, to my mom, aunt, and cousin for doing it with us, and to my hubby for pushing me and encouraging me that I could get my time down and be a runner 🙂