In Awe

I am glad you can’t see me as I write this.  I am crying rivers of tears as I sit and reflect on all the Lord has done in our lives over the past year and a half.  This week, we hit 100% of what we need to move to NYC!  100%, ya’ll!  So bear with this long post, as I reflect, and praise God for the ways He worked to make this happen.

The past few years in NC were super, super challenging and I still can’t make sense of everything that happened and why it was so hard and I honestly am not sure if I will ever understand all of it, other than to say that the Lord used it to get us where we are now. After switching teams and moving to NC State for the 2015-2016 school year, Ed and I felt like we could breathe and what we experienced there was not only developmentally good for us, but it was like healing for our soul and a giant breathe of fresh air.  We enjoyed ministry again, we felt like there were people that were FOR us, and we felt like we could finally just do what God had called us to do by coming onto staff.  I still choke up when I think how precious and life-shaping that year was for us.  It was so hard to leave that place.

But, when we started sensing God calling us to move to NYC, I was overwhelmed with fear – fear of hating it, fear of my kids hating it, fear of raising the mountain of support that was required, fear of leaving all that was comfortable, good, and safe (especially since NC is one of the first places we really experienced deep, life-giving community), fear of moving away from family.  God really used Esther’s story in the Bible to confirm to me that he did indeed want us to step out in faith and trust him.  Esther had the opportunity to save her people, and she could have easily walked away, scared of the risk she would need to take. But Mordecai’s words to her “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” challenged her to approach the king even in the midst of the unknown.  We, too, felt that God had been using the last few years in NC to lead us to this moment of saying “yes” to moving to NYC, but yet we were still given a choice – would we walk away or accept the task he has placed before us? Knowing that to say no would be disobedience, we chose to step out in faith.

As I think back over this journey of getting to NYC the past few months by developing our team of ministry partners, two words come to mind:  CONFIRMATION and AWE.

CONFIRMATION – As I reflect on the fear I had a year ago of whether this was really the right move for our family and whether it was really the Lord or our human desires, I can say that the Lord has confirmed with 100% certainty that NYC is indeed where He wants us to be for now. Ya’ll, we had to raise almost as much support as we did when we came on staff 9 years ago.  9 years ago, it took us almost 9 months to see that come in.  This time, the Lord provided all that we needed in 5.5 months.  HE DID THAT!!

There are so many cool stories of how the Lord provided all that we need (and I hope to share a few of these stories next week), but know that each person the Lord had join our team was 100% orchestrated by Him and through His leading.  And the thing that sticks with me is this – It isn’t going to be easy in NYC. In fact, I am sure there will be so many moments where we are discouraged and things are just downright hard, but I will ALWAYS come back to this – IF HE PROVIDED ALL WE NEEDED TO GET HERE, THIS IS WHERE HE WANTS US.

There have been so many other confirmations – finding our apartment in NYC (especially when we originally said no to this place but the Lord clearly lead us back to it), selling our house in 1 day, providing money for moving costs, the timing of our trip to NYC to find housing happening right before the hurricane so we would be able to fly back into town and not get delayed or rerouted, sensing the Lord leading us to Greenville and away from Georgetown even before the hurricane came which lead to us not being at a standstill for weeks in Georgetown with no power and no appointments, selling Ed’s car in two days, and so many more.

Even right now, we just listed our van last night to sell before we fly to the city and the first person who contacted us lives in Nashville (an hour and half from where we are right now in Greenville), but is interested in buying it and sending us a deposit to hold it until he gets here.  I asked Ed if he was okay in getting it sight unseen, and Ed said yes, and that he feels better about it knowing we are missionaries as he is a believer and is a lead singer in a well-known Christian band.  Oh, and on top of that, he and his wife have a heart for NYC, his band first played in NYC at Queens College, and they are interested in hearing more about our ministry and possibly supporting us.  Wouldn’t that be just like God to not only work out selling our car but lead someone to our team while He is doing it?

AWE – Cru requires staff to raise their support for a variety of reasons, but one of those – growing us spiritually as we depend on the Lord and see Him provide – has been something that we have experienced in a deep way these past few months.  As I think of how powerful He is, how He chooses to move and work, how He provides for our every need, how He proves how worthy He is of our trust and dependence (though he doesn’t have to show us any of this but chooses to because of His grace), I am in complete awe. I would have loved to have been at 100% and moved to NYC a few months ago, but if we had been, our apartment wouldn’t have been ready. I would have loved to finish all our support in one location while living in our house, but if we had done that, we would have missed the sweetness of living with family and time spent with them, as well as missing great connections and opportunities to partner with people in Georgetown and Greenville. I would have loved to have been in NYC in time for Kinsley to start public school, but I would have missed the confidence I gained through homeschooling her, the ways I have been sanctified through it, the bonds I have formed with her, and just learning more to help her practically with school later.  Seriously, His timing and His ways are perfect. He has never failed and He won’t stop now.  When he calls us to step upon the waters and trust Him, we can do it knowing that His ways are better than anything we can imagine.  This doesn’t mean that it is pain-free or easy or the comfortable path, but it is better.

I am so very unworthy – I have done nothing to deserve any of this – in fact, I deserve death – but by his grace and mercy and love, He chose to lavish this on us and show us a very tiny bit of his glory.  Thank you Jesus for saving me, for choosing me, for showing me more of who you are, and for using me. Let this song “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” be my prayer .

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now
So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my…


My heart is torn

I want to write about how close we are to moving to the city (98.9% and only need $185 monthly!) and share all the cool stories about how the Lord has moved these past few months and ways we have specifically seen His hand at work in this process and confirming this step of faith.

However, my heart is so torn.  It is so easy to feel detached as we are in Greenville, SC meeting with people, working towards our 100% goal, and looking forward to and making steps to move to NYC, but as I open my Facebook feed, talk to family and friends, and watch the news, I am reminded that so many of our sweet family, friends, ministry partners, and church partners are struggling and in desperate need.  I joked about loving to have hurricane parties with my family and I said a few times during Matthew that I wished I could have been there walking through it with my family, but I have been reminded the last week how big of a disaster even a small hurricane can cause.

I grew up in Georgetown, SC and we know people that live all down the coast from Charleston to Myrtle Beach to even having second homes in the outer banks of NC. But we also lived for 4.5 years in Raleigh and worked at campuses in Pembroke and Fayetteville and regularly traveled the I-95 route that leads to both of these places as well as my hometown.  How surreal to not only see pictures of the devastation happening in both of these places, but to also know the places I see, know the peoples whose lives are being upended, and to feel so helpless as to how I can help.

In Pembroke, the area is already so very poor and most people didn’t have flood insurance.  Some of the very campuses we worked with are talking about postponing classes for the rest of the semester.  Some of the people we personally know have lost their homes and all their belongings, not to mention their sources of income.

In Georgetown, not only did trees take out a lot of peoples houses, winds take off a lot of roofs and sides of buildings including a few piers that I grew up walking on, but friends of ours had their deli restaurant on the main street flood, losing not only their precious business (this was their full-time job and they were self-employed) but also halting business during a very busy time of year (see pic below of them cleaning it out).  On top of that, almost exactly a year ago, flooding that was very bad in Columbia, SC started coming down all the rivers and led to many, many homes beside the river flooding and after having just rebuilt and got back into their homes within the last month or two, those same homes are flooding again (see the bottom picture below) and the water hasn’t crested yet.  Places that I grew up visiting and people that I grew up knowing.

My heart is breaking. I don’t understand. I can’t make it better. I can’t be there to help. But I can pray like crazy.  Please know we are thinking of you regularly, praying for you constantly, and while the media spends umpteen hours talking about politics, sexual assaults, and he said-she said, please know that you are not forgotten. We love you all.

We found a place to live!

We went, we looked, and we conquered!  NYC housing, that is.

Last week, we flew into the city to look for an apartment for our family to live when we move.  We took Kinsley with us, because she is all into “Fixer Upper” and “House Hunters” these days and was really excited to help us pick our new place, because she struggles with change and transition and we knew seeing where we would live would help her, and so it would be easier on my mom just to watch 2 kids.  We had appointments set up the first day to look at a few large 2 bedroom apartments, as well as 2 3-bedroom apartments.  Then, the next day, we did it all over again.

We are so excited to report that we did find housing!  Not only that, the apartment where we are going to live is literally a 5 minute walk or so to our teammates’ apartment, has three playgrounds within 5 minutes of us, a subway station with an elevator just a few blocks away, and super close to shopping and restaurants.  It made it easier that there aren’t that many 3 bedroom apartments in Forest Hills (which again is a praise to the Lord that we were able to find something we like!), but navigating the housing market in NYC is definitely not for the faint of heart.

First, it is way expensive to move – like think of a down payment of first month’s rent, security deposit equal to first month’s rent, and a brokers fee at some places equal to a month’s rent, and each of those being quadruple what an apartment rent would be in the south.  Thankfully, we were able to find a place that didn’t require a broker’s fee.  Second, it is an emotional roller coaster. We found one place to live that we really liked with an amazing view from the rooftop terrace (see below), but it was a co-op which meant we would have to get board approval, maybe fly back for an in-person interview with the board, and it would take 3-4 weeks with the possibility of them saying no.  Needless to say, that was too much risk for me.  Another place we loved and it was HUGE (in apartment standards) with a park a half a block from the building, but it was a 20 minute walk from our teammates which was too far for us.  Another place we liked because the rent was lower, but we discovered that they wanted an income higher than what we were making and it was a little too far of a walk from stores and restaurants and subway stations. Third, apartments in NYC aren’t usually in pristine condition, if you know what I mean.  Either people are living in them and you see their nastiness (we literally saw two different places that had poop sitting in their toilets) or the apartments are being painted and finished because the people just moved out – nothing sits on the market long enough to get finished well before it is rented. Lots of imagination and looking past the grime is required!

All in all, we are really blessed that we found a place that we really like.  I will say God totally worked out all the pieces just as he has done this whole journey (will share more about this later!) and we landed at an apartment that we didn’t even originally like, but felt like we needed to go back and take a second look, and when we did, we discovered we really liked it and it had everything we were looking for.  Not only that, it has everything around it we will need, we didn’t have to pay a broker’s fee, and our lease doesn’t start until October 23.  I was so nervous about finding a place and our lease starting right away and us having to pay SO much money for the apartment when we weren’t living there yet, but God totally worked out that detail by providing a place that wasn’t available yet (but if we hadn’t seen it when we did, it would have rented quickly).  Praise God for His perfect timing!

If I can be honest, we had a whole host of emotions on this trip (maybe it was more me than Ed, and pregnancy could be part of that 😉 ).  When we first got there, it was all very surreal and we definitely felt like “Are we really looking for a place and really moving here?” in a good and scary way.  We were also really excited about being back, meeting our teammates, hearing about what God is doing on the campuses, and just being back in this city that has our hearts.  But I also had a few moments where I realized how different things will be for us and specifically for our kids.

One, we were riding on the subway and a crazy person was on there (which happens often and Kinsley is quite used to this), but this person kept yelling profanity and stomping their feet and banging onto the wall, and just going nuts.  They weren’t hurting anyone and we still felt safe, but Kinsley looked at us after a few minutes and said “Mommy, I’m scared.”  Then, later that same day, we went to the park and a kid hit his head on the slide and started freaking out, yelling things at himself like “You’re so stupid” and “Now they will all laugh at me” and rocking back and forth.  His mom came and was able to calm him down, but it was obvious there were some special needs or mental issues at play.  Kinsley just watched him and later said she didn’t understand and it was crazy.  These are totally things that can happen anywhere at anytime, but it just hit me that with so many people, my kids will see things like this more often.  While it is a chance to talk about sin, people’s need for Jesus, that some people need more help than others, etc., it just reminded me that my kids won’t be in a bubble where I can protect them anymore.  I know we lose this bubble as they grow older and they start going to school and branch out from us, but living in NYC will just elevate it and feels like it makes it happen even quicker.  It just reminded me of my need for Jesus to protect them, to guide me in teaching them, and just how hard the world can be.  I know this is the “debby downer” perspective, and there are SO many positive things about our kids growing up in NYC, but it was a cold reality check.

We are currently at 97% and are SO CLOSE to meeting our monthly support goal.  Will you join us in praying the Lord provides all the rest of what we need by October 26?  Also, we headed to Greenville today to be with Ed’s parents (we had already planned to travel up here today but were so thankful for how the Lord lead us because we will miss the effects of the hurricane and missing meeting with people because of the hurricane), but will you pray for those back on the SC coast that are dealing with the hurricane this weekend?