Work and Play

The fall semester is officially underway!  After kicking off our year at our staff retreat, we came back and jumped full force into team socials and planning meetings to get things squared away for the first weeks of campus. I am really excited about hitting the ground working just in Queens on our campuses here and seeing what the Lord does!

During one of our planning meetings, Blake woke up from his nap and showed one of our staff women just what a sweetie he is. Gotta love Blake snuggles!

This lasagna (thanks mom and Aunt Kay for the homemade recipe that we love to make!) is the food we will serve at our leader’s meeting tonight as we hear about their summers, cast vision for what we want to trust God for this year, and make plans for the fall. Lasagna, Texas Toast, Salad, and Brownies – thats good food right there!

What happens when your babysitter misunderstood the time and didn’t show to watch the staff kids? One mom goes to staff meeting and the other takes on ALL the kids. Yep, totally crazy, but we survived and actually had fun. They are all smiles, so it couldn’t have been that bad, right?

We also had a team social and visited the Queens Night Market – an event they have occasionally where vendors sell food from all around the world. One of our favorite parts about living here (and one the scariest too because we aren’t the most adventurous eaters) is getting to taste amazing cuisine from so many different countries! I can’t even tell you the different things I tried, though my favorite would be Arepas and pure cane sugar lemonade from Colombia. They also had seating with live music playing. We will definitely visit here again!

Then, because we had a Sunday afternoon free and know that baseball season is winding down, we decided to check out and support our hometown team. I have to say we have quickly become NY Mets fans from living here in Queens. We debated going because we knew our kids were at a hard age for a baseball game, BUT we knew that even if we went and it was crazy, we would be making memories.

We had super low expectations and I am excited to report that they were met! Overall, the kids did well. We ended up ditching our lower level seats that were in the middle of an aisle surrounded by people in the sun and moving UP to the top in the shade where there weren’t people around us. We figured that way our kids could move around, drop things, make many bathroom and food trips, and not disturb anyone. This was seriously the best decision we have ever made! It also helped that is was Sunday Funday so they had bounce houses for the kids, balloon animals, and they let the kids go on the field and run the bases after the game.

This is the picture of the kids (and Ed) before and starting out running the bases (Emerson is in the purple outfit and Kinsley is in the pink dress).

After these pics were taken, Emerson fell at second base, scraped up her knee, was helped up by Mr. and Mrs. Mets (she has no idea how cool that is), and was carried away by a staff person. The funny part was that Ed was so intent on filming Blake that he missed them helping Emerson right beside him and he missed the lady carrying her right behind him. On his video of Blake he took on his phone, you can see her feet right in front of him. I was waiting off the field for the kids to finish and I saw all of this happening before me and was powerless to do anything to get his attention. Bless it.

Overall, it was a neat and fun experience and something we will be repeating in future years. So cool to have a major league team so close!

Would you pray for us and our campuses over the next few weeks – that we would have stamina to keep up with the kids and all the busy days, that we would stay healthy (we just had two start throwing up last night in the middle of the night), that God would move on these campuses and that students will want to know who Jesus is and begin a relationship with him, and that God would connect us with students on these campuses who already believe in Jesus? Thank you for partnering with us in this ministry!!


Answered Prayer

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

I memorized this verse a long time ago and it is definitely one that I continue to meditate on. The Lord again brought it to mind this weekend when we received a phone call during our annual staff retreat (we go away to the Poconos mountains with all the other staff in the NYC Metro area to plan, pray, and kick off the school year). On the other end of the line was my cousin Traci, who lives in SC. What she said rocked our world.

To give you a fuller picture of what the phone call meant, let me back up a little. As many of you know, we have been seeking the Lord about whether to have a surgery called Hyprocure for Kinsley to correct her pronating flat feet and her feet turning in. We have been looking for opinions from people who have done the surgery, talking to our insurance to see if they would reverse their decision to not cover the surgery, asking lots of questions of her doctor, taking time to see if the orthotics she got would help her, seeking different opinions from other doctors, and mostly, just praying and asking the Lord to provide wisdom and ultimately finances if He wanted us to do this. Because the effects of doing the surgery or not doing the surgery later on in her life are unknown both ways, we felt like we wanted clear direction before we proceeded.

Let me be clear, when we are seeking wisdom from the Lord, I know He doesn’t always spell it out in the Bible or write it in the clouds to provide a clear answer. Sometimes your clear answer is to have faith that He will make your path clear and just start walking. We always tell our students that sometimes, when you have two options that seem good or when you don’t know what to do, the best thing you can do is to start walking in one direction and God will make it clear that is the right way, or He will halt your plans and make it clear that it isn’t. Or, he will ultimately in his sovereignty, bring you around to where He wants you, even if you take the wrong path (which, in his sovereignty, isn’t really the wrong path…so complex).

But, Ed and I both really felt that we were to just wait on the Lord to make it clear and help us to know beyond of a shadow of a doubt what to do…and because it wasn’t an immediate issue that needed to be dealt with like yesterday, we could afford to wait. So wait we did. To be honest, even in my waiting, I felt like we were going to end up doing the surgery. We did receive funds from a lot of generous people who said that if we decided not to do the surgery, we could use the funds for ministry, but it wasn’t all we needed, so we waited. So because we weren’t sure and didn’t have the money, we waited.

The night before we came back to NYC from our summer travels, we stayed with Ed and I’s good friends in Charlotte. The wife, Lyndsay, is a nurse and used to work with a foot surgeon. She said that while it had been a while since she had worked with him, she had never heard of this surgery. However, her daughter has orthotics and she HIGHLY recommended them. She also said she had looked up the specifics of the Hyprocure surgery that we were considering for Kinsley and she didn’t understand how they could use the same size stent in both kids and adults and how they wouldn’t have to size it up as they grew bigger. She overall said she saw some big red flags. “Ok, point taken and something to look into,” I thought.

We also had been corresponding through email with our foot doctor in NYC trying to ask about which insurance companies and specifically, which states in the US with Blue Cross Blue Shield, covered it as he said they had, because our insurance said they may overturn their decision if we could provide this info. However, after multiple emails asking our doctor, we kept hearing “I will ask the company who makes the stent” or “my records were all lost in a transfer recently and I don’t have that” or “I left a message and haven’t heard back.” Another red flag.

Then, we got the phone call from my cousin Traci. Traci has been an RN for many, many years, works for a surgery center, and had a foot surgeon working at her center. When we were talking a few weeks ago, she said she would ask him what he thought of the Hyprocure procedure. While we were at retreat, she called to tell us what he had said. Basically, this doctor (who has no reason, financially or otherwise, not to tell us the truth) went on for about 45 minutes about how he WOULD NOT do this procedure and how we SHOULD NOT do this procedure on Kinsley. He said that in the procedure, because of where they place the stint, it causes irreversible joint damage to the surrounding joints and that she would be working the rest of her life to fight the problems associated with that. He also said that the only people who do this surgery nowadays are podiatrists and it is only because they make a lot of money off of it. He got really angry about it and said he wanted to slap any person who would recommend this surgery for such a young child, especially since he feels Kinsley could grow out of it and orthotics could make such a huge difference for her. She shared a lot more things, but this was the jist of their long conversation.

Another drug rep, who was in the office at the same time and briefly overheard Traci mention the hyprocure, also advised against it and said some of the same things. I asked my cousin if she trusted this doctor and she said that she trusted him “150%”. That was enough for us. Honestly, we weren’t bummed. We have the orthotics and that will help her for the most part when she is wearing shoes. If anything, we were so very, very thankful.

Thankful that we didn’t already do the procedure. Thankful that the Lord clearly, at least in our minds, spelled out what He wanted us to do. Thankful that we have people that we trust that the Lord very clearly used to make it clear. Thankful that the Lord used so many of your prayers to make it clear. Thankful that we waited and didn’t rush to do what we thought would be best. Thankful that God is the definition of wisdom and that when we ask, He clearly provides wisdom and will make our paths clear.

We Are Back!

After some time back in SC visiting family, friends, and ministry partners in Greenville (Ed’s home town), WE ARE BACK!!  Man, that feels good to say!

First, let me share some brief highlights from our time in Greenville –

POOL TIME – Of course, we soaked up sun and spent lots of time at Ed’s parents neighborhood pool. The kiddos had fun enjoying this perk of being at the grandparents, especially since we have no pool in NY 🙁  Brynn adapted very well to the pool life.

The girls also enjoyed a perk of making some money in a way that you can’t do super easily in the city – selling lemonade. They thought of this all by themselves and with a little help from Ed’s mom, a lemonade stand was born. They weren’t super busy, but they did earn about $3 each. Fanning the flame for that entrepreneurial spirit early 🙂 Also, notice the t-shirts…they were on clearance at Target for like $5 and of course, them wanting to wear them the next day made this Carolina-loving momma’s heart proud.

We also got all the kid’s hair cut (as well as Ed), while we had great places to take them that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Yay for JCPenney haircut coupons! And Blake went to the barbershop Ed grew up going to. Now everyone is ready for back to school – even though they will be waiting until September 7.

We had a great time visiting with friends and ministry partners and even had a few appointments with potential ministry partners. We were busy but not so busy that we didn’t feel like we could rest. For that, and especially being that we start back on campus this week, we are super grateful! Huge shout out, too, to mine and Ed’s parents who helped a TON with the kids while we were in SC – from enduring our super noisy kids (they were getting out all their running and screaming and singing at the top of their lungs before they headed back to apartment living), to occupying our kids while we had appointments or just relaxed, from providing dinners and other “fun” things, from watching the 3 kids and one screaming baby while we went out on a date, from putting up with our whole family in a camper for 5 days even though we KNOW it wasn’t restful or easy (memories were still made!!) – we are super thankful and love you all!

To top off our last night before returning to the city, we spent the night with our good friends, Scott and Lyndsay. They have 4 kiddos 5.5 years and under, so it was a lot of noise and a lot of kids and a lot of crazy, but we LOVED it!  Thanks for great conversation with really good friends – full of laughter, tears, and just being super real. We love you guys!

And while we were gone, guess who turned 6 months? Yep, this sweet, smiley, doesn’t know how to sleep, little girl. She took this trip to SC and Colorado as an opportunity to revert completely back to sleeping like a newborn and while I don’t know how we survived on so little sleep, we can’t do it anymore. Operation sleep training has commenced!!

I was very nervous about returning back to the city – that we would have to go through transition again and that it would be hard. But, I am very thankful to report that it hasn’t been so far – other than getting used to all the walking again, we are very, very glad to be back. This week, campus begins with our annual beginning-of-the-semester staff retreat. Excited to see what the Lord does this year!