Weekly Update

This week has flown by!!  Between campus happenings, fun with friends, enjoying the girls being out of school for two days (for Rosh Hashanah, a Jewish holiday), and the weekend, it was gone before I knew it.

Tuesday, I trekked all the kids out to St. John’s University to attend our first ever Celebration Gathering, a time for believing students in our ministries from all across Queens to come together and to celebrate what the Lord is doing on their campuses. Eddie (in the far left in the picture below) spoke, which was neat because he is actually a Queens College alumni who went on to get his Masters of Divinity, is on staff at New Life Fellowship (our church), and is getting ready to leave New Life to launch his own church in Queens. This is exactly what we want to see happen with our students in Queens, so it is neat to see how the Lord brought that about in Eddie’s life.

The girls LOVED seeing where dad “works” and getting to interact with the college students. They even got free food at the Subway in the cafeteria – 1) because they are cute and 2) because I don’t think the ladies working there see little people there very often and were enamored with them and wanted to spoil them. We also got to grab ice cream after with the students, which was fun to connect with them more.

Then, Thursday and Friday, with having school off for Rosh Hashanah, we did lots of playing around the house. Their new favorite thing is making forts in our living room, which is easy and keeps them occupied for a long while!

We also visited the Queens Zoo with sweet friends. While I can boast that I navigated the bus and the zoo with all 4 kids and everyone survived, while I can say that we had a great time, and while I can say that the kids did awesome, it was a sad day. My friend lost her Iphone and we initially thought that someone had taken it while we were getting Italian Ices at the Lemon Ice King of Corona . Then, late that night, she heard from a guy who didn’t speak English well, but who stammered out that he had found it and had gone to work and could meet her the next morning to give it back. We were so excited that God had allowed him to come forward with it, but then he didn’t show the next day when they were supposed to meet. Not sure what all that is about, but it was a great reminder to me that I shouldn’t ever feel too comfortable in NYC, because bad things do definitely happen.

We spent the rest of the weekend attending church, playing at playgrounds in Long Island City (right on the East River with amazing views of Manhattan), and attending a street fair in our neighborhood where we got to see a lot of newer friends.

Check out this amazing view from my morning run:

Its in a place near us (actually where the girls go to school as well) called Forest Hill Gardens. The houses are so unique, enormous, and cost in the multiple millions. It is so fun that I get to run through this area and just be mesmerized with how beautiful and quiet it is.

Also, I have a lot of people ask me how in the world I find time to read. Thats a great question. I do a lot of reading while I am working out and doing cardio. Because I haven’t been doing a ton of exercising before the last few weeks, I haven’t read a lot. But, again, part of feeling more like my old self is that I am finding the time and being disciplined (most of the time anyways) to exercise. These are the latest books I have read:

Anne of Green Gables – I have no idea why I haven’t read this yet. I loved it – so clean, pure, and just easy, fun reading.

My dear friend Cam wrote this book. Cam has been a good friend for a while now, but I got to know her even better when we served together (she helps to lead the team) at NC State. I walked with her through most of the journey of her mom battling and ultimately succumbing to cancer, but it was hard/great to see even more behind the lines of her journey. She says in the book that they hoped to point people to Jesus through their journey and through the book, and man, did she ever. I can honestly say that while she was confused, sad, angry, and a whole host of other emotions, she truly held fast, and continues to hold fast, to Jesus through it all.

I picked up this book at our national staff conference this summer. I have been so excited to read it because we have so many Muslims around us and even specifically, one of the moms in our complex that I interact with a lot because we have kids the same age, is Muslim. While I am still reading this, it has not disappointed. I knew what Muslims believed, but this book is giving me such a better understanding of how to love on and reach out to them. I highly recommend!!

Will you pray for this mom as I interact with her – that I would love her well and that God will give me opportunities to understand what she believes and values but also opportunities to share about Jesus? Will you pray for my mom’s group as we are getting ready to start an intense, self-reflective study about lies we believe that aren’t from God -a few of these women don’t know Jesus personally and could really start asking questions about Christianity as a result of this or they could be turned off? Will you pray for our ministries at St. Johns University and Queens College – we are promoting our Fall Retreat which is the first week of October and want to see 20 people attend? Will you pray for the girls as they have been having issues (it started last year and has just continued) with a boy on their bus doing inappropriate things and that they would stay away from him, God will protect them, and that he will get the help he needs?

Afraid of What?!?

Friends!! I feel like we have turned the corner! Life is feeling more normal.

Brynn is sleeping through the night (like from 6:30 or 7 at night on…), she is in the same room with Blake so we have our bedroom back, we are actually getting sleep so we are able to wake up in the mornings and get back into our routine of having a quiet time and getting a workout in before the day begins (note I did not say before the kids wake up because now that school is back in session, we are back to 6:15 am wakeups…ugh!), and I feel like life is coming back together. You know having a baby completely changes your life, but when you start to have glimpses of life as it was and feel capacity to do the things you used to do, IT IS HUGE!!

There are lots of things I could share about ministry and how things are going, what is happening with the kids in school, etc., but I thought I would keep it light-hearted today – light-hearted for you and heart racing for me. You see, I am going to let you in on a huge fear I have. Hi, my name is April, and I am deathly afraid of ostriches. Yes, you read that right.

How did it begin? Rewind to junior or senior year of college. Ed and I were dating (maybe even engaged at this point?) and he decided to take me on a date to Hollywild in Greenville, Sc. Hollywild is one of those places that you drive through and they have the animals running wild and free.

When you enter these places, they should seriously have signs that say “Enter at your own risk”. We are driving through, admiring everything, and we drive up behind a car that had kids in the back that weren’t strapped in and were running wild. They also had some sort of long glow sticks that they kept poking out the window. We came up on a part of the road that had an ostrich standing right beside it. Those same kids started putting the glow sticks out of the window almost right in front of the ostriches face. Umm, bad move. They stayed there for quite some time, doing this, and then they drove off. They left safe and sound, but the ostrich was not happy at all.

When Ed and I went to continue on, the ostrich stepped right into the middle of the road right in front of us, turned towards us, and started walking directly at our car. For some reason, we were driving Ed’s dad’s car instead of Ed’s explorer, so we were riding pretty low to the ground. AKA, big ostrich and little car. When he got to the car, he walked beside my window literally staring me down. By this point, I was in Ed’s seat and extremely scared. I thought for sure this huge animal who was TICKED OFF was going to jump on top of our car or break through the window. Thankfully, after very, very slowly walking by the car, he walked off. We drove off, survived to tell the tale, but I was left changed and afraid of ostriches. 

Fast forward a few years…Ed and I were married and working in our hometown. I get a call from my dad (who knew about my fear) that they have a “Dirty Jobs” show on about ostriches and he thinks it would help with my fear to watch it. So, I did. Ya’ll, those ostriches were MEAN!!! They pecked at the man, they crushed their own eggs and killed their babies, and they weren’t nice to anyone. Lets just say, it didn’t help my fear but kindled the flame of fear.

So were is my fear today? I still absolutely hate ostriches. Their long necks, peaky beaks, and strong long legs are destined to kill people. I seriously feel my heart start racing and start shuddering anytime I even think of them, much less see them. Its not a made up thing…it seriously makes me freak out inside. Unfortunately, my kids know about this fear and make sure to point out EVERY ostrich in kid’s books or on TV shows. Seriously, can’t a doctor’s office find another animal to put on the wall under O besides an ostrich? Octopus maybe?

Some people are scared of closed spaces, some are scared of heights (there is a little bit of that there too!), some are scared of clowns…my achilles heal is ostriches. I hope this made you chuckle a little today and lightened your day – just know never to bring it up when you see me 🙂


First Day of School Thoughts

Well, it is official. We now have TWO kids in Elementary School as of this morning. Granted, Emerson went to Pre-K last year so I had two baby birds away from home, but something about her starting kindergarten makes it all feel so much more official.

Two days ago, I volunteered at their school to help move school supplies to the kids’ specific classrooms. Gone are the days of buying individual supplies, shopping around for the best deals, and then hauling them to school on the first day in heavy boxes. Their school had a program where you order the supplies direct from a company and they ship them to the school already labeled with individual names. Volunteers then move them to their classrooms and they are ready to go for the first day of school. While I was there, I looked at Kinsley’s classroom door and got to see that quite a few of her classmates she enjoyed from last year are in her class again this year.

Since finding that out, she has been super excited to start. Emerson, on the other hand, while super excited, was really, really nervous. She is nervous about making friends – which has never, ever been an issue for her. She makes a friend at the playground after 5 minutes of being there.

So how is mama doing? I am feeling very bittersweet this morning.

On one hand, I am excited for them to go back to school, learn, and socialize with kids their own ages. I know they have gotten bored in our apartment here lately and school will give them “fun” things to do. I also am excited to meet new kids and parents and see how the Lord allows us to be light for Him in a place that desperately needs Him.

On the other hand, I will miss them and I face lots of doubts about whether I am doing the right thing.

Doubts like should I be homeschooling? We did school books this summer so they wouldn’t “lose” all they had learned and by the end of the summer, we had gotten in a routine of doing it daily and it was fun to see them learn. This has, on top of schooling a little bit last year before we moved, given me confidence that I could indeed homeschool. If we could find a Christian co-op here, I would be even more interested. But, we also feel very led by the Lord to be light to people in the public schools who don’t know Him and to go where people are, which is the schools. For us, it is very much a mission field mindset that has led us to public school. Our schools are also really good here, they are getting to socialize with people and learn so much about different languages and cultures, and I feel they are getting so much more than they could get by being schooled by me at home. Ed and I are both products of public school and Kinsley has really thrived at school the last few years.

Doubts like “will they be okay?” Last year, we had some hard things happen that, while allowing us to have really good and needed convos with the kids, are not things I would have liked to expose them to yet. I just want to shelter them and protect them and keep them safe. I want to filter everything they hear and say and that happens to them. I know we can’t do this forever, but part of me wonders if I should do it while they are small. I also know I don’t agree with all that the public school is teaching them, and that they won’t be learning Scriptures, and hearing about God, so will this affect their chances of knowing Him and walking with Him?

Doubts like “am I taking the easy way”? While I hate to see them go off to school and I will miss them, part of me is like “YES!!!”. It is way easier to just have 2 kids most of the day, lets be honest.

I know all these doubts and thoughts swirling in my head aren’t new. I know from interacting with many, many other moms that they all ponder and flesh out all these things too. I have great respect for moms that homeschool, moms that don’t, and their decisions for which they chose. I think it all makes sense and their isn’t a formula for turning out great kids who love the Lord. Ultimately, I know it is about seeking God’s wisdom about what He wants most for our kids, about figuring out what is best for individual kids (there may be a time when I have to homeschool one and send one to public school just because of how they are doing and thriving or not thriving), about being involved in their lives and talking about what they are learning and hearing, about volunteering at their school and being heavily involved so I know what is going on instead of just checking out during that time, about just trusting and knowing that God is sovereign, He loves my kids more than I do, and He is the one who leads them to know Him and not a formula of homeschooling and saying x, y, or z.

So, I will let go, trust God to protect and care for my girls, and stay attuned to what He wants for our family. But man, is it so hard!!

In other news, this little one turned 7 months old yesterday. Today is one of those days where I am very, very aware of how fast time is flying by.

With this and this huge hurricane threatening many friends and family in FL and SC, my heart is a little heavy today. Please pray for me and all the mamas like me – doing the best we can to raise children to love Jesus. Thanks friends.

Zoo Madness!

Our last few weeks have been filled with lots of overtime and crazy hours as we planned for the fall, had survey tables at Queens College and St. John’s University, helped with move in (or at least attempted to before we were told to leave by St. Johns!), held informational meetings, meet with churches and volunteers, hung and handed out flyers, planning budgets, and so much more. We were really thankful when our director moved our staff meeting to yesterday and gave us today off. In an effort to squeeze every bit of family time and summer into the little bit of time we have before school starts (it starts this Thursday!), we rented a car and headed off to the Bronx Zoo.

We have been watching the show on Animal Planet called “The Zoo” which is actually about things that are happening at the Bronx Zoo with the animals. Our kids were really excited to visit and see some of the animals and places they had seen on TV. We arrived at 10 and much to our surprise, stayed until the park pulled the animals so they could close down at 4:30. THE WHOLE DAY!!  Not only was this zoo amazing, but the kids didn’t fight, were well-behaved, didn’t complain or throw fits, and we actually had a great time. Such a blessing.

My favorite would have to be the gorillas and specifically, a baby African monkey that was just born last month. When they are born, these monkeys are born completely white and don’t change to black like the others until they are about 3 months old. We tried to snap a picture but he was hiding and holding onto mom and dad – but you can see its white tail hanging down. So cute!

The kids favorite part? The red panda, since Kinsley has a huge love for them, being able to pop up in the middle of the prairie dogs, the petting zoo, the bug carousel, and the butterfly garden.

My least favorite part? While I loved the giraffes (especially since watching April the Giraffe give birth), I HATED the ostriches that were in the giraffe’s pen. I have a severe fear of ostriches and my girls LOVE to rub it in that I don’t like them. Maybe I will share that story of how that fear came about in my next blog post 🙂

Overall, it was a great day and such a fun surprise in the midst of the busy fall semester with campus ministry. Would you pray for all the things that are planned for this next week? Info meetings at St. Johns, St. John’s organization fair (pray we get a table!), first weekly Cru meeting at Queens College, favor with the administration as we aim to start things at St. Johns, and last but not least, both of our “little” girls starting school. Such a big week!