5 Things I Am Loving

Just wanted to drop in and share a few things that I am loving this week.

1. Having a little walker in the house – Brynn is officially walking EVERYWHERE! It is so cute to see her toddling and shaking her little booty as she walks. And if she wasn’t into everything before, she most definitely is now. I present this picture as evidence….she got ahold of her sister’s art kit and pulled out the red watercolor paint. What happens when you mix the water in your mouth with the watercolor paint? You make yourself a masterpiece…which she did. Oh man, she had it everywhere. Toilet paper, small toys, markers…you name it, she gets it. 

2. Read Alouds with Kids – I had hard from other parents about how great it was to do read-alouds with their kids, having their kids do something quietly with their hands while they listened. I knew it wasn’t possible with young kids, but now that the girls are getting bigger, I thought we would give it a shot. We decided to read “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” thinking that we could use watching the movie as incentive for finishing and listening to the book.

Ya’ll, the girls have LOVED it!!  Kinsley has hung on every word and Emerson has left a few times to play with something while we read, but overall, they were able to concentrate through many nights of reading the book. Last night, we watched the movie and they loved it too, I think probably more so because we had read the book. It was even fun to be able to talk to them about how the book portrayed what Jesus did for us and how Aslan was fashioned after Jesus. And they are excited that there are more books like this!

3. the book “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist – to continue with the book theme, let me share another book that I am reading right now and absolutely loving. This book is rocking my world. It is reiterating and putting into words so much of what I have been learning/feeling and is bringing to light so many bad tendencies and heart wishes for this high-capacity, productivity-loving, control-liking mama of 4. Woah. Just WOAH. I am only reading 1 or 2 chapters a day because I want to soak it in and I just don’t want to miss it or get it wrong. See all those colored tags at the top? Those are my “CAN”T MISS THIS!” pages – and I am not even halfway through. Seriously.

4. Doing “Dateboxes” with Ed – a while ago, we heard someone mention this thing called a “Datebox.” I listened as they described it as a date in a box that comes monthly (you pay monthly or you can pay quarterly or annually at a discount). They are usually filled with a food or beverage you make together, questions to get conversation flowing, a playlist to listen to, and some activity you will do together. We opted to get one month at a very discounted rate to try it out and were so pleased with how it turned out that we signed up for more months.

I LOVE that it comes straight to my house and I don’t have to collect or run all over to get the supplies we need – everything is included. I LOVE that we don’t have to pay childcare but can do something fun and different and creative from our own house. I LOVE that they change it up and yet, it has always been fun. I LOVE that it has challenged us to make sure we are having date nights and not succumbing to the “we are so tired that we don’t feel like doing that” temptation.

Some things we have done so far are making eggnog, truffles, playing a “Guess the Carol” game, and decorating ornaments, making kettle corn popcorn, apple cider, and playing an “Escape Room” game, making homemade ice cream (with toppings they included!), taking salsa dance lessons (from our living room), and playing an “I Know You Better” game. We are always so excited to see what comes next and I would have to say that we are hooked.

5. Facetime – I know, I know. This isn’t a new thing. But I just realized last night how extremely thankful I am that we have technology like this, not only for family, but also to connect with friends. Last night, I got to Facetime one of my old roommates from college and catch up on life. It was so fun that even though she is in Arizona, we got to talk and pick up where we left off just like before.

I remember the days when this technology didn’t exist and when you had to have long-distance cards and calling plans. Now, it is so easy to stay connected, and while that can sometimes be bad, times like last night are a blessing.

What are you loving right now?

Stoney Brook Update

In my last post, I mentioned that we were stepping out in faith and trying to launch at Stoney Brook University. Our team traveled there this past Sunday evening, spent all day Monday and Tuesday on campus, led an informational meeting Tuesday evening, and then returned home.

So what happened?

After meeting students, having 400 surveys filled out and sorting through the responses, we had 114 students interested in being involved with Cru and 45 were interested in helping to lead the ministry. They had the chance to meet up with quite a few of the students to share the Gospel and one girl named Tiya even prayed to receive Christ!!

However, at the informational meeting, only 4 students showed up – one is a guy who is for sure going to be leading the Bible study we are launching and the other 3 were girls who were not believers. One of those girls is a Mormon and insisted that we believe the same thing as her, which we confidently know is not true. What happened to the other 110 students and why didn’t they come? Who knows – classes, friends, studying, something more fun for them to do. But we are excited about the one guy who is going to lead the study and we are excited to see if more leaders surface, more students get involved, and where the Lord takes things.

The other really exciting thing that happened was that we found a group of student athletes who are already meeting as a group and have a desire to reach other athletes on their campus with the message of Jesus. The two leaders are a girl from the lacrosse team and a guy from the football team. They don’t have anyone coaching, resourcing, or providing leadership and they seem really excited to get resources and training to help them reach other athletes. So, our opening at Stoney Brook and where the Lord wants us to concentrate may end up being with athletes!

Would you pray that the Lord would continue to lead us at Stoney Brook and help us figure out where he wants us to invest and which students to invest with? A few members of our team are traveling back next Tuesday to meet with our guy students leader, help lead the Bible study, connect with the athletes, and connect with some more students.

Also, would you pray that our family can stay well over the next few month? Winter here is brutal with illnesses and viruses and while we have managed to stay relatively healthy, all that changed last week when Brynn was diagnosed with the flu and an ear infection and Blake started having breathing issues while dealing with a cold. Thankfully, she is recovering really well and everyone else has managed to stay healthy.

Thanks for your prayers – we couldn’t do this without you!

Stoney Brook Launch

All of NYC – 140 college campuses and 1.3 million college students. Queens – 7 college campuses (with over 1000 students each) and 86,000 college students. Our current reality – ministries at Queens College and St. John’s University. Our prayer, hope, and goal for this semester – launch and grow 2 more Gospel-Centered Missional Communities at Queens/Long Island campuses.

This coming week, our team is taking a HUGE step of faith to see this goal reached – we are attempting to launch at Stoney Brook University. We have been praying for months, our team took a day last semester to go to Stoney Brook to meet with pastors and potential students and faculty in town, and to learn about the campus, and we have talked about the best way to do it – now, we are trusting the Lord, taking a step of faith, and praying He leads us to solid students who want to reach their campus by leading a Cru ministry and that we find other students who want to know the Lord, grow in their faith, and reach their fellow students by being involved with Cru (not leading).

Next Sunday evening through Tuesday late, late evening, our team will travel to Stoney Brook (over an hour away by car and over 2 by public transportation), spend two nights in a hotel, pass out flyers, get students to fill out surveys, have lots of Gospel conversations, connect with local pastors and faculty, train students, and have an info meeting for interested students. Our prayer is that we would surface 3-5 key students, faculty, or volunteers who are solid in their faith and want to lead the ministry that we can coach from afar and over 5 other students who want to be involved in a Bible study lead by our volunteers, faculty, or student leaders. If we find these student/faculty/volunteer leaders, we would challenge them to spend time praying in the next week for their campus as a group and then meet with us the following week for some more training as well as to see us model how to lead a small group Bible study. Then, we would coach them and challenge them to lead the Bible study by themselves the following week.

Would you pray for this coming week’s launch? This could be an epic God story where we see Him show up in major ways, this could be a major bomb and nothing happens at all, or it could set the stage for something to happen in the future. Either way, we know God is writing this story and we want to be faithful to do our part to see ministries established across Queens so that everyone knows someone who truly follows Jesus.

Would you also pray for LaGuardia Community College? We are doing the beginning steps of connecting with interested faculty and students to get something started there as well, and we need the Lord’s guidance and for Him to move for this to happen.

And lastly, because while we are busy preparing, life goes on – here are a few sweet moments from the kids this week:

Blake – Loving his rain gear and new (well, new to him but hand-me-down) Cars umbrella

Kinsley and Emerson – both girls got to enjoy daddy-daughter dates this past weekend. Emerson got to go with daddy to get her boot off her foot (YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT – Praise the Lord her foot took a huge turn for the better and enough so that they removed the boot – she is walking better but over did it last night because she doesn’t realize its not 100% better yet so pray she doesn’t re-injure it and slows down!) and then to use her Christmas $$ to get her nails done (it costs $5 for her to get her nails painted at the salon and she thinks she is BIG STUFF!) and then to get a donut to celebrate. Kinsley went ice skating with Ed at Bryant Park in the city and then to Chickfila to enjoy cookies and lemonades.

Brynn – while this little monkey started taking a few steps right around 10.5 months old, she is now full-on walking. It is so very weird to see your once-crawling baby now walking around the corner towards you. The best part – she is so proud of herself that she smiles constantly while she is walking and even walks sideways sometimes. The worst part – she is EVEN MORE officially into everything – toilets, toilet papers, trash can, pantry – you name it, she finds it.


Happy Birthday Blake!

Happy birthday to Blake!!

Little man turns 3 today and he couldn’t be more excited. The birthday activity he requested for our famiily to do? Visit the fire station, as he loves all things with sirens. So we did that this weekend.

His cake request? Blaze (from Blaze and the Monster Machine on Nick Jr.). I got a little distracted with the kids while making this and didn’t make the icing red enough – don’t mind the pinkish icing on the cake 🙂

I seriously love everyday with this little cutie. He is so very sweet, he is quick to apologize, he is compassionate, he talks SO much, he gets so excited about things, he is always making us laugh, he is so talkative and open to people (though he can be majorly shy at first, once he starts talking he almost always captures their heart), he is active, he is easy going, and he freely gives tons of hugs and kisses. Almost daily, he shares about how he can’t wait to get bigger so he can “ride a roller coaster” (no idea where this comes from). And today, when I said “I don’t want you to get bigger, Blake, I love you at this age and I don’t want you to grow up”, his response was “Mom, its okay to be sad, but when you are sad, you need to go to bed.” What in the world? Daily, he makes us laugh saying funny things like that.

And, this little one turned 11 months old this week AND is walking. It isn’t her primary mode of transportation, but she is increasingly doing it more and more. I can’t believe she will be a year old in a month…time flies so very, very fast!

You got a friend in me!

In the midst of last week being really hard with Ed being gone, one of the things that I kept being excited about (besides him coming home!), was that a good friend of mine, Becky, was going to be coming to visit and arriving the day after Ed did. I got to know Becky 7 years ago when we were placed in Central Kentucky on staff with Cru as our first assignment. Becky and her husband Rich were the couple that were leading our team. While we have obviously since moved on, we have remained close friends and I would say, have gotten even closer through the years.

Becky decided to leave her kiddos and hubs and travel to NYC to visit me as a mini vacation and in honor of turning 40 last year. She had been to NYC back in 2003 so while she had seen a few things then, there was still so much to explore. While the girls were in school, Ed and I and the two little kids traveled with her to see the 9/11 memorial, visit Chelsea Market, walk on the High Line, eat lunch at this amazing chicken finger place called Sticky’s, and see Rockefeller Plaza (complete with watching a couple get engaged on the Rockefeller Plaza ice rink). That night, we made a late night trip to browse the clearance racks at Target 🙂 Then, on Thursday, it snowed and snowed and snowed and snowed. When Emerson’s appointment to the orthopedic doctor got canceled (as well as school!), we bundled up in snow gear and trekked to visit the MET museum. It wasmy first trip and I was amazed. It is HUGE and even though I am not a huge art buff, I was amazed and awed at some of the artwork. My for sure favorites would be Van Gogh and Seurat. We also HAD to stop by our favorite bakery in the city to pick up cupcakes…we just HAD to!


Then, Becky and Ed were supposed to fly out the next day – Becky to go home and Ed to go to the conference. Because of the massive snow storm and the 8+ inches of snow we got, both of their flights got canceled. I was soooo excited Ed wasn’t going to have to leave (the next flight for him would be when his conference was over), but not so happy Becky couldn’t go home to her family. After lots of reworking and figuring out what to do, the Lord allowed it to work out for Becky to fly home today, Saturday, a day later – meaning we got another day together! Really long story and hard to explain on a blog, but a definite God story for sure!

For our last day, we went to the 9/11 museum where we spent lots of kid-free, uninterrupted time reading, studying, and taking it all in. And, in an effort to give her a better taste of NYC, we HAD to go to Black Tap and try one of their crazy shakes. On the way home on the subway, she got to see some awesome subway dancers, which isn’t something you see often and I feel like it is a treat when you do. She was able to fly out this morning and is back with her family.

Ya’ll, if you can find a friend like Becky, keep her! She is loyal, encouraging, thoughtful, steady, challenging, lots of fun, caring, and such a dear, dear friend to me. As I get older, I learn more and more about keeping friends despite moves and the miles. This one is a keeper. Loved having adventures with you that we will remember forever, Becky.

For an update on Emerson – because her appointment got canceled, we were supposed to go in this coming Monday. However, Friday, the nurse from school called and we had to pick her up early because it was hurting so bad. So, we called the doctor, got in to see them, and got some more x-rays taken. They were SUPER pleased with how her wound was looking (apparently, they were afraid it was getting infected and that we would need to go see a wound care specialist which didn’t end up being the case) but said the pain was because of the fracture and because it was sprained and that she just needed more time to recover. They said they want her almost completely off of it for 7-10 days. So, back to the couch she goes. Please pray she gets some relief and that it starts to head in the right direction toward healing.

Brynn turned 11 months old today and Blake turns 3 this week – excuse me while I go cry because my babies are growing up 🙁 And just so you know things weren’t all calm at home while I was spending time with Becky – this happened. What happens when Blake wants to draw and no paper is around? Brynn becomes the canvas. Bless it.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!!

2017 ended with a bang for us. Christmas was fabulous. We had a great time celebrating with Ed’s parents, friends, and the kids. The kids were so fun at Christmas this year, enjoying every minute of the holiday. We did spend about 4 hours opening their gifts and putting batteries in things, but I digress.  I did a horrible job of taking photos of the things we did – baking (and eating!) lots of cookies, Christmas Eve service at our church, completing our Advent Event, reading the Christmas story about Jesus, eating appetizers for Christmas Eve dinner, lots more eating on Christmas day, and so much more – but Ed did get these few of Christmas day. Ya’ll, I felt like we had SO many presents and while our kids were blessed for sure, I had to step back and realize this was Christmas for 4 kiddos AND included gifts from family friends, both sets of grandparents, us, each other, and uncles and aunts.

Ed left on the 27th to head to our annual winter conference in Baltimore with college students from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, part of West Virginia, and a few other places. Overall, there were close to 1200 students and staff there! We highly value this conference and are constantly amazed at how students’ lives are changed in just this short period of a few days. They have speakers come in to share from God’s Word with the students, have amazing praise and worship, have seminars and breakouts on all kinds of topics, have a day of outreach where they go into the community to have spiritual conversations with others, and ring in the New Year praying for the coming year followed by a HUGE party. It is so much fun. Ed’s life was radically changed at a winter conference when he was a college student so we know just how valuable this time is.

While I could have traveled there with the kids, that would have required us staying in one hotel room for 5 days, renting a car to get there or navigating the train (which is how Ed traveled there), figuring out how we would eat each meal (since food isn’t included), not being able to interact well with the kids due to naps and feeding schedules, and getting back the day before school resumes for the girls. Thinking it would be too crazy, we opted to stay here. We asked my mom to come up to help me with the kids for the week (especially since they were out of school), but at the last minute, she got the flu and couldn’t come. I knew her not coming would make the week rough, but I had no idea what was in store.

The day before Christmas eve, we traveled into the city with Ed’s parents to spend the day touring and exploring. We were transferring between trains in a subway station and riding up an escalator, when Emerson’s foot got stuck. She wasn’t playing on it or doing anything she wasn’t supposed to, but her rain boot caught the step and when she pulled out her boot, she was screaming bloody murder and her boot was demolished.

At first, it looked like her foot was okay, but she kept screaming about it hurting so as we looked closer, we realized a big chunk (almost like a bad road rash) had been taken out of the back of her foot. After returning to our neighborhood later in the day and her saying it still hurt, we took her to Urgent Care (which is becoming like home to us after the whole stitches incident I shared about here) where they did an x-ray and thought she just had a bad sprain and the gash on the back that we had to treat. They thought it would get better in a few days. She started to put weight on it the following day so we thought we were heading in the right direction.

The day Ed left, I realized that she was actually walking funny and trying not to put weight on her foot. I realized her foot was hurting her pretty badly (she is soooo tough and hardly complains!) and so we talked to Urgent Care and decided to take her to the orthopedic doctor (that she had just visited a few months prior with her broken arm).Upon a visit to the orthopedic doctor, they determined that she has a growth plate fracture and a soft tissue injury (the gash that took off a few layers of skin) to the back of her foot. They would have put her in a cast but couldn’t because of the soft tissue injury, so they put her in a boot that she has to wear all the time. They also started her on antibiotics to keep infection away for the soft tissue injury.

We had plans to go with friends to do some fun things with the kids this week, but due to her injury and not being able to walk a lot and me not being able to take out 3 kids who all need a stroller, we had to put that on hold. Add to that the fact that it is SUPER SUPER cold in NYC this week (we are talking feeling like 0 degrees outside), we have been stuck inside for most of the days Ed was gone. It has been a great lesson to the kids about “when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade” and it has been a great lesson to me about how the Lord sustains you even in rough circumstances. Has it been easy? Heck no. Have there been lots of meltdowns? Heck yes. Have there been lots of tears shed by all parties? Oh yes. But we have made it through and are even able to look back to see how the Lord was gracious to us in the midst of all of this. Here are a few ways we saw the Lord sustain and be gracious to us:

1 – I knew I couldn’t take all 4 kids to the orthopedic doctor for lots of reasons – its a small waiting room and no room for a single stroller, much less a double stroller, all visits there have taken us at least an hour, Brynn would freak out being still and quiet that long, etc. – so I embarked on trying to find someone to watch them. After lots of calls to sitters and friends, my friend Wendy graciously agreed to watch all 3 of the kids for a few hours for us to go (thought the office is just about 1.5 miles away, with taking the bus and an hour office visit, we were gone over 2 hours!). I am so, so, so thankful that she was available, willing, and that my kids know her enough to be comfortable there.

2 – Stephanie, a dear friend who is in our church small group, came over to hang with us one day and sat with the younger kids for me to run to the store with the two older. She also came over another day to sit with the younger kids while I took the older girls to the movie to get them out of the house (but yet do something that didn’t require walking!). She and her husband also gave us a ride to and from church on Sunday, helped carry Emerson in the stroller up the stairs to church, and helped get the kids to their classes. I am so thankful that the Lord brought us together only a few short months ago and have knitted us together and provided so much community and friendship through them.

3 – Beth, another dear friend who has become like a sister to me, came over with her daughter for a playdate one day and even brought a teepee for the kids to play in (and left it for them to keep playing in!), brought a few crafts for the girls to do, and kicked me out so I could run and pickup something. She stayed a long time and felt like she was overstaying her welcome, but let me tell you, it was such a blessing. She has also continued encouraged and texting me daily to see how I am doing. She also encouraged me to focus on doing little things for the kids that make this time special, even if we can’t get out, like cereal for dinner or sleeping in a blanket palette on the floor – things that they don’t normally get to do but that make this time feel special. This was a huge encouragement and one that I think helped us all survive.

4 – My mom randomly texted me one evening and said she knew I had planned on cooking, but that she had ordered McDonalds for us and it was being delivered soon. Ed doesn’t like McDonalds, so not only was it a rare treat, but she also sent milkshakes. My sweet kids were so excited they had their own milkshakes as we usually make them share 🙂

So many friends graciously texted, called, and prayed for us and I firmly believe that all of these things were God’s sweet blessings that have carried us through. I know that this is so, so small in comparison to some trails people are facing, like death of loved ones, cancer, loss of jobs, etc., and it was helpful to talk through this with the kids and spend time counting our blessings and talking about what we are thankful for, like having a warm place in this nasty cold weather.

Emerson goes back this Thursday for a followup and I am interested to see what they say since she says it doesn’t feel any better. Please keep praying it would heal and not cause any long-term damage. And pray for us as Ed leaves again Friday for 3.5 days for a conference to get trained for leading the NYC Summer Mission this coming summer.