Truth. Life isn’t always glamorous, even when you live in NYC. Truth. As much as I never like to say “Life is super busy”, ours lately and in the foreseeable future is just that. Truth. I didn’t want to write a blog post but I have committed to myself to not go MIA for more than 2 weeks.
So, here I am. Tired. Stressed. Worried. Feeling distant from Jesus. Uninspired to post.
It is like April 1 for an accountant – sprint to the finish time. We are finishing up the year on campus and planning for the fall. It is less than 2 weeks away from our large NYC Metro Vision Dinner that I am doing the finances for. It is less than a month away from the beginning of our Summer Mission for which I am also doing the finances for. We had two guys drop out recently, the hotel is holding us up to every penny on our contract, and we are having to make big budget cuts to stay in the black and not start the project out in the hole. There are so many ugly feelings that come from this that would be too much mess to write. I found myself saying tonight “I just want to be a mom – just a mom”. I have been learning so much about myself in the last few years and one thing I have learned/am learning is this – when I hear myself saying that (because most days I love the responsibilities that I have taken on with ministry AND being a mom), it is a huge red flag that my anxiety level is too high and my activity level is too fast and I need more Jesus.
So I will post these sweet pictures of my kiddos – Blake playing at the park (at a fun play date we had with a friend) and Brynn sitting in an American girl doll desk (which isn’t made for her but shhh….don’t tell her), because mostly, my kids right now are a great reminder from the Lord that life is SO much more than deadlines, contracts, numbers, and breaking even.
And lastly – would you pray? Pray that God gives us favor with the hotel. Pray that we have wisdom about what needs to be cut, that no other students drop off, and that students are able to raise the support they need for the summer. Pray that even in the midst of a busy schedule, I will slow down, enjoy sweet moments with friends and family (we have lots planned this weekend!), and spend time with the Lord being filled up so I can pour out.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” -Matthew 11:28-30
So….normally when you check on this page, you hear my voice/thoughts. Occasionally, Ed has shared (like 2 times in the last how many years? clearly I am the person who writes in our family 🙂 ), but today, I asked my friend and co-worker Amy to share. She is a great writer and I think you will be an encouraged as I was in reading her post. Here goes…
So, besides those papers in college and the occasional Facebook post that might read like a blog post due to length, I’ve never written a blog post before. April asked if I might want to share something on her blog and I accepted the challenge.
Hi, I’m Amy! I am a mom of 3, been married to my husband for just over 10 years and we (like the Hetzel family) moved across the country from Texas to New York City (specifically the borough of Queens) just a little over 18 months ago.
As I go about my daily life here, my new normal, I often think that life here is very different than what people think my life is like. What I, too, thought life was like in NYC before we lived here. Don’t get me wrong, I♥NY! There are the times when I am driving down the Blvd and get a glimpse of the Manhattan skyline or I’m going about my day and look up and see an iconic building that as a teenager I dreamed of one day visiting. Yes, there are days where I think, “Wow, I can’t believe I live here!”
But that is not the NYC I experience daily. Before we moved here, we heard someone refer to NYC as the home of the influencer and the immigrant. And that is very true! The world looks to NYC in many ways as a trendsetter: in finance, fashion, media and so many other areas. It is also the home of many immigrants. According to nyc.gov, ‘over 3 million of New York City’s residents are foreign-born; over a quarter arrived in 2000 or later.’ And in Queens, almost half the residents here are foreign born. If the borough of Queens were it’s own city, it would be the most diverse city in the world!
I resonate most with NYC being the home of the immigrant. Our life and ministry here is more connected to the immigrant. For the most part, it is the child of the immigrant. Our children’s friends, the college students we minister to, the owners of all our local bodegas, restaurants, pharmacies, nail salons, even our beloved 7-Eleven. I study the Bible with a group of women. In that group of 7 women I am the only one who has not had to navigate the process of obtaining a Visa, Green Card and/or becoming a Citizen of the United States. The world truly does live here! I don’t just cross paths with, but share daily life with people from different countries and religions. I love the diversity of NYC, especially Queens. Not to mention that eating out is almost always a new adventure in ethnic cuisine.
This print above hangs on the wall in my living room. I hung it there for a few reasons. We left a life, friends, house and community that we loved, to move in NYC. It has been hard. I still don’t look like I ‘fit’ here, even 18 months later. I consistently get remarks of, ‘wow, you have your hands full’ regarding my 3 young (and close in age) kids, a rarity in NYC. Sometimes a friendly smile or kind word I might give is met with skepticism or annoyance. This is not the type of environment I was raised in or grew in. This is not my home. But ‘back home’ is not my home either. This hangs on my wall mostly to remind me that my true home is with God. As Paul spoke of in 2 Corinthians 5: 1-5 (NIRV):
“We know that the earthly tent we live in will be destroyed. But we have a building made by God. It is a house in heaven that lasts forever. Human hands did not build it. 2 During our time on earth we groan. We long to put on our house in heaven as if it were clothing. 3 Then we will not be naked. 4 While we live in this tent of ours, we groan under our heavy load. We don’t want to be naked. Instead, we want to be fully dressed with our house in heaven. What must die will be swallowed up by life. 5 God has formed us for that very purpose. He has given us the Holy Spirit as a down payment. The Spirit makes us sure of what is still to come.”
Living here reminds me of this truth in a way that no other place in my life has, and for that I am deeply thankful to live here! I feel God using me in significant ways here. Even though people don’t know it, they see Christ in me. I can tell they see it and I have a profound opportunity to bless people!
One of the differences between living in NYC and living in the South – we are always out of school for something. There are the Jewish holidays. There are the Muslim holidays. There are the Christian holidays. There are the national holidays. There is Winter Break (right after Christmas). There is Presidents Day break (a week). There is Spring Break (which always coincides with Passover since we live in a heavily Jewish area). Seriously, so many breaks!
For Spring Break, we thought about traveling to Washington, DC. We thought about traveling to Philly. We thought about visiting an indoor water park or going skiing. We thought about traveling to Boston. But, what happens when NYC is huge and ALL the schools are on Spring Break and you have to pay for a rental car and housing for a family of 6? Prices to do things are INSANE! It was a little more than we wanted to spend, so we ended up staying here and making the most of our “staycation”.
We attended an Easter Egg Hunt that our church held in a nearby park – there was face painting, there were games, there were pictures with the Easter Bunny, there was an egg hunt, and there were SO MANY PEOPLE. They use it as a chance to love on our community, to invite them to church, and to share the Gospel with them in a big group setting. They did a great job of organizing everything and have lots of volunteers, but what happens when you get tons and tons of people, lots of them not speaking English, and you put eggs on the ground? Yes, a stampede. Thankfully, by the time the older kids got to do their “egg hunt” (Kinsley was super confused about why the eggs weren’t hidden), they had the kinks worked out and the kids actually got to pick up some eggs.
I will have to say that the highlight of the day was hearing Ed tell a story about a lady asking him if you could eat the eggs. He explained to her that “No, they are plastic and you can’t eat them.” and she proceeded to tell him how much better the egg hunt would be if you could actually eat them. File that away as “Things I haven’t heard asked until I moved to NYC.”
We spent time the week before Easter doing the resurrection eggs and talking about the reason for Easter, we helped Kinsley “learn to sew” using a kit she got for her birthday, and we dyed eggs (which is quite fun with 3 eager kiddos and 1 more who has now learned to climb on the table ALL BY HERSELF!). Their Easter baskets are well traveled – they literally are combined of things we bought here, things we bought on Amazon, and items we both (in separate trips) and my mom brought back from The Dollar Tree in SC and NC in our carry-on luggage. There are no true $1 stores in NYC (or things close to that price!), so we save money where we can :).
Check out our Sunday best! I could seriously eat them up…adore them! Nevermind the food in Brynn’s hand, there was no way to get her to let me have it and get a decent picture, so, food it is.
One day on our break, we traveled into the city and went to Barnes and Noble and then the Kelloggs store. At the Kelloggs store, you get to fill a bowl with cereal and then top with as many toppings as you like that will fit in the bowl. Mind you, these aren’t traditional cereal toppings but more like what you find at an ice cream bar. The kids loved it and also enjoyed lounging in the hammocks they had at the front.
We had a few fun play dates with newer friends, went to the library, watched the snow (again!!) and went to the zoo with friends.
They are all smiling in that pic, but let me tell you, the end of that trip around lunchtime, it all went south. Brynn started throwing a fit, Emerson started throwing a fit and talking back to me super bad, and I was DONE. People were staring, I was losing it, Brynn was laying in the dirt screaming because she was wriggling out of the stroller and wouldn’t stand or sit or stay in my arms, and my other kids were nowhere in sight. Our sweet friend gave us a ride home as I shared with her “We have to leave now…I just can’t do it with 2 acting out…you can stay but we have to go.” See, it doesn’t always go smooth when we do fun things out and about….just ask Hannah 🙂
And how fun is this? We had a playdate with a family we met at the park. We found out that they moved their entire family (3 kids) from the South because the Lord gripped their heart with how much NYC needs to know Jesus and how influential it is (less than 3% Christian and all the nations are here) – just like us! When they lived in Alabama, they attended David Platt’s church and a girl named Whitney taught their daughter’s Sunday school class for a few years. Whitney was a girl I discipled for a few years in Kentucky at Transylvania University. Talk about connecting the dots and it being a small world. So thankful for how the Lord is providing community and fellowship in the most unlikely ways.
And one more thing – do yourself a favor and check out this adorable video I posted on our YouTube channel – it is of Brynn dancing. This girl starts moving EVERY TIME any music turns on (ice cream truck, a toy, a cell phone ring, you name it) and it. is. adorable.
Here is the blog post I did for my friend Lyndsay’s blog “Minute Momma”. Thanks for having me guest write!
A little over two years ago, my husband and I began the process of moving from our suburbia home in Raleigh, NC to a high rise apartment in New York City. Did I mention we had three small kids (6,4,1) and I was pregnant with #4. We work with a ministry organization called Cru and we believed God was leading us to make a difference in a place that influences our country, culture, and world. I often get asked about what it is like to navigate NYC with 4 kids and no car…here are my tips for traveling through NYC with 4 kids.
Always carry an emergency kit – In suburbia, I usually carried a diaper bag, but now I call it an emergency kit (snacks, entertainment, band-aids) because you never know when that subway will get stuck or your child will get her foot caught on an escalator – true story! You can’t swing by a store when you’re stuck underground. Don’t leave home without it.
Prepare to potty – Kids have to take a potty break and you have to walk forever to find said potty (very few stores or restaurants have bathrooms that the public can use). Make sure to take kids potty before you leave. We carry a portable potty around the city with us until they can hold it for long periods of time.
Lower your expectations – Everything takes 5x as long with kids in the city. Inevitably there is a long line somewhere or a train doesn’t show when it should. I once went to drop a sample by the lab and send a fax at an office store. It seemed simple, right?….4 hours later, I arrived home with all 4 kids (my sanity got left along the way).
Know where you are going – with no car, you can’t get off on the wrong subway stop one mile away from your destination because kids can’t walk that far. I actually check for elevators ahead of time at subway stops so I’m not left carrying a massive double stroller up the stairs by myself.
Teach your kids the dos and don’t before you go. Single file line down subway stairs so others can get by. Stay behind yellow line that runs next to train tracks. Don’t complain if you don’t get a seat. Hang on to the pole. Keep your voices down because this is people’s commute to or from work – they like quiet and some are sleeping. Don’t take up the whole sidewalk because someone will want to pass us. Don’t stare at homeless people or people talking to themselves. Our kids have to be strapped into strollers until they learn our commands. Helping them learn these things goes a long way!
While I am usually the one sharing, posting, and updating you on our life and ministry, occasionally, I like to have someone else write a post for my blog for a change. Or, I post on .someone else’s blog, like I am going to be doing this week (and I will be sure to link that post here so you can see just what I said). Our teammate and friend Erin shared this story with her ministry partners and I was so encouraged (and thought you would be, too) that I wanted to post it here. This story is such a great example of how God is working on students’ hearts here in NYC!
“I’ve now met Jora (name changed) four times: the first time was when Sarah and I did Soularium, a picture survey about life and spiritual beliefs, with her (I honestly forgot about the whole conversation); the second time was when I was walking out of the cafeteria at SJU and heard someone yelling after me, “Hey you!! You’re the Cru girl, when are your meetings again?!” Students don’t tend to run toward me asking about Cru, so I told her the info and asked where I had met her before (oops). She never came to Cru, so I didn’t think much of it.
The third time was on Spring Break: I was with Sabrina, a student from Southern Miss, and we walked up to a group of about ten friends and asked if they would be willing to take our Perspectives survey (shown below). Jora recognized me, and said she would be willing to, along with her friend. We sat there hearing about her views of God, human nature, Jesus, and other topics. She had a background in Christianity, but was definitely confused. She thought there was a God, but just wasn’t quite sure who He was. She admitted she liked thinking about these things because she wants to figure out what the Truth is. At this point, I felt like Jora wanted to continue these conversations, so I got her number and asked if we could meet up another time.
Fourth meeting: Jora and I met last week for lunch. She dove right in, telling me all about her beliefs and confusions. She grew up Catholic but always skeptical. How could God be good if bad things were always happening? People said one thing and did another. Jesus died for her, but what did that actually mean and matter?! She had good, deep questions. She kept saying “I’m just trying to be good enough. I just am trying to be good enough, but it’s hard.” Her whole view of Christianity was on being “good enough”. I told her that sounds draining, full of pressure and no confidence, to which she agreed. I asked if I could share with her what I thought Christianity actually offered and the main message, to which she agreed to, again.
We walked through the gospel using our Knowing God Personally booklet, which breaks down the gospel into 4 main components: God’s love, our Sin, God’s Response, and our Response. As we got to the part on sin, talking about how we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), she looked relieved. She said that hearing that the Bible says that we have all sinned, that none of us are actually “good enough”, was the most reassuring thing. We kept walking through, going through Ephesians 2:8-9, talking about how we have been saved by gracethrough faith. This concept was so new to her. We got to the very end where it talks about two kinds of lives: a life without Christ and a life with Christ. Jora was explaining that she had a life without Christ but that’s not where she wanted to stay. The second after she said this, she looked at her clock and realized she was late for class (no joke). Worst timing ever. She got up really quickly and apologized but had to run. I asked if we could meet next week and she said “Yes!”.
I sat there dumbfounded at her response to the Gospel and the craziness of the timing. I was both slightly annoyed but also SO hopeful that the Lord is going to work through her to continue revealing himself to her. We are (hopefully) meeting up this week to finish our conversation. Would you pray for Jora?! Pray that she recognizes her brokeness, that we can never be “good enough” and we have a desperate need for Jesus. Pray that she would recognize that she does not have Christ, but by grace through faith she can be forgiven. Thank you for partnering in prayer with me and trusting God to work in students lives in NYC.”