It Finally Happened

After living in NYC for 2 years, it finally happened. I was the victim of a crime.

When people ask me if NYC is safe, I usually yes, as much as a big city can be safe. And this is true, crime per capita here is much lower than it used to be and compared to other cities in the US. Only a few times have I ever felt unsafe while walking around or traveling around the city. I have experienced many times that people could have taken advantage of me, like when I have dropped something or left a phone out in the open, and they have always been kind enough to help instead of causing harm. In 2 years living here and being safe, it is easy to let your guard down and think it is safer than it is.

Last week, I saw a post on a neighborhood Facebook group about a guy being followed at 1 in the morning along a busy street in our neighborhood by a guy who he thinks was going to rob him. Granted, he didn’t get robbed and he could have been wrong, but when the guy said to him “Whats the matter? I am not going to rob you”, paces out front of the convenience store he went in to get away waiting for him, and walks past him and turns around to come back towards him, it makes you wonder. There were SO many comments on that post where people said the same thing had happened to them or they actually were assaulted or robbed, including one where a man said his wife was robbed at knifepoint on a street block not far from us. It definitely made me stop and reevaluate what I do (walking long stretches later at night instead of taking a bus along that same route, wearing headphones at night so I don’t hear people coming up behind me, etc.) and realize that while our neighborhood is relatively safe, crime does happen.

Then, a few days ago at a team social, the other mom on the team was mentioning to me that she was in a clothing store last week with her daughter and a cop was going around passing out flyers warning people, especially moms, to watch their bags because things were being stolen. My defenses went up even more.

Yesterday, on Emerson’s birthday, Ed was off so I went to pick the two big girls up from school and take them to Michael’s craft store (where they had been begging to go) just the three of us. We drove there and when we got to the store, I had my purse over my shoulder and we entered the store. I carried the purse on my shoulder most of the time, but towards the end, I put it in the cart and made sure to never walk away from the cart if I or the girls weren’t right there (I grew up with a mom who always had one hand on her purse when it was in the cart because she was scared of getting it stolen so this was drilled into me). When I got to the checkout a little bit later, I reached in my purse for my wallet and it wasn’t there. I know I had put it in there right before I left for Michaels, but I called Ed asking him to look around the house thinking maybe I had momma brain and totally forgot to put it in. I went outside to the car to double check for it and then came back into Michaels to retrace my steps and ask if someone had turned one in. Then, I headed home to look some more and so Ed could come back and buy the stuff that was on hold.

As soon as I got to the house and walked in, I started getting calls for credit card companies asking if I was trying to make a purchase for $727 at a Foot Locker store near us. Uh yeah, thats not me. At first, I thought maybe it was just a coincidence and that credit card may have had its number comprised online or somewhere else. But, then another card started calling, and another, and it became obvious someone had stolen my wallet. Ed and I both frantically started canceling cards but before we could cancel our debit card, they made the purchase and took our money. We will get the money back from the bank but it will take time and lots of hassle.

Besides the feeling of being violated and taken advantage of, is that it is all a huge, huge hassle. I had so much in my wallet for our family, a VISA gift card with money on it, about $80 in cash that was part of our grocery budget that I am now out, driver’s license, membership cards, health insurance cards, and so on. And not to mention that I had my favorite Thirty-One wallet which is not cheap and which I LOVED! And all of it on Emerson’s birthday. So, we called the police, they came and took a report, and they even went to look at video footage at Michaels. I was really impressed with all they were doing to try to find these people (which they thought were professional given how fast it all happened) and even today, I had a detective call asking questions and going to review the footage. I think it really helps that I have a very clear, small timeline of when it all happened. Apparently, it is happening a lot around here to moms (because they are distracted with kids which I totally was) and is even ramping up because of the holiday season. The crazy part was that the police officer who came to our house was the same one that handed out flyers to my friend in Kohls.

It has been such a hassle (like my bank today almost not giving me a new debit card even though I answered every security question correct just because I had no kind of photo ID – hello! It was stolen!) but I learned some very, very valuable lessons today. Always carry a crossbody bag or a bag that is zipped up (in anger last night I threw away every bag I have that isn’t crossbody) and keep it on you at all times, be more aware of what is happening around you, don’t hang purses on back of chairs at restaurants, and never assume it can’t happen to you. It was a great opportunity to talk to our kids about evil people, sin, theft hurting people, etc. and our kids loved that the police came to our house, and I have thankfully gone from wanting to punch the people who did this to being able to pray for them.

I don’t say this to scare people who come to NYC or any other big city, because crime can happen anywhere and like I said, by per capita standards, NYC is safe, but just as a reminder to be safe and vigilant. I know I will from now on.

Our Week in Pictures

Do you know what makes me happy? Getting back to our tradition of exploring this beautiful city during the weekends. Last weekend, we traveled to Central Park (Central Park is huge and though we have spent lots of time on the south end, there is still so much we haven’t seen) and toured The Mall, Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, the Loab Boathouse, Alice in Wonderland statue, and the pond where they do model boats. Then, for good measure, we stopped by a playground to let the kids run around. It was so fun to see the place where so many movies we know have been filmed, and to see fun things like a girl taking pictures for her Quinceanera, a gondola boat ride with a bride and groom, 2 other brides and grooms taking pictures with their wedding parties, and lots of people modeling for different things. This is probably one of my favorite areas in Central Park!

Emerson’s birthday is this coming week and to stick with tradition, we let her choose the activity she wanted to do. She really wanted to ride a horse but I had a really hard time finding a place around here that wasn’t 1) too far and 2) didn’t cost an arm and a leg. I finally found a place that offered pony rides at an affordable rate at Queens County Farm out towards Long Island. We got there Saturday morning and everyone did two rides around on the ponies, even Brynn!!  The kids loved it, though I have to say I was a little disappointed with how much they rode for the price. It was $4 for a ride but it only went about 3/4 of a lap…that was enough for the kids but I felt like they could have done at least two laps. Blake was here too, but Ed had those pictures on his phone.

Saturday afternoon, we went to our friend’s daughter’s 100 day old party. The wife is Korean and in Korean culture, when a child hits 100 days, you have a party to celebrate (it is a big deal to hit 100 days in their culture because the infant mortality rate used to be so high), so we went over to celebrate with them. We have known these friends from the time they first announced they were pregnant with her, so it has been to fun to see them pregnant, see her be born, and see her grow up. And even more fun to learn more about another culture!

Then, Saturday evening, we left the kids with a babysitter and headed to the Queens Night Market with our small group from church. We love doing life with these friends, experiencing diversity and learning about other cultures from them, and experiencing authentic community that isn’t just once a week. These friends are important to us and are becoming like family in this foreign place. And what better way to build community than to chow down on delicious foods from around the world?

I also got the opportunity to go on campus this week (it has been WAY too long since I have done this) and had a great time doing some staff coaching, getting to share my story with a girl who is questioning whether she can lose her salvation, digging into scriptures, and learning more about a cult that we are running into a lot about Queens College. I am excited for more opportunities to do this and pray that God gives us/me wisdom on how to best reach this campus.

Weekly Update

After battling a cold this past week (and watching it trickle through the rest of our family), I am finally feeling well enough to update you on our last week (well, a little over a week but who’s counting?).

I love living in such a diverse place and learning so much about other religions and people groups. For instance, seeing these tents at Jewish houses and synagogues over the last month reminds me that it is time for the Festival of Booths, where Jewish people remember and thank God for their fruit harvest and also remember how God provided shelter for them when they were wandering in the desert. I also did a culture report for our staff meeting where I shared more about the Chinese Exclusion Act. Our team is going to take turns doing reports on different cultural things that have happened in the US and the racism different people groups (that we work with daily) have dealt with as a result of it.  It was very humbling to learn that American prohibited Chinese immigration for over 60 years back in the 1800’s – it was the first and only time in US history that a group was singled out by name as being undesirable. They never shared about this in history while growing up and I feel it’s a very big deal!

We had our annual Fall Retreat last weekend in New Jersey with all the NJ and NY Cru students. We had 12 students attend (7 from St. Johns, 4 from Queens College, and 1 from Stony Brook Univ.), which is an increase from last year!! I did not attend for a variety of reasons (which I am glad I didn’t as I came down with nasty cold) but it was neat to hear stories of how God grew the students, connected them together, and got them excited about going back to reach their campus. While Ed was gone, we explored a new-to-us park near our new place, we went to church, and we spent lots of time playing and relaxing. At church last weekend, they opened a new library for the kids where they can check out Christian books and return them to get more. I think its a great idea to introduce Christian authors to kids, especially when they start reading chapter books and Christian authors aren’t as numerous. Kinsley got to do the ribbon cutting (along with another friend) for the new library, and of course, their favorite part were the cupcakes and juice boxes to celebrate.

Ed got Monday off – one, because it was Columbus Day and college campuses were closed and two, as a recovery day from Fall Retreat. So, because the girls were out of school as well, we headed to the Bronx Zoo. We love this zoo – it is huge (we have never been able to see everything in just one day) and we love that they really care for and provide great habitats for the animals rather than just putting them in a little cage. We also have watched some of “The Zoo” on Animal Planet which has connected us with the animals as we see the behind the scenes things they have done. They were having “Boo at the Zoo” and our kids loved the Candy Trail and the Costume parade (shown below).

Brynn has been having a hard time sleeping through the night and we thought it was in large part to the fact that she would lose her pacifier and couldn’t get back to sleep without it. So, because we were planning on taking it away soon anyways, we decided to go ahead and do it while we weren’t getting sleep. I am excited to report that we are like 5 days into no pacifier at all and she is sleeping through the night and sleeping longer and better than she has ever done. So thankful! That being said, it has been fun to even see her personality come out more since she doesn’t have a pacifier in her mouth. For instance, she is always finding little places all over our house to hide herself. For instance, one day we found her under the bathroom sink and another, we found her hiding in our pantry. This kid keeps us laughing and I pray it continues.

One thing I am not liking right now – dealing with bugs again!  When we moved to NYC, I already had expectations that we would deal with bugs and ants in our apartment (we had a major problem with ants when we were here for the summer a few years ago). But surprisingly, our apartment was great and we only ever saw 1 water bug. However, moving to a house has been a totally different story. Spiders, creepy crawly bugs that I can’t even name, and ants have been constant since we moved in. Ed is doing some major spraying this weekend to try and get the problem under control, but man, I didn’t miss this!


Changes Everywhere

Wow!! Because of moving, it feels like it has been a while since I have posted about real life. So, I plan on doing some of that today, especially since it feels like so much has changed in our lives recently.  But first, I would love to update those who have partnered by praying for my hometown.

Praise God my parent’s hometown barely flooded!! There was minimal flooding in a few areas, but compared to the 5-10 feet they were expecting, it was nothing. Our town came together for a big prayer rally a few days before the flooding was scheduled to get bad and a lot of people say that is when things started changing. The forecast started changing and even though they were saying there would be flooding, the amount of flooding was significantly lowered. But then Thursday and the weekend came and went, and hardly anything flooded. Which is HUGE and such an answered prayer!  Just up the road about 30 minutes, houses were flooded in water up to their roofs, but when it got to Georgetown, the water slowed down and spread out in to the marshes. It has been really fun to see so many people in Georgetown thanking God and recognizing that He was the one that spared our town. And my grandmother moves her stuff back into a DRY HOUSE today!!

As far as updates on our lives, so much has changed. We are officially moved into our new house we are renting and so far, we absolutely LOVE it.  I love having our family spread out a little more amongst the different levels and letting them be able to be kids a little more instead of constantly telling them to be quiet and to quit jumping, running, etc. We also found out that our neighbor across the street is a family with a little girl Kinsley’s age AND she was in Kinsley’s first grade class. She started attending school in Manhattan at a speciality school for 2nd grade, but Kinsley was so excited to be reunited and there have already been tons of play dates!

Our new place is in a slightly different area of town (still in walking distance to where we were but closer to different stores) so it has been fun to do some exploring around it. I joined a new gym that wouldn’t have been an option where we were living before and we even get to wander onto movie sets like this one.

They were filming “The Godfather of Harlem” (or something like that) 2 blocks away so we walked there hoping to see Forest Whitaker. While we didn’t see him when we were there, we saw the set, saw parts being filmed, and saw this post from a person in our neighborhood which did show Forest filming. So fun!

After searching for over a week and having lots of frustration related to dealerships and prices (whole ‘nother story for a whole ‘nother day), we bought a new-to-us van!  We were able to drive to church this week (it took us 20 minutes versus 50!) and to the grocery store yesterday. While we will still be doing tons of walking and not driving the car every day, I think it will be life giving for our family to drive out to Long Island or to drive and get out of the city and be able to get a break from the city. It will also help Ed will getting to campus quicker and carrying things and students should he need to. Praise God for this very sweet blessing!

Our church small group now has 2 new babies! They are adorable and while I am done with having some of our own, the girls are loving getting snuggles from them.

Lastly, I am really thankful for God’s hand of protection over Blake this past week. We had heavy pantry delivered to our house and when they delivered it, is was placed leaning agains our entry way but in the neighbor’s driveway. Because I knew they would need to get out and because Ed wasn’t going to be home until late that night because he was leading the Athlete’s Bible study at St. John’s, I decided to try and move it. After struggling up the steps, a neighbor helped me carry it inside and we leaned it up longways against a wall. The kids were getting ready to take naps so I thought it would be okay there for a minute, but before I could really even walk away, Blake pulled the box over on top of him. I lifted it off of him and the neighbor helped move the box to lay down. He had a HUGE knot on his head and his nose bleed a little and he kept screaming that his nose hurt. So, I took him to Urgent Care and after looking everything over, they though that his nose would be okay without going to an ENT and that he didn’t have a concussion. He has continued to have bruising and a “bad look” but thankfully, it wasn’t anything more serious. It could have crushed him! Or Brynn if it had been her. In hindsight, I should not have put the book like that even with it leaning but in a split second decision, sometimes you just don’t think. Lesson learned! When I ask him how it feels now, he says “It feels awesome!”

Thanks for all your prayers for my hometown and for our family. I feel like we are starting to come out of the moving fog and digging back into life here. More updates to come!!