Missing in Action

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t done a blog post since December 9. For me, this is a big deal and I usually never go that long between posts…my goal is to write once every week or week and a half. So what happened?

Christmas chaos, sickness of all kinds for just about every member of our family at some point (including a nasty upper respiratory infection and cough that I am still battling), and if I am honest, lack of inspiration about what to write about. A friend once wisely told me that if I didn’t feel inspired to write a post and didn’t have anything to say, that I just shouldn’t say it. And so I haven’t. Not that we haven’t had lots of fun things going on and not that I haven’t had lots of soap box moments that I could have shouted about on here. But I have always felt the need to cut some things out in the midst of focusing on Christ this season and battling not feeling well, and blogging has been the thing I have had to say no to so I could say yes to other things. But, the good news? I AM BACK.

I have had our website pulled up on my screen for the last week wanting to find the time to write a post. Its not a super spiritual post about Christmas. Its not a ministry update for the semester (though that would be a fun one to share soon as I was super encouraged by all God is doing as we recapped the semester with our team). I honestly just wanted to do a life update and highlight some things we have been doing the last few weeks. So as I sit here in our hotel room in Baltimore (we are here for our annual winter conference we staff and put on for the college students in our region) watching my 4 little kiddos sleep, I am going to just lay out the pictures that describe our December. If you want a ministry update or super spiritual post, come back next week 🙂

We attended winter concerts and campus parties and class parties and church small group parties and birthday parties. So many parties. This is a picture of one of the girls’ winter concerts. The lady pictured is a dear friend that I met when we lived in the same apartment building and had kids riding the bus together to the same school. She is from Indonesia, her husband works at the UN, and though we don’t talk as much as we used to since we moved, I have loved getting to know her better. I even got the opportunity to share with her about having a relationship with Jesus and what that means to us. She moves back in June :(. The last pic is a Christmas party with our St. John’s Cru students (missing quite a few!).

We got to love on sweet Esme so her parents (friends that are in our small group) could go on a date. She was so good and sweet and I got my baby fix. I also learned that while she was adorable and all and we handled it great because Ed was home to help, I for sure couldn’t handle 5 kiddos by myself. 🙂

We loved having Ed’s parents visit and then later, opening presents from Grandpa and Nona (Ed’s parents). The kids are thrilled about their new Kindle tablets and Brynn finally has her own dress up dress!

Going to see Christmas Lights in Dyker Heights has been on our bucket list since moving to NYC. It required a car as it is pretty hard and time consuming to get to by the train, so we had to wait to rent a car or until we got our own. It was well worth the wait! We went on a weekday night which was awesome since the crowds were way down. They say some of these people spend up to $10,000 in light bills in December and after seeing it, I believe it!

We have done lots and lots of baking!

My parents and brother, sister-n-law, and my niece and nephew traveled to NYC to spend Christmas with us. We had a great time touring the city with them and spending time with them. There was lots of noise, lots of laughter, lots of tears, and lots of memories made. Here are a few pics of our travels with them – and yes, when you see the sea of people outside Rockefeller and Times Square, the pictures don’t even describe the chaos it was. Seriously insane madness. NYC is beautiful at Christmas time but apparently everyone else thinks so too and wants to see it.

On Christmas Eve, we went to the Candlelight Service at our church. This is always such a highlight for me and the kids have grown to love it as well. Here are the pictures of the night as well as our friend Fady that is in our small group as he read part of the story of the birth of Jesus in Arabic.

Now, we are at a conference in Baltimore with around 1,000 college students from our city and neighboring states. It is going to be a busy week with lots of meetings and late nights and balancing the kids and work demands…but, we are excited to see our students and to meet so many others and to pray that this conference changes them the way one changed Ed’s life many, many years ago! Here is the picture from our hotel room – nice view and I am loving the skating rink on the top of the building next to us:)


Christmas Traditions

What are your Christmas traditions? This was the question a mom asked at our mom’s group this past Wednesday. Growing up, I can very vividly remember our Christmas traditions – getting together with my dad’s side of the family on Christmas eve which meant a big meal, opening presents, and seeing family that I often didn’t get to see (and sometimes a visit from the big man himself which usually meant my dad is costume). Christmas day was spent eating a big special breakfast consisting of a breakfast casserole and monkey bread followed by opening presents at our house and then visits from or around to different family’s houses to see what they got and to see them. I am sure there are more but its funny what sticks.

When Ed and I got married, we took turns visiting our families at Christmas and fit in to their traditions. When we started having kids, and especially as they got older, we started evaluating what our traditions would be for our family – we came up with a few new ideas and a few ideas from our families. We have change it a little over the years and I am sure we will continue doing that, but here is the jist of our traditions:

  • The weekend after Thanksgiving, we decorate the tree and house together.

  • Before Christmas, we surprise the kids later one evening by having them change into their PJs, having them find a golden ticket that grants them admission into the car, and telling them to get into the car. We give them popcorn and hot chocolate and then we ride around to look at Christmas lights on our own “polar express.” We haven’t been able to do this tradition the past two years since moving to NYC and having no car, but we are hoping to pick back up on it this year.
  • We always take one trip to visit Santa somewhere – the first year in NYC, it was Macy’s. The second year was Bloomingdales, and this year, we went back to Macys.
  • On Christmas eve, we attend a Christmas Eve Service where we remember what the season is all about, and then we head home to eat appetizer foods (chips, dip, wings, meatballs, other dips), and the kids get to open their gifts from each other.
  • On Christmas morning, we start the morning by eating a big “special” breakfast (usually homemade cinnamon rolls, crock pot grits, and/or monkey bread) and then reading the Christmas story in the Bible. We love doing this and slowing the kids down to think about Jesus instead of just rushing into the gifts.

What are some Christmas traditions you have with your family? We have heard of everyone getting new Christmas matching PJs, Christmas caroling together, and the Christmas pickle. We are always open to adjusting ours so I can’t wait to hear!



And the answer is…..

Well, I survived…I made it through the panel. All in all, I thought it was very good and I loved hearing everyone talk and learning from them and getting to know them. If you are interested in listening for yourself, check out this link:


I learned some very important lessons through this experience:

1 – Our church has three services on Sunday mornings and I learned that I have major respect for all those who stand up and do this every Sunday – the worship team, the choir, the speaker, the people sharing announcements, and so on. It is absolutely exhausting to do it three times and by the end of the day, I was worn out. God sustained us while we were doing it but whew….

2 – Wearing a skirt while sitting on a stool on a stage is not a good combo. If I ever do anything like this again (beyond just standing on stage and sharing at a church), I will think harder about my outfit selection. I thought for sure I was going to flash everyone there.

3 – If I ever have extra to give to the church, I will make sure it is designated for better chairs for panel members to sit on. I told Ed at one point “These chairs aren’t made for people with big butts” to which he replied “These chairs aren’t made for anyone at all.”

4 – If God calls you to do it, he will provide the words, courage, strength, etc. to do it. I felt so very unqualified to be up there, but I trusted our leadership and that God had something he wanted to share through me.

In other news, remember me sharing about the girls’ school collecting items for the community to help others for November? They shared today that they were able to deliver to PS 446 (the school with a large number of kids in shelters) a total of 13 bins with coats, clothes, winter wear, and toiletries, collected 400+ hats for Ellie’s Hats,  5 boxes of toiletries for Coalition for the Homeless, and 800 socks for Socks in the Box. Isn’t this awesome?  Major props to the parents and children at PS101 – they showed up to give to others in a big way!

Also, since this post is full of random things anyways, let me say this: I love Christmas in NYC. People are genuinely more happy, beautiful decorations are everywhere, and there are so many fun things to do this time of year.

Today, we took the kids to Macy’s Santaland. Two years ago, we went and ended up waiting for hours to see Santa. They started a new reservation system last year where you have to register for a time so it will cut down on wait times. The kids wanted to go see Santa so we decided to give it another try. We took the Long Island RailRoad into the city, which the kids have never ridden before, and they loved seeing the conductor punch people’s tickets just like they do in the Polar Express. Then, we only had to wait about 20-25 minutes to see Santa which was not bad at all. The kids were so excited to see Santa, and Brynn did great until we actually reached Santa and then she wasn’t having it.

Then, we traveled to Grand Central Station to see the train exhibit in the Transit Museum. It was crowded but the little kids LOVED it. I think they could have stood there and watched the trains for hours.

Then, we traveled home and got to enjoy a visit from my brother and Tim. We enjoyed some good Chipotle and Martha’s Bakery and fun conversation. It has been a while since we have seen them so it was so good!  I don’t think I have shared on here that I have a brother who lives in Manhattan and works as a kitchen designer with Lowes. He moved here about 10 months before we did so while he works crazy hours, it is really fun to see him when we can.

Hope you are enjoying your weekend like we are enjoying ours!