Eggs, Planes, and Buckeyes

Most people have traditions. Growing up, my family was no different. For Easter, we would go to church, afterwards gather as family, have a traditional Easter meal (ham or turkey, rice and gravy, mac and cheese, deviled eggs, dessert), and hunt eggs together as we talked about what we got in our baskets. Most Easters, though we haven’t always had family around, we have done something similar. This year, however, that was not the case.

We joined with some friends after church, had hot dogs and hamburgers, mac and cheese (I had to throw something a little southern in there), chips, salsa, guac, some other sides, and a good Easter cake. We didn’t even do egg hunts. While it was so much fun, it left something missing for me as I felt “off” all day. Here’s to new traditions….

Thanks to Spring Break and freer weekends, we have had a chance to do some fun things in the city – like going to the American Museum of Natural History (along with the rest of New York City!) and checking out their T Rex exhibit, Butterfly Conservatory, and getting to explore in their discovery room – and visiting the Queens Zoo with friends (and the rest of Queens – notice a trend at Spring Break?).

This weekend, we headed to Columbus, Ohio to visit Ed’s family (which some of we haven’t seen in 4 years!) and travel to Cincinnati to attend our sweet friend, Marie’s, wedding. We loved celebrating with Marie and Andrew and also loved getting to see Ed’s family – killing two birds with one stone.

Our trip to Ohio was insane. We arrived at the airport by Uber, realized at bag check that not only had we left our front curtains open, but I had left my cell phone at our house. Ed traveled back to get them and try to be back in time to make our flight, and I continued through bag check and security with all the kids. Thankfully, we have TSA Pre-check so it wasn’t as insane (except Emerson and our car seat set off the detector and had to go through extra checks). Ed arrived at the airport right as we were changing gates and in time. THEN, we learn that our flight was delayed because our plane was broken and they were fixing it. Then, they said it was fixed, they started loading, and then suddenly stopped. Then, after a little while, they unloaded the people who had loaded and said they were switching our gates. Turns out, they fixed our plane but because another plane was broke with a crew that was headed on to 3 more stops that day, they gave them our plane and we got another broke plane (Columbus was our crew’s last stop). Then, we finally get on the plane and the rain picked up and then we started seeing lightening and were delayed because of weather. Finally, when the weather delay ended, we started moving out only to have the pilot stop us YET AGAIN to tell us that they had forgotten to switch our luggage from the last plane and had to go back in to do that. We FINALLY got in the air only to have extreme turbulence. Thankfully, it didn’t last super long and the kids did great. They said for our inconvenience, they were giving us anything we wanted on the flight free, but the irony is that it was so turbulent, they didn’t even give us drink or food service. AND, when we got our luggage, it had been left in the rain and soaked through. Great job, Delta. We have had great service on every other flight of theirs, so I am hoping it was a one time thing, or at least once in a blue moon.

Here are pics from our trip to Ohio- finally getting in our rental car, visiting with family (including lots I didn’t get pics of!), visiting Ohio State stadium and campus, going to the wedding, visiting Ed’s cousin’s farm (including what city kids do without rainboots when its muddy), and Brynn getting stuck in our trash can lid.

School started back today so the fun is over 🙁 . But in good news, summer is SOOOO close!!

A Week of Highs and Lows

When I think of how I would describe our last few weeks (heck, months even), I think of a rollercoaster…weeks are filled with high highs and low lows. I know this is true for most people and their lives, but it has felt more intense than normal these last few weeks (months).

Let me start with the low lows – Friends struggling with some pretty heavy things that I am entering into with them, having lots of hard conflict resolution conversations that are no fun but so needed, losing monthly partners with ministry partner development in our ministry, hard character things with kids that we are dealing with, and then most recently, more drama with St. John’s administration.

Lows – This past week, I went on campus with one of our staff ladies. As I was traveling to campus, I talked with our advisor who is actually a close friend of mine, and she warned me to be careful on campus that day because at the end of the previous week, some people were arrested for coming on campus and trying to sex traffic students under the ruse of having a Bible study. An email had been sent to students and students were told to be on high alert against anything weird. We met with a senior soccer girl for discipleship, we met to do a little coaching/training for her, and we had a great spiritual conversation with a boy and a girl. Then, I left campus to come home and she stayed to help a track girl prepare Bible study for the following evening’s AIA meeting. While they were meeting, campus security approached her and asked her to come to public safety office because someone had called in that we were looking suspicious. They essentially said that she hadn’t been vetted through campus ministry and she was put on the “No Trespassing List” and would have to leave campus and if they caught her on campus with her name on the list, she would be arrested. So….she went off campus to meet with the student.

After LOTS of convos there and since then, it will be a process to get her name taken off the list and she will likely not make it back on campus this semester. It is way complicated, there are lots of miscommunication, and though we somewhat have approval to be there, it hasn’t all been ironed out. Because of that, Ed is also being really cautious to only be on campus meeting with our students and has pulled back a ton from St. Johns. The great news in all of this is that AIA is getting approval to be an official organization under the Athletic Department, that there is someone in the athletic department who was involved with AIA at Rudgers and wants to help out, and that when AIA is approved, Ed and Erin (and possibly me as well) will have full access on campus through AIA, even if not through Cru. But again, highs and lows, even with her getting kicked off campus and AIA getting pushed through.

Highs – We got to experience a TV show first hand this week!  Last Monday, we started seeing signs go up for a TV show they were shooting on our block. Not a biggie, we see that all the time around here. Then, on Tuesday, they approached our house and asked us to move our car back in the driveway so its not visible since the show is based in the 1940s. They handed us a flyer saying what the show was and what it was about. Then, on Wednesday, they ask us if they can put a light in our front window and put a period car in our driveway, for a price of course (meaning they paid us for it). We said yes. Then, on Thursday, they started fixing up the inside and outside of the house on our corner that they were going to use in the show, including putting a Christmas tree inside, planting plants outside, and changing everything including the curtains.

Then, on Friday, they asked if they could use our bathroom all day for the crew to use the bathroom while setting up. Sure, we said! Who minds awkward when you are getting paid for it? Then, that night, they asked to rent our living room for the cast and crew to sit in between takes. They ended up using a bunch of other houses as well on our block so they only used ours for equipment and a person to do some downloading and editing of the film, but it was still cool for Ed to talk to them and hear more about what the process. They are shooting 100 days and this was only day 3, and because they hadn’t worked out all the kinks and were behind schedule, they didn’t finish shooting until 2 that morning. Poor Ed stayed up with them…though the excitement made it hard to sleep. Check out these fun pics of the cars, how bright our street was, the shoot at the house, and them taking away some of the cars the next day.

Early Friday morning set-up.

Cars arriving.

Check out how they changed the stop signs to make it look more antique. So fun!  Anyways, it was neat to see the process and it amazes me every time to see how much work goes into just one scene. Most people think TV and movie is so glamorous, but they were in the pouring rain, working insane hours, and so much work goes into it for just a little output. Whew!!

Our Week(s) in Pictures

Because I have been posting so much about the St. John’s drama, we haven’t posted many family photos or updates on what we have been doing. So, hold on to your seats and be prepared for LOTS!!

This sweet first-born of ours turned 9!!  Oh man, I about flipped out when I realized that is halfway to 18!  She is so kind and considerate of others, she is super helpful, she is able to socialize with anyone and never meets a stranger, she loves schedules and routines and comfort, she likes for others to do what they are supposed to be doing and has no problem bossing them around, and she loves one-on-one time. I love seeing her heart for the Lord grow and I pray that continues as she grows more independent.

She wanted to go the bounce house place, have an Incredible cake with a 9 on top, and she loved her older girl presents like a journal, alarm clock, and shirt.

Ed got to go with a friend to the NY Rangers game as his belated birthday gift. AND he finished another half marathon – the NYC Half. How fun that they run right through Times Square? We finally got to go and cheer him on and it was all fun and games until we noticed the dead rat on the sidewalk next to us 🙁

I had to say goodbye for now to a very dear friend of mine – Marie. Marie became a part of our family when she would come over and help with the kids and Brynn after I had Brynn, especially when Ed was away during the evening or had long hours. She loved holding and rocking Brynn and loved on my other kiddos when momma was busy feeding. Since then, we have shared so many great talks, fun times and laughs, and I have loved seeing her fall in love with a Boston man. She was a true gift to me – I value her friendship and will miss having her “nearby”. She is getting married this month to him and while are so excited for this next step for her, it meant moving to be near him. 🙁

My friend Jane and I took a long overdue trip to Scarsdale, NY (about 45 minutes north of NYC) to visit a close friend who moved away last year. Esther and I met through moms group shortly after moving to NYC and became fast friends. She is hilarious, authentic, direct, intentional, and a phenomenal cook! Jane met her at a mom’s night out we had and they quickly bonded. We have been joking about heading north to visit for a while, but I finally worked up the courage to drive further than my neighborhood (NY drivers are NUTS and their roads and directions are SO tricky!) So, these pictures are from our visit – complete with food of course since she knows how to do it right.

The last two weeks have been warmer temperatures, which have been very greatly welcomed!  When the winter starts wearing off, the sun starts coming out, and the weather gets warmer, I think we live outside. Here is Kinsley enjoying her new bike and Ed enjoying good weather to use our steal-of-a-deal yard sale find grill in – accompanied by Blake’s grill, of course.

Blake loves helping Ed out in the mornings when Ed runs sound at our church.

We have made some delicious food – the first picture is pileau – a South Carolina lowcountry favorite which Ed is slowly perfecting to taste like my dads. The second is my attempt at making Pad See Ew. I got Ed to go by an Asian market to pick them up when he left church and he definitely had a cultural experience as most of the people inside didn’t speak English and he was the only white person there. BUT, ya’ll, let me tell you, these fresh noodles that we used were AMAZING!!  I used oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, rice noodles which are ingredients I had never heard of, tried something new, and it was edible! So fun to be able to make authentic dishes with authentic ingredients.

This weekend, some friends from our small group invited us to travel out to Long Island with them to a State Park for the day. They did a great job planning a trip that had something for everyone to do and enjoy. They had fishing (which the kids enjoyed even though they didn’t catch ANYTHING), they had playgrounds, they had plenty of grass to run around in and play sports in, AND they had mud. Man, did I cringe at the mess that was made but of course, it was the kids’ highlight.

More adventures to come!!!


St. John’s Update

Thank you all so much for your prayers for the meeting last Thursday at St. Johns. We definitely felt the impact of so many praying for us.

Jake is one of our student leaders at St. Johns. He is a senior in the ROTC program at St. Johns and he will be in the military when he graduates. He has been very influential during his time at St. John’s, and while we were already so thankful for him, his meeting last Thursday left a legacy that will hopefully follow after he is gone.

When Jake walked in to meet Tori, he was amazed at how kind she was and how much she keep reiterating that she was for Cru at St. John’s. 40% of the student population considers themselves Catholic (though not all are practicing Catholics) and the next highest group is Protestant Christians, so she recognizes there is a need for our group on campus. As Tori learned more about the staff who are coming onto the campus, how we got there (students invited us), how we go about having spiritual conversations, how we personally know our faculty advisor, etc., Tori said we were fine to come on campus and operate as we have been (meaning reserving rooms and talking to people about spiritual things) and that if anyone gives us a hard time, we can tell them she said it was okay. She also knows Cru and respects what we do across the world, so that is in our favor.

However, because we, as well as 4 other groups on campus, aren’t official organizations, they are having a meeting next week with people higher up to talk about how to handle it and what the limitations will be (such as maybe we would be able to reserve rooms but not be at official events). She suggested we try to become an organization and she gave some guidance on how that could potentially happen (a little more complicated in practice than in saying it).

Would you pray for that meeting this week that they will be having? Would you pray for wisdom as we try to decide if we can indeed become an official organization? Would you pray for more student leaders as we can’t officially become an organization without more of them and having some of them return next year (most of ours with AIA and Cru are seniors)? Thank you for partnering with us and praying for God to move mountains at St. John’s!