Turning the big 1-0!

Kinsley turned 10 this past week!  She was bummed about not celebrating with her friends and having to cancel her party (that we only let them have every 5 years so it was a big deal!), but she felt celebrated with a mid-day call from sweet friends who told her things they loved about her, calls from friends and family, and a making of her favorite strawberry cake. The cake layers ended up sliding because the icing was too runny, but she still loved it.
Thank you so much to all who have reached out to check on our family as we continue living in the epicenter of Covid in the US. Recently, in response to an email from a ministry partner, I typed up a brief summary of how we are doing and what life is like for us right now. I will post my response here as an update.
  • Thank you so much for checking in on us! We are still in NYC – hunkered down in our little safe house – what a provision from the Lord when he provided this house for us 1.5 years ago – he knew we would need this place to survive because it would be a brutal time if we were still in our apartment. We only leave these days for a run, short walk, or a quick trip to the grocery store (complete with mask, gloves, and Lysol spray down and change of clothes when that person comes home!). 
  • Life is for sure challenging right now and heartbreaking to see our city suffering      so much – NYC was locked down way too late and by that point, the virus was    rampant. Thankfully, we, our students, and our close friends aren’t sick, though we know others who are. We also have friends who are working on the front lines as doctors and nurses and risking their lives daily. Our community is doing a great job of rallying around them, but it is challenging to support them when we are having to be stuck inside for our safety. The kids are doing pretty well – we had to cancel Kinsley’s 10th birthday party and they are sad about being away from their friends, but they are really handling it all like champs.
  • Our life now consists of homeschooling the kids using their teachers’ assignments (April), hosting Bible studies and discipleship appointments and leading staff meetings and caring for our team virtually (both of us!), trying to get creative about how to reach college students and still try to move our ministries forward in evangelism and discipleship and networking (our whole team!), caring for and leading our church small group virtually, and leading the Cru campus staff in the city about how to handle this crisis and next steps (Ed as the NYC Crisis Director). Thankfully, our students live in virtual worlds, so the only huge shift is not being able to see them in person and having to get creative about evangelism and meeting new students.
  • It’s a full load for sure and we end each day weary and exhausted, but we are making sure to have good rhythms and connect regularly with Jesus to fill our cup and empower us to do what has to be done. We are so encouraged by reading our Bible, listening to church sermons online, and listening to praise and worship – it is balm for our thirsty soul and we are able to sympathize a lot more with New Testament believers. We are learning much about being still and waiting on Jesus and turning to Him to fill us and carry our burdens and not other things that numb us but leave us empty. We are also learning much about what is looks like to serve others, even we feel empty, and how Jesus empowers us to serve them – for instance, our community, our small group from church, our kids, and each other.
  • Please just continue praying for us and warn others to take this seriously – we are so disheartened by people who think its “just a flu” or “political propaganda” – we don’t want them to be where we are in a month…learn from NYC. Even when we moved here, we said NYC sets the trends for the rest of the country and is ahead of it in so many things – this time, use what is happening here as a warning! Pray for us to lean into what God wants us personally and us collectively to learn during this season. Pray for our kids to thrive during this time and that we would be diligent to teach and encourage and love them versus feeling like we are having to balance them and ministry and making unhealthy choices with that. Pray that we wouldn’t be anxious about possibly losing support with all that is happening with the economy and trust God for what tomorrow brings. 
The following pictures are of:
  • a busy street in our neighborhood known as the “Boulevard of Death” because it is so busy and hard to cross
  • a post on social media from a good friend who is a PA at a busy hospital in Brooklyn
  • supplies that are being donated to hospitals from people in our community as they rally around the front line workers.

Our New Normal

Honesty here – I have tried to write this post for DAYS, but when thinking of writing it, I could find myself getting choked up or upset or just at a lack of good things to say. Here is my fifth attempt….

This morning, we watched another Sunday morning worship service online from our church. In it, our pastor reminded us that God is asking us to find shelter under his wings and that he encouraged us to not only continue to live in deep community with God and others, but to also take care of ourselves. He asked us to think about these questions:

I and the girls processed this together this afternoon and a lot surfaced about how we are feeling: sad about Kinsley’s birthday party being canceled, sad about how many people here in NYC are being affected by it (current count is 9700 infected and 63 people dead and hospitals running out of room and supplies), mad about how many people still think this is media-induced hype and political fear mongering, sad about the reality that my kids will likely finish this school year talking to their friends by video chat or 6 feet away across the yard and have to endure having me as a teacher, glad that we have a job that we can do virtually and that it has actually freed our students up to connect more virtually, glad for more family time and a realization of what is important, and sad for those all around us who are losing money and wondering about how they will pay their outrageous rent or mortgage payments. The list could continue, but these were some of the things we processed.

That being said, I am encouraged by how I see our community loving on each other and caring for each other during this time. I am encouraged by how well my kids are adjusting to all the changes. I am encouraged by how well our bosses are caring for us in such a stressful time. I am encouraged by people who are thinking about not only themselves, but willing to stay inside to save the weak and vulnerable among us (not an American concept by any means), I am encouraged by the doors God is already opening for us to share with friends and neighbors about the hope and joy we have even in this situation because of Jesus. I am encouraged by ALL the work our teachers have done to switch everything virtually and support parents and students so that no child gets left behind. Again, the list could continue.

Here are some of the ways we are occupying (who are we kidding – managing our little time is probably more appropriate) while we are in quarantine:

Switching everything we do with students on campus to a virtual platform. Honestly, it hasn’t been that hard, but we are having to think so creatively of ways to increase engagement with new students – that is more of the challenge!

Stocking up on groceries (not hoarding, though when shopping for a family of 6, people do think it is hoarding). Every store now has a line formed outside due to social distancing and everyone trying to buy things. I know this isn’t a new thing anywhere across the country, other than it has been going on here for quite a while and it continues.

Enjoying all the new memes during these time – both the funny and serious ones.

Due to allergies and Covid, we have started doing daily breathing treatments for little man. To be clear, he doesn’t have Covid, but because he already has breathing issues and can struggle to breathe with a cold, we started doing them as a precaution. He has been a trooper through it all – its almost second nature to him now.

Moving EVERYTHING virtual – church small group, staff meeting, meetings with students, classes for the kids, EVERYTHING. So thankful that we were already familiar with so many platforms and that hasn’t been an adjustment. And so thankful for our staff team – so grateful for family in a home away from home.

Trying to homeschool the best we can – this was our schedule this week and it worked really well. This next week, the kids have actual work from their teachers so it will change quite a bit, but I am noticing just as much as I need and crave structure, my kids do so even more. This drawing was by Kinsley and is her self-portrait – so thankful that so many people are offering free and educational things to do during this time!

Will you pray for our family? We have no clue what tomorrow holds – a stay in place order goes into effect tonight, we have heard talks about the national guard being brought in, and we just have no clue what to expect. Even if we left NYC, we would have to self-quarantine somewhere for 2 weeks. With Ed being the NYC Crisis Director, he feels responsible to stay here and see this through for the staff who are still here.

Can we pray for you? With more time on our hands (maybe?), we would love to hear for you and pray for you with how this is affecting your family. Please shoot us a message or an email or a text or let us know. We would love to hear from you!

Covid Changes

What an insane few weeks! In addition to helping to lead our Cru Queens campus team, Ed also has another role in the city: crisis director. Mostly, this role has involved developing a protocol of what to do in a crisis, doing trial runs, and getting trained on how to handle crises while learning from the US Crisis Team. It is mostly a few hours a week job, but as you can imagine, it has blown up by epic proportions over the last week.

Close to 3 weeks ago, some really good friends of ours came back from spending 3 weeks overseas visiting her family in South Korea. They self-quarantined themselves upon returning because Covid had come to their city in S. Korea in the last 48 hours they were there, and we joked about their quarantine. At the same time, Ed got put on the National Crisis sub-team and instructed to send in regular reports about how Covid was spreading in a number of countries including S. Korea and Japan. So way before it hit the US, he was watching it closely.

But then, about a week ago, the first confirmed case was found in NYC. It honestly wasn’t a shock as I had been saying for a week that I felt the virus was here and people were either not being tested because of lack of insurance or because they were undocumented or because they weren’t being given the test (YES! we heard of this happening!). But we couldn’t have imagined how it would spread. NYC has close to or over 200 cases now, including taxi drivers, bus drivers, EMT, lawyers, and a 7 year old girl. Whether people are freaking out over nothing is beside the point, but when we were joking with our friends 3 weeks ago about their quarantine, we would have no idea how it would affect our lives.

  • We had to cancel two weeks of Spring Break trips that were coming into our city from around the country. Not only does this result in lost evangelistic momentum and months and months of planning, but it results in a HUGE financial hit to our teams here in the city. Hotels don’t let you out of contracts just because of Covid.
  • Several NYC universities have closed and moved their classes online, including St. John’s University. The resulting effect is a sucker punch to the community and momentum of our movements.
  • Kinsley’s 4th grade classes have been learning ballroom dancing in class and were supposed to have a competition this week (this picture is them performing for the parents). They canceled this because of the virus.
  • The saddest thing for me so far is the canceling of the NYC Half Marathon. On a whim, I entered the lottery back in the fall for the half marathon (along with Ed and Erin, a friend and teammate – but I was the only one picked) and I started training back in the fall. Many cold, cold mornings, long runs, painful foot injuries, sore muscles, and so much more have been a part of training. I even have pushed through getting diagnosed and suffering through bronchitis two weeks ago. We found out today that they canceled the race because of the amount of people that would have been gathering and the potential for it to spread. I am so, so, so sad and disappointed and while I was not as prepared as I wanted because of the bronchitis, I was still looking forward to checking off a bucket list item and never doing it again…haha.

Will you please pray for us? For his protection for our family and friends, for our ministry as we manage the changes that have already begun in what we do, for Ed as he deals with the majorly increased workload, and for our city in general.