Mid-August Checkpoint

If you are like me, I can’t even believe that it is already mid-August. Maybe time just always flies by or maybe it has flown by because we have been squeezing every little bit out of summer before campus starts. Either way, we have been busy from doing fun things in the city to having lots of play dates to hosting and attending parties galore.

We finally got to visit the new (well, new to this one location) FAO Schwartz. While they opened last year, it was too crazy with all the holiday tourists, so before the Christmas tourism starts again, we decided to give it a whirl. So fun to be a kid in this store!

After having filmed in our neighborhood for a few times, I FINALLY got to land eyes on Mrs. Maisel from “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

We have played lots and lots (and lots!) of games!

We met some friends at Domino Park in Williamsburg and I have to say, we will be going back soon. The view of the city is spectacular, the kid’s play area is so amazingly designed (and clean!), and the water sprinklers were a hit with the kids. Loved it even more since it involved good friends joining us!

The girls went to a birthday party at Laser Bounce and had a great time! Watching Emerson and her friend do the virtual reality was priceless!

We hosted a neighborhood block party (thanks Jane for all your help in planning and executing!) and loved meeting friends and neighbors at the park. Our friend, who is a professional photographer, caught these pictures and we absolutely love them!

We traveled into the city to turn in the girl’s reading logs for Barnes n’ Noble and collect their free book, but while we were there, we attended Summer Streets. For three Saturdays during the month of August, they shut down Park Avenue from Central Park to the Brooklyn Bridge and people just run, walk, bike, skateboard, scooter (and lots more!) in the middle of the street. They also have stations with fun things to do set up along the way, like this bubble station that the kids loved.

We also got to attend the 1st birthday party for some dear friends of ours. Making it through the first year with a kid is a big feat! It was also so fun to see these dear friends – Stephanie and Fady were the first couple to join our church small group and for a while, it was just the 4 of us. They have seen our kids grow over the last 2.5 years and we grew to love them just like family. We miss them so much but are so excited for how the Lord is blessing their family!

While the kids don’t start school for a few more weeks (after Labor Day), we started last week and are expecting our ‘fun in the sun’ to end quite a bit. We are excited to get this year started and see what God has in store!

July Recap

As I have mentioned before, last semester/year was a hard one and very draining – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. And so, for the month of July, we left the city, flew to SC to visit with family/friends/ministry partners/churches and traveled to Colorado for our bi-annual national staff conference called Cru19.

Thank you for your grace at my lack of posting…I wanted to pull away substantially from social media and ministry (except connecting with partners) and just take time to recharge my soul before entering into the fall semester. It was a very refreshing, encouraging, challenging, motivating, and energizing month and I am so grateful I recognized the need to “stop” doing and just “be” with family, friends, ministry partners, and most importantly, Jesus.

However, by not posting, a lot had happened that I would love to update you on. So, I am doing a July recap by pictures so you can see a little of what the Lord used to refresh us.

We celebrated 4th of July with most of our small group – it was so much fun to cook out, laugh, eat, and just have a great time! We missed the few who weren’t there!

Then, we headed to Greenville, SC to visit Ed’s parents for a week while Ed took an online class and we visited a church and ministry partners in the area. We also got to visit with dear friends who moved to the area from Raleigh, head to downtown Greenville and see Greenville Falls, and the kids got to host a lemonade stand, and go see Toy Story 4 in theaters.

Then, after Greenville, we traveled to my hometown to visit with churches/ministry partners/family/friends. One of my favorite things about my hometown and one of the places I feel at the most peace is on the inlets/rivers/waterways in Georgetown. I love going out in the boat to where the rivers and inlets meet the ocean and just enjoying being in nature and in the peace and quiet. Because you can’t travel out there without a boat, and because the shallow waters and all the small inlets make it hard to navigate unless you are a local, it is very, very secluded. On our trip, we got to see dolphins (multiple pods), minnows, crabs, hermit crabs, sea turtles, and we went fishing where we caught regular fish along with sharks, stingrays, and flying fish!  We also got to see pelicans flying right over us and dive into the water to catch their meal and fish jumping all throughout the water and white cranes standing on the edge of the water. We even get to pull up to a beach near the ocean and have the whole place to ourselves! On the beach, we got to see a sea turtle’s nest with all the eggs that had just hatched the night before and the little flipper marks where they wandered out to the water. It was such a treat to introduce our kids to such beauty in its pure natural habitat. It is so beautiful and such a reminder of all the beautiful and intricate and amazing things God has created.

We got to spend lots of time with family which was so life-giving AND my kids got to have a rock painting party with my grandmother who is so very talented in painting (and patient to put up with painting with them – see my bored look at the very beginning? I was over it!). They don’t know what a blessing it is to interact with this amazing woman of God and to have their great grandmother around to be blessed by. They went downtown in Georgetown to hide the eggs after painting them and in true Brynn fashion, she couldn’t do what she was supposed to and had to go find the eggs she had just hidden to pick them up. Of course!

And, did I mention the delicious food? Seriously, guys, all the fried food!

These are from the restaurant my parent’s own.

Colorado was a great time hearing and reaffirming our vision with our national leaders and other speakers, being challenged on so many things, learning to be more effective in ministry, and getting to visit and be refreshed by great friends. Here are just a few of many pictures from the week (we left Brynn with my parents, so thats why she isn’t in them – we weren’t letting her play in the street while we took pictures 😉 )

This is the opening night fair they throw with food and lots of games for the whole family. Emerson has been begging to do these balls for a long time and was so excited to do it!

We were on Summer Mission in NYC with Madeline and Jonathan last summer and loved getting to know them. I wish I had a picture with all the other friends we connected with who mean the world to us!

We had a campus ministry dinner at the new Colorado State stadium – so fun and nice!

We joined staff with these dear friends 12 years ago!!

Worshipping and hearing from great speakers who challenged and motivated us with thousands of other staff!

We are back in NYC now and working on tying up loose ends with Ministry Partner Development and doing some other miscellaneous things before the school year kicks off next week. Thank you for your prayers for a refreshing and renewing summer…it was that and so much more! Tonight, we started the transition of taking Brynn from the crib and putting her in a toddler bed…probably my least favorite transition next to potty training…pray for us!!

 

 

Highs in the Midst of Lows

Even despite a harder semester, the Lord has provided immensely for us. Here are three big ways (and I could list so many more) we have seen the Lord provide over the last few years:

1 – School for the girls

Though we have had our fair share of drama and social issues in the girls’ classes this year, they have loved their school, PS 101, and have thrived under great teachers. The pressure on the kids in school in this city is unreal, but our kids are being challenged but also nurtured at this school. The girls didn’t finish until June 26th, so the last few weeks have been filled with an award ceremony and end of the year class parties (the little kids LOVE that they get to join in). So thankful that Blake will be going to 4 year old preschool at their school next year, even though I will miss him being at home so much!

Last day of school picture! They will miss their friends, but are so excited for the summer!

2 – Community for our family

We highly, highly value having a great community that we are like family to us, since our family doesn’t live close. Sometimes after moving, it can be so tough to find good, solid community with people you and your spouse and your kids really enjoy. We are so grateful that God has provided it so quickly for us here.

This is a picture from our last small group of the year. It was a great time of sharing what God has been doing in our lives and what we are trusting Him with for the rest of the year. So thankful for this group that feels like family.

We have found quite a few friends here whom we really, really enjoy. I always struggle with posting a picture with one of those for the fear that someone will feel left out. So, please note that this picture is just a representation of the deep and life-giving friendships God has blessed us with here. We went to the beach with these friends the other day and not only was it relaxing, but our kids enjoyed it and didn’t want them to go home!

3 – Such fun experiences

There are so many things that we love about living in NYC, but one of the things that we really, really appreciate is that there is never a shortage of things to do. Check out some of the fun things we have been able to do lately, most of which are a direct result of living in a big city that offers so much.

We went bike riding in Flushing Meadows park in Queens (remember this unisphere from Men in Black?).

My friend Amy (and teammate) and I won free passes to see a concert on The Today Show. Even despite the nasty, rainy weather, we had a great time making memories and experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime thing together.

The playgrounds and splashpads here are amazing. They are literally everywhere and it is so fun exploring different ones.

Every Saturday, in Queens, they host something called the Queens International Night Market. Basically, a bunch of restaurants, food trucks, and caterers set up tents and sell small portions of their food for a really reasonable price. They offer food from ALL over the world, and often, they are things that we have never heard of, like octupus balls, coconut pancakes, and many more things that I can’t even type or pronounce. They also have live music, a large grassy area for people to sit and play around, and merchants selling items. This was the first time we took our kids and they have already asked when we are going back.

We signed our family up for The Compassion Experience. To explain it concisely, they give you headphones and a phone where they tell you a story of someone overseas who is in poverty or facing helpless conditions and we walk through a model of their “house” and get an idea of what kids in our places are going through. It was very educational and eye opening for our kids and we even signed up to get a Compassion kid at the end. His name is Mario and the kids are so excited about helping him and writing him letters.

The movie that filmed on our street a few months ago returned to reshoot a scene, and they parked this fun car in our driveway. It was fun to see the shots and all that goes into making a scene, including tons of “rolling” and “cut”. It wasn’t fun to stay up until 2 am so they could use our living room, but the good outweighed the bad.

Our family also budgeted to get a Bronx Zoo membership because it gives us access to zoos all around the city. Recently, we loaded up and spent the day there, seeing the animals, riding the monorail, riding the carousel, and walking close to 15,000 steps. It is a fantastic zoo that really does so much for animal conservation. It is also fun to see the same things in person that we saw on the TV show “The Zoo.”

I am done with classes, but Ed is finishing up his reading and videos for his class next week, and we are hard at work preparing for the next few weeks in SC by lining up appointments and speaking engagements. We are excited to see family and friends and to be back in the South for a while 🙂

I Survived!

Beaten up. Exhausted. Mentally worn out. Full of new knowledge. Ready to see my family.

These are all things I felt as I returned from finishing my second seminary class in Austin, TX. It was a great class and I learned SOOO much, but it was exhausting, intense, and I was mentally worn out and ready for a break. The class was the followup to my Biblical Interpretation class from a few weeks ago, and it was called Biblical Communication. In the class, we took our passage that we studied in Biblical Interpretation and created a small group Bible study, wrote an online article, prepared a preaching message, worked on public speaking skills, and gave a message to our fellow classmates to which we were graded and evaluated. It was fun, encouraging, terrifying, informative, and challenging all at the same time. We literally worked from sun up to sun down, so I didn’t get to experience anything Austin has to offer. Next time I visit I will though.

This week, I am taking an Old Testament class, and again, I am learning so much. In discipleship this morning with a friend, I even got to share some of the things I was learning and it just reiterated again how rich the Old Testament is and how relevant it is to the New Testament and to our lives. When I finish this class, it will be Ed’s turn to complete his class! Again, because life has literally felt full with class and life responsibilities, we haven’t done a ton of fun things nor have I taken a lot of pictures. But, here are a few pictures to recap my last few weeks.

We splurged one evening and bought these cookies from Chip NYC, which has probably the best cookies in all of NYC (in my humble opinion). This is the chocolate eclair cookie. They change them everyday and only have 4 at a time. I made the mistake of following them on Instagram and it makes me want their cookies EVERY DAY when I see them posted.

While I was gone, Ed was super dad!  He took the kids to the park, to gymnastics class, to Central Park zoo and they even braved watching the 4D movie at the theater.

This picture is a reminder to me that they really do love each other and don’t fight all the time.  No, seriously, love these kids!

Ed competed in the Queens 10K race in Flushing Meadows park. This is the place where Men in Black was filmed. Recognize the Unisphere? So cool that its so close to us. Great job on rocking a fast time Ed!

The kids were out of school one day (yet again…this month, between Muslim and Jewish holidays and school work days, they have only gone like 1 or 2 whole weeks), so we met friends at the beach and enjoyed letting our kids freeze themselves in the ice cold water. It was really fun for both the adults and the kids, and it is always relaxing to me to get away from the city and experience the peacefulness of the beach with the wide open space and less people and God’s creation.

Oh, this kid. I told Ed that after 3 other kids, #4 is going to give us a run for our money. She started coloring on her arms the day before in the car and I stopped her, and she was so mad that she only finished one arm. So, on this day, she took the markers and recreated and finished the masterpiece. The joys of a 2 year old when you can’t leave them alone for more than 2 seconds without something being torn apart or written on or broken. Those blond curls and sweet, sassy demeanor make up for it though.

The kids love when Ed runs sound at the church on Sunday mornings. They love to go before church and help him set up and “work” the booth with him. What a great start to Father’s Day for Ed.

The girls have 8 days left of school….let the end of school madness begin!

Back in College Again

Friends…thanks for your grace…it is always my intention to keep this blog up to date and to share articles about real things including my family updates but so much more than that. Well, the last few weeks have been intense with ending the year and getting ready for my classes and taking my classes, and the blog has been last on the to-do list. Yes, even this achiever super-motivated to-do list girl can’t get it all done. So, bear with this long family update and less posts over the next few weeks (I still have a month left of classes/reading/assignments) and I will get back to your regularly scheduled programming 🙂

This is the stack of books I have had to read or use in my classes this summer. I had to read ALL of Grasping God’s Word and Old Testament Today. The classes are going really well and I am loving learning, but it is definitely hard to stretch this old muscle of reading/studying/writing papers and I feel like I am back in college again.

In lieu of finishing my 12 page paper this past Saturday, I got to play and relax this weekend with the family. It was so great to be able to spend time with friends, take a visit to the zoo and amusement park, enjoy a Memorial Day parade in our little neighborhood, go to the beach, cookout on a grill that we found at a steal at a yard sale, and enjoy this little pool that a friend gave us. I am so thankful for those who have served to make this freedom possible for us and I was also feeling thankful for so many things on Memorial Day that made the day feel like we were “home” and not in a strange, huge city where we don’t know anyone. Sweet Kinsley kept commenting about how the beach was so clean and there wasn’t much trash…sweet NYC kid who is used to trash everywhere!

In addition to the filming of the tv show that they did on our street, we also found out that “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” was being filmed in the house that is just around the corner from the girls’ school today. They had all these old-fashioned cars and people dressed like they were way back in the day. I may or may not have walked by there like 5 times today to try and get a glimpse of Mrs. Maisel…didn’t happen, but we heard they will be back to film again at that house, so here’s to hoping…

And then on to other random pics from the last few weeks…

When I was pregnant with Brynn and before we found out what we were having, if I was honest, I really wanted a boy so that Blake would have a buddy to play with. God answered that prayer in such a surprising way. These two are best buddies and have such fun playing together…I seriously LOVE it and can’t get enough. She isn’t going to know what to do when he goes off to school next year.

Ed got to attend the commissioning for Jake, one of our students who is graduating and is going full-time with the army. Ed has loved connecting with him these last few years and is excited to see how God uses Jake in Germany this next year.

Our house has been filled with LOTS of games and time spent outside enjoying the warmer weather. While I am growing very tired with Zingo and Uno, it’s a nice change up from light saber battles and gun fights :).

How our kids watch TV…so creative!

Mommy and daddy all dressed up going out with friends to our annual Cru Vision Dinner. It was such a fun evening dressed up with somewhere to go! Love these friends!

Another Year Down

Well, the 2018-2019 college school year is officially in the books. These past few weeks, we had our end of year planning, senior send-offs, last meetings of the semester, and our end of the year team social.

Let me share some of the highlights from the year:

  • We saw 8 new believers this year and of the 8, 4 got involved and stuck around. This has been a real sticking point for us and something we were majorly trusting God for this year – for students that make decisions for Christ to stay involved and get plugged in with campus community and their own church.
  • We had 644 spiritual conversations and the Gospel was shared 178 times!
  • We had 7 freshmen get and stay involved – this was another area were we had struggled and were trusting God for growth and He did it!!
  • We currently have 4 movements launched – Queens College, SJU Cru, SJU AIA, and SJU Valor.
  • We have 4 students going on a summer mission (some with Cru and some with outside organizations) and 5 seniors being sent after graduation to their full-time workplace (one with EY in NY, one with a job at Facebook, one in the Army).
  • We had 9 students aligned and multiplying their lives into others on their campus.
  • We have 1 guy who graduated from Queens College going back to serve another year at a country in the Middle East, before coming back for medical school.
  • For me personally, re-engaging more on campus and being able to coach and connect with a lady on our staff team to help her on campus has been a HUGE highlight. I have loved interacting with students regularly, challenging myself, and stretching and working a muscle that I haven’t regularly used in a long time. It has been a highlight for me!

But, even with all the amazing things that have happened on campus this year and students lives’, this year has been a tough and emotional and exhausting one (especially this semester). After all the drama at St. John’s with getting kicked off (picture below is from the first time we were kicked off during an activity fair), making strides in becoming a group, AIA trying to be pushed through, us potentially being vetted, and so much more, we ended the year on a low note. After a meeting this week, we are VERY unsure what is going to happen with any of our ministries at St. John’s. While we have people in our corner and AIA is very much wanted there, we are still getting lots of kick back and being told we have to be an official group, if the university would even approve us, and staff may never be allowed to be freely on campus. There are lots of conversations happening right now between our staff, Intervarsity staff (IV used to be here and was at one time an approved organization even though they are inactive), campus ministry people, the head priest for athletes, athletes themselves, others in the athletic department, and so on and so forth.

Would you please pray for alignment and partnership with Intervarsity, for paths to be cleared for us to become official on campus, that AIA people won’t decide to just do athlete ministry without us, and for our students (and for the Lord to add even more students!) to passionately fight for a group like Cru and AIA on campus where they can practice their beliefs? This break and what happens at the beginning of the school year can go one of about 7 different ways and can make or break whether we are allowed on campus. God isn’t held back by campus administrations, rules, politics, hesitations from people, or anything of the sort and we desperately need Him to move and pave a way for us on campus. The spiritual warfare has been strong but GOD has and will have victory!

So, whats next for us?

Reading all/almost all of these books. With Cru, we have to take seminary-level courses to keep with our ongoing development AND to comply with IRS standards. Ed has to finish his final class (just one!) this summer and because I usually was watching the kids while he did his courses, I have to start working on completing mine this summer by taking 3 classes. Normally, we would travel to Colorado to take them, but because they didn’t have any apartments or housing to offer to large families, they are allowing us to take the classes virtually, with the exception of one class I have to take in Austin in June. So, Ed and I will switch places a little this summer as he studies and continues to work but steps in more with the kids so I can complete my classes. As you can see, it is a LOT of reading and work and I will be stretching another muscle I haven’t used in a while. Excited to learn but nervous about balancing it all!

Then, in July, we will travel to South Carolina to meet with ministry partners and then travel to Colorado for our bi-annual national staff conference. We are pretty exhausted from the school year and are excited to switch gears for a few months. Thank you for your partnership, prayers, and for another great school year down! Praying for bigger things to come….

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!