Choosing Thankfulness

I never want this blog to be a place where you see the pretty pictures or hear about all the things we are doing and think “Man, there life is going great and is so perfect.” So, can I be honest?  The last few weeks have been hard.  Like really hard.  There are lots of things that have made it this way – being 9 months pregnant being the biggest part of it.  I have been so tired and have longed to just get in my car and drive around (especially when it is snowing or raining) instead of exerting all the effort of walking.  I long to just send the kids outside instead of exerting all the effort of getting them ready and walking them to the park.  I long to be able to go out for coffee or dinner with a few girlfriends or experience deep fellowship with believers that aren’t on our staff team.  I long to walk into our church and feel greeted by and known by so many people who care about me and really push each other to love Christ and others more.

Granted, we knew from just going overseas on missions tripss that we would hit this point. At first, you love everything about your new location and culture. Then, you hate it and long so deeply to be back home.  And then, after a while, it becomes your new normal and you love it in such a deeper way.  The last few weeks have been spent in the middle part for me.  While I don’t feel like I have been complaining outwardly, I have caught myself many times thinking “Why are we doing this?  This is miserable and I just want to go home.”

Ministry has going great, but with the lull of school being out for Christmas and not starting until a few weeks in January (Ed had winter conference with the students after Christmas but I stayed behind because of how far along I was in pregnancy), we have been having lots of meetings, doing a lot of work planning for the summer project that Ed will be helping to lead here, doing lots of administrative tasks, and having lots of planning for this semester.  All of these are good things and greatly needed, but we so long for students to return and to interact with them.  We long for structure and routine, things that we aren’t promised and shouldn’t put our hope in.  We long to make deep relationships with those in our neighborhoods and our kids schools, though winter makes it hard to do this because everyone stays cooped up or just goes to and fro without chatting or interacting. We so desire to be used by the Lord to make a difference here where the need is SO in your face.

But God. God has been so faithful to encourage us – through our team, through a few friends we have here, and through numerous texts and emails we have received from friends, family, and ministry partners just letting us know God put us on their heart to pray for and asking how we are doing.  So. Stinkin’. Encouraging.  God also gave us some clarity that we have been desperately praying for about where we should go to church (this isn’t 100% decided but we feel more settled in where we are leaning).  God has allowed us to develop relationships with a few new believers, as well as a few people in our apartment complex, with the hope of getting to know them and having significant spiritual conversations with them.  Every time I question why we are here, God allows me to really see those around us and be reminded of the great need here, to be reminded of how influential this city is in this country and the world, and find things to be thankful for.

And this weekend.  This weekend was such a gift for our family as Ed was finally home and done with traveling and we got to just enjoy the city and each other in a way that we haven’t in a while, even with the cold.  So here are a few pictures to show you our weekend and a few things that I am thankful for/love about the city.

We love our “high-rise” apartment that looks out to many different directions.  We get to see so much and it satisfies my curiosity gene.  This day, there was a 4 car accident that had traffic WAY backed up, so what do we do?  Get the binoculars and watch the action, of course!  This makes being cooped in your apartment way more fun.

This little man. He has so much personality but he is so sweet. He is constantly making our family laugh and this day was no exception.

Watching our kids actually get along and enjoy each other.  These days, there has been lots of fighting between the girls and even Blake at times, so this rare moment of seeing them laying down together to watch a movie was a God send.  Thankful for all 3 of these sweet kiddos.

At church this past Sunday, Blake’s class learned about Jesus making the deaf man hear. So they made these ear headbands as their craft. Too cute. We are thankful to have found a church (At least we think we have!) that our kids love going to and where they are learning about Jesus and doing fun things to cement those lessons in their mind.  There are only a handful of churches in Queens and most are 45 minutes away.  So, after visiting quite a few of them and not finding a perfect fit (is there such a thing?!?), we were really discouraged.  We spent lots of time in prayer, evaluating what we were looking for and valued, and are hopeful that we have landed somewhere that we can grow and serve.

So thankful for this man and the great father He is. When he is home, he is super helpful, not only with the kids but also with me. He loves to serve others and he does it so well with our family.  Glad to be on this adventure with him.

Before Brynn arrives, we took the girls ice skating in Manhattan, something they have been begging to do.  Technically, Ed took them, since I am way too pregnant to be doing that mess, but I chased after Blake and took pictures, which was almost as strenuous. 🙂  The girls LOVED it and are now asking when they can go back.  We were thankful that the rink wasn’t too busy as the city has virtually cleared out since Christmas and New Years are over (they say these 6 weeks are the most dead in NYC and the best time to visit). Ice skating is not something we got to do a lot in the South (actually I don’t know if ever unless we were in the mountains), so we love that this is a perk of living here.  Then, we walked to Chick-fil-a and enjoyed a “southern” meal while watching the people outside. Both girls said (as we sat next to each other in front of the window because this Chick-fil-A is tiny and doesn’t have actual tables) that they love the city, which makes my homesick heart happy.  I had to agree that while I do have my moments, I do love this city and ALL the people in it.

As overwhelmed as I feel about adding a 4th child, I am excited to meet her and love that the girls are so excited about her arrival.  Kinsley is counting down the days and we even made a paper link tonight to use to count down.  So thankful for the joy that Brynn has already brought to our family.

And lastly, this sign in our neighborhood today made me happy.  We only live a few blocks from where this was hanging and we walk by this spot everyday taking Emerson to and from school.  We also love Blue Bloods, so I was thrilled to see what show they were filming.  Another reason I love NYC – you never know what will happen in your neighborhood.

While things are still hard and I am still feeling homesick and alone in a strange new world, I am so grateful to God for helping me find things to be thankful for.  This is no little thing and I am reminded of what a huge difference it makes to take my eyes off of myself and lift them to heaven.  Thank you Lord for NYC, for calling us to a place where people and students so desperately need to hear YOUR name, and for allowing us to trust you in a whole new way as we realize that we don’t need comforts, pleasures, friends, or ease….we only need You!


Leave a Reply