Happy birthday Ed!

Today is a very special day…it is my hubby’s birthday!

I am so grateful to be journeying through this life with you and am so grateful our kids have an awesome dad who loves to get down on the floor and play with them but can also enact strong boundaries if need be. You are faithful, loyal, understanding, easy-going (most of the time 🙂 ), adventurous, servant-hearted, and fun. I love that you think the best of people when I tend to think the worst and that you are so attuned to helping keep us safe, especially in this crazy city. I also love that even after a long day of work, you come home and jump right in to the chaos, willing to help change a poopy diaper or cook dinner or help with baths or finish homework (well, until you send them to me, that is). Life is better with you in it and I am so glad you were born! I am sorry we won’t be able to celebrate until the day after your birthday but hope you feel celebrated and loved on your actual birthday anyways!

This week, we have over 70 college students from across the nation in town for their spring breaks to spend the week on our campuses helping us to meet students, share the Gospel, launch movements, learning more about the city, getting challenged to spend the summer here, etc. Because of that, we won’t be able to celebrate with Ed until tomorrow night, but we are looking forward to eating some lasagna, cheesecake, and opening presents to celebrate. In fact, the kids are so looking forward to celebrating him that it may take all I have in me to keep them from breaking out the candles and unwrapping his gift tonight.

If you ever visit NYC and have kids (or even without kids!), make sure you have time to visit the American Museum of Natural History – it is huge and could take a whole day, but it is awesome and I think their special exhibits are almost better than the museum itself. Last year, we splurged on a family membership, not knowing how much we would use it but knowing that even if we went 3 times, it would be worth our money. We have visited at least 3 times and our family loves it more and more each time. They had an amazing exhibit on mummies with the chance to see actual mummies, they have an awesome butterfly exhibit that our kids love visiting in the hopes that one will land on them, and they had a senses exhibit where you get to explore all your different senses with interactive features. This past weekend, they had a members only preview for their new Oceans exhibit. It was really neat and our kids could have spent hours in just that one exhibit exploring what is under our ocean. And the neatest thing is how much we learn each time we go. We also met our friend Marie there and got to take her to the butterfly exhibit for her very first time.

Please pray for the students on campus this week and please pray that some will decide to come back to NYC for the summer. We desperately need more students to surrender their summer and spend it with us in NYC.

Slowing Down

Alright, time for vulnerability. God is teaching me so much in this season and while it is so good, it is so hard. I thought I would share one big thing I am learning.

God is teaching me all about slowing down. Go, Go, Go, Do, Do, Do, Check, Check, Check – Its the American way. Its the New York way. Its the Blake (my maiden name) way. My dad only slows down to crash and sleep or when he is on vacation. My mom always had multiple jobs in addition to kids. On the Strengthfinders test, I have Achiever, Responsibility, and Discipline as three of my strengths. Meaning, being high-capacity, doing, and on top of things isn’t just what I have seen growing up or what I have learned through the years, it is innately a part of who I am.

I used to joke – “If I don’t have something to do, I will make something to do.” And while its so true, I am learning its not okay. Its not okay that I can’t sit for 5 minutes without feeling like I should be doing something with my hands or mind. Its not okay that I can’t play for 20 minutes on the floor with my kids because I am not good at that and better at getting things done. Its not okay that I can’t let the crumbs on the floor sit there while I chose to focus on having a heart-to-heart with my kid.

When my mom’s trip got canceled last December, I was bummed. Bummed that I wouldn’t see her, bummed that I wouldn’t have help while Ed was gone, but as I processed why I was so upset, I was also bummed because I was looking forward to using that week to slow down and just be present with my mom and kids. This was my first warning light that something was wrong.

In January, I started reading the book “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist and the Lord began to use it to rock my world. As I read it, I started to be able to put words to exactly what was wrong and what needed to change.

“No more pushing and rushing. No more cold pizza at midnight, no more flights, no more books, no more houseguests, no more of all of these things, even things I love, things I long for, things that make me happy. No more. Only less. Less of everything. Less stress. Less crying. Less noise. Less TV. Less wine. Less online shopping. Less one more thing one more thing one more thing, whether that one more thing is a trip or a movie or a boat ride or a playdate. Less cramming 36 – or 56 or 106 – hours into a day that has only ever held 24.”

“What I ache for these days is space, silence, stillness, Sabbath. I want to clear away space and noise and things to do and things to manage. I was less of everything. Less stuff. Less rushing. Less proving and pushing. Less hustle. Less snapping at my kids so that they’ll get themselves into the car faster so we can go buy more stuff that we’re going to throw away. Less consumption. Less feeling like my mind is fragmented and my stomach is bloated and my life is out of control.”

“As I unravel the many things that brought me to this crisis point, one is undeniably my own belief that hard work can solve anything, that pushing through is always the right thing, that rest and slowness are for weak people, not for high-capacity people like me. Productivity became my idol, the thing I valued and loved above all else. One of the early stories I told about myself is that my ability to get-it-done is what kept me around. I wasn’t beautiful. I didn’t have a special or delicate skill. But I could get stuff done, and it seemed to me that ability was my entrance into the rooms into which I wanted to be invited.”

These things she wrote all resonated with me in a big way. And I realized that I had to slow down or I would miss out on so much. Really knowing and relating with Jesus. Being present with my family and enjoying every moment of their lives that is flying by way too quickly. Knowing my husband’s hopes and dreams instead of just viewing him as someone to help me do all I have to do. Being able to grieve and be in touch with how I am feeling versus just powering through things. And here is what I am finding.

I really, really like it. Slowing down has been balm for my soul.

Lets just note that I am not there yet. In fact, I feel like I am on the cusp of something that if I chose to take my eyes off the prize and stop relying on Jesus for one minute in this journey of learning to slow down, I will go right back to where I came from and what I know. Intellectually, I know I need to change but when it comes to action, it is SO HARD.

BUT I am learning to treasure moments of silence and stillness to just be with the Lord and hear from him. I am learning to enjoy moments where I get to just sit on the floor with the kids and hear about every aspect of their day. I am learning to say no to more things, even things that are things that I really want to do. I am learning to be okay with having a wide open day where we just sit at home. I am learning to have nothing or very few things on my to-do list on the day, which is unheard of for me. I am learning that at the end of a busy week, we just need a day of Sabbath.  And it is all so very good.

To be honest, I am still trusting God for the balance. I do like to have challenges and responsibilities and even looking at my Strength Finders, God has made me like this, so to deny who I am wouldn’t be good either. And I have 4 kids so things can’t just stop or slow down altogether. And I am still actively involved in ministry so I am working part-time even while staying home with the kids. So figuring out how to slow down and have moments of stillness and silence and not always doing and going in the midst of my life stage, ministry, and other demands is challenging. But I think slowly, very, very slowly, I am learning that even God rested and if He rested, I desperately need to figure out how to rest too.

Which is better?

When we made the decision to move here 2 years ago (we have only been here 1.5 years but it has been over 2 years since we put the pieces in motion that made this happen), we knew that it would mean major downsizing.

Let’s be honest – at first, that was super hard – I loved my kids outside toys, I loved my grill, I loved my front porch rocking chairs, I loved my nice matching 6 piece bedroom set. But, as we trusted the Lord and leaned on Him to help us let go of ALL these things that were just that – things – it became kind of nice to experience the freedom of having less. AND, I realized that starting over in a smaller living space meant we had to acquire new furniture that would fit that space instead of our 3 bedroom house – redecorating can be so much fun.

Hearing from lots and lots of friends about how IKEA was THE WAY to go for furniture in the city as it was cheap, made for small spaces, functional, etc., we began making our list of all the new things we would need. We started shopping online at IKEA and were pleased we could get everything we needed from there and Amazon within our budget. I am pretty frugal so I was super pleased by this. On Ed’s way up to move us in, he stopped by IKEA and got all we needed and put it on the rental truck. Here was his load:

1.5 years in and almost all of the furniture we have bought is falling apart. Ikea bookcase – collapsed multiple times before we broke down and paid for a new one. Ikea coat hanger hook – has completely came out the wall once and after fixing it, now one of the holders has completely broken. Desk we bought from Amazon – drawer keeps falling through and now the whole desk is bowed and drawer won’t work right (ignore all the mess on the desk and please keep your comments “If you wouldn’t put so much on it, maybe it wouldn’t break” to yourself.” Ikea recliner – bottom piece broke off it and it gets SO DIRTY so easily. Ikea end talbes – holding up but the finish gets chipped and dirty so easily. Ikea dining room chair and bench – keeps getting chipped and so hard to keep clean. Now, we do have a few Ikea things that are holding up well, but overall, Ikea is not winning my praise. Sorry to all you Ikea fans. And yes, even though the desk is from Amazon, I group it in the “it was a great price but not great quality” category like Ikea products.

CONFESSION…in my old age, I am realizing more and more that it is SO WORTH IT to pay more for things to get great quality that will last. And reviews of what others thought of things and how they held up for them is soooo valuable. Now, I love me some Ikea toys (their train set for Blake has been amazing), I love me some Ikea meatballs (their food is delish!), and I love me some Ikea kitchen products (their small stuff like spatulas and utensils and napkins are great for the price and the quality), but when it comes to furniture, I think my FRUGAL self will be taking my money elsewhere.

Work and Play!

This week has been a fun and busy week – lots of work and lots of play!!

In addition to staff meeting, we had a fun team social with our Queens team in Manhattan. We went to this place called Gulliver’s Gate, which is an exhibition that boasts being the largest interactive museum of miniatures in the world. It was 50,000 square feet of miniatures showing cities and countries all around the world….it also had things that were hidden that you had to find as you were walking through. It was beyond cool and so fun to experience together. Then, we tried out this Brazilian restaurant in Hells Kitchen and it was amazing. Check out these steaks!

Then, our summer missions director’s team got together for a few days this week to plan for the coming summer. It was great to touch base, talk about plans to recruit students to come to NYC for the summer, and to put plans in place for preparing for the summer. I was bummed that I had to miss out on one night (see more info below) but I enjoyed getting to plan with them during the day while a sweet sitter watched Blake and Brynn (the girls were at school). We should have taken a picture together…ugh…next time. I have also spent time this week looking for housing for a married couple who will be with us this summer and working on the budget for the summer. We already have 2 students accepted to come back with us this summer and both of them were with us last summer – so fun that the Lord impacted their lives last summer and they loved the city enough to come back again!

We had fun playdates this week – one was with a mom from our church who I am getting to know better. I loved hearing her story of how the Lord brought her family here from Bangladesh and even despite her entire family being Muslim, the Lord lead her to our church here (New Life Fellowship church) and after reading through the book of John in the Bible with some ladies at our church, she made a decision to place her faith in Jesus. In turn, she was kicked out the house by her parents and much more, but it was neat to see how the Lord has kept her and provided for her, including providing a Godly husband through our church who was her friend throughout everything. Her family even strongly believes in arranged marriages, so this too was a very big deal. I enjoyed being reminded that God is in control, He is working on people’s hearts and drawing them into relationship with Him, the Bible is powerful and active, and the body of believers is our new family.

I took the girls to the American girl store over the weekend – they received money for Christmas to take their dolls to get their ears pierced, so after making an appointment right after Christmas (they were booked all the way until now!), we finally got to go. They loved watching the doll salon where girls were getting manicures and hairstyles to match their dolls, as well as looking around the new American Girl store in the city. So thankful that my friend Marie could join us too!

Monday was a tough day. I expected to go into Manhattan and have dinner with our summer mission director’s team, but those plans dramatically changed when Blake started being in distress because of breathing treatments. I had noticed him coughing earlier that day and I started giving him nebulizer treatments from home, but even after two treatments, and having just given the treatment two hours before (you give treatments every 4-6 hours), he was pulling hard to breathe, having a hard time talking, and breathing 54 breaths per minute (normal for a 3-5 year old is 22-34 breaths per minute. After an hour wait at the pediatric urgent care, a steroid, a breathing treatment, and lots of observation, they sent him home with strict instructions to give him breathing treatments every 4 hours until we say our doctor two days later. He was up until midnight that night because he was so hyper from the medicine, but he felt better so that was a good tradeoff. Thankfully, we haven’t had any scary incidents since then and he will see our pediatrician today to follow up.

Yesterday, the girls celebrated 100 days of school at school. We celebrated by dressing them up as old ladies. Bless it – I had no clue how to make these curlers work. I was thankful my friend Ellen was in from Boston and staying with us (she is helping to lead summer mission with us this coming summer) and she had experience with them. This curly-haired momma doesn’t have to worry about curlers, so I had no clue.

Hope you have had a good week and HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!!!

 

Happy birthday Brynn!!

This sweet baby girl is now 1 years old!!! I can’t believe how big she is getting and how fast it is all flying by!

Crazy to think that one year ago, we were waiting at the hospital for them to take us back for a c-section. I remember being so relieved to not be pregnant, so nervous about how we would do 4 children, and dreading the pain of recovery (I seriously wanted to keep her in at the last minute). I will never forget the instant connection I felt with her as soon as I heard her cry or the huge snowstorm that made us leave the hospital a day early.  When she was about two months old, Ed and I looked at each other and I said “We have managed to keep them all alive for 2 months – we are really doing this!”

She is adventurous (loves flying high and being put upside down and going fast), babbling away (we have another talker!), walking everywhere and getting into everything, already opinionated (she has mastered shaking her head no or yelling when she wants something), and she loves clinging to her momma. She definitely completes our family and is loved so much by her brother and sisters.

Because a birthday isn’t enough of a weekend plan for the Hetzels, we also did some other fun things this past weekend. While the girls and I stayed home, ate Thai that we had delivered, and put together Legos, Blake and Ed went to see the Monster Truck show at the Coliseum. Blake LOVES all things monster truck, so as part of his birthday present from the grandparents, we got him tickets to go see them. It was so loud and the headphones we brought for him weren’t cutting it, so dad have to get “tire” re-enforcements. After he got them on his ears and quit shaking, he actually enjoyed the show.

As if that wasn’t enough, we managed to fit in a birthday party for a friend of Emerson’s at an ice skating rink, church, and a super bowl party with our church small group.

And….want to know one of the things I love most about NYC? Getting to do once-in-a-lifetime kind of things – like visiting the Downton Abbey exhibition show that is in town for a limited time. In this exhibition, you get to see some of the rooms set up like is in the actual show, you get to hear more about behind the scenes workings, you get to see outfits that were worn, and you get to see actual props that they used in the show. If you are a Downton fan, this is a must see!  One major takeaway – the gowns are sooo much more pretty in person than they are on TV. And the bell board that they use to ring the bells to call the servants is so much bigger than it appears!

5 Things I Am Loving

Just wanted to drop in and share a few things that I am loving this week.

1. Having a little walker in the house – Brynn is officially walking EVERYWHERE! It is so cute to see her toddling and shaking her little booty as she walks. And if she wasn’t into everything before, she most definitely is now. I present this picture as evidence….she got ahold of her sister’s art kit and pulled out the red watercolor paint. What happens when you mix the water in your mouth with the watercolor paint? You make yourself a masterpiece…which she did. Oh man, she had it everywhere. Toilet paper, small toys, markers…you name it, she gets it. 

2. Read Alouds with Kids – I had hard from other parents about how great it was to do read-alouds with their kids, having their kids do something quietly with their hands while they listened. I knew it wasn’t possible with young kids, but now that the girls are getting bigger, I thought we would give it a shot. We decided to read “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” thinking that we could use watching the movie as incentive for finishing and listening to the book.

Ya’ll, the girls have LOVED it!!  Kinsley has hung on every word and Emerson has left a few times to play with something while we read, but overall, they were able to concentrate through many nights of reading the book. Last night, we watched the movie and they loved it too, I think probably more so because we had read the book. It was even fun to be able to talk to them about how the book portrayed what Jesus did for us and how Aslan was fashioned after Jesus. And they are excited that there are more books like this!

3. the book “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist – to continue with the book theme, let me share another book that I am reading right now and absolutely loving. This book is rocking my world. It is reiterating and putting into words so much of what I have been learning/feeling and is bringing to light so many bad tendencies and heart wishes for this high-capacity, productivity-loving, control-liking mama of 4. Woah. Just WOAH. I am only reading 1 or 2 chapters a day because I want to soak it in and I just don’t want to miss it or get it wrong. See all those colored tags at the top? Those are my “CAN”T MISS THIS!” pages – and I am not even halfway through. Seriously.

4. Doing “Dateboxes” with Ed – a while ago, we heard someone mention this thing called a “Datebox.” I listened as they described it as a date in a box that comes monthly (you pay monthly or you can pay quarterly or annually at a discount). They are usually filled with a food or beverage you make together, questions to get conversation flowing, a playlist to listen to, and some activity you will do together. We opted to get one month at a very discounted rate to try it out and were so pleased with how it turned out that we signed up for more months.

I LOVE that it comes straight to my house and I don’t have to collect or run all over to get the supplies we need – everything is included. I LOVE that we don’t have to pay childcare but can do something fun and different and creative from our own house. I LOVE that they change it up and yet, it has always been fun. I LOVE that it has challenged us to make sure we are having date nights and not succumbing to the “we are so tired that we don’t feel like doing that” temptation.

Some things we have done so far are making eggnog, truffles, playing a “Guess the Carol” game, and decorating ornaments, making kettle corn popcorn, apple cider, and playing an “Escape Room” game, making homemade ice cream (with toppings they included!), taking salsa dance lessons (from our living room), and playing an “I Know You Better” game. We are always so excited to see what comes next and I would have to say that we are hooked.

5. Facetime – I know, I know. This isn’t a new thing. But I just realized last night how extremely thankful I am that we have technology like this, not only for family, but also to connect with friends. Last night, I got to Facetime one of my old roommates from college and catch up on life. It was so fun that even though she is in Arizona, we got to talk and pick up where we left off just like before.

I remember the days when this technology didn’t exist and when you had to have long-distance cards and calling plans. Now, it is so easy to stay connected, and while that can sometimes be bad, times like last night are a blessing.

What are you loving right now?

Stoney Brook Update

In my last post, I mentioned that we were stepping out in faith and trying to launch at Stoney Brook University. Our team traveled there this past Sunday evening, spent all day Monday and Tuesday on campus, led an informational meeting Tuesday evening, and then returned home.

So what happened?

After meeting students, having 400 surveys filled out and sorting through the responses, we had 114 students interested in being involved with Cru and 45 were interested in helping to lead the ministry. They had the chance to meet up with quite a few of the students to share the Gospel and one girl named Tiya even prayed to receive Christ!!

However, at the informational meeting, only 4 students showed up – one is a guy who is for sure going to be leading the Bible study we are launching and the other 3 were girls who were not believers. One of those girls is a Mormon and insisted that we believe the same thing as her, which we confidently know is not true. What happened to the other 110 students and why didn’t they come? Who knows – classes, friends, studying, something more fun for them to do. But we are excited about the one guy who is going to lead the study and we are excited to see if more leaders surface, more students get involved, and where the Lord takes things.

The other really exciting thing that happened was that we found a group of student athletes who are already meeting as a group and have a desire to reach other athletes on their campus with the message of Jesus. The two leaders are a girl from the lacrosse team and a guy from the football team. They don’t have anyone coaching, resourcing, or providing leadership and they seem really excited to get resources and training to help them reach other athletes. So, our opening at Stoney Brook and where the Lord wants us to concentrate may end up being with athletes!

Would you pray that the Lord would continue to lead us at Stoney Brook and help us figure out where he wants us to invest and which students to invest with? A few members of our team are traveling back next Tuesday to meet with our guy students leader, help lead the Bible study, connect with the athletes, and connect with some more students.

Also, would you pray that our family can stay well over the next few month? Winter here is brutal with illnesses and viruses and while we have managed to stay relatively healthy, all that changed last week when Brynn was diagnosed with the flu and an ear infection and Blake started having breathing issues while dealing with a cold. Thankfully, she is recovering really well and everyone else has managed to stay healthy.

Thanks for your prayers – we couldn’t do this without you!

Stoney Brook Launch

All of NYC – 140 college campuses and 1.3 million college students. Queens – 7 college campuses (with over 1000 students each) and 86,000 college students. Our current reality – ministries at Queens College and St. John’s University. Our prayer, hope, and goal for this semester – launch and grow 2 more Gospel-Centered Missional Communities at Queens/Long Island campuses.

This coming week, our team is taking a HUGE step of faith to see this goal reached – we are attempting to launch at Stoney Brook University. We have been praying for months, our team took a day last semester to go to Stoney Brook to meet with pastors and potential students and faculty in town, and to learn about the campus, and we have talked about the best way to do it – now, we are trusting the Lord, taking a step of faith, and praying He leads us to solid students who want to reach their campus by leading a Cru ministry and that we find other students who want to know the Lord, grow in their faith, and reach their fellow students by being involved with Cru (not leading).

Next Sunday evening through Tuesday late, late evening, our team will travel to Stoney Brook (over an hour away by car and over 2 by public transportation), spend two nights in a hotel, pass out flyers, get students to fill out surveys, have lots of Gospel conversations, connect with local pastors and faculty, train students, and have an info meeting for interested students. Our prayer is that we would surface 3-5 key students, faculty, or volunteers who are solid in their faith and want to lead the ministry that we can coach from afar and over 5 other students who want to be involved in a Bible study lead by our volunteers, faculty, or student leaders. If we find these student/faculty/volunteer leaders, we would challenge them to spend time praying in the next week for their campus as a group and then meet with us the following week for some more training as well as to see us model how to lead a small group Bible study. Then, we would coach them and challenge them to lead the Bible study by themselves the following week.

Would you pray for this coming week’s launch? This could be an epic God story where we see Him show up in major ways, this could be a major bomb and nothing happens at all, or it could set the stage for something to happen in the future. Either way, we know God is writing this story and we want to be faithful to do our part to see ministries established across Queens so that everyone knows someone who truly follows Jesus.

Would you also pray for LaGuardia Community College? We are doing the beginning steps of connecting with interested faculty and students to get something started there as well, and we need the Lord’s guidance and for Him to move for this to happen.

And lastly, because while we are busy preparing, life goes on – here are a few sweet moments from the kids this week:

Blake – Loving his rain gear and new (well, new to him but hand-me-down) Cars umbrella

Kinsley and Emerson – both girls got to enjoy daddy-daughter dates this past weekend. Emerson got to go with daddy to get her boot off her foot (YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT – Praise the Lord her foot took a huge turn for the better and enough so that they removed the boot – she is walking better but over did it last night because she doesn’t realize its not 100% better yet so pray she doesn’t re-injure it and slows down!) and then to use her Christmas $$ to get her nails done (it costs $5 for her to get her nails painted at the salon and she thinks she is BIG STUFF!) and then to get a donut to celebrate. Kinsley went ice skating with Ed at Bryant Park in the city and then to Chickfila to enjoy cookies and lemonades.

Brynn – while this little monkey started taking a few steps right around 10.5 months old, she is now full-on walking. It is so very weird to see your once-crawling baby now walking around the corner towards you. The best part – she is so proud of herself that she smiles constantly while she is walking and even walks sideways sometimes. The worst part – she is EVEN MORE officially into everything – toilets, toilet papers, trash can, pantry – you name it, she finds it.

 

Happy Birthday Blake!

Happy birthday to Blake!!

Little man turns 3 today and he couldn’t be more excited. The birthday activity he requested for our famiily to do? Visit the fire station, as he loves all things with sirens. So we did that this weekend.

His cake request? Blaze (from Blaze and the Monster Machine on Nick Jr.). I got a little distracted with the kids while making this and didn’t make the icing red enough – don’t mind the pinkish icing on the cake 🙂

I seriously love everyday with this little cutie. He is so very sweet, he is quick to apologize, he is compassionate, he talks SO much, he gets so excited about things, he is always making us laugh, he is so talkative and open to people (though he can be majorly shy at first, once he starts talking he almost always captures their heart), he is active, he is easy going, and he freely gives tons of hugs and kisses. Almost daily, he shares about how he can’t wait to get bigger so he can “ride a roller coaster” (no idea where this comes from). And today, when I said “I don’t want you to get bigger, Blake, I love you at this age and I don’t want you to grow up”, his response was “Mom, its okay to be sad, but when you are sad, you need to go to bed.” What in the world? Daily, he makes us laugh saying funny things like that.

And, this little one turned 11 months old this week AND is walking. It isn’t her primary mode of transportation, but she is increasingly doing it more and more. I can’t believe she will be a year old in a month…time flies so very, very fast!

You got a friend in me!

In the midst of last week being really hard with Ed being gone, one of the things that I kept being excited about (besides him coming home!), was that a good friend of mine, Becky, was going to be coming to visit and arriving the day after Ed did. I got to know Becky 7 years ago when we were placed in Central Kentucky on staff with Cru as our first assignment. Becky and her husband Rich were the couple that were leading our team. While we have obviously since moved on, we have remained close friends and I would say, have gotten even closer through the years.

Becky decided to leave her kiddos and hubs and travel to NYC to visit me as a mini vacation and in honor of turning 40 last year. She had been to NYC back in 2003 so while she had seen a few things then, there was still so much to explore. While the girls were in school, Ed and I and the two little kids traveled with her to see the 9/11 memorial, visit Chelsea Market, walk on the High Line, eat lunch at this amazing chicken finger place called Sticky’s, and see Rockefeller Plaza (complete with watching a couple get engaged on the Rockefeller Plaza ice rink). That night, we made a late night trip to browse the clearance racks at Target 🙂 Then, on Thursday, it snowed and snowed and snowed and snowed. When Emerson’s appointment to the orthopedic doctor got canceled (as well as school!), we bundled up in snow gear and trekked to visit the MET museum. It wasmy first trip and I was amazed. It is HUGE and even though I am not a huge art buff, I was amazed and awed at some of the artwork. My for sure favorites would be Van Gogh and Seurat. We also HAD to stop by our favorite bakery in the city to pick up cupcakes…we just HAD to!

 

Then, Becky and Ed were supposed to fly out the next day – Becky to go home and Ed to go to the conference. Because of the massive snow storm and the 8+ inches of snow we got, both of their flights got canceled. I was soooo excited Ed wasn’t going to have to leave (the next flight for him would be when his conference was over), but not so happy Becky couldn’t go home to her family. After lots of reworking and figuring out what to do, the Lord allowed it to work out for Becky to fly home today, Saturday, a day later – meaning we got another day together! Really long story and hard to explain on a blog, but a definite God story for sure!

For our last day, we went to the 9/11 museum where we spent lots of kid-free, uninterrupted time reading, studying, and taking it all in. And, in an effort to give her a better taste of NYC, we HAD to go to Black Tap and try one of their crazy shakes. On the way home on the subway, she got to see some awesome subway dancers, which isn’t something you see often and I feel like it is a treat when you do. She was able to fly out this morning and is back with her family.

Ya’ll, if you can find a friend like Becky, keep her! She is loyal, encouraging, thoughtful, steady, challenging, lots of fun, caring, and such a dear, dear friend to me. As I get older, I learn more and more about keeping friends despite moves and the miles. This one is a keeper. Loved having adventures with you that we will remember forever, Becky.

For an update on Emerson – because her appointment got canceled, we were supposed to go in this coming Monday. However, Friday, the nurse from school called and we had to pick her up early because it was hurting so bad. So, we called the doctor, got in to see them, and got some more x-rays taken. They were SUPER pleased with how her wound was looking (apparently, they were afraid it was getting infected and that we would need to go see a wound care specialist which didn’t end up being the case) but said the pain was because of the fracture and because it was sprained and that she just needed more time to recover. They said they want her almost completely off of it for 7-10 days. So, back to the couch she goes. Please pray she gets some relief and that it starts to head in the right direction toward healing.

Brynn turned 11 months old today and Blake turns 3 this week – excuse me while I go cry because my babies are growing up 🙁 And just so you know things weren’t all calm at home while I was spending time with Becky – this happened. What happens when Blake wants to draw and no paper is around? Brynn becomes the canvas. Bless it.