Wednesday, November 29, 2006

O Tannenbaum...s

Rockefeller Center

The Apartment

Over 75 feet tall vs. 4 feet tall...
But ours was lit first.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

At Least We Won't Have to Worry About Sunday School Curriculum

What a boon to discover this song on another blog earlier today! When the time comes for our church to have children's programming, we'll just put this video on loop and call it good.
I don't know why any Sunday schools use anything else.

"Honor thy father and mother,
The Bible makes it clear.
When you break the rules,
God help you fool,
you got Mr. T to fear!"

Then again, perhaps not.

C.S. Lewis on Love

I was doing some research on love for a newsletter at work, and I found these quotes from C.S. Lewis. While they are not right for my work newsletter, they are true and beautiful nonetheless.

So, I share them with you and hope you are blessed.

If it is maintained that anything so small as the Earth must, in any event, be too unimportant to merit the love of the Creator, we reply that no Christian ever supposed we did merit it. Christ did not die for men because they were intrinsically worth dying for, but because He is intrinsically love, and therefore loves infinitely.

Though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.
Mere Christianity

God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that he may love and perfect them.
The Four Loves
I think God wants us to love Him more, not to love creatures (even animals) less. We love everything in one way too much (i.e. at the expense of our love for Him) but in another way we love everything too little. No person, animal, flower, or even pebble, has ever been loved too much--i.e. more than every one of God's works deserves.
Letters to an American Lady

Monday, November 27, 2006

Meal Planning 101

I flipped through some cookbooks this morning, looking for a dinner recipe that would use the ingredients I currently have in my lean kitchen (spaghetti noodles, 1 lb of frozen ground turkey, and some cheese slices that may or may not be real cheese).

It wasn't a fruitful search. I wasn't surprised.

Planning for meals is more difficult for me than the actual preparation. I'm not alone in this. I can remember certain afternoons when my mom would give up pondering the "What's for Dinner?' question and whip together a certain concoction called Rice and Raisins. Mmmm. We kids were in for a treat on Rice and Raisins night... a big dish of white rice and steamed raisins, topped with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. All carbs, no protein, no vitamins, no vegetables, no anything "good for you." We loved it. I haven't had Rice and Raisins in at least 15 years, and I can still recall the taste.

I have a friend who wasn't so fortunate when his mom didn't know what to make for dinner. He got a gourmet dish which his mother called Loose Meat. What is Loose Meat? It is browned ground beef. In a pile. On a plate. With onions mixed in on a good night.

My "I Give Up" meal is usually bacon and eggs. If we have bacon. Otherwise it's just eggs.

Steve doesn't complain; he eats with relish and thanks me.

Then 30 minutes later he eats his way through every snack food box and bag in the cupboard.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Location, Location, Location

Steve and I have been thinking and praying more than ever about where exactly in NYC to begin forming a church community.

Yesterday we explored the possibility of Brooklyn Heights, sometime home of Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote. Brooklyn Heights is one stop across the East River from the financial district (See the awesome view above. I accidentally cut off the Statue of Liberty, but if I hadn't done that, you'd see her on the left). Because of its convenient proximity to Wall Street, Brooklyn Heights is a popular place for white collar professionals. This neighborhood is quaint, full of brownstones and mature trees. It's more subdued, less glittery-seductive than Manhattan, but it's also less transient. There are more families there too, which would influence the tenor of the ministry.
Steve and I both look forward to the time when this decision will be made and we can begin getting to know the particular community in depth. It's like making a new friend, learning and sharing bit by bit, pleasantly surprised by commonalities and enriched by differences.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Of Things Thanksgiving

We had a plan, and the plan was as follows:

  • Gather up snacks, hot chocolate, warm blankets, and deck of cards

  • Locate and don long underwear, snow pants, mittens, hats, scarves

  • Claim a section of sidewalk along Central Park West at approx. 6:30 am

  • Make friends with fellow settlers to decrease the likelihood of sidewalk theft in the case of absence due to bathroom breaks

  • Settle in the for the long haul

  • Enjoy one of the best parades in the world

We forgot to add a crucial element: Find a way to manipulate the weather.


Yesterday afternoon it became clear that the weather was not going to be in a similar state come parade time, and we abandoned the parade plans. As a substitute, we walked to the area around the Museum of Natural History and watched hundreds of people in Macy's jumpsuits inflate the gargantuan balloons.

This morning, with Steve in NJ on a preaching assignment, the kids and I still made hot chocolate and watched the parade--in our apartment. Jonathan lasted for a full 5 minutes, then pronounced that the parade was only for mamas and girls. Chloe and I watched the whole thing, loving every Broadway song and celebrity endorsement. And with every soggy float that rolled across the screen, I was incredibly thankful that we were warm and dry indoors. It is Thanksgiving, after all.

After the parade, Chloe and I discussed the best way to decorate the apartment for Christmas, considering that we left our boxes of decorations in Michigan. We searched for supplies and started to create.

The not-too-shabby-if-a-bit-resembling-a-classroom results:

Good Morning

A sleepy city stirs,
Awakens with a snort
Of garbage trucks and subway squeals.
Opens its storefront eyelids,
Wipes the night from its sidewalks.
Inhales the silence,
And merges into the current of the day.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ask My Kids...

...and they'd probably tell you that Daddy Airplane is the best game ever invented.

Not so sure what Steve would say. Or rather, what Steve's back and legs would say.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Careening Career Considerations

This past week, Steve had a conversation with a woman who plays a character in the Beauty and the Beast broadway show. One of the mothers from Chloe's kindergarten class works in textiles, and I'm not sure what that entails except that she travels to Milan and other exotic locales on a regular basis. Chloe had a playdate today, and I learned that this little girl's mother has written a relatively successful book and is running a flourishing consulting business.

These are some inspiring people.

So much so that they've inspired me to write a list of potential jobs that have crossed my mind at least once since we've moved:

  • Hotel Concierge. Mostly I just want to know enough about New York that I would be qualified to be a concierge. I wouldn't actually have to be the concierge.
  • Broadway Usher. And if I could rotate among all shows, that'd be great.
  • European Shoe Store Sales Associate. Comfortable footwear plus discounts equals good idea in these parts.
  • Today Show...Person. I really don't care what the position is. Just let me see how it all works. And hang out with Matt, Meredith, and Anne.
  • High Powered Corporate So and So. Just to see if I could hack it.
  • Central Park Horse Carriage Driver. But not in the winter. And I'd have to get over thinking of that Seinfeld episode when Kramer fed his horse all that chili or hash or whatever it was with its odoriferous consequences.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Steve: Chloe, Chloe, how was your trip to the art museum?
Chloe: Good.
Steve: What did you do there?
Chloe: Looked at things.
Steve: What kind of things?
Chloe: Art things. I'm eating my snack now.

But Does It Top a Visit to the Gypsum Mines?

Chloe's class is gallivanting off to the Metropolitan Museum of Art today. I think it's so great that she has the opportunity, that we are here in a city that can offer something so beautiful. However, I am unclear about how they will help a group of 25 kindergartners and first graders to resist the urge to run their hands up and down the alluring textures of VanGogh, et al.

I vaguely recall my own early elementary class trip to the (defunct) gypsum mines in West Michigan. And the water treatment plant. And the biggy: Gerald R Ford Museum.

I hope Chloe appreciates her trip more than I did mine. Mysteriously, seeing Betty Ford's inauguration dress just didn't do it for me.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Learning and Re-learning: Grace

If you checked my blog a few hours ago, you might have read a post where I, in detail, outlined some personal struggles. About 4 or 5 paragraphs told the stories of my failures, while 1 or 2 sentences spoke of God's grace in the midst of those failures.

What a backwards ratio.

So now, in this post, I will tell you that living in this city has brought some dark spots in my life to the surface, and I ask for forgiveness and am working to brighten them. That's enough to tell. What I really want to share with you is this: God's grace is sufficient for me and my dark spots.

Philip Yancey, in one of my favorite books of all time, What's So Amazing about Grace?, says this:

Grace makes it's appearance in so many forms that I have trouble defining it. I am ready, though to attempt something like a definition of grace in relation to God. Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more--no amount of spiritual calisthenics and renunciations, no amount of knowledge gained from seminaries and divinity schools, no amount of crusading on behalf of righteous causes (no amount of moving to New York City to start churches). And grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less--no amount of racism or pride or pornography or adultery or even murder. Grace means that God already loves us as much as an infinite God can possibly love.
Ahh. Now that is a better ratio.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Getting in the Game

A few weeks ago, I attended a Redeemer seminar entitled "Christian Family Living in the the City: A Long-term View." Tim Keller shared this thought...I've heard it before, but every time I hear it, I think, "Well, doesn't that just make sense?"

Christians complain we are 'losing the culture', but relatively tiny social groups who live disproportionately in cities have far more influence on the culture than evangelical Christians who live disproportionately outside of cities. Jim Boice (in his book Two Cities Two Loves, p.167ff.) asserted that since 50% of the U.S. population lives in cities then only if at least 50% of evangelicals lived in the cities longterm--simply raised their families there and took jobs and served the whole city (unlike some urban 'enclaves') can we expect to see ourselves having any cultural impact at all. He then added that only if we lived disproportionately in cities (more than 50%) would we see great cultural impact.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

48 Hours with My Family

Times Square Toys R Us ferris wheel subway subway subway bus Today Show Central Park walk in the sushine shuffle the leaves playground subway Upper West Side Upper East Side subway subway Staten Island Ferry Statue of Liberty walk Chloe's School Fifth Avenue subway Disney Store People People People subway Hard Rock Cafe Times Square wait in line for broadway tickets Vietnamese Food Riverside Park Soldiers and Sailors Monument subway walk Broadway shows shopping walk walk walk walk Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Indian Food.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I am The Church

Chloe participated in a cool blog project that was organized by a creative fellow named Joshua Longbrake.

Check it: Love in the Key of Longbrake

(And no, I'm not sure why the person on Chloe's picture is frowning. Perhaps because there is an arrow sticking out of his head.)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Those Pictures I was Talking About

I never would have known a neighborhood like this existed inside the city limits.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Home sick/Homesick

Home Sick

Chloe stayed home from school today. She's got a cough that's been tagging along with her to kindergarten for the last two weeks, and I thought it was getting better. Until last night, when she started a whole new chorus of coughs and cackles. We went to see the doctor this morning, and he told me her lungs are crystal clear and Cold Number One has been joined by its friend, Cold Number Two, and they should both be on their way out of town soon enough.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share one of the best Home Sick activities that I've ever done with the kids. This recipe creates a kind of squishy clay that keeps them occupied for at least an hour.

Gooey Gunk
Solution A:
1 cup water
1 cup Elmer's All Purpose Glue (don't use off brand or school glue)
7-10 drops food coloring
Solution B:
1 1/3 cups warm water
4 tsp. Borax laundry booster
Mix ingredients in Solution A together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, mix Solution B until the Borax is completely dissolved. Slowly pour the Solution A into Solution B. Do not mix! Roll Solution A around in Solution B 4 or 5 times. Lift Solution A out and knead for 2-3 minutes. All set! Store in a ziplock bag. Keeps for a couple weeks.
And on to...
Our family took the train out to Forest Hills, Queens yesterday so Steve could preach at a church there. It was a beautiful neighborhood, a beautiful fall day, a beautiful experience that caused me to miss our old Ottawa Hills 'hood. Here are some pics.
Well, Blogger is not being picture friendly, so I'll try again in a while. For now, you'll just have to take my word for it about the beauty.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Time Wounds All Heels

Steve's foot has been giving him grief lately, and he finally broke down and went to the podiatrist. Turns out his pain is caused by all the walking he's been doing. The doc said that he sees a dozen people each week that have similar injuries...all new to the city, all with tender tootsies not used to pounding the pavement.

Speaking of pounding the pavement, the NYC Marathon is tomorrow and it is a Big Deal. Roads closed, references to the run everywhere, media coverage madness. Last night on the news there was a segment called, "How to be Nice to Your Body after the Big Run," which might have been interesting if I ever ran for more than the bus. Point is, the producers assumed that enough viewers are running the race (or wish they were)that such a segment would be worthwhile.

In more walking-related news, Steve and I (and a sleeping Jonathan in his stroller) spent yesterday afternoon taking a walking tour of Hell's Kitchen. I am still surprised by the individual feel of each neighborhood in this city. HK, with its industrial atmosphere, reminded me of Chicago. There would be some advantages to planting a church there--because the neighborhood is still being "revitalized," space would be more affordable. A drawback (and a large drawback, at that) is that public transportation doesn't reach very far into HK. It would be difficult for anyone who lived outside of the neighborhood to get into it. Still, it is exciting to walk through a place and imagine what impact a church could have there.

Tomorrow, Steve is preaching at a church plant in Forest Hills (that's Forest Hills, Queens). He's looking forward to putting on his preaching pants again (I meant that figuratively, but he really does have a pair of pants that he usually wears when he preaches).

Thursday, November 02, 2006