Monday, January 29, 2007

On Broadway

My mom was in town this weekend, and we had the opportunity to see the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast. It was marvelously fantastically fun-- my mom, Chloe and I experiencing the show together. And thanks to a kind and generous castmember, we were allowed to go backstage after the show and look around. (Kind and Generous Castmember, I'm not using your name to respect your privacy, but know that we are very, very appreciative). Chloe was in awe of the stage and the whole experience; when she was asked if she had any questions, all the thousands of inquiries she had peppered me with during the actual show flew from her brain. She could only ask how they managed to get a little boy's face into the teacup to play Chip, and where did his body go? (the answer: clever use of mirrors hid his body).

As thrilling as the experience was, here is the thing that sticks with me: If you were sitting in the 4th row of a huge Broadway production, would you feel compelled to break open your leftover Chicken McNuggets with sweet and sour sauce and scarf them down in the middle of the first act, swathing the whole area with the aroma of grease? The woman next to me was compelled to do just such a thing.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Core Values and Supplication

Steve and I have identified the core values we'd like to see in this church community. The descriptors are my words...we're still working out the official way to say these things.

Authentic Community— appreciating similarities and differences, recognizing each person's inherent worth in Christ

Experiencing Worship— vibrant and creative liturgy that combines the history of our faith with the relevance of today, preaching to the mind and heart

Living the Gospel—savoring the Gospel so thoroughly that it orients our thoughts, values, and actions in every aspect of our lives

Sharing the Gospel
—with humility and hope

Serving the City—recognizing the greatness of NYC, using our gifts to make the city an even better place for everyone


Also, we've got some hefty meetings in this next while-- meetings that will increase or decrease the ease with which this project moves forward.

Please remember them in your prayers.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Strange But True

A few nights ago, Steve came to bed late after practicing his sermon. When he got there, he found me asleep and the comforter flipped over, bottom side up.

"Dana," he asked, "Why is the comforter flipped upside down?"

"Because you told me to," I mumbled, and fell back into unconsciousness (although it could be argued that I was never entirely out of unconsciousness in the first place).

I do have this vague recollection of a mighty struggle with the blankets, but no more than that.

I am a very participatory sleeper.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Left to His Own Devices

"Look, Mama! I used the cheese for stickers!"
"Wow, honey. That's so artistic. A bit gross, but still artistic."
The modern art scene is strong here. Perhaps there's a future for him?
Say Cheese.

Seventy Times Seven

In our first year of marriage, when Steve was still in law school and I was working 2nd and 3rd shift as a nurse, we bought a brand new Saturn. We were proud of that car for about two weeks, and during those first couple of weeks, it seemed like every time I turned my head I saw a Saturn.

"Wow, where did all these Saturns come from? Did everyone buy a Saturn in the past two weeks?"

Of course not. I was just recognizing the Saturns that were already there. A top of mind awareness kind of thing.

These past weeks, the issue of forgiveness has been at the top of my mind.

It started when Chloe asked me, "Mom, what's 70 times 7?"

"140. Wait, I mean 490." (Never was a numbers person). "Where did you hear that?"

"In the Bible."

Thought so. And so I explained to Chloe that 70 times 7 was Jesus' way of saying that because we have been perfectly forgiven by God, we can and should forgive others--as often as it takes.

That night, Steve came back from a meeting where a church leader asked Tim Keller, the pastor of Redeemer, how to deal with team members who were not complying with whatever program requirements.
"I'll tell you the first thing you do," he said. "The first thing you do is forgive them."

That's not what I was expecting him to say. But it's right on.

After that, I ran across a quote from Lewis Smedes, a reformed theologian. "The first and often only person to be healed by forgiveness is the person who does the forgiveness."

And Philip Yancy, "The only thing harder than forgiveness is the alternative."

Then there are all the times that I've been able to practice forgiveness and be forgiven, as the weather turns colder and the apartment seems to shrink and we all step on each other (literally and figuratively) way too often.

It's easy for me to think that when I forgive, I am benevolent and kind, bestowing the gift of gracious pardon onto the person who is so much more sinful and wrong than I; that I forgive for their benefit.

I thank God that he forgives me for that.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Church, Made from Scratch

We've been crafting our formal church proposal this week.

It's more difficult and exhilarating than you would imagine.

Taking this broad vision for

a community of grace, bound by Christ,

living and loving the city together

and fitting it into 2 or 3 pages which people will see and then make a judgement of the worthiness of the endeavor.

It's easy to look at existing churches and find their strengths and weaknesses.

But if you were forming a church community, arranging the DNA from the very start, what would it look like?
What would your core values be?
What would the worship entail?
How would you encourage authentic community?
How would you properly contextualize your ideas so that they are powerful and relevant?

And most importantly, while doing this thinking and forming and writing, how would you keep perspective--
knowing that this is not about you and what you can do
but about God
and his abiding love for the people here
and his plan for his bride, the church.

The Theology of Breaking Up

Funny stuff, this.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

My, But it's Cold.

It's 19 degrees with a windchill of 9 this morning. Usually it's Steve that takes Chloe to her bus stop, which is close to half a mile away. However, on Wednesdays he has an early morning Bible study, so Jonathan and I walk with her. Lucky us.

Here's a little bulleted list, Jeff Foxworthy Style.

You know it's cold in New York City when:

  • The dog pee on the sidewalks freezes in action.

That's all I have for you.

My brain is still thawing, and I have to go walk another 3/4 of a mile in an hour. Now, where did I put that long underwear...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

At a Loss for Words

I'm experiencing a bit of blogger's block today.
Hence, more photos that I took last week.

| View Show | Create Your Own

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Trinity Church

Steve and I were taking random pictures of the financial district and Tribeca yesterday, and I looked up and saw this:

Friday, January 12, 2007

As Delurk Week Draws to an End

I just discovered that this week is National Blogger Delurk for those of you who have been hanging out in my blog for a while but have yet to make your presence known, please take this opportunity to say Howdy. Leaving a comment doesn't hurt (unless you discover that you've posted a comment with a bunch of typos, then it's a bit painful). When I write, I write to an imaginary audience, but I'll bet you're much more interesting than they are.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

TRIangle BElow CAnal

Because people continue to direct us toward Tribeca, in that a) it's a neighborhood where a new church community is needed and 2) it's an area that is rapidly growing, we've been doing some additional research there. The more we see and learn, the more we like it (the Cool Vibe is strong in Tribeca, and perhaps we subconsciously hope it will rub off on us? No, we've come to terms. We're a Cool Lost Cause).
We recently ordered an Area Profile; something that sums up all the demographics and projections for a geographic area and puts them in a tidy binder for our review. Some interesting things we've learned:
  • The average household income in this area is $132,000/year, compared to the national average of $65,000.
  • The percentage of people who have completed post graduate studies is 186% above the national average.
  • The percentage of people aged 24-45 is 42% above the national average.
  • 50% of the people say they are not at all involved with their faith (national average is 35%).

I find Tribeca to be beautiful because of the innovative ways that people have taken old, crumbling industrial buildings and reshaped them into a unique and vibrant neighborhood. It speaks of rebirth and redemption, a message of hope for things once abandoned.

We speak a similar language.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Petty Things About the City that Bug Me, cont.

  • I almost stepped on a rat that ran across the subway platform in front of me today.

Monday, January 08, 2007

To be Fair

Are you sick of me gushing about how much I love New York?

I do love it, you know.

But you and I both also know that no place in the world is nirvana. And today, in this gloomy weather, it seems quite apropos to share with you the things about this city that I don't like so much.

Just to be fair.

And to give me an excuse to make a bulleted list, which brightens my day every time.

Petty Things About the City that Bug Me

  • Dog poop on the sidewalks
  • The fact that I have to wait in 4 separate lines each time I go to the library (one to return kids books, one to check out kids books, one to return my books, and one to check out my books), and
  • At the end of my long library lines, an inevitably crabby library employee growls at me
  • The smell of the city on garbage days in the middle of summer
  • The local grocery store that is out of Diet Coke 9 times out of 10
  • The difficulty in getting from the Upper West Side to the Upper East Side (no subways run across Central Park)
  • The prohibitive cost of Broadway tickets
  • The absence of Target
  • The mysterious puddle of murk that collects curbside at street corners
  • The fact that I can't find a bulk bag of mediocre apples. I can only buy big, beautiful, museum-worthy apples that cost $1.50 a piece; of which, my kids eat about half and then throw away

Had enough?
I have.

That wasn't nearly as satisfying as my previous bulleted lists, btw.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Supply and Demand

Two weeks ago they were vertical and sold for $75.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Virtual Tour

Recently a few people have asked me for more pictures of our apartment.
Of course, we'd love for you to come and see it with your own eyes, but just in case you don't make it out here...

Here goes (don't blink, or you'll miss it):

"God Dances Amidst the Ordinary"

That's a quote from Max Lucado, I think from The Applause of Heaven.

It's a good concept for me to consider, because I'm headed toward a bit of post-holiday letdown.

Our holiday was different than we expected, what with all the sickness. (The reverberations of that sickness are still being felt throughout West Michigan. I'll take responsibility for every case of the stomach flu in the past week; I'm sorry, all. I really am. If you "accidentally" swear at me whilst being sick, I'll understand.) Because of the sickness, I didn't get to spend nearly as much time as I had hoped with people that I love and miss. The time I did spend with my family and friends seems a bit hazy, due to the exhaustion.

So we're home now, and I'm glad to be back in the city. Glad to merge back into the energy here, glad to let the music of the city wash over me.

I'm not so glad to come back to the laundry that needs to be hauled to the basement. Or the groceries that need to be gotten. Or the bathroom that (seriously!) needs to be cleaned. The work project that needs to be completed. You know, the ordinary stuff.

My New Year's prayer will be that God shows me how to dance with him in the ordinary; to get past this crabby, mumbling trodding that I want to do. Because working through the ordinary is just as important as any grand, visionary work that we do here.

It's just not as much fun.