Monday, April 30, 2007

Raining Petals

We paused for a moment yesterday and went to the spring fair in Riverside Park. The flowering trees were captivating, encouraged by the breeze to scatter their petals amidst the pony rides and cotton candy.

Wish you were there.
All of you.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Short Observation

Shorts are not really acceptable casual wear for women in NYC.
Capris, yes.
Skirts and dresses, definitely yes.
Flowing linen trousers are also fine.
Shorts seem to be reserved for workouts and beaches.
(or tourists)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Prayer of My Heart

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee, Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle-shield, sword for my fight,
Be Thou my dignity, Thou my delight.
Thou my soul's shelter, Thou my high tower.
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven's joys, O bright heav'ns Son!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O ruler of all.

--Ancient Irish Hymn (which gives words to the cries of my heart on this day)
Listen to it here

Sunday, April 22, 2007


The weather here, with temps in the high 70's and pure, blissful sunshine, is encouraging the whole city to swarm to the parks and enjoy the flowering trees and warm breezes. The restaurants and cafes are putting out their sidewalk tables and people are lingering in clustered conversations on doorsteps and street corners. On days such as this, New York City transforms; the pace slows and people smile more.

I have an Earth Day confession which may cause me to be exiled from the city. Ready?
I haven't seen An Inconvenient Truth yet (Duck; the stones will begin to fly any second now). I am concerned about global warming, certainly; I recycle, I wash my clothes in cold water, I turn off the lights and handwash many a dish rather than use paper and plastic products. I would wish for a hybrid car if wishing for a car would do any good. People here assume that everyone has seen the movie, and it is referenced often and enthusiastically. The salesman at the Apple store even used it as a selling point. "If you check out Keynote (Apple software program), you'll recognize that Al Gore used it to make An Inconvenient Truth." And I nodded like Sure, I knew that, of course I've seen that movie, who hasn't? But I had not a clue.

Maybe I'll watch the movie tonight in honor of Earth Day. Or maybe I'll just go outside and appreciate the beauty of God's creation, instead.

Steve came home Wednesday, and we joyfully welcomed him back. I made hamburgers for dinner, which caused Steve to reminisce about Mr. Fables restaurant (For those of you who are not Grand Rapidians-- Mr. Fables was a West Michigan cafeteria-style restaurant that was a staple for many years. Zagats would probably give it a negative number of stars).
"Mr. Fables," I said sentimentally, "Do you remember our first date was there?" (sad, but true).
"Yeah," said Steve, with tenderness and a far away look in his eyes. "And do you remember the Mr. Fabulous burger?"

One last thing, which my older brother Eric wanted to make sure you knew.
Justin Timberlake is his favorite singer of all time and he wishes that everyone sang with such a sweet falsetto.
Right, Eric?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Levity on a Thursday Morning

This clip made me smile this morning.
It really doesn't take much to amuse me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Darth Vader(ette) Does Her Homework

Steve has been gone for 2 weeks now, fund raising, sharing the vision for a church in lower Manhattan, and visiting friends old and new. With the weather being what it has, the kids and I have been inside our cozy apartment more than we would like. We're starting to go a little stir-crazy and are looking for any and all distractions (such as doing homework while peering through a Darth Vader mask? It was fine until she started to hyperventilate a bit, trying to make her breathing sound authentically Vader-ish).

Today, in another desperate attempt at diversion, we waited for a half hour in 40 degree, rainy, and windy weather for a free Ben and Jerry's ice cream cone (thank you, Annemarie, Honor and Ezra, for keeping us company and protecting us from the very, er, eager B&J line monitor).

It's time for Steve to come home.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Cats and Dogs

We've received over 5 inches of rain in the past 24 hours, and it's still coming down.

If only I had upgraded Jonathan's stroller to include the hovercraft option. It would come in handy on the walk to the bus stop tomorrow morning.

I Can't Tell... Is this City Blue or Red?

Good for a laugh on a subway ride.

Nasty Nor'easter

The rain is coming down in buckets. In sheets. In a wall of water. The sidewalks are rivers and the curbs are lakes.
And I am feeling slightly guilty about having just ordered a pizza for delivery.
What am I asking that poor delivery guy to do?
I'm asking him to ride his bike through that wall of water, that's what I'm asking him to do.
Nor'easters must be a blessing and a curse for food delivery people. On the one hand, New Yorkers are not leaving their apartments unless they have to; hence, food delivery orders increase and tips increase accordingly. On the other hand, well, riding your bike through rain and wind like this must be miserable.

I'll tip him a couple extra bucks, which will appease my guilt but make the delivery guy no less uncomfortable.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Every Story Whispers His Name

You know how it's great when the book you're reading to your kids is a book you actually enjoy reading? How you might steer the kids away from the books you can't stand and instead point out the ones that don't drive you insane? "Cat in the Hat again, Honey? How about this one instead? This one looks like a great book..."

It's even greater when the kids choose the book themselves, and that book is a beautifully written and illustrated children's Bible.

We own 5 children's Bibles...all collecting dust (yes, even the classic The Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos) because either we didn't like the way they were written, or the kids didn't care for them. Until...

We recently purchased The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, and it's a gift to our family. The kids really like it, and so do I. The illustrations by Jago are beautiful and contemporary. The stories are well-written and entertaining...Sally's ability to get to the heart of the matter is amazing, and even better, she shows the link in each story, Old Testament and New, to God's plan of salvation through Christ. No over-emphasized moralism here, which is a breath of fresh air when it come to children's Bibles. Sally, who is English and currently lives here in the city, also weaves in a subtle humor which brings forth a chuckle now and then (from me and the kids both).

"Many years later, God would send his people another young Hero to fight for them. And to save them. But this hero would fight the greatest battle the world has ever known." (From "The Young Hero and The Horrible Giant," the story of David and Goliath).

Good stuff.

Monday, April 09, 2007

If You Give a Man a Muffin

There is a man I see often in our neighborhood.
I assume he is homeless, although that may not be the case.

He has a distinctive way of asking for money. I can't accurately portray the lilt in his voice, the way he emphasizes certain phrases in his refrain, but the words go like this:

"Can you please spare some money. I need some money for (insert closest meal). Even a penny. Just a penny. Any food. I'd appreciate some food."

It sticks in my head.

Now, I struggle with the best way to show Christ's love to the homeless people and beggars that I encounter every day. I've read books like Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne, which says that helping is simple--you follow Jesus' instructions in Matthew 5:42 "Give to the one who asks you." But I've also read the stats that show that close to 90% of money given to beggars goes to drug and alcohol purchases. And surely, giving money to support life- destroying habits isn't helping anyone. I think of the Good Samaritan, who not only gave money to the person in need, but checked up on him and entered into his life for a time. But then there is the fact that I'm a woman with two young children at my side, and (untreated) mentally ill people are often unpredictable and sometimes unsafe...and who would I be helping by putting us in a dangerous situation?

So we usually choose to give our money to organized not-for-profits who help people in need, and we look forward to the day when our church community can be active volunteers in those same organizations.

Some of you may read that and think my reasons are poor excuses for my inaction.

Some of you may read that and think there is wisdom in our decision.

Either way, it still pains me to walk by people who are begging for money.

Back to the guy.
One evening last week, I was kid-free and on my way to the marriage group that Steve and I are leading. And there was the guy. Asking for dinner. "Any food. I'd appreciate some food."

"Well," thought I. "He's asking for food. I can get the man some food."
I turned back and steered into the convenience store, thinking I would buy him a sandwich. No sandwiches there, but I did find some muffins the size of softballs. I got all motherly and nutritionally minded then. Hmmm, which muffin? Not blueberry... no nutrition there to speak chocolate chip, either...Right. Here we go. Whole grain with fruit and nuts. Perfect. Fiber, protein...we're set. It weighed about half a pound.

I strode out and handed the fellow his muffin.
He looked at me.
"I can't eat this. I need money. For dinner. That's why I asked for money."

Wait. I thought he had said, "Any food?"

Oh. Right. He wanted money. Of course he wanted money.

And I was angry. Ungrateful man. Lying man. And I went out of my way for him, and now I'm late. He'll probably just throw that muffin away. A waste of $2...

But I know better. I do. And I'm happy to say that I checked myself quickly (more quickly than I would have, even a year ago.)

Do I give simply to receive the gratitude of the recipient?
No, I give because Christ first gave to me.

And for too long, I was the most ungrateful of all.
And so often, I still am.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

It All Hinges on This

Christ is risen.

He is risen, indeed.

Happy Easter

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Looking toward Easter

"Please--Aslan," said Lucy, "can anything be done to save Edmund?"

"All shall be done," said Aslan.

-C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Where's the Beef?

In lieu of an actual date (in which we must pay a babysitter $12/hour), Steve and I stayed in on Tuesday, ordered Indian food after the kids were in bed, and watched American Idol (Sanjaya, seriously, it's time to go home).

Steve perused the menu, giving it only half his attention.
"I want that spicy stuff I had last time. What's it called? Vindaloo?"
He paused and looked again at the menu.
"Here's lamb vindaloo...and chicken vindaloo. Where's the beef?"
I looked at him.
"Oh, " he said. "It's Indian food."

Right. Made by Indians from India who might take exception to food prepared with an animal they consider holy.

He ordered the lamb.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

It's All Good

While Steve prepares for his whirlwind tour of West Michigan, the kids and I have been enjoying Chloe's two weeks of spring break and finding different things to do each day. Beside our one night "vacation" to that crazy tourist destination, Newark, we've:

Visited the playgrounds in Tribeca and Battery Park City, getting to know our future 'hood (wow, our demographic studies weren't lying about all the families and kids).

Made a trip to the Bronx Zoo (huge, expensive, but worth seeing at least once).

Had an Easter Egg hunt in Riverside Park (which was fun until Jonathan turned it into a hunt for large sticks, which turned into a "light saber" fight between the kids...).

Still on the agenda: a trip to the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. Should I try Avocado or Red Bean flavor?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

New York's Incredible Disappearing Middle Class

From this morning's AM New York:

Experts: Middle class getting squeezed in NYC

By Justin Rocket Silverman, amNewYork Staff Writer

April 3, 2007

The middle class is an endangered species in New York, and its survival could mean the difference between a stable city and one that is insecure and unsustainable, public officials warned at a forum Monday.

"Middle class people are not rich enough to be free of economic concerns but not poor enough to warrant charity," former Gov. Mario Cuomo said. "They are the people who work because they have to, not because a psychologist told them work is the best way to fill the time between birth and eternity."

Cuomo joined a host of other officials and economists at "The American Dream in the Big Apple," a conference sponsored by the Drum Major Institute, a progressive think thank. The three-term governor recalled raising five children in Queens in the 1950s and 60s on a household income of $30,000. Doing that today, he said, would be impossible.

"A lot of people who love this city and love their jobs are finding they can only afford to live in the suburbs," he said.

Panelists including City Comptroller William Thompson, Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn/Queens) and Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion spoke about the need for affordable health care, quality public education, affordable housing and small-business loans as the foundation of any strong middle class.

"We have been so obsessed with big business in midtown Manhattan that we forget most new jobs come from small businesses in the other boroughs," said Weiner, who proposed the city should help coordinate group health care rates for the employees of small companies that can't provide coverage otherwise.

By most measures, the observers said New York City seems to be doing a dismal job of maintaining a vibrant middle class. A study by the Brookings Institution last summer revealed that the five boroughs had the smallest number of middle-income families as a proportion of total population than any other city in the country. Instead the city is more polarized by the divide between the ultra-rich and the working poor.

"You never want a city of just the rich and just the poor," Thompson said. "That is not a healthy city."

The Drum Major Institute's survey of more than 100 political and business leaders on middle class issues found that:

* It takes an annual income of about $100,000 for a family of four to attain a middle-class standard of living. The median annual income for this size family in the city is $49,379.

* A middle class standard of living includes having health insurance, access to the Internet, good public schools for children, a retirement plan, annual vacations and air conditioning.

* A single person needs an income of $45,000-$90,000 to attain this middle class standard of living in New York City.

* 92 percent of respondents said it is "somewhat harder" or "much harder" for a low-income worker to enter the middle class today than it was just 10 years ago.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Why Steve is a Great Dad: Reason #101

We made a short trip to Newark with the Crosby fam this weekend, heading to a hotel with a beautiful indoor pool (our version of a spring break trip to Florida).

Steve played with the kids for no less than 4 hours, and they loved every minute of it.