It’s Getting Stuffy in Here

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17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’[d]

20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. ~Mark 10:17-22

When I think about what Krista said on living a life worthy of a story, I am instantly put on pause and stop to think.  What kind of story am I living?  My brother read that book a few years back and I remember how it totally messed with him as well– in a crazy good way.  I’ve never read the book, but I think I’m going to add it to my summer reading list!  It’s hard to live life daring… Willing to really let go and free fall for a life that’s truly fulfilling.

A few weeks ago I read this and this…  And I’ve been realizing…

You know what hangs me up?  Honestly?

My STUFF.

Disgusting, I know.  *Sigh*

Just like the man in the story above, I can so easily get sidetracked from the good life by my STUFF.  Stuff!  Can you believe that?  It’s only STUFF, but it clouds my view and literally blocks my vision at times.  Stuff in and of itself isn’t bad, though.  It’s when I choose my stuff over the good, plentiful, joyful, generous life that He’s calling me to that it becomes a hindrance.  What does that verse say?  “Let us throw off all that hinders…” (Heb 12:1)

I’m sure the man wasn’t a hoarder.  I’m sure it wasn’t that he just had a bunch of clutter and boxes that required a huge garage sale to get rid of it all.  The bible said he was wealthy.  Most likely, he owned property and a business or two, along with all the ritz and glamour that a wealthy lifestyle allowed for.  I’m hardly wealthy and I still have a hard time letting go of my things.

What’s crazy, though, is I tend to focus on what I’m getting rid of, not what awaits me.  Just like the man in the story who went away sad, I cringe at the thought of purging my stuff.  What if I need that extra frying pan/coffee maker/candle/bowl/decorative pillow/etc…?

Do I need it more than the good life?  Please smack me if I even pause to think about it!  His word promises more than my stuff can even begin to offer.

29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” ~Mark 10:29-31

After reading that, my boxes of junk seem like just– JUNK.

One of the happiest people I know is a single man who until recently lived in a detached room of a family home with a bathroom and a mini fridge.  He now rents a room in a unit with a kitchen!  By the world’s standards, he doesn’t have much.  But to the people who know him, he has everything.  He’s a modern day Paul and his joy is contagious!  How encouraging he is to David and me.  In six months, our lease will be up on our beautiful home.  The room that houses all our just-in-case STUFF?  We won’t have it anymore.  Most likely, we’ll be moving to something much, much smaller (hopefully our rent will be much smaller too :)).  Unless we want to live among boxes of clutter, we’re going to have to seriously purge.

I’m proud of the story David and I are living together and the adventure we’re on.  I want to continue it and not get held up by my STUFF.  Over the next six months as we prepare for a significant downsize (most likely) and another move (same area, just different home), I pray I would remember the second half of the story.  I don’t want to go away sad, or limit our adventure because I’m too attached to my things to live the free life.

Next week I’ll show you around this cute, old house of ours and share my two-step approach to organizing and purging my stuff.  Thanks for reading!

Rachel Signature2

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A Life Worthy of a Story

imageMy husband and I make a really good team.

I think it’s fair to assume that because I have been so open and honest with you about the many negatives in my new life, that I think you will allow me to pat myself on the back just this once!

I mean, I did go as far to admit to you that I puked in a mixing bowl

Anywho back to my point.

Some of our greatest accomplishments and feats, are often things my husband and I have done together. Even some of our most mundane daily tasks are made better when done together.

Like in the upkeep of our home.  He took care of the outside of the house, while I took care of the inside.

When entertaining guests, I was in charge of making the meal and cleaning the house, while he was in charge of lighting the candles and later, making the witty remarks and sharing humorous stories while passing the peas. Once the night was through and the goodbyes were said, we would always end the night doing the dishes together.

Even once we had our first child -in what we were warned would be the dreaded ‘newborn stage’ that threatens to steal your joy, and transform your weary state into that of a zombie- we found it be anything but!
(I know, I know, you hate me now… but for us it was true!)

We took turns getting up and feeding our daughter throughout the night but would often find that although it only took one person to do the job, we would both end up getting up together.

Yes, this picture is proof that my husbands genes are more dominant than mine. I gave birth to his twin.

Yes, I know, this picture is proof that my husband’s gene’s kicked my genes butt considering I gave birth to his twin.

It often times felt like a sleepover! An excuse to stay up late, and an almost giddiness that came out of not wanting to be asleep for fear of something awesome happening that we might be left out of!

People would ask us how we were doing… you know the way they do when they are almost implying you are doing terrible! Only to end their question with a lingering look of pity to heighten the implications of the awfulness they were so sure we felt.

Everyone was always astonished when our response was, “We are doing great!”

And we really were doing great! Not because we had a perfect marriage, because on the contrary, we can bicker like nobody’s business, and I occasionally have to talk myself down from changing the locks when I find him leaving dirty q-tips around the house! And its most definitely not because I was a natural ‘super mom’ because I still often find myself having no idea what I am doing even to this day!

It was because we were in it together. We were always such a great team no matter what life threw at us!

I reminisce about these past moments, because these days, I know more about what its like doing things alone.

With my husband’s new 6 day work weeks and often late hours, I have an entirely different reality of quiet meals alone just me a Gia, and errands that need to get done whether my husband is home to lend a hand or not. (Remember: ‘extra hands’ have a whole new value when you don’t have a car, and both your groceries and 26lb. toddler have to be brought up to a second floor apartment!)

And it’s true, I could very well wait for him to get home and take down the trash… I could even wait for him to make us some new friends… and  wait for him to get home till I venture out, that way I don’t have to risk getting lost in this scary big city by myself.

But that would indeed be a lot of waiting,  and waiting doesn’t make for living a good story!

imageThe term “Living a good story” has become common language in our house ever since first reading “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” over four years ago.

Donald Miller’s whole premise is that life is best lived when it tells a Good Story… That, in fact, God has created us to live Good Stories -Stories that are filled with meaning, discovery, and purpose.

But, as we all know, in any Good Story there is always some sort of conflict -conflict that seeks to deter, discourage, and even destroy.

But what makes a Good Story “good” -just like in life- is when a character experiences major conflict and chooses to overcome it with courage!

Miller reveals how a new life can emerge from even some of our most boring realities, and transform into a “meaningful narrative”! And he ultimately compels his readers to live a life worthy of a good story.

All I can say is, that book messed us up!

After we both had savored the words of each page of this book; high lighting each meaningful phrase and scribbling thoughts into the margin as we searched for its significance as it related to our own lives, we found ourselves no longer content just watching reruns of Dateline NBC, or walking the aisles of Kohl’s on rainy weeknights where you could easily make the excuse that there was “nothing better to do”. We also no longer saw the purpose partaking in shallow friendships that only selfishly satisfied nothing but the most shallow parts in ourselves.

We wanted something more! We wanted to laugh harder, and love others in a way that made us cry more often. We wanted to embrace God as the master story teller of our lives! And that meant embracing every PERSON that God placed in our path, every TRIAL, and every MOMENT as a chance to live life so fully that it would be almost contagious to others!

I would be lying however, if I told you that after making that decision, that it has been roses every day since! Too often I have found myself playfully smacking my husband and mumbling under my breath, “See what happens when you want to live a good story…”

Or once, when I got this random idea that I wanted to replace the front door of our house with one a little more contemporary, I remember my husband jokingly responding “yeah! lets save all our extra spending money for the next few months so that we can replace a perfectly good door! That would reeeeeeally make for a FASCINATING story!”

The reality of making a decision to live a good story was that it couldn’t help but to permeate every single area of our life- even down to how our extra money would be spent! And after making fun of me endlessly, he encouraged that maybe we could use that money towards a vacation of some sort.

Ironically, that same money I was going to use for my beloved door, we ended up using for my first trip out to New York City that summer!

imageYears later we have found ourselves living in that exact same place that we had visited years ago. And I have recently wondered if we would still be embarking on this journey -that is far bigger than our small town roots ever prepared us for- if it wasn’t for that initial decision to live a good story that we made as a family years ago!

I have wondered also, if in this new life that I am living,  if I have the courage to live in that same way Sunday-Friday when it means I have to do it all by myself.

Sometimes I feel like the odds are against me:

It’s just too hard to raise a family in NYC…
I feel like I am living in a foreign country…
With all the time I’m spending with her, I’m going to mess my daughter up:)
There is just SO much to learn…
I can’t possibly do this by myself

But then I always think back to a story that I once heard a pastor by the name of Perry Noble tell.

While visiting Atlanta, he and his wife decided to go out to dinner. Although it was getting late, afterwards they decided to make the most of their time in the city and decided to venture out and explore the surrounding area before they left the next day. Soon after though, they found themselves in a seedy area that they instantly got the sense they shouldn’t be in.

Interestingly enough they decided to keep walking instead of returning back to the hotel.

The next day Noble was telling a man, born and raised in Atlanta, about the previous night. When he told him where he had gone, the man was shocked that they had kept walking in THAT area!

Noble then surprised the man further by saying that the reason he hadn’t been worried was because his wife had a black belt. He went on to say how surprising it is when you find yourself having the courage to do things others couldn’t imagine themselves doing -not because of your own ability, but because of the confidence you have in the ability of the one you are with!

In Matthew 28:20 The Lord says, “Behold, I am with you always…”

I have had such an immense amount of peace these last couple of weeks, as I rest in the truth that I am indeed, not alone even when I most feel like it! Even better, is that the Lord is the one continually by my side, and He possesses all that I am lacking at any given moment. With His strength, I can do things even I, could never have imagined myself having the courage to do…

Even when it means choosing each and every day to continue to live a good story -even on the days spent apart from my husband!

We must remember that the Lord desires to write a magnificent story in each of our lives! Better than one we could ever write for ourselves! A story of tragic lows and overcoming highs. And like me, a story of new beginnings and sold out abandon to Him -and only Him!

It’s as simple as ’embracing the potential greatness of the story we are actually in’ and learning to trust The Lord in a way that allows for us to let go of the pen just long enough, for him to actually begin writing it.

Who knows, maybe you will find yourself living somewhere crazy like New York City 😉

There is a force in the world that doesn’t want us to live good stories. It doesn’t want us to face our issues, to face our fear, and bring something beautiful into the world. – A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

Krista Signature

When You Worry for Nothing

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The best job I’ve ever had is taking care of these two 🙂

I wish I could say I hardly worry about anything.  I’ve always been a worrier though.  When I was a kid I used to worry about getting cancer.  My mom used that fear to get me to eat lima beans and broccoli.  “Eat it– it fights cancer,” she’d say.  So I would.

I have a fear of throwing up.  Krista’s puking episode in her mixing bowl?  That would be like my worst nightmare come true.  At the slight feel of nausea, I worry.  It’s seriously ridiculous.  I can’t believe I made it through an entire pregnancy without any issues of nausea.

When Maya was in the NICU I could hardly take a picture of her– even though most parents are clicking away at their camera with a baby just a couple days old.  I worried that if something happened to her I would never be able to pick up a camera again, so I just avoided it altogether.

The ironic thing is, all that worrying was for nothing.  I haven’t gotten cancer (yet :)), throwing up doesn’t kill you, and my daughter ended up not having anything wrong with her.  All that worrying for nothing!

I spent a few days last week worrying for nothing.  Why do I always do that?  When will I truly begin to trust Him?

When we moved to New Jersey, I qualified for unemployment since I was quitting my job due to a spousal job transfer.  One of the requirements to receive unemployment benefits, however, is that you apply for work.  Totally understandable.  So I apply for jobs every week, and week after week I don’t get hired.  So I apply…  But if I’m honest, I really don’t want to go to work for just any job– it would need to be the right fit for our family.

Suddenly an email pops up in my inbox requesting my salary requirements and a time to interview as soon as possible.  It’s for a company in NYC on fifth avenue near Union Square (I had to ask Krista where the heck it was since I am still getting my bearings around the city) and for a Director of Support Operations role.  At first I thought it was a joke.  A Director position?  Seriously?!

So I respond casually on my iPhone, telling them I can’t interview for at least a week and giving them a ridiculously high salary requirement.  I was professional and nice, but somewhat of a diva in my opinion.  I figure they’ll for sure throw my resume out.  I mean, really.  I would if I was the recruiter.

A few days later I get a reply with a date and time to interview via phone.  What?!  This seriously can’t be real.  I try to go on the site to find the job description so I can at least know what this job entails, but it’s closed.  I didn’t even read the job description when I applied so I have no idea what this job is.  I still can’t believe they didn’t throw my resume out after reading my lavish salary requirements.

I hardly think about it and the interview comes and I answer all the questions honestly and listen intently about the company.  The HR recruiter and I seem to connect.  She’s asking me lots of questions about my experience and relating them to what their needs are.  We end the conversation with her asking me if there are certain days that are more convenient for me to come in person for another interview, and that she’ll be talking with her CEO and will call me early next week.

I hang up the phone proud of myself for enduring an interview.  It’s been a while since I’ve been in the hot seat.  I always think interviewing is helpful; it sharpens and humbles and challenges.  David comes home and I tell him all about it.  Over the weekend I start to worry.

I begin thinking about all the ‘what-ifs’ and ‘how-would-it-work’ scenarios.  I keep thinking about daycare.  How will I leave Maya again?  It tore me up when I did it last time and daycares out here have like year long waiting lists.  How will I even get into the city every day for work?  I’d be gone for a good 12 hours!  The position required significant travel.  I don’t want to travel away from my daughter unless it’s on vacation with my man!  My mind and mouth keep running through the possibilities and how I just can’t commit to something this intense.

Then– a voice of reason.

“No offense, but they just did a phone interview,” David pipes in.  “Realistically, they probably have a lot of well qualified applicants.”

“Of course, of course,” I reply.  How silly of me to get carried away.  There’s no way they will call to schedule an in-person interview, right?  I think to myself.  And then I continue to worry and wonder and I’m feeling a little stress because what if they DO call me to interview in-person?  Do I just tell them I can’t do it or do I go and have the experience and see what it’s all about?  My ridiculousness continues over the weekend.

And then, I receive an email.  They appreciate my interest and think I have an impressive resume but have better qualified applicants and will not be pursuing me further.

Ouch.

Whew.

All that worrying for nothing.

22 What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? 23 All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless. ~Ecclesiastes 2:22, emphasis added

May we remember this when we begin to worry 🙂

Have you ever worried for nothing?  What did you learn?  Thanks for reading.

Rachel Signature

Dear NYC Mommy

I know I promised “glitz and glamour” for this week’s post…

And I swear to you that I indeed had every intention of delivering and telling you all about how Madonna and Ricky Martin are my neighbors ( or something like that 🙂 )

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But then I got inspired by something entirely different.

Adapting to life in New York City has proven to be quite an enormous adjustment, but becoming a ‘Manhattan mom’ has no doubt been the single hardest part of my entire journey.

And since the Mother’s Day flowers have long since wilted and the handmade cards are now stashed away, I want to use this post to empower some of the strongest mom’s that I have ever had the chance to meet.

Dear NYC Mommy,

In one of the hardest working areas of our country, remind yourself that when your husband works crazy hours: you also work just as hard in an attempt to raise a grounded family in the Big City.

Manhattan moms are often a bona fide single mom 5-6 days out of the week and because of that you are so much stronger than you realize!

That incredible strength that you possess is such a pivotal part of what holds your family together. Always give yourself an immense amount of credit for that!

And because of how hard you work don’t feel guilty if you ever find yourself – even if only for a moment – envying a nanny…

Either because she is dressed waaaaaay the heck better than you, or because she is getting paid top dollar to do what you do for free…

…Not just 5 days a week (like her), but 7 days a week…

…EVERY week…

…For what feels like might be the rest of your existence!

Or maybe…

(whispering)

It’s because you have actually entertained the thought of what it might be like to HAVE a nanny…

GASP!

For. Even. Just. One. Flippin. Hour!

Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. You can rest assured that you will soon come to your senses and realize just how lucky you are to be there for every giggle, cuddle… and maybe even every tantrum.

Maaaaaybe. But if we are completely honest, probably not.

Please also realize, that you absolutely must not compare yourself to suburban mommies on Facebook and Pinterest. It’s not a fair comparison.

Let’s be real, their laundry rooms are the size of our living rooms! And the reason they have more kids than us is because they don’t have to physically wear them on their bodies for longer than the 9 months they are in the womb, while you physically wear your’s in the Ergo until they max out the weight limit (45lbs baby!)

Case in point.

Case in point. Minus the smile.

And when it comes to food, don’t stress endlessly about making your family a gourmet and nutritious meal every night. When for you, it means having to lug every grocery bag from the store up to your apartment, only to risk the stove heating up your entire home to the point that your chocolate chips are melting in the cabinet and your eyebrows are perspiring!!

Embrace the takeout menu’s on your fridge and tell Pinterest to shove those unnecessary expectations you know where!

And of course while living in one of the fashion capitals of the world, we too often may find ourselves walking up and down Madison Avenue peering into the windows at some of the most glorious (and probably most expensive) pumps we have ever laid our eyes on.

While we will always be limited to flats – even on a date night…

Unless we are feeling SUPER courageous and opt for a wedge. Which we will know is a little ambitious so we secretly tuck a back-up pair in our purse. Just in case.

But I can assure you, flats don’t make you any less glamorous!

I know many suburban mommies that would KILL for the calf muscles you’ve acquired over the years walking up and down (…and up… and down…) those subway stairs.

So rock those instead!

And seriously, I swear to the Lord Almighty if one more of you tells me how you don’t work out! (insert overly dramatic sigh)

Believe me, you put in more man power and burn more calories bumping a stroller up and down the subway steps or by carrying your diaper bag, a gallon of milk, and your flailing toddler up a flight of stairs, than most people do on the elliptical 5 times a week!

You are a beast…

Own it!

And lastly, realize that while we are unable to give our kids the latest and greatest toys (due to the lack of space needed to house all that madness!) we must remind ourselves that instead of toys, we give our children experiences.

In Times Square with Daddy

In TImes Square with daddy

Charming people on the subway

Charming people on the subway

Picnic with mommy in Central Park

picnic with mommy in Central Park

If they want a toy that lights up in every color of the rainbow, we can take them to bask in the bright lights of Times Square.

If it’s music they want, then it’s a simple as stepping off the subway and listening to any of the given talented street performers – or maybe even Michael Buble’ if they are reeeeally lucky – who are entertaining the masses on the subway platform.

And God forbid they want to do a craft…

In that case, just talk some sense into them and take them to Central Park to play with Sarah Jessica Parker’s kids.

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely cannot risk getting glitter and glue in my apartment! 😉

New York City Mommy, what you do day in and day out is not for the faint of heart. What’s new and so often overwhelming to me, you have skillfully mastered. Watching you helps me realize that in time I will soon possess the strength that you have, and maybe even find myself someday providing the same amount of wisdom to someone else, that you have so greatly provided to me!

I sincerely have the utmost respect for you,

Krista Signature

Where You Water It

20130512I’ve spent the last week in my hometown, in California.  We partied all weekend; family, food and friends day after day.  I probably gained five pounds. 🙂  I met my sister’s boyfriend for the first time, spent time with my brother and his lovely wife, went on a grandpa date with my dad and Maya, and celebrated my father-in-law’s birthday along with lots of other fun get-togethers and just plain ole hanging around the house family time.  The weather was perfect.  I even felt a little sweat coming on as we were out on a walk!  I wore shorts and skirts and sandals and oh my– tank tops!!!  It’s been a trip that’s refreshed my soul.

It’s been such a good trip, actually, that I’ve begun to wish.

Yes, I know, you know what I’m about to say.  It seems so premature being that we’ve been in New Jersey for only five months and aren’t even fully established there yet, but I can’t help but wish.  I can’t help but look at this small patch of California grass and think how much greener it is than our New Jersey front yard.

And then I read this.  She’s soooooo right.  The grass truly is greener where you water it.

It’s okay to miss family.  It’s okay to miss friends.  It’s okay to miss sunshine, the beach, old restaurant spots and walking trails.  These are all good things.  But we can’t lose sight of where we are now and miss out on the present.  It does me no good to wish, really.

It might seem like there’s always something better, somewhere more beautiful, or some house more functioning… and it’s true. There always will be. We’ll never be content on this earth until we’re grateful for where we are now. And when we finally are, it’s surprisingly enough. ~Tsh, SimpleMom.net

The fact of the matter is I’m in a transition period right now.  It’s easy to look at the grass and think it’s greener in California when I’m still a bit of a fish out of water in my new digs in New Jersey.  But then I remember the stones that God’s piled up for me and realize it’s for Him, by Him and because of Him that New Jersey is our new home.  I just need to water the grass.

So as I get on a plane this afternoon to return to my real home, I’m looking to be intentional about watering our New Jersey grass.  Because it’s true.  The grass really isn’t greener on the other side, it’s greener where you water it. 🙂

Rachel Signature

Home Sweet Home… or something.

imageLet’s talk about

the INTRIGUE,

The FASCINATION,

the GLAMOUR,

that is a New York City apartment.

There is not one single topic that comes up more when talking to people back home, than about my apartment.

I gotta be honest, I may have fielded off requests for the first month in the name of “unpacking”.

Once I finished unpacking It was because I was “decorating”…

then “organizing”…

then rangling wild monkeys off the coast of Somalia…

Then one month turned into two, and I started running out of excuses.

You see, the reason it took me so long to share pictures of my new place, is because me and this new home of mine had some getting to know each other to do. We needed a little “alone time” to work out some kinks, and we may or may not have butt heads a few times (give or take a few curse words).

There was some major acceptance that had to be done on my part.

And the insane cost didn’t make the adjustment any easier. An apartment in Manhattan is craaaazy expensive, there is just no way around it. I said it before but my rent for a 1 bedroom 650 sq ft apartment, is nearly double my mortgage on my 4 bedroom house back home.

Quite possibly crazier, is that in order to even get into an apartment or house on the east coast you have to pay a non refundable broker fee (which in nyc is the equivalent to 15% of your rent for the ENTIRE YEAR) Then with the added first months rent that you pay at the same time, we ended up putting more money down to get into our apartment than we did to buy our first house back in Washington!

And we are RENTING!

Whew! forgive me… All this reminiscing is making me sweat.

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You should also know that while living in New York City, your suburban luxuries are gone. Now you very well may not look at the following as luxuries (I sure didn’t!) but ask anyone in the city and they will tell you otherwise.

The majority of us have NO cars- which means no convenience of a drive thru, no luxury of being able to buckle your kids in their car seat and turn up the music when they scream bloody murder, and no filling your car with loads of groceries after a Costco run. Heck, since I don’t drive anymore I can’t even remember the last time I listened to the radio. Now, that’s just weird…

NO car also means NO garage- which might not seem like thaaat big of a deal, but go look at your garage and imagine what it would be like to either have to move all that in your house or get rid of it. We chose the latter and got rid of EVERYTHING. Including our beloved Christmas tree which I don’t know if Rachel knows is currently in her basement. Merry Christmas Rachel!

This is what it looks like when your laundry is returned to you. this quite possibly could be my love language.

This is what it looks like when your laundry is returned to you. This quite possibly could be my love language.

We also have No washer and dryer– gasp. I know, its cruel. we rely on the good ol’ laundrymat. Which I gotta say, definitely has its bonuses… most of the time. I mean who wouldn’t want to go online and order for someone to come pick up all their dirty laundry and deliver it back to them all clean and folded?

But obviously it also has it’s drawbacks. Too often I have found myself washing my underwear in the bathroom sink, or crying continuously when my daughter decides the best way to get attention is to cry to the point of making herself puke.

Another thing about apartments in manhattan, is that a family lives in a one bedroom. Maybe two… maybe, (like if you are rolllllllllin’ in the dough $$$$$) But even then, it’s likely that your second bedroom is no bigger than a walk-in closet, And yet you pay double the rent. So needless to say we have a one bedroom for now, and it’s about the same size as our last bedroom. The only difference is we share it with a crazy toddler who is learning that just because mommy and daddy are in the same room as her doesn’t mean we want to party with her at 3am or get up and get her “melk!” at the crack of dawn.

It is also a guarantee in the city that your kitchen is both tiny AND ugly. So if you are like me, you just put chalkboard stickers all over the cabinets so that your kitchen can be tiny and ugly, yes, but FUN! image

You should also know that my kitchen is considered a really good size.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Also, In the kitchen there is NO garbage disposal, NO pantry, and usually NO dish washer- thankfully, the Lord had mercy on my soul and provided one for me. All our new york friends are quite impressed!

Now before I go on, go hug your dishwasher and dance in your garage… Just because you can.

And to better illustrate what real life in an apartment like ours can be like, lets just say your toddler gets the stomach flu. In New York City it creates quite a few more complications then it might in the confounds of suburban living.

In a matter of 6 hours of my daughter puking, we were able to go through both sets of sheets, every blanket we owned, and all the towels in our house with the exception of one. Which produces two problems: yes, we have no more clean sheets, blankets, or towels, AND no washer and dryer to clean them … But we also have a bunch of throw up smelling linen lying around in waaay too small of a space, making my febreeze air fresheners work on overtime but to no avail!

Because…

my.

entire.

house.

Smells.

like .

vomit.

That’s when you undoubtedly find yourself half asleep, hunched over the bath tub, scraping puke off with your hands and using shampoo to scrub off as much of the smell that you can.

Then because of the tight living quarters and the germs swarming around it, you can bet that a couple days later, that both you and your husband are going to get sick at the same time. Literally.

In that case, because your husband is currently getting sick in the bathroom -your only bathroom- you may find yourself in the living room…

puking into a mixing bowl.

Like I said, me and my New York city apartment, had some kinks to work out.

On a positive note, I have been able to stump my mom twice when I called her in a frantic “what do I do?!?” scenario! TWICE! and I have only lived here a little over two months! Pretty impressive if you ask me.

Before we hang up, we usually come to some sort of conclusion that the only thing you could logically do, is not live in New York City.

And so there you have it.
I know You may have pictured me living this glamorous urban life on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, when really I am just puking in a mixing bowl and laundering my underwear in the bathroom sink.

We will talk all about the “glitz and glamour” next week. And about all the reasons why New York City (and even more specifically my apartment) can be the most exciting place to live.

But for now,
As I, sit in the corner, rocking back and forth in fetal position, whispering over and over to myself, “this is where my shepherd had lead me.. this is where my shepherd has lead me…”

I.

Must.

Mentally.

Recover.

From the madness.

That is my New York City apartment.
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Rachel’s Road to New Jersey- Part II

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20 And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea[a] when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God. (Joshua 4:20-24)

I wonder how many Israelite children saw those stones and stopped to wonder; to ask their parents what the heck a bunch of stones from a river were doing in the middle of the sand in the desert.  I wonder how many parents stopped to tell the story.  I wonder if the stones just started blending in to the landscaping over time or if the people began to forget.  In the daily monotony of chores, work, play and mealtimes, did the awe of His work slowly dissipate into a distant memory? 

I don’t want to forget.

When the days are hard and I miss my friends, church, work and house, I don’t want to forget how he clearly paved the way for us to be here.  When I’m not sure I like being here and wonder if we made the right decision to move, I don’t want to forget how he orchestrated everything to make it happen.  When I get teary seeing Sarah’s facebook pictures of her little man and wish our babies could grow up together, I don’t want to forget his attention to every detail.  I don’t want to forget the ‘stones’ God placed in our lives that demonstrated his leading as we made our way to New Jersey.  I pause and breathe in a hallelujah because those stones must be remembered.  They are river stones in the middle of a desert, after all!  So here are my stones, my Ebenezer rocks that remind me of God’s help and faithfulness in our journey.

It started while we were in the NICU.

Maya was admitted via one of those “Panda Units” which is just a kid-friendly term for incubator ambulance.  Tubes were everywhere and her little arm was hooked up to an IV at only a day old.  I have no idea how you can find a place to insert an IV on a newborn; they’re so tiny.  Men with ghost-buster looking backpacks came in and hooked her all up and put her in this incubator thing, then put her in the ambulance while I had to wait to be discharged.  You never think you’ll be wheeled out of the hospital without your baby and get in the car with an empty carseat.  Nevertheless, it happened and we spent the next couple days in the NICU.  During our stay, David got a call to interview for a job in Kansas City.  So in between feedings, doctors in and out with tests and holding our new bundle of joy, he escaped to the lobby to interview for a new job.

Talk about a lot to take in. 

A few days after coming home we found out he didn’t get the position.  I breathed a silent hallelujah– actually we both did– because the timing just seemed so off even though it was a little disappointing not to be chosen.  We loved our life in Oregon and now we had a new little person to care for and love so we were completely distracted, enamored and busy with her.  Even though we were ready to move on if the Lord called us to, we were happy if things stayed constant too.  And constant they remained– even if only for four short months.

Then God threw my eggs in a creek, too. 

It was as if God was using the experience in the NICU and the relief/disappointment of not getting the Kansas City job to prepare our hearts.  We were beginning to realize that trust and obedience go hand in hand.  Trust is an act of obedience.  With Maya’s health, with David’s job, with my dream to stay home full time as a wife and mama– in all of it we had to trust it into His hands.

Four months after our stay in the NICU, David got a call from his boss telling him about two opportunities he wanted David to pursue.  One was in Kansas City again and the other  in New Jersey.  Talk about a roller coaster!  Two totally different parts of the country, two completely opposite costs of living and two stark contrasts from Portland, Oregon.  Even though these positions were open to anyone in the company throughout the country, I had this underlying feeling that we would be moving.  We prayed and prayed and prayed.  We prayed that God would lead and make it painstakingly clear where we were supposed to go or if we were supposed to stay.  We prayed each detail would be handled with certainty.  And we prayed we would be courageous enough to obey.  There were just so many questions we had.

And then He began to take out stones and pile them up as a demonstration of His grace and faithfulness in our lives, taking care of each question I’d pondered and guiding each detail with certainty.  Each question I’d previously sighed begged a stone in my lap.

Which job?  Any of them?  Do we stay?  Go?  What do we DO Lord?!

David flew out to interview in person for both jobs (continuing that roller coaster!), but in the end God made it very clear.  We were thrown for a loop, though!  The Kansas City position was offered to someone else and the New Jersey position was offered to David.  It was completely the opposite of what we expected for many reasons, but it was very clear.  We were going to New Jersey!

How would our house sell?

It sold within 10 days.  Well, actually, we accepted an offer on the 10th day.  It took a little longer to close, but it sold exactly when we needed it to.  We broke even– even in this housing market!  Unbelievable.

Where would we live?

David found a charming little house a few miles from his new office, but when we went to put in an offer to rent it, someone else took it right out from under us!  We began searching for apartments, ready to significantly downsize, when a coworker told him about a friend who might be interested in renting their home which was larger and closer to work.  We now rent their spacious house and it’s only a mile and a half from David’s office.  Talk about grace!

Could we afford for me to stay home with our baby girl out there?  The cost of living was so intense!

The cost of living is intense!  God didn’t change that. 🙂  But because of the nature of our relocation, I qualified for unemployment (relocating due to a spouse’s job transfer).  Having this financial help while we figure out our budget here is an unbelievable blessing!

Where would we go to church?

David and I take this extremely seriously, and I knew it would be hard because nothing would compare to our church in Oregon, WCC.  Especially since non-denominational churches in New Jersey are very hard to come by.  But after a couple months of visiting different places, we found a great church that we are excited to belong to and now call home.  TLCC has been a blessing to us already!

What would people be like?  Would we make new friends easily?

The gravy in all of this is that Krista is close by I cannot believe the amazingness of this or begin to articulate the incredible blessing she is to me.  People say the population density out here is greater than anywhere else in the country– but it can be very lonely even though you’re surrounded by people everywhere.  Knowing that we have such dear friends close by takes the pressure off.  We are slowly making friends at church and I belong to a mom’s group (yes, I am now one of those women!), but if I’m having a bad day I know I can call Krista up and visit her in the city.  Our little girls can celebrate birthdays together.  We can relate to all the change we’re going through and celebrate our tiny hallelujahs together– in person!  When I found out her and Ricky were coming, I just shook my head in complete amazement and gratefulness.  Gravy I tell you.  Absolute gravy!

And so we continue on this road in New Jersey, waiting in expectation for what God will continue to do here.  It’s so exciting to be a part of His story!  I’m grateful to be on this journey– grateful to go through it alongside Krista– and with all of you.

Thanks for reading.

“Samuel took a single rock and set it upright between Mizpah and Shen.  he named it ‘Ebenezer’ (Rock of Help) saying, ‘this marks the place where God helped us.'” ~1 Samuel 7:12 (The Message bible)

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