It Doesn’t Matter

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My kitchen wall art

Merry Christmas from New Jersey!

Pretty much exactly a month ago we moved.  Right before Thanksgiving.  We moved from a HUGE six bedroom house to a cute little (emphasis on little, although huge by NYC standards!) duplex and purged a bunch of stuff so we could fit into a two-bedroom.  As my husband was returning the rental truck, it occurred to him that the truck would not fit under the awning in the parking lot that adjoined the rental company and the neighboring restaurant.  He stopped the truck, and looked to see if there was an alternate way inside the parking lot, but it appeared the restaurant had blocked the entrance with valeted cars.

A valet came out and began yelling, telling him he needed to get his truck out of the way or else.

He explained that he was trying to return the truck, and valeted cars were blocking the entrance to the rental company.

You can imagine the next few sentences, I won’t print them for you.  No one benefits from that.

Needless to say, the owner came out and told my husband if he didn’t move his truck, he would stick him in a “dumpster, and no one will ever hear from you again.”

David got back in his truck, a little shaken (At that point he was certain the mob did in fact exist!) and waited.  Finally they moved the valeted cars and he could return the rental.  A call to the rental company the next morning was in order, where they refunded half the cost of the truck because of all the trouble returning the vehicle.  I guess that helped to soften the blow of this kind of experience, but really?!  A dumpster?  What is going on people?!

A couple weeks ago I went to Costco.  You know how the Costco parking lot is.  CRAZY.  Especially during the holidays.  I found a spot, and began pulling in when this other vehicle pulled up next to me before I could get in the spot and started going crazy on me.  “Are you kidding me?!” She yelled at me. “I was here, this is my spot!” My jaw dropped.  Literally dropped.  I had my blinker on, I’d patiently waited for this spot!

David told me to let her have it and to just find another.  So I did, with a grudge of course.

I could go on and keep complaining, but in all seriousness, it doesn’t matter.

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So much snow!

I think our senses and emotions are heightened during this time of year.  People will be overly generous and some will be downright mean.  It doesn’t matter what they do.

What will you do?  How will you be?  What are you teaching your child?  Who will you be?

It’s hard to remember this, right?!  It’s so hard.  I wanted to yell right back at that woman and tell her to go find another parking spot because that one was mine.  I’m sure my super-non-violent husband wanted to punch the guy who wanted to put him in a dumpster.  But in reality it’s just dumb.  Downright dumb.  It doesn’t matter what they do.  It matters who I am, and who I belong to.

It’s hard to remember this when it comes to good things, too.  When a coworker gives you an expensive gift, do you run out and match their generosity?  It doesn’t matter what they do.  What’s in your heart, your budget, your ability?  As cliche as it sounds, a lot of people really don’t give expecting to receive.  It doesn’t matter what they do.

Today, we leave for a Christmas vacation visiting family in California.  It’s a much needed vacation for my husband, and I don’t want anything to ruin it.  And then I remember… It doesn’t matter what anyone else does.  It doesn’t matter if the plane is delayed, if the snow keeps falling, if security gives us a hard time because we have a baby without a boarding pass because she’s a lap child, or if we forget something.  We have a choice.

I choose JOY.

It doesn’t matter what they do, okay?  Choose joy.  Choose it, cling to it, harbor it, relish in it.  Merry Christmas!

Rachel Signature2

A Very Manhattan Christmas

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Living in Manhattan makes for an interesting Christmas to say the least.

While I could spend this entire post talking about the magic and wonder that is the Holiday Season in New York City, and I could describe to you in great detail the intricate beauty of the store front windows at Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue (like the actual Saks store that’s on Fifth Avenue!), or the glow of the Rockefeller tree shining down on the ice skaters below… there’s no need to! You have an abundance of movies and television shows that can portray the very same thing!

I could tell you all about how my husband and I ‘bumped into’ Mariah Carey singing Christmas carols one night, or how after the city’s first snow, we spent the weekend sledding in Central Park… but that’s nothing you couldn’t see on my Instagram.

I know my readers, and you want the dirt!

And as always, I can deliver!

Manhattan is much like the friend you have, that is always fancy and dressed to the nines. And although you may not see it, there is a whole other side that they don’t go flaunting to the world (a side which includes sweat pants, retainers, and zit-cream, I would presume). And just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist!

Manhattan is much of the same way. A life well-balanced in glitz, glamour, and TRASH! Bright lights, high society, and CAMPING. And for the record, I have never been one to camp!

Sex and the City could very well be the culprit, by portraying the streets of NYC as endless flowing cosmopolitan’s, and high-end fashion! But those of us who live in Manhattan know that between the months of December and March, we forego all glamour to embrace the likes of rain boots and down jackets that reach past our ankles.

So forget what Sex and the City taught you… in the winter, bears hibernate, birds migrate, and New Yorker’s take on the look of an Eskimo.

Case in point.

Case in point.

… And for good reason! Although the 254 million cars out there successfully serve to limit the effects of the raging wind to nothing more than a light jostle for it’s passengers; we “walker-type” feel the pierce of the arctic gusts deep within our limbs, and see each new burst as a threat to losing our footing and breaking every bone in our bodies (the bones we will so desperately need to carry our Christmas tree on our backs, 10 blocks back to our apartment!)

That very same snow that others drive through effortlessly – thanks to 4 wheel drive and the comfort of having the heat blasting on high – we have the privilege of trudging though, wearing innumerable layers and bad attitudes, in order to get to the corner store to replenish our beloved ranch dressing.

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Emphasis on the ‘bad attitude’ part

We also loathe the Post Office, but not for the same reasons you might! Standing in long lines is the least of our worries… too often, we are more worried for our safety! We aren’t sure exactly why, but there is always yelling involved, and it’s entirely likely that the sweet 90-year-old man standing with us in line – who, just minutes before, was offering your daughter a sucker – is now calling another man something that rhymes with ‘sucker’, and is threatening to cut his body in a million pieces and hide his remains in the crawl space of his Lexington Avenue apartment.

Merry Christmas!

And although New Yorker’s have A LOT they could ask from Santa this year (like finally getting an apartment bigger than a walk in closet, and the miracle it would be to have an absence of rodents IN that apartment!) I think it’s safe to say, if it takes sitting on an old man’s lap from New York City, than we will gladly settle for coal. I don’t care how cute and jolly that Santa looked in the Macy’s parade, I know better than to trust a New Yorker. Even on Christmas!

You also know you are living in Manhattan if – in your attempt to outsmart the crowds, the need for Santa, and the Post Office nazis – you have purchased every gift from your Amazon Prime account (which no doubt, every New Yorker has!) But then like me, find that once they are delivered, you have no recollection of what the contents are of each package, and who they are for!

Not to mention that your Christmas tree (and more specifically, the gifts under it) look a little less merry than would probably be desired…

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And if I were honest, there is only about a 23% chance (at BEST!) that I will get around to wrapping all these

All around the world, ‘Tis the season for baking cookies, caroling, and spreading Christmas cheer… And in Manhattan, for judging people by the (unnecessarily large) size of their umbrellas, taking in the scent of pine wafting through the streets (as opposed to the usual fragrance of urine), and the over abundance of weirdos rocking Santa hats!

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And yet interestingly enough, we love it.

Some of us couldn’t imagine spending the holidays anywhere else! While others of us travel out of the city with high hopes of normalcy and family, but in time, will be itching to get back to the madness…  And that will always surprise us!

It might even cause us to secretly wonder to ourselves, if the city has made us unfit to live anywhere else, ever again…. And in a way, we will be proud of that.

Because no matter how much peace and quiet our souls are so desperately longing for, one thing is certain, the city will always call us back and welcome us home with bustling streets and honking that will go on into the night… Which upon returning, will make us smile.

And when it does, no matter how volatile the weather (or our fellow New Yorker), no matter how overwhelming the masses of tourists, or how long the lines are sure to be at the grocery store… the pharmacy… the veterinarian… and anywhere else we need to go for that matter! We will know with complete certainty, that there is no where else we would rather be in 2014…

Than living in New York City, baby!

From Manhattan,

I want to wish you all a very VERY Merry Christmas!

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Crammed

Next week my family leaves for California for the holidays.

I. Can’t. Wait!!!!!

David and I are both sooooo excited we can’t even contain ourselves.  We are ready for the California Christmas complete with it’s decorated palm trees and 75 degree weather.  We yearn for sunshine on Christmas morning and can’t wait to wear flip flops to breakfast.  We are so looking forward to family time, friends, and just feeling home.  It can’t come fast enough!

Before we get there, though, there is so much to do.

And yes, for the record, I do not have a job outside the home right now.  Shouldn’t I have plenty of time to get everything done?!

I made a gift list the other night and it was looooooong I tell you.  I’m sure it’s shorter than a lot of people’s gift list, but the thought of going out to buy all those gifts almost gave me anxiety.

Wine please! And amazon!  Thank the Lord for amazon, I don’t know what I’d do!

And thank the Lord for wine!

But anyway, this post isn’t about how there is so much to do and how you should slow down and enjoy the season and appreciate Christmas for what it is.  Blah blah blah blah blah.  I adore the Lifetime and Hallmark Christmas movies and they do a great job of giving us all that cheesy speech (which is totally legit, I know).  You don’t need me to tell you the same exact thing!

As I was drinking that wine and shopping on that amazing amazon site I love I also read something on one of my favorite blogs that really stuck out to me.

Earth is crammed with heaven.

I love it.  I love how it speaks to the rhythm of Urban Hallelujah.  I love how in its utter simplicity it conveys a perfect little picture of a stable and a manger.  I love how it reveals a piece of our world that I often let slip by.  I love its truth.

Because it really is true!

Earth really is crammed with heaven.

“Who can hide in secret places
so that I cannot see them?”
declares the Lord.
“Do not I fill heaven and earth?”
declares the Lord.”

~Jeremiah 23:24

As I prepare my heart for this Christmas and a busy travel schedule ahead, I want to remember that He came and crammed this place with His presence.  He’s never left.  When He gave us His Holy Spirit, He gave us a piece of Him and if we let Him, He will cram our world full with His majesty, His design, His purpose– His presence.  He’s here.  He’s here.  He’s here.

Nothing’s wasted, friends.

It’s all for Him, and He’s here!

Blessings on you as you celebrate the greatest gift mankind has ever received.  Greater than even wine and amazon :).

Rachel Signature

You’re Right, You Are NOT Worthy

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It’s interesting how often times you can read a whole paragraph, or listen to a whole message, and only one word stands out.

In my case, after writing my ‘Misconceptions of a Godly Woman’ post, Rachel and I awoke one morning to find our emails FLOODED with comments! Lots and LOTS of words expressing a wide range of emotions and opinions! And yet, only one word stood out to me…

Judas.

One word flippantly used to compare me, to arguably one of the greatest traitor’s in the Bible. A man who betrayed Jesus with a kiss, and turned him over so that He could be beaten beyond recognition, and crucified on a cross for a mere 30 pieces of silver.

I was a Judas? Why, because I cursed a crock pot and admitted my life wasn’t the perfection promised in Disney movies?

The emotions welled up inside of me, that one word etched in my mind for weeks!

There may have been tears, and there certainly were a few prodding questions to God asking, what on Earth He was up to, and whether I could find the courage to be THAT authentic again. But above all else, I momentarily questioned whether God would still want to use me. Especially when it was obvious that I had so MANY shortcomings!

But this wasn’t the first time I had encountered a bout with the feeling of unworthiness… I’ve basked in the grandeur of a towering cathedral before, which is always sure to make me feel small. That, and anything that requires an organ, memorized scripture, or pantyhose! 😉

It’s like the night my husband and I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. We tried with all our might to portray poise and sophistication while looking up with interest at pieces like the marble statue of Emperor Caracalla, and the Gilded Bronze Buddha. But in all actuality, we had a much more enjoyable time touching things with clearly placed  ‘Do Not Touch’ signs, and whispering inappropriate comments that had us holding back giggles that would have otherwise, echoed to the ceiling.

It was obvious, we were so out of place. So unworthy!

But this last week, while searching my heart, the Lord did something that surprised me….  He didn’t even attempt to downplay or dismiss the insecurities that had been mounting over the last few weeks, He affirmed them!

You’re right, you are NOT worthy… He would say to me.

He spoke those words as I was looking over a portrait and studying each of the disciples that sat beside Jesus the night of The Last Supper; the same 12 who were chosen by Him to carry on His ministry after His death.

I saw Matthew the tax collector, regarded by many as a criminal due to his dishonest past, and who was deeply hated by the Jews.

I saw Peter, who had once miraculously walked on water with Jesus only to be submerged by waves of doubt. A man, who in the end, would deny ever knowing Jesus (even cursing when he did it!)

Then there was Thomas, a man who continually struggled to believe God’s promises. Known especially, for asking to touch Jesus’s wounds because he needed proof that Jesus had risen from the dead.

And then there was Judas, the cold hearted traitor who Jesus knew would go on to betray Him that very night. Who even still, was welcomed to sit at the table.

Some disciples were loyal, devoted and faithful. While others were intense and violent, with explosive tempers and fiery personalities! Some were haunted by a dark past, while others were wary and frightened by the uncertainty of the future.

But one thing was certain, All were NOT worthy, but each were chosen!

Even Judas.

In Matthew 26:27, while Jesus was sitting at the table that night with His – so very ordinary – followers, it says,

Then He (Jesus) took the cup and gave thanks and offered it to them saying, “Drink from it, all of you…”

Too often we focus our attention on everything about ourselves that separate us from Christ – all the reasons why we couldn’t possibly be used by Him! And yet, we fail to see that The Lord is offering Himself to us even still, no matter how great our shortcomings!

I love how Mary Fairchild puts it when she says (speaking of the disciples), “Not one was a scholar or Rabbi. They had no extraordinary skills. Neither religious, nor refined, they were ordinary people just like you and me.

The truth is, The Lord isn’t even just settling for us! He could have chosen anyone! He could have had the pick of the litter, and chosen religious warriors whose prayers were way more impressive (thanks in part to a handful of well-placed THOU’s and THINE’s), people whose past was a lot less controversial, and whose story was much more “church appropriate” (and at the very least, someone who was grammatically sound…)

But He didn’t.

Our God knows exactly who we are, even down to what we’ve ashamedly done in the past, and everything we will do to let Him down in the future! And yet, He has hand selected our past, our temperament, and our story to be used by Him!

We are unworthy yes, but we are chosen!

 

Jesus is offering Himself to you…

the only question is, will you receive Him?

Krista Signature

It’s No Useless Business

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You can get so confused

that you’ll start in to race

down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace

and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,

headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go

or a bus to come, or a plane to go

or the mail to come, or the rain to go

or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow

or waiting around for a Yes or a No

or waiting for their hair to grow.

Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite

or waiting for wind to fly a kite

or waiting around for Friday night

or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake

or a pot to boil, or a Better Break

or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants

or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.

Everyone is just waiting.

~Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go!

Have you ever been here?

In the waiting place?

How does it make you feel?

I know how it makes ME feel!!!!

  • Anxious
  • Bored
  • Worried
  • Impatient
  • Discouraged
  • Hopeless
  • Sad
  • Like a failure
  • Desperate

But you know what the Lord says about waiting?

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! ~Isaiah 30:18

Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. ~Isaiah 64:4

Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. ~Proverbs 8:34

waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. ~Psalm 40:1

Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God. ~Psalm 38:15

Reading these biblical truths, you know what I see?

We are blessed, He is acting on our behalf, He hears us, and He will answer.

Dr. Suess missed one thing.

Waiting is no useless business.

While it may feel like it, while it may appear we are stuck in no man’s land and while we are waiting for whatever it is, the waiting is no useless business!!!

Then they believed his promises and sang his praise.

But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.

In the desert they gave in to their craving;

in the wilderness they put God to the test.

~Psalm 106:12-14

Just as a steak rests after grilling to redistribute the juices and an unborn child takes 9 months to ready himself for the world, so we are preparing in our waiting.

Let’s not forget what He has done and give in to our cravings, giving way to our wandering! (heaven forbid it would be for 40 years, too!)

Let’s wait in expectation for the glory that is already ours for those who are in Christ!

May my heart pray this a little bit every day, that I would learn, hope, trust, believe and expect in the waiting place.

Rachel Signature2

 

 

 

A Lesson in Faith on the Corner of 52nd and 8th

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It was on the corner of 52nd and 8th that I wept.

I wept helplessly over lukewarm coffee and dry chocolate cake, in an uncomfortable green leather booth, at one of the only Manhattan diners that seemed to be open that late at night.

Just hours before, my husband had been offered his dream job in New York City. And after high fiving each other in the elevator on the way out of the office, it didn’t take long for reality to set in.  Just 2 floors down to be exact!

We would be moving to Manhattan in just 5 weeks…

5 weeks to say our goodbyes to the people who we loved (and who knew nothing about our intentions of leaving)… 5 weeks to sell our house, our two cars, and nearly all our possessions as we would be moving from a 4-bedroom house in suburbia to a 1-bedroom in crazy town… And 5 weeks to – somehow – get in touch with the super-human mojo I would need to go from the small town girl I’ve always been, to the hardcore rough and tumble Manhattan mom that I would need to become in order to survive.

If those diner walls could talk, they would tell of a girl who shed an innumerable amount of tears that night. Each with an excuse as to why…

I…

could…

not…

do…

this.

There I sat for hours, weeping into my dessert (which was my husband’s sweet – but failed – attempt at calming my anxiousness)!

My husband had always been the one with notable strength and the ability to persevere under the most challenging of circumstances. I, however, was much more qualified in things like ‘quitting’ and chugging water. The expanse of the city had him giddy with excitement, while the very same thing had me cowering in fear!

I was focused on the money we didn’t have… the hopeless housing market we were currently in…  the timeline that seemed impossible… and the street smarts that I was desperately lacking…

Somehow he managed to see it as an opportunity for God to show up.

One thing was clear, God would HAVE to show up! And in my weakness, I didn’t know if He would.

And so I cried all night long. Like, seriously!

The next morning, on the plane ride home, with bloodshot eyes and only 2 hours of sleep (you know, because I was far too busy crying to sleep!) I found this verse.

“Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night.” – Numbers 14:1

This weeping ‘community’ was the Israelites, and by the looks of it I had a lot in common with them!

I needed to know more about these people! So I flipped through page after page to learn more.

What I found was that on many occasions God had ‘shown up’ for the Israelites in much the same way that I needed God to show up for me. He had saved them from a life of slavery, He had done the impossible and parted the Red Sea on their behalf to protect them from the wrath of Pharaoh, and He had never failed to provide for each of their daily needs up to this point.

Not only that, but the Lord had big plans for the Israelites! With every day that passed, He was leading them closer and closer to the Promised Land – the life He had so intricately designed for each of them.

So why is it that they were crying?

Because there were giants up ahead!

Literally!

Upon scoping out the area, they found that there were giants roaming the land and standing directly in the way of what the Lord wanted for them. And so, being that the Israelites were paralyzed in fear, they wept into the night.

In Deuteronomy 1:29-30 the Israelites were addressed,

“Don’t be shocked or afraid of them! The Lord your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt.” [Just as He had done before!]

But instead of resting in this truth, the Israelites chose to allow their fear to consume them! They ultimately refused to trust the Lord and acknowledge how He had provided for their every need in the past, and in the end because of that, few ever got to see the life the Lord had for them come to fruition!

And it was then that I realized, that I too, can be an Israelite…

So that day, at an altitude of 30,000 feet (give or take a few thousand feet), I made the decision to embrace the life the Lord had laid out for me and to trust that He is bigger than the giants that were standing in my way! I brought to Him all the fears that were looming, the needs that couldn’t possibly be met, and the magnitude of the changes that were directly up ahead – all of MY giants – and chose to lay each one of them at His feet and praise Him! Not because of what I knew He was going to do, but because of what He had never failed to do for me in the past!

I chose to trust Him, even if it meant moving to New York City…

Joyce Meyer put it well when she said, “Feeling fear is simply the temptation to run and hide from what we should face and confront.” And as I stood on the street this last week peering into the same diner booth that I sat in just 10 months ago – watching the waiters bustling and patrons conversing around the very same booth that I once sat in wept in – I couldn’t help but wonder what my life would look like today. What if, in that very moment, I would have chosen to run and hide from what I knew very well the Lord was asking me to courageously confront? Where would I be if I hadn’t given God the opportunity to provide the solution for every excuse… every fear… and every tear that had grazed my cheek that night?

I realized even more, that the pivotal decision I struggled to make in the diner that night, is the same one we are faced with every single day of our lives!

Are we going to trust God? Or are we going to quit?

Are we going to look to His strength, or rely on the inadequacy of the person staring back at us in the mirror?

Are we going to embrace the life the Lord has designed for us, or try to pave an easier way and risk the chance of never knowing what He had so perfectly planned on our behalf?

The truth is, it will only be a matter of time until our excitement is met with giants up ahead…

And when it happens, let’s weep. Let’s shamelessly let it all out because we have never in our lives been so terrified! But once there are no more tears to be shed, let’s bravely stand to our feet so that we can see – maybe even for the very first time – where life would take us if we let our faith in God be stronger than our fears! 

And in the event that we lose sight of this truth (because I know, I so often will…)

You can meet me on the corner of 52nd and 8th.

You bring the tissues,

I’ll be the one with the chocolate cake.

Krista Signature