Saturday, March 22, 2014

New York #3

Outside Journey on the 19th floor of Hotel Pennsylvania.
Had to climb 7 flights of stairs to get to the ballroom of the Manhattan Center for Hillsong.
Waiting outside Hillsong.  Empire State Building on St Patrick's Eve.

Sunday we attended three services.  Why would we do that?  Because we wanted to experience three different types of services.  We found out just like in Little Rock, you can find what your heart is searching for.  We visited Redeemer Presbyterian (my favorite), Journey Church, and Hillsong.  Each experience was something special.

Monday was our first visit to St Paul's House.  It was quite chilly on our walk from the metro stop.  It was still dark out and a windy 25 degrees.  We had the privilege of serving the homeless with physical food as well as spiritual food.  We left our comfort zone because it was not anything we run into in Little Rock.  It was a great joy to be able to see and share God's word with those whose hearts and lives were somewhat devastated by their circumstances.  Yet, there were still faces that exuded joy when we worshiped.

Coach Upshaw was thrilled they had a gray cat.
Afterwards we headed toward Central Park to watch some of the St. Patrick's Day Parade. 
 Then we did a little shopping at FAO Schwartz to warm up.  For dinner we went to a cafe in the village near the Friends apartment complex.  

Tuesday is always the favorite day.   We went to Teen Challenge in Brooklyn.  We were able to join the worship leaders there to lead and minister to those in residence.  Teen Challenge was once a place that ministered to gang members, but it is now a residential rehabilitation program that helps people put their lives back together.  Most are in their 20s and 30s.  We had 4 commit their lives to The Lord while we were there.  Many shared their appreciation for our coming.  We then visited the home that is the office and residence to the boys in the program.  David Wilkerson founded the organization in the 50s.  His brother is still the lead pastor.

We also heard from a man who was once successful in the NYC fashion industry.  He lost everything when he became addicted to prescription drugs and made several attempts at ending his life.  He was told to go to Teen Challenge by his mother who refused to let him come back home.  His life was changed forever at Teen Challenge.  He is now a Christian working at Teen Challenge.

We then went to Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station and the New York Public Library.

Wednesday was back to St Paul's where we got to talk to more people.  We found that by returning to the same place they were willing to speak to us.  It makes you understand how blessed we are where we live when we see them packing as much food as they could carry so they would have food later to eat.

We also got to see Newsies.  I've been a fan of the movie since it came out while I was in high school.  The musical was everything I'd hoped it would be and more We also walked around lower Manhattan and saw some of the older areas. 
Thursday we ventured out to the Bronx to babysit the 3 small children of missionaries.  We talked to both of them about their ministry.  While we were there, they were able to go out to lunch by themselves.  We could not imagine trying to do anything with three small children!  We were thrilled to be able to give them an opportunity to be alone... as alone as you can be in NYC!!  

We then headed south to ride the Staten Island Ferry.  Beautiful views of Manhattan!

This is the 1/2 million dollar boat that accompanies all rush hour ferries.  It was so windy I was afraid my phone would be blown out of my hands.
And Friday... the last day at St Paul's.  We saw many of the same people as well as some new faces.  We also got to know some of the other volunteers at the facility.  We found some of them to be wonderful at interacting with the people, but were shocked when we heard one of them had been coming for a year and mentioned today his goal was "to talk to one of them."  He did not talk to anyone today.  Maybe it is the southern accent, but we didn't have too much trouble interacting.  Granted, it is limited, but we found most to be friendly.

You never realize what a privilege our town is to live in until you leave it.  And that your heart is never fully prepared to seee what you will see until you see it!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

New York #2

The second trip to New York went better than the first (and the first was great- read about it here). There are still some things I'd change though (3rd times a charm?)

We flew out the Sunday Daylight Savings Time began. FUN! The already awful meeting time of 5:30 felt like 4:30. Our first flight was delayed an hour (did THEY forget?). Had plenty of layover in Atlanta, so no worries... but then that flight was delayed an hour too. Very bumpy ride into ATL. I was anxious the entire flight, but I didn't have any semi-nervous breakdowns about leaving the kids like I did last year. 
Got into Newark, gathered luggage, called shuttle service... and then Louis realized he left his phone on the plane. Coach Welchman had to go back through security to find it. We waited on shuttle. Got phone and headed to our hostel at New York School of Urban Ministry. Then realized we didn't have one of Louis' bags (notice a pattern? :) 
We went to orientation then headed out to Redeemer Presbyterian. This time we visited their evening jazz/contemporary service. Can't say I've ever been to a contemporary service with a jazz flare. I enjoyed it and the preaching was the best we heard all week. 
NYSUM has a curfew of 11pm, so there were no super late nights on this trip. We had some seriously early mornings, so it wasn't bad that we had to be in by 11.
Monday was the day NYSUM scheduled sight seeing for us. I would have rather had a mission assignment, but it was still a good day. We went to Federal Hall where an excellent security guard/tour guide gave fact-filled lectures throughout the hall. Then we had lunch... and I got my awesome filafel sandwich again. I have not seen the 9/11 memorial and would not have planned that on my own since the juniors see it on the junior trip. It affected me more than I expected- seeing all those names and the massive holes where towers once stood. Looking high up into the empty air space where buildings once stood, and I once stood atop... got me emotional. 
Monday evening we lead a children's service at a battered women's shelter. We couldn't take pictures in order to protect their hidden residence. These children are not allowed to go outside at all while at the shelter- we got to entertain and love on them for an evening.  They were in the midst of a birthday party when we arrived- that's why they wanted one of us (Jaeseung) to dress like a clown. We played a game, sang fun worship songs, made a cute little sheep craft and told Bible stories about Jesus being the Good Shepherd. Would have gone better had they not been beating each other with balloon animals while Casey, Friedl, and Connor told the stories, but they did as good a job as they possibly could! We ended with some silly songs with equally silly motions :) 
Tuesday was back to Teen Challenge. Lead worship, Pastor Zach preached, went on tour of facilities, then ate lunch with them. This was the thing we most enjoyed last year and I was glad it worked out for us to return.   Always amazed by the miracles God works in their lives and am grateful to be able to help them. 
Tuesday evening NYSUM scheduled us to go to Brooklyn Tabernacle prayer service. We enjoyed it, but I think we were all unaccustomed to this type of service. I've been in repetetive worship services before, but never one where they sang one song for over an hour. I was trying to keep an open mind, experience all the different types of services of the week, and just focus on praying for all the people there rather than "AGAIN??" but it was difficult for me.  Prayed with the lady next to me- I think she was Indian.  They told the ladies to hug five ladies around you and the men to do the same. So off I go hugging all these people I've never met. Strange to me how open New Yorkers are in church- but on the street you can hardly get anyone to look at you. 
 Went to a diner right down from Brookly Tab after... super cheap and HUGE proportions. 
Wednesday was our "off" day. We split up and walked around Manhattan (Louis, Friedl and I walked up the East Side of Central Park, then across 79th to a diner, the rest of the crew went with Coach Welchman straight to a diner) then met back up for Phantom of the Opera matinee after a little shopping. We wanted to see Newsies, but they were only 30% off at the TKTS booth. Phantom was 50%. There wasn't a show we wanted to see that someone in the group hadn't already seen (or would be seeing on Jr Trip)... that made it tough. Great show though. 
That night we went to Hillsong and experienced yet another type of worship service. I enjoyed this one , though we were in the back in the balcony and couldn't see much. They had monitors, but it would have been nice to see the stage. Met a guy who was there alone, so we welcomed him into our little circle when we could.  
Preaching was about being a witness and not keeping things to yourself that you've seen.  We don't keep silent when we see things that are hysterical/scary/embarrassing- and we shouldn't keep quiet about being transformed by Christ. 
Thursday we had to meet in the chapel of NYSUM at 6am. After much preaching to the guys not to be late (yes, the girls usually had to wait for the boys), Friedl and I didn't wake up til 5:55! But, we still got to the chapel by 6:02. I was rather scary looking, but I was there. Casey wasn't feeling well, so he was sent back to bed. The rest of us headed into Manhattan to work at St. Paul's House. We lead a short chapel service then helped set up tables and serve breakfast.  We cleared their trash and left them with a "have a good day" as they left... and I wondered what their day was like. After breakfast, the girls continued cleaning upstairs while the boys helped unload and haul furniture. We were there til around 11 then went back to NYSUM. Coach Welchman stayed back with Casey and Jaeseung.  I went back to Manhattan with Friedl, Louis, and Connor. The rest of the crew joined us after some rest. That evening, I was excited to experience Evensong at St Thomas. The church is beautiful. Loved sitting there and taking in the beauty of the architecture. But, discovered the choir would not be singing. I wanted to go to St Thomas last year but was not able to fit it in. I thought experiencing a choral service would complete our variety of services for the week and would be another new experience for everyone. But that didn't work out. They sing *almost* every Tuesday and Thursday evening. Sadly, this was one of that few times they did not sing.  
We went to Greenwich Village to try to find some Italian food, but that is a hopping place and most restaurants required a reservation on a Thursday night. We were about to give up and eat pizza when Louis realized he was missing a bag... he left it at Barnes and Noble. Miraculously someone turned it in and we hopped in a cab to retrieve it. Then found a great restaurant in Manhattan (Cinema Restaurant) with lots of variety.
Friday morning after packing our things, we went to Manhattan diner on West 96th. Great place and will return. We then walked all through Central Park, stopping to sing in a little amphitheater, down to 5th avenue. Got a bit turned around so it took a while to get back to NYSUM, but we got there in plenty of time to wait for shuttle. Return flights went much better (and smoother).
We were able to help people while there and also experience vastly different styles of worship. I am always amazed at the masses of people who go into these services. They came off the same streets we did. They rode the same subs, but on the streets, no one will look at you, no one smiles. It is very easy to assume no one around you is a Christian and you are alone. But then you go in these massive church service and everyone is hugging total strangers, praying with them, praising God, singing the same songs we sing in our churches here. But the culture outside those walls is vastly different.  I know the percentage of Christians in the total population of NYC is small- but there ARE SO MANY people- the churches are crowded. 
I think next year- if there is a next year- I'd want to work at St Paul's all week rather than hopscotch all over New York.  I think they might enjoy having a little bit of continuity in a week rather than a different group leading the chapel service every day. And we could get to know them a little. 
We could possibly still do Teen Challenge if we didn't have work to do after breakfast Tuesday.  
I enjoyed NYSUM- but I have made enough contacts now that I could schedule our ministries on my own- NYSUM taught me that hostels aren't so bad. We could stay at one close to St Paul's and save a lot of time and money. 
And *maybe* the kids are old enough that David could be the male chaperone. I don't think Coach Welchman wants to go next year.  David is a great preacher and if we do St Paul's daily and Teen Challenge- that's a lot of preaching!  The kids did great with their grandmothers (my mom M-W, David's Th-F)- and next year it won't be session time. 
The year after that?  Abigail will be old enough to go! David will be in session so it will not be a family affair :) but it will be an entirely different experience with a child. 
But that is all a big if. I don't know that New York will continue to be offered, but I would look forward to going again and handling ALL the planning myself.  

Saturday, December 15, 2012


We are now in a house I hope we stay in forever!  It was yet another whirlwind getting here.  The last time I posted, I said there was only one house in our neighborhood and they wanted too much.  We got within $1000 of each other but they wouldn't budge and neither would I.  And I AM SO GLAD!!  We had our realtor contact a couple other realtors who sell most of the houses in this neighborhood to see if anything was coming on the market soon.  She also sent out cards to everyone to see if they were interested in selling their home.  We heard from a realtor before the cards hit that he did know of a house that was willing to sell.  It happened to be one of my favorite houses, but I didn't think it was as big as they said it was (3250).  It sure doesn't look like it from the outside.  But I loved the style... and especially the big front porch and porch swing.  Then the day we were set to see this house, the cards hit and we got a call about another house.  We saw this house first then saw the other one and I wasn't real sure.  This one was bigger and I love the layout, but there is a lot of work to be done.  The other one wouldn't have to have a single thing done.  But overall, this is the one I wanted.  It is perfect for us.  Every bit of space is usable.  It has 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bath down.  Plank flooring throughout the first floor with tile in kitchen and bathrooms.  That was one of the problems I had with that other house that was asking too much... it had carpet.  I hate carpet.  Split bedrooms.  Abigail has her own room in one corner of the house and a jack and jill bathroom with the office.      Upstairs shocked me.  It is huge.  There is a big landing area at the top of the stairs with a closet and walk in floored attic space.  The little boys bedroom is at the top of the stairs.  Then there is a big gameroom off the landing and thru that room, another huge bedroom with closet... the size of a small bedroom.  AND more attic space off of it.  There is also attic space off the gameroom.  All of it floored.  Storage galore.  Of course, we haven't gotten everything TO the attic.  Still parking in the driveway :( but we'll get there... still have much to sort.  The family who built this house apparently had 6 kids... and it is evident.  No space is wasted.  Even the little boys closet uses all of the space instead of straight walls.  As does Abigail's, hers goes under the stairs and uses the space that is often wasted for the sake of straight walls.  
The kitchen leaves much to be desired.  Has an old coil top style electric range.  The oven is in a bad location... and it's tiny.  Just not laid out well over all.  I'd want to do an overhaul in there SOME DAY.  No time soon.  Desperately want to make cosmetic changes as soon as I can.  The floors are a honey colored oak.  The walls are a putty colored taupe.  I don't like the combination at all.  I miss the rainwashed color in our other house.  There is nothing I miss about the house we rented... except maybe the privacy of the backyard.  This house has a backyard exposed to the world.  Has a privacy fence but due to the slope, the deck is fully exposed.  I'd like to drop the deck a few feet and step down to it rather than straight out.  It would be more private.  But it's nice.  Has a nice patio down at the bottom of the deck too.
I hope to tackle the bookshelves on either side of the fireplace over Christmas break.  Right now they just have stuff in them.  Don't look decorated, just busy!  I want to cover a board with fabric and put it in the back of each shelf to add some color to this boring drab taupe!  We got an estimate to have the  house painted before we moved it, but it was far more than we could afford.  We'll have to do it ourselves when we have time... and who knows when that will be.
School keeps me too busy.  Just finished my 11th Madrigal Dinner.  People said it was the best one yet.  I was very pleased.  I have the best students in the world.  I love this group of seniors.  They haven't quit... yet.  Hope they wait til May but typically seniors quit in August!!  I'm grateful.  They are the leaders- their attitudes affect the entire choir.  So thankful to them for staying motivated.  Love them to death.  Had a cast party here after the Madrial Dinner.  We Caroled around the neighborhood.  Had one person slam the door on us :) but the rest were appreciative.
Also had a Sunday School party here.  I'm glad I finally have a house I can do that in.  Being practically across the street from school helps.
Will have to post again to update on the kiddos.  This one is long enough.  But, I have my laptop back so I COULD start blogging again.  I need to... the little guys are so stinkin funny with the things they say which is what got me blogging in the first place (when the older three were their age).

Thursday, August 2, 2012


I don't intend to stop blogging altogether, but since I am not doing it regularly, I don't know which moment to blog about. It is easy when you blog almost daily!  I used to have a laptop, but now use an iPad.  My typing speed has gone from 85 wpm to about 25.  Annoying.

We haven't had the most exciting of summers. First week out of school we visited my dad.  We went to the Gatlinberg aquarium and a couple other fun places.  Haven't done much else this summer. David has a lot going on with his State Senate campaign.  The kids have had camps and football/volleyball practices... and various check ups. STILL have to get them to the doc for their physicals so they can play sports. But yeah... Pretty boring stuff. I haven't even reached my goal of getting Levi potty trained!

Mt 20th HS reunion was two weeks ago. I suppose that was the highlight of my summer.  It was more fun than I expected.   Got to hang with my BFF since 8th grade.

And now we a facing another move. Not real happy about that but I know I will be once moved. We were told by landlord that he has a buyer. We have to be out by middle of October but I am hoping to be out by mid September. October starts my crazy season.  We have not sold our other house but it is rented by a couple who plan to buy it. They will do a lease purchase so that helps. But still, our loan officer had to work hard to get us approved when we already have a house.  We are limited in where we can live... Same issue as last year.  We really want to stay in our same neighborhood.  Kids have made friends here and they love the pool.  There are other neighborhood pools but apparently this is the one older kids prefer.  And they can walk there.  There is only one house for sale here and they want more than it is worth. We made an offer to no avail.  Even though the rates are great and paying more would mean just a bit more in the monthly payment, I'm not over paying in this market. No way.  SO we may have to change neighborhoods.  Prayers appreciated!

School starts for me on Monday. I love my schedule.  4th intermediate choir, 5th advanced choir, lunch, 6th FINALLY have a CLASS for jr high, 7th prep, 8th 7th grade Bible.   I'll be home with Levi in the mornings.

And I should get my laptop back all fixed and ready to go with an actual keyboard. I look forward to that!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

New York

New York I've pretty much quit blogging, but for those interested in how the New York trip went, I thought I'd post about it. The night before we left I was a wreck. I was so nervous about leaving the kids that long I was literally ill. I'd gotten some phenergan to help me sleep, but I had to take it for nausea! Cried like a baby after putting Elijah and Levi to bed. It was all I could do to hold it together so they didn't get upset! I was extremely grateful the trip was for 6 days and no longer. Saturday morning I got up earlier than I needed to. Plane ride was smooth and I wasn't too nervous. We arrived at the hotel, unpacked a bit, went to dinner, then met at the Metropolitan New York Baptist building to learn about the activities for the week.  We walked to Times Square after the meeting.  I got to stand in front of the live Earth Cam there and wave at the kids that night.  Noah was apparently the most upset that I wasn't home. Sunday morning we went to Redeemer Presbyterian.  The music was traditional and so well done.  There was a brass quintet that played songs composed by one of the members.  Unbelievable talent.  Loved it.  Then the message was one of the best I'd heard filled with truth that wasn't watered down at all.  Loved it.  I was surprised by how big the church was.  I thought any New York church that was that big would be a liberal kind of place.  But it wasn't like that at all.  First suprise of the week for me. We caught lunch on the street then got ready to go to the MNYBA to go to an Indonesian church in Queens.  We were able to lead worship there and heard their pastor preach in English and their native language.  We ate with the congregation afterwards.  No idea what it was, but it tasted good!  The girls and I went back to Times Square that night.  The boys didn't join us.  They needed more down time than we did :)  I got to wave at my kids again on the Earth Cam :) Monday was a scavenger hunt put on by MNYBA.  We got to see a lot of New York, saw Rockefeller Plaza, Battery Park (where one of my girls was part of a street show) Trinity church, heard a choir rehearse at another small chapel, saw where the towers used to stand and talked to one of the construction workers, but we didnt go all the way to ground zero. We were supposed to rush all over New York but we decided to take it slow and take our time rather than try to win the scavenger hunt. We went back to the MNYBA building afterwards (this is when One of my girls got on with MNYBA people but not us, we saw that she was with people in our group, they knew who she was and told us they would hang onto her or I would have blocked the door).  We picnicked in Central Park for dinner and sang some worship songs. The girls walked through the park to return for evening worship at MNYBA, the boys went back to the hotel to play with the legos they'd bought earlier in the day. We worshipped with all of the Passport New York college students and heard Tom Richter from New Hope Baptist in Queens.  He is a gifted preacher who again spoke unwatered down truth!  It was encouraging.  He was hysterical and very good at keeping your attention.  I think the girls once again went to Times Square afterwards.  Seems we did that every it kind of runs together. Tuesday was another new experience.  Teen Challenge was nothing like I thought it would be.  We lead worship with a group of people who worshipped no matter what was going on up on that stage.  It wouldn't have mattered if we were terrible, I know they would have worshipped anyway.  That was another surprise.  Never been a part of anything like that.  I've personally worshipped regardless of what was going on around me, but I've never been in a room where it seemed every single person in it was joining me.  The kids loved it.   Most of them picked that experience as their favorite for the week.  Zach (the other chaperone) preached and got the nickname "Pastor Zach"... that is what he was called throughout the day by the people of Teen Challenge.  We then heard testimony from several residents.  One person was a kid member of the bloods and was a part of that gang when it was founded.  But  now he lives for Jesus.  It was unreal listening to his life story.  Another was a pastor's kid from a small town in the South.  She looked like someone who would have gone to AB.  She said our girls were such a blessing to her b/c she could tell they were really worshipping and she didn't think there were any young girls who chose to praise the Lord in their teenage years.  That was a huge encouragement to them.  She just went on and on about what an encouragment those four beautiful girls were and then told them never to lose sight of Jesus.  We then ate lunch with the residents and toured their facilities and learned about the program.  GREAT program.  Would definitely want to return and help them any way we could. The girls and I walked across the Brooklyn bridge afterwards.  The boys went back to the hotel then took a cab somewhere (they took cabs a lot, the girls rode the subway all the time... and we never messed up!!)  We got back to the hotel just in time to get ready for dinner and the Broadway show Godspell (girls made a quick shopping stop at Strawberry's in between) ... Godspell wasn't what I'd hoped but wasn't awful.  It was entertaining, but the storyline was almost nonexistent.  Really hard to follow even knowing the Bible!  It was pretty much just a bunch of songs with funny stuff added in.  It was entertaining and the girls definitely enjoyed it.  Really not sure about the boys?  I think they did.  They again went back to the hotel to play with legos and the girls walked around Times Square again  (there is a reason the back of my heal has a lovely bruise on it...) Wednesday we went to the Forest Hills area of Queens to prayer walk.  We were told to pray for the people as we walked the streets and tweet pictures that prompted us to pray for specific things (perfect job for me!).  We had a few good encounters with people.  Most people didn't want us to pray for them.  But we were able to talk with Eric, Jay, and Charlie.  Charlie was sitting down where we were meeting everyone afterwards so he got the most in depth conversation.  All of them were told about Nathan Creitz and the church he hopes to start in Queens.  The prayer walking and random walking up to people asking them if I could pray for them was probably the most awkward time for me.  But that is what Nathan wanted so I was going to do it, comfortable or not. Girls did some quick shopping at H&M before meeting back up with the boys at Metropolitan Museum of Art.  I think one of the boys and I may have been the only ones who enjoyed it... Not real sure.  I loved seeing the original works I studied when I took Fine Arts.  Thursday morning didn't give us enough time to do much of anything.  The girls really wanted to go eat "breakfast at Tiffany's" so we got food to go and headed there.  I took pictures :)  Other than almost missing our flight from Atlanta to Little Rock due to the NY flight coming in late... everything went as smoothly as it could have.  There were some unexpected changes, but everything was flexible enough that we could handle it.  I loved how the week went.  I loved that we were right in the thick of it and weren't watching NY from the outside.  We were there amongst the people.  I loved that we saw so much of NY and the wide variety of churches. It would be easy to go back and plan a similar trip but do nothing the same!  The only part I would for sure want to repeat is Teen Challenge.  Great trip, great kids.  Loved taking younger ones full of excitement.  I think it was good for them to see what we saw.  I think it may have ignited a spark in them a bit to do more than they do.  We had some good conversations in the evenings where Zach and I could talk to them about life in general.  I hope they took it to heart. I prayed that the kids I am supposed to take would sign up to go.  I really didn't want to eliminate anyone.  I think I got the perfect group and it was the perfect size.  Any bigger would have been hard to manage. I think I could take a few more since I'm familiar with the subway now, but for this year, it was perfect. It was a great trip but I was ready to be home! Levi keeps saying "mommy, are you home?" I got the kids 'I <3 NY' shirts in different colors. Elijah calls it his 'I love mommy' shirt. He just told me he prayed for me while I was gone. I asked him if he did that at school and he said 'no I did it at home by myself'. So sweet.   Pictures are posted individually following this post...