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31 July 2010

91 days of summer- 40

last day in the 'hood.
Hamilton Heights,
New York, NY

New York

We are finishing an amazing month in New York City.  A month that seemingly passed by in the blink of an eye.  What an incredible experience to be able to live in the city for a month, to meet people and make friends and be a few threads in the complex tapestry God has woven in New York.

We were tourists.  We made it to the museums and the big name stores and the sights that you think of when you think of New York.  We were commuters.  We traveled by subway every single day.  We negotiated the labyrinth of mazes underneath the city.  We pushed our way through the crush of people at rush hour, morning and night.  We rode on buses and ferries, too.  And we were residents.  We bought our groceries a couple days at time and carried them down the street and up the stairs to our place.  We read the paper on the subway every morning.  We passed by the same people each evening.

Perhaps I am most surprised by the diversity of New York.  I can't imagine that in this month we haven't seen every shade of skin tone and heard a good many of the tongues of earth.  Living in New York provides an amazing photograph of God's kingdom.  We witnessed the ugliness of racism and heard occasional examples of how vile the untamed tongue can sound.  And yet, we saw acts of kindness and compassion.  We saw the beauty amidst brokenness.

New York is dirty and busy and loud.  We'll never forget the stench of garbage sitting on the curb on a hot day, or the surprise of seeing a rat on the subway tracks.  But New York is a beautiful tapestry of color and sound and life as well.  We tasted the cuisines of the world.  We marveled at the wonder of modern architecture.  And we smiled while watching the delight of children that is universal.

And this month has been a good transition to what lies ahead for my family.  We're leaving the relative predictability of the midwest and heading into a life that looks and sounds and tastes much different than the one we are most familiar with.  In this month, we have seen God's provision, and we rest in His faithfulness to continue to care for us in the new and different places He has yet to bring us to.

A friend and fellow participant created a video of her images of the month for her final project.  I think it's a really neat glimpse of much of what we experienced as well.  (and hey!  I'm in it, for a brief moment you can catch my eyes...)

Good bye New York!  Thanks for a great month of memories and experiences!

91 days of summer- 39

Grand Central Terminal,
New York, NY

29 July 2010

27 July 2010

91 days of summer- 36

opera at 42/Times Square.

26 July 2010

91 days of summer- 35

145 Street on the 1 train.
Hamilton Heights,
New York, NY

this is where we pop up from the underground on the way home nearly every day.
(to get on going towards downtown, we enter across the street, over by McDonalds)
5 steps away from $1 tamales.

I'm going to miss those tamales...

25 July 2010

91 days of summer- 34

Sunday afternoon thundershowers,
Hamilton Heights,
New York, New York

24 July 2010

Art House America

I’m an introvert who loves people and privacy. I need both to function well. But I’ve found there is no perfect balance in this life; instead there is grace in the tension.
Andi Ashworth, Creating Shelter, Art House America blog

Creating Shelter  is a great read.  Go there, and chew over those ideas, and stay there for awhile.

And when you are done with that, add ArtHouseAmerica to your blog list. 
It is full of good ideas and good stuff to ponder on for awhile. 
Like this interview with Sandra McCracken and Derek Webb that explores ideas around justice and equality and old hymns and modern music.
And this article, full of photos of hope from Haiti.
And more to come.

good stuff, friends.

91 days of summer- 33

Ellis Island,
New York, NY

I visited Ellis Island today for the first time.
What a great experience.

This week I've been learning a new language.
I didn't know a word when the week started.  I didn't know much more when the week ended. 
Soon, I'll enter a country and culture that is not native to me.

And so, with that, I watched the movie, and thought about the experience of arriving at Ellis Island, with new eyes. 

I learned new things-
  • that no names were changed at Ellis Island.  If a family name was changed, it most likely happened before a person arrived, as they registered on the ship's log leaving, or after they arrived, most likely in the public schools.
  • that 1/3 of those who reached Ellis Island stayed in New York, but 2/3 left for other places in the US.
  • that only 2% of people that arrived at Ellis Island were deported.
  • that after 1917, there was a literacy test to enter, but immigrants were required to read only a paragraph in their native language, most likely from the Bible, but not in English.
  • that the biggest concern for the government was that a person would be able to financially support himself and his family, and that a person had no health problems.
There is nothing new under the sun. 
I'm thankful to have a heritage in a country that has a history of welcoming immigrants. 
And I have a deep respect for those who left their native countries, and their family, and everything that was familiar behind, to set out in a new place.

Tourist day 2-
We were out of the house and headed towards the subway at 6:45 AM!! We had to take the local 1 all the way to the end of the line at South Ferry, about, oh, 26 stops or something ridiculous like that.  But it turns out that choosing the first ferry to Liberty Island is among the best decisions I've made while in New York.  We beat the crowds through security.  We beat the crowds to the pedestal.  We never felt rushed. And when we were tired and ready to go home, we went home.  (and then I took an hour long nap!)
The Statue of Liberty ranks VERY high on my list of Favorite National Parks.  Perhaps right under Mt. Rushmore and Muir Woods.  K bought a National Park lunchbox as a souvenir.  Her mother's daughter.  Great choice!
I had never been to Ellis Island.  Very neat.  We saw the movie and the National Park Ranger who did the introduction was fantastic.  Ok, by his own admission he was "on a caffeine high," and maybe that explains why he really did bounce up and down while talking about immigration.  But I was right there with him.  This is our history! 
It was a good day.

23 July 2010

91 days of summer- 32

Fisher Boy by Hiram Powers,
Metropolitan Museum of Art,
New York, New York

I never ceased to be entranced by marble sculpture.
Powers was a master.

Playing tourist

We played tourist in New York City today, and the collage shows scenes from the day.

We started at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  WOW!  What a fantastic collection.  We could easily spend days there.  We just barely scratched the surface of all it has to offer.  We saw some magnificent Egyptian art and enjoyed a good part of the American art gallery.  We gazed on Asian treasures, and enjoyed the special exhibit "American Woman" on US fashion. 

We then caught a subway south and exited at Times Square.  We ate at Bubba Gumps for a late lunch, and were pleasantly surprised.  We were seated immediately, enjoyed great service, had a view overlooking the busyness of Times Square, and it was fairly reasonably priced, besides.

Once at Times Square, we made stops for everyone to see the Ferris wheel at ToysRUs.  Leaving ToysRUs, we caught the NY icon, that barely-dressed-singing-cowboy.  Whoa, cowboy!  We also stopped at M&M World, before heading back to 5th Avenue.

5th Avenue held something for everyone.  All the bling and sparkle of Tiffany's for the girls.  Life size replicas of basketball playing giants for the boy at the NBA Store.  And the virtually mecca of the Apple Store for the man. 

Enough for a day of playing tourist!
Well... maybe one more tomorrow...

22 July 2010

91 days of summer- 31

Toys R Us,
Times Square,
New York, New York

there's a ferris wheel in there!

21 July 2010

91 days of summer- 30

There are over 13,000 taxis in New York City.
Sometimes, on the walk to the subway station in the afternoon, they are the only car we can see.

20 July 2010

91 days of summer- 29

Evangel Chuch and School,
Long Island City, Queens, New York

This is where we meet for classes, Monday through Friday.
Thanks, Evangel!


We just missed the train.  We heard it go by overhead just as we were walking up the stairs.  No problem.  Another will come soon. 

We wait deep below the ground.  We rode three long escalators to get to this depth.  No one else waits, except the attendant far down at the end of the platform.  In a rare New York City moment, it is quiet, and we are alone.

What is that constant pitter-patter?
What is that squeaking?
It takes only a moment to realize...

The next eight minutes move interminably slow.  We turn the i-pod music on as loud as it will go.  We hope we do not live out the scene from Ratatouille, when the ceiling collapses, or some Indiana Jones live infestation

Never have we been so glad to hear, and then see, the D train arriving!
Goodbye 63rd/Lexington!!

Faith... Freedom... Courage...

"Here we have a picture of God's ideal woman...Faith in God that sees beyond present bitter setbacks. Freedom from the securities and comforts of the world. Courage to venture into the unknown and the strange. Radical commitment in the relationships appointed by God....This is the woman of Proverbs 31:25 who looks into the future with confidence in God and laughs at the coming troubles: "Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come." Ruth is one of "the holy women who hoped in God...[and did] not fear anything that is frightening" (1 Peter 3:5-6). It is a beautiful thing to watch a woman like this serve Christ with courage….Whatever else the great women of faith doubted, they never doubted that God governed every part of their lives and that nothing could stay his hand...Nothing--from toothpdicks to tyrants--is ultimately self-determining. Everything serves (willingly or not) the "purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will" (Eph. 1:11). God is the all-encompassing, all-pervading, all-governing reality."
--John Piper, A Sweet and Bitter Providence, p. 35, 44
(via girltalk, 19 July 2010)

(art credit- Ruth Gleaning by Marc Chagall)

19 July 2010

91 days of summer- 28

we walk by this mosaic mural at the 42nd/Times Square station almost every day.
it reminds us of Dillon...
(except he would never sit still and stay without a leash...)

18 July 2010

91 days of summer- 27

Martha's Country Bakery,
Forest Hills, NY

We were strong.
We only bought a couple of cookies to share.
But oh!  Were they tasty?!

17 July 2010

Mother of Exiles

The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus, 1883

(of course, I should confess, that I can't see lovely Lady Liberty without this chorus singing through my head... )

91 days of summer- 26

Manhattan skyline,
from the Staten Island Ferry.

91 days of summer- 25

70th and Austin,
Forest Hills, New York

so thankful that I don't drive,
or park,
in New York...

15 July 2010


I heard a quote attributed to Mother Teresa today stating, "Clarity can become an idol."
As someone without a whole lot of clarity as to the immediate future, we don't even know what country we'll be living in after August..., my first thought was "ain't that the truth!"  But I also wondered if Mother Teresa REALLY said that, and what the context was. 
Google gave me a link that provided this story, and I believe that it sounds true to who Mother Teresa was.

“The Search for Clarity – Recently I read a profound interchange documented in a book by the renowned ethicist, John Kavanaugh. He tells of a time in his life when he went to Calcutta to work for three months at ‘the house of the dying’. This experience was part of his heartfelt search for direction about his future. The first morning there, he met Mother Teresa. She asked, ‘And what can I do for you?’ Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him. ‘What do you want me to pray for?’ she asked. He responded by explaining that he had come thousands of miles from the U.S. to find direction: ‘Pray that I have clarity.’ She said firmly, ‘No, I will not do that.’ When asked why, she said, ‘Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.’ Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for. She laughed and said, ‘I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.’

I'm praying to trust God, even more, too.

91 days of summer- 24

Rain forest explorers.

Favorite quotes overheard just today:

girl- "He is touching me!"
me- "Are you touching her?"
boy, after a moment of thought- "Y. E. S.  Yes!" 

me, to two girls- "Are you taking a trip this summer?"
boy, listening-  "Yeah, I trip ALL the time!"

And of course, if in doubt, the best answer at VBS is always "Jesus!"

Let the little children come!

14 July 2010

91 days of summer- 23

Food cart,
Queens, New York

Hot dog.
Is that New York, or what?

The food of New York!!
We have had gyros from the street carts.
We have had tamales from the lady by the subway exit.  (uh, yes, multiple times...)
We have had Italian.
And Thai.
And Mexican.
And deli subs.
(not a burger yet, though I was ready to get a hot dog- I was THAT hungry- outside the American Museum of Natural History last Saturday...)

Tim and I went to a Cuban restaurant in our neighborhood.  No menus.  Everyone spoke Spanish.  We had Cubanos.  It was the only thing I knew how to order.  Delicious.  This evening the entire family went to an Indian neighborhood and we wandered into a little Indian restaurant.  Again, no menus.  Little English.  We had amazing rice and beef curry and chicken curry and naan that we watched the cook put into the oven himself.  Man cannot live by bread alone, but that might not include fresh baked naan.

The food of New York- a global adventure!

13 July 2010

91 days of summer- 22

... because every rainforest anaconda should have his blood pressure checked regularly...

Christians NEVER say goodbye!

'At all events,' he said with a cheerful grin, 'we'll certainly meet again, here - or there.'  Then it was time to go, and we drained our mugs.  When we emerged on to the busy High with the traffic streaming past, we shook hands, and he said:  'I shan't say goodbye.  We'll meet again.'  Then he plunged into the traffic.  I stood there watching him.  When he reached the pavement on the other side, he turned round as though he knew somehow that I would still be standing there in front of the Eastgate.  Then he raised his voice in a great roar that easily overcame the noise of the cars and buses.  Heads turned and at least one car swerved.  'Besides,' he bellowed with a great grin, 'Christians NEVER say goodbye!"

CS Lewis to Sheldon Vanauken in A Severe Mercy

something in us not temporal...

You say the materialist universe is 'ugly.' I wonder how you discovered that! If you are really a product of a materialistic universe, how is it you don't feel at home there? Do fish complain of the sea for being wet? Or if they did, would that fact itself not strongly suggest that they had not always been, or would not always be, purely aquatic creatures? Notice how we are perpetually surprised at Time. ('How time flies! Fancy John being grown-up & married! I can hardly believe it!) In heaven's name, why? Unless, indeed, there is something in us is not temporal.
CS Lewis to Sheldon Vanauken in A Severe Mercy

Just finished a keeper.  And unfortunately, it is not mine, so I have to return it. 
But that gives me reason to find it and read it again.
and again.

In A Severe Mercy author Sheldon Vanauken tells the story of the relationship between he and his wife, of their growing Christian faith, and of how he comes to see the challenges and tragedy of this worldly life are used as part of the purposes of God.

Reading of the extraordinary relationship between husband and wife inspires, as does the correspondence between Vanauken and CS Lewis.  In one letter, early letter to Lewis, Vanauken struggles with the pull of the world.  Lewis' response is the quote above.

So many good and challenging words and ideas in A Severe Mercy.

12 July 2010

91 days of summer- 21

Vacation Bible School,
Day 1

(oh my!  3 year olds are precious.)

11 July 2010

91 days of summer- 20

Viva Espana!
Columbus Circle,
New York City, NY

We stumbled onto this celebration, a moment in time in New York City.  A large group of patriotic and ever celebrating Spaniards gathered under the statue of Christopher Columbus (wait, wasn't he Italian?) to celebrate their World Cup win.  They chanted "Viva Espana!" and blew World Cup horns (yes, they are loud!), and took pictures of each other and reveled in the win.
It was a fun scene to be part of.

Oh, and they spilled beer!  A Heineken.  (wait, isn't that Dutch?)  On me!  But I think smelling like a brewery got me a bit more space on the subway ride home, and it definitely got me first dibs on the shower... 

10 July 2010

09 July 2010

08 July 2010

91 days of summer- 18

lunch prep

moment to moment

Are we to pray, hope, and labor for grand moments of redemption in the lives of those around us? Yes. But most of the Christian life and the Kingdom of God is manifest in the moment to moment living of Christians. If we had a better eye at recognizing those moment to moment manifestations of the power of the cross and the glory of the Kingdom then maybe one great cause of our discouragement would no longer be fed.

Jason Helopoulos, guest blogger on DeYoung, Restless and Reformed, Discouragement and the Kingdom, July 7, 2010

06 July 2010

91 days of summer- 16

Lunchtime at Dena's Coffee Shop,
Long Island City, Queens, New York

03 July 2010

91 days of summer- 13

Blazing Saddles,
South Street Seaport,
Pier 17,
New York City

Zeal. And love.

Zeal for the glory of King Jesus was the seal and mark of all genuine Christians.  Because of their dependence upon Christ's love they dared much, and because of their love to Christ they did much, and it is the same now. 
Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

first impressions

First days in New York-

New York City is loud.
Traffic noises.
Engines and tires and horns.
People noises.
Talking and yelling and laughing.

Music noises.
Blues in the subway.
Drum and guitar on the stoop.
Latino radios playing
New York is vibrant.
Colors in signs.
Colors in dress.
Always in motion.
Ever active, never rests.

New York is diverse.
Different people and race and tongues.
The entire continuum of melanin.
Sizes and shapes.

There is the lady on the corner, who only speaks Spanish and sells tamales for a dollar.
There is the man in the subway, dancing to the beat of his own i-pod, smoothing his pants. (is he meeting a girl?)
There are the monks across the street, in grey robes that dust the ground, playing music on their front steps.
There are the strangers, gathered around a tv at a hot dog stand, shouting when their team scores a goal.

And there is a family of 7, figuring out how to get around.

(photo- the view from our bedroom, looking west down our street)

02 July 2010

91 days of summer- 12

I think I found how to do my part...

(a restaurant ad in the NY subway)

01 July 2010

91 days of summer- 11

new york city,
from Rockefeller Center