Downton Abbey in Midtown

Downton Abbey in Midtown

I’m not even a little bit ashamed to say I love Downton Abbey. I watched every episode and lived for each chance I got to see into the lives of these characters I came to love. So when I saw that there was a Downton Abbey exhibit opening up LESS THAN A BLOCK FROM MY APARTMENT, I could not wait to go! Unfortunately, life has been in the way for quite some time, but with family here who are also fans, we finally made it happen.

And since I know I am not the only fan…here are some shots of the exhibit…just like you were there!!

The exhibit starts out with you appropriately downstairs in the servants quarters….

oh hi daisy!!!…

I’m pretty sure my grandmother had this exact one..ha

 

and the chasm by which the worlds were seperated…

 

so we headed upstairs

to Mary’s bedroom.

 

The costumes in this show were so beautiful.

 

I found the one 1920’s gown that fits my hips…:)

 

We had so much fun. This exhibit is open on 57th and 7th. If you’re in midtown… it’s a beautiful exhibit.

 

Thanks for checkin in guys! love ya’ll!

love,

the grizzards

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“I Do”…Now what? 10 Ways to Turn “I Do” Into “I Always Will”

“I Do”…Now what? 10 Ways to Turn “I Do” Into “I Always Will”

In a culture that tends to throw marriage out as soon as it becomes less than utopia, how do you keep a  marriage thriving when it seems everyone around us encourages us to throw in the towel? The short answer?? Work. Here are some of the things that have worked really well for J and I.

1- Trust your spouse’s love.

To love someone is to believe the best in them… even when knowing their faults. So, I know that when my husband does something that hurts me, it was not meant to do so… because I trust in his love for me.

2- Always consider your spouse.

Marriage is not about putting yourself on an altar to sacrifice your happiness so that he/she can be happy. If you are miserable constantly, check if it’s right. But every day, every time CONSIDER your spouse. And I mean, at EVERY opportunity.

3- Don’t JUST be lovers.

If you are only interacting in a physical/sexual way, you will not last. Be a friend… a best friend. Relate. Connect. Share intimacy…not just sex.

4- Also… be lovers.

A husband will not feel loved when slighted physically. A wife will not feel as emotionally connected when going a period of time without intimacy. Don’t buy the lie that men are the only ones that need sex. Women do too (differently in frequency usually) just for a different purpose typically. Men actually physically need sex with their spouse regularly. Women need the emotional connection that sex provides. If you do not have sex with your spouse regularly, the man will feel rejected and the wife will feel distant. This usually creates a downward spiral of a lack of rule #1…leading to quick frustration and stupid fights.

5- Speak kindly about your spouse.

Do not fall into the caricature of speaking about your spouse as “the old lady” or “the lazy husband”. Your friends/coworkers will think of your spouse the way you tell them to. And your spouse can become the title you give them. Speak life-giving words about your spouse. Words have power.

6- Communicate to UNDERSTAND, not to win.

If you are in a disagreement and want to win, you will lose regardless of who comes out of the discussion with less bruising. Take a breath, lower your voice and try to UNDERSTAND each other.

7- Acknowledge the priority.

There is a belief today that your kids are the most important relationship in your life. IT IS A FALLACY. Your marriage is the most important relationship in the world. If it is not, it will fail. Your kids will thank you for leaving them, so you can go on date nights. Love them enough to love them second.

8- Invest in your relationship.

If there is ever a good investment to be made, invest in each other. Put money down to do date nights, vacations (sans kids), marriage conferences and gifts for each other. Put money on things that matter.

9- Be kind to each other.

A girlfriend once told me, “you are nicer to your husband than you are to other people”. While this could serve as an indictment that I should be kinder to people in general, I took it as a compliment. We should be kind to our spouses. Each spouse should speak with love, gentle tones for the purpose of giving life to the other. If you are kinder to your boss than you are to your spouse, consider this an encouragement to check your priorities. Be kind.

Some hide their lack of consideration and kindness to their spouse under the mask of humor. We have a rule: Laugh with each other never at each other. A joke is funny unless it is at the expense of someone else, especially your spouse. This allows the woman to be completely vulnerable at all times without fear and the man to feel respected. Intimacy can only be achieved when there is safety in that vulnerability.

10- Make the choice.

There is only one way to make a marriage survive daily…choose every day to put your spouse before yourself. That feeling will wear off. The “I do” because I’m turned on will fade. Choose to be a spouse of integrity that says “I love you because I choose you”. You can make decisions every day to build up your marriage or tear it down. Make a point to see the good and improve on the challenges.. together.

 

Marriage is not difficult. It’s not complicated. It isn’t always easy, but it isn’t difficult. When done right, it is the biggest blessing this side of heaven. But at the root of it, it is a discipline in selflessness and self-sacrifice. If you can’t do that, don’t get married. But you’ll be missing out.

Getting Cold in NYC!!

Getting Cold in NYC!!

It feels like Christmas! And I don’t just mean the weather. New York has this magical ability to smell like Christmas… universally. No matter what “your Christmas” smells like, if you come up out of the subway and step onto the streets… you smell it! It just feels like Christmas here and I love it!

We got to have breakfast with friends today, which put us walking by our normal entrance to the park… the girls begged and I caved! We spent the rest of the morning rock climbing, flying through the air, and doing all sorts of things that give this momma a heart attack! But the kids had a blast! And we managed to get a few shots…here are some of our favorites.

 

Thinking about investing in an actual camera this Christmas, so you’ll know if the quality improves!! ha

Thanks for checking in! Love you guys!

Love,

the Grizzards

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Pressure Points…

Every body has their own form of “zen”. It’s that activity or thing that enables you to completely relax and forget about all the stresses of “mommying” or work or that family member that is driving you crazy. For some, it’s reading. For some it’s a relaxing bath. For some it’s exercise. For some it’s sitting on the park bench watching everyone whose thing is exercise. For me, one of the things that helps me “zen out” is a massage.

I remember when I first went to get a massage. I was incredibly creeped out at the idea of being rubbed on for an hour by a complete stranger. Am I the only one who broke out in sweats at the idea of being basically naked in front of a stranger while being pushed and poked for “relaxation”. That sounded like the exact opposite of relaxation. That sounded like my equivalent of Chinese water torture. This whole idea seemed ridiculous to me. Some person that you’ve never met is supposed to be able to “feel tension in your body, sense a pressure point and release that tension by applying pressure” (read all of that with the most arrogant, condescending voice in your head because that’s how I felt towards the idea). And then I went… you all know what happened next. I WAS HOOKED!  Why had it taken me so long to try this?! This was life changing. I laid on this table for an hour but it felt like I was there for 10 minutes. I didn’t want it to stop! I was so relaxed. I love massages!

I am not the kind that loves the painful massages. You’re not going to see me waiting in line to have some 300 pound guy walk on my back because it’s good for my aching muscles. I am a feel-good massager. I like to be pampered with light to medium pressure rubs while soaking my feet in water infused with essential oils whilest being serenaded by easy listening instrumental music in a dark room lit only with a candle wall feature designed to set the client at ease. This is the only kind of massage that is worth the money to me…normally.

I recently went to visit a friend of mine from church that runs a massage business. It seemed like every other person I talked to had gone to see her and just raved about her, so I finally decided I would see what all the fuss was about. Believe me when I tell you, I have never had a massage as amazing as the one I received from Holly (if you are in the DFW area, you have to check out Sanctuary Massage and Wellness…trust me.  She found pressure points I had NEVER known existed! The first few minutes were somewhat painful, but the good kind of painful, ya know? She found a spot and just hung out there for a bit until, finally, it was like I breathed out a long exhale and all of the tension that I hadn’t even realized was built up just vanished out of that one spot completely. She would pin point somewhere that no one else had ever seen or been able to detect and place her fingers in the exact correct position. Then she would apply pressure… and then more pressure…and then MORE pressure. It hurt but when it was done, there was more flexibility, more relaxation…more health than when I had come to her. She found an area that NEEDED improvement…that I had no knowledge was even in error until she started trying to improve it.

In Mark 10, there is a very well known story. It’s unfortunately a tragic story though. Throughout the Bible, we see story after story of people that searched Jesus out and were healed both physically and spiritually. People like Zacheus, Niccodemus, and my favorites, Mary and Martha. I love their story so much. How Jesus showed them how to love people like He did (if you missed that post, you can read it here). I find it so beautiful. However, this story, is notorious for being one of the saddest in the gospels.

It is the story of the rich young ruler.

I love where this story sits in scripture. It follows the story that teaches “let the little children come to me”. In this time in history, children were of little value (except as workers). Nowadays, we coddle children and protect their childhood like its GOLD! Back then, not so much. It’s not that they were hated or treated as slaves or anything, they just weren’t respected or valued in the same way as other citizens. This is the understanding when we read that disciples REBUKED those that were bringing children to the feet of Jesus, but the Word says that Jesus became INDIGNANT ad said “let the little children come to me.” These children had no rights, respect, possessions or authority, but Jesus said, “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Cue the next guy. He had rights, power, respect, possessions and authority… a stark contrast to the children the Lord had blessed a moment ago.

We don’t know much about this guy but that he was, of course, young and rich. We don’t even have a name for this tragic figure…that seems terrible. I’m going to give him a name so I don’t have to keep typing “the rich, young ruler”…let’s call him “Rich”. He is called a ruler in Luke, but simply a man in Mark, but otherwise the story is basically identical in both gospels. In verse 17, he comes to Jesus and asks a good question, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Now, this is every evangelistic believers dream right?!!! Everybody wants someone to come up to them and say “Hey! I’m interested! What do I need to do to go to Heaven?” SCORE! That’s like putting a tee-ball in front of Babe Ruth. Surely, Jesus will recite the Roman’s Road here or break out the old FAITH Evangelism script and lead this young man in the sinners prayer! Nope, Jesus pauses and gives a rebuttal to the question…why? Let’s look at the question again… “GOOD TEACHER, what must I DO to INHERIT eternal life?” There are three things in here that stand out.

I remember my dad preaching on this passage, and I remember him saying, “He’s asking the right question” and he is, but with the wrong assumptions.

Rich greets Jesus with a favorable title, “Good teacher”. This is a title that Jesus himself used in describing himself in the Word, so why does He argue when Rich uses it here?… I want to skip this and come back to it because I think it will make more sense after considering the rest…

The second problem is that Rich asks what he can DO to inherit eternal life. We all know the problematic assumption with this right? He is assuming that he can DO something to merit eternity with Jesus.

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-    not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Except that if we look what Jesus says in response, He gives him something to do!!! Jesus doesn’t say, “ask forgiveness of sins and know that I am Savior”. He says honor the law! He lists off 5 of the 10 Commandments specifically…those dealing with how we treat other humans. Why would He do that? We’ve all been taught that we cannot attain salvation through works.. that is stated over and over in the Word, so what is being meant here?

Rich looks at Jesus and says, “Teacher, I’ve done these since my youth!” Wow. First off, if that is true, I need to be this guys friend because he has got to be one of the nicest people that has ever lived. He may even have Jordan beat on the “good guy scale”. However, the problem still remains that the ASSUMPTION that Rich held was that salvation could be earned through his good deeds…through his “goodness”.

The next problem I have is with the word “inherit”. If you googled this word right now, you’d find several different variations and definitions. One of them is the “archaic” definition. What does this mean? One of the ORIGINAL meanings of the word and it means to “come into possession of (something) as a right (especially in biblical translations and allusions). AS A RIGHT. This word denotes that Rich felt He had a right to eternal life. He had earned it. Yes, I realize that this is more support for the last assumption, but this is particularly strong. He stood in front of Jesus and felt comfortable enough to use language that denotes a feeling of entitlement to Heaven…while looking in the face of the man who would soon go to the cross to make it even possible for people to reject Him. I don’t know if it’s arrogance or not. I can’t say that if I were there that I wouldn’t make the same mistake. One of naivity maybe? or ignorance? One I cannot say would be impossible to make for any of us at the time, but, praise God, we have the gift of hindsight!

Go back to Rich’s greeting of “Good teacher”. Why would Jesus correct him in this greeting? It’s not because it wasn’t true, but because Jesus saw the emphasis that Rich had on his heart. He didn’t see Jesus as THE GOOD TEACHER because of His nature. He greeted Him as A GOOD TEACHER based on His performance. Jesus had “earned” that title by all the good things He had done. He lives constantly in a mindset of works=worth. A product of his culture, he could not see past his own experience to the truth that sat in front of him. Jesus’ face illuminated by a small campfire, maybe, but Rich still left completely in the dark… because he felt he had the RIGHT to INHERIT eternal life.  All of these pressupositions make this ALMOST right question, wrong.

So what did Jesus do about it? It’s one of my favorite sentences in all of scripture!

“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him…”

Praise God for this! Jesus knew the absurdity of that remark, but knew that Rich’s motive was genuinely to uphold the Law which he thought would make God proud. That was commendable. Not only that, but he showed tenacity and vigor in chasing after Jesus to find out what else he might do to secure his eternity. But Jesus next statement was one that diagnosed his need. He had looked at Rich, felt the muscles and found the point of tension. “You lack one thing…” There was a knot in the spiritual muscle that Rich needed to let Jesus press out in order to be able to get to Ephesians 2: 8-9. This is why Jesus answered in a seemingly “works” way. He knew that in order for Rich to be willing to sell all of his worldly possessions it would be only because he had a genuine heart change. His priority would be on Jesus and not on self. This passage is not teaching poverty gospel. We don’t all have to go sell everything we own and give it to the poor in order to “earn salvation”. We are to be generous, of course, but this does not teach us that that is how we obtain eternal life. This is an example of Jesus scanning the spiritual muscle of an individual and applying pressure to a knot, trying to make the body healthy again. This is Jesus realigning Rich’s assumptions.

This is an example of Jesus seeing a man and loving him; of inviting us to have intimacy with Him by exposing what will keep us from Him.

When I left Holly, my body ached. I actually didn’t drink enough water, so it REALLY ached for about 24 hours after she was done. Because it never feels good when knots are found. It’s painful and sometimes I just want to look up and say, “You know what? Can you just move to a different spot? I’d rather keep that knot then experience the pain. It doesn’t bother me that much anyway.” because pain can deter us from experiencing true health.  That’s Rich walking away. It’s a man having seen the possibility of health, but not willing to sit through the pain in order to get it. Scripture says, “he walked away sorrowful for he had great possessions”. It’s the idea of being so close to getting what he wanted, but realizing that he was entangled in something he couldn’t release himself from. Knowing that “what could have been” “would have been” so fulfilling but unable to release the “is now”. Realizing how close one came to full health, but walking away so full of knots that you know will never be relaxed…simply because the pain was too great in the now.

I pray that I have the courage to sit through the pain…whatever it may be, so that he can knead me at those pressure points, so that nothing keeps me from a healthy and holy perspective of Him.

When Mommying is Hard

When Mommying is Hard

 

We’ve all those days, right? At least, I hope we have. Otherwise, I am just the exception that has that day when I feel like the absolute worst mom in the world. Have you ever just lost it on your kids? Or equally horrible… felt absolute apathy in parenting. Have you had those days when you feel like your feet are too heavy to lift off the floor to take the next step? Have you felt like every time you transfer weight from one foot to the other, the slight shift in gravity was enough to lighten your head to the point that it may be possible to just fall straight to the floor? Have you mentally begged in your head for everyone to either just shut up or obey your every command without hesitation or rebuttal? Had a day where you wish you could walk out the door without warning and engage in some good old retail therapy? Ever had a day when you were convinced that if you hear the word “mommy” one more time, you would haul off and rage hell on anyone within ear shot? Somehow, I just don’t  believe I’m the only one that has had a day like this before.

This was my yesterday. People kept asking me how I was doing, and I was always surprised at the honest response in myself. It would make sense for me to be emotional, but I haven’t been. My answer is that I’ve been kind of numb. I’m hoping that is God’s peace, but it feels different than what I’ve felt in the past when I believe I’ve experienced divine peace. It’s been something that I didn’t understand, so I couldn’t explain it to others. I kept saying, “I’m sure it’ll hit me soon.” Well, I think it hit, just not in the way I expected. I thought when it did, it would be sappy, emotional, sad, or excited… but it didn’t. It hit with me being completely overwhelmed. I just didn’t have the emotional capability to organize thoughts, plans, and children for the days ahead and it took its toll.

So what do we do when we’re spent? When we don’t have the emotional capabilities to take on the day. I am not making this list because this is what I do every time and so I am the authority on how to do it right! Quite the opposite. I am the chief screw up, and these things are the only things that work for me to get me back in a healthy and Godly place.

1) Acknowledge your need

A very wise philosopher once said, “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.” Ok, it was Dr. Phil, but it’s true! We so often, adhere to a modern feminist idea that states “I am woman, hear me roar!” It’s as if understanding your need for other people makes you less of a woman, less of a mom. And in a day of Pinterest and Facebook comparisons, we think we see other moms doing their job effortlessly and don’t understand why we can’t be like them! We all know that that is not real life, but it still gets to us. It’s ok! You cannot change the circumstances surrounding you, but you can change the you within the circumstances, but not if you won’t acknowledge your need. Take a breath and give yourself permission to say…”I’m having a rough time.”

 

2)  Ask for help

Sometimes, it’s ok to text your husband in the middle of the day and say, “it’s been a rough day. I need a tag when you get home.” And then go! Just go! Anywhere! Just go where there are adults and no kids. Go where there’s absolutely no one! Go wherever you want. Just take some time. I know some women that genuinely feel bad about asking their husbands to help with the kids when they get home. Let me just say this… YOUR HUSBAND IS NOT A BABYSITTER. He does not need to be compensated or given a 24-hour notice before being asked to watch HIS CHILDREN. Now, I am also not saying that you should disregard the fact that he’s worked a full day as well. But you both have, and you need to share the load of “after work hours” work. And sometimes, you need a break. Trust me, he’d rather you go away and reset then be at home and just lose it on everyone.

How many times have we heard “please call me if you need anything”? Now, be honest. Have you ever called? Ever? We’ve said it to our friends, and we genuinely mean it. I want to help a friend that’s overwhelmed or going through a tough time. I WISH they would call, so I can show love to them, but I never call them when I need help and they’ve offered. BREAK THE CHAIN. Call that friend, so when she is going through that tough time, she knows that she can actually call you. Let’s be there for each other in more than just a philosophical way. Put that intellectual brain and soft heart to work in action and love the people around you. And allow them to love you in return.

 

3) Prioritize your time.

It is 2017 and the opportunities to waste time are endless and obvious. Put down the phone. Turn off “Real Housewives of that place that you’ll never go and can’t afford and just makes you hate your life”, The Bachelor or Scandal and look at your kids. Revel in their laugh, their games, their play and make a choice. A choice to ignore the rest of the world because what matters are the little eyes that look up to you. Don’t neglect the great for the good, or in some cases…the crap you shouldn’t be filling your mind with anyway.

 

4) Go to bed!

This one is absolutely the hardest for me. I am a nocturnal animal by nature and I have trained my kids to go to bed later, so they sleep in later…since I am famous for being able to sleep till 3 on occasion (not a joke…happened several times). When I finally get the kids in bed (at 9:00…yes, which needs to change), I feel like I actually have time to do the things that I enjoy. They are all good things. I love to take relaxing baths while reading, I catch up on my Tivo, get into the good cleaning, organize whatever project I have undoubtedly become obsessed with, or plan the next day. None of these things are bad, but I often find myself up at 3:00 am and still going strong.

There is a reason God rested on the 7th day and it’s not because He was tired. It was because He knew WE NEEDED TO REST. I often feel like I don’t want to go to bed because I don’t want to waste the time. But sleep is not a waste of time. We will all be better moms if we just turn the brain off and shut our eyes. Go to bed moms.

God wants the best for you. Jesus said that He came to give us life and life abundant, but sometimes we get frustrated and we allow our circumstances to steal the joy that Jesus makes possible. Joyce Meyer said, “ I am not going to let the enemy steal what Jesus died to give me!” We got this, moms! Let’s acknowledge the need we have, be humble enough to ask for help, prioritize our time, and get some sleep! Let’s encourage each other and be real about challenges we face.

Those days will come. We can’t change our circumstances, but we can change how we respond to them! We got this!

 

 

Calling

Calling

I was only 12 years old when I sat in my mom’s car. I was sobbing. I’d had the opportunity to do some traveling and singing throughout my younger years… I always thought I was going to be a singer when I grew up. But being exposed to “the life” on a small scale (a VERY small scale) showed me that I actually hated it. I couldn’t handle the stress and pressure. I didn’t want to adopt to what other people wanted me to sing… it just wasn’t for me. But I had an identity crisis because of it. I didn’t know who I was anymore because I thought I was called to this. I cried out to my mom and said, “mom, I don’t want to be a singer anymore! I don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life!”
To which my mother responded, “Baby, you’re 12! You don’t have to know what you’re going to do for the rest of your life. You have to know what you want to do right now.”
But I thought I was supposed to be a singer! I was so confused.
I feel like Christians do this alot. We put great importance on the idea of “calling”. It’s something that seems to weigh really heavily on a lot of people including myself. A lot of times we stress ourselves out worrying about how to discern God’s calling?
“Am I supposed to take this job?”
” Am I supposed to date this person?”
” Am I supposed to stop pursuing the dream?”
” Am I supposed to move home?”
“ Am I supposed to… whatever!!”
 It can be really overwhelming.  Especially for those in their college years. We feel like there are really big decisions that we are making as young individuals and we have to get it right or we could mess up God’s perfect plan, right?
Now in church lingo, we’ve come up with a solution to this problem… we call it God’s permissible plan, right? You have God’s “perfect plan” that you get if you make every decision perfectly and you have this ESP kind of relationship with the Holy Spirit where you can just tune in perfectly to His direction and His voice, so you never miss out on God’s absolute best. But if you can’t make every decision just right…that’s ok…we have God’s permissible plan, which basically means, when you’re human and you don’t make the perfect decisions to lead to your perfect life then God has a back up plan! This was meant to alleviate stress from our lives and help us not all pull our hair out. And while it sounds good, it still leaves us completely stressed about trying to reach that unattainable “perfect plan” that we’re supposed to be shooting for! We can’t miss the call of God because we want the perfect life.
Christian culture glorifies “the call of God”. I remember when I was at Liberty we had a married couple come speak at convo and their testimony went something like he was “called to full-time vocational ministry when he was 16 and little did he know that the exact same night, in a completely different town, she was called to full-time vocational

ministry too!” Now, it sounds like I’m making fun of them and I don’t mean to. They are serving the Lord together and that’s great. I’m a bit biased against this story because when I first got engaged to Jordan, the culture was so that when people found out that Jorda
n was on track to become a worship leader full time, they would look at me and say, “when were you called to ministry?” I would look back at them and say, “I’m a Christian. We’re all called to ministry.” I knew what they meant, but I’ve always been confused by the question.
Now, there is nothing wrong with someone feeling a heavy burden to want to lead God’s people in His church. I am the daughter of a preacher and the wife of a worship pastor. I love those incredible leaders, but I believe we have overused and misused this phrase. It’s what I like to call giving a “heavenly measure to an earthly weight”.

It may seem like semantics, but our words become our message and we need to know what we are telling people. Words are important. Words become our message, which becomes our belief and belief shapes our worldview. It affects how we view God and everybody else!

So let’s talk about the word…calling.
We use it often in reference to a specific direction we believe God has ordained us for. But, in scripture, “the call” is primarily speaking about being called to faith in Jesus or being called to intimacy with Jesus. In my study (feel free to correct me if you know of one), I have yet to see a time in scripture when this word is used to denote a specific job or responsibility. Why? When it comes to work, it matters less about where or what you do and more that you do it for the Lord. He cares more about your obedience to becoming Christlike than a job title or salary.
Look at 1 Corinthians 1:26-27

  • is this passage saying that he elevated the more ignorant to places of scholastic superiority to the intelligent because they were chosen?
  • did he favor a weak man over a strong to win the ancient Olympics because the weaker athlete was favored by God?
no! because the calling has nothing to do with the occupation. It has to do with the election (not talking about Calvinism “election”, but simply those that have accepted the call of God to intimacy with Him)!
1 Peter 5:10 says it this way:

has called you to what?? …”this eternal glory in Christ”.

Of course, there are instances in scripture where God gave very specific instructions to someone to go somewhere or do something specifically. But this is never used to describe a “call of God”. We need to be very careful before we give a heavenly measure to an earthly weight.

We get so frustrated when searching for our calling or the answer to a question concerning what we should do or go or whatever because we want to know  God’s calling.. the answer is…He’s already given us His calling. If you know the Lord, you have answered His call, now we are to live a life deserving of the call according to Ephesians I think. His Word gives you the answers you need. It will tell you who to marry, where to go, what to do, and who to be and the answer to all of them is Jesus. I know that sounds like an oversimplification. No, it does not give you the name of your spouse, or the salary to accept, or the town to move to, because this book is not about us. We read it in the hopes of finding fixes to our problems, but this book is a book that reveals the nature of God. When we read it to get to know who God is, it comes alive. When we read it to find fixes to our problems, we get confused because you’ll read it through the lens of your circumstances. This is why the story in Luke got mislabeled “The Prodigal Son” because someone read the story and thought it was about the son that fell away. If you’ve read “Prodigal God” by Tim Keller, you’ll read this story completely differently. When you read it to learn the nature of God, you see that the story was not about the son that left but the God that stayed! Don’t read the Word looking for fixes to your problems or answers to your questions unless the question is “Who is God and how can I be like Him”?

Once that answer is “I’m growing like Christ”, “walk in a manner worthy of the call”… do it as a barista, do it as a mom, do it as a teacher, or do it on Broadway. Live your life WITHOUT FEAR! We are not called to live in fear, we are called to live boldly. Walk boldly into what you WANT. Because you know that what you want is something that will glorify the Lord because you’ve already established your calling to Christlikeness.

Rest in the knowledge that you can live your fullest life and be very happy and fulfilled in WHATEVER you are doing with the purpose of making Him known. That is the call to which we all live.

….Natalie cont’d

….Natalie cont’d

One of the councilors saw that I was bawling in my seat, and made her way to me. She wrapped her arms around me and just sat with me. It was Mrs. Diane. She was a regular volunteer with the youth ministry, so I knew her well. And she was about to get to know me very well… I guess, kind of better than anyone else.

“ I can’t believe I did this.”

“It’s ok, sweetie. It’s going to be ok.”

She prayed over me for a few minutes until she heard Natalie had stopped speaking and started singing.

“This is a song that I wrote when the Lord delivered me out of my lie. It’s my praise song to God, my love letter of gratitude to Him. I hope that whoever is in here that knows what I was feeling before I wrote this, will feel the freedom of what God has for you through this.” She sang a song called The Real Me. 

Foolish heart looks like we’re here again

Same old game of plastic smile

Don’t let anybody in

Hiding my heartache, will this glass house break

How much will they take before I’m empty

Do I let it show, does anybody know?

But you see the real me

Hiding in my skin, broken from within

Unveil me completely

I’m loosening my grasp

There’s no need to mask my frailty

Cause you see the real me

Painted on, life is behind a mask

Self-inflicted circus clown

I’m tired of the song and dance

Living a charade, always on parade

What a mess I’ve made of my existence

But you love me even now

And still I see somehow

But you see the real me

Hiding in my skin, broken from within

Unveil me completely

I’m loosening my grasp

There’s no need to mask my frailty

Cause you see the real me

Wonderful, beautiful is what you see

When you look at me

You’re turning the tattered fabric of my life into

A perfect tapestry

I just wanna be me

But you see the real me

Hiding in my skin, broken from within

Unveil me completely

I’m loosening my grasp

There’s no need to mask my frailty

Cause you see the real me

And you love me just as I am

Wonderful, beautiful is what you see

When you look at me

This was not going to be the thing that defined me. I was not going to give in to a lie that I wasn’t enough. I am enough because He thinks I am. This was done.

Grand Central Station to Westchester!

Grand Central Station to Westchester!

We had such a fun day! When we visited the city with the kids, of all the amazing things to do here, Jozlyn just wanted to ride the subway. You would’ve thought that we took her to Disney World as we stood on an elevated platform in Queens. She had a blast, but today was even better. Today we took a train out of Grand Central Station.

 

Jordan and I had a poster of Grand Central Station in our first apartment. It was a tiny studio that we shared with a tiny dog, but the poster was as large as one of the walls. I can say, the real thing is way better. 🙂 And it was a surreal experience getting to take our first train from this historic, iconic landmark. It was a special day.

 

 

We were taking the train out to a friends house for a barbecue! Luckily, this friend was also a professional chef who was making a seafood spread! Now Jordan is normally a vegan, but he was more than willing to use a cheat day for this! We had so much fun and the girls had a blast running around a yard again!

Now, you should know that I don’t eat seafood, so this was not appealing at all to me, however, everyone else was absolutely freaking out at the look of this grill! It was impressive.

 

 

and look what my little princess found and just couldn’t wait to show mommy……

this is how hugs alway start….

and this is how they end…

with one of my children getting choked by love! haha

 

It was getting late, so back to the train we went. She started off all smiles.

 

but it didn’t take long….

 

We had a great time!

Thanks for checking in guys!

Love,

the Grizzards

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How to NOT irritate New Yorkers!

I’ve been in New York for 3 months now. I am not what anyone would call “adjusted” yet. I am learning new things every day and with each new day comes some stupid mistake I made that made it perfectly obvious that “I ain’t from ’round these parts”. Please, no one read this as me telling everyone reading that I fit in as a New Yorker with all of my 60 days of experience! ha But I can tell you there are some golden rules here that are fairly obvious if you spend more than a week on these streets. So scan these over before your next trip to the Big Apple and see if you don’t get yelled at less!

 

  1. Download Citymapper

There is nothing more frustrating than rushing to get somewhere, finally making it out of the train station only to be stopped by someone blocking the exit while they figure out where they need to go next!

We all know the subway system can be frustrating and daunting! I believe I told you about the time that I took Jozzy to Brooklyn and got on the wrong train! I know many people that visit here and they are trying to have a go at navigating by using google maps or something ridiculous! Trust me, you’ll be looking to visit the Statue of Liberty and end up in Washington Heights or somewhere.

The City Mapper app makes New York so much easier! Download it as soon as you book your flight for a visit! It has absolutely saved me. I would never feel confident about taking the girls out on my own without it.

 

I’ve created  a route for you on the app so you can see how it works:

city mapper app

 

When you first pull up the app, tap on the “Get Me Somewhere” button. (If you input your hotel as “home”, it will speed up the process when you’re out)

Type in the location of where you want to go. If you know the address or corner, that’s the best, but if the spot is well known, it will be able to pull it up. I used the Statue of Liberty as our make believe destination for this trip!

 

 

city mapper ap

 

Once, you’ve chosen the destination, it will take you to this screen. The top shows you your options for how to get there and how long each option will take. Then the “suggested” section gives you the most popular routes. So this page suggests you take the “1” train and it will take you approximately 50 minutes to get there. I know what you are thinking… “hold up! doesn’t the Uber icon up there say 15 minutes? That’s what I’m doing!” And you may want to choose that, but if you click on that Uber icon, it will show you the prices for Uber pool or sole rider. For this ride, it was between $21-$29. A subway ride is $2.75, so for all of you trying to do New York on the cheap…keep all those cab and uber rides in mind.

Note that option 2 is significantly shorter on the “2” train, but you will have to transfer to a bus, meaning you will have to exit the station, purchase another fair for the bus and wait for it to arrive. If you have a family, I’d opt for just getting on the train and jumping off when you get there.

city mapper app

Let’s say we chose option 1 on the “1” train. Click on that and it brings up this page.

It will tell you what direction to walk (and if you click on the “walk” it will show a gps tracker with directions to make sure you’re walking the right direction), what corner the station is on and WHAT DIRECTION TRAIN TO TAKE. This is what got me in trouble in Brooklyn. I got on the right train but the wrong direction! It will even tell you what section to get on so you are closest to your exit.

It tells you how many stops you will have before leaving and even which exit to take, so you can cross the street as few times as possible.

This app has been amazing and it will keep you from lining the sidewalks, staring at the sun, trying to figure out which way is which and where Broadway intersects and such.

DOWNLOAD IT!

 

2) Don’t hog the pole on the train!

I learned this when a friend of mine looked at me and chuckled as I casually and coolly walked onto the train and draped my arm around the pole so I could check my phone before I lost signal. He said, ” you’ll learn not to hog the pole.” I didn’t know this was a thing… oh it’s a thing. You’ll see people give the stank eye if they walk on and you are leaning on, wrapped around or monopolizing the pole. It doesn’t even have to be that crowded. Common courtesy is to leave room for multiple people around the pole. Of course, Jozlyn thinks the pole is there simply for her dancing skills ( if you remember the end of the Coney Crazy video… it happens all the time!)

So when you step on the train, if you can’t find a seat and end up standing with the pole…unless it is just super empty, try to be conscious of how much space you take up around the pole.

 

3) Don’t walk slowly in the middle of the sidewalk.

 

This is similar to the problem we talked about with the subway and some of this may be resolved with CityMapper, but sometimes, walking in the city all day is just tough! I get it… I pretty much fall into bed after lugging my two littles around all day. Keep in mind, New Yorkers are always going somewhere, and it’s not that they are usually late, it’s just that they are contending with schedules and unknowns constantly. They know that the train they need comes in two minutes and they are exactly two minutes from the station. If you need to rest or need to slow the pace a bit… DO IT! Just make sure that you’re not taking up the main sidewalk or you will probably get trampled. Walk along the building and take your time.

 

 

 

 

4) Don’t take up the whole escalator.

So you know how there is that unwritten rule about the escalator or moving sidewalk in the airport… or the highway that all the bad drivers ignore?? Ya know, the one that says the left lane is for passing? Well, New Yorkers honor this fairly religiously on the escalator.

If you are holding onto the handrail with your left hand, you will get pushed to the right side by some executive who can’t be late or something. Notice…everyone moving is on the left, everyone planted is on the right.

 

5) Don’t stand in the middle of the corner on the sidewalk.

New Yorkers tend to have a sixth sense about when it is safe to cross an intersection, right? I still find myself peering a good distance down the road to see how fast I can sprint with my youngest in her stroller and my oldest on a scooter, but everyone else seems pretty nonchalant about this gift. I know when I first got here, I pretty much would wait until I saw the little white guy on the sign lit up that meant I could walk. The problem was I was standing on the sidewalk on the corner. That’s where I’m supposed to be right?? Well, not really. You see, if you have a “stop” signal, that means the people headed toward your corner from the other angle have a walk signal, and if you are standing right on the corner, then you are about to get trampled. Ideally, if you can, stay right up on the curb, or, if you’re not in a hurry, stay behind their path to cross the sidewalk, so they can pass quickly and you can avoid any major collisions.

 

There are so many things…little things, but basically, be aware. Be considerate of what’s happening around you. Life moves very fast here. If it’s too fast for you, that’s fine, just be considerate of those who are trying to live their lives normally amidst your vacation.

This place loves tourists. It depends on tourists. But New Yorkers live here every day and these little “helps” will keep you from getting trampled or cursed at. 🙂

Love you guys!

Love,

the Grizzards

 

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Natalie

Natalie

The girls from youth group went to a conference every year. It was never too far away and usually just a day thing…maybe a one night stay not far from the church. This year, I was so excited because we were going to a girls conference where Natalie Grant was going to be singing. I loved her. Her voice was basically everything that I wanted mine to sound like! It was beautiful. She was effortless but powerful. She emoted and told stories in her music and I was always enthralled by the time she was through. I was so excited to get to see her lead.

When we got there, we all headed to stand in the long line where they would give us our lanyards and a bag. The bag was filled with all sorts of event materials; books from a couple of the speakers, a pamphlet with descriptions of everyone and a coupon for 5% off of Natalie’s latest album. We grabbed our stuff and headed to find a seat.

It was in a large arena and our crew eventually found seats about halfway down the bowl to the far stage left side. Not quite sure who picked such horrible seats, but I wasn’t going to make a big deal about it. Everyone would be up on the big screen anyway, and as long as I got a good view of Natalie, I didn’t care if I sat in the lobby!

After a little while,  the lights dimmed and the band got into place. I couldn’t make out the shadows that traipsed across the stage. Where was she?? All the guys grabbed their instruments and the lights started to swirl in mixtures of pink and purple. The band started playing a loud, energetic intro and then the lights on the stage went bright and Natalie came running onstage from stage right! YAY!! She looked awesome. She had so much energy, grabbed the mic and encouraged the crowd to stand to their feet and lift up praise together!  I jumped to my feet, excited to hear her every word.

The set was great. Couldn’t tell you what the songs actually were, but I could tell you that what showed through more than her incredible voice was her humble heart. I just respected her so much. I wanted to emulate her in just about every way. She was beautiful, talented, thin, loved the Lord, traveled with her husband… I mean her life was perfect!

After the set, a speaker came up and gave the first word of the night. It was so good and I was really enjoying my time. After another set with Natalie, the host of the conference came up to welcome and introduce the next speaker.

“Are you guys having a good time???!” The crowd let out a loud, very high pitched scream. “Well, we have a real treat for you now. Our next speaker is someone that we know you all love already. We are so honored to have her here with us this weekend. She’s one of the most requested worship leaders in the country and she has an amazing testimony that she wants to share with you girls. You’ve already seen her up here and I know she’s blessed you. Will you welcome back up here our next speaker, Natalie Grant!”

What?? I was so excited! Not only do we get to listen to her beautiful voice, worship under her leadership, but now she’s going to speak into our lives! This was awesome! I immediately got out my pamphlet from my bag, ready to take notes. I was clearly not alone in my excitement as the crowd went crazy.

Natalie told us all about how her career got started and slowly built traction until she became a very successful Christian artist. She told us how blessed she felt that God would use her love of music the way He had and how much she tried to live in every moment. She said she loved what she was doing, but that there was a lot of pressure. Not that she felt it was only put on her by the label, but from herself. She said she felt like she wasn’t physically what she should be and eventually she developed a problem with an eating disorder.  A pit developed in my stomach.  I told myself this was not the same thing that I was doing. I didn’t have an “eating disorder”! I just skipped meals every so often if I wanted to lose a few pounds. I just liked the feeling of knowing that I could lose weight if I wanted to. I could control it. It just felt good. People who have “eating disorders” are sad little skeletal girls with sunken cheeks and bones that stick out of their chests! Oh my goodness! Really?? How could she think she was anything but beautiful? Then, she looked at the crowd and went silent for a second.

“ …and I know there are some girls in here whose stomachs just flew into their throats. There are some girls who are trying to convince themselves that ‘that’s not me. I don’t have an eating disorder’ but are finding the earliest moment after a meal to slip away to a bathroom. Or start ‘just skipping a few meals’ when they want to lose a couple pounds and you think that this is no big deal! That it doesn’t mean anything! A lot of girls do it! It’s just an effective way to fit into that cute outfit. It’s not!! It is a tool that Satan uses to make you doubt the worth that was given to you by your heavenly father!! It is a means that will lead you to an end of lower self-esteem than when you started! Don’t buy the lie! Don’t want the ache of your stomach when you’ve gone without food. Don’t get so far that you start desiring the feeling of emptiness. You think that when your stomach is empty, your heart will be finally full, but that feeling of ‘thin’ will not fill the hole that God was designed to complete. Only He can make you feel whole and only His love will be sufficient for you no matter what that boy tells you. A boy may want you thin, but a man will want you WHOLE. Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t be satisfied with less than what God has for you. Choose to be done with the lie and live in the complete love and acceptance of your Father.”

I was bawling. Why was I bawling? Was that what I was doing? I never thought of myself as having an “eating disorder”. I mean, I could stop whenever I wanted. It didn’t control me. I controlled it! Then again, I had tried to not do it a few times and every time I said I was going to work out and eat healthy, I would always end up reverting to what I knew, what was easy, what felt good. How many times had I actually thrown up? Did I even know? Did I even remember each time? How many days had I gone without eating? I remember the feeling of not eating. I remember the first day would be hard. I would see my friends eating delicious foods and would want to join so badly, so typically I just avoided the scene altogether so I’d have no temptation. I could usually get by that day by looking forward to day three. Day two, my stomach would start to hurt and I’d usually get a headache. I’d just pop a pill to stop the pain and drink some water to get through. By day three, the hunger tended to subside and my stomach would start to make audible sounds of hunger. I would pretend to be embarrassed but I loved that sound. I loved the feeling of my stomach turning as it did it. It meant that it was working. It was affirmation. It was control. And on that day, I felt pretty.

When I was doing it well, I could start to see those bones in my chest by my neck. Those were my favorites. I’d love it when there would be a gap between my shirt and my skin at that area. I felt like I could walk the red carpet and not stick out like a sore thumb. The longer I went without food, the prettier I felt. The less I weighed the more in control I was.

Oh my stars. I had a problem. I never thought about it like this. I mean, I would always feel bad when I hid things or lied to my friends and family, but I just thought it was because I didn’t want to tell them how self-conscious I was…which was true. But the bigger truth was, this was wrong…this was a serious problem, a dangerous problem. And I knew they would make me stop. I knew that, once I told them, I couldn’t do it anymore. Once they knew, I lost the control. I could never be beautiful again. I had an eating problem. I fell apart right there in that arena.

I'm Kayla. Mom of two, wife of one and new New York transplant. We're a family of four fumbling our way through our new normal in Manhattan! We're excited to learn as we go... we can't mess this up too bad, right? :)

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