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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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:
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
Confession: We have never had professional pictures taken. It was not something that either of our families did growing up, so when I would get my friends family pictures in a Christmas card or something, I would always think “Either they are just really naturally that pretty or we need to get pictures taken!” Well, one of my friends just happens to be such a talented photographer. Her name is Chloe and she is launching into other areas of the business and asked if I would like to have a family photo shoot before we left…uhhh heck yeah I would!
She told us about a park or something with a lot of natural elements that she shoots at often. I told her I would trust her, but we’re not really “natury, park people”. She laughed and suggested downtown McKinney. It was so much fun!
I really was nervous that we were going to end up with portraits that looked like we went to JCPenney’s studio and posed with a boa or something (no hate JCP. I shop there. Just not so much with the decoupaged backdrops). She, however, was brilliant. She brought things for us to do or games to play to help us have natural smiles and laughs. The kids were entertained and we got some great shots. Here are some of our favorites.
I am now a fan of family photos!
Thanks for Chloe for the amazing shoot! If you are in the Dallas area, contact her! Heck, fly her out! She’s worth it.
Well, fall is officially here! Which means, we are in full coat, hat, and gloves full time now. I had a scare for a minute because I could not remember if I had a winter coat at all. Everyone around me kept telling me that it was freezing outside, so I scoured my closet and all of our remaining boxes to find something warm. I could’ve sworn I bought one last year, but could not find one. BUT we promised the girls this day in Brooklyn with friends, so I layered up, threw on my warmest leather bomber and headed out the door with the family.
We hopped on the F train to Dumbo for our fun afternoon! The girls were so excited! We were going to meet our friends, Laura Beth and Blake with their three kids (including their brand new baby girl that I was dying to hold) and as an added bonus, Laura Beth’s parents were going to be there. I understand that sentence may sound strange that I would be excited to see my friend’s parents at our playdate…let me explain… Laura Beth’s parents, “Miss Cathy and Mr. Jeff” have known me since the day I was born. It was a blessing to get to see them again. They are, by far, some of the kindest people on Earth and have been an encouragement to my whole family for 30 years…so yes… excited.
We have a few rituals on the train to keep the girls occupied on our commutes. One of them is Rock, Paper, Scissors and Jozlyn is the absolute Champ! Basically, undefeated. A gentleman on the train saw us playing and asked if he could see if he could beat her.
When I say, that this girl is outgoing… I ain’t playing! ha… and she won.
Once we got out, we walked along the East River until we saw the Carousel pop up over the trees. The kids went crazy!
Hi, Miss Cathy!!!
We took several trips on the Carousel and then headed to a nearby playground to let some kids get the last of their energy out. Luckily, it wasn’t as bad as I had expected, and I made it through the day just fine…sans winter coat….which I found hanging in my closet when I got home. Ha.
I think it’s fair to say we tuckered them out just fine.
Next time you’re in New York, don’t overlook a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to this beautiful park. I recently wrote about my first trek and it is not to be missed! It’s one of the best views of the city you’ll find. Thanks for checking in!
I remember moving to Texas from Florida. I was so excited to start experiencing seasons and the colors of Dallas were beautiful. But nothing prepares you for the incredible fall weather in the northeast. We won’t discuss how quickly it turns to freezing temperatures where you end up looking like the Michelin Man had a baby with Olaf. For now, I am enjoying dressing my girls in FALL CLOTHES! Boots, scarves, and jackets! It is so fun.
However, even my little fashionistas will dirty a good outfit if they pass an all too tempting pile of leaves on their way home from school. I could either worry about having to do laundry or grab a camera… 🙂
a pink pea coat and a leather bomber are always ok!
# <3 NEW York
New York has some pretty amazing experiences to offer! And we have been blessed to do some incredible things so far… however, something that has definitely been one of the coolest experiences IN MY LIFE is singing at the legendary Rainbow Room on top of Rockefeller Plaza. I could not believe that Jordan and I were not only going to sit in the room of this extravagant venue, but sing! What is my life right now?
Now, before it seems I am making this something bigger (for us) than it was… our good friend Quentin (and Broadway star of CATS and the upcoming ONCE ON THIS ISLAND) was invited to sing for an event here and asked us to sing a trio with him. It was his gig for sure…but who cares?? I got to sing in the Rainbow Room….with a Broadway star…. as a princess! We sang the trio from SHREK, so since I was singing Fiona, I think I can claim my tiara now. Although, technically, she was an ogre with an oversize bangle on her head, but WHATEVER! I was singing Sutton Foster. 🙂
This was such an amazing experience! If you get the chance, the Rainbow Room is open to the public, so go check it out when you’re in the city!
Now, people have been yelling that I haven’t posted video (and by “people” I mean my mother). There was no video taken at the venue as it was not allowed. Here is a clip of our rehearsal sans Quentin as SHREK. Thank you so much for your prayers!
We love you guys!