NYC-a weekend trip to the Big Apple

We are still trying to catch up on sleep from our busy, exhausting, eye-opening weekend in NYC.

I’ve been to NYC one other time, and loved it! A little over a year ago, we went for an anniversary trip. (Hubby wanted to fly somewhere, I wanted to go to NYC because I’d never been there, I started looking for plane tickets and discovered they were cheap, the rest is history)

Our church has been wanting to go to NYC for a weekend witnessing trip, and thrown around different dates. The original plan was for anyone from church to go, from age 14 and up. We wanted to go, were excited to go, thought we had a place lined up for our younger daughters to stay, and had our names on the list.

Then our babysitter fell through, so we took our names back off the list. And felt very disappointed. But we were praying that things would work out for us to be able to go. If you have young kids, you will know what I mean when I say that I always feel kinda bad to ask someone if my kids can stay there. It’s a huge favor, and I know it! And, for this weekend in particular, I didn’t want someone to stay home from the trip because they had to do childcare. And yet, when your church family is your “family”, it’s hard to find another place for your kids to stay.

As time went on, a few more people were backing out of the trip, and it turned out that the bus was going to have too many seats. Hmmm….our brains were rolling…and then I finally took the plunge and asked my sis-in-law if our youngest two girls could stay there.Β  As it turned out, we only left the youngest at home, and took both of the “middles” along (their friends were also going, and boy such excitement!! πŸ™‚ )

We left our church house about 5:15 Friday morning. Google maps was telling me that we should be there in about 9 hours. Not bad. Considering the fact that we were on a bus, and then add in an hour for stopping time, maybe we’d get there around 4 pm.

All went well till we reached the outskirts of the city. Traffic (Memorial Day weekend didn’t help any!!) We spent about 3 hours navigating city traffic until we finally reached our first destination-Followers of Jesus Church in Brooklyn (or Queens).

One thing I really find intriguing about NYC is how they utilize their old buildings so well (here in Ohio, once a building is old, or might become old, it usually gets torn down, and a new one built in it’s place). Not so there!

The Followers of Jesus Church (and School) is a unique 3 (or more) story building. We climbed numerous flights of stairsΒ  until we discovered a room with a meal prepared for us. Our hosts there served us a feast of rice & beans, chicken (I think it might have been Jamaican style), and more! It was delicious! We were privileged to hear from Daniel Pollard, a bit about their life there, some dos & don’ts of witnessing in the city, a rough itinerary, and more.

Then we walked to the nearest subway station and rode to the Broadway Junction stop. Our group of 47 was divided into 6 groups, and while the majority of the group was standing in the one corner singing hymns & gospel songs, each group would take a turn at walking around, handing out CDs, tracts, & striking up conversations with passers-by.

We were there in the subway for about 2 hours. We sang until our voices were hoarse! In that amount of time, about 1700 CDs were distributed—it is unreal how many people pass through there in a short time! Some people kept rushing by, in a hurry to get their next train, others stopped and listened, some even videoed us!

We had one man that demanded us to stop singing. He said “Are you racist?” “How do you feel about slavery?” One of the men took him to the side to have a conversation so we could go back to our singing. Sadly, he did not want to haveΒ  discussion, he wanted to argue and yell about the injustice of slavery, and how he can never forgive anyone for it. So very sad. (I don’t know his name, but let’s pray for Him–God can work in amazing ways!)

We rode the subway back to the church, where we had parked our bus, and then rode our bus for about an hour to get to our motel.Β  We arrived there after 12:00, where we all unloaded our luggage and quickly found our rooms. Sleep came quickly for most of us!

Because the next day was Saturday, we didn’t have to leave too early, so were able to sleep in until 8:00. We ate a light breakfast at the motel, and then had to leave on the bus at 10:00. We headed back towards the church, until we met up with our guide. We headed towards Jamaica NY, where we divided into our groups and went down a few blocks and handed out more CDs and tracts to people. We talked with a lot of people, but not as many as in the subway.

My one daughter & I stayed together on the sidewalks during this time, and we enjoyed that time together. One thing we noticed was that it was very obvious which people had hope in their eyes, and which ones didn’t. It was so encouraging to meet up with others that also love Jesus. One lady gave us such great encouragement. She said how she’s lived in the city for awhile, and does what she can to tell others about Jesus’ love. One thing in particular she told us, “I know there are many other places you could be today, and many other things you could be doing. But what you are doing here, telling others about God, that is the best thing you could be doing.” She was so right. Our efforts felt so small. It would have been easy to be discouraged, because what am I really doing, it doesn’t feel like I am reaching anyone, really….but seeds were planted, and God is the only who will know. And that’s ok.

Before getting back on the bus, we went to a small pizza place and enjoyed some delicious NY style pizza. (If you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing this, think thin, crispy, and yet soft, crust, cheesy, hot, and just plain delicious!:) )

Then we took the bus back over close to the church and got on the subway again. We went back to Broadway Junction subway station and sang there again for a few hours. We were able to pass our the remainder of our 4500 CDs, and many more tracts. My prayer is that someone, somewhere, will have a new life because of our efforts.

After this, we got back on the subway train and rode all the way south to the beach, where we got a peek at the Atlantic Ocean. It was a beautiful day! Cool, breezy, sunny & cloudy in turns, and just altogether lovely. (Our entire time in NYC was blessed with beautiful weather–we drove through rain on our way home, but did not get rained on one time while we were there!)

Then we rode on to Manhattan, where we did a bit of walking, experienced BBQ for supper, and then went on over and walked around the Times Square area for a short time.

Times Square was an experience. I’d seen it before, so wasn’t completely shocked. For a first-time visitor, it was overwhelming! The crowds were unending. Pushing, hurrying, back and forth, on and on. Sometimes you could hardly see anything except people! We were trying to keep our group of almost 50 together without losing anyone. So we’d walk a block or two, and then have to stop and make sure everyone was still along. (almost lost our one daughter…made my heart thump wildly for a bit…I thought she was walking beside her friend, and then when I saw she wasn’t…Oh No! One of the men was bringing up the rear, so I was fairly sure she’d be somewhere in there…and yet, it was so easy to get bumped aside and away from the others….I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I finally saw her again! After that, we hung on to each other, literally! πŸ˜‰ )

Sunday morning was to be an early morning, so we had to get back to the motel earlier than Friday night, so we headed back. Our schedule was for us to be at the Bowery Street Mission at 7:00, sing for the homeless people there, have the morning service, and then be done around 8:00. We enjoyed hearing a bit of the life story of the director, Mr. Mackin. His heart for the homeless people is because of someone reaching out to him when he was homeless himself, and now he’s been at that mission for around 40 years, helping others, showing them Jesus’ love.

We also thought we’d probably be eating breakfast there. There must have been a communication breakdown. After standing on the sidewalk visiting for awhile, we realized that this was not to be. And like good travelers, we climbed back on to our bus and pulled down our snacks. And nobody went hungry! πŸ™‚

We didn’t have much time before we needed to head for home, but we did have about an hour, and since we were so close, we drove over to the former site of the Twin Towers, the new site of the 9/11 Memorial Museum. We walked around the grounds, looked at the falls, watched members of the military do a marching & gun synchronized demonstration, and then a bit of their band playing. I assume this was due to Memorial Day weekend.

Then we got back in to our bus and headed home. All of us more thankful for the many things we take for granted too much of the time. Spacious, quiet, peaceful homes, fresh air & green grass of the country, and a community of church family, all blessings from God.

Thankfully our drive home was shorter, we did not encounter any traffic jams, and we were grateful to pull into our church parking lot around 9:00 Sunday evening.

Our travel time was also a blessing. Time to visit with friends, share experiences of the weekend, connect in new ways, and more. I am blessed and thankful to be part of such a caring church!

Yes, it was an exhausting weekend. In many ways. I am still catching up on that tired feeling….Thank you God, for giving us the opportunity to share your love with others less fortunate.

Summer Work Force

It has begun! Summer vacation. What we’ve been looking forward to for the past few months. That delightful time when school schedules disappear and we can spend time together working here at home.

I’ve got four girls, which means lots of help. The trick is in getting it managed properly to utilize that girlpower! (anyone else have frustrations dealing with this?)

I’m hoping to have the girls help more with gardening this year. I want them to learn how to be responsible for laundry, and maybe even take turns with making supper for us. And of course there’s the cleaning, decluttering, and more!

What are your tips/tricks to keep your home running smoothly all summer?

Do you make a list for each day’s tasks?

Do you assign certain jobs to certain people for the week (or the entire summer)?

Do you give ‘days off’?

Do you offer benefits (rewards/treats)?

How do you manage? I’d love to hear some tips for keeping up with all our household work this summer and still have time for relaxing!

 

Book Review: Wings of the Wind

I’ve had the privilege of being on a launch team for the newest book in the Out of Egypt Series, by Connilyn Cossette. This book is “Wings of the Wind.” (I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, with the agreement that I post my honest review online. This is entirely my own opinion)

Here’s the short version of my review that I posted on goodreads & amazon:

Another entrancing book bringing to life the Israelites’ journey in the wilderness.
Meet Alanah, a Canaanite woman who becomes a warrior to save her life. She is dying on the battlefield and is rescued by Tobiah, an Israelite. To save her and abide by the Mosaic Law, he marries her.
Abandoned by her mother, she has never known real love. Now she is forced to live with her enemy. Through Tobiah, she comes to know that love can be real, and not only from her husband, but also from the living, true God of his people.
She comes to know mercy and grace.

In reading this book, I really felt as though I got to experience just a bit of what the Israelites’ life was like as they headed for Canaan. I got to experience manna firsthand.

This book is a delightful look at Biblical history!

 

A few more things that I’d like to add here….

This book challenged me in different ways.

Manna. Alanah, the main character, is a Canaanite, and has had no experience with manna. She grew up in a family of tillers of the soil. She knew what it was like to have to work the land with everything that was in you, just to get enough food to survive. Now she is in the middle of the Israelite camp where God has miraculously given them manna to eat. Every single day (except Sabbath) for 40 years!! The Israelites can only see the monotony of this manna, and many have come to loathe it. How they long to be able to have their own land, in the Promised Land, and work the soil, and raise whatever they long to eat! Manna, the wonderful, miracle food, straight from God, is no longer seen for what it truly is.

How am I like this?! What things in my everyday life do I not see as blessings, but take for granted? I pray that God would help me to truly see the many ways He has blessed me!

 

Mercy. And Grace. Alanah hated the Israelites. She did not want to live among them. The longer she stayed, the more she realized that their God and the grace He extended was what she really needed. She learned the true meaning of Grace. and Mercy. May I learn to know & recognize more of God’s grace and mercy in my own life!

 

If you like to learn about other times, I encourage you to read this book. It opened my eyes to see what it really might have been like to be a member of the Israelites back in those long wilderness years.

Why I Love to read

Do you love to read? Raise your hand, high! πŸ™‚

That’s me! I can’t remember when this love of reading first took hold of me, I honestly can’t remember not being able to read, or not loving it. Yes, you read that right–I’ve loved reading as long as I can remember!

I think I must have inherited it. Maybe even from both sides of my family. My one Grandma always had books to read, every time I went to her house, I’d borrow one or two. She got me started on reading Janette Oke books, and it went from there! πŸ™‚ My other Grandma would give me a book for my birthday. I still have most of those, and consider them treasures. The first one she gave me was Eloise Wilkins’ “Poems to Read to the Very Young”, for my 5th birthday. (To this day, I can recite many of those poems)

Some of my earliest memories of going to the library include getting a huge stack of whatever series I was in the middle of then. One of the first sets I remember reading was The Bobbsey Twins. I think that must have been First or Second Grade.

Why do I love reading? So many reasons! πŸ™‚ I ‘d also love to hear from you, tell me why you like to read!

Reading gives me an adventure. I am able to experience other countries, time periods, and so much more, without leaving the comforts of my own home. It’s an escape. If life is busy, or difficult, or whatever, it gives you a chance to forget about all of that for just a bit.

I love learning, and I think reading is such a fun way to do this! You can learn history (American, Bible, or whatever) in a way that makes it easier to remember.

Reading challenges me. Most of the books I read are Christian fiction, and reading a book in this genre helps me to get lessons and examples in a way that I might not really think of otherwise. Character and just life in general is displayed in such a way that I can’t help but want to improve things in my own life.

Of course, as with anything in life, there are also downsides of reading. Like I said earlier, reading is an escape. This doesn’t mean you should use it to escape what you know you need to do. Or to try and just forget about your own life completely! I’ve had to set myself some firm guidelines as to when is the right time to read! πŸ˜‰ One thing that I’ve found is helpful for me is to make my Bible reading & time with God first priority. I do much better at getting my work done if I don’t even pick up a fiction read until I sit down for lunch.

I’d also like to share with you about some good books I read recently. (I’m not doing this as often as I’d hoped to, just because life goes on, and it remains crazy busy!!)

If you like Christian fiction, suspense in particular, than I ask you, have you read any of Dani Pettrey’s books? Her first book Submerged, came out only about 5 years ago. There are a total of five in that set, and now she has two more books in another series. I am a huge fan of her books! She has realistic characters, suspense, a bit of danger, and more! Here’s an exciting thing–right now, you can get the ebook version of Submerged on Amazon for FREE!

This brings me to another question–do you like reading books on kindle (or other readers)? I have a kindle app on my phone. I have many books on it that I’ve gotten for free (yes, you read that right–many authors do this, have a short time period where you can get them on Amazon for free!). It’s a way to read something you might not get a chance to otherwise. BUT….yes, this is it. I don’t like reading books on my phone. 😦 It’s just not the same as a real book! I think it could be more convenient, in certain times and places, say on an airplane, or any other road trip. But the pages! They’re so small, you have to be turning the page, or flipping, rather, all. the. time. I really do like reading an actual book, holding it in my hand, much better! So I find myself neglecting the books on my kindle app.

Good book I read recently:

The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron.

I’ve read three other books by this same author in the past month. I really like this author’s style of writing. It’s intriguing and captivating. I’d been waiting to read this book, and finally got it from the library. Maybe my expectations were too high. I didn’t immediately like this book, as I did her others. It tookΒ  a bit for me to get into the story. But once I finally “got it”, I couldn’t put it down! πŸ™‚ The main character, entirely fictional, is an illusionist who trained under Harry Houdini. Because of her early life, and then her chosen career, she doesn’t trust anyone. She can’t let anyone into her heart because they might uncover her deepest secrets, But when the FBI ask her to help them solve a case, she has to let down her guard. This book has mystery, and although parts of the ending are a little predictable, there are twists in getting there that were entirely unexpected. I appreciated the insight it gave into that time period, and the tiny bits and pieces about that whole (mysterious) career of being an illusionist. This is definitely a good read!

 

Can I also tell you about a book that I don’t recommend? Yes, I read one recently that I really didn’t like. I think that it should be ok to give both kinds of reviews, although, usually (at least in book reviews), only the positive ones are given.

A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner. I should have read more about this one before I started. And after I started, I kind of wanted to see where the author was going with the story, so I kept reading it. But I didn’t really care for it.

(Now, if you’re at all like me, this might intrigue you just enough to want to read it anyway! πŸ˜‰ Yes, I’m contrary like that. Unless you tell me a specific thing about a book, so I know without a shadow of a doubt that I won’t like it, I’ll probably still have to go and try it for myself…)

But about this book. It’s written from the premise that the main character has the ability to see and communicate with ghosts. Do you believe in ghosts? Cuz I don’t! I just don’t think that our God allows our spirits to linger here after death! I don’t mind reading books that I know couldn’t possibly be true, but this, well this was a stretch, even for me. What the main storyline is about is when she (main character) goes to visit an old historic ship and encounters a ghost that she believes is telling her to uncover a long-hidden mystery. The story goes back and forth between the modern day character, and some other people escaping from the Nazis in World War II.

I’ve been trying to find good books for my oldest daughter to read, and this was one that I definitely recommended her not to read (I don’t think it would’ve even grabbed her interest at all). (There are also some details from WW II that I think are too graphic for young readers.)

Now, I’d like to hear from you! πŸ™‚

Good book you’ve read recently? Favorite author?

I’m always on the lookout for new books to read! πŸ™‚