A Life Worthy of a Story

imageMy husband and I make a really good team.

I think it’s fair to assume that because I have been so open and honest with you about the many negatives in my new life, that I think you will allow me to pat myself on the back just this once!

I mean, I did go as far to admit to you that I puked in a mixing bowl

Anywho back to my point.

Some of our greatest accomplishments and feats, are often things my husband and I have done together. Even some of our most mundane daily tasks are made better when done together.

Like in the upkeep of our home.  He took care of the outside of the house, while I took care of the inside.

When entertaining guests, I was in charge of making the meal and cleaning the house, while he was in charge of lighting the candles and later, making the witty remarks and sharing humorous stories while passing the peas. Once the night was through and the goodbyes were said, we would always end the night doing the dishes together.

Even once we had our first child -in what we were warned would be the dreaded ‘newborn stage’ that threatens to steal your joy, and transform your weary state into that of a zombie- we found it be anything but!
(I know, I know, you hate me now… but for us it was true!)

We took turns getting up and feeding our daughter throughout the night but would often find that although it only took one person to do the job, we would both end up getting up together.

Yes, this picture is proof that my husbands genes are more dominant than mine. I gave birth to his twin.
Yes, I know, this picture is proof that my husband’s gene’s kicked my genes butt considering I gave birth to his twin.

It often times felt like a sleepover! An excuse to stay up late, and an almost giddiness that came out of not wanting to be asleep for fear of something awesome happening that we might be left out of!

People would ask us how we were doing… you know the way they do when they are almost implying you are doing terrible! Only to end their question with a lingering look of pity to heighten the implications of the awfulness they were so sure we felt.

Everyone was always astonished when our response was, “We are doing great!”

And we really were doing great! Not because we had a perfect marriage, because on the contrary, we can bicker like nobody’s business, and I occasionally have to talk myself down from changing the locks when I find him leaving dirty q-tips around the house! And its most definitely not because I was a natural ‘super mom’ because I still often find myself having no idea what I am doing even to this day!

It was because we were in it together. We were always such a great team no matter what life threw at us!

I reminisce about these past moments, because these days, I know more about what its like doing things alone.

With my husband’s new 6 day work weeks and often late hours, I have an entirely different reality of quiet meals alone just me a Gia, and errands that need to get done whether my husband is home to lend a hand or not. (Remember: ‘extra hands’ have a whole new value when you don’t have a car, and both your groceries and 26lb. toddler have to be brought up to a second floor apartment!)

And it’s true, I could very well wait for him to get home and take down the trash… I could even wait for him to make us some new friends… and  wait for him to get home till I venture out, that way I don’t have to risk getting lost in this scary big city by myself.

But that would indeed be a lot of waiting,  and waiting doesn’t make for living a good story!

imageThe term “Living a good story” has become common language in our house ever since first reading “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” over four years ago.

Donald Miller’s whole premise is that life is best lived when it tells a Good Story… That, in fact, God has created us to live Good Stories -Stories that are filled with meaning, discovery, and purpose.

But, as we all know, in any Good Story there is always some sort of conflict -conflict that seeks to deter, discourage, and even destroy.

But what makes a Good Story “good” -just like in life- is when a character experiences major conflict and chooses to overcome it with courage!

Miller reveals how a new life can emerge from even some of our most boring realities, and transform into a “meaningful narrative”! And he ultimately compels his readers to live a life worthy of a good story.

All I can say is, that book messed us up!

After we both had savored the words of each page of this book; high lighting each meaningful phrase and scribbling thoughts into the margin as we searched for its significance as it related to our own lives, we found ourselves no longer content just watching reruns of Dateline NBC, or walking the aisles of Kohl’s on rainy weeknights where you could easily make the excuse that there was “nothing better to do”. We also no longer saw the purpose partaking in shallow friendships that only selfishly satisfied nothing but the most shallow parts in ourselves.

We wanted something more! We wanted to laugh harder, and love others in a way that made us cry more often. We wanted to embrace God as the master story teller of our lives! And that meant embracing every PERSON that God placed in our path, every TRIAL, and every MOMENT as a chance to live life so fully that it would be almost contagious to others!

I would be lying however, if I told you that after making that decision, that it has been roses every day since! Too often I have found myself playfully smacking my husband and mumbling under my breath, “See what happens when you want to live a good story…”

Or once, when I got this random idea that I wanted to replace the front door of our house with one a little more contemporary, I remember my husband jokingly responding “yeah! lets save all our extra spending money for the next few months so that we can replace a perfectly good door! That would reeeeeeally make for a FASCINATING story!”

The reality of making a decision to live a good story was that it couldn’t help but to permeate every single area of our life- even down to how our extra money would be spent! And after making fun of me endlessly, he encouraged that maybe we could use that money towards a vacation of some sort.

Ironically, that same money I was going to use for my beloved door, we ended up using for my first trip out to New York City that summer!

imageYears later we have found ourselves living in that exact same place that we had visited years ago. And I have recently wondered if we would still be embarking on this journey -that is far bigger than our small town roots ever prepared us for- if it wasn’t for that initial decision to live a good story that we made as a family years ago!

I have wondered also, if in this new life that I am living,  if I have the courage to live in that same way Sunday-Friday when it means I have to do it all by myself.

Sometimes I feel like the odds are against me:

It’s just too hard to raise a family in NYC…
I feel like I am living in a foreign country…
With all the time I’m spending with her, I’m going to mess my daughter up:)
There is just SO much to learn…
I can’t possibly do this by myself

But then I always think back to a story that I once heard a pastor by the name of Perry Noble tell.

While visiting Atlanta, he and his wife decided to go out to dinner. Although it was getting late, afterwards they decided to make the most of their time in the city and decided to venture out and explore the surrounding area before they left the next day. Soon after though, they found themselves in a seedy area that they instantly got the sense they shouldn’t be in.

Interestingly enough they decided to keep walking instead of returning back to the hotel.

The next day Noble was telling a man, born and raised in Atlanta, about the previous night. When he told him where he had gone, the man was shocked that they had kept walking in THAT area!

Noble then surprised the man further by saying that the reason he hadn’t been worried was because his wife had a black belt. He went on to say how surprising it is when you find yourself having the courage to do things others couldn’t imagine themselves doing -not because of your own ability, but because of the confidence you have in the ability of the one you are with!

In Matthew 28:20 The Lord says, “Behold, I am with you always…”

I have had such an immense amount of peace these last couple of weeks, as I rest in the truth that I am indeed, not alone even when I most feel like it! Even better, is that the Lord is the one continually by my side, and He possesses all that I am lacking at any given moment. With His strength, I can do things even I, could never have imagined myself having the courage to do…

Even when it means choosing each and every day to continue to live a good story -even on the days spent apart from my husband!

We must remember that the Lord desires to write a magnificent story in each of our lives! Better than one we could ever write for ourselves! A story of tragic lows and overcoming highs. And like me, a story of new beginnings and sold out abandon to Him -and only Him!

It’s as simple as ’embracing the potential greatness of the story we are actually in’ and learning to trust The Lord in a way that allows for us to let go of the pen just long enough, for him to actually begin writing it.

Who knows, maybe you will find yourself living somewhere crazy like New York City 😉

There is a force in the world that doesn’t want us to live good stories. It doesn’t want us to face our issues, to face our fear, and bring something beautiful into the world. – A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

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Dear NYC Mommy

I know I promised “glitz and glamour” for this week’s post, and I swear to you that I indeed had every intention of delivering and telling you all about how Madonna and Ricky Martin are my neighbors (or something like that.) …But then I got inspired by something entirely different.

Adapting to life in New York City has proven to be quite an (enormous) adjustment for me, but becoming a ‘Manhattan Mom’ has no doubt been the single most difficult part.

And since the Mother’s Day flowers have long since wilted and the handmade cards are now stashed away, I want to use this post to empower some of the strongest mom’s I have ever met; The New York City Mommies.


Dear NYC Mommy,

1. In one of the hardest-working parts of the country, you will work just as hard trying to raise a grounded family in this Big City.

As Manhattan moms its easy to feel like a bona-fide single mom 5-6 days out of the week. And for that reason, you are so much stronger than you realize!

The incredible strength you possess is such a pivotal part of what holds your family together, so always give yourself an immense amount of credit for that!

2. Don’t ever feel guilty if you find yourself (in a desperate and fleeting moment) envying a nanny.

Yes, she is dressed waaaaaay the heck better than you. Yes, she is getting paid top dollar to do what we do for FREE (not just 5 days a week like her, but 7 days a week…EVERY week… For what feels like may be the rest of our existence!) It’s okay, be jealous. Heck, you might even entertain the thought of what it might be like to have a nanny — For even just One. Flippin. Hour! It happens to the best of us.

Rest assured, knowing you will soon come to your senses and realize just how lucky you are to be there for your child’s every giggle, cuddle, and maybe even every tantrum. (Maybe… but if we are completely honest, probably not.)

3. DO NOT, in any way, compare yourself to Suburban Mommies on Facebook and Pinterest. 

It’s not a fair comparison. Their laundry rooms are the size of our living rooms, and the reason they have more kids than us, is because they don’t have to physically wear them on their bodies for longer than the 9 months they are in the womb (While we will physically wear ours in an Ergo until they max out the weight limit — 45lbs baby!)

Case in point.
Case in point.

Pinterest is a jerk, and will keep you stressing endlessly about making your family a gourmet and nutritious meal every night. All while failing to take in account that – making even the simplest of meals – for you, means lugging every ingredient back from the grocery store. Only to then, risk the stove heating up your entire apartment to the point that your chocolate chips melt and your eyebrows perspire.

Instead, may I suggest, that we embrace the (trillions) of takeout menu’s on our fridge. And while we are at it, tell Pinterest to shove those unnecessary expectations, #YouKnowWhere!

4. Say goodbye to the heals, not the glamour.

While living in one of the fashion capitals of the world, we’ve all found ourselves walking up and down Madison Avenue peering into windows of some of the most glorious – and most expensive – pumps we have ever laid our eyes on. Discouraged, because we will forever feel limited to flats, even on the most smokin hot date nights.

But I can assure you, even in flats, you aren’t any less glamorous! Suburban mommies  would KILL for the calf muscles you’ve acquired over the years from walking up and down (and up…and down…) those subway stairs — So rock those instead!

Or if you are feeling super ambitious, opt for a wedge. (And then secretly tuck a back-up pair of Nike’s in your purse. Yah know, just in case.)

5. You work out… I repeat, YOU WORK OUT!!!

I swear, to the Lord Almighty, if one more NYC mom tells me she doesn’t work out…(Insert: eye roll.)

You may not go to a gym, and yet, you burn more calories bumping a stroller up and down the subway steps, and by carrying a diaper bag, a gallon of milk, and your flailing toddler up a flight of stairs, than most people do on the elliptical 5 times a week!

You are a beast — Own it!

6. The way we parent is not wrong, it’s just different.

Its true, we will likely never be able to give our kids all the latest and greatest toys, due to the lack of space needed to house all that madness. But instead of toys, we give our children experiences.

In Times Square with Daddy
In TImes Square with daddy
Charming people on the subway
Charming people on the subway
Picnic with mommy in Central Park
picnic with mommy in Central Park

If our children want a toy that lights up in every color of the rainbow, we can take them to bask in the bright lights of Times Square. If it’s music they want, then it’s a simple as stepping off the subway and listening to any of the given talented street performers (maybe even Michael Buble’ if they are reeeeally lucky)  who are always there, entertaining the masses on the subway platform.

And God forbid, your kid asks to do a craft (…bleck. Shoot me...) In that case, just talk some sense into them and take them to Central Park to play with Sarah Jessica Parker’s children… (Because, nope. For real. I cannot risk getting glitter and glue in my apartment! #SorryNotSorry)

New York City Mommy, what you do day in and day out is not for the faint of heart. What is new and so often overwhelming to me, you have skillfully mastered. And watching you, helps me realize that (in time) I will soon possess the strength you have, and maybe be lucky enough to one day provide the same wisdom to someone else.

I have the utmost respect for you,

image

Home Sweet Home… or something.

imageLet’s talk about

the INTRIGUE,

The FASCINATION,

the GLAMOUR,

that is a New York City apartment.

There is not one single topic that comes up more when talking to people back home, than about my apartment.

I gotta be honest, I may have fielded off requests for the first month in the name of “unpacking”.

Once I finished unpacking It was because I was “decorating”…

then “organizing”…

then rangling wild monkeys off the coast of Somalia…

Then one month turned into two, and I started running out of excuses.

You see, the reason it took me so long to share pictures of my new place, is because me and this new home of mine had some getting to know each other to do. We needed a little “alone time” to work out some kinks, and we may or may not have butt heads a few times (give or take a few curse words).

There was some major acceptance that had to be done on my part.

And the insane cost didn’t make the adjustment any easier. An apartment in Manhattan is craaaazy expensive, there is just no way around it. I said it before but my rent for a 1 bedroom 650 sq ft apartment, is nearly double my mortgage on my 4 bedroom house back home.

Quite possibly crazier, is that in order to even get into an apartment or house on the east coast you have to pay a non refundable broker fee (which in nyc is the equivalent to 15% of your rent for the ENTIRE YEAR) Then with the added first months rent that you pay at the same time, we ended up putting more money down to get into our apartment than we did to buy our first house back in Washington!

And we are RENTING!

Whew! forgive me… All this reminiscing is making me sweat.

image

image

image

You should also know that while living in New York City, your suburban luxuries are gone. Now you very well may not look at the following as luxuries (I sure didn’t!) but ask anyone in the city and they will tell you otherwise.

The majority of us have NO cars- which means no convenience of a drive thru, no luxury of being able to buckle your kids in their car seat and turn up the music when they scream bloody murder, and no filling your car with loads of groceries after a Costco run. Heck, since I don’t drive anymore I can’t even remember the last time I listened to the radio. Now, that’s just weird…

NO car also means NO garage- which might not seem like thaaat big of a deal, but go look at your garage and imagine what it would be like to either have to move all that in your house or get rid of it. We chose the latter and got rid of EVERYTHING. Including our beloved Christmas tree which I don’t know if Rachel knows is currently in her basement. Merry Christmas Rachel!

This is what it looks like when your laundry is returned to you. this quite possibly could be my love language.
This is what it looks like when your laundry is returned to you. This quite possibly could be my love language.
We also have No washer and dryer– gasp. I know, its cruel. we rely on the good ol’ laundrymat. Which I gotta say, definitely has its bonuses… most of the time. I mean who wouldn’t want to go online and order for someone to come pick up all their dirty laundry and deliver it back to them all clean and folded?

But obviously it also has it’s drawbacks. Too often I have found myself washing my underwear in the bathroom sink, or crying continuously when my daughter decides the best way to get attention is to cry to the point of making herself puke.

Another thing about apartments in manhattan, is that a family lives in a one bedroom. Maybe two… maybe, (like if you are rolllllllllin’ in the dough $$$$$) But even then, it’s likely that your second bedroom is no bigger than a walk-in closet, And yet you pay double the rent. So needless to say we have a one bedroom for now, and it’s about the same size as our last bedroom. The only difference is we share it with a crazy toddler who is learning that just because mommy and daddy are in the same room as her doesn’t mean we want to party with her at 3am or get up and get her “melk!” at the crack of dawn.

It is also a guarantee in the city that your kitchen is both tiny AND ugly. So if you are like me, you just put chalkboard stickers all over the cabinets so that your kitchen can be tiny and ugly, yes, but FUN! image

You should also know that my kitchen is considered a really good size.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Also, In the kitchen there is NO garbage disposal, NO pantry, and usually NO dish washer- thankfully, the Lord had mercy on my soul and provided one for me. All our new york friends are quite impressed!

Now before I go on, go hug your dishwasher and dance in your garage… Just because you can.

And to better illustrate what real life in an apartment like ours can be like, lets just say your toddler gets the stomach flu. In New York City it creates quite a few more complications then it might in the confounds of suburban living.

In a matter of 6 hours of my daughter puking, we were able to go through both sets of sheets, every blanket we owned, and all the towels in our house with the exception of one. Which produces two problems: yes, we have no more clean sheets, blankets, or towels, AND no washer and dryer to clean them … But we also have a bunch of throw up smelling linen lying around in waaay too small of a space, making my febreeze air fresheners work on overtime but to no avail!

Because…

my.

entire.

house.

Smells.

like .

vomit.

That’s when you undoubtedly find yourself half asleep, hunched over the bath tub, scraping puke off with your hands and using shampoo to scrub off as much of the smell that you can.

Then because of the tight living quarters and the germs swarming around it, you can bet that a couple days later, that both you and your husband are going to get sick at the same time. Literally.

In that case, because your husband is currently getting sick in the bathroom -your only bathroom- you may find yourself in the living room…

puking into a mixing bowl.

Like I said, me and my New York city apartment, had some kinks to work out.

On a positive note, I have been able to stump my mom twice when I called her in a frantic “what do I do?!?” scenario! TWICE! and I have only lived here a little over two months! Pretty impressive if you ask me.

Before we hang up, we usually come to some sort of conclusion that the only thing you could logically do, is not live in New York City.

And so there you have it.
I know You may have pictured me living this glamorous urban life on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, when really I am just puking in a mixing bowl and laundering my underwear in the bathroom sink.

We will talk all about the “glitz and glamour” next week. And about all the reasons why New York City (and even more specifically my apartment) can be the most exciting place to live.

But for now,
As I, sit in the corner, rocking back and forth in fetal position, whispering over and over to myself, “this is where my shepherd had lead me.. this is where my shepherd has lead me…”

I.

Must.

Mentally.

Recover.

From the madness.

That is my New York City apartment.
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Krista’s Journey from Suburbia to the Big City- Part II

imageI had my dream job staying home with my baby girl, my husband had his dream job as a local youth pastor in an amazing church. We owned a beautiful home, had all the friends you could hope for, and we were excitedly trying for another baby…

But then God threw my eggs in the creek.

I’ll explain…

I had been reading a book called “Scouting The Divine” By Margaret Feinberg. The book is about a woman on a journey to bring to life some of the Bible’s greatest analogies that often get dismissed due to the fact that we aren’t able to fully comprehend them in the modern world we live in.

One of the analogies is one in which Jesus refers to Himself as the ‘Good Shepherd’. In Feinberg’s search, she follows a skilled shepherd named Lynne seeking to learning her craft firsthand, and because of it, find the power behind the words Jesus used to describe Himself.  Not surprisingly, she finds the shepherd to be a loving and patient leader who wants the best for her flock…no doubt in the same way that the Lord relates with us.

However, my revelation came when I read what Feinberg describes as “One of the most meaningful lessons about God”…

It came from the geese in the barn.

I remember that they were constantly walking around.

“What are they looking for?” I asked Lynne.

“They’re looking for their eggs,” she [the shepherd] said.

“Where are they?” I asked.

“I threw them in the creek,” she said.

My eyes bugged in disbelief. I couldn’t help blurting out, “Why?” Her action seemed so cold and cruel- a far cry from the shepherd who loved her sheep.

“Because they were infertile,” she said. “They would never hatch. I need to get these geese back to their regular life. For three months they have been sitting on infertile eggs. The only way to get them back to the way they are supposed to be living is to take away their dead eggs.”

Her answer helped me understand her action as one of compassion and wisdom. I couldn’t help but wonder how often I have sat on dreams that were never going to come to fruition or, worse, sat on empty promises of the enemy that would never yield life- only self destruction and death.

I thought back to the numerous times where God has been faithful to remind me, “It’s time to get onto the life I have for you.”

The words might as well have lept off the page! I could instantly feel the weight of them on my heart!

You see, that lovely life that I was so content living – that I was truly happy living – it had changed abruptly. One day it was exactly as I had described, and the next it seemed almost unfamiliar.  No doubt, life has a tendency of doing that to all of us at some point – a health issue is found, a friendship comes to an end, a family is torn apart, a job is lost, a loved one passes, or a combination of such things occur – and mine was of the latter category.

I was trapped in my circumstances with no way out. I felt like the life that I knew – the life that I loved – was crumbling. Some of those closest to me, those I had relied on the most, now felt like strangers to me. There were even some looking in from the outside, not knowing my situation but sensing a change, who met me in my heartache with equal amounts of gossip and speculation.

Like a goose looking for my eggs, I was frantically trying to piece the perfect life I had created back together!  Never once considering that – maybe, just maybe – God never intended for my life to be put back together exactly the way He had found it.

Maybe my life wasn’t crumbling because of outside forces or because I wasn’t strong enough. Maybe the Lord was holding the chisel – slowly picking away, stripping me of the unnecessary relationship expectations that I had put on people, when instead, I should have been relying on Him. Ridding me of the deep baggage that I had been carrying for far too long, not even realizing how it had been holding me back. Even chiseling away at the dreams that I had been pursuing, knowing ultimately they didn’t align with what He had planned for my future.

I began to ponder, “What if what I am going through, this heartache I feel, is Divine?”

I could feel the Lord beckoning me back to Him saying, “It’s time to get back to the life I have for you.”

I then became curious, “What kind of life could He possibly have for me?” (I can’t help but smirk to myself as I type that)

Months later, my husband came to me like he had done a handful of times before, with a job description he had found. He began reading aloud the extensive qualifications needed for the available position.  Not even a minute into it, I remember stopping him, snatching the paper from his hands and continuing to read the rest out loud myself! My heart was pounding and I found myself having to stop every couple of sentences to take a deep breath.  

I couldn’t believe it! They were SO specific…and yet, they were looking for Ricky!

The Location?  No other than New York City!

My daughter Gia
My daughter Gia

So I went in search for the life the Lord had designed for me…

And 6 months later I have found myself living here, in a 650 sq ft apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I have traded my 4 bedroom house in suburbia, for a one bedroom apartment in the city that costs nearly double the price. And the sound of crickets and frogs that was once outside my window, have now, humorously, been replaced with the sound of continuous honking that goes on into the night. We no longer have our two cars, but instead rely on the subway and a good pair of Nike’s to get us where we need to be. We have also (although at times, painstakingly) decided to set aside our hopes for another baby – possibly indefinitely – unless the Lord were to tell us otherwise.

So where, do you ask, is the Hallelujah in all of this?

I can tell you that it isn’t in the fact that my heartache has magically disappeared now that I’ve relocated to the other side of the country. On the contrary, I am only beginning my healing process. But instead of feeling paralyzed by my pain, I am empowered by it; knowing that God can still use me in spite of my hurts…quite possibly even, because of them.

Knowing also that although I am far from everything I have ever known in the suburbs in what feels like a foreign country at times and living a life I would have never thought I had the courage to live…that even on the most difficult of days I possess the overwhelming sense of peace that I first found in a daydream just months ago.

The peace in knowing that THIS is exactly where my Shepherd has led me.

The lord is my Shepherd, I have everything that I need.
Psalm 23:1

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