Buzzfeed is my life.

Not like “its my life… I can’t live without it” but more like “its my life…literally I could have written this article”. Most of the buzzfeed staff live in cities like NYC so much of what they write about is relatable so when I saw this post today, I couldn’t help but think you guys might enjoy reading it and then seeing how this list has played out in my life.

So click the article and read:

19 Bizarre Things about NYC Apartments most Americans will never get

Now here are 9 ways I can totally relate:

  1. I have paid a brokers fee to rent an apartment…something I only thought was possible when you buy real estate.
  2. I’ve lived in a three bedroom 1 bathroom apartment with 4 girls.
  3. Tiny bedroom been there.
  4.  No closet, yep! I pulled out some pinterest skills to create hanging space.
  5. I have had all the laundry options: no laundry at all, laundry in the building, and laundry in unit… I prefer no laundry at all b.c its actually easier (and surprisingly affordable) to pay someone else to do it.
  6. #12 pretty much my exact kitchen in my first place, I had a sofa table I used for counter space.
  7. I’ve used a lot of duct table and screws to get my AC units into windows.
  8. #18 I literally spent a whole winter with my windows opened all the time! And the noises radiators make are creepy!
  9. Thankfully the NYC apartment search for me has been over for a while and there is nothing nightmarish about where I live now! But to all my homies still living in the chaos I haven’t forgotten you or where I came from!

**this article failed to mention bugs, crazy neighbors, weed, and times where you find fecal matter on your door step/street and I am sure the list could go on and on.

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I once lived in mission team housing had to put this sign up to protect my life and property

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And I used the bunk bed to create a tv stand

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One half of my first real apartment

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the other half of that apartment

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And most of the time the post office is real stellar.

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And I had a mission team walk stuff 3 blocks to a new apartment b.c it wouldnt all fit in a van.

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but when you have views like this who’s complaining!

 

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3 factors

When you think New York City what are the first thoughts that enter your mind? Take a moment to think about it… I’ll wait…

I bet you thought about bright lights, Broadway, public transportation, Times Square, the Empire State Building, crime, people (lots of people), food, and fashion. Did you think about diversity? Did you think about change? Did you think about small town feels? With over 22 million people living in the metro area, anything you think about probably fits the bill. The complexity and power of this city has been impacting culture around the world for hundreds of years. Imagine the reality and potential implications of church planting here given these three factors:

1. Diversity has long been a story of this great city. Currently 38% of its population is foreign born and over half of our Send NYC church plants operate in a primary language other than English. The diversity of our new churches reflects well the diversity of our complex city and we thank God for bringing us planters from around the world.

2. NYC is perpetually in a state of flux. The ebb and flow of people, industry, and lifestyle keep people on their toes. What’s in one month is out the next. Church plants are constantly adapting to the changes in the city and their context.

3. One of the biggest surprises about New York is its small-town feel. With 360 unique neighborhoods spanning the 5 boroughs of the city, many places have that charm of small town life. Business owners know the locals, parks are meeting places for friends and family, and a walk down the street elicits a warm hello to neighbors you see on a regular basis.  Of the 360 unique neighborhoods in NYC only about 90 have an SBC church in them.  There is a big gap between where evangelical churches currently exist and where we need church plants. Each neighborhood has a unique identity and church plants of every variety are needed to reach the vast diversity of life in NYC.

Send NYC church plants are working hard among these three factors to see a movement of God! While ministry results here are sometimes hard to quantify, individual life change is not. Church planters are seeing people come to know Christ and they are seeing life change happen. We rejoice in the Lord where we see people being baptized,  changing the way they live, and growing in an understanding of discipleship! While the work isn’t done and there is still a long way to go, God is at work in this city!

Sometimes Ministry is… [Volume 2]

A couple years ago I wrote volume one of this post (although I didn’t call it volume 1), today I thought I’d give you guys an update on ministry through a list of things that ministry is, some of these are typical ministry tasks others are typical life things I use to be intentional in my ministry! Here goes:

Sometimes ministry is…

  1. Getting a dog: if you read my newsletter or follow me on social media, you know I got a dog a few months ago. Sir Ellis Hamilton is his formal name but we call him Ellis. Ellis has been a great addition to my life and ministry. He’s a great companion and on top of that a great ministry tool for meeting neighbors and hanging out at the park!
  2. Letting your 9 year old neighbor play with your dog: when I moved into my apartment I met D and A. D is a single mom raising 9 year old A right across the hall from me. One of our first conversation was late one night when she knocked on my door desperate for prayer. Over the last year and half we have interacted on several occasions and they have come to church a couple times. They were both super excited when I got Ellis and offered to help out. Once a week they take the dog out and A plays with him at my apartment for as long as she wants. Sometimes I’m there with her, sometimes I’m not but I use this as a great opportunity to invest in their lives.
  3. Coaching: Recently, we have started a formalized coaching ministry through Send NYC. We have trained church planting pastors and church planting team members to coach other missionaries serving in similar roles. I am coaching Michael and Shannon who recently joined the New City team as team members. Michael and Shannon are going to lead the way on our multiplication efforts in Queens. They have served most recently in college ministry but spent a couple years in a mega city in Asia. They are bringing great things to our team and church planting efforts in NYC.
  4. Preparing for the summer: Over the past several months, I have been working with NAMB and another local church planter, Ed Pacheco, to prepare for GenSend NYC this summer. I will be serving alongside Ed as GenSend coaches. We have been recruiting students from across the nation to serve through this 6 week internship with church plants. I’m excited to be a part of this internship as these students will help move the ball forward in church planting! I’m also excited to see how God will use this summer to help shape the lives of the students who will be with us.
  5. Mobilizing Missionaries: A great deal of my ministry with Send NYC is mobilizing and coaching new Church Planting Team Members. Being a part of other missionaries’ support teams is such a joy for me. I also serve on our Church Planting Assessment Team, leading a team of planters and leaders to assess new church planting pastors to serve through NAMB. Our assessment team leads three assessments a year meeting with potential planters assessing them on areas of leadership, communication, emotional and spiritual health and church planting readiness. They also meet with a  family dynamics counselor and experienced church planter and planters wives have a one on one interview with another planters wife. The retreat is a well rounded event that helps to identify God’s calling in a planters life and the planters readiness to step into this important role.
  6. Shepherding and leading others: Recently at New City I took on the task of leading our volunteers. I schedule them, train them and my prayer is that through our relationship they are growing in their relationship with Christ and in their areas of leadership. I love how God has equipped each of us to lead in different ways and I love helping our volunteers discover those gifts.
  7. Being kind and loving others: If I’m real honest most of my ministry to the lost around me and the people in our young church plant is finding ways to show them love and kindness. Most of the world around us isn’t used to strangers, even Christians, showing them kindness. So when I’m at a lost in what to do, I just show kindness. 

    While this list isn’t exhaustive, I hope it creates a picture for you of what ministry looks like in my life right now.

10 things I forgot aren’t normal [a list]

When I moved to New York almost 4 years ago, I never imagined some of the experiences I would have and I certainly didn’t expect certain things about life here that seemed so strange at first would one day feel normal. When new friends move to the city, its so funny to watch them transition from wide-eyed NYC newbies to stone-cold NYC  masters. So walk with me through this picture journey of 10 things I forgot aren’t normal.

  1. The price of well let’s face it… everythingmake-money.pngWhen I go to a movie and they ask for $16 “I’m like here you go”.
  2. Every place I go almost all the time is super smallunnamed10This is a place I had lunch the other day, there were 7 people eating at the bar and 3 people eating at the one table. 
  3. There are people everywhere Screen Shot 2016-11-28 at 2.46.27 PM.pngThis is how close I have to stand to strangers sometimes just to get where I need to go.
  4. Public TransportationScreen Shot 2016-11-28 at 2.53.06 PM.pngIts kind of my favorite though.
  5. Customer Service doesn’t really exist herescreen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-39-04-pmIs this a good representation… the postal service.
  6. You can make a living doing just about anythingscreen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-38-27-pm This street performer isn’t even preforming.
  7. Ordering everything online…like your groceries, your breakfast, or cleaning supplies8NiB52Hz.jpg Seamless…look it up. 
  8. Rooftop viewsIMG_5213.JPGNeed I say more.
  9. Going to the grocery store on foot, buying just enough for the week, and then wheeling it homescreen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-38-50-pmOr wheeling your kid to the grocery store.
  10. Food of different colorsscreen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-39-21-pmI ate this and it was delicious.                   
  11. Bonus for the holiday season: Christmas tree for sale everywhere…view.JPG

I’m sure there are others, can you think of things you experience in NYC that just seem out of place to you!?

Reflections on a year…

One year ago today, I moved into the apartment God provided me through a NYC housing lottery. This week’s social media memories from Timehop have been filled with excitement, joy, and most importantly relief.

Following the approval and moving in, I wrote two blogs, A place to call home! and More big news!! (See October 2015 archives to read them). So this weekend I went back through and read these posts. Here are my quick reflections based on the reality of this last year and the anticipation and hope from these posts.

  1. Living in Long Island City has been a tremendous blessing for my ministry at New City Church, most of our church members and friends are just next door or down the street so loving on them and serving them is more convenient from this location.
  2. Although God has used my home as a ministry, I don’t feel like I have used it to the fullest. I wanted to use my home in creative ways that would point people to Christ. This has seldom happened and the reason is because I’m just not that great at coming up with ideas and not bold enough to make big moves sometimes. (I did try to host a brunch once but it failed before it even happened…lol)
  3. It’s easy how quickly we forget the pain and suffering of difficult situations once they have passed. It’s rare that I think about those tears once shed over the struggle of apartment living in NYC.
  4. While I have met almost all of my neighbors on my floor and have interacted with people from all over the building, it’s harder than I expected to build genuine relationships with people in my building.
  5. God’s work is never accidental or haphazard. Its no consequence that October 16 was my application date one year, the lease signing date the next year, and a day of reflection and thought this year.
  6. Much of the first three years of my life here felt like constant transition and preparing for the next phase but this last year has been a settling down year. Its been a great year in many ways but in other ways its been hard. I no longer look at my life here as “this is where I live right now” but more of “this is where I live”.
  7. I continue to feel extremely grateful and I have probably said 9000 times this year how God provided this for His glory and I’m just trying to use it for His purposes.
  8. My last reflection is this… it’s really, really nice to have an elevator and air conditioning whenever I need it.

Pardon my ramblings but just thought I’d share with you some of my thoughts. My biggest desire is to see God glorified in the things He provides and the ways He leads; so my biggest plea tonight is that you pray that I will continue to use my home as a blessing for ministry here and that I will be more open to ways to build relationships in my building and that I don’t stand in the way of how God would call me use this blessing.

They call this thing a commute

In an effort to share NYC with you, on occasion I like to share stories about life here that might be different from where you live. One of the biggest changes in my life when I moved here was going from driving a car everyday to riding a subway everyday. Its also one of my favorite things about living here. So to share with you a bit of the fun and crazy let me share with you a story from a couple months ago.  Here goes.

I had one of those days… one of those crazy, chaotic days. You can probably relate. The past 10 days my schedule has been packed with activities, meetings, and travel all while fighting one of the most vicious colds I’ve had in a while, so as you can imagine I’ve been a bit drained. Adding insult to injury, the last two nights have been the worst sleep I’ve had in a long time. So when facing a 7:15 AM (that’s right – AM) mission team meeting this morning, I knew today was going to be…let’s say “special.” Here’s how it went down:

After arriving at the 7:15 meeting (that finally got started at 8:00), I cheerfully did my best to orient our new mission team and then got on my way. I got back to the train only to find hundreds of people milling about with confused looks on their faces. There was some sort of delay. I jumped on my train and stood there while we waited. There were a few announcements about delays and train outrages so I stood there and waited. I watched as people fumbled in and out of the train, complaining and fussing about their crazy commute. I only had to go three stops so I (im)patiently waited while people bumped me around my small spot on the train. We finally got moving and I made it home. I worked for a couple hours before heading out on my next errand.

I jumped on the now calm and quiet 7 train (thats the train line I use most often) and transferred to the R train in Manhattan. I brought along some light reading on spiritual warfare and as I read, the train started to lull me to sleep (remember that whole lack of sleep thing). I wasn’t really asleep but close enough and I watched the stops roll by when suddenly I realized I missed mine. I hopped out of the train and walked to the only staircase at the other end of the platform to get on the train going the other direction. I hopped on and rode to the next stop. It’s not my stop, though. Where did my stop go?? Thinking this train must not be stopping at my stop, I looked around and found the stairs, which are again at the other end of the platform. I walked and walked and finally came up to the street. I decided to grab a taxi because at this point, I was so turned around and not sure what to do if the train wasn’t stopping at my stop. Did I mention it was like 29 degrees that day? I joked with the taxi driver about how I got confused and turned around and it was too cold to figure it out. He gladly drove me to my destination.

While strange and frustrating, I find these moments great reminders of the peace of God that soothes us through chaotic moments. Sometimes they make us laugh, sometimes they make us cry. That day I chose laughter. That, and some coffee!!

For those of you that have never experienced a NYC subway ride, watch this quick video I made a few years ago for a VBS, its not great quality but you will get the picture. Those of you familiar with LIC, will notice you can’t even see my building in the shots… it wasn’t even here yet and you can see the since torn down 5 Points.

the backyard vs. the park

Imagine a world with no grassy backyards or perfectly groomed front yards with white picket fences, with space for a dog house, or extra garage space needed for a lawn mover.  Imagine your front door opens to a long hallway that leads to an elevator (or worse yet a set(s) of stairs). That elevator exits to another hall that leads to a door, that leads to a street full of honking cars and people rushing by on foot.

Now to most of you this sounds like a fantastic nightmare but to the several million of us who enjoy living in “concrete jungles” this is a pretty nice way to go. But even the strongest of city-slickers needs their green space from time to time.

NYC has roughly 1,700 parks and recreational areas. According to my research we also have 5.2 million trees. That’s a lot of green! We are a city that enjoys outdoor space. As the population of NYC expanded rapidly in the 1800s the city sat aside a massive amount of prime real estate in Manhattan to create the nations first planned urban park which later became known as Central Park.

So the “concrete jungle” loves it’s greenery. Parks and playgrounds are an active part of culture, and parks like our local Gantry Plaza/Hunters Point South Park attract 1000s of NYers on nice sunny afternoons. Each neighborhood has at least one park and many cultural and family events are planned there. From children’s activities to sports leagues our parks have so much to offer and even provide a few areas of complete silents if you look hard enough!

New City Church has actively been involved in our local park and have created projects and activities within the park to build relationships with our neighbors and show grace and peace to our community. We host an annual fall carnival in our park, do volunteer gardening projects and even help organize our summer movie nights.

So we may not have our very own backyard, but to New Yorkers, the city is our backyard and we will continue to enjoy all the amenities our vast park system has to offer!  So while you enjoy your fenced in backyard and patio, think of me exploring one of our many urban parks and green spaces!