Church Hunting NYC: Seeking Him

ImageRomans 12: 9 to 18

Most of you who know us personally have probably come to notice that we Jordan’s seem to really like Jesus. Like really, really.  We don’t often (or try not to at least) proclaim it bombastically, because we both would never consider ourselves good enough exemplars of Christ like living, but yet our heart for the church is ceaseless and undeniable.  We both grew up in church -mine small and personal and Jay’s a little bigger, and a little louder.  Our friendship took root in our small school, Pacific Christian and our dating relationship was strengthened through commitments to youth group, sunday school and community ministries.  Throughout we have imperfectly striven to consider God in all that we do, decide and act in, and also to plant roots in a community that bolsters us to walk out this mindset.

[A brief explanatory anecdotal aside] My first realization of Jay’s intentions was at church. We both attended a Pentecostal United youth group service at his home church Glad Tidings. After the service, like all good high school students, I unwound at McDonalds with friends, and who should stride through the door feigning hunger but Jay.  He had driven thrifty five minutes past a handful of McDonalds’, multiple alternative eateries and his own house to wind up at the same location as I was. We laugh about it now because he claims he was already all in, while I wasn’t even playing the same game.  I can’t recall but knowing high school me I was probably interested in someone else at the time, but I do remember being struck by just how different this boy was and that for him this was more than a friendship. His small, boyish act had made me feel special in a way no other man ever had or has since. Don’t get too excited though, I still made him wait another four years before I conceded to a date.  Obviously, I had to make sure he was in for the long haul.

Okay, back to the topic at hand -church hunting. Throughout our marriage we have been in a constant search for a church that fulfills both our needs -and upon arriving in New York this search continues on a much grander scale because the options here are limitless (albeit at times overwhelming to wade through).  Both of us are striving to find a place that is God focused, but beyond that is where Jay and I begin to differ in need.

I am constantly searching for community, and fervently feel that people and relationship are the pulse of the church. My childhood congregation was one that does fellowship so, so well. The Church of Christ has such a heart for it’s members that love oozes from each congregant in the form of unparalleled encouragement, warm hugs and baked goods during any trial or transiton.  It is something you have to experience to truly understand. In my adolescence my best friend, Sarah (miss you), wrangled me onto a city bus and brought me to her youth group.  As youth we spent Friday nights there, followed by a sleepover at my house that bled late into Saturday afternoons, and as university students did the same just as leaders rather than youth.  Through sharing life with the amazing young adults in that church, and as we truly invested in one another with a whole heart I developed friendships that neither time, distance nor hardship have been able to weaken. So for me that is what I crave in a church -people.

For Jay, he craves the intellectual. He wants a sermon to challenge and grow him.  At Church of Christ we had pastor Martin, who did just that.  Jay still craves listening to his podcasts and when he left to return to his family in the Southern states Jay felt something vital had left with him.  He yearns for that theological complexity that forces you to retreat from the service with a buzzing mind that is striving for something better.  Also, being a drummer the whole music component is a pretty strong consideration for him.  So that leaves us searching for a church that excels in community, breath of preaching and powerful worship. Below encapsulates our exploration of the houses of God in this great city so far -all of which are very large, and very on fire. Continue reading “Church Hunting NYC: Seeking Him”

Playing Tourist: Things to do in New York

bridge

We were incredibly blessed to be invaded by family the past week and a half straight.  Our first visitor, my beautiful mom, came for a week which wasn’t nearly long enough.  In the span of days we fit what could easily have filled weeks, and afterward we (with watery eyes) tucked her into her cab with sore feet and a full heart.  It did both her and I good to explore mine and Jay’s new home together as we ventured into the heart of the city in hunt of exquisite shopping, good food and new running trails. I could not ask for a better excuse to be a tourist than her.

Then the evening after we waved good bye to mom, my dad, Peter, arrived.  His entrance into the city was eventful with a less than ideal foray into the Bronx, complete with unhelpful misdirections from locals amidst the bombarding, cacophony of rush hour traffic. However, after his unwanted adventure we at last laid eyes on him and settled him into our apartment, turning him into our second excuse to explore the city a little further.

I should have been studying for midterms, and I should have been completing my literature review but instead I paused and tried my best to balance my demands with soaking in family and our city.  In the midst of it all my little heart was filled to overflowing as both my parents assured me just how wholly proud of me they are and how excited they were for what waits us in the coming year as we plant roots in this crazy, overwhelmingly wonderful city.  Below are some of our highlights, and suggestions for must do NYC tourist activities that make every study break that much more invigorating. Continue reading “Playing Tourist: Things to do in New York”

New York: A Candid Reflection on Settling In

Preface:
This post was written during our first week in New York and just now I am confident enough to share it since the feelings have begun to subside and I have adopted new routines and settled comfortably into big city life.  So although the things I miss are still present on my heart, my excitement for this adventure and my immense love of what I am learning is now what prevails.  However, the road to get here took a little transitional time.  So here is a bit about that…

Taxi

This post has been inspired, and in a sense commissioned by my dear friend Linh, who like me has uprooted her entire life from our mutual island home and left all that is familiar (including our mothers, who are also our best friends) to pursue graduate school far away.  She encouraged me to continue writing through the hard stuff in order to reflect, even though instinctually I hesitate to be vulnerable, in part because I feel like I should be feeling nothing but spine tickling excitement by living in Manhattan and commencing my studies at an historic, respected ivy league institution.

However, it hasn’t been a seamless, simple transition as part of heart is still on the west coast with those I cherish most.   My loving mentor teacher and beautiful sister have both reminded me that this is okay, that I am like them and that it takes some people more time than others to settle into new routines.  Then one of my best friends, Jacob, asked me to give him the gamete of things that were weighing on my heart in my most trying moments.

That list was easy to comprise: being away from my mom, how I have a group of very special friends who I do a book club (turned trashy TV watching) with and how much their silent and spoken weekly support grounds me, the comfort of working and teaching in a school district I know and love, being in a different timezone than my colleagues and best friends who I went through my teacher training with, craving simple things like the ocean, being across the continent on my nieces birthday or family dinners with the Jordan’s, butternut squash soup at fifth street with my dad and brother, feeling lost without the plethora of immediate family we have that weaves a little protective net around us, being absent for the births of children born to well loved friends when I already deeply love their newest additions from afar, the desire to walk through cook street village, that if I think too hard these several months away from all that I mentioned seems like an eternity, the wobbly confidence I have in myself on how to tackle the new obstacles of graduate school and the cruel, illogical self doubt that comes with considering if I am able at all.  After hammering it all out in a text his question and my answers only served to compile all the emotions to a pinnacle and made the world seem even heavier to carry.

Then he asked a follow up question: what was it that I was loving about my New York experience?  So that is where I am going to go today.  I am going in with full acceptance of the fact that it is okay to be homesick, it is okay to feel so overwhelmed in a SoHo clothing store that you have an overpowering urge to sit in the middle of the aisle to collect yourself,  it is okay to have a conversation about home with your husband in the middle of a bustling Starbucks outside of New York fashion week and well up with tears and it is okay to sit through a breathtaking church service with your emotions so raw that your eyes brim with tears for the entirety of the two hours.  It is all okay, first because you live in Manhattan and anyone who sees you is sure to encounter someone else doing something way crazier on their walk back home, and second because it will pass and the following is what you have to look forward to…

Continue reading “New York: A Candid Reflection on Settling In”