Sunday, December 26, 2010

worst day ever: one year ago.. moving forward

just a quick posting about how i was reflecting on december 26, year ago.


december 26 is when jeff and i moved back to new york city. it was a rough day. saying goodbye to my family THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS was really hard. i cried all day long.

now, december 26, 2010... it's much easier.

i still want to be home for good, but the thought of going back to brooklyn is not accompanied by hoards of tears.

praying that december 27, 2011 will bring us back to detroit, mi.

i hope you had a great christmas!

much love.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

amidst the chaos

i thought our life was busy before...but, our life has officially taken a turn for chaotic.

sparing the nitty-gritty details, we are planning to move out of our current apartment. yes, we just moved in about three months ago, but we have been living without hot water and inconsistent heat since september. after several colds, arguments with our landlord and frustration, we have come to an agreement with our landlord and will be moving out as early as january 1st.

january 1st. in 11 days from now... 5 of which we will be in Michigan.

(if you have tried to contact jeff or i, and we have failed to be available, please forgive us... after our next move in early january, we will return your kind calls, emails and messages. AND if you are trying to get a hold of us for some time while we're in michigan, we are sincerely trying to see everyone...fact is, we are really there to visit with our family and will make sincere attempts to see you!)

amidst the crazy moment, i really feel at peace. the lord has really opened up doors, softened our landlord's heart and provided us with a ton of support from our family and friends.

on another note, we went skiing in vermont this past weekend with our small group. hydie, lydia, dan, cathy, alfredo, jeff and i headed up to stratton for some time on the slopes. i only skied for a 1/2 day - the cute town, shops and coffee houses were calling my name :) jeff and i both haven't skied in years and, surprisingly, did fairly well. jeff even conquered his first black diamond.

when you spend time with beautiful friends, in a beautiful mountain town, you quickly realize how sovereign god is. whether it's while you're headed straight down a hill screaming and somehow manage to avoid a spill, relaxing in a spa with girlfriends, or getting ready to move out of the place you recently made "home"....the Lord has you...

Merry Christmas.

Much Love.

Monday, December 13, 2010

"i feel happy"

jeff and i celebrated our 1 year anniversary on saturday. jeff out-did me, once again, in the romance department. jeff and i are really dedicated to keeping our budget, and have some big costs coming up (visiting michigan, skiing in vermont, buying a puppy) so we promised to not purchase each other anything... i wrote jeff a corny card. the end.

jeff, on the other hand, wrote me the most beautiful letter...that included the vows we took one year ago (we got married the 20th of december, but wanted to celebrate early because this time of year is SO crazy!)

my handsome and talented brothers did most of the music at our wedding, and my mom insisted that they perform "come and get higher" by matt nathanson. it's a beautiful song...

my husband is an accomplished violinist, but SURPRISE, he's great at playing all instruments. i walked in the door on saturday morning after my workout, and jeff was sitting in a chair that faced the door singing/playing "come and get higher" on the guitar. honestly, could he be more perfect?

we later dined at Peter Luger's steakhouse (yum!) and enjoyed some mulled wine at a local restaurant. have you ever had mulled wine? it is so delicious - warm, spiced wine... my supervisor introduced it to me at a work function.. perfect for this time of year!

all in all, i am blessed to know that i'm jeff's beloved...

on another note...

i have been working on the identification of feelings with one of my little 2 1/2 year old clients. this particular kid has grown very dear to my heart because i see him EVERYDAY. his mommy is really up on the research, and knows that children with PDD and autism struggle to identify and express emotion.. when this little guy gets excited or frustrated, we stop and he imitates what i say (ie., "I feel happy", "I feel mad".)

the other day, i was explaining to him that it was time to start cleaning up, and that he did a good job talking today. at the end of each session, he gets about 5 minutes of television as a reward while i fill out my session notes. on this particular day, this is how our conversation went:
  • me: time to clean up! good talking today!
  • litte guy: tv on?
  • me: yes! tv on! good talking.
  • little guy: i feel happy
ohhh if he only knew how this touched my heart... not only because he generalized "i feel happy", but because TV also makes me VERY happy...and because, in general, i have felt very happy recently...

today, little guy didn't say anything, he just grabbed my face and placed a big ol' wet one on my lips.... hahah

in the words of my little guy, "i feel happy" about the past year of marriage, my job and what the LORD has blessed me with.

much love.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Brooklyn Bridge

Jeff and I walked the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday morning together....a touristy thing I wanted to do while living here.  Jeff had a bundle of energy --here he is doing "tricks" on our way back to Brooklyn!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Jeff forced me to rejoice today

today was one of those days....where my husband had to force me to rejoice.

jeff and i had a little tiff on the way to church...then the pastor spoke about 1 thessalonians 5:16-18 (the verses i referenced that inspired my "rejoice always" blog entries.) who wants to rejoice after a tiff? not me! the pastor had us right down things we were 'rejoicing' over... my bitter heart thought, "NOTHING, I REJOICE OVER NOTHING!"

jeff rejoiced over our marriage...he is just too good


then, a family shared about how they rejoiced this year after the birth of their beautiful daughter, who was born with down syndrome...whoa.. i have a lot to learn.. i cried through the entire service....

we briefly spoke with dan and cathy, who are our dear friends in our small group. cathy said, "did you get your hair cut or colored?" well, little did cathy know that i decided this morning that i no longer like my haircut, so i was wearing it up. it's too short, and has TOO many layers - scraggly is a good word to describe it...

cathy jested, "did she give you a chinese mullet?" after she said it, i thought to myself, "yes, actually..."

jeff and i ran around for two hours looking for materials for christmas gifts... two hours in brooklyn, queens and manhattan...and we couldn't even find the right stuff..


rejoice always..

i continued to complain about my scraggly hair, how i have recently gained weight and then asked to go to taco bell...HA

when we got home, before jeff would go on a run with me, he FORCED me to rejoice in FIVE things...FIVE things?!

I'll do it later.

Much Love.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Rejoice Always: My Chinese Family

Can I be honest with you? When I was growing up and imagined what my husband would look like, Jeff was NOT what I had in mind. Inundated with Disney movies, I think I imagined myself with a man who is white, tall and dark (hey, be honest, you don't usually dream of marrying someone that looks VERY different from you or the people in your family of origin.) God had different, and much better, plans for me.

While I'm being honest, I have to admit that when Jeff and I briefly broke up while dating, one of my reasons was, "My kids will never look like me!" I know it sounds egocentric, but truth is that Jeff's dark, Asian features are going to dominate all of the recessive-ness that is ME. And, let's continue to be honest ladies, as a future mother, you long for your children to look a LITTLE bit like you, right? Alas, I'm glad that this shallow quality didn't keep me from marrying my Jeff.

Today, I had quite a unique experience. I've been talking about getting my hair cut and colored for months (I have WAY too much gray hair for a 24 year-old.) Jeff's mom was the last person to cut my hair back in June, and I was long over-due. All of my friends, who also happen to be Asian, always tell me, "Go to Flushing, you'll get a great, cheap hair cut/color!" (Flushing is an area in Queens, NY that is heavily populated by Asians.) So, today, Mrs. Chin took me to her hair salon.

I don't have high expectations for my hair. As long as it's long, it's manageable. And, in terms of color, I just don't want to have BLACK or RED hair (it's really hard to get a dark brown color without the end result looking black or red.) When I walked in, I was a little intimated because the three hair stylists were only speaking Chinese. It's a little unsettling when you can't speak the main language of the person who is about to cut and color your hair. Eeek. Gratefully, Jeff's mom CAN speak Chinese and assured me that she communicated my desires for my hair to Janet, the hair stylist.

The haircut was fast, and exactly what I wanted. Phew, I was relieved. Then, as they started to color my hair, Jeff's mom explained to me that the hairdresser went to beauty school in Japan and they use different products compared to American salons. My anxiety started to grow as the color on my hair and scalp slowly turned purple. I kept asking Jeff's mom to communicate with the hair stylist that I didn't want purple hair - was my hair going to be purple?

I think Janet and the other workers sensed my anxiety. So, they brought me back to the hair washing station. I started to think, "Hmmm, are they washing the color out? What are they doing?" They laid me down, put a cold rag on my eyes and brought out a hand-held massager (like the ones they sell in Brookstone) and massaged me for the 40 minutes of hair-processing time. A little weird, yes. Just imagine: I'm in a salon, where no one speaks my language, with my eyes covered and the last visual I have is of my purple hair. There came a point when I thought, "Screw it! There is nothing I can do anymore!"

My hair ended up looking great AND I really enjoyed spending some quality time with Jeff's mom. She is so sweet and a great translator :)

As I was reflecting on my experiences with Jeff's family, who are obviously of a different culture than I am familiar with, I feel really thankful that I have this time in New York to learn more about Jeff's identity and family of origin. I have begun to understand him, and love him, a little bit better. And, back to the man I once imagined myself with versus Jeff, I am starting to find myself thinking, "Ohh, I truly hope my babies look more like my husband. Asian is so beautiful. My friends are so beautiful. My husband is so beautiful." (Jeff will kill me for calling him beautiful, but it's just the adjective that comes to my heart when I first think of him.)

I give my old-self a little break for being so egocentric, I really wasn't exposed to many races or cultures while living in Michigan (I only recognized black and white as races.) As the Lord has provided me with some beautiful friends (inside and out), I have really started to love, and appreciate, the beauty of race and culture that the Lord has created amongst human beings. I feel blessed that the Lord gave me something other than a white man to marry (no offense to my white sisters who are married/dating white men - God has good plans for everyone.) I get to taste a part of His kingdom by having intimate relationships with folk that are different than me.

Missed my home and family on Thanksgiving, but am equally grateful for my Chinese family.

Today I rejoice in my Chinese Family (and the salon in Queens) :)

Much Love.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rejoice Always: Morning minutes, Gym time, and chats with a best friend

More rejoicing for this girl...

Rejoice Always: Morning minutes with Jeff
Jeff always sets his alarm clock for 7:00am. Although he quickly turns it off and falls back to sleep until 7:30, I rejoice in those 30 minutes of quiet with him in the morning. I always find my way into his embrace (or demand it, "cuddle me!") Mmmm, i love it.

Rejoice Always: Gym Time
I used to freak out and feel like a failure if a client canceled during the day. But now, I'm learning to rejoice in those extra minutes I get to myself. I actually have started to head to the gym, mid-day, if I have a cancellation. I am so grateful for clients near my local gym and for some periodic canceled sessions :)

Rejoice Always: Catch-up Chat Sessions with a Best Girlfriend
So refreshing. Today, during a "break" i had (after the gym), I got to spend 30 minutes on the phone with my sweet Ashley. Catching up on daily things like our jobs, marriage, summer plans (ashely and kyle are headed to INDIA!) and workout routines AND sharing our dreams of motherhood, living close to each other and ministry direction. It was all very, very good. How I long for the day when we are only a drive away and can take our kids to the park, grocery store or school.

Much Love.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rejoice Always

Today I rejoice in New York's "Indian Summer". 63 degrees on November 22. Praise God.

2 years ago (tomorrow!)

The Perfect Proposal

Two years ago (tomorrow), Jeff asked me to be his wife. I said "yes" (of course.) I know many of you have heard the proposal story, but just as a refresher, I thought I would re-share it :)

I had been on Jeff's case for a couple of months regarding when we would be engaged. Being the snoopy girl that I am, or that I thought I was, I had decided that Jeff was coming in the weekend of December 5th, 2009 to do the good deed. Jeff had purposefully left a plane ticket to Detroit on his desk dated for December 5th. When I saw it while visiting Jeff for his birthday two months prior, I thought to myself, "December 5th?! He's not supposed to come in on December 5th! Ahh! This must mean we are getting engaged on December 5th! Pretend you didn't see anything!" To my surprise, Jeff had out-smarted me and showed up on November 23 - the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

Ashley and I had previously made plans to have dinner at the Detroit Athletic Club on Sunday, November 23. Little had I known that it was all a ploy - Ashley was in on the secret proposal. Ashley picked me up, reminding me of the dress code at the Detroit Athletic Club, and mentioned that she had to stop by our church on the way there to pick up a couple of things. Our church is kind of in the 'hood and when we got there, Sue, the church secretary, asked if we would accompany her to the sanctuary to grab her purse -- all of the lights were off and she gets kind of scared going in there late at night by herself. Sue opened up the doors and I was in awe: all of the lights of the sanctuary were off, lit solely by candles down the aisle, on the piano and on the communion table. Along with the candles, rose pedals were covering the ground, piano and communion table. As I began to walk down the aisle, Jeff began playing the piano and singing a revised version of "Annie" by Dave Barnes to me. I sat on the bench as Jeff finished the song--overwhelmed by the trouble Jeff had gone through to capture my heart. After he was done singing, Jeff got down on his knee and popped the question - not sure if I should cry or scream, I yelled "YES!".

Following the proposal, Jeff washed my feet - similar to how Jesus would wash people's feet to show them He desired to serve them. We talked a lot about how we wanted to serve and love each other the rest of our lives and even had the opportunity to have communion with each other.

It really was the most perfect, beautiful proposal :)

Much Love.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Potluck (and a shower in our kitchen!)

"Rejoice Always" (1 thessalonians 5:16) When my heart is in a constant state of rejoicing, praising the Lord for his abundant blessings, I instantly become MORE aware of the small ways God is moving in my daily life....all of the things I am grateful for.

When Jeff and I started dating (when we were 19!) we started a
Blessing Book. The Blessing Book was a daily compilation of ways the Lord had blessed us on that specific day. I truly believe that it's good for the heart to rejoice in all events daily life brings you. So, I'm committing to write down at least one thing I rejoice in on a daily basis - one thing I am grateful for. Sometimes I may rejoice in the pain, because the Lord is teaching me something good. Somedays I will rejoice in the beautiful things.

Today, I rejoice in the community the Lord has blessed us with.
I rejoice in the fact that the Lord has brought me from my beloved home in Detroit, from my "comfort zone", to New York so I can fully know what it's like to have a community of friends that love the Lord and love me.

On Saturday, Jeff and I welcomed 7 of our dear friends (9 including us!) to a Thanksgiving Potluck at our home. Fully anticipating the delicious food and a great time, we were NOT anticipating the free-flowing stream of water from our hot water heater just as our guests arrived.

Our hot water heater and boiler are conveniently (or not-so-conveniently) locked in a closet located in our kitchen. Jeff and I have had several problems with our hot water heater and boiler. When I first told my dad about our issues, his first reaction was, "Get renters insurance. I think your hot water heater may explode. We had this problem at our old house." Hmmm...

Our Super and Landlord have been to our apartment 6 times (in the 40 days that we have lived here) to "fix" the issue. Initially, we noticed that our hot water heater was not appropriately warming up. After that issue had been dealt with, and it was cold enough to switch on our heat, a high-pitched alarm sound filled our apartment (once every five seconds, BEEP!) Ahh, we thought our issues were solved once the beeping was terminated.

but we were wrong.

On Saturday afternoon while Jeff, Dan and I prepared some delectable food, we heard a shower-like stream coming from the closet where our hot water heater and boiler are held. We immediately called our Super and Landlord ("THIS IS AN EMERGENCY! COME NOW!") The ladies who live below us knocked on our door wondering why there was water coming through their kitchen ceiling. yuck. to make a long-story (semi)short, we ended up forming a line through out kitchen to empty and fill the buckets of water that flowed from our hot water heater while our Super attempted to "cap" the problem. To say the least, our Super had a shower in our kitchen.

Grateful for our dear friends who helped us sop up the dirty water on our floors, our delicious thanksgiving potluck was not negatively affected by this unfortunate event. we enjoyed some yummy deep-friend cajun chicken from
jive turkey, a sweet-potato casserole, a green-bean casserole, corn bread, homemade cranberry sauce, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, homemade macaroni and cheese, a big salad AND mexican corn. Jeff is in leftover heaven.

jeff and dan carving the turkey

the turkey was so delicious, we kept stealing "bites" of it before it was time to actually sit down for dinner

get it, girl

israel taking a stab at turkey-carving

hydie and i pickin' at the goods!


engrossed in the food coma

end of the night...i was already sleeping...everyone looks so tired!

Thanks Lydia, Alfredo, Hydie, Dan, Cathy, Israel and Brittany :)

As thanksgiving quickly approaches, I just want to encourage you to REJOICE ALWAYS - if you have fallen on tough times, I promise that the Lord is teaching you something good. If you are loving life right now, be grateful and look for ways to bless others.

Much Love.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mom & Grandma Visit NYC!

(mom, grandma and i at Sardi's)

I was so blessed this weekend by my mom and grandma's visit to new york. The last time my grandma was in NYC was when she made a special trip for my mom on her 18th birthday! It was a short, sweet and JAM-PACKED weekend!

As noted in a previous post, Jeff visited with fraternity brothers in San Francisco this weekend, so it was truly a "girls weekend." While we explored and enjoyed Brooklyn and New York City, Jeff biked over 20 miles exploring San Fran and visited Nappa Valley (I'm a little jealous of the Nappa Valley part of his trip - maybe we can go back someday together.)

Mom and Grandma flew in Friday evening. We enjoyed a delicious dinner at a local restaurant, Chez Oskar (the spicy lamb-burger was delish!) Mom and I decided it was time for my grandma to get on facebook - so we set her up with an account. Hopefully someone back in Michigan will walk her through the steps so she can actually keep in touch with all of her family (my grandma had 8 brothers and sisters; 8 children; 17 grandchildren and 2 grandson-in-laws!)

We got an early start on Saturday...had coffee at Dunkin Donuts (of course) and swung by Target. My grandma bought jeff & i a coffee maker - something we never bought or registered for because we aren't big coffee drinkers....BUT we are excited to serve our guests coffee - Jeff's parents like coffee with their dessert. After breakfast, we drove to Manhattan (about a 10 minute drive) and stopped by Macy's on 34th street. The inside was already decorated for Christmas :) After our shopping adventure, we headed up to Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes! Festive and fun :) After the show, we went to Sardi's for a drink - my grandma took my mom here for her 18th birthday! It was so special :) Later, we went to Long Island to meet Jeff's mom for dinner....delicious Italian food, of course. It was nice to dine with 3 of my most favorite women :) We were exhausted by 7pm and fell asleep watching a movie on the couch.

(mom & i in front of macy's)

(macy's is all decorated for christmas!)

(officially in the holiday spirit after seeing the "rockettes"!)

(mom and grandma in times square - i love the advertisement behind them, "grab some buds" - haha)

My mom and grandma left at 7am this morning - I think it was a good thing that Jeff won't be home until later tonight...I still go through mini-meltdowns when my mom leaves NYC/I leave Michigan...Jeff is probably sick and tired of my emotional outbursts and obsession with home.

I think the funniest part of the weekend was when my mom, grandma and I were discussing death at lunch. My grandma said, "Sometimes I talk to Grandpa." My Grandma has Grandpa's ashes in her home. Grandma gestured by pretending to left the top off of his ashes, waved and said, "I say things like, 'Hi! Good riddance!'" I don't know why I thought that was funny, but it was.

Next weekend, Jeff and I will be hosting 8+ people (our bible study) for a Thanksgiving Potluck at our apartment. We are really looking forward to it! It so happens that my mom will actually be in town again while Allan attends some training -- so she's going to come to Brooklyn Saturday morning and help me prepare for the dinner :)

Alas, only 1.5 weeks until Thanksgiving and 6 more weeks until I'm home for a whole week at Christmas.

Much love.

Friday, November 12, 2010


my sweet husband is visiting some of his fraternity brothers in san francisco this weekend while my mom and grandma visit.  i was a little freaked out by sleeping alone in our new place last night.  predicting this would happen, jeff wrote me the sweetest note and slipped it under my pillow.

in the note, jeff talked about how fulfilled he is by our marriage.  

jeff and i both know a marriage cannot complete a person or fulfill our deepest emotional needs, only god can...but our marriage can be fulfilling.  and it feels good.

i was deeply touched by jeff's note.  jeff and i have been digging into the word (1 john) with our small group and hashing out some differences we have on finances.  god is forming our marriage into something beautiful. something more than i expected.  

the notes, words or affirmation and gentle touches throughout the day really make me feel loved. not only am i loved by my heavenly father, i am loved by a great man.  

i don't know why i posted about this - maybe it's too intimate.  

much love.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sara Bareillis!

Jeff took me to see one of my favorite musicians, Sara Bareillis...what a fun night! Thanks, hubs!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Skating with the Stars

big news! one of my life-long friends, brooke, will be one of the professional skaters on "skating with the stars." the show debuts on November 22 on ABC. i am overwhelmed with excitement for her. brooke has dedicated her entire life to figure skating and has been blessed with this great opportunity to funnel her craft and coaching skills on a national television show. (brooke's mom, denise, used to babysit for my brothers and i when we were young -- i clearly remember long days at the ice rink while brooke trained.)

my mom (mary) and brooke's mom (denise) have been best friends since high school. although life took us down different paths (schools, circles of friends, life events, etc.), my family has encountered no major life event without the love and support of denise and her family (i usually don't call her "denise", but am trying to keep some anonymity for their family.)

please join jeff and i on november 22 (and the following monday evenings!) as we watch brooke skate on "skating with the stars" (ABC.) please vote for her, too (10x by phone, 10x by internet!)

much love.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

shattered window

when i first started working in brooklyn, i felt unstoppable.  although i had some initial fear of working in the 'hood, they quickly died and i became a little too comfortable.  last week was a bad week for me.  our car was broken into while working and my purse was stolen out of the glove compartment.  most people may say, 'you silly girl, why did you leave your purse in your glove compartment?' yes, i know it sounds silly, but carrying around a purse into low-income, not-so-safe housing makes me a target for crime.  thus, i leave my purse in my car.  i don't need any extra attention.  

i was so discouraged when my car was broken into.  i was literally away from my car for about 30 minutes.  i thought i was being smart: i parked on a busy street where there were several pedestrians, a grocery store and trucks unloading.  as i started to walk back to my car, i saw the passenger's window was shattered into pieces.  freaked out, i immediately started to cry.  i'm sure i looked like a fool - the only white girl in the neighborhood, crying on the corner of a busy intersection.  gratefully, a police officer was driving down the street and helped me file a report and find a glass shop to get my window fixed.  

(please note: the difference between detroit and the 'hood of brooklyn is police presence. in new york, there are police EVERYWHERE.  in detroit, there is no guarantee they will come to help you.)

i lost nothing - jeff quickly canceled my credit cards and i only had some spare change in my wallet.  the thief just got a cute clutch and a cheap wallet. no biggie.  yet, i gained a sense of fear.  i am in this exact neighborhood on a daily basis.  how will i come back? how will i park my car knowing that someone has already broken into it?  initially, i thought, "GOD! why would you allow this to happen! i am doing your work in this crummy neighborhood! protect me!"

when i called jeff and my parents, i expected a "i told you so - working in the hood isn't that great, laura" response, but they were so gentle and loving.   

anyways, our small group is currently studying 1 john.  this particular week, we were studying 1 john 1 which talks a lot about living in "the light".   

i was so humbled and blessed because after the car incident, one of the mothers i work with that lives in the area called me and said, "laura, don't give up on us. you are a light in our neighborhood. we need you." THAT was when i knew satan was attacking me when my car was broken into.  THAT was when i knew that god is using me in new york.  THAT was when all of the fear went away and i felt so much peace.  THAT was when i realized that God didn't 'allow' my car to get broken into because "god is light, and in him there is no darkness at all" (1 john 1:5).  

this incident was satan. but god still used it.  

praise god.

on another note, jeff and i are finally feeling settled into our home and our neighborhood.  this morning we enjoyed our local farmer's market, flea market and park (all within 2 blocks of us!)  we also got to eat lunch with seth and jax - some good friends from michigan.

we are now getting ready to head out to dinner with jeff's parents and brother.  happy birthday to my best friend (and hubby) and my mother-in-law :)

much love.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Brooklyn: The City of More and Less!

so, we are officially moved-in (see pic above of our living room - so cozy!)  we are "brooklyn-ites".  jeff and i have learned a lot about ourselves over the past week (learning is usually an unpleasant, difficult process.)  i understand why people don't move frequently: it's a pain in the butt and can really test your marriage. my girlfriend, leigh-anne, recently blogged about one of sara groves' songs that says, "loving a person just the way they are it's a hard thing. it takes some time to see things through." during the moving process, i quickly began to understand some jeff's weird quirks - and he definitely started to learn about some of mine!  our exhaustion and frustration led to calloused hearts. gratefully, some quality time this weekend together really forced us to dig into our issues and heal. marriage is good.  

so, there are many things i love about brooklyn.  i'm quickly learning how much MORE it has to offer versus manhattan. 
  1. space: we have more space in our apartment (almost twice the amount of space versus our old place!) and there are MANY more parking spaces (so important!)  jeff and i have even found some grocery stores nearby with parking lots! oh, the joys of semi-suburban life.  we also live 1/2 block away from a large park.  Barnabas (our future dog) will love this.
  2. restaurants: don't get me wrong - manhattan has some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the world... although brooklyn has LESS choices, there are more QUALITY restaurants available within walking distance of our apartment that don't break the bank.  jeff and i tend to be cheap and indecisive so brooklyn is perfect for us.  
  3. grocery stores: brooklyn has grocery stores that are more accessible for drivers and cheaper. woohoo! 
  4. local markets: lastly, there is a fresh outdoors farmers market at the end of our block on Saturdays. fresh seasonal fruits, veggies...YUM.  last weekend, jeff also discovered a flea market two blocks away that sells antique furniture, gifts, art, books, personalized knick-knacks. pretty neat!
  5. families: our neighborhood has a lot of cute, young families pushing strollers around and playing in the parks.  it feels so much more "homey" than manhattan
Brooklyn also has LESS of a lot of things I loathed about Manhattan:
  1. birds: pigeons have infested manhattan streets. they are ALL over the place. since i was little, i have been terrified birds - especially the big, ugly dirty ones.  brooklyn has less of those ugly, flying rodents
  2. traffic: i drive for my job and have really appreciated the minimal amount of traffic i encounter throughout my day. it's glorious.
  3. hustle-and-bustle: there is so much pressure in manhattan. everyone is in a rush or competing with someone else.  i hate that tension. jeff and i have both experienced less of this here in brooklyn.  it's like a breath of fresh air!
as you can tell, i love brooklyn and am excited to experience it more with my hubby.  we now have two bedrooms, so please come and visit us! 

i have also learned a lot about how hurtful my bitter comments during a stressful situation can be to jeff.  i am really going to spend some time finding the root of this bitterness so i don't take it out on him anymore.  i am grateful and he knows it "takes some time to see things through".

much love.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Becoming a grown-up in Brooklyn

Alas, it's true - Jeff and I are growing up.  We have grown-up expenses, grown-up jobs, are renting a grown-up apartment AND just put a deposit down for our first family member, a puppy!  

I spoke with my mom this afternoon after she left NYC. I was crying, of course - missing home.  Although she sympathized with me for a minute, the conversation ended with a tone of, "Laura, it's time to grow up."  It's true. Growing up is upon us.  

Grown-up Expenses
Do you know how stressful it is to have money? Jeff and I are by no means rich, but we do have a steady stream of income (Praise God for our jobs!) My thought life has been more consumed by money and finances when compared to my financial situation in graduate school (some weeks I would have $5 in my bank account - God STILL provided.) It's an obsession. Having more has definitely made me want more. Yuck. As Jeff and I were reviewing our finances, it seems as though our fixed costs have grown exponentially.  In all honesty, when compared to others at our life-stage, we are doing "well". We are saving, giving and enjoying BUT we don't want to hold ourselves to the "wanting more" lifestyle that consumes our culture (do you know how many people have an unhealthy amount of financial DEBT in our country?!)  I am so grateful for Jeff who has set our marital 'saving standard' much higher than I would. I really appreciate how he desires to be a good steward of what the Lord has blessed us with. We know that money is what destroys so many marriages and relationships and we don't want to let it control ours. Our church is offering "Financial Peace University" by David Ramsey - a seminar on using and viewing money in a way that honors the Lord. We are looking forward to that :) 

Grown-up Jobs
I know I've posted about this before, but I love my job as a speech therapist. Although it's so fun to hang out with families and their babies all day, I interact with individuals with very 'grown-up' issues. Sexual abuse, abandonment, poverty....issues that are bigger than what a 0-3 year old can handle.  In addition, jeff and i are dealing with questions about insurance options, 401K, life insurance policies - how did we get here so fast?  What is life insurance and why do we need it? isn't it for old people, like our parents?  :)

Grown-up Apartment
(See pic above of a street in Fort Greene - ours looks similar!) Although we haven't officially signed the lease, we have put down a deposit for an apartment in Fort Greene, Brooklyn! It's a beautiful apartment in a brownstone located 1/2 blocks away from a large park and 1 block away from Jeff's subway stop. The Lord is good.  We will be moving September 30.  I feel really lucky that my mom even got to see it this weekend - she loved it! We are praying that the Lord would use us in this neighborhood for HIS glory.

Growing Family
I grew up with a family dog, Brodie, who is still missed.  Ever since we got married, Jeff and I have really wanted a dog.  Well, the time is right and we have done our research: we will be welcoming a Portuguese Water Dog into our family in January!  We are so excited!  My mom, Jeff and I had fun thinking of names for our soon-to-be pup this weekend.  Some contenders include: Barnabas, Wolverine, Scooby, Brooklyn, Eddie or Frank (for Frank's Hot Sauce.)  

well, it's 9:15pm - my bedtime. thanks to my momma for a great weekend!

much love.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

US Open!

Jeff took me to the US Open Monday night- we even say Roger Federer play! What a special experience shared with my hub.

This pic is taken at the US Open which is located near where the Worlds Fair was held years ago in New York (hence he globe.)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Quick Prayer for my Dad


(I only feel free to post this request because I know my dad is secure in his sobriety, and will freely speak to anyone interested about his addiction.)  

As many of you know, this has been a long 2 years for my dad.  In October of 2008 my dad and his wife relapsed with drugs & alcohol.  Although he is approaching his 2 year sobriety date (praise God!), the Lord really has humbled my dad through this experience.  He lost A TON: his marriage, his house, his job, financial security and his relationship with his son.  My dad loves the Lord and has faith that the Lord will be faithful in providing for his needs (I have a lot to learn from him.)

My dad is a pharmacist, and because of legal reasons, he has not been able to practice since his last relapse in October 2008.  This THURSDAY, September 9, my dad will visit the court to determine if, and when, he can go back to work.  Gratefully, my dad has followed any and all probation regulations, has remained sober, and continues to be dedicated to his sobriety and living a clean life.  

These past two years has also been really stressful on me (& Jeff), Peter and even my mom.  My dad doesn't have ANY family and few friends to keep him company, help him in time of need or just hang out with.  I feel extreme guilt when I visit Michigan because, although I spend a good deal of time with him, I am torn between time in Grosse Pointe with my mom and friends and time in Howell (1 hour away from 'home') with my dad.  I am in constant fear of a relapse, or some other accident.  Who will find my dad if he falls down the stairs or into the lake?  Does my dad have enough money to eat?  The Lord has been doing a great deal of breaking my co-dependent thinking with my dad, but it still sucks.  

So, I am asking that you would please pray for my dad and his court date on September 9. If it is in the Lord's will for my dad to go back and work as a pharmacist, pray he would open that door.  If it is not in the Lord's will for my dad to be a pharmacist, but do something else, please pray for that.  My dad is getting bored and really desires a schedule (and some extra money!)

Thank you so much.

Much Love.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska is a dessert made of ice cream, spongecake and meringue.  I had a little too much Baked Alaska on our Alaskan Cruise last week. In fact, I had too much of ALL food last week.  Oops.  

Jeff and I went on an Alaskan Cruise last week with his brother, parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle and three cousins...a Chin Family affair.  We were celebrating Mr. Chin's 60th birthday and checking an item off of Jeff's Grandpa's bucket list (I know, it's a bit morbid.)  

Our trip started in Seattle.  The Oosterdam (our ship) set sail from Downtown Seattle and we had the opportunity to enjoy the city prior to leaving.  The time difference really didn't affect me - in fact, I continued to fall asleep at about 10pm Eastern Standard Time throughout the trip (even though that was about 6pm Alaskan time, haha.)  
Here we are on our boat outside of Seattle - beautiful!

Jon enjoying all of the fish at Pike Place Market. Jon manages the seafood department at Whole Foods...Seafood is his passion (which is obvious if you ever ride -or smell-his car.)

Jeff and I enjoying Pike Place Market

Two brothers enjoying Seattle together..Dressed in clashing plaid 

After Seattle we set sail for Juneau, Alaska. We spent 2 days at sea and visited "glacier valley". It was beautiful!  HUGE mountains, glaciers and whales swimming around us.   (see other posts for pictures of glaciers and other alaska photos i took on my phone.)

Downtown Juneau was my favorite spot. We shopped in the morning and hiked Mt. Roberts - 3.5 miles up hill in the wet mountains.  Saying it was my FIRST hike ever, it was a tough one!  

Jeff's mom, brother and three cousins hiked with us. Here's a picture of us at the top!

Mrs. Chin was a trooper - she fell in the mud (it was slippery!) and her pants got pretty dirty. For some reason I thought it was appropriate to rub mud on my face so she didn't feel left out :)

"Hi, my name is Jeff and I won't look at the camera to take a picture." :)

So beautiful!

Our last two stops were Katchikan and Sitka.  They were .... small towns.  Fun (and beautiful!) to see, but not much there.  The best part was seeing THOUSANDS of salmon swimming upstream to spawn. Jeff and I bought some heavy-duty rain boots and got to STAND in the stream with the fish (gross, but cool.)

Overall, I am grateful for this opportunity to go to Alaska. Cruises aren't my FAVORITE thing, and I probably won't go on another one (the smells get to me), but it was a great vacation!

Much Love.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Enjoying New York City

Hard to believe, I know, but Jeff and I REALLY have been enjoying New York City. I think this past week was the first time I stopped and thought, "wow, this is nice. i like it here."

ok, don't go crazy on me, i still long to be home in detroit...but it's ok here.. for now :)

Last week, I got to meet one of my mom's friends she used to work with, Adrianne, and her family. Adrianne has a beautiful son and it was so refreshing to meet another christian woman living here in new york city.

Now that Jeff and I have two paychecks, we've also felt as though we can financially afford to be "New Yorkers". New York has SO much to offer, but it's NOT cheap. Last week we were able to try some new restaurants together (one of my favorite things to do.) On Saturday we visited Governor's Island (see picture in previous post.) We took a ferry to the island, rented a tandem bike and had a picnic. After, we met my dear friend, Ali, and her family at Riverside park for some relaxing music. It was a perfect "new york" day.

When I had a break between seeing two babies, I started to read some of Oswald Chambers' "My Utmost for His Highest" and I had a moment..

A moment that I didn't want to admit to...

A moment that I SURELY didn't want to tell Jeff about...

A moment I can't believe I'm blogging about...

God changed my heart. I felt peace as He told me, "Laura, you will love Brooklyn, and I need you to trust me with the amount of time I have you and Jeff here."


I knew I had to immediately call Jeff and tell him amount my moment with The Lord because if I didn't, I would continue to nag him and try to control our timeline here in New York. I called him, crying, and owned up to what the Lord was teaching me. Jeff's response was so graceful. He immediately said, 'Thank you for calling, but this doesn't change our plan about trying to get back to Detroit next fall. God just wanted you to change your heart - who knows when He will lead us back."

We found a neighborhood (and apartment) that we love in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. It's by a beautiful park and cute downtown area. It's also close to all of the babies that I see for speech therapy. I am really looking forward to more space and making a home here.

Well, we head to Alaska tomorrow with Jeff's family on a cruise! Look forward to pictures when we return!

Much Love.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Governors Island

Jeff and I tandem bike riding on governors island in nyc

Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"baby rabies"

yes, it's what jeff refers to my obsession with babies and small children..."baby rabies". i am infected. i started babysitting when i was in 6th grade (aunt patty, what where you thinking leaving a 10 year old with two children under 3????!) and have consistently babysat through graduate school. i still have a babysitting job here in NYC that i love to do when i have some free time (they are the coolest people i've met while living here.) my mom told me that when she brought peter home from the hospital (he is 18 months younger than I am) i walked around saying, "where's MY baby?" - trying to feed him, care for him, as if he were my own. it started young, folks.

(this is my cousin kelly - i started babysitting her when I was 10! all grown up:) )

i know jeff was secretly hoping my "baby rabies" would subside once i started working, 8 hours a day, with babies under 3...much to his dismay, and mine, it makes me love them more! seriously, i am such a nerd. when i see people post on facebook about their small infant/toddler and their development (in language OR feeding) i get a little too excited.

(this is a picture of sweet Ava and I a few years ago. I was her nanny during college)

i secretly hope every month that i am pregnant (which is next to impossible), yet there is some rational side of me that knows jeff and i cannot emotionally, spiritually and financially care for a child while living in new york. before we got married i foolishly told jeff, "i want to work for as long as i have been in school - about 6 years with graduate school" and he REALLY wants to stick with that. he wants us to enjoy each other, travel, save (oh jeff, why are you so rational?) i am such an impatient person who wants my desires satisfied RIGHT NOW. the lord is really teaching me to enjoy where we are now (young, living in new york city, working jobs we love) but is it really a sin as a woman to long for a child so deeply?

last week jeff and i were having dinner and he jokingly said, "we're never having babies!" (or something of the sorts) and I STARTED TO CRY! he was completely kidding, but for some reason this comment struck me so deeply i couldn't stop the tears. i think about hannah, sara, rachel...all of these women of the bible that had to WAIT for a child. they remind me of my sweet friend sarah who is only 26 and had to go through so many tests, ultrasounds, and almost surgery before the lord blessed her with a pregnancy. i selfishly think, "eeek, Lord, please don't make me walk through that. i would rather get pregnant on accident TOMORROW than be barren."

and, if i'm really honest with myself, i cannot have a baby when living in a different city than my mom. she is my best friend. i need her by my side as i walk through pregnancy. i can only start praying that my daughter (yes, jeff and i think we will only have daughters, haha) and i will someday have a relationship as precious as my relationship with her.

as you finish reading this you're probably thinking, 'jeff is right. laura is crazy. she has baby rabies'. it's ok. i embrace it.

much love.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Getting "FIT" makes me LOVE my job!

It's true. I love my job. I know, hard to believe after the last posts about how exhausting it was. Why is it so much better? Jeff and I purchased a Honda Fit a couple of weekends ago which has made my life so much easier! No more morning panic attacks, no more "roughing it" on brooklyn public transportation to 8 homes a day, no more "stealing" air conditioning on hot, sweaty days from local businesses...Our Fit has blessed me so much.

We had been looking into buying a car for the past month or so but thought we would wait until early September to make a purchase. Two weekends ago we had the opportunity to test drive a Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta and ended up buying the Fit THAT day. This purchase was also a milestone in our marriage: our first grown-up purchase. I am so grateful for a job, and a supportive husband, to be able afford a car. Most New Yorkers don't get this luxury :)

Much Love.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

emotional exhaustion

i'm really struggling to set boundaries with my work. i'm emotionally, physically and spiritually exhausted. when i get home from work, the LAST thing i want to do is spend time with my husband because i've been running around like a crazy woman serving families all day. poor jeff is taking the brunt of my inability to set boundaries. i don't want to go out at night, i can't think about getting on a bus or subway to do something fun. all i think about is work and sleep. i have mini-breakdowns every morning. i can't live like this any longer.

i keep hoping it will get better when my caseload is full, or when we move to brooklyn, or when the weather cools down, or when we get a car....i can't decide if these are false hopes that i'm clinging to, or if things will lighten up a little. i finally have a full caseload, so we'll see how things go next week.

a lot of my exhaustion is physical. nyc has had a hot summer - most days it's above 90 degrees. i run in and out of 8+ homes a day, most with no air conditioning. will having a car reduce some of this exhaustion?

some of my exhaustion is emotional. i see babies that have been sexually and physically abused. babies who have never been read to, spoken to. babies who have parents that can't pay rent and end up at a shelter they are unfamiliar with....i also have the privilege of working with parents that love their babies and try really hard to help them improve their communication skills...i find myself investing so much of my thought life into both types of families. i worry about the babies with uninvolved and abusive families and, yet, i miss my mom more when i see the parents that bust their booties to get their children the best services possible. most mornings i cry on my way to my first child - thinking about my own mom and how hard she worked for me and my brothers.

my spiritual life has been lacking. i am so tired at the end of the day, that the last thing i want to do is spend time with the Lord. i am so grateful for my husband who prays for me everyday - especially on the really hot days or the days i go into the 'creepy' abusive homes. he prays for my safety and that i would be a light for Christ to these families when i can't rely on my own abilities.

i spoke with my mom today and we discussed this moment we had when i was in elementary school. i must have come home from a sleepover early because i was homesick....i was in bed with my mom as she told me that someday i would go away to college, move away with my childish response was, "NO WAY! I WANT TO LIVE AT HOME FOREVER WITH YOU!" funny how i still feel that same desire - maybe not the same house, but the same city, with jeff of course :)

so here i am...still missing my mom (haha) and emotionally exhausted. i'm really hoping that my job will settle down and that the Lord would begin to teach me appropriate physical, emotional and spiritual boundaries i need to have with my work (if only i would actually stop and spend time with Him.) it's so hard to set boundaries when so much about my job involves RELATIONSHIP and COMMUNICATION (relationships are impossible without communication.)

sometimes i look back at that decision i made with jeff in june to NOT apply for a job in detroit and commit to NYC for another year. sometimes i feel the manipulative nature of Eve creep up - i think to myself, 'get pregnant. you'll have to move can't afford a child in nyc.' GO AWAY EVE!

so, here are some of the boundaries i'm setting. they're not that i may have to change them:
-no work phone calls or emails after 630pm.
-no work, at all, on sundays
-making life easier by moving to brooklyn and buying a car is not a selfish sin. i will no longer think like that.
-the Lord, my marriage and THEN work.
-i have to take a minute to eat while working. because i've been so busy, i have stopped eating throughout the day. because i'm stressed, this is bringing back some weird control issues i thought i had dealt with as a teenager. eek.
-keep on hoping that we will be near my mom and my family someday soon. the lord knows my desires and will be faithful.

(wow, while i reread this post i thought to myself, 'stop whining. be grateful')

Monday, July 5, 2010

My sweet husband

Just a quick note:

I may have the sweetest, most considerate husband. I told him that the idea of cooking after work really stresses me tonight, I find him in the kitchen, prepping all of the vegetables and putting them in separate containers so HE can make dinner tomorrow night.

Ladies, I pray you are as blessed as I have been :)

Here is a quick picture of High Line Park - Jeff took me there on a surprise date last Wednesday evening (before the most delicious mexican food.) High Line is a park at 14th street that travels all the way up to 23rd street (up 10th avenue, along the Hudson River.) It's elevated and SO beautiful! The pictures are a little blurry because I couldn't figure how to get them from my phone to the blogger?

Much Love.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Lord has been testing my idealism

I walk into one of my client's homes: it's dark, the floors are sticky, it stinks, i hear rodents scurrying on the floor next to me as I walk up the steps (thank goodness there isn't enough light for me to see them in the staircase.) Here I am, in Bedford Stuyvesant - notoriously known for being one of Brooklyn's most dangerous neighborhoods. Strikingly similar to the city of Detroit.

I sit down with this 2 1/2 year old child. It's 90 degrees outside. I'm hot, sticky, and there are no lights on in the one room apartment. As I pull out the most ordinary toys like bubbles and Mr. Potato Head, this sweet little girl is amazed. As we begin our session, I'm frequently distracted by movement in my peripheral vision. Within two minutes, I notice a big long rat tail in the corner of my eye. This home is infested: rats, cockroaches and desperation. The child's mother is trying. She is a good mom that attempts to provide the most language-rich environment with the resources she has. As I leave, I'm scared. I'm scared because men are whistling at me and one man even follows me a couple of blocks until I reach the subway.

For the past couple years, I have preached about how I desire to practice as a speech therapist in the city of Detroit with low-income families who live in the 'hood'. As I left Bed Stuy two Wednesdays ago, I caught myself thinking, "Lord, are you sure? Are you sure you want me to put myself in danger just to give some kid speech therapy?" My idealistic tendencies were being tried.

Just as I began to question myself, my job, and my commitment to children of low-income areas, I received an email from my clinical supervisor at Wayne State: 24 speech and language pathology positions would be opening for the fall. WHAT!? 24 open positions in the city where Jeff & I ultimately want to be? Obviously, I thought, this is God telling me to quit my job and move home.......I surprised Jeff one evening by telling him I would be applying to one of these jobs in Detroit (not my most proud 'wife moment'.) He told me that he didn't think this was the time the Lord had for us to go home. Boo. I respected him [with my teeth clenched.]

A few days later Jeff called me to have a 'talk' (eek, I was nervous.) He told me that I should apply for a job in Detroit for the fall (WHAT!? jeff was giving me a 'free pass' to detroit in the FALL!) He was afraid he was standing in the way of God's will. I immediately started shaking and crying. The Lord was doing something within me.

I hate admitting this, but I know the Lord does not want us in Detroit this fall. It took every bone of my body to tell Jeff, "No, we can't go to Detroit this fall, we need another year in new york (aka this place that I HATE!)" As I frequently look back and regret that moment, Jeff has spoken so much truth into my heart:
  • I am learning so much about early intervention in new york. i have resources here that detroit does not have to offer
  • I am learning so much about serving low income children and families here in new york that will guide me when we do move back to Detroit
  • And, although it freaks Jeff out to dwell in this, "HE goes before me, HE shields my way." Even when it feels unsafe in these neighborhoods, the Lord has gone before me to prepare a way to minister and love on these families here in new york. He is my Protector.
So, as I sit and play with my little Bed Stuy kiddos, I am praying for the children in Detroit I will someday better serve (with or without the rats and cockroaches.) I have fervently prayed the Lord would prepare me for Detroit while I"m here in New York and, to NO surprise, He is! Praise God.

Much Love.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bon Bini!

Bon Bini means "welcome" in Papiamento - one of the four languages spoken in Aruba.  Arubians speak English, Spanish, Dutch (they are a Dutch province) and Papiamento.  Papiamento is a combination of English, Spanish and Dutch - interesting, eh?  Here are some pictures of our Aruban adventure.  You'll notice some of the pictures are hazy - that's because it is SO humid in Aruba that your camera lense has to 'air out' prior to taking pictures.  It is also VERY windy Aruba - hence the headband I wore every single day (although the wind kept the beach and pool nice and cool!)
The lighthouse restaurant.  Looking over Aruba - celebrating 5 months of marriage :)

Madam Jeanettes - delicious aruban cuisine.

Snorkel snorkel!
Beautiful sunset @ the lighthouse

jeff trying to like sushi.
these lizards were NOT afraid of humans!
we loved the drinks from the bar - they had minimal alcohol and always were frozen. yum.

So, that was our trip to Aruba.  I am constantly reminded how blessed I am to have a husband who fears the Lord.  Jeff works so hard to love the lord, love me and provide for us.  This past week he has really demonstrated the FREE GIFT of GRACE Jesus provides for us by paying off my college loans.  Jeff never took those loans out for school (don't get me wrong, I never took out loans for 'spending' - just to pay for school) but he is PAYING BACK my indebtedness. I feel unworthy of his love, just like I sometimes feel unworthy of the Lord's love and forgiveness. So, thanks Jeff :)

Much Love.