Mike&Sarah

Tag Archive: gift

Boxes of Love

Photo by Aemiessence Fine Arts. www.aemiessence.com

Photo by Aemiessence Fine Arts. www.aemiessence.com

The power of modern technology ends when the lights go out and batteries die, and Hurricane Sandy sent that message loud and clear to many people in New York City and the surrounding area.

Our NYC apartment was fine, we never lost power, and our neighborhood only suffered a few fallen trees branches.  

But as you know, the areas surrounding us suffered far more damage.  Our friend took pictures in the NYC neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Breezy Point and the Rockaways within days of the devastating storm highlighting some of the drastic effects.  I posted three of his pics here, and you can see more on his photo blog Aemiessence Fine Arts.

With so many people still hurting and trying to dig out, Mike and several executives and marketplace professionals involved with Cru spent hours at the Here’s Life Inner City warehouse in Queens cleaning up hurricane damage and packing Boxes of Love™.

The assembly line at the HLIC warehouse in Queens to pack Boxes of Love for needy families and Hurricane survivors

Each box feeds a family of 6 physically and spiritually.  In partnership with local churches, individuals and other ministries, the act of compassion by giving food to a family in need opens the door to telling people about Jesus. As Pastor Andrew Jagessar from The Worship Center of Queens in New York explains, “Being able to distribute something as needed as a Box of Love has helped position us as a church that is involved in the lives of our neighborhood.  It is invaluable.”

For the New York executives we minister to, being able to serve in a tangible way helps them connect with what’s really important in life: loving God and loving others.

In addition to helping to pack the Boxes, we gladly fed 3 families in need by giving a special gift towards Boxes of Love™ for Hurricane Sandy survivors.  You can, too, at www.HLICNYC.org.

 

Photo by Aemiessence Fine Arts. www.aemiessence.com

Thank You

“Thank you.” It seems like such a little phrase, but it comes from my heart.  I’m so humbled by the kindness and generosity people have poured out on us to celebrate our Sweetie PIE’s arrival.

My family bent over backwards to help us settle in: Chrissie and her 5-year old daughter made room in their home for us and we all lived together while we waited for some of the legal paperwork to be approved so we could legally return to New York with PIE.  They were inconvenienced, but didn’t complain!  My other sisters came over to “ooh” and “ahh,” and they even watched PIE for a few hours so Mike and I could go out for lunch to celebrate our 4th anniversary.  My mom was a happy grandmother for the second time.

Mike’s parents drove out to meet PIE on her first day.  They stayed for several days and brought gifts and sweet love for their seventh grandchild.

Our NYC church small group assembled our nursery so that when we returned to the City with PIE we walked into a the joy of a completed nursery.  They painted furniture, assembled the crib, washed the linens, sewed pillows and seat cushions, and arranged gifts and furniture.  Our nursery is gorgeous (I hope to write about it soon)!  Thank you Best Fellowship Group Ever!

Dear friends provided us with a quick “baby moon” get away in the midst of so much secret running around for fingerprinting and legal paperwork.  How delightful to escape to the beach for a looong weekend together.

Many people sent gifts and cards and gift cards to celebrate PIE and settle us into our new life as a family of three.  PIE’s closet overflows with new and hand-me-down clothes and we are quickly going through containers of formula and boxes of diapers.  Everywhere I look I see your gifts: tangible expressions of love and excitement about our “insta-family.”

I’m so grateful for each kind word and encouragement, though I’m not up-to-date with my handwritten thank you notes yet.  No, I’m not simply “grateful,” but I’m also overwhelmed, appreciative and humbled.  Your generosity has left me in unexpected awe again… which is a great way to describe this year: unexpected.

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you!

Welcome Baby Girl!

Mike and I have good news to announce:

We grew by two feet…We have a baby!

 Short Version:  We’re adopting a baby girl who was born 11 days ago, and she is with us now.

Daddy and Daughter on her first day

Longer Version:  On Wednesday morning February 1st, I took a call from an out of state pastor.  He got our name from mutual friends after he was approached by a young woman who was not in a position to raise her unborn baby girl.  (Interestingly, this call came just one day after we attended our first informational session about becoming foster parents in New York City.

Four days later, on Sunday February 5, we met the bio-mom.  We had about an hour together, and it was wonderful.  She seemed to understand the emotional difficulties associated with the adoption, but also acknowledged that she is not able to give her little girl the kind of life and home that she would want her to have.  The bio-mom is very brave and wants her baby girl to have the best in life.  We got along very well and she invited me into the delivery room!  (Mike had to wait in the hallway.

Mother and Daughter

The weeks following that meeting were full: hiring a lawyer in NY as well as one in the birth state, requesting letters of reference from friends, writing short biographies, helping my sister move out of our apartment, registering for baby gear, planning a nursery, getting physicals and getting finger printed, legal back ground checks, keeping all of this quiet while bursting with joy and caution.

Our St. Patrick’s Day Parade (aka: First Family Walk)

Phoebe Irene Evers was born two weeks early, but we were ready… barely!  Dear friends in NYC loaned us their car for as long as we need it, so we hit the road to be closer to the birth place.  I bought a car seat an hour before our bio-mom called to tell us to meet her at the hospital.  But when that call came, we ran in circles trying to get out the door!

We’ve grown to love and care for our bio-mom.  She’s been so sweet to us, and she followed through on her invitation to have me in the delivery room.  I coached our bio-mom through her labor and witnessed the birth of our daughter, holding her just minutes after she was born.  Mike soon came into the delivery room and was able to feed her her first bottle.

Will you take a moment to pray with us:

Heading to the Hospital

    1. Pray for the bio-mom’s continued confidence in her decision and her healing emotionally, physically and spiritually as she recovers.
    2. Pray for our Phoebe to stay healthy and connect with us quickly.
    3. Pray for us as we move forward through a mountain of paperwork to finalize the adoption and enter into the responsibility of being parents for this little one.

We are honored, humbled, overjoyed, delighted, and in awe of what God has done.  We held Phoebe in our arms just six weeks after we found out about the opportunity to become her parents.  Our heads are still spinning, and we’re so grateful.

Great is Thy Faithfulness, Great is Thy Faithfulness

Morning by morning new mercies I see

Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not

Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me

(We’re registered at Babies-R-Us,  Target, and Wal-mart, and we’ve read the article about raising children in the city.  We’re excited about becoming parents in NYC!)

Summary of Our New Life 

WHO not WHAT: Resolutions 2012

It’s the beginning of January 2012, so I suppose I ought to write about resolutions, fresh starts and all that.  But I don’t feel like it.  I did that last year.

Rather than exploring my yearnings for a svelte figure or organized and clutter-free living, I’d rather write about WHO I hope to be in 2012 rather than WHAT I want to do. I’m back at the be vs. do challenge around which my life often circles.

Who do I want to be this year? Me, but a growing version of me: ever learning, exploring and creating.

I want to walk in greater avenues of humility with a tender heart, asking for forgiveness, and offering it without being asked.

I want to be a woman who doesn’t hold grudges, nor thinks more highly of herself than she does of others.

I want to be a woman who says “yes,” to new friends, experiences, challenges and opportunities.

I want be a woman who doesn’t “should” on herself: I want to cease making oppressive, unrealistic expectations for my character, behavior, appearance, accomplishments, and anecdotes.

I want to be a woman who lives in the freedom of grace and extends it to others.  I want to be a woman who gives herself and others room to breathe.

It sounds like this is my 2012 manifesto.  As with the resolutions regarding behavior changes, this manifesto of ME development will need accountability, action steps and goals which are broken into achievable tasks.

Did I just turned my WHO into a WHAT resolution?  Maybe that’s just part of who I am.

Small Steps to the Homeless Shelter

The roasted vegetables smelled really good.  I’d been standing behind the serving counter for an hour picking up clean plates from my left, scooping out a generous spoonful of those veggies and passing the plate to the person on my right who filled the rest of the plate with spaghetti.  It smelled really good.  I was hungry.

He was hungry.  His back was slightly bent.  He hadn’t shaved for a while.  It was a cold day, but he didn’t have a warm coat on.  He came to the homeless shelter at the same time everyday, and stood in the same line which wound around the building.  He was a regular, and he knew that hungry men like himself were allowed into the dining room in shifts so that there was room for everyone to sit down in a warm place to eat.

I was hungry.  He was hungry. But I wasn’t as hungry as he was.  Looking him in the eye, I acknowledged his dignity and greeted him with a smile and an overflowing plate of roasted vegetables and spaghetti.

There’s something good about serving alongside your staff and students when you aren’t wearing the hat of leader or director.  It puts everyone on an even level and let’s face it, there’s something about looking hungry people in the eye and handing them something hot to eat that removes any sense of hubris.

Wikipedia, that vast bastion of ever evolving information, says, “Volunteerism is the act of selflessly giving your life to something you believe free of pay.”

at the Rescue Mission

I agree, but I’d also add that when campus ministers and ministry leaders put our love in action by serving alongside of our students, we demonstrate the Gospel in a deeper way.  With over 300 verses in the Bible about the poor, social justice, and God’s concern for both, putting my faith in action seems like a reasonable act of worship.

For years I’ve thought about volunteering on a regular basis.  I had a roommate four years ago who spent one night a week in a local soup kitchen.  I didn’t even know that our small city had a soup kitchen.  As I watched her go week after week, I thought about how she put her faith in action so well.  I put my faith in words very well, but I felt a great divide between my words and deeds.  I justified my lack of intentional effort to serve others by my full time ministry role (unpredictable hours, seasons of craziness, I’m already trying to meet the spiritual needs of so many), but lots of people experience similar work stresses and still find time to help people.

This fall I’ve volunteered at a homeless shelter and a warehouse with supplies for the underprivileged.  Yes, it takes a bit of time to get there, and I have to say “no” to other great opportunities to keep those time slots open.  But those few hours spent serving people in need (people in REAL need) while connecting with my students have given me some sweet gifts and insights.  I walk away so grateful for how faithfully God has provided for me.  I walk away with a full heart of worship, having had my heart touched by compassion.  I walk away knowing that someone else’s hard life was made just a little sweeter because of those few hours.  I walk away with a greater appreciation for the decisions my students make to be there every month, and I get to know my students in a different context.

What’s the next step? I want to model servant leadership by helping “the least of these” without an agenda to advance my own purposes.  For me, it’s to commit to a monthly time to serve at the homeless shelter.  I’d like to make it weekly like my former roommate, but I’ll start with small steps.

What about you?

Earlier that first volunteer day I almost backed out of going to the homeless shelter.  “I’m just so tired,” I thought as the time flashed up that strange greenish color on the microwave clock.  I didn’t know if I had the energy to make the subway trek down to the Bowery Mission.  Enough of our students said they wanted to volunteer at the soup kitchen to serve meals to homeless men that I didn’t think it would make a difference if I showed up.

But it did.  It made a big difference.  To him, to my students, and to me.

 

originally posted on the CruPressGreen Campus Ministry Blog on 15 December 2011

You’re Invited to attend “A Weekend To Remember”

To thank you for living out God’s call in your life and for partnering with God’s call on our lives, FamilyLife®, a ministry of Campus Crusade, is making it possible for you to experience an unforgettable weekend – FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember at a discount of almost half of the regular rate. Click on this link below and learn more about this incredible opportunity to invest in your marriage. You will be so glad you did! Just click here!
The Weekend to Remember conference also has a track for pre-married couples.

An Unexpected “Thank You”

In 2006 I wrote an article on singleness for a ministry publication on the transition from campus to the workplace. In September 2009, I got an email thanking me for that article.

Amazed and honored, I want to share that email (with permission!) with you all, for many of you have faithfully prayed for me and financially supported me during that time. Without your generosity, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to write this article which is still bearing fruit 3 years later! Seems appropriate for me to pass along this “thank you” to you all, too. Be encouraged.

Hi Sarah,

I have been going through the Cru:InTransition workbook this summer and am compelled to write you after reading the article you wrote for it about singleness.

I want to say thank you so much for taking a different approach to this subject and speaking such truth and encouragement. God really used your words to encourage me and help me work through issues I have been struggling with…..

…So many books take the approach that you need to change something about yourself to get out of singleness because clearly it is the undesired state of life. As a young Christian woman I have struggled greatly with feeling like less of a person and socially backwards for never dating, and books like this only seem to exacerbate my feelings and create more wounds. Very few books, and people for that matter, talk about singleness as a gift and what a blessing it is and how to not waste it. It seems like every external force and influence says “Quick! Get married! You’re single? Oh how sad…” and people tend to offer condolences more than excitement and encouragement.

Your article is by far the best source of encouragement I have ever read on this subject and it was such an answer to prayer in my life right now. Working through the questions and thinking about life goals is something I’ve never connected to singleness but it was such a blessing to address those topics together.

I cannot even begin to explain to you what a blessing your words are to my life, or thank you enough for allowing yourself to be used so powerfully!

I know that article is a few years old and obviously I have no idea where you are at in life, but I trust that God is daily using you in profound ways, and again, I just wanted to say THANK YOU and let you know what an encouragement your life is to mine.

Be blessed!
Cait

Want to see that article for yourself or a friend? You can order InTransition at www.CruPress.com Look for it under the SEND resources tab.