Mike&Sarah

Tag Archive: move

Magazine Models

Do you subscribe to Fast Company magazine?  If so, whip out your February edition and turn to the back, page 102.  See that pic in the bottom left of the happy people enjoying meaningful conversation with new friends (i.e. schmoozing)?  Yeah.  That’s us.  We’re in a magazine.  How wild is that??

Sarah & Mike in Fast Company Magazine

Back in November Mike and I attended a fascinating panel discussion on the “revitalization” of Harlem, our neighborhood, sponsored by Aloft Hotels and Fast Company magazine.  Architects, designers and community leaders sat on the panel and shared their stories, histories and experiences in the effort to  transform Harlem into the hot spot it is now: new restaurants, new hotels, new green spaces.  One person commented that Harlem hasn’t been revitalized, it’s simply continued the path of transformation down which all urban communities travel.

I met the architect who redesigned my favorite green space, turning it from a parking lot into a beautiful park with piers into the East River, places to sit and gaze at New Jersey, bike and roller blading paths, as well as a running trail.  I also met some of the people who lobbied for years for that park!

The event, hosted in the first hotel to open in Harlem in more than 40 years, included time to network with others and was catered by  Sylvia’s, a neighborhood restaurant known for it’s flavorful soul food.  Our infamous photo was snapped during that tasty hour.

Home!

Home.  A sweet word.  A word which conjures up images, emotions, smells, feels, sounds. It’s word which engages your senses and your memories.  For many people, the word evokes a positive emotional reaction.

For me, “home,” is a place of safety, connection, and contentment.  And I’m finally home.  Fully home.  No more temporary or short-term living.  No more using someone else’s furniture (even if it is really nice furniture!).  I’m home.

Two weeks ago we corralled our belongings from Brooklyn, my mom’s basement, and a dear friend’s garage and after Hurricane Irene, we dropped everything off in our new two-bedroom apartment in West Harlem.  The reunions with my linens, art work, furnishings, books, dishes, cookbooks, made me happy.  Even if it sounds silly, I’ll still say it.  There is no place like home.

I flew to Orlando for about 24 hours and when I returned, Mike had finished the unpacking.  I walked into the apartment and didn’t see a single box.  Instead, I saw my mixer on the counter top, I saw my familiar rug on the floor, Mike’s sofa along the wall, the pillows Mike’s mom helped me sew (and by “help” I mean, she sewed.  What a gifted seamstress!).  I saw the chest of drawers which Mike and I picked out together.  It was the first piece of furniture we bought together. These little touches of Mike and touches of me are what, together, make “us” and make our apartment feel like home.  Combined with the new chair we bought, and the art work we had in Brooklyn, our current apartment feels like us through the 3.5 years we’ve been married.

Yes, it feels like home.  And yes, it’s good to be home.

9/11, 10 Years Later

I didn’t know what to expect.  The TV news relayed messages from the NYPD about a “credible threat” on the weekend of the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  Neither Mike nor I were in the US ten years ago on that fateful Tuesday morning.  I was in Germany, preparing to return to the Middle East.  Mike was on a cruise with his sister in Jamaica.  For us, the tenth anniversary was an opportunity to connect with a part of our US culture which we missed out on.

Mike participated in several events hosted throughout the weekend by Pace University.  They lost 47 students and faculty when the planes hit the Twin Towers.

Saturday morning Mike, my sister Carrie and I joined two of our friends for Hand-in-Hand-9/11, an event during which thousands of people held hands around lower Manhattan and observed a moment of silence when the first plane struck the South Tower.

On Tuesday we went to the 9/11 Memorial with some of the people from our ministry team.  With passes reserved two months prior, we were able to spend the time in prayer for the families of the victims and for the survivors of the tragedy.

The Memorial is beautiful.  With 200 trees currently planted, and 200 more slated for planting soon, the shady area is a welcome relief from the sun.  The trees surround the footprints of the towers where now two huge fountains exist.  It’s like holy ground, for nearly half of the people murdered in the attacks have never been identified.  This is their final resting ground.

Its quiet there.  You can hear the water falling, continually. People make rubbings of the names, and though it seems so intimate, strangers gather around to watch.  Someone asked me to take photographs of them while they made their rubbings to take home.  It’s horrifying, beautiful, peaceful, and serene.  People walk around with hands over their mouths, tears streaming down their cheeks.  One woman had to be helped to the exit by (presumably) a family member.  It’s a place of sorrow, and yet a place of hope.

For Rent

“Location, location, location.” It’s not hard to find an apartment in New York City; it’s hard to find the right one.  We have our criteria listed, ranked and ordered, but a sweet apartment in a less than desirable location can up-end everything.  For example, I loved the newly renovated apartment with views of the Empire State Building, but Mike thought the “up and coming neighborhood” wasn’t up enough, as evidenced by the bevy of young men selling illicit pharmaceuticals out front.

The NYC rental market is a fast-moving game, and you look for a new place 2-4 weeks before you need to move, and in some cases just days before your move-in date.  It’s a brief but all-consuming hunt.

We wake up with apartments on our brains.  Over breakfast we scan Craigslist for new listings.  We talk about our criteria on the way to the subway.  While at work I mentally compare all the apartments we’ve seen.  And then, when work is over, we race all over the City to meet with landlords and no-fee brokers.  It usually takes about an hour to get to the appointment (ride subway, walk, check the map again, walk back).  We wait for up to 30 minutes for someone to unlock the door so we can spend 10 minutes in someone’s filthy apartment (seriously, unless it’s unoccupied, it’s usually filthy), then travel 15-60 minutes to see the next apartment.  All the while I’m praying and asking God for another housing miracle.

Perhaps the process would be slightly less taxing if we were open to using a broker, but we don’t want to pay the usual minimum of one month’s rent as a broker fee, on top of first month rent, security deposit, and the credit check fee to the landlord.  The upfront costs are expensive!

Our top runner right now exceeds my dreams for the interior of the home, but the location is not very desirable, though it is safe.  When we find a potential place, we walk around the neighborhood during the day to check out restaurants, shops, markets and parks, then go back at night to see how the neighborhood changes after the sun sets.  Mike wants to make sure I will feel safe and comfortable walking alone from the subway to our apartment building at night.

Lord willing we’ll have a lease signed within the next two weeks.

Carless

Mike was right. He didn’t think my car would make it out to Colorado and back, so we rented a car for our month-long journey to visit ministry partners and attend our national staff conference in Fort Collins, CO.  My car stayed in Wilmington, De, where after it had a rattle repaired and two new key fobs, the transmission died in front of a firehall while my mom was driving it.

My car is now sitting in a mechanic’s yard in Delaware, waiting for the title exchange, and we are now carless in Brooklyn.  Mike says it feels a little unAmerican to be carless, I think it’s at least anti-suburban.

Hello Greyhound, Hello Amtrak!

Scattered Thoughts

I awoke with a start this morning at 6am, and before my alarm.  The sunlight was already streaming in through the white sheers which cover the two windows (yes, that’s right, two windows in our NYC sublet!) on either side of the bed (and yes, the bedroom is large enough for space on either side of the queen-sized bed!).

We leave tomorrow for an international trip and the to-dos and packing lists are piling up.  Two of those boxes needing to be checked: confirming the length of our hotel stay and confirming our transportation from the international airport to our hotel.

Hours later I finally sent off the emails to take care of those two important details.  I haven’t written my lists down, so they are inefficiently stored in my head.  My stress level over this trip is rising, for packing for a trip when the majority of your belongings are in storage hundreds of miles away is a bit challenging.  While I love our sublet, the life of a subletter is transient, transitory, temporary.  I’m longing for a home and to have access to all of my possessions.

But then I think of Jesus saying how he had no place to lay his head.  I think about what it means to follow Jesus and being willing to give up some expected “comforts.”

Don’t get me wrong, my life is comparatively cushy.  Though we raise our own funds to pay for ministry and personal expenses (well, to pay for EVERYTHING), we live in America, and Americans are far wealthier than most of the people in our world.  I have a roof over my head.  I have a home with working plumbing and electricity.  I pay our bills each month.  We have all kinds of technology. We eat regularly. We lack nothing, really.  And did I mention that I’m getting ready for an international trip?

Sure, I long for the convenience of having all of my shoes under one roof.  And I wish I had access to my favorite books which are stacked in boxes in a friend’s garage.  But I am warm at night, and when I step into the wind during the day, I can clutch my jacket tighter around me. I pass people on the street who are not nearly as blessed materially as I am.  It is humbling.

Somehow I’ve come to assume that convenience and comfort are part of a collection of “rights” that I have as an American and as a Christian.  Where did I get this idea?  Though America may expect more, better, bigger for less money, effort and time, I don’t see that aggressive, demanding, insisting tone in Jesus.  To which “rights” did Jesus cling? Which hardships did He revile?

In my daily Bible reading and blog community, the lead bloggers commented on the differences between Saul and David during Saul’s kingship: how we can choose the way of Saul, short-circuiting God, impatiently demanding our way, forgetting God’s instructions and ways, or we can choose the way of David, patiently waiting for what God has promised, honoring the boundaries He put in our lives, and turning to God when frustrated, disappointed or confused.

It’s not profound, but as I readjust my attitude again to “temporary” living in a sublet, I realize I have a choice.  I can get frustrated and rant and demand the order and organization that I crave.  Or I can thank Jesus.  Thank Him for this reminder that my home awaits me in Heaven; that I was made for a different world; that I have a choice to say “no” to the petulant child within who wants her way right away, and can relax in the here and now; that I can lean on Him and not on my own understanding, knowing that He will provide for my daily bread and my next steps.  Just as He always has.  And always will.

My trials feel taxing to me, though small in reality.  But they provide an opportunity to turn to Jesus as I deal with the less-than-ideal in life.

Horns

Is that honking in my head or on the street? I can’t tell anymore. For the last hour someone’s car alarm has been going off (or would one say ‘going on’?), and now my head throbs with the incessant honking of that unwanted intrusion.

When I think of “horns,” happy images of ticker-tape parades come to mind, followed by the cheery, bold, gold colors of a big brass band. But the lone honking car horn in the middle of the night is neither happy nor cheery.

I awoke from a deep sleep to the horrible sound and feared it was our car, so I lept out of bed and ran to the window. I realized with a sigh of relief that it wasn’t our car. But that means I can’t fix it.

After about forty-five minutes of longing for sleep while tucked into the soft, warm covers on our sublet’s Tempur-Pedic mattress, I am now on the sofa in the living room. I looked out the window again to confirm that our car is not the one disturbing my sleep, and now I’ve already read and responded to some email. I read a few articles for meetings next week, and now I’m sharing my delirium with anyone who stumbles upon our website.

For those of you who were wondering: Yes. Mike is sleeping through this Ritcher-scale-like magnitude event. He has the gift of sleep.

And seriously, I still hear that alarm, but I don’t know if it is really going off, or simply going off in my head. This is a bit disturbing.

Miracles. Yes.

It’s official.  We are living in a miracle!  All I can say is “I’m humbled.”  God sees us.  I’m not sure why I’m surprised, but when you live in the middle of choreography like this, it is hard to NOT stand in humbled awe before the living God!

For those with little time:  We are moving to Brooklyn in January!

For those with a little more time:  Let the story begin.

On Friday (10 December 2010) Mike and I both returned emails which we received on Thursday while we were out of internet range (that still happens, you know.  People take breaks from the internet.  On purpose.).

The email Mike received was from “R” asking if we had tenants for our Orlando townhome yet. R and “A” are getting married in January and had yet to find a place that they thought was the right fit for them.  The email I received was from a good friend in Texas who had just returned from a missions trip in Rwanda.  While there, he had met a gal from NYC whom he thought I’d really enjoy.  He suggested I email “C”.  So I did.  C and I emailed back and forth on Friday and Saturday, and Mike set up a showing of our townhouse with R&A for Sunday afternoon.

Sunday morning C emailed me asking if we wanted to sublet her Brooklyn apartment for six months. While we emailed on Friday and Saturday, she was interviewing for a temporary position with a fair-trade clothing company in Central America.  To accept the job, she needed to find someone to take over her apartment lease starting in January.  She felt like God told her to offer us the right-of-first-refusal.  But she’d need a response by Friday so she knew if she could accept the job.  Giddy with the possibilities (and the affordability of the sublet, even though we aren’t yet at full support!), I mentioned the idea to Mike on the way to church.

We were both warm to the Brooklyn sublet because two weeks prior one of our new supporters (who joined our team in March) felt led by God to triple her support, bringing us just shy of 50%.  Without that boost, we wouldn’t be financially able to afford this fully furnished opportunity. Pieces were falling into place…

Tuesday morning R&A called to say they wanted the townhome.  We have renters! Wednesday R came over to sign the lease and drop off a deposit check.  We called C, and talked with our Leadership Development supervisors, getting approval for an unusual arrangement.  We were approved to move to NYC and join our team part-time in January. CCC normally requires you to be at full support before reporting to your ministry assignment.

Our two hurdles for accepting C’s Brooklyn offer were needing renters for our Orlando townhome and needing approval for the move.  And both hurdles were cleared!  We’ve been praying for renters since January 2010, and have had several showings, but God had the right people tucked away for just the right time.  Apparently they had been looking for a home for a while, and the week prior A felt discouraged about finding the “right” home.  And then they saw our place!   I was praying for a newly married couple to take the home.  I think it’s a great place to start life together.  Hooray!

C couldn’t accept her new job without subletters.  And here we are!  Imagine the choreography in the heavenlies as God arranged and rearranged events so that both of these people would connect with us at the same time, just after we got a big boost in our support from a generous financial partner, and all these pieces fell into place at just the right time!

So now Mike and I are packing up our lives.  We’re storing our items in our garage for six weeks and will return to Orlando in February to pack up a Uhaul and drop our things in storage.  It’s just too quick to get everything completely out in a week.  Pray for us… this is our first move together and we don’t have a lot of time!

I’m truly humbled and overwhelmed by God’s goodness and generosity. He sees me!  Thank you Jesus.  Only you could work all this out for ALL OF OUR good!