Tag Archives: new york city

15 Lessons in 15 months in NYC: 15-11

The end of the year is always a time to reflect over what went on and what you’ve learned from the past year. For me, this is an opportunity to reflect over the last 15 months of being in New York. These are lessons we have learned personally and from watching and interacting with others in the city. I’ve broken them up into 3 posts because I have a tendency to write too much, so today will be 15-11, Wednesday 10-6, and Friday 5-1.

15. You can’t call another city home and love where you live.

Over the past 15 months, New York has become home for us. When we first moved here, we fell into the same trap of so many transplants, that “home” was where we came from and this is where we live. Vacations become “going home” and the city suffers because you become an extended-stay tourist instead of an invested resident.

Every transplant must make the transition to New York as home and until they do, their love for the city and their community will be lacking.

When New York became the place we called home, a place where we established roots, we took ownership for the condition of our city, for the betterment and enjoyment of our neighborhood. Some say home is where the heart is, but God establishes where we live, so we can make it a home for the benefit of others.

14. You don’t REALLY need 2000sf, all the furniture that fits in it or a dishwasher

We moved from a 3-bedroom house in “everything’s bigger here” Texas to a two-bedroom apartment. We sold, gave away, or threw away about 70% of our stuff and we don’t miss it. Extra space becomes a need for furniture too easily with a big house and one day you wake up to find you don’t even use that two car garage because it’s storing all of your excess.

We’ve learned to live more simply, it’s been challenging, but really refreshing. We left a piece of furniture on the moving truck when we first moved and it was a sign of things to come as we find ourselves looking to avoid clutter for the sake of sanity.

Our 3 kids share a room and they love it (for now). There’s always a tendency to long for more, but we’ve learned (are learning) contentment enables joy to flourish in a home, and to be thankful for things we used to take for granted, like a full-size fridge and oven.

13. Evangelism is more education & advocacy than apologetic debate
When most people think of evangelism, pictures of awkward interactions where you try to convince the uninterested through intellectual arguments are often the first thing to come to mind. There’s also the stereotype of the New Yorker uninterested and hostile to Christianity.

In 15 months, I’ve met just a few hostile to Christianity and most curious about Jesus. Any hostility is mostly due to being uninformed of Jesus and mostly angry at “church”. Most of evangelism has become educating and advocating for who Jesus is, what He has done for everyone, and what He calls a people who represent (the church) Him to live for. From my experience, people here have become interested in hearing more, wanting to have these “deeper conversations” instead of avoiding religious conversations.

Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and overall purpose are what convince people of and even desire that truth, not my carefully crafted words. I’ve learned to spend more time discussing these things and listening to actual questions about Jesus.

12. The city forces you to parent more

As a parent in the city, there can be many fears, from losing your kids in the crowds, to the dangers of walking along streets packed with more cars than they were designed to hold. One response to these fears is to shrink back, do less, and try to protect your child from all the dangers.

For us, it has forced us to parent more. To train, equip, instruct, and correct more than we did in the suburbs. It can seem non-stop because of the nature of the city, but I’ve had conversations with Eli & Calvin at their age that I wouldn’t normally have until much older. Things like why people are sleeping on the streets, collecting change on the corners, or performing for money in the subways (the last 2 Eli has thought would be good careers…).

The comforts of the suburbs have a way of hiding things that may need to be addressed while the close quarters of an NYC apartment tend to bring out the best and worst right in front of you, providing an opportunity to parent. For me, it’s made me a better, hopefully wiser, and engaged Dad.

11. God answers prayers big & small

We’ve seen God answer prayers to sell our house, get Eli into a great school, and provide a new apartment when it seemed hopeless.  We’ve also seen God answer the “small” prayers of friends for Eli and Calvin, keeping our kids healthy, and providing community for our family.

God is interested in the mundane and the monumental and prayer has revealed that to be true because He hears and He answers. Not always exactly how we want it, but it’s always been good.

Moving to New York City has blessed our family life, our marriage, and has taught us more than we know. Prayer has taught us and shown us God’s provision in all these things. It’s been a great 15 months.

Lessons 10-6 coming Wednesday.

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Quick Hits: The Places We’ve Been

Welcome to the once a month blog where I update you hardly never. Our church gifted us with a book of 50 great things to do with kids and we’ve been exploring the city throughout our first month.

Here’s a quick update on what we’ve been doing and where we’ve been. Pictures to hopefully follow…in 6 months…

Central Park – Zoo, Carousel, Boat pond, Alice and Wonderland Statue, The Great Lawn, etc.

We live 3 blocks from Central Park and it is full of amazingly fun kids adventures. Calvin loves the Carousel, we are members to the city zoos (Thanks Robinsons!) We traded an immediate backyard for the greatest backyard ever.

American Museum of Natural History

Another gift to us was a year-membership to the Natural History Museum. Again, so much to see and the boys loved the dinosaurs, the giant whale, Calvin can’t stop talking about the mammals and Eli loves the giant sloth (I mean, who doesn’t?). We’ve been once as a family and Amber took the boys back specifically for the giant sloth. It’s that cool.

The Intrepid Museum

The former battlleship The Intrepid is docked here in Manhattan with former planes, helicopters, space ships, and loads of fun for kids. The boys and I went to the Intrepid and pretended to fly planes, fly to the moon, and shoot the biggest cannons we’ve ever seen.

Times Square Toys R Us…on a Saturday…

The 3 story Toys R Us is what we explain to the boys as a Toy Museum. Enjoy the view, touch carefully, and we probably won’t take anything home. It has a full-size ferris wheel, an animated dinosaur, life size optimus prime,  spiderman and superman hanging from the ceiling, and more toys than any kid could dream of. It was a big hit.

The Bronx Zoo

As I mentioned before, being members of the city zoos gets us into the Bronx Zoo and on all the feature rides and exhibits for free. It was amazing, there are so many animals for each exhibit, all in the middle of the Bronx. The gorillas were the favorite animal of the day.

Hippo, Dinosaur, and Carl Schurz Park

The green space in the city is amazing, on the Upper West Side, there’s a Hippo Park where the boys could climb into a hollowed out statue of a hippo, nearby ride on dinosaur statues and enjoy a playground. Carl Schurz is right down the street and is the perfect family-friendly park.

Chelsea Market & Magnolia Bakery

Cupcakes and Brownies. Phenomenal.

These are just some of the places we’ve been. There is so much to do in the city. We are adjusting well and the boys are loving the city. It’s been a smooth transition since we have a church community that has cared for us well.

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Big News: Austin to NYC…Engineer to Pastor

We’d like to share some big family news with you. In about a month we will move from Austin to New York City as I will be changing careers and joining the staff of Apostles Church in Manhattan as their pastor of residence for community and justice.

This summer has been quite crazy as we have prayed for our house to sell (God provided) and began to prepare for a big move.

Back in May, I stepped out of college ministry at the Austin Stone and wasn’t really sure what was next when it came to ministry. Amber and I had taken a trip last summer to Boston and New York City to see if God was calling us to move to the Northeast in the future. We hadn’t settled on a city or a timeframe, but were confident that we would end up in the Northeast with the focus of spreading the gospel to the least religious states in the US.

Earlier this summer Michael Stewart, one of the pastors at the Austin Stone recommended that JR Vassar and the staff at Apostles Church talk to me about an opening for their role of Pastor of Community and Justice. Through conversations, emails, and spending a few days with their church and families, it became clear to us that God was providing an opportunity to join the staff at Apostles.

Obviously, this is a huge move and it involves the sadness of leaving behind our immediate families who live in Houston and Austin, our friends and our church home. We have received many of the same questions, so I hope to answer them and any others that you may have.

From Austin to NYC

We are moving to Manhattan, so we will be living in the city and yes, we do know that the city is expensive, that they actually have winters there, and that raising a family in the city is not easy. We’re not going there because it is comfortable. We’re going there because only 2.3% of its population claims to be evangelical (believing the gospel), because millions of people there don’t know the hope that is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we really believe that the gospel offers the joy of eternal life for those who believe and pain, death, and sorrow for eternity to those who do not believe, how could we sit back and not go to the places where there is little witness to the gospel? New York City is an area that wouldn’t say they need Jesus, but it is an area greatly in need of the joy and hope that is found in Jesus Christ alone.

In addition to that, we love New York City. It’s a little weird to say we’re going to be suffering for Jesus in one of the greatest cities in the world. We’re excited about raising our kids in Manhattan, about being a part of Apostles Church, a church that loves each other so well and cares for their neighbors so well, and living out the gospel in community with the people there.

We’re also excited to be moving close to extended family along the East Coast who we rarely see, but will hopefully see much more of.

From Engineer to Pastor

This move also means I’ll be leaving transportation engineering. I just passed my professional engineer’s exam and the last 5 years I’ve been designing roads as an engineer by trade and in my free time serving as one of the co-directors of the college ministry at the Austin Stone. I’ve enjoyed engineering, loved my co-workers, and we have loved our church and partnering with the mission of the Austin Stone. Over the last 6 months, I’ve sat in sales meetings and discussed my potential future as an engineer and I could stay as an engineer and design roads while honoring God and making His name known in the engineering world or I could give my life full time to spreading the Kingdom of God through evangelizing with the gospel in word and deed and it’s my heart’s passion to do the latter.

I’ve been asked “Why not be a pastor in Austin?” It’s a valid question and honestly I’ve tried to live each day as a pastor these last 5 years, but there are many here who are a part of the Austin Stone that can accomplish the mission of God here in Austin, but there are few who are going to the areas in the US and the world that have the greatest need. We are confident that God has placed us in an amazing situation partnering with Apostles Church and I’m extremely excited to give all my time to being a pastor in NYC.

What will your role be at Apostles Church?

I’ll be filling Kristian Rose’s shoes as the Pastor of Community and Justice, which means I’ll be working with the leadership team at Apostles to provide vision and direction for their Community Groups (weekly small groups), their monthly mid-size gatherings, while training and developing leaders to lead these groups with a Gospel-centered, Christ-exalting passion to see these communities be on mission together in the city. The justice piece is working primarily with Derek Devine at Apostles to connect the community groups and the people of Apostles to serving the city through mercy ministries.

In the coming days and weeks, I’ll provide more details and information about our house selling, our coming move, and our new church home.

We have around 1 more month left in Texas and we are anxious and excited to get to New York City while sad to leave all our family and friends.

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