New York City with the Boys

Since many of you were interested in our last trip to New York, I thought I'd share about our most recent trip.

We are fortunate enough to live five minutes from an airport that has a direct flight to New York City which leaves early in the morning and the returning flight arrives late at night. This means that we get a lot out of a day without paying for an extra night in a hotel. This weekend our flight arrived early Friday morning in New York and we got home right on time Sunday night.  Perfect! This was our youngest son’s second flight in his life so he was due according to today’s standards. I’m pretty sure he enjoyed every minute of it.  It was a nice “You’re… (correction) WE’RE finished with the eleventh grade!” kickoff to the summer. Oh, and he enjoyed every second of the weekend and has been so vocally thankful as was his big brother. Our daughter was so very missed on this trip but is having a great time studying abroad in Spain so we didn’t pity her too badly.

New York is not my type of place in general. Crowds, smells, noise, and endless walking are not my cup of tea, but, as I go repeatedly and have seen the popular sights, I am starting to find that I can tailor the trip to be MY trip.  Having a son who lives in NYC and is so knowledgeable about the subway system and the layout of the city makes it much easier to go.  I am slowly learning it myself and look forward to learning of more of MY spots.  I see future trips being a slower pace of revisiting my favorites and discovering one or two more each time. I believe my cup of (high) tea will be had at the Plaza or the Peninsula Hotels. Window shopping down Madison Avenue on the arm of my handsome man under an umbrella was a bit snuggly and romantic.  One day I will find a shop that has my style and make it part of my routine. Anyone know of a shop that carries ladies’ clothing from the late 1800’s? Oh, I guess I will also have to find an alternate universe in which to wear those clothes. 

For such a short trip, Capers was able to pack in a backpack. My husband packed a carry on and we put our cosmetics in my checked bag.  With more effort, we could have made sure we had the required amount of liquids to take on board in a carry on, but then we couldn’t have brought home our Eiffel Tower souvenir Colton had gotten for us in Paris.  I am learning to take a larger bag than you need so you have room to bring home goodies.  I saw one lady who had a soft carry on—a quilted fabric style bag and I thought that it is probably the best way to do it.  It squishes in overheads where a hard case could not have gone, although you would have to carry it and not roll it and I would not want to set it on a bathroom floor! Tough decision. First world problems. I also recommend for ladies to travel with several gentlemen. You never have to carry a thing!

Colton met us at the airport and guided us to our hotel where we stored our luggage since it wasn’t check-in time yet. We stayed at the Residence Inn at 54th and Broadway so that we would be within walking distance of the things we wanted to do. It was too early to go to our lunch reservation so we went to the hotel’s fourth floor lounge which had comfy seating. Just what we needed. Then we were off to a delicious Thai lunch at Topaz Noodle Bar.  Don’t believe them when they say “a little spicy.” Fortunately, combining my mild rice with my husband’s “a little spicy” rice gave us both “still pretty spicy” rice. It was very good, though. We walked through the south end of Central Park for a bit before Jeff and I turned in for our afternoon nap and the boys ran off to see the world. 

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Our room wasted no space but had most everything we needed.  The room darkening curtains worked great.  I am always wishing for more hooks for hanging things but I suppose hotels have their reasons for not providing more. We had a kitchenette that would suffice for an apartment complete with crock pot.  I didn’t happen to use it this trip. Trying to think of a case when I would use it in a hotel. Still thinking. I love anything that is efficient and that usually means it is multi-purpose.  I loved the stool that matched the chair. It could be a stool to sit on, a footstool, a luggage rack, and storage.  The storage was lined in a way that I wondered if it were also a cooler in which you could chill drinks.  A colossal ice bucket?  Someone was thinking. Our 49th floor room had a great view and we enjoyed it in every phase of lighting from early morning to dark. 

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After our early flight, pavement pounding, and Asian-food induced comas, our footmen (aka sons) came for us and for Capers’ backpack and guided us to Brooklyn to see Colton’s apartment.  It’s a 30-minute subway ride from Manhattan and in a nice area of Brooklyn.  He walks past stores and restaurants from the subway and is able to get what he needs on his way home without having to carry it far. His apartment space is two-story and his room is as neat as a pin.  They have done a good job of organizing their small space and it is comfortable and clean.  Colton’s roommate happened to be out of town this weekend so Capers was able to stay with him.  We met two of his apartment mates.  Some of them graduated from the same school he did. I feel better having seen where he lives.  I don’t know why but it is settling for me as a mom. Then we took a bus to Dekalb Market/City Point which is like a gourmet food court.  We bought two $21 pastrami sandwiches to split and we were stuffed.  I have no idea who eats that sandwich by himself. It was fairly late when we ate and I dipped mine in spicy mustard so I had a little heartburn later that night.  I am finding that this ole thing can’t eat just any ole thing any ole time of night anymore. It was so good, though! Cool experience. Of course, there’s always room for ice cream because it just fills in the spaces between as it goes into your stomach. We had walked around the market looking for what we each might want for dinner but then we thought that it is better to experience things together and so we decided to eat whatever Colton was having and I’m glad we did.  Together is better.

The boys took us back to our room and these old people went to bed at 9:00. 

Saturday morning, Jeff and I had the hotel breakfast which was the typical nice hotel hot breakfast buffet. It is served on the third floor which looks just like the fourth floor lounge. We had tickets for 10am to see the Downton Abbey Exhibit.  I had wanted to go months ago and it was supposed to close in April but it has been held over and I was so excited to find that out. It is a self-guided tour though they have headsets to rent. The bottom floor is the servants’ quarters and kitchen.  It looked just like the set.  The cast appear as holograms from time to time to tease you. The library is a room where a multi-media presentation is shown. We should have sat at the back so we didn’t have to look around to see what was happening on each wall.  Very cool. The second floor is the family’s area.  The table was set and the bedroom was on display.  I have a thing about dressing tables so I loved seeing that. Many artifacts were included from the show which were from the time period.  The part that made me weak in the knees though was the costumes.  Pieces were scattered about but the third floor was dedicated to the clothing.  The detail! Designing and making my own clothes again is on my empty-nester list and I am collecting ideas. Learning about a craft or art gives you the capacity to appreciate what others have done. That was true for me this weekend in so many areas: music, acting, sewing, etiquette, health, happiness.  If you do not know how hard or rare something is, you cannot fully enjoy it. Knowledge is power: it gives you the power to enjoy.

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The tour took only an hour. Then we mosied around to kill time until lunch. The weather was perfect and the streets were busy. We met the boys at Junior’s for lunch and then walked around with them.  We went into the Steinway store and Colton played the $97,000 Steinway for us in the humidity-controlled studio. Beautiful talent. Beautiful music. Beautiful piano. So much good. On to Bryant Park and then to our respective theatres.  The boys saw the musical “Spongebob” and we saw “Hello, Dolly!” Very enjoyable. Bernadette Peters was the lead role and 72 years old, Y’all. The worst part of our trip was the woman behind us who sang along and said the punch lines one second ahead of the actors. We heard her talking during intermission about how many more drinks she thought she could handle. It is so difficult to not share some wisdom with people like that but what good would it do? We exercised patience and were reminded that others have to bear with us in our own ignorant rudeness. Still our memories of a great show are not tainted by another GertRUDE sighting.

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After the show, we headed back to Junior’s to get cheesecake to go.  I knew my friend was in New York on a family girl trip but we did not have plans to meet up, but, lo and behold, who is standing next to Junior’s?! We chatted and snapped a groupie and then my husband and I headed back to the hotel for some rest. It was already pretty late so I just rested instead of sleeping so as not to spoil a good night’s sleep. The boys came and visited a bit and then we all went to Little Italy to a cool spot called Piacere. The food was very authentic but the portions were not very large which is kind of nice so you can still handle dessert.  We strolled through Little Italy and Capers ate a cannoli which someone had told him to do while he was in New York. Colton gave us subway instructions to get back to our room and we obeyed perfectly.  It was cheesecake time so we each ate one fourth of the six inch raspberry swirl cheesecake we had bought that afternoon.  They sell it by the slice also but the six inch was cheaper if you were buying two slices.  Mr. Wonderful had suddenly decided my favorite flavor was his favorite flavor and ended up with a kiss on the cheek AND with cheesecake. I highly recommend marrying a nice man. It comes in handy when choosing cheesecake flavors and going to girly things like Downton Abbey Exhibits.  And every other day, too.

After a hard night’s sleep, Jeff went down for breakfast while I polished off all I could eat of the remaining cheesecake. Cheesecake for breakfast as you look at the NYC skyline: life gets very good sometimes. We stored our luggage with the hotel bellman and took the subway as Colton had prescribed. We collected Capers from the coffee shop where Colton had left him moments before.  Then the three of us walked to Redeemer Presbyterian Church where Colton was getting his instructions for what to do in the service.  You see, this is the whole purpose of this trip.  This is the morning that our first child to leave home was joining a church.  When we learned of the date of this event, we wanted to go but then decided that it was bad timing, etc, etc. As the time drew near, we decided that it didn’t matter what kind of timing it was; we needed to be there for this event to support our son in this good decision. The fact that we have a grown son who is willing to join a Bible-believing church is not just something that should go by uncelebrated.  We thank God for His mercy and grace that brought this about and we want our children to know that this is the big stuff.  This is a wonderful decision and a milestone in Colton’s life.  He has been involved already in the church and attends faithfully but he could do both without being a member.  This decision helps to tether him to a family away from home: his church family and God’s family. They will support him and encourage him and look after him. He is making himself a part of a local church and publicly stating who he is and what he believes and making Christian growth a part of his stated intentions. The service was wonderful. I always enjoy attending church on vacation because it makes obvious the bond Christians have. You can feel it immediately. This church is a one-race church: the human race. The hands I shook felt just like mine and our voices blended perfectly. My favorite moment though was when Colton took his vows and answered “I do” to the question of depending solely on the work of Jesus Christ to save his soul. I have heard Colton deliver many lines publicly on stage but none have ever moved me so. Praise be to God.

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His church meets early so he had a favorite brunch place picked out for us called The Smith.  It had an early 1900’s feel with black and white tile.  The food was great and I heard that the bathrooms were worth seeing: each stall was it's own little room.  Next stop was the Flatiron Building. I forget the order of coffee shop visits from Sunday because there were quite a few.  When hotel check-out is early in the day but you do not fly out until late in the day, you have nowhere to take your Sunday afternoon nap. And it was raining.  And we were tired. So the cost of a chair to sit in was the price of a cup of coffee.

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I wanted to see The Frick Collection this trip. I saw the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the last trip.  I say "I saw it", as if one could fully see it. There are New Yorkers who go regularly because you can’t take it all in.  It is massive.  It’s an elephant you eat a bite at a time.  So I should say I did a run through last time.  I will digest more of it in the future, Lord willing.  Without researching it this trip, I remembered that I wanted to see The Frick museum sometime and it turned out to be the perfect choice. Mr. Frick died in 1919 and left his home as a museum to house his art collection. The house is left largely as it was and the downstairs is open for tours. I would have been happy to buy the $22 ticket just to see the house. The mouldings, the drapes, the furniture, the paneling. Sigh. Then there’s the art!  Three Rembrandts, three Vermeers, a Degas, a Manet, and much more. We took a lovely Sunday afternoon stroll in Mr. Frick’s home and it ended by teasing me with a GORGEOUS roped-off staircase. Torture. Actually you know all tours end in the gift shop.  I bought a beautiful tote bag with a floral print taken from a piece of porcelain. It became my carry on.  Easy to please.  That’s me. 

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We navigated police barricades which were there for the Puerto Rican parade after having toured the museum to their music (not the typical museum music) to get to the Peninsula Hotel where we got hot tea and sat in their comfy chairs. We each got our own little teapots and strainers and had a delightful chat while watching others have high tea. The petit fours looked wonderful and are on my list for next trip.

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The boys had gone to Brooklyn to get Capers’ backpack so now we met in Hell’s Kitchen for French food at La Bergamote before our final “au revoir”.  Hell’s Kitchen is an area on the west side just SW of Central Park and Colton explained that the subway doesn’t go out that far so it is not as touristy. We were not able to cross one street because a man was in a rage on the other corner and we weren’t sure what was about to go down.  We scurried across when he went far enough from the corner that we could get by.  We had a wonderful meal and some French pastries to finish off a delightful day.

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After stopping by the hotel for our luggage, Colton took us to the airport and went half way through the line for security before saying goodbye. A specimen of stamina and resilience. It’s a proud moment when the child you spent your life taking care of takes care of you. Once again, I left part of my heart in New York City and had a safe trip home. Dolly may never go away again, but I plan to. Until next time, New York.

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Happy 🐝Be Keepers Day!

Today is February 5 or 2/5 which makes it Be Keepers Day because the name Be Keepers comes from Titus 2:5 which tells older women to teach younger women to be keepers at home.  The word "keepers" is often translated "workers" which fits right in with my corny bee--we are to be worker bees! 🐝 Titus 2 is rich with admonitions for older women and what they are to be and what they are to teach.  They should be teachers of good things.  

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The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 
That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 
To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. 
Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. 
In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 
Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. 

Whether you are single or married, young or old, a stay-at-home mom or an outside-the-home employee, you have work to do at home. I hope my Facebook page and blog posts will remind you of all the Bible tells us to BE and KEEP.

Loren Crisp

I'd like to give you some background on how this blog came to be. This is my personal story but it no doubt parallels your story--the challenge God has issued to you to take who He has made you to be and use it to build your faith in Him.


In 1990, I completed my degree in Home Economics at Bob Jones University, got married, and began teaching private piano at a Christian school. During that year, plans were made to offer Home Economics to 11th-12th grade girls and I taught that class daily for the next three school years.  

The cooking portion of the class was done in an old house on campus that had a small kitchen.  Since the class was only 50 minutes long, I had some prep to do for the girls before they arrived.  You should have seen that little kitchen full of girls, squealing, running, panicking for 50 minutes—not long enough to prepare and cook a recipe, and then clean up after it, much less eat it!  Therefore, I was left with one torn up kitchen. Similar story with sewing, just add machines that needed constant repair and an insufficient teacher to student ratio for such a task. Not ideal but we managed. I stopped teaching in 1994 to stay home with my first baby.

Fast forward two more babies and eleven years. I missed teaching and thought I could handle just two hours per week, so in 2005 I taught 7th-8th grade girls a class that we called Life Skills.  Knowing that it didn't work to teach cooking during a class period, necessity was once again the mother of invention and it was decided that I would video myself cooking at home, show the video in class, and have the girls make the food at their own homes for their families to eat. (This also forced Mom to get involved which was part of my scheme.) They would then fill out a short questionnaire to turn in to the teacher.  This worked like a charm, and I used the same idea for teaching other things such as sewing on a button, where it is difficult to show close-up detail to a large class in person but very easy with the zoom on a video camera.  I used the same videos to teach the 7th-8th grade boys the following year.  

My drive to do my best drove me right out of business as I gave all my energies to the class and was too exhausted to minister to my family at home.  Pretty ironic—teaching Home Ec but neglecting my home (Home neglEc?).  This was a lesson in prioritizing.  Family is first.  Anything that gets in the way of that should be dropped like a hot potato.  There come times when we have to ask ourselves "Is anything standing in my way of doing my best at what I'm supposed to be doing?". Something was and I had to give it up.

In 2007, our church called a new Pastor. His wife also had a Home Ec degree from Bob Jones University. I told her of my struggle and she told me of having a once-a-month girls' activity at her former church where they would spend a few minutes teaching homemaking skills and then have popcorn and a movie or some other activity.  I liked the idea but did not want to string it out so long or add any more busyness to our church calendar. We toyed with the idea of making and loaning out DVD's but that would have become a logistical nightmare.  After much consideration and prayer, I decided that I would start a blog.  Though the concept began as talks of church involvement, it is not a ministry of my church but is done completely on my own.  And thus is born Be Keepers!

I'm going to be transparent with you right from the start:  I'm scared. It has taken ten years for me to start this because I could not find the time to do it and I have been afraid to put myself out there.  It's scary to be transparent—to give people reason to criticize you.  I'm a private person—a recluse at times.  I like my world to be perfect and it takes a lot for me to deal with the reality of my imperfection.  However, I am now 47. (As I edit this rough draft, I just had to change that from 42. I told you it has taken a while.)  There's something about being in your 40's that makes you finally comfortable with who you are as you give up on becoming the idealized you. I accept myself for who I am—designed by God with strengths AND weaknesses; imperfect, but always striving to be more like Christ.  

What people think of me has always been important to me—too important.  I now realize that I cannot control or even know what people think about me. What really matters is what God KNOWS about me. I'm having to depend on God's grace to help me carry through with this and I will give it my best, short of neglecting my family. It will take a lot of encouragement from my "team" because Satan will be on my heels if this is something God can use, but greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.

I am pleased and frankly surprised that I haven't had any "attacks" over my effort or content in this first month. I still fully expect them. No worries though because I am my own worst enemy. The ten years leading up to this were grueling.  I had ideas left and right and then the doubts would come and I would let God know that He had the wrong person or that this would be just a public display of my failure. I got so tired of this blog idea plaguing me constantly that I would just decide to let it die.  I wanted it to GO AWAY so I could stop thinking about it. 

It wouldn't go away.  

It's like that irritating song continuously looping in your head that makes you scream "STOP IT!" 

It wouldn't stop.  

I finally decided that I just had to do it to make it stop. Whether it lasted a month or a year, I had to go through that phase to get to the other side of it. I told God that I wanted to wait until I could really do it right. He told me to do what I can right now. I told God that other bloggers were writing the things I would have written and doing it very well. He told me that I could join them and be counted as one more voice for His cause and that there are those I could reach that the other bloggers would not reach. It had proven to be God's idea and not mine. So here I am.  

That was quite an excruciating ten years, but this last month has been that in concentrated form.  I have been through every emotion at extreme levels. It has made me really come to terms with WHY I am doing this. The final answer is that I have to. God wants me to. If no one else gets anything from it, at least my momma enjoys reading it, I get my thoughts out of my head and send them off to outer space, and I can be sure my children and their children will know my point of view. 

The things I am learning as a result of this experience are incredible! It's as if God has granted me a new level of light in exchange for putting myself out there.  Here are a few things I am learning:

🔹It takes a lot of humility to serve others in a public way.  You are working for a cause while risking your reputation.
🔹God gives you enough light to see only the next step.  I don't know where this is going or how long it will last but I am content that I am doing what I should do today.
🔹This empowers me to work hand in hand with God.  He's not far away when you live by faith but right beside you filling in the gaps. He gave me eyes to see an answer this week to something I have wrestled with all my adult life and I just cried and praised Him! I'm looking forward to a lot more of these experiences.
🔹I have never been so alive.  I know this is a tempest in a teapot (my head being the teapot), but it is my act of faith--trusting and obeying--and God is using it as my schoolroom.


Bottom line:  God designed each one of us to contribute to His kingdom and He proves Himself real to us when we exercise faith in Him.

I hope my testimony encourages you to take your next step of faith. When you are fully convinced that it is of the Lord, He will give you everything you need to accomplish it.

 


 
I'd like to thank those who have encouraged me to do this project.  


Jeff—there is no way this can happen without your picking me back up, brushing me off again, and encouraging me to live out who I am. You are my lifelong blessing.

Colton, Evy, & Capers--you have been my students and my teachers. You are the reason I was put on this earth.

Momma & Mom—I just hope I can help to perpetuate the likes of you.

My Pastor's wife, JoAnna, Kim H, Dennae, Rebekah, Dawn, Mary Ellen, Becka, and many others—you've given me nothing but encouragement for this project.  Thanks for the vote of confidence!

My Home Ec and Life Skills girls and boys (currently totaling 93) have always held a special place in my heart.  Watching you grow up has been a delight.  Those of you who have thanked me years later for what we learned together have kept that fire burning in me to teach others also.


To God alone 🐝Be the glory!