A letter

Archive for the ‘New York Summer’ Category

Dreams and scarecrows.

In Bloomfield, New York Summer, Uncategorized, Year 3 on August 15, 2017 at 5:39 pm

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Three years, friend. Three years ago, today. Three years ago today that we sat at the Taco Box in the East Village and began our hunt for housing. Three crazy, wonderful years. Three years of the highest highs, and the most brutal lows. Three years of dreaming. Three years of blood, sweat and tears. Three years of living the dream. And, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I will never forget the feeling I had that day. Elated and sick. I think I felt sick to my stomach for the entire week. I kept saying to myself, “We are here, our stuff is here, our kids are here, we’ve moved here.” I remember that feeling of “no return.” Not that I wanted to, but sort of. At the same time, there was nowhere else I wanted to be, and nowhere else I wanted to live. There was one thing we were sure of that day, and that one thing was NYC. Since that day, there is another thing we are sure ofscarecrows.

Scarecrows exist because there is treasure in the field. They exist because there is something of value there. Something they don’t want you to get. Something they don’t want you to find. Something they want to keep secret. They want you to leave and go elsewhere. They want you to move on. And, as we both know, NYC has been full of scarecrows for us.

It’s been full of ugly, mean, taunting scarecrows. Ones that have tried to convince us the field is empty. Ones that have tried to to tell us it’s a barren land. Ones that have tried to tell us we’d starve if we built a home here. Ones that have told us we’d only find fool’s gold here.

But, we are learning. We’re learning they tell lies. We’re learning where the biggest scarecrows are, is actually where we are supposed to be. We are learning that they are spineless, weak facades. We are learning they are lifeless, legless, breathless props. We are realizing the sight of them should actually cheer us onencourage us to walk bolder. They should remind us that gold is yet to be found—that bounty lies there. They should give us courage to stay. They should spur us on to dig deeper, to invite friends along, and to be tenacious. They should make us laugh, because we’ve called their bluff. They should make us dance because we’ve missed their trap. They should make us sing, because they can’t. They should encourage us to add pages to the dream, rooms to the house, buildings to the neighborhood. They should press us to write the dream. To speak it. To make it biggerso big that others must come with you. They should tell us to reach farther. Scarecrows should scare us into the very land they are staked in—where the treasure is hidden, waiting for us.

I think I’ll dream a little more. You should too.

Bep

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In the face of fear: Shadow dwelling.

In New York Summer on August 15, 2015 at 10:27 am

In the throws of change and the unknown, at times this week I felt like I was dangling off a cliff. I fought through the days giving it all I had, grasping for trust, uttering truths under my breath. The nights met me with sleeplessness, and I could feel fear and panic trying to grab my heart. I spent several nights this week bawling myself to sleep just calling out to Jesus, knowing I have nothing to fear, but feeling it so near.

It’s been a Psalm-like week. I find it so easy to romanticize the Psalms I have read my whole life, yet in doing so, forget the real struggle of David’s soul. He didn’t write “tears have been my bed day and night” for poetry’s sake. He wrestled with life’s reality and the goodness of God. He felt at times forgotten. He was aware of the frailty of his own soul. But though he struggled, though he was despairing at times, he continually declared the goodness we know to be true of our God. Even when he heard no answer, he would say,”But for you, O Lord, do I wait: it is You, O Lord my God, who will answer.”

This has been my journey this week. In my dance with fear, at times I felt alone and helpless. Yet in spite of fear, I found courage from David’s journey to speak what I know to be true. I have reminded my heart that I have never seen the righteous forsaken. I’ve continued to believe that I will not be shaken, because He is my Rock. I found courage this week from Davidfrom his honesty, from the bareness of his own soul, and from his clinging to Yahweh amidst darkness. I’ve found freedom in admitting I’m afraid, so that He can take me from it.

You probably remember my childhood verse as well as I do. It’s been my daily bread–my meditation. It’s been so comforting, so familiar, and yet so new:

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I  trust. For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler.”

I’m finding my place in His shadow again.

Love you, friend,

Bep

365 days: A new chapter.

In New York Summer on August 6, 2015 at 3:20 pm


Sometimes seasons change, and sometimes seasons really change. We are in one of those really changing ones, and to mark the ending of our first 365 days here, we found out we have to move. I know, I know, moving can kind of be a crying matter, and though I really don’t like packing, for some reason this time, it feels exhilarating. Maybe because it’s been one of the craziest years of our lives. Maybe it’s because it feels we are on the tipping point, and this just might send us over the edge—in a good way. Sometimes it seems we help in the changing of a season, and other times, He just turns the page. It seems that latter is true right now, He’s turning our page, or should I say, beginning a new chapter.

I’m flooded with so many emotions in the completion of this year, but the overall feeling is awe. We’ve made it. We did it. He did it. We are here. This year has been many things for us: crazy, grueling, terrifying, adventurous, daring, risky, fun, and a ton of hard work. To say, “We’ve made it!” is no small thing. There have been many moments I wondered if we would. To be here, a year later, looking back, I am in awe.

Just what does He have for us ahead? Something new, that’s for sure. Though new in relation to moving means lots of work, it is none-the-less new, and that is exciting. I feel like He’s lifting our sky, that the possibilities are endless. Closing this chapter brings a sense of relief and thankfulness. I can’t wait to see what He has up His sleeve. It’s going to be great. I just know it. People say New York will chew you up and spit you out. Well, it has chewed us up, but it likes our flavor. We’re not going anywhere. We like it, too. Actually, we love it, and that says a lot. When it hasn’t been easy and you can’t picture anywhere else you’d rather be, you know you’re in the right spot. See, the grass is greenest where He’s led us. It always is if we’re willing to look.

Love you,

Bep


    

The Getting back up: Staying the course.

In New York Summer on July 29, 2015 at 4:24 pm

I seem to be circling the mountain of a wintery soul, and I am SO ready for spring. It’s odd to be in the blazes of summer and be struggling with a wintery soul. It’s also odd to experience a winter season that has lasted so long. We’ve never known a winter to last forever, but still have no immediate promise of its end. I keep telling myself that our spring MUST be around the corner. Winters don’t last forever, they just don’t. This is yet another week where leaning has been my habit–a tired, full-body-lean in to the person of Jesus who is our Rock. Thank God for Jesus.

I have been thinking a lot about endurance this week. People throw that word around a lot, right?  But what does “running the race with endurance” even mean? Is it the ability to last long? Does endurance mean running well? Does it require beating everyone else? Does it mean I feel like a champion at all times? Does it mean that I feel like running? Does it mean that I run with full speed at all times? What is this endurance I’m supposed to run with? I decided to look it up and was surprised that it was far different than what I imagined:

Steadfastness, constancy, patient continuance, a patient enduring, steadfast waiting for

It also said it is the characteristic of a man unswerved from his deliberate purpose and loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings. If all that is true, It’s staying the course that counts. It’s the continuing that counts. It’s the patient waiting that counts. It’s not how many times I’ve fallen, but that I get back up again and again and keep going.

Most days my run is very slow. It’s often a slow methodical walk. Some days it’s standing still and simply not exiting the track. And, if I’m really honest, some days it’s sitting down in the track through tears until I have the strength to rise again. Thankfully it didn’t say anything about being a super hero to fit the bill of endurance. It just said to keep going!

Cheering you on, friend,

Bep


When the grass looks greener.

In New York Summer on July 22, 2015 at 10:46 pm



The boys are at the neighbors and I have a few minutes of quiet on this gorgeous day. It’s been quite a week, as you know. Not sure I’ve ever felt this helpless. It’s been a leaning week—leaning on the faithfulness of Jesus. I guess there isn’t a better spot to be, but it is certainly not the most comfortable. Thankfully God doesn’t always give us what we want. He always gives us better. Our better came in the form of dinner guests. And, let me just say, it was FAR better than the comfort I craved.

We had met this incredible (my-parents-aged) couple a few months back, and after weeks of crazy schedules, we finally found a night to do dinner. This couple moved here about a year ago after acquiring the largest parking garage company in NYC—no small feat, incase you were wondering. To say he is business savvy would be a gross understatement. We told them our story of getting to NY and the insane highs and lows of the last year. He smiled saying he could tell us twenty stories just like the ones we told. He said he’d just tell us one, but we’re so glad he didn’t stop there. He was speaking our language. For several hours he shared story after story of risking all, and sometimes loosing all, only to climb again. They had watched bank accounts dwindle just like we have. They had parallel stories of being down to the wire only to see God come through in miraculous way—except on a much larger scale. They sat across from us beaming, unscathed from the journey, full of faith, cheering us on. He happens to be a professional mountain climber, and has climbed some of the highest mountains in the world. He said when you are close to the peak, you often can’t see it. Sometimes people turn back when they are so close. He told us we just have to be willing to take one step, then one step more.

I lay in bed last night thinking about what I told David earlier this week—that I just wished things were easier. I’d been thinking about how nice it would be to have a steady income and a stable life. I was craving a life with less pressure. But, laying in bed last night I realized I don’t want to live on that side of the fence—that grass isn’t greener for us there. We would be craving adventure, begging God for something more. We would be stagnant—dying inside. We would be laying in bed wishing there was more, not less. Sometimes what we need is courage, not change. I’ve thought I wanted change of scenery, for things to be different. I’ve been wrong. I want to be right where we are, climbing this mountain. I’ve just needed courage to keep climbing. I’ve needed to realize the grass is greenest where he’s led us—right here.

Love you friend,

Bep


Explosions in the mountains.

In New York Summer on July 15, 2015 at 10:22 am



I’ve been dying to tell  you what we found last weekend. It was the wildflower of wildflowers! It’s the type of event you see on a movie that never happens in real life. I’m not sure what was more refreshing, the fact that things like this actually exist, or the wonder of the event itself. I’m taking you next year. Period.

On our drive up, we stopped in at my favorite shop like always. David is a most gracious husband. As you know, this shop is a watering can for my soul. I LOVE it. I always leave inspired to rearrange, re-purpose, dust, and make my everyday spaces more enjoyable. This is also the shop that introduced me to the word’s best soap, for which I am forever grateful. It smells like heaven and has salt in it. What could be better? Anyhow, I expected to leave with my usual dose of inspiration and soap, but nothing more. I was wrong. While checking out, the shop owner happened to tell me about a private fireworks show hosted by an art critic and poet. Some fifteen hundred to two thousand people—mainly from the city—find their way there parking all along this mountain highway in this sleepy town. No one really knows the address, but once you see the cars, he said we’d find our way. And, just as he said, we did.

I’m so glad—despite my flat emotional state—that we decided to hunt for this treasure. Lately, feeling the burn of the climb, it seems the only way to keep going is to put our heads down and put one foot in front of the other. The only problem with putting our heads down is we often miss the wildflowers along the way. I’m so glad we didn’t miss this one.

We arrived at dusk and saw clusters of people on foot venturing towards what they hoped to find. I felt giddy. After parking and walking a bit we found our way too. The fence was tastefully decorated with patriotic drapery and a few tiki torches gently lit the way. We could hear excited chatter all around. A man on the porch just behind us gave a loud greeting and began singing the Star Spangled Banner. Soon, everyone was singing and we watched small lanterns descend into sky. The experience was magical already. Then, it began and it was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The explosions came one after another with fury. They were almost too close for comfort, but in a thrilling sort of way. They were literally in-your-face. I swear we could have reached up and touched them. Several time we felt debris flicking our faces. I was both terrified and delighted. I couldn’t stop smiling. I think I must have squeezed David’s arm a hundred times while watching. Mols would have been proud. Even the ebb and flow of the crowds response was beautiful. When it finally was over, we didn’t move. We just sat for a while in awe. I didn’t want it to end.

I’m going to keep my eyes open. Wildflowers seem to be good at hiding, or maybe I’m not good at noticing them. Maybe its because they grow in unexpected places. I know one thing for sure, they are all around, and I don’t want to miss them.

Love you friend!

Bep

      

Uphill climb and Lemonade.

In New York Summer on July 2, 2015 at 6:42 pm

Well, after months of planning, we—and I do mean we—opened Vacation Lemonade. I can tell you one thing, this manager is tired. I wasn’t quite prepared for the level of involvement required of me for this stand. I envisioned sitting shaded in a lawn chair, drinking lemonade and reading while they seamlessly ran the stand, unassisted. Instead, I found myself stooped over at their side, coaching every move and helping in every way imaginable. I guess they are only four and six.

Leon wants to be open daily, and after earning a whopping thirty-eight dollars on day one, I understand why. He told me yesterday he is going door to door to get “costomers”. It seems we have an Uncle Bub on our hands. He will shout down any human looking creature in sight, trying to get a sale. He asks solo customers if they would like one cup or two cups and tells them he’ll see them tomorrow. He’s an absolute riot. Sol decided to start selling toys they don’t need as well. I’m not sure how they did it, but they convinced a Rocky-like, college-aged pedestrian to take an unwanted football guy, for free. He seemed very unfamiliar in the realm of children and said he would put it on his desk. He kept saying, “Are you sure you don’t want it anymore?” I was holding back uproarious laughter. One thing is certain, besides making money, we are making memories. What more could I want?

Through this process of running the lemonade stand the kids are learning amazing lessons. Leon is learning that making money takes time and hard work. He’s realizing it will take days of work to get his desired Air Jordans. By the end of day two they each had thirty-four dollars. He requested I search eBay for Air Jordans for thirty-four bucks. He said he wanted to know what Jordans he could get NOW. Funny thing is, in watching them, I see many parallels in my own life. I wish we were there right now.

I’ve been weary this week. I’ve been tired. I’ve been short on the patience required in life, especially in this season. I’ve questioned whether I have what it takes to climb this mountain. I want to be out of debt today. I want to arrive at our goals today. But just like the boy’s lemonade stand, our adult version takes time. Unfortunately, and fortunately, our goal is far bigger than a pair of Jordans, but that means it will take more than a few days.

We stumbled across an old gospel song last night and it couldn’t have been more perfect. You might already know it. She sang it well, and now we are too: “Lord don’t move that mountain, but give me the strength to climb.” This is where I am at today: I’m needing strength to climb. The beautiful thing is, He always gives us strength to climb. So we know we’ll be okay. Both you and I.

Love you friend.

Bep

    

The lost art of saying “hello”: To be a stranger.

In New York Summer on June 26, 2015 at 6:13 pm


I’ve been “the stranger” way to many times in the last 4 years, as you are well aware. Moving is not for the faint of heart. But, while I dreaded almost each and every time we went church hunting, gym hunting, park hunting or friend hunting, I can finally look back and say, “Thank you.” I know it seems like an odd thing to give thanks for, but it has changed me and will continue to change me, forever I hope.

I was at a conference this week and was once again “the stranger.” Though I’m much more comfortable now with this scenario than I was a few years ago, I still dread walking into a place for the first time—not knowing a soul. And, in this particular situation—I ate lunch amongst many picnic-ers—alone. Yes, I could have forced my way into a crowd, but after a failed attempt to reach out, I didn’t have it in me emotionally to try again. It’s okay. I’m fine. It was a beautiful day, and I had a great sandwich and two adorable boys to keep me company. What I wish I could tell you is that this hasn’t happened before. But as you know, it’s happened more times than I wish to admit, and I haven’t always been fine.

I have driven home from many events—hot tears pouring, my heart aching, just wishing for a friend—wishing someone would have said hello or saved me a seat. I remember standing in a buzzing room at a women’s event everyone in a cluster of friends, but never being invited to join in. I felt like my five-year-old self who didn’t get invited to the birthday party.

I often wonder what happened to the simple skill of saying “Hello?” Forget saying hello. What happened to a gentle head nod or wave when walking by someone you know, or even passing a stranger. Was this not at some point cultural etiquette? Could it be that we pass people every day longing for a “Hi”, a smile or a hug?

I wish I could encourage everyone I know to go somewhere new, alone: visit a church, go to a new workout class—just go somewhere where you don’t know anyone.  I would wager that it’s probably been awhile since most people were the stranger.  I’m sure most have forgotten what it feels like to be unknown. I’m sure most have forgotten what it’s like to be in crowded room not knowing where to go or who to talk to. I’m sure most have forgotten what it’s like to sit alone. I know I have at times. I’m a guilty party. It’s why I’m thankful for the last few years—and for Tuesday.

My prayer is that I won’t forget. I want to be the person that always finds the stranger. I want to be the person, that at the expense of my own comfort, makes someone else feel more at ease, more wanted—noticed. I want to be aware. I want to intentional. It doesn’t mean I have to be best friends with everyone, but I could be friendly.

Funny how we have one of the best examples of this kind of love, and we so easily forget. We know a man who is the best at noticing people. He’s the best at including people. His friend circle isn’t closed. He took me in, and I was wretched.  It changed everything for me.

Your friend,
Bep

When “pause” is necessary.

In New York Summer on June 22, 2015 at 11:35 pm

I’m really loving this growing, learning, and baby-stepping. It’s inspiring, and it’s working. I can see some progress. It might be subtle, but it’s there. My thinking is changing. I keep telling myself to keep taking the little steps. Little steps are what will eventually land me at my big goals. Changing is good. We need it. I need it. I want to be different than I am now. I know it will take time, and I won’t wake up tomorrow “there,” but I’m not where I was yesterday either. I’m happy about this.

Today, I hit a wall though. I felt tired. I was overwhelmed. My mind was racing. List after list of things I needed to do were swimming through my thoughts. A bunch of mundane tasks had piled themselves on my to do list for the day and though petty, they seemed intimidating. It’s odd how little things can suddenly seem so big. Right? I decided to use the carcass of my chicken to make broth for chicken noodle soup. Brilliant, I know.  The only problem was, I started it two and a half days ago and it was still simmering. The thought of finishing this task was almost too much. The thought of folding and putting away load after load of laundry was also crushing. Oh, how we dislike days like these. Then I remembered what my dad always said, and it is pure gold: Take a nap and change the world.  So, I did.

Funny, the world waited for me. It was still here. Laundry was still here. So was the soup. But I was better. I wasn’t overwhelmed anymore. Not a lot had changed, but things were different. Hitting “pause” does not come easy. At least not for me. But its essentialness is unmatched. Yes, we should work hard. And we do, obviously. Yes, we should dream and achieve and conquer mountains, even if they are only laundry. But, on occasion, we should remember to hit pause. We should take a survey of our souls. We should evaluate our “fun meter” as dad always said. And, if we find it depleted, or our souls weighted, we should rest. If we find ourselves spinning, we should have the maturity to pull the reigns and take a breather.  If we’re going to last longer than today, if we’re going to thrive in life’s journey we have to learn this: Sometimes rest is best. Sometimes we have to take a nap so we can change the world.

Maybe you should too!

Bep


  

We’re turning ten. Old love.

In New York Summer on June 18, 2015 at 12:43 pm

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I know we are too young for this to be true, but it’s no lie. David and I are turning ten! It’s our ten-year anniversary. I can remember it like yesterday. We smiled, laughed, cried, and danced our hearts out. It seems impossible that ten years have come and gone—for all of us—but it has. We’re those people young people meet, and think to themselves, they are old, they’ve been married a long time, and they have kids. I used to think it. Didn’t you? I would tell them if I could that life is more beautiful now. I’d tell them that old love is gold. They might not believe me, but I don’t want to go back in time. Happier days are not behind me.  They are with me now.  I’m living them.

We were such babes, and I don’t just mean how we looked. And, we were madly in love in the most authentic of ways.  Everyone knew.  I’m glad.  Not many people fall in love the way we did, and in my book it’s just perfect. Funny how we find ourselves back in New York thirteen years later going to church just down the street from where we met. We might have to pop in the lobby of the New Yorker tonight just for old times’ sakes. It changed our lives forever.

In lots of ways, nothing has changed. Everyone still knows we’re crazy for each other. I’m glad. We’re still just as spontaneous, just as much dreamers, just as much risk-takers, and just as much best friends. The thing that’s changed is our love. Our love has aged, and as with most aged things, it’s only gotten better. I was so out-of-my-mind in love with him then, I couldn’t imagine “better.” I couldn’t imagine liking him more. I couldn’t imagine better love, or deeper friendship. I couldn’t imagine loving life more now, because then was so good. All these years later, I’d tell young onlookers that on June 18th, 2005, David Engelhardt made me the happiest girl in all the world. I’d also tell them, he still does.  I’d tell them this: That These are the days, and so were those.  As we both know, the best is always yet to come.  Always.

Reminiscent,

Bep

No wise person ever wanted to be younger. —NATIVE AMERICAN APHORISM

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