The Seas are Angry These Days

I’d like to dispel the myth that when one steps out of the boat to follow the call of God, the rocking ocean becomes a glassy sea, that birds sing beautiful melodies in angelic voice, and that your home is filled with constant laughter and cooperation and high-fives of congratulations and success.

What really happens is that the through the glassy sea, you can sea the sharks waiting to devour your failing flesh. Fear grips you in the middle of the night as the picture perfect glass rapidly thins.  The melodic song of the birds becomes a constant pestering of gnawing worries chirping  “what if” and “what-do-we-do-now?”   And while laughter still comes, it is followed quickly with a big gulp to choke back the tears piling up behind the concerns and frustrations and exhaustion of moving your car twice a week for street cleaning. (I promise.  This is no easy feat.)

In the last week:

  • The kids started school and they LOVE it.  They are still laughing.IMG_0950
  • David started school.  The Bronx is not Scripps Ranch.
  • I did not get a job I really wanted…and I need a job.
  • Our car got towed.  $200 and a day of traveling from one end of Manhattan to the other, brought our family van home.  (NOTE:  In some New York sense of wisdom, you pay to get your car on the extreme far south end of the island.  My car was parked on the extreme NORTH end of the island.  WHAT?)
  • It may be February before the Department of Education decides to pay David at the correct
    pay scale.  Currently, he’s considered a first year teacher.  He will bring home less than $3000/month.  (Did I mention I need a job?)
  • Led by the Lord, I invited someone to pray with me.  Through her tears and worries, she DECLINED!  (Are you sure you called us here?)
  • A day after we got our car back, some misguided youth tried to break in, a feat rendering our lock and window controls useless.  They took NOTHING…there was nothing to take!

I tell you, Dear Friends, about these potholes because I’m guessing someone needs to know that even when walking in complete obedience and dependence on God, life can be really hard.  I’m writing in the midst of the trial BEFORE our circumstances change, hoping you can relate to the desperation taking over our daily lives.  We are trying to keep our eyes focused on the GOD of the promise rather than on the complete lack of SIGNS of the promise.  But that doesn’t mean we are filled with joy and peace.  We trust, but we’re worried.  The seas are angry these days.

In the midst of the angry seas, we’re trying desperately to remember the mission to which we were called to New York —  to be ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I’ll write more about that later.  For now, I take my greatest consolation in that life could be worse.  We could be trying to potty train a two-year on the subways of New York.

THE RE-FRAMING REVOLUTION

I just got off the phone with my mother-in-law who shared some very tragic news.  Someone close to us has chosen to end her battle with a long-term illness leaving behind a husband and children.  Now in hospice care, they huddle tightly together, clinging to their last moments as a family.  Our hearts hurt.

It gives me some perspective because as difficult as adjusting to urban living has been, we still have every member of our family alive and well.  We face some challenges, but all of the Cook Family challenges are 1st world problems.  I need a re-framing revolution of my worries:

Instead of griping aboutcropped-fullsizerender-1.jpg making FOUR DIFFERENT grocery treks in one week, I am thankful I not only have money to buy the groceries, but also the ability to navigate my way through hot subways and crowded streets to whole foods markets where the prices are less and the food quality better and the stores SO MUCH cleaner than my neighborhood FoodTown.

Rather than complaining about what the humidity does to my hair and my general demeanor, I must choose gratefulness for the window unit in my bedroom.  (Truly…it saved our marriage.)

Instead of worrying about Matthew walking a block to and from school by himself if I don’t find a job that allows me to work from home, I want to be thankful that our 5th grader is a level-headed young man we can trust to get himself safely home, eat a handful of chips and red peppers, and then begin his homework.  Thank you, Lord, that Matthew can walk and think and run and laugh…and build amazing spaceships and super heroes with Legos.

Rather than losing sleep over all the known dangers that lurk in this city for a blond, 15-year-old girl traveling the subway alone,  I choose joyful confidence in a young lady that loves to be independent, that needed a place to spread her wings and believe that New York is just that place.   So tomorrow Kori will leave home at 7am, travel from W. 153rd to E. 22nd to meet a brand new soccer coach and go with him to her very first practice on Randall’s Island.  She’s attending School of the Future beginning 9/9.  She’ll make this trek every day, a journey that involves two transfers on the way to school and three on the way home from soccer practice.   She will compete on Randall’s Island and Central Park and eat lunch in the shadow of the Empire State Building and along Park Avenue.  Lord, help me be thankful for this experience, and a young lady more than ready to take her bite out of the Big Apple.

We are still not sure how we will pay for the last year of Anna’s college.  Washington and Jefferson is not cheap.  But our girl is graduating in four years with a Math degree and hopes to teach in underserved schools.  We have no need to fear or complain.  She’s healthy and vibrant and more than capable of taking the next steps into adulthood.

My husband started work today at HERO High, where he is now the department lead. (I’m not surprised and so very proud of him.) His classroom does not have a working smart board, there’s a leftover copier taking up needed space in the classroom, and he’s not sure if the air conditioner works.  This is clearly not upper middle class white America.  But it’s
a mission and he gets paid to help kids learn, to help teenagers hope for a better future, to believe in them when every surrounding circumstance tells them they cannot succeed, they cannot escape poverty, they cannot dream.  This is so much more than a job and it’s much more than a living wage.

Yep.  Every mountain in the Cook Family life is really a sign of how privileged we really are.  I’m guessing that’s true for most of you reading this blog.  Please, please, take a moment to re-frame your worries.  You might even post them.  That’s it!  Let’s start a revolution.  Let’s call it the THE RE-FRAMING REVOLUTION.  Ready?  GO!