We have worn the tread off our double stroller’s wheels in just 6 months! This vehicle has been a lifesaver for getting around the city with two kids. And that’s a little how I feel about being in New York City: not exactly worn, but going, going, and going!
I have not “arrived” as an urban mom, but am adjusting to the differences of raising young kids in the city. I want to share a snapshot of what life is like for us as we continue to figure it all out.
FIRST, THE UNEXPECTED
I didn’t realize that no car means carrying home groceries for the week in a backpack. It’s a lot of work, especially in 85 degree heat and 85% humidity with two toddlers! I also never expected to see the homeless showering at the splash pad where my kids play.
But these are opportunities to teach my children about what we take for granted and the reality of the need of many, which will hopefully foster generosity and a compassion for others.
WE'RE SETTLING IN
The kids have taken all the changes in stride and seem to have completely adapted to urban living. Simon loves that we can watch construction workers and vehicles everywhere. Eliza likes the horses and carriages that clip-clop to Central Park.
They have stopped asking why there is no grass. We no longer feel overwhelmed and overstimulated when we go outside. We can navigate the city confidently, even if that means occasionally stepping in yucky puddles and doggie doo!
OUR URBAN FAMILY
It feels surreal at times that they are “big city” kids, totally different from my suburban upbringing. I wonder how it will continue to shape them as they grow up, yet am confident that the Lord has called them to NYC too, and that He will provide everything they need.
We’re excited about what’s in store with our family life and ministry as summer wraps up and we head into the (hopefully much cooler) fall.
P.S. Know a student starting college this fall? Share this page with them!
We’ve made it to New York City! We got here last week just after a hefty twenty-six inches of snow had melted.
We rode our first Uber (a new taxi service with a phone app for reservations - click here for a free ride!) and our new Cru team welcomed us with dinner and food baskets. Four Cru staff families actually live in our building. Thankfully, we’re not alone in this metropolis!
So far we’ve been settling in and getting acquainted with our space. Our unit is incredible. It’s quiet, has lots of sunlight, and our neighbors are friendly. There are sixteen units on our floor and English is usually a second language.
The kids are doing well! Flights went smooth and, after catching up on sleep, both Simon and Eliza have been happy and energetic. They’ve loved getting outside and strolling around the neighborhood. We’ve been especially impressed with how well Simon is doing with the street noise.
We have laundry rooms on two floors that even have a website showing when they’re available. How great is that? In the basement is also a kids playroom with toys and space to stretch their little legs. We’ve met a handful of other families there and plenty of nannies too.
The next weeks will involve painting more rooms, visiting churches, and meeting up with Cru staff and other friends to learn about what to expect as we begin calling NYC our home.
We will continue to invite people to partner with us as we seek to meet our full budget this spring. So, please pray throughout this transition to our new assignment, both for our family’s wellbeing and for this new missionary endeavor on NYC’s 140 college campuses.
At the final session of our NYC Vision Conference, Kirsten and I listened to the leadership explain the difference between need and calling. "Need doesn't constitute a call. There's need everywhere! A great vision should motivate our heart. Our calling should be based on that. Jesus was motivated by compassion for the lost. In NYC we're motivated not just by the number of students, but by the influence they carry."
Kirsten and I applied with Cru in 2009 because we were captivated by the strategic possibilities of reaching influential college students with the gospel. While visiting Columbia University we discovered that one girl Cru has been meeting is on track to be South Korea’s Prime Minister. Imagine what her influence will be like if she continues to walk humbly with the Lord while leading and serving others!
We also visited NYU, the nation’s largest private university. They send 3,000 students overseas every semester, with many attending NYU’s global network. Influential students are hopping to NYU Shanghai, NYU Abu Dhabi, NYU Singapore, NYU London and more. Imagine the opportunities to take the gospel to the leaders of these countries through this one university!
So, why do we feel called to move to NYC? In short, we are passionate about working with highly motivated students. It will be challenging, yet it inspires us to grow in our ministry abilities and rely on Christ. Students like this have crossed our paths at UM and we would be honored to invest our lives into these kinds of influencers on a regular basis.
We’ve surveyed the circumstances that brought us to consider this move, received feedback from others, weighed the pros and cons of city life and its effects on our family, and prayed for God to lead the way. We want to move forward with this process and are trusting God to show us how that will look!
Did You Know?
We expect to hear from the Northeast leadership in mid-December about our acceptance to NYC. They are reviewing us to ensure a good fit. From there, we believe it would be a year before we move. Ask God to lead our family through this process!
The Bucher's are having another baby! The first trimester was a doozy dealing with morning sickness in Alaska, but Kirsten is feeling better now at week 18. The due date is February 5th. We'll let you know soon if Simon is getting a brother or a sister!
Visit Kirsten's Facebook profile to see her posts.
In other life-changing news, we'd like to ask you to pray intentionally for our future location with Cru. We have been invited to attend a vision conference in New York City October 6-9th. Our leadership has asked us to consider moving to the Big Apple to help pioneer and lead new campuses!
We'll give you a moment to pick your jaw off the floor...
So how did this come about? With our first few years on campus behind us, this spring we began discussing how our legacy with Cru might look. Would we move overseas? Would we move to another region of the country, or would we stay in Montana? Neither of us felt like a new location was on the radar, so it made sense to stay in Montana. We began surveying the housing market and envisioning our future in the Big Sky Country.
A month went by and life carried on when Kirsten mentions she had seen a house she really liked. It was the first time she told me something had caught her eye. The reality of this moment carried a new weight, as if a decision could be made. Would we move forward on our plans of planting our lives in Missoula? The lure of a bigger space and place to truly call home was palpable.
At the same time, our church had been preaching through Hebrews and a sermon in chapter eleven hit home regarding our life of faith. The idea of buying a house and settling down appealed to our desire for comfort and security. It seemed like our plan to remain in Montana was mostly motivated by this act of self-preservation. The very next day this process changed as God spoke through a phone call with our regional leadership director.
“We’re not trying to get rid of you. You have the freedom to say no to the NY trip entirely,” He said. But that wasn’t the feeling we were experiencing. What we mostly felt was fear. Who actually dreams of raising a family in the city? Regardless, the idea of new ministry possibilities excited us and the timing of the call was of no small coincidence. Is this what God sounds like?
Looking back at our lives, God has made big changes in our direction through local preaching and through the voices of our leadership. From my year in Venezuela, to Kirsten moving to Las Vegas for teaching, to us both joining staff with Cru, God has used influential people to speak his will into our lives. In many ways this is the voice I was waiting to hear regarding our future.
So the question becomes, will we stay or will we go? We don’t think staying is wrong, or that buying a house in Missoula would be selfish. We think God will use this process to purify our motives and solidify our longterm direction as a family. He could use this trip to change it up or he could use it to strengthen our resolve to invest more years at UM. This is why we are sharing this with you now. We want to invite you to begin praying for us. Ask God to give us wisdom and discernment about our direction. And, feel free to call or email us with your thoughts!
We expect to learn a lot more at the conference. At this point we are cautiously optimistic. What we do know is that other staff from around the country are looking into it too and there are more students within the five boroughs of NYC than the entire Northwest. The need is great, the laborers are few, and the Lord of the harvest has asked us to pray for more laborers (Mt. 9:37-38). Please join us in that prayer!
Simon turned ONE last Friday, and I have been reflecting on this past year. I sure do love this boy, and am learning to cherish the moments while he is little. I am growing into motherhood and definitely don't have it all figured out, but this is where my heart is at…
As a mom I have a choice to make every day: to engage fully, invest time and energy, be intentional, enjoy the small special moments, instruct and teach, extend patience and grace, to love unconditionally, OR not.
It is easy to half pay attention to Simon; to supervise, but not really be present. It is hard to lay down my life, my desires, my time, my expectations, my to-do list, my preferences...to unselfishly offer myself today and every day. Being a mom means I must die to myself. Not begrudgingly or bitterly, but willingly, with joy even!
In Luke 9:23, Jesus tells his disciples that if they want to follow Him they must pick up their cross; it is a road to death of self. Paul says a similar thing in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live I live by faith in the son of God who gave himself for me.”
Do I really believe the Gospel of Christ meets me here, as a mom? I find myself wanting to escape the responsibilities and expectations of motherhood for fear that my dreams and freedom will die. I need to learn to daily run, not away from, but towards the cross and lay down my desire to be recognized, my irritation at not being able to do what I want when I want to do it, et cetera.
I want to walk with integrity in my home. I do not want to be duplicitous, to say one thing about Jesus and to live another way. This is the hardest place to do it, with family, with those who know you and can drive you nuts the most. But I want it, even if it means I must die so that Christ can live in me.
For me, in this season, living by faith means that as I reach my capacity I need God to be bigger. I need to rely on His limitless resources as I exhaust my own. I need to believe that Christ is sufficient. I need the Holy Spirit to empower and equip me for service. I need to be filled with His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
In laying down my life I hope Simon will experience a reflection of the Gospel. If I don't live it he will never likely believe it. I hope to point him to the cross, to Jesus, full of grace and truth, willingly dying so that He could offer us life. And for me to do this in the small things, the daily stuff of life, I know that I need Christ's life in me!
FAMILY PHOTOS AND PRAYERS FOR HEALTH
We have pictures and videos posted of Simon’s big day as well as lots of recent candids. See them at bit.ly/SimonWesley. Also, please pray for our health. We've been down with colds and other bugs and it’s been hard to keep up with work.
Trusting In Him,
Away from the comfort of home and care of family for the first time, college freshmen experiment with new hobbies, new friends, their own identity, sex, drugs, alcohol, and more. This makes them incredibly vulnerable. Yet, it can be easy to think of them as upper-middle class kids with no real needs and overlook them as just making unhealthy choices, but there is something deeper going on. The majority of these young people are spiritually lost and in desperate need of Christ, and they don’t even know it.
They wander through these years looking for meaning through partying, relationships, academic success, and a multitude of pursuits, but they feel empty inside and need a Savior to rescue them from the vanity and exhaustion they experience. Jesus addresses this need. “He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt. 9:36).
Freshmen are important not just for their own need but also to reach the whole campus. Our ministry focuses heavily on this class in order to give each one a chance to hear and respond to the Gospel. Through these we trust God to raise up Christ-centered laborers who will minister to others on campus and beyond.
Kirsten met Rylie three years ago when she was a freshman. While attending Kirsten’s bible study she rededicated her life to God. Now in her Junior year, she works with the football team in their recruiting department. She loves football and has recently realized the incredible influence that these athletes possess, but underutilize. Rylie tried five different majors before God spoke to her about becoming a publicist to help professional athletes maximize their influence.
“I thought it would be cool to work for the FBI (as a translator), mostly because I like to have the inside scoop on things. And then I thought it might be fun to be in some sort of management position because I’m kinda bossy (probably not a good quality), and publicist just jumped out of nowhere. I started to realize the impact that football players have on kids. I was researching jobs in the NFL and realized what an impact I could have on thousands of young people if I could influence one player enough for him to set a good example. Recent player controversies just magnified my understanding of the importance of players as role models. And then God started opening doors left and right.”
If Kirsten had met Rylie later on in college, it’s likely she would not have had the time to cultivate her relationship with God as she considered her purpose in life. Now, with a foundation in Christ and the training to share her faith and teach others, Rylie can have a godly influence on campus and in her career with people we would never meet.
We ask God to fulfill His promise to seek out students like Rylie and speak to them about his good plans for their lives. “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.” (Ezekiel 34:11). It’s such a privilege to witness their stories of faith unfold.
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