Sarah McAffry | Voted Knoxville's Best Photographer | Family, Senior and Teen Photography in East Tennessee » Knoxville Family, Senior and Teen Photographer in East Tennessee

We always said we wanted to take the kids to New York City when they were teenagers. We thought it would be best so they would have the energy to walk around all day and the maturity to appreciate the sights.

For the past few years, Andrew and I have been to the city a few times – just us – and every time we came home to rave about it to the kids. So we ended up with three kids under the age of 10 who dreamed about and talked about going to the big city one day.

We didn’t plan to take the kids to NYC this soon, but when we decided to go to Montauk for our summer beach trip, we couldn’t imagine being that close to the city and not going, so we made it a nearly 2 week trip to fit it all in. YOLO.

Here’s what we learned traveling with 3 kids 10 and under – and two grandmas 50 and over. :)

  1. Chill Out. I’m sure Andrew wishes I took my own advice on this one! On day one, I was so focused on the logistics of meeting up with our moms, making it to our lunch reservations and checking off the sights on my list that I had to be reminded to chill out. Maybe reading these tips will keep you from getting TOLD on the streets of New York.
  2. You Can Come Back. Remember that whatever you don’t check off your list can be at the top of your list when you return. This isn’t a one shot deal. NYC is the kind of place you visit once and then immediately start planning your return trip.
  3. Eat off the Beaten Path. Most of the restaurants people recommend are in the touristy areas – and usually they’re fine. But we love venturing into the neighborhoods, where the locals live, to find the real food. The lines are shorter, it’s less expensive, and the food is better.
  4. Don’t Stay in Times Square. Times Square is a must-see but you’ll get your fill in about 15 minutes. If you love crowds and traffic, maybe this is your scene. We much prefer staying in Lower Manhattan and going uptown for the day to see the sights. The Hampton Inn in Soho was perfect for us.
  5. Choose a Budget Hotel. We like to stay in something a little nicer when it’s just the two of us, but you can’t beat a budget hotel that includes breakfast when you have a family of five to feed every morning. Besides the dollars you save on buying breakfast everyday, you save the time and energy of choosing and walking to a place to eat. It’s a win win.

Full Exposure: The kids loved the trip, did even better than we expected and can’t wait to go back. HOWEVER, I just asked them the best place we’ve ever taken them to and two out of three said Kentucky Splash, a water park just an hour from our house. Look like our next NYC trip will be for the two of us, and they’ll get to return when they learn to give better answers to my questions.


About a year ago, I started feeling God stirring something in my heart. I spent weeks, maybe even months trying to ignore it. Leave the studio? That’s crazy. It’s everything I ever wanted. Everything is working so well. Why change it?

By the world’s standards, business is great. It’s growing. It’s booming. It’s a success. It’s everything I could hope for.

Why mess with a good thing? A great thing? Why walk away from something that is working?

These are the doubts and questions that have filled my mind for months.

But God isn’t limited by these things. He isn’t defined by the world’s standards of success.

He is bigger than the world’s standards. He is bigger than whatever logical business decisions I might make.

It looks months of leaning in, listening close, and opening up to His plan for me to hear it clearly.

My heart is being drawn home.

I can hardly write the words without tears.

My heart is being drawn home.

I find myself longing to bake again, that long lost hobby of mine that I used to enjoy.

I find myself longing to meet my kids at the bus stop with an after school snack.

I find myself longing to drive them all over town to all of their activities.

After surrendering to God’s leading, my heart changed and the thing He was leading me to became the thing my heart was longing for.

The goal isn’t growth, success, achievements, more more more.

The goal is to scale back, to slow down, to get by.

Nobody celebrates that. Our culture is always pushing for more, for bigger, for better, for goals and achievements.

And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that if God is guiding you there.

But after a year of God telling me the same thing, it’s clear that is not His agenda for me in this season.

I love Jesus more than my own agenda.

I’m repeating it like a refrain.

I love Jesus more than my own agenda.

When I doubt, when I question, I repeat.

I love Jesus more than my own agenda.

Success in our economy looks different than success in God’s economy.

This move might change everything. Will it be the end of it all? Will people still call? Will it change the way everyone thinks of what I do?


And I’m okay with that.

I don’t know exactly how it will all play out, but I’m taking the next best step because I love Jesus more than my own agenda.

Thank you for following along through another crazy leap of faith. I can’t say that they get easier each time, but I can say that I have full confidence that God has prepared the way and will be with me every step.