Sunday, September 18, 2016

Wedding Photographers

Please allow me to introduce Joe and Emilee's (the groom and bride) team of wedding photographers for the weekend in Michigan:

We snagged a few last photos at the end of the day, shortly after we said goodbye to the bride and groom whom we waved off after a beautiful ceremony and reception. We look happy and chipper in the above photo, which we honestly were! It was a fabulous day. However, part of us also felt like this:

It is the greatest joy photographing a wedding, but it is also surprisingly exhausting. I've been told that most photographers have their own unique ways of resting after a wedding. It is joyous and celebratory, and you also have to be "on" all day. I wouldn't have it any other way though. We felt equally glad and tired, knowing we gave our all to the day, and to Joe and Emilee. More photos will be coming in the next weeks, but here's one for now.

I had asked Ashley, a friend from Moody, to be my second shooter back in the Spring, because I knew she wanted to gain some more experience in photography, but she also has a flexible, hilarious, and helpful attitude about life, so she would be the perfect fit for the day. Come to find out, after she had already agreed to be my second shooter, that her family lives only 15 minutes away from the wedding location! Now that made me laugh. The Lord has a good sense of humor and works things out in surprising ways.

We were not only able to enjoy Michigan together for a weekend, but we even stayed in her house. I was grateful for Ashley on Saturday! Thank you for being a great second-shooter, Ashley.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Networks and Trains

I hopped on the train after classes this afternoon and stared out the window as the green of September whizzed by in a blur. Trains are reminiscent of childhood, and they always bring back a sense of connectedness. I've been on this particular train route quite often, though usually to visit one particular family - Tyler, Lara and Judah. 

These Patty's moved to Tennessee this summer, and are actually in Czech currently, so I didn't get to see family this time around at my final destination from the north-bound train. Who was I headed to see up in Highland Park? Someone I would be meeting for the first time - Dr. Karen Wrobbel. 

I met with someone from the Career Development offices here at Moody a couple of weeks ago to brainstorm ideas for future connections and jobs (networking!), and he gave me Karen's name and e-mailed her to see if I could meet her sometime.

Karen teaches at Trinity up in Deerfield and did her doctoral work on Third Culture Kids. Yep, that's right. She has dedicated so much of her time, specifically to the field of education and MK's. She is a Moody alum, but also studied the psychosocial development of MK's for her Master's thesis, and then studied the effects of national schools on MK's for her Doctorate. She was willing to meet me for coffee, which was an honor.

I made the trek up to Highland Park to meet Karen, because I was so eager and curious to talk with her about MK's and what she has observed in all of her studies and experience. After serving at MTI this summer and focusing on pre-field and post-field training and debrief of MK's, I would love to gain experience and resources in on-field care as well, so am in the process of exploring who is (or has been) already out there in that realm of work and what I can learn from them.

I'm asking lots and lots of questions these days. I still don't know entirely what's ahead, but the Lord is starting to solidify some dreams and desires he's placed on my heart, and I am (tentatively!) starting to trust that these are actually from him, and not just my own. It's still quite a mystery to me what work he's doing not only through this whole process of making connections and reaching out to people, but in my own heart as well. I know one thing though - the Lord is showing up, and already providing.

Karen told me about her experiences with MK's in Argentina and in Spain, as well as all about her studies and her current involvement in the field. She is a professor now, but still has a heart for MK's and seeing families thrive in whatever context the Lord has placed them in.

It's these kinds of connections that I don't understand yet. I don't know what the significance is of them long-term, but I am taking one little step at a time, trusting the Lord that it all "counts". All he asks of us is to "keep in step" with the Spirit, not to make leaps and bounds in the unknown future.

So here I am, making little tiny steps, it seems, praying that God does indeed direct my path...even as I discern which continent that path might be on after December. He always does. Wait and see. Wait and see. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Czech Stories in Chicago

Yes, I am back in the city. City life is fast, hectic at times, yet also exciting and fascinating. There are some places in the city that are like little escapes though, and Lincoln Park is one of those places. 

What brought me to Lincoln Park this time? A trip to the Farmer's Market with my friend Tiffany!

Tiffany was an intern with Josiah Venture this summer in Czech, and we got to have a few hours of uninterrupted story time. Nothing brings me greater joy than hearing accounts of how the Lord has worked in and through peoples' lives. I grew up hearing these stories often, and it's something I miss about not being directly in Josiah Venture now. There are always stories of God's goodness though, both in Czech and here in Chicago. I got to combine those two worlds on Saturday with Tiffany.

We sat by the little pond in the Lincoln Park Zoo. It couldn't have been a more glorious morning, and we soaked up the lingering summer morning, while Tiffany told stories of friendships, learning experiences, hard times and incredible moments where God showed up. This girl is beautiful. 

Indeed, Chicago has its perks - mostly, the people. So many come together in this one urban area and it's a privilege to make connections both at Moody and in the city.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Mattoni: Taste of Home

Don't they say that smell is your strongest memory trigger sense? Well taste must be high up there too, because when I found Mattoni at the local Jewel down the street and tasted it again for the first time in nine months, it brought me right back "home". 

The neighborhood where this Jewel is located caters to the nationalities represented, and I know there's quite a few Eastern Europeans in the area. It was a complete surprise though to find genuine Czech Mattoni, with Czech writing and no translation at all. What a delight! I must say though, what should have been a pear sparkling water had turned quite flat. I have suspicion that people don't purchase Mattoni too often from Jewel, but I'm glad they keep it on the shelves anyways. 

What tastes bring you back to your childhood, or remind you of a place you love? It's those kinds of things that become so dear to our hearts. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Then and Now: With Hannah

I distinctly remember a lot of what happened during freshman international orientation. I still say hi to people on a regular basis that I really only met during that week. Something like that one week, where most everyone is new to the country and culture, bonds people together. International orientation in 2013 was also when I first met Hannah, who was an MK from North Africa. 

We ended up having PCM (Practical Christian Ministry) together that first year, and living on the same floor for two years as well. Her and I, along with Kaitlyn and Michelle somehow stuck together as the "Fantastic 4" (not sure when that name came along), and what started as a freshman connection has lasted into our senior year. All four of us don't necessarily see each other very often, and have different friend groups, but we all know that we've got each other's backs when it comes down to it, and make sure to get together at least once during the semester. 

The Lord answered many prayers for friendships here at Moody. Hannah is one of those gifts from the Father! We don't get all that much time together anymore, so a spontaneous trip to a new coffee shop today together was a sweet adventure. 

As my "Moody career" comes to a close in December, I want to take the advice of a pastor who came to speak at chapel this week. Pastor Choi told us to take time to reminisce and see how God has worked in the past, to remember "our first love" of Christ, and let our hearts be changed by the longings we have for closeness with Him and the memories we have of His goodness.

I'll be doing a couple of these blog posts in the coming months that look back at how I've seen the Lord in these past three years at Moody. Senior year crept up somehow, and I want to take moments to pause and reflect on this unique time of college life. God's mercies are new each day, and I never want to forget that.