Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Hello and Ahoj

Did you know that the Czech word for "hello" is "Ahoj"? Yes, the word does sometimes sound like a pirate's "ahoy matey" (as English-speaking kids love to remind me), but in the Czech language the emphasis is on the first syllable, not the last.

On another note...

One day I hope to learn more about graphic design. It's not an area I am particularly skilled in, but I find it fascinating. Is there anyone reading this who would like to teach me some basics...and in return I'll send you some postcards or a bar of Czech chocolate? Hmm...I don't know if that would be a fair trade.

What are you creating right now? How does the process of doing so point you to the Lord? 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Finding Treasure: Mattoni

I stopped by an obscure grocery store on my way to small group yesterday and ended up meandering through the international section, which appeared rather extensive even from a distance. Angelo Caputo's Fresh Market did not disappoint! They had a whole aisle of Polish juices, cookies and Milka chocolate... and even a Czech surprise too.


I seldom find Mattoni here in the States, but when I do, I get a huge grin on my face.

Mattoni is a lightly sweetened mineral water. I grew up drinking Mattoni at any and every occasion. In fact, did you know that you have to specifically ask for still water in a restaurant, or else they will go ahead and assume you want sparkling water? I approve. I'm a huge fan of sparkling water, and it all began with Mattoni.

Although I didn't buy any Mattoni this time, I look forward to having some when I'm back in Czech in two weeks for JV Kid's Camp!

I love moments when you realize the world really isn't so big. Two places really can collide...even in a grocery store. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Andy Griffith and Classics

My family was never the kind that watched many old movies or classic TV series. I remember watching Sound of Music and Singing in the Rain, but my scope of classics did not go far beyond those. I never minded much, because honestly as a kid I thought I didn't like old movies!

Fast forward to today. Now as an adult I am continually surprised by the charm of old movies - they are like treasures!

I watched White Christmas for the first time in college with my roommates. I remember the evening my friends and I huddled on the hard floor of my dorm room (my bed was lofted, so you couldn't sit on it for movies anyways!) and watched Charade with Audrey Hepburn. Oh, so many delightful stories!

The family that I am living with has a 14-year-old ("M") at home who has now introduced me to two "new" old shows/movies.

1. The Andy Griffith Show

2. Father Goose


Oh, and we still somehow ended up on the floor of my room watching it. We were painting nails, so I suppose it was appropriate. M, thanks for introducing these treasures to me! They are delightful, and so are you. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Today and One Day

Today the kids I babysat played pretend "Bible study" at one point in the day.

Today the church I work at on Wednesday evenings included the kids in their worship leading and prayer service.

Today the kids at that same church prayed a blessing over the adults, and the adults over the kids.

Today I met four Korean kiddos and we had fun playing ball together, even though we couldn't speak the same language.

Today the Lord reminded me again why I get excited about how he is stirring the hearts of children, what a privilege it is to get a front-row seat to the praise, prayers and curious faith of children.

And today I heard a story of a teenager from a church in the city who took her life. This was the second story I heard of like this in the past week.

And I struggled to find words to express empathy to a friend last night, because relationships hurt sometimes and I haven't walked through what she is walking through.

And a few days ago I doubted my ability to enter back into Czech culture seamlessly, recognizing that I will undoubtedly have culture shock again as I adjust to "adult" life there in a way I have never experienced before.

And today I worshipped alongside kids at church, singing "You are good to me," and then also mourned from a distance with a friend who lost her grandmother.

The Kingdom is now and not yet. And oh, how I pray that the Lord's Kingdom would be here, just as it is in heaven. I praise him for snippets of that here, for ushering in his Kingdom even now, by his people and by his Word. Yet I long for the day when redemption is completed and all is right!

Let us pray the words of the six year-old from the family I lived with last month. After reading a Bible story one night before bed, we talked about Jesus returning for a second time to fulfill all of the promises God made, and to rule and reign as King in this world.

I asked her before bed, "Is there anything you'd like to pray for, Moira?"

"Pray that Jesus comes back soon. That'll be the best."

Yes, yes indeed. Maranatha: The Lord is coming. Let us take hope, and also rejoice in how he is already victorious!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

No Time Wasted

I received a note from my boss yesterday that my food demo was cancelled for the following day because of a glitch in the delivery system of the product. This meant that my Tuesday schedule was unexpectedly wide open. 

While I processed that last-minute schedule change in my head and adjusted to the new plan, I couldn't help but wonder what the Lord had in store instead of the demo. It seemed too last-minute and too obscure of an issue to be merely chance. And even if it were, I had a feeling that the Lord would redeem the time and bring his purposes to a now "free-schedule" day. 

Sure enough, only an hour later, I received a text from a mom in Oak Park whom I have babysat for once before. I got connected with this family quite "randomly" actually, but it was such a delight getting to know their two girls, ages 5 and 3 last week.

"Hi Claire! Super last minute so no worries but anyway you are available to watch (J) tomorrow from 8 am to around 5?" she asked in her text message.

"Wow. Funny you should ask! My job tomorrow in the city was just cancelled today (the company had to reschedule), so I am unexpectedly available tomorrow. I need to be back in the suburbs by around 6 to take a family’s photos, but that works out well with your needs too! Ha! The Lord is good, isn’t he??" I responded.

After a lovely day with a 3-year-old, her mom came home from her work at the hospital, and we both marveled at how God would answer a prayer that she hadn't even thought to pray. He knows our needs way before we do, all the way down to clearing my schedule so that this family didn't have to worry about childcare for the day. The Lord is always covering us with his care and love.

(Here's a little person we created together out of treasures we could find from the yard)

This kind of specific care from the Lord abounds. He has been so faithful and near even in ever-changing transition-filled life, and he has surrounded me with the body of Christ in ways that are so tangible here in the suburbs of Chicago for this time. For that reason, all the more, I was so happy to be a small part of God's work in revealing himself and caring for a family here in Chicago today.

This was about God's glory being displayed in such a simple act of his grace - both to this family, and maybe even more so to me!