Thursday, July 24, 2014

Red Currants and an Angel

I got the stomach flu yesterday. I was up most of the night, reliving many years of my childhood. Growing up I had an extremely weak immune system (because of a mold allergy and a mold-infested home...but that's another story) and I often caught even the smallest bug. As a kid, my system collapsed easily and it took days, sometimes weeks, to recover.

Thank you to all those who prayed for me as a kid. I can't remember the last time I was really sick, which is a miracle. I caught a cold once this past year and now have this 24 hour bug, but compared to my childhood, those things are completely normal. God has strengthened my body in ways that I could never imagine and I thank Him every time I do get sick, because it reminds me of all that He has already brought me through.


Although being sick is never fun, there is no other couch I'd rather spend the day on than the one inside the yellow house with its red roof: home. Mom brought me Sprite and toast when I needed it, I didn't have any other responsibilities I needed to report back to, and I knew where the medicine cabinet was at 3AM.

The best surprise of today? Even our dear neighbor wanted to help. "Pani Andelova" (Mrs. Andelova) lives next-door and comes to visit us many days a week. She rings our doorbell until we come and then gives us the biggest smile and we chat at the front door. She may lead a simple life, but her faith is childlike and genuine. She came to say hello today and when she found out I was sick, her first response was to go home and pray for me.

An hour later, I heard the doorbell ring again and again and easily recognized it was pani Andelova. What I didn't expect was this:


She told my mom at the front door that as she was praying for me, she remembered that when she was little, her mom used to give her red currants when she had a fever. So she picked some from her yard and brought them over. Mom put them in a bowl for me and thanked pani Andelova. Our neighbor doesn't even know that red currants are such a comforting food to me because I only ever eat them in Czech during the Summer.

What a precious reminder of how the Lord cares for us even in the midst of a small flu.

Oh, and one more tidbit about pani Andelova. Her last name translated means "angel". So Mrs. Angel lives right next-door. If that's not comforting, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

First Time Home

353: The number of days since I was last at home. 


2 airplanes and I'm back. It's pretty surreal. 


And I can't even begin to say how good it feels.


I've seen my parents quite a few times this past year because they were on sabbatical/home assignment for 8 months. But I haven't been home in a year. It was wonderful having my siblings in the States, and I loved seeing my parents often, but I will say, it was hard in a unique way feeling disconnected from home.

When I left for college, I was uprooted. I knew it would happen. I didn't expect that it would be so difficult to not have any family in Czech when I left home. I felt like life stopped at home. It seemed that life in Czech had just been a dream. I knew my memories and could recall stories and friendships, but why did it feel so distant? My anchor of home ceased to be constant.


These are things that all TCKs have to face - a constant struggle between homes. Where does true life happen? Where do we actually belong? Both places. And neither. When I'm in one place, I'm all there, but it's hard to be a part of both at once. That's why it gets complicated when you leave part of yourself in each place. I'm still working on being able to be everything at once. All experiences and places form who I am today.

My hope for these next 4 weeks that I'm here is to get re-rooted in Czech so that when I go back to the States, my heart is firmly planted in both of my homes - the States and Czech. My other prayer is that being here will remind me of my true roots in Christ.

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." - Colossians 2:6-7

Monday, July 21, 2014

Patty Party of 5

Look who I got to see on Saturday again!


Yep! My siblings came to pick me up from Gull Lake!


After turning in my keys and saying a few last goodbyes, it was time to wave goodbye to Gull Lake and head to Grand Rapids together to celebrate Tyler's 24th birthday before returning to Chicago.


Lara had scoped out some fun places to go in Grand Rapids, which was only about an hour's drive from Gull Lake.


Marie Catrib's was one of those places that she found and we enjoyed some delicious and unique gluten-free sandwiches there. What a treat to sit around a table with my family again!


Next up was the real reason we came to Grand Rapids: Madcap Coffee. Tyler and Lara had been in Grand Rapids this spring when Tyler presented a theological paper at ETS (Evangelical Theological Society). Since Tyler works at Intelligentsia in Chicago, he and Lara are pretty picky particular about their coffee - they know their stuff! When they had coffee at Madcap in the Spring, they both agreed that it was some of the best they'd ever had. So of course, we had to make a stop by here.


We took our coffee to go and headed down the street to the boardwalk on the river. A picnic blanket was all it took to make a quaint spot to sit down and enjoy some of Lara's homemade pecan and pear pie and open a few gifts.


It doesn't take much to make a day happy when we're with those we love!


HAPPY BIRTHDAY Tyler!! I am beyond thankful for you. You have taught me so much and have always been an example to me. Your creativity inspires me and your dedication to the Lord and His plans is so strong! I love getting to live life with you and Lara in Chicago these years. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Staff

In some ways, it was stretching not to have my phone or camera with me for six weeks. I couldn't capture memories or view the world through a lens. But it was good for me too. I practiced truly living in the moment every single day. I was able to stay fully focused on camp, without any distractions or even thoughts of "the outside world". The camp bubble is an interesting concept, but I'm thankful for it too.

Finally, on my very last day at Gull Lake, when we finished the weekly camp deep cleaning of houses and cottages, I pulled my camera out of the squeaky drawer in the Annex. I got to freeze a few moments in time with people as we gathered under the Big Top together. Smiles abounded and laughter and silliness were plentiful.


I really could have gotten pictures with everybody because they all have a place in my heart now even just after six weeks!


This group all came from the same school to work at Gull Lake! Some of them came just for the first half of the summer, and some came this weekend to start second half. But on Friday, everyone was back together for one evening. We call that evening "MAWOG" (Men-And-Women-Of-God), though no one really knows why or how that name stuck years ago.


First and second half staff for housekeeping - these girls rock! They work so hard behind the scenes, but have the same passion for serving God as counselors working with the kids.


Parental Care Ministries came as the Missions representative one week and they had such fun shirts for sale. They also do great work for God, of course!


These are most of the wonderful ladies I got to live in the "Annex" with this summer. My roomie was the one in the light blue shirt on the right!


Time to go back inside for our last night of worship and reflection with the staff. Second half staff began on Saturday with a new group of families.


What a blessing to get to serve God with such a great group of people. It was hard work from morning till night (literally), but I never felt alone in any task. We could depend on each other and depend on the Lord. It truly was a picture of the body of Christ coming together, everyone using their gifts to bless others and each other.

Thank you Gull Lake for all you taught me this summer. I was stretched and pushed and challenged daily, but I wouldn't have had it any other way. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

At Dawn

Every morning at Gull Lake, we had to be up and ready to go by 7:25. At exactly 7:25 we gathered under the "Big top" by the main building and had a short time of prayer or Scripture reading and then had until 7:45 to be alone with Jesus. 

Those 15 minutes of time to read my Bible and pray were precious every morning before another day of camp started. Time after time God showed me something in the Word that was just what I needed to hear. He was my strength every day (and continues to be!). I really don't think I could have rejoiced about a new day without focusing on Him every morning.

But sometimes, before I even got to our morning meeting, I had a few minutes to spare. If I got ready super quick, I could go out to the dock near us and watch the sun rise. 


Those were the most glorious mornings.


It felt like the world slowed down for five minutes. The fog lingered over the lake as the sun came up and birds chirped all around. Even the spiderwebs completed the picture of peacefulness.


Every Friday I'd go out a little bit earlier and have a snack before breakfast because it was a while before I actually got to eat breakfast (just because of the way we plate-served it on the last morning of camp). This past Friday I read another chapter of Hebrews and was yet again encouraged by God's reminders. 


 Then it was time to walk back to the Annex housing, drop off my camera and head on up to the Big Top.


I'm thankful my mornings had a few peaceful minutes before everything began. They didn't last long, but they counted. Every moment of rest counted.