Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Celebrating from Across the Ocean

Today was just another day in Chicago.

But all the way across the ocean, in a country in the heart of Europe, one very special person was celebrating his birthday! It's incredible to me to think that two years ago Dad and I were visiting colleges together, and he was doing the greatest job helping me figure out what I wanted out of these four years. That year we celebrated Dad's birthday in Czech and then went to Chicago at the beginning of October.

Now two years later, I sit in my dorm room at Moody, one of the schools that Dad and I visited that fall. Although I can't be with Dad today (and bake him a cake and sing happy birthday to him!), I think about him so often here in Chicago, not just on his birthday.

It's his passion for serving the Lord, his focus on others, his vision of the bigger picture, his courage, and his commitment to the Word that inspires me. Dad, you have been and continue to be such an example to me, but I also just really love that you're my dad.

Thanks for all the fun adventures we've had together and may there be many more. I love you!

Happy Birthday, from Chicago!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Today reminded me of Czech. Not only did it help that my afternoon was spent with Tyler and that I read a book about a region of Czech (Ponaszymu - a dialect in Silesia), but the pace of life was like Czech on this fine September day.

It's not very often that I get to sit on a blanket on the grass and read. The sun was warm and the birds chirped softly. Tyler and Lara's shared yard sits right near where the Metra train passes every 20 minutes, but it's charming as it speeds by in its usual patterns. Otherwise, all you see is trees and the occasional deer from this plot of grass behind their home. 

We picked up Lara from work and then had a quiet evening of making dinner together and watching a "Miyazaki" movie (they're some of our favorites, actually). Risotto and tea and cinnamon cake and the quiet of a home outside the city center - a splendid evening with two people I dearly love.

In Czech, people will sit outside and just enjoy the sun, or go for walks "just because". It's a bit of a slower pace of life, and one that I admire and miss when life gets busy here. But slowing down is possible on this side of the ocean too, of course, and it is needed and important to rest.

What's the best way for you to slow down and enjoy a day? I'd love to hear.

P.S. In the spirit of the title of this post, here's a little quote from Mr. Rogers:

"You've made this day a special day, by just your being you."

Friday, September 12, 2014

Snapshots and Perspectives

It seems I had forgotten the rest of the city. After being here now for my second year, I'm a regular to a few places and have stopped exploring the rest. Thanks to Kelley, I got to see another gem in Chicago. A little piece of history and beauty. Here are some snapshots of a Thursday.

We went to a coffee shop I'd never been to. A hot chocolate made with homemade almond milk, good talk with a friend, and an overcast day out the window made for a perfect afternoon. 

I don't always carry my camera around with me. Actually, I find that I don't take nearly as many photos while I'm at school because, mostly, it's not normal to have your camera around at everything. Some things are just meant to be lived in. An evening with girls in the lounge, Friday Film in my Christianity in Western Culture class, ushering for events, working, are all things that I don't take pictures of, but they form my day after day.

On the side of my blog I list three things I love. Those are also the three things I capture through this blog:

The joys.
A collection of memories.

Of course, life is made up of more than snapshots and happy moments (it's more than coffee shops, laughter and splendidness), but mostly what I post are those three things. This blog is a collection of joy, of memories that I cherish and ways that Christ is working in my life and in the world around me.

Yesterday with Kelley was one of those "snapshot" days and it was splendid. Today had its ups and downs, but those are stories I'll just have to remember. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The World

These past few days have been sobering to me. I've had many reminders of what is going on in the world currently and in these past months.

Yesterday I went to a panel discussion about the situation in Israel and Gaza. Joel Rosenberg joined two of our Moody professors to help us understand the events and what our response should look like as believers and followers of the Word. Joel Rosenberg then joined us for chapel, and you can find his notes from the talk he gave HERE.

Today I read a blog post by one of our JV missionaries in Ukraine. She captured the situation well. She says that the Hunger Games are sounding "not too far from the hell also known as Eastern European Communism, which a deranged current world leader is trying to restore."

Syria. Too many people have been forced to flee. Too many families have been torn apart. I saw a video back in the Spring that put things into perspective a bit.

Even in the States, physical violence is on the news. Kay Arthur warned us this morning in chapel as she spoke that America too is on the decline, and this country needs a revival and many prayers for peace.

These situations are all so complex (and I only mentioned a few of them), but I'm trying to understand what I can about them. It's important to know how to pray.

It's no small thing to bring these wounded nations and people before the King of all earth. He hears. I don't know what His plan is, but I know that we are called to pray. In the weakness of my words, the Spirit himself intercedes for believers before the Father in accordance with His will.

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God." Romans 8:26-27

Praying. Keeping up with news. Talking with others. Praying. Asking the Lord for change, for renewal, for wisdom of leaders, for comfort of families, and looking forward to everlasting Peace when Jesus one day returns. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Breakfast: Smoothie

I realize that you might be thinking to yourself right now, "That's green...hmm... not sure what I think about that."

Why would I post a green smoothie?

Because it's actually delicious, that's why! (And because it's what I have for breakfast almost every morning these days)

This smoothie is simple to prepare and it's not hard for me to have the ingredients on hand. We can take 1 piece of fruit from the cafeteria per meal, and I always grab a banana (for smoothie purposes). And then I get spinach from the "Commons" (a.k.a. the afternoon cafeteria) where you can go to and get salads and sandwiches at. Instead of getting a meal there, I fill up a salad box with just spinach - perfect for smoothies!

Haley actually taught me to make this smoothie, and I've just adapted it a little bit to what I have on hand. So here's a power morning smoothie for ya!

1 cup almond milk
5 frozen strawberries
1 banana (frozen or not)
1-2 tsp chia seeds (really, however much you want to put in)
1 handful of spinach
Optional: 1 tbsp almond butter, or add cinnamon, or oats if you want some grains in there too

Blend on high until smooth! I like to put my smoothie in the freezer for a little bit if I have time - it gets thicker and colder that way. Enjoy with morning Bible reading, at your breakfast table, while reading the news, or heading out the door!