Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Svačina (Comments of a TCK)

A window into one of the little Third Culture Kid things:

This is a svačina. Quickly after snapping this photo, I carefully placed these items in my backpack (no one likes smushed banana bread!) and strode out to class. 

My days semester more resemble school days in Czech - they start at 8 and sometimes go until 2:15 before I'm back at my apartment. Without a lunch break, I'm left to only one option on those slightly longer days: bring a svačina = snack.
What makes me laugh about this is that in elementary school we were basically required to have a snack every day at school. I would panic as a kid when I forgot my snack, because I would stand out if I did. Our 15 minute break from 9:30-9:45 was reserved for this purpose alone, and everyone always took this time to eat their snacks. In my early days, I was on the "meal plan" for snacks, and my two favorite things that got delivered were jam-filled light and fluffy doughnuts, and when they would give us bread and yogurt (which were always eaten together when presented this way). 

Middle school pre-gluten-free days included peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (which made Czechs very confused and sometimes disgusted), or my favorite - cherry turnovers. Not bad, eh? Heh...Actually, it's probably a good thing I had to go gluten and dairy-free in high-school. 

Svačina time did not even end in high-school! Although at this point, students ate their snacks whenever they wanted to instead of at a set time. There was also not as high of pressure to have a snack every day (though everyone did anyways). I suppose this habit of never leaving the house without a snack was one that was ingrained in the Czech school system, and has burrowed itself into my patterns of life too.

I ran into Pavel (the only other Czech at school, and one of Caleb's friends from pre-college days too) later today and heard all of his updates on life. He's married and living off-campus, so I don't get to talk with him much, but when our paths cross, we both enjoy getting to speak Czech for a bit. At the end of our conversation, he said that he'd better get back to "domácí úkoly" (homework), and all of the memories of Czech school came flooding back. Domácí úkoly, svačina... it's all still in my heart and head and it's strange to access those memories only at certain times, since I only speak English every day.

Czech and the U.S. have made their imprints on me, and I think that I'll be discovering those marks for the rest of my life as different situations present themselves. Today though, I'll thoroughly enjoyed the svačina that I happened to remember to pack thanks to Czech school systems. Gluten-free banana bread, a piece of chocolate, water and some cherry tomatoes can do wonders for making it easier to concentrate in class and at work. Thanks, Czech teachers. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

NEXT Children's Ministry Conference 2016

How can I even capture what this weekend was like? In short, I have now completed my capstone project for Children's Ministry. The NEXT Children's Ministry conference was hosted by Moody Bible Institute and put together by the senior Children's Ministry majors.

We got to do everything from finding speakers, to budgeting, to creating a schedule, visitor badges and providing food for over a 100 people. More than that though, we learned how to entrust our work to the Lord and surrender to Him, for nothing would happen apart from Him. All of our effort would be for nothing without prayer and the Holy Spirit's work in our hearts and the hearts of those who came to the conference.

Of course, this conference would not have happened without our beloved professor, Mrs. Elizabeth Smith. She not only guided us this whole semester as we prepared, but she taught a general session and led a "Day in the life of Children's ministry" simulation. 

Every one of the seniors did an excellent job in the positions they were given, and I loved working with this team. But seriously, if you're looking for someone to work in Children's Ministry, you should hire these ladies. 

Pastor Brian Smith was another one of our head speakers, and he brought wonderful illustrations and ideas, practical resources and sound biblical instruction for Children's ministry. 

Essentials for any conference - a program, coffee, and water! Crayons are a great addition too. 

On the right is Claire, one of the seniors in our class, who also acted as our conference coordinator. Cinda was the Hospitality team leader, and they both played a significant role in making the conference run smoothly and beautifully. 

And that's a wrap! I continue to pray that the Lord uses this conference to encourage all who were there. I'm grateful for my major, for Mrs. Smith, for the privilege to help equip Children's ministry leaders from the Chicago area, and mostly, for getting to be a part of what God is doing here. He's the one to be praised.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Small Delights in the City

It's a regular Wednesday afternoon in the city -- full of logistics, classes, paper-writing, illustrating (yep, that's part of my prep for the NEXT Children's Ministry Conference), drizzly rain, sirens, traffic and rush hour. The smell of spring trees permeated the air, which vaguely reminded me and Michelle of fish, or goose, or something else that's not so lovely, but the trees are still beautiful all the same. 

I took my homework to my favorite coffee shop today, and then took the long way back to campus by walking through Millennium Park to another Brown Line stop on the train that's just a couple of blocks away. I intentionally travelled this direction today just to catch a glimpse of the white trees in the park, because they come and go so quickly, yet they're my favorite (even though they smell funny). They bring so much life to a place that's been gray and dull all winter.

It's the beginning of a change towards life and color again, and I always make a point to see it here in the city when April nears May. 

I suppose I should call these, "beauty breaks". Essentially, it means taking even just a short stroll to appreciate the Lord's creativity and soak in the beauty of what He has made. I'm naturally drawn to nature for beauty breaks, but people-watching could fit into this too, since people are made in the very image of God, and the Lord is to be praised all the more for creating us than for even creating the trees and flowers. But that's another conversation for a different day, for it's a lesson I've had to learn the hard way living in the city. 

Monday, April 18, 2016


Pace yourself.

Those are the words I used to describe what these next three weeks will be all about. And so, with everything that has to get done, I stopped here on my way back from grocery shopping for a fig macaron and some sketching for a class project. The city sounds were still in abundance outside the cafe window, but the sunshine glowed and the fake flowers looked surprisingly beautiful. 

Spring is here. Last weeks of school are here. Yet amidst that, the Lord is near, he answers prayers, he sustains, protects and encourages. He is faithful. My goal in these next weeks is to pace myself so that I don't have to crash at any we'll see how that goes! Ultimately though, I can't do this on my own and rely on the Lord for new mercies every morning.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Senior Photos: Emily

When a fellow photographer asks you to take her senior photos, you say "yes!", for it is such a privilege. This friend is a creative inspirer and vision caster. She's also one who's not used to being in front of the camera, but rather behind it, so Saturday was a day of conquering fears for her. Here's a glimpse into a greater collection to come.