Friday, August 28, 2015

First Week

I have finished my first week of classes already. It's hard to believe. I know it's just going to continue going by quickly here, which is bittersweet.

With only three semesters left (including this one), I'm recognizing the significance of every class I take and the weight of the knowledge that I hope to gain. The classes that I will take in these next semesters could be some of the best of my "Moody career". I look forward to them, but of course I recognize the responsibility connected with not only the classes, but with what I will have learned. Once you learn something, you are able to use it in real life.

It becomes even more serious when I start seeing the specific applications of what I'm learning - I will need this knowledge for whatever work the Lord has for me in the future! I'm taking Systematic Theology, Issues in Counseling for Youth, Foundations for Children's Ministry (Theology and Philosophy of children's ministry) and Hebrews. Yes, I have a lot in store for this next semester, including plenty of work too! It's so worth it though.

In the midst of everything going on this week with moving into a new apartment and getting used to classes, I took advantage of a free afternoon and a free visit to my favorite museum. The Art Institute is free for Illinois residents every Thursday from 5-8pm. Usually I will have my PCM (Practical Christian Ministry) on Thursday afternoons, but that doesn't start up until next week, so I giddily planned my afternoon visit. I only had an hour at The Art Institute, but it was wonderful as always.

Here are two Pissarro works that were eye-catching on this visit.

I adore the Art Institute. I could spend hours and hours there. It was such a refreshing short visit this week and a much needed reminder of a place I absolutely love in Chicago. Yes, there are things to love here, just as there are in all of the places where pieces of my heart reside.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Because I Can Today

Happy National Dog Day. Today is a day that's simply an excuse for posting pictures of my favorite pup, Kaylee. She came to find me in my room one evening in Croatia, and it made me the happiest.

Enjoy the cuteness and have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Now in Chicago

I could never have imagined way back when we vacationed together with our families in Croatia that I'd get to live a sliver of life in the States with this incredible friend.

We grew up together in Czech, and as life continues to move forward and we find ourselves in college, in jobs, living "adult lives" in the States, I am beyond thankful to still have Hayley not too far away.

Hayley moved up to Wisconsin this May, and she didn't have hardly any access to internet this summer, so getting to see her in person today in Chicago meant the world. Of course we reminisced as old friends do, but I also got to hear about her new job and community and we shared hopes and dreams, as well as all the random things in between. Hayley - what a gift your friendship is to me! Thank you for coming downtown today.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Detoured to Stockholm

Transitions are hard. No matter what, they carry a certain weight that cannot be fully shaken. Yet our lives are full of transitions and they often bring about new places and people that we come to love. Chicago has become a place like that in these past two years, but entering into life here doesn't get easier. It's always somewhat hectic and overwhelming at first, although I know from the past that it does settle down.

My trip from Croatia back to Chicago was a reminder that the Lord is always near and provides - a reminder I needed in this transition.

Mom and I took the seaplane for the first time from Jelsa (on the island of Hvar) to Split, where it dropped us off right near the airport. This 16 passenger plane delighted all of us who were on board and en route to our various destinations.

The views were stunning, even with such a small cabin...we could even see the pilot in the cockpit! It did get pretty bumpy at times though, but since the flight was only 13 minutes, Mom and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Usually a ferry takes 2 hours, so this new service they offer makes a huge difference, especially when you have a morning flight to catch in Split!

I got through security with plenty of time before my departure, only to find out (a few minutes before we were supposed to board) that our flight was delayed by TWO hours. That meant that I would miss my connecting flight in Copenhagen to Chicago. What I thought would be a smooth trip back to Chicago started to become much more complicated. I couldn't rebook my flight until I got to Copenhagen, so I waited, slightly nervously, and tried to find a spot to sit down on the floor of the small terminal that was completely packed.

(The last view of our beloved Croaita!)

I love Copenhagen and the memories at that airport from earlier this summer, but my afternoon spent there this time was not entirely one of those fun experiences. I stood in line for two hours at arrival services, only to find out that there were no available hotel rooms in Copenhagen that night due to a marathon happening over the weekend. They recommended I find a hotel in another country. Huh??!

At that point, I just left the line, and went off by myself to let my emotions come freely. Alone, scared, without a place to stay for the night, I had to be given a support-pep-talk by my Mom via texting before going back out there to make something happen. Right then I really didn't want to do any of it on my own.

A song came to mind that gave me the greatest comfort, as it reminded me of Scripture (based on 2 Corinthians 4)...

"We are pressed on every side, struck down but not destroyed

We are carrying the death of Christ revealing His life. ...

Majestic Glory with all my being exalt the name of Jesus

Majestic Glory your dawn is beaming come and make the darkness hide"
- Majestic Glory, As Isaac

I prayed that the Lord would intervene and provide (I know my Mom was praying too!), and walked back to the arrival services line. Just then the man who had rebooked my flight a few hours before (at another desk in a separate part of the airport) walked by, saw me, and stopped to ask if I needed any help. He said that he remembered rebooking my flight from before, and would personally talk with the people in Arrival Services to make sure I had a place to stay.

Oh, what an answered prayer, right at that moment! I have no idea what that man was doing near baggage claim, or how he remembered me when he has so many other people coming through. The only way to explain it is that my Father took care of me. 

About 20 minutes later, I stepped up to the desk window again, was handed a new plane ticket, and promised a hotel room in Stockholm. Stockholm? Yes. An hour later, I was on a plane from Copenhagen to Stockholm, with no idea of where exactly I'd be staying, but with confidence that the Lord had it covered. Surely enough, when I arrived, I checked in at a desk and found out that Stockholm actually has a hotel directly in their airport. I wheeled my carry-on through the bright terminals, showed my passport at the hotel, and was handed a key to a room for the night. Sweet, sweet relief! 

As has happened before, when I felt alone and on my own, I saw my lack of strength, but the Lord showed his immeasurable power and his tender care for his children. 

A good night's sleep, and some delicious Swedish coffee in the morning at an airport coffee shop, and knowing the goodness of the Lord left me sitting happy and thankful at my gate on Sunday morning. 

I may have arrived in Chicago a day later than expected (thank you, Tyler, for picking me up from the airport!), but I'm thankful for this weekend's travel saga. It was hard. I didn't like all the uncertainty at the time; yet I can see God and his love in it now. I wouldn't have had it any other way. I even got to stay in a fancy hotel and get a good night's sleep before jumping into life again at school. 

I know the Lord is near! 

"The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth."
-Psalm 145:17-18

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Adventure or Tea First?

"Would you like an adventure now, or would you like your tea first?" - Peter Pan

When I found this quote on Pinterest last year, I thought it was just a cute representation of how I feel about tea. I took my inspiration from the picture, and did a quick sketch of it on a paper bag, which I then hung up above my tea corner in my dorm room.

I thought it might be good to know the context of the quote from Peter Pan, so I found it in the book one day. I should not have been surprised to find out that the meaning of it was quite different from what I had first thought.

Peter Pan, being a clever, slightly rambunctious but brave little kid, said this quote to coax John to go with him down from their perch in Neverland towards a sleeping pirate - Hook. Wendy responded quickly with, "tea first", and she would have held them back from the adventure if it hadn't been for John and Peter. She would have loved to stay comfortable with her routine of tea, which reminded her of home, but John caught on to Peter's invitation.

I sat outside and painted this quote today, remembering the story behind it.

Now I love this quote even more. It's a reminder to set aside the comforts and the fear of unknowns and just go for it. Similarly to Wendy, I tend to like sticking to what I'm familiar with. But in the end, I love adventures so much more.

So how about this? I'll have an adventure, and then have some tea along the way.