Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Last time

Yesterday was the last day I pulled out 4 plates for dinner. It was the last day I heard John Mayer playing through the house. The last day that Caleb came to pick me up from tutoring.

No, it's not the last day these things will ever happen. But it's the last day it will be a normal part of life. That's a hard thing to take in.

Caleb left home at 4AM this morning to fly to States to work for the summer at Gull Lake Ministries, and then attend Moody in the fall. I said goodbye to him only for a few days though, because we will see each other at Tyler's wedding in a week. But still, it's not the same as having him at home.

Caleb- I really miss you...already! You are an amazing leader, you bring so much joy to our lives, and I love your adventurous spirit. Thank you for being such a loving and caring brother. I'm soooo happy I get to see you in a week, and then in October in the States. This house is just not the same without brothers.
Yep, that's Dead Sea Mud...just in case you were wondering.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

This is true today

The part about the eggs is true today. I was so excited to make brownies on this lovely Sunday afternoon, and got some of the ingredients in the bowl. I reached in the fridge to get an egg, and there were none. Hehe. Oops.

I think I'll take Kaylee for a walk up to the little tiny grocery store in our village and see if they have eggs. I doubt they will, but's worth a try.

Caleb and my parents are gone, and it would take about an hour and a half for me to go down to the grocery store in town and back, plus I don't know what I would do with Kaylee. I think I need a driver's license. Or a bike that doesn't have popped tires.

Update: Caleb got home soon after I wrote this, but I still walked up to the tiny grocery store, only to find out (surprise, surprise), that it's closed on Sundays. So Caleb took me down to the store in town, and I got what I needed! Brownies now sit proudly on the counter! Yum.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Exactly 12 days from now, my brother is getting married to beautiful Lara. 12 DAYS!! 

And in 5 days I will be done with my 3rd year of high-school. Uuf. I have lots of finals this week, and I just keep having to remind myself...soon...soon, it will be over. And soon, lots of happy times will be here. And school will be behind me for a little while. Ah, I can't wait for that.

I am so excited for Tyler and Lara's wedding. It's going to be unforgettable. I am trying to soak in the anticipation though! It's half of the fun.

Monday, May 21, 2012


 I'm soaking in these sunny May days. Thanks God for creating such beautiful places!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Delightful salad dressing

It's a tradition now for dinner: Mom makes the meat; I make the vegetables.

Maybe it's because I'm more of a veggie-lover to start with; maybe it's because it's always been simpler for me to make that instead of the meat. I don't know. But that's how it works in this house these days. And I love it.

I have this thing for making salads-- because you don't have to have a recipe, and you can put any combination of things together. Plus, you can eat lots of it, because it's really healthy, and not as filling as meat. Perfect.

I don't always put a dressing on my salads, but when I do, I want it to be something special, something that will really compliment the salad, not overpower it. I'm pretty picky about homemade dressings, and there aren't many pre-made dressing options here in Czech. But, today, I found fresh cilantro in the grocery store, which inspired me to make this...

Lemon-lime cilantro dressing
(adapted from this recipe)

It was so good!! Definitely need to remember this recipe. And I need to learn how to grow my own cilantro.

1 small clove garlic
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root (I used a pinch of ginger in powder form)
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/3 cup packed cilantro leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Blend everything together in a high speed blender until smooth. Pour over a delicious salad (Note: Don't pour all at once- this recipe makes enough for a really big salad. You wouldn't want soggy lettuce or an overpowering dressing on your precious salad!)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Inspired to make

While we were in Israel, we had a "date night" (or, in our case, a family night!). We could choose any place to go to for dinner. Where did we choose?

Doesn't look like much yet? It's a frozen yogurt shop on the Ben Yehuda street in Jerusalem (I couldn't actually find the real name of the place- people just call it Fro Yo, and in one place on the internet, I found Aldo' idea though!) You can choose any ingredients that you want to put in your frozen white yogurt, and then they put it all through a machine, and you've got a unique, delicious creation all of your own!

Maybe to Americans this seems pretty have places like Pinkberry. Do they let you choose your own ingredients? (There probably are places that do...I just had never seen this before! So genius)

My choice? (Of course, a thought through, intentional flavor. Haha.)
: Frozen cherries, bananas, dates, and glazed pecans (I think there was one more thing, but I can't seem to remember what!)

So this made me wonder if I could make this at home in my Vita-Mix? It'd be fun to do a dessert for dinner night one summer evening! I need to remember to try it!

And just to clarify, that's not ALL we had for dinner...but we did have it first. Teehee. The stylish little burger place we wanted to go to was closed until 7! Ah well- dessert first was fine with me!

P.S. I definitely would recommend these two places I mentioned if you ever go to Jerusalem! They were awesome! Both of them can be found on the Ben Yehuda street. 
Sorry the picture's a little crooked! But hey, you get the feel for the place.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

To Mom

Thank you. I can never say that enough!

Thank you for the times you sit and talk with me in the kitchen. Thank you for driving me to and from school every day. Thank you for every single picture you took. Thank you for all the cakes, pies, and cupcakes you make so willingly for birthdays (that's a sacrifice, I know!). Thank you for cold cokes from the gas station. Thank you for listening when I need someone to talk to. Thank you for being such an amazing wife to Dad. Thank you for being so present at home. Thank you for always pointing me to God, and teaching me to rely on Him.

You are so loving, intuitive, and joyful. You are a prayer warrior. You are caring. I love that even other people get excited to tell you new news, because they know you'll celebrate with them! I admire your ability to adapt to new situations so quickly. You have embraced new cultures so well over the past 25 years!

Those are just a few things that I love about you. But most of all...

I love that you're my mom.

Happy Mother's Day.

Love, Claire
I think you look beautiful here!
And of course, you're just as beautiful today!!

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Israel memories still run through my thoughts every day. How can I let something like that go by in just one blog post? Nope, can't let that happen.

One of the first days that we were in Israel, we hiked a short trail to the top of Mt. Arbel. It was hot. I mean, the make-your-head-hurt and gotta-have-lots-of-sunscreen-on hot. It's a good thing it was a short hike, because it would have been exhausting in that heat for too long. (Makes me really appreciate the Jews traveling across Israel to get to Jerusalem in Bible times! Wow!)
When we got up there, we sat down, and as we were looking out on the Sea of Galilee, the wind picked up. And then the dusty clouds rolled in. The air cooled down. We could see waves forming on the sea. I think this is the strongest wind that I've ever been out in!

So out of no where, a storm had come, all in the matter of about 15 minutes.
From our position on the mountain, the change was great-- cool off, get some relief from the heat. But it made me think: "What if I was out on the water right now?"

I don't think I'd be very calm. I'd probably be like the disciples. Scared out of my mind, wondering how Jesus could sleep through all this, second-guessing myself for even going on the boat when Jesus asked if we could cross to the other side.

Mark 4:35-41 (NLT):
35 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.
38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

Jesus had power even over this storm! He still has power today over the things we fear most! When we are tumbling under the waves, when we don't have any control over our circumstances, he does.

The Sea of Galilee (*on a different day)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Just one of those days

It's a holiday today. No school.

Wake up... want to go back to sleep.

Get up, because there's lots to do today.

Make breakfast, while listening to Mark Driscoll's sermon about Jesus calling his disciples. (It was a really good one- super encouraging.)

Study chemistry and physics. And a little bit of geography. Write an essay for English.

Go for lunch with Dad to a new restaurant in our village. He leaves tomorrow for the States, so it was great to get some time with him. Best part of the day.

Study some more, and go to tutoring. Super helpful to have this time twice a week to help with studies.

Make dinner with Mom...big salad and attempted Israeli hummus- it was actually pretty good! (Trick: avocado, and reboiling canned chickpeas!)

It was just one of those days that is normal, and yet so not normal. My mind is full of information that I don't even know if I'll ever need, except for tomorrow's tests. But my heart is so delightfully full from Israel, JV conference, time with Dad, and excitement for June (Tyler and Lara's wedding is one month from today!).
The JV family!
It's one of those days when it's hard to concentrate on one thing, but I try to get things done anyway. It's a day when I could stop and gather myself a little before finishing up a busy week of tests and catching up with school.

But I do feel God's hand over all of this. He knows what I'm going through. Jesus had times when people pressed in on him and wanted him to prove something. But he stood firm in his position as the Father's Son, and let nothing move him from the calling the Father had placed on him. That's how I want to live day by day too. In His calling. In His plans.

God, may you use me even when I'm pressed, even when there's lots going on. You are at the very top of my list of important people and things to give my time to. You are life. Remind me of that.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Two weeks ago we boarded a plane at 11:55 PM to Tel Aviv. Did that really happen??

It seems like forever ago that we left for Israel as a family, to be a part of the "En Gedi Experience", led by one of our long-time friends. This is our last 4-of-us family trip before Caleb goes to the States for college! We were there for 12 days, but it felt like much longer than that. We visited so many places, saw things we'd only heard about before, tasted delicious and fresh new food, and experienced God's presence in a personal way.

It's hard to recap everything that happened. There were so many significant moments and powerful place. Maybe I'll post individual stories of places some time, but it's also different just reading about it without seeing it with your own eyes. Israel is a land in which you need to walk, touch, smell.
The Garden of Gethsemane
It even impacted me to feel the heat of the desert, the wind on the Sea of Galilee. When I let the cool waters of the En Gedi spring rush over my shoulders, I understood why David would have dwelt here in hiding from Saul. When I sat on the Southern steps in Jerusalem, I could picture Jesus going in and out of the temple. As we stood on the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus preached, I could almost hear Jesus preaching the Sermon on the Mount.

So just to capture a fraction of the trip, here were my favorite experiences on the trip by sense:

Favorite smell: Honeysuckle! These flowers permeated the air with their wonderful fragrance outside of one of the hotels we stayed in. It's one of my all-time favorite smells, that I've only ever really smelled in California before!

Favorite taste: Hummus! With every meal. Hummus with meat, hummus with carrots, hummus with roasted zucchini. Just delicious. It tasted so different from anything I can make at home, or find in American grocery stores. Anybody know the secret to making perfect hummus??

Favorite touch: Definitely the spring of En Gedi! We stood under the waterfall and the water was so refreshing and powerful. It reminded me of how God's blessings shower upon us, and how He refreshes our hearts and minds.

Favorite sounds: At the Garden tomb. There were actually two things here that were wonderful. One of them were the birds- they sang as if they were worshipping their risen King! The second is a little less typical. One man (Chris) on our trip was South African (he works with churches and pastors there, but lives in the States right now), and after communion, he prayed in Afrikaans. Oh, what a beautiful language! It was also like music to my ears. And I just love that even when I don't understand, God knows exactly what Chris was telling him. He heard every word.

Favorite sight: This one is the hardest. There were so many amazing feasts for my eyes! But one of the best was when we were on the Sea of Galilee. The sun was setting over the mountain, the wind was blowing, and I could just picture Jesus standing out on the water, and calling Peter to come and walk to him. It was so peaceful at that moment, and yet free and wild too.

And one last favorite sight- the flowers! You know flowers make me so happy. Well, colors in general do. But flowers are God's creation, and He clothed each of them uniquely. I love how creative He is, and it just takes my breath away.

Thank you God for this trip, and for the gifts you give us every day. What an amazing Heavenly Father we have!

*Credit for these pictures goes to Caleb, and Mom! And this last one was taken by a proffessional photographer.
The whole En Gedi Group (minus Ben and Steve- they had to leave early. We missed them!)