Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wherever I settle

Two years ago, I learned Psalm 139 by heart at a JV Kid's camp. I have heard all those verses, and yet, the Lord can use them over and over to remind us of His heart for us. I was reading that particular Psalm again a couple weeks ago, and these two verses stood out...

"If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast."
- Psalm 139: 9-10

All of a sudden, those verses came alive for me. I'm not rising on the wings of dawn, but I am getting up early on the 15th of August to get on an airplane. That airplane will take me to the farthest side of the ocean, to a completely different world. I will settle far away from where I am now. 

Even THERE  His hand will guide me. 

How comforting those words became to me in a moment! God knows what I'm heading into, and He promises to be there. He knows I'm moving, settling somewhere new, but He already has plans set out for me there. His Spirit will not leave me. (verse 7) 

His right hand will hold me fast. 

He won't let me slip. I think of what it would mean if I were walking somewhere unknown and maybe a bit scary, and my dad held my hand in his. Safety. Security. Knowing that the Lord will hold me fast means that no matter what happens, or what changes I face, He won't let me out of his sight, and I can fall back on Him always.

Caleb Patty's photo!

In the past few months as I've been preparing for Moody, God has been lining up one thing after another for me. He didn't have to let me know what awaits me in Chicago, but He did give me a taste. A few things that show me He cares:

- I was put in the Smith dorms, which means that my roommate and I will have our own bathroom. That is a blessing, because I need my quiet moments in the morning and night! 

- This Summer, one of the JV interns came up to me at a training, and introduced herself. She is a Moody student, and absolutely loves Czech. Turns out, she is on the same floor in Smith as me. And she's studying TESOL (my major) too!

- I already know my RA, Sarah. She sent all of us girls on the floor an e-mail, telling us about our dorm and about herself a bit. I looked up her name on Facebook, and recognized her! Well, she actually served at Gull Lake when we were there, worked with Caleb, and even knows the rest of my family at Moody. She is so sweet, and mostly, I can't believe that out of all the RA's, she's the one God placed me with.

- My family will be there. When I chose Moody, I chose it because I loved the classes, their focus on the Bible, the community, and the overall feel of the school. The fact that both my brothers will be there, and my future sister-in-law too, is definitely a bonus (Lara is there too, just not at Moody anymore, since she graduated). To know that they are there just gives me peace about it all.

(This picture was taken in October, when we were in Chicago)

That's just the beginning of what God has prepared. I know His hand will guide me, even if that means on the other side of the ocean. 

"You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain."
- Psalm 139: 1-6

Monday, July 29, 2013

My favorite city

Soon, I will be into all the exciting (and yes, a little scary too) new things, but until then, I have to say my goodbyes to the people and places I love. Today, is yet another last. 

This Saturday, my Mom and I hopped on a train to my favorite city, Prague, for one last time before I leave. We usually go here to fly to the States, renew passports, or to take SAT's, but this day was different. We wanted to just "be" for one day, to go to Prague and enjoy every bit of it. 

We played tourists in "our own city"! It was about time! I had never actually been on a tour, nor had I even seen many of the famous places in Prague. We loved hearing little tidbits, walking around the city, and also getting a break from the hot sun in our air-conditioned bus for an hour!

Would you believe this wall is not far from the Charles' Bridge, but I had never actually been to it before?! It's the John Lennon Wall. People add their own messages and graffiti, so the wall looks different any time someone visits. It's a unique part of Prague, and I'm glad I finally got to see it myself!

We were off to the last part of our tour-- the boat! We had a ways to walk, which I don't mind at all. But then the shade left. The temperatures kept rising that day, and got up to 95 degrees! Let's just say, this girl from the rainy valley was not very fresh towards the end of our walk.

On the boat we went, and a little breeze helped, though we both were still "recovering" for a while!

Thank you Mom for taking me to Prague one last time! That city will always be near and dear to my heart. I'm glad I got to experience it in a different way than before. I hope to continue to make memories here!

So long, Prague! Until we meet again!

*Thanks Mom for some of these photos!*

Friday, July 26, 2013

In our town

This is Summer in Frydlant.

We decided to be "tourists" in Frydlant today, and stopped by the info board. Little did we know that it also "spoke" English, and loudly! I was so surprised!

What makes Summer special in your town? 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Simply: Home

This is the view I see from my house. During the cooler months, the glowing sun rises right over the top of the mountain as I head to school. Now, Lysa stands under the clear sky, green and lush, as a backdrop to any Summer day. This view means home.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Flashmob in Ostrava

It all started one afternoon earlier this month when Mom and I were talking, and she mentioned flashmobs. She told me to just "file away" that she would love to either see or participate in a flashmob some day. So I did! But I also figured it wouldn't hurt to look them up in our area either, so I went searching on Google.

Lo and behold!!

There was a flashmob happening in our very own Ostrava on July 20th during the popular Colours of Ostrava music festival! I was shocked. And giddy. It was so hard keeping it a secret from my mom!

This flashmob wasn't a typical flashmob, because they advertised it in the mall. Ah well. But, they did actually call it a "flashmob", so I'll take that! Plus, it surprised Mom (thankfully she didn't see the advertisements...phew!!), and that was enough for me.

She glowed when she realized what was happening! I was pretty excited too. It's not every day that you get to see a flashmob!

It's these kinds of things that make life in this last stretch seem totally normal. It doesn't hardly seem like I'll be leaving for Croatia in 11 days, and from there on to college!! So...23 days until I fly from Europe. I'm soaking in last experiences, even if it just means going to our mall for a flashmob. What a great memory! Thanks for the idea, Mom! :)

P.S. Go to my Instagram (on the right) to see a short 15-second video of what the flashmob looked like! They had a drum "marching band" play while the dancers performed!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Roasted Almondy Peanut Butter

Do you remember a while back when I posted about homemade peanut butter? Well, I think I found a way to make it even better.

There is nothing like homemade nut butter. I've tried fancy brands from Wholefoods, and all that, but nothing measures up to homemade. Not to mention, when you make it at home, it's so much cheaper!

Without further ado...

Roasted Almondy Peanut Butter. 

2 cups unsalted peanuts
1/2 cup unsalted almonds
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
Salt, to taste
Optional: 1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Roast a little more than half of the nuts on a baking sheet until golden brown, and fragrant. Watch the oven closely!!  Do not take your eyes off of it. Nuts tend to burn (or even just roast too much) easily.
2. Place all nuts in a high-powered food processor, and blend on high. Continue blending, until mixture begins to clump together. Add oil, and keep blending. Once it all turns nut-buttery and smooth, add honey, and blend until extremely smooth. Add salt to taste.

Keep in the fridge in a glass jar.

To be enjoyed on toast, on apples, in frosting, or just on a spoon!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The sleeper train

What do you imagine in your head when you hear the words "sleeper train", or "night train"?

Here's what I first pictured when my dad told me about sleeper trains.

Maybe something really really nice...

Or even something cozy like this... 

Well, turns out that last one (above) is the Royal Train...yes, the one that the Royal Family uses. Ok, so maybe my view of normal sleeper trains is skewed.

At least the sleeper train could be like this, right? Clean, comfortable, spacious.

Our train from Krakow to Lviv didn't quite measure up to what the image in my head looked like. Goodbye fairy-tale sleeper train. Here was my first impression...

It ended up being totally fine. It cracked me up when I first saw it though!! I wish we had gotten a picture of the whole interior of our little compartment. We forgot to in the moment!

Turns out, we even took one of the "better" night trains. We had a compartment. All to ourselves. Yippee. I will say, however, that I would rather have our own compartment that was kind of quaint, but a bit *hmmm* disheveled, than to have to sleep with all the "bunk" beds in one open train car. The JV interns had to take one of those trains for the JV Amazing Race this year. Props to you guys!

The experience ended up being fun, though for sure different than I thought it would be. I love the rhythm of a train; the sounds and movements are like a lullaby to me. Once I adjusted my expectations, climbed into the top bunk, and settled in, I was happy.

That is, until the border guards banged on our door in the middle of the night to check our passports. Happy peaceful train moment gone. At least I knew I wasn't in any trouble.

Sigh. Maybe someday I'll get to take the Orient Express train and experience a luxurious night's sleep on a train. A girl can dream.

All images of the nice sleeper trains are from Google. 

Friday, July 19, 2013


I'd never been to Ukraine before, but I had the opportunity to go there this past week. We visited JV missionaries there, and learned and saw so much along the way! We took a sleeper train through the night, and arrived early in the morning on Monday, jumping right into "life" there. 

The Williams and Chmiels graciously hosted us in this busy time of English camps, but I loved seeing ministry in action there. We didn't actually go to any camps, but got to sit in on US team training, met the sweet Ukrainian team, talked, saw their local church, and heard stories about what God is doing there.

Ukraine actually surprised me. I was impressed by Lviv! Cute coffee shops dotted the city, markets were abundantly full of fresh fruits and veggies, musicians played on street corners. I hardly noticed any foreign people (they mostly get Eastern European tourists), and building after building told a unique story.

Sure, the streets were uneven, the city wasn't prim and proper, and I couldn't read a thing (nope, never learned Cyrillic) , but I enjoyed it, and it was beautiful in its own way. It felt real and refreshing.


Thank you Ben and Kristi, Tomasz and Miriam, for hosting us and showing us around your city! I loved it, and I'm so glad I got to see a bit of your world.

Friday, July 12, 2013

All the difference

How many times have I walked up to this gate, heard the squeak/screech as I pushed it open, and headed up the gray steps to tutoring?

Jirka, my tutor, helped me so much in these past years of Czech school. Our family went to him for eleven years! Two times a week, he helped us with Czech, with tough assignments, with chemistry, or really, with anything we needed. I truly believe that thanks to Jirka, I was able to complete Czech school well, and actually enjoy it!

Tutoring became a normal part of my week. I never questioned it, it just was. I never felt "different" because I had a tutor. In fact, it was really comforting most of the time! To know that I didn't have to deal with school alone, that if I didn't understand something, I could ask someone, made all the difference. School in my second language became doable, both for me, and my parents. I wouldn't trade my years in Czech school for anything!

Today, Mom and I said goodbye to Jirka. I finished with tutoring in May after my Maturita exams, but had to drop off some last textbooks that belonged to him. We thanked him for all he did for us these years, and took our last pictures.

And then we drove away, as we have done so many times before. Except this time I wasn't talking with my mom about some biology material, the history of Czech kings, or something new I learned about in Physics. Today as we drove away, I looked up into the window I so often looked out of. As the rain poured down, I simply felt thankful.

It's time to move forward to what's next. It's time to say these goodbyes. It's time to be thankful.

(See here for more of the story of how we even started going to tutoring!)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Macarons: Check!

I've always wanted to eat a macaron. They look so beautiful, fancy, and fresh.

I've always wanted to make macarons. I actually never knew until a couple of days ago though, that they are naturally gluten-free!! Even though I haven't eaten them, they still seemed like they'd be fun to make!

When we were at the 4th of July get-together, the topic of macarons came up (random, I know), and Lisa had the same feelings about them as I did. She is quite the creative person, and loves to bake too, so right then and there, we knew we had to bake macarons together. I'm so glad I found somebody to make them with, because I didn't want to attempt that feat alone! I had heard they were pretty hard to make, so if I failed, it'd be much funnier and easier to laugh about with someone else. Not to mention, two heads are better than one!

 Thankfully though... the raspberry macarons were (mostly) a success!

Well at least those turned out. Here are the not-so-pretty ones. The color was waaaay off!! Does anybody know why? They were supposed to be light purple! Ah well. At least you can be encouraged if you make them some day, and they don't turn out perfectly!

We made them according to this video on YouTube. The video was super helpful, and straightforward, explaining all the steps clearly. For our first time making these, we were pleased!

Even 2 1/2 year-old Carter wanted in on the action...

Thank you Lisa for making macarons with me!! It was so much more fun with you. *High-five* We did it!!