Saturday, August 31, 2013

Breakfast at College

Every single morning, I walk across the hall to our floor kitchen, and make oatmeal for breakfast.

Making oatmeal at college differs from making oatmeal at home. I don't stand at the stove and stir the oats 'til they are creamy and thick. Instead, I pour some soy/almond milk over them, pop the bowl in the microwave for 2:45 minutes, and that's it.

I pull out my trusty Trader Joe's peanut butter, and any fruit I brought from the Student Dining Room (SDR). I sit at my desk and enjoy a nice bowl of warm, comforting, not-so-creamy-but-that's-ok oatmeal.

I make a variation of this every day. Sometimes I top it with bananas and peanut butter, or I'll add cranberries before microwaving it. Most days I also add some of the Czech honey that I brought from home. Today was an extra special treat, because I had bought blueberries and cinnamon recently! Perfect.

I miss cooking at home, but at least I can still make my own breakfasts, and eat them in Polish pottery that reminds me of our kitchen.

 Does anyone have any other good easy-make, college-friendly breakfast ideas? 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Classes: first week!

I'm almost done with my first week of classes!! Hard to believe.

It's pretty standard college stuff - you go to class, sit for 50 minutes, and hear about a given topic. You read books, do homework, and drink lots of tea in the process.

But Moody is unique in other aspects of the classes. Most of my professors pray before they teach, or before we head out. We learn about the Old Testament, the Church and its Doctrines, or Christian Missions. Still, these classes are tough, but they are worth it.

What a privilege to get to study alongside other people who are excited about following Christ. What a privilege to learn from these professors who have been walking with Him for decades. I don't want these classes to just be academic; I want to soak them in. No, they're not dreamy and easy, but there is so much to learn in them.

On my way to class this morning, I walked past a space between two buildings. I didn't expect to see anything unique, because all that's on the other side of the plaza is a street. But what I saw made me stop for a moment. I literally stood still for about 10 seconds, transfixed. What a glorious reminder that even in this busy city, God shows His creativity and wonder.

These are small things that remind me of His care, and His hand over everything. I know I can trust Him. I'm looking forward to seeing how He will provide this year, and how I will grow and be stretched.

Lord, may we remain faithful!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Farther, yet closer

I am far from home, but home is here too.

Caleb and Haley arrived back on campus last night. Tyler still has one more semester at Moody, and Lara will be (hopefully) working somewhere downtown. It is such a blessing being with all of them again! It's comforting to have them here.

Tomorrow classes begin! I'm a little nervous, yes, but happy too. It'll be great to start normal school up again. I just have to keep reminding myself... I came here to learn, and that's what'll start tomorrow!

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Those first days

I am officially a college student now! I have a college ID, a dorm room, and everything.

This is pretty much what my last week has looked like. Starting off with the trip overseas, to staying in Wheaton for a couple of days, to moving in, to freshman orientation. I have loved everything so far! 

One of the blessings of being in the Chicago area, is that not only are my brothers around, but two of my sweetest friends are going to college only 45 minutes away from me (Lucy and Hayley, in the top left picture). I got to see both of them the day after I arrived! 

Some quick highlights since I got to Moody...

Moving into my room.
Meeting all the internationals and missionary kids at the early orientation.
Exploring Chicago. 
The excitement everywhere when all the new freshmen came in yesterday.
Getting to know the girls on my floor (freshmen, or those who are here early, that is). 
Learning and remembering people's names. 
Worship with the students and parents, led by my brother Tyler last night. 
Seeing Tyler and Lara randomly this week. 
Saying: "oh, you too??", and then realizing you're not ever alone in anything. 
Hearing people's stories. 

It's overwhelming at times, but it feels good to be here. I can't believe though that I can finally say that I am a Moody student! I'm thankful to the Lord for bringing me here. More adventures ahead!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tomorrow: already/finally?!

Tomorrow, I will get up super early, take a ferry from Brac (Croatia), to Split, and from there fly to the States with Tyler and Lara.

I am going to college.

This is a huge transition for me. I am moving across an ocean. I am entering a new culture. I am moving to my passport country, though I have never lived there before. I will be speaking English all day!

Part of me feels nervous. The other part is excited for these new adventures.

No matter what I feel, here I go! Let me just say though: I am extremely glad for Skype, iMessaging, e-mail, Facebook, Instagram, phones, and everything else.

(I don't really have photos to go along with this, but here are my travel buddies for tomorrow! We took a few last pictures this evening, before finishing packing. These two are so photogenic!)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sun, sea, and family

These last few days have been refreshing, long, and warm. I've done a lot of thinking, journaling, sunbathing, and swimming. We've all read books side by side, walked the streets of cute little Croatian towns, ate dinners as a family, and watched shooting stars at night.

Simple pleasures were highlights of this week. This made us all happy: We cooked fish, bought fresh from the harbor. Dad and Tyler woke up early and stopped by the market, and prepared them for all of us for dinner! Prepare, meaning... everything from gutting them (I got a little squirmy at this part, even though I was behind the camera!), to filling them with lemon and fresh rosemary, to grilling them. A treat, for sure.

I missed having Caleb and Haley here too! I'm glad I get to see them in a few days. But so it goes in this time of life! I'm thankful for any family time, no matter what place in the world we are.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Leaving Home

What does it feel like to have left home?

My time of goodbyes and packing was a whirlwind. I went from one thing to the next, trying to soak it in. The goodbyes were sweet, though hard, and those last hugs meant so much to me.

I was quiet for most of the trip down here to Croatia. It's hard to put into words what it feels like. So I sat, looked out the window of the car, with Kaylee on my lap, and let my thoughts wander. I needed that. I'm an internal processor, so it takes a bit to work everything through inside before I can talk about it much.

We had a hiccup in our trip when our car suddenly stopped running on the highway. Everything just turned off, as if somebody had flipped a switch. After a long saga of events, we ended up being towed to a town called Zadar and staying there for three days, while some kind repairmen worked on our car. (They had replace two electronic sensors, and now, thankfully, it's running fine!)

In some ways, we could see the Lord's planning in this. It definitely wouldn't have been our way of doing things, but I think it was good for all of us to really slow down, and depend on the Lord for His care and provision. He absolutely came through!

Today, I can say, I feel at peace. I finally seem to be back to my "normal self". The sunshine and the sound of crickets are doing me good. The quiet of the island of Brac gives me space to rest. I drank french-press coffee this morning with my mom, and the caffeine made me all energetic and chatty. This is normal.

Before I left home, I wanted to capture my house in a way that would bring me right back there whenever I looked at the photos. That helped. I see those photos today, and yes, there is a part of me that already wants to go back, but the other part of me just looks at those photos with fondness. I smile. That home will be there, and I will return! I will be different, but my house will stay the same. Those memories I have there will stay there, and they will stay with me too.

God calls us to trust Him. And so I will. I can't expect or fully know what will be ahead. I can't plan it all, as much as I would like to. Chicago will be an adventure; one I will take with Him!

What I do know, is that this next week in Croatia is a time of rest, and I take it as a blessing. God didn't have to do that, but He did! He knew it would take me a bit to transition, so He gave me this week. He's a good Father!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Goodbyes and The List

In these past few days, I have had to say too many goodbyes and see-you-laters. It's been so sweet to see my friends again, but sad to have to hug them for one last time before I leave.

Not only am I saying goodbye to people, but I am saying goodbye to Czech as well. Or at least for 10 months.

At the end of last Summer I began making a list of all the things I wanted to do before I leave. Some of those things on my "bucket list" (I hate calling it that, it sounds so depressing!) included:

Hiking Lysa hora.
Seeing the flash mob in Ostrava. 
Going to Prague (for a tour!). 
Making macarons.
Doing a US/CZ cooking day. 
Going to Tarzanie.

That last one, Tarzanie, is a ropes course about 20 minutes from where we live. It is in a place that we go to often, but I had never actually climbed there! When I found out that one of my classmates works there during the Summer, meaning I could go for free, I knew it had to happen.

I got to spend the afternoon climbing, zip-lining, and swinging from great heights, but mostly enjoying the time with Kristi, Barunka (Kristi's little sister), and Joey (Josephine). Thank you Joey for "hosting" us! It was so fun.

Note: That swing is taller than it looks!

Tomorrow I head off to Croatia, and from there, on the 15th, I fly to the States. Hard to believe this day is so near now.

It's not all sad though. There are good things ahead! I am so excited for this new chapter, and for all that it holds. I'm also pretty excited that I said a "see-you-later" to my future sister-in-law earlier this week! She was here visiting her family in Slovakia, and we got to go wedding dress shopping in Poland. Guess what? She found a dress!!! I am so happy that I'll get to see her pretty face even more often at Moody, and that I really can say "I'll see you in a few weeks" to her!

Sad to leave things behind, happy for what's ahead. Bittersweet. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Lobel family photos

The Lobels are pretty awesome. We have lived a lot of life with them since they arrived in Czech in 2008! Easters, Christmas Eve parties, leading worship at church, English classes at BMA, babysitting their son Carter, girls' nights with Lisa, and so many other memories.

The Lobels are expecting a little girl in a month, and so wanted some photos to document this time before she arrives! I'm so glad I got to be the one to spend the evening capturing them in the warm glowy sun.

I hope these bring a smile to your face, as these people did to mine!

This one is my favorite of all. 

Lobels-- I am going to miss you all! And I can't wait to see pictures of your new baby girl.