Friday, January 31, 2014

A Patty Friday

Another laid-back Friday evening at the Chicago Patty's: leftovers, and pancakes for dinner, three cups of tea (ok...maybe more), What Not to Wear for the girls, and "coffee cupping" for the guys, the smoke detector going off because of the gas stove (this happens often), and talk of the wedding, of school, of news, and of encouragement.

We all started to get pretty sleepy at a certain point - the signal that it was time for Caleb, Haley, and I to go home (well, back to Moody). We took the familiar trek from Tyler and Lara's to the "L" station, and waited for our train under the heater lamps as the snow fell outside.

We settled into the back of the train, and sat down in our usual spots: Caleb and Haley next to each other, me across from them. This never happens intentionally, it's just a habit now, I guess. We almost always sit in these exact places, without even thinking. 

It's all these little things that I want to remember, and capture, even just a little bit. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Chapel at Moody

It's a lot of work being at Moody. Academically, it's not "easy". And yet, it is an incredible blessing to be here, even amongst the challenges and ups and downs.

After my New Testament class, we had chapel. Though we have chapel three times a week, it is refreshing and surprising almost every time. Yesterday, we had a worship chapel, led by my brother Caleb, and a band of talented musicians who love the Lord. It was a time solely focused on giving glory to God together as a student body. Sweet, and powerful.

Today's chapel also started with a short time of worship, but was mostly dedicated to a story. Dr. Rosaria Butterfield's story.

She shared how God took her from a place of unbelief, and pride, to a personal relationship with Him. Dr. Butterfield's story also included God leading her, a professor of English and women's studies at Syracuse University, to an understanding of the Bible, and its meaning for her life.

Read her story. I guarantee it will make you think.

I am thankful to be able to worship the God who created all things, alongside my peers. I am thankful to sit under teaching, and hear stories like Dr. Butterfield's. Most of all, I am thankful to get to see an even bigger picture of God's works, of His grace, and of what He does in and through the lives of people.

Sometimes, when I'm down, or overwhelmed, I feel dissatisfied and anxious. I don't think I'm alone in this. It's in those times that I need to hear this quote:

"We may not be happy with the role that God has given us. But if we quibble with it, we may miss out on the blessings that God is freely offering us." 
- Dr. Rosaria Butterfield

Today, as I soak in the Lord's goodness, I can say that I do feel happy with where He has me right now. Things never are perfect, but there are moments when, somehow, that doesn't seem to bother me as much. That's how I feel on this Thursday.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The painting

There is one special item in my room that makes me feel at home.

People have noticed it when they come into my room, and ask me if I painted it. No, I didn't paint it. But a man who lives just up that road did. I live in that valley, near those trees, surrounded by those fields, and mountains. "Rajsky" is a local artist who lives in the village up the road from our house.

Every time I look at the painting (which is proudly displayed on my desk), I think of Czech. Dad gave it to me the Christmas before I left for college, for the purpose of having art in my room. He knows me well! There's something about paintings that makes me feel warm and sentimental inside. He picked out the perfect painting for me, too. A personal, handcrafted touch completes my room.

I'm thankful to have this little painting to stare at while I sit in the dorms in Chicago. It's like looking through a window to home. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Praising Him for little things

It snowed overnight in Chicago, and the temperatures were dropping in the morning. I got a text from the girl from Moody who usually drives our church van out to Wheaton, saying that her mom didn't think the roads were safe to drive on in the morning. Sadly, I didn't get to go to Grace church today (I was looking forward to being back, so it was a bummer... but I knew it was the wise decision).

What happened instead?

I was going to go with Tyler and Lara to their church, but since Lara was feeling sick, by the time I got there, I found out they weren't going. And so, we rested. In some ways, I feel like it was a day that we all needed. It wasn't what any of us had expected, but, like I've said before, college is teaching me to be flexible and roll with changes. (Lara is feeling better after some rest)

One good thing that came out of our unexpected stay-at-home Sunday was...

Homemade peanut butter.

Out of necessity, I used to make my own nut butters at home. Over time, I came to love them more than anything in the store, and coming here, I thought I wouldn't get to have it anymore. But then Tyler and Lara were given a food processor, and I got super excited. Homemade peanut butter!!!! Today, as I went through the routinely process of toasting, and processing the nuts until smooth, I felt like I was home again. I love how the Lord gives us little surprises, just because He loves us. I take any little joy like this as a gift from Him.

Today, I praise my Father for unexpected time with family, for a food processor, and even for peanut butter. It's the little things.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A surprising Saturday

As I was looking towards today, Saturday, I realized I didn't have a single plan. I'll admit, that made me a little sad. At home, I looked forward to every weekend. Weekends were what kept me going! Here, though, weekends can get lonely, and quiet.

Thankfully, the longer I'm here, the more relationships form, and friendships strengthen. I decided this morning that I needed to go to Trader Joe's, and might as well get some homework done at Starbucks, since it's right next-door. At least I'd have a plan, and maybe someone would come with me last minute if I asked around.

Well, someone did come! That made me so happy. I got to spend the afternoon with Hannah, and it was a lovely day. The sun was out, even though it was cold. We found Adagio Teas near Trader Joe's and sampled awesome teas. We slowly worked away at some homework, and enjoyed the charming music in Starbucks.

What I thought would be a boring, lonely day ended up being so refreshing. As I've said before - I'm not one to be spontaneous. College is teaching me a lesson in spontaneity! It's good for me. I'm surprised by how splendid some spontaneous things can be.

P.S. This tea is amazing: Vanilla Oolong Tea

Friday, January 24, 2014

Winter and Macarons

I am officially experiencing my first Chicago winter.

Yes, it's cold. Any time I walk outside I'm hit with the reality that winter is upon us, and that the sun isn't as warm as it looks. But it's not too bad (yet?). I don't go places as often, and I layer and keep my face down and out of the wind.

In the midst of this cold, I'm learning how to warm up better. Of course, there's tea. There are also hot water bottles, heat lamps in the Chicago "L", elliptical machines and treadmills, handwarmers, and fuzzy blankets.

Yesterday Haley and I braved the cold, but for a good reason. We made our way out to the Chicago Patty's, and made macarons. Lara, Haley and I don't necessarily have the skill to make macarons, but we did our best, and improvised a bit with equipment and ingredients. I don't think you're supposed to "improvise" when it comes to macarons, so I'm actually surprised they turned out how they did!

Of course, they weren't perfect, but they did taste really good. Caleb braved the cold too, and Tyler came home from work later that evening. The macarons were almost all gone by the end of the evening! That's a good sign.

Mostly, it was fun. We giggled over a food processor that wouldn't quite grind, almond flour that took forever to sift, and the ziploc bag bursting because there was so much buttercream. Ah, but that's what makes memories, and it made the macarons all the more tasty.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A taste of home

This weekend I started gathering ingredients: lentils, bouillon, canned tomatoes, and a couple other things to start off. After celebrating Caleb's birthday on Monday, I stopped by the Walmart by Moody, and came out with my shoulders scrunched up in reaction to the cold, but grasping a bag full of the remainder of ingredients I needed: carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic.

I waited. One day went by, and the next, without a free moment to finally make what I'd been thinking about for weeks since my mom gave me my very own Crockpot.

This photo may not look like much to you, but for me, it's a taste of home.

I finally made my Mom's lentil soup. While I was checking on it in the kitchen, a girl from my floor walked in. She's spent some time in Romania, and her first comment when she walked in was, "What are you making? It smells like Europe!"(Best compliment ever!). Lentil soup, yes, I guess it does smell European. Maybe that's why I love it so much.

As soon as I tasted it, the familiar feelings came back: the scalding of the tongue, because I eat it too soon, and yet the warm flavors of home. I tried to make it just like Mom, and it turned out just as I wanted it to.

What does this soup mean? It means no "Big Burger Thursday" for me in the cafeteria tomorrow! A crock-pot meal that reminds me of Mom's cooking awaits me.

2 cans chopped tomato
1 tsp better-than-bouillon (chicken or vegetable)
1 cup dried lentils
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 sweet potatoes, cubed
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried parsley
Water - enough to cover everything
(leave about an inch of space at the top of the crock-pot)
Salt, Pepper, to taste

You have two options:
1. Put everything in the crockpot, and set on high.
2. Saute vegetables first for extra flavor, and add everything to the crockpot, set on high.

Pretty simple! Even a college student can make it in her dorm kitchen! 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Caleb's Birthday

Today was all about celebrating Caleb. And it was so much fun!

Haley planned the whole day out, and did a great job thinking of specific things Caleb would enjoy. We started the day off with taking pictures for wedding invitations (I won't post any spoilers...these are ones that won't be used!). The coldness didn't ruin a thing, though we were quite thankful for handwarmers, and a quick stop at the grocery store to warm up.

Caleb and Haley went out for brunch, and I spent the rest of the afternoon doing homework (*sigh*), but then joined family and friends for a dinner at Noodles (Caleb's favorite) in the evening. Lots of laughter ensued, along with good food, gluten-free donuts, and happy-birthday confetti. We continued the Patty tradition of the gift of words - telling Caleb what we love and appreciate about him. There was a lot to say!

I am thankful for my brother Caleb. Especially this past semester, he was always good about giving me a new perspective on life, and pointing to truth. He is wise, and joyful. He is mature, and knows how to have fun. He is others-focused, and an incredible leader. I am proud to have you as my brother, Caleb.

As always, more photography can be found at

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Getting back into life here

Yesterday and today I've been thinking about the good things of living in the city (and at Moody) for this stage of life.

- Unexpected finds in the city - like a little old church amongst tall buildings.
- Quality tea and coffee - such a treat every once in a while.
- Catching up with friends who love the Lord, and are committed to following Him.
- Being forced to live more simply, with less things. In a small dorm room, you have to choose what is important, and I am actually enjoying not having as many possessions around me.
- Walking more - walking to class, walking to the store, walking up and down stairs all the time. It's an easy and convenient way to get some exercise!
- My siblings - I visited Tyler at Intelligentsia the other day, and he made my Oolong tea, which was impeccable. I happened to meet Haley in the cafeteria, and we had lunch together yesterday. I love those little hello's, and connections with all my family here!
- Being forced out of my comfort zone. It's good for me. I know it is! As much as I often want to resist change, I'm learning so much through it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Sitting in my first classes is reminding me of why I'm here: to get to learn from professors who love the Lord, His Word, and their students; to know God better.

I am still feeling a little overwhelmed by every syllabus, assignments already due, and figuring out schedules. It's all intimidating. I will admit that I get a little scared when I see a 10 page paper due during the semester, a stack of books to be read (they're great books though!), or quizzes for every class.

But isn't that all why I'm here? To learn, to grow, to be challenged. To do those things, even when they are hard? Yes.

My verse for this month is Lamentations 3:21-23:

Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Ironically, this is the same exact passage my mom posted on her blog today. Seems like a reoccurring theme, huh? I think about it every time I start getting twinges of worry, or fear.

His mercies are new every morning. Oh, how comforting those words are to me!

I don't have to be afraid of what's to come, because God will provide me with what I need for this day. He won't provide a box full for the next 4 months. He will give me a new box full of mercy every day. That box is full, because his mercies never cease.

As I learn about the Bible here at Moody, I can't forget that I actually know the God of the Bible. He knows me. I'm learning for Him, from Him, and to serve Him better. That's why I'm here. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Back, but reminiscing

I'm sitting in my new dorm room at Moody. Same floor, different room. It feels good to unpack and settle in, but strange to have come from mountains and snow to city and wind. It's different. I think this semester will be good though.

I looked through pictures from this past week, and was reminded of all the sweet memories I have. The time with my family was priceless, and I couldn't get enough of admiring God's Creation. He blows me away every time.

The last day that Caleb and I were in Wyoming (my parents are still there), some of our friends blessed our family by letting us borrow their snowmobiles for the day. What an incredible and unique experience! Never did I think I would get to ride a snowmobile in the mountains of Wyoming. What a gift.

There's nothing like untouched, raw, natural beauty to bring me the greatest joy.


The most surreal experience was when we came around the bend to find dogsledding teams. Dream. Come. True.

Even Mom loved speeding down snowy roads in the cold, fresh air. That's saying something, since she doesn't particularly like the cold! She does have an adventurous spark in her though.

Caleb, of course, was overjoyed. His brave and fun-loving spirit savored every bit of the thrill of going off-road through fresh powder, and reaching top speeds on the snowmobile.

Dad made sure everyone was taken care of, and joined Caleb in all of the off-trail kinds of things. I'm pretty sure we were all giddy that day.

I didn't know that eating in the snow would actually be as enjoyable as it was, but "When in Wyoming"! A simple sandwich tasted divine!

I don't think I could have asked for a more memorable last day of Christmas vacation.

Now back to Moody, studies, dorm life, and everything else that goes along with college. Part of me doesn't feel ready for it yet, and the other part feels at peace being back. I'm here though, so I think I need to remind myself of that saying, "Wherever you are, be all there".

Time for my second semester to begin!

Friday, January 10, 2014

News: Photography

Most of yesterday, I drank lots of tea while I sat at my computer designing, editing, tweaking, and creating something I've been thinking about for a long time.

I finally created a website for Claire Patty's photography.

I love photographing people, memories, and important moments of their lives. I've never really had a platform to base off of for this, which made it more difficult and not so clear to people. I hope that through this website, my photography will be more accessible to anyone. Photography is something I can offer, and would love to do more of. It brings me so much joy, and I hope it brings joy to others as well!

Here is the beginning of something new, and you are the first to see it...

Feel free to go explore, learn more about Clairelyseen Photography, and write if you have any questions or you'd like me to take your photos some day!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Being a guest

People have been so incredibly generous in opening their homes to me since I moved to the States. Because I don't have a "home" here, friends and family have blessed me with their warm hospitality.

Thank you.

It's something I'm not completely used to - being hosted so much and not "hosting back". Growing up as a Missionary Kid, we often had people stay in our house, or come for dinners, which I absolutely loved. One of my favorite things was when my parents would tell me we were having guests for the weekend, or "so-and-so" was coming over for a meal. Guests made life interesting, and my world bigger. They brought stories to tell, and wisdom to share.

Since I've moved here, I don't have much of a place to offer (I have my dorm room...but, you know...). Hosting is not really a part of this stage of life.

In college, I also miss just relaxing in a home, cooking, reading on the couch, or watching a movie in a living room. Any time someone invites me over, I am thankful. I am thankful for a touch of homeyness, and for quiet.

I am learning to be a guest.

That may sound silly, but it does sometimes feel like that. It doesn't feel fair that I can't return some of what my hosts are giving me. It's a natural tendency (for humans in general) to want to repay for what's been given to me. But that's not how hospitality works.

That's not how gifts work.

I should have learned by now that hospitality is a generous, priceless, and free gift. It's just like God to teach me to receive without deserving. Isn't that what salvation - His gift - is really about anyway?

It's still hard for me to accept an open home, even though that's what our family offered in Czech too. It's different being on the receiving end. I'm pretty sure God wants to teach me something about the body of Christ. Each of us has a specific purpose, and mine right now is to be, and to learn. That is easier said than done, but if that's what the Lord has prepared for me, I know it is good.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

From the food perspective

So far, this has been today:

This is a glimpse into a gluten-free lifestyle. I'm not missing anything! Rice Chex, lots of fruit, and gluten-free bread (Shar brand, this time) are a few of the things that make up for the lack of gluten. Obviously, my favorite winter drink is tea. Tea with breakfast, tea with snack, and tea with lunch. Is there ever too much tea?

One of my favorite snacks is so simple, but satisfying. I shared these apples with some of my friends one time, and they said they'd never had apples like that before, which was surprising to me. For that reason, here is a quick and easy recipe for a snack...

1 Apple
1-2 tbsp peanut butter
Sprinkling of cinnamon, as desired
Optional: 1 tsp brown sugar, or a drizzling of honey

Slice apple, and sprinkle cinnamon on top. Spoon peanut butter onto the side of your bowl, and dip cinnamon apples into peanut butter. Pretty easy, pretty delicious.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Colorado to Wyoming

Saying goodbye to family yesterday was bittersweet. I am so thankful for the time we had together, and it's sad to have to leave!

We had a long drive ahead of us after we finished lunch with the family. Off to Jacksonhole, Wyoming! 

I am continually refreshed by mountains, fresh air, and am still enjoying this break from buildings and crowds.

As we wound through the Rockies, the temperatures started to drop, and snow drifts blew in swirls across the roads. Our windows frosted up so much that Caleb and I couldn't even see out of them in the backseat. Black ice covered the road. Traffic slowed, and Dad proved once again that he is an expert driver! I am thankful he was driving, and not me (not that I would be anyway), because I wouldn't have handled the drive as well as he did. He kept his cool, and focused on the road. We were fine the whole time!

Oh, what a relief for all of us, though, when we made our way down the mountain and out of the worst of the ice. After we passed Breckenridge, it was smooth driving. We stopped alongside the road to snap a couple photos, not realizing that those frigid temperatures that are being talked about on the news applied to here too.

Caleb looks fairly at ease in this picture, but we were both freezing our hands off and shivering, even just moments after we got out of the car. Let's just say, we didn't get many photos, and I ran back to the car as soon as I could. Brrrrrr!!!

Though the light was dim, driving through hills and prairies like these always makes me feel peaceful inside. I'm glad know that there are still places almost completely untouched by civilization.

I stared out the front window, since I couldn't see out of mine, and watched the snow continue to fall as Caleb read a book to us aloud. Mom and Dad said they saw game 7 times on the trip! Elk and deer are everywhere! God definitely protected us from hitting them. My heart skipped a beat a couple of times, for sure, when I saw huge elk bound across the highway. They're beautiful, but scary when they appear in your headlights!

We rolled into Jackson at 2:30 AM, and were happy to be in warm beds in a motel for the night/morning. In fact, Caleb and I must have been especially happy, because we both slept until 12 the next day!

It was all worth it though, when we woke up at noon to see blue skies, pristine snow, and mountains stretching in every direction. I'm excited for these next few days in Wyoming.

I quite love it here.

Friday, January 3, 2014

To Red Rocks with Dad

A dad-daughter date? 

Just kidding! We have way too much fun on our dad-daughter dates! Especially if they involve nature, and a camera!

Dad was the one who taught me to love adventure. He taught me HOW to love adventure. 

I am honestly never one to do something spontaneously. If I go to an event or a gathering, it's always in my calendar, or at least in my head, beforehand. 

Spontaneity is not one of my strengths. 

My dad would never push me past what I could handle, and he knows my limits of what's fun and what's just exhausting. He gets giddy and excited about exploring, which is contagious. Adventures with him are safe, but also creative and happy. 

Though I knew these things, it still took me a minute to say yes when he asked me in the morning if I wanted to go to Red Rocks (which is only a 20 minute drive away) that day. My first thoughts were, "No, wait...that wasn't what I had planned. Nope, that won't work. That wouldn't be fun, because I'm not 'ready'. Not in my schedule...blah blah blah..." Silly me! Why does it take me so long? 

Dad gave me a few minutes to think (really, to recalibrate), and sure enough, I couldn't say no to his invitation. There was nothing but good in it if we went! I just needed to adjust my thinking for the day! I can say I'm always glad when I do go somewhere when Dad invites me to. 

Time with Dad always ends up being fun.

Valuable lesson?

Be open to changing plans. Don't get stuck in a box (we'll call it the "Claire box"; if you ever find me stuck in it...tell me!). Let the adventures come as they do, even without needing to plan them.

Dear Box-Claire,

Who knows? Maybe you'll actually end up having a better day than you had "planned" if you're willing to be flexible!

Love, Claire