Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunny Sunday

Part of the Patty Party of 5 has moved! Tyler and Lara moved out of the downtown area to be closer to Tyler's school where he'll be studying to get his master's degree. They found an adorable little apartment (in the bottom half of a house) that suits them perfectly. With parks nearby and friendly neighbors, it's a good place for them to start this new adventure.

Since they live a little farther out, I won't be able to go see them quite as often as last year, but since they're still in the suburbs, we'll make it happen to be together. Tonight was the first of hopefully more evenings spent with the siblings in this new phase.

A short walk to Walgreens gave us an excuse to stop by their nearby park. Swings satisfied us girls, but the brothers had to try the teeter-totter, not in the normal fashion, of course. Boys can get pretty creative!

We couldn't miss out on some sibling pictures.

Caleb and Tyler being brothers...

I realize, this all looks pretty idyllic. And for one short evening, it was. For the simplest reasons. Sunshine, brothers and sisters and good food and just being together again. It doesn't take much to bring joy to life. It really doesn't. But I cherish days like these, which come now and then. They are the best. And I love these Patty's.

Time to go back inside and make a delicious dinner of rosemary burgers and sweet potato fries.

And one last little tidbit about the day... it was Caleb and Haley's 3 month anniversary!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Evening of Jazz

Even though I'm still sick (sore throat, a cold, the usual), there are still things that I am responsible to do, and homework is one of those things. Thankfully, not all homework means sitting down and reading or writing. Some homework is more fun...

The annual Chicago Jazz Festival happens in Millenium Park, just a short "L" ride away from Moody. I have to attend three concerts for my Intro to Music class, and this counted as one of them! A group of us from our floor went together and enjoyed an evening of listening to talented musicians doing what they love.

There are beautiful things to living in the city. Music at our fingertips, wonderful venues, and so many events here in Chicago. Even though I went back to my dorm with a bag of lemons from Walmart to soothe my aching throat, it was a good evening. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Reality is hitting hard this week. Some people call it syllabus shock. It's partly that, but more too.

The reality is that I have six syllabi that I have to work through this semester.

Reality is that I have two jobs, one that I don't know what to expect from yet.

Reality is living in the city again and being far away from mountains, pastures and wildflowers.

Reality is having a stack of books on my bookshelf that I not only have to read and understand, but write big papers on too.

Reality is getting a sore throat and not having time to stop and rest.

At the same time, reality is this:

I get to study at one of the best Bible colleges in the world. I get to encounter God in new ways this semester, no matter how hard I'll have to work to get there. The city is bustling with people and every one of those people is uniquely put together by our Creator. Although I'm surrounded by peers and that can be overwhelming, God has prepared a community for me to be a part of. Reality is that no matter if I get sick or not, God knows and will take care of me every step of the way.

(This is simply a picture of my view from my desk... and the things that make it feel bright and cheery!)

Classes have started, life is rolling faster than I feel like I can handle, but as always, God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. I will cling to that truth. And I am thankful for all the blessings of this new reality as well. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Jetlagged Guest

On my first morning back in Chicago yesterday, I could not have woken up in a better place: Caleb and Haley's apartment. 

Caleb picked me up from the airport on Friday and then Haley came home from work later in the evening and we had a comforting dinner together. This was my first time in their new home, and I loved soaking it all in. It's a cute little apartment with dark wooden doors and windows that look out to trees and charming brick buildings. 

I was up and completely awake at 6AM because of jetlag (granted, I did go to bed at 9:30), but I got to enjoy a nice quiet morning in their place. A few cups of tea later, everyone was up and the scent of waffles filled the little kitchen.

Haley cooked waffles and Caleb made coffee and our morning was leisurely.

Thank you Caleb and Haley for hosting me after my flight! I LOVE your new home!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Airport Hellos

Moments like these are priceless.

The Lobels have been in the States the whole Summer, while I have been in Czech for the past month. Now I'm coming back to Chicago, and they were flying from Chicago back to Czech. I'm coming from Frydlant, they were heading to Frydlant.

My flight got in at 3:00pm and their flight left at 6:30pm. So in that window right between our two flights, we were able to see each other in the O'Hare airport!

I hadn't seen the Lobels for a whole year. It was such a blessing getting to see them at least while standing in the airport! That couldn't have worked out any more perfectly. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

All In

I am currently sitting in the Dusseldorf airport, taking advantage of 30 minutes of free wifi. This airport is not particularly exciting, especially coming from my other connecting airport, Munich (free coffee and tea!). 

I happen to have sat down in a gate near my own that has a big picture of the Chicago skyline. It's God's reminder to me that that's where He wants me to be again and that He'll be with me there too.

I look forward to my sophomore year. So many times I've thought about how different it will be from my freshman year. I will get to hug my friends again, instead of coming in not knowing anyone. I am leaving Czech for the second time, which is ten times easier than the first time, because I know what I am going to on the other side. I know the blessings of Moody and I have favorite spots in Chicago to look forward to.

But of course, I will miss these hills.

And these walks.

My parents.

The rich history here.

The quaint houses that are tucked away in villages or perched on hillsides.

One of the things I prayed for when I arrived in Czech a month ago was that I would be able to integrate the two sides of my life. That I would be one person, with two places a part of me, instead of two different people in two different places. It's been tricky figuring out how to still connect fully to Czech while in Chicago and vice versa. After lots of thinking, praying, talking with my parents and friends, I feel so much more rooted again.

As I go back to Chicago, I want to follow my dad's advice: Lean in and engage completely. The more I lean into the Lord and depend on Him for strength (like I got to practice at Gull Lake), the more joy I will actually experience. If I am following Him completely, then I actually might have more energy doing something hard than I would if I did something easy all by myself.

I will live an integrated life. Combine my past with my present, be fully where the Lord wants me to be. But not by my own strength. Only by His grace and with His help.

It won't be easy. I tend to fear, to worry, to hold back and conserve energy for fear of running out. That never works out for me though. God's provision of "water" is a flowing river, mine is simply a cistern that will run out. May I know this running water of Jesus more this semester!

My flight leaves Europe in an hour, and soon I will be in yet another chapter. I guess I'll turn the page and see what happens next!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Photos: Barca and Danek

Way back in the Spring one of my friends who I went to class with at BMA asked if I would take pictures of her and her boyfriend. I'm so glad it worked out while I was home! This past Monday I had the pleasure of capturing these two. 

Barca is a sweet friend, and I'm happy I got to meet Danek too! They are pretty cute together. Here are some of the photos!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Real and True

To be honest, I didn't know what it would be like to come home. I knew what my house would look like, that the mountains would still be here, that I would get to drink bubbly water and eat Mom's cooking. 

What I didn't know about was how it would be seeing my friends again. After a year in the States, and a year of living separate lives, would there still be a connection that ran deep? 

The answer?


I have been overjoyed to see so many dear people since I've been home. Czechs are loyal friends and they remember just about every person they come into contact with in life. They have so much room in their hearts for others.

It took me a few days (ok...maybe more like a week) to regain fluent Czech, but once it came back, I was able to feel totally normal with my friends here. They are precious to me.

I enjoyed every minute of my walk with Kristi today. She and I sat next to each other for two years in high-school and her friendship continues to mean a lot to me. She is thoughtful, a great listener, thinks deeply, cares for people and has such a happy smile.

I'm thankful for all the reconnections I was able to make while I was home. My fears of coming home and not having any friends were proven not valid. Life here was real. My friendships were real. I did actually have roots here. I still do. Life still is real here. Just like it's real in Chicago now too.

Kristi noticed a heart shape made out of the trees that frames Lysa hora perfectly. It accurately captures home for me. I love this land and these people. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Day in the Life

I think I could write a journal of today that resembles one I would have written as an 8-year-old: 

"Today I woke up at 7:30AM, ate pancakes that I heated up in the toaster and then I walked around the lake with Lucie." 

Well, that's the short of it anyway. The day actually went on in this fashion, with every single hour full until the last of the light dwindled away from the once pink sky. 

When time should be slowing down, to soak in every last day, it feels like it's speeding up. I could expect that would happen. I'm getting in last visits with people I haven't seen yet, and filling up the days with as much of "home" as possible, before I leave for a season again.

I got to explore a new part of our valley today, a reservoir that sits looking up at the Beskydy mountains, not far from where I live. I'm not sure how I never actually ventured out to this magical place until now, but it was fun discovering a new place. Lucie, a friend who still goes to BMA, led the way around the reservoir as we chatted, got rained on, and ate peaches picked up from Billa this morning.

Mom and I had to take Kaylee to the vet at 10 for her appointment, hence the early meeting with Lucie. As we waited for Kaylee to get taken care of (just a regular ol' annual teeth cleaning), we stopped by our favorite new bakery in Frydek.

These cases are full of rolls, loaves, pastries, puffs, cakes and anything else you could ask for. 

It's all gluten-free.

When we came here for the first time a couple weeks ago, we could hardly believe our eyes. "Is everything here gluten-free?" I asked the kind lady behind the counter. "Yes! Everything!" was her answer. My face broke into a huge grin when I heard that. 

Since we found this certified gluten-free bakery, I have indulged in not a few of my favorite classic Czech foods. "Vetrniky" and "rohliky" and other things that don't even exist in the States, let alone exist gluten-free, have brought our family so much joy. To be able to eat these things and not feel sick afterwards is wonderful.

My next stop at 2 o'clock was a house half an hour away with two very adorable kids awaiting. The Thomasons live in this house and moved to Czech in June. Their kids are now Third Culture Kids, though they probably have no idea what that means yet. But they are already learning about Czech ways and will soon be learning the Czech language by full immersion into preschool. Life radically changed not only for their parents when they followed God's call to serve Him here, but for the kids too.  

They have an exciting, hard, but blessed life ahead of them as TCK's. And I got to spend the afternoon and evening with them while their parents went our for a date! 

With puddles, Wii, books, the yard and making pizza to entertain us, we had such a good evening together.

Although it ended up being a packed day, God answered my prayer this morning that it would be a rich and peaceful day. I truly did enjoy every component of it.