Monday, September 29, 2014

Scavenger Hunt

We had a "Bro-Sis" event on Sunday: a Photo-Video scavenger hunt in the city. Although this may sound cliche, it was still fun to look at the city through a different lens. Scavenger hunts give you the excuse to talk to strangers and do silly things.

I have lots of photos from yesterday, but until I have time to work through them, here's a little video from one of the challenges. The goal? Order something at a restaurant in three different accents. This guy at the hotdog stand was friendly and even totally played along! So great.

More photos to come!

(They were also giving out free hotdogs. So if you're ever choosing between Ballpark's Finest and another hotdog brand, go for these. The people were awesome, and so were the hotdogs!)

Friday, September 26, 2014

He Speaks

My real and honest prayer today: Lord, let me love the city the way you do. 

God loves his creation. He loves the trees and the birds and the roses and the blue sky. But you know what he also finds pleasure in? The creativity of the people He created. And the city is full of that creativity. 

I had to repent today for not praising Him for this side of His creation. It's easy for me to admire the crisp yellow leaves that crunch beneath my feet. It's harder for me, personally, to love the concrete sidewalk or the neatly lined up buildings. The grid of Chicago is glorifying to God because it illustrates order and ingenuity. Each coffee shop can be glorifying to God as it displays uniqueness and craft. 

So it's not just about the yellow leaves. Yes, I needed fresh air and trees today after an overwhelming week. But just as much, I need God to convict me of not seeing things through His eyes as well.

This whole process of waiting for the "L" train, walking through the neighborhood to get to the coffee shop, settling in and working on a paper and the familiar trip back to Moody allowed me space to think. Slowing down and having this time is more important than I realize. I used to cook and bake and that gave me time to think. Now I have to find that time differently - like maybe by sitting outside, waking up just a little bit earlier in the morning, and walking places whenever I can.

Lord, continue to humble me and show me yourself through being here in the city. I'm thankful for this gentle nudging from Him and how He can speak through His Word, circumstances and creation today.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014


On a day when a walk through the countryside with a doggy trotting nearby would do me some good, here are a few throwback pictures of Czech. It's a place that brings refreshment to my soul and comfort.

The city brings learning, community and growth, but is not a peaceful haven. That's ok. It's a season of life. But these photos remind me that there is a season for everything, and that's right. God knows what He's doing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Floor Photos

This is my floor: Smith 4. These are the lovely faces I pass by in the halls, greet in the kitchen as I make tea and live in daily community with. It was such a pleasure capturing some of them on a Sunday afternoon.

These are some of the girls who are new to Moody this year, whether Freshmen or Transfers.

This is our RA, Brynna, and Kelley (assistant to the RA). 


Monday, September 22, 2014

Breakfast at Tiffany's

It was dear Hannah's birthday yesterday and we had the honor of waking her up at 6 AM to take her to have breakfast on Michigan avenue. Nope, not at a breakfast place, or a coffee shop. On the street. But not just on any street.

We had breakfast at Tiffany's.

It was something Hannah had on her bucket-list and her roommate helped plan this surprise for her for her 20th. It was too fun walking through Chicago at sunrise, celebrating this lovely lady's life. We picked up Starbucks and then headed to the storefront of Tiffany's to eat croissants and fruit cups, lovingly prepared by Michelle and company.

It was truly a memorable morning and a joyous celebration. Happy Birthday Hannah!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

On the Go

I feel like my Saturdays last year were a bit "vague", if that even makes sense. They passed by without much to structure them. Sometimes they were fun, but mostly I felt the need to get homework done, but had a hard time staying motivated to do anything since it was the weekend. They could be restful one week, but they could also just be awkward or lonely another week.

Now that I work on most Saturdays, I have to actually structure my weekend. But I like it. I demoed a gourmet ice-cream (shoutout to High Road Craft Ice-Cream!) today at Plum Market, which was fun (though I was surprised how many people didn't jump at the opportunity to have ice-cream). After work it was off to coffee with some girls from my floor. I had to be back by 6 to work on a hermeneutics assignment with a friend.

These hermeneutics assignments are tough. They usually take a good 3-4 hours of focused work (and that with a partner), but they're so good too. I've realize figuring things out on my own is not my strength, but if someone tells me what to look for or gives me an assignment, then that's the best way for me to learn. I love that my professor challenges us, but gives us the context to work from.

Even though there's less time to relax, there's also more to remember, more to learn and more to lean into this semester. Before I left my dad gave me one specific piece of advice - be all in and engage completely. So, Dad, I'm doing my best!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Moving Forward

Busy. It's not a word I like to use. So I'm going to say it differently: I'm keeping occupied. Does that sound any better?

Life is moving fast these days. With my calendar quite full this week, I haven't had much rest time, but God has been giving me peace each day. That half an hour in the morning with Him is what keeps me grounded. There really isn't any way I'd be able to handle so many things without Him! It's actually cool to be "occupied" (busy, overwhelmed at times) and to know the Lord more through that, because my weaknesses bring me right to His throne.

He's giving me lots of opportunities to choose joy and to walk with Him daily. I am especially loving my Faith and Learning class and my Hermeneutics class because they center my thoughts back on what's truly important - God's Word and Him alone.

I've been reading Keep a Quiet Heart by Elizabeth Elliot in the mornings and this quote was straightforward and so on-point:

"St. Ignatius Loyola prayed, 'Teach us, Good Lord, to labor and to ask for no reward save that of knowing that we do Thy will.' As I learn to pray that prayer, I find that there are many more rewards that come along as fringe benefits. As we make an offering of our work, we find the truth of a principle Jesus taught: Fulfillment is not a goal to achieve, but always the by-product of sacrifice." 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

For a Better Night's Sleep

If you do any type of work on your computer before bedtime, that may be affecting the quality of your sleep. Your computer (and phone) light is of a blue hue, set to mimic sunlight and appear the most natural. If you stare at "daylight" at night, you're tricking your brain into thinking it's day and you won't be able to fall asleep and stay asleep as well.

What to do about this dilemma?

I was reading our Moody newspaper last week and they highlighted some of their favorite apps. One of the ones they featured was an app called "F.lux", which I had never heard of. The concept of F.lux intrigued me.

On their website, they say this:

"F.lux fixes this: it makes the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day." 

Photo source

It's simple to use and it's been so nice to have for this past week! As I do homework in the evenings, I don't get headaches anymore from staring at my screen. It's more natural and relaxing and helps me transition to bedtime. Though a little bit hard to get used to at first, now I'm hooked! I think it's such a great concept and helpful for college students and anyone else too. F.lux also has an app for phones, but I haven't used that one yet.

Here's the link to the app: F.lux

Not that you can see any color difference in the screen here or anything, but this is my computer background that I stare at often. Home. Mountains. On a cloudy day. It's just calming and peaceful. (Mom, feel free to send any other pictures like this to me for backgrounds! Hehe)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Celebrating from Across the Ocean

Today was just another day in Chicago.

But all the way across the ocean, in a country in the heart of Europe, one very special person was celebrating his birthday! It's incredible to me to think that two years ago Dad and I were visiting colleges together, and he was doing the greatest job helping me figure out what I wanted out of these four years. That year we celebrated Dad's birthday in Czech and then went to Chicago at the beginning of October.

Now two years later, I sit in my dorm room at Moody, one of the schools that Dad and I visited that fall. Although I can't be with Dad today (and bake him a cake and sing happy birthday to him!), I think about him so often here in Chicago, not just on his birthday.

It's his passion for serving the Lord, his focus on others, his vision of the bigger picture, his courage, and his commitment to the Word that inspires me. Dad, you have been and continue to be such an example to me, but I also just really love that you're my dad.

Thanks for all the fun adventures we've had together and may there be many more. I love you!

Happy Birthday, from Chicago!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Today reminded me of Czech. Not only did it help that my afternoon was spent with Tyler and that I read a book about a region of Czech (Ponaszymu - a dialect in Silesia), but the pace of life was like Czech on this fine September day.

It's not very often that I get to sit on a blanket on the grass and read. The sun was warm and the birds chirped softly. Tyler and Lara's shared yard sits right near where the Metra train passes every 20 minutes, but it's charming as it speeds by in its usual patterns. Otherwise, all you see is trees and the occasional deer from this plot of grass behind their home. 

We picked up Lara from work and then had a quiet evening of making dinner together and watching a "Miyazaki" movie (they're some of our favorites, actually). Risotto and tea and cinnamon cake and the quiet of a home outside the city center - a splendid evening with two people I dearly love.

In Czech, people will sit outside and just enjoy the sun, or go for walks "just because". It's a bit of a slower pace of life, and one that I admire and miss when life gets busy here. But slowing down is possible on this side of the ocean too, of course, and it is needed and important to rest.

What's the best way for you to slow down and enjoy a day? I'd love to hear.

P.S. In the spirit of the title of this post, here's a little quote from Mr. Rogers:

"You've made this day a special day, by just your being you."