Thursday, October 30, 2014

Amazing Grace (in more ways that one)

There is a new musical that premiered right here in Chicago this month. "Amazing Grace" is a pre-broadway show that was actually produced by a friend's mom, and is a one-of-a-kind musical, since it takes on the true story of John Newton, a believer, who wrote one of the most well-known hymns ever - Amazing Grace.

Because I had a connection to the musical through my friend, and because of the story itself and all the good things I had heard about the musical, I knew I wanted to see it. I am literally down the street from the theatre where it was being premiered, so it would be sad to miss out on it. It only seemed right that I try my best to see it, not to mention, I really really wanted to! I've only been to one musical, and knew this one would definitely be a gem.

I planned on going with a friend on Tuesday night to try and get student rush tickets. That's the cheapest way to go, but the tickets are not guaranteed either. However, on Tuesday afternoon, after one of my classes, I saw this message on the Broadway in Chicago Facebook page:

"The producers of Amazing Grace: A New Musical (Official) would like to thank Chicago for their support of this Pre-Broadway World Premiere Musical. They have graciously offered 25 pairs of tickets to the Wednesday 7:30 p.m. show to those who would like to attend. Please email... and you will receive a confirmation reply if you are among the first 25 responses."

I saw this 4 hours after it had been posted, so figured I probably didn't have a chance. But then I got that little nudge. You know that one that tells you you should do something and you don't know why? Well, since Mom taught me to listen to those nudges, I e-mailed them. Also, why not try (another Mom saying)? 

Five minutes later, I got a response saying I could pick up my tickets right before the Wednesday night show the next day (side note - living in Chicago can be a struggle for me sometimes, but it's these times that I'm extremely thankful to be here for a season). 

Yes, I did a happy dance right then!! And thanked the Lord out loud, since I knew it was a good gift from Him. (After all... "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." - James 1:17) 

I texted my friend that I was going to originally go with on Tuesday night, and thankfully, she was free Wednesday night. It could not have been better timing.

And so, that's the whole story behind why I ended up sitting in a red theater seat next to my lovely friend Joy, waiting expectantly for a story to unfold before my eyes. There's nothing like live music and live story-telling, and this was no exception. It was INCREDIBLE. Beautiful, in every way. 

Click HERE to hear one of the songs from the musical. 
Image from HERE
God knows His children. He knows what will bring them joy and He knows how to show His love for each one of them. He knows that a gift of a musical and time with a friend that I'm getting to know this semester was just what I needed. It's been a very up and down couple of weeks due to some decisions I need to make soon regarding classes and future plans, as well as experiencing some chronic health issues (short story on that - my intestines are not happy and I don't know why). 

He just knows. And what an encouragement this musical was, as well as the gift of it being free and of getting to go with Joy, who fully appreciated the music especially (she's a super gifted violinist and music major!). He knows what we need, when we need it, even in the smallest details of life.

His love is greater than I will ever comprehend.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fall Tradition

I continue to love going out to my church in Wheaton every Sunday and I am so thankful for the encouragement from just one morning. It's a perk too that I get to go out there with Caleb and Haley.

For the past three years, I have taken photos of Caleb and Haley in the fall on the church grounds. It usually isn't planned, but now it's somewhat of a tradition.

All three of these pictures also signify three different stages of life for Caleb and Haley:
1. Dating
2. Engaged
3. Married

I love living life with these two, even if I only see them on Sundays and here and there as we pass by each other at Moody!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Claire's Corner and a Memento

October has been such a full month, that I haven't even gotten the chance to show a new addition to my that brings me a lot of joy every time I see it.

There's a little spot in my room that my friend Kaitlyn coined as "The Cozy Corner". So yes, it's literally "Claire's corner" (pun intended). I don't like sitting at a desk (never have), so I have a rug, pillows, and even a camping chair (thanks Mom!) in a corner of my room.

I have a collections of postcards received at Gull Lake, as well as a painting from Czech hanging on one wall. And on the other wall, fall leaves are scattered across pages, and a birdhouse sits perched inside a "window".

This birdhouse was handmade by Bapa for my 20th birthday, and I cherish it so much. It reminds me of Oregon, my childhood and Bapa, of course.

Bapa has always been a craftsman and there isn't a time when I don't remember seeing birdhouses on his porch or in his yard. He has a way of making something so skillfully and beautifully, and this birdhouse is no exception. The colors were even chosen specifically. The green color is supposed to remind me of the green hills in Czech and the name of the pink paint was "Rose Clair", so he used that as the trimming. How wonderful is that??

These pillows are also dear, because they were a birthday gift from my sweet roomie! She said they reminded her of the patterns on my Polish pottery.

It's those little things that make my room feel like home. The space is small, but it's home for these years. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

New Food Finds

With all my intolerances and food sensitivities, it's hard to find things that are reliable, nourishing, and yet fun and new as well. Thankfully, I live down the street from Plum Market, and I work there every Saturday. Though most of the products in that store are expensive (kind of like Wholefoods), they also have amazing sales here and there. If you check consistently enough you can find some great deals on good, healthy food.

I have some new favorite finds. I especially love the Caveman cookies. I remember I saw these first online, and I actually even pinned them on Pinterest at the time. I was in Czech and I thought I would never get to try them, and yet, here I am now, with a few boxes sitting on my shelf, waiting to be devoured savored.

These cookies have a simple list of ingredients, and the only sweetener in them is honey and maple syrup. I've been having some digestive issues since being back at Moody (TMI, but hey, it's reality), and so I'm always thankful to find a snack that I know won't make my stomach hurt. These cookies are wonderful (and they were on sale for $1 - now that's affordable)!

And here's just a cute picture of the Patty couple at church today. More of those to come another day.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


I didn't intend to write about something like this today. But as I walked back from work at Plum Market today, a heart-sick feeling began to swell inside, and it only seems right to let words flow from that sense of longing.

Longing for what? Nothing specific today. I don't long to be somewhere else, or do anything in particular.

You could call it Sehnsucht, I suppose.

In one of the books I read for a class earlier this semester, this word often used by C.S. Lewis is described like this..."when we have [Sehnsucht], we are seeking union with something from which we are separated... we look at a green valley and want to crawl under its covers. We think of a happy home and want to dwell int its center. We keep wanting to 'get back' or 'get in'" (Cornelius Plantinga).

Plantinga goes on to say, "what's remarkable is that these longings are unfulfillable". Nothing on this earth will finally satisfy us. Augustine pondered this longing as well and said that what humans want is God. Jesus prays "that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (John 17:21). Jesus too knows that all that we want is to be "in God". We want what lies behind all the good things in life; we want to be in Him.

Wonderful things like the glow of warm sun that wakes you up in the morning, or its setting in the evening "point us beyond the things of earth to the ultimate reality of God" (Plantinga). Beauty stirs up this longing for what's "beyond".

This longing is fulfilled in the Lord. Not completely though yet, because Christ has not returned to redeem creation, though one day we will be completely united with Him.

So why does this longing not go away when we trust Christ? Just because we know who the object of our longing is now doesn't mean that longing disappears. If anything, it intensifies.

Of course I want to be with Him and to know Him even more. This longing that He gives us is meant to produce in us hope. Through studying Scripture more and more, we will find that what the Lord has in store for those who have believed in Him is beyond our understanding. And so, we live in His love and mercy and goodness each day here, and continue to hope for the age to come when all will be complete and whole.

Also, I feel like I should add a bit of what reality looks like these days: always homework, projects, 2 jobs, lots of things to remember, balancing life, sweet times with friends, cold days and then warm days, and getting ready to sign up for classes next week. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

48 Hours of Impact

My alarm went off at 4:20 this morning. Although it shocked me a bit and my first reaction was not to just jump out of bed, I knew why I was waking up so early and it was worth it.

Students at Moody get to be a part of a Moody Radio event called 48 Hours of Impact. For 48 hours, Moody Radio is helping to launch ministry leaders (= us students) during this live, on-air event. They asked students to volunteer for time slots to answer phones to receive donations towards our tuition. What a privilege to get to talk with people who are so generous.

Moody is a tuition paid school thanks to donations from people like the ones we talked with this morning. I honestly don't know if I would be able to go to a school like this if it weren't tuition paid, and I know that's true of a lot of people. Moody's goal in having our tuition paid is for us to graduate without any debt, so we can go straight into ministry.

THANK YOU to anyone who gives towards our tuition. If you'd like to donate in these next 48 hours, you can either call 1-800-600-9624 today or tomorrow (and talk to a Moody student or Moody grad!) or go HERE to give online.

It was so fun being a part of this today and it just reminds me of what a privilege it is to go to Moody and get to study God's Word every day.

I never thought I'd be answering phones at a call center. My mom will testify to the fact that usually I'm quite squeamish about talking on the phone with people I don't know. But today was sweet. Yes, my hands were cold because I was nervous, but I loved getting to be a part of this and get to hear the voices of people who directly support us students here at Moody. So thankful.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Getaway to Goshen

I had an absolutely fantastic weekend away at a fall retreat in Goshen, IN. In a couple words: farm, fires, fellowship. And also strengthening friendships, lots of animals, and a Saturday that stretched on forever, in the most wonderful of ways. We got to have a morning church service around the campfire on Sunday before driving back to the city. The weekend could not have been better.

We stayed at the house of one of the guys on our brother floor. His family was so fun to get to hang out with too, and I am thankful they opened up their house to all of us!


This group is fantastic.

A huge thank-you to the Miller family for hosting us. They were a joy to get to know, and the most generous hosts to offer their home to a bunch of college students as a place to rest. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Like I said the other day, I got to take Kate's senior photos this past week, and the weather, location, and subjects could not have been more perfect. It's hard to choose favorites, but here are some of them! Kate and her mom are the most joy-filled, fun-to-be-with people and I loved an excuse to spend the afternoon with them.

Both Kate and her mom are dancers. It's something they cherish and love!