Thursday, February 26, 2015

Chicago Snow

I found myself mesmerized today as I stood at my window.

The view from my dorm room looks out to the plaza and when it's clear, you can even see the Willis Tower (/Sears Tower). But my favorite in the winter is when it snows like this: fluffy snowflakes drifting down and blanketing the city.

So here's a glimpse into Claire's corner of the world today:

Chicago Snow from Claire Patty on Vimeo. Music by Ampersand: find music for free HERE.

(Feel free to check out Ampersand - the music I used in the little video. The musicians are actually a couple of Moody students, and it's great for studying and focusing!)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Chalkboards and the World

I walked into class to find a greeting on the chalkboard, which was "supposedly" from our professor. Obviously was not, professor Downey did not write this though, seeing as there were three exclamation points and hearts on the board. I'm still not sure who wrote it, but it didn't stop with the main message. Someone added a message at the top in Chinese, and as I was taking my seat, another student was writing something in Arabic. 

Normally you might think this is childish, or even disrespectful. But 1. This professor is just great and very relational and 2. This is a class only for Youth Ministry and Children's Ministry majors, so it's totally ok to have a little bit of fun. I had to add a little greeting in Czech (top left corner), and two other languages were added as well before our professor came in. He laughed, of course, and then at the end added his own version of "welcome", in Hungarian (where he lived with his family at one time as missionaries). 

At first I thought it was silly, just for fun. But I couldn't help smiling not only because of that, but because of what all of these greetings represented.

In this class alone (with only 11 students), one person is from Scotland, another grew up in Japan and China, someone else is from Egypt and Canada, I'm from Czech, my professor lived in Hungary, another student knew French, etc. etc. What a beautiful representation of the body of Christ, and what a privilege to get to learn alongside students from all over the world. We all come with different stories and experiences and can bring that to the classroom.

Although this is a school in the heart of Chicago, in the Midwest, in America, I love the hints of international culture spread throughout this campus. I also love realizing that we all came to learn more about God through His Word, and will probably go all over the world with the skills we learned here together.

Today was just one of those visual reminders of how big, yet small, the world is!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Czech: Even There

I was standing in line in the cafeteria, bowl in hand, waiting for my turn to get my vegetarian chili and peas (odd combination, I know, but it's the cafeteria so I take what I can get), when I said "ahoj" (hello) to Pavel. Pavel is the only other undergrad student at Moody who's from Czech, and it's always nice to have an excuse to speak Czech for a minute.

Pavel was working behind the counter in the cafeteria, but stopped what he was doing for a minute after switching out trays in the food line, and said hello back, in Czech of course. But then he asked me, "Have you talked with your parents at all today?"

"No..." I replied. "Is there something I should have heard from them?"

His face saddened, and he told me that there was a shooting today in Czech. And no, not even in Prague, the capital. The shooting happened in a city in our very own Moravia - Uhersky Brod. Eight people were killed in a restaurant by a local man in his 60's.

My face fell too and the breath went out of me. This doesn't happen in Czech. This never happens in Czech. In our country? How? These were the thoughts that filled my mind. I was glad to have heard it from Pavel this evening, and not just to have read it on the news. It would have been hard to just have to hear that alone.

I know that tragedies like this are happening everywhere. Only this morning did I read on BBC News that IS abducted dozens of Assyrian Christians. For weeks I have been reading updates on Ukraine, and my heart breaks with each continued progression. A 14-year-old student was killed in a protest today in Venezuela. These situations just seem to be worsening, don't they? The prayer that I utter is, "Lord, let is stop!" Sadness. Anger. Yes, even fear sometimes.

The shooting in Czech today was the worst mass shooting on record in the country. It wasn't terrorism. It wasn't someone known to be a radical. It was a tragedy that came out of nowhere. And that's why it hits so hard. Not Czech too, I find myself saying.

But yes. No place is immune to evil. No place is completely safe. Where is there hope?

There is hope in knowing that in the end, Christ will triumph. No matter what, He already conquered death and will return again to redeem His people. But there is space for sadness and crying out to the Lord, whether that's about Czech, the Middle East, Venezuela or any other place experiencing pain. God is still good, yet He does want to hear our prayers and honest hearts (think of the Psalms), even when things are hard.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Food, Together

I spent a lovely Saturday evening at Tyler and Lara's, but Hayley, my buddy, got to come this time too! Lots of cooking and baking ensued, along with catching up and then a movie. I didn't actually get any photos of anyone, but I'll just let the food speak for itself (is that a thing?). No matter what cuisine it comes from, it's always fun. 

First up: Babovka: vanilla, with a chocolate center (it's gluten-free naturally!). To make the chocolate part, just add cocoa powder to part of the batter and add an extra tablespoon of oil. Honestly, I just dumped a little bit of dutch-processed cocoa in, so I didn't have any measurements. 

Dinner: a version of Lo Mein, which was delicious. I'm not sure which recipe we ended up using, but it was from Pinterest and the dish concept itself was delicious. We couldn't use the right type of noodles (typically wheat), but we used wide rice noodles instead. Close enough!

Sunday morning brought a chill, but bright sunshine. Breakfast was just as wonderful as all of the other things we'd had.

Scrambled eggs, avocado, and a bit of sharp cheese (which I can typically eat).

Food is important to fellowship. I love that Tyler and Lara know that intuitively and bring that to their hospitality. Hayley and I loved cooking with them, and just being family together. Yes, Hayley, you're pretty much family too!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Now and There

I sat in on my first "work meeting" today. I feel adult-like.

Well, I really didn't say anything, and half the people in the room were other students who were planning the event. But it still counts, right? I mean, it was an Event and Guest Services meeting. Ok, I don't think it was really too important since it was only about one conference coming up and it was on campus. I'll just document it anyways, so that some day I can say I remember my first almost-business-meeting! Ha.

Apart from that, I've been thinking about home today. Mom is sick with the flu at home, and Dad is gone a few days, so she's just home with Kaylee. I wish I could bake her muffins and help her find good movies on Netflix. I would take Kaylee out on walks so that the little doggy didn't get restless and energetic at the end of the day. Which, I guess, that energy actually makes Mom laugh, so maybe I'd keep it that way. Laughter is good for the soul, especially when you're not feeling well.

I was looking through photos today from a youth retreat that BMA students put on for their peers. I had been searching for a couple of specific photos that might be of help to someone, but instead I got lost in the memories. The faces in those photos are ones I used to live day-to-day life with. Moving to another continent is a strange thing, isn't it? It's amazing to me that now my days are filled with faces at Moody - ones I never knew 2 years ago at that youth retreat.

Life is rich. Relationships are what tie us to places. It's not always easy, but it's beautiful watching stories unfold.

All I'm saying is that time moves forward here (very quickly, actually). Yet I'm still connected to home too. I care about both places, and all faces. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Layers Necessary

Whether you look at Fahrenheit or Celcius, today's numbers are a bit... CHILLING.

How to survive a Chicago day like this? I mean, look at the wind chill in Celcius: -29!!

Thankfully I only have one class today, and I can get to it via Moody tunnels (yes, we have tunnels connecting some of the buildings!). Otherwise, I only have to go outside once today. I will drink more tea than I probably even need, and layer up twice as much when I go out. Brrrr!! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dear Mom and Dad

Dear Mom and Dad,

Even when I was little, you invested in things that I was invested in. You loved what I loved, alongside, and with me. Like that time you, Mom, drew ballerinas for me, even though you don't like drawing (I kept that drawing in my room for a long time). Or on that same note, when you both took me to an Art Museum for my 16th Vienna. But besides those hobbies and interests, you loved the people I lived life with, which is what means the most.

You didn't have to. You had plenty of other relationships to keep up and commitments to hold to, as well as hundreds of tasks to think about on top of that. And yet, when I asked if a friend could come over, you weren't aloof. You engaged with all of our friends in a way that made them feel welcomed and cared for.

You have modeled the Father's love, as He blesses people by and through His Son. I know that I, as your daughter, can count on your love for my friends and those I see day-to-day.

I don't take this for granted. I know that you probably had days when you wished the house was quiet instead of filled with giggles and messy tables. But I always knew that your love for me invited others into the picture too. The circles of friends I've had have changed much over the years, but you always remembered names and faces, showing kindness and sharing some of your "Mom/Dad love" with others.

And even when I'm in college, you still choose to invest in the lives of those that I live life with. I know you are naturally passionate about young people and even college students, but thank you for taking the time to spend an evening with my floor and my brother floor just this past Monday, talking with all of us (even though you were only in Chicago for 3 days!). I don't know how you have the capacity to care for so many people, but God has given you both a gift of influencing others, and I am always grateful that you share that gift with my friends as well. I want my brothers and sisters to experience the wisdom and hear stories from the two people I love and respect so much.

You have modeled what it looks like to follow God and have stepped into the good works that He prepared for you in advance - over and over again. I never get tired of hearing the same stories of how God brought you to Germany, then to Czech, how Josiah Venture started, and how He has worked in Central and Eastern Europe throughout these 20 years of JV. Even the hard parts of the stories are beautiful, because of how God redeemed them. When I hear the stories, I'm reminded of how messy it all probably seemed to you both in the moment, but see the amazing mural of life in ministry God has created it to be. And He continues to add more to the picture, which I love.

I guess God's stories never get old or boring, huh? Thank you for sharing them countless times, because they have left a mark of the Lord on my heart, and on the hearts of many others as well, including my friends at Moody too now.

I think the world of you both.


Your Daughter. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Patty Party: All Of Us

I'm reminded of God's grace and goodness this week. 

Mom and Dad were in Chicago only for a couple of days, but on Sunday we were finally able to be all together as a family out at Tyler and Lara's. And it's just a reminder of how God has sustained us and brought us to where we are today.

After a quick photo out in the snow (with the help of a tripod!), we warmed up with coffee - an important staple to the Patty family now that both Tyler and Caleb have (and still do) work in the coffee world. I honestly never thought I would like black coffee, but they've convinced me! I've been taught that good coffee depends a lot on the quality of beans and roasting, but mostly on the person who makes it! I really had no idea about anything coffee-related before I came to Chicago, and still don't know very much, but it's fun learning. 

Caleb went out to shovel snow on the driveway, partially because he actually loves that, but also because he's just great. Meanwhile, much catching up was needed. E-mails, phones, iMessage and FaceTime are great, but there's nothing like being together in person. The last time we had been all together was at Caleb and Haley's wedding! That hardly counts though because there was much else to do then besides just sit and talk, of course.

I value family time like this so much more now that these gatherings come more seldom. Us siblings have Patty parties, but it was all the more special having Mom and Dad there.

I said at the beginning that this reminds me of God's grace, because I see how He has led and protected our family through the years. Being with my family is a safe place, and I know that's not a given. So I thank the Lord for blessing us with trials and bonding that grew us closer together. Life is not perfect, but the Lord still gives good gifts to His people, like He did this afternoon.

What a wonderful Sunday.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Four on the Fourteenth

What was the occasion for being inside a little shop with the iconic red winged logo? 

A "Fantastic Four" Valentine's reunion. I say reunion because the last time all four of us were together was back in September. Sure, there have been floor events and random hello's here and there, but we haven't had the chance to spend an afternoon together for quite some time. 

Yes, we do call ourselves the "Fantastic Four". It started in the very first week of our freshman year, and the name stuck. We all came into Moody, and onto our floor, at the same time and that bonded us while we all sought "safe" people those first weeks. I remember going out and walking in the city with these ladies and getting lost while looking for Argo the rain. We have gone separate ways now with majors, classes and such, but we still live on the same floor and cherish the friendships we all have with one another and as a group as well. 

This afternoon filled our hearts to the brim. Valentine's (a.k.a. "Gal-entine's" today) was as smile-filled as is possible. 

What could be better than Intelligentsia in Millennium Park? I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but this right here is my absolute favorite treat:

What do I hope is in the pastry case every time I step inside Intelligentsia? This flourless, vegan hazelnut chocolate cookie. One day I would love to learn how to bake something similar, because it is absolutely divine and satisfying. Add a soy cappuccino, and my day significantly brightens at first sip and bite.  

Although I often go to coffee shops alone to do homework (I'm more productive, and I love people-watching too), I was happy to come here today with 3 of my buddies. 

The "L" ride back was sunny and hopeful. The air is chilled outside - the weather forecast says it "feels like" -11F and I believe it. Still, gleams of sun reflected on Chicago, even with the frigid cold. 

Happy Valentine's Day, whatever this holiday means to you. For me, it's a reason to enjoy coffee, chocolate cookies and mostly, to savor sweet friendships. These girls love the Lord and that binds us together. We really don't have very many things in common, except that God brought us together when He did. How glad I am that He did.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Weekdays Made Sweeter

There have been sweet things these past few days, amidst the busyness of school. This week looked very daunting on Monday, but it's been filled with little surprises, and smiling faces that have made it so much better.

Kelsey came to Chicago on Wednesday! Kelsey lives in Poland and we grew up as JV Kids together. She was visiting colleges with her dad, and Moody was the last stop on their trip. We got to eat at a local diner-type restaurant nearby and catch up on life, which was so good. She flew back to Poland yesterday, but I'm thankful I got to see her. Kelsey, you're handling all of this with such grace - even though I know it's overwhelming!

Today I received a package with something so sweet in it. Literally, sweet. Uncle Mike sent me honey from Glory Bee, and it's delectable. He knows me well!

And this morning I soaked in a beautiful sunrise from the window of my classroom before our class started.

It's the little things.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Flavor Memories

I admit it...packages are one of my favorite things. After all, didn't Julie Andrews (ahem...Maria) sing, "brown paper packages tied up with string," in her "My Favorite Things Song" from the Sound of Music? There's a reason why brown, white, or any other colored packages are such a happy thing. They come from people we love, and they bring things from afar!

Even though Mom and Dad will be here soon, Mom sent me this package so that it got here this week. She knows I love packages, and it's been a demanding week with school and everything else. I had requested a couple of things from Czech and she went above and beyond, including some wonderful chocolate bars, my favorite gluten-free Czech cookies, and even added a few lollipops from the pharmacy, which she knows I feel sentimental about.

There's a memory associated with a lot of the tastes in this box. Those chocolate covered rice cakes make me think of English Camps - they were my go-to pick-me-up on long, but wonderful days of being with people almost 24/7. There was also a vitamin lollipop in there from the pharmacy - something I used to get while picking up medicine after going to the doctor's. The taste is actually sentimental, even though I only usually got it when I was also getting medicine! Gluten-free biscuits remind me of this summer, and chocolate is good for all times.

Thank you, Mom! And thank you Grandma and Bapa too for the Valentine's Day Card! I wish I could sit and eat chocolate with all of you...over a cup of, of course!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Go-To Cookies

What's the best for winter time? Tea and cookies. Two of my favorite things. Add honey, and it would be a perfect sight. 

These cookies are fail-proof, easy, and protein-packed. You can use any nut-butter, if you don't have almond butter on hand. If you have a good food processor, you can make your own nut butters! That's actually the tastiest.

Here's the recipe: Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I hope you get to enjoy a moment with a cookie (ehm...or two) and a cup of tea, especially if it sits next to the Word of the Lord and you get a little time with Him too. He gives strength to His people. He really does.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


I wish I knew more at times. Specifically, I wish I could just take all of this information from my Human Development textbook and digest it so I could apply everything from it to real life. Human Development fascinates me, and yet the information is overwhelming and the data and study of it is ever...well...developing.

I sat in church this morning next to Tyler and Lara (and Deryn, a good friend of ours). Towards the end of the service the kids came back from their Sunday schools and two little girls were just full of energy at the front of the church. I smiled over at Lara and we couldn't contain a few giggles while watching one girl climbing all over chairs. She was independent and tiny and curious about the world. And in that moment I wanted to understand what was going through her 3-year-old mind. Like I said, Human Development is fascinating.

Yet somehow, even though I find all of this interesting, I can't seem to remember everything to put it into practice. Will there come a point when I will? I guess that depends on how much time I dedicate to it. That knowledge won't come without learning, and learning won't come without commitment and hard work. I suppose that's why I'm here at Moody - to learn and hopefully to internalize the truths I'm taught here. That's my goal.

I'll just keep marveling at the complexity and beauty of what God has created. I'll never fully understand, nor can I, but I can praise Him.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Founder's Week 2015

I truly am so thankful for the team I got to work with this past Founder's Week. What a privilege to work alongside such joy-filled and encouraging people. Also, they are part of how I am starting to figure out why this Founder's Week felt different from last year's.

Yes, it was a particularly good conference this year. I heard that a couple of times throughout the week. Community, fellowship, worship of the Lord and humility characterized the week as a whole -- in all aspects, whether through the speakers, the worship leaders, guests, the Public Safety officers, or anyone else. What a beautiful reminder of the body of Christ this week was, as everyone came together for the purpose of knowing and serving the Lord more.

The biggest difference I felt personally was being more a part of a team this year. I've figured out that if I have a solid group that I'm working alongside (like at Gull Lake, or Event and Guest Services), that if I'm operating out of that "safe" group of people, I have way more energy to give to everything else. So normally when events or big groups of people exhaust me, if I have a core group to work from, I feel completely fine. How good of the Lord to give us His church and His people so that we don't have do things alone all the time.

These are the Event and Guest Services head ushers (including my supervisor, Emily) of the week. Hours and hours of standing, but so much more fun with these ladies!

We always arrived at the church earlier than the other ushers to finish setting up signs and reserved seating. While waiting for things to start, we definitely enjoyed the spare time of getting to sit, and yes, laugh and tell stories as well. 

(This is Brynna, my RA, and Kaitlyn, a dear friend who lives on my floor and came in to Moody at the same time as me -- both my coworkers, which I love!)

I am humbled and encouraged by the Lord after this week. My role is so small, yet I get to be a part of the Lord's work as part of His church. That is the biggest honor.

Also, just a quick little story about the Lord's goodness...

We were wrapping up the last night. Feet sore, heart full, in need of sleep and rest, and arms full of last things brought up from the sanctuary at Moody church, we gathered our things from the usher room. I dreaded Saturday morning because I knew that work wasn't done. I work at Plum Market on Saturdays usually, but at this point, after working all week and on my feet, the last thing I wanted to do was stand for another four hours enthusiastically handing out vegan cheese. I love that job, with all the different foods I get to learn about, but I was just not feeling it this week after everything.

I checked my phone to see what time it was and saw a message from my boss who heads up my work at Plum. She said the demo/sampling had been cancelled because the product I was to sample didn't arrive to the store in time.

What a gift from the Father!

At that point, God timed the news perfectly. He waited until we were all done, and it was like he was saying, "I see you, and I know you. I know you need rest. Here's a gift. Take tomorrow off." Sometimes, I just see the Lord's gifts and understand so much more who He is as our Father! In the words of my sweet friend Gabes, "Indeed, He is so, so, so, so, so, so good. Words fail."

Till next year, Founder's Week!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Running the Race

This year's theme for Founder's Week is "Running the Race", but I won't be listening to many of the sessions about these topics because I'll be running a different sort of the race: the "EGS" one.

I work with Event and Guest Services, and get to play a small role in Founder's Week, helping coordinate ushers along with the other part-time EGS employees and my supervisor. We hang signs, facilitate offering, stand a lot, answer questions, and generally try to just be helpful while holding our fancy-looking binders with conference information. It's a small part in the conference, but I enjoy being on the coordinating side of things. Yes, we have long hours, but it's fun greeting people and getting to know the other ushers in the in-between moments.

I started noticing something yesterday. Last year I ushered at Founder's week too, and was completely exhausted every single day. Yet, I realized that I've felt fine so far. I was actually happy to come back to my dorm room yesterday after one of the sessions to a group of girls eating their boxed lunches. My introverted self was happy to go from people to more people - go figure!

That is definitely a contrast to last year, and it's encouraging to see that I'm becoming more ok with being around groups of people for extended periods of time. Maybe it was Gull Lake that helped? Maybe it's just that I know Moody better now? I don't know, but I thank the Lord for that.

Even though I'm sick with a cold this week, God has been sustaining me. I know it's Him and not me, because normally I wouldn't have any spare energy. The fact that I wouldn't mind hanging out with friends in between sessions means that the Lord is surprising me with His strength. I wouldn't be able to run this "race" without Him, nor any other one for that matter. This week has been great so far!