Friday, May 29, 2015

Chicago: Unexpected Gift

Last year at this time, we were two days away from a very important wedding in Colorado - Caleb and Haley's! When I came back to Chicago after the wedding, I had less than a week to hang out with Tyler and Lara before heading up to Gull Lake. It was the perfect amount of time to be "in between". I wouldn't have even wanted it to be longer, since the city didn't really feel like home yet after a only year of college behind me. 

This year feels very different. 

When I decided to work at Gull Lake again, the thought did come to mind of what these two and a half weeks would hold. I wasn't sure how or where it would work out to have a place to live during this time, and knew I was completely at the mercy of others (and the Lord!) for where to even sleep. My parents and I brainstormed different ideas for how to fill this time, but nothing felt settled, nothing felt completely right. 

I finally decided to just stay in the city for a week and a half and then in the suburbs with Tyler and Lara for a week. It seemed like the "least adventurous" plan, which made me a little sad, but it also seemed like the most logical idea. I wasn't thrilled about sticking around the city without much of a plan for what to fill my time with. But God confirmed this plan by giving me peace, which I hadn't had before about any of the other ideas. 

Two of my dearest friends at Moody have let me stay with them in Caleb and Haley's apartment for the first half of this "in between" time. They'll be living here for the summer, and they let me tag along.

I had no idea what this time would hold, but it has been a greater gift than I could have ever expected. We have lived normal life together - gone to the thrift store, watched movies, got stuck walking in the rain with no umbrellas, cooked meals together, come back from work at the same time (I worked at Plum Market yesterday), and have been able to go through this transition time as buddies. 

It's sometimes strange to only live "school life" with my friends at Moody. School is definitely a different environment from any other place, and I have missed getting to share the "normal life" experiences with the friends I've made here in Chicago. This week has been a taste of that normal life, and I have enjoyed every bit of it. The little things become the iconic things and city living becomes quaint because of the people I've gotten to share it with.

I definitely did not think that this week would hold any surprises from the Lord, but He has done it again! He has proved Himself as a loving Father by showing His provision. Did He have to make this week sweet? No. But He did, and I am so thankful for that. I will forever look back at this time with Kelley and Michelle fondly.

I'll be joining Tyler and Lara in their home today. Who knows what God has prepared for this next week? No matter what, it will be a gift from Him.

I am incredibly grateful to friends and family for so generously offering me a place to stay so often.

P.S. Who knew I would come to the point where I loved a week of life in the city??! God has the best sense of humor, and I love that He has answered my prayers - that I would find beauty here too!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Deryn // Graduation Photos

Before graduation, Deryn asked me to take a few photos to commemorate the week she finished grad school. Deryn now has her master's degree! Just to give you a little window into that degree - her thesis was on the Scottish Reformation, hence the book she chose to have along for the photos.

Deryn is witty and curious and smart and caring, and it was a joy to take these pictures on a sunny May afternoon!

Congratulations, Deryn!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Kale and Cookies

After a very full weekend, I'm back at Caleb and Haley's apartment, staying with some friends who are subletting here for the summer. It's been good to rest and let down for a bit.

Why was this weekend full? Two reasons...

I actually got to second shoot a wedding on Saturday with a friend who is getting into photography. She was asked to shoot a wedding in Wisconsin, and I got to come along too and help out. We had to laugh when we realized that a 17 and 20-year-old were the wedding photographers. Kind of a unique opportunity! We are honored that the bride and groom would invite us to be a part of their day in this way.

Sunday was a day for a wedding as well! I got to tag along with some new friends I've made here in the city who are photographers. I can't believe I got to shadow them for a day and watch them be incredible at their job. Not only are they phenomenal artists and photographers, but their hearts are genuine and kind and I loved connecting with them again.

This week, I'm enjoying the simple pleasures of life - like cheap kale from Stanley's, or gluten-free homemade chocolate chip cookies (Pamela's mixes are handy!). I have loved cooking and eating as many vegetables as I can this past week. The girls I'm staying with love veggies too, so we have had feasts of salads for almost every meal! And then the cookies are just a treat.

P.S. I won't have many photos from this weekend, since I was the second-shooter and passed them along to the other photographers, but maybe they'll show up here at some point! 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Chicago Water Taxi

This is Brynna - my RA of the past two semesters, my coworker in Event and Guest Services, and my friend. She also just graduated last weekend! But before she left Moody, she had a "Chicago bucket-list". 

We successfully checked off the last item on her bucket list the Monday of finals week - by taking a water taxi on the Chicago river!

This water taxi is not just a tourist attraction. It was actually only a $3 ride from the Magnificent Mile to Ogilvie Transportation center. As a current Chicago "resident", it was so much fun seeing the city from this perspective for the 5 minutes we were on the taxi. It was definitely worth $3!!

I have had the privilege of working with these three this past year in Event and Guest Services, and I loved finishing out the school year with a fun little adventure in the city.

Emily is our supervisor and the person we report to, and ever since she joined the EGS team, she's brought joy and life to the office. All three of us part-timers have been so thankful for her leadership and excellence in her work, but also for her care and investment in us.

Kaitlyn, a friend of mine since the very first semester, joined the team this past year and has been a quick learner, also adding her wit and flair to the office.

And Brynna, dear Brynna, we will miss you in Event and Guest Services and at Moody!!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Pastor's Conference and EGS

This view has been one that I've seen multiple times this week.

I'm working at Moody this week for Pastor's Conference, assisting Event and Guest Services, the department I work in throughout the school year too. I've been posted in places like the one in the photo above (Torrey-Gray auditorium) to check ID's and welcome pastors to the sessions. Pastors are so kind, but also hilarious with what Kaitlyn and I have called "pastor's jokes", which are similar to "dad jokes". We love these jokes and enjoy interacting with the pastors just as we greet them and provide information and directions.

It's hard to believe these are all pastors who are impacting their local communities. We are seeing only a tiny sliver of their lives at this conference. Occasionally, a pastor will stand and chat with one of us and we get to hear stories, which are my favorite. Just today I talked with a pastor who lived in Hawaii for 20 years before moving back to Virginia, where he grew up, to shepherd a church there. I'm thankful for all of these servants, and pray they are being encouraged and refreshed at Pastor's Conference this week.

In the few hours during the day that Kaitlyn and I aren't working, we've sometimes just sat down to rest our feet, but other times we've gone out into the city. Yesterday's outing consisted of library book pick-up and frosting shots from Sprinkles. Yes, Sprinkles Cupcakes will give you a little cup of frosting for only $0.75! It's the best. It's even worth the sugar crash you sometimes get as a result of the frosting!

Although this week has been exhausting and full, it's been memorable and good. We've hung signs, filled counting sheets, replaced signs again, ushered, and done random tasks like carrying pillows and blankets from one building to another, but we've also gotten to know the staff here on campus better and Kaitlyn and I have gotten to work together.

Today is our last day of Pastor's Conference, and I hope it's been a good one for everyone!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Moving Day

Moving out and packing is inevitably hectic and exhausting, and potentially somewhat humorous too.

The funniest part of the day to me was our trip to Trader Joe's for dinner. With campus being pretty much closed for move-outs, we enjoyed a lovely dinner from the store that's become familiar to me now. We couldn't even find steps to sit on to eat our meal, but snagged a spot/curb by some trees that sufficed. It wasn't quite as convenient as a bench on a cobblestoned European square, but it worked!

This entire day seemed like the epitome of a college student's life. This moment captured it well - sitting on a curb in the city, eating Trader Joe's dinners, with no car and everything we own in suitcases and bins back on campus in a storage area, waiting to be brought somewhere else for the summer. I just had to laugh, because the situation seemed classic, in a sad and also hilarious way. 

Packing up was a bit more confusing because of our lack of a vehicle. Long story short, a super awesome friend in the city saved the day (which was an answer to prayer!) and came to pick me and my friends up to take us (and our stuff) over to Caleb and Haley's apartment - the place my friends are subletting for the summer while Caleb and Haley are in Europe interning with Josiah Venture. 

Oh, what a comfort and joy it was to finally step foot into their apartment after our seemingly endless day. I am staying the night with Michelle, so she doesn't have to stay alone before her other roommates come, but it is also a sweet gift from the Lord to be here. It's settling to be in Caleb and Haley's home - a familiar place. Thank you, Caleb and Haley, for making your home available for subletting and for letting me stay there for a bit too before Gull Lake. Their home is charming and peaceful, a haven in the busyness of Chicago. 

Today, I am thankful for the Lord's provision. I am thankful that He created us for community and that we don't have to do things alone. I'm thankful that He cares for His daughters as a Father and wants us to go to Him with every care and burden. I'm thankful for prayer, for help when we need it, for Trader Joe's salads, and for rest after this hectic day. Although today was crazy, I'm still thankful for it, because it stretched me and showed me more of the Lord. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Final Final

I finished my last final of the semester!!!!

Promptly after I returned to my room at 8:45am, I took a nap. Yes, I took a one and a half hour nap first thing in the morning. I didn't plan on doing that, and had even gotten a good night's sleep the night before, but it was like I finally let down after the exam was over. Like I said, I still have other responsibilities, but this was just one great weight that was lifted. That nap was glorious.

Fun fact: Today was the last day that the scent of burgers came wafting into my room first thing in the morning.

Every Thursday is Big Burger Thursday in the cafeteria. Since my room is near the vents to the down to the kitchen, I inevitably smell burgers every single Thursday morning. Not my favorite thing to wake up to, but it's been reality for the three semesters I've lived in this room.

Two days from now, I'll move out of this room forever though.

I'll be living in the campus apartment housing next semester, and I will actually be able to cook for myself, which will be incredibly helpful. Moody's meal plan does allow me to eat gluten and dairy-free, but it has been hard finding enough nourishment in the cafeteria with both of those restrictions. I have had my fair share of spinach, broccoli and rice meals!

It will be a challenge, but also a privilege to get to cook my own food next semester and to live in an apartment instead of the dorms. I'll be taking one more step towards "adult" living. Whoa. Things are changing!

With my last exam, and my last burger-scented morning, the end of the semester is really drawing near. It's strange. I don't like that goodbyes have to be said, and yet I am excited for what's ahead. I'm sure I'll miss parts of living in the dorms, but I'm obviously looking forward to living in a slightly more "home-y" environment with my two roommates. Change is good, though bittersweet!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Rest, Not Yet

These are full, rich, but exhausting days. I am growing weary - studying for finals, packing, saying goodbyes, thinking ahead. Yet there is such beauty to this time as well - it's hard to decide how to feel, honestly. 

It's in these times that we can keep pressing on. The time will come for rest. That time is coming soon. 

My last exam is tomorrow, and then I still have plenty of work and other responsibilities before letting down. Sigh. By this time next week, everything will feel much calmer. For now, I want to find joy in the activity, in the fluster of it all - for there is beauty in all of these stories that we're currently living in.

Speaking of stories, Sam and I had our last "roommate date", as they're often called here. We split a giant macaron at a shop off of the Armitage stop on the "L". Armitage is Sam's favorite stop because of the cute neighborhood, and we both loved coming back here again before we head our separate ways. Sam graduates on Saturday, so it's bittersweet! I've loved getting to know her this past semester, and will miss her; but I'm also excited for what's ahead and proud of her for finishing so well.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Gearing Up for Finals

This afternoon: cups of coffee, roommates, doodling, public transportation, alleys with puddles and (some) studying for finals.

Kelley and Michelle are roommates, and Sam and I are roommates, but we're also all friends separately too, so we finally had a roommate day at a coffee shop in one of Chicago's neighborhoods today. It poured outside while we were there, but we soaked it in, since we're so happy that spring has arrived to Chicago.

And sometimes these three will go along with my photo requests...

But really, this is usually what things look like when we're all together...

Now we have to buckle down a bit and really get to studying for finals! I only have one this week, but it'll take some time to memorize dates and information. I'm glad to have had this day to gear up for the week and also to connect with these three. Sam is graduating in 5 days, so any time we get with her is valuable!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

For Mom

There's only one hour left (at least here in Chicago!) on this special day - Mother's Day. Mom, I'm still celebrating you, even from across the ocean! I so wish I could be there to give you the biggest hug and bake you lemon bars, or oatmeal cookies, or cinnamon donuts - because I know they're all your favorites. But the best thing I can do is thank you...

For sitting with me in the hospitals when I was little. For eating raspberries with me outside of grocery stores. For taking the long way home just to enjoy the views. For painting pottery together, because you knew I'd love it. For encouraging me, and being there for me in each high and low. For praying with me and for me, constantly. For your constant care and love, which is more than any daughter could ever ask for. Thank you.

Hvar, Croatia, 2011. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Two Sides of the Coin

I can't win.

That's what it always feels like and how I often describe to my friends what it's like to have my heart in two places - Czech and the States. I just can't win. Though it's a beautiful thing too at times.

Josiah Venture is having their annual May conference this week, and I wish I could be there. Words fail to express how much I care about that group of people, and how precious it was to grow up within that community, even though it stretched across a dozen countries. I've been in touch with my mom this week, receiving prayer requests, but also hearing praises for how the Lord has worked at this conference. All of these missionaries are being refreshed, encouraged, and equipped to continue in their work. And 107 kids are there bonding, learning and growing together too! Yes, my heart longs to be there.

(Photo from Mom!)

Yet life is here too.

I went out for morning coffee with the "Fantastic 4" (the four freshman who came in together 2 years ago onto the same floor...cliche, but it's stuck) before heading to work at Plum Market. I demoed (a.k.a. sampled) my favorite gluten-free blondies, brownies and pecan bars today, so I got to share tasty treats with customers, which was my joy. Giving samples is fun.

I even got to meet two older ladies while demoing - a mom (who was 87!) and daughter who both spoke Czech with each other, which immediately caught my attention. I interrupted said something immediately and got to talk with them in Czech for probably more than 10 minutes. The mom had lived in New York for 43 years, and the daughter for 20, and they had both moved to Chicago to be closer to family a year and a half ago. I got to tell them a little of my story, and the mom called me "Klárinka" - the endearing form of Claire in Czech. Only a Czech grandma would ever call me that, and it was ever so sweet to chat with them. We even exchanged e-mails and phone numbers, so maybe I'll get to see them again?

My evening consisted of tagging along with a buddy of mine who's graduating in a week, who had way more energy than she knew what to do with. We pranced to the bookstore, and watched squirrels in the plaza, and went to our campus' improv-group show, "iNfoRmaL". It's exciting that this friend has finished well at Moody, but it's not only sad for me that she's leaving, but it's bittersweet for her too.

Rich, fulfilling and exciting life is in Czech and it's in Chicago. I can't win. I cannot be in two places at once. I can only live where God has placed me at a certain time. And I can praise Him for that. Yet my heart aches too as I continue to experience the push-pull motion of being a TCK at heart.

I think it will always be like this. Yet I praise Him for good gifts. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Moments in Between

I'm doing a little happy dance...hypothetically speaking. All I have left this semester is one final for Christianity and Western Culture II, and that'll be it for the semester! Other than that, what awaits me? Packing, some photography opportunities, plenty of work on and off campus and some bittersweet last days with friends who are graduating (and ones I won't see over the summer too).

It's a strange place to be in and I feel the tension of wanting to be done with some aspects of day-to-day school life (for the summer at least), but also not wanting to part with what is good and precious right now. I love Moody, and even though the workload is not easy, I value each experience and class I have here.

Speaking of precious things right now, the botanical gardens in Chicago are stunning. It might not be a natural habitat for these flowers, but there is something special about seeing them all close together in one giant (and very warm) room.

God is working and moving and teaching me and in whatever season I'm in, I want that to be true. Let your will be done, Father. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Flowers and Fog

May is my favorite month of the year. It's not hard to understand why...

I don't know why, but somehow I didn't actually really enjoy spring in Chicago last year. I think I was too preoccupied with exams and packing and all that and I didn't even know what the city had to offer in this season. But oh, there are places to go for flowers and foggy skylines. Today was refreshing, and comfortingly beautiful. Although I only had my iPhone on me while I walked through Millennium Park, I still couldn't resist snapping a few photos.

This city has its spring charms; I just have to know where to look!

I'm getting soooo cloooose to finishing this semester! In 8 days I will be done with my last final and will have already turned in all of my papers. Whew. Another semester has already come and almost gone. It's hard to believe I'm in the home stretch of my fourth semester here at Moody. I love how God has been using my assignments in these last weeks to show me His character.

It's truly an honor to get to have homework like teaching the Bible, studying the relationship of human development to ministry, or relating virtue and philosophy to theology. It's still challenging and rigorous, but so rich. I want to soak it in. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

On To What's Next

I can't express how thankful I am to have walked life with Hayley for so many years now, and to continue to get to live within an hour of each other for these past two years of college.

Today was our last day of living so close together for a while though, since Hayley will be moving up to Wisconsin in a couple of weeks. It's not too far, but it's farther than a Metra train can take me on a weekend.

It has been sweet, unexpected and extremely special getting to just take the train out to the suburbs and spend a weekend with Hayley every few months, and today was another one of those sweet days, filled with laughter, movies (always movies), walks in the neighborhood, and heart-to-heart catching up.

I'll miss living only an hour away or less, Hayley, but I'm also excited for what's ahead for you. And I'm super proud of you for following the Lord and trusting Him in every circumstance.

Obviously, this is not "goodbye", in that long-term sense. It's just a "see you soon"! This is in some ways one of those "moving on to the next chapter" moments, so it's bittersweet, but also right. I can't wait for whatever adventures still are ahead for Claire and Hayley - wherever those may be!

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Gospel: Illustrated

Our presentation for Human Development was a proposal for a week-long VBS program in Brazil for school-aged children (based off of Erikson's psychosocial development stages, that's about ages 6-puberty). According to the schedule we created, we would cover the whole Gospel in the 5 days that we would be with the kids. We decided to use a particlar curriculum to help us present the Gospel in a way that would be clear and linear for the children. 

Since our presentation needed creative elements, one of those elements was my role in the group:  illustrating and presenting the "10 Gospel truths".

Piaget’s theory of cognitive development says that children think concretely between the ages of 7 and 11. They are able to understand logical progression of objects. According to Piaget, it is important for children to actually touch and see tangible materials in order for them to learn (Seifert, Hoffnung and Hoffnung 273-309), which is why I chose to use images to help them understand the entire story of the Gospel.

The VBS program would be centered around the 10 Gospel Truths, which were written by Michael, Nelson, and Burk in their book, “Helping Children to Understand the Gospel”. The wording of the truths themselves comes from the book, but the descriptions and the illustrations are my own. You can click on the verses to find the full references.

I hope you find this helpful, or even just encouraging. This is the Good News. This is who we are and what we believe as Christians. This is the true story of God, of His character and of His mercy. This is a story of brokenness and sin that is transformed to joy and a restored relationship with the Lord because of repentance and faith.


#1. God is the Sovereign Creator of all things. 

God created the heavens and the earth, the water, the trees, the animals and he made all of us. God is sovereign and he alone created everything.

Psalm 24:1, Isaiah 44:24

Claire Patty

#2. God created people for His glory.

God created you to know, trust, and love Him above anything or anyone else. God created man and woman in his image. That means that we reflect him in certain ways. This is so that we can know him and have a relationship with him, and so that we can worship him.

Psalm 29:1-2, Isaiah 43:6-7

Claire Patty

#3. God is holy and righteous.

That means that he is perfect. No one is like him in his perfection. God gives us good commands and laws. If we were to be holy and righteous, we would be expected to follow these laws perfectly all the time.

Claire Patty

#4. People are sinful.

God created people for his glory, and we were made to reflect his character. But we have all sinned, and we can not follow all of God’s commands perfectly. We fall short of his glory and we are not righteous and perfect like He is.

Claire patty

 #5 God is just and is right to punish sin.

We deserve God's punishment of death and hell. We are helpless to save ourselves. Your iniquities have made a separation, between you and your God, as is written in Isaiah 59:2.

“For the wages of sin is death,” - Romans 6:23a

Claire Patty

#6 God is merciful. He is kind to undeserving sinners.

God offers us the free gift of salvation, not because of any good works that we have done. You must depend on his mercy to be saved.

“The Lord is gracious and merciful,  slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” - Psalm 145:8

Claire Patty

#7 Jesus is God’s holy and righteous Son.

Jesus, the light of the world, came into the world to save sinners - us!

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” - John 8:12

Claire Patty

#8 Jesus took the punishment for sinners.

Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment for our sins.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions;
   he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
   and with his wounds we are healed.” - Isaiah 53:5

Claire Patty

#9 God offers the free gift of salvation to those who repent and believe in Jesus.

This gift is only by his mercy and through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is salvation and hope in no one else. It is by repenting and believing that we can accept this gift.

Acts 4:12, Ephesians 2:8-9

Claire Patty

#10 Those who trust in Jesus will live to please Him and will receive the promise of eternal life— enjoying God forever in heaven.

1 John 2:15 represents what it means to walk in obedience to God. When we repent and believe in Jesus Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit, who works in us to sanctify us. It is God himself who works in us to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose (as is written in Philippians 2:13).

God promises that those who believe in him will have life everlasting.

Claire Patty

It was sweet dwelling upon these truths as I illustrated them last week. It was harder than I expected to think of ways to capture the essence of this message in concrete images, but I loved it too. I hope that one day I am able to use these pictures to share the Gospel with kids, who think concretely, but I believe these kinds of literal depictions of the truths help us adults too, even though we can think abstractly.

It was good for me to be reminded of the tangible truths of the Gospel and how enormous of an effect and impact they have on my life and the lives of those who trust in His name. God is so powerful, faithful and merciful!

If you would like to use these pictures for your purposes or have any questions, feel free to e-mail me (my address can be found in the "About Me" section) or comment below. As always, I love hearing from you!


Michael, Sally, Jill Nelson, and Bud Burk. Helping Children to Understand the Gospel
           Minneapolis, MN: Children Desiring God and Bethlehem Baptist Church, 2009. Print.
Seifert, Kelvin, Robert J. Hoffnung, and Michele Hoffnung. Lifespan Development. 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999. Print.