Tuesday, October 27, 2015

College Reading

Have you ever wondered what a Bible college student's homework looks like?

We read a lot. Just like any other college student, reading is central to our learning process. Our professors like to remind us that we are now responsible for our own learning and must do the work ourselves too if we want to grow and participate in class discussion to really engage with the materials.

But the great thing about reading for Bible classes? Reading can become worship. We all know that sometimes reading is a tedious time-consuming task; but other times, it points so much to truth that I can't help but praise the Lord. It's a wonderful privilege when homework is like that. It's still hard, but it has purpose and meaning, which makes it all worth it.

Here's a glimpse into the reading I had to do today for my Theology and Philosophy of Children's Ministry Class (a.k.a. Foundations for Children's Ministry). We are talking about spiritual warfare and the Armor of God in class this week. It's a serious matter! Our image of plastic armor and coloring pages of soldiers from Sunday school haven't helped us understand the matter. I'm in the process of re-learning what it means to put on the Armor and truly stand firm in this battle against the flesh, the world, and the evil one.

If you are in need of encouragement, or feeling helpless in battle, listen or read these sermons that we had to read as homework today. I pray they will show you how great our God is, and how firm we can be because of Christ.

Click on the sermon title to find the link to listen/read:

Praying at All Times
The Armor of God: The Belt of Truthfulness and the Breastplate of Righteousness
The Believer's Armor, Part 2: The Breastplate of Righteousness 

Friday, October 23, 2015

At a Stable

It's fully fall here, and the perfect time to take photos. And what better place to soak in fall beauty than at a horse stable at a senior shoot? Emily, thanks for introducing me to your friends (the four-legged ones!) and for your sweet smile that makes going through these photos a pleasure!

Here's just a few for a sneak-peak!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Moving Forward Quickly

I began my second quarter today, and I'm not sure if I'm ready for it or not, but I'm excited to keep pressing in and pressing on at the same time. It's a mixture of gratitude for the classes I have and apprehension in knowing what all has to be accomplished in these next 8 weeks. Only in the grace and strength of the Lord.

The perk of the day? Seeing long-time family friends who are in Chicago from Florida, and then also briefly visiting Haley at a ministry in the city she's been volunteering at for the past two years. Haley has given of herself so generously and lovingly to this ministry and it was such a privilege getting to see her in one of the places she really shines in. Haley, the Lord has gifted you with compassion, a servant's heart and a sensitivity to others and their needs, and it was evident to me all over again today.

Seeing God provide places for his people to serve within the body of Christ is so encouraging. It brings me incredible joy (and hope too!) to know that He wants us to partake in his work for his glory and provides space for just that as we are going. Thank you for a reminder of that today, Haley!

Monday, October 19, 2015


This was the very last photo I took on Friday before heading back to Chicago from the wedding. 

I was waiting for someone to come with the key to open the room where we had left our bags for the day when I noticed the big mirror right across the way. I faced the mirror and snapped this picture before I even saw that I wasn't alone. Look at the second floor.

I would never have noticed the beauty of this had I not stopped to turn and see.

Stop and look around. Find a moment you can just enjoy today. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Author of Beauty

"Life is something that God always had, and in creation it is something he now shares with us. By his Spirit he breathes out life on us. And not just in the beginning: that is always the Spirit's work, to bring life" (pg. 51, Delighting in the Trinity).

This one little book is captivating me and making me beam with joy as it brings to light the glorious truths of the Trinity, of the gospel. And somehow, when I read these words in the book today, it caught my attention and perfectly exemplified what yesterday was like. Participating in creativity, which was given to us by the Spirit, is so rich because it brings us into the nature of who God is in his character - Father, Son and Spirit. Couple creativity with a wedding (possibly the best representation of the triune God's holy relationship) and you have a day where you just can't help but smile.

"Small wonder then, that creativity, the ability to craft, adorn and make beautiful, is a gift of the Spirit (Ex 31:1-5)... The Spirit makes his creation alive with beauty" (pg. 51, Delighting in the Trinity).

A dear friend of mine from Moody asked if I could come along to help her with photography at a wedding in Wisconsin. We made the trek up (by train and car!) to a gorgeous location on a lake and got to capture the sweetest day. This Filipino wedding (of friends from her church) was beautiful in all ways. I haven't even uploaded all of the photos yet, but I'm so excited to share just a couple of them for now.

May these reflect the glory of God - the giver of life and beauty!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bright Glow

This is one of the best parts of my days - walking out of my apartment building at sunrise to be greeted by warm glowing sunlight and bright yellow leaves. It makes me the happiest. So here I am - just sharing a little piece of everyday joy with you today. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Missions Conference: ONE

Words won't describe what a precious day we had at Moody's Missions Conference. From start to finish, it pointed us all to the one who created all things, who sits enthroned in heaven, who knows each one of us by name, who works mightily in the world. 

I was especially encouraged today by getting to talk with representatives from missions organizations. I heard some of their stories, and got insight into some questions I had too about how they care for their families on the field, how they're involved with the local churches and anything else that came to mind. I am absolutely honored to be a Moody student this week and to be part of the body that gets to interact with these faithful servants and be reminded of God's mission in the world. 

Something I'm realizing more and more is that it all comes back to His work, not our own. I could try and do things, but nothing would be accomplished in my own power. Ever. When we seek to serve the Lord, we do so in obedience to Him and in loving relationship with Him. He brings us into His mission, which He began before time. It's not a mission of our own to preach the Gospel, but precisely a desire that the Lord gives us so that we can partake in the sharing of His truth. What a privilege! 

This year's Missions Conference theme is "ONE: 'So That the World May Know'". We are talking about unity among the global church and unity within our school and the believers on and off campus. Yet another good reminder that we do nothing in isolation, but everything in community! Sometimes the thought of missions can be daunting, but then I remember God's people, and God's promises and fears are turned to joy. 

Here's a quote to get you thinking today: "Will fear be the basis for your decision making?" 

This evening, hundreds of Moody students volunteered to go out into the city in teams to pray over public schools. We are asking the Lord to glorify His name in this city and for these schools to be places where truth is proclaimed and kids can learn in a safe place day after day. The Father always is faithful, no matter our shortcomings, and I pray that He brings light to these places we prayed for tonight though believers in the community. 

For days when you feel like what you are doing doesn't count for the Kingdom, or no progress is evident or you don't know what the next step is - remember your faithful Father in heaven who desires for you to walk in obedience and abide in Him, asking no more than that. He will lead in the rest. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Marathon from The Window

Sunday morning was marathon day in Chicago. 

It was a good thing I had already been planning on waking up early because as soon as the marathon starts, we can hear whooping and cheering from all sides of our building. Towards the beginning of the race runners go down LaSalle on one side of Moody, and then eventually the loop back and run down Wells too. So we get the privilege of seeing (and hearing!) thousands of people as they run and others who support on the sidelines. It's quite the day in Chicago. 

Although this day is loud and crazy, I did soak in the beauty of the bright autumn sunshine and the lovely yellow daisies my roommates gave me for my birthday. I am loving living in an apartment and having trees right in front of our window. It's the best view for someone who loves seeing God's handiwork in nature. 

I was headed to church in the morning, but I did get to enjoy just a little snippet of the marathon from my window, and then as I walked to the Brown Line to go meet Caleb and Haley. 

If anyone reading here ran the marathon...CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Seriously, such an accomplishment for anyone to finish a marathon. I am super impressed.

P.S. If I could have flowers on our coffee table all the time, I would. It is pretty much the best. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

21 in Chicago

21. The start of a new year in some respects. 

I have celebrated four birthdays in Chicago now. Hard to believe! That stretches all the way back to my 18th birthday, which we celebrated here too while I visited colleges. I remember that day sitting in a class at Moody and realizing this is where I wanted to be. Now I'm in my junior year, diving headfirst into classes that challenge my thinking and teach me more than I can even soak in. 

The best part of the day was getting to celebrate with my entire family. How thankful I am for them!

By this time next year, I'll be in my last semester at Moody. Whew! Time is flying, that's for sure...though I'm never sure if that's something I like or not!

Here's to another year! 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Stress and Relief

In times where lots of details need to be juggled and tasks are fast-approaching, I tend to slip into a sense of burden, which absolutely displays itself physically as well. These burdens today were not due to any one thing, just the compilation of all the little pressures and come afternoon, I felt uptight and tense all over again. So as midterms are approaching, projects are due, and reading continues steadily, I found myself wanting to use the word I dislike so much, but had to admit: stressed.

Yet amidst this, something the Lord has been teaching me (and convicting me about) is to take everything to Him first of all - with prayer and petition (Philippians 4:6-7 - seems to be a theme verse for Claire's life). So I prayed and asked the Lord to take these burdens from me. This is not a once-and-done prayer, but He did answer even today, though not without my own involvement.

I have started running once or twice a week with my roommate in the mornings, since it's been so nice in Chicago and we both wanted motivation to get outside. Don't get me wrong - running has never been my thing. I am shocked that I have actually enjoyed these short runs on crisp Chicago days before the city awakes. Yet somehow, I have (surprising, huh, Uncle Mike?). But it wasn't until today that I felt the need to run (and then end up walking) to relieve stress.

Because this is not usually an idea or desire of my own, I truly see it as the Lord answering my prayer in an unexpected way. Thank you Father, for this sweet gift of seeing your handiwork, even in Chicago, and being completely refreshed by that on this stressful/normal day.

In other news - the Chicago Marathon is next weekend! Now that's for the real runners!!

And also, in learning about Stress in one of my classes this week (timely, huh?), I think I can classify my own lately as Eustress, not Distress. It is the kind of stress that is pushing me and teaching me, though definitely challenging and sometimes burdensome when I try to handle it on my own! Praise Him for His constant presence and for guiding us as believers each step of the way! 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Tyler and Lara - Maternity Photos!

I was thrilled to finally get to take these photos for Tyler and Lara - the first of many featuring my nephew! Ah! We're all incredibly excited to see his face soon. In just a few weeks we will get to meet the little guy, but until then, these parents are already wonderful. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Two Homes, One Morning

I woke up in two different houses on Wednesday morning.

After taking Tyler and Lara's maternity photos on Tuesday (!!!), I stayed the night at their place, which is about half an hour outside the city. Since I had class the next morning at 8AM, I rode with Tyler to work bright and early...or I guess, "dark" and early?

The photos were so fun, but I'll save those for another day!

Tyler works in the city, so riding in with him was easy, but it meant leaving their house at 4:45AM! I didn't mind though, since it turned into a morning chat in the car with Tyler. P.S. I'm impressed at his ability to interact before the sun even rises!

The Intelligentsia Tyler works at is actually about five minutes from Caleb and Haley's apartment. At 5:15AM, he dropped me off at their place, I let myself in with the key Caleb and Haley had given me on Monday, crashed on their couch, and woke up an hour later to enjoy breakfast and coffee with Caleb and Haley. I got to have another brother chat then with Caleb as we drove to Moody to catch our morning classes.

Yes, I woke up first in Tyler's and Lara's home, and then woke up the second time at Caleb and Haley's home! What a special and incredible thing to even be able to do on a regular weekday. I don't take these days for granted with my siblings and cherish our time together in Chicago. Patty siblings - thank you for opening your homes and for being loving even before your day really begins.