Saturday, November 28, 2015

A Patty Party of 6

I grew up celebrating Thanksgiving with extended Josiah Venture "family". There was always an abundance of food and everyone would contribute their best dishes. It wasn't until college that I actually spent my first Thanksgiving with only my family. Now that I look back at it that way, it seems backwards, but I have loved each step of the way. I am thankful for JV family during my childhood and for the Patty family I have here in Chicago now!

This year was set apart from all other Thanksgivings though. All of us Chicago Patty siblings (and Judah!) gathered together at Caleb and Haley's apartment to celebrate together. We've never cooked an entire spread of holiday food together on our own before, but what a joy to get to do just that. Haley was an incredible hostess - planning the menu and making sure not one aspect of the meal was missing. We even had homemade cranberry sauce, and a gluten-free dairy-free pumpkin pie! She's incredible.

I stayed over at Caleb and Haley's on Wednesday night and spent the morning of Thursday helping Haley in their little apartment kitchen. Honestly, I was surprised at how enjoyable and peaceful the whole day was, even with the added responsibility Caleb and Haley had of hosting the whole meal. Haley and I laughed all morning at how funny it must have looked to prepare the dishes in such little space. And we loved it.

Tyler, Lara and 2-week-old Judah were able to make it as well, which just brought all the more joy. It was special to spend a "normal" day together. It really did surprisingly feel normal. I love my siblings and my nephew!

How thankful I am for these past two and a half years with Tyler, Lara, Caleb and Haley! It was an unexpected gift that I never saw coming during my college years. It has been a joy to live Chicago life together. 

Judah was asleep by the time we got around to taking one last photo, but he's close by! I'm sure we'll have many more photos to come with him too. His aunt will make sure of that! ;) 

I wish I didn't see the bittersweetness of this Thanksgiving as well. I am thankful for these years together, but this is also the last holiday we'll spend together in Chicago before Caleb and Haley move after Caleb graduates in three weeks. I tried not to think about it on Thursday, but the reality is that change is always hard, no matter what good things are on the other side. So I fully soak in the sweetness of this time, and acknowledge that it's good to walk through the sad parts of change too.

What was the most meaningful part of Thanksgiving for you this year? I hope you look back on it with fondness already. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Mishaps and Perfection

I was ready to go, eager for the day, and completely awake. My brain, however, must have had a lapse, since I thought it was Thursday instead of Tuesday.

I met my friend at 7:30 in the morning to pray together, as we always do on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and then made my way to work, completely on time before 8. I settled into processing student event proposals for Event and Guest Services in the office. After 20 minutes, a little thought crossed my mind and I checked my calendar. I was supposed to be in class at 8, not at work! Oops. Missed that one! It's on Thursdays that I go straight from prayer to work, not Tuesdays.

It ended up not causing any serious issue because I had plenty of skips left for the class, but I still felt sad for missing one of my favorite classes (Systematic Theology). It was too late at that point to even try getting to class, since it was almost half way done. Sigh.

I recount this story to you to remind you that life is full of mixups, big and little mistakes. We are not perfect in any way. So whatever might happen today, take comfort in knowing that the Lord does not require perfection, but only what you can give - excellence and diligence that honors Him and brings glory to His name. And he is gracious - oh so gracious (Psalm 145:8). We will forget things and disappoint and fail. But guess what? The Lord will never fail you and He is forever faithful.

"Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever." 

- Hebrews 13:20-21

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Senior Recital Photos: Julia

This is Julia, one of my roommates, and she's getting ready for her senior recital, which will be this coming February. As a music major at Moody, she works hard daily to bring glory to the Lord by her diligence and excellence. What a beautiful pianist she is!

Since she's planning towards her recital, we went out to take photos that will then become posters around campus inviting students to come hear. If you're a Moody student, come to her performance - it's going to be incredible!

We caught the last of fall on Friday before the snowstorm came that night. How we both savored the beauty of the University of Chicago campus! Couldn't have been a better place to reflect Julia's spirit.

And one last photo of the roomies! (Next up I'm thinking we need to get a photo with Kimberly, our third roommate too!)

Julia, you are lovely. Thanks for letting me play just a tiny role in the art that you have dedicated so much of your life to as a pianist.

Also, a side note - thanks Josh (Julia's boyfriend) for taking that last photo, and for driving us down there, accompanying us along the way! 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

At The Nest

Tonight, this was the sweetest gift: being hosted for dinner by friends who live three floors above my apartment.

Rae and Jenna love people, art, good food, theology. For them, an apartment is not just a space; it is their home tucked into the city among the treetops, nicknamed "the nest". They invited Kelley and I over to cook dinner together and the evening itself was food for the soul.

It may not look like anything unique in the photo, but a picture fails for an evening like this one. I simply want to remember it. Butternut Squash Chipotle chili, kale salad with cranberries, raspberries and chocolate as dessert, Billie Holiday music on a record player, and the first city snow outside.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Who Would Have Guessed?

What a privilege it is to share life with my siblings these days. I know it is for a season, but I have been soaking up the frequent hello's and get-togethers.

Caleb will be graduating in December and he and Haley will move on to the next chapter after that. I'm all the more treasuring this time with both of them. I'm excited for them, for what's ahead for them. But it comes too with a sense of grieving. It's both sides. That particular change of life seasons has not come yet, though the end of the semester is drawing nearer, bittersweetly.

Right now I'm enjoying days like Monday. Haley and I went out for coffee and grocery shopping on this surprisingly warm November day. I could never have imagined 7 years ago when we first met that we'd be walking the streets of Chicago together - as sisters.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Lara is already an amazing mom and as beautiful as can be - just a natural at caring for and loving Judah. She has that special touch of a mama and it's been a joy to see that come to life even just in the past couple of times I've seen them together. While she's been recovering and making sure Judah is growing and thriving, Tyler has been attentive and helpful at every turn...including when I stopped by to take some photos for them over the weekend. 

When I looked through the photos later, I was most struck by Tyler's tenderness with his son, Judah. And as I now gaze at him peacefully sleeping, knowing he is completely cared for, I can't help but think of our Heavenly Father. 

May these images comfort you, dear believer, in the troubles of life this very day. You have a Father in Heaven, the very One who created you, who knows you and loves you as his very own child. He sees you. He has united you with himself by Christ, through the work of the Spirit, so that you can actually participate in his triune life. Nothing can separate you from him. Because of Christ, you are not fatherless (John 14), but you are given the greatest love, which has no end. Take heart and remember who you are in him. 

"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children." - Romans 8:15-16

Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:34-39)

Friday, November 13, 2015

To: Judah

This is my brother...and his SON!!!!! 

Tyler and Lara - you both are amazing, and your son is incredible. 

I couldn't be more excited to introduce my nephew - Judah Andrew Patty. Words cannot express how amazing it is to finally meet this little one and to see wholehearted love in the eyes of Tyler and Lara as they hold their first son.

His aunt couldn't be more thrilled either. I will know Judah for the rest of my life. Wow, to let that soak in really is a stunning truth.

Dearest Judah,

One day I'll be celebrating your early steps, drawing alongside you with chalk on the sidewalk, watching you climb a tree, reading the best picture books to you (because you know, the pictures are my favorite part!), and sending you treats no matter what continent you're on. One day you'll hear me saying, "you've grown so much!" or "how did you get so tall?" and even "Judah, your voice is so deep!"

But through all of that, I'll tell you the story of the night you were born and how brave your mama was, how gentle and loving your daddy was, how anxious and excited your grandmas were, and how your aunts and uncles got right in the car when we heard you would be born soon. I'll tell you of the look I saw in your daddy's eyes when he first held you and how much you were adored from the very beginning. I'll show you the pictures we took on Thursday when you weren't even a day old yet. And I will laugh and smile (and probably cry at some point) when I realize you're growing up and becoming even more of who the Lord has created you to be.

Yet right now, I will support your mama and daddy in any way I can, hold you as often as I can, and be your faithful photographer whenever there are opportunities. I'll brag about you because I'm already so proud to be your aunt, and I just can't wait to know you even more. You are precious, Judah.

I am praying the same prayer that your parents pray over you - that you would be a strong and gentle servant of the Lord, one who is not afraid to stand up for the truth, protect his family, and be humbly courageous. You are loved always.

Love, Aunt Claire

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Kentucky Wedding

This cross stood tall at the front of the very spot where Beth married Daniel this past weekend in Kentucky. What a perfect symbol to be at the forefront, reminding us that ultimately, marriage is a reflection of Christ and his bride.

Beth and I were roommates for two semesters, and I couldn't be more thankful for that time. All the more, what a joy it was to stand by Beth's side this Saturday on her wedding day! No, I wasn't the photographer this time. I got to be in the wedding! Smiles all day long.

I got to Kentucky on Friday morning, and got to spend the afternoon with Beth before heading to their wedding venue - a campground! After arranging tables and many of the important details, we stepped outside for a cozy campfire with family and the bridal party. The rehearsal was done in the dark outside and we carefully avoided tripping over roots, yet laughed too and eagerly anticipated the following day when Beth would actually be walking down the aisle.

As Beth explained to me, "If you ever have an outdoor wedding, Claire, the question you'll get the most often is, 'But what if the weather isn't good?" When the wedding is outside, you pray and pray for sunshine. Any weather would have been enough, but it was especially sweet that this day dawned sunny and crisply cool. Sweater weather? Yes. But not too cold to be outside!

By the time we started getting ready for the ceremony, I put my camera away and got to fully soak in the wedding only through my eyes and not a lens. The day very much reflected who Beth and Daniel are - from the handmade details, to the leaves on the ground, to the pastor being Daniel's dad, and hymns being played for the processional and recessional.

Beth and Daniel - Congratulations!!! I am still celebrating with you and so glad I got to be there in person!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Lullatone: Music Choice

I'm knee deep in studying for two exams tomorrow after just finishing a ten page paper, but I thought I'd pop in and let you know what music is getting me through these long stretches. There are so many other stories to tell from the last week, but for now, the stories that these songs portray will have to be enough.


My roommate from last Spring semester (who's wedding I got to be in this weekend!!!!) introduced this music to me, and it is delightful.

Think modern and whimsical instrumental lullabies with a happy twist. Combine that with their clever song titles, and it's a perfect pick-me-up. Read their "about" section online as well. It's charming!

Some of their song titles include... "Finding a Leaf in Your Girlfriend's Hair", "Perfectly Organized Cleaning Supplies", "Going to Buy Some Strawberries" or "The Best Paper Airplane Ever". Go check them out and enjoy the lovely melodies! 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Waves and Winds

I can't decide whether to feel completely overwhelmed and burdened, or to feel incredibly grateful and privileged. Waves of both come crashing daily as I press on. It's November.

It's the usual nearing-the-end-of-the-semester load that is pushing me forward, but also forcing me to take one day at a time. And yet, the classes I'm taking right now are some of the sweetest and best ones I've had at Moody so far. As soon as it all starts to feel like too much, I stop and really look at the homework I'm reading, the topics I get to discuss in class, and I breathe deeply to realize how much I actually love getting to learn.

Classes are hard; I can't deny that. There is no getting around the truth that exams and final papers are fast approaching. Yet, through it all, God has been granting peace when I run to Him. That has been the most baffling gift and one that I am continually surprised by.

In all of the flurry of school, I have been refreshed by time with the Lord, memories made with friends, and touches of family these past couple of weeks. Mom is in town now for a bit as we eagerly expect the birth of Judah Patty - my first nephew! I got to spend some time with her today, and we had lunch together with Caleb and Haley yesterday.

If the future is foggy and the waves of life keep coming faster than you can catch up, remember this:

The wind and waves still know His name.

"The men were amazed and asked, 'What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!'"- Matthew 8:27 

If Jesus could calm the waves on the Sea of Galilee, think what power he has over every aspect of life. He cares about each one of our days, one at a time. We know his mercies are new each morning.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? ... But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." - Matthew 6:25-27, 33