Monday, October 31, 2016

Voting and Being a Citizen

Some things still make me stop and realize that I have now called the United States home for three and a half years. Voting today was one of those things. 

I'll be out of town part of this week, so I wanted to vote before I left. I ventured downtown to a familiar area and found one of the designated places for voting. I walked right in with no line inside, but there was a happy bustle of people around and it felt somewhat thrilling. I don't take the privilege of being a citizen of the U.S. lightly, so getting to actually be present here to vote felt right. 

So there you go - my first time voting. It's not the best year to be entering in as a newly registered voter with this presidential election, but I'm glad I could participate nonetheless. And plus, it's not every year that I'll get to vote in downtown Chicago. Amidst some of this year's political issues, I'll say that part was pretty fun. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Senior Photos: Logan

It's definitely not my usual position to be taking a high-school senior's photos (especially a guy's!), but when the opportunity presented itself, I was up for the challenge! Logan and his family and I meandered through the city looking for ways to capture this unique soon-to-be-graduate season of life. 

It was great fun going around to some of the places Logan loves in the city and getting to let creativity come out a bit more too with all of the city locations. Here is a sampling of the photos!

Speaking of being a soon-to-be-graduate, did you know I only have 49 days left as a student at Moody Bible Institute? Yes, I don't quite know how to process that. I know that moving forward is right, but I will be sad to leave as well. But I'm not there yet; more on that once the time comes.

Until then, I'll continue enjoying the city and all its wonderful photo opportunities!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Brown Line to Randolph/Wabash

It's a familiar trek. From my apartment to the brown line stop. Brown line to Randolph/Wabash. My destination is down the stairs, straight ahead, on the right. Intelligenstia Coffee.

When I came here this weekend it wasn't actually to get coffee this time, but to meet up with a family I had never met before to take a high-school senior's, Logan's, photos. This family made the trip from Indiana to get Logan's senior pictures done, since he loves this city so much. Where did this "random" connection come from? They're actually acquaintances of my first supervisor at my on-campus job in EGS (she first hired me as a freshman...grateful to Traci)!

We met up at Intelligentsia, and then went off to Millennium Park, which is just across Michigan Ave, only a quick hop over from our meeting place. Stay tuned for photos! It could not have been a more beautiful day, and I was glad for the excuse to be out and about, especially on familiar city routes! 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

When Slovakia Came to Chicago

It's not every day that you get to have coffee with someone from Slovakia. 

This is Katarina, a friend I met at a wedding in Slovakia a couple years ago. She is now married (as of three weeks ago!) and on full-time staff with Josiah Venture. She is also part of the intern recruiting team that is traveling around the States for about a month. 

Even with her busy recruiting schedule, she managed to fit in an hour for tea, and I couldn't have been more thrilled for the opportunity to spend time with her. This girl is incredible, and her faith was so encouraging to me. 

Sometimes worlds collide. On this regular autumn day where I watched the sun stream through the windows of my apartment, where I sipped tea from Polish pottery, and went to classes and work as normal, I also experienced part of my other world. When a day consists of tastes of both my Chicago world and my Europe world, it always feels right.

I long for the day when all believers are gathered up together and we will not only get to be with Christ forever, but we will no longer be separated from one another by oceans and airplanes. We will get to worship the King of Kings for eternity with every nation, tribe and tongue. That will be an incredible day.

Until then, I'll sit in the moments of glowing sunshine. I'll cherish times with friends I don't usually get to see. I'll also grieve the goodbyes, the partings, and the setting of the sun. It won't always be like this though. We have hope in Christ that he will bring the fulfillment of all of these shadows of goodness that we experience here on earth.

"For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." - 1 Corinthians 13:12

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Union and Chicago

Missions Conference at Moody is behind us. We are now past the half-way mark of the semester, which is quite bittersweet for me this time around. To celebrate fall and the half-way mark, a trip to a little town in Illinois was in order.

My roommates, Michelle and Michelle (yes, both of my roommates have the same name!), and Cassidy (in the striped shirt!) and I made the trek out to Cassidy's hometown of Union, IL. The other fun thing about this group is that Cassidy is actually going to be "replacing" me in The Little Byt, our apartment, next semester. This was a Little Byt gathering of sorts then.

Union is quaint and an all-American town, complete with a cute cafe, second-hand shops, a local bookstore, and a place they call the "opera house" (which is really just a place for any and every show in town). We also stopped by the apple orchard, where Cassidy's younger sister works. We're close to the end of apple picking season, but we managed to find some anyways!

It's times like these that I truly realize that I am in America. That may sound strange, but it does still strike me sometimes! It was good to get out of the city, but not so much so that I could be gone from Chicago, but so that when I came back, I would realize how much this place has endeared itself to me. The city was foreign to me when I first got here. I didn't know how to appreciate its beauty, nor praise the Lord for it. He has definitely changed my heart. Although I don't see myself living in Chicago for the rest of my life, this city is dear, and holds a lot of special memories and friendships.

While we still had fall break on Monday and Tuesday, I went out to the lake early in the morning with a friend. We looked back at the cityscape from the Lakefront Trail and soaked it in. Is it not beautiful? God created people with the creativity to make things like skyscrapers and high-rises. That's pretty incredible.

Monday, October 17, 2016


It was already a little over a week ago that Mom and Dad were in town ( the city) and got to be here for my birthday. I love that board meetings out in the suburbs so often coincide with October 8th! It's special to have them here. 

Love you both, Mom and Dad! So much of who I am and what I do has been shaped by your love, care, and dedication. Thank you for all that you have done to teach and guide me these past 22 years, to live in a way that points me to the Lord, and to have fun and adventures along the way too!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Pre-Birthday Celebrations

On the Friday before my birthday, two of my buddies took me out to a walk around the park and then to Middle Eastern food for dinner. They sure know me well! Those are two of my favorite things. Not only that, but along the way, we all looked for beautiful sights that bring us joy. It couldn't have been a better way to spend a Friday, especially in the company of Michelle and Kelley. 

Thank you Kelley and Michelle! Love you both!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Mercy, Not Condemnation

"So admit you're the worst sinner you know. Admit you're unworthy and deserve to be condemned. But don't stop there! Move on to rejoicing in the Savior who came to save the worst of sinners...Cry tears of amazement." - C.J. Mahaney (The Cross Centered Life)

Do you find yourself on a pendulum swing? Maybe, like me, you can sometimes oscillate between self-condemnation and ignorance of sin when your eyes are (even for a moment!) distracted from the living Christ.

Let me explain.

Sin is not just a combination of some "mistakes" we make. Though the definition is even deeper than this, sin is both breaking relationship with God (rebellion) and disobedience to his standards and laws (unrighteousness).

Before I came to Moody, I honestly wasn't someone who knew the depth of my own sinfulness well. I knew in theory (and in particular instances) that I was a sinner, but I wasn't faced with this reality every day. I came to Moody, began studying both the Living Word (Jesus Christ), and the written Word, the Scriptures. I was faced with the holiness of God, and with the inadequacy of my own works compared to his magnificence. There's more than conviction though! There's hope!

I repented of the facade I had grown too accustomed to, and pushed up against the "striving perfection complex" I had internalized. The Lord was gracious to me as he revealed these sins in my heart and my need for redemption. He did so kindly, with the love of others around me and the constant reminders of Truth in my classes, in chapel, and in ministry here in Chicago. He knew that to make his love sweeter, he had to make my heart softer.

What freedom there is in recognizing one's own sin, but then looking to Christ and seeing that not only did he legally pay the penalty for our sins by his death and resurrection, but he relationally restored us to our Heavenly Father upon our confession and faith! This is incredible news!

It's easy to be deceived by this world though, and to forget this Good News in the daily mundane parts of life. Thankfully, God lovingly doesn't let us sit in this for long, because he constantly engages us where we're at and lovingly calls us, invites us into his presence and grace.

So guess what? When we are seated with Christ, when we are called children of God, we don't have to live in self-condemnation for the sins we know we have, nor pretend that those sins aren't there. We get to live in freedom from bondage, and in restoration with our incredible God.

Sometimes I just need to hear this again, and maybe today you do too.
"But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life." - 1 Timothy 1:16. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Beautiful Spaces and Apologetics

One of my greatest joys of living in the city for the past three years has been the plethora of beautiful spaces and coffee shops. They exude creativity, shared gathering spaces, and unique character and style. 

I find it fascinating to see which places end up being my friends' favorite, since a lot of it has to do with environment and personality. I think you can learn just a little bit about a person from knowing where there favorite places are! There's a story in there somewhere. 

Now you tell me, why is it that I'm so drawn to the yellow ceiling and geometric lights of Dollop? It's simply delightful. 

I went to Dollop to work on a very important paper for Apologetics - one that is worth 50% of my grade! Eek! Although it took a long time to put together, it gave me the opportunity to talk with my brothers and a friend who graduated last year. They all helped me process the topic of apologetics and its role in the worship and life of the church. I learned so much even just through the process of writing this and working out my own convictions.

Here's a full view of the space that's adjacent to the actual coffee shop. That yellow chair in the corner is "my spot". There are two side tables next to it, so it's the perfect place to camp out for a few hours and zone in to homework. The space looks quite pink in this photo, but it doesn't seem that overwhelming in person. It's the brightness and the yellow that I love most. 

Google Image

One friendly face of the day surprised me on my way back from the coffee shop as I passed Argo Tea on Michigan Ave. I walked right past Hannah without even noticing her standing there before doing a double take and turning right back around. Hannah hadn't noticed me either in the busyness of her job! I stood on the sidewalk right next to the iconic Chicago Tribune building and chatted with her while she gave out samples. This is a unique season of life where I run into a friend sampling tea on Michigan Ave! 

I'm soaking in these "normal" Chicago days. October is the best month here!