Saturday, February 25, 2017

Smoothie Diaries with Lucy

If you've ever scrolled down and clicked on one of the blog links on the right sidebar here at Claire's Corner, then you have probably seen Lucy's Life, a whimsical blog full of witty and beautiful illustrations and stories.

It's been a little while since Lucy last posted, but her last post was about her continued saga of the "Smoothie Diaries", as she likes to call it. Well guess what?? I got to see a small episode of the smoothie diaries in person today!

I happened to be at Mariano's today, because I was looking for something specific, and I ended up meandering through the aisles...because who doesn't find those kinds of fancy groceries interesting?! I wandered past the prepared foods section when I heard someone call my name from behind the smoothie counter.

"Is that Claire?"

It was Lucy, who was beautifully blending up smoothies in her skilled fashion! I had just been over at Lucy and Sheldon's apartment the night before for dinner and a Czech movie, and then I got to stop and chat again today. What a treat!

Lucy and I went to middle school together. Her dad was my homeroom teacher in high-school. We both moved to the Chicago-lands together to attend two different colleges, and have seen each other a couple of times in these past 4 years.

Now we are only 15 minutes away from each other, Lucy is married, and I am finished with college. And we are still friends. And we still run into each other in odd places, like the grocery store, as if we were back in our little hometown in Czech.

It all seemed oddly normal eating dinner together last night, and seeing each other at the grocery store. Yet, this is far from normal seeing as we both grew up in a mountain town in the Czech Republic. The Lord has wonderful ways of crossing our paths, does he not?!

Here's a throwback to 2008 with Lucy!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Internationals and a Playground

Life right now is full of meeting new people. This can be a challenge sometimes, but I also get pretty excited at the opportunity to make connections and grow in relationships too! I'm about 56% introverted, after all, so that 44% extrovert has to come out somewhere...not that those tests are conclusive anyways!

I mostly get to know people in my church, but I have yet to discover the international community here in the western suburbs of Chicago. I have heard rumors that there are quite a few internationals in the area, and I have been wanting to meet them! I would love to connect with people in these local communities; and since I'm new, I figured a good place to start would be with internationals, since we would automatically have a connecting point.

I started praying a little while back, and asking the Lord for some of those relationships to form. Not only does it fill my heart with joy to connect with people from around the world, but I pray I can be of service to them too. My ears and eyes have been open towards any opportunity to meet new friends as I've taken walks and gotten to know the neighborhood sidewalks and prairie paths.

Guess what?? God is already answering those prayers. I was swinging at the playground (because who doesn't love swinging, right? I guess I am a Children's Ministry major...), when I saw a mom and her young toddler playing a little ways off. I guessed from afar that they might be Eastern European, then heard a familiar sounding language, so I went over and said hi. Sure enough, this family is from Romania, and we had such a sweet conversation.

I don't know if a friendship will come of it, but if nothing else, it was a reminder that when we pray, God hears. Even more so too, when we pray, our eyes are open to the paths the Lord opens for us to walk in.

I would not have noticed that mom and daughter if it hadn't been for God's work in softening my own heart. I don't have that kind of courage on my own to talk to "strangers" - it's all Him! It's just fun being a tiny part of what He is already doing.

Would you pray with me for continued open doors for meeting "neighbors" - whether they be from Illinois or India, pray that I can be the hands and feet of Jesus, to see them and love them with His eyes and His heart. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Citrus Salad with Poppyseed Dressing

While I was in Czech, me and my parents seemed to be on quite the salad kick. Something about those fresh vegetables from Lidl just called our names every time! We found a salad recipe (especially the dressing!) that we all really loved, so I wanted to share it with you as well. 

The original recipe calls for a mix of citrus fruits, spinach, avocado, and pomegranate.  I put a little twist on the salad ingredients to make more of a meal, so what you'll find in the photos below is this: blood oranges, avocado, goat cheese, sliced beets, spinach, rucola. 

The base of the citrus and avocado, along with the delicious dressing is what really makes this salad special. I know you'll enjoy it too!

Recipe HERE

Slight change on the dressing ingredients too - we used french whole grain mustard from Lidl, and I loved its texture for this salad. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

JVK's and JV Orientation

These were the Josiah Venture Kid girls of 1997. All six of us! 

20 years later, something unexpected has happened. 

You'll see a familiar face in the photo above - yep, that's me with my stylish 90's scrunchie. There's another face you should look for too - top row with the headband. That's Elyse.

Elyse and I haven't seen each other for quite some time now (their family moved back to Canada when Elyse was a teenager), but the Lord paralleled our stories this week for a special occasion.

Josiah Venture Orientation for new staff took place in Wheaton this past week, and both Elyse and I were there!

It's amazing to see how God weaves stories together. One of the reasons I am so thrilled to be joining the Josiah Venture staff to work with their JV Kids is because of how I have seen God work in the lives of JVK thus far. He has been faithful. The Gospel, which compelled these families to move across the world, is transforming these kids' lives too.

Many of these kids have now grown up to also be passionate followers of Christ and disciplemakers. It's a sweet blessing too that God called some of us back to Eastern Europe as well (6 from the photo below!), because it's a joy to be on a team with them. JV Kids are going to be a blessing to any workplace or ministry environment, no matter where they go.

I can hardly wait to join this team and continue to see God do amazing things among and through the JV Kids. Would you consider partnering with me in prayer and financially? (You can give online HERE.)

I would also love to talk more with you in these next weeks and months! It would be a delight to share with you not only what God is doing in that beloved region of the world, where only 1% know Jesus Christ as Savior, but also about how the Lord has led me to serving the JV Kids and their families specifically. Can we set up a time to meet in person or talk via Skype or phone?

Drop me an e-mail at I'm so excited to hear from you!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Landed and Adjusting

I'm in the United States!

Actually, I landed in Chicago on Monday, and have been easing into life here since then. I am living with a family from my home church here in the suburbs of Chicago. I'll be basing out of this area for the next 9-12 months as I raise support to join God's movement in Central and Eastern Europe as the JVK Ministry Specialist.

I'm adjusting to a new "not-normal". Life is not going to feel normal now, and it shouldn't. This is not the time for settling in, for feeling comfortable, for making my own "home". This is a different season with different gifts and challenges.

Guys, let me tell you something: I am SO EXCITED for what the Lord has ahead with the JV Kids. We get to go along with his work and participate in it with Him together! This is going to be quite the winding, wonderful path.

These next few weeks ahead feel a little bit like this photos I took while I was at home:

Blurry. Unclear.

And also filled with Light. With hope.

With Christ.

It's the beginning of months that will be filled with people connections, leaning on the body of Christ, serving, giving, loving, being loved, initiating, stepping out when I feel afraid. Yet God is there in all of those moments. I depend on him to keep on showing up each day like the rising sun.

Saturday, February 4, 2017


Today is a day of transition. Again. 

I found a quote on the last page of the book I finished today, The Suffering of God. It struck me, as it summed up what I had been reading for the previous 160-ish pages. This is the God who has been, who is, who always will be. 

His character never changes. 
Parenthesis added by me
This God of the universe, the LORD, created what we see by speaking. He is the God who makes the seas roar and mountains shake. He makes the world turn, and he knows all the stars by name. He rules over kings and nations. The earth trembles at his presence.

And he turns his ear to you.

Not only this, but his greatest desire is that you would love him as he loves you.

He desires closeness, intimacy. He always has.

On this day I have been packing and procrastinating because the inevitable awaits me - another goodbye. I leave Czech tomorrow, and fly back to the States on Monday. Although I will be returning here, and I look forward to so many people I love on the other side of the ocean in Chicago, this transition is hitting me more personally than I thought it would.


This marks yet another life stage transition. Post-college adult life actually-truly-for-real begins when I return to the States.

I will go back to Chicago and not return to Moody. I will make steps forward towards the calling the Lord has given me for this next season. I will prepare to join his movement in Central and Eastern Europe, and enter into a completely new role and world.

I am so excited, and I also recognize that with change there is always gain and loss at the same time. Loss - like of the stability of school schedules and syllabi and friends that are always nearby. Gain - the opportunity to grow in faith, connect more deeply at my church, and see what surprises the Lord has for each day in the suburbs of Chicago, and then eventually back in Europe.

It's ok to grieve the loss and celebrate the gain at the same time. They go hand in hand.

So on this day when transition is yet upon me, I cling to the Lord who actually wants to be near in times when my heart feels most vulnerable. He meets us in those places. Whether we are on mountains or in valleys, he is there. His closeness is always at hand.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

(Psalm 16:5-8)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Five February Frugal Fun Ideas

Welcome to my first ever challenge-inspired blog post! 

I don't usually go along with themed posts, but this one sounded like a great little challenge, so I hope it brings you a smile today.

February can be a dreary month. It's right in the middle of winter, but the Christmas season has passed, and the freshness of January has come and gone. Despite this, my memories of February do include sweet Valentine's celebrations with my family, as well as some of the best snow of the season. Let's find the little joys this month, beginning with a list of ideas for frugal fun, inspired by Personal Capital's challenge. 

Here's a collection of 5 things you can do this February to have affordable fun (Claire-style)... or in other words: FIVE FEBRUARY FRUGAL FUN ideas. 

1. Create some GIFs 

I don't know what it is about GIFs that makes them so entertaining. You almost feel like you've created something magical when the pictures are put together and start moving on your screen. There is a free website that you can upload your photos to, and it will create GIFs for you. Play around with using photos of moving objects, lovely weather, silly kid faces, or a dog's tail wagging. Enjoy!

Speaking of dogs wagging their know what makes my dog extra happy? Walks.

2. Take your dog for a walk

This may sound simple, but I can almost guarantee it will bring more joy to your day. Crisp air and a little sunshine will surely help fight the February blues too. Get your feet all snowy for me too, ok? 😉

Don't have a dog? Borrow a friend's!

3. Go outside at sunrise

Sunrises have always been my favorite. When I awoke early one morning and saw that there was a fresh blanket of snow, I grabbed my coat and ran out the door to catch the sunrise from a good vantage point. Oh my, sunrises do not disappoint! Our God is an incredible Creator.

3. Make banana pancakes

You've heard me mention banana pancakes before - that's because they are so easy and cheap to make!! After your sunrise walk, enjoy a delicious plate of pancakes with blueberries, honey and peanut butter.

Ingredients: 1 banana, 2 eggs, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp baking powder. How to: Mash banana. Add baking powder until fully combined. Mix in eggs and cinnamon. Cook pancakes on a greased skillet.

4. Create art by using what you have

You don't have to have a fancy studio, or paint en plen air (outside), to hone your craft of art.

Step 1: Grab a sketchbook at your local art store that inspires you. I am in love with the one Haley gave me for my birthday (from Global Art Materials: HERE for only $13!), because it's portable and versatile. It's also just really simple and beautiful, so that helps too!
Step 2: While you're out and about - at work, in classes, at the grocery store, on a walk - look for interesting shapes, lines and light patterns. Snap a photo of that object or view on your phone.
Step 3: Find a cozy spot to draw, sketch, or paint.
Step 4: Use that inspiring photo as a starting point for your sketch.
Step 5: Use what you have around as your medium! If all you own are colored pencils, go for it with colored pencils (pictured above). You'd be surprised what can come out of something so simple.

Other ideas: ballpoint pen, black marker, crayons, or even coffee and a paintbrush.

What I love about using a little sketchbook like this and no-pressure mediums, is that it literally does just that - takes the pressure off! You can grow in your art skills, while also finishing a picture in a manageable time frame, even if you only have 20 minutes to spare during your lunch break.

5. Buy flowers

You hereby have permission to buy yourself some flowers today. Please, do it.

I often feel that I need to have a reason to buy flowers, or that it might be strange to buy them for myself, instead of getting them from somebody. Guess what though? Buying flowers today might just be the brightest point of your week. Go for it. Find a bouquet with cheerful colors at the grocery store and proudly add them to your shopping cart. Trader Joe's has some of the most affordable and lovely options, as does Aldi (in the U.S.) and Lidl (in Czech). I'm cheering you on!

That's a wrap! I hope you pick one of the frugal fun ideas and implement it in the next week. Let me know if you do, and I'll celebrate the joy with you!

Happy beginning of February.

Psst...looking for more budget-friendly fun ideas? You can actually use this free financial software to be more frugal!