Tuesday, March 28, 2017

What Is Normal Anyways?

One could say that no day is "normal" right now in Claire's life. 

One could also say each day is unique. 

I guess it depends on perspective, right? Is the goal of life to settle in? Maybe in some seasons. This is not one of them, which is both exciting and hard at times. The Lord has been faithful though and has provided for each and every day, even with joy and strength for the little things. 

So, what does this week look like? House/dog-sitting! And working various jobs, plugging into Bible studies, small groups and sharing the vision of Josiah Venture and about the JV Kids. What will next week look like? Completely different, probably!

I remember that at Mission Training International we taught the kids the phrase, "Keep your expectations moldable like play-dough." That can be challenging, but it's been an adventure too. Thank you for your prayers and for joining along, friends! 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Welcome to Seasons Changing

It was the second day of spring, 2017. You can only find a few first signs of the season changing outside, but you really have to look close. If you search hard enough though, you'll see a few new colors, and even notice some that have been there all along. 

There's something about the transition between winter and spring that makes you look for beauty expectantly and find it in the unexpected. 

Welcome to Wheaton in March. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Stamped and Mailed (First Round)

I sent out the first stack of letters and prayer cards this week!! Yay! I'll be sending more in the coming weeks/months, but the first ones are going to be delivered soon. 

It's quite strange for me to be sending these out as extensions of my own story, since I remember sending out family newsletters during my own childhood. We even have a cork board filled with prayer cards in our kitchen, and I have always loved having a visual testimony to the work of the Lord right there in view in daily life. 

It's hard to believe that now I'm sending out letters as testimony of God's work too. 

How incredible is it that God would open up an opportunity to serve with the JV Kids though? I am continually going to be excited about that. Thanks for joining in and following along!

Pssst...e-mail me (clairepatty@josiahventure.com) your mailing address and I'll send you a handwritten note, a letter and a prayer card!  I absolutely love doing that. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Back to Basics

I fully intended to write about stamps, support letters, aesthetics and God's provision today...but alas, that shall wait. Today, simply enjoy a soothing vision of cooking in the morning. Without a kettle or a microwave right now, both my tea and oatmeal were cooked on the stovetop this morning.

I love the bright light that streams through these kitchen windows in the early hours of the day, and happened to step to the opposite side of the island today and look towards the windows. I saw the steam rising and the sunbeams glinting on the countertop, and it brought a sense of wonder to mind.

I hope it prompts you to look for that wonder (and worship of our Lord) in your everyday routine too! Amidst everything else that goes on in our days, amidst our to-do lists and meetings, it's nice to be reminded by the Lord of something so mundane and beautiful at the same time.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Church: On Embodying Grace

I have recently often been asked the question, "How have things been with your church?" or "How is it connecting in a new place you've never lived?"

Since day 1, my answer has remained, "My church, Grace Church, has been embodying its name. They have been the hands and feet of Christ, and I pray that I can be serving them as they are serving me in this season."

This is quite an odd and unusual time of life. I am working towards goals, rather than "settling in", and yet most of those goals include being present in relationships where I am at too. I am currently living with a family from my church, whom I will be with until April. Then I will live with another family from church until June, move again, and then switch yet another time in July, and probably move one or two more times before heading to Czech.

This is a sweet time of getting to know families from church in a very personal and close way, and they have so generously opened their homes to me as I raise support to go serve the Lord back in Czech and Central and Eastern Europe.

Beyond that though, it hasn't only been through the "host families" that the church has shown hospitality and grace. Others have bent over backwards to make me feel at home here in this body of believers.

Exhibit A: this key.

A friend from my small group has three roommates (also members at Grace), and she handed me a key to her home yesterday, saying, "just come on in whenever!" I held it up mid-air, dumbfounded, not sure how to respond besides with a beaming "Thank you!" I still don't feel comfortable just walking into someone's home unannounced, so I texted my friend today before stopping by this afternoon to get some work done in their sunny little living room.

This key is grace, which I struggle to receive, for I have not earned any of this love (which is the whole essence of the word anyways, right?).

The hospitality my church family is showing me is grace, which I can only respond to in thanks and offering of my own resources (namely - time, love, and service right now!).

The meals that we share as small groups at church are grace, which I am learning to depend on as we all receive nourishment from the Word of God each week together.

This season of life is unique. It comes with its own challenges. One day looks nothing like the next. As I said, I work towards goals these days, not towards checking off lists and rubrics. Things are not the way I have been used to for the past four years of my life (Czech schools didn't use rubrics much) in those respects. I'm learning to adjust, and to delight in these graces that the Lord has given.

I may not have a place to "settle" for the next 9-12 months of preparing to go with Josiah Venture. I may be working multiple part-time jobs to essentially pay for gas, insurance, and food. I may have many meetings with incredible people who want to be part of God's work.

But above all, in these times of transition, I may see the grace of our Father embodied in his people like never before. I don't want to miss that amidst the many life changes. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Cards Arrived!

Guess what arrived in the mail yesterday?? Josiah Venture prayer cards! Kinda hard to believe.

Would you like to receive a copy of this card and my letter that includes the whole story of how I will be getting involved with God's work in Central and Eastern Europe?

You're welcome to e-mail me any time (clairepatty@josiahventure.com), or ask me for one in person next time we see each other! You can also sign up for my monthly newsletters right below in this form. I'd love to stay in touch.

You can receive my monthly JV newsletter!

* indicates required

In other news, on Tuesday I was walking around outside just in a jean jacket, and then today I woke up to this - crazy March weather!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Chicago, Alaska and Czech?

Chicago, Alaska and Czech. How do those three connect on a rainy February day? 

I drove into the city yesterday (first time actually driving in Chicago!) to meet up with my boss for a part-time job I'll be doing out in the suburbs, and to share with some friends about what God has been doing in Central and Eastern Europe.

What I did not expect was to cross paths with two lovely ladies who have also been a part of God's work in that region of the world! Actually, both Hannah and Tiffany have done internships with Josiah Venture in Czech, and we all happened to be on the same floor at one point during our time at Moody (I really don't know how this happened, except by the Lord). 

Now, Tiffany is a junior at Moody, I graduated in December, and Hannah graduated in May 2016. I'm in the suburbs for these next months, and Hannah is in Alaska with her family, while Tiffany lives on campus. Yet somehow, I ran into Hannah in the parking lot, and all three of us ended up sharing a meal together in the city after a long and full (happily so!) day. 

It's these connections that make the world feel so small. It also reminds me that God is constantly weaving together unexpected stories, and we get to celebrate in that together. 

Shoutout to Tiffany too for her spontaneous kindness and generous friendship - she welcomed me into her apartment for the afternoon, offered rain jackets to us, and shared her clementines and time as a thunderstorm and tornado warnings kept me in the city for a couple of extra hours. 

I am more grateful than ever for the body of Christ, and for the tangible reminders that we do nothing apart from the Lord's grace given to us generously and lovingly!