Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Faces of Graduation

Ah, how to even encapsulate graduation day? Although I received my diploma in December, I walked at the graduation ceremony today. I will say, there is power to the words spoken over you, to wearing the cap and gown, to going through the traditions, to celebrating and saying goodbyes. It all enacts a reality of change, or transition, of growing up. 

But all of this would have had no meaning without the people who stood with me. 

From my parents who flew all the way from Czech to be here... 


...to celebrating alongside former roommates who shaped my everyday life at Moody... 


... to marking yet another significant life event with the Fantastic 4. 


From friends who were there along the way during my time at Moody, who became lifelong friends, like Kelley (who graduated last year)... 


... to Hayley, dear dear Hayley, my buddy since we were little, who just so happened to finish out a year as a student herself at Moody. Since she had just finished finals week, she got to be at graduation too. Incredibly special to have walked part of the journey of high-school together, and even overlapped at Moody for a semester too.


And that was only the beginning. There were so many amazing friends, coworkers, professors and classmates from yesterday - moments of recognizing the people I've grown to love in this crazy and wonderful city.

Thank you to everyone who has imaged Christ to me in the mundane parts of life, on the mountains, in the valleys, in the fields and in the bustling streets. You have been just as much, if not more, a part of my "education" as any class I took at Moody. I cherish you all!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Snippet of a Day

Hey friend, just popping in to share a happy picture with you from babysitting recently. 


Kids are the best.

In other news:
  • There's a new coffee shop in Wheaton (that's all I've got in the "local news" arena)
  • I had a job in the city yesterday at Wholefoods and it took an hour and 45 minutes to drive downtown in the morning because of traffic (without traffic it's about 45 minutes). Haha. 
  • I picked up my cap and gown from Moody yesterday. I graduated in December, but I get to walk at graduation this Saturday!! It definitely feels more official with the cap in the corner of my room, just waiting to be worn. 

There is much more going on too, but there's a little snippet of the littlest of things! 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Lilacs are Memories

My sense of smell may not be at its best this week due to a pretty bad cold, but that didn't stop me from taking a little detour after work yesterday! 

I first noticed Lilacia Park from the train window on my way from Chicago to Wheaton. Since my ticket was limited to the direct route, I never could get off the train at Lombard and then get back on, so I merely stared at the park and hoped to visit one day. That was two years ago.  


Fast forward two years and I'm living only 20 minutes away from Lombard, and Lilacia Park is in full bloom this week. Despite the cold I caught, I wasn't going to miss my one chance to visit the park.


It didn't disappoint! I was a little sad not to have anyone to share the joy with, because I wanted to exclaim out loud at the loveliness! Photos will have to do this time. Maybe I'll have to take a friend here soon too!


When we lived in Havirov, before we moved to Frydlant, we used to have the most glorious lilac bushes in our yard. I used to go outside and stop to smell the lilacs at any chance I could get. They were enchanting to me. At 5 years old, I always wanted to pick them and bring them inside.


I had to take a couple of trips to the States around that same age because of some serious health problems. We stayed in the basement of a family friend's house. She had lilacs in her neighborhood. Thus, another scent memory was born.

My most recent lilac memory is associated with Caleb and Haley's wedding in Ft. Collins. A group of us girls stayed together with Haley and woke up bright and early for the big day. We were staying at some of Haley's friends' house, and someone had picked a bunch of fresh lilacs and put them in a vase in the kitchen. The scent permeated the air in the last moments before we headed to the church.


I strolled around the park, soaking in the beauty of the flowers, and trying to breathe in deeply to take in the scent of the lilacs.

Scent is memory.

I guess that means that Lilacia Park was memory lane.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

JV Spring Conference This Week

This photo from last year may be a bit drizzly-looking, but it still captures the faces of so many JV Kids that I love. They're all together again starting this very day, and I can only imagine their excitement! 


Although I can't be there yet, I am eager to hear stories of how God works this week! Would you pray  with me for these kids right now?

  • Pray that they would connect with one another quickly - this time always feels short for the kids, but it is very meaningful. Pray that their relationships are deepened through this conference. 
  • Pray that they would be encouraged by one another and by the greater JV family - pray that this would give them the energy to persevere through their last two months of school (they finish up at the end of June)
  • Pray for the teams who are there putting on the kids' program - the older kids will be learning a musical theatre production to put on at the end of conference for the adults. This is something they would never get to experience otherwise, so it's exciting, and a challenge too! Pray that the leaders would have creative flexibility and energy this week. And pray for the team that came to provide care for the younger kids too - that the littlest ones would adjust well, and that joy would be abundant this week. 
  • Pray that they would know their Shepherd, Jesus Christ, more deeply after this week (the theme of this conference is "Shepology", and the adults will hear teaching on Psalm 23!) 

Thank you for standing with me and with the JVK and their families! 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Fresh(wo)man "Fan 4" Friends

"The Fantastic 4" is what we called ourselves after our first semester of our freshman year. It started as a joke, since we were the four fresh(wo)men who came in on our floor together back in 2013. We were all straight out of high-school, in the same stages of life, though from very different backgrounds.

Kaitlyn grew up in Illinois, but had recently moved to northern Wisconsin with her family. 

Michelle was from Maine.

Hannah grew up in a couple of different places as a missionary kid - including Malta and Tunisia, as well as in Indiana. 

And me, well, I was from Czech, as you probably know. 

Yet somehow, despite not having much in common, and coming from different places around the world, we became friends. I think it happened because of that desperate need for friendships in your freshman year, where you cling to the people who are in your everyday life for security. But I think it was more than that - the Lord knew we needed each other to grow. It was only Christ that really bonded us together, nothing else. 

We had our own different friend groups, but we ended up coming back together a couple of times a semester, which were always sweet times. 


We took this photo together in 2013, and reenacted it for sentimental value yesterday. I graduated in December, and the other three graduate in two weeks. Though we may see each other again all together, it will never be easy after this. A quick drive into the city made it possible this time for me to join, but soon we will be more dispersed.


Here is another slightly random before-and-after photo too. 2014 and 2017. I was grateful for these friends then, and I am grateful for them now. 


Truly though, "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17

Kaitlyn taught me to be bold and to pray for others right on the spot at any time.

Michelle taught me to be consistent and more loyal, and to give sacrificially of ourselves to others.

Hannah taught me to be present for people in the moment, and to not take myself too seriously, but be able to laugh along the ride.

They all taught me to work hard, and to love others because we are already so loved by our Heavenly Father. We may not have spent much time all together throughout the years, but we always knew we had each others' backs, and that meant more than anything during the turbulent and formative years of college.


Last night we went to a really wonderful Ramen restaurant in Wicker Park, got SOAKED in the rain on our way back to the car, stopped to get Frosty's (except for me, because of dairy!) after we were drenched, and prayed together in the car before heading our separate ways for the evening.

We will see each other again, for sure at graduation, and hopefully beyond, but this marks a turning point in our friendship. So we celebrate that, and grieve that at the same time.

May the Lord be with you all, Fantastic 4.