Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Connections in Chicago

It seems to me that I never know who I might see in Chicago-land. This is a unique place where people somehow magically appear. But really, I've gotten to see some pretty wonderful people, very randomly, in this city. I love that this is a hub that friends visit; and when my worlds collide, it's pretty much my favorite.

Yesterday was one of those days that was a wonderful collision of worlds. Back in December, I met someone on campus who was doing some filming for a Moody project. When she heard I was from Czech, she told me about a friend of hers who lived in Slovakia, and who worked with Josiah Venture. "Hah! Well that's funny. I grew up in JV! What is your friend's name?" ...And then..."No kidding! Yes, I know your friend!"

Come to find out, this friend of hers (and mine) who lived in Slovakia for a little over two years has now lived in Chicago for more years than I have! I just now found out that she lives here, and I got to reconnect with her on Monday evening.

We shared a meal at a local restaurant in the neighborhood of my PCM (go figure, she lives in that same neighborhood that I go to every Monday). Not that what I ate is very important, but I do have to say, my fish tacos were delicious. I actually don't think I'd ever had fish tacos before, except for homemade, so that was a treat!

It was sweet hearing her reminisce about JV, but also learning about what she's doing here with her church in the city. I got to share some of what it's been like transitioning to the States, and it was so comforting to talk to someone who "gets it", in a way, because she knows both worlds. It was simply sweet sharing updates with one another, since I hadn't seen her in about 6 or 7 years!

Who knew when I moved to Chicago that I'd get to see familiar faces? I love how the Lord gives us surprises wherever we go. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

J+S Wedding Photos!

Well, the day has come... may I present to you, Jeremy and Svatia's wedding day, March 15th, 2015. 

On this blustery day in Lancaster, PA, we celebrated the beautiful story of Jeremy and Svatia's love for each other and they became husband and wife. The wedding was intimate and easygoing, but very real and genuine. It was a perfect representation of Jeremy and Svatia for who they are!  

There are lots more photos, but hopefully these gave you a glimpse into the joy of the day.

I also just have to mention how excited I am to have gotten to photograph this wedding. Thank you, Jeremy and Svatia, for this opportunity! This is my first wedding that I've shot on my own, and I had the most fun. I can hardly believe that I actually had the honor of being there for each of these precious moments and witnessing them through the lens of my camera.

If you ever need a wedding (or any other type!) of photographer, don't hesitate to go on over to clairelyseen.com and contact me! 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Encouraged, for He Is Enthroned

Two of my sweet friends who are graduating this spring have been giddy with excitement over the past couple of days. They both are finding out key factors that will completely change their lives after they graduate.

They are dreaming and God is giving them places to go and serve Him with all of the gifts and dreams He's given them. It is scary. Oh yes, it is terrifying. But they are so at peace, so happy, so thrilled and in love with the Lord more and more. It is incredible seeing God open the way before them into the next stage of their lives. Their jobs are exactly the perfect fit for them and they are passionate about what they will be doing.

I love hearing stories like these. They're encouraging because, well, all of us college students have thoughts of the future constantly whirring around in the back of our minds. We think, "what if" more often than ever - both in good and bad ways. We dream. We fear. We plan. We doubt. We pursue what we love. We get confused about reality. It's the truth.

But as I've watched these two friends process through these unexpected changes, I have been overwhelmed by the presence of God in their stories.

Just today, one of my professors was talking about fear and worry in regards to parenting (in my Human Development class). There are uncertainties at every turn and she told us the temptation it is to worry for kids and go down rabbit-trails to the worst things that could happen. But then she said the biggest advice she gives parents is to take a deep breath; and then remember that God is and still will be on the Throne. He IS in control and always will be and nothing can stop Him. No matter what happens, God. God!

This reminded me of how we perceive the future in general, no matter what life stage we are in. It is so easy to worry and fret over what's to come. Will there be anything for me? Will I be prepared for it? What if I end up somewhere I don't want to be? Yet those questions exclude God from the picture. For God is faithful and He is loving towards those who have faith in Him and come to Him with a humble and repentant heart.

Life can seem muddy and foggy and confusing, and it would be without the Lord. But because of Christ, we no longer live in darkness; we live in the Light. Whatever comes our way, we can say, as the hymn goes, "It is well with my soul."

It is well now. It will be well in whatever's to come in the next two years for me, for God is enthroned. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Changes of Spring

Today was my first day back at classes and in normal routine with work and PCM and such. It was a good, normal day, one with few surprises (except for the weather) and sweet times of reconnecting with people on campus.

Still, I don't handle so many quick transitions with absolute grace. But thankfully, grace is given to me by the Lord instead. Change, and this whole life-stage of "emerging adulthood" (as we talked about today in Human Development), may not feel very graceful on my part, but they are grace-filled. They are humbling and a reminder that I need people and I need the Lord. I suppose that's something worth being reminded of.

In Chicago news - it snowed today. Actually, we had a full-on blizzard. I feel like I went back in time when I returned to Chicago. I thought spring had already sprung? In Oregon it had, but it was not quite so in the Midwest. Caleb said it well though, "Hey, at least you get to experience spring twice!"

He's right! And spring is worth being experienced twice.

The snow actually made me laugh today. I found it humorous that at the end of March we got surprised by these few inches. It won't last, since the forecast says it will be 50 degrees on Wednesday. So I just enjoyed the snowflakes as I drank my cup of tea and smiled at the thought that spring will return and the snow is actually still beautiful. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Coffee and Bikes

My eyes started to get heavy around 8:30PM. Way too early for being tired on a Saturday night, right?

Oh yeah, that's right, I've been up since 4:45AM. Ah, the sleepiness is justified!

I returned to the city this morning after riding in with Tyler. He had to be at work at 6AM, so I took the "L" from where he works back to Moody. It was a strange thing to roll my carry-on through the plaza at 6:45AM this morning and be welcomed by the sunrise shortly after.

I spent the morning with Gabes, my dear friend from the Philippines, enjoying a lavender latte and views of bicycles at the Heritage Bicycles shop and cafe. Despite the morning being early, it could not have been a better way to re-enter into life. It's always a bit weird for me returning to the city, but this morning reminded me of what I actually love here.

I had never been to this particular coffee/bike shop, but I was charmed right from the start. It's a bright and cheery place that feels crisp and fresh. On this Saturday, lots of families with kids came in, which made me the happiest (and it made me excited to work with the littlest ones at Gull Lake again this summer!). They have a couple of little tables, and then a long wooden one, which reminds me of a family-style kitchen table. The entire place felt like a little community, a haven in this neighborhood.

So despite it being weird straddling different worlds - college, Oregon, suburbs, Czech, Colorado, or anywhere else... it's so good to find things that make life feel grounded for a few hours. This morning was just like that.

Well, I guess I should get some sleep now. It's been a longer day than normal, but a sweet one nonetheless.

Also, on a completely different note - you may wonder why I drink coffee, if I love tea so much? Why do I even go to coffee shops at all these days? Comfort. There's a culture to coffee, and it's fun to feel included. It makes for great little adventures in the city when there aren't trails to hike or rolling hills and mountains to soak in. It's about the closest thing I've found to a sense of "quaintness" in the city. Plus, I figure if there's any time to enjoy coffee, it's now, since Chicago has some pretty high standards.