Friday, September 19, 2014

Moving Forward

Busy. It's not a word I like to use. So I'm going to say it differently: I'm keeping occupied. Does that sound any better?

Life is moving fast these days. With my calendar quite full this week, I haven't had much rest time, but God has been giving me peace each day. That half an hour in the morning with Him is what keeps me grounded. There really isn't any way I'd be able to handle so many things without Him! It's actually cool to be "occupied" (busy, overwhelmed at times) and to know the Lord more through that, because my weaknesses bring me right to His throne.

He's giving me lots of opportunities to choose joy and to walk with Him daily. I am especially loving my Faith and Learning class and my Hermeneutics class because they center my thoughts back on what's truly important - God's Word and Him alone.

I've been reading Keep a Quiet Heart by Elizabeth Elliot in the mornings and this quote was straightforward and so on-point:

"St. Ignatius Loyola prayed, 'Teach us, Good Lord, to labor and to ask for no reward save that of knowing that we do Thy will.' As I learn to pray that prayer, I find that there are many more rewards that come along as fringe benefits. As we make an offering of our work, we find the truth of a principle Jesus taught: Fulfillment is not a goal to achieve, but always the by-product of sacrifice." 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

For a Better Night's Sleep

If you do any type of work on your computer before bedtime, that may be affecting the quality of your sleep. Your computer (and phone) light is of a blue hue, set to mimic sunlight and appear the most natural. If you stare at "daylight" at night, you're tricking your brain into thinking it's day and you won't be able to fall asleep and stay asleep as well.

What to do about this dilemma?

I was reading our Moody newspaper last week and they highlighted some of their favorite apps. One of the ones they featured was an app called "F.lux", which I had never heard of. The concept of F.lux intrigued me.

On their website, they say this:

"F.lux fixes this: it makes the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day." 

Photo source

It's simple to use and it's been so nice to have for this past week! As I do homework in the evenings, I don't get headaches anymore from staring at my screen. It's more natural and relaxing and helps me transition to bedtime. Though a little bit hard to get used to at first, now I'm hooked! I think it's such a great concept and helpful for college students and anyone else too. F.lux also has an app for phones, but I haven't used that one yet.

Here's the link to the app: F.lux

Not that you can see any color difference in the screen here or anything, but this is my computer background that I stare at often. Home. Mountains. On a cloudy day. It's just calming and peaceful. (Mom, feel free to send any other pictures like this to me for backgrounds! Hehe)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Celebrating from Across the Ocean

Today was just another day in Chicago.

But all the way across the ocean, in a country in the heart of Europe, one very special person was celebrating his birthday! It's incredible to me to think that two years ago Dad and I were visiting colleges together, and he was doing the greatest job helping me figure out what I wanted out of these four years. That year we celebrated Dad's birthday in Czech and then went to Chicago at the beginning of October.

Now two years later, I sit in my dorm room at Moody, one of the schools that Dad and I visited that fall. Although I can't be with Dad today (and bake him a cake and sing happy birthday to him!), I think about him so often here in Chicago, not just on his birthday.

It's his passion for serving the Lord, his focus on others, his vision of the bigger picture, his courage, and his commitment to the Word that inspires me. Dad, you have been and continue to be such an example to me, but I also just really love that you're my dad.

Thanks for all the fun adventures we've had together and may there be many more. I love you!

Happy Birthday, from Chicago!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Today reminded me of Czech. Not only did it help that my afternoon was spent with Tyler and that I read a book about a region of Czech (Ponaszymu - a dialect in Silesia), but the pace of life was like Czech on this fine September day.

It's not very often that I get to sit on a blanket on the grass and read. The sun was warm and the birds chirped softly. Tyler and Lara's shared yard sits right near where the Metra train passes every 20 minutes, but it's charming as it speeds by in its usual patterns. Otherwise, all you see is trees and the occasional deer from this plot of grass behind their home. 

We picked up Lara from work and then had a quiet evening of making dinner together and watching a "Miyazaki" movie (they're some of our favorites, actually). Risotto and tea and cinnamon cake and the quiet of a home outside the city center - a splendid evening with two people I dearly love.

In Czech, people will sit outside and just enjoy the sun, or go for walks "just because". It's a bit of a slower pace of life, and one that I admire and miss when life gets busy here. But slowing down is possible on this side of the ocean too, of course, and it is needed and important to rest.

What's the best way for you to slow down and enjoy a day? I'd love to hear.

P.S. In the spirit of the title of this post, here's a little quote from Mr. Rogers:

"You've made this day a special day, by just your being you."

Friday, September 12, 2014

Snapshots and Perspectives

It seems I had forgotten the rest of the city. After being here now for my second year, I'm a regular to a few places and have stopped exploring the rest. Thanks to Kelley, I got to see another gem in Chicago. A little piece of history and beauty. Here are some snapshots of a Thursday.

We went to a coffee shop I'd never been to. A hot chocolate made with homemade almond milk, good talk with a friend, and an overcast day out the window made for a perfect afternoon. 

I don't always carry my camera around with me. Actually, I find that I don't take nearly as many photos while I'm at school because, mostly, it's not normal to have your camera around at everything. Some things are just meant to be lived in. An evening with girls in the lounge, Friday Film in my Christianity in Western Culture class, ushering for events, working, are all things that I don't take pictures of, but they form my day after day.

On the side of my blog I list three things I love. Those are also the three things I capture through this blog:

The joys.
A collection of memories.

Of course, life is made up of more than snapshots and happy moments (it's more than coffee shops, laughter and splendidness), but mostly what I post are those three things. This blog is a collection of joy, of memories that I cherish and ways that Christ is working in my life and in the world around me.

Yesterday with Kelley was one of those "snapshot" days and it was splendid. Today had its ups and downs, but those are stories I'll just have to remember.