Thursday, April 17, 2014

Longing

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

In other words: I can only conclude that God placed eternity in my heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

I woke up to photos from Mom this morning in my iMessage. Mom and Dad made their way back across the ocean to Czech yesterday. I felt like my heart was pulled out of me for a moment when I saw the pictures, as I felt a deep longing to be where they are right now.

I've never stayed in the States when my parents went to Czech. It's a new reality to not have boarded that plane with them to go home. I'm thankful I'll see them in three weeks back in the U.S., but it's the country itself that tugs on my heart. 


And at the same time, I wouldn't want to be anywhere other than right here where the Lord has me now. After seeing those photos, I got my breakfast and went out to the lounge to meet Michelle for our time of reading our Bibles and praying together. That time is precious to me. I walked over to my New Testament class with a group of girls from my floor. What a privilege to have these sisters in Christ and to be learning about the Bible.

My heart is now equally torn between two places. 

When I'm reminded of something I love about one place, I long to be there. But then I long to be in the other place as well. It's this back and forth motion that I constantly feel. I don't know where I feel loyal to. Sometimes it feels like I have to choose one or the other because being attached to two places is just too hard. These are struggles that every TCK* has to deal with.


In my Research Writing class, we've been reading Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. The book is based on the myth of Cupid and Psyche and explores human nature and the supernatural versus natural world. I am baffled, confused, inspired and intrigued by this story. Although I still don't understand the complete meaning of the book (its allegories are intricate), there is one thing I do understand:

"The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing--to reach the Mountain [where the god lives], to find the place where all the beauty came from...my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home?" - Psyche, from Till We Have Faces


May I also see this longing for one perfect home as a joyous thing (even when it's really hard). To not belong in one place just points me all the more to the truth that God has us here on earth for a time. He has placed eternity in our hearts for a reason. Those who believe that Jesus is Lord, confess that they are broken and unworthy, and accept the free gift of new life from God, will live forever with the Lord (Romans 10:9-10). That's what tomorrow, Good Friday, is all about. It's about Christ dying on the cross for our sins so that our relationship with God could be renewed, through faith.

God does not tell us that our lives on earth will be easy, but He tells us we will receive the best reward of all for being faithful under trials: Life.

"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him." - James 1:12

When I long for something that doesn't exist here on earth (like being both in Czech and the U.S.), I will continually remind myself that this is actually the Lord's intent for me! I will choose to fix my eyes on Him and run this race on the path that he leads me until I arrive Home.


*Third Culture Kid

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cookies, Simply

These are cookies that any and every college student can make. In fact, you really only need an oven, a fork, any ol' bowl, a cookie sheet and a couple ingredients, and you're all set to go.

When you need something quick for breakfast or as a pick-me-up during your day, these are perfect. Simple, yet delicious and nutritious.


Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups oats (gluten-free)
2 bananas, mashed
1/3 cup almond butter OR peanut butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2-3 tbsp pure maple syrup OR brown sugar
Handful of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mash banana in a microwave-safe bowl. Warm banana in the microwave for 30-40 seconds - this will really bring out the flavor in the banana and give it that extra sweetness! Thoroughly mix all other ingredients into the banana. Drop cookie dough by tablespoons onto cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden.


These would be great from the freezer too!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On Jewelry and Worth

I wrote this post last Summer, in 2013, and it just never got to my blog. So today, here is a memory I'm sharing... 

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 
- 1 John 3:1

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"I’ve never been a big “glitzy girl”. Yes, I do like shopping and clothes, and sparkly things occasionally, but I don’t need a ton of jewelry. A few favorite pieces are enough. In fact, I often forget to even put on earrings in the morning (though I'm getting better at it!), I hardly ever wear rings, and in general, I just don’t have much jewelry that I wear regularly. Not because I don't like it, I just mostly don't like buying my own jewelry, unless there's a memory attached to it. 

My dad knows me well. He’s worked hard to continue to get to know me through my teenage years, and I feel like he gets me. I’m 18, but he’s still the only man I go to for advice, for approval, for adventures and for support.

After being gone for two weeks, my dad came home this past Monday. He had been in Israel for a meeting, and in Italy speaking at a conference. I was just happy to have him home, but he had a bigger surprise for me.


He placed a small golden bag in my hands and told me with a big smile that he wanted to give me something very special. I opened the bag to find a simple red box. In that little red box was a pair of silver earrings, with the most beautiful opals dangling from the ends.

Dad started telling me the story. When he was in Israel, he stopped at a shop in Old City Jerusalem and bought these earrings from the man who made them. They are real silver, and true opals, handcrafted right there in Jerusalem, a place that is dear to my heart. He told me how much they were worth, and my jaw dropped a little. These delicate earrings are valuable. And my dad had stopped what he was doing to buy them for me.

No, I don’t deserve such beautiful jewelry. I didn’t have to ask for it. My dad didn’t even know, but opals are my birthstone, and I have never had anything in it. They are perfect. It’s not about the earrings though, how much they cost, or what they look like. It’s about who gave them to me and what they mean.

What do these earrings tell me about how my dad sees me?

They tell me that I am worth that much and more to him. The fact that he got me something that I didn’t just need, but something that is extra, something beautiful, tells me that he cares about me for who I am, not for what I do. They say, “I know you”. They mean that even when he’s traveling, I am still more important to him than his work. They tell me that he’s investing in me. I can’t express how much all these things mean to me, coming from my dad.

These earrings say one simple thing: “I love you”.

I love you Dad. Thank you.

And then I think - how much more does our Heavenly Father love His children?

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” 
- Luke 11:11-13

My dad radiates the Father's love to me. I have learned from him a small part of who my Father in Heaven is and what He's like. But would you believe that God, the everlasting Father, is even so much more? He will give even greater gifts than my earthly father. He knows me even better than my dad. He's known me longer than my dad. He knit me together (Psalm 139)! His love is always abounding, steadfast and unfathomable."

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 
- 1 John 3:1


And I know the Father's love because of Christ.

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." ...

"For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children."
- Romans 8:1-2, 14-16

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pink from CPO

For as long as I can remember, come the week of Easter, a package would arrive from Oregon with something special inside...

American Easter treats!


I know Easter is definitely so much more than candy and egg-hunts, but it more felt like a piece of "America" to me to have peeps, chocolate marshmallows and malted robin eggs for the holiday. I don't think an Easter ever went by without a package from my grandparents. It meant the world to me.

What I didn't expect was that when I went down to CPO (the campus post) today, I would find a green slip for a package in my box and receive something from Oregon. When I came up to my room and opened it, I laughed out loud and couldn't contain my joy. Inside the package were... peeps (and the sweetest card from Grandma)!


It absolutely made my day to know that even though I'm the States now, Grandma still remembers these traditions. Thank you, Grandma! That made me so happy today.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Connect

This was a Saturday of mixing two worlds.

Some of my very first memories are with Emily Miller when we both lived in Czech. When I think back as far as I can, I can trace a couple random stories from when I was three. And most of those memories include Emily. We were buddies. She was a couple years older than me, so I just followed her wherever she wanted to go. We played with stuffed animals, scrubbed the floors like "Cinderella", explored in the yard and picked daffodils in the garden together.

Emily and her family moved back to the States when I was five. I saw her a few times during my elementary and high-school years, but only for a couple of hours at a time.

I live in Chicago now. Emily lives in the suburbs of Chicago. It's kind of crazy that now we're back in the same area, and we can hang out on a Saturday afternoon.


I spent the other half of my day with Michelle, a dear friend I've made at Moody. We worked on New Testament papers at a coffee shop. Later in the day, we walked out to the Planetarium with a group of friends to see the beautiful view of the city in the dark. It's the best place to see the city from.


It was one of those days where I realized how crazy life is sometimes. You never know what connections will remain, or what new connections you'll make. Here's to old and new friends alike!