Monday, September 30, 2013


Doorways represent hope, opportunity, a return home, a entrance to something potentially wonderful.

These are doorways I took pictures of over the course of a couple days in Italy, but I've been thinking about doorways that have come into my life lately; some have appeared recently, other ones have been there for for a long time and have become more dear as they become more clear.

Doorways that include people's hearts, ordinary yet long-known places, returning of the fall sunshine and some abstractions like living life fully, the quietness of peace and belonging and ideas of forever.

Doorways can be terrifying, though. What if that long-awaited doorway is obstructed? What if this one leads to unexpected gloom? What if going through this one causes pain and disorder for others?

Sometimes, I ignore doorways because the hope is outweighed by fear.

It's really sad to read that now that I write it down. Lately, I've been looking back at all the wonderful things that God has done in my life. He worked out so many things even better than I could imagine, yet many times, I spent a lot of time fretful and anxious until everything was resolved.

No more! I resolved with Jesus that I will walk rejoicing through the confusion and fear that seems to frame  every doorway like doorposts. He tells me to rejoice always* and being a logical God, if he tells me to rejoice, there has to be a reason to rejoice! I want my faith to be bold enough to find it. 

 Because walking with a fearless heart sounds like so much more fun than fear. Agreed?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Feeling Wistful

I have an almost diagnosable case of wistfulness tonight. It's so strong I can feel it physically in my chest. I long for places and times, memories and dreams, people and life.

Tonight, I miss Ireland. Do you hear all the songs that Irish people sing? So many are about them missing their country and wishing to be back. Despite the dreary weather and glut of potato dishes, there's something about that land that seeps into your heart and creeps up into your soul. It's the beauty and loneliness, the struggle and serenity that calls to me tonight.

Tonight I miss friends. I miss getting glimpses of each other's hearts and feeling safe and loved. I miss the closeness two souls find despite miles and differences. I miss my sister Jak most.

Tonight I miss the places I will find. I miss not filling the calling of being a wife right now; I miss not being a mom yet. I feel a longing to begin and to be there, even right now. How do I begin to describe what it is to miss what isn't even mine?

All this reminds me of my soul's deepest pining. Not just Ireland, I long for a place of perfection, of indescribable beauty, a place free of struggle. More than the closeness of friends, I long for intimacy of seeing a greater Friend face-to-face. Stronger than my desire to be a wife and mother is my longing to become a whole-hearted worshiper, free from sin.

Tonight, I'm reminded that what I want most is to see and be with my own dear Jesus. For he is my Home, Friend and Fullness.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Prague, Czech Republic

Once I'd split up with Jak, I flew into Prague and was picked up by a friend of a friend from church who I had never met before. Her name was Leah and she welcomed me into her home for a week. Whatta gal! After a lovely night's sleep, this was the view from the window of her apartment.
(At this point, I didn't know to be extra, extra thankful for the blue sky.)

I felt ready to begin this last bit of my three month adventure.

Ran down the stairs to the street. Sorry if this made anyone dizzy. Ha.

One of Prague's beautiful parks.

Further into the city, I found the Powder Tower. In the past, they stored gunpowder in it, until they realized having so much flammable material so close to people and other buildings wasn't the best idea. I enjoyed this story a lot.

At this point in my trip, I realized my caffeine addiction was out of control. Without a minimum of two generous cups of coffee, I was practically a zombie. Here, I found a Stark Cappuccino and the world looked up after that.

I wandered through the old City Square and was enchanted by the smell of woodsmoke which drifted everywhere. Woodsmoke is one of my very favorite smells and always reminds me of God's love and constancy. It was just another way Prague felt like the perfect place to end.

The architecture was fascinating. There is a statue of John Huss to the left.   

This astronomical clock does more than look pretty; it also works and has worked since 1410. Incredible, no? 

Unsurprisingly, I didn't learn all this info without going on a tour. Here's our guide. Batman- er Ammon, from Utah. I keep joking he's a ex-Mormon, but that was unconfirmed. He found a great Czech girl to marry and seemed quite happy and I'm not sure either why I'm telling you this about him. 

He showed us the music hall and told us about how the Czech people appreciate good theater and music.

I'm not sure what this means. I apologize if it's something untoward, but it sure looks pretty. For all it's written beauty, Czech is a complex language to learn, sometimes having up to twenty-five different ways to end a word depending on the context. I never even got the hang of please or thank you. 

The Jewish Quarter, now a very luxurious and affluent part of town, was originally the place where Hitler had the Jews banned. He actually let the oldest active synagogue survive because he wanted to include it in a museum for an "extinct race". 

Hearing that horrible statement made me thank God that man makes his plans, but God directs his paths*.

Erin and Vicki, this giant metronome is for you. There used to be one of the world's largest Joseph Stalin statue on that spot, but obviously, he didn't stay popular. Awhile after it was torn down, Michael Jackson played a concert nearby and everyone decided they would put up a huge, functional metronome. Great idea, no? I'm sure it helps the violinists who come to play in the park. 

About one and half days into my stay, it started to grow cloudier.

This street performer is playing a didgeridoo. Although it only has a range of about two notes, it sure looks impressive. 

Leah's friend had invited her to come and see a recital at the Rudolfinum, which is a music auditorium and home to the Czech Philharmonic. Excited, I got dressed up in the most dressy clothes I had (which still weren't very dressy).

We ran up the stairs and got our seats,

And I took a picture, even though it wasn't allowed. The performance was quite good, but I more enjoyed the high-class feeling and atmosphere of going to a recital. 

Afterwards, we took a walk along the Vltava and got a lovely lit-up view of the St. Charles Bridge and Prague Castle.

Later in the week, I took Leah's sushi recommendation and had a lovely ginger, horseradish, wasabi and soy sauce enhanced meal.

I also got to visit Leah's school where she teaches Science. I enjoyed spending time with her and her fabulous roommate Liz just as much as I enjoyed touring the city.

I also got a chance to help clean the school's new building. They are excited for a bigger facility, but it will take a bit of work over this summer before it's ready.

One night, we went to a smart little cafe called Cafe Louve and I got sipping chocolate. Basically, chocolate and whipping cream, thick and warm. Delish.

Wenceslas Square was this enormous street, full of shops and restaurants and various tourist booths. 

Someone creating huge bubbles and that little kid at the bottom is great. 

This is Wenceslas Square leading up to the National Gallery. I loved this street, partly because it also smelled like woodsmoke. 

This is because the vendors selling ham and sausages cooked them over wood.

Yum. Rye bread and plenty of ketchup and mustard and hot juicy sausage hit the spot.

Some mornings in Prague were so rainy, I stayed in and drank coffee. It was a cozy, lovely feeling.

Other days, though I manage to venture out and one time, discovered this charming fellow peering at me.

The rain kept on and on. Prague was actually flooded by the time I left. I refuse to take the blame for the weather!

I nabbed a traditional doughnut, which is made by wrapping dough around a hot cylinder and sprinkling it with caramel sugar. 

This is the view from the steps of Prague Castle.

And here's another view from across the Vltava. Thank you Prague, you were the absolute perfect ending to my adventure. 

From there, it was over twenty hours of travel, being almost hysterically happy to be in Chicago because it was America, fitful naps and then getting a long-awaited hug from my mummy.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Seemed appropriate that easyJet has orange coloring since we were flying to The Netherlands and orange is one of their favorite colors.

Amsterdam Centraal sure is beautiful and orange.

Bikes and cool window designs. 

Of course, the first food we ate when we got to The Netherlands was Thai food. Sorry mom!

But it was so good!

Walking along the canals. I really enjoyed Amsterdam because it felt familiar. My mum has always decorated with items from her dutch heritage.

And I'd read books about big wheels of cheese. The Dutch love their cheese!

It was very exciting to go into cheese shops and even more exciting to sample the cheese. The baby gouda and smoked goats cheese were my favorites.

Yes, that is a Chinese restaurant boat on the left. What can I say, Amsterdam is diverse. 

View from the top of the Amsterdam Library. Down in the library, they had the coolest kids section I've ever seen. It was so intriguing, I went down to hang out for awhile. I got some strange looks from little kids coming past.

Later while meandering, I found a bunch of tents with people selling anything you can imagine. It was like the world's biggest garage sale.

Here's Hannah talking to that boy she likes in the courtyard of our awesome hostel.

Dutch cheese platter, FTW. Tasty crackers, nice sweet grapes and four kinds of cheeses, a stinky cheese, a strong hard cheese, brie and a lovely Port Salut. Did I impress you with my cheese knowledge? That's what I thought.

Some giant was playing with their Easter Hersey wrappers.

If you look closely, you'll see me! Magic.

The Dutch love their pancakes and waffles

And I love their waffles too. Yum. Butter rum ice cream on top of a light, warm waffle, plus powdered sugar. Me + powdered sugar = a mess every time, but a delicious one.

My beautiful Jak. Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of all our adventures in Holland here so you'll have to ask me for more stories and pictures when you see me in person.

Even the airport has wooden shoes! At this point, Jak and I split up. It was amicable parting, I promise. She was off to Scotland to meet up with our excellent brother Joseph and I was glad to hang out for a bit long in Holland before leaving for Prague. 

Listening to Seabird - The Sound Of You And I