Being that much of the first year of Jason's and my relationship has been with him on the roads...I was always having to write lists of things to tell him at the end of the day so I wouldn't forget what I wanted to tell him. (I talk a lot...there were way too many thoughts for me to contain without writing it down!)
In addition to that, we were always coming across things we each wanted to try--both in the city and in the suburbs but always had limited time while he was here so we decided to create a "list" and then check things off as we did them. "The list" could continuously grow at any time and is always being checked off after we've experienced it.
This weekend Jason and I were supposed to be in San Francisco but then learned last minute that we wouldn't be going...so after a few tears shed on my part I realized we had an entire weekend open!! What better opportunity than this to turn to our "list!"
Friday night Jason and I went to Moonshine and had burgers and beer on the patio watching the typical Bucktown/Wicker Park folks walk/ride bikes home from work. I have always wanted to live in that neighborhood but rarely have a reason to venture that way, so Friday night was a special treat. :)
We had arranged to go on the Architecture Tour on Saturday morning (we had previously bought tickets half priced [Thanks Jenee!] which are to be used at one of 2 specific time slots) Somehow we overslept through that (oops!) but made it in time to the Farmers Market on North and Clark to get me some home-grown tomatoes...definitely one of my favorite things about August!! We then went to the Lincoln Park Zoo for the remainder of the afternoon, seeing everything from flamingos to lions to seals to rhinos. Such an awesome adventure at NO COST! After I took a nap we headed down some Chinatown for some Chinese food. Jason had never been there and I had been there a couple times but both with my work and felt I was due for some fresh memories.
In just two days we checked off four experiences from our "list!"
Sunday was pretty amazing too...started out at church but ended up running into a bunch of peeps from our small group at Luminocity and learning more about how we can serve to make a difference in our city. I'm really excited to see where I will be led in the next 12 months with our church and serving! There are many places in this city I am praying for and know God will be using me some way very soon one way or another...within my comfort zone or not!
After the past few blogs, I feel like this has turned into a "brag book" but instead am just trying to appreciate all the wonderful and amazing opportunities which have happened due to many closed doors. This month has been one of the hardest months of unemployment, I have my good days and my bad days but am so thankful for my friends and families support and especially thankful for Jason's love, open arms, open door to his condo and supportive words of encouragement. Through it all, I try to remind myself, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~Jeremiah 29:11
song-of-the-day|"Gone" by Pearl Jam --We're going to see them tonight at United Center (stay tuned for that blog)...and this is one of my favorite songs which has gotten me through many hard days since it's been released. Seriously...how can you not jam out to this song on a bad day while running on the path on an open highway and not feel better?!
Meredith and I were driving back from dinner Monday night and were graced with a rainbow. By the time I was able to pull over safely, I was behind this building/barbed-wire fence, but if you look hard enough you'll see the Hancock Building lit up right under the rainbow. Just use your imagination and you'll see the el along the tracks there too which really would look cool! :)
So I'll admit it, the horse snob in me came out the past month. Or as I have been referred to in the past, the "english snob" in me came out. But I am writing this post to straighten that all out.
I started seeing the ads for Cavalia a few months ago...well so did all of Chicago, who could miss them? There's bill boards EVERYWHERE and every 3rd cab has the white horse with the long flowing mane atop it's roof. It didn't help that one of my least favorite people's magazine (Oprah...GAG) was claiming it to be "Breath-taking." I take nothing Oprah or her peeps say to heart...I believe she is one of the most fake people ever. (I'll save all my thoughts on her for another time) but back to my point...I had seen Cirque du Soleil a few years back and though it got all these rant reviews, I was less than entertained. I figured this would be like that but even worse because it would be some artists trying to impress us with acrobatic moves on top and under horses.
I starting getting emails and texts from friends telling me me how great it was and that I should see it. Unfortunately, the tickets were really expensive and I already had/have my fair share of entertainment expenses for the summer. However, Jason and I found out our week-long trip to San Francisco was canceled and that same day I found out that Cavalia was only here through the end of this week. When I told him this info he said, "Lets do it, I'll pay for it." (isn't he wonderful!? That's another post for another time ;-)
We went last night and I think my jaw sat on the ground for 90% of the performance. As O Magazine (ugh) said, it was "breath-taking." Thank you to all my friends who told me I should go. It was well worth every penny! (easy for me to say too since I didn't have to pay! LOL...Thank you and love you Jason!)
**The picture above was my absolute favorite part of the performance. She was absolutely astounding!
My spiritual journey all began in this adorable picture. :) I was baptized as a baby in a Lutheran church where I attended both church and Sunday school. I "had" to go to Sunday school every Sunday and was always jealous of the kids who got to go to Sunday school while their parents were at church. Not me though...my parents made me go to both. I remember many Sundays where I missed the breakfast at home because I was at Sunday School. (it probably only happened once, but we all know I'm dramatic so I remember it happening many times.)
When I was in 3rd grade my parents stopped attending the church we belonged to. We church shopped for a while and then in 6th grade, we started attending Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Charles regularly. I remember I had to be blessed instead of taking communion because I hadn't taken the communion class so once we became members I was extremely eager to take the class so I too could take communion like the other kids. In 7th and 8th grade, my mom made sure to take me to confirmation class every week. It was on Wednesday nights, they called it "Wednesday Night Live" and was complete with open gym, dinner, choir and confirmation. My mom never let me skip and looking back I am very grateful, but at the time hated missing the Wednesday night group lesson at the barn. After many Wednesdays and a weekend at confirmation camp at Augustana College (where I met Erin Pande and Corinne Walkoe!) I was confirmed in the Fall of 1993, my freshman year of high school. I continued to be very active at my church and was also very involved in youth group, played hand bells, sang with the adult choir (those poor adults who had to listen to me sing!) and went on many ski trips, retreats and even to Colorado on a week long hiking trip out in the mountains. (no toilets, showers, running water) I remember one trip (Amy you went with, remember...with that guy who sang, Peter Eide or something? LOL) and I came back all charged up about God. It was shortly after that I remember being at a doctor appointment scared to death and thinking "I'm okay, God is with me." and started praying while I was waiting for the doctor to come in. But even with all that said...I still didn't have a relationship with God and certianly wasn't lving a life led by the Spirit.
Then, like many believers, I went away to school and stopped going to church except on Ash Wednesday and other major Christian holidays. After I came home from college my mom was always encouraging (I saw it as nagging - Love you Mom!) me to go to church again but I knew I'd be living downtown so why church shop to have to just do it all again when I moved?
After living downtown for 4 months a co-worker from Bath and Body Works (I call her my angel...but that's a story for a different time) invited me to Park Community Church. Within a year I joined a small group, (met Virginia!!) bought my first Bible and became very active in the 20' and 30's group. After attending there a while, I was looking to attend a different church and that was the time I met Jason and he introduced me to Willow Creek Chicago.
From the very first time the idea of baptism as a believer came up, I was very adamant about never being baptized again. I was baptized as a baby and once was enough. I even babysat for Andrew the morning his parents were baptized at Park (also both baptized as Lutherans as babies). Them being baptized was great for them but something I never thought I'd be doing and didn't even take a second to think about myself being baptized.
However, the Lord had different ideas and though I didn't believe in myself being baptized again I found myself praying about baptism.
All that time I'd spent at church as a child I never really understood who Jesus was. I'm embarrassed to admit that I never understood that Jesus was God in human form here on Earth and also didn't understand how the Holy Spirit was also God. I didn't understand this concept until I spent a lot of time reading the Bible and other resources and in prayer. My faith had always been about God and believing in God but it wasn't until a couple years ago that I began to understand Jesus and having a relationship with Him.
I've met many people who share their "moment that they accepted Christ"...some who are very young and share this with their mom or dad are driving down the street, others privately or at church. But for me it's been a VERY gradual process. For as long as I can remember, I've always believed in God but never had "that moment."
As I have said, it wasn't until after a lot of prayer that I was finally convicted and deciding I wanted to be baptized. It was not an easy decision. I really struggled with what my family would think. I also really wanted to do it outside (in our churches case...in Lake Michigan), not in some "pool" inside. When our church finally announced the date, it was the weekend Jason and I had Lollapolooza tickets. Ugh - another obstacle. I had been sharing all of these thoughts with Jason along the way and that I had made the decision to be baptized and he knew I was praying for him as well. (and he had been praying for me too along the way) Jason, also led by the Spirit, had made the decision to be baptized at this time...though his "story" is extremely different than mine.
For me...a part of me being baptized was my "I accept Christ." moment. :)
Biblically, believing means you're fully giving your life to Christ. All of me goes to Christ...it is ALL for Him. Baptism is to publically show that I am a person of faith and am giving my all to God! The Holy Spirit has worked in me in so many ways and this was such a great way to physically show what He has done for me. This baptism sure has done that! I am so excited about my faith, it has been an amazing journey starting with my baptism as a baby leading me to where I am at now.
Making the choice to be baptized forced (for lack of a better word) me dig really deep and rely fully on God to help me to understand exactly what baptism means as a believer and more importantly why it is important to my faith and my walk with the Lord. It wasn't an easy decision for me and again have learned the importance of "never say never." The Lord had and has much bigger plans for me and this baptism was one more way of me having to let go and let Him lead me.
I now have that moment...August 8, 2009 is my "official" day that I accepted Christ as my Savior!
Michael W. Smith ~ "Breath" - This song was played at the Leadership Summit the day before I was baptized...and though I had heard it and sang it numerous times before...the words spoke to me and will always be my baptismal song. Next time I need some encouragement with my faith...this is what I listen to. Take a listen! just click the green link and make sure it loads first so it's not all chopped up when you listen!)