Monday, May 9, 2016

It's Finally Here.

It's been awhile since I've posted, but I promise it wasn't intentional. This has been a crazy semester, and I've been buried in homework for the past few weeks. But now the semester is almost over, and the summer is almost here.

But this summer is unique. I will be doing my internship teaching English as a second language. I've been working towards this point for so long, and I can't believe it's finally here. So many emotions are swirling around in my head. Anxiety, joy, excitement, fear. It's almost too much to handle. But despite my emotions, I know my internship will have to happen. There's no turning back. I must move forward and get through the next 7-8 weeks.

So what will I do to keep my sanity, you ask?

1. Jesus. There is no way I would be able to get through my internship without the Lord. He has given me peace, and I know He will strengthen me with the strength that can only come from Him.

2. Friends. My friends are pretty cool. To show our level of coolness, we've decided to make this summer a 'sisterhood of the travelling pants' kind of summer. But instead of mailing something between the four of us, we've all bought a necklace that we can wear to remember one another. Mine's an elephant, and he's pretty cute too.

3. Living in the moment. I want to enjoy every aspect of my internship. The people, places and atmosphere of my internship are all things I want to soak up. I will never have this opportunity again, so I might as well enjoy it!

4. Breathing. I know I'm going to have to tell myself to breathe quite often. When the stress is threatening to drown me, I will decided to take deep breaths and wait for the storm to pass. Because in the end, I know that it will pass. Every scary moment will pass.

I leave in one week. Let's do this.

- Shelly

P.S. I probably won't be able to post again until after my internship. But I'll miss all of you dearly!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Twenty-one Things

This week I turned 21. Since it's such an amazing milestone, I'd like to take a moment and share 21 things I'm thankful for:

1. My undeserved salvation that was predestined from the beginning.
2. God's overwhelming provision and faithfulness.
3. My beautiful friends and family who care so much.
4. The ability to express oneself in a number of ways.
5. Chocolate that reminds me of the simple pleasures of life.
6. Sunshine and wind that tickles your cheeks.
7. The safety of a home in the midst of a chaotic world.
8. Music you can dance to, all day and everyday.
9. The unique cultures around the world.
10. Strengths and weaknesses that bring us to Christ.
11. Earl gray lavender tea in pretty tea cups with matching saucers.
12. Old books that bring you into another world.
13. The power of prayer and Christ's intercession.
14. The intricate personality that God has given me.
15. The gifts of the Spirit that make ministry come alive.
16. The hours spent with friends that fill my heart with love.
17. Words and how beautifully they can be used.
18. Endless amount of grace that is poured out from the Father.
19. The friendship and love of a cuddly cat.
20. The ability to teach and care for my students.
21. That God has given me the desire to serve Him forever.

What are you thankful for?

Until next time,
Shelly

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Is this February?

Praise Him who has created all things and blesses His children with wonderful gifts!

I really believe that today was a gift. It's February 20th. The dead of winter. Yet, yesterday and today have been in the mid-fifties and sixties. The winter jackets and boots have been forgotten. Only joy and amazement have been seen on the faces of the Chicago city-folk. Is this actually February? Was the ground hog right; is it an early Spring this year? Is February the new Spring?

On a day like today, there was no way I could stay inside. Therefore, I found myself adventuring across the city with a dear friend in the pursuit of a café to study at. The walk outside was beautiful, and the neighborhood we went to was charming. We landed at Julius Meinl, an Austrian café that seems to transport you to the heart of Europe. If you ever get a chance to go there, get the tea! You get your own personal teapot that seems to go on forever. (If you can't tell, I love tea. Black tea. Specifically Earl Grey.)

On our way back to the train from Julius Meinl, we stopped into a used bookstore. The shelves were to the ceiling, stuffed with books and strategically placed in maze-like positions. I felt as if I would get lost there forever, yet somehow I wasn't bothered by the thought.

All in all, today was a good day. My dosage of vitamin D has been successfully obtained. I think I will rest well tonight knowing that February isn't so bad.

Was your day as sunny as mine? (Maybe metaphorically?)

I hope it was,
Shelly



Sunday, February 14, 2016

Nuggets of Wisdom for Valentines Day.

Valentine's Day. A day to celebrate love? A day to eat heart shaped candy? A day to make singles everywhere become very aware that they are "single"? Or a day to remember what it means to love others well?

To the people who are single and waiting for God to reveal to them whether or not a relationship is in store for them, I have two pieces of wisdom for you. And though I'd like to take credit for them, they are not my own thoughts. They are the nuggets of wisdom that my friends have given me. I've held onto them, and now I'd like to share them with you. I hope you will be encouraged:

1. You are not 'Single', you are Unmarried.

These two words have completely different connotations. To be single means you're alone. There is no one to talk with, care about or be cared by. To be unmarried means you have not yet found a spouse. You are still you, but just not married to another person.

When we say that we are single, we are verbally separating ourselves from the body of Christ. But in reality, we cannot be separated from it. When in Christ, we are surrounded by other believes in the collective group that is the Church - the Bride of Christ. No Christian is single, because they are not apart from the Church. They are not apart from Christ.

If you are a Christian, and are not in a relationship, please refrain from calling yourself single. If you have friends who are not in a relationship, please refrain from calling them single. Instead, use the term unmarried. Because they are not single. They are part of the body, and their presence is necessary.

2. God has perfect timing and only gives you the best.

We often try really hard to find the person we could possibly marry. Our eyes are searching at every coffee shop, meeting and friend group we enter. Is it that person? Or maybe that one? And at the end of the day we come home feeling even more discouraged.

But this is faulty thinking and poor faith. By searching in this manner, we are trying to be God. We are trying to make it work with anyone who might be an option rather than allow God to bring that person in to our lives at the perfect time.

When you look back at your life. Do you see God's faithfulness? His provision? Then why do you doubt it now? He's got this.

It's good to mention that He only wants the best for us. And sometimes the best is not marriage. That hurts. But it only hurts because society says we must be married or we are broken. But, I'd like to refute that idea and tell you that marriage is not what makes you a person. God sees you. He has your life planned in the best way to glorify Him. Trusting Him should be our first priority

Let's praise God that He's given us only the best. Even when it's hard and might not make sense, it's the best because it brings us close to Him and He will receive the glory. And humbly bring your brokenness to Him. Because He wants to help us through it.

Cheers to being unmarried. Let's Praise Him in His perfect provision,
Shelly

(Thanks to my wonderful friends Claire and Kaitlyn for sharing these nuggets of wisdom with me. They've really helped me as I walk through this stage of life.)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Art, Falafel and Coffee.

I've jumped back in to another semester of college. It's full of deadlines, lack of sleep and chaos. But despite the craziness of being back, I've loved getting to spend time with friends. Yesterday was a perfect example of a day well spent with a couple of my favorite people, Claire and Kelley. It involved three very unique places for three very unique girls.

Place #1: The Chicago Art Institute

We started our adventure of the afternoon by visiting the Art Institute, and it was so peaceful. There were many breathtaking pieces, and many ...interesting... pieces. (Seriously, some of those things were weird). But I think my favorite aspect was to be with Claire in her element.

If you've ever met Claire, you would know that creativity is something that comes naturally to her. Photography, drawing, painting - I'm pretty sure she there's no end to her artistic ability. Therefore, the Art Institute is one of her happy places. (She's got a membership and everything - she's legit).

Place #2: Naf Naf Grill

By the time we were done with the Art Institute, our stomachs were growling. We had already planned on going to Naf Naf as one of my homework assignments. Naf Naf is a Middle Eastern restaurant that feels a lot like Chipotle in the way you order. The food is fresh, and the girls really enjoyed it.

As you may guess, this place could be a representation for me. I'm in love with culture and new experiences. The restaurant has its roots in Israeli culture, which is extra-dear to my heart. Therefore, it's pretty accurate for me to be in this kind of context. I'm always up to try something that's new and out of my culture.

Place #3: Goddess and the Baker

Though the day had fallen into evening, we were not ready to part ways. Therefore, we decided to extend our time together by going to a coffee shop across the street. It's high ceilings, wooden tables and wide selection of drinks drew us in and we settled at a cozy table for three.

Kelley probably doesn't like being tagged as the coffee shop girl, but for this moment she will be. Her knowledge of coffee, brewing methods and quality coffee shops is endless. But more importantly, it's her way of refreshing herself. To get some time away, she'll find a coffee shop and journal or create a beautiful watercolor. She knows herself and what she needs. It's also her way of fellowshipping with others. It's natural to see Kelley with a cup of coffee enjoying the atmosphere of a unique and inviting coffee shop.

At the end of the day, it was not the places that warmed my heart, but rather the people. Whether we're silently walking around looking at art, catching up over dinner or laughing over a cup of coffee, I know I can count on these two. They are safe. They are some of my favorites.

Who are some of the people that you hold dear to you're heart? If you haven't found them yet, I encourage you to start looking. They will get you through the good and the bad.

Until next time,
Shelly

Friday, January 8, 2016

No Worries - I'll Be Back

My time home has been precious. Surrounded by friends and family, I've felt a sense of peace and familiarity that I didn't realize I was missing. These people know me so well - which is refreshing. No need to impress. No need to pretend. This break has been much-needed, and I'm not sure I'm ready to go back.

But as I face the reality of my return to school, I'm forced to say goodbye. I dislike change. Transitions are harder than I'd like to admit. I've already become so comfortable back home, I feel like I'm being torn away to go back to Chicago. But, once I start to think about Chicago, there's another part of me that yearns to be back. I'm stuck in the in-between of worlds, and my goodbyes also blend into hellos.

But I've decided not to mourn this transition. Instead, I choose to rejoice in the sweet moments that I've had. Let me share with you some of the highlights from this break:

- A wonderful Christmas with family, and the special surprise that my grandparents will be coming to Chicago for Founder's Week.

- Many, many get-togethers and coffee dates to catch up on life with old friends

- My best friend (Lydia) got engaged! She's asked me to be her maid of honor, and we've already begun the adventure of planning her wedding.

- I got to cuddle with my favorite cat in the whole world, Misty!

Now it's time to return to school and start a new semester. This will have challenges, but it will also have joys of its own. I know there will be lots of choices I need to make and a lot to manage. Pray for me as I begin this semester, and that I would be able to seek the Lord during this time.

Yours Truly,
Shelly






Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Deciphering Reality from Myth

Have you ever been to Maine? It's that state that many people confuse with Canada. Well I'm here to inform you that it's part of the US, and it's my favorite place to be. When I was little, I lived in Massachusetts but would travel annually to visit family in Maine. At the time, I felt a love for the state and called in my homeland (Ever since I was 5 or 6). Moving to Maine reinforced my love for it, and being away for college has continuously reminded me that Maine is my homeland.

If you've never been to Maine, I know what you're think: "I've always wanted to go there", "You must have lobster all the time", "I hear there's a lot of wildlife", "The winter seems really bad there". These are all things I've heard before, and they make me realize that nobody really knows what Maine is like. The reality of Maine is a mystery to the rest of the US, and I feel honored to have the understanding that I do.

I'd like to take a moment to address these different quotes, as well as add the facts that people don't really know. Hopefully by the end of this post, you will have a better understanding of Maine and a stronger interest to take a trip out here! I must make a disclaimer - I didn't live here permanently until about 7 years ago. But I've always lived in New England, and Maine has always been a part of my life. So here goes:

"I've always wanted to go there" - My answer to this is "Why not?". If you want to take a visit, I suggest coming sometime between July and October. July and August are pretty warm but not unbearable. You can go swimming in the ocean or a lake and enjoy some small town charm. September into October is when it begins to get cold. By the time it's October, the leaves have changed and the landscape is beautiful. My love for Autumn started with the gorgeous colors of the mountains in Maine.

"You must have lobster all the time" - False. Though lobster and other seafood are fresh, they are no less expensive than anywhere else. Ain't nobody got money for that! (Yes, that sentence was meant to be grammatically incorrect). Though lobster may not be a staple for every meal, it is definitely available. I would say that my family eats a lot more lake fish then any other kind of seafood. This is typically fish we caught in the lake down the street.

"I hear there's a lot of wildlife" Yes there is! But it's not a guarantee you will see anything. The animals know we're here and they keep their distance. But keep you're eye out. (Especially when it's night time - deer haven't quite figured out that cars are dangerous). Don't go wandering into the woods without an understanding of how to handle yourself if you encounter something bigger than you in the wilderness. But I hope that when you do encounter the wildlife Maine has to offer, you will be in awe of God's creation!

"The winter seems really bad there" Maybe. But we can handle it. Most of the people in Maine love the winter because that means skiing, snowboarding, ice fishing and snowmobiling are in season. The more snow, the more fun. Also, most people don't realize that snow is an insulator. Therefore, the snow can help to keep the houses a little warmer. Plus, we know how to handle the cold.

In a nutshell: Maine is beautiful in any season. The people are kind, and nothing beats the simplicity of small town life. Living on the coast and living in central/northern Maine is quite different. (But both are worth seeing!). Most people are related, and have never left New England. Most people are outdoorsy - whether it's hunting, fishing, hiking, camping. etc.

But, there is also pain. Unemployment runs rampant throughout central and northern Maine. The people are just making ends meet, and they do what they have to to get by. A lot of people are involved in drugs and alcohol. The brokenness of Maine is something that can only be understood once you've lived in it.

Therefore, take a trip to Maine if you can. But more importantly - pray for the people and that the Lord would give them hope.

What are your questions/comments about Maine? Let me know by posting below!

Catch ya later,
Shelly