Hello. Welcome.

I'm a very determined kind of individual. Sometimes my determination is misplaced and things get very ugly. But, sometimes my determination leads to laughter, deep thoughts, and words on paper.

I write everything. I'm not very good at filtering ... so you will see it all. Maybe there will be a little inspiration for someone else along the way. I hope so. My sister also likes to guest blog and I'm sure you will appreciate her wit and wisdom.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

another day another dollar...wait

yep this internship program is unpaid, but it's worth every penny! :)

Today was a struggle for awhile, but I had three great interviews and one that went much better than I expected. My last interview is tomorrow and then it's decision time. .. I start early and heading for the coffee.
I'll write more later, but for now it's to the newly made bed for me.

grace and peace

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

today was sunshine in chicago

What is it about life - about living the day from start to finish - that entices us to forget the Source? Of all the things that glitter and sparkle, distract and intrigue - what could possibly be strong enough to make me forget that beautiful, pure spring bubbling up from my soul's core?
Even just today, I noticed myself being swept away with the Chicago River, right out to that big expanse of Michigan sea - given to the whims of the currents. Although this may sound dramatic, at the end of the night I realized how blessed my day was, but how little I gave back to the Lord.
I recently listened to a speaker who had presented at Challenge (national E. Free youth gathering). He challenged the students and adults listening to open their eyes to the lost souls around them. He talked about sharing the gospel with such urgency, because we (as born-again believers) have a responsibility to share. How selfish would we be if we kept salvation for ourselves?

He asked the question "Did you witness to someone today?"
I spoke with a friend about what we'd heard..and to think that the Lord's greatest gift and treasure could be sitting stagnant in my heart - waiting to be shared - that's too much.

Today, as I walked around, I felt my energy and my spirit grasp for the courage and boldness to regain the giving heart. No, not the heart that gives change to every beggar and smiles to ever passer-by. The giving heart my spirit longs for is one that takes the joy of salvation and literally gives it away at every turn.

My interview with the Field Museum went unbelievably well... they even called my coordinator to show their excitement for my interest in the position. But, I appreciated it for a different reason - I saw where my passion lies. Even though I've been told that it's not the best idea to be extremely open about one's faith in an interview, I was able to explain why everything I'm passionate about is directly related to my faith. everything. I feel most alive when I am using my passion with the skills I've been given to make an impact on the world. Not that this job wouldn't be a great opportunity - and God still might want me to be there - but I felt heavy in my spirit... Why?

Why scour the papers every morning to find new corporations coming to town? Why read up on who is giving what money where? Why know off the top of my head who has the biggest capacity to donate in the city of Chicago?
If I was going to be that deeply involved in an organization so big, I would need to be as deeply rooted in its mission and vision. I know I'm getting ahead of myself, but I can't explain what happened in my spirit when I felt the difference between working for the Lord and working for man.

I'm not saying that working for secular organizations is wrong (definitely not saying this). This just happens to be how the Lord is teaching me that my first interview, internship, and job is with Him. By His grace I'm a part of this!

I've rambled enough...and I have three more interviews tomorrow that I'm very excited about!
World Vision, Chicago Community Trust, and People's Energy.
grace and peace,

first impressions of the windy city

So, I've been in Chicago since Saturday evening, when my parents sacrificed their day to drive the 7 hours. It was really by God's grace that we made it safely - ask my parents if they want to tell the story..:)

The program started on Monday and I almost feel like I've been on a buzz since then. "Business casual" was the debate of the day, but we soon became accustomed to the loose dress descriptions. I've already met so many great people and I can see the beginnings of new friendships! Actually, I can see the beginnings of many things - first time living in the city, first time staying in a hotel that looks like Home Alone 2, first time looking at an apartment, first time SIGNING for an apartment and paying first month with CASH, first time interviewing... the list continues.

I'm trying to quiet my nerves, but the pot of coffee I drank this morning has my blood zinging to my fingertips. I'm hoping it'll wear off in the next couple hours - before I need to start impressing people.
I'll be interviewing with the Field Museum of Natural History, which currently has the renowned King Tut exhibit on display. I am excited to get a peek and walk around after my interview.

I also turned in an application today at Starbucks, which I could almost throw a o rock at from my apartment. Great! Convenient! Too true - which is why it's good that I'm hoping to
make money there instead of spend it. I've already become quite thrifty - a trait one acquires rather quickly when there are no other options.

Sadly, I cannot say much about the people here, because I've been around mostly other students and people from my program. Although, I took a liking to the bus driver that drove us to the apartment this morning, and a man named Jose that is the building engineer at the apartment building. I also noticed that the manager who showed us the rooms wore a cross and fish necklace and had a beautiful smile.

There are grocery stores within walking distance and I spotted a bookstore a block away. My new plan is to buy fresh bread, fruits, and veggies every couple days and store little in the apartment. I think this will be cheaper and I will waste little food. ..I've started to enjoy different fruits - grapefruit juice has become something I crave... I just thought this was so random, because I always puckered my face at the fruit when my grandpa would eat it with crackers, but now I like it.

I enjoy the little nuances and quirks about my days so far... the Lord has kept surprising me and I continue to be grateful. I am continuing to read in Kings and right now I'm wrestling with Solomon. Who was this man and where did his wisdom end and foolishness begin? I'm getting to know him a little better and filling in some wide gaps in stories from my childhood.

I am completely trusting the Lord's direction and wisdom for the next three days of interviews. I have 5 different interviews and they are hard to compare because they are so different, so I'm counting on the Lord's direction, because that's all I've got!

More of a reminder for me than anyone else, but I've got to keep the main thing the MAIN thing... no matter what I am breathing, walking, talking, interviewing, and smiling for the Lord and His glory. ...and with that - God showed me in Poland and through the summer that people are people are people - and they are beautifully formed and created in His image and for His plan.

amazing. truly beautiful.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

the home tour

Where do I even begin? God is so good! Truly, more than these words can explain... I am blown away by His glory revealed through His blessings!

So, I called this last week my home tour - which was basically a whirwind or people, stories, memories, and wonderful reunions. I had so many people I wanted to meet with and talk to... Thank the Lord he gave me the energy and to meet late into the night and early in the morning - every day was jam-packed and I only started to feel it (the getting less than 3-4 hours of sleep) the last day.

More than anything, I felt that sharing what the Lord did in Poland was HIS story. I merely got to experience it in a different way than the prayer warriors that most certainly went faithfully to the Lord. I wanted to share how God used all of us to fulfill His kingdom purpose! I hope the taste of this overflowing joy remains on my tongue long after the warm feelings wear off.

My family was already busy with school getting started, but I was able to spend some time with them... and when they went to bed I would meet up with some kindred spirits from high school and talked into the morning:) God also blessed me with some surprises - I never expected to recapture and begin beautiful relationships, but the Lord is gracious!

Even as I write this, it seems so vague...because the Lord is so specific in how He works and blesses, but I'm so overwhelmed that I can only speak in vague terms! Words can be so frustrating at times!

Right now I am at my friend's house in Chicago, getting ready to begin my program tomorrow. I am getting excited about all the possibilities for this semester. It almost feels like I'm a freshman again, because everything is so new. One thing that I've been learning (for years, it seems) is that my plans are so small. The things I can think in my human mind are nothing compared to the Lord's plans - He is so much bigger. So, making plans and mapping my future have become much less important, and making my heart willing has become my focus. To many, this comes as a shock, because I've had my life planned out since I was in 8th grade. Yet, there is so much freedom in trusting the Lord to guide.

I'll have to sit down and write more this week, as we get into orientation, but for now I'm so scattered I think I'll not make sense!

grace and peace.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

final farewell

So, the last few days have been absolutely amazing. The city is growing on me, but my friend Ania reminded me that I've only been in Old Town, which is not really Krakow - it's tourist central basically. Anyway - I have so many reasons to count blessings!

The hospitality I've experienced from Christians here is too wonderful to explain. My new friend Ania stayed with me all week in the flat and was the most beautiful tour guide! I've still not had time to process everything that's happened... But, I've made a point to journal and I think a couple days ago I just sat at a coffee shop and read, thought, and wrote (my favorite things). Going to Auschwitz on Monday seems so long ago and already is unreal. I didn't have but 20 minutes from the time we left Birkenau to when we showed up at the doorstep of a family from camp. They had invited us over when they heard we were in Os'wieciem (the Polish way to say this town - which is really so much more than the remains of the camps). I couldn't help but smile and laugh with the mom and her two beautiful girls. They are seeking and tomorrow I think Carol will take them to a Protestant church near them. PTL!

Last night Joe and Becca (new missionaries from States with two wonderful children) invited us for dinner and we had a great time! There are so many stories, but I have little time!!

I'll just end with once again my realization that God is SO big! His heart and creativity is found in each unique face. Yet, the longer I stay, the more I see sad, calloused eyes staring back at me on the streets. My Christian Polish friends say this is how it is all the time - people are only putting one foot in front of the other to do the next thing. They stare straight ahead and are always burdened with something in their hands. I guess there is some comparison with cities in the States, but it's different when there are smiles and greetings every once in a while. Even one of my Christian friends here struggles with motivation and purpose.

As I leave, I know this is in God's hands, as He knows best these creations in the city and land situated around so much history and mystery.

Please lift up in prayer the people of Poland, who are obviously searching, but have been helplessly sidetracked down a dead-end road.

Also- please bless the Name of the LORD. Praise Him today, because He is faithful. He has blessed my time and answered the prayers of His people. I'm living this day so thankful.

Last time from Poland,

Sunday, August 13, 2006

day 2 in Krakow

Where do I begin? I feel like I barely got started explaining stories and a whole new bunch fills my spirit. Today was bittersweet. I experienced a Polish Protestant worship service, which took place in a vacant room of a youth center. I cannot explain how different this was - it could have been a couple families gathering for a bible study, so different than the magnificent Catholic structures here and the modern masterpieces back home. I watched the communion, given with one glass and crackers and thought about all the churches that have been torn apart by arguments over how often to have communion. Yet, this little church stands, a beacon of light among a confused people, humbling remembering our Savior. I guess I was struck by the irony and simplicity of it.

Another blessing of the church service was that people from camp came! One family, who I adored, came from an hour and a half away. Their daughter and I became very close during camp and she is a believer, but her family does not go to church, nor does anyone in her village of 800. So, for them to come to a Protestant church was so touching. There were others too, and the Lord blessed us with this one last meeting.

We explored the Ryneck, Main Market area in Old Town. It was so much to take in - I kept going in circles and finding new things to watch, admire, and smile at. I set off on my own determined to master some of the streets and had wonderful excursions, but always found my way back to the square. We went to Wawel Castle and I had to make sure my mouth didn't just drop constantly. How beautiful - and what history! To think of who walked there so long before me was crazy. This was the third castle I have seen so far. I went to Slovakia with some of the people from the camp one afternoon last week. And we also took a field trip as a camp to a famous castle in Poland. Both experiences were amazing and I don't have enough pictures to capture how beautiful everything was.

Okay, the bitter mostly came when I had to say goodbye to my new, wonderful friend Ania. I miss her already. This past week has been like a lovely story - we shared bits of our hearts and spirits. She taught me Polish, slowly, VERY slowly. But she was so patient and always encouraging my efforts. More and more I have a desire to learn to speak this language. I want to tell people my heart in a way that speaks to their heart. I never, ever expected such a friendship to come from this. Of course, in my idealistic mind, I am planning a trip already to return and renew these relationships, maybe with a little more Polish. When I said goodbye, it was kind of unreal, like I would meet back up with her later on... but after she left I just set off walking and let the tears go.

How does that happen? God made us such vulnerable people, whether we admit it or fight it, we just are. And, no matter how hard I fought, I couldn't win against the prevailing love that Jesus put in me to share. Anyway, with that said, I don't know how to explain my growing awareness and desire to know about this place. Is it because it's the only place I've ever been? Maybe. Or is it God's leading? I'll let the Lord direct that one.

I have arranged to meet with some people here, in Krakow this week, but tomorrow I am headed to Auschwitz.

Hmm. I've been saying this a lot, but words escape me (I know, not apparent from the above). I have been thinking so much and English doesn't fit. So, I guess with that I'll end.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

a heavy heart, joyful news, and a ring

No, not a wedding ring... my grandfather's would be worried if I came home with a wedding ring from Poland, not to mention my father.

Anyway. I am now at the hostel in Krakow - it is such a nice facility! I have my own room and it is maybe the cutest thing I've ever seen. I can see now why people set up camp in hostels for awhile - they are quite endearing. With that said...

Today was the day of leaving... the goodbyes, tears, sad faces. I can't begin to explain what an impact this week has made. With each day, i just asked, "God, is there really THIS much more of you?" Each person, story, and smile held something so special because I saw the mystery of His creation a bit more fully.

We just had a kind-of "de-briefing" session for our group here at the hostel (good thing, huh Al?). And we talked about what characteristics of God we saw more clearly. I realized so many things about who God is because I got to know more of His creation. The people here are easy to love, but hard to leave. I saw that, though we are different, we are people just the same and we all need Jesus and redemption every day.

I had some experiences that have forced me to look more introspectively at my life... I'll try to share some stories:
When we ate meals, we would go into the cafeteria and scramble for seats. Many families ate together, but there was often one or two seats open at tables. I became accustomed to sitting with new people. There were few Polish people at the camp who could speak English really well, so dinner conversation was a bit halting. .. I admire them so much for struggling with English to include me in the conversation. As the days went on, it was less important to me that they speak in English. Polish is a beautiful language, albeit one of the most difficult things I've ever attempted, and I was more willing to just listen to their conversations. I realized that I tend to talk to cover up my own insecurities or attract attention - both of these things are impossible when I cannot speak the language. There is SO much more I could say about this!

Another lesson in language is God's ability to overcome my own shortcomings. I love children - their thirst for adventure and that bit of mischief in their eyes. Well, Polish children are incredible... Most could speak only broken English, and some none at all. There was one little girl, Ula, who I connected with right away. she knew absolutely not a word of English, but we had the most amazing time all week playing, laughing, dancing, singing. I praise God for these moments when I understand that His language is above any words i could say.

the REALLY joyful news is that yesterday... I wish I could tell it all, but time is running short. Yesterday, Beata, a young girl in the teen conversation class, came to me and wanted to talk. The only problem was, she spoke very little English and our communication had consisted of smiling and my trying to learn Polish words. Well, she looked pretty emotional and we ended up in my room. I tried to figure out what was wrong and finally I asked her if it was about Jesus and she nodded. I kept trying to get somewhere, but she could not understand me. There was almost literally a wall in between us, even though I started to realize what she wanted to do - no matter how emotionally attached I became, nothing else could happen. I ran out to the hallway and asked someone for a translator, and five minutes later Agnieszka came. I slowly found out about Beata's life, her struggles, and her desire to belong. I told her, through Aga, that when we are part of God's family we belong to Him! I cannot express how humbling it was to be completely dependent on someone else for this process. I can truly say it was nothing I did, but God that pulled Beata to Himself, and allowed her to understand and trust Him as her Savior. Praise the LORD. Rejoice in the work He has done.

And lastly, the ring. Real quick: I have met a beautiful woman and her name is Ania. She is 19 and I think I already wrote about her. She speaks English well enough for us to connect and we've become great friends, sharing and encouraging each other all week. I can't explain how fast our friendship came, but I am so grateful for her smiling face and wonderful spirit. Last night, she gave me a ring to match one she also had. I was completely blessed by the gift. my heart is so full of love for the people here!

Rejoice and again I say REJOICE!

from Krakow with love,

Friday, August 11, 2006


So, I am here again writing - very quickly as I need to get back. But, I wanted to write while the feelings were still fresh. My heart is broken for the beautiful people that live in this land. Everywhere I look I see picturesque beauty, but the people are even more wonderful. Last night we had a campfire and I could feel the Holy Spirit in the place. But, Polish Catholicism is so strange! I still do not understand it, even though Gubi and Ania tried to explain it to me.

I am struggling with communication - there are so many things I want to say. I have learned to be silent - out of necessity... but the Lord has used this to make me understand how to listen - even when words don't make sense.

I have no more time, but have so much more to say.

I will write again when I get to Krakow. God Bless and keep yoU!


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

loving on piwnicej zdroj


My time here has been amazing so far. The people are so easy to love and have so many stories to share. I have made many, many friends with children, adults, and a college student, Ania. Even if the friendship is broken English with many hand signs, it is wonderful all the same. THe children have taken to teaching me Polish and I am learning - very slowly, but it makes them laugh.

It is too beautiful to describe. I went to a castle with some of the students a couple days ago - it was almost 400 years old. Can you imagine?

Tomorrow the camp is taking a field trip to another castle and waterfall...to practice English, of course! The teaching is going well, even if I was uncomfortable at first. God has used the team in many ways - how wonderful that I can be a part of this! I have so many more stories, but I have to catch the bus back to Beskid and can't be late.

OH! ANd the Lord provided a place for me to stay in Cracow for four days! Praise God it is free and in a good place!

Please pray for open hearts as we try to show these beautiful people the difference between salvation as a free gift and doing good works.

i must go!