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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This and that.

It's true.
We have officially moved.

Want to see something very sad?
This is the last picture I got of our apartment. I wanted to photograph it completely empty, but my camera ran out of battery. Still, you get the idea.

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And now I present... the moving men!
This wonderful man flew all the way from Nashville to do a little of this...
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And a little of that...
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And then there's my love.
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He worked very hard, too.
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And Josiah, thank you for helping, too! (Sorry I didn't get a picture of your face.)
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After 9+ hours in this truck (and Shawn in our car behind), we made it to beautiful Franklin, Tennessee. Thank you, Lord, for an uneventful trip!
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We were welcomed by this...
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And that....
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And this view driving home. So peaceful. So different from the bustle of the city.
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Oh, and I can't forget this. Yummy, gluten-free goodness courtesy of Mom.
They sure know how to give us a hearty welcome down here!
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It's good to be home.
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Saturday, September 26, 2009

I will not take my love away.

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You know those moments when you just know that God is near? They come at the most unexpected but most needed times for me.

These last couple of days have been emotional as I have reflected on my time in Chicago and have prepared to leave the city I have fallen in love with. Last night, some dear friends threw a little going away party for us that blessed us so much. Just knowing these people is a privilege, but getting to call them our friends is even better. Thank you, Ilene, Ryan, Jamie, Josiah, Kirra, and Taylor. We love each one of you and we will miss you.

This afternoon, Shawn had to run an errand, so I stayed at our apartment to pack up some boxes alone. We had just said goodbye to Ilene and as I read her sweet letter to me, my heart hurt a little more. Memories of Chicago flooded my mind and while I do want what the Lord has for us next, it's more difficult than I expected to let go of this place. I moved some boxes off of our couch and sat down as my eyes welled up with tears. As I did, a song came on through our computer that I'd never heard. Or, as I should really say, the Lord's voice came loud and clear through those speakers. They were His words, through Matt Wertz, that came just in time to remind me of His promises in this new season.

I will not take my love away
When praises cease and seasons change
While the whole world turns the other way
I will not take my love away

I will not leave you all alone
When striving leads you far from home
And there's no yield for what you've sown
I will not leave you all alone

I will give you what you need
In plenty or in poverty
Forever, always, look to me
And I will give you what you need

Thank you, Jesus. Your promises are just as true as they were three and a half years ago when I came to this city for the first time. He has never taken His love away.

His love was there on my first Sunday as a Moody student. A couple of girls on my hall had invited me to church, but as the service started, I couldn't help but feel so alone. I missed Texas, I missed my family, I missed my best friend Jess. Oh, and I was really cold. We stood for worship and the first song happened to be, "I am a friend of God." As we began to sing, tears rolled down my face. "He knows my name." It hit me so hard. Even if no one else knew this lonely girl in a new, scary city, He still does and He even calls me friend.

His love was there the night I was violently mugged during my first semester. The outcome could have been so much worse, but the Lord gave me supernatural strength to actually fight the guy and protected me with peace. I came out with only a bump on the back of my head and a lot more awareness of people around me. More than anything, He had proven once again that He is my shield.

His love was there during my loneliest summer in the city. I was still new to Moody and didn't know many people who were staying in the city, and I was house sitting for a family who was out of the country. I spent my days just walking around the city, getting to know it, taking long runs on the lakeshore, and learning - in quietness and stillness - that Jesus was there and was the only friend I ever needed in the first place.

His love was there the night I met my future husband in the plaza at Moody. Shawn approached me confidently, introduced himself, and even though I knew who he was (we'd had a class together), I nervously acted as though I'd never seen him. We grew to be great friends who never really thought of each other as more than that until the Lord opened our eyes at just the right time to see each other in another light. I am so thankful for the time we had as close friends. My trust and respect for Shawn was established long before I fell in love with him.

His love was there each time He placed another godly woman in my life. I have been so blessed by the example of these women. I went from feeling completely alone to having so many women in my life who have shown me Jesus and made me love Him more. I have loved antique shopping and talking for hours with Kirra, who I feel has been my friend for so much longer than we've actually known each other. I've been privileged to sit on Anna's dorm room bed and interrupt her Greek homework as we tried to sort out our lives and pray for one another. I have so enjoyed art projects and coffee dates with Ilene, and I am grateful for her support for Shawn and me from the very beginning. I have loved laughing hysterically with Melissa over ca phe sua da and am so thankful for her friendship that began in Chicago and blossomed in Viet Nam. I am thankful for the roommate I had in Kristen, who loved me enough to tell me when she thought I was crazy and offered solid advice. Thank you, Father, for these women that I love so much.

His love was there the night I sat in the back of a cab with a heavy burden on my heart that I couldn't effectively communicate with the driver about Jesus. From these rides, He inspired me to start a ministry - Manna - and many people have heard the Gospel in their own language for the first time as a result. I am in awe that I get to be a part of this and am praying for what Manna's next step will be.

I could spend hours recounting His faithfulness to me over these last few years and I really can't imagine my life story without Chicago. But He is leading us to a new place, a new community, a new everything, really. And just as He has never left us alone, He's not going to now. I have never been more confident of that.

So I sit here on our couch - the only piece of furniture that isn't wrapped in cellophane - and I know His love is here. Despite the empty walls where pictures of happier days used to hang, but now only ring with hollow echoes. And even though my heart feels like it's being emptied out again, I know He's here.

When praises cease and seasons change
I will not take my love away

Friday, September 25, 2009

My morning walk.

For the past few months, I have worked just a mile and a half from our apartment. It's been such a mild, gorgeous summer that I have walked to and from work every day. It gives me some time to prepare my heart and mind for the day as I watch the city wake up.

I wanted to remember this walk through pictures, but I waited until my last day of work (yesterday) to actually bring my camera along. It happened to be a hazy, dark morning, so the pictures aren't my favorite, but I hope they capture a little bit of how beautiful the city is!

Good morning, Mr. Street Sweeper! He is always smiling.
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Good morning, Lake Michigan (just past those cars).
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Good morning, dog walker. If there is one of you, there must be hundreds!
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Good morning, beautiful homes on State Street.
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Good morning, Lincoln Park!

The man on the left (with the black hat) has the exact same conversation with me every morning.
I love it.
It goes something like this:

Him: G'mornin' angel!
Me: Good morning!
Him: Nice weather today, huh?
Me: Yep. Have a great day!
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Good morning, least favorite part of my walk.
I always speed up a lot when I have to go through this dark tunnel.
I'm always afraid someone will be down there. :)
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Good morning, little church!
I visited this one during my first few weeks of Moody and was the only person under the age of about 70. They were very confused (as was I), but welcoming nonetheless.
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On Wednesdays, there's a Farmer's Market just to the right of this picture. I go every week.
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Good morning, very flexible, androgynous statue.
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Finally, good morning little munchkin!
She's like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
I will miss her (and her adorable smile!), but am so glad Kirra is stepping in to take good care of her. :)
livi

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Saying goodbye to Elm Street.

Before we began dismantling our apartment and packing it piece by piece into boxes, Shawn and I took some pictures to document our first home.

If I haven't said this enough, we have relished our time here. Every minute of it. It has been the perfect backdrop to our new lives together and we've had a blast making it feel like "home" with lots of wedding gifts, Craigslist and thrift store finds. And most importantly, it has provided a place where countless friends and family have gathered. What a privilege. You, precious friends, have made this truly home for us. Our weekly (or more often than that) dinner gatherings have been the highlight of this season of our lives.

We will miss having the city as our headboard and the gorgeous morning light that streams in.

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We will miss this view from our bed.

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We'll miss the french doors that open up to our breakfast nook, our favorite spot in the apartment.

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Our "corner office." :)

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I (Whitney) will miss this perfect spot for my morning devotions. This chair was given to us and we have loved it more than we ever expected. I have loved making my morning tea, lighting the candle, and meeting with the Lord.

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I had to include this only because of what was on the screen... and what is always on the screen if Shawn is home... the wonderful Glenn Beck.

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And a few other details of our home....

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I hope you've enjoyed the tour.

The End.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Happy Saturday!

Shawn took me on a morning date today. We started out at Argo, where Earl Grey Vanilla Creme and great conversation with the love of my life started the day out so right. After an hour or so, we headed to the Farmer's Market that is literally one block from our doorstep. Farmer's Markets just make me giddy! The bustle of neighborhood customers carrying fresh flowers, the abundance of organic fruits and veggies, the morning light that streams down the street. I can't wait to go to the Franklin Farmer's Market at the Factory when we're in Nashville for a little while!

We had $20 to spend today and I couldn't resist taking pictures of the loot:

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Michigan peaches

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Some kind of peas? I shelled them and we had them with lunch.

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All of this for $20!
Lettuce, green beans, peas, corn on the cob, apples, peaches, pumpkins, squash, and bell peppers.

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Ahh honeycrisp. Best apples out there.

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Whoever invented these should get some kind of medal.
Honey straws in several flavors: lemon, blueberry, sour strawberry...

As a side note, I don't think that when Shawn got me my camera as a Christmas gift two years ago he had any idea the kind of obsession I would have with it. I love this camera. And since starting this blog, several of you have asked about it. I just wanted to mention I'm going to post in a few days about it and everything I've learned in very understandable terms (I don't know the technical terms anyway).

So anyway, when we got home, play time was over and packing had to begin. Not that packing isn't a blast, but I'd really rather be at the Farmer's Market.

Here's a little section of our living room. That's the organized part. I won't be photographing the other parts of the room. :)

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So I got scolded early on for caring about the lettering too much.
It's actually just me not wanting to start on another box. :)

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I married well. Even my Shawn cares about our very light colored couch enough to wrap it in cellophane.

Anyway, I've procrastinated enough. Back to packing... or maybe sushi?
Happy Saturday!