Saturday, November 30, 2013

On A Rooftop

Going to a rooftop in Chicago is definitely not for the faint of heart.

The mother in me wanted to yell, "TYLER! Get away from the edge!" But of course, he's all grown up now so I can't do that.

What I CAN do ask his wife to come over and take a fun picture. :)

And another, to remember how adorable they are!

One thing led to another and before I knew it, both my young men were at the edge, seeing how long it took for spit to reach the ground.

Yep, some things never change!

Brothers, all grown up and enjoying sharing life together.

 Well, since we're taking a picture of those two, how about the three of them?!

 And Caleb and Haley! These two are just six months away from their wedding!

 Okay...and one last one of Dave and I, the happy and proud mom and dad of this bunch!

So fun to be on the rooftop, making memories with each other!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Chicago's Black Friday

Going out for Black Friday is a crazy adventure, especially when you've never experienced it before!

And doing it in downtown Chicago is even crazier! This just barely captures the crowds, chaos and craziness of this traditional American shopping event that takes place the day after Thanksgiving.

We mostly just people-watched, fought the crowds, and took pictures. It's not really a day for getting serious shopping done. WAY too many people.

But I sure liked the people I was with while we were out! :)

 We loved being outside where it was festive, and the sun was shining.

And it's always fun to stop in for a free piece of chocolate at Ghiradelli's. Maybe these two even bought a couple pieces to keep up their energy along the way.

We managed to keep track of each other the whole time, laughing, talking and enjoying the experience of being together.

 Aw fun to be there with my dear family!

Chicago Thanksgiving

My heart is brimming over with thankfulness today. What a special day celebrating Thanksgiving in Chicago with our kids.

Tyler and Lara arrived this morning, bearing the traditional laundry basket full of things to make the meal possible.

The tradition of the basket is mine at home in Czech, where I bring one, if not two, baskets full of things to Malenovice each year for our JV Thanksgiving. I'm glad the laundry basket made a showing this year too!

When I was a little girl, it was my Grandpa France who prepared the turkey and stuffing each year. I'm proud to say I carried on his tradition this year!

 Having help from these three lovelies made the meal prep easy and so much fun.

Traditions are awesome, but finding a new way of doing something is great too! See HERE for a new and super easy way to peel potatoes with your bare hands...and it really works.

Does anyone else feel a sense of triumph when taking a turkey out of the oven? Not being a turkey "pro" (aka: not much experience at it), I definitely felt a sense of relief when I pulled it out and it looked great.

Sitting down to dinner with these six precious people was the highlight of the day! Thank you Lord for family.

 Caleb took on the job of carving the turkey today. I foresee this being a new Patty family tradition!

Speaking of traditions, here's one person I'm glad will be a tradition around our home for a long time now! Haley and Caleb are just six months away from their wedding!

And these adorable! I can hardly remember what it was ever like without Lara in our family!

Last, but not least, my dear Claire and wonderful Dave. So thankful for them!

As I type, everyone is bustling around behind me, getting ready to eat Claire's mini pumpkin pies to round out the day of God's goodness and blessings! I'd better go join them! :)

Happy Thanksgiving dear friends!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

My Three Girls

Oh happy day, I'm with all my girls in Chicago!

This is such a special, and unusual Thanksgiving for us. We're in the States for the first time in 21 years to celebrate the holiday.

I haven't had to cook a Thanksgiving dinner all by myself...EVER! We've always celebrated with our JV family, where everyone brings their specialty dishes and we put everything out and have a big feast together.

Instead, I get to plan and cook it with my daughter, daughter-in-law, and my soon to be daughter-in-law! :) We made our final plans today.

Then headed out into the city to do our shopping on foot. Good thing we have enough hands for carrying groceries.

 Did you know Moses is in Chicago? I didn't either! But there he is, watching over the city street!

We headed to Dominick's and had a lot of fun wheeling a cart through together, searching for Thanksgiving food for tomorrow. While there won't be as many offerings as we'd have at Malenovice, it'll still be a feast to be thankful for! 

What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving? My three sweet girls!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


By the time we left Niagara Falls, the skies had cleared up and it looked like it might be a beautiful, albeit, chilly, day after all.

With no time to stop for anymore pictures, I snapped a photo from the car as we passed by the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, heading on our way towards Chicago.

Shortly afterward, the weather changed and we had snow and ice on the road for hours on end. It was slow going the entire way. We kept trudging along though, wanting to get back to Chicago that night.

Passing by Cleveland, I had to take a picture of the city that is the home to Cleveland Clinic - a place that means a lot to our family as it's where Caleb received a diagnosis after ten years of suffering.

We slowly made our way out of Ohio and into Indiana, snow and ice accompanying us on our way. It was one of those drives where you wonder if it will ever be over.

We listened to a worship CD, to the radio, talked and prayed out loud as we drove to pass the time.

Then, somewhere in Indiana, a coyote came out of nowhere and hit our car, or we hit him, as we were going 70 mph. Talk about a harrowing moment!

The impact made a whole lot of noise, freaked me out, and ripped the bumper off our car!

With no exit in site at the time, we stopped alongside the road and Dave got out to inspect the damage. With nothing to do but use some duct tape we thankfully had in the car, he put it back together and we continued on to Chicago (stopping later at a rest stop, as you can see by the picture, to make sure his duct tape job would hold on).

That stretch of road was the only time it wasn't snowing or icy for about 8 hours.

A bent license plate and a demolished front bumper were a small price to pay, all things considered.

We didn't stop thanking the Lord for his protection over the next hours as we drove, even more grateful as we pulled into our friends' house at midnight, safe and relatively sound.

Monday, November 25, 2013

His Power

After we left our friends, the Pitcher's, we began the long trek back to Chicago - a trip that Google maps says is 9 1/2 hours.

That's hard to believe considering the day we had and what time we arrived back in Wheaton.

But I digress. Maybe if you never stopped, you could do it in the amount of time of time that Google estimates.

However, if you saw "Niagara Falls" on the signs would you pass it by?

Because I'm from the other side of the country, I had no idea how close it was to our friends' house! When we began seeing signs I asked Dave if we could stop since I've never been there (he has).

Little did we know we'd encounter a small blizzard getting there!

The stormy weather made this scene all the more terrifying as we headed towards the falls once we'd parked. The American Falls are right over that edge. All I could think of was, "that is the scariest looking water I've ever seen!"

And cold?? I thought I knew cold. But no - it's a whole other brand of cold right there at the edge of the falls. The biting wind was almost more than I could handle!

For the sake of a picture overlooking the most famous view of Niagara Falls, I brought my face out from underneath my coat and smiled. But I'm positively shivering here!

You know it's bad if Dave has his hood on! I was really wishing I had a hood on my coat that day.

The most striking part of seeing the falls was being overwhelmed by the power of the water. I think it may have been the most powerful site I've ever seen in my life, its danger enhanced by the weather. I felt absolute terror in thinking of anyone going over those falls. Though some have miraculously survived, most don't. I can see why.

But while it looks unbelievably powerful to me, I know that it's not even an ounce of the power that God possesses. This is literally a "drop in a bucket" to him!

It's a good image for me to keep in mind as I continually contemplate God's awesome and stunning power.

And the trip? It took over 15 hours. Partly due to the stop at Niagara, but mostly due to snow, ice, wind and a coyote along the way.

But that's a blog post for another day.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Special Overnight

Friday night, on our way from New Hampshire to Chicago, we stopped for a very special overnight.

How many times have I sat at a table with Ken and Andrea Pitcher, and their children?! Far too many to ever count.

Not only did they begin Josiah Venture with us twenty years ago, but we also served together in Germany when we all were doing ministry with Malachi through Cadence International. So our friendships go back a long ways!

It was a very special evening sharing a meal and fellowship together once again.

Our families shared so much of life together, even our dogs! I remember when George, their Beagle, was a puppy and came home to their house. It was even fun getting to see him again. He's still a great dog!

They now live in Spencerport, NY, near Rochester. Their two oldest sons, Nicholas and Zachary, are already off to college, and Nathan, a senior, just put in his application for Moody next year - we hope we'll see him there next year when we're visiting our kids sometime!

Grace, their daughter, will then be the only one at home with her mom and dad. Where did the years go?!

 Standing on the porch of their lovely home, it was hard to say goodbye after such a short visit.

But I'm thankful we had even those few hours again to share our lives with each other.

As always, "Thank you Pitcher family for your amazing hospitality!"

Next time we'll come back when it's a bit warmer and we can sit on your porch for an afternoon!