Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A weekend in Chicago . . . 13 years of memories

13 years ago I decided to spend my spring break working with the Pacific Garden Mission Homeless Shelter in Chicago.  I had no idea at that time how much that trip would impact my life!  This past weekend I planned a visit with a lady I met on that first trip to PGM, and then spent lots of time with her over subsequent spring break trips and my time in Chicago. And although we've talked on the phone many times since I've moved to Indianapolis, I haven't actually seen her in person for years. I was overwhelmed with thanksgiving to sit and talk with her and the lady that was her counselor and recounting how she has broken the chains of addiction and sin and has been clean for 13 years now . . . and celebrating her 11th wedding anniversary!!!  I am always encouraged by her constant dependance and contagious love for our Lord and her overflowing joy in the midst of all circumstances! 

I was also able to spend some time in the PGM clinic, which also brings back about 12 years of memories.  It's a place where health care is really just a way to reach the soul.  I have the deepest of respect for the staff that work there and their servant hearts.

The purpose of my trip was to go to a 3 year old B-Day party for the son of a former 5 West Children's Memorial Hospital co-worker who is now just a good friend.  While at the party I got to see 3 other former 5 West nurses and meet their children, so fun!!!  And the next day, unexpected dinner with 2 other friends who I also worked with at CMH!  And the chance to see them overshadowing the opening of the new hospital and tearing down of our old hospital. 

Sunday morning was special as I was able to go to Armitage en Espanol - the Spanish church I went to for a couple years.  The people there have been very instrumental in encouraging me through the process of learning Spanish from the beginning when I started going and only knew how to say "hola".   

This trip also allowed me to spend time with 3 previous housemates and 3 of their precious children, my first time meeting the twins.  How crazy is it that 3 of us that lived at the Nottingham House were natural red heads.  Now one of the redhead housemates has twins redheads and one of the non-redhead housemates had a little girl with the cutest curly red hair.  We really need an updated Nottingham House photo with these adorable little ones!!!!

I feel like my visits to Chicago are so few and far between that I never know how much to do and how many people to try and see all in the few days I have when I do get to visit.  It's so hard to pick and choose who I end up seeing, and what parts of the city to see.  While this weekend was quite busy and every night was spend in a different place, I felt quite satisfied with the time that I had with everybody!  There of course were still a lot of people and places that I didn't get to visit that I really really wanted to, but that just means that I have to return again!!!

Monday night ended with driving to my grandparents farm and seeing the beautiful sunset over the fields, and then after dark seeing the brilliance of  stars without all the city lights.

As I head back to Indianapolis I feel like my heart is full to overflowing from a couple days of really having the chance to recount what the Lord has done and marvel at the things that He is currently doing!!!  Yes, my heart is torn in leaving Chicago, and probably always will be . . . but for now God has me in Indianapolis for a reason.  And so, I am reminded again that living God's will is not about location but about the condition of my heart.  I Thes. 5:16-18: "Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

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