for two takes.

this time around has been different. peaceful, even.

the city is bustling with summer past-times: street-musicians, food-trucks, parks filled with people, and a cool breeze.

Chicago has always been one of my favorite places, but after being here two weeks ago in the scorching heat and stagnant/non-existant air, it wasn’t somewhere I longed to come back to until at least 40 degrees had dissipated.

but like i said, this time around has been different.
{for the love of yoga pants, the temperature’s even been a bit chilly!}

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my days have been spent in a 1930’s brown-stone, three-story home, converted to a duplex, and now lived in by a lovely couple who has welcomed us in with open arms. their kitchen has the best light streaming in, and the old wooden, squeaky floors and french doors and skeleton key-holes tell of a better time, where kids could run around outside barefoot all day, only to come inside for dinner after a lot of mud-pie-making & fire-fly-catching shenanigans.

these two amazing & hospitable friends, married 5 years this August, are missionaries here, in the worst neighborhood in Chicago, known as Austin, or the “West-side”. they’re shining Jesus’ light so stinking bright in a neighborhood where  murders and drug-deals are the norm. they’re the minority, and they refuse to pack-up and leave based on any darkness: God called them here, so they have nothing to prove; it’s simply whatever He’s got planned through them. through His provision, He also protects & preserves us, they say.

i believe that.
He’s shown me that.

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and because God is so cute, of course they have a 3-month-old Yorkie puppy rightfully named “Peanut”, and a Ninja Fruit blender, and built-in-shelves with lots of books, so all is well with my soul. i’ve been sitting in their bay-window area, looking out over Lorel street, praying for the people who waltz it. i’ve made eye-contact with the drug-dealers and gang-bangers while smiling, and i’ve sat on the front stoop, asking for good conversations.

{mom, if you’re reading this, well…keep reading.}

in as little as six weeks, my job will  have taken me all over the northeastern region of this beautiful country with a team of two other amazing human beings and wonderful other hosts and hostesses who offer up their homes and pull-out sofas and pantries and toilets.

i can’t make this stuff up: we lived at a place called “Strawberry Island” in the middle of an old strawberry field in rural Minnesota only last week, deep within a huge patch of trees {hence the island}, where you wouldn’t know a home existed…if you didn’t actually know a home existed there.

today, though, being the city sass that i sometimes i am, i deemed the perfect day to venture off alone, into a much safer neighborhood known as Wicker Park.

*{okay, let’s be honest: i had a store credit at this terrible place where i decided to purchase a pair of shoes the last time we were in town. long-story-short: said shoes did nothing good for my feet but leave blisters accompanied by cursing.

i can feel you asking, “but suzy, didn’t you get your money back?”

well, no, kind sir. just a stinkin’ store credit.
so i had to go back because this store does not exist outside of the Windy-City, and there were fifty nine dollars with my name on them, you guys.

also, wedding season is upon us, so dilemmas like these are a great excuse for a new dress. also, i wear my clothes for years, even with holes and safety pins and double-sided tape, and only purchase clothing i LOVE that FITS WELL. also, the fact that i made it out of working in the fashion industry alive is a miracle in and of itself. also, dresses are some of my favorite things ever. so…judge ye not!}*

after finding my miracle dress with my stupid store-credit that had-to-be-used-or-else-forfitted, i decided to stick around for a while, so i paid my parking meter & patted my big ‘ol 15 passenger van on the tush.

onto the next stop.

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Allegiance Bakery.
maker of things known as the blueberry cream cheese blob that stole my heart.
or macaroon, if you’re fancy.
which is french for “petite miniature sandwhich le sugarrr”, when translated by me.

{yeah, so although my allegiance is to Heaven alone, Allegiance Bakery is a close second. it could take the cake. it’s the cream on top of the cream-of-the-crop. all puns intended, you guys. feel free to forget the fact that i’m beginning clean eating/The Paleo Diet come August, & so i must get in all the sugar & dairy & gluten i can, while i can, you know, because that’s a good idea…}

anyway. i won’t tell you what other baked goods i purchased to ration throughout my week & leave as sweet surprises for new friends (a key-lime & almond tart, a german chocolate cupcake, & an oatmeal-cran-chocolate-toffee cookie planet), but i will tell you that once my little feet hit some unseen territory, they could wander for days and ask all of the locals the best places to try and jump at the sight of a vintage store or lead me to sign a lease at any given moment.

to a place like this.

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keys. gimme.

oh, the whimsy! any place with ivy and brick and white-washed wood and lots of windows and a front porch {a stoop will suffice} is a place for me. this is a place where many a neighborhood-block-party would go down, my friends. this is a place where i’d plant a garden and lock-up my bike on the black iron fence and talk to any & all passersby.

honestly, though, i’ve lived and stayed in so many strange and beautiful places around the world, all of which provided shelter, a basic necessity, that places like this one seem so…unnecessary.

macaroons & iced soy chais seem like luxury. field greens tossed in balsamic instead of some other fattening liquid seems like gluttony in disguise. my constantly chipped and breaking nails seem so petty, you $9 Biotin supplement, you.

do you ever struggle with these thoughts, too?

what it is God is asking us to spend our time and gifts and money on.
the types of homes we should care to live in.
the different past-times and collections occupying our thoughts.
the things we should be teaching our children & sweet mixed-baby nieces.

i’m not suggesting that any of the above are wrong. in fact, life to the full {which, if you’ve read much of my blog, you know i’m passionate about} can look like having some of these desires and using them to bless others along the way.

but here’s the thing:

i’m definitely not great at defending His causes based on the way i answer to my wants. my desires have long-since lined up with His, and Chicago is convicting me of that. and my wandering feet are showing me that i’m not lost, but found in Him regardless of where He allows me to venture off to. 

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as i was reading in His word just this morning, I realized a profoundly simple thing He’s asking of us. He’s asking us to learn the discipline of staying awaketo keep watch and look for the things prophesied by our fathers, knowing how to respond, or if to respond at all.

He’s reminding us how He’s entrusted us with little so we can be entrusted with much, because time is fleeting and there is much left to do.

{um, can we just sit in that for a moment, please?}

take two!
this time, from a different perspective & lens & backdrop.
not so when i leave this world He’ll say, “that’s a wrap, Suz!”
but instead, so He’ll say, “now, where were we, Daughter?”, as a continuum of the conversation we’ve been having for years.

sometimes we need a second glance at the same place we’ve ventured to many times before in order to gain new insight.

So, I think that’s what this stop has been all about.