It is midnight here in Chicago and I’ve just whipped up a half-batch of chocolate chip cookies and tucked them into the oven. I am chatting with a good friend, Aaron, sharing a favorite new music find: JOHNNYSWIM.com/music (which I highly recommend you download and have a listen ;) and planning my valentine card list and thinking of ideas for our kid’s valentine party foods for this weekend. I have fun things to do and books to read and jobs to apply for. I find myself in sea of various emotions that gently roll as the waves do, some moments are calm and still others can be a bit more rocky. This weekend as I finished up my taxes a wave of calm and relief as the amount of my return smiled back at me ever so surprisingly and sweetly. I’m certain the tension in my shoulders eased as I breathed a deep sigh of relief.
*time to check on the cookies; they need a few more minutes*
As I have paused at various times throughout this weekend I have reflected on just how significant the month of February has now become, and may now become more permanently a time of reflection and remembrance for the years to come. One year ago today, on February 5th 2012, Pastor Nathan announced he and his family were moving to Chicago to start a church and the invitation for 20 adults to join them was made.
This is a picture taken before or after church that night, looking down Palmyrita Ave.
*Cookie update: I just made a terrible batch of cookies… in case you were wondering. sad face. Is it possible for your flour to get old? Maybe I put too much flour. It is embarrassing to ruin cookies.*
Back to the story. As I thought back to that day, I went searching through my Facebook timeline for some more clues after checking my iCalendar and noticing that I had attended a “Super UN Bowl” party that day and remembering that I had attended the 7pm service, as usual. I had spent the afternoon with my good friends, bringing my fresh veggie “pizzas” and hiding gummy bears on them wondering who would be the first to notice what “didn’t belong”.
It was a fun, nothing-unusual, typical kind of day for us. I think we ate, there might have been barbecue steak or something on the menu, and we probably watched a movie or two.
Jessica, pictured here and her boyfriend Aaron were the first two people whom I shared my desire to join the Chicago team, maybe even that same night, or the following week, and how appropriate that I had spent the day with them, on this very significant day.
They went to the 5pm service and I had homework to finish so I stayed behind and went to the tiny park behind Aaron’s house and laid in the warm sunshine while I journaled, studied and read. (I’m very eager to go back to this very page of my journal and see what I will find…)
I honestly don’t remember anything about this particular service, which I plan to rewatch at some point, maybe even tonight. There was no song that stuck out to me. In this moment, my heart began to beat to the pitter patter of this word: “Chicago. Chicago. Chicago” And in that moment I knew I wanted to be one of the 20. I went immediately to the website that Pastor Nathan referenced that night and the following week I emailed him that I would be joining the group to meet and would be actively praying about going to Chicago. I was reading through our email correspondence and reliving some of the emotions and thoughts I was experiencing at this time. It was a massive, major turning point for me. Everything that had taken place in the 2 years prior suddenly began to make sense. Questions I had from the previous Fall and Summer about applying, joining and later leaving Cru began to make sense. My understanding of what God was doing at this point in my life was that he had been preparing in me a willing heart to say yes to Chicago, and to take me on a new adventure.
And this Sunday, February 3rd 2013, we had our very first Sunday service in Chicago!