Welcome To Weekends #1

By Sarah Breinig

1) Ice Skating at Millennium Park
This is your last chance to try out Millennium Park’s outdoor ice skating rinks, which both close on March 10. The McCormick Tribune Rink is a tradition oval shape perfect for beginners. The Ribbon, located at Maggie Daily Park, is a long circular path with level, uphill, and downhill skating for a slightly more experienced skater although beginners are welcome to try. Skates may be rented for $15 a pair, but bring your own, and it’s completely free of charge.

2) Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel hits the big screen this weekend. See how Marvel Comics newest heroine will punch holes in the sky in the final Marvel film before Endgame is released.

3) Window Shop Macy’s Department Store
Located at 111 N State St in the heart of downtown Chicago, this thirteen-story tall store will provide hours of entertainment. No matter what you are looking for, it’s there.

4) Go to Chicago and take the train
If you are unfamiliar with Chicago, try taking the L train through the heart of Chicago. Sitting in a train car, you can see many historical buildings, experience what it’s like to be a Chicagoan, and get where you need to go. Go to https://www.transitchicago.com/ for information regarding train/bus routes, arrival times, and fare rates.

5) Visit the Lake
Check out the lovely Lake Michigan in the colder weather. The beach will look completely different on a cold day than on a warm one. The choppy waves and deep blue color is perfect for getting great photos.

A picture of a peace sign.

Spark up peace…

By Katherine White

How are the holidays having you feeling? Between Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and all of the chaos in between leading up to the advent season, we can feel a bit exhausted. Even if this doesn’t sound like you, there is more than likely someone in your life whose stress around this time could have an affect on you… sometimes without you even realizing it!

All of the excitement from the holidays can leave us a bit anxious or overwhelmed. Maybe you’re an introvert having to spend a day with fifty people. For some, family functions are not always ideal. Sparking up some peace within, however, will ease not only your experiences during this busy time but remind those near to keep calm.

Philippians 4:6-7 tells us:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

A lot of feelings can flood in during the Holidays. If your family dynamic feels a little off, you’re missing a loved one, or have some negative memories related to this time of year, keeping your chin up can be a challenge. Remember that God is right there with you in those moments and pray for His peace to guard your heart. Sometimes this is hard to imagine and fully believe, but if we pray and ask God for peace and trust that He hears us -despite our inability to see Him or feel Him at times, He knows our desires and will be there!

Embodying peace in stressful times like these holiday gatherings will help you and everyone else around you slow down and take a breath.

A picture of Kate thinking

Spark courage…

By Katherine White

What is the most courageous thing you have ever done? For me, it came in the form of letting go of my past. The identities we form over time, the people we become day after week, after month, after year may start to branch in many directions. Pruning can be painful, but necessary over time.

Have the courage to pick up those sheers and cut out some aspects of who you may find yourself to be turning into. Are you willing to lose a few relationships? Will you kick that bad habit today? Trust that God sees our sacrifices and blesses us accordingly. He wants us to reflect Him and He gives us the courage to! “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philip. 4:13.

Last year I found myself in a whirlwind of bad choices and negative relationships that altered my identity into someone I didn’t like. So, I took the courage to get rid of my iPhone and fall off the face of the earth for a long time in order to find myself again and find an identity in God. I didn’t tell my friends, I got rid of all social media too. Let me tell you, this took some courage. God gave me the strength to do it and come out a lot better than I ever was before though! I have been blessed because of the courage I took to make sacrifices.

Courageous decisions can mean really setting yourself apart, getting out of your comfort zone, but you are never without God. In fact, sometimes the further you get from the world, the closer you get to God.

Asking for God’s guidance, listening for His direction, and -the tough part- obeying His call takes courage! The best place to find courage, if you need to feel empowered, is the Bible. Here are some verses that will Spark your courage.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you… The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31: 6 & 8 New International Version (NIV)

“Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.” Joshua 10:25 New International Version (NIV)

“David also said to Solomon his son, ‘Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.” 1 Chronicles 28:20 New International Version (NIV)

“Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” Psalm 27:14 New King James Version (NKJV)

A picture of praying hands

Spark a Prayer Today…

By Katherine White

It is time for a shift in focus. Life feels so small when we only look within. Take a step away from your worries, your current situation- it will still be there! Give a moment to God in prayer. He has the power to transform your outlook in rejuvenating ways.

Prayer draws us into quiet, deep, peaceful moments of refreshing power. We realize so much when we take the time to engage in God’s restoring love. Remembering to pray -anytime and anyplace- broadens our outlook and reminds us that we are never alone.

Focus on the ones you love today in prayer. Instead of feeling stuck in your own agenda, lift up the people around you. Let your mind and soul appreciate the connection through prayer and with the people in your life. This switch in perspective makes life truly full.

Sometimes we go to God desperate in prayer. In these hard times, we just need to trust Him. Rarely can we hear His voice right away, and that can feel discouraging. But as we learn to live slowly we can see His ways in response to our desires if our eyes are open to the truth. Maybe today is not the day you want, in these times trust that God has got you and still your heart in prayer.

I know I’m not alone in wanting this; I need to start taking the mind and heart to live a better way. If we are not constantly trying to improve all aspects of ourselves, we are not doing ourselves or anyone any favors and we can lose the people most important to us. Even when we fail, try along with me to make this a new priority and constant prayer:

Simply think about others before you do something, and your relationships will blossom in strength, dignity, and truth.

1. Have concern for yourself
2. Always be considerate

Let’s think about how we act, the choices we make. Maybe a new identity is in order. How does the way you live affect the ones you love? Do you show them that you care by considering them in how you behave? It is so easy to fall into a selfish mindset, but everyone represents something. What, and who, do you choose to represent with your actions?

Show the ones you love you care about them because they are the most valuable part of your life! Pray for them daily. When we are more conscious of others, we live how we were created to. They would do anything for you, so take conscious to do everything for them. This starts with simple, constant prayer.

Always act in love.

A picture of peace sign

Spark up Hope…

By Katherine White

I heard a song on the radio the other day, “Heaven is God’s Throne” by the Luckett Brothers. Immediately, I grabbed a pen and began to contemplate the meaning behind this song.

Love is splendor, even though all we can see now in the world is disheartening. There is more, this world is not it. Earth has been destined to perish, but Heaven is eternal. Through the pain, we must hold on to the hope that love is real and will win in the end.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12)

Love is not encouraged much here on earth, in fact, often times those who choose to love are targeted by hate. Society has warped in many ways that extend far from God’s intention. This world has distanced and desensitized its people from the notion of love. The world is run by evil, but this universe is run by God.

Live in the peace that goes beyond earthly understanding from this acceptance. God is too great to comprehend, so we just trust in His name. It sounds so simple, right? Then there are the overwhelming, ever-present, and overtaking evils that use all of the earthly power they can to distract you from God and the truth.

When we hold onto the hope of God rather than hope for this perishable world, we inherit real richness. Man will always disappoint you and leave your heart empty, but God will never forsake you!

Hope is a battle here on earth. Hope is trying to be stolen from hearts everywhere with every bad piece of news in the media. Look to God instead. Know your heart is only safe resting in His promises.

When the world tries to tell you He is not there, realize what the world has to offer predominantly- negativity and lies. Living for God means standing apart from the majority, it means knowing something much different in your heart and hope is the holding on to that.

Be strong and have the courage to put your hope in God instead of this world. Doing this defies what the world wants from you and what is generally accepted. When everything surrounding you physically wants you to fall, God’s strength is an incomparable force against this world- rely on it and have hope!