Sunday, August 21, 2011


Today is our 12-year anniversary, so we high-tailed it to Chicago for an over-nighter.

You may have already gathered that we're not big City people, but every time I go, I love this place a little more.

The vibe is quirky. Extra-bright.

It's practically in our backyard, and I hereby solemnly swear to visit more often.

For all of the gray that it can be, there's an awful lot of life blooming, too.

There's color and expression and the raucous heartbeat of souls who want to be seen and known.

And I can relate to that.

For all of the history, there's an equal length of awakening.

For all of the glass and steel, there's skin and smiles and hands that have lived a life.

I finished a book on the train ride over (more on that in a few days) and it's changing me.

It's nudging me more toward the girl I was made to be.

I was made to be a bit of a rebel-rouser. (You were, too.)

So I walked the streets and the shops. I saw a man with years etched into his sandpaper cheeks and it sprang to my mind, "He is a child of God."

I saw a guy with wild eyes and hair broader than his shoulders. He's a child of God.

I saw a young mama with her baby, tiny earrings in her seashell ears, candy colored beads in her hair. Both children of God.

On and on it went. And with every acknowledgement of truth, my soul steadied a bit.

Our differences aren't dangerous. They set us apart, is all.

Because mostly, we're the same.

I won't pretend that this trip was all about soul-searching, because the truth is, I did some shopping, too.

I bought a blazer made of gray fleece.

A blazer! Made of sweatpants!

God bless the Scandinavians.

Cory took pictures while I shopped.

I yanked the camera out of his hands every now and then and took a few of my own, but not many. Dude's got a tight grip on that machine.

Why am I making this eerie face?

Because I wasn't aware that I was being photographed, that's why.

When I'm aware of such things, I try to smile.

Smiling wasn't hard on this trip. For one thing, we didn't leave my bag on the train platform this time. For another thing, I was with my favorite person on the planet.

(Also, there was good food and sleeping in and a really funny movie.)

And him.

He made me smile.

And yep, he's a child of God. My brother.

The weekend was a great reminder to me that I have no idea what the future has in store for me.

Walking around in a foreign land has that effect on a girl.

It serves as a small reminder that the world stretches quite a bit further than my two front pastures.

Honestly, I'd love to spend the rest of my days wrapped up in a cornfield, but it turns out there aren't many other people in the cornfields I've visited, so I just don't see that happening.

I'm getting the clear sense that I was made to mingle, and not just with my own personal peeps.

So thank you, Chicago.

Thank you for your lessons and your love.

We'll be back before you know it.

* Six of the photos on this post were taken by me, the rest by CMB. I'll let you decide. But choose carefully. Veddy, veddy carefully.


  1. When we lived in Illinois we always commented "Why don't we go to Chicago more often?" It's such a unique place.

    And I love unique.

    And I love your yellow checks under the gray T. And the wedges. And all the photos in this post.

    And oh, you. :)

  2. I have a fleece gray blazer I got from QVC a couple of years ago. I love it.
    I know we are all the same. Same need/want to be loved and appreciated. Children of God.There's a lot of love needed even near the cornfields. God will take you where he needs you, that is for sure! xoxo

  3. Happy anniversary! I only visited a couple of times but I loved all things Chicago except for ... the traffic! Looks like you had a great trip ... thanks for sharing! :)

  4. I am so glad that you got to get away.
    I am so glad you have so much love.
    Love is my favorite thing.

  5. I grew up right outside of Chicago and it is still one of my favorite cities. My mom was so awesome to bring us into the city so often. Every time I go back I feel at peace being there (and excited too). Happy Anniversary and so glad you guys had such a special time.

  6. happy 12 years. what a blessed couple you are. not to mention you are one hot momma. you look like a model. chicago suits you.

  7. Easy. The flower, the mosaic art, the food, the street preacher, and the last two. Now hurry up and e-mail me that I'm exactly right.

    Happy Anniversary and soul searching!

  8. 1. Your all-intensive love for sweatpants is impressive. I'm still working out the details on the quilt idea.
    2. I'm excited and nervous to hear about your insides-changing book. Please don't hold out too long, I want changing too!
    3. I used hyphens in both of the above writings-out, so I felt the need to put one here.

    Happy anniversary!

  9. You should have said, "Next time I come to Chicago I'm going to call my bloggy friend, Shelly, and plan a meet-up." *huge grin* I would totally come into the city to meet you. :)

  10. Oh yeah, happy anniversary too! Looks like you had a fun weekend.

  11. shannan! you know you have to tell us where cute things hail from. shoes...HELLO! e-mail me first before you tell all of blogdom and there's a cute shoe shortage please. and funny movie? yep, tell that too. Glad you had fun, I've never been top the cornfields or chicago. but your heart never fails to impress me.

  12. ok, i need a blazer made of sweatpants.

    i've only been to chicago twice. it's a beautiful city that i'd love to know better! happy anniversary and thanks for sharing your trip. your perspective and cheer really perked up my dreary sunday eve.
    love to the you.


  13. Happy Anniversary! It is our 12 year anniversary today too! Whoot!
    I love that you went to Chicago -it's a place I have always wanted to go! And I love that you bought a blazer made out of sweatpant material! Awesome!

  14. Mandy - I can't email you! Your comments don't link back to a blog or give your email addy. Hopefully you'll read this before everyone else. ;) The shoes are from H&M, circa the year they arrived here in IN. They are easily 7 or 8 years old and I bought them at a discount because the buckle on the strap was broken. My genius friend Santiago hooked them up with SNAPS! :)

  15. Happy Anniversary (a wee late!!)....looks like a perfect weekend. I spent time with my favorite person too, but we were on our farm. I swear every time he put his hand on the small of my back (I'm pregnant, and my back gets achy), I remembered how wonderful it is to have a favorite person.

    Too many, many more years.

  16. Oh my dear friend who lives on a farm with flowers but still goes into the city to celebrate, "Happy Anniversary". The builder and myself will celebrate 25 on the 26th, we are spending ours on the shore in Lakeside. He is still my favorite person on the planet. I always try to remind myself that those around me are a child of God. Some know this to be true, others are waiting to be told. You should mingle, you have the voice and kindness to carry this message to many.
    I could be wrong, but I have a feeling one of your six photos is the grilled sandwich!!!

  17. Happy 12th Anniversary! We've made our way outta the corn field a few times to take in Chicago! It's fun to get away...BUT I always love coming home! :) (Just got home from 2 days in The Twins...Now if I could just find our dog all would be well???)

    Oh..and someone said you looked like a model. I second that! :)

  18. Happy Anniversary!! Looks like such a great trip. ALL of the picture were great, every single one taken by both of you ;)

  19. happy anniversary cutie patootie
    i might just go & pin that shot of you all cool & casual in your fabulous ensemble. and i did indeed zoom so i could check out your fabulous large pendant. still couldn't figure out exactly what it is.
    beautiful post
    can't wait to hear about your book

  20. Happy Anniversary!! I went to college in Chicago and it was easily one of the best experiences of my young life.

    Next time you go, I have a few places you MUST try:
    1. Marcello's - get their thin crust pizza!
    2. Stella's Diner - this was my husband and my favourite place to go in the city; the vibe is precious and there isn't a single non-delicious dish on the menu
    3. If you privy architecture, you need to visit my old campus (Illinois Institute of Technology) - there are many a great and unique buildings, plus the only frisbee golf course in the city

  21. What a wonderful place to celebrate! It looks like you took Chicago in and enjoyed every moment of it.

  22. My favorite person and I take the kids to Chicago once a year. Of course, the kids might think it's all about the Lego store and American Girl dolls, but really it's more. I hope for my small town kids to walk the big city streets and experience the very same vibe you're talking about. Because you're right...the world stretches quite a bit further than any of our front pastures/yards!

    Happy 12 years with your favorite person!

  23. Ohhhh, your pics were all just swoony. Props to CMB! I love your wedges too, I need to know where you find such things. And happy 12th to you both! Has it really been that long? Hard to believe!

  24. My boy and I recently returned from your same adventure!! I am SO thankful for Chicago and shocked too at how much I loved a big city and the people there.

  25. Happy 12! I didn't realize that we both have been married for the big 12 :-) Isn't it great being married to your best friend. Glad you had a great time and took in the big windy city, your pics are beautiful, but like I expected anything less! Btw, loved loved the yellow gingham checked shirt under the gray t, way to vamp it up!

  26. so glad you didn't leave your bag this year. that had even me upset! happy anniversary. 12 looks good on you guys:)

  27. I love going places with you. I see things I would miss otherwise, and some things you knew I wanted to see all along.


  28. What great pictures! I live about 25 minutes away from Chicago and used to work across the street from Millennium Park. I really miss being in the city everyday...

  29. Beautiful pictures! I've only been to Chicago once, and that was just through the airport, so that doesn't count. Seems like a wonderful city. :)

    Love the "Go Do Good" visible in two of the shots. If only everyone would go do good...

    And hooray for a fleece blazer! Fleece is a friend in all kinds of weather.

  30. I love when God reminds us that we don't know what the future has in store for makes me scared and excited all at the same time, but this life was meant for living and when you live there are surprises in store. Happy Anniversary!

  31. Squeal! Hubby and I share the same wedding date as you and the C. Except we were married for thirty years this day. law.

  32. I love your perspective on things. And oh isn't it true how a new place can change us just so? You never know how God is going to influence you from one day to the next and before we know it, our hearts are changed for the better. What a wonderful thought going into a new week!

  33. Great post! It makes you feel kinda small, going to a new city, doesn't it? It's nice when no one really knows who you are and you can just coast and cruise through a new city.
    It reminds me to care for people. Like you said, everyone is living their own story, everyone has their own relationships, their own thoughts, plans - and God cares about each one. Just like his His eye is on the sparrow... So, it makes me feel small, but also so loved, that He is so perfectly caring for all of us!

  34. I haven't been to Chicago in 8 years. Me thinks it is time to bet back there.

  35. Perhaps our trains passed? Lily and I were headed back to SB Saturday. Had some similar "people" thoughts on the train. . . such a big world. . . so many people. . . All of them His. It's overwhelming and humbling and daggone it we have some work to do! Not surprised to hear you had similar thoughts/feelings. So thankful we are in this together.

  36. I love your heart. Been really working through some same people/heart issues around here lately, ending with open hands... (funny thing for me, I thought my hands were already open... maybe not quite open enough. Huh.) Anyway, I was saying, I love your sweet heart.

  37. Happy 12!

    I want to visit Chicago...always heard it's a great city.

    Where did you get your gray shirt? Love it!

  38. Happy anniversary! It sounds like it was wonderful...and you know I LOVE Chicago, you just can't go wrong there. Love the pictures...all of them! P.S. What funny movie did you see??

  39. Lovely photos! We live in the north suburbs of Chicago...for just under 4 more weeks. It's a beautiful place in the summer and fall, but these southerners are happy to be moving to San Diego before another winter. Have a great day!

  40. 1. You look beautiful.

    2. Love the t-shirt and then the same t-shirt with the long sleeved, gingham inspired shirt underneath. Genius. And I've said it before: i'll never be able to pull that off.

    3. Bon Anniversaire! 12 years! Congrats!

    4. A blazer made of fleece? Praise God! I love knits! Making blazers in knit fabrics? That got me excited. It may be sad, but it's me. It's like that Shabby Apple dress i found..out of all of the beautiful dresses, i found a knit dress billed as "part sweatshirt"... it there! If you're still there, head to the Sofitel Watertower for an overpriced cocktail and some fun people watching!

    So glad you had a wonderful time!



  41. a very happy anniversary to you!

    oh, man. i love chicago. only been a handful of times but have loved every minute of it.

    and i think you are so beautiful inside and out.

    and i am trying-STILL-not to covet your yard. but it's true about the mingling and i'm glad you said so.

  42. happy happy anniversary! chicago is the loveliest!

  43. This post just made me feel happy inside. I love to see pics of you in all those cute outfits you put together too. More please!!!

  44. Love Chicago. And your take on it. And all of those children of God.

  45. way cute outfit by the the shoes...and that grey shirt

  46. We live in the northwest suburbs on Chicago. I'm embarassed to say that I haven't been downtown since before my son was born...nearly two and half years ago.

    When I was 13, I went to Chicago on a missions trip and declared that I would live in a big city someday. I later met my husband who's from the burbs and found myself living in "Chicagoland". I like where we are because we have easy access to the city, but don't live far from the corn fields either-satisfies my Iowa roots and big city dreams at the same time.

    Happy Anniversary!

  47. Happy Anniversary!!!

    I love, love, love Chicago, too....haven't gotten up there this summer. Boo. :(

    I have SEEN that sidewalk preacher before. Did you see him outside Macy's somewhere near State Street? That's where I typically see him.

    ALSO, if you took the train in, it maaaaay be likely that you stopped in my small town. Wooooooo!!! :)

  48. A little soul searching, a little shopping - sounds like the most delightful weekend! Happy Anniversary to you and your man.

  49. You have GREAT style, and the perfect body to wear it!

  50. I just came over via your comment on Meg's blog. The swanky-ish Chicago hotel part got me. We just got back from Chicago ourselves. I do love that city.

    I saw some children of God there too. So, so many. So hard to know how to process the hugeness of the world, the hurt and lovely, the lostness the being found. God prompted my heart specifically in one case and I hope I did right by the prompting.

    He is at work! It is exciting to me that in two different hearts - yours and mine - in the same city in the same general space of time He was working in similar ways. That just says to me that He is working in SO many hearts in so many ways everyday that we do.not.know. He IS! Wow. May we be responsive and molded according to His will for His work to be accomplished.

    What is that church? Looks stunningly beautiful.

    Have you ever been to the botanic gardens? quite a bit north but you can take the metra and walk or take a cab. It's free too! We have been twice and love it.

    I loved when you said, "God bless the Scandinavians". yea for H&M but boo for me not finding anything this time. :)


  51. Thank you for the wonderful perspective you have on life and for the way you see people. You may not realize it, but your blog is a ministry to others!

    Happy Anniversary! I'm glad you and your husband were able to get away and just "be!"

  52. Happy anniversary!

    Did you get your checkered shirt at Old Navy? Because I totally just bought the same one. :)

  53. my 18th anniversary is next week......HOW is that possible????
    it's not.
    just not.
    chicago is where i want to be.
    maybe we'll go before 2012....oh i hope so.
    all alone.....sounds so lovely.
    and i am dying to hear about the book (even though i don't read) because i want to see the world the way you were! wow.

  54. I'm always amazed that when I haven't popped over for a visit in a while, how much reading your words makes me want to be a better person! Your words are intoxicating, and they make me smile!

    Glad you had a great trip with one of your favorite people!


  55. I've been having that same inkling... That I was made to mingle. A girl needs to get off the farm sometimes!