Of the midwest beauty

Greetings from...SUMMER!
Yes, that's right, folks, it is indeed (and officially) summer here in Chicago.

This is how I know:
We have herbs in an abundance! Dill, anyone? It's already half my height. And the bag of cherries we plowed right through were absolutely perfect.
The hair is blonder with every afternoon in the sun and the freckles are a-multiplying.
And lastly, we celebrated the summer solstice, June 21, and the sunlight is waning until nearly 9pm.

I've been spending as much time outside as possible, to make up for the 9hrs a day I am cooped up in an air-conditioned office, which I swear is some form of torture for the Chicago-dweller in summer. We have only a few short months of this, folks! We must live it to the fullest!

Brilliantly enough, I spent summer solstice outside in it's entirety, camping with one of my dearest friends. We went up to Kettle Moraine for a long weekend, in an attempt to fulfill our longing for adventure, for summer lovin', and for being, eating and sleeping outside. Camping is one of my sweetest and most common memories from my childhood. We grew up camping as a family - traveled all over the US with our gear and our verve for life in tow.

I love cooking and eating outside. Even the simplest of things taste so much better over or around a fire. There's nothing like the exhaustion of worn out legs from hiking and the sweet reward of falling into a sleeping bag, with the moon streaming in and a quiet breeze through the tent screen. And, I love having the smell of the smokey fire stuck in my clothes.

Needless to say, our brief, if somewhat rainy, stay in the Kettle Moraine was just what this soul needed.

We made a little home.

We hiked through meadows and forests. Always looking for wonder and wild elsewhere, I was reminded yet again, of the midwest beauty.

And, we most certainly, celebrated the summer solstice. With fresh asparagus and s'mores and a super-moon, we welcomed summer and the day's incredible stretch of light.

Always on the heels of the solstice, I celebrate 27 years of wonder. It's strange, because I can remember so vividly writing about my 25th birthday. And here we are already. My birthday happened to land on my grandparent's celebration of 60 years of marriage.

60 years of marriage > 27 years of living

We had a big family extravaganza to mark the occasion. I'm not much into "extravaganzas." But this one was kind of great. When you try to cram 38 people into a family photo, several of them being under the age of 4, it's bound to create memories.

I even got to hang out with the cutest of boys.

Even though this big shebang may not have been my preferred way of celebrating my 27 years, it did make me thankful. It was kind of like a display of blessings. As if God said, "Oh, so you're wondering what your 27 years have been all about? You're wishing for something bigger, better, more wondrous, more of a story? Well, here is what it's all about. This is what it's all for. This is how the story all began."

My grandpa turned 80 this year. And the youngest great-grand baby was born 12 days ago.

I walked away from the whole thing feeling rather shamed for my ungratefulness, for wishing for a different kind of day, even a different kind of life. This is the life I have been given. To have been given life at all, is itself a gift. And I walked away feeling blessed. Knowing that there are at least 37 other people in the world who know and love me.

I met someone on the train the other day who was asking for money. This is not unusual. He started to share his story, which I believe to be true, and which, sadly, I imagine is also not unusual. He had screwed up when he was a kid, and ended up in jail for a few years. Now, he is homeless, sleeps on the trains at night. Eats and cleans up at the shelters when he can. He can't get a job, because of his record. No one will even interview him. And he has no family or friends. He has no one.

If I needed a home, a meal, a job, there are 37 people (and more) who would be there.

Friends, I am blessed. We are blessed.
May we go out into the streets and be a blessing to those who are struggling through their story.


  1. Thanks for this Jess. Really enjoy reading your blog posts. Great writing and great content. Thought of you earlier when I posted the new MATUL video on my facebook wall. Always think you would be a great addition to this program, but realize timing and money and motivation are key factors. I just know you would be an amazing contribution to God's work in the slums around the world. Just as you and your family have been such a blessing to the poor and the church in Chicago. Hope you are doing well. Thanks for keeping us up to date on your life and adventures. Keeps me aware of my own blessings and of our Great God! Say hello to your family for me too. - Paul

  2. These are lovely thoughts, plus lovely writing. What a legacy you have, and such a gift that you have eyes to see it.

  3. this is really awesome jessica. great blog, great writing. thank you for sharing your perspective. - matt cavanaugh