{Adventures in Albany Park} No Man is an Island

You can live missionally anywhere.

I am confronted with this fact as Natalie, friends and I try and figure out what to do now that we are up in this community. It’s the realization that the move can’t be the end. Now that we are up in Albany Park, we actually have to do something – meet people, change habits and go out of our comfort zone. There are two ways that I am clinging to right now that is helping me navigate this idea of living missionally…in this neighborhood.

First is we can’t do this alone. We don’t want to be an island up in Albany Park – “no man is an island” as the poet John Donne wrote. We need community and like-minded souls who want to go on this adventure. We have been blessed with some friends who are already doing this. Please pray God joins us together to encourage each other, give each other ideas, invite one another to meet people, and pray together. We also are looking for ways to serve this community. Right now, it’s the little things like shopping at our local grocery store and going through the same check-out line so we can keep meeting the same check-out girl, or frequenting the same restaurants, on the same day, around the same time, so we can keep talking to the same waitress. We don’t have much more complicated vision than that right now.

Second, part of the adventure is the crazy situations God has planned for you. Case in point: A couple weeks ago, I came home, walked in my backyard and was welcomed by a full on light show, dance party in my neighbor’s backyard. I hadn’t met them yet, and this was the perfect chance. I was tired though and was running in a race the next day, so I had a little conversation with God and knew I needed to do this. Not for my neighbors but more for me – in hindsight. The problem was that no one spoke English and when I went over to the fence that separates my backyard from theirs, the first person I met thought I was complaining about the music. When I tried to communicate that I liked the music and I just wanted to meet the people throwing the party because I was a neighbor, they thought my “two thumbs up” gesture (which was meant to say, “I’m not complaining about your party. I am nice and I want to say hi”) was interpreted as a “turn up the music; this is awesome” gesture. Whoops. Long story short, they invited me around to join them in the backyard. I met their 1-year-old son, the dance party’s honored guest, met some women who spoke English, took pictures of them, ate cake and laughed with them as some people danced and others ate. I left to get some sleep for my race the next day, but as the dance music kept going, I couldn’t help but be thankful for how just an act of showing interest in people’s lives means so much and how sometimes we get the added bonus of it being really awkward and funny.

We don’t have it figured out. We never will. I get discouraged at my busy schedule and lack of really being able to invest – every other day…if I really think about it. But we all have neighbors and the opportunity to get to know them and love them, telling and showing them that the love we demonstrate is because we were first loved by the only One who is perfect, beautiful and wonderfully holy. That is the truth I can hope in.


{Adventures in Albany Park} The Beginning

“I still can’t believe how perfectly you provide!”

A simple statement of pure joy I said (yes, aloud and by myself) as I was sitting on my bedroom floor for the second night of being in our new apt in Albany Park.  Thinking of the way my roomie, Natalie, and I received the exact apt we prayed for. Exact. Perfect.

Lest you think this blog is about scoring an awesome apartment, I should explain “Adventures in Albany Park” is about God directing, providing, loving and orchestrating for His glory and for His name to be worshipped among the nations. And we’ll say this blog’s story begins with a move and an apartment. And two girls (plus other friends) who are just along for the ride – because sometimes obedience should be an adventure – thrilling and scary all at the same time.

We just moved to Albany Park – a neighborhood many sources list as the second or third most diverse neighborhood in the nation. To get here has been all God – lots of doubts and fears and waiting on my end…perfect timing and prodding on His. Why did we move almost to the end of the brown line, away from many of our friends, work and Whole Foods? Because God loves the nations and we want to live intentionally – me: I want to reach out to Muslims and have been making the trek up here
for the last year and a half to hang out with the coolest girls from Iraq ever (they are a part of my refugee fam) and Nat: she loves
people and frankly has this amazing gift of making people feel welcome in her home. It’s a pretty good team if I do say so myself.

That’s a bit of background on us. In celebration of the move, I couldn’t help but reflect on what God has been doing and how He
answered prayer:
Actually getting us up here: I was so scared of going alone and, about a year ago, Natalie lovingly exclaimed she would go; flash forward about a year, Natalie maybe needed to move from her apt and both of us
prayed and heard clearly from Him over the BASIC retreat (through music, words of friends and strangers) that the time was now; the loft I bought a year ago is rented by a dear friend and her husband; found the perfect apartment that is close to my refugee family as well as in the heart of the neighborhood so we can meet people; another friend, Patrick, made the move in Sept; began meeting regularly with a group of passionate people who are or are looking into reaching out to Muslims – some who already live in AP.
Now that we’re up here: our prayer is to meet people and open our home, have a gospel-centered friendship, equip and encourage others to join in the adventure and just be obedient to what the Lord is doing. So…we had dinner with our neighbors last week – from Thailand to Connecticut. They said they had never done that before – we hope to make it a tradition; met Sayda who was the cashier at our grocery store; ran into my refugee fam (from here on out, I’ll refer to them as the “fam”) on the sidewalk, talked and somehow shared why believers fast and how Christians have their sins forgiven. Hello!!! That wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t living in this neighborhood.

We could use your prayers as we meet our neighbors, get acclimated and have conversations. Pray that this all leads to truth and making God’s name great. Thanks for reading – it’s already been so cool to see God doing more – WAY more – than anything we could ever imagine. Check back here every couple weeks as we share more.

The adventure begins…


{Friday 5} 9.4.09


Welcome to Park’s Friday Five! Each week you’ll find a weekend size taste of Chicago and Park happenings. So don’t be out of the loop…check back each week for full scoop!

1) 2/42 Ultimate Frisbee Tournament
Looking for an “Ultimate” Labor Day Weekend?!? Well, look no more, Park Community Church is hosting THE Ultimate Frisbee Tournament. whether you’re a seasoned player or just fascinated with frisbees it’s sure to be a fun day out in the sun. Got friends who want to join? Great! Sign up as a team of 5-7. Or, if your motto is, “Life’s a gamble” sign up solo and perhaps you’ll end up on the winning team! Prizes for the top two teams. Saturday, Sept. 5, Diversey Harbor, 9am-2pm, Register on the Park website: http://www.parkcommunitychurch.org/event/2009-09-05-242-ultimate-frisbee-tourney/.

2) Chicago Jazz Festival
Let the Blues carry away your sorrows of Summer passing at this 31st annual Jazz Festival in Millennium Park. For three days straight you can enjoy four jam-packed stages boasting local, national and international performers. From Ragtime to Big Band the center of the city will be all jazzed up over Chicago’s longest-running lakefront music festival. Sept. 4-6, 12pm-9:30pm, Price: Free, 300 S. Columbus, http://www.chicagofestivals.net/category/city-of-chicago-festivals/jazz-festival.

3) Bash on Wabash
Perhaps your neighborhood Block Party has come and gone, but the folks in the South Loop invite you to come on down and celebrate the holiday weekend Wabash style. Food, fun, bags, live music, beer and wine vendors and a DJ await. Sept. 5-6, 11am-10pm,1800 S. Wabash Ave, Price: $5 Donation, http://www.greatersouthloop.org/bash.html.

4) First Fridays @ The Museum of Contemporary Art
Single? Feeling ready to mix and mingle? Every First Friday, The Museum of Contemporary Art hosts an after-work mixer complete with passed Wolfgang Puck appetizers, a DJ and the ever cool iMac G5 Digital Dating Bar – to find out exactly what it is, you have to go see for yourself! With all the festivities, don’t forget to indulge yourself in some of the bizarre, ahem, contemporary art that truly deserves the spotlight! Sept. 4, 6pm-10pm, Price: $8-16, 220 E. Chicago, http://www.mcachicago.org/programs/ff.php?page=friday.

5) I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream!!! That’s the rallying cry at Chicago’s Luxury Ice Cream Festival! Sound too good to be true? It’s not…Noted as a gourmet festival (is that an oxymoron?) of coolest proportions, this one night event pays homage to the micro-creamery, pastry chefs, chocolatiers and artisan suppliers. And heck, life is short, eat dessert first!!! Friday, Sept. 4, 7pm-10pm, Price: $25, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 N. Cannon Drive, http://chicagoicecreamfestival.com/festival.html.

** This blog faithfully brought to you by Michelle Slape

{Friday 5} 8.27.09

Welcome to Park’s Friday Five! Each week you’ll find a weekend size taste of Chicago and Park happenings. So don’t be out of the loop…check back each week for full scoop!

2/42 Camping Trip @ Starved Rock State Park
City Slickers meet nature on this rapid weekend getaway. You don’t need the Rockies to find hike-worthy trails – Starved Rock State park boasts 13 miles of trek worthy trails, scenic sandstone rock formations and the beautiful Illinois River. Get geared up for some fun and fellowship in God’s creation. Aug. 38-30, Cost: $40/person and includes meals and campsite costs. Registration is full, however, stay-tuned for other adventure getaways. www.starvedrockstatepark.org

Jammin’ at the Zoo
Calling all party animals!!! Crazy things happen when you mix music and zoo animals…Like seeing Five for Fighting and Angel Taylor for nearly nothing! Head out to Lincoln Park Zoo this Friday for this popular concert series. Aug. 28, Cost: $23-28, Gates open at 6p.m., Concert starts at 7:15p.m., Bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating, 2200 N. Cannon Drive. http://www.lpzoo.org/.

Randolph Street Market Festival
Festival-goers need not fear, this sixth annual indoor/outdoor European influenced festival features art, fashion, vintage treasures, timeless keepsakes, décor galore and all the music, food, drinks and fun you could want. It is also home to the world-renowned Chicago Antique Market and Indie Designer Market. So, dust off your turntable and pick up some new tunes this weekend! Aug. 29: 10a.m. – 5p.m. , Aug. 30: 10a.m. – 4p.m., Price: $10 (includes repeat entry all weekend), 1350 W. Randolph St., Free shuttle from Water Tower Place and Free Parking. http://www.randolphstreetmarket.com/.

Chicago Green City Market
Before the warm Summer breezes turn bitter and the green leaves that paint Lincoln Park green disappear, be sure to stop by Chicago’s Green City Market where an array of locally farmed and organic treats await you. You can find everything from meats, fruits, vegetables and cheeses to honey, herbs and baked goods fresh and ready to take home. Don’t forget the gorgeous fresh flowers sold at a fraction of flower shop prices to complete the experience. Saturday, Aug. 29, 7a.m. – 1p.m., Price: Free, 1750 N. Clark St.

Bucktown Arts Fest
Celebrating Art in all forms and fashions, this long-running fest is sure to please the art lover in all of us. It has been heralded as one of Chicago’s premier showings of painters, sculptors, photographers and craftspeople. Entertainment also abounds in the form of live music, theater, dance and spoken word performances. If you’re in the mood for a Picasso-sized dose of culture, you’ve come to the right place! Aug. 29-30, 11a.m. – 7p.m., Price: Free, 2238 N. Oakley Ave., http://www.bucktownartsfest.com/.



Sunday Debrief {Friendship}

Our primary obstacle to true intimate relationship is the idolatry of self

Last night, JR looked at what the gospel has to say about friendship through the life of David and gave us some tough concepts to think about in regards to the type of friends we are.

For some of us (me), it was like a punch in the stomach.

But the good kind. The kind that wakes you up out of a self-centered coma.

What about you all? What did you think of the message? How many of you went home and wrote letters confessing of your Saul-like tendencies? How many of you are prayerfully considering and planning writing those letters this week?

We want to hear about it. From success stories, to struggles, to further discussion on the topic.

Please share with us using the comment section below. It would mean a lot to us to hear how this message is taking action in your life.

{Friday 5} 8.21.09

Welcome to Park’s Friday Five! Each week you’ll find a weekend size taste of Chicago and Park happenings. So don’t be out of the loop…check back each week for full scoop!

1)    2/42 & 30Somethings @ the Chicago Summer Dance Festival

Take off your work shoes and slip on your dancing shoes tonight! Join Park’s 2/42 and 30Somethings group at Grant Park for a fun evening of dancing in the park as part of the Chicago Summer Dance Festival. Don’t have smooth moves on the dance floor? Not to worry, dance instruction begins at 6p.m. and you’ll have until 9:30p.m. to perfect your moves! Meet Zhenya and others at the entrance sign. Email zslundgren@gmail.com for more details. Aug. 21, 6-9p.m., Cost: Free, Grant Park, 601 S. Michigan Ave.


2)    Millennium Park Workouts

Can’t get to the gym on Saturday mornings? How about Millennium Park? That’s right, every Saturday through Sept. 19, Lake Shore Athletic Club hosts free workouts in Millennium Park. What better way to start a Saturday than doing the downward dog with thousands of your best Chicago friends?!? Four 45 min classes offered on the Great Lawn: Tai chi (7 a.m.), Yoga (8 a.m.), Pilates (9 a.m.) and Aerobic Dance/Martial Arts (10 a.m.). Get ready to sweat…this ain’t no walk in the park! Aug. 22, 7-11a.m., Free Admission, http://www.millenniumpark.org/parkevents/fitness.aspx


3)     Lake View Music Fest

No Chicago weekend would be complete without a festival or two beckoning you off the beaches of North Ave. This weekend Lake View hosts their 5th annual fest full of continuous live music – with the likes of Stache!, Too White Crew, Trash Martini and Wedding Banned you’re sure to be entertained. Got the urge to splurge? Shopping will be plenty as local merchants display the best of their summer stash. And what would a festival be without eats? Get your fill from tastings of local restaurants and be on your merry way! Aug. 22-23, 12-10p.m., Cost: $5-$7 donation, 3600 N. Sheffield (Sheffield & Addison), http://www.chicagoevents.com/event.cfm?eid=134


4) St. Demetrios 60th Annual Greek Festival

Prepare to experience Greece right in your back yard. That’s right, no expensive air ticket, luggage or small fortune necessary. This longstanding Greek Fest is sure to please with live music, traditional folk dancing, carnival games and of course delicious Greek fare! Homemade souvlaki, lamb, chicken, homemade pastries, loukoumades and other Greek specialties will be in abundance, so eat your heart out! Aug. 21-22, 5-11p.m., Aug. 23, 12p.m.-12a.m., Admission: $2, Free Parking, St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church 2727 W. Winona St. 


5)    Glamorama 2009

Calling all fashion and hip-hop divas & dudes!!! Ne-Yo headlines this 11th annual fall fashion event featuring designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Marc Jacobs, Max Mara and more. Entertainment will also include The New Standards and Jadyn Maria.  Open-to-the-public after party at Underground. Aug. 21, 8p.m., Tickets $50-$1,000 (ticketmaster.com), The Chicago Theater 175 N. State St., http://www.thechicagotheatre.com/events/macys-glamorama-2009.html

Friday 5

Welcome to the first edition of Park’s Friday Five! Each week you’ll find a weekend size taste of Chicago and Park happenings. So don’t be out of the loop…check back each week for full scoop!

  1. 2/42 @ the Symphony
    The 2|42 group is heading to Millennium Park Friday to hear Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.  What better way to kick back after a long laborious week than on the lush lawn of the Pritzker Pavilion? You’ll be sure to leave with a smile following Beethoven’s famous “Ode to Joy”! Look for the 2|42 flag or contact Alyssa Bray 312.343.3674 or Russ Lewandowski 810.820.0909 to meet up with the group.  Blankets/chairs and food/beverage are a must! Cost is FREE! Aug. 14, 6:30-7:45p.m., 201. E. Randolph St. http://www.grantparkmusicfestival.com/.
  1. Air & Water Show
    Nothing brings the city to life more than the annual Air & Water Show. For 51 years this show has drawn millions to Chicago’s magnificent lakefront and has become the largest spectator event in the U.S. Headliners this year are the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights and U.S. Navy Parachute Team Leap Frogs. Snag a spot along North Ave and Oak Street Beaches for prime views. Or you can try and finagle your way onto a lakefront rooftop and feel the air brush your cheeks as they whiz by! Aug. 15-16, 10a.m. – 4p.m., Free Admission, 1600 N. Lake Shore Drive
  1. Green Music Fest
    Love Music? Love our planet? Head to the Green Music Fest this weekend.  Relish in all things
    green – think eco-friendly vendors, eco-conscious bands, free bike valet parking, recycling stations, a book swap, yoga and more!  It’s Mother Nature Palooza! Aug. 15-16, noon-10 p.m. Tickets $11.50-$25, kids under 12 are free. 1330 W. Chicago Ave., www.greenmusicfestchicago.com.
  1. Bicycle Film Festival
    The Bicycle Film Festival at Columbia College stars the two-wheeler in a variety of movies. Check out “WHERE ARE YOU GO,” a film about the Tour d’Afrique, one of the world’s longest cycling races. Action-packed with 7,000 miles of pure adventure. Aug. 14, 7 p.m. Tickets are $10. 1104 S. Wabash Ave., 8th Floor, Watch the trailer. Fulfill all your cycling thrills with a movie marathon. Shows going on all weekend! Aug. 14, 5-10p.m., Aug. 15-16, 12-10p.m. Columbia College – 1104 S. Wabash, 8th Floor, Tickets $10, www.bicyclefilmfestival.com.
  1. Play Ball!
    Get outside and enjoy one of America’s favorite past times this weekend. Root on the Cubbies vs. Pirates, Friday 1:20p.m., Saturday 12:05p.m., or Sunday 1:20p.m. The odds are good as the Pirates are on an 8 game losing streak! 1060 W Addison St., http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com.