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If you gave money towards the mission of Immanuel in 2009, be sure to find Cassie between the services tomorrow to get your official receipt for tax purposes.

Don’t forget: Prayer Meeting at 7:00 PM tonight at The Meeting Place.

Also, you can bring items to be shipped to Haiti to church tomorrow or drop them off yourself at the UIC Pavilion between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM 1/31 only. Items accepted are:

  • Non-perishable food/water
  • New toiletries/OTC-medical supplies
  • New towels/sheet sets, packed in waterproof tubs or ziploc bags so they are not damaged enroute. PLEASE make sure used items are FRESHLY laundered.
  • New/used clothing, packed in waterproof tubs or ziploc bags so that they are not damaged enroute. PLEASE make sure used items are FRESHLY laundered.


We are changing the time, location, and frequency of Prayer Meetings.

Starting this Saturday (1/30 and then every-other week thereafter) we will meet for prayer at 7:00 PM at The Meeting Place.

We hope you can join us as we spend time seeking God and waiting in His presence.

Dearest IBC family,

Hello all! For those of you who do not know me, my name is Grace. I’ve been a part of Immanuel for about a year and a half now. I’m married to Jeffrey (the good-looking guy with a smile that takes up the majority of his face, and who occasionally plays guitar on Sunday mornings). You might be surprised he’s married, as you may not have ever seen me before. Getting to church can be difficult at times, since I work the grave-yard shift as a registered nurse at RushUniversityMedicalCenter. Which leads me to this week’s episode of ‘Vocation Vignettes’…

Besides being a wife, I have been a RN for about 9 months now. I work on a Critical Care Unit, caring mostly for neurology, cardiac, and thoracic patients. I do a lot of stuff… anywhere from suctioning the snot out of people’s lungs (yum!) to giving chest compressions to dying patients. (If you want more details, just ask) In addition to caring for my patients’ physical needs, I also have the opportunity to be a source of emotional and spiritual support. Some of my favorite moments at work have been the times I have been able to encourage and pray with my patients.

Although nursing can be really rewarding, I’ve quickly learned the exhausting and stressful side of it. There have been more than one occasion when I have come home crying, totally at the end of my self and asking God, “Why did you put me in this profession?!” But it is with this job that I have learned so much of my sinfulness and shortcomings, and even more of God’s character and abundant grace.

For instance, once I was helping this 400+ lb man get cleaned up. He wasn’t my patient, but the patient care tech (PCT) needed a hand, so I offered to help. As soon as I walked into the room, a wave of body odor filled my nostrils. I wanted to gag. Before I even asked, the PCT handed me a face mask. During the entire bed bath, the man cursed at us and complained about anything and everything. I was glad half of my face was covered, because I just wanted to scream at the guy and tell him to shut up and be grateful. As soon as we were finished, I stepped outside and was about to say something ‘non-Christian’ under my breath when the Lord spoke so loud and clear to me. He said, “Gracie. That’s you. You once were dirty and smelly. And I forgave you – and I still see you as clean, even though most of the time you are ungrateful and you do the same stupid things over and over again. Love this man like I have loved and forgave you.”

It is moments like these that I experience God’s mercy and faithfulness in really powerful ways. Everyday, I feel as though the Lord is refining me and making me more useful. I definitely mess up though (just ask Jeff). If you think of me, pray that the Holy Spirit would continue to work in my heart and life, and that I would be a strong witness of God’s love and grace at work.

As for future plans, Jeff and I really want to serve the Lord doing medical missions overseas. We are hoping to work with the underserved in a developing nation. Timing and place are still up in the air. Let me know if you want to come along!

Well, that’s all for now. Thanks for your time and for being such great family!

In Christ,


Hebrew’s 13:4 “Marriage must be honored by all….”

Valentines’ Day is coming up! For the married brothers and sisters at Immanuel I’ve compiled some links that might help us celebrate our covenants in Christ and enjoy our spouses. Have fun! ~ Lindsey

Fun free or cheap events

  • The Garfield Park Conservatory annually hosts Sweet Saturdays. If you haven’t been to the Conservatory, it’s beautiful and refreshing in the winter. We went to the Sweet Saturdays last year, and it was really fun!
  • If we have snow you can cross country ski along Lake Michigan FOR FREE! I think this is the hidden gem of the Chicago Park District. Head to NortherlyIsland, park in their lot for free, and go inside the fieldhouse. You’ll find a room loaded with brand new cross country ski equipment. Find the Park District employee, and trade your ID for equipment. You’ll probably want to call for hours – it’s not really advertised.
  • The city is also offering FREE dance lessons on the Pritzker Pavilion stage in MillenniumPark. It sounds pretty cool. Click here for details.
  • Last on the outdoor list are the Park District skating rinks. Personally, I would avoid the crowds and expense of the MillenniumPark rink and walk just a little further south east to the Grant Park rink. It’s cheaper and not crowded! Here’s the info.
  • For $22, you and your honey can go to the Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place. It’s pretty sweet and opens Valentines’ Day Weekend. There’s actually a package for tickets, flowers, and a $25 restaurant gift card, but only 100 people will get it. Click here to see the details of the package.
  • The Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown is actually on Valentines’ Day. It starts at 12:30 and is obviously free!
  • Gentlemen, for most of you this would really be a labor of love, but if your wife is a Jane Austen lover, the University of Chicago is offering a free presentation on Jane Austen’s view of love! Could be really interesting! Click here for the time and location.
  • You could also love your spouse by loving other people together! Spend the evening with a widow or babysit for a neighbor so they can go out!

Here are some links to sermons about marriage by some great preachers. Most of them have video so you can watch them together!

Desiring God’s list of sermons about marriage.

This one by Al Mohler looks pretty good.

This is Mark Driscoll’s series from Song of Solomon.

Finally – some links on food. I think that Valentines’ Day in Chicago is way overpriced, so here are some cheaper ideas!

  • The 80s are back! Revive the fun tradition of fondue. If you don’t have pot, just set up some stools next to your stove – it’s so easy and so good! Here’s a recipe with some dipping ideas.
  • If you want to surprise your wife…I mean spouse…with a home-cooked dinner, but need ideas, here are two menu roundups that are delicious but not too complicated:

If you are interested in being a part of the newly-created Koinonia Team, please email Lindsey at lindsey.avink.

The Koinonia Team will work together to facilitate missional fellowship at Immanuel. We’ll brainstorm and plan events – both family events and missional outreach. If you have a gift for planning and a desire to help the body of Christ draw closer together through fellowship and mission, please join us!

What are you doing Super Bowl Sunday?

This isn’t an invitation to an IBC football party or an IBC anti-football party – it’s just encouragement to think intentionally and even missionally about your Super Bowl plans. Super Bowl Sunday is as much an American holiday as July 4th or Memorial Day. Think about it. We gather in groups, eat traditional foods, and celebrate – or commiserate together. It’s fully a holiday complete with traditions and expectations. I even feel compelled to capitalize Super Bowl Sunday every time I write it!

Clearly SSS isn’t sacred in any way, but it is an opportunity for us to share the gospel with each other and with unbelievers.

How do we do this? Have a party! Do you have a big TV? Invite your neighbors or co-workers to your place for the game and love them with generous hospitality and warm atmosphere. Do you have a puny TV? Get yourself invited over to your neighbor’s and bring generous hospitality and love with you. Do you and your friends hate football? Host a movie night and watch a movie that might lead to some gospel-filled conversations.

The point is – let’s not waste this opportunity to love people.

Lindsey Avink

Deacon of Koinonia

Hi Immanuel, my name is Cassie. I was born in New York and grew up in the NY/NJ area, but moved to the Midwest for school in 2001. Even though I have lived here for almost ten years, I am a true Jersey girl at heart! Both my husband Toby and I are Wheaton College alumni and we will be celebrating our 5 year anniversary this summer. After graduating from Wheaton, I moved to the Westside of Chicago where I coached high school volleyball and softball and taught math for 5 years. I recently ‘retired’ from teaching to pursue my primary vocation, which is currently a stay-at-home mom.

My role as a mom looks a little bit different than most moms, I imagine. Toby and I are the unofficial guardians of Nicole (age 18), the legal guardians of Lawrie and Isabel (ages 11 and 6), and mom and dad to Stella (age 4 months). While Toby and I always wanted to be parents, neither of us could have imagined that our first three (!!!) children would come to us potty-trained and grown! My role as mom to our four girls is slightly different for each one, according to their unique needs and circumstances.

Nicole was a former student of mine who moved in with us halfway through her junior year of high school. My role in Nicole’s life is less mom and more big sister, I think. She is currently a freshman at North ParkUniversity. Lawrie and Isabel were placed with us as foster kids through Lydia Home’s Safe Families program in December of 2007 and we became their legal guardians in November of 2008. Although we’ve played the role of their parents for over two years, the girls still call us ‘Cassie and Toby’. It can be difficult to define our roles in their lives since we don’t know if or when their parents will ever be able to care for them (both parents suffer from chronic mental illness). Stella is the newest addition to our family. She came to the us the traditional way… by stork J In her case, my role is pretty easy to define. I am her mom.

Being a ‘temporary’ or ‘sort of’ mom can be really difficult. With Nicole, it can be hard to draw the line between friend and parent. My main goals are to encourage her in her walk with Christ, and to help her make wise decisions about college, future careers, finances, and relationships. When she doesn’t make wise choices, I often find myself becoming frustrated and even angry, not only because they will cause her heartache, but because she didn’t listen to me! With Lawrie and Isabel, my role is to nurture them and help them grow as healthy, well-adjusted, Christ-loving girls. Most days I feel like their therapist/babysitter more than I feel like their mom. Often I find myself losing my patience with them and forgetting that they have lots of issues because of their situation. I catch myself telling them to ‘get over it!’ more often than I’d like to admit!

When people hear about our family, they often ask, “Why do you do it?” My answer is, “Because the love of Christ compels us,” and, “to whom much is given, much is required.” As a Christian, I am called to love my neighbor, and to steward well the gifts God has given me. In my life, in this season, I’m using my gifts as a mother, biological and otherwise. Part of loving your neighbor includes practicing hospitality. This hospitality comes in many forms and definitely doesn’t call all Christians to foster parenthood; however, it does call the church as a whole to care for the orphaned and abandoned. If the church doesn’t step up to care for those in need, we miss out on huge opportunities for sharing and living out the gospel, and the huge blessings that come with it! We are salt and light!

The Lord has used this season to challenge me, especially as a task-oriented, people pleasing, type-A personality. It is really easy for me to look at these girls and say, “Hey God, look what I’m doing for you. Look how I’m serving you. Aren’t I so great and loving?” Or better/worse yet, to compare myself to those around me and reassure myself of my sainthood. Our current study of Galatians during our Wednesday night small group has been a sharp reminder that my salvation comes not by works, but by grace. Nothing I do can ‘earn’ me salvation. And nothing I do can ‘save’ Nicole, Lawrie, Isabel, or even Stella for that matter. Our salvation is through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins. I know that God has blessed me with a special capacity for juggling lots of things at once and my role as a ‘sort of’ mom and as a ‘real’ mom has challenged me to use this gift to its fullest capacity. It’s also teaching me how sinful I really am! Working with kids who don’t have my perfectionist, driven mentality has been a lesson in humility and acceptance. Sarcasm doesn’t work on little kids! It has also taught me the importance of the church community. Toby and I can do what we do because of the support, encouragement, and prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ! I am so thankful for our IBC family and for the churches we grew up in on the East Coast who continually hold us up in prayer.

Thanks for reading! If any of you would like to hang out with our crazy family, you are more than welcome to join us for dinner sometime! Email me or come find me at church and invite yourself over!

We just wanted to report that Immanuel collected $1,075 for International Missions through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering in December!

Thanks to all who gave. It will be used well to get the message out to more people who have never heard!

This Sunday we will have two services.

Come either at 9:00 AM or 11:00 AM.

If you’re coming to the 1st Service, plan to stick around a little bit afterwards for coffee and snacks and schmoozing. If you’re coming for the 2nd Service, plan to come early (i.e. 10:20 AM) to see those who came to the 1st Service!

Hi IBCers

My name is Phyllis. I am from Indonesia. I came to the United States about 5 and a half years ago for my junior and senior years of high school. I moved from California to Chicago after I finished high school. I started my Culinary Arts degree at Illinois Institute of Art and finished it at Kendall College in June, 2009. I currently am going to school at Dominican University for a Bachelor’s in Food Science.

My primary vocation right now is a student. It seems to be very simple when studying is your only job, but it is frustrating to know that I am not able to work while completing my studies. It is due to my status as an international student that I am not eligible to work. It is illegal for me to work unless it is an on-campus job, which are limited to 20 hours a week and even that is nearly nonexistent and paid very low. What I meant by illegal is that I would be deported if I were caught working outside of school. This situation can be very frustrating when the field I study requires hands-on experience to excel.

Many people have come to me asking what it is like to go to school for cooking, what I study, and what I go to class for. The Food Network and all of the TV shows have made culinary school popular, but also give people a glorified understanding about the field. The culinary field is very stressful, time consuming, and very low paid. Only a passion for food and endurance can make anyone stay in this career. It is a fun thing to do for a living when one is passionate about it. It requires skill, planning, creativity, and the ability to multi-task. It is such a stressful career that I found kitchen life is not for me when I did my internship. This is why I decided that I wanted to study food science. With my culinary degree and a degree in food science, I will have a much broader career path to travel.

Throughout my recent, and all of my life decisions, God has kept on reminding me to prioritize and to be humble. I often find that I have put my academic career first and put God second. God reminds me through my successes and failures that I am helpless without Him. I struggle to trust in Him through my vocation. I sometimes rely on my own strength to resolve my problems. I get frustrated when things do not go my way and try to do it all by myself. I get too caught up with school work that I often forget about God; I become distant from Him. Then, when I cannot do it, God reminds me that He is my strength and I could never do anything truly on my own.

I also struggle to share the gospel with my fellow students. Most of my friends are not believers. I sometimes get discouraged when I am with them. I often do not use the opportunity that I have when I hang out with them to tell them about Jesus. I would rather be in my room and stay in my own bubble.

I have learned through my struggles that God is my strength and I am nothing without Him. It is also through my struggles in my vocation that I can share with my sister and we can keep reminding each other about God. It is also become a tangible example for my family, who are mostly non-believers, how is it like to be in Christ.

That is it about me. I can talk about my roles in my family and other things, but that can get too long. Contact me if you have any questions about my school, family, or any other things, or if you just want to chat. Email: ddphyllis

God Bless,

Phyllis =)