What do deep dish, Hitch, and South Africa have in common?

I haven’t totally lost my mind. This definitely happened. Only in Chicago, right?

(Shameless social media plug: Follow my adventurousness at #ProjectMikeMeetsChicago)

I’ll get to the juicy stuff from the title momentarily, but let me set it up with a few more touristy happenings.

I like big cities. Hustle and bustle. Taxi cabs. Crosswalks. People…lots of people. Diversity. Food. Local cultural hodge-podge. Color. Lights. *insert Petula Clark singing Downtown*

Saturday was kind of like The Muppets Take Manhattan, but without the voiceovers or the plethora of NE accents. I put on my proverbial daring hat and shuttled myself from O’Hare to Chi-Town. Traffic and parking garages are pretty much inevitable, crowded, and expensive. It was worth it though.

I scouted out the urban terrain, changing lanes like a mad cabbie, but with proper blinker usage. (I’m a firm believer in letting everyone know when and where I’m going.) One big difference I’ve noticed in my short time here compared with the Big Apple is the lack of car horn usage. Are Chicagoans that polite? I’m thinking half of the people here are actually tourists who don’t know where they’re supposed to turn and are doing their best to avoid running peds over in the crosswalks.

My first objective was to find Portillo’s. From me to this delicious Chicago Dog: Get in my belly. YUM-O!

Portillo's

My second objective: Millennium Park & The Cloud Gate.

Millennium Park

Cloud Gate

My third objective: Do something cultural. I turned around, panoramic style, and saw the old Chicago Public Library building (now filled with city cultural exhibits) and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Art Institute of Chicago

Gothic Farmers

My fourth objective: Add Chicago to my Starbucks destination mug collection.

Chicago Starbucks

My fifth objective: Complete the art ensemble by soloing at the movie theater. After looking at a heap of 20s art in the public library building, and considering I would probably have to watch this alone back at home anyway (*cough* lame friends *cough*), I got me a ticket to The Great Gatsby. Baz Luhrmann painted quite a stunning portrait of the roaring (depraved) decade. (Moral: I learned this song in children’s Sunday School recently about the Ten Commandments. One of the lines is “Please stay married, you’ll be glad.” Truth. Marital fidelity has always been a struggle for sinful humanity. No one is perfect, but if you’re going to the chapel, you had better think hard about the promises you’re about to make before you slide that ring on her finger.)

Sunday rolled around with me arriving at Moody Memorial Church. I’m always amazed at how God has His people all over the country and the world. Even when I’m far away from home I can still feel at home. I’m thankful He has a thriving body of believers in the dark citadel of Chicago. May the light shine brightly through this body. I think D. L. Moody would be pleased with the legacy being carried on by the leadership here. I was certainly encouraged and blessed.

The Moody Church

Here’s where the title comes into play. I just had to get me some good deep dish pizza. And friends recommended Giordano’s. So, I searched Google Maps for this great place and walked a handful of blocks. Smart right? Burn the calories off before I consume the yummy prized pizza. I waited a solid 45 minutes for this to come out of the oven.

Giordano's Deep Dish Pizza

Back up a little bit. I got seated at the bar. It’s always awkward dining alone. Plus, it was Sunday brunch hour. Everyone and their cousin was out for a deep dish and beverage. I sat down next to this 27 year old aspiring dating coach. I’m not even kidding. He was in town for a dating coach conference.

After the usual pleasantries when conversing with a total stranger, he asked if I had seen Hitch. My first thought was, “I think I left the gas on.” *insert ginormous suburban explosion* Then, I thought, “Please don’t give me any dating advice. I don’t need your help. And I’m not in Chicago to find my soulmate.”

Jump ahead to just before my pizza arrives. The gentleman to the left of Hitch said something to the bartender. Hitch and I noticed he wasn’t from around here, but only by his accent. Turns out he’s from South Africa, in town for a conference.

We were all three in town for a conference. *insert Twilight Zone soundtrack* I feel like this would be the appropriate place for one of those lousy “3 guys walk into a bar” joke…but I won’t. It was a famous pizza joint after all.

Long (and deep) story short – the pizza was very delicious…and way too much for one person to consume. Ever.

On a more serious note – I really don’t like being away from home when tragic things happen. The Oklahoma tornado today is a reminder to us all to live every moment as if it could be our last.

Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. (James 4:14 ESV)

I will continue to pray for those affected. The God of the storm is also the Great Physician and Comforter. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18 ESV)

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