I was telling my aunt this morning - God has answered so many of my prayers large and small. I had all these little dreams about this summer that seemed pretty unrealistic and really weren't that important. I hope that I get to go swing dancing at least once this summer... Wouldn't it be great to get to go kayaking in DC? ...I would love to just sit underneath a tree and read some day this summer... etc, etc, etc. This past week has been a testament that God cares for each of his children SO much and loves to remind us every day that he is with us every step of the way.
I just have to share about all the fun times that we were surprised with this last week and a half!
The Academy was invited to a swing dance party last week- Andrew's friend from school had a friend from high school who lives in this AMAZING mansion in Virgina, and he invited a wide variety of people to a swing dance party! This house was amazing - and we only got to see the basement! It had a two story library, a fantastic backyard with too many little nooks and crannies to count, a lovely swimming pool a water fountain in the garden, a soccer field, etc. We were going to dance under the terrace on the patio but it was pouring down rain so the family rented a ballroom dance floor to put in their basement! We danced our socks off all evening. All three of our NRLC guys - Devyn, Andrew, and Brandyn (an intern who has become a good friend to us all) were amazing dancers by the end of the evening, and Anna, Natalie and I (who all love to dance) especially had a blast! I love how God answers prayers more than we could ever ask for or imagine.
This weekend was also a nice respite from the classwork. On Saturday, 5 of us went to Eastern Market - a lovely, huge outdoor market a few metro stops from the Capitol. I felt like I was transported back to Europe!!! Little stands everywhere were selling everything imaginable - from antiques to beautiful photography to hats to jewelry to fresh fruit to flowers to old ancient map! The three of us girls wandered through and made it out successfully with only a few purchases: fresh peaches, beautiful cupcakes, fresh squeezed lemonade, AND Anna and I both bought maps! "Map Man" had hundreds of old maps and we dug around in the piles until we found maps that were beautiful and were special to us. I found a map from 1910 of Asia and Europe - Romania and India, my two loves. Did I need it? No, but I justified it by the fact that this opportunity would probably never come again, and it would look great on a wall in my house someday :-)
Then we found a bookstore STUFFED with books. I've never seen a more disorganized book store in my life - but the fact that it was books from floor to ceiling helped my OCD-ness take a break and just enjoy being in the environment :-) I found a Hebrew Primer for children. I was so happy that I could still read it after not being in Hebrew class for several months. It has several of the Sabbath and Passover prayers in the back... and pictures. A treasure! After all this treasure hunting, we spread out our blanket underneath a tree in the nearby park to enjoy our cupcakes and read our homework. What a day!
Sean, one of the interns who has really become a good friend and hangs out with us alot on the weekends suggested that we kayak on the Potomac. He did all the hard work of finding a place to rent kayaks and we just had to walk a couple blocks from GW to Georgetown. For just $20 each, we kayaked all afternoon. It was such a lovely, lazy Sunday afternoon..... There's no place I would have rather been at that moment. We kayaked around Roosevelt Island, and toward Lincoln and Washington Monument... across the river from the monuments, we beached and ate a picnic 'dinner' and then got back in our kayaks to go see the Jefferson Monument. This was definitely a dream come true day!
Andrew and I decided to go to a new church on Sunday - Capitol Hill Baptist. It had been recommended to me by a friend who interned for Mike Pence last year. It took us longer to metro-it than we thought, so we arrived a few minutes late. I didn't expect it to be SO crowded - the church met in a very large old house that had been converted into a beautiful V-shaped sanctuary. We looked in the window and didn't see one open seat anywhere, when an usher told us that there was a balcony and fortunately there were a few seats still open. Packed almost to capacity (a few hundred people), I could sense an excitement/anticipation in the congregation of young and old, families and college students. It was a relatively traditional liturgical service with hymns, responsive readings and several passages of scripture read out loud, but to my surprise not a single element seemed rote or "dead". It seemed as if they were hungry for a fresh revelation of who Jesus was through each part of the service.
The sermon, on Hebrews 12:1-3 was very timely for me:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
This summer has emphasized for me that what I desire most is to fix my eyes on Jesus with everything in me in order to run the race with perseverance. It was convicting to realize how often my eyes stray to focus upon lesser things. When the fight for the Right to Life seems absolutely hopeless, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus. When I am overwhelmed with so many questions of how God is going to put all the pieces together to form my future, I need to fix my eyes on Jesus. When I try to pull away and run this race on my own, the only thing that will help get me to the finish line is to refocus and fix my eyes on Jesus. Then and only then, we will not lose heart and finish the race strong.
Something else that has been re-emphasized this summer for me (with Washington DC and my earlier trip to India in June) is that I am definitely apart of a Larger Story - God's story. He has given me an important role to play, just like he has given you a role to play too. Its an Adventure, its a Battle, its a Romance... And I don't want to miss any second of this Story. After getting a sense of the Larger Story going on the pro-life movement, how can I be content to sit on the sidelines and just be happy to go on and try to live the monotonous American Dream life? After seeing a glimpse of the Larger Story in India and how God is moving so mightily there, how I can be content to only think of myself for the rest of my life and what will make me happy? God is calling each of us to someway, somehow rise up and participate in God's adventure. Now, more than ever, I declare, Yes Lord! Here am I! Send me!
I want to live, really live.