I’m back home in York County after a weekend trip to Washington, D.C. It was a great time….a time to spend with dear friends, a time to speak to educators about children with incarcerated parents, a time to visit new places and worship with fellow Christ-followers, and a time to learn.
Because I process best by writing, and because I’m eager to share some of what I learned over the last 4 days, I’ve decided to write them out here in what I’m calling, well, “15 Things I Learned in D.C.”
1. Friendships are precious things. It was so great to sit down with my friends Lydia, DaNa and Dia Carlis and to pick up right where we had left off. This family is incredible. We laughed, much. We talked a great deal. We ate much. I was hugely spoiled. And I was reminded all over again how incredibly grateful I am for all of my friends. Good gracious. It’s nearly overwhelming, the gratitude I have for each of you.
2. I am also so grateful for the invention of GPS technology that is portable and usable in the car. I could certainly survive without it, but I may never make it to any destination goal. No sense of direction. Whatsoever. Even with the GPS, I managed to get lost. Three different times. “Re-Calculating” is still echoing in my mind today.
3. There are incredibly passionate and compassionate people in the field of education. Friday, when I spoke with the ECR team of Apple Tree Institute about the role of literature in the lives of children with incarcerated parents, I was nearly wrecked by their wrecked-ness. And then I was nearly wrecked again when I received a donation of 172 books totaling over $1200 that will be used by The Messages Project. We will now take those books into prisons, film parents reading those books to their children, and then we will mail those books and that DVD to the children as a gift from their parent. Another thing I am grateful for.
4. Ping Pong Dim Sum has the best Dim Sum I have ever tasted. Ever.
5. Movie adaptations continue to fall short consistently in comparison to books. I still have hopes that Unbroken will do the book by the same title justice this winter though.
6. I love breakfast. I always love breakfast. Oh. My. Goodness. I love breakfast. And I love brunch buffets. And Farmers Fishers Bakers in Washington, D.C. does brunch right. Fantastic food, fantastic service, fantastic atmosphere and fantastic company. Spoiled, I tell you–I was truly spoiled.
7. There is something fantastic about getting good feedback on your ideas and goals. There is also something fantastic about getting good direction on how to accomplish those goals and implement those ideas. I am back home with a mind that is filled to the brim with actions to take. Love that. Grateful for that. Excited about that.
8. I still cannot parallel park.
9. My friend Lydia completely indulged me nerd-ing out Saturday. There is something very cool about seeing things you’ve read about in books. Such as embassies. It’s fascinating to me that countries hold sovereignty over small parcels of land in other countries. That’s just very cool to me, and I’ve read many books that have referenced embassies. Getting to drive down embassy row was awesome. So many countries; so many different flags; so many different styles of buildings. I wanted to stop at each of them and ask them to stamp my Passport, but I don’t think they would do that.
10. The reason for monuments: We visited the MLK monument, walked near the Jefferson Memorial, and saw the Washington Monument and the World War II monument. So, what are monuments? They are used to help us remember important things–things we would be wise not to forget. Even in scripture we see where people erected Monuments or altars (take a look at Joshua 4:4-7) There’s nothing magical about these monuments, but, they are important because of what they point to. The monuments in D.C. point to things we would do well to remember–lives given to service or lost in wars, principles and ideas that are the bedrock of what we stand on today as Americans. This is what communion is for those of us who are Christ-followers. Communion points to Christ. It is done “In remembrance”. We should not take it lightly, any more than we take lightly the names upon names upon names that are etched into the dark granite of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. These are the thoughts that came to me as I remembered during communion Sunday morning.
11. When you drive over medians, it makes a very loud noise, and an extremely huge bump and scares your passengers half to death. Sorry.
12. I love worship, whether it is with my current church family or with people I’ve never met before. And I love visiting other churches. I so enjoyed worshipping with “family” Sunday at the Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church.
13. I was also reminded of a truth in Psalm 103:1-5. I must continuously preach to my soul. I must continuously command my soul to bless the Lord. Martin Lloyd-Jones said it best here in Spiritual Depression, Its Causes and Cures (a book that is immensely helpful, but not for those who do not want to hear truth):
The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: ‘Why art thou cast down’–what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God’–instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: ‘I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God’.
14. Traffic on the I-95 Corridor is insane on Sunday afternoons, and I have no idea why that is. You would think it wouldn’t be.
15. Even after the most wonderful trips, such as this past weekend, it is always so good to return to my crew. I am so proud of them, and there is nothing like pulling into the driveway and having all 4 of them plus Biscuit, the dog, run out for hugs and to help with your suitcase. Nothing like it. I am so blessed.