This vacation has been amazing! Not just relaxing and re-energizing, but very thought provoking and inspiring too. I love this city.
Yesterday Ang and I decided to have an "easy" day and headed to the third largest mall in the US. Now what part of "waaaaay too much walking" didn't we factor in?!?! We are laughing at ourselves - every morning as we have headed out of the hotel, we figure we will only be gone a few hours, and then sometime mid evening we roll back in! We have every intention of spending time sitting on our bums in front of the TV, but we end up having too much fun in the outside world! Yesterday was a perfect example of that. We figured we would hit a few stores and grab lunch and maybe a movie and be back here mid afternoon. Um, nope. Got home close to 8PM! (Part of that was a shifty bus driver who threw the transit schedule to the wind...) I ended up doing a lot of shopping, and we both hit a super fancy salon for haircuts. Can you say rock stars???? (At least we keep complimenting each other...) The mall was fun and we enjoyed it, but by the time we got home, we were whipped!
This morning the plan was to get up, grab the yummy free breakfast bar, and tour Arlington and take a quick stroll past the White House and be back here in time for an afternoon of football. (Or in Ang's case, an afternoon of avoiding talking to Ann about football.) Well, it is 6:30 and we just got back to the hotel!
Arlington is one of my favorite spots in DC. I haven't been here in a long time, but I still vividly remember watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown when I visited back in middle school. Ang and I took a tour bus and stopped first at JFK's grave and then on the the Tomb of the Unknown. I think that no matter how old I get or how many times I watch, I will never lose my appreciation for these soldiers from the 3rd Infantry division. The ceremony is so intricate and solemn, and I love that these men spend so much time preparing to guard the remains of a soldier known but to God. In that tomb is some one's brother or husband or child. That tomb is guarded with such care, not because of who that soldier was, but because of what that soldier sacrificed. At the end of the tour, our guide has us take a look at the rows and rows of markers at Arlington, and to remember each marker represented a life given for freedom. I think my generation and the generations after me don't really have a true appreciation for freedom and its cost. We are so busy taking advantage of our freedoms to care much about how they have been ensured for us.
Standing at the Tomb of the Unknown after the changing of the guard, I was struck by the fact that what looks like pride (the meticulously prepped guard, the beautiful setting, the stately monument) really is much more about humility. There is something deeply outward focused about serving and protecting. I hope our country doesn't lose that truth. I hope I remember that in my own daily life.
One of the ultimate highlights of my trip was in the gift store at Arlington! Most of you know I am a WWII freak. It is embarrassing, but I love learning about it and reading personal accounts from that time. My favorite, of course, (say it with me girls!) is Col. Glenn Frazier. He wrote a great book called Hell's Guest (shameless plug for the Col.) and he also participated in the PBS documentary, The War by Ken Burns. Not too long ago I finished watching the entire documentary, and it was incredible. I have been pricing the DVDs online, and needless to say it is waaay out of my budget. Well, at the Arlington bookstore they have the book The War! Speaking of sacrifice, Ang and I traded off carrying my backpack loaded down with an over sized hardback book all afternoon!
After Arlington we grabbed some lunch and headed to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. I am sure I have seen the White House before in one of my past trips to DC, but I didn't remember it much. We had a great time looking at it and taking pictures. A woman next to us brought her poodle by for a look and this little girly poodle began barking and snarling at the gigantic guard dog patrolling the yard! Crazy pooch! (The poodle would have looked slightly more foreboding if she wasn't wearing a maroon sweater and pink leash...)
One of the things I love about DC is that for the most part people are super friendly. We took pictures for some tourists who in turn took pictures of Ang and I in front of the White House. It seems everyone speaks the international language of the digital camera. Of course we encountered a slight language barrier when a Chinese tourist thought Ang was saying, "Take another picture" when really she was saying, "Did that picture take?" Yeah, we have about sixteen pictures of us in front of the White House! (At least we are cute in all of them!!!)
As we crossed the street in front of the White House, Ang and I stopped to pray for President and Mrs. Bush and also for President-elect Obama and his family. Something about this city just compels you to pray. If distraction is a powerful tool of the enemy, he is using it overtime in this place. So much is focused on man and his accomplishments. I pray for leadership that will focus on God and His will for this country.
Tomorrow is our last day here, and both Ang and I are missing our husbands and children today! We will be ready to head home in the afternoon. We are planning on going into the city once more to go to the Eastern Market and to stop back at the Supreme Court and pray once more. Then to the airport and home to those I love!
This has been an amazing experience. Don't get me wrong, I love to be with my family and I miss them dearly, but I feel so much peace and calm in my soul from these few days. I said to Ang that I feel more "whole" after our time here. It sounds selfish, but it has been wonderful to pursue the things that are on my heart without having to bring others on that journey. This time has been so refreshing and renewing and I feel like God has revealed some things to me that I need to be a prayer warrior about. I mean it when I say you don't go into the Holocaust Museum and come out with the same heart! And not just that place, but all of the place we've been and the things we've seen have spoken to me in some way or another. This was amazing.
Probably the next time I blog, it will be from my wonderful home! I will try to get some pictures posted too. I bet you are all dying to see the new hairdo!
Good night from DC! Off to watch football...(about time, huh?)