Each weekend of this trip so far, we have been privileged to worship with a different local church. It’s fun for us to experience a new group of people, a new location, new musicians, and a new preacher. Even though each place is different, they all worship the same Jesus!
You might be wondering why we would even take the time to attend church services while we’re on a vacation. Aren’t we supposed to be taking a break from church? Isn’t that the whole point of this sabbatical? God doesn’t really care what we do on our vacation anyway, right?
We have two very big reasons for attending church every weekend:
#1: The church is global. Some people call it the “universal church” and we are a part of it because we belong to Christ. We are taking a planned break from our specific local church responsibilities, but we never take a break from being members of the family of God. We have been encouraged and challenged each week in every local church we have visited. If we ever did not want to be challenged, that probably means we need it all the more.
#2: Our children are watching us. Visiting a different church when we’re out of town gives us a great opportunity to teach our children about the priority of church, no matter the location. We don’t want our kids to grow up thinking that they only go to church if their dad is the preacher, or they know everybody in the congregation, or the music is catered to their personal taste. And we want to model for them how to set aside the time to go to church, even if we’re not home.
So far, we’ve been to a traditional sanctuary (Hopeton, OK), a remodeled very old church (St. Louis, MO), an old city theater (Wash. D.C), and an online church (lifechurch.tv). Each congregation was unique and wonderful. But most importantly, each was following Christ and trying to be his instrument in their city.
I wonder where we’ll get to go to church next weekend!
Yes, it was big. Yes, it was crowded. And yes, it was a lot of fun. We were surprised by the chance to meet up with some cousins from Tennessee and also Jason, our favorite summer intern. It was so cool to walk around and see a lot of locations that we’ve seen in TV and movies. And the weather was in the 70’s, which was a welcome relief after the hot DC temps. I think the kids’ favorite stop was “The Art of the Brick” Lego display at the Discovery Center near Times Square. Now it’s on to the next stop: New Hampshire!
This morning we hitched the trailer and hit the road for New York. There were many highlights from our visit to the nation’s capital. Blake and Lauren say that their favorite part was the Hall of Mammals in the Museum of Natural History. Brent’s favorites were the Star Spangled Banner display at the Museum of American History and the nature photography display at Natural History. For both of us, we really enjoyed worshipping at National Community Church. Of course, the memorials were very special. And I have to admit that I liked seeing Julia Child’s kitchen. Emma says “ditto” on the photography display. Our whole family enjoyed the National Archives. But there is something in particular that the kids have been enjoying our entire trip. The get excited when we see them and plan how long it will be before we see another one. Can you guess what they are? You’ll never guess. It’s the escalators! Can you believe it? There are all of these one-of-a-kind items and documents and buildings all around this city, and it’s the escalators that bring the biggest reaction. Who knew?
Dear Lord, these last few days I have been humbled by some very poignant reminders of the sacrifices that our country’s military make. Some of them give a few years of their lives. Some of them give many years, and make a career out of service to this country. And then there are some who make the ultimate sacrifice. They give their lives. They give up the futures they and their families had planned. Lord, please help me never to be flippant or take for granted what these soldiers have done. May I always remember that every soldier, whether living or dead, matters.
Lord, on this day, there is one soldier for whom I am especially grateful. I walked along a memorial wall today that was filled with names of soldiers who never returned home, who had given their lives. And I was overwhelmed with the feeling of gratefulness to You for the one name that was not on the wall. I’m thankful to you that this soldier was able to make it through the fight. It wasn’t quick, or easy, or peaceful. But somehow You found a way to get him home. As I looked at the long black wall today with so many names, I don’t know why some made it home and some didn’t. But Lord, from the bottom of this daughter’s heart, thank you for bringing my daddy home. Amen.
If I could describe the last few days in the Washington D.C. area in one word, it wouldn’t be historic, awe-inspiring, or patriotic. Although they have been all of those things. The word would be HOT! I’ve noticed some news reports about the sweltering heat wave. Those reports are about us!
Of course, this just happens to be the one week on our trip where we were attempting to use the trailer without any electricity. Let’s just say that it didn’t work out so well. Oh well. Live and learn, right? After three nights of trying to sleep (emphasis on trying) in the heat and humidity, we made the decision to change our camping plans. Hallelujah!
Now we are in Virginia at a campground where our air conditioning in working hard to cool down the trailer. In the mean time, we’re staying cool at the water park next to our campground. It’s called Bull Run Campground for all you history buffs. We’ll get back to being DC tourists tomorrow.
Here are some pictures of what we’ve been doing lately, including the Smithsonian and Gettysburg.
Yesterday we traveled through Pennsylvania on our way to Washington D.C. It gave us an opportunity to take some time out to visit the Flight 93 Memorial Site. We were able to tell the kids our own memories of September 11 and help give then a sense of what happened to our country that day. It’s overwhelming to think about the unplanned bravery those passengers showed and that they did it for people like my own children, that they may grow up in a country that is not taken captive by terror. We walked around the site with somber and grateful hearts.
Today was full and fun. We spent the day at the St. Louis Zoo. We spent our evening at church worshipping at The Journey. We spent our night catching lightning bugs. Practically a perfect day. Next stop, Washington D.C.!
Today marks our 17th anniversary! We’re just getting started! Love you Brent!
We have easily slipped into tourist mode. We have seen a lot, heard a lot, and ate a lot! The best part has been spending time with the Hofens. Next stop: St. Louis!
As we traveled the first leg of our journey, here are a few items that we found to be absolutely necessary. Traveling from Oregon to Oklahoma is a very long drive. We’ve done it many times before, but this time was very different from the others.
The first thing we absolutely needed was a plastic garbage bag. This is what you grab when your son starts throwing up all over the back seat! You use it for a garbage after all that clean up. So gross! And you keep a bunch on hand for barf bags because, unfortunately, this wasn’t a one-time incident. Our eldest, Emma, started getting sick that afternoon. It was then that we knew we would have to cancel some of our plans to meet up with college friends and cousins. We just couldn’t stomach (pun intended) the thought of giving them the flu. We spent the night in Idaho with Uncle Ed and Aunt Nancy and they took very good care of us. Then, in the middle of that first night I got hit with the flu bug, too. My only thought was, “When will this end?”
The next necessity was one of those handy-dandy energy drinks. Since I was still battling the flu, I couldn’t share in the driving responsibilities. That meant that Brent had to do all the driving. So eventually he needed to charge up with an energy boost. I must say that he was a trooper and persevered over the next two days of driving.
Our last necessity was a set of CD’s to listen to in the car. The set we used is from Adventures in Odyssey, but we have found that audio books and radio theater shows work well, too. They help keep your minds occupied during the many consecutive hours on the road.
Now that the sickness is done (thank goodness) and we’ve spent some time here in Oklahoma, we’re excited to start living the RV life. Next stop: Branson, Missouri!