I will trust in His unfailing love.

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But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for He has been good to me.

– Psalm 13:5-6

This semester in Washington, D.C. has been an unexpected journey.  I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around the details that make the story what it is. Part of me wants to sit down with you and let you know everything that has happened, and the other part of me knows it’s not possible to convey everything. I can tell you this – I prayed a simple prayer of direction before coming here, and God has answered my prayers.

God is creatively sovereign. He has challenged me, grown me, shaped me, held me, loved me more than I’ve experienced before. He has put people in my life that I might have otherwise shut out and blessed me through them. He has revealed to me what I should expect and what I need to give. He has shown me that He is good.

At my darkest and most confusing moments, He impressed upon my heart, “Trust in my unfailing love.”  You see, I have this tendency to think that I can hold everything together. I can shoulder the burden and carry the load on my own. I can make it work. The problem is… I can’t. A few weeks ago, I heard faith defined this way: “Faith is using our God-given means to do what we can and trusting that God will do the rest.” I need to use the gifts that God has given me, but I will always be too small. Even so, God can use my smallness to point to His bigness. God transforms and redeems the unfit and broken things I offer.

He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.

– 1 Thessalonians 5:24

When I arrived in Washington DC, I fully expected God to reveal more of His calling to me.  However, I expected Him to reveal what He wanted me to do in my way.  I put boundaries on where God could lead me.  And you know what?  That’s not faith. But I am slowly learning to trust in His unfailing love.  Sometimes that means not knowing exactly where the next step is. Sometimes that means taking one very giant and definitive step. Sometimes that means resting in your Creator, knowing that He will surely do it.

Why am I putting this on my blog? Because I want to proclaim the work that God has done in me. I trust in His unfailing love. I trust that He will do it.

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Home, Sweet Home, Home, Home

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Yes, Washington DC is starting to feel like home.  The thought of leaving in just a month overwhelms me, and I wonder when I will be back.  Where will I call my home?  I realize that I’ve been blessed to call three incredibly wonderful places my home – West Linn (Portland), OR; Santa Barbara, CA; and Washington, DC.  The question, “Where are you from?” has grown increasingly difficult to answer.

A few weeks ago, at the National Cathedral, I walked into the Hall of States, which includes state flags and a guestbook for each state.  I couldn’t help but wonder, Which book should I sign – Oregon or California? I know Californians everywhere are griping about the fact that a girl from Oregon wants to call herself a Californian.  However, I submit to you this: Anything below sixty-five degrees is cold, I feel most comfortable in flip flops, and I’m pretty sure the ocean is calling my name right now.  Meanwhile, my Oregon side recites its case: Powell’s Books, dependable rain accompanied by actual seasons (which do not exist in California), and luscious green beauty.  One day I tell my friends I’m a Californian because I’m FREEZING and the next day I’m clearly an Oregonian because they sell the most Christmas trees.  And now, Washington DC is entering the picture and becoming an undeniable part of me.  I’m sure I’ll soon be fighting for the cherry blossoms, WMATA, and Library of Congress.

Well, to finish my story, I ended up signing the Oregon book.  After all, I’d like to think I’m a loyal person, true to my roots.  However, in the midst of this predicament I found something special. On the front cover of the book was a prayer for Oregon. Naturally, I had to read the prayers for California and DC, too.  So, perhaps you will join me in praying for my homes:

A Prayer for Oregon

Author of all majesty, how bright is Thy glory upon the land of Oregon!

Blessed by the trees upon their hills, the valleys in their verdure,

and the dry places waiting their turn of fertility.

Praise be to Thee for the precious gift of rain:

drawn into heaven from the sea, caught again upon the snowy peaks,

returning fruitfully down the strong rivers

giving life to Thy people in their orchards and city places.

May their lives be likewise lifted to Thee, and blessed and sent again

to do Thy service upon the earth.

So may the land be renewed, and the souls of Thy servants;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

A Prayer for California

Golden state, golden state who posts the watch on Farrallon’s isles?

Who lifts up Shasta’s snowy crown and keeps the high passes of Sierra Nevada?

Tis Thee, O Lord, who hast ringed a royal valley with such ramparts.

That within, blessing may lie among the palms and poppies,

the orchards and vineyards and manmade waterways.

Praise the good monks in their missions;

Drake in his ship; pioneers and settlers;

who all sought life in Thy Name

from Tahoe’s emerald blue to the surf dancing upon the breathless coast.

Hallow, O Lord, our questing too:

that we may behold the beauty of Thy truth;

far off among the stars and close in the charters

we devise that peace and friendship may endure upon the lovely face of earth;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

Amen.

 

A Prayer for the District of Columbia

Sanctify anew, Thou Ruler of Destiny,

this bit of federal soil which our forefathers set apart from any State

to nourish the high mission of our common government.

Bless, O Lord, the precious branches planted here:

The deep-rooted responsibility of Law, the even measure of Justice,

and the leadership aptly chosen and held aloft before our people.

Grant to all who serve in this District

the same vision that drew Columbus to a new world, and a kindred steadiness of purpose

to that of the first President whose name and flag we bear.

So by Thy grace may we be worthy of that special place given to a capital city

in Thy holy name;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

Amen.

Big Perspective for Small People

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NOTE: Because my blog is public, I purposely removed any references to the people I work with or to the organization for which I work. This has resulted in some awkward and vague phrasing.  However, most of you know these details and so it shouldn’t be too difficult to fill in the gaps.

As an intern, it is really easy to get lost in the menial tasks and forget about the greater perspective of the organization for which you work.  It’s challenging to see the top when you find yourself on the bottom rungs of the ladder.  My organization is at the forefront of American international relations.  However, this task is split into bureaus and offices, and I often feel lost in the hierarchy as one of thousands of employees.

A few days ago, my supervisor asked me to help with the economic security conference hosted by my organization.  As an escort, my job was to point diplomats and businessmen towards the conference room.  “Good morning. Turn the corner and go through those doors,” I repeated endlessly for an hour and a half.  With each repetition, my eyelids grew heavier and I had to resist the temptation to frequently look at my watch.  However, I had to remind myself that this task was still important.  Besides providing a necessary security check, I was also acting as a face of the United States.  With an improved attitude, my smile widened and I made an effort to really look each person in the eye as I greeted her, asked how she was doing, and pointed her in the right direction.

After the last guest passed by, I headed back upstairs to check in with the conference coordinator.  “Would you like to go down to the conference room and hear the speech [by our boss]?” she asked me.  Elatedly, I headed down the hall, excited to finally meet my boss.  Seeing and hearing my boss for the first time really reinforced the greater perspective for which I had been yearning.  I’m an intern and I do small things, but I’m doing them for a bigger purpose.

Spiritually, I often find myself in the same conundrum and in need of the same perspective change.  I get lost in the details of my own life, feeling small but forgetting that God is big.  This last week, I read Henri Nouwen’s In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership and was convicted by his chapter on contemplative prayer.  God knows that we need perspective in order live with joy and hope, and so He calls us to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  Pray when you are suffering; pray when you are euphoric. Pray when you are disoriented; pray when you are confident.

Nevertheless, our self-centered nature makes fervent, continual prayer a difficult discipline.  I’ve been learning a hard lesson:  In order to teach us how to pray continually, God puts us in situations in which we have to pray continually.  In order to discover where God is calling me, I need to pray, pray, pray.  I should pray at my internship and for my internship, living with a prayerful attitude.  I may be small, but I serve a big God who uses my small tasks for bigger purposes.

Filling in the Facts with Photos

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A view from the Mt. Vernon Bike Trail along the Potomac River

I rode 18 miles along the trail… this was an accomplishment for me!

Touring the diplomatic reception rooms at the State Department with my parents

My family and I went to Boston for the weekend

Enjoying the Boston Public Gardens

My sister and I did a photo shoot… she’s mastered the art of looking snarky and beautiful!

For fall break, I got the opportunity to go to New York City for the weekend.

The Brooklyn Bridge on a chilly but gorgeous day

I feel obligated to include a photo of the State of Liberty! (from the Staten Island Ferry)

Central Park from the Belvedere Castle

The Metropolitan Museum of Art gives the Louvre some serious competition!

Not Blogging is a Good Thing, Right?

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First of all, let me apologize for neglecting my blog.  I’m trying to convince myself that my lack of blogging is a good thing; it’s evidence that I have been enjoying Washington, D.C. to its fullest… right?  Well, I have plenty of updates for you all but an appalling lack of energy with which to do so. Let’s just say it’s a good thing I’m not receiving a grade for this blog. Talk about a GPA killer! 🙂

If you will give me a chance to gather my thoughts, I will leave you with one of my posts from our program blog:

Paradoxically, routine can both propel you forward to productivity but also hold you back in monotony.  Just as a routine can provide a helpful framework, it also keeps you trapped within its bounds. We are now entering week six of twelve of our internships, and the routines are becoming firmly established.

My alarm goes off at an ungodly hour each morning, and I force my eyelids open, savoring one extra minute under my warm covers.  I quickly get dressed into the professional clothes that I laid out the night before, and put some water on the stove for my Trader Joes apple and cinnamon oatmeal.  As the water boils, I brush my teeth, make myself look presentable, and check my bag to make sure I have everything I need for the day. I then quickly scarf down my oatmeal before heading out the door.

The walk to the metro stop ranges from ten to fifteen minutes, depending on how many times I have to stop at the cross walks.  Once I reach the metro stop, I am greeted with a smile and handed a copy of Express by the same older gentleman, “Have a safe trip, young lady.” I sprint down the escalator in hopes of avoiding the dreaded three minute wait for the next metro train. For some reason, it’s quite satisfying to rush to the tracks and immediately jump into the metro car, knowing not a minute has been wasted.  I find strange comfort in boarding the same train with the chatty conductor. “Blue line, blue line to Franconia-Springfield,” he reports, repeating the phrase at least a dozen times each trip.

Chime. “Doors opening. Step back so customers may exit. When boarding move to the center of the car.” Chime. “Step back. Doors closing.” Chime. “Step back to allow the doors to close.”

Despite seeing different faces each time I ride the metro, people never fail to take on the same roles. I observe the man adjusting his tie by using his reflection in the window. I remain standing because of the woman who puts her overstuffed bag on the seat next to her in an attempt to keep her personal space. In the corner, the sharply dressed business man purses his lips as he reads the Financial Times.

When I get to my stop, I know that the escalator will not be working and that everyone will push and shove to make their way to the top. After a brisk ten minute walk to my building, I also know that no matter how quickly I go through security, I will always have to wait several minutes for the elevator.  However, the building that used to be a dreadfully confusing maze is now refreshingly recognizable.  I walk confidently to my office, taking in the familiar rhythm of my rather uncomfortable high heeled shoes.  Sitting down at my desk, I take off my coat and check my e-mail before reporting to my supervisor. For the rest of the day, I sit quietly at my desk, eyes glazed to the computer screen as I complete various research tasks. At 5:00pm, I organize my desk and pack up to go home, tracing my way back on the metro and hoping to get the “Blue line, blue line” conductor.

Does this sound familiar? While I’ve mastered the routine, I can’t help but long for something more. My mentor had me read a chapter about the “mystery of risk” and its place in vocation. There’s nothing risky about my routine – I do the same thing every day and take comfort in its sameness. However, I’m learning that God does his best work in uncomfortable situations. How might I challenge myself in my internship? How might I push beyond the routine? Perhaps it’s something as small as striking up a conversation with someone on the metro or asking the secretary about her plans for evening.  Whatever it is, my prayer is that my eyes will not be lulled to sleep by the uniformity of my routine.  Instead, let my eyes be wide open and alert, ready to discover what God has in store for me through this internship.

I owe you all a true update soon. Thanks for your patience. 🙂

Jeremiah 29:4-7

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While thinking about how we are to approach politics and the city in which we live, I was directed to this chapter to Jeremiah.

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:

‘Build houses and live in them;

plant gardens and eat their produce.

Take wives and have sons and give your daughters in marriage,

that they may bear sons and daughters;

multiply there, and do not decrease.

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile,

and pray to the Lord of its behalf,

for in its welfare you will find your welfare.'”

– Jeremiah 29:4-7 (emphasis added)

Georgetown University

U.S. Capitol Building

Library of Congress

Supreme Court Building

The White House

The Entrance of the White House

A Week in the Life of a non-Intern

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I apologize for not updating my blog in awhile – this last week has been jam-packed.  Unfortunately, this will be more of an informative rather than a reflective blog post.  I hope to write something more substantial later.

While everyone else in the program started their internships this week, I was unable to start because of a pending security clearance investigation.  To make up for this, I had to put together a proposal of how I would spend at least 20 hours in the city in ways related to my internship.  Here’s what this week had in store:

– Reading the Nuclear Posture Review and the Ballistic Missile Defense Review, and also catching up on Russian news on RIA Novosti

– Exploring the Library of Congress, including the European Reading Room and the Performing Arts Room as well as an exhibit on flutes (YES!) and Thomas Jefferson’s rather magnificent library (“I cannot live without books.” – Thomas Jefferson)

– Listening to a lecture by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer at the National Archives (Yes, I bought his new book, and yes, I got it signed!)

– Getting a private tour of President Woodrow Wilson’s home and learning more about his ideals (League of Nations), successes, and failures (“The presidency has made every man who occupied it, no matter how small, bigger than he was; and no matter how big, not big enough for its demands.” – Lyndon B. Johnson)

– Strolling through Embassy Row and not taking a photo of the Croatian Embassy because of the guard’s piercing glare

– Buying a Washington D.C. mug at Starbucks (I couldn’t resist…)

– Hearing a lecture about the current state of affairs in Russia at Georgetown (which happened to include a delicious complimentary lunch – I wasn’t complaining!)

– Pretending to be a Georgetown student as I explored the university (I’m checking out their master’s programs in Security Studies and Conflict Resolution, as well as their PhD in Government)

– Tasting cupcakes at the three best cupcakeries in Washington DC (see ranking below)

1. Georgetown Cupcakes (I tried their chocolate banana cupcake and it was simply superb, perfectly rich and moist with a satisfying cupcake-frosting ratio!)

2. Hello Cupcake (I tried their chocolate cupcake with raspberry buttercream frosting)

3. Red Velvet Cupcakery (I tried their “Wake Up Call” chocolate cupcake with expresso infused frosting)

* Note: My favorite cupcakery, Whodidily Cupcakes in Santa Barbara, would certainly beat out Hello Cupcake and Red Velvet Cupcakery, but Georgetown Cupcakes would give them a run for their money!

– And tomorrow (Friday), I get to tour the prestigious residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, also known as the White House (cue “West Wing” music!)

I guess it turns out that not interning isn’t as bad as it sounds… However, I got an e-mail today that my security clearance was granted (an answer to prayer) and so I suppose I’ll return to the working life. Wish me luck!

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