Zoo skies, smilin' at me...

After an incredibly jam-packed last few weeks, with events that ranged from our church's 75th Anniversary services to a week alone with the kids while Chris went to Ecuador, we kicked back today and visited the National Zoo. Despite cloudy skies and chilly temps Chris, Carissa and I had the time of our lives! (Nathan had school, and we needed to check out how accessible the animals are for someone in a wheelchair before we take him, so we have now promised that he will visit as soon as a sunny vacation day comes up!)

When we first moved to the area Chris and I would pick a new site around Washington each Monday on his day off and hop on the Metro to go see it. We moved here in October, so we spent that first winter freezing our bee-hinds off around DC, but we had the place virtually to ourselves. We have slacked off from doing this in recent years since our little one came along, so it was great to get back out there and explore. The National Zoo had been on our to-do list for some time!

I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite site from today. I guess for me personally I totally loved seeing the pandas in their new habitat, which just opened last week. (You can check it out for yourself from the comfort of your home at the National Zoo's great website, but do yourself a favor and plan a trip soon!) Tai Shan, the 15-month old cub, was asleep in a tree-how do they do that without falling out?!?-so his mom, Mei Xiang, ambled out onto one of the rock formations and stretched out to nap. Just like a mom to make the most of her toddler's naptime and a sunny, warm spot! The "stroller-brigade" moms, who seemed to be the only other people in the park today, looked jealous.

I have to say that living in an area where you have the opportunity to visit one of the world's best zoos on the spur of the moment is totally great! Most of the time we are so wrapped up in the daily maze of our existance here on the confines of church property that we begin to take that a little for granted, but I hope we will get back out there and experience all that there is to do and see in this richly diverse area we now call home.

In his blog this week, Chris quoted Mark Batterson as saying that we should seek to collect experiences and not possessions in our life, so today we definately added to our experience collection!

Earrings and Poop

Oh the joys of motherhood! Last week Chris left for a missions trip to Ecuador. He hadn't even been gone 24 hours when my little busybody proceeded to quietly slip into our bedroom and swallow 5 (yes i wrote 5-F I V E) of my stud earrings! I found her with the earrings and counted them out to realize that five mates were missing and the only logical place they could be was inside my daughter! Her pediatrician and my Dad (who was the only person I could think coherently to call for advice) said "Take her to the ER for an x-ray." Sure enough, there they all were. (I'm certain this x-ray has now been added to some radiologist's "Most strange things kids have swallowed" collection!!) Then I had the extreme joy of watching the, shall we say, output for the next week to make sure the earrings made it out of her system! Needless to say, I will be reminding Chris of this little chore when it comes time to buy Mother's Day gifts next year!

And to think, some people might think the life of a stay-at-home Mom and pastor's wife is boring!

(By the way, Chris took 12 others with him on the missions trip-up from two last year. They prayed with 84 people to accept Christ, and ministered to hundreds of others! And to think, by staying home with the kids and fishing through poop so Daddy could go preach to the nations, I had a small stake in that kingdom work!!)

True Beauty

BIG PROPS to Dove for their real beauty campain. Check out this blog entry and the Dove video that's with it-I couldn't have said it better!

Heavy Hearted MomMusings

Since this blog is mainly the musings of my mother's heart, I must share my heartbreak over the horrific events of this week. I have been deeply disturbed and saddened by the attacks against young girls in our schools and communities.

I don't need to rehash these events themselves; if you own a computer, tv or radio, or if you read a paper you know the intimately horrific details of this new spate of violence. For those of us here in the Washington DC area, on the same day as the tragedy in Colorado last week our newscasters also informed us of an eight year old girl's sexual assault after she got off of her school bus half a block from her home and the man police were looking for who had assaulted one girl already in area stores and was caught on camera stalking another young victim in an area Target.

My husband, while watching the disturbing news coverage, made two astute observations. The most important of them was the statement that, for reasons he hasn't quite figured out yet, the enemy of our souls is deliberately targeting our daughters. The second was that, being the parents of a beautiful, precious, innocent daughter right now feels a lot like having a deer and knowing it's hunting season out there.

Now we must deal with the horror of this latest attack in Pennsylvania. In listening to the news reports of this disturbed man's possible motives for his heinous plan, I was grieved to hear his statements about being mad at God over the death of his premature baby daughter. There will be thousands of sharper minds than mine analyzing this man's motives over the next few weeks, as we all try to come to grips with how someone could even conceive such evil, but this makes me wonder a few things. I wonder if this man, who has now admitted to molesting young female family members as a twelve year old boy, felt that God was punishing him for this secret sin he had carried hidden in his memory and conscience with the death of his baby daughter. He has stated that he was mad at God, and I cannot help but wonder further if he thought that by perpetrating these evil plans on even more innocent young girls, he was showing God a thing or two. This makes me really think about what a direct path to destruction it is to harbor anger against God.

I write this from the perspective of someone who has spent a lot of time being angry with Him. Every time Nathan gets sick, and I watch him lay there helpless and barely moving, I get angry knowing that the all-powerful God I serve could make his entire illness go away with a wave of His hand. During the years when Chris and I begged to have another child, I alternated between petitioning God for this deep desire of my heart and being angry with Him that He wouldn't even give us this consolation. Now some of you might be aghast at the idea that a pastor's wife would admit to being angry with God, but I genuinely feel that God is big enough to deal with me being angry with him. But thinking about this man's anger at God has made me realize that my personal anger with Him has always been tempered by my inescapable love and need for Him. I see this in the story of Job too (which I have been studying lately). There are many passages in the book of Job where Job is really ticked with God. But his anger never outweighs his love for his God, or stops the longing he expresses to be known by God. I feel that there is a key detail here. We must always strive to never let our anger with God eclipse what the Bible calls the 'fear' of Him, or the realization of who He is and how much we need Him. I think these events are a clear example of the result of such untempered, unchecked anger against our Creator-the death of our souls.

I also feel compelled to point out the stark contrast between this man's inability to forgive God for the death of his baby daughter and the almost instantaneous forgiveness the Amish parents of his victims offered to his family. I am sure I am not the only person to observe this contrast. The Amish community members who have spoken with the press have been a walking textbook for the biblical spirit of forgiveness. As a mother, even though I am a Christian, it boggles my mind that these parents could forgive this man. I can only pray that out of this tragedy, some good will come of the testimony of forgiveness that is being lived out under the glare of media cameras in the gentle and unassuming community of the Amish.

I believe that we need to pray for specific protection over our daughters-the daughters in our homes and the daughters of our society. Like Chris, I don't know the reason for the targeting of our little girls, but it brings to my mind the biblical extermination of baby boys in the effort to prevent the Messiah from coming to cover our sin and restore creation with Creator. And in the hearts of mothers everywhere, just as in those days in Bethlehem,

"A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more." (Matthew 2:18)

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