A semester to never be forgotten…

Tonight we had our farewell banquet…many tears, much laughter…we had a time of affirmation for each person in the program, and it was remarkable…hearing people voice their feelings, how others have impacted their lives…it was SO moving! It has made me realize that I love these people quite possibly more than I have ever loved a group of people (besides my extensive “family” in Williamsport, PA). I am completely drained emotionally. The tears that have been building up inside for the past couple of days have not yet been cried…and I doubt they will for awhile. I have so many fond memories of this amazing city, these amazing people…

To my co-workers at the Gingrich Group: I love you all–and you have no idea how much of an impact you have had on my life. Each one of you have said something, or done something that has stuck with me. I was so close to tears when I left you today…you have given me such an amazing experience here, and I will NEVER forget you all. Thank you for your patience, your understanding, your kindness, your generosity; you are amazing!!!

Mike–Yes, I have thanked you so many times already, and I am yet again at a loss for words, but I will thank you again. You are such an amazing friend…absolutely unforgettable. Thank you for your wise words, your kind heart, your listening ear, your love for life and your ability to make me think in new ways about common subjects. I will never forget you, or the times we have shared in Washington. You mean more to me than you realize.

All of Apartment One–I love you guys. You have made me feel so valued, so respected, so loved throughout this semester. I have had such a great time hanging out in “my other apartment” with you all. You are such godly examples, such amazing young men. I cannot wait to see where God is going to take you! Thank you for investing in my life…and for teaching me so much (that is both a good thing and a bad thing!!)

To my roommates (Apartment 7)–

I was so concerned about who I was going to share these 4 months with before I came to DC…I was so amazed the first conversation we shared, on the roof, where we talked about our fears, our dreams about the semester…you are all incredible women who have all impacted my life, my thinking, my faith in one way or another. Thank you for putting up with my silliness! i know that I am unique (LOL) and I appreciate your love and kindness towards me. 🙂 You are so wonderful and I love you!!

My last night here at ASP with everyone…I must go enjoy it fully!

Countdown to California: 4 days (I think)

Emotions…

It has been a long time since I have been this emotional…I have come so close to tears so many times today! i am not a crier by any means…I can go months at a time without shedding a tear. This semester I have cried once. Yet today I am still on the verge of tears. What is it about this semester that I am so reluctant to leave behind? Why am I so saddened at the thought of leaving?

Newt came and personally said goodbye to me today, and he said that he has really enjoyed working with me, that I am great, and that he is sorry to see me leave…though that REALLY helped me to not want to cry! 😦

Worship tonight was much needed…I needed to enter into the presence of God tonight, to be in awe and wonder of all that He has done in my life. It is absolutely amazing to think that the Creator of the universe cares about me…I am so grateful…

I think I’ll head down to Apartment 1 to try to write my paper…I seem to be able to focus in there better than most places in the building…yeah, and I also love these guys so much! 🙂

Countdown to California: 5 days…

WOW!!!!

Oh my goodness…can I just say that tonight was absolutely AMAZING?! I went to see the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra play with the National Symphony Orchestra. Yo-Yo Ma was also there and played! But that isn’t even the best part. President Bush and Laura were in attendance, as were most of his cabinet. Tonight I saw Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell (he spoke as well), Paul Wolfowitz, Frank Menetta…and probably more.

I SHOOK COLIN POWELL’S HAND!!! As we were walking down the stairs to leave we came to the tier where the Prez and his cabinet were sitting…and I saw Secretary Powell…so I went over with my friend Nate to shake his hand. He was SO nice! 🙂 I am just so amazed…a great night with good friends, great music and great people in attendance. I have been SO blessed!

I have now:

Met John Ashcroft (twice)

Met Colin Powell

Seen the President 4 times

Seen Laura Bush 2 times

Worked with Newt Gingrich

Seen Speaker Hastert

Seen many senators and representatives

Seen House Majority Leader Bill Frist

Seen Donald Rumsfeld

Seen Condoleezza Rice

i am sure that the list is longer…but I can’t remember. Now I must WRITE MY PAPER!!!

Heat wave!!

I just wanted to say that we are having a heatwave today! It is 47 F today–wow! It honestly feels warm to me…that is so weird. In Los Angeles it has been in the 80’s in the past couple of weeks…that is going to be HOT for me. Oh well.

Tonight is going to be awesome–I am going to see the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra with the National Symphony Orchestra and Yo-Yo Ma at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with some ASP friends. I love music, especially symphonic pieces, and what makes this even better is the fact that I spent 5 weeks studying Iraq and now I will hear their symphony! Also, my parents are buying me and my closest friends pizza tonight, so that I can celebrate my birthday in Washington. My parents are great! They have supported me financially the entire semester, and they never stop giving of themselves. They knew how much it would mean to me to celebrate my birthday early with dear friends (My birthday is December 31st).

Back to work…when Newt is in the office, things are crazy busy. So much to do!

Complete and total writer’s block…

Okay, so it is now day four or five of complete writer’s block. How can it be so incredibly difficult to write about a subject that I care so much about…a topic which I am considering a career advocating? As much as I love ASP, this last paper is absolutely killing me mentally. Thanks to the brilliance of my friends here (Mike, Aaron, Rebecca, etc.) I at least have a bit of a direction now…

So, anyway. God is so completely amazing! Today I saw the President for the third time, and all of these times happened within a month! My boss, Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, was so thrilled after President Bush signed the Medicare legislation that he took all of us out to lunch. I had lunch with Newt Gingrich. I still am so amazed at the opportunities that have come through working for him. (http://www.newt.org)

I am beginning to be even more emotional than last week…tonight I talked to my “Pennsylvania Dad” (Tom) and I realized that in 4 days I will have to say goodbye to him and Leann (my Pennsylvania Mom)…for who knows how long. Friday and Saturday I will have to say goodbye to 40 people, all of which I have grown to love and respect this semester. I hate goodbyes! Honestly, I know that it is time to move on, time to return to California…but still, when I invest in people it makes it increasingly difficult to say goodbye and to leave them. I think that this will be a week of many tears! To add to all this, God has always given me the “gift” (if you can call it that) to feel other’s pain and to help them through it to the best of my ability. There is so much pain and heartache in the lives of my dear friends right now! I wish more than anything that I could just take it away…but the only thing I can do is encourage them, be there for them, and love them.

Well, I must make a point to thoroughly enjoy each and every day in Washington, and each and every moment with these dear friends here at ASP and at the Gingrich Group so that I will not have regrets once I return to school. I also must take many pictures 🙂 That has never been a problem with me.

Thanks to all my wonderful ASP friends. It has been such a joy, a blessing, a learning experience to work and talk with all of you. I will especially never forget apartment 1, LOL. So many great adventures. You all have left a mark that will forever remain on my heart. Thank you for your friendship, for your listening ears and wise advice…for your laughter and tears. I love you all!

My favorite passage of scripture, that always reminds me that God is God, and I am human, and that He knows far better than me what should happen in my life:

“‘To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God’? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint.”

–Isaiah 40:25-31

First entry…

As I am preparing to leave Washington, D.C., so many questions come to mind. Why was I brought here? What will I find when I return to California? How have I changed? So many unknowns…what am I going do after graduation? To what career will God lead me?

I have met incredible people this semester, both in ASP and in my workplace…people who have challenged me, whether they are aware of that or not. So many different thoughts, ideas, opinions; yet we all share the love of Christ, and that is what brings us here, together.

On a lighter note: IT SNOWED YESTERDAY! We were at the Christmas Tree Lighting at the White House, and it started snowing. It accumulated throughout the evening to about an inch, I estimate. We played, threw snowballs, made snowmen, etc. for about 2 hours. Even more snow is on its way. It is pretty amazing how something that seems so simple can bring joy to so many!

So much to do in the next week…so many goodbyes must be said, so many papers to write…so much crap to pack. But in the end, it will be worth it all.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” –Romans 8:28