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  • Writer's pictureJoellen Kemper

Washington D.C. 2020

A few months back we took a very last minute weekend getaway to D.C.

It was a week consumed of woeful thoughts for both Ryan and me, and we turned to that wonderful elixir of A.D.V.E.N.T.U.R.E. It had been a tradition from the previous three years to make a trip to our favorite city in the Fall and I had been grieving our decision to depart from that for this year. But then, we just had an awful no good week and the idea about going popped into my mind and it was simply too irresistible.

We booked a small hotel room and packed up our one year old late on a Thursday afternoon and headed for the road. Until we crossed the first state line, I cannot tell you how much I was plagued by anxiety. Anxiety over my body...something I have felt off and on since having been diagnosed with cancer. But Ryan kept praying for me, and as soon as we said good bye to Ohio, welcoming WV, I could finally feel myself start to leave those concerns behind.

Despite hating to be confined to a car seat, Judah did great during the ride. We timed it so that he would be sleeping for half the time. Once we entered the city, we were deeply assured we were right where we needed to be.

We didn't do a whole lot during the trip, and the confines of having a one year old with us and my need for multiple naps a day, did not stop us from enjoying the new scene one bit. We spent a lot of time in the hotel room where we napped, and Ryan worked on editing a photography project, and I'd read between zzzz's. Judah entertained himself with the tv and rearranging the room. It's always hard to get him to sleep when he shares a bed with us, and while it would take a long time for him to initially fall asleep for naps or bedtime, we welcomed the out of routine extra snuggles and breaking of sleeping rules.

Outside of our room, we cruised the streets with Judah's little umbrella stroller while taking in the sites. We did spend a couple of hours one day doing my favorite thing- which was walking the main area with all of the monuments. We ate mostly take out in our hotel room (one of the best options when you have a child prone to climbing the dinner table) and we discovered a cafe that will now be forever our favorite. It's called PAUL and it was a little French coffee house and bistro. The manager was the most delightful woman you will ever meet, perfectly encapsulating what it means to bring food into community. She was so cheerful and conversational, and she made sure to always give Judah treats- on her!

Despite being in our element, I still brought some pretty dark thoughts with me from home. I had been battling a lot of the "Why me?" that week. Something, I actually hadn't really fought up until that point. I spent a lot of time in prayer when Judah and I would take naps together. I made a concentrated effort in seeking God, desperately needing some hope that weekend. And of course, it came while I was reading from our dear friend, CS Lewis. The following is from The Horse and His Boy:

[Aslan to Shasta]: “Tell me your sorrows.”

Shasta was a little reassured by the breath: so he told how he had never known his real father or mother and had been brought up sternly by the fisherman. And then he told the story of his escape and how they were chased by lions and forced to swim for their lives; and of all their dangers in Tashbaan and about his night among the tombs and how the beasts howled at him out of the desert. And he told about the heat and thirst of their desert journey and how they were almost at their goal when another lion chased them and wounded Aravis. And also, how very long it was since he had anything to eat.

“I do not call you unfortunate,” said the Large Voice


“I was the Lion.” And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you could reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.

Yes, Lord...You were the God that helped me to discover that tiny lump. You were the God who made it so I could be seen immediately by the best surgeons at the James. You were the God that despite aggressively dividing cells, prevented cancer from reaching other areas of my body. You are the God that has been strengthening me during chemo. And You are the God that has provided for my every. single. need.


"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior" - Isaiah 43:2-3

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