We live in what some may consider an idyllic sleepy little town in the northern suburbs of Philadelphia.  In fact, I love sitting in “my chair” and looking at our large bay window as seasons change, neighbors amble by as they walk their dogs, and knowing that neighbors “had our back” when Jerry’s wheelchair got stuck in the van, or the yard – always willing to help.  

Slowly, over the 16 years we’ve lived here that lovely picture has been nicked several times by a hard dose of reality.  Evil is everywhere . . . .
First there was a large drug bust on our street
Later we found a neighbor who passed away unexpectedly due to an asthma attack laying on the sidewalk; only to learn that his widow (after moving to another area) was jailed for life insurance fraud.
A few years ago there were tragic situations of people doing incomprehensible things to an elderly woman and a young girl (two different situations).  One being right across the street from our office.

Then this morning . . .  sitting again in “my chair” having my morning devotions when flashing lights catch my attention.  I look up to see a fire/police emergency person blocking the intersection in front of our house.  In very rapid succession police cars began arriving from surrounding municipalities – indicating that this was a “big deal.”

Over the course of the day the story of what a “big deal” this incident is began to unfold.  It is not my intent, nor my desire to go over those details here – if you are so inclined you can easily find it on any internet search.   Instead some of my ponderings . . . .

1)  Since 9/11 Jerry has often said, “Live on Purpose.”  Life is uncertain – none of us are guaranteed another breath.  Evil abounds, but the good news is (again as Jerry says), “I’ve read the end of the book – we win – and we win BIG!”  Oh how I long for that day when Jesus comes to take us to our eternal home.  Until that day I need to live every moment, every breath on purpose – knowing that if it were last moment that I would be ok with how it was spent, and knowing that what I do matters!

2)  It is tempting to say that once this gunman is apprehended we’ll be safe.  What a lie that is friends.  We may be safe from that particular perpetrator, but he is not the only one.  This world is not a safe place and never will be outside of being shadowed underneath the wings of our Almighty Saviour.

3)  There are some things for which we may never have answers.  As much as I hate that, because I like to have control and put things in a sense of order, there is nothing I can do about it.  This is where trust comes in . . . and not an easy trust, but a deep gut wrenching trust.

4)  While this situation is the only thing that occupied most of my thoughts today – life still goes on elsewhere.  While I was sitting here watching movements of the SWAT team another friend’s daughter was having major surgery, a friend’s husband was having a heart ablation, some students were working through finals, babies were being born and elderly parents of two friends were being entered into their heavenly rest.

5)  Early on this morning I asked Jerry if I should plug in the Christmas tree as we sat and waited.  We both agreed yes we should – if there was ever a time we (meaning the two of us and our community at large who might see our tree lit through the windows) needed a tangible reminder of Emmanuel – God with us –  it was today!  What a blessed comfort and encouragement that is – GOD IS WITH US!!!!

6)  It’s not about location.  It’s funny that over the last couple of years when I’ve been working to expand our urban ministry into the city of Chester and NE Philly people often ask if we are concerned about safety going into these areas.  We have always replied that we are working with good partners with whom we feel safe. Isn’t it interesting that we have never witnessed or been near any violence in the city (though we certainly are aware it happens!), but have been near to more crime here in our idyllic suburb.

7)  It’s amazing how fast this body can run when it has to!  (I thought it was time to lighten this post up a bit) But it’s true; Jerry was a witness!

8)  Jerry and I are incredibly blessed!  We have been amazed at how many phone calls, texts, facebook messages and emails we have received from people ALL DAY LONG from all over the country who heard the story on the news – or saw our garage in the photos circulated and wanted to be sure we were ok.  That spoke so loudly to us today.  If you are reading this you are likely one of those people who bless us and love us so very well.  Thank you!!!!