Friday, December 14, 2012

Do Not Be Afraid

I've heard it said that the command, "Do not be afraid," is the most repeated one in the Bible.  I can believe it is true.  But it is a hard one to obey, at least for me.  I've had a closer brush with terrorism this week than ever before in my life, and I hope never to be as close again.  On Tuesday at 3:29 PM, a young man armed with assault rifle and wearing a hockey mask barged into the crowded Clackamas Town Center mall near our house and fired off many shots.  I believe there are three deaths, four if you count his.  Allen and the kids were at the Clackamas Town Center that day for several hours and left only about twenty five minutes before the shooting began.  They left so they would be on time to get me; and I'm so thankful that he always leaves plenty of time for coming to get me.  He could have left at about 3:20 and still gotten me on time.
And now there's a new tragedy on an even larger scale: the shooting of teachers, kindergarteners, and other elementary school kids in Connecticut.  As a parent, it's enough to make me want to keep my kids out of school...but I know it is only a matter of time before there's a shooting at a library, a grocery store, a church, a doctor's office, a gas station, an airport (all places we have been or will be this week).  This year already we've heard about shootings in a movie theater, a Sikh temple, and now in the past week we can add mall and school to the list.  You can't just stay cooped up in your home. Where can you turn in times like this?
I know many will turn to the government.  New gun laws! Old gun laws, but better enforced!  Give everyone a gun to defend themselves!  Don't let them take away your guns!  Mental health background check requirements!  Take weapons from veterans so they can't be stolen!  Outlaw violent video games! The talk shows and news pundits will be foaming at the mouth with ideas of how to solve this problem.  Yes, there may be good work to be done by those who create and carry out our laws about this whole issue, but it is not a sure source of protection.
Perhaps we will try to shake it off, ignore it, bury ourselves deeper into our favorite holiday merriment: food, drink, shopping, travelling, etc.  Crank that Xmas Muzak a little louder and sing along, "Fa-la-la-la-la, I can't hear you."  We all know that can't last.
Or maybe we'll try to counteract the evil with good deeds. Stuff a twenty dollar bill in every Salvation Army kettle you see, buy extra food to give to the food bank, give to the Red Cross or whatever charity you see fit.  That produces some fine results, but can we in our own strength outdo the evil?
I think not.  I think all we can do is to sing out, "O come, o come, Emmanuel/and ransom captive Israel/that mourns in lonely exile here/until the Son of God appear." I think the words of the psalmist are still true today, even if the weaponry is different.

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Security of the One Who Trusts in the Lord.

91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
Of the pestilence that [a]stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.
You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.
[b]For you have made the Lordmy refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
10 No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your [c]tent.
11 For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
12 They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread upon the lion and cobra,
The young lion and the [d]serpent you will trample down.
14 Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him securely on high, because he hasknown My name.
15 “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in [e]trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 “With [f]long life I will satisfy him
And [g]let him see My salvation.”

A final thought: on FB I saw many people decrying the horrible violence that happened today, and rightly so.  I was interested to see that many people who otherwise claim to be agnostic said things like, "There's a special place in hell reserved for people who kill little kids like that" or "Hell isn't hot enough for the likes of the shooter."  Why is it that tragedy brings out the religious in the irreligious? Why is everyone liking and plus one-ing their statuses instead of being appalled at such judgmental statements?  What happened to, "Judge not, lest ye be judged?"  That's everyone's favorite Bible verse until terrorism happens.  Then you can judge away, apparently.  Listen, don't get me wrong: it's a damnable thing to murder.  Jesus also said it's just as bad to secretly hate someone in your heart, and He's the one whose judgment is just.  Vengeance is His, and He will repay...and that should give us all pause.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The kiddos are growing!

Surprise, surprise! They keep growing! Here are some recent pictures...

Okay, these have some backstory to them.  Right now, we're having what I like to call my "Little House on the Prairie" experience...i.e., having both of the kids in our room with us.  Why?  Because our basement is flooding and the landlords won't fix it (which, we've discovered after consulting a lawyer, is illegal).  In the meantime while we figure out what to do, the people living in the basement moved most of their stuff upstairs.  Toby is in Ruby's room, and Andy and Alishia are in the living room.  It's been...interesting.  Definitely not ideal.  Ruby's not happy about having her play area basically vanish overnight.  The living room is essentially off limits, and her room now has Toby's stuff in it.  And although I try to be patient, there is a lot of "No, Ruby, don't touch that" with stuff in our room.  I'm very thankful that we'll be in St. Louis for 10 days this month.  What a relief.  We're looking into what to do next with this situation.  I won't say anything yet because it's all up in the air, but we certainly don't want to keep this arrangement going.
Max enjoys his new roommate

Eating breakfast in our room so as not to disturb A&A sleeping in the living room, which adjoins the kitchen.
 Look at my big boy! 8 months old!  8 months has been quite the milestone month: he got his first teeth (the two bottom front teeth), started crawling, started sitting up by himself this month, and also pulling himself up on things.  It's all happening at once!
This chair was a present from my colleagues at MRA

Sometimes the helmet makes Max's eyebrows do funny things!
 Ruby was doing such a great job coloring with her "do a dot" markers that I thought I could sneak in a quick shower.  I don't think I was out of the room for over 8 minutes, but that's plenty long enough for this budding tattoo artist to decorate herself.

 For a long time, Ruby didn't take much note of Max.  He was furniture as far as she was concerned.  But now, he is fully into the "getting into everything" phase, and he is a force to be reckoned with...and she's not sure she likes it!  She's going through a very possessive phase of both her toys and his.  Max thinks Ruby is the BEST, but I'm not sure the feeling is mutual!  Ruby does love Max, but a lot of the time she is cranky with "Max gwabbin ______" (Max grabbing whatever toy/book/stuffed animal/box/etc.)

 Mom sent us some haircut money and I used some of it today at Sit Still Salon, a fabulous kid-centered salon.  I love the lady who cuts Ruby's hair.  She is so calm and great with squirmy kids.  She also does Ruby's hair in a braid after the trim and sprays it with sparkly hairspray.  Cute!  This is only Ruby's second visit to Sit Still Salon, but when I told her this morning that she was getting her hair cut in the afternoon, her eyes lit up.  "Ruby watch Elmo! Ruby sit in car! Ride horsey! Kine of mazing! (Kind of amazing!)" she said.  Yeah, I guess she likes it there :)

Sitting in the car, watching Elmo
 I also got Max's hair cut for the first time.  Here's a before shot...look at those long forelocks of hair over his ears! That goes to show the head of hair he was born with and how long some of it's gotten.

Halfway through...he held still for the clippers, which the stylist said most babies won't do.  "Wow, I wish all of our first time hair cuts went this well!" she remarked.

Here he is after the cut...looks a lot more grown up. Maybe he won't be mistaken for a girl quite as often now...

Ruby enjoys time with the toys in the waiting area before we go.
Well, I guess that's all for now.  It's turning out to be quite a nutty December, what with the house issues and upcoming travel.  I've started thinking about jobs for next year and threw my hat in the ring for teaching...Middle school LATIN.  Looks like I'm following in my dear father's footsteps (if I get the job, that is).  The school is a private school in Utah, so it somewhat splits the difference between Allen's family (here) and mine (St. Louis).  If I got it, we'd be making the move out of Oregon that we've been thinking about for a while now, and Allen would likely try to get into a full time Masters program somewhere in Salt Lake City or around there.  Is this where God wants us to go?  We'll see...