They're all packed and put away - every box containing odds and ends we find so essential to our week at VBS. I breathe a sigh of relief. Summer finally begins for me.
We sat down this weekend and over countless hours we planned out and reserved our family vacation. So much planning for a vacation - I understand the concept of travel agents more and more all the time.
Brian has finished his last meeting for church council. He, too, is feeling a sense of relief and that a burden has been lifted.
We find ourselves looking at weeks and weeks of summer with a sense of quiet calm and relaxation.
But just a few states down, the world has been turned upside down. And as the news trickles in about the who, and the why and the how, my world seems suddenly scarier and darker. Because what happens there...it could happen here.
I ache for parents and sisters and brothers and friends who are reeling after loss. My heart is with those struggling to recover in hospital rooms filled with IVs and beeping monitors. I can only imagine the confusion and shock covering the ones who were fortunate enough to walk away unharmed.
So I pray. I pray that God will be near to them and that He will meet their needs. I pray He will place people in their lives who can speak comfort and peace and love. I pray that we will all look to the God who speaks of forgiveness and mercy and grace - the One who came so that all may live.
I watched the news reporters struggle to make sense of what has happened. I listened to them grapple with the new reality that this kind of terrorism is almost impossible to fight. And I have read pieces that reflect the political positioning already happening around this issue.
I'm one of the people in this country who find themselves completely dissatisfied with the candidates placed before me. I struggle to understand why anyone needs to buy an assault rifle even if there is a legal process. I struggle with the ease of which a woman can end the life of her unborn child. I struggle to find a party that represents my views. I feel almost left out.
I'm not trying to start a political debate. If you believe differently than me that is okay. In fact, it is so okay that I will smile and nod at you while you share your side. And I will hope that you will do the same for me. And that neither one of us will feel it is necessary to go out and purchase a killing machine simply because there are people who are different than us.
My lips tremble as I pray. "Are you still in control? Is the whole world still in your hands? Because there are times when I feel like it is just crumbling to pieces around me. And I am afraid for my children."
He doesn't leave me there. He reminds me that it is okay if there is no political party that shares all of my concerns. I can still be light. He reminds me that it is okay if there are those who are different than me. I can still love. He reminds me that it is okay if there are evil men and women who hate everyone who is free and different. I can still hope. Because He is still here.
Our role is not diminished. It is with every act of hate that we find our own acts of love magnified, amplified and multiplied. Light is even more striking in darkness. And though I cannot be thankful that such an atrocity could happen, I am choosing to see the doors that have opened for us to step out in love.
When these acts of terror shake us, I pray that they will shake us loose from every comfort that blinds us and hardens our hearts and that we will be moved past our pity to compassion.