Yesterday afternoon when I was inching along in traffic trying to get home from work, I got a call from a friend and fellow-daycare mom that there was a hostage situation on a bus about a quarter mile from my neighborhood. In the next couple hours, I heard that a woman had been murdered in the park behind our house, the gun-wielding suspect had taken the bus hostage, and — at some point in all of this — a guy with a gun was on the loose somewhere in the vicinity of the park and our neighborhood. (Here’s a photo of the suspect exiting the bus around the corner from our house.)

At the time, it wasn’t clear whether the murder in the park and the hostage situation were related, and whether there was one gunman or two. All I knew was that the cops had shut down the major road near our house, closed off our neighborhood to all vehicular and foot traffic, and nobody could get to our kids at daycare (who were in our neighborhood) or to our house. On top of it all, Niki was out of the country.

I kept my cool as much as possible, but at one point I just broke down. I knew I needed to trust God — that was all I could do. And I knew I should not be afraid — but in an instant I became overwhelmed with thoughts of a gun-wielding guy running into the daycare to hide, taking the kids hostage, and killing them. I was so afraid, and I felt profound remorse for things I had done as a parent — like my lack of patience, harsh things I have said, and not having more fun with them and doing more things with them when I’m at home. I sat in the car sobbing.

Right then, a friend in the neighborhood called me and told me things were very calm in our neighborhood and not to be afraid. She really set me at ease. And then I read Psalm 91 as a prayer:

Lord, you alone are my refuge, my place of safety;
You are my God, and I trust you.
For you will rescue me from every trap
and protect me from deadly disease.
You will cover me with your feathers.
You will shelter me with your wings.
Your faithful promises are my armor and protection.
I will not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
I will not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster — this gunman — that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at my side,
though ten thousand are dying around me,
these evils will not touch me. But I will see how this wicked man is punished.
No evil will conquer me because I have made you my shelter;
no plague will come near my home.
You have ordered your angels to protect me wherever I go.
They will hold me up with their hands so I won’t even hurt my foot on a stone.
You will rescue me because I love you.
You will protect me because I trust in your name.
You will be with me in trouble.
You will rescue and honor me.
You will reward me with a long life and give me your salvation.

After that, I felt a great peace — emotionally drained, but at peace. I don’t know what I would do without the Word of God — his presence and his promises — and my loving, sacrificial friends who took such good care of me and the kids last night. I really am blessed.

So today, as I am running on very little sleep and barely keeping up with everything on my plate, I am donning an attitude of gratitude and praise — thankful for His protection, thankful for His promises, thankful for the friends He has given me, and so thankful for my kids. And I’m going to work on being ever-patient, ever-present, and ever-loving with them.

[Here is a link to news coverage about the incident — note that everything shown in this video is within a short distance (less than 1/2 a mile) from our house: http://www.wusa9.com/video/player.aspx?aid=51087]