It’s been one week since the devastating shooting that shook our “small town city” along with the rest of the nation.
I awoke 7 days ago to over a dozen messages from friends across the country and in the Dominican Republic. Their messages were all the same: “are you okay?” “Is your family okay?” “We are with you and Las Vegas.” Everything went blank and in one moment I went from groggy to eyes wide open. I opened google on my phone and before I could finish typing L-A-S-V-E-G, I immediately began seeing reports of the shooting. I moved quickly from the bed to downstairs and turned on the news and sat in horror and disbelief as I saw my hometown shattered and gun riddled.
I am a Las Vegas native, born and raised as we say. Over four generations in my family call Las Vegas their home. My family mined for gold, helped build this city quite literally through construction, partied at the hotels during the hay days, my grandma and I even attended the same high school (at different times of course :). Sunday night was personal. Knowing so many survivors who hid for their lives, ran for their lives, were pushed over walls, and helped other escape and seek refuge made it feel raw and unreal.
It wasn’t long until I was no longer alone on that Monday morning, as two little people quickly climbed up on the couch and snuggled in next to me, watching my face watch the TV and then their eyes turned too; to watch the horror unfold. In that moment, I knew I had a choice to make in how I would tell my girls what had happened, and for me, it wasn’t a difficult one. I pretty much live my life upon the principles of honesty and transparency (sometimes to a fault). This was no different.
I reminded the girls that Jesus says we are either with him or against him. This man, who had killed many and injured more, was against Jesus. We choose which team we will play for, and this man was not playing on Jesus’ team. We prayed for Las Vegas and I began checking on loved ones, friends, people I knew who were at the concert. We continued about the day, homeschooling and more prayer for the people of Vegas. My heart, breaking, as more information continued to come in about what had happened.
Theories, conspiracies, gun control, politics… all began to pour in and my heart broke even more. Since last Monday, I have watched very little news and social media has been something I post on, but neglect otherwise. Meanwhile, I like many other of my Vegas native friends, have never been so proud to live in this city. A place that is known to many others as “sin city” has quickly gained another name “Vegas Strong.” What Satan used to kill and destroy, I am witnessing the Lord use to unify, heal, and ultimately glorify him. Sin City is reemerging as Grace City.
The church we have been attending since we returned from the DR preached on finding our only place of refuge in God alone. Our refuge, our respite, our “home” is not in this world, it’s not even in our families, it’s not in the homes we create, the memories we make or the spaces we make for ourselves. Friends, it is in God alone. I am learning and relearning this over and over again this past year as much of my life before June 2016 has slowly been stripped, removed, and sanded away. There isn’t much that looks the same, except for this- God.
And this is where I find myself 9 days after this tragedy that makes no sense. We want answers to questions we already know. What made this man seek to kill? Sin. How do we fix this? Jesus. I know it seems so much more complex. But it really isn’t. We could debate the theories, the gun control, and how to move forward, the administration, but as long as sin exists in this world, as long as Satan seeks to kill and destroy there will always be mass destruction. More bombings, more shootings, more hatred. The answer is love. The answer is seeking Him. The answer is making Him our refuge in our storms. If you feel helpless, run to him and he will make your path straight. He will calm the storm in your heart. The brokenness you feel, he will bind it up. He will return breath to your lungs and make your heart beat once again. He is the answer. He is the only answer. The only hope.
And so, I like many of you, hug my children a little tighter today. I pray for their future. I ask God for direction and guidance in how to lead them to him. We pray for opportunities to love others in our path and not to my surprise he is leading them and he is showing me that there is so much good in this world still. One small way he did this was over this past weekend. My girls wanted to make a lemonade stand at a community garage sale we were participating in. We discussed what we could do with our money and let them decide. They chose Vegas and I knew in that moment that I made the choice God would have had me make in telling them the truth. In choosing not to shelter them and live in fear about exposing them to the sin in our world, God was able to be glorified and he chose to do it through a small act of love through our girls. I pray he would continue to use his people to sow seeds of love, unity, joy, and peace through the Vegas valley and beyond.
We plan on donating our proceeds ($187!) through Zappos. They have guaranteed that 100% of the funds donated will go directly to those affected and they will cover all of the “transaction fees.” Since Zappos is based out of Vegas they will also be matching funds so our little $187 from our lemonade stand/garage sale will be turned into $374. I’d say that’s pretty sweet for a couple of seven year olds to witness God’s hand at work when we seek him through tragedy.
All of our love continues to go out to our community and our friends who are shaken today, recovering, and trying to move on. We continue to pray the refuge of the Lord to be peace enough for today.
“Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.”
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Photo credit (Vegas strong logo): Central Christian Church