My shepherd

When Doug came home last night after work, the first thing out of his mouth as he walked through the door was: “Hey, what happened to the license plate?” Having no clue what he was talking about, I was stunned to find out that in fact there was no longer a plate on the back of our Nissan. I had JUST taken the car to the museum for a short visit with the kiddos that afternoon. When we got home we played in our “yard” (the cement driveway that runs the length of our house) for a good twenty minutes and I was in a position to certainly have noticed something as glaring as the big ugly cavity that is now the back side of our car. Just in case, I went back out and drove my route to check and see if maybe I had lost it along the way (the museum is just a few blocks from our house). I also checked with Paul, our landlord who lives downstairs, and asked if he noticed it missing when I got home. He had been in the back with us for a while and when he took a look at the car he said, “Oh, I definitely would have noticed THAT.”

So, our best guess is that someone came down our driveway and snagged our back plate. There is a crew of young men on 30th, the street behind our house, who steal cars, and stealing license plates is the criminal corollary. It’s a bummer in many ways.

First, if you have ever gone to the DMV, you know that there is nothing quick or easy about getting ANYTHING done there. Especially here in L.A. When my best friend down here and I were jumped a few years ago, we both fought back to defend ourselves against having our purses taken. She actually ended up on the ground in a fetal position, covering her purse with her body while her attacker continued to fight her. That same day she had gone to the DMV to get a California driver’s license (we had all just recently moved to L.A. from other cities) and later that night she told me what was going through her mind while lying on top of her purse in the middle of the street: “I just don’t want to have to go back to the DMV!”

It can be so bad in fact, that Doug has made it a habit of driving all the way out to Glendale because it has a reputation for slightly nicer staff and shorter lines. So far, his experiences there have been okay to tolerable.

The second is the more troubling. As I sat on the driveway curb yesterday, playing with Aaron while Mercy ran up and down the driveway, there were a few young men on bikes (oddly, a criminal vehicle of choice in our neighborhood) casing our street. I recognized none of them as guys who live around here, and felt, at the time, that unsettled nervous feeling that sometimes comes.

All we lost was a license plate, and sure it is a hassle to replace it, but in the big picture it is not that big of a deal. But we were also likely watched and then purposely violated, again in a very minor way. But it opens up the door in my heart for the fear of the unthinkable things that can happen, and as the mother to two little ones those are not easy thoughts to endure. I remind myself, again, who our God is: the one described by Isaiah the prophet as the shepherd who holds his lambs tightly in his arms and gently leads those who have young.


  1. Erika –

    Nice blog! And thanks to Scot McKnight who linked to you this week.
    Coupla things.
    First, try the Inglewood DMV – I was in and out of there in 5 minutes a couple of weeks ago.
    Second, would love to hook up sometime and talk about your work at Redeemer. I’m an MDiv student at Fuller interested in multicultural ministry. I’m starting an internship at Church of the Redeemer (!) PCUSA next month. It is a primarily African-American congregation in an increasingly Latino neighborhood on the outskirts of Compton. I’m going to be working with the pastor on reaching out to the neighbors and would love your insights.
    Blessings to ya.

  2. Inglewood, really! Hey, maybe we’ll give it a shot. I’d love to get together and talk about church/life/ministry here. My husband works at Fuller in the DMin program so we could meet for lunch some day around campus if you’d like. Give me a holler at and we can schedule a time.
    Thanks, Patrick!

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