Long Time, No Blog

Sorry for the quiet blog recently; things have just been kind of weird, for lack of a better word, and I haven’t really known what to write.

Even though by the original school calendar we just finished the 5th week of classes, it was actually the first time we’ve had a full week of classes. Things felt a little bit more routine this week, but I’m concerned about the students. I’ve noticed that they seem more tired (some even struggling to stay awake), and there have been more frequent absences. The faculty were warned about these things happening, but I was kind of skeptical at the time. I’m not now. It seems that a good number of students are having trouble sleeping at night or not sleeping at all, others are ill, and others just don’t have motivation. I really feel for them. I am sure it’s incredibly difficult to try to focus on classes and homework when you’re replaying a natural disaster over and over in your mind and trying to remember and document everything you once owned so you can get insurance or FEMA money. I don’t think I’d be concerned with classes, either. There’s hope that things will return to normal, but I don’t really think that’s possible. Things are changing, have already changed, and so whatever “normal” we have will be a new normal.

The rebuilding of the new dorms has already begun, in the spot where the old dorms once stood. It’s so strange how the removal of those buildings changed the feel of the campus; it looks much smaller now that there is a clear view of the academic buildings from the place where the dorms once partially concealed them. The goal is to have half of the dorms completed by September (7 buildings, I think), and then have the other half completed by next spring. It’s a lofty goal, and the university is really relying on God to provide the needed funds, since it’s going to require a substantial amount of money to build these dorms so quickly. God’s not wringing His hands about it, though, so neither should we.

On the weight loss front, I feel like things are going well. Exercise is really becoming a part of my life, and I’m finding that I like it that way. I feel good when exercise, and when I push myself, I feel even better. This morning I did 42 minutes on the elliptical machine. I wish I could describe what a huge victory that is for me. When I first tried the elliptical, I thought I was going to die. I think I maybe did about 5 minutes before switching to the exercise bike. But I decided to keep trying because it’s a really good calorie-burner, so I have been steadily increasing the amount of time on the machine, and the more I do it, the more comfortable it becomes. I hope to be able to do an hour sometime in the near future, and I feel confident I can accomplish that. The problem during the week is that I don’t really have enough time to do an hour, so that may just have to be a Saturday thing. I like not feeling rushed on Saturday. I can take my time and do whatever I feel like doing, so I did several of the weight machines and 100 crunches on top of the elliptical workout, and I left feeling like I’d conquered the world.

I’m proud to say that I’ve now lost 8 pounds. Monday will be the 6-week mark for me, so I’m very pleased with my progress. I wish I were losing 2 pounds every week, but that doesn’t matter as much as just knowing that I’m giving this my best effort, and I know the weight will come off in time. Weight loss is both instant gratification and delayed gratification all in one, and I want to continue on this journey so I can reach that delayed gratification of seeing my body transformed and healthy.

On Monday I’m taking part in a 3-week challenge, and the challenge is not to weigh yourself during that 3 week period. I think that’s going to be very difficult but also very rewarding. I don’t want the scale to have power over me and determine how I feel about myself, so by the end of the challenge I hope to view the scale as a tool and not the enemy. 🙂 I also look forward to weighing in after those 3 weeks and seeing a big loss. Here’s to victory. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!!

Beginning Again

Classes resume tomorrow. I am anxious and excited, and I hope it goes well. I’m not really sure what to expect in terms of student morale, but I am just going to go into it with an open mind and try my best to be supportive. I saw a few students this afternoon at Wal-Mart, and they seemed happy to be back, but I kind of anticipate the stresses of school (with longer class times) and the stresses of new living arrangements to catch up with them at some point. Still, they could very well surprise me and come through the semester strong in their faith and strong in their schoolwork. With God all things are possible!

In the weight loss realm, I only lost 0.4 of a pound, so I’m not even really counting that. Considering the fact that we went out to eat three nights last week, I’m surprised I didn’t gain anything. I’ve been proud of myself for being consistent with my workout, especially after the tornado prevented me from going to the school’s fitness center. I think exercise is starting to become more of a habit, a natural part of my day, and I like that. I feel good when I exercise. It’s a kind of accomplishment I’m not used to, but one that I definitely hope to keep achieving. Even though I didn’t lose much at all this week, the possibility of losing those 100 pounds is becoming more and more real every day. God has been so faithful to give me strength and willpower.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…

Union: Looking to the Future

They’re tearing down Hurt and Watters at Union.

I went to campus today so I could get copies made of my revised course reading schedule, and I couldn’t help but notice the heavy machinery in the distance, picking up what used to be rooms (homes, really) and rubble and ruined student belongings and depositing it all in a big heap. And, like so many times this past week, I started to cry. (I really need to stop driving if I’m going to always turn into a blubbering mess.) Even though I only lived in Hurt one semester, I spent many hours there, and I know that others have very strong attachments to their time at Union, much of which was spent in a dorm room. It hurts to think that each of those rooms represents countless memories of late-night conversations, pillow fights, giggling at 3 am, procrastination, movie nights, fights about who would take out the trash or wash dishes, impromptu photo sessions, and who knows what else.

Yet even as I cried I was reminded of the fact that while the buildings are gone, the memories will live on, and it does not honor God to dwell on the past. It honors God when we look to Him for hope and renewal, when we come to Him with our burdens, for His yoke is easy and His burden light. It honors God when we store up treasures in heaven, when we remember that heaven and earth will pass away, but His Word will remain forever, when we cling not to that which is seen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen eternal. It honors God to see His people glorifying Him in the midst of suffering and sorrow, in joy and triumph. It honors God when we stop thinking of ourselves and seek His face. Psalm 27:8: When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.” Seek His face, students and friends. Seek His face. All else pales in comparison.

I’ll end with this song by Brooke Fraser, “Shadowfeet”:

Walking, stumbling
On these shadow feet
Toward home, a land that I’ve never seen
I am changing
Less and less asleep
Made of different stuff than when I began

And I have sensed it all along
Now fast approaching is the day

CHORUS
When the world has fallen out from under me
I’ll be found in you, still standing
When the sky rolls up and mountains fall on their knees
When time and space are through
I’ll be found in you

There’s distraction
Buzzing in my head
Saying in the shadows it’s easier to stay
But I’ve heard rumours of true reality
Whispers of a well-lit way

CHORUS

Bridge
You make all things new

*A link to some photos of the demolition: http://www.flickr.com/photos/41208530@N00/sets/72157603912615373/

He Changes Not

Late this morning Stephen locked his keys in his car, with the car still running, and I called AAA so we could get a locksmith out there. He just called me a half hour ago to see if I had heard anything, because they still weren’t there, and turns out there was some miscommunication on my end, and after we hung up I just started bawling. I have no idea why. My emotions are all over the place, and I think I’ve kind of been absorbing all that’s happened over the past week without really stopping to think about it or process it. I kept telling myself that if I kept working, I’d be doing something useful, and that would be enough, but the truth is it’s not enough. In a way I need to stop thinking about it, but in another way I feel like I’ve only just begun to think about it. That doesn’t even make sense, but I feel like my emotions right now don’t make sense either. I have to remember that at times like this, when my emotions are running rampant and I feel frustrated and overwhelmed and angry and sad and worried all at once, that God is the steady, constant God He was, is, and always will be. He is the Lord, and He changes not. I don’t have to be strong, because He is made strong in my weakness.

What a comfort that is when all around me seems to be changing! I keep thinking of Union and the memories I have there, and now some places I remember as part of Union will be no more very soon. My heart is breaking for Union, for my students. If I am this distraught over the tornado, I can’t imagine what they’re going through! I just hope they give themselves the freedom to fall apart, to truly let themselves feel what they’re experiencing right now instead of bottling everything up or pretending they’re fine. Yes, they are alive and God is so gracious to have spared them all, but they’ve also experienced a trauma, one that will be with them for many years to come, one that won’t be easy to push to the back of the mind. I hope they can turn to each other and loved ones for support and be honest and open about what they’re feeling, and I pray that the God of all peace will comfort and surround them with His love, that we would all remember to be still and know that He is God.