how do we grieve in the present time

Yesterday we had a pastor from Charlottesville visit (to sort of relieve our pastor's b/c they've been so overwhelemed recently) and he shared about Psalm 13 and how that paints a picture for us of what Christian sorrow is supposed to look like. It was so encouraging and clear.

The main thing I got from it is the idea that our sorrow exists within the context of the past and the future. We look back to God's grace and mercy in redemptive history and in our history and we see how He has worked even through tragedy. Then we look forward to the hope of heaven when all tragedy will be overcome. And between those two realities is how we understand what we're presently going through.

He compared it to playing a game with his daughter, where she'll be on the couch and he'll throw a blanket over her and she'll just start laughing. At the time her reality is dark (b/c the blanket is over her) but... she knows that when he has done this in the past he always pulls the blanket off and tickles her! And she is expecting and looking to the future that he is going to do that again... and that's what brings her laughter. I thought that was such a beautiful picture!

So even while we grieve and are sorrowful we do it within that context. The hard part is that SO MANY can't even begin to grasp that b/c they don't know Christ. And that is the piece that is really overwhelming.


update 4

Yesterday I (Emily) had the priviledge of attending the memorial service for Rachael Hill, one of the victims in Norris Hall. I traveled to Richmond with one of my colleagues for the service and am so thankful I was able to participate in this even though Rachael was not one of my advisees. This was the most God-honoring funeral/memorial I have ever attended. Rachael was an 18 year old student who was truly a woman after God's heart. As her classmates shared, many of them quoted letters and emails that Rachael herself had written. In all of them she focused on her love of Christ and His love for her, her joy in the Lord and her longing and hope in her heavenly home. After Rachael's friends shared, her parents each stood in front of hundreds of people and shared about the life of their only child, just hours after burying her. The testimony of Rachael's life was both challenging and encouraging. It was a powerful day and I look forward to seeing how the Lord will use the example of Rachael's life to reach others with the hope of Christ!!


update 3

Well... the work week is officially over and we are both home and resting. In some ways this week has flown by, in other ways it feels like the longest week we've ever had. We finally got word from VT today about plans for handling academics for the rest of the semester, so my (Emily's) schedule will start picking up more as students work to sort through their options and make big decisions about ending the semester. Tomorrow I am going with a colleague to a funeral for one of the students in University Studies, Rachael Hill. Jon spent a lot of time with res life staff folks today and is gearing up for students to start coming back. We borrowed a baby gate from some friends at church and are trying that out in the doorway as a deterrent for Finn. He can still jump over it, but it at least slows him down a bit and allows us to keep our door open more for students to drop by.


update 2

We are exhausted to say the least... I think all the emotion leads us to be tired and being tired makes it harder to work through some of that emotion... kind of a cycle.
We both worked at the convocation today, directing students and providing information about counseling services. Later we made rounds in some of the residence halls directly involved in this case trying to make sure reporters are being kept out of the buildings. They(media) keep trying to follow students into the reshalls (they are on card access right now) in order to interview students.
We were planning to go to the vigil tonight but have both been on our feet since 11:30am this morning and just couldn't make it. So instead we're hanging around our apartment with the door open (a bit of a challenge with a cat that keeps trying to run out). It's been good though as students and RAs stop by.
Again, thanks for all your prayers and concern!


We have had so many calls and emails of encouragement and support and thank all of you so much for the blessing of your prayers during this difficult time. We'll try to provide updates here of what's going on from our perspective and in our lives here at VT.

- Emily's office is near Norris Hall and was quickly locked down. She was evacuated at 12:30 and was able to make it home to Pritchard.
- Jon was in his office all day, many students and RAs were stopping by to talk, watch the news and discuss what there thoughts and plans were.
- We have certainly felt your prayers. I've talked to several of you who couldn't sleep and prayed through the night... perhaps because of that we were actually both able to get some rest last night.

- Emily is off work for the day and will go back tomorrow. She is keeping up with emails and staying in the apt. for calls/students/RAs coming by.
- Jon is currently in a meeting where he is hopefully getting more info. When he returns we'll walk the halls to try to get a feel of what's going on. Our sense is that many students are leaving campus to go home now that the university has cancelled classes for the week.

What's Going On-
- The reshalls and our side of campus have been eerily quiet this morning. It's strange to see all the action and people on the news and the busyness on the other side of campus.
- There is a convocation this afternoon at 2pm which we will attend as well as a candlelight vigil at 8pm.

In so many ways this still seems unreal. When we look at the news and think about the events of the past 24-48 hours this could be anywhere... Blacksburg is Clemson and Raleigh and every other town across this country that has a university or college campus central to it's community. We think why here... why now... and simply turn and trust in the good that we believe God can bring from a situation even as horrific as this.

We'll post more as things happen... as for now keep praying...


today's events at VT

Just wanted to post to let anyone who may be concerned know that we're both okay. Please keep our campus in your prayers as we deal with this tragedy.