These pictures aren't really the best quality since I was in the car, but here's a small glimpse of some of the damage that occurred in the business parts of town in Friday's tornados. You can find a gob of pictures and info at The DNJ or on YouTube (just search "Murfreesboro tornado"). Some of the videos are insane... the tornados were huge, and you can see cars trying to outrun it, debris flying and things exploding in its path.
First, let me say thanks to all of you who left comments and sent emails to check on me and to say how glad you are that I'm safe. It means a lot internet friends!
As I watched some of the news over the weekend (something I never do because I hate the media in general), I was amazed at some of the stories. There were NUMEROUS accounts of people saying, "Well, we hid in the bathroom/the closet/the hallway/etc. and once it was over, that was the only room in the house still standing."
Another story involved a man who had been running on our local greenway. The storm blew up and he didn't have time to get back to his car. Knowing something was wrong, he moved down lower toward a creek bed. He turned and saw the tornado so he did the only thing he could do - he held on to a tree for dear life. The tornado swept over him, and once it had passed the only thing still intact was the tree he was holding. He was a little banged up and had a concussion, but otherwise he was totally fine.
As I kept watching the news interviews of the people who had lost homes, I noticed that all of them were saying the same sort of thing: "Yes, we lost our house and it's awful, but we're all ok.. we're all safe and alive... we thank God that we're alive." It got me wondering. I have grown up here in the Bible Belt, so I don't think twice about people thanking God for their lives. I wondered if it's the same way in other parts of the country.
Furthermore, it got me thinking about how hard it is for me to understand how people can deny a higher power's existence. How can a tornado blow through our town destroying homes and businesses and affecting over 515 structures (the count as of today) and there ONLY be 2 deaths? I know some people would argue the side of "How can God allow something so horrible happen and how can he let the two people who died be killed?" But I suppose the eternal optimist in me looks at it like those people who kept saying in their interviews that they can rebuild so they're just thankful to be alive.
I suppose one of the hardest questions out there is the one about how can a good God allow this to happen? I think that for me my answer comes from the concept of how God never promises to protect us from natural disasters. If I'm wrong and it's in the Bible somewhere, then please show me where to look. Natural disasters are just part of this volatile planet that we live on. Yes, it's horrible that these tornados came through town... but it's part of the nature of the earth.
I do not for a second think that God was hanging out on Friday and said, "I think I'll send a tornado to TN." I do believe that he protected so many people and kept them from harm. Tons of people were home on Friday because so many schools and businesses were closed for Good Friday. A TON of people survived. Not only that, but quite a few businesses that were destroyed were closed for the day - so the employees weren't there.
I'm not attempting to have the answers here because when it comes down to it, I don't know the all the answers. But I do know that I believe in a God that is good and that loves us. He uses everything for good, and I believe I am already seeing that first hand.
Numerous volunteers were all over the place within hours of the tornado, and they kept working through the night. Food was provided to victims and to volunteers. Over 3 million tons of debris has already been hauled away in the past 3 days. People are pitching in and doing what they can to help get the city cleaned up ASAP. People are making donations (you can, too, if you'd like... simply visit The Red Cross.) People are getting out and meeting their neighbors and helping them recover from this terrible disaster.
For me, that's a big part of what my faith and my Christianity is all about. Christians don't have all the answers. We're not perfect and we're all hypocrites in some way. By human nature, we all fail and screw up and make big mistakes. But I know that in the end, I'm trying to live my life the best I can. I like to think that my heart is good. And it makes me smile to see people reaching out to one another and helping each other out in times of need. I believe that's the heart of Christianity... there is a reason why the Greatest Commandment is to love God and love others. Both are equally important, and when you love others you are loving God.
This is all just my belief... I know some readers may not agree and that's fine. Like I said, I don't have all the answers... so I'm not looking to start a religious debate. But after witnessing the events that happened here in TN, I feel even more convinced than ever that there is a God, He is watching out for us, and that we make Him smile when we show some love to our fellow human beings.
As for my weekend, I took in a couple of movies - Adventureland (go see it! This is one of my favorite movies I've seen lately and I like Kristin Stewart in it soooo much better than in Twilight) and I Love You Man (also good and quite funny).
I ran 4 miles Saturday morning... I took it a bit slower and kept about a 10:45 pace. This was for several reasons. First, last week was the first week I was running 3 days, so I wanted to scale back a bit to make up for adding a day of running until my body gets adjusted. Second, I really needed to go to the bathroom after about the first half mile. Not fun. Third, I was running with a friend and wanted to chat, and I haven't gotten in good enough shape yet to run a faster pace and talk.
After a good run (seriously, I'm going to do 5 next week since this went so well!), I ate some yogurt and then hit up an hour strength training class at the gym. I love going to the classes because I work so much harder than if I were doing it alone. I definitely got a good all over body workout, and I know that I need to stay on top of doing that for a while as I build my strength back up. After the class, I rewarded myself with a chicken biscuit and coffee from Chick-fil-A (those of you who have told me you don't have those, I'm sorry! If you ever come south, make sure you eat at one!)
Yesterday after checking out some of the tornado damage, I went to the MTSU baseball game. It was a pretty good game and they won! I also got another sunburn (seriously, I need to remember it's time to start breaking out my sunscreen). My arms and legs got kind of pink, but it's the top of my feet that are bothering me. I didn't even think about the fact that my feet haven't seen the light of day in months. Oh well. I'll have a nice flip flop tan line now, and now that they've burned they'll be able to handle the sun just fine in the coming months. (See? I really am the eternal optimist. I always seem to look on the bright side.)
Hope everyone had a great Easter weekend! Thanks for letting me chat some about my faith. I don't bring it up often, mostly because I'm uninterested in internet debates about it. :)