Archive | August, 2008

The Strength of Faith … With Some Grace on the Side.

28 Aug
Wow, what a crazy couple of days.

I think I’m starting to make some head-way with the police report and getting my car fixed. I finally called the officer that responded enough times that he did come through with the police report. I’ve been told by many people that I should report the officer for taking so long to come through with the report (and for losing it for that matter) but I’m having a hard time actually doing that. I ask God to grant me grace every single day and I should have the strength to extend that same grace to those around me. I don’t know what is going on in his life – I think I’m just going to let it go.

Emory’s technology systems drive me crazy some days. I had to e-mail my financial advisor for the main university and have them cancel my loans – I couldn’t find a way to do it through our online system. And yet yesterday I noticed that I had a negative balance on my account, accounting for over $10,000 worth of loans. I got nervous because if those loans had gone through and were debited to my account then I didn’t know if I would be responsible for paying them back. I went down to the financial office and they were confused – when they looked at my account it showed everything was normal and said that I was looking at a “snapshot” from before and not a live view. Go figure. But crisis resolved.

I think one of the reasons I’ve been more anxious than usual is that there is so much going on beyond my control, so many solutions just out of my reach. A lot of my frustrations this summer have been caused by people, events or actions that I couldn’t control. As a Type A person, that is SO frustrating – you feel as if you’re not in control of your own life.

As we fight through this hurricane season, I realize how lucky I’ve been in my life. So much of my life has always been under control. I haven’t been at the mercy of “the system” or of someone else’s actions and/or decisions or of Mother Nature. I’ve led a very comfortable life and, for the most part, have been in control. Frustrations and stresses have often resulted from mistakes that I have made. I’m not used to this. And I’m lucky. Those who are are riding out hurricanes, those who have been laid off and left behind, those children who have been born into poverty, those families who being raised in developing countries where options are limited – they all don’t know what it means to be in control. I think I need to start remembering those people when my stress level starts to boil over due to circumstances beyond my control.

I took part in a wonderful program today – Rollinsteer, a service day that is planned for the first year Rollins School of Public Health students during orientation. I was asked to be a site leader and I brought my group to a homeless shelter that services men. The organization is quite large, but we were able to tour and help out a little bit with the emergency shelter and the transitional substance abuse program. We were even able to sit in on a 12-step class. Though the language was more evangelical / born again than I’m used to, or that I would use, I was amazed at the strength at which the men in the classroom handed their problems to God. It was incredible. What a testament to their strength of faith. My group had a lot of fun. We were there for just under three hours, but I think they saw their potential for service in their two years here and that was worth the long hours that we put in leading up to it.

On a final note, my dad was announced on Wednesday morning as the 2008 New Milford School District Teacher of the Year!! I am SO proud of him. He loves what he does and honestly treasures the fact that he has a job that loves so much. It’s not a job, it’s not even a career, it’s a passion for him. I was upset that I couldn’t be there to here his speach and be part of that special time with my family, but I know I need to be in Atlanta right now. I know the experiences that I’m gaining not necessarily outweigh those that I’m missing, but make it worth it for me to be spending three years of my life here. God is calling me not to a job, not even to a career, but to a passion. My strength of faith will guide me through.

With GRACE,

Sarah 🙂

The Strength of Faith

14 Aug

My mom forwarded an e-mail from our conference minister yesterday – she’s been diagnosed with breast cancer and has just begun a 16-week round of chemotherapy. Her spirits are incredible, though and she truly believes that the strength of God will guide her through this. Davida really is a testament to the Strength of Faith. She’s started a website so that people can be updated on her progress. I e-mailed her and told her that she was in my thoughts and prayers and that I really appreciated the fact that she was opening up that part of her life to so many of us who are going to be keeping her in the foreground of our prayers.

It seems strange. Just last year we were all sitting at General Synod listening to Lynn Redgrave give her testament to her own battle with breast cancer, and we all sat in tears as she talked about her journey back to the church as she was going through her treatments. Davida was so moved by her speech then, and now, a little over a year later, is about to embark on her own journey of survivorship.

Hearing her story is a good reminder of the importance of yearly doctors appointments and regular self-exams. And for both men and women it’s a good reminder to trust your first instinct when it comes to your body – if something doesn’t seem right, then get it checked out. Early detection is one of the most effective treatments.

I ask that everyone continue to keep Davida and her husband David in their prayers as they embark on this journey. And also pray for the thousands who recieved diagnoses similar to hers all over the country – pray that they feel the presence of the Holy Spirit as they walk forward, often towards the unknown.

With Grace and Peace,
Sarah

The Good Samaritan

11 Aug

It’s been a crazy couple of days. Bruce and I were working hard to get the apartment to feel more like home – and had some success!! The kitchen is still a work in progress, but it’s coming along. I don’t mind the fact that I still don’t know where everything is, and that I still don’t know if what I know I like, but at least for the moment things are somewhat organized. The weather has actually been beautiful for the past couple of days and we’ve been able to use our balcony a lot, as well as one night turn off the AC and just open windows and the sliding door in our bedroom. That was fun because we got to fall asleep to the sound of crickets and other nature-like sounds. It’s been awhile since we’ve been able to do that – even in the old place if we could sleep with the windows open (which made me nervous because we were on the first floor) we would often hear cars and the club right up the road. I’m hoping we’ll be able to do that a lot in the fall – I love the sound of night. Although – I think it came at a price. Lilly was crouched down looking at something near my dresser last night and when I crouched down to see what it was, a roach ran at me!! I screamed, well, like a girl and ran into the living room and jumped onto the couch. I know I should be better about dealing with roaches – I live in Atlanta after all – but when they come running after me I can’t help but scream and run!! I’m hoping that once fall hits we won’t see so many roaches. Because I absolutely love having the windows and slider open – and so does Lilly!!

Anyway, we had a lot of housewarming fun this week. Elisabeth came over on Tuesday night and brought art supplies!! She and I aren’t particularly crafty, but her sister-in-law is an art teacher and sent her a bunch of supplies so we decided to give craftiness a try. Our first mission was acryllic paint. We actually had a lot of fun – I doubt we’re on our way to becoming world-renowned artists or anything, but it was a really relaxing girls-night in. Then on Thursday night Kyle and Kristin came over for a “Taco and Margarita” night. That was fun, because it gave Bruce and me the chance to just make tons of food and hang out with friends. I think the apartment seemed a lot more like “home” to us as we we had amazing fellowship all week.

Things have gotten a little crazy for me on the “legal” front, however. What does that mean, you ask? Well – I got a call from my insurance agent who’s helping me out with the accident. She told me that she still hasn’t gotten a copy of the police report from my accident and when she tried to call the number that they guy who hit me gave her, it was a wrong number. I’m slightly concerned that’s it’s not going to be a simple matter of getting in touch with this guy’s insurance company and then getting my car fixed. Now that my head is starting to clear about this, I’m starting to think back to the night of the accident and wish I had handled things differently. For starters – I wasn’t the one who had called the cops. They showed up, and I assumed the guy who hit me had called them, but now (after finding out he gave a wrong number) I’m wondering if perhaps the people in the convertible, who pulled over and then left when the cops showed up, were the ones who called the cops. I don’t want to say that this guy knew he was at fault and trying to get out of it, but it’s strange to me that we haven’t been able to get in touch with him. I really wish that my head had been a little bit more clear. I would have asked the cop specifically what his name and badge number was and how I could get in touch with him about the case. I would have looked over the card that he had given me and asked him to clarify his handwriting. I would have said to him: “what is my next step?” I didn’t think to do any of this, and Bruce was so worried about me that he didn’t think to do any of this either. So now we’ve kind of put ourselves in a tough situation. I do, however, have a wonderful insurance agent on my side and I’m just hoping that this situation finds a way to work itself out. I just want my car fixed!!

On the other end of the legal front, I signed onto Wachovia’s website last night to check my bank account and was very surprised to see that I only have 71 cents in my checking account!! I was really confused because if I had done my math, right, I should have had close to $350 in my checking account once all of my bills had been paid. I knew that I couldn’t have miscalculated that badly. I looked at my account and saw the problem almost immediately. The check that I had written to Oaks of Briarcliff (our last apartment complex) for August’s rent (the week and a half that we owed until our lease had run up) had been cashed twice!! It had first been cashed electronically (which is not unusual for them) but then the actual check had been cashed. I was so confused as to how that even could happen!! My mom told me to call the bank just to see what the next step was. I called and requested to be directed to the online banking department. They looked into my case and then directed me to the customer service department. They looked into my case and then directed me to the claims department. When I got to the claims department, the guy I talked to explained that they would be able to refund the money into my account, but I had to fill out a form and then it would take 3-5 days. He said that he could mail or fax the form to me, or I could just go to a local branch. I told him that it would probably be just as easy for me to go to a local branch so this morning I visited the Wachovia across from Rollins. The guy I talked to there was really nice – he got me the form, looked it over to make sure I filled everything out correctly and then even faxed it for me. I was really grateful for that because there was a lot of legal jargon on the form that I really didn’t want to mess up. I was basically filing something against someone and I didn’t want to do it wrong and then get myself in trouble!!

And we still don’t have cable/internet at the new apartment – Comcast was supposed to show up somewhere in between 8 and 11 a.m. this morning but Bruce finally had to leave for work at 10:45 a.m. I got a call from Comcast at 11:53 a.m. saying they were there so now I’m going to have to reschedule. Needless to say – I’ve been having a very hard time crossing things off of my to-do list and things keep getting added!! But as strange as it sounds, I’m handling it somewhat calmly. During Joys and Concerns in church on Sunday, people kept talking about different experiences they had throughout the week where a Good Samaritan had popped out of the bushes and helped them through a hard time. I feel like I have had my own experiences with Good Samaritan’s over the past couple of weeks. Different friends showed up when I needed them throughout the move and carried me to the next stage. My insurance agent is being persistent about helping me understand the process after my accident and ensuring my car gets fixed at no cost to me. The man at Wachovia (I didn’t even get his name!!) helped me understand a legal form containing words I had never seen before. My mom piled clothes high in my arms while we were out shopping and bought me some much-needed new clothes (mostly dress clothes for warmer weather). My dad saw that Bruce and I wanted to learn how to play raquetball so he took Bruce to Target and bought us the equiptment. Then he taught us how to play. I’m sure there are more that I’m forgetting, but I’m continually amazed and in awe at the pure good in the people around me. Sometimes I think the media focuses so narrowly on the negative that we don’t even have the chance to widen our lense and see the beauty and kindness that surrounds us every day.

Good Samaritans exist – in the flesh. Look around!!
With Grace,
Sarah

By the Grace of God …

4 Aug

So after I finally managed to set up all of the utilities for the new apartment, I thought to myself, “Okay, it’s smooth sailing from here on out.”

I should stop thinking things like that …

On Tuesday night I was on my way to pick Bruce up from work when I got into a car accident. I was at spaghetti junction, merging from 85 North to 285 West when I heard tires squealing behind me. I looked to see where they were coming from when all of a sudden I felt my car get ambushed from behind – I did a 180, skidded across the highway and finally landed on the shoulder of the other side of the highway (I had started in the far left lane) facing oncoming traffic. It took me a second to realize what happened. I just started shaking and I called Bruce because I didn’t want to have to be dealing with this by myself – he borrowed a salesman’s car and came right away. The guy who hit me called the cops and Bruce showed up right after they did and talked to them because I was still really shaken up.

To be quite honest, I don’t really know what happened. The guy who hit me claimed that his car just started skidding out of control, but I’m not entirely sure I buy that – the road wasn’t wet and it didn’t have any kind of gravel or oil on it. I’m inclined to think that he was driving to fast and lost control around the corner but I don’t want to make any assumptions. Regardless – I’m not sure what he told the cop, but right before Bruce got there the cop (after talking to the guy that hit me) came up to me and asked me “if I thought he hit me.” I kind of stared at him blankly because clearly I was facing oncoming traffic and clearly my back bumper was cracked and falling off and clearly the frontend of the other guy’s car was mangled. So I’m not sure what the other guy told the cop but I told him what happened and before I left the cop told me that it was going to be his fault. Since my car was driveable, the cops told us we could leave. I didn’t want to drive my car with the bumper the way that it was so Bruce told me to drive the car he had borrowed and that he would drive my car. I held it together while we dropped off the car and drove home, but completely broke down when I got home. When I thought about what happened, it scares me to think about what could have happened. When I flew across the interstate, there could have been a car that hit me from the front. I could have hit the wall instead of stopping on the shoulder. It’s just scary because I kept re-playing what happened in my head and I couldn’t get the sound of the tires squealing, followed by my car lurching forward out of my head.

That night I kept playing the “why didn’t I?” game. Why didn’t I leave earlier, why didn’t I take Clairmont instead of the highway, etc. I kept thinking to myself that if I had changed one thing about how I had gone to pick Bruce up, I wouldn’t have gotten into a car accident. But then I started to think about every day that goes by that I don’t get into a car accident. I never stop and think at the end of the day that if something had gone differently, if I had changed one thing about my day, that I could have gotten into a car accident, or burned myself, fallen, tripped, etc. I never stop at the end of the day and thank God for showering me with safety.

And I was lucky. My accident could have been worse. My car did what it was supposed to do. The seatbelt did what it was supposed to do. And it the grand scheme of what happened – by the grace of God I was protected.

Anyway so now I’m left to deal with the insurance companies – I’m hoping that they don’t total my car because I really don’t want to go through the process of getting a new one. Besides – I love my car. Even more now that it kept me safe.

Meanwhile the move went on. My parents got here on Thursday night and we went and borrowed Paul’s truck. We moved most of our stuff on Friday, even though Bruce was working, and spent Saturday trying to make order out of chaos at the new place, get what we needed at IKEA, and clean up the old place a little bit. All things considered, the move actually went very smoothly. At first it didn’t feel much like home, but now it’s starting to come together. Bruce started putting things up on the walls which helped a lot. And Lilly is started to venture out more and more so I don’t feel so bad about uprooting her. It’s amazing though – I haven’t seen a roach or a knat inside since I moved to the new place!! I probably shouldn’t jinx that, but I guess I just don’t expect my living quarters to be very nice, but our whole new complex is just beautiful. We went to the pool with my parents last night and I was just laying on one of the lounge chairs and it didn’t even seem like I lived in the city, that’s how quiet and secluded this place is. Even though the apartment itself doesn’t feel quite like home yet, I think now everything is there and my parents have taken a few days to go to Floriday, Bruce and I can focus on what goes where and where we like things and by the time my parents come back on Friday we’ll have made it home.

I am so grateful for all of the help though. I’m grateful for my parents for coming down and working basically for three days straight, Paul and April who let me borrow there truck, Lauri who came and was so willing to do little and tedious things, Andy who showed up with cake, Steven, who, on a bum knee moved two loads of stuff and used his truck for one of them, and I’m so grateful for Stacey who came in and basically took care of all of the obnoxious little stuff in the old apartment, and then cooked dinner for everyone the next day. I truly am blessed with wonderful people in my life.

It was a bumpy road to get to this new phase of our life, but Bruce and I are here and we are ready to face it together.

With Grace and Safety,
Sarah