Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Suzuki Samurai = 5.9 magnitude

So today I was apparently able to confirm that driving a Suzuki Samurai is, in fact, larger than a 5.9 on the richter scale. Still amazed that everyone felt it including my family a few states north and I didn't. I do have to say it was an experience getting multiple text messages from family asking if I was ok and by time I go to reply to them I have no cell signal nor do I have it for the next hour. Things seem to be getting back to normal with cell phones now and, while I know of lots of minor damages such as water main breaks in Front Royal, there doesn't seem to be anything major going on. Maybe I'll get to feel an aftershock? :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Heroic Potential

he·ro   [heer-oh]
noun, plural -roes; for 5 also -ros.
a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal: He was a local hero when he saved the drowning child.

For the past few weeks we have been doing hose testing and washing at our station. This is a project that requires many, many, hours of labor and being that we are a small department that labor is only spread across a handful of people. Because of the circumstances this project isn't one that we can do in a single day but one that has to be spread out. As I've spent these hours standing out in front of the station with a pressure washer in hand and sweat rolling down my back I see the people of Warren County driving by on the highway. I don't know anything about these people and, most likely, they don't know the first thing about me but the thing that I kept questioning in my mind is how many of those people realize that I, and the others working with me, are doing this for free. I wonder if they took the time to read the "Volunteer" part of our station's name or did they even skip a beat to think about it at all. I don't doubt that at least some of those people driving by are heroes in their own way. As I thought more about this I realized something very important -- a hero isn't a person directly but more of an attitude.

Think of someone, in your mind, that is a hero to you. Why are they a hero? Most likely it's because of something they did and it was probably something that they completely ignored himself (or herself) in order to complete that heroic act. The thing is that people are not born heroes and, in many ways, they aren't raised as heroes but, rather, they are raised with heroic tendencies. I'm not about to call myself a hero but I can tell you that I see members of our department that are certainly heroes in my book -- and they aren't always the ones that are running into a burning building. Sometimes you hear on the news how a firefighter pulled a child from a burning building and immediately they are tagged as a hero, and rightfully so, but what bothers me is you don't hear about the wife of that firefighter who willingly let her husband respond to that fire fully knowing that he could become seriously injured or killed. There are people that take positions in a fire department that they may really not want to do but they do it because they know the department needs them who you never hear about. You also never hear about the people who work hours upon hours organizing fundraisers to help a fire department raise money for a new truck, fire hose, or any other equipment that is required for that firefighter to do their job. How about the couple that barely has enough money to live but yet they drop the single $1 bill in the boot as they pass the firefighters collecting money along the road? Heroes seem to all have one thing in common -- they are so infrequently recognized and they so infrequently think of themselves. Additionally they are heroes because of what they do and not because of who they are.

In so many ways it is heartbreaking to watch people not only drive by but go through their lives with a heavy focus on themselves without even stopping to consider whether they are a hero to someone or not but, on the other hand, there is a lot of potential for those people to become heroes. It's one thing that is fairly unique to heroes -- they can be contagious. I've responded to calls where someone was injured or somehow in trouble and later they've come back to the station with a check to donate money which will then be used to assist in saving someone else's life. People don't always think about the impact they are making on other people until someone makes an impact on their life and as long as there are at least a few heroes in existence then the potential remains for a contagious outbreak of people helping people. While I watch our world fall further and further I can't help but hope and pray that people will someday start putting themselves aside and start displaying the heroic qualities that we so desperately need -- even if it's someone spending the time with a child who needs a mentor, working around a fire department, restoring a public shelter, giving money to a worthwhile organization, or even just saying hi to someone who has had a bad day.

We all have heroic potential -- let's all start using it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's really been that long?

I really can not believe that it's been more than half a year since I've actually made a blog post. I don't know if I can really understand why other than I think my life has just been so confusing that I don't know exactly what to say. If you're someone that's close to me you know that there have been some serious changes in my life and, that in December, there was some serious heartbreak. Let's go back there..... not that I want to.

In the end of 2010 things, financially, were not easy for me. I was getting more and more behind on my mortgage and despite my efforts it reached the point where I became 3 months past due and CitiMortgage acted immediately. I've touched on some of this in a blog post in November but it was in December that Citi scheduled a foreclosure sale for the second time even while they knew that they weren't supposed to. It was also in December, after they scheduled this sale, that they randomly decided that my HUD counselor was no longer allowed to act on my behalf despite the fact that I provided them with that documentation and they had been speaking with her for the past few months. We called via a conference call and was told that they were going to cancel the sale but we never received any confirmation so the day after the sale was scheduled we called Citi again to verify that the sale was canceled and the agent told us that my account was in a "pending modification" status and that no sale had taken place -- it was 3 days later that someone knocked on my door with the paperwork that the house was now bank property. I won't lie.... I cried. I called my mom and cried and then I called my girlfriend and cried... oh yes, there's another event that happened in December. See, I met the perfect girl for me.... we were so perfect together and she absolutely had ALL of my trust... It hadn't been easy for me to trust girls because all of my life it seems like I've been cheated on... I don't really understand why I trusted her but I just knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she could be trusted... something that I *NEVER* thought I would be able to do again, at least not so easily. I guess within that trust I gave up a part of me that I had kept away from everyone in the past... I made a mistake and I went too far but I had never been so sure about anything in my life. She was so comforting when I called her after I knew I lost my house.... she invited me over to her friends' house and I had probably one of the best nights just hanging out and watching movies. It really seemed like neither one of us could get enough of the other -- it was incredible. Despite the fact that I was losing everything she was there for me and she made everything better and helped me deal with all of the crap going on around me -- but, sadly, it wouldn't last long.

It was a really ugly day.... snow fell like crazy and at the station we were running call after call for accidents on I66 and I was supposed to hear from her but didn't... I tried calling... no answer. I knew she hadn't slept at all the night before and she had to drive home from school that evening so I was in complete panic.... I called her friend and she was worried too and for the next few hours we all tried to figure out where she was because we thought for sure she wrecked. When we figured out where she was it became the moment that I truly did lose everything. She was at her ex-boyfriend's house... Yes, she cheated on me. I was more crushed than every in my life... I cried every day for at least the next 2 weeks... I broke down crying in front of people that I would have never dreamed I'd let myself cry in front of... I was a wreck. The people that were closest to me through the entire month will tell you that after I met her I was the happiest person alive and that they could not believe that I was the same person and that you would have never even been able to tell that I was losing my house and so many other things but then they will also tell you that just as happy as I was for that time I changed abruptly when I found out she cheated on me. I have to say that I was proud of myself in that I was still able to function. If you read back through the years of my blog you'll see that there were many times that I had something happen with a girl and it completely destroyed me to the point that I couldn't function. I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that this time hurt more than all of the previous times put together but, yet, I was still able to do my job. It told me two things: I have grown and matured and that I loved this girl more than anyone before.

Anyone that is a Christian knows that God does provide for those that seek Him. It was no different in this situation. We had just voted in a new chief at the fire department and one of the things he brought up to me when he knew what was going on was that he wanted to start a live-in program at the station. Years ago he had lived at a fire station for 2 years and he said it was an incredible experience and he wanted to let others have the chance as well as help improve our station's call responses. Shortly before the new year I moved in and just went to my house to take care of my birds once a day and slowly started moving everything to storage. In the first part of January I found a home for my birds and I took them to meet their new friends -- their new home had plenty of other birds for them to play with and talk to. It was probably the hardest thing that I ever actually had to do. I hear reports that they are really liking their new home and I hope to soon be able to visit them but I really do miss them. Looking back having to give my birds away was about the ONLY negative thing that came from the foreclosure. I owed $190k on a house that Fannie Mae put on the market for $60k and I was sinking fast. I now have the freedom to start paying off the IRS and other debts that I have as well as actually start saving money. I get to interact with people more regularly since I love at the fire station and there are a lot of people in and out of there and I'm also able to do more of something I love -- help others. I just recently got cleared to drive Engine 4 so now I don't have to sit and wait for a driver to take me to a call. Sure, it has some frustrations but overall it's an awesome experience and God has really blessed me.

Today I still live at the fire station and I still enjoy it. I can't say that I understand my life though. I've recently been hurting quite a bit and I'm not really sure why... I think that a good part of it is loneliness creeping back in. I know for a fact that the pain of the broken heart in December is a pain that I still have and it still hurts despite the fact that I am coping with it and have moved on. I think I've recently just been feeling like I'm a thorn to a lot of people -- like a nuisance. I don't know why I feel that way but I have some ideas... Maybe it's because I complain a lot... maybe I'm just strange compared to most people... there are things that I see that might be but they are things that no matter how much I try to think about them and correct them I just can't seem to change... The reason, I think, is more because there is just something missing in my life. I know that I'm not where I'm supposed to me in my walk with God and I know that's a big part of it... They say that knowing is half the battle but sometimes it just seems so hard to actually put things into action.... you know how to fix it... you know how to get better... but you just can't seem to put it into motion.

I guess I really don't have much more to say than that. I wish that I had something to say that would provoke thought and help others but right now I don't. I hope that soon I fix me and can really start helping others and really get back to my old ways of thinking about stuff -- maybe then my blog will become active again

Saturday, February 26, 2011

"Somebody Love Me" by Michael W. Smith

Counting every moment
Biding all my time
Standing out here on my own
Searching for that someone
To heal this heart of mine
And keep me from being alone
But when will it be
And how will I know
I don't want to wait here forever
Somebody love me
Come and carry me away
Somebody need me
To be the blue in their grey
Somebody want me
The way I've always
dreamed it could be
Won't somebody love me, love me
I'm waiting for somebody
To dance across the floor
Sweeping me off of my feet
I'm looking for the right one
To open up that door
And offer me a tender retreat
It's like wanting to sing
But needing a song
When will I hear the music playing

"Somebody Love Me" by Michael W. Smith