Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Anxieties

When I was a sophomore in college, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  It kind of blew my world - I had to make decisions about medicine, therapy, whether I was going to finish the semester I was mid-way through at Ursinus, and then whether I was going to go back after I took the second half of my second semester off (I was able to finish out two of my classes through e-mails and occasional meetings).  Things were going really well for awhile.  After a summer of therapy and a new outlook concerning my eating habits (less coffee - more vegetables) and exercise, I went back to school for two more years at Ursinus.  I felt amazing.  I planned and executed a cross-country road trip, my grades went up, I applied and got into to amazing graduate schools, I worked too many hours and slept too little hours, I went to some of the most incredible conferences and met and fell in love with the most perfect person for me.  All that being said.  Since then - with the move to Atlanta, moving in with Bruce, the two of us trying to figure out life on our own, dealing with distance, a new school, new demands, engagement, traveling, merging families, etc. etc. etc. - transitions took over and life has gotten a little bit more difficult.  Last semester my anxiety started to come back.  This semester, I'm DETERMINED to not let it bring me down.  But sometimes it's hard.  There is just a lot going on in my life right now and sometimes it all just seems like too much.

That being said - I thought I would just list out of the anxieties that scratch the surface of my life every day.  I figure - maybe if I put them out there in cyberspace, perhaps they would either get lost (along with some undelivered e-mails) or possibly spread out and disintegrate - far away from me.  I also thought that perhaps if these anxieties were out there, those of you reading who are the praying type could keep me in your prayers as I work through this phase in my life.

So - here they.  It's time for me to release these anxieties!!

- Wedding planning ... I put this first not because it's the most important but because it's an umbrella for so many other things.  And it doesn't matter how many people tell me that they're willing to help or do what I want - the fact is, planning is stressful.  I'm thinking about too many things, trying to please too many people, trying to keep track of the details and worrying about what this is going to cost.

- School ... LTJ has made me terrified of New Testament.  I'm not even in his class anymore!!  But I NEED to make up for last semester, and that thought absolutely terrifies me.

- In Care guidelines / Ordination ... Can't I just jump ahead to the summer/fall of 2010 and be ordained and called into a church (God willing!!)?  I'm trying to stay on top of the process but it's a complicated one and I'm far away from my church and my C&M committee.

- Life Post-Atlanta ... This sort of goes along with ordination.  Bruce and I aren't interested in staying in Atlanta after I graduate.  There just aren't the opportunities for either one of us.  Bruce is just making things work for the time being, but it's not ideal.  But - then what?  We can't move until I find a job.  What if the process takes a long time?  Should I look for something part-time until I get called somewhere?  What if there is a hold-up in my ordination?  When will my Ecclesiastical Council be?  And moving costs money - a savings account would be nice.

- Speaking of Money - MONEY!! ... With everything else that is going on, my budgeting skills have plummeted.  This is not a good thing to let slide when you're in school and Bruce is the only one working full time.  I don't know how people live on one salary.  It's impossible.  Not impossible - but frustrating.

- Bills ... Can't they just pay themselves?  It's not that the money isn't there (one way or another) I just hate doing it.  And then I start thinking about money.

- Relationships ... They're just hard.  I'm not pointing at one over another.  They're all hard.  Close - distance - in between.  They're hard.  And with everything else going on, communication is often difficult.

- Families ... This sort of goes under the category of relationships.  But Bruce and I aren't close to our either of our families (Jen lives 6-7 hours away in Ormond Beach, FL.) and that is really hard.  We're getting married soon and merging families and this is really hard to get ready for when we're so far away.

- Church ... I can't see the beginning and I can't see the end.  I'm not a parishioner but I'm not a pastor.  Seminary has me wobbling somewhere in the middle.  I can't be an official member at Pilgrimage but I can't be an affective member in Kent.  I can't make a long-term commitment to either church.

- My Apartment ... It's not as clean as I would like it to be.  And yet I blog rather than clean.  Sigh ... 

- Neal's Deployment ... I know, I know, Neal - You told me not to worry.  But how can I not?

God take these anxieties and watch with me as they dissipate.  Hold and comfort me.  Strengthen me and walk with me as I regain my strength.  Amen.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

CHANGE!!

Barack Obama was sworn in today as the 44th President of the United States of America.

History was made today - and it goes beyond just electing our first black president.  People are excited about politics, people are READY for Barack Obama.  Older generations are seeing something they never thought they would see.  Formerly apathetic youth and young adults are advocating, are educating themselves and are speaking out.  We're broken and ready to be put back together.  We're broken and ready to do whatever we can to help put us back together.  We're broken but know that we are strong.

It almost doesn't feel real.  But tomorrow - I will wake up and it will be real.

I have a sense of hope.  My depleted spirit is slowly filling back up.  It's not going to be easy - but we're a strong nation and we're ready to take on the challenge.

Perhaps I will have something more cohesive to say tomorrow.  For right now I'll leave you with the words of a brilliant man:

"Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America."
-President Obama

Monday, January 19, 2009

What would I do in my life without music?

If you haven't heard Martina McBride's new song "Ride" I would STRONGLY encourage you to find it on youtube or iTunes.  I saw her perform it at the CMA's and absolutely loved it.  I've been having one of those "eh" days - mostly wedding planning related, a lot related to Neal leaving, some related to my inability to communicate in a productive, yet positive, way sometimes so I just started listening to it on repeat and the words (combined with Martina McBride's ability to wail) just seems to know how to fill a depleted spirit.

Here's the chorus:
Life is a roller coaster ride
Time Turns a Wheel and Love Collides
Faith is believing you can close your eyes and touch the sky.
so Shine while you have the chance to shine
Laugh even when you want to cry
Hold on tight to what you feel inside and ride...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

INVITATIONS!!

My wedding invitations arrived at my parents house today!!!!!

Whoops ... I mean OUR invitations.  I've got to stop doing that!!

My mom just called to tell me - I think she was in awe.  I mean - we all knew that Bruce and I were getting married (the Bruce asking my parents, giving me the ring, me screaming into the phone afterwards, the arguing and anxiety over wedding planning) but now it just seems real.  SO real.

Today was the first day of the semester - although I don't have class on Thursday so I didn't venture over to campus (too cold for me to take a ride on the scooter for no reason) and it seemed kind of anti-climactic.  I think I'm just ready for this semester to be over so the wedding can become even more real to me.

On another note - Lilly has been stalking this red-backed woodpecker that keeps eating at our bird feeder.  She makes this adorable squawking noise.  It looked like she was going to do it again today so I brought my camera out, but she got distracted.  I thought the video was worth posting, though.  She is adorable after all!!


video

Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday's Headlines

Thanks to everyone who has shared flower advice with me.  Just as I suspected - it was about 50/50.  I think it might be time to flip a coin!!

I don't have much time to blog today because I'm supposed to be studying for an exam, but I thought I would take a break from studying and give the headlines.

Last week was the bulk of my January-Term class, Nonprofit Management & Leadership.  It's been a really awesome class (I say this even before taking the final or receiving my final grade!!) and I know I've learned a lot in the short time we've met.  We'll take our final tomorrow morning and then spend the afternoon tying up loose ends.  Wednesday is reserved for meeting with our groups about our final project.  After that it's all about time management (something I'm SO good at) to finish up the project.

I finally did get around to switching myself out of LTJ's New Testament class.  Of course (as fate would have it) today was the one day during J-term that I ran into him in the hallway and he greeted me with a big smile.  Of course.  But it's not about that.  I didn't mesh well with his teaching style and in the world of academics, sometimes it doesn't matter how much you learn - a final grade shows up on your transcript.  A letter, no more than 1/4 inch tall.  But that small ink spot holds a lot of meaning.  Our culture of academia has given it a lot of meaning.  So while I learned more with LTJ than I've ever learned I need to start thinking about that ink spot.  I'm sure I will have mixed feelings about this for a long time to come.  But for the time being I'm happy with my decision.  This also means that I won't have class on Thursday.  I'm going to try hard to make that my day - which will mean NOT agreeing to work.  It will be a time to relax, get caught up and go into the end of the week with a strong finish (I almost said it would be a sabbath, but then I realized that doing homework shouldn't be something you do on a sabbath day).

Kim shared some wonderful feedback with me yesterday that she has been getting from various church members.  She's been hearing more than "oh, she's doing a nice job."  I hesitate to use the word "praise," but I almost think I have to without specifically quoting what she's said.  Sometimes I'm not sure if I deserve the praise, but hearing it fills my spirit and renews my strength.  I really appreciated not only the feedback itself, but her sharing it with me.  It gives me confidence going into the academic side of things.

Bruce and I had a somewhat traumatic, but very successful trip to IKEA this weekend (if you're wondering - noon on a Saturday during a sale is generally not the best time to go to IKEA).  We got a lot of things to make the apartment a little bit "homey-er" and are slowly putting our apartment back together.  I got a huge frame for some of the scenery shots from my trip cross country, but now I still need to print the pictures.  I had everything set with Target but then realized that you couldn't order more than 4x6 through Shutterfly on Target's website.  So I quit for the day and will go back to it this weekend perhaps.

Our wedding invitations have been ordered!!  One more thing to cross off the list (thanks to my incredibly organized sister, of course!!) so that I can focus on the next thing.  I'm currently working on flowers (obviously) and music.  We're setting up our own sound system so Bruce and I have kind of taken it on ourselves to put together the music selection.  It's actually been kind of fun to listen to music with that frame of mind - to put iTunes on shuffle and see how music can speak to you in a new and different way.  It's kind of fun (though not as much fun as registering for gifts was).

I'm EXTREMELY jealous of all of the snow my northern friends and family have been buried in lately.  I recently heard Atlanta weather described as a menopausal woman (in the way that the temperature goes up and down).  I wish it would be cold, stay cold and snow!!  But I think I need to wait until I move back north for that.

We had a great meeting with the youth yesterday at church.  Some new kids came and Bruce brought them all together for an hour-long game of Apples to Apples.  I then introduced them to a very different type of worship:  Extremely meditative, using secular music but asking theological questions about it, etc.  I think they were a little taken back - church has always had a similar format and this was completely different - but they liked it.  I'm looking forward to planning for next month.

Bruce and I got asked to help out with an Inquirers Class at church next month.  I'm really honored and touched that they trust us enough to help out!!

Lots of stuff going on right now.  I'm trying to stay focused and centered but still remain enthusiastic about all the possibilities!!

All my love,
Sarah :)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Wedding Poll

I'm sure this will be the first of many. Today's topic ...

FLOWERS!!
Silk vs. Real


So I guess my first question is exactly what I said - if you had the choice between real or silk flowers at your wedding, which would you choose? And perhaps - why? Right now I'm seeing both sides of the floral story and I'm about ready to flip a coin!!

I found this website called The Brides Bouquet which seems to have reasonable prices for silk flower bouquets and boutonnieres, but I'm not sure if it really makes a difference. I do like the thought of not having to cut fresh flowers for the wedding, but silk is a completely different kind of production.

We're not having flower centerpieces on the tables at the receptions - all candles/mirrors - so I have a little bit of "wiggle room" financially. But that doesn't mean I want to go out of control.

My mom thinks I would want the keepsake. Bruce's mom had silk flowers at her wedding and they're gathering dust somewhere in the attic. But maybe someone would like to use my bouquet after me? I hate to think of it as a prop, but I would like to cherish the marriage more than the wedding flowers.

Does anyone have any brilliant insight? If you would prefer not to post, feel free to e-mail me: sarahelizabethkeck@yahoo.com.

Love to all!!
Sarah :)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

It Feels Like Home ...

I'm trying to come up with ways to make our apartment feel a little bit more "homey."  I love our apartment:  It's got such a great layout and is new and has such wonderful potential, but there's something missing.  I'm just not sure what it is.  Right now it just feels like an apartment.  Here are some of my thoughts so far ... 

1. Put more decorative pillows around - right now we just have our four pillows on our bed and it looks really flat.  I think if I added a couple more to the bed it would give the room more depth.  I also want to get some more for the couch and "ralph" - the oversized chair we got from Leslie.  Right now we only have two and they've kind of flattened themselves out.
***
2. Hang more pictures.  We have pictures everywhere, but we have a lot of wall space and I would like to hang more.  I want to print some of my favorites from our recent travels - maybe some from Experience the Journey, the cross-country trip Kari and I took, my family's cruise of the eastern Mediterranean, Bruce's trip to Africa and my trips to Honduras.  I wish frames were a little bit cheaper, but I think I can get some good deals at IKEA.
***
3.  Possibly rearrange the living room - but that gets tricky because of the cable box.
***
4. Continue to get rid of the clutter that seems to have taken over our lives.

Does anyone have any more suggestions?  I'm not feeling particularly inexpensively creative at the moment so I need some space and money saving ideas.  I wish I could paint, but it seems counterproductive to paint now only to have to paint it back before we move in a year and a half.  Though maybe it could be a fun project ... 

I'm halfway through my J-term class, Non Profit Management and Leadership.  It's been a really good class so far.  There is a lot of reading, but it's all really relevant.  We've gone through a lot of material, but I think everyone in the class seems to be following along.

Okay - so please give me suggestions about "homey-ness."

Friday, January 2, 2009

2009

What a trip.  I think Bruce and I are ready to NOT spend much time in the car for the time being.  We left around 2 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, stopped about 20 miles shy of the Virginia / West Virginia border on I-81 around 11 p.m. that evening, got up the next morning and then continued on to Wayne, PA to my aunt Leslie's house.  We got there around 11:30 a.m.  We spent some time with them and then Neal and Alex came over.  This is the last time we were able to see Neal before he deploys to Iraq.  We had an absolutely wonderful visit with them but it was definitely bittersweet.  We went out to lunch and then back to Leslie's.  We sat around until Gabriella started telling us about Wii Karaoke that she got for Christmas (seven year olds are WAY more technological than I was at that age - I feel like I missed out on a lot of cool toys).  Alex and I HAD to try the karaoke so we all went downstairs and tried it out.  Gabriella picked out songs for Alex and me and we sang duets and "song-offs" and danced along.  We really got into it.  At one point we turned around and the boys were gone.  Bethany went off in search of them and came back down and told us that Neal was explaining to Leslie what he was going to be doing in Iraq and Bruce was showing my dad his new iTouch.  Apparently Wii Karaoke wasn't as entertaining to the them as it was to us.  We went upstairs to find them only to have Gabriella drag them downstairs.  Next thing I knew she had them playing Wii Sports.  It wasn't anything special, but I really treasured that time with both Neal and Alex.  I know this is not going to be an easy 9 months with Neal gone and I'm glad we just got to spend time together in a "homey" environment.  And I think my family is really happy they all got to see them too.  Like my mom said - she's had church members go to Iraq before but Neal is probably the closest person to family she's ever prayed for every Sunday morning from the pulpit.  I started to crack when I said goodbye to them, but we were leaving for Jodi's wedding and I was distracted.

The wedding was beautiful, it really was.  There was something still about it almost.  It was cold and the air was crisp.  Everyone in the wedding party (with the exception of the bride and the groom's vest) was wearing black and everything was lit by candles.  It was beautiful.  The wedding just seemed perfect.  My oldest cousin read and her sister played the flute.  The ceremony didn't last long (my mom was officiating after all) and we all gathered in the sanctuary after for pictures.  It was fun because I was able to spend time with my dad's sisters and my cousins who I really haven't been able to see a lot recently.  I guess you don't realize how much you really do miss people until you see them after a long period of time.  I really do wish that Bruce and I were closer and could see everyone more often.  We went from the church to the reception.  All of the cousins (minus the bride and her sister, the maid of honor, of course) all sat at the same table with spouses / significant others and we had a great time.  Bruce really liked all of them (it was the first time he had met most of them) and that makes me really happy.

We left the reception before the midnight countdown.  My dad always has a hard time at wedding receptions (parties with DJ's or bands in general) because his hearing is really sensitive.  I think he spent too much time in rock bands in high school in college!!  But it's hard for him to handle loud music for extended periods of time, so we ate, drank, danced a little bit and then said goodbye to everyone and went back to Leslie's around 11:15 and rang in the New Year with Leslie, Steve and Gabriella.  They were surprised to see us before midnight but I think they were really happy we came - and we were too!!  My mom had gifts for Bruce and me, so we opened them and then watched Dick Clark and Times Square for the countdown.  It really was a fun night - we got the best of both worlds - big party and quiet celebration.  Fun!!

The next morning Bruce and I slowly started to get moving.  I say slowly because we were both nursing headaches (mine had more to do with change in weather and I think his had to do with the whiskey) and neither one of us particularly was looking forward to spending all day in the car.  It was one of the hardest goodbyes I've had in awhile.  Gabriella doesn't really like to say goodbye, so her having a hard time with it caused Leslie to get choked up, which caused me to get choked up and my mom to get choked up.  As we pulled out of the driveway I started to really think about Neal leaving for the first time and I was crying before we even got on the highway.  I had a feeling we were in for a long drive, but Bruce held my hand and I pulled out "The One Year Yellow Ribbon Devotional," a devotional that Alex, her mom, Sue (Neal's mom) and I are all going to do this year.  Bruce asked me to read it out loud so we could both do it.  I was bawling when I started reading it, but it calmed me down quickly and I felt at peace when I closed the book.

The first part of the trip was actually kind of fun.  Bethany had given us a Friends trivia game so I went through the game cards and asked questions.  We didn't follow the game or anything, but it made the time go by.  My dad had also suggested that we take I-95 back to Atlanta (as opposed to I-81) so we had a change of scenery from the two days before.  After we had gone through 400 questions, we listened to the "Walk the Line" soundtrack and sang along.  We stopped for a late lunch and to fill up the car and then drove again until we needed to fill up again.  Fortunately for our bank accounts and unfortunately for our muscles and sanity, we were getting almost 400 miles per tank of gas (good job Yaris!!) so we really only stopped every 5-6 hours.  That was rough.  Once the sun went down I turned my lap top on and I watched (Bruce listened to) "Friends."  It didn't really make the time go by any faster, but it was a little bit more enjoyable.

We FINALLY got home around 11 p.m. and we went straight to bed (after we fed Lilly, of course, who was a little perturbed that we didn't have anyone look in on her on Wednesday).  We woke up this morning and I brought Bruce to work, came home and watched TV while Lilly laid on top of me (I'm thinking she was making sure I couldn't go anywhere again).

I've been thinking about Neal a little bit more today.  I want to do today's devotional, but I think I'll wait for Bruce.

So for now I think I'm going to shower and get ready for dinner with Mark and Lavon tonight.  So here's to a relaxing and fulfilling start to 2009!!

Peace and Blessings,
Sarah
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