Saturday, June 26, 2010

What I know after May 2, 2010

Many of you have followed the saga of our house for the past couple of months and I cannot express my gratitude for your concern, your prayers, and your gifts to my family and me. I have thought many times about posting these thoughts to my blog, but kept putting it off – thinking that at some point, I would be able to report on the solution of things. However, our situation is not yet resolve and we do not yet know how it will be completely resolved. However, there are some things that I do know that I want to share.

I do know what has happened to our house. On May 2, while most of Nashville was experiencing floods, there were several mudslides in my neighborhood. My neighbors have experienced horrible effects of these slides. At my house, several smaller sections of the hill behind our house gave way, but a larger section of the hill apparently moved towards my house and stopped. The pressure of this movement has cracked the foundation of our house and slightly bowed the foundation wall. All walls that are connected to that wall are now warped. In addition to this, a tree from behind our house fell through our house smashing the roof, our attic, and ceilings in our kitchen and in my daughter, Jessie’s, room.

After talking to numerous government officials, FEMA, the SBA, geologists, contractors, insurance agents, adjusters, and real estate agents, I know a few more things. Insurance only paid for damage caused by the tree. FEMA gave us money, but not enough to cover the other damage to our house. The SBA is unable to process our request at this time. The city may consider our home in a “buy back” program, but not for at least two years. Though I had purchased additional coverage from my insurance agent because I feared such an event, the coverage I purchased does not cover this (we are still dealing with the agent over this.) The cost to stabilize the hill behind our house will be over $100,000. With the combined cost to repair our home and stabilize the property well over $150,000, it is not economically feasible to restore our house to its pre-storm condition. Therefore, we have been exploring our options for “losing” the house.

Every day since May 2 (And I literally mean EVERY day), has included a phone call, an email, a form, a fax, or a face-to-face visit related to our house. Almost every day brings a new bit of news, a new wrinkle, or another set-back. Exactly how this will ultimately be resolved is still unknown. All of this has been very stressful and though most days I do well, there are days that don’t feel like leaving the house and other times I just cry. But that is not the final word on what I know.

Through this time, I have never once questioned “Why Me?” and I have never once wondered where God is in the midst of this. I do not think that “God did this to me” and I do not question that good has and will come from this. I feel blessed that my family was all safe – including my oldest daughter who was upstairs when the tree fell through the house. With every thoughtful gift we have received, I have felt the tender comfort of God. Many people have sincerely asked how they can be of help and we have tried to let people know when we know what are needs are (like help with moving, storing our “things”, financial assistance, and other gift cards). However, I have been especially moved by the spontaneous gifts that we have received; some of which are things that if I had asked for, I would have been WAY out of line. There have been spontaneous financial gifts to us. My friend, Jenny, who makes cakes offered to make a cake for Rachel’s graduation party. She just said, “Tell me how many people and when.” My friend, Ray, who is storing my motorcycle for me, had a new tire put on the back of my bike and had a general maintenance check done on my bike for me. A doctor at Vanderbilt, who knows Lynda, has offered to have a graduation party for Rachel to make sure that she has all she needs to be ready to go to college in the fall. My mom and her husband, Jim, have given us a place to live as long as we need. These are just a few of the amazing things that people have done for us. In each act of kindness, I feel the presence of God with us.

There is one great thing that I have felt through this experience. Several nights since we moved out of the house, our family has eaten together as a family (both at home and out) as we have always done regularly. As we have gathered around the table, we have talked about our lives; we have laughed, and shared deep reflections. I continue to be blessed by my two daughters and my wife. Eating these meals is an ordinary event, but when we share with each other and I experience the joy of these precious moments, they are transformed into holy moments of divine incarnation for me. I have realized that my hope does not lie in my house (and certainly does not lie with insurance companies). My hope is in the love and connection of my family and the goodness of God. I have thought more than once that I we could be living in the homeless shelter and I could be unemployed and while I would not be “happy” about it, I would feel content. Serenity, for me, has not been in everything working out (because it definitely has not worked out well yet), but serenity has come in knowing that no matter what happens, the love of God and the love of my family are steadfast. These are the things that I know. Some of the details of this story will change as time goes on, but some most certainly will not. Thank you all for your continued prayers.