Fiona in January

Fiona in January

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lovin on the Family...

God has been teaching me so much lately, specifically the importance of family. I admit, I often took my family members for granted when I had frequent access to them growing up - but after moving away for college and coming back to Maryland last summer, I really have been loving and valuing those rare family moments.

Being close to my sisters is so important to me. I loved living with Kate, Andrew and the kids and still plan on seeing them a few times a month now that I live about 2 hours away on the Eastern Shore. I mean seriously, how could you stay away from these kids?!

At the same time, I really miss the times I spent with my younger sister, Molly, who lived with me out in Indiana. I've lost track of the number of times we made each other laugh so hard bodily fluids were involved. The crazy road trips, wars against bugs and spiders, horrifying apartment discoveries (the giant mutant amoeba/silverfish thing in the tub?!?!) and just those times of kicking back, relaxing, eating great food and watching stupid reality tv together (Bret Michaels choosing which skank to date out of a tour bus for example!) We had great times together and really were able to re-friend each other as adults. I can't wait for her to move out here this year!

God has also blessed me with a whole new family - my awesome future in laws! I am incredibly blessed to be a part of such a fun and welcoming family. I have 2 new brothers and 2 new sisters, not to mention the multiple nieces and nephews that come along with AND an extra set of parents I get along with - who could ask for anything more? I feel like my family has doubled and we have so much fun together. Right now I'm on vacation with most of them (sadly without Adam, Christina, Baby J and Thatcher) out in VA and its just so comfortable and homey...something I didn't get to feel often out in Indiana.

So I'm thankful for my patched together bizarre family of awesomeness - love you guys!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Thanks Mom!

When I was a kid everyone told me non-stop how much I looked like and acted like my Dad...I loved it! I was completely a Daddy's girl and more than a little bit of a tomboy. I wish I had some of my childhood photos in digital form to show some proof, but this one will have to do! The funny thing is, this is when I was a senior in high school - check out that hair! HAH!

Anyway - I love my Dad and still look up to him so much as I try to be a grown up and a little more "girly"...ok, stop snickering! Anyway, over the past few years more and more people have mentioned how much of my mom they see in me. I love this! It's the first time in my life that I've been compared to her, and I take it as a huge complement. To me it means that I'm learning how to be compassionate, tactful, loving and really value my family and friends. I'm becoming more of a thoughtful caregiver and settling down into myself, learning how to pair my adventurous side with becoming a woman of God. It's pretty amazing!

One of the things I absolutely inherited from Mom is my love of greeting most of you reading this know, I can't help but send them out! I have this master calendar on my wall that has all of the birthdays and anniversaries of all my family members and friends - I hit up Hallmark every month to shop for cards and I love every minute of it. To me, there's just something so cool about checking your mail and getting something other than bills - hopefully an envelope containing a little chuckle from me makes my friends' and family's days every once in awhile.

In that same vein, Mom has been known to clip cartoons out of the paper that crack her up (and she thinks I would laugh at) and include them in funny cards she sends my way. I love this! I have my favorites tacked up on a corkboard in my room (they have been known to decorate dorm room doors, refrigerators and kitchen cabinets also!) and they still make me actually laugh out loud when I read them. She sent me the one below electronically, as my younger sister was the lucky recipient of the original - but it made me laugh so hard I had to post it here!

So all that to say, I am so lucky to have two parents I try to emulate. I really love them both and hope I'm growing into a "grown up" that reflects all the great things I've gleaned from them over the years.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Em Was Not Meant to Live Alone...

As I prepare to write this blog update, I'm struggling with just how "refreshingly" honest to be. Sometimes its so easy to bare my soul on this page, not having to put a specific face with whoever decides to read it - but other times I'm struck with just how public spouting my feelings off through this blog can be! Still, it is somewhat cathartic to just throw it all out bear with me.

I just recently finished reading "Committed" by Elizabeth Gilbert. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors and I would love to someday sit down and talk with her as both a writer and an emotionally confused woman (as most of us women are). The book explores the many different cultural views of marriage and family in a very personal way as she was quite honestly forced by the US government to marry her longtime partner due to the fact that he was Brazilian and was traveling to the US to live with her on temporary visas then leaving for just long enough to secure another visa, then coming back again...yeah eventually good old US Homeland Security caught up with them and they either had to get married or he would effectively be banned from the US - where they had made their home. I don't want to give away the entire book, but it was fantastic read and offered great insight to me on how so many cultures around the world view and practice marriage and family life.

The cultures that really struck home to me were the ones (pretty much all cultures outside the US) that place a great emphasis on keeping family close by. Many all living in the same house! This struck a deep chord within me, filling me with a sadness and incredibly strong longing to have that kind of real, geographical closeness to those I love. In short: Em was not meant to live alone! I would fit in very well with those wonderful close-knit clans and cultures who want to keep their relatives close by, living in the same house and village all their lives.

There is next to nothing I desire more than to live within shouting distance of those I love: my family of course, especially my sisters who I love so much and have been very spoiled to be so close to...and my "adopted" family - those wonderful friends in my life who have become just as close as family and just that vital to my own happiness.

But alas...we live in a culture where so many of us are isolated from our families and each other, everyone in their own houses, spread out over this vast nation...thankfully we have wonderful technological tools that allow us to keep in touch, but I wonder just how much we are all missing out because we don't live in a culture that values physical closeness to the ones you love. I know my heart aches every time I allow myself to dwell on the fact that my parents live states away in Oklahoma, that my younger sister lives out in Indiana (although she plans to move back to MD soon - hooray!), that my older sister and her wonderful family still live about 2 hours away, definitely out of shouting distance. I miss my friends, my wonderful family of friends spread out through Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois and even the U.K. and Indonesia!

And so I find myself contemplating on one hand how blessed I am to have such a wonderful family patched together from loving relatives to friends I consider extra siblings and at the same time almost resenting the fact that I was fortunate enough to have those relationships, only to be moved so far away from them that I miss so many of them daily.

I may joke about it, but my ultimate dream is to live in a neighborhood somewhere in this oh-so-vast country with all of my friends and family members right there with me. Our kids growing up together, cooking in each others kitchens, our husbands becoming fast friends and watching every sporting event imaginable together (since between all the guys I'm friends with and my soon-to-be-husband love all sports!), trading kids with each other as we find ourselves exasperated as mothers and ready for a Crazy, exhausting, joyful, amazing LIFE together...could there be a better dream?

Definitely not for me.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Happy Beachin...

I have been very blessed to have such a wonderful day! You ever have one of those days where you feel just completely content? That was today. I don't think I stopped smiling (not in a creepy way like this guy) all day!

I got to spend the day at Rehoboth Beach with my good friend Meghan. We took in the sun, the ocean breeze, the calm crashing of the water, some fantastic pad thai and mango sticky rice and a wonderful italian dinner back at the house with women from the church I used to go to when I was a kid! It was great to see everyone (they were there for a retreat this weekend)...there's just something about that sense of community you get from being around people who have known you since you were 12 years old...and still inexplicably like and want to talk to you! It was so peaceful to spend that time with Meghan (we've known each other since high school and met in church youth group...she's also a bridesmaid!) walking on the beach and talking about the past, present and possible futures.

Now that I've moved out to the Eastern Shore and am settling into an area where I know Aaron and I will be living (hopefully) for a decent amount of time, I'm chomping at the bit to have that close "community" again. Today was a wonderful example of how even though my life has changed so much, my parents have moved out of state and I'm living completely away from both of my sisters for the first time in 5 years...even still...I can always have that sense of "home" with the people who have known and loved me through difficult and trying times. It was a reassurance that I no matter how far apart I live from those I love, we can always be brought together and spend time laughing, eating and catching up as if no time has passed. What a blessing to be reminded of that!

Now, just to give some's a picture of Meghan and me one of the last times we were at the beach together many many (about 6 years!) moons ago...