Fiona in January

Fiona in January

Sunday, January 30, 2011


"God works in mysterious ways"

I roll my eyes automatically when I hear that phrase, mostly because it has been said to me by well-meaning people who are at a loss to explain why life is hard or doesn't make sense. To me it always seemed like a platitude rather than a truth.

Let's be honest...

God works in some seriously bizarre messed-up and not-so-fun-at-the-time ways...and I have to say I'm actually thankful for that. Because it means that even in the midst of mistakes and crushed hopes and struggles, I can actually hang onto that truth that somehow God is working through this, through me and Aaron to move us in the next direction of our lives.

As we started this week, we were collectively holding our breath...waiting to see what disaster would hit us, since last week held so many pitfalls - culminating when a deer collided with our car. Amazingly this week really only had one disappointment, which we took in stride.

I can't really put my finger on what exactly helped change our outlook and attitudes, but I'm betting it is on our decision to stop reacting and being overwhelmed by things we cannot control. That doesn't mean we sit back and do nothing to find Aaron full time work or stop searching for a creative solution to finance the repair of our deer-bashed car. It really just means that we finally just let go. For two people who really enjoy controlling our lives, it hasn't been easy!

But when we finally agreed to let go of all that worry over finances and our future, just keep putting one foot in front of the other and most importantly give all of that over to God...we both felt like a weight had been lifted. Of course things aren't perfect. Of course we'll have rough days and frustrating times. The difference is the change in our perspective.

Today was interesting. We spent almost the entire day at church and are exhausted...Aaron led worship in 4 different services while fighting a chest cold and I spent plenty of time running after my favorite 2 year old Sunday school class while trying not to get sick to my stomach.

Our pastor's message was incredible, you can check it out here:

This was the first Sunday we decided to tithe in a long time and its something that we plan on doing regularly and are looking forward to seeing how God is going to use that in our future.

We decided to join a small group and went to a "connection" event at the church to try to get synced up with one and guess what? Aaron is now LEADING a small group.

Ok God. Seriously? Are you chuckling up there?

Its a 6 week group we're trying out, so we'll see how it goes - I'm excited to see how being involved in a small group is really going to grow us in our faith and in relationships with the rest of the people in our group.

Monday, January 24, 2011

At A Loss...

There are only so many times you can tell yourself "this situation isn't permanent" or "things will get better" or "something HAS to give, right?" before it just doesn't work anymore.

Most of you know the struggles we've been having since Aaron was laid off in June of 2010, but lately it seems as if the hits just keep on coming. We barely have time to pick ourselves up before something else gets lobbed at us.
Last week's hits were:
  1. Aaron got jury duty...for the ENTIRE MONTH OF MARCH and since he isn't working a full time job, he doesn't get reimbursed for hours wasted sitting in a courthouse when he could be working the few shifts he gets each month.
  2. The allergist finally figured out (he thinks) what has been making me so miserable for 6+ months and put me on an antibiotic...which costs $184 since my insurance only covers 20% of prescription costs.
  3. We hit a deer. REALLY?! On the way home from small groups. REALLY?! Oh and we don't have comprehensive coverage on our 10+ year old car so we're on the hook for the repair costs ourselves. REALLY?!
I'm not at a pity-party point...I'm about 4 months past that, right now we're just at a complete loss over what to do. It seems every time we get a little good news or a possibility of Aaron getting full time hours ANYWHERE it falls through or is massively overshadowed by horrifying news. Completely at a loss...we didn't even have the energy to really get upset over the whole deer vs. car thing - it was more of a "well, yeah. of course that happened to us right now." kind of moment. And I know people who are suffering too, many dealing with worse things than we are. I'm not saying that we are the most unfortunate people on the planet...far from it! We have so much we can truly be thankful for (that our marriage is strong enough to function throughout this is a big one!), but I just don't know how to weather this. We're so defeated, discouraged and just feeling beat up.
So if you can, please pray for us - we just have no idea where to turn and what to try next.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Window Shopping

There is nothing quite like "window shopping" for houses/apartments on craigslist. There's always that nagging fear in the back of my mind that these are complete scams...still, there's something fun about just clicking on the listings and checking out the pictures of the homes to see what they look like.

This one is listed for $800 a month and seems WAY too good to be true...

Then there's this one, described as a "cottage". say "cottage" I say "trailer" - definitely calling the whole thing off!

And my favorite of course..."charming 2 bedroom duplex" should really read "haven't you always wanted to live in a haunted house for only $700 a month?"

Oh you never cease to amaze/disgust/entertain me!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A New Routine

Its no secret that the start of a new year provides an automatic opportunity for a "clean slate", a fresh start and for some of us, just the little push you need to start a new routine or make some changes in your life.

I've never been a fan of resolutions, mostly from years of failing to actually keep those resolutions! This year I sat down and wrote down a few things I'd really like to focus on this year and now I'm starting to put together a few details of how I might practically focus in on them.

- I want to be a calmer person, to better be able to let life's unexpected hiccups roll off me without me becoming too stressed and frustrated.

- I want to get to know my husband and best friend even better, to look for those little ways to encourage him and make him happy, to actively put him before myself.

- Develop habits. I know this sounds weird, but I've never really been good at consciously developing good habits or any type of routine outside of work. I want to develop some healthy consistencies in my day-to-day life. A few that come to mind are:
  • Writing/working on my novel every day (this is my second book and it has been difficult for me to reign in my ideas into a cohesive plot)
  • Starting my morning with reading God's Word and prayer
  • Return to healthier eating habits and workout routines
So how do I break these ideas down into steps I really can accomplish? I'm going to take it one week at a time so I don't get overwhelmed. This morning I made my first step and started my day by reading the Bible and prayer.

I'm also reading a book my sister lent me called "If Mama Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy". I know I'm not a mother, but the focus of the book is how your attitude affects everyone in your house and how to make the choice to be a more joyful and optimistic person. I'm about 40 pages in and really enjoying it! Starting my day this way automatically makes me calmer, turns my focus onto God and reminds me of small ways I can show my husband how much he means to me today. Score!

I've been doing pretty well improving my overall eating habits over the past year, really getting into cooking and staying away from more processed high-fat foods for the most part. Now its time to plug in the exercise component. I was doing really well last year, but once the crazy wedding planning/moving phase hit this past fall, it all fell apart. Time to get back on the workout wagon (yes - I realize that sounds ridiculous, please ignore the dorky alliteration and focus on the enthusiasm!). I'm heading to Curves in a few minutes - I really love their workout circuit and my goal is to go there 3 times this week and walk either outside or on the treadmill for 30 minutes at least 1 other day this week.

Here's to developing some positive habits - if anyone has any advice for me, let me know!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

As much fun as ranting is...

...I'm back to my "normal" self, now that we got the software we needed from Dell and the computer is fixed - hooray!

So one of the challenges I took on in 2010 is to keep track of what I read and hit that 100 book mark...which I did - so excited! I even beat my husband in the number of books we read, which makes me very very happy. Yes, I'm competitive...but mostly in stupid things like this and not in actual real-life situations.

Now that it is 2011 I'm faced with the question of what to do about that huge list of books I read (113 total from 1/1/2010 - 12/31/2010). There were some real gems I read this year, but its very hard for me to isolate specific books when I read entire series written by the same author, so here are my top 5 authors I had never read until 2010:

1. Jim Butcher - this man is a genius. And I don't just say that because he is writing in the exact genre I love, but because he has mastered the balance of fantasy storytelling with real world grittiness. I read his entire series (all that have been published so far) of the Harry Dresden novels and became completely hooked. I can't wait to read his newest one, due to be out in March.

2. Gail Carriger - this author took me by surprise. The series of books she has written, "The Parasol Protectorate" is the first I've read that dances the line into steampunk-style literature. What really sets Carriger apart as an author is her use of language. This is one smart lady and she isn't afraid to pump up her character's vocabulary. I honestly think her writing style is one of the most effective I've seen in the fiction/fantasy genre.

3. Rob Thurman - is a woman, who knew? Honestly, any modern fiction work that includes new twists on ancent mythologies has me hooked. I read both of her "Trickster" novels this year and am really interested in seeing where she takes the series. I would slightly compare her work to Rachel Caine's Weather Warden series...mostly because if you like her style, you'll love Thurman's as well.

4. Elizabeth Gilbert - I know what you all are saying: "Eat, Pray, Love was so over-hyped" and "I'm so sick of hearing about how great Gilbert is", but seriously shhhhhhhhhhhhh. Forget all the stupid over-hyped articles you've read, definitely forget about the movie (it was fun, but not really a great representation of the book) and acknowlege the book for what it was: a real woman's painful and very truthful journey after fighting through a bitter divorce. This book popped up in my life at exactly the right time, I had recently moved back to the East coast and was struggling with my relationship with God and in what direction I really wanted to go with my life, my career and my other relationships. I cried and laughed reading this book (seriously!) and love it for exactly what it is and how it spoke to me.

5. Michael Scott - No, not the guy from The Office. This one writes fabulous young adult fiction/fantasy novels that tie in so many culture's gods and mythology it will make your head spin! I blew through the books in his series and couldn't pick a favorite if I tried.

So what's the goal for 2011? Well I know I can read 100+ books in a year (and beat my husband!), so why try to go for sheer numbers again? I think what I'd really like to see reflected on my booklist at the end of 2011 is more branch out into more different genres and see what I can find.

Here's to more reading in 2011!

Oh and just because she's adorable...check out this picture of my new niece, Lillyana Tess Vining. She was just born Dec. 22 and we met her this past weekend.