Fiona in January

Fiona in January

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A New Church Experience...The Right One!

I am reminded weekly how blessed I am to be a part of a church that focuses on loving God and loving people. That really resonated with me again this morning as our senior pastor started a new series titled "Overcome". Over the next few weeks we'll be hearing messages and focusing music around how we as believers overcome and help others overcome serious struggles in this life that aren't often talked about freely.

The first message in his series this week was on the weighty topic of depression. Too often, I've seen, in "Christian" circles and churches there seems to be this stigma about discussing this very real-life struggle. No one wants to admit they have struggled are or having problems in this area largely due to a fear of judgment. I've had very close friends and others in my life who have felt the weight of trying to deal with depression on their own because they are afraid to open up to other believers due to that fear.

It breaks my heart. Who are we to stand in judgment of those who might struggle and be hurting in an area we haven't experienced? Why is there such an outrageously un-biblical and un-Christlike need to urge those who are hurting to bottle up their problems and pretend everything is fine because they are a "Christian". Almost nothing makes me more upset than the encouragement of this pretense. It hits close to home as I've seen so many people hurt by so-called believers in Christ as they shun those who struggle with depression and other emotional scars. Obviously this first message struck a chord.

Pastor Brian shared a story from the life of Elijah, an incredible prophet and man of God whose life is recorded in the book of I Kings (in the Old Testament/first half of the Bible). Elijah quite obviously suffered from emotional highs and lows, deep dark depressions...yet look at what God was able to do through such a broken man! We don't need to hide when we're struggling with this very real issue - we need people who will lift us up, point us back to God, insist on helping us seek medical treatment if necessary and be with us on the journey toward finding help. The most important thing you can communicate to someone you love who is in the midst of depression is that they are NOT alone. And back up that promise with some very real friendship and support.

I am so thankful to be a part of a church that welcomes absolutely everyone from any walk of life, at any point in their life with open arms and a desire to help heal those wounds. Our pastors and church leaders are some of the most "real" leaders in Christ I have ever seen. They are not only open about their own personal struggles, giving God the glory for any success the church has, but they are eager to pass along those experience and get each person involved in the church plugged into a ministry where they can not only serve others, but grow and be served themselves. It is truly an amazing experience to be in a Christian/church environment that is "doing church" the way it should be done according to God's Word. Check out the messages online if you can't make it to church to hear them in person.

Our church is Oak Ridge Baptist and it's in Salisbury, MD. You can find out more by checking out the website: Here are a few of the Bible passages that Pastor Brian used in his message this morning, just in case you'd like to check 'em out:

1 Peter 5:7 - "Cast all your cares upon Him (God), for He cares for you."

Colossians 3:4a - "Christ gives meaning to your life..."

John 16:33 - "I have told you all this so you may have PEACE in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have OVERCOME the world."

We can overcome because Jesus Christ has already overcome anything we may face in this world and it is His power to do so through us every day.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Crazy = Good!

For the past two weeks I feel like we've been caught up in a little bit of a whirlwind. Just another lesson on how life can so quickly change for either the better or for the worse...thankfully this time it has been for the better!

This week is Aaron's second week of working full-time at his new job (squeeee!) and we're both adjusting to the new schedule. I do miss having him around more, as I work mostly from home and we got to just hang out a lot during the day...however we are so thankful for a full paycheck, benefits that should kick in about 3 months from now and the stability that has led us to...

Drumroll please.

Sign the lease on a brand new apartment of our very own...FINALLY! For those of you who really know us on a personal level, you know that since we got married in October we've been fortunate enough to rent the upstairs in my in-law's house. Now, before you start feeling sorry for us, understand that there is a ton of room, we get along famously with the aforementioned in-laws and we really only share the downstairs kitchen. We decided to take them up on the offer of living with them for a few months post-wedding as Aaron was only working maybe part-time at best per diem hours at the hospital and we couldn't make it on my salary alone.

That being said, I am outrageously excited about getting into our own space! We were able to find an apartment that met our space dreams (2 bedrooms), was in a safe neighborhood area closer to Aaron's work and was in our price range. Amazing! Plus the complex has a pool, a sand volleyball court and is surrounded by large trees in a happy-wooded area rather than a serial-killer wooded area. Believe me there is a difference.

For those of you who are as excited as we are, check out the floor plan of our new place. We are going to be on the second floor (YAY!) and even have a wood-burning fireplace in the living room. I am already plotting what tasty herbs and small veggie plants I can grow on our balcony this summer. Any suggestions would be welcome!

It is amazing to me that all of these changes happened in about a week's time. A friend of Aaron's found out about a job opening up, recommended him for it and he was hired on the spot in the span of 48 hours. I started apartment-hunting online and we decided to just take a look at this place and were so impressed with it and the price (plus we were approved not to have to put down a security deposit - woot!) that we decided to take it...our move-in date is May 27th! Anyone who wants to help us shuffle boxes will be rewarded handsomely with tasty delicious food.

God is amazing and I am so thankful for how present He is in our daily lives. I can't wait to see what happens next!

*If you'd like to see what else I've been up to lately and why I've sworn off using a mandoline for the time being, check out my recipe/cooking/accidentally maiming myself blog:!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

His Grace Is Enough

"Great is Your faithfulness oh God
You wrestle with the sinner's heart
You lead us by still waters in to mercy
And nothing can keep us apart

So remember Your people
Remember Your children
Remember Your promise
Oh God

Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough for me"

I absolutely adore this song by Chris Tomlin - it has been one I hang onto and let flow through my brain lately to remind me to keep the right attitude about Aaron's job and our living depend on God because His grace IS enough for us. I have found it to be a really great way of pulling my focus back to how God has been providing for us, rather than focusing on what I wish we had.

God has answered a HUGE prayer for us as of yesterday...Aaron has been out of full-time work since May of last year and its no secret we've been struggling. Thankfully we have had a place to live in my fabulous in-law's house, but trying to make it on my salary and him working 1 or 2 shifts a month has been a monthly struggle.

A few months ago I posted about the blessings we've seen come into our life since we started tithing (giving financially to our church). While we haven't have much, we've been giving 10% of our income to God first and He has blessed that. Each month we've somehow had the "extra" money to give and then yesterday the biggest blessing of all came along...Aaron got hired on to a full time position!

About a month ago we ran into one of Aaron's friends he used to work with at the hospital before they both got laid off last May. She had found a job at an immediate care center in Salisbury and mentioned if anything opened up there she'd give them his name...and guess what? Someone put in their 2 week notice unexpectedly and the owners were looking for a replacement immediately...and had Aaron come in for an interview immediately -hiring him on the spot! He will be working a guaranteed 38-40 hours a week (4 days of 10-hour shifts), which also allows him to work the occasional 12-hour overnight shift at the hospital when he wants to make a little more money. He also has paid vacation, health insurance benefits and a 401k...put simply, it's a "real live job"!

When he told me yesterday that he got the job and was starting on Monday, it was all I could do not to burst into tears...tears of relief, of thanks and of joy. The excitement of looking into the future and knowing we won't have to struggle paycheck to paycheck anymore...that we'll be able to give more generously each month to our church and that God orchestrated all of this to teach us that He can be trusted to provide our every need if we will only let go and let Him.

Thank you for all of your prayers, kind words of support, hugs and tears over these months of struggle - we couldn't have made it without you all and God's grace!

Friday, March 4, 2011

"Families are like fudge - mostly sweet with a few nuts!"

Family is something I become increasingly more thankful for every year. When I was a kid we really didn't live that close to many of our relatives, plus we don't have any first cousins, so while all the adults in our lives really worked hard to make sure they were a part of our lives (love my aunts and uncles!), many times we only got to see each other once a year or even once every other year.

Now that my sisters and I are adults (don't tell my Mom - we grew up!), we don't live that close to each other - which honestly sucks. I hate living so far away from my younger sister, Molly, who is out in Indiana. I live closer to my older sister Kate and her family, but we still don't see each other often enough because we're about 2 1/2 hours apart (thank you rising gas prices - ugh!). My parents also moved away from the DC area and out to Oklahoma about 4 years ago, so they aren't nearby either. Thankfully we all keep in touch through the magic of e-mail, blogging and Facebook - not to mention regular phone calls, but I can't help but wish we all lived at least in the same state!

Since Aaron and I got married in October, so many people have told me how lucky I am to get along well not just with my husband's parents, but with his brother, sister and their families too. I have to say, I feel like I was welcomed into the entire family with open arms and immediately gained 2 extra sisters, 2 brothers, 2 more nephews and 2 more nieces - it has been fantastic. I love my extended family and unfortunately for us, we do live about 3 hours away from most of them...but sometimes we get to have impromptu this weekend!

Aaron's younger brother Adam, his wife Christina and their kids (Jade (2) and Thatcher (9 months) surprised everyone by driving down from PA to visit for 3 days. It was so much fun having the house full of laughter, Jade's piping high voice and music as Adam and Aaron both play too many instruments for their own good. Those are the types of moments I always look back on and smile...those moments that help me keep my sanity until we get to see each other again.

I can't wait til April - BOTH of Aaron's siblings and their families will be staying with us. It's going to be a packed house, but I can't wait til we're all under one roof again. It's going to be loud and crazy and fantastic...and I'll be sad to see everyone leave again.

I know it probably won't happen, but I still hope that one day we'll be lucky enough to live close to both sides of our family...that our future kids will be able to grow up surrounded by their cousins and the kids of some of our best friends...I can dream right?

"A family is a unit composed not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold." ~Ogden Nash

"The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together."
~Erma Bombeck

"In a houseful of toddlers and pets, you can start out having a bad day, but you keep getting detoured." ~Robert Brault

"The informality of family life is a blessed condition that allows us to become our best while looking our worst." ~Marge Kennedy