Fiona in January

Fiona in January

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Many Hairstyles of Em

Nothing like a new haircut to change my mood! I've always had a pretty laid back perspective on my hair. Sometimes a little too laid back...but I love this photo on the left from the summer before my Sophomore year of college - woohoo for white blond (and a tongue ring!)

Since high school, and into college, my hair has been the following colors:

- Blond
- Brown
- Black
- Red
- White-Blond
- Blue
- Green (not on purpose - this is when I learned I had to bleach my hair before adding blue!)
- Purple
- Pink
- Orange (again, not on purpose)
- Gray (REALLY not on purpose!)

So color has never been something I've been afraid of - you can always change your hair!
A lot of the time I kept the base bleached blond and just added in different colors. I always have taken care of my hair, making sure it stays moisturized and healthy so thankfully the college years of extreme dyeing didn't really take a toll on it. I think part of it was because my hair was short at the time...speaking of length, my hair has been short to the point of about 2 inches in the back (spiked out) and long to the point of waving down the middle of my back. Yup, I've had it all.

However, after I graduated from college and started getting bored with the shorter hair, I started growing it out and had a few cute styles:

Ok - so there are a few highlights from my years of hairstyles...but for about 2 years I just kind of let it grow long. I was growing it out a little, then I got engaged and wanted to keep it long so I could do the updo I wanted for my wedding...

But since then I've just been getting my hair trimmed, getting the split ends cut off and I haven't really had a hair STYLE. Sooooo that all changed yesterday and I LOVE it! I found a fabulous hairdresser thanks to some of my friends' recommendation. I told her to do what she thought would look great and I wasn't afraid of anything except straight across bangs, which we agreed would be a HUGE mistake. She gave me this fantastic angled bob!

She cut about 7 inches off my hair and I feel like I lost about 10 pounds. I can't wait to go back next month to talk about old friend, hair color!

What was your best hairstyle? Share please!

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see"

I love when our church's youth pastor speaks on Sunday mornings because you can always tell exactly where his heart lies: with our students, teenagers and kids. It is an age bracket extremely close to my heart and I love being a part of a church that values them too.

That being said, I was convicted by Pastor Josh's message - I don't always view my weekly volunteering with the children in our church as positively as I should. To be honest, some Sundays all I want to do is get through an hour without having boogers smeared on my jeans and without having to wash my hands an innumerable number of times after changing too many dirty diapers. FYI - I work with 2-year-olds not the high school students! Some Sundays my attitude sucks about serving, giving up my time to spend with these little guys...and it shouldn't.

I've always enjoyed spending time with kids, have adamantly stated how much I value them and am easily angered when our society brushes off their opinions and upbringing as some type of burden. Yet, am I always consistent with my actions?

Josh's message focused on how we as a generation can take steps to guide the generation growing up behind us to be counter-cultural, a generation of change. One of his points really resonated with me and made me smile. I have said for years that kids have a seriously accurate bull**** meter. They know when you're lying or trying to pull something over on them. I should know, I was absolutely one of those kids. The most valuable thing you can do when spending time with kids, whether they are 3 or 16, is to be honest. Trying to "sell" them on an oversimplified version of Christianity that isn't accurate isn't going to cut it and all it will do is cause them to trust you and what you believe even less.

Another point he made that hit home is that our culture has set the bar of expectation so low for this generation. All the media and cultural influences are really asking our young people is to go to school, not get arrested and live up to the status quo. What happened to passion? What happened to making a difference? What happened to actively living what you believe? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I don't know kids who break that mindset, but unfortunately I see and know many more who don't.

As someone who will (hopefully) have kids of my own in the next 5 years, some of the statistics Josh was relaying freaked me out. The percentage of kids who spend time actually talking with their parents for more than 10 minutes a day is staggeringly low. The number of parents who are actively involved in their student's day-to-day school lives is another ridiculously low crushes and convicts me at the same time about my attitude and actions toward this younger generation growing up in our world, not to mention the way my husband and I plan to parent our future kids.

I'm not a parent, I am blessed to be an aunt to 4 beautiful girls and 3 energy-packed boys and I love them like crazy
. Even not being a parent myself, Josh's message really woke me up to just how much of a positive influence I can have on them by exerting more effort as they get older. On the other hand, what he said also reminded me of the harsh reality that I can have an overwhelmingly negative impact on them without even trying or being aware of my actions.


Josh's final challenge to us as a church was to be a generation to stand in the gap, being the ones to guide this generation coming up behind us to a real relationship with their God - to not let them slip through the cracks unnoticed. They deserve better. When I was in high school, I know full well I would have been one of those kids slipping away if it hadn't been through the amazing mentors I had to guide me, ask me tough questions and help me grow into an adult who knew what I believed. I was one of the lucky ones and having that background should make me that much more intent on being that type of mentor to the kids in my life who I love and spend time with.

If you want to check out Josh's entire message (and I hope you will - its a great one), just follow this link to the video: and it will be at the top of the list on the page and titled, "To Reach The Next Generation".

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Herb Fail

I offer up this sad little photo as proof of my ever-blackening green thumb. These herbs WERE basil and sage. To be honest, they really were doing pretty well (not thriving) and producing some fresh leaves I could use in a lot of dishes this summer...

Then the rain came.

If you live in the Salisbury, MD area you know how much insane torrential rain we got last week! My poor little guys just gave up and now the basil mostly looks like black sticks with a few tiny leaves and the sage is about half as tall as it was!


Maybe I should leave the herb-growing up to the farmers selling them at the markets this summer! I so crave having a giant her garden like, well, HER - but I know that is not going to happen...especially since we live in an apartment! However, I dream of having at least a few good sized boxes of thriving herbs growing on our balcony next year...anyone who can give me tips on how to make that happen will be elevated to beloved status in my heart.

Do you garden? If you do, what has been your greatest success? I'd love to know!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why Does It Matter?

This week our church's senior pastor, Brian, was back from a multi-week hiatus and I was excited to have him back. I've really been enjoying the summer series that has been focused on digging deeper into the theology behind the Apostle's Creed.

All of our pastors have preached at least once throughout the series, each bringing their unique point of view and preaching style to the topics. I thought it was great, this week, that Pastor Brian was back to wrap up the series by talking about why it does matter what we believe and how our worldview really plays a huge role in our lives.

On a sidebar - I do teach 2-year-olds during our 11:30 AM service and am a big fan of Pastor Brian (and another pastor who will remain nameless) for more than his preaching style...he almost ALWAYS ends the worship service on time! Those of you who volunteer with our uniquely energetic toddlers know exactly how wonderful that can be. Don't get me wrong, I love my little ones, but after about an hour we all start getting tired of each other!

Back to Brian's message...

One of the things I really found beneficial were the examples of popular worldviews (the belief systems we build our lives around). He not only explained the concept, but matched each with a Biblical passage that explained why each worldview isn't satisfying and doesn't work.

#1 - Materialism: "The one with the most toys wins"

#2 - Individualism: "I've got to think of ME first"

#3 - Hedonism: "Do whatever feels good"

#4 - Naturalism/Atheism: "God doesn't exist or matter"

#5 - Pragmatism: "Whatever works for you"

#6 - Humanism: "You are your own god"

As far as materialism goes, unfortunately, it does run rampant in our culture here in the US. Is there really a better example of how damaging this worldview can be than our insane national debt situation? Luke 12:15 - Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.

Individualism is another popular concept. This really came into play in the decade - goody! Yep, I made my debut smack in the middle of the original self-indulgent revolution. We really have developed a culture of narcissism and it is something I personally have to fight on a near daily basis. Let's be honest, in the short term, it feels great to think of myself first! However, the longer I wallow in that lifestyle, the more shallow and dissatisfying it is. Matthew 16:25 - If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for Me, you will find true life.

Hedonism. Brian made me laugh for sure when he mentioned the inherent southern-action old school Baptist-style of that word! Can't you just hear it? Do yourself a favor - scroll down and watch this message and get a good laugh out of his accent when he talks about hedonism...oh and the rest of the message is a great watch too!

Hedonism is an emotions-driven lifestyle. If it brings you pleasure you should do it. Unfortunately pleasure was never meant to be the extreme focus of our lives. It is the by-product of doing right, not the ultimate goal. Proverbs 21:17 - You're addicted to thrills? What an empty life! The pursuit of pleasure is never satisfied.

Pragmatism has become extremely popular in our culture. The concept of tolerance has been extremely overblown into the whole "whatever works for you is fine" idea. Pragmatism has no emphasis in moral boundaries of any kind - sort of a fly by the seat of your pants way of life. Proverbs 14:12 - There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

is one of the most depressing worldviews to me. If God doesn't exist or matter, then neither do you! Such a sad concept and way to live. God has left his fingerprints all over this world if you are intellectually honest enough to look. Ironically it takes a lot of faith to be an atheist and ignore God's influence all around us. Romans 1:20-22 - From the beginning of creation, God has shows what He is like by all He has made. That's why they don't have any excuse. They know about God, but they don't honor Him or even thank Him. They claim to be wise but are fools.

The idea of humanism really centers around lifting ourselves up as being the center of our own universe by claiming God's own attributes as our own. It really is the ultimate idolatry. It's also an easy trap to slide into with concepts like "I am in control of my life" rather than accepting God's hand in our world and our lives. Romans 1:25 - They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.

So what is the correct worldview? It is called "Theism" and simply means believing that God made you for His purpose and placing Him at the center of your world. Colossians 1:16 - For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible...everything good started in Him and finds its purpose in Him.

Why does it matter what we believe? Because our beliefs determine our behavior, they determine how I am blessed by God and also determine my believability to the world.

When it comes down to it, if someone asked you why you believe what you believe, can you answer?

I feel so fortunate that I do feel equipped by God and the experiences I've had in my life so far, that I can absolutely explain why I believe what I believe to anyone who asks. I have had some wonderful mentors, teachers and friends who have patiently taught, challenged and shown me through example who God is and why I believe in Him and His Word.

So check out Brian's entire message at "Why Does it Matter What I believe" and let me know what you think! What worldview do you hold or struggle to overcome?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Short and Sweet

Lesson I learned this week: You are never too old to make stupid decisions and mistakes.


But the most important thing I learned this week is that I have an amazingly understanding husband who loves me in spite of the fact that I occasionally make an idiotic choice.

Thank God.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Nighttime Solace

Early last week I had asked God to help remind me of my renewed resolve (wow that's a lot of "R's") to set aside specific time to spend with Him and reading his word. Twice this week I woke up at 2am, unable to sleep, feeling slightly anxious and unsettled. I did something I've never done before...I got up, grabbed my Bible, devotional book, "prayer box" and headed out to the kitchen table to spend some time with God.

The first night it was one of those "ok, I'm up anyway and I don't want to keep Aaron awake" kind of moments. I ended up spending almost 2 hours reading and talking to God. The amazing part was that I really didn't feel missing those 2 hours of sleep the next morning. I am one of those need-8-hours-of-sleep-to-function kind of people...usually if I get less than 7 hours a night I turn into a whiny mess (just ask my husband). However, that next morning I woke up refreshed and ready to take on the day.

Interesting tact there God...

The second night, I had once again forgotten to set aside the time in a busy day to spend with God and once again, I was kept awake at around 2am...this time I almost had to laugh - God was answering my prayer to make sure I spend time with Him - how cool is that?! I gamely headed out to the kitchen table and cracked open my devotional book.

That night's chapter was on the story of Mary washing Jesus' feet with perfume (John 12:3), the focus was on extravagant love. Extravagant love is the kind of love that disregards everything else so it can focus on one thing alone...the object of that love. It is sacrificial. This is the kind of love Mary displayed when she gave literally all she had in the form of an extremely expensive alabaster jar of the perfume to wash Jesus' feet as an act of love and worship.

Extravagant love cannot be faked. Matthew says it best in chapter 12 - "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." In Mary's case, she did even more - she acted on the overflow of her heart. There were people present, even Jesus' own disciples, who judged her for such an extravagant act of worship. They protested that the perfume should have been sold and the money given to the poor instead of "wasted". Jesus told them to leave her alone. It was Mary's act of worship and He accepted her.

Jesus has given us the ultimate example of extravagant love. He laid down his life for us. That act cost Him everything, and yet He gave. He did so out of the same kind of extravagant, life-changing love He expects from us.

On the heels of that powerful reading, I dug into Psalm 63...which hit me between the eyes in a few ways! I love when God's Word does that - really, truly God speaking to me right there in my life, in any situation.

A few verses jumped out at me and were more than slightly ironic considering I was reading the Bible at about 3am!

v. 1 - O God, You are my God; early I will seek You. My soul longs for you.

v. 6-8 - When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches - because You have been my help. Therefore, in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.


Heck yeah Amen!

I haven't forgotten to spend time with God daily since that last 3am encounter and He is still continuing to speak to me through His word. I am almost done with this devotional book and am on the hunt for a new one to start tomorrow - if anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Good Morning

This morning, during my personal Bible study, this Psalm jumped off the page at me. I love when that happens, it's like God knows exactly what I need to hear.

Psalm 60:1-2

Hear my cry, O God, attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry out to You;
When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I am.

It was such a warm reminder of how God is always there for me, that all I need to do is come to Him when life threatens to overwhelm. I also came across this quote that I love by Carole Mayhall: "I pray frequently that I'll hear His voice more often and more clearly. When I don't, I know He hasn't stopped speaking; rather I have stopped listening."

Another great part of this morning was this ridiculously healthy and yummy smoothie I tried, thanks to a recipe by Alton Brown. I usually keep food-related posts and recipes on my other blog, but this smoothie is so crazy yummy and easy, I thought I'd just post the recipe link for you guys, so check it out here. The only change I made was swap blackberries for strawberries.

Hope you enjoy your respective mornings, here's to August!