Friday, December 21, 2012

The act of giving thanks


What does that mean?

This is a new word for me. I've been reading this book (by Ann Voskamp) for several months in which she talks about daily eucharisteo. Giving thanks. Giving thanks in all things. As I read through her struggle of learning how to give thanks in all things, I realized my own struggle with it. I haven't been very thankful lately. Far from it, actually. And what does it really mean to give thanks in all things? It's easy to be thankful when you are comfortable. But what about when you're not comfortable? How easy is it then, to be thankful? Can it even be done authentically, not something we fake, but real thanksgiving and joy when we face hard times?

These are questions that have been looming in my head the past few months. This year has been weird. While we, as a family, haven't faced anything that would be considered a major crisis or even terrible suffering this year, there's been a lot of change. A lot of uncomfortable change. Change that I haven't really cared for. I normally like change, but this time, not so much. In the midst of all this uncomfortableness, I've found myself wondering where is the grace? I haven't been able to see it. We have been met with a lot of opposition since the move. With every letter from the mortgage company, every collection letter for bills gone unpaid, every bump we've faced in this road  has left me wondering where is God in the midst of all the hopes that were crushed, dreams that seemed to be snatched away, where was He in the myriad of disappointments that seemed to continue to build?

Since I didn't think I could find him, I grew bitter. Not good. I know we are not guaranteed a problem-free life and I never thought I would covet comfort as much as I did. I guess I just thought that since this was God's plan for us, to move, then it would go smoothly.

But that's not always the case. The Bible says there will be trouble in this life. So, are we left on our own when things seem to be going wrong?

I've often wondered this in light of the recent tragedy in Connecticut also. (I'm not comparing my measly trials to those in Connecticut by any means, but the principle still applies. The issues I'm working through with this devastating event is another post for another day.) But in my life, I've felt left on my own. Devoid of grace. Alone in the darkness. But as I surface from the darkness, I've come to the conclusion that answer is a resounding no. We are most definitely not left alone. I'm finally starting to see the light, the grace in my life. Jesus has been there, where He's always been. His grace has always been there, even when I chose not to see it.

Voskamp says ALL is grace. Really? Everything? This is a hard pill to swallow. "All is grace because all can transfigure, take the pain that is given, give thanks for it, and transform it into a joy that fulfills all emptiness." She calls it the hard eucharisteo. "The hard discipline to lean into the ugly and whisper thanks to transfigure it into beauty." I haven't been doing that. I've been focused on the things that have been taken away from me and letting my anger fester, because, I don't know, maybe I thought I deserved a different life. One that I wanted. Which is silly, because I am learning something that I've always known, but not experienced quite like this: that His plans are different than mine most of the time, but are always most definitely better than mine.

And as I think about the birth of Christ this Christmas season, how He was born in that little town in the darkness of night, in the quiet, with just a few people there to witness it, in the lowliest of conditions I can imagine, I've been thinking about what that means to me and for me.

That Light can shine bright, right into the darkness of my (seemingly) crappy circumstances, right where I least expect it, right into the dark parts of my heart where I need it most. "The dark can give birth to life; suffering can deliver grace." Even though my life isn't at all what I thought it would be, grace is here. Even though this year, things have looked quite different than I ever pictured, there is eucharisteo.

Eucharisteo that includes new family holiday traditions, fun kids who make me laugh on a daily basis, a new community of great people that have warmly welcomed us and who love Jesus, a part time job that enables me to still be able to stay home, great teachers at Jude's school that he loves, a cute little library with a wonderful story time for us to attend, a park nearby, our health and physical well-being, family members that call us frequently and skype us (and even visit!) so that we can stay connected, and many more things that have gone unnamed but not unnoticed.

Merry Christmas to you all, my friends. May you truly experience joy and eucharisteo this holiday season.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Nutella and Menu

Oh, blog world, I have not forgotten about you. Work has picked back up (yay!) and I am spending most of my free time doing that. Not to mention the most important thing (note sarcasm), I've picked up like 4 new shows this season, so finding time to enjoy these has been a challenge.

Why did I do this to myself? I know tv is not important, but it is the way I wind down before bed, after a long, full day. And it is something Ross and I enjoy doing together...although I think I got in over my head and got into a few too many shows this year. There are just so many good ones!

At least I'm not watching Honey Boo Boo.

With that being said, I want to start posting my weekly menu here again. Mostly because I miss it, but also because I've been way too unorganized and inconsistent with this and I think posting will help me stay accountable again. We shall see.

This week, we're having:

we're having some new friends over, so I plan to cook spaghetti, and I'm trying out a new sauce recipe (but in a smaller quantity)

baked pork chops and baked potatoes

Chicken and rice foil dinner

homemade pizza

crockpot chicken, green beans and roasted cabbage wedges

broccoli soup and grilled cheeses

small group night, will take something

On another note, I haven't really ever been inspired to cook with or even buy Nutella, but these two recipes make me want to go out right now and get to bakin'. Bless the Pioneer Woman for paving the way to greatness when it comes to yumminess.

Itty Bitty Nutella Cakes

 And I especially want to try these sometime:

Nutella Krispie Treats


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Small joys

Life around here is starting to feel less like living on planet Mars and more like normal life. We've been enjoying this lovely weather, doing some park playing, Jude's started school, we visited library story time (and loved it), I'm getting lost a lot less while driving, we're slowly meeting people, and I even baked bread this week for the first time since we moved here. 

I even forgot how much I missed taking pictures. I brought out my trusty ole Canon and took some pics this week.

(Do you know how hard it is to take pics in the midday sun? Yowza. And I even dialed down the brightness quite a bit when I edited these.)

I thought this one could use a vintage touch. My little boy is getting so big!

I have forgotten how in the every day, joy can be found, even in the little things. You just have to pay attention and look for it. This little guy flew up right as I was photographing those plants, it was such a sweet moment. An ordinary moment turned extraordinary by a simple thing. 

And these dandelions were just so pretty.

I'm still not 100% okay with this move, far from it. But, I'm getting is getting better. I'm learning more about who I am and who God is, some steps go forward, some go back. It's all a process of growing, even though growing is hard.

I'm grateful for it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


You know those big, scary, things in your life that happen, leaps of faith you've taken and you're like, oh, this worked out so perfectly, everything just fit into place and you just knew it was meant to be?

It's happened to me before, when I went on a mission trip to Indonesia many years ago. I made the decision to go 2 weeks before we were supposed to leave. I got my vaccines, passport, raised all the support money in that time frame, it was amazing to see God work like that.

But what about the leaps of faith that are taken and not everything has worked out perfectly? What about the times when, in fact, it seems like nothing has gone right? When you're left wondering why? Why did it happen and why did it happen this way? This move has been one of those times. Moving here has probably been one of the hardest things I've ever done thus far in my life, and frankly, I've been afraid to write about it. Afraid of letting people know how I really feel and sounding like a negative nancy, but also afraid of painting an unreal picture of how life has been and seeming too fake.

Life has been difficult, I'm not going to lie. Every day is a struggle. Probably because for the most part, my attitude has not been the best. I feel like I constantly have an internal battle going on, parts of me scream out how unfair, uncomfortable, and how un-fun this is, other parts of me scream out how silly and immature that is, that at least my family is altogether and healthy, my husband has a great job, and I just need to get over myself. To be fully honest, I'm not quite ready to write about all of it. I still have a lot to work through and I'll need to do that and process it before I can even begin to write intelligent thoughts and feelings out about all of this.

One thing I have learned, is that Jesus is still good, even when life is not. Peace and joy can still be had when our circumstances suck, even though it's hard...very, very hard.

And just for the record, I would choose to be here in this place right now, rather than back home or anywhere else. These are the works God has prepared for me, and I will choose them rather than my own path any day.

But for now, I just want to share some good and not so good things that have been going on.

Our house used to look like this:

Now, like this. It doesn't look too different, boxes still line the walls. Hopefully we'll get all unpacked sometime soon.

This was a few weeks ago:

And today...

A few good things:

Ross is really liking his job. I'm so, so proud of him.

We've found a church that we really like and want to visit more of. 

Jude is starting part time preschool in a few weeks, we're both really excited about that. 

There are really great places to eat around here...and nice parks, too.

We'll be starting up story time at the library in a few weeks. 

We've met some of our neighbors, and most of them seem really nice.

And some less than good things:

This city is hard to figure out, geographically, and I get lost every time I get in the car.

Having only one car stinks.

Living on the south side of the city across the river means we have to pay tolls...and a lot of them. 

We live on a busy street, and it's hard to run around here. I am having withdrawals, big time.

I miss my old life. I miss Jonesboro, our friends, and our family. 

I guess that is all. I know things will get better, relocating is hard for anyone who has ever done it. It's just taxing, on the mind, on the body, on the spirit. 

Isaiah 40: 29-31
He gives strength to the weary 
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall; 
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tomorrow's the day!

Life has been a bit hectic at the Fergus house. Later today, we are going to load up our truck and drive away from our little house on James. The very first house we bought, the house we started our family in, the house we've spent the last (almost) 6 years of our life in.

We will miss our friends and family who have helped shape us along the way, so much. We'll miss gathering with our church family on Sunday mornings. We'll miss Slim Chickens, the ASU farmer's market, and the Craighead library. We will miss our life here.

Can you tell I'm a little sad?

While I'm sad, I also choose to look forward to what is to come. A future unknown, a new life in a new city, a new adventure with my 3 guys, Ross's new job. It's exciting!

Here's what's been going on around here, lately:
Lots and lots of boxes
Boys watching tv together
A bathroom redo!

Tomorrow morning we're pulling out of Memphis with all of our livelihood, and my parents, who have so graciously offered to go to Richmond with us to help us move. We'll get to our new place on Saturday and start moving in, and Ross starts work on Monday. It's going to be a crazy weekend!

Please keep praying for our house to sell, it feels so strange leaving it behind as we go on to Richmond. I know we can trust God to take care of it, but it's still a little unsettling.

Thanks, friends. I am ready to do this!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Update on the move

Life is funny sometimes. We waited and waited for Ross to get a job. It seemed as though we were at a stand still for so long, it was agonizing. Not to be able to plan or even anticipate your future, it was a hard season, I'm not gonna lie, and it felt as though it would never end. Just a few shorts weeks ago, it felt like someone had hit the slow-mo button on the remote and we were moving in still shots, like on a tv screen.

Now, it seems as though we've hit the fast forward button. Things are moving so fast, I can barely keep up! At the end of each day, I am collapsing into bed, barely able to keep my eyes open. Most of you know, we had our Richmond trip (which was AWESOME, by the way and successful since we found a place to live), but I have to admit, that drive was brutal. And it will be even more brutal with 2 little kids, a dog, 2 cats and all of our lives put into a truck.

What was sweet about the trip though, was not us getting lost, which we did several times, not the tour we got of the city, because we had to drive ALL over since we didn't plan our routes very well, and not even the amazing local restaurants that we found and loved, but the sweetest part was leaving.

As we were driving away, I told Ross, it felt like we were leaving home. He agreed. I know we were only there for 2 days, but we loved the city. We felt like that was where we belonged. It's hard to explain, but that little trip made me want to move back there, and quickly. I am so glad for that little piece of grace so that I am not dreading the move. I am still sad to be leaving family and friends, but looking forward to calling Virginia home.

I mentioned on Facebook that we are moving on August 4th (or the 3rd, to make it a two day trip), and now that we've actually put our house on the market, we are just continuing to do things to the house to make it more sellable, and packing up our stuff. It's hard to imagine that in 2 short weeks, we will be Virginians, Ross will be starting a new job, and we will have to adjust to a new life in a new city, in which we will not know anyone. It was like that when we moved here, but looking back, it didn't seem like that big of a deal, just a 1 hour move. This move is much bigger.

We will survive it as many have done before, and hopefully we will settle into a new norm in the new place. The next 2 weeks will be crazy, though, I'm sure of it! 

If you think of us, please be praying about the upcoming move and selling of our house. There is a lot to be done! Thanks, friends!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Trusting God through relocation - Update

So, by now you all know that Ross got the job in Richmond. His official start date is August 6th. We are beyond overjoyed at this, of course. His offer was way better than we had anticipated or hoped for and our prayers were answered in ways we couldn't imagine. 

*throw my hands up and do a little dance*

Ok, now that we have that part figured out, now we have moved onto our next big hurdle.

Getting there.

Sounds easy, right? Not so much. We have 5 weeks to get there and moving is not very easy when you own a house. We have gone through every option out there (that we know of), from selling, to renting, and for reasons I won't really go into, none of the conventional methods of selling or renting are going to work for us. Not to mention we have to find a place to live there and move all of our stuff. The future is still so unpredictable and overwhelming to me right now that I can only take one day at a time. I know that sounds cliche-ish, but that's all I can handle at the moment, and truthfully, I think that's all we were meant to handle.

So, here are the things we do know and are doing:

  • We've scheduled a trip to Richmond in a week to try to find a place to live. I'm looking online and have already picked a few places. I hope to pick a few more before we go.
  • Ross's start date for his job, so we know he at least needs to be there by Aug. 6th.
  • We have packed up a lot of stuff and are packing more every day.
  • We are downsizing the amount of furniture/things we have by selling or giving away.
  • We are fixing what we can on our house and giving it a good clean. 
Things we don't know yet:
  • When exactly we will be moving.
  • Where we will be living in Richmond. 
  • What we are going to do with our house. 
  • Just about everything at this point.

One good thing about all of this is it's distracting me from the fact that I'm turning 30 on Wednesday, which I'm not very excited about. I'm not quite sure why 30 is so unsettling to me, but my 20s were good, so hopefully my 30s will be even better. 

Please pray for us if you think of us! Still so much is unknown at this point, so, we're having to trust God every step of the way. It's hard, and at times frustrating, but we know He's got the whole thing figured out and the peace we get from knowing that is what keeps us moving forward.

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