Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Thursday, November 12, 2015
By Guest Blogger: Jaime Dodds
In October of 2010, my family made its way across the country from Virginia to our new home in Marysville. It is a completely different world from the area where I grew up and I was completely out of my element. It used to be hosting dinners and elaborate kids’ birthday parties and having all of my family around for help, support, and the spur of the moment visit. We moved to an area where we did not know anyone and some of the neighbors literally turned their backs to us when we tried to introduce ourselves. It was a shock to my system to say the least.
Things just kind of drifted along. I made a couple of friends in the area but had another shock to my system when I was diagnosed with MS on August 1, 2012. All of the sudden, my life was filled with frequent medical appointments and I had to learn how to give myself injections to which I had horrible reactions. Not my idea of fun, let me tell you! I had one local friend during this time who was wonderful and would do anything that she could to help with all the crazy schedule planning. Being military, she moved in 2013, and again I was in a state of upheaval.
My health took a turn in 2013 and I ended up in the hospital for a couple of days because of a bad MS exacerbation. I did not think that I was actually going to leave the hospital and the stress of not having a local support system just made the situation feel worse. I did a lot of praying and crying during that period of about 6 months where things were at their worst. I still skated along spiritually; believing, but not really having a church experience where I felt as if the Bible was actually being lived.
Last year, after a family complication, Chad and I decided that it was time. Time to hunt down a church that would give us what needed to become closer to God. Google was the way we went. Looked at a few different options and AC3 was at the top of our list. We figured we would go to a few different churches until we found one the fit. So one weekend in October of 2014, we walked through the doors of AC3 and we have never looked back.
I am not one to get involved if I do not know people. I am painfully shy and pretty awkward. I have never liked speaking in front of people. It takes me a little while to be comfortable in front of people to even talk with them. I like to hang out in the background and not draw attention to myself. But something happened when I walked through those front doors of the church. I can only assume that God was trying to tell me that this is where I belong and it is a safe place because I took a huge leap out of my comfort zone. I have no other way to explain it. I jumped right in helping wherever I could and meeting people left and right. I am leading a team, am in charge of the church’s library, helping in the nursery and Creek Espresso, and was approached over the summer by Jamie Williamson to co-lead a mom’s support group. These are not things that I would have willingly taken on for an organization before walking into AC3. I definitely feel as if God is working through me after showing me that this is a safe place to work within.
My entire family has found a community, the likes of which we have never had before. People genuinely care about one another. When someone asks you if they can help with something, they mean it. This church community is definitely an extended family that can count on one another for support, whether it be a shoulder to cry on, help with a project around the house, meals for families going through a hard time...It does not matter what is needed, there is someone in this community that will help out, even if they are someone you haven’t had the opportunity to meet, yet.
The church community of AC3 not only acts like a family when it is a time of expressed need, but they act like a family because that is how they are. They take the need for a Christ-centered village seriously and do so because that is who they truly are. My family was invited to have Thanksgiving dinner with another church family month or so ago. Yes, it is known that we do not have any blood relatives near, but we also had not mentioned anything about it only being the five of us for Thanksgiving. To receive that invitation was a huge honor and means more to our family than that family will ever know. So when I sit down this year at Thanksgiving dinner, I will be thanking God for this amazing community that we were delivered to a little over a year ago. This community that has become family to us and has blessed us in so many ways. Thank you, AC3 family for being an amazing example of what a Christ-centered community is supposed to be.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
When I’m doing premarital counseling, the two books I recommend and require reading out of are Shaunti Feldhahn’s couplet: For Women Only and For Men Only. The books are built on her study of thousands of men, women and teenagers in the area of friendship, romance and marriage. Of the many powerful commodities she lists that make a great marriage, the easiest one for any couple to acquire is simply HOPE!
But it is this very thing that is sadly lacking today! The first way we have failed the next generation looking at marriage is to let them grow up thinking that attaining and sustaining a great marriage is a myth, or so utterly rare that no one should ever expect to win the “great marriage lottery.”
After 12 years of research Feldhahn concludes that a pervasive sense of pessimism about marriage today is actually a leading cause of bad and failing marriages. She says,
“If a struggling couple believes, ‘yeah, this is tough, but weren’t going to make it,’ they usually do. But once people start to think otherwise, they all too soon employ the logic of futility: if the ship is going to sink anyway, why bother working so hard to bail it out? That poisonous doubt – which is really about the possibility of marriage working in general – gets into our minds years before we approach the altar.”
You might think that acquiring marriage-hope requires saintly amounts of faith and Pollyanna positivity. You might thing hope is harder to get than say, new communication skills, or listening skills, or changed behaviors in the areas of patience, parenting, money management, or training your husband how to remember a 3 item shopping list! (My wife knows nothing about that…).
No, actually, hope is the easiest of marriage tools to get because it involves something as simple as knowledge. Yes, the facts. Based on the evidence, we need a new bumper sticker: Great Marriages Happen. I hear the doubting Thomas’s out there: that's not what I've heard! I know, right? So let the debunking begin:
- ½ OF ALL MARRIAGES DO NOT END IN DIVORCE! Yup, that’s a myth. According to the Census Bureau, 71% of people are still married to their first spouse! Yes, divorce rates are higher for second marriages, and demographers still go with a 40-50% rate. But these are projections that we’ve never actually hit. So while nobody knows exactly what the national divorce rate is, based on many factors for all marriages, it is likely in the 31-35% range.
- REAL CHRISTIANITY MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE. We’ve all heard that the national divorce rate is the exact same inside and outside the church. Depressing! And untrue. Yes, in an old Barna research poll, the divorce rate was the same for people who mark “Christian” on the survey as those who did not. But as you might guess, marking Christian on a survey says nothing about your spiritual and marital practices. When you re-run the numbers factoring in just one critical marriage support – regular church attendance – the number drops precipitously. 27%! Run the numbers for other practices of serious Christians, like family prayer, regular family time (even meals) together, attendance at a small group and the divorce rate becomes so small as to be almost negligible. Think about that! If Christians are divorcing as frequently as pagans it’s only those who choose to LIVE like pagans.
- MOST MARRIAGES ARE HAPPY. Married people are happier than singles, research has repeatedly shown. This fact shouldn’t be used to disparage the single life, but it should be used to confront a growing problem in the church. Singles are increasing opting for serial monogamy or cohabitation, accepting the cultures dictums about marriage: marriage kills the magic, marriage is the end of sex, marriage is unnatural, marriage is slavery, etc. Shaunti cites the research that debunks all this in her book, The Good News About Marriage.
- SMALL THINGS MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE. If you thought that a great marriage was built on rare things like Herculean self-control, or Yoda-like powers of discernment, think again. Feldhahn’s research shows in 20 or so areas, she shows the massive difference little things make. For example, saying thank you and using honoring language to husbands was present in 78% of happy marriages and 23% of unhappy ones. Also, using verbal and physical signs of assurance for wives, like taking her hand or regularly, sincerely calling out her beauty was present in 77% of happy marriages, 18% of unhappy ones.
Check out her book here http://www.shaunti.com/research-good-news-about-marriage/link-to-book-page/ and all the shocking and happy statistics. Imagine being able to tell a young couple, your children or yourself in hard times, that most marriages make it, most marriages are happy ones, that great marriages are formed with simple habits, and that church makes a huge, positive difference.
That would inspire something very simple and powerful in everyone – HOPE.
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Sunday, November 1, 2015
AC3's MONTHLY NEWS DESK IS HERE! Check out all that's going on in November at AC3. Please welcome Terry Bull and Lou Zar to the AC3 Monthly News Desk. Enjoy! :)