grace in community

things I've been pondering lately...

what does grace this look like in community?

it is encouraging people around me in times of stress, exhaustion, busyness, overwhelmed-ness, discouragement, uncertainty, suffering, happiness, rejoicing and .
it is stopping in my tracks and praying for them right where I am
it is telling them how much they mean to me
it is writing them a quick note with a promise from God to rest in
it is crying with them
it is processing with them
it is challenging them and being challenged by them
it is being their positive… when they just don't have it in them and vice versa
it is serving together
it is suffering together
it is investing in one another - even in times of discouragement
it is reacting the way Christ would react to situations (through the grace of the Holy Spirit)
it is relaxing with one another
it is genuinely trusting one another
it is being genuine - removing the 'face' we grew up learning to put on
it is keeping one another accountable
it is loving them well (tough love included)
it is confronting them as accepting confrontation from them
it is guarding their heart with them
it is quality time with them
it is correcting them and being corrected by them
it is living a life of worship together
it is taking risk for the sake of faith
it is carrying one another's burdens with them

What do you mean by community?

it is the local church
it is those around you within the local church
it is not defined by age
it is based on the same core beliefs
it is no defined by stage of life
it is intentionally living a life seeking to abide by the Word together
it is defined by investment
it is living out the gospel together
it takes time
it is a level of comfort - where trust has been fostered and therefore honesty is not only welcomed it is desired

… and so. much. more.

you can read more about my thoughts on church here or my thoughts on community here if you so desire

I'd certainly love to hear your thoughts.  What does grace in community look like to you?

6 years ago...

Internet, I'm sure you're probably sick of my annual anniversary post... Recounting one of my favorite days of my life thus far {February 2, 2008}. But just go along with it...

This year as I think back on this special occasion, I'm so thankful for the people who were involved… and the way the Lord continues to use them in my life to encourage my heart.  

For my girlfriends throwing me a personal shower with an amazingly decorated cake ;) , then throwing a bachelorette party... And takin dance lessons with us... And helping address envelopes, and helping me make the boutineers, and helping with the tear down after the reception, and standing next to me while I vow to love him with my whole heart for the rest of my life on earth and to serve The Lord with him. Oh how I'm thankful for these ladies. They are all still in my life... Distance, stage of life, busyness... It can all get in the way- but I'm thankful for each of these ladies.

{one of my favorite pictures of a couple of these special ladies}

We are equally as blessed by the guys that were involved with our special day. We are so blessed to have had a wedding party that both the bridesmaids and groomsmen all knew one another and pretty well in fact.    

{yes they were singing as they patiently waited for the girls to get ready for pics}

The guys also suffered through {secretly they enjoyed} dance lessons, and a couple of them wrote a song for our wedding and performed it on the big day.  We heard the song for the first time at the rehearsal 6 years ago today.   If you're interested in hearing it… just let me know next time you see me and I'd LOOOOVE to play it for you.  They recorded it for me as a gift after the wedding.

{Ben and Bryce signing and playing 'The Only One' on our wedding day}

The dress.  I felt like a million bucks on my wedding day.  My dress flattered me perfectly, was exactly what I wanted - SIMPLE … AND it only cost $250 off the rack and no alterations necessary.  That. never. happens.  {at least from what I see on TLC}  I bought the first dress I tried on.

{a person could have hid under there… I'm sure of it}

The first look.  I'm SO glad we ended up having our first look before the wedding.  I know it isn't for everyone.  But it was perfect for us.  Below reflects me walking into my groom… down the isle.  Just me, Scott and the photographers in the room.  It was so nice to get all of that stress/excitedness/anxiety of seeing each other over with early on.  

We took some pics of the 2 of us around the church before we loaded up on the Excursion Limo that took us downtown a little later.

{My favorite picture from the day}

{He is such a stud! I got to marry him!}

{I don't know why.. but I love that my dress took up most of our seat}

{Scott and I love skylines - so it made perfect sense to take pictures at Liberty Memorial downtown KC}

{I don't even know how this happened - the photographers had the fancy glasses, and one of our groomsmen or bridesmaids had the sparkling grape juice.  Loved this moment so much}

{We are pretty lucky to live in KC.  We have beautiful buildings here… like Union Station where we took this pic}

{Such a sweet moment with my brother right before I walked down! Love that they captured this moment for me.}

{Another sweet moment I'm so glad I have documented.  Prayer with my cousin, John who officiated the ceremony.  I'm so thankful for him}

During the ceremony the girls prayed over me before the vows… and the guys prayed over Scott.  I don't have a great picture - but below you can kind of see that my uncle Rick is singing in the background.  He is singing 'The Wedding Song' which is the same song he sang at my parent's wedding. 

{Thankful to have been showered with prayer moments before I became Scott's wife}

{We are blessed by our community then and now}

{First kiss as hubby and wifey}

{One of my favorite pics of us leaving the ceremony.  So thankful to have been married in my home church.  The place we serve together… the place we hold so dearly in our hearts.}

{The table decor - yes that is a cake on each table! The beautiful decor at the church and most at the reception were thanks to Scott's aunt, Cheryl.  She has a serious gift for this stuff!}

{Our first dance. … the one we took lessons for :) I love this picture… I'm so giddy!}

{We opened up the dance floor after this and danced the night way! Please let me keep my southern baptist card}

Ahhhh….. I love getting to walk down memory lane each year.  I am so thankful for the past 6 years.  The Lord has used Scott and our marriage to truly encourage, challenge, and grow me in all of the right ways.  I'm so thankful for a husband who desires for the gospel to be the center of our marriage and our home.  Looking forward to many more years to celebrate!

Haven't been around for my previous walks down wedding day memory lane… feel free to check these posts out:


Ephesians and more

I'm so thankful for Paul's letter to the church of Ephesus.

I find so much comfort in 1:11 "In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will." I'm eternally thankful that the Lord works all things according to His will rather than mine.  There are moments in this life that I don't rest in the comfort of this promise as I should because I am too caught up in trying to rest in my self sufficiency.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I can't understand the grace discussed in Ephesians 2: 4-5: "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ -- by grace you have been saved.." But I 100% believe in the truth discussed here.  My salvation depends on it.

I'm thankful for the sections of Paul's letter that directly discuss unity within the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:1-3 "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worth of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." 

As a girl - this one cuts right to the core in all of the right ways: Ephesians 4:29 "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."  Not gonna lie.. I don't often consider if what I'm saying is giving grace to those who hear.

The goal of the abiding life: Ephesians 5:10 "and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord."

Priority check:  Ephesians 5:15-16 "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." 

These are just the highlights.  I could basically type out every verse in Ephesians and tell you how the Lord reveals Himself through it and how that was made real to me through this study.

So... what now?  I've been asking myself the same exact thing.  I've recently listened to a couple of podcasts regarding bible memorization.  I've typically been one of those 'oh I am horrible at memorizing things' kind of people - yet find it pretty easy to remember lyrics to my favorite songs.  Well - my heart isn't buying that excuse anymore.

So - I guess that means I'm going to memorize scripture.

I wasn't really sure where to even start - until I heard another podcast of one of the most influential authors/pastors posted a week or so ago answering that exact question: Where do I even start? He suggested that Romans 8 is a great place to start.  I found this fitting since my favorite verse is found here {Romans 8:28}.

So here I am… 2 days in and 2 {somewhat memorized} verses into Romans 8.  I'm already well aware that only His grace will get me through the remaining 37 verses ... only His grace will engrave the words on my heart ... only His grace has given me this longing to tattoo the Word on my heart…. tattoo isn't even the right word.  I don't want to merely write His word… I want to engrave it in my soul.  I want my life to be impacted by the words I commit to memory.  I want these verses to be a lens that filters this life through the perspective of the gospel.  Only by His grace.

I've become increasingly aware of just how important scripture memory is.  I know - it's about time, Raylene.

I've only been encouraged to memorize scripture basically my whole life… and I have memorized bits and pieces of the Word throughout my life.  But the understanding of just how valuable it is to have it hidden in my heart - the word for word pieces of scripture - rather than just vague concepts and promises.  Scripture is powerful, people.  Do you get that? Might want to write that one down. {I'll wait}

So what are you studying right now?   How do you see the Lord using that to challenge you and ultimately encourage growth in you? 


Top 11 highlights of 2013...

-MY BROTHER:  GOT MARRIED and started an amazing journey called: the military.  I'm thankful for his adventurous heart and His humility that is truly outstanding.

-This closing out of 2013 marks Scott's 1/2 way done with his BS in Electrical Engineering.  This was his 1st year at UMKC = 4.0, baby! #proudwifey #closerandclosertobabies

-Future Grace: the single most influential book in my walk with Christ, thus far - hands.down. {go ahead and add this book to your New Years resolution}

-GSM ministry and our new focus- I've always enjoyed serving in this ministry, but this past year we have begun to focus on the ministry side: the motives behind, how to be intentional with the gospel, and really evaluate the goals we try to reach for each and everything we do, teach, listen to, watch, and plan.  I'm so thankful for this shift in focus.  Honestly, I was hesitant at first: afraid of the unknown and change. I didn't even realize just how much we were lacking in this area until we started to walk down this road.  Not to mention… I love these students.  I'm so thankful for the way I see the Lord working in the hearts and souls of these students.

-Shane and Shane: re-discovering my all time favorite musical duo has been a huge blessing this year - seems cheesy, I know.  But go ahead and watch this 6 minute video without being impacted by it's truth.

-This year has proved to be the most difficult financial state we've been in as a married couple - and yes, this is one of the top 10.  Why?  because God has used this season of life to grow us so much.  Closer to Him, closer to each other -it's so beautiful.  While most marriages fail over things like financial situations, the Lord has continued to sustain us and truly strengthen our marriage through it all.  How do people do marriages without Christ as the center anyway?

-Discipleship: it's taken most of the year for this to begin, mostly due to my own pride, over scheduled self, and my selfish ways - denying my need.... afraid of what my heart will reveal to another human.  It's interesting how our very {sin} nature is to NOT be vulnerable…

-Relationships: it's interesting to look back at this time last year and reflect on the amazing community The Lord has placed around us. I love growing with these people.

-I got a sister!! I'm so thankful for Melissa and I'm excited to grow old with her as my sister. I'm confident she will keep us both young. :)

-Church: I'm not certain I've sat under teaching any better than what I'm experiencing every week from the pulpit at SWBC.  This year has been an interesting transition regarding church.  Amazing months, and rough and discouraging months.  But one thing is certain - the gospel is the center of this body of believers, and for that I am truly thankful.  I don't ever leave those doors feeling the same way I did when I walked through them - no - I'm challenged, encouraged, convicted, loved, full of worship, overwhelmed by my community.

-Vanilla chai topped with cinnamon from Whistle Stop downtown.  Confession: it might be more about the company than the actual drink... Probably 60/40... Or 80/10

Insta- life lately...

life rearranged
Hey there!  Here is an insta-update on life lately...
We love game nights with the cousin's... Scott actually won at Clue this time.  
{competition just got real}

The Stouffer's had a pumpkin carving party in their back yard.  I enjoyed watching as I worked on a craft project of my own. 

I can't even tell you how long it had been since I saw this girl.  It was so good to catch up... loved this evening walking around Big Lots hearing about life, kids, love, and church. 

SWBC Fall Festival 2013 - I love these people.

By far my favorite costume of the evening is on the right.  Pastor Ryan dressed up as Dawson!  

Silly goose.

Halloween was spent with the porch light off, and a mean game of Rummikub.

We got to celebrate Jen's birthday - Japanese Steakhouse style!

I seriously don't know what I'd do without these coffee dates.

We got to meet and spend an afternoon with a new special lady.  So thankful for this time spent - can't wait for some more time to get to know her even more!

WE GOT THE CHAIRS DONE!! They turned out even more beautiful than I had imagined.  

Getting to skype with my brother and sister is one of my favorite things.  :)  I miss them.

This shirt has be written all over it - makes me laugh every time.

Ignite Conference 2013 was amazing!  Read more about it HERE

Lunch time with Cathy... I haven't worked at the bank for almost 3 years, yet she will forever be my work mom.  I cherish these moments with her.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the GSM room!!

This is Molly - looking as cute as can be.  This is one of her favorite poses.

Jadyn loves to play hair salon.  Usually it is her playing with my hair {which I love}... but she wanted her hair curled and I was delighted to get to curl these beautiful locks!

Mom and I went to some of our favorite flea markets in town and got some good stuff!

Those 'hot' 'cold' nobs kill me.. I don't know where they will end up - but I love them!

I turned another year older and got to celebrate with some of my favorite people.

Playing some mean ol' Yahtzee

I love decorating for Christmas!  Let's face it - it is the only season I really change anything about my decorations.  #creatureofhabit

Miss Olivia - she is so precious I can't even handle it.

We had a team building with our team and decorated cookies and then donated them to a local charity.  We had a blast! #iheartHR

Meeting with this lady is one of my favorite things.  I'm enjoying the beginning of what I know will be a long-lasting friendship.  I know the Lord is at work in my heart through this relationship.  #blessed

Prepping for one of my favorite days of the year... 9th annual Christmas party!

A great time was had by all.  We missed some dear friends who couldn't make it, though.

Our growth group merged with another for a Christmas sweater themed growth group session.  Yes - I'm wearing a tree skirt.  I have to give creativity credit to momma - I wanted to rave her closet for something good to wear and she didn't have anything.  Next thing I knew - she brought out the tree skirt.  It was perfect.

We had a cookie baking session - which lead to a trip down Jonathan's great collection binder.

So enjoyed watching this young lady play her little heart out at the orchestra concert.  

Last night we had our annual christmas party with our Launch crew.  We switched things up this year and had a mug exchange which was a lot of fun!  I'm so blessed by these people.  

I can't tell you how blessed I am to have this lady in my life.  The Lord has used her over and over again to challenge me.  Can't wait to see how He continues to use her to draw me closer to Himself.

There's the last couple of months for you - picture style.  What have you been up to?