Let's chat about church.

I am so thankful for my church, there really are no words to describe.  But alas, I will try to portray a little of what is in my heart. 

I'm so thankful for a church where...

-The Gospel is central to EVERYTHING.  I could stop there... but you know I won't :)

-The Pastor invests into others' lives.  This has been especially encouraging to me... seeing PBC invest in our young men (my hubs included) and how that has truly impacted their leadership and walk with Christ.  

-If I'm not there... it is noticed.  I'm not 1 of thousands herded in and out each week. 

-Every single generation is represented there.  From -6 months to 85+ years old and everything in between.  It is the most beautiful thing to worship next to them and learn from their stage of life.  Growth Groups are a great example of this... discussing the sermon from that morning with 10+ other believers- all in very different stages of life.  Truly brings joy to my soul.

-There is no dress code... we have the Eds of the church (my dad, who dresses very formal) to the Jeremys (jeans and a tshirt) of the church and guess what.... no one cares-- we are all saved by the same grace- regardless of the attire we show up in.-- that is beautiful. 

-Service is not only encouraged... it is natural here.  5 years ago I would never have believed you if you told me I'd be a youth leader, launch attender, active college ministry contributor, and most recently wedding coordinator at this point in my life.  I have never once felt pressured to serve in any one of these areas... it is a desire... a natural reaction to the worship happening every week.

-Transparency is encouraged and demonstrated.  How are we to build one another up if we aren't real with each other?  We are told to bear one another's burdens, how can that ever happen if we aren't transparent with one another? NOTE TO SELF: must be transparent to receive transparency from others

-God is glorified, and glorifying Him is the focus of every sermon, every Bible study lesson, every event, every decision, every leader, every outreach opportunity... E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.

-The Truth is what draws people in... not a coffee shop, or a trend, or entertaining videos, or fog machines, or spot lights, or emotional music... no- the TRUTH. 

-Honesty is expected, regardless of how hard it hurts or how deep it stirs our heart.

-There is no 'typical' member.  You would not be able to describe the 'types' of people that go to our church.  There is no specific genre they fall into... each member is critically unique from another.  There is no pressure to act/dress/live a certain way that fits a particular style.  Each individual is so different, and yet loved and cared for by the other. 

-Hard, uncomfortable topics are discussed.  Sure, there are times I feel uncomfortable-- like last Sunday talking about Lust and Adultery.  But I am so incredibly thankful for a church that won't shy away from the tough stuff.  This breeds transparency and honesty.... it is beautiful how it all works together to create personal relationships.

-I am challenged by every sermon.  These sermons are not full of motivational speech, or emotional lures, or feel good take-aways... no these sermons are jam packed with TRUTH... and there is no sugar coating this truth, it can be hard to swallow sometimes because of my pride... and yet- so. beautiful. 

-I get a hug from Em Jones every single week.  Nothing like feeling as if I have another grandmother.. one that lives close and attends the same church.  How thankful I am for these hugs that bring a tear to my eye every time.

-Once students graduate... I get to take off the leader hat and put on the friend hat.  I have been so blessed by these friendships-I can't even begin to put into words what they mean to me and my heart, and how much God has used them to shape, encourage and challenge me.  What a humbling thing to experience...

-The youth sponsors from when I was in youth now have students that I get to attempt to serve as well as their parents served me.

-The walls we meet in are not the boundaries that define our 'church'.  We live life together, investing in one another with genuine love.  We do not merely show up on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays... get fed the Word and leave.  No... there is emphasis placed on establishing personal relationships with one another.  I am so blessed to have that here.. and that it is natural. 

I could go on forever... but I'll stop there for today.  I am sure this topic will come around again.

What are your favorite things about your church?  Any thoughts/questions about mine?

PS:  I really like it when you interact w/me here :)



Let's Catch Up.. finally continued!

A couple of weekends ago..

One of my old friends (and bridesmaids), who moved to Arizona, was in town for the week after Labor Day.  I had been looking forward to September 7th for a few months now.. knowing and anticipating this long overdue reunion.

Well what I didn't know is that I'd get to reunite with another old friend (and bridesmaid) of mine... who has not moved away.  However, somehow we have managed to let our short physical distance become larger and larger in our friendship.  Why do we do that?  I certainly hope that it won't stay that way.  I forgot how much I miss her.

So even though our heads are cut off, I thought this was adorable.... call it artsy?

What a beautiful fall night it was!!! 

So Jamie knows me pretty darn well.. and she knows how much I love her girls.  She even decided to test me out as a babysitter a couple of Saturdays ago.  I used to babysit ALLLLLL the time for people at church and my parent's friends when I was younger.  But it has been several years... so I was going from 0-3 in no time!

So what would any girl in my situation do?  Call for backup.  So I convinced Scott that it was a great idea for him to help me out so he can get used to holding a baby and knowing what it's like to feed and change them.  Well as we got closer and closer, I got less and less confident in my ability to use this as a teaching opportunity for the hubs.  So I let him off the hook when my good friend, Jen volunteered (yes.. it was her idea) to help me out.  She loves kids and is GREAT with them.  So I felt much more confident in my ability knowing she would be there to be the child whisper at any given moment.

Now, don't get me wrong.  These 3 adorable girls have never done anything that would lead me to believe that this would be a difficult or trying experience.  I was only concerned about MY confidence :)  So I required Jamie to leave me with detailed instructions to ensure a smooth time.

This was Jadyn's 'superstar' pose :) 

Right before she painted my nails... easily the best manicure I've EVER had.... take a look...

There was a LOOOOOT of energy used... a lot of laughter, and side walk chalk!

 One of my favorite moments is when Jadyn wanted to dance in the yard, but kept finding sticks that need to be moved from our dance floor.  At one point she was dragging a stick MUCH bigger than her-- in order to clear our dance floor.  There were a lot of twirling... I forgot how freeing it feels to twirl around without a care in the world :)  I enjoyed being taken back to that place.

Let me tell you- these twin girls, Jemma and Jaycie are absolutely adorable!  They were sleeping during our earlier adventures, so we brought them outside after a nap to enjoy the beautiful weather.  We took a walk to the church parking lot to play ball and the twins were so cute just watching Jadyn play. 

Not sure what resulted in stickers on our forehead, but Jadyn was very intentional about which sticker went where.  

I heart these girls!

K- your turn... catch me up on you!


I am...

-a wife
-a daughter
-a good friend
-a leader
-card lover
-a good listener
-a people pleaser
-a Christ follower
-a MU fan
-youth sponsor
-an extrovert
-unaware of my limits
-one who loves a challenge
-a HR professional
-music lover
-in love with Scott
-never bored
-loving FALL
-thankful for today
-Launch member
-in love with SWBC
-a volunteer

There it is.. The good, bad, and ugly of me. #takeitorleaveit

love love love...

I am in love.

I have been reflecting on this little thing called marriage, lately. 

Not gonna lie, I feel like this promise covenant is taken very lightly these days.  It seems like every where I turn, I hear of another classmate or old friend or family member getting a divorce.  This so hurts the core of my heart.

No worries - this isn't going to be a debbie downer post... just being real and telling you why I've been reflecting on marriage recently.

So I have this best friend named, Scott and I'm so lucky to call him hubby :)  I know... it sounds totally mushy- so if you don't like that sort of thing...  #sorrynotsorry

This picture has to be one of my favorite moments with Scott and it was caught on camera...

Neither of us could wait to say our vows and swear to love one another for the rest of our lives and to make Christ the center of our relationship.  Thank goodness God is the provider of that lifetime type of love. So glad it isn't up to us, because our my selfish nature would take over in a HEARTBEAT and eventually destroy.  #hardtoberealsometimes

Is marriage easy? No, you can look at the divorce rate in this country and see that it isn't easy.  In fact, it is a lot of work.   But work well worth the effort...

Marriage is just like the fairy tales growing up, right?  Internet, no!  However, I truly believe these movies have put an expectation down in our core regarding marriage and what it should look like.   This is very scary because these unrealistic expectations will not be met.  If you fall into this trap... please seek me out and we'll chat.  #alottosayaboutthis 

Is it rewarding?  Absolutely!  Being married has truly changed my perspective of relationships... of loving others... of Christ's love.  I have been challenged so much by Scott in only the way a Godly leader of a husband could do.  We both encourage one another to step outside of our comfort zones and that is simply beautiful to me.  Not to mention... We have a ton of fun together. I love living life with him! He sees me at my goofiest and my grumpiest and still loves me :)

We have walked so much life together the last 11 years we've known each other.  I have loved every second of it--some moments have been easier than others. 

Here are some of the things I've learned in my nearly 5 years of marriage... nope- not even going to suggest I am an expert or have enough experience in marriage to really give any valid advice... but here is my heart anyway... take it or leave it!

-Communication is KEY.  Ok girls, we just have to get over this notion that guys should always know exactly what we're thinking and feeling just by the way we are acting.  Marriage has no room for drama queens.. or kings for that matter - hehe  But seriously.  Girls- guess what... the words you say are the words your husbands/boyfriends/fiances hear.  Let's get over the passive aggressiveness and be open, honest, and real when we communicate with those we love.

-Be selfless.  Going back to the fairy tales mentioned above- relationships are not all about me.  I can get so wrapped up in myself and neglect any consideration for him--even in the silly day to day things in life.  Being selfless is seriously a key to a healthy relationship.  Both husbands and wives should put the needs of their spouse before their own.  How beautiful is that?  Lord- make my heart desire to serve others before myself.

-Realize that a marriage is an illustration of Christ's relationship with the Church.  This is where that little covenant I mentioned earlier comes into play.  When we 'say yes' are we saying yes to the idea of planning a wedding and going on a vacation afterwards?  Are we saying yes to a selfish desire to gain a certain status?  Sometimes decisions are made VERY lightheartedly, is it because we don't get what a covenant is?  It is a much bigger deal than a promise.  Do we truly get the commitment required by this covenant? 

-Encourage one another.  Know one another's strengths and weaknesses.  Be sure to get excited with your spouse and encourage areas of improvement. Make it a point to build one another up... daily.

-Commit to giving and receiving honest, loving correction- this one is tough... especially for people like me who require an extra dose of gentleness in this regard.   I need a huge truth/love sandwich when it comes to correction.  Yes- pulling out the Laina logic here.  Commit to one another that this correction is done out of love-- and be sure to give it with the love of Christ.  If both parties are pursuing Christ first... they will not only automatically grow closer to one another.... but they will humbly approach correction whether giving or receiving it.

-Never go to sleep upset with one another.  This has been huge in our relationship.  Especially while I was working full time and a full time student.  It seemed as though the only time we had to talk was right before bed.  Well- when we are tired we both get a little grumpy.. which does not always make for the best attitudes to approach a discussion about a disagreement.  So getting the issue discussed and getting on with life before we go to sleep has been HUGE for us.  My nature is to hold a grudge... and not forget the instance, instead let it pile.  Lord, you know this is something I constantly battle with, and I sincerely ask you for an attitude towards forgiveness like Yours.

-Know each others love language.  I'm not endorsed by an authors-- nor do I think you HAVE to read a book to tell you how your spouse gives and receives love.  While, these resources can be great starting points- it is not a one size fits all type of concept.

-Keep nothing from one another.  This one can be touchy... some people will disagree with me here.  I truly believe to have a healthy marriage- the dirt has to be discussed.  Things from the past can really hurt to bring up and hash out.  I truly believe an open and honest relationship is the healthiest-- and that means talking about each others pasts-- no matter how hard it is. Like I said.. marriage isn't easy.  But to have a marriage that is an illustration of Christ's relationship with the church-- everything must be out in the open and forgiveness granted willingly and graciously.

-It is so important to invest in your spouse.  Spend time with them, making them a priority- not an after thought to your day.  Invest in who they are- not attempting to mold/change them into who you think they should be.  Be in love with who THEY ARE.. not who you think they could potentially be- that will always end in heartache.  

Well- I'm going to stop there for tonight... there is so much more I'd love to say... so I'm sure this will get brought up again.

What have you found to be key to any marriage?  Even if you're single, engaged-- what have you seen in other couples that seem to be key elements to a healthy relationship?


Let's Catch Up!

I've had a lot going on the last 2 weekends... and several events that are WAAAAAYYYYY worth sharing!

Let's start with Labor Day weekend... yes I'm going to talk to you about happenings from 2 weeks ago.  #sorryaboutit 

Might be old news to you-- but just be excited to relive these moments with me.

So it started on Friday August 31st at 5:30pm.  Scott, Jonathan, and myself started for our weekend adventure to Salem Springs, AR.  Yes... this is a place only worth visiting if you have someone there to see. :)  Lucky for you us... we did!  We were making the trip to AR to visit a few of our college friends (Troy, Danielle, and Cameron) who attend John Brown University. 

Our trip started off with some heavy traffic, but then it was smooth sailing... well at least for me- sitting in the back seat reading a good book and enjoying the rainy day.  Doesn't get much better than that...

Yes, internet, I do use a picture as my bookmark so it will encourage me to open the book again!  I used to need motivation to read-- so glad I'm over that stage of my life.  #collegetextbookburnout

We arrived around 9:30pm to our destination... Troy and Danielle's apartment, where Cameron met us.  They had made yummy tacos, guacamole, salsa, and all the fixin's.  It was adorable to see them being domestic together.. such newlyweds.  I love it!

Jonathan was at least paying attention when I said, 'Hey guys, let me take a picture'

Here is the proof that we did see the campus:

The campus was very pretty... and it was a perfect day to walk around outside!

And proof that we even attempted to break into the Art building....

After touring the campus from outside the buildings... we went to lunch at Zaxby's... a Chik-filA wannabe.  Close, but not really. #sorrynotsorry

We went to a shopping center and walked around for a bit... and of course had to try on sunglasses.  Internet... this is totally normal.

I found this adorable scarf at American Eagle that I can't really stop thinking about. Probably gonna need to find a way to add this to my bday/christmas wishlist.  Yes.. I've already started my wishlists for the year... don't judge me, internet.

After an afternoon of shopping and hanging out, we started our trek back home, with a few planned stops along the way.  We stopped in Joplin and were both encouraged and devastated by what we saw.  It has been over a year since the tragic tornado that took so many lives and scared so many others.  There are several things rebuilt, which is so encouraging.  However, restoration is still needed-- physically and more importantly- spiritually.  I was brought to tears as we drove through and prayed over the rubble.  

We then took an hour or so detour to stop in Springfield, MO on our way home to see Jonathan's sister, and our friend- Lindsey!  Of course, we had to eat at our favorite restaurant there in S-town... Mexican Villa!!! YUM!  

After dinner, we needed some sugar to get us through the last 2.5 hour home-stretch.  So we stopped at Braum's and while we were there... I found a new friend.  

Meet, Mr. Cart.  

It was all Jonathan's fault.. he asked if I needed a cart.  At that very moment... I did.  

I needed that cart to assist my ice cream journey.  So Mr. Cart and I stood in line patiently and ordered our ice cream.  Once we got our order... it all went down from there.  It isn't even funny to write it out... so I won't. Those of you that were there... and as slap-happy as I was, remember the events very well.  I would say this was truly a 'had to be there' moment.  But know that it was hilarious... and worth mentioning!

So we returned Saturday night and on Sunday we heard an amazing message from PBC.. not amazing as in 'oh that made me feel so good' (that's not how SWBC does church)... uhhhh no-- it was challenging, tear provoking kind of impact-actually.  Seriously... it rocked my world. Check it out here ... it was the 9/2/12 message.

After church we went to lunch and had a birthday celebration for Scott's Dad's birthday which it is always good to see his family!  We had some amazing BBQ at my 2nd favorite KC BBQ joint- Gates! Then some of Scott's mom's famous chocolate eclair cake.  Yuuuuummmmm!

Sunday night I had a reunion with some of my closest girlfriends.  It had been so long since we hung out together-- it is pitiful how long it had been.  If this post wasn't already too long.. I'd spend some time chatting about these ladies... but don't worry- it is coming.. so stay tuned!

Then on Labor Day we slept in and went to Santa-Cali-Gon Days to see our new friends, Corey and Ali! Corey is soooooo musically gifted and he had an hour on the gospel stage.  We were so blessed by the songs he wrote and blown away by his talent, and excited for an excuse to get a funnel cake!
  We have a double date scheduled so I'm sure you'll hear more about them later.

So-- I was going to update you on the happenings from this past weekend as well-- however I see this as a great opportunity to dangle a piece of bait in front of you which will make you come back to visit again to find out what happened!  #don'tgettooexcited

Have a great week, lovelies!

What did you do over Labor Day weekend?


Public speaking... no thanks

Public speaking is not my thang.

Of course God knows this fact about me-- but every once in a while He decides to remind me how big He is and how little I am.

So a month or so ago I was asked to prepare a presentation for a monthly staff meeting, which happened to take place today.

Also about a month or so ago the youth leadership decided that we would split the guys and girls up for a several week study.  Along with that decision, we opted to rotate teaching responsibilities between some of the lady leaders for the girl time and rotate some of the guy leaders for the guy time.  Naturally my first week to teach was today.

Yes- I used all of these resources in my teaching tonight :)

September 5, 2012 has been a long, tiring day.  I have been fighting feelings of inadequacy and feelings of anxiety because surely more time could have been spent to prepare for these presentations.  I also spent the day fighting negative self-talk about my abilities to speak in front of groups of people-regardless of age. 

Of course the motivated, competitive side of me loves these opportunities to better myself.  I truly believe He put these opportunities in my life for a reason.  I hope and pray it isn't to speak in front of large groups of people on a regular basis.  But I do believe He is preparing me for the future He has planned for me. 

Guess what? God is so good!  He even managed to stop my negative thoughts in their tracks tonight!  I am so thankful for a God that challenges, and pushes me.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to get to work tomorrow and sign up for as many public speaking opportunities I can find.  But I do feel that I am one step closer to a bearable comfort level.  One step at a time! 

What have you done this week that was out of your comfort zone?


Resourceful garlic bread...

So, I'm not usually the type that brags about their cooking... mostly b/c there isn't THAT much to brag about.  I have a few meals that I make really well... but I don't usually use recipes ... I'm not the best at following directions when it comes to food.  I tend to think.. 'oh I'm sure this spice would taste good in here'... sometimes it works... sometimes it doesn't :)  So I tend to stay with things I'm comfortable cooking.


Did you all cook out over the holiday weekend?  Do you have some extra hamburger buns?  Well... I do have extra hamburger buns- but not from cooking out.  lol

Tonight was spaghetti night. I love me some spaghetti, and nothing goes better with spaghetti than some yuma-licious garlic bread.. better yet- garlic cheese bread!

Growing up we always used leftover hotdog buns for our garlic bread.  So tonight I decided to be 'thrifty' and use our leftover buns from 'taverns' (family version of sloppy joes) as our garlic cheese bread.  I was feeling a little 'cooking-show-ish' tonight so I got a little excited about my spices and it tasted amazing!

So when I say 'cooking-show-ish' I really mean that I am playing a chef on a famous cooking show.  Most of this show happens in my head... but I must say, I'm one of the funniest people I know.

So only the best cooking show hosts set out all of their ingredients and then explain each step they take towards the heavenly result! Internet, I'll spare you the hilarious step by step that played in my head... I don't know you THAT well yet

The hubby doesn't like a bunch of meat in the spaghetti sauce.  Since HyVee doesn't sell 1/2 lbs of 93/7 meat-- I get to let the creative juices flow.  So I decide to brown all of the meat and split it in 1/2 once cooked.  I make the spaghetti sauce out of 1/2 and taco meat out of the remaining 1/2.  That provides 2 lunches for me, on top of the leftover spaghetti!  I LOVE taco meat with tortilla chips.. and I usually take a 100 calorie package of Wholly Guacamole to accompany my taco salad-y remix.

 The finished product, in my adorable Fiestaware dishes!

So tonight I cooked a dinner for 2, and 4 lunches-- that's pretty productive in my book!  
I'm thinking food network needs to contact me stat!  Oh so many show titles...   


Random Ray...

So I'm sitting here considering some new blog topics... and a perfect title comes to mind.. 'A Day at Work with Ray'.  Then it hit me...I work in a confidential information overload environment and I don't want to have to wipe out all of my readers, I like having you around (I really do!). #CorporateHRproblems

Then another, more realistic, idea came to me:  BLOG SPOTLIGHT.  But please be warned: I will NOT over commit myself by saying I will highlight some of my favorite blogs on a weekly basis.  But I do plan to add this topic to the blog mix.

I have several friends who blog and I love all of their blogs, so please don't be offended if you aren't listed today!

Well you've read an awful lot about Laina, here. I really think you'd be so encouraged by her blog.  Eventually we'll get her convinced to switch from the dark-side and join Blogger.  She is genuine, loves to love others, she loves others WELL, is in college, and loves Jesus- doesn't get much better than that!  I truly love this girl, we are kindred spirits!

So when I first started blogging a couple of years ago, I tried so hard to convince my dear friend, Candace to get started.  She has always been a great writer and she's artsy... which always helps.  So after some convincing-- she gave in--- I am pretty persuasive :)  Well, just as I expected, she has quite the following.  I'd like to ensure everyone takes note when she becomes blog-famous.  What can I say, I know talent when I see it :)  must be the HR coming out!  She has a beautiful little girl and blogs about yummy food that she tries and other random life experiences.

Also consider visiting Ashley's blog, she and I went to college together at good ol' Southwest Bridal Baptist University.  She has adorable kids, pregnant with another little girl, has a beautiful story to tell about being a mom.

So we'll stop there this time.  I have so many others that I love dearly... I'm currently waiting for a few of my dear friends to pick up the blogging memo and update more often... you know who you are! :)

I can't wait to share with you about my weekend- it has been a good one!

What all are you up to this long holiday weekend? What are some of your favorite blogs?