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?


This season of life...

Let me please take a moment to set the stage for this post: this is NOT a pity party; this is NOT an 'I'm holier than thou'; or a cry for help--- this IS just the reality for us during this season of life.  I've been avoiding my blog because this is our reality and I haven't been comfortable being vulnerable with you in the midst of this season. {by 'you' I mean those of you that read along with me as I process this life, you're who I'm talking about}

We are abundantly blessed- and we are overwhelmed with this fact this christmas season.  As a part of this live season we haven't been able to do gifts the last couple of years: Christmas, birthday celebrations or otherwise

In a couple of years- Scott will graduate and we will probably begin to feel more comfortable financially... Back to the way it was before 10/2011. {that's a whole other story for a coffee date sometime} However, I pray not everything {my immaturity} goes back to how it was before 10/2011.

I know when this time comes we will be able to start giving gifts again... And I truly look forward to that. I love searching for the perfect gift.

I am writing this post for when I am in that place.  The place where money isn't as tight as it is now.  The place where we can enjoy finding the perfect gift for our loved ones.... I am writing in hopes that I will look back on this....  this season of life when we are so forced to rely on Christ for our every need that it brings me to tears at the ways He continues to provide for us exactly what we need.

Raylene: DON'T. FORGET. don't ever let financial comfort replace relying on Him for your every need.  He does a much better job providing for us than we every could.

A statement of Dave Ramsey's that sticks out to me these days is.. 'live like no one else - so that later you can live like no one else'.  While he made this statement regarding finances.  I rely on this in a little different way.

'live like no one else'embrace these seasons - take in the reliance on Christ we are experiencing through this seasons... learn and grow from these seasons... praise Him for these seasons

'... so that later you can live like no one else': His will is for us to be in this season and it is working for our best and His good... Romans 8:28 becomes reality

I've caught myself preaching myself this sermon often these days.  So thankful for His promises, and the ways He continues to make good on His promises in our lives during this season.

 What we need from you {same you as defined above}:

don't pity us - rejoice with us... in how the Lord has provided
don't cry with us me - encourage us with the truth of the gospel when you think of us
don't worry about us - pray to our ultimate Provider on our behalf
don't feel sorry - feel encouraged by how God is using this season to shape and mature us

be. our. community.


Ignite Conference 2013: GSM - HS Fall Retreat

Wow... there is so much to say about the Ignite Conference weekend.  I was blessed to have gone to the fall retreat this year with our high school students.  I will say though, I've been somewhat avoiding this post because I'm afraid I won't do the teaching justice.  Literally every moment of the teaching was helpful, challenging, encouraging, motivating, and truthful.  So... I will TRY to provide you some of my favorite nuggets from the weekend. 

We were beyond blessed to have Dr. Rick Holland teaching each of the 5 sessions this weekend.  He brought the truth of the gospel over and over again.  If you're not familiar with Dr. Holland - he is now the senior pastor for Mission Road Bible Church and was previously the college pastor at Grace Community Church for 20+ years, where John MacArthur pastors.  He has a little bit of experience...

The theme of this weekend was fostering a Biblical Worldview - and if someone left unchallenged-- then they simply weren't listening.

Here are some of the highlights from the teaching.  (I realize highlights typically means short and sweet  #sorrynotsorry... I'm already leaving out SO much!) You should probably know that most of these comments below are paraphrased (I'm not the most talented at getting word for word quotes written).

Session 1 Highlights:

-2 Peter 1:16-19 --- Peter is saying that he as experienced Jesus first hand and yet he trusts the Bible over his own experiences

-We heavily rely on our experiences to shape our thinking/feeling/beliefs - when we SHOULD heavily rely on scripture to shape our thinking/feeling/beliefs.  Even Peter who experienced Christ first hand - relied on the Word over his own experiences!!

-It could be that the bible is not interesting to you b/c you're not interested in the God of the bible

-Either scripture will shape your worldview or sin will

Question to consider:
-If your bible could talk... what would it say about you?--- if we asked your bible, 'how was your week?' what would it reveal about you?

-Will you love your life based on the Bible or based on your experiences?

Session 2 Highlights:

-Colossians 2:6-10 - discussed 4 essential elements for developing a christian worldview:
1) Conversion by Christ;
2) Compulsion in Christ (walk in Him... a sustained patter of living... consistency)
3) Contemplation according to Christ
4) Completion by Christ

-Worldview defined:  "The window by which we look through and decide what is real and important and decide what is unreal and unimportant."

-You believe so that you understand... you don't understand and then believe... that is spiritual mathematics

-Jesus has no intention to be a part of your life... He wants to be the POINT of your life

-The adolescent mind is similar to a soupy concrete mixture hardening... this is the best time to shape your worldview.  Once you head to college, it is often too hardened

-Satan wil be after your mind... get it right now - if you don't define how you think - someone else will for you

-Christ is UNlike anyone else -- He is the only person that as you get to know Him more... the better He gets.  Everyone else... we have flaws - and the more we get to know someone... the more flaws we see.  Not Christ -- but how often do we expect to see and often look for flaws in Him?

Questions to consider:
-Is your life defined by Christ?
-Do you think about Christ much? What He was life, what he said, what he did and didn't do?
-Is Christ your life or just a part of it?

Session 3 Highlights:

-Romans 3:9-18 "The problem with self-imaging"

-We discussed 12 different descriptions of man's total depravity - too much to include here but I've captured the highlights below:

-If sin is not the problem... then God is not the answer

-You are the problem - not the world.  How often are we quick to blame the culture around us for the temptations and failures?  It is our sinful hearts to blame... not the culture around us

-If your view of yourself isn't right .. then you will never see His glory

-Sin makes us relationally reckless (Romans 3:16)

-The better we understand the totality of our depravity... the more amazing the gospel is to us

-As bad as you think you are... you are worse.  As good as you think God is... He is better!

Questions to consider:
-What fills you?

Session 4 Highlights:

This session resulted in 4 pages of notes... so this is a VERY brief summary

-Lamentations 3:37-40 "A theology for problems"

-3 Reminders for when troubles come:
     1. God is sovereign over people v. 37
           -no trial comes to you and is a surprise to God
     2. God is sovereign over circumstances v.38
           -nothing is random
           -difference between sovereignty and providence: sovereign = overall power; providence = gets in
            your kitchen... specifics
           -God's sovereignty is either your greatest comfort or your greatest nightmare
     3. God is serious about our response v.39
           -Man's dislike at God's sovereignty is because of man's suspicion of God's heart {ouch}

-interesting perspective: for the believer, this world is the closest we'll ever come to hell

When a trial arrives... take yourself (or those around you) through the following process:

1. What do I feel?
2. What do I think?
3. What do I know?

-It is important to go in this order.  As we start contemplating what we know about God {His promises - and we can only know these things if we spend time in His word} - then it will begin to start changing the way we think about the trial/suffering situation.  It will not always change the way we feel... but it will allow us to control our feelings.

-Our feelings aren't trustworthy - they are often spurred by our thinking first - not by what we know, which is why this process is so helpful

This process/concept is huge friends - by far the biggest takeaway from the weekend for me

Session 5 Highlights:

1 Peter 2:11-12: The war against your soul

-The lethal threats to our souls are inside us: fleshly lusts

3 rationales for fighting fleshly lusts:

1. christian citizenship demands the fight v.11
     -idol = something you will sin if you don't get and something you will sin to get
     -sin is ultimately man's attempt to turn this world into heaven (quoting Al Mohler)

2. fleshly lusts provoke a fight v.11
     -lusts = strong desire for something
     -the lusts of your flesh are fighting the health of your soul
     -labor to know what associates satan has in your heart (quoting John Owen) -- know where you are
       weak... where you are temptable
     -if you are fighting sin... you are alive (quoting John Piper) --- unbelievers don't care
     -when in a discipleship relationship - ask yes and no questions - they are the best way to keep one
      another accountable - open ended questions lead to open ended vague answers

3. Fruitful evangelism motivates the fight v.12
     -unbeliever's questions about your life is an invitation for sharing the gospel
     -be killing sin or it will be killing you

Questions to consider:
Do you feel the battle?
Do you hate your sin? (unbelievers don't care)
Do you see your own progression towards Christ?

This was so helpful to revisit the content of this weekend - thanks for mulling over it with me.  Hope something encourages you.


creamy corn goodness

People - this is a pinterest find THAT WORKED!  I've had some horrible luck with pinterest recipes...So I decided to give them another chance and WOW - this is amazing!

What you need:
Crock pot
2 lbs Frozen sweet corn
1 - 8 oz Block of cream cheese
1 Stick of butter
2 Tbls Sugar
2 Tbls Water
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cook time: 4 hours on low (I did 2 hours on high and 1 hour on low b/c of the timing of my day)

1. Cube the butter and cream cheese - beautiful, eh?

2. Pour 2 lbs of corn in the crock pot; spread the cubes of butter and cream cheese over the corn and add the 2 Tbls water and 2 Tbls sugar. 

3.  Cook - I stirred it after an hour or so and then again with about 30 minutes left to cook and I found that to be helpful in combining the ingredients well.

So I'm pretty sure it went over alright but I'll let you be the judge...

Favorite things about this dish:
-it's corn- who doesn't like corn?
-it's sweet
-totally received my adult card for this one :)  ... I'm officially the creamy corn bringer to the thanksgiving meals!

What is your favorite thanksgiving dish to make and eat?!  Let me know if you try this recipe out... I really wish I had a reason to go make some right now!


Fall reminds me of..

some great memories growing up.   I don't even know why they were flooding my mind on my way home today... But I couldn't help but smile.

First of all... when I was little I thought that God changed the colors of the leaves JUST for my birthday.  :)  I've ALWAYS loved this display of God's beauty in nature.

My next door neighbor, Renee lived next to one another for 15+ years.  Several years when we were younger she would take me for a ride in her wagon for my birthday. We would stop at each pile of leaves on our walk around the block and we would pick out the most beautiful leaves we could find.  We would then put them in a zip lock bag and they would go under my bed until the next year.  When the next year came... we'd take the zip lock out and dump the leaves and fill it up with the new favorites  for the year.  I'm not sure how that little tradition got started... and to be honest, until today I had completely forgotten about this birthday activity.

Since I was thinking about Renee- I also started thinking about how we used to have this fancy gold envelop that had a velcro closure -- it was a gift certificate holder back in the olden days when gift certificates were not on plastic debit cards.  {I hear a gasp from all the youngins} So we would write notes to each other and hide the envelope around the outside of our 2 houses and to get the note- we'd have to find the hidden golden envelope!   Just makes me giggle b/c my love language via the written word really did start early!

I had completely forgotten about this memory as well.  I love when the Lord brings back special memories like these.

What memories come flooding back into your mind around this time of year?



Internet, have I mentioned how blessed I am to be on the leadership team for our youth group?

No, but seriously.  I love talking about ministry with these people.  We all have different views and opinions and I love discussing them during our time together.

We had a meeting last weekend and I have been so blessed by the discussion.  Earlier last week Rob emailed the leadership team asking us to listen to a Podcast of Al Mohler talking with Kenda Creasy Dean, author of "Almost Christian".

It is about 45-50 minutes long but totally worth it!  Here is my summary and the things that stuck out the most to me:

It sounds like the book 'Almost Christian' is talking a lot about the disease of living the 'christian-ish' life.  Especially my generation - we have been plagued with the temptation to assume that living a moral life {being sweet to people} is what it means to live the christian life.

Internet, there is so much more to living the christian life than being nice and keeping the peace among the people around you.  Living 'christian-ish' is not living the abiding life discussed in the bible.

Let me just throw out a few reminders here:

-Being intentionally sweet to others is a good thing.  It is NOT the spreading of the gospel, though.  We must stop assuming our sweetness is spreading the good news of Christ. {of which I'm certainly the biggest culprit}

-Living a life with good morals is a good thing.  However, it is NOT the spreading of the gospel.

OK - so where was I, oh yes- summarizing the podcast.... {stepping down from soap box}

There are so many good pieces to share... so here they are in kind of word vomit order:

-Live intentionally instead if Christian-ish

-"Discipleship is less about sharing all we know about Christ and more about sharing how to live a life of love for Christ."  I love the truth of this statement.  It is so easy to be intimidated or prideful about 'sharing all we know'... and we need to focus on sharing how to live a life of love for Christ. 

-"Kids learn best the things they love the most" 

-"Kids are more likely to recognize Christianity as being significant if we don't treat it as an an extra curricular activity... Not something that comes at the end of our week but something you organize your life around."

This one can sting a bit.  But it is so true! If students see us organizing our lives around the work of the gospel - they are more apt to see the importance of doing that themselves.  There is something else implied here.... how can one know how someone else is organizing their life if they aren't intentionally invested in one another's lives?  

So.... how do you let someone in... close enough to let them see how you organize your life? Be. intentional.

-"Parents have a much bigger impact on their kid's than they realize. Your faithfulness is much more powerful than you realize."

-"What you are [as a parent] is what you get [in a child]"

-Research used in the book 'Almost Christian' has shown students who continue to have faith from HS to young adulthood is hugely impacted by the religious devotion of their parents during their teenage years.  

-"Instead of focusing on having 1 leader per X number of students - focus on surrounding each student with 5 adults who love The Lord"  Bringing them into the church community... Showing them what it is like to live a life sold out for Christ.

-Moralistic therapeutic deism is the fancy term for this living a 'christian-ish' life that seems to come so naturally to our generation considering the culture we live in. {no excuse, though}  We are so concerned to offend those around us that we hang on to moralistic living and forget the urgency of the gospel.

This has been so good for my heart to stew on as I write this out.  I pray this will truly impact the way I live my life and the way I invest in our GSM students for the gospel. 


Sassy notes

What are some of your sassy moments from this week?



Here is an insta- update from the last few weeks!

                                        life rearranged

A friend of mine at work pointed out how a lot of my pictures are very similar to one another.... what is funny is - they totally are!  I mean I knew this.. but to me - it is more about documenting the memories from these moments... than what I'm actually capturing in the picture.  But it is funny especially with the photos below! #sorryaboutit

Laina and I were both sick but we couldn't miss this wedding to support such a beautiful couple getting married!  

Jen and I had a girls-only night... it was a much needed girls night!

I got to have coffee with the bestie a couple of weeks ago - so good for my soul.  God knew what He was doing, bringing her into my life.  

Apparently I really like coffee dates with my good friends..... #sorrynotsorry

Jen's birthday was last week and we're celebrating next weekend - stoked to spend an evening celebrating this girl!  This is one of my favorite pics of us from last winter.

We went to the Westport Flea Market for dinner and then Comedy City for some entertainment with the youth group last weekend.  We had a blast... definitely had some cry-laughs that night!

Craft night with these ladies.  Crafting brings us together.... but these evenings are way more than crafting.  I love getting to spend some intentional time building relationships with these ladies.

This is me preparing for the craft night.... food and supplies... truly all ya need!

I had my follow up CT scan and then had my appointment with my doctor to read the scan... so mom treated me to my superhero.... the Z-Man sandwich at Oklahoma Joe's BBQ! 

What are some of  your favorite things from this week?