Community: Serving the Church and Building Relationships

Dear Internet... If you haven't been around long... then let me clue you in... i. dont. public. speak.  I blog!  :) So when I was asked to speak at the ladies event we had a few weeks ago... I decided to basically write out a blog post.  It was the only way I could organize my thoughts.  The funny thing is.. I kept wanting to address you {internet} and add hashtags to add some sassiness to my post.  Then it hit... I have to SPEAK this.  {insert nervous tummy}  anyway... I basically practiced so much that I could have potentially recited my notes in my sleep.

Nonetheless... below is basically word for word what I said during the introduction of the evening.  I was asked to give an overview of the topic of community: serving the church and building relationships.  I will tell you that my first draft of notes were 6 pages long... I had to cut it in half to make my 20 minute slot... needless to say I have a LOT to say about this topic. 

So incase you missed it... here it is:


First of all I want to say that we are so excited that each of you are here for our 2nd annual spring ladies event.  The ladies that sit on this committee: myself, Michelle, Candace, Monica, Katharine, and of course the lovely Kandy… we love the planning process for this event. 

Potentially the sweetest part of the planning process is the brainstorming session.  It was my favorite part last year… and proved the same this year.  Basically, we sit in a room with a whiteboard and Monica’s notepad and Kandy starts asking us ‘What do the women of the church need?; What do we feel is lacking?;  What do we desire/need?’ and the whiteboard starts to fill with words and phrases that pour out from our hearts.

Some of the thoughts that were brainstormed during this year’s session were things like: more community (wide AND deep); support (living life together, being intentional with one another); intergenerational relationships; mentoring; building relationships; conflict management; barriers we set for ourselves in relationships (sticking to only those in same stage of life as us; fighting cultural and fleshly tendencies for independence-distancing ourselves from others); equipping and service. 

At our next meeting we started to see how so many of these things have to do with the other.  I love how the Lord works these details out… and the way He brings to light the common thread to each of us.   It is so beautiful.  As you know, the committee determined that the idea of community really encompasses everything we listed during our brainstorming session.  We realized that within this category we really listed two major themes (serving the church and building relationships) that really encompass most of the other items we listed.

I’ll spare you the details of the rest of the planning process, even though each step is just as sweet as the brainstorming session.  I’m not quite sure how it happened… but at some point during the planning process it was decided that I would give the introduction for this evening.  Let me just say… public speaking is not a strong quality of mine.  However, I believe the Lord stretches us outside of our comfort zone for a reason… so here I am… being stretched.  

But hey, at least I get to talk to you about community… which is something so beautiful to me.  I love community… it has been a huge part of my spiritual growth over the last 10 years.  More specifically about 5 years ago Launch {young adult ministry} was born.  I was a new-grad and newly wed who was eager to get plugged in and excited for the opportunity for this young adult bible study. 

I thought I had a perfect understanding on community and what godly community looked like, until about a year or so into Launch.  That’s when I really started to see community being formed in the sweetest possible way.   Let me tell you a little bit about this ministry – it is geared towards 18-29 year olds (and I’m not sure what will happen when I turn 30… Launch may become geared towards 30-40 year olds - watch for the announcement).  We meet on Thursday nights at 7 and have about an hour or so where we talk about life and share prayer requests and spend time in prayer for one another.  We spend another hour and ½ or so for the teaching/discussion section of the evening and then around 9-9:30 most of us go out to dinner where we spend another hour or more in fellowship – we are Baptists so food is a natural ingredient to our fellowship.  Sometimes we talk about the teaching from that night… sometimes we talk about life.  I believe this is a key to community… investing.   

Community TAKES TIME.  It is an investment.  If we met at church every Thursday night at 7 and left at 8:30 after the prayer and teaching time and went home… I’m sure there would still be an element of community.  BUT I can promise you that it would not be as sweet as the one that has been built and continues to build through Launch. 

Now… this isn’t a sales pitch for Launch… however, if you need a sales pitch – see me later because I have  A LOT more I could share about the goodness that is Launch.  But this evening is about community.  I couldn’t stand here this evening and talk about this subject without brining up Launch.  This ministry, the people, the teaching, the discussions, the meals we’ve shared, the questions we aren’t afraid to ask, to comments we aren’t afraid to say, the feelings we aren’t afraid to share… it has all shaped me and my spiritual growth so much over the last several years.  It has bled over to my other relationships and communities. 

So on Sunday nights we’ve been going through 2nd Timothy and it has been so beautiful to learn more and more about the relationship Paul and Timothy had with one another.   During one particular Sunday night sermon Pastor Bret talked specifically about their relationship… and about how we often times personalize with others through social events… we don’t struggle through sin together like Paul and Timothy did.  We talked about how much community we are missing out on when we instead hide our sin because we are embarrassed or ashamed so we just put on the ‘church face’ and go about our Sunday.  How much intimate community we are missing out on… it seriously hurts my heart.  At the end of the message, Pastor Bret asked us to consider the following:

Why don't we get personal?
     - We will get hurt... people won't meet expectations
     - By exposing our hearts to others... gives them ammo to use against us
     - We live in 'what ifs' of getting personal
     - Maybe we don't want others to know the details of our lives/hearts
     - Maybe this type of relationship was never modeled for me and so it has been avoided

Some additional questions to ponder internally:
Why are you afraid of letting someone that close?  
Are we scared of judgment from the other person?  
Will they really be as honest to me as I am to them?  
Are we embarrassed about what information/struggles/weaknesses they might find out about us?
Are we afraid of the time it will require?  The investment? 
What is it that keeps you from letting others in… in deep?

I’m sure some of you are sitting there thinking, ‘Raylene, you don’t understand… my situation is different...’ or ‘I’m an introvert…’  I know all of the excuses… I wrote most of them.  But that is what they are… EXCUSES.  Every community has individuals in so many different situations in life, and different personalities.  The communities I’m a part of have more introverts than extroverts – if you can believe that!  I’m out numbered.  But it is probably good b/c I can talk a-lot! J It is beautiful how we balance each other out. I’m excited to hear from Kandy in a little bit about this subject.

Tonight we are also going to have a panel of ladies that are going to talk to us about serving the church.  These are ladies who serve in our body and do it well.  Some have been serving for years… some started serving the second they walked through the front doors the first time.  They are going to discuss service with us and I’m so excited to hear from these experts.

 There is something powerful about the relationships that are built around serving the church alongside another believer.  Scott and I have been serving in the youth ministry for about 4 years now and there are so many relationships we have been blessed with through serving in this manner… that other wise wouldn’t be there.  I think of the youth students… let me tell you- we have a great group of students.  They love the Lord and they love each other and I am truly blessed to get to watch them grow.   There is something so sweet about getting to have students that are kids of the youth leaders that lead when I was in youth here at SummitWoods.  I also think of the other leaders… Scott and I serve with Chad and Tracey, Heather and Glenn and Tommie Anne.. Scott and I have learned so much from each of them.  If we weren’t serving together in the youth ministry… we would have no reason to get to know them… and the perspective, the wisdom, the godliness that we cherish in each of them … I can’t imagine not having that.  I know that serving in the youth group is different than some other serving opportunities within the church… but is it really that much different in terms of the opportunity to build community?  I really don’t think so..

Similarly…within the committee for this event, we all represent different stages of life, and that makes this group of ladies so dear to my heart.  I’m so thankful for each of them and the relationships I’m getting to build through planning these events with them.  Otherwise I potentially wouldn’t have a relationship with them.  Our paths would not naturally cross.  I hope you realize how important being intentional is… to serving the church and building lasting relationships. 

I am so looking forward to this evening… this is a topic that is dear to my heart and I couldn’t be more excited to hear from Kandy and the ladies on the ‘service’ panel.  Let me pray for us as we get started this evening…


I have so many notes from the evening that I could share... it was a blast and I was so encouraged and challenged through the conversation with the panel and the discussion Kandy had with us.  It was so beautiful!!

Just a little side-note: I will be forced to take a little break because the time has come for Vinnie's eviction... next week is the day.  So I'll have to take another little absence - but don't give up on me.  I'll be back... with a pretty sweet scar too! :)


Meatball experiment...

Hey Internet... sorry I haven't been here for a bit... but my BROTHER GOT MARRIED!!! Be excited about the posts to come... but until then... here is a yummy one:

Let me just admit right up front, internet.... this was semi-homemade without the 'homemade'... more like 'ultra-dump-n-serve'.  Regardless, it was perfect for our annual christmas party!

BBQ Meatballs!

What you need:

2 bags of homestyle frozen meatballs {unless you're fancy and make your own}
1 1/2 bottles of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce {I'm a KC girl... so I know my BBQ - this is good stuff}
1 crockpot liner

1. Line the crockpot with the liner.  Be sure to tuck in the edges if you are able - this ensures no gunk gets under the liner.

2. Literally dump the meatballs in and squirt the BBQ sauce and stir every once in a while.  I put it on low for 6 hours and medium for an hour and they were yummy!

I got this idea from pinterest-- but apparently I didn't pin it because I can't find the pin anymore. 

What is your favorite christmas party dish to make?


Libester Award!

Hey internet... I recieved my first ever blog award!

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of my readers, and my mom and dad for loving me, and my husband for putting up with my annoying love for taking pictures and documenting our life...

BUT really.... I am so honored to have been nominated by the sweet Kelly Jo over at The Dr. and The Mrs.  If you haven't visited her blog before - you totally should!  She is a brand new momma and I love reading about her life adventures.

Anyway, the Liebster Award is for bloggers with less than 200 followers.  Liebster is a German word meaning dearest. The award is given to up-and-coming bloggers who deserve recognition and support to keep on blogging.

Here are the "rules":
1. List 11 facts about yourself
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you
3. Create 11 new questions for the bloggers you nominate for the award.
4. Choose 5 bloggers with 200 or less followers to nominate.
5. Go to each blogger's page and let them know about the award.
6. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog!

11 facts about me:

1. I'm in love with this guy

2. This Z-MAN sandwich is probably my favorite BBQ thing to eat - EVER

3. My hair is my favorite feature

4. Coffee dates are potentially some of my favorite things
     4a. Vanilla Chai is a way to my heart

     4b. This is one of my favorite coffee date spots... #WhistleStop #DowntownLS

5. Took a painting class last summer... and I secretly loved every second of it... and can't wait to do it again!

6. I have the best brother a girl could ever ask for...

7. I have a really unique... loud laugh... #sorrynotsorry

8. Before I started dating Scott... I was NOT a cat person... now I can't imagine these two furry babies not being a part of our family!

9.  Cards are my love language... the way to my heart

10. SOFT iced sugar cookies are my weakness

11. I seriously love snow... LOVE it.

Whew... that was tough!  Now onto answering the questions Kelly Jo had for me.

Her Questions for me:
1. What is your favorite article of clothing?

I'm thinking that I really REALLY like scarves...

2. If you could own any exotic animal what would it be?


3. What is your favorite book?

Wow... this is really hard - currently Crazy Love by Francis Chan is still rocking my world even a year later

4. What is your dream vacation?

A mixture of Hawaii and skiing at Copper Mt. in Colorado

5. What are some of your pet peeves?

People that don't know how to drive... by far my biggest!  
People texting while driving... the funny part is that I can always tell when someone around me is texting and driving b/c of how similar they look to a drunk driver on the road... #DontGetMeStarted

6. What was your favorite movie growing up?

Aladin, The Wedding Planner, and Sleepless in Seattle

7. What is your favorite recipe to cook?

Fajitas... funny it is my favorite one to eat too :)

8. If you could hang out with one celebrity for a day, who would it be?

The Pioneer Woman - I think we'd be friends in real life.  She is sassy and sweet - oh and I'd beg her to teach me everything she knows about cooking that day.

9. What is one of your family traditions?

Christmas tree forrest AND Christmas Eve service... 2 of my favorites!!

10. What is your favorite season and why?

Fall!  It used to be because my birthday is in the fall... and when I was little I thought the leaves changed colors JUST for my birthday.  I love everything about how the air smells, how the wood burns in the camp fire, the way the leaves sound in the wind.... and lets face it... the way my hair loves the perfect climate during fall

11. Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Hmmm... I hope to be a God-honoring momma... and I hope to be serving where the Lord desires me to serve... I plan to fall even deeper in love with my handsome hubby too ... 

Ok... so I tag the following bloggers:

2. Jamie @ The Franzy Bunch
4. Candace @ Candace's Calling
5. Stacey @ Hope Handmade 

If you haven't visited their blogs- you totally should! These are some very talented ladies!!

My questions for these lovely bloggers to answer:

1. If you had a mission statement for your blog... what would it be?
2. What is your favorite feature about yourself?
3. If you could live in any decade... which would you live in and why?
4. What are your top 5 favorite things about your spouse?  If you're single... what are the top 5 qualities you are looking for in a future spouse?
5. If you could spend the day with a celebrity... who would it be and why?
6. Favorite disney movie?
7. What is your favorite hobby?
8. If you were given the chance... what 1 piece of advice would you give yourself at age 16?
9. What is your favorite thing about your christian community?
10. What is your favorite quote?
11. What is your biggest weakness and how do you embrace/deal with it?