worship preview

I really should have mentioned this earlier BUT, my husband is no longer the youth pastor at SouthCrest Church. This spring, Caleb had the opportunity to be the interim worship leader for our church, and sometime in there he was offered and accepted the position as worship leader for SouthCrest. Can I just say, as much as I loved being the youth pastor’s wife, I absolutely adore being the worship leader’s wife. No, my blog name probably won’t change, and I probably should make this post a little more informational than I’m going to, but I needed to get that off my chest :) I’m still super involved with the youth group and I love my sweet girls more than ever. I will never sing in the choir or on stage (I’m about as musically ungifted as they come), but it has been an absolute joy to watch my husband grow into exactly who God has called him to be. My man is amazing and I couldn’t be more proud of him. So, whenever I can, I’ll be sharing the link to Caleb’s blog. He posts weekly and shares a new or semi-new song that we’ll be singing the upcoming Sunday. Whether you go to our church or not, I encourage you to enjoy “Like a Lion” with us!

Check out Caleb’s blog!

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one year ago today

Last night, I had the realization that this weekend was our one year anniversary of our vacation in 2010, so in honor of our beloved vacation, here’s a little reminiscing for you… One year ago today, Caleb and I were making our way to the beach for a much-needed little vacation. We headed out to the Hilton Sandestin Resort and it was an incredible little getaway. It was one of those vacations where each day felt like forever and even though we didn’t want to come back, we were ok with packing our bags on Saturday night and prepping ourselves for the trip home on Sunday because we were so rested from the trip. So, that Saturday night we hit the hay for one more night of restful, dreamy sleep.

And then the fire alarm went off.

Now, if you lived in Caleb’s dorm in college, then fire alarms don’t really affect you like they do everyone else. People were always burning things, always pulling the alarm “on accident,” and overall it just wasn’t ever a big deal. So, when the alarm went off, we just looked at each other like, “Hey, should we do something?” But then the alarm went off. Ok, alright. False alarm. Let’s just go back to sleep.

And then the fire alarm went off. Again.

“Um, do you think we should call the front desk?” “Well, obviously they know the fire alarm is going off.” “But for real, I think we should call. They would know if there was a real emergency.” And then the alarm stopped again. Ok, so something’s just wrong with the alarm. No biggie at this point. Humph, silly teenagers, stop pulling the alarm.

(Are you ready for it yet?)

And then the alarm went off. aaagain. For real?

Before we could even get irritated, we hear screams from the room next door and someone shouts the word that every hotel guest wants to hear at 12:30 in the morning… “FIIIIIRRRRREEEEEEEE!!!!”

Holy. Cow.

We jumped out of bed, I thought I put real clothes on but later realized I missed a few things (oops), we grabbed our wedding rings, my purse, the car keys, and started flying down the stairs like every other guest at the hotel. Naturally, we were on the 6th floor of a 7 story building. Naturally.

Once we got outside, we saw fire trucks but no fire, at least until someone shouted “FIRE!” and we looked up onto the roof of our building and saw smoke and flames. Eventually we got wind that the fire wasn’t actually in the building, but behind the building. When we walked around our hotel, closer to the ocean, this is what we saw:

(sorry for all the blurry pictures, they were taken with my camera phone)

For real, the outside restaurant was on fire.

Flash forward five hours later, we were allowed back into our rooms. For some crazy reason, my sweet hubby decided to go to sleep. Me? I was smart enough to stay up, just in case I needed to jump over our balcony and help the firefighters in case there was a sudden outburst of flame. But seriously, who (other than my husband) goes to sleep while there’s a fire like that outside your hotel bedroom? Ok, they had calmed it down a bit, but still.

The morning before the fire, this was our pretty view:
And here’s what we had the next morning:

Crazy, huh? And the one lesson we walked away with? Our things don’t matter. When we were pressed for time and in an emergency to grab only the things that we needed, we grabbed our IDs, keys so we could drive home, our wedding rings, and each other.

To be perfectly honest with you, today I’ve been in a “mood.” Not necessarily a bad mood, but a “blahhh” mood. I think it’s no coincidence that our vacation anniversary fell on today, because the Lord knew I needed to be reminded of what’s important in life.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:4-6

 

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Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Ravioli Carbonara with Salad, Crusty French Bread, & Apple Pie

Tuesday: 7-Layer Burgers with Baked Fries & Fresh Fruit

Wednesday: leftovers :)

Thursday: Philly Mac & Cheese with Salad

Friday: Date Night :)

We’ve started hosting dinners on Monday nights and I love that the Carbonara that I’m making can easily double (or triple, if you’re feeling crazy) to feed a small army. It’s a fantastic recipe from my Southern Living Quick & Easy Cookbook. The recipe calls for tortellini, but I’ve found a spinach ravioli that I love to substitute instead. The other recipes were from Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Cookbook, but I found versions of the recipes online for you :) For the burgers, the original recipe calls for sliders but my man likes to eat, so I’m making big burgers instead.

Happy Eating! :)

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practicing hospitality

In my quiet time, I was reading something that pulled at my heart so greatly that I felt like I just had to share it with you tonight. Like, tonight. Not tomorrow. But tonight. And I really want to lay down and watch Pride and Prejudice again, but this is too important. So hang with me for just a few moments…

In Romans 12, verses 12 and 13, one of the paragraphs end by saying, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

I almost feel as if Paul, the writer of these verses, was waiting for the right time to finish a paragraph with those last two words…

Practice hospitality.

Honestly, dear friend, it gave me something to think on. For me, I love the idea of hospitality. Just last night, after visiting with a family that had just had a new baby, I told Caleb that the new mama was absolutely perfect. She welcomed us into her home, made us feel so very comfortable, and then she SHOWED me her house. Can I get an amen? When we left, I told Caleb that the “showing off of the home” was sadly becoming something that a southern woman just doesn’t do anymore. For the love, I don’t know why I like it so much, but just show me your house. For real.

Wow. That got off topic real quick.

BUT, here’s the thing. Her home didn’t have to be perfect for me to have loved it. She even had baby toys chilling out around her home, her three year old daughter spilled milk all over the place while we were there, and the parents just went with it. Because that’s life. And that’s true hospitality.

Here’s what my bible commentary said on the verse:

“Christian hospitality differs from social entertaining. Entertaining focuses on the host – the home must be spotless; the food must be well prepared and abundant; the host must appear relaxed and good-natured. Hospitality, by contrast, focuses on the guests. Their needs – whether for a place to stay, nourishing food, a listening ear, or acceptance – are the primary concern. Hospitality can happen in a messy home. It can happen around a dinner table where the main dish is canned soup. It can even happen while the host and the guest are doing chores together. Don’t hesitate to offer hospitality just because you are too tired, too busy, or not wealthy enough to entertain.”

Friends, here’s my heart: One of the real reasons that I haven’t “blogged” in so long is because I’m afraid that myself, as well as so many of you, have gotten caught up in the wrong ideas of hospitality. As great as all of these beautiful home blogs, websites for crafty DIY projects, and Pinterest may be, I’m afraid that they create an unhealthy approach to life and hospitality. My house will NEVER look like the the home from Young House Love. My recipes will NEVER look (or probably taste) like Ree’s from Pioneer Woman. And I truly don’t see a point in “pinning” something that sets a totally unrealistic expectation of where the Lord has you financially.

Now, I’m not saying that those things are bad. Trust me, I read blogs and I enjoy “pinning” just like some of you (and if you don’t know what I mean, don’t worry about it… it’s an addicting little obsession that you’re better off without). My fear, sweet reader, is that we’ve gotten so caught up in keeping up with the Joneses that when we finally turn our computers off, we look around and are completely dissatisfied with the life, the home, and the “things” that the Lord has already blessed us with.

Let’s try what Paul encourages us to do and simply “practice hospitality” – a hospitality that is rooted in people, rather than ourselves. A hospitality that conveys that we aren’t here to impress and show off, but rather to love and encourage. A hospitality that leaves us just as fulfilled as our guests, which can only be a hospitality that happens when glorifying Christ is at the center our intentions.

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psalm 34

1 I will extol the LORD at all times; 
   his praise will always be on my lips. 
2 I will glory in the LORD; 
   let the afflicted hear and rejoice. 
3 Glorify the LORD with me; 
   let us exalt his name together.

 4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me; 
   he delivered me from all my fears. 
5 Those who look to him are radiant; 
   their faces are never covered with shame. 
6 This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; 
   he saved him out of all his troubles. 
7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, 
   and he delivers them.

 8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; 
   blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. 
9 Fear the LORD, you his holy people, 
   for those who fear him lack nothing. 
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry, 
   but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. 
11 Come, my children, listen to me; 
   I will teach you the fear of the LORD. 
12 Whoever of you loves life 
   and desires to see many good days, 
13 keep your tongue from evil 
   and your lips from telling lies. 
14 Turn from evil and do good; 
   seek peace and pursue it.

 15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, 
   and his ears are attentive to their cry; 
16 but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil, 
   to blot out their name from the earth.

 17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; 
   he delivers them from all their troubles. 
18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted 
   and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

 19 The righteous person may have many troubles, 
   but the LORD delivers him from them all; 
20 he protects all his bones, 
   not one of them will be broken.

 21 Evil will slay the wicked; 
   the foes of the righteous will be condemned. 
22 The LORD will rescue his servants; 
   no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

I don’t know about you, but I sure do love that the Lord calls me radiant. What beautiful words from a magnificent God.

~lauren

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sick & happy

Well, here we are again :) I don’t know about you, but sometimes when life gets overwhelming I tend to grab my favorite blanket & go hide in a corner. No? No one else does that? Yeeeeah, I don’t either :) But, sometimes I believe God tends to quiet us when our lives can’t keep up with the pace that we’ve set for ourselves. So, today I’m considering myself officially “quietened”. Between the hubby and I, our house has been “sick” for the last week. Thankfully, it’s the kind of sick that allows you to keep all mental awareness, you just have to take the occasional three hour nap. Now really, who wouldn’t want that? Since I’ve had a bit more free time, I’ve had the opportunity to look through some magazines that had been piling up (unfortunately, they were from March and April, so I doubt planting a garden is really relevant at this point), I brought out my fall decorations to prep for my “decorating due date” of October 1st, and I’ve watched Pride & Prejudice. Twice. And if it suites my fancy (and it probably will), I believe I’ll watch it again today :) I’ve also had the opportunity to dig more into the Lord’s word, which made me realize how much I had been rushing and/or not doing my quiet times like I should.  So, if you’ve ever heard of the phrase “sick & tired”, I’m tweaking it a bit for my own liking and I am now referring to myself and my certain predicament as “sick & happy”. For me, I’m definitely not overjoyed about being sick, but hey, it’s where I am right now. And while I could be really miserable about it, I figured that I should take this opportunity that God has given me and use it to refresh myself. So, thank you Lord, because I definitely needed this :)

Sometimes it’s just good to have a fresh perspective on the same old stuff. If you’re stuck in a rut, like we all can be at times, I love how this simple little sign (compliments of Pinterest) really sums it up.

(Picture found here)

Praying that you find happiness in your routine and joy in the Lord today!

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It is Well

Hello world :) It’s been a whirlwind past few months. As many of you already know, the most amazing and Godly man in the world, my sweet stepdaddy, past away on February 16th. To be perfectly honest with you, I’m still not really sure if I know how to deal with such a loss, even after a month and a half have passed. In fact, I’m not sure if anyone ever figures out how to deal with loss. Instead, the Lord slowly and surely continues to heal broken hearts, allowing those hearts to bring glory and praise to Him through our times of trial. If there’s one thing I’ve realized, it’s that God will use whatever means necessary to bring himself praise. He takes us to a state of brokenness, for through our brokenness we come to fall on our knees in front of our Lord. Being broken, especially for the rest of the world to see, isn’t usually easy. Tom was broken each and every day of his life for the past eight years, and each new day brought earthly struggles but Godly strength.

This amazing man brought every person he knew into direct contact with the Lord. He was the first person that ever made my family pray before a meal. In. Public. (Gasp!)  As a 14 year old, I was mortified. Not because I didn’t believe in prayer or in praying to Jesus, but because public prayer wasn’t cool, right? Pretty soon though, Tom was teaching my entire family what a true Christian life was supposed to look like, before he even realized that he had a disease that would take his Christian walk and completely transform it into the most beautiful Christ-centered life ever lived.

Once Tom’s disease began to progress, Tom also began to change. Instead of casual conversation, his speech was very limited so he always got down to business :) When I would walk in to see him, his first questions would always be about me: how have I been doing, how’s caleb, how’s my job… usually in that order. He could barely speak but he asked as many questions as he could, always trying to get the details on my life and learning how he could pray for me. For the last five months of his life, he asked me those same questions over and over and over again, all while he lay in a hospital bed in the den of my parents home. Always the same big smile, always the same laugh, and always asking how he could pray for me.

My stepdad lived his life devoted to serving Christ, whether it was through his actions or his attitude. Each morning he woke up with coffee, his bible, and his devotional books. And he had a prayer list for all of those he was praying for. Chances are, if you knew him, he was praying for you.

And he loved my mom so much. Michigan Football came in as a close second. He made the best steaks, which helped to fuel his “buddha belly”, and he loved him some Beyonce, or Bo’nese, as he’d first referred to her.

Of course, he spoiled me rotten. He tried to win me over by having a date night together when I was in 8th grade. It worked. We watched N’SYNC Live from Madison Square Garden at his house and he didn’t judge me as I screamed, jumped up and down, and danced in the middle of his empty living room floor as Justin Timberlake sang Digital Get Down. He introduced me to the most magical food in the entire world: Russell Stovers Marshmallow Eggs. He bought me a ring to wear while I was on Homecoming court my senior year of high school, just so he could be on the field with me. When I had mono, he let me cry on him after getting the biggest shot of my life. He bought my formal dress junior year of college just because I promised that it was the most amazing dress ever and that it would make me the happiest girl in the world. He told me that my wedding would be the best day of my life, that he would make sure of it. And he taught me the true meaning of unconditional love. That man loved me so incredibly much, and I always knew it.

And now, Heaven gets to experience his laugh, his walk, and his joy.

It is so hard to let go, but I can say with all assurance that it is well with my soul. Although there may be many things in life that I don’t understand, I can’t blame God for wanting to bring Tom home. If I were God, I would have wanted him too.

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