Wednesday, December 19, 2012

26 Things {12/19/12}

My hubs...He's 26 today.







 






 And here's 26 reasons why I love and am thankful for him...
 
1. He loves sports and wants me to watch games with him.

2. He followed me to Starkville, and he cheers for the Bulldawgs.

3. He has an entrepreneurial spirit.

4. He tells me he loves me at least twice a day.

5. He makes me laugh.

6. He forgives quickly.

7. He takes care of our yard.

8. He takes care of our cars himself (oil changes and anything else they need.)

9. He is wise with finances, but knows we can't take it with us when we go.

10. He helps clean our house.

11. He helps me grade papers.

12. He loves me unconditionally.

13. He sends me funny texts. And sweet ones, too.

14. He reminds me to chill out and that "every little thing is gonna be alright."

15. He never gossips or says anything negative about anyone.

16. He is not easily angered.

17. He plays with Reggie (our puppy child.)

18. He is an awesome uncle to Taylor and Lane.

19. His big brown eyes. (Really, just his handsomeness all around.)

20. He loves music and concerts.

21. He tolerates my love of antiques even though they aren't his style.

22. He works hard.

23. He works out.

24. He is supportive of my dreams.

25. He likes putting Christmas lights on our house.

26. He can figure anything out.

Happy Birthday, baby! I love you. A lot. A lot.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

a lesson in farming {sowing & reaping}

When I have my "quiet time" with the Lord, I usually don't just let my Bible plop open and then read whatever random passage my eyes land on. However, for whatever reason, this morning I did, and I don't think it was "random" at all. I read Hosea chapter 10, and verse 12 really grabbed by attention... 

"Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that He may come and rain righteousness upon you."
{Hosea 10:12}

(And just for the record, I had to look up the word "fallow." Maybe you are wondering, too? It means "dead," "dormant," "inactive." Ouch! Sadly, my heart can totally relate to that description more often than I'd like.)

Then, I found a couple of index cards that had been tucked into the pages of Galatians with the reference Galatians 6:7-9. And guess what those verses had to say...  

"Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."
{Galatians 5:7-9}
 
Hosea was not so random, huh?
 
(Side-note: I just love seeing how God weaves the same story and principles all through His Word.)
 
These verses from Galatians were given to me weeks ago--with the intention of committing them to memory-- in the Chronological Bible Study I am a part of each Thursday afternoon.
 
So God blew the airhorn loud and clear to me this morning: 
 
Wake-Up-Call #1: Rachael, what is more important than saturating you mind and heart with God's truth? Quit being lazy! Start memorizing scripture!
 
Growing up, I participated in "Bible Drill" through my chuch. Though some may think the logistics of it (standing up in front of people, having a certain amount of time to look up or remember a verse, etc) are a bit ridiculous, I can't even express how thankful I am for those 9 years of participation--to this day, God often recalls to my mind verses and passages  that we memorized. I am getting teary as I type this...realizing how amazing it is that He has given us His very Word...how we have total access to all the power, comfort, truth, encouragement, conviction, guidance, peace, and love we could ever need or want, yet I often wander aimlessly, short-sightedly, defeatedly, sickening-selfishly through my days...all because I haven't trained myself to live with His Word at the forefront of my heart and mind. 
 
Storing up His Word in my heart is the remedy for that meaningless existence. Because whatever is stored up in my heart, can't help but spill out.
 
For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.
Luke 6:45         
 
I came across this video probably over a year ago; it is a powerful motivation to memorize scripture. Definitely worth the 3:52 of your time. 
 
 
 
Wake-Up-Call #2:Rachael, are you sowing for eternity? Quit being distracted by the temporary! Get far-sighted. Less you, more Him. Less you, more others.
 
The Bible is clear. It is not a confusing concept. What I sow, I will reap. I need Him to empty me of me daily. I need Him to "fix my eyes" daily. Nothing else matters. Nothing else truly satisfies.
 
Thankful for His convicting grace.   

Friday, July 6, 2012

getting ready to welcome our first nephew!

Paul's sister, Kelly, is about ready to pop with their second kiddo! She is due August first, and we can't wait to meet our first nephew, Lane Allen! We love Taylor to pieces, and I know we will be just crazy about Lane, too!

This past Saturday, one of Kelly's best friends and I hosted a baby shower brunch to help her prepare for their first little BOY. It was lots of fun, and she got lots of sweet things. Lane is already very loved! I didn't get many pictures with my camera because Kelly wanted pics on her camera, but below are a few I managed to snag with mine.

{a little cardstock + scrapbook paper + glue = some pretty cute (if I do say so myself) homemade invitations!} 
{I found this little feet stamp at Hobby Lobby and thought it was a sweet embellishment}
{I decoupaged some chipboard letters with scrapbook paper, used a staple gun to attach them to some burlap ribbon, and then added a couple of bows for a little monogram decoration on the mantle.}

{lots of present-love for baby Lane}

{the food table...and see the tray in the bottom left corner? It's blueberry lemon bundt cake..a few people asked for the recipe, so read on if you want to try it out yourself! :)

 {I love sunflowers; they're so cheery!}

{with the glowing Mama!}

{blueberry lemon bundt cake. original recipe here}

Here's how I made it:

Ingredients:
1 box white cake mix PLUS whatever ingredients the cake mix calls for
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup water
zest and juice of one lemon
Directions:
1) Preheat oven to temperature according to boxed mix for a bundt pan.
2) Liberally grease your bundt pan. 
3) Add blueberries and water to a small saucepan to simmer for 5 mins, then allow to cool.
4) Mix all cake mix ingredients according to directions, folding in the cup of yogurt, lemon juice and zest.
5) Puree blueberries using a hand blender or food processor/stand blender.
6) Pour batter into bundt pan.
7) Pour puree into cake batter and use a butter knife to swirl or ribbon the puree through the batter...do NOT stir.
8) Bake according to the box instructions (may take a little longer because of the additions).
9) Allow to cool before inverting and removing.
10) Dust with powdered sugar and garnish with fresh blueberries rolled in white sugar and a lemon slice twist.

*Unfortunately, my cake "fell" not long after I took it out of the oven. Not sure what caused that. The consistency, probably due to it falling and the fact that it has yogurt in it, was more like a pound cake. It was super moist, and I thought had a great flavor. I ate some of the leftover cake for breakfast. :) Let me know how it turns out for you if you try it!

Now hurry up and get here, baby Lane! Ra-Ra (that's what Taylor calls me) is ready to squeeze your sweet little cheeks!

{graduations} Oh, Happy Day!

This May was full of graduations for us!

- My brother graduated from Mississippi State University with a B.S. in Agricultural Science and a minor in Ag. Business. And he already has his first "big boy job"! I am so proud of him! (no pics because he didn't want to "walk"--he's cool like that.)

- After a long two years Paul finished his B.S. in Technology Leadership. He completed it through Fort Hays State University which is in Kansas. (I was totally willing to make the drive, but he didn't want to walk either...I guess he's a cool kid, too.) It was definitely a trying--to say the very least--two years because Paul hates school more than just about everything. But I'm really glad we stuck it out! May 12th (his technical graduation date) was a really big day of relief and thankfulness! 


 
- I finished my Master of Arts in Education through Union University. Though it was challenging, particularly in the second year of the program, working full time and going to school, overall I really enjoyed the program and learned tons! Since my bachelor's was in English and not in education, I knew the content I would be teaching very well, but I really had a lot to learn about the how of learning and teaching. Looking back on this and this it's strange to think I'm now on the other side of that journey; two years seems both so long and so short at the same time. Time is funny like that, isn't it? Of course, I'm a nerd and wanted to walk, so my sweet family humored me and came to watch--enduring a hot and long ceremony! Felt so good to cap off those years of hard work!

{The clock tower at Union waiting on graduation to start.}

{Paul trying not to fry in the super hot sun!}
{May 19th...a really good day!} 

{love him}

{my sweet Mother-in-Law came...
she was so supportive and encouraging the whole time we were in school}

{Mama and siblings, Steven and Caroline...always by my side!}

{getting a hug from my baby sis. love her!}

{sisters}

{my little-big brother}
My dad, littlest sister Mattie, and Grandmama also came to graduation but had to leave as soon as I walked because my Grandmama's back was hurting. Really hate I didn't get a pic with them, but so grateful for their presence that night!

Definitely so glad we have school knocked out. Better now than to wish 5 or 10 years--and a possibly a few kids--from now that we had done it. I canNOT imagine how challenging doing school and having kiddos is--my hat's off to all those people that have done and are doing that!

God was so faithful to see us through the hard days, long nights, and frustrating moments. Though there were definitely times when we tried to do things the hard way--in our own strength--and I'm so glad he never leaves us or forsakes. This time with both of us in school was a continual spiritual lesson in which God was teaching us: He is always right there, ready to be our strength if we just surrender! I hope that is some encouragement for you if you are juggling the work/school thing or whatever else you may be feeling inadequate to face! 

a beautiful place + some R & R

So tonight instead of celebrating my beautiful, exuberant, soon-to-be-bride cousin Laura at her bachelorette/lingerie bash, I am home half-doped-up on cough medicine and doing saline "sniffs" as my doc prescribed this morning. Blah! I've had some kind of "viral" cold for two weeks now and can't seem to shake it. I've migrated through very sore throat, extreme hoarseness (Paul lovingly informed me I sounded like a 50 year old smoker), ridiculous coughing fits, fatigue, and now major chest and head/nose congestion. I am so bummed to miss out on this fun night with Laura! But I just wasn't up to driving the four hours to Jackson and definitely didn't want to risk infecting anybody else. Okay, I'll stop whining now. :) 

So since I'm home alone being BFF's with the couch and my kleenexes, (Paul had already made plans thinking I would be out of town) I decided to catch up on blogging some happenings from the last couple months.

So now my post title makes a bit more sense: As soon as I was done teaching school on May 25 (we didn't waste any time and left that night!), we hit the road to Hilton Head, South Carolina. My mom's cousin graciously let us stay in her beautiful "Sea Loft", and we just had the best time! Neither Paul or I had ever been to Hilton Head or even any part of the east coast, so we thoroughly enjoyed seeing new landscape and exploring such a gorgeous place. The island is developed but in such a way that preserved the integrity of the natural landscape. It was so refreshing not to be bombarded with billboards and other overt aspects of a commercialized "touristy" place.

We had no schedule (I LOVE that about a vacation!) and did lots resting, eating, beaching, biking, live music listening, wildlife admiring, reading, and just enjoying being together. This was a MUCH needed break for us as we had both been under lots of pressure in trying to finish our degrees. It was such a relief to be able to enjoy each other's company without having school assignments looming over our heads! (I've said it a million times, but I'll say it again: I am SO thankful to be DONE.)

We took lots of pics on the trip, but here are a few of my favorites...        


{stunning view out to the ocean}

{gorgeous sunset...I have lots of pics of ones throughout the week...
could.not.get.enough.of.this.beauty.}

{the bedroom in our lovely condo}

{taking a walk}

{pausing our game of mini golf for a quick pic! Oh, and I have to mention: I got a hole-in-one!}

{riding bikes...there are bike trails all over the island. so fun!}

{a little blurry...I'm not a master with the self-timer}

{overlooking the Harbourtown Marina}

{reading + the beach + my State chair = bliss} 

{Atlantic waves}

{the famous Harbourtown Lighthouse...lots of neat history}

{alligator! We saw several of these, one of which was just sun bathing on the bank of a pond very close to a house!} 

{Ol' Glory from the top of the Lighthouse}
{Our "Sea Loft" behind me and getting ready to bike to dinner!}

I'm super excited because I get to go back to this lovely place next week! My mom, sister, aunt, and I are taking a little girls trip and meeting our cousin Wanda, who owns the house, there. We have never taken a just a girls trip before, and we are all very much looking forward to it. Can't wait to spend some quality time with these special ladies! 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Belle & Books

Beauty and the Beast is probably my all-time favorite Disney flick. I practically swoon every time I watch the opening scene where she enters the bookshop and flies around the the ladder searching for the next story to captivate her and then strolls through town with her nose stuck in the book. I want to be Belle. Just in case you want to see it for yourself...


So now that I've thouroughly nerdified myself, I'll get on with the meat of this post, assuming anyone is still reading. :)

One of the things I was most looking forward to when school (both teaching and finishing my Masters) was over was having time to read stuff I actually wanted to read! As exciting as journal articles for my capstone and textbooks on educational theory are, I was dying to read some stuff that has been on my must-read list for ages.

So here's what I've read so far this summer:  

The Hunger Games & Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins: I devoured the first two books in the The Hunger Games Trilogy and am waiting on third to come available at the library. I know I'm a little late on this bandwagon (I usually am a bit tardy to the party), but I'd heard all the hype (especially from my kids all school year, I was asked with great enthusiasm a jillion times, "Mrs. Burnett, have you read The Hunger Games yet?" "Oh, you've got to read it!" (as a side note, I was just totally pumped that so many kids were reading, and moreover were excited to read at that! Did this ol' English teacher's heart good!)) and I will say the books did not disappoint! I'm a fan. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I have my misgivings...I'm one of those annoying "the book was sooo much better than the movie" people. 

Life of Pi by Yann Martel: Well, I don't know that I can say I read this because I didn't technically read all of it. I read all of it I could stand: 227 of its excruciatingly boring and theologically whack-o 319 pages. And I made myself push that far through it (I have this annoying, compulsive urge that if I start a book then I have finish it, regardless of whether it is making me wish I was watching paint dry instead of burying my head in its pages.) But as I said, I only made it about 2/3 of the way through this, the first book I ever remember not finishing. While it sounds exciting enough--a boy survives a shipwreck and finds himself on a life boat with, among other beasts, a Bengal tiger--I do not reccomend it. Satiate your need for action/adventure/survival stories elsewhere.   

The Help by Kathryn Stockett: Of course, I'm late to the party here, too. But I am so glad I resisted the urge to see the movie when it was all anyone was talking about because it definitely did not measure up to the book! Stockett did such an amazing job developing the characters and the dynamics between them. I was truly drawn into the story and emotionally invested in the lives of the characters (I warned you in paragraph one of this post I was the nerdy bookworm type, so I make no apologies for being "emotionally invested in the lives of the characters.") Being a proud Mississippi native, this book was at times hard to swallow and made me cringe at the history of my home state in regard to race relations and civil rights. But Stockett's writing made this familar, but sometimes forgotten, message resonate deeply: that we are all--regardless of race, socioeconomic status, gender--people, we all matter, and we should treat each other as such. 

Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis with Beth Clark: the absolutely incredible--and I mean for that to carry the full weight of both of those words--story of a young woman from Brentwood, TN who took and is taking God at His Word, living out the Gospel in Uganda. I read the whole book in one day, but it's not one of those stories you just read and forget about. It's a powerful reminder of who God is, what he asks of those of us who claim His name, and how every.single.life.matters. Muster up some courage to drink in Katie's example of what full obedience, service, and dependence on Jesus looks like. It's not that we all have to pack up and move to Uganda to truly serve Jesus, but I know I've got some re-evaluating to do concerning my Americanized, comfortable, riskless Christianity.      

Up next...

finish The Reason for God by Tim Keller: I'm only a couple chapters in, and I already think everybody, believer or skeptic should read this book. Fascinating, and I would say, a near essential read for those who need to process through life's hard questions and/or want to encourage someone else who is both wondering and wandering.

and lots of reading for school (which will be starting back in just over a month! what?!)...

Brain Rules by John Medina: a school-wide read to support our goal for the 2012-2013 school year. I am actually excited to dive into this. I attended a brain-based-learning seminar last fall, and it truly is incredible how intricately designed our brains are and what makes them function and learn at optimal levels. God is such an amazing Creator!

And the three novels for my my first reading unit I'll be teaching when school starts: The Master Puppeteer, Beauty: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and Black Horses for the King.

So what have you been reading? Do tell! :)

{Oh, and one more thing: if you click on any of the titles I mentioned it will take you a site called Better World Books. I started buying from this site rather than amazon.com or the like because for every book purchased, Better World Books donates a book to someone in need and raises funds for literacy and libraries. Sometimes their prices are a tad higher than amazon.com BUT the fact that Better World Books offers FREE shipping worldwide usually compensates for that difference. *I'm no compensated spokesperson for BWB...I just love finding and shopping with companies who give back! Easy way to make my spending more purposeful!   

Saturday, June 9, 2012

75 cents worth of service

75 cents won't buy much these days, but look what it scored me yesterday at Walmart...


Granted they were 75 cents each, but all the other small and not nearly as cute and cheery-colored pots were $3+ each, so 5 pots for less than $4 made my day...it's really the small things, people! :)

These were just perfect for the little "happies" I had in mind as I attempt to live out Philippians 2:3-4. (If you read my last post I'm trying to serve at least 1 family member, 1 friend, and 1 stranger each week--a little plan to help me ditch the good intentions and actually get on with being less me-focused and more others-focused. 

So these pots plus some left over vinca plants (that I've had sitting lonely on the patio since I planted our front flower beds a month ago!), a little ribbon, and a note helped me get of my comfortable box, over my silly fear and go introduce myself to our neighbors. Yes, that's right, I said "introduce." We've lived in our house for three years (!) now, and I have yet to take time to meet, let alone get to know, anyone on our street except for our next door neighbors on our right. Shameful.Pathetic.Ridiculous.that my neighbors fall into this "stranger" category as I seek to serve people. I'm praying for courage, and to be honest, simply the desire to really reach out and care for those outside of my "normal" sphere.

After I play out several inane scenarios in my head, I convince myself of three things: my neighbor really can't be that scary, I can stand awkwardness for 5 minutes, and seriously, who would refuse a flower in a cute-even-if-it-was-only-75-cents-pot?

Time to dig in.    








I drag myself out the door feeling like I've got fifty pound weights on my ankles, and you know what? My-82-years-old-two-doors-down-neighbor was not at all scary, the awkwardness lasted less than a minute, and she happily accepted the card and little potted plant as she graciously invited me in to chat for a few minutes.

Yes, I know stopping by to say hi and deliver a plant seems simple and insignificant as far as "serving" someone goes, but I'm praying that this small step will just be the first step in developing a friendship with this lady, getting to know her, and being able to find more ways to serve and show her Christ's love.

Now I've got 4 plants left and more stranger-neighbors to visit...        

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

1+1+1

So I mentioned in my last post that I am trying to make the most of my summer. Since I teach and technically "don't have to work" (at least not my real, paying job) during the summer, and since this is the first summer since I graduated high school (can that really be SIX years ago?!) that I have not been in summer school and working, too, I have more time on my hands than I have had, well, since ever! Of course, like everyone does, I have a list a mile long of have-to's and want-to's to accomplish this summer, but God has been impressing upon my heart for months now the conviction that this summer--and indeed, my entire life--is not about me. This is not necessarily a new revelation, but my life has been so consumed by school for the past six years that I have not had--or I should confess and say probably more accurately, not made--time for truly reaching out and serving others.

And that is why I am here, right? To serve?

"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." 
Philippians 2:3-4 

And if I call myself a disciple of Christ, I'm supposed to be, through His grace and power, imitating Him, right?

"Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
Ephesians 5:1-2

And that's why Jesus came, right? To serve? To love sacrificially?

Though He was God, He made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
Philippians 2:6-8

And now I need to backtrack a little bit: Last year, I read through the New Testament with our church, and as I read through the Gospels, I was struck by how many times it is mentioned that Jesus "had compassion" on the crowds or the individuals that surrounded Him. But what pierced me even more is the fact that His "compassion" always moved Him to action--meeting some spiritual and/or physical need that the crowd or person had (See Matthew 9:35-36, 15:32-38, 20:34, and various other echoes throughout the other three Gospels.).

So what does this mean for me? If I recognize compassion in the scriptures, feel it in my heart, and know "how to" do compassion in my head, but it never moves my hands and feet to action, then that recognition and knowledge is worthless...then I don't really "get" compassion because... 

True compassion is love in action.

So now what? How do I live like I believe His Word and example?

I'm often the queen of good intentions in this area. I know the truth but fail to apply it. There is one word that has been resounding in my mind since all of this began swirling around in my heart a couple of months ago: INTENTIONALITYI've got to live intentionally for true compassion to take root and spill out into the lives of others.

God knows the slightly OCD, planner in me (can I get an "Amen!" for calendars and to-do-lists? :)), and I'm so grateful He is teaching me to let go and trust Him and His plan. BUT, I think He also knows that sometimes having a distinct plan is just what I need to get my hands and feet moving in sync with what He is doing in my heart. SO, I've taken the long route to get here (thanks for enduring my ramblings!), but here's the "plan" He laid on my heart a few days ago:

Every Week

Serve
Three People

1 family member

+

1 friend

+

1 stranger

=

{Compassion}
{Love in Action}

As I think about this charge the Lord has impressed upon me, I'm reminded of a post from a sweet friend where she quoted the following "Don't fail to do something just because you can't do everything." I certainly can't do everything, meet every need, but I can, and must, do something if I claim the name of Christ. Like they say, people may doubt what you say, but they will always believe what you do. So my words and actions must go hand in hand. Through Jesus I want to be an encouragement, finding little ways to minister to people's tangible needs as well as their spiritual.  

Would you please chime in with suggestions (in the comments below) for ways to bless and serve those family members, friends, and strangers? I'd love to hear your ideas, big or small! I know sometimes its the seemingly small or even insignificant acts of service that can be the biggest blessing as people live Philippians 2:3-4...a note in the mail, a dinner you don't have to cook, a clean car, a night of babysitting, groceries, prayer, sharing scripture, a phone call...

Or maybe you might take this "1+1+1" challenge this summer, too?

image via

Praying God will open my eyes to see the needs all around me and give me the sensitivity and boldness needed to act. Now to get to it! :) 

Hello, again.

Well, I'm back...after the most crazy busy, stressful--but good--year of my life!

I know you all (I'm pretending I have a stellar, loyal, and large readership) have been anxiously awaiting my next riveting post! (Thank you for indulging this illusion delusion.) Since I have posted all of about three times since August of last year, I'm sure my all of about two readers have jumped ship by now, but that is just fine with me...I "blog" mainly for me...to have an "outlet" for my ever-running mind and as a sort of scrapbook-ish chronicle of our life. (Many thanks to my paternal Grandmama for passing down her journalling habit. Her mounds of spiral notebooks are my tapping out on the screen--but I admit, I do have a few notebooks, too.)

Now to return from that most necessary digression. So with my next several posts, I plan to try to catch myself up on this past year...to record some thoughts and lessons learned from my very first year of teaching full-time...and losing a granddaddy...and a small home reno (vaguely strongly reminiscent of Money Pit)...and finishing my M.A.Ed....and Paul finishing his B.S...and simply life in between it all.

While this summer is already filled with lots of stuff--baby showers and weddings and parties and curriculum training and vacation and books to read and projects to complete...--I'm praying to make the most of it. (Next post will share one way I'm praying for boldness and follow-through to make that happen.)

Happy, Happy Summer, Everyone!
(remember, I'm pretending to have a boatload of readers)
Hope your days are filled to the brim with all the best and then let that spill over in blessings to others!

{a little of God's goodness from our recent trip to Hilton Head, SC}
    

Friday, March 30, 2012

He Is.

Just wanted to share this video (in case you haven't already seen it--but even if you have, it's worth a re-run!). An amazing reminder of the magnitude of the One who has faithfully loved [messy, flighty, prideful] me.

Oh, how I need this refreshed perspective.

To put Him in His rightful place.

I pray you know Him today.



{Thanks to sweet Jenni for sharing this video in a faculty meeting devotion one morning a few weeks ago.}
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