56. Introducing Harvey



Our second anniversary was July 17, and we had big plans. We were going to head to Oklahoma City, get lunch in Midtown, visit the OKC National Memorial (#86 for those of you keeping track), get dinner somewhere nice, and see a movie. Just a few hours before we left, Courtney was browsing online classifieds for dogs, and she found a Yorkshire Terrier in Sparks, OK who was too cute to ignore. We didn’t know where Sparks was, but Courtney thought it was near Shawnee, not too far from OKC. So, she sent an email to the owner and we headed East.


We had lunch at Kaiser’s Bistro, which opened as an ice cream parlor in 1918. The food was great, and, since it’s a bistro and ice cream parlor, we figured we had to get milkshakes. They were also awesome. While we were eating, Courtney got a call about the Yorkie. The owner said we could come that afternoon to see him, and Courtney asked if we could. I knew if we went, we would not leave without a dog. But I said OK, and we headed further East.


As it turns out, Sparks is about 30 minutes past Shawnee – practically to Chandler. But we made it, and we met the puppy. The breeder also had several adult teacup Yorkies, who made him look like a giant, despite him being only four months old. He was very cute, but also very energetic and skittish. He was much more interested in trying to play with the teacup Yorkies than with us, but none of them were very interested in playing. I had my doubts, but Courtney wanted him, and I was warming as well, so we bought him. We wrote a check, he got a bow in his hair (which was taken out almost immediately in the car), and we began the voyage West.

He is now 8 months old, house-trained, and chewing up everything he can get his mouth on. We named him Harvey, after my great-great-grandfather. And because it seemed like a fun name. He drives us crazy half the time, but he’s pretty fun the other half, and it’s getting difficult to imagine life without him.

Harvey’s favorite chew toy,





Long time no post!

The past two months have been a little busy, the reason why? I GOT A JOB! After 3 months of searching I found a good fit. I am the Youth Director at the United Methodist Church of the Good Shepherd in Yukon, OK. I’ve been here for about a month and have loved every minute of it.

We’ve done a couple things from our 101 list in the last two months so be looking for posts soon to see what we’ve done!

Last week we did two things – not necessarily on our list but very fun things none-the-less!

Last Thursday we went out to P Bar Farms which is located between Hydro and Weatherford to visit their corn maze. This year the maze theme is the OKC Thunder logo.

Neither of us had ever done a corn maze before so we were pretty excited to see how long it would take us! We were told it would take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to complete depending on the choices you made. We must be master guessers because it took us just over 20 minutes to complete!


The entrance


My new ride




We made it out!

They had a lot of other activities, like a giant trampoline type thing, laser tag, hay rides, petting farm, and on certain nights they do a haunted maze. I’m a bit of a scaredy cat so we opted for the normal maze. We had a wonderful time.




We spent the weekend in OKC for our dear friends, John and Ashley’s wedding. It was at the Harn Homestead which is absolutely beautiful! It is tucked away in the trees by the capitol building. I never knew a place like that existed in the city. Being there felt like we’d gone back in time, as if there were no concrete roads, only those made of dirt; a time when people had no other option but to grow their own food, and for entertainment they’d play music on their front porch. Sometimes I day dream of living in such a place. The wedding made the homestead even more beautiful! Brandon was the best man, he and John have known each other since childhood. John is kinda the person who set Brandon and I up back in college. And it was just a couple years ago we traveled around South America for a month with John and Ashley and Brandon proposed to me! We could not be more happy for them to begin this new adventure, as partners for life in marriage. It was a wonderfully beautiful wedding with an awesome party afterwards complete with a barn, food, and dancing! We were so happy to be a part of their special weekend and look forward to making many new memories with them.


The Newlyweds!


In other news, the epic OU vs. Notre Dame is this Saturday. Get excited my friends!

Loving life,

69. Front Porch Sittin’

For a long time I’ve wanted a rocking chair. Actually, ever since Real World New Orleans in 2000, I’ve wanted to paint a rocking chair. In one episode I either saw some of the cast painting rocking chairs or an episode just showed some awesomely painted rocking chairs.

Last year one of my professors told me of a guy in Tennessee who makes rocking chairs from trees that are native to the state. After hearing about the chairs, my mind was made up–I was finally going to get my rocking chair. Well, months went by and I still didn’t have one. There was one thing standing in my way: Brandon and I had no way of getting the rocking chairs from the guy’s warehouse to our house. Our cars were too small. I had about decided I wasn’t going to get a chair, but on my birthday Brandon surprised me with a trip to go get rocking chairs! We borrowed a friend’s truck and drove out to Woodbury, TN. Ronnie Smith, the owner/master carver of Mountain Chairs, has a huge barn full of chairs! They are beautifully carved and left unfinished so you can paint or stain them however you like. He pulled down a few chairs for us to try out and choose from. The Papa Rockers were way too big for us so we opted for 2 Regular Rockers and were on our way!

The Barn

Brandon trying out a rocker

Look at all those chairs!

Mountain Chairs Workshop

We didn’t have time to get them painted before we moved back to Oklahoma, but they were one of our first projects after the move. Brandon decided he liked the natural look of the wood so he just put a protective clear coat on his chair and it was on the front porch within a few days. I had other plans in mind for mine! I wanted to paint my chair in a way that represented me and the things I like. I could tell you about what I put on it, but I’ll just show you.

Brandon’s Chair

My Chair

It’s all in the details!

More details

Finished products!

It took me about a month to finish my chair but it finally joined Brandon’s on the front porch. We’ve also put our hummingbird feeder and wind chimes out front. It’s turned into a nice little space for us to relax.

Our little oasis

What do you do to relax at home? Do you have any projects you’ve been working on lately?

Rock on,


98. Praying through Lent

You would think that a pastor and a youth minister would have no problems praying together morning and evenings for thirty days straight, right? Wrong. For both of us, making time for prayer is often a struggle. Sometimes, our vocations even seem to be part of the problem. When you’re called on daily (sometimes, several times per day) to pray publicly, it can be easy to feel like your prayer life is in good shape. But we’ve realized that’s only an illusion. If we didn’t set aside time with God outside of our work responsibilities, we found that our spiritual lives struggled. And when we don’t spend time in prayer together, a vital part of our relationship with each other is missing.

During Lent (I know, this is really late), we decided to pray together in the mornings and evenings. We used the book Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, which both of us had previously used. We found it to be very helpful. It allowed us some spontaneity and space for extemporaneous praying, but also provided us with structure, which was very helpful on those days when we just didn’t have a lot to say. And as an introvert who is rarely inclined to use two words when one will do, I seem to have those days pretty often. We also really benefited from praying prayers from scripture and the wider Christian tradition. Particularly, I really felt the Spirit move when praying the Lord’s Prayer, the Doxology, Mary’s Magnificat, Simeon’s Song, and the Gloria Patri.

One of the things that we found particularly helpful was the prayer of confession during evening prayer. Sometimes, it would be an opportunity to confess to one another the ways that we’d failed to love one another during the day. Sometimes, it’d be playful (“Sorry my wife is a annoying”), and sometimes there were opportunities for confession that weren’t taken. But overall, it provided us with an opportunity to reflect on where we fell short in our relationships with God and one another, and our marriage benefited from that.

Predictably, we fell off the wagon shortly after Lent ended. Committing to praying together for a set time period was easier than maintaining the practice indefinitely. And while there were definite benefits to our relationship, praying together didn’t make everything all of a sudden magical. But there was something very right about beginning and ending our days together by offering ourselves to our creator in prayer, and I hope that’s a practice we will engage in more faithfully in the future.

What prayer practices or spiritual disciplines have been helpful for you?

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you,




26. Donate!

Number 26 on our 101 in 1001 list is to donate 101 things we no longer need. And in the process of moving from Nashville to Oklahoma we decided it would be a good idea to go through our things as we were packing and decide if we wanted to keep, donate, or throw away.

We went through our clothes, books, electronics, pictures, and a bunch of other things that we had in Nashville and ended up donating well over 101 items to Goodwill!

While I thought we were done going through things, but we only finished the things we had in Nashville. After moving into our house back in Oklahoma I learned we both had a ton of things still at our parents houses to go through.

With the recent wildfires in Oklahoma, we’ve heard the call to start going through our things again to help out. It might be a good time for you to go through your house too and see what you can donate to the families who lost everything. People aren’t just in need of clothes and home goods, their needs include things like monetary and legal support as well. For a list of places you can help or give donations, visit the KFOR News site.

It is in times of disaster that humanity can be seen at its best. Be the best.

For our neighbors,


50. Cheesy Zucchini Rice

We tried a new recipe tonight! Only 19 more to go to complete number 50 on our 101 list!

I have a ton of recipes pinned on Pintrest and tonight we tried the Cheesy Zucchini Rice from Karly at BunsInMyOven.com.

The Ingredients


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium or 2 small zucchini, grated (I used my food processor but a cheese grater would work well, too)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • splash of milk, as needed


  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the rice and stir to coat. Toast the rice, stirring often, just until it starts to turn golden.
  3. Pour in the chicken broth, bring to a boil, turn heat to low, and cover.
  4. Cook, covered, for 15 – 20 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
  5. Remove from the heat and add the butter, grated zucchini, cheddar, and garlic powder. Stir until well incorporated. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
  6. Stir again and add salt and pepper to taste and a splash of milk if you’d like to thin out the texture a little bit.

(From BunsInMyOven.com)

Finished product!

It was pretty good! The texture weirded me out a little but over all, tasted great!

Have you tried any new recipes lately? What should we try next?

Eatin’ good,

20. Strike a pose

Back in May Brandon and I took some anniversary photos together… For year 1. We were only 8 months behind. 🙂

Our sweet friend, Luke Townsend, took the pictures for us around Vanderbilt University. We carried around 1 balloon for 1 year. Each year we will add another balloon for another year. Our second anniversary is just right around the corner, July 17th. Hard to believe it’s been 2 years already. Anywho, here are some of the photos.

Andrew, Brandon, Luke

Looking up,


Master Blacksten

Three years ago I moved to Nashville to further my education through the Center for Youth Ministry Training. CYMT is a Masters program in partnership with Memphis Theological Seminary. The program is a three-year job placement program that matches graduate residents with partner churches, where they serve as the youth director while participating in the CYMT program and earning a Masters of the Arts in Religion. For my graduate residency I was placed at First Presbyterian Church of Nashville.

It has been a long 3 years trying to balance school and work but it has all come to an end. On May 12, 2012 I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Memphis Theological Seminary with a Master of the Arts in Religion with an emphasis in Youth Ministry.

You may call me “Master Blacksten.”

My time with CYMT has been nothing but enjoyable. I made wonderful friends who have taken this journey with me.

I will be forever grateful for my time with them, playing together, laughing together, and crying together.

We’re youth ministers, what do you expect…

They challenged, encouraged, and supported me as a woman in ministry, called by God. I consider this group of people my family and am so grateful for the opportunity to do life together. I would not be there person I am today without their presence in my life and ministry.  I miss them dearly now that  back in Oklahoma but look forward to reunions in the future. Thank you, dear friends.

Until we meet again,



So, if it seems we’ve been M.I.A. lately, we have been…

This past month was full of packing, traveling, and unpacking! At the end of May, Brandon was in Tulsa for the Oklahoma UMC Annual Conference and two weeks later moved all of our things to our new home in Hydro! I can’t help but feel a little guilty, while he and our family were unloading I was traveling to Alaska and New Orleans on mission trips!

So, my apologies for the lack of updates, things have been a little busy. We’re getting settled into our new house. Once things calm down around here, I’ll post some pics of the house. But for now, it’s getting close to bed time, so instead of writing a long post, I’ll leave you with some pictures from my trips!

Juneau/Hoonah, Alaska (Graduating seniors mission trip)

Our group in Alaska!

Early morning with some of the kids.

Eagles were everywhere.

Forget-me-nots were EVERYWHERE! AMK*AOE

My postcard photo.

Saw some bears.

And a ton of sea lions.

We were SO close to this whale!

Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau

Sunset on our last night in Alaska.

New Orleans, Louisiana (9th-12th grade mission trip)

Seniors at Cafe Du Monde.

Pirates Alley!

Beads can be found all year round!

Yellow team leaders.

Spent the first half of the week working at a KIPP school.

Got to have dinner with our homeowner from 2 years ago. So special.

St. Louis Cathedral

Yellow Team

Spent the second half of the week doing demo on a house that had caught on fire. Fashion friendly tyvek suits.


Catching my breath,



89. We work out!

Back in March Brandon started doing P90X at home. After a week or so of seeing him doing something to keep his body healthy I was inspired to do the same. Our current insurance has a health program in partnership with the YMCA that makes it more affordable to work out at the Y. So, I joined the program and started working out!

I’ve never been a runner. Never. But for the past 3 years I’ve been working with a group of people who are crazy about running. Seriously, my boss is in his 50s and still running marathons. And I guess I kinda caught the bug. I’ve downloaded an app on my phone called “Ease into 5k” and it’s a walk/run program that lasts 8 weeks that gets you ready for a 5k. Which is also one of our 101 in 1001, to run a 5k.

Brandon and I were working out separately but we were working out daily for about 2 months. May was the month we moved so things go a little chaotic but we’re looking forward to getting back into our workout routines when we get all settled back in Oklahoma.

To health,