let’s make a tradition

I love the rhythm of the holidays.
Not the hustle and bustle rhythm,
but the rhythm of tradition.

Those things you do every year.
The common thread holding all the Christmases, past and present, together.

You know the best thing about traditions?
They start by doing something once…

IMG_0515  IMG_0510  IMG_0516it is really hard to get action shots of couples ice skating

 My favorite Christmas tradition is one my mom started when we were babies.
Christmas Pajamas.
Every year on Christmas Eve we get to open one present.
just one.
Every year… it’s matching Christmas Pajamas.

This year, M and B won all the Christmas Points for taking my sister and me ice skating in the park.  I hadn’t worn ice skates on since middle school, and the rink was SUPER crowded, and the music was way too loud, and the funnel cake was a teeny tiny mouse sized funnel cake… but we laughed all night.  

It wasn’t elaborate, or expensive,
none of us had ever been skating in the park before…
but we said, “yes” to the opportunity of trying something new.

and a new Christmas tradition was born.

What’s your favorite Christmas Tradition?

{thankful for the happenings}

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 12.24.34 PM

truer words are hard to find in my life right now.
because holidays bring with them traditions and memories and emotions.

Thanksgiving is always a vivid week for me.  Big things tend to happen in the seven days dedicated to pumpkin spice and thanks and football.  Some life changing, others confusing, and every so often some bring relief.  But what about the happenings between the big things?

Thanksgiving this year was full of slow mornings and cups of coffee.

I thought about Thanksgiving last year in Cambodia and the one the year before.  About the canceled plane ticket and the I don’t think we should date anymore.  And the one before that…

And all of the happenings between those Thursdays.

It would be easy to wish away some of the happenings…. to want only the Thanksgivings without the hurts and growing pains in between.  But we would lose so much if that was the case.
I would lose the sweetness of these moments without the struggle of steadfastness.
I would lose the gratitude for what I have today if I didn’t know the story of how it came to be.

I don’t want to overlook the everyday happenings of a year.  I don’t want to look back and wonder how did I get from there to here?  There have been so many days that take my breath away recently…

Days when I’ll look at M and say, “how did I get you?”
and I’m asking… but really I know.  I know that SO much happened in my life between Septembers to get me to that football game.  I know so much had to happen in my heart before I stayed to hear a band play.  Important stuff, some days hard stuff, some days monotonous stuff.  But it got me here.

Thankful and around a table.

“To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for. Let’s not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.”

― Henri J.M. Nouwen

A lot can happen in a year.  A lot happened last year, and a lot is still happening.
So this year.  I aim to be thankful not just for the holidays and the big things, but for all of the happenings in-between.

{october 2104}

October was ordinary and simple.
it was the a month of finding a rhythm and sitting at the dinner table.
it was going to the movies on friday night and white wine on the porch.

October was football games.
and a really muddy memory with my dad.
and a rainy pancake breakfast.

October was all things fall festival and dress up parties.
and a lake weekend full of laughter and a whole lot of talking.
and selfies with littles in church pews.

October was coffee with my best friend and tennis clinics.
and really good conversations within the promise of trust.
and pumpkin picking with my Auburn family.
October made this place my home.

oh… and I bought a car.  so that’s pretty awesome! 

{all the small things}

vangough

when I was in third grade, my family took a trip to Washingon D.C.
and on that trip we. walked. EVERYWHERE. 
we also stood in line for hours to go to the Van Gogh exhibit.  

some really small things have been brought together lately…
knit together seamlessly and mended with care.

great things tend to sneak up on life like that, don’t they?
you’re just out there, loving life and this new job with the sweetest kiddos and working hard at giving your best yes…
then one day, you’re sitting there having coffee, nodding like a bobble head doll and smiling, and saying, “this… this is really good.”

and you try to trace back to when this really great story began but you can’t…

there is a mystery to all the small things coming together-
a comfort of home in seeing glimpses of promises fulfilled.
and it steals your breath to think, “He knew, He knew all along.”

so keep living out small moments with great love…
notice them, treasure them, build dreams upon the small things.
write them down, remember them, make the most of tuesdays.

{lookin’ good september}

foodtrucks

At the beginning of this month I made a vow.
No travel.
no rushing around and scheduling five coffee dates in a row-
no spending seventeen out of thirty nights not in my own bed-

I needed to be home, despite not truly knowing what being home in Huntsville looked like.

Sweet friends- this month looked good.
chock full of laughter and smiles
and auburn football
and canoeing
and crafting with kiddos
and a food truck rally
and tennis
and birthday celebrations
and school lunches
and live music.

Saying no to travel led to some pretty amazing yeses.

“The decisions you make today matter. Every decision points your life in the direction you are about to travel. No decision is an isolated choice. It’s a chain of events. If you choose wisely, your future will reflect that.” – ― Lysa TerKeurst, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands

I have been overwhelmed lately with the magnitude of the story I get to live.  The weight of each yes and every no.  September has looked really great, not because of what happened on the first of this month… but because of a conversation I had in April.  And that conversation happened only because of decisions I made at a not so beautiful time in life.  I could spend hours recounting the moments leading up to here- but I think I’ll just enjoy the being here instead.

What nos have led to better than expected yesses in your life friends?

{it takes a village- my sister tosha}

read my letter to my dad here
or last week’s letter to my mom here
or what i wrote to my older sister here
or what i had to say to my little here
or what i shared about heather here
or my letter to amy here
or what i needed my friend aaron luke to know here

•••

Tosha,

As far as I’m concerned you are my sister, you are who I wanted to be growing up.  You’ve been there, in the way only a long distance sister can, through the best and worst days.  And now, you are one of my best friends-
The depth of your heart is crazy inspiring and your pursuit of the heart of Christ is so evident- He delights in it.  
Tosha and Max your love story is one of my favorites, watching you fall more in love with Christ first and each other second is beautiful.  The metaphorical seasons of life are hard and all too often unfair.  But I truly believe your steadfastness through each trial is producings the perseverance that leads to faith that is mature, complete and lacking in nothing.  

I love you so much sis!
-steph

Also- I need to change my list of favorite things::
- food (sub category:: coffee)
-being outside (sub category:: mountains)
-really good conversations (sub category:: talking about Jesus with you)

{the first month home… a recipe}

ingredients::
-one part week at the beach
-six parts chiropractor
-three parts tacos
-fifteen parts coffee
-two coats of fresh paint
-one part Needtobreathe concert (tears optional but encouraged)
-three parts trying new things
-seven parts conversations that heal
-one part sleeping in your own bed
-one part ice cream
-two weekends in Auburn
-one part this album

then::
mix evenly and spread across twenty-nine days.

 
every day won’t be pretty or easy-
but every day won’t be excruciating either.
remember that truth.