{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.

{new things}

I’ve been hanging out in the book of Matthew this week. 
And honestly, it’s been more of discipline than anything else. A sort of, “Lord, I’ll show up if you will” effort. Then this happened-

“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”

-Matthew 9.17

It’s comforting and convicting all at the same time.
We’ve got to let go of what we once loved but doesn’t really work so well anymore.
for the old skins would burst from the pressure

It seems as though every day I’m home I find an old wineskin-
sometimes it a t-shirt or picture frame.
or the the job I had before the race.
or the way I once did church.
or a relationship that is/was so very comfortable but holds me back from fully following Jesus’ call…

Some mornings I wake up and don’t want to look for a new theoretical wineskin. Some mornings the old skins are comfortable and worn in and known and smell like home.  Some hours of the day I long for them- for familiarity… for easy.
But I know these things are not for new wine.

And so I am making hard decisions.
Asking uncomfortable questions.
Writing all the emotions down.

And doing new things.
Like paddle boarding,
and starting a new job
and joining a new gym
and getting a new phone number.

These seemingly very basic things are actually quiet a big deal.
They’re necessary but hardly natural.
Acts of faith in the everyday.

I navigate these new wineskins with great expectancy.
The expectation of meeting Christ in these moments- in these new things.

Is there an aching in your heart for something different, more, or better?
Sweet friends, I pray tonight you have the courage to seek with expectation the newness Christ has for you in this season.

{it takes a village- my friend aaron luke}

Eleven Months.

It seems like an eternity before it begins.  And then, three weeks in, on the way to your second country- your realize… I no longer have eleven months left.  It never slows down.

Then it happens, between the teaching English, the washing babies, the all night worship… Somehow you end up here.  With only eleven weeks left.

This journey is not my own.  The story I’ve lived for the past fifteen months has been very much shared with a special community.

Over the next eleven weeks, I will attempt to express my gratitude.  But will undoubtedly fall short.  To those who have journeyed with me, you have stars in your crown in Heaven for this.  The list of those who impacted my race is, of course, longer than eleven- it has taken a village.  Each one of you reading has touched my race and my heart in some way, your prayers, your blog comments (Susie and Terri), and your support made my race what it is.  I have been able to love those around me because of the love shown to me by every one of you.

From the bottom of my heart-
Thank you.

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

•••

Aaron Luke,

I have traveled the world and remain
convinced, you are one of the greatest people on it.  Your friendship is a very tangible
testimony of redemption in my life.  For that, I do not have the words to thank you.
You see me for who I am- and belay me for who I could be… always pushing me to take risks and believe in myself.  
You are a constant.  Thank you for being the man of God you are, for always being compassionate, humble and kind.  

I love you so much!
-steph

{happy birthday dad}

paddleboard pictureDear Dad- you’ve taught me how to lay brick
jack and jill style, to be big by being small,
to always lock the car door, and eggs are best
cooked over a campfire. 

I love you more than local coffee shops,
rock climbing gym memberships,
and antique hardware store finds.

Happy Birthday!
-love steph