24, Single + Holidays

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Wow it has been a year since I have been on this here blog.

And quick update: still single.

But still so content and even more in love with Jesus. Which says nothing about me and everything about Him.

But, I’m not going to lie: the Hallmark movies are rolling, that brisk, Christmas love and joy is in the air and man oh man is my contentment in my singleness being chipped at bit my bit by this winter wonderland we call the holiday season.

And I figured, even though it’s been a year since I’ve written on here, I could stop in and say just a few words to my gal pals and very highly eligible bachelors that may run across this little corner of cyberspace.

  1.  You are not alone in that weird aching feeling to have someone special by your side as you take your second or third helping of green bean casserole. Or someone to roll your eyes at while attending those awkward family reunions.
  2. You are not alone in that secret frustration that the holidays only elevate your want for your person. Or the way society seems to shout that you can’t be thankful on Thanksgiving or joyful during the 12 Days of Christmas because you don’t have a ring on your finger or a baby on the way.

You are not alone.

Because yes, singleness in the holiday season is tough, tougher than normal, and that’s okay.

It’s okay to be frustrated at the cheesy commercials and all those dang Hallmark movies that pull at the heartstrings. Every. Single. Time.

It’s okay.

But also remember:

Everyone has their own story. And Instagram and Facebook are ways we share that story. Whether the good or bad, we share it.

And while some people are sharing their baby announcement and some are sharing how thankful they are for the guy/gal in their life, some are secretly wishing and praying for a miracle baby. Some are praying for their husband to stay or their son to come back home.

Yes, singleness sucks sometimes, and yes, we need to sit in the frustration that the holidays highlight families and couples, but you are not alone even more than just the simple fact that both you and I are single and very ready to mingle-

You are not alone in the simple fact that everyone around you has a story too.

Everyone around you may be missing something too.

And the holiday season isn’t just hard for us single girls or guys- it’s even harder for that newly married girl that you work with whose mom just passed away. It’s even harder for that “dream Instagram couple” who is struggling to get pregnant and all they wanted was a Christmas miracle.

Guys we have to remember: we are not alone in more ways than one. And instead of sitting in the frustration that the holiday season may bring, we need to step out and love and celebrate the people around us.

We are not alone because we all have a story.

Yours may be: 26, Depressed and the Holidays.

Or his may be: 32, Just Diagnosed with Cancer and the Holidays.

Or hers could be: 23, Newly Married Struggling to See Jesus in the Mess and the Holidays.

Whatever your story, whatever your struggle, your hurt, your “24, Single and the Holidays,” know that you are not alone.

Just don’t sit in it.

Step out and love deeply. Give while holding nothing back. And celebrate like it’s the last party you’ll ever have.

Because I’m not just 24 and single during the holidays. I’m 24, a freaking amazing teacher to 11 incredible kiddos, all while living in Orange County, California, with blessings upon blessings to have a budget for coffee and a roundtrip home for Christmas.

And you are too (well, maybe not exactly but you get the point).

Speak truth over yourself and celebrate every little blessing you have.

Sit in the mess, the frustration, miss what you truly desire, and then head on full force into celebrating what you have and what He promises. 

But make sure to leave room for two heaping helpings of pumpkin pie.

See you soon,

Stephanie Lynn

 

 

Christmas Gift Guide

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For you late shoppers (ME) I wanted to give y’all a little gift guide for your last minute christmas shopping, as well as just a fun gift guide for future gifts/birthdays/all that jazz.

But I wanted this to be a different type of gift guide. A gift guide that is intentional and ethical and worth every penny because you know who made it, you know where it’s made, and everything in between.

Throughout the last year I have learned a good amount about where things are made, how they are made and why then, we can get stuff as cheap as we do.

Pretty much, something or someone is paying a price. And that is hard for me to wrap my mind around. I could go on and on about this y’all but really, I just want to do good in everything I do, and I want even my little purchases to matter. And who cares if that purchase is more than I’m used to paying-  I know who made it and I want good for them too.

SO, I am starting here. With a list of all the companies I mentioned in my Christmas Chip Chat, that I believe in and want you all to believe in too.

Some Wonderful Companies…

Causebox

FashionAble

Season 

All Good Things Collective 

Sasa Designs

Sseko 

Walk In Love

Giving Keys

Parker Clay

Tribe Alive

Krochet Kids

Some Dang Good Reads…

Garden City

Sacred Enneagram

Dance, Stand, Run

Blue Like Jazz

Darling Magazine

Beloved Magazine

Goodnews Paper

Hear me out y’all: I have not done a ton of research on every one of these companies, but because most of these companies are faith driven and focused on Jesus, I am trusting their stuff is made ethically and with care for the people who make every product.

ALSO: In no no way am I condemning anyone who has shopped anywhere other than the places I am mentioning. I have many many christmas gifts going out that I have no idea of who made them or how the heck it even got on the Target shelves for $4.99.

I just want to try and make a difference in this huge consumer driven culture we live in. I want to get enough people in on the shift, enough people speaking up, to make a dent and bring a little more hope and goodness to the people who make our everything, for little.

So, will ya join me?

See ya soon.

Stephanie Lynn

I’m Numb + I Don’t Want To Be

I have become numb when disaster hits, and I do not want to be anymore.

From hurricanes, to shootings, to riots, to people just hurting people and this broken world breaking again and again and again.

It is scary how used to the hurt I have become; how nonchalant I react when I hear of the latest natural disaster or freak weather report.

It hurts to even admit, but when I first heard of all the devastation in Houston and the surrounding areas, I shrugged it off. I had heard it all before, hurricanes happen, weather sucks, life will go on.

And the worst part is, I didn’t even realize how horrible those thoughts were. I didn’t even catch the numbness and distraction and selfishness. I let it sit. I let the numbness win.

And what is even scarier, is that is what Satan wants. He wants us to get so used to the broken world, the broken people, the mess this world is, to where we don’t fight against it anymore. He wants us to sit back and let it all happen, the bigotry, the lack of compassion, the selfishness of “my life is more important than the man or woman, or child or elderly couple who are watching their lives crumble.”

And I have fallen into it. More than once, for longer than I would ever want to admit, I have fallen into the lie that this world is breaking and there is nothing that I can do to stop it.

Because no, I cannot stop this world from breaking, but I can give this world hope in the brokenness.

I can pray, I can give, I can open my dang eyes to the hurt around and do something about it.

Yes, the hurt will keep coming, but hell no is there any way I am going to let my heart harden to even just one life that needs Jesus and His love because I am too busy caring about what I am doing today or the next.

I am numb to the hurt of this world, and I do not want to be.

So I am doing something about it.

Who’s with me?

See ya soon,

Stephanie Lynn


P.S. Here is a place to start if you would like to do something for/help the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

 

Always Buy The Chai Latte

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Want to know the best the best tip for self-care?

Always buy the chai latte.

Let me explain. I’ve made this rule to always tip with my tips.

Because I know the work it takes to earn them. I know what it feels like to hear a few coins drop or see a crumpled dollar in the tip jar.

And I have also made this rule to not say know to the good and what you know your heart needs.

Like a chai tea latte. Or an m&m blizzard from DQ. Or watching Jane the Virgin until midnight. Or going surfing even though your arms are toothpicks.

Now there are always boundaries, and sometimes sleep is really needed and Jane can wait for another night or two. But sometimes, you work 11 hours in a day and deserve a coffee and a freaking milkshake. Or sometimes you just really need time with people who love you well rather than getting a few extra hours of sleep.

But when it comes to self-care, to caring for your heart, your soul, your whole self? The thing you need to know is that you need to know yourself. You need to know what makes you tick, what helps your heart and what makes those Mondays even possible in the first place.

And for me it is a hot, dirty chai latte, skipping the introvert corner and soaking in the friend time, and failing miserably at catching a wave for the 1000th time.

So, what’s your chai latte? What does your heart need right now?

Go, and get it.

See ya soon,

Stephanie Lynn

 

 

 

Real Talk of Feeling Uninvited + Rejected

IMG_8966I learned something new these last few days. Something that I knew was happening, but didn’t. Ya feel me?

It was the kind of thing that we all are aware of. The kind of thing we hate to admit and ignore its even existence. The thing we know is so the enemy working and prying at our deepest, most vulnerable parts of us.

And this thing is: the fact that I tell myself lies every day. Every day and all the dang time people.

I write about, talk about, practically preach to my junior high girls and friends that, “you need to speak truth to yourself. You need to be your own best friend. Oh, and the mirror is your best friend too.” Yet I more than stink at taking that advice myself.

This lie that I know is a lie, that I know is a thing that eats away at my core and feeds on my insecurities is this: that I am unwanted, unloved, and will always be left out. And man am I really good at telling myself this. And what stinks is that just a few days ago I let this lie take me over.

Like tears streaming down my face, ugly cry kind of take over. Literally called up a friend, and could barely talk I was so hurt, so frustrated so, uh kind of taken over.

But as I began to process with her the hurt I was feeling I found that, yes there were parts of this hard moment that were legitimate- that it was okay that I was upset about them- but there were also many other parts that I was hurt about only because I had believed this lie of I am not wanted, not loved, not anything special, and someone just happen to say the right thing and make just the right move that knocked me right in the gut of that lie, and sent me crashing down.

Guys- we have to stop telling ourselves we aren’t worth it. We have to stop putting ourselves in the corner and making ourselves the victims. Yes, there are times when broken people are broken people and they will let you down, yes, people just straight up suck sometimes. But most the time, the rejection we feel comes from the rejection we have perceived and piled up in our minds months and years before this act of rejection happened.

I am no man, so I am not sure where that side of the spectrum sits on the topic of rejection, but I do know women. I do know that we are really good at over thinking, at over analyzing, at over judging and perceiving a situation or another person’s thoughts or feelings in way that can put us down- and we don’t even realize it.

I literally hang with my friends and can have, the entire time, a whole separate scenario going on in my head where I see myself as the one who wasn’t actually invited, but who was just added to the group message just because they felt bad for me. I sit across from the people who give up their Thursday night to have me over yet still seem to perceive the situation as them feeling bad for me and not really wanting me to be there.

Now doesnt that sound insane?

But what is even harder to grasp and sit in, is that I am not alone in this. I am not alone in this feeling of rejection and feeling less than and unwanted.

So I am here to tell you- to yell at ya and shake ya if I have to- to stop telling yourself lies. Stop feeding into the fear that satan wants you to feel because he knows that if you aren’t fearing something, then you are unstoppable.

But you have to believe it that you are unstoppable too. You have to believe that you have Someone bigger and better and stronger who loves you and who is fighting for you.

You have to believe that you are loved, wanted and never alone because of Him.

You have to first believe He is who He says He is, that He is good, making Him your confidence and your foundation before those lies start to fade away.

Because once you believe that- once you believe that He is it, that He wants you and that is all that matters, those little lies you feed yourself and that satan loves to remind you of? They start to fade away and Jesus is the only one left in your view.

Believe you are loved. Believe you are wanted. Believe He is good. Whisper it every morning if you have to.

See ya soon,

Stephanie Lynn

P.S: I am reading Uninvited right now. It is has HIT HOME for me these last few days, and I go into a little more detail on the podcast this week if you want to keep diving into the conversation.

Moving + Coffee

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So as most of y’all know, I started a podcast a few weeks ago. And that creative outlet has grabbed ahold of all my thoughts and feelings and emotions and every other fiber of my being over the last few weeks, making me leave this blog out to dry for a little too long. But I didn’t forget about ya good ol’ gwennlynn.com

So here I am, a little less than three weeks after my podcast has aired, and within those three weeks, I visited my hometown in Illinois for 13 days, worked 31 hours at Starbucks, started my new educational therapist job, and moved to my new home in Orange County.  And I think I am still alive.

Moving was excited but tiring, and Starbucks is such a fun position but man is it hard work. I have not even been living in Orange County for a whole week, and I have already worked 31 hours at Starbucks and 14 hours at my new job. And I am not saying this to boast, but to only boast in the Lord because holy CRAP, there was no way I did all of that on my own, in my own power, in my own few hours of sleep.

Because not only did I start new jobs, but I was in a new place, a new home, and with new friends that I wanted so desperately to be with to the morning dawn (which isn’t smart with a 4am shift y’all).

So emotionally and mentally and physically I should be completely gone, but because God is so good and so faithful, I am still kicking, I am still working at Starbucks even after making a fool of myself one too many times, and I still have friends that want to hangout with me.

And through this crazy move and lots of coffee, I have learned 2 very very important things. 2 things that, if you were to only take a few words from this blog, I’d want it to be these:

1. When you think you’ve got it, you don’t, but He does.  

2. If you don’t know hard work, work food service. It’ll humble ya real fast.

When you think you can do it, He can. And when you work food service, you learn real, hard, sweat and aches and pains kind of work. Not that teaching isn’t work or pastoring isn’t a job or nannying isn’t a big deal- but when you are put in one spot for 8 hours and day, serving others and only others, cleaning after others and listening to others, you learn real quick that life isn’t just about you, or that coffee you get during your shift. Its about the people. And how good God is in the process.

So friends, if ya wanna hear more babbling about this topic, hop on over to Good Good Talks and subscribe because I promise promise that this topic will be on Chip Chats real soon.

And like I said, if you only remember one thing from this post, take this: When you think you’ve got it, you don’t, but He does.

See ya soon,

Stephanie Lynn

 

1 Step to Improving Your Quiet Time

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My favorite quote of all time comes from Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. I haven’t even finished half the book, nor have I picked it up for months. But his words still stick with me.

Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.

-Screwtape

Because I was in this place for a long while. Longer than I would ever want to admit. But yet I never realized that God was meeting me ever time I sat down to read His word but never actually felt the desire to do so. He was meeting me there, helping me fight the urge to give into all other distractions, leading me with His Spirit to lean into Him even when I really and truly just didn’t give a crap.

I was in that place for a long time. A place where I didn’t desire yet I still obeyed, and that is exactly where satan DOES NOT want us to be.

So what is the 1 step to improving your quiet time?

Keep freaking going. Set a time, a place and dive in. Every day. No matter what.

Make it a thing every single day. Don’t push it away, don’t play it safe by praying a few prayers while driving down the highway. Set a time, a place and read His Word.

I understand that it’s hard guys, I do, believe me. The last thing I want to do while putting my head down to finally get some sleep is to try and understand what the heck Job and his friends are even talking about this time. I use the excuse of my tired eyes and weary mind to say, “it’s just not worth it; I won’t even remember what I read tomorrow anyway.”

But God is way bigger and better and stronger than our weary minds. And we have to remember that He is working even when we think we are a lost cause. We have to remember that He is molding us, forming us, making HIM our foundation and our solid rock, through every word in His Word. He is there, always working, always faithful, all we have to do is sit and receive it.

So how do you get better at spending more and more time in the Word? How do you get better and finally start feeling the desire and urge to dig into the living Word of God? You do it. You sit down, you fight the distractions and you dive right in. No expectations. No excuses. Just do it. (And no this blog is not endorsed by Nike.)

I’m all about honesty so here it goes: I’ve never once regretted spending time with my Heavenly Father. Not even a second of regret. And I think that has something to say about how good and how real and how awesome and how giving our God is. That He always shows up even when we can.t He is always waiting even when we fall. He is always faithful, always present, ALWAYS calling our name- we just have to sit and call His name back.

See you soon,

Stephanie Lynn

 

Why A Podcast Steph?

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“So what is this good good thing you’re doing that we saw on Facebook?” My sweet grandparents had picked me up from the airport last night, and as we hopped into the car, this was the first question they asked me.

I love that question. So much. Because that question is exactly what I had to ask myself for years before I decided to just hop onto this fast moving train of the podcast world.

I will give y’all the short and sweet version: I love good conversation with good people. And I love podcasts. So why not put them together? That is all Good Good Talks is: just an excuse for me to get together with people I love and admire and cherish and record our random conversations for others to join us in.

I have listened to podcasts for years, traveling to and from Illinois to my school in Indiana, to traveling across the nation, and to the 45 minute commutes many many times a week for my first teaching job. I listened to stuff from sermons to crime podcasts, but my favorite ones were the conversations between two people. Two people who would share their stories, their goods, their bads, and all the in between. I learned more by listening to those conversations than I ever thought I could, and I figured, why couldn’t I join them?

Because everybody has a story that matters, a story that deserves to be celebrated, and I all I wanna do is share those stories with others.

So podcast world, here I come.

And thats it. I love podcasts. I love conversations. So I put two and two together- literally. So head on over to iTunes, grab yourself a cup of coffee or tea or if you’re my friend Caity, a glass of water, and join me every other Thursday for a good conversation, with good people, on Good Good Talks.

PHEW. i’m sweating I’m so excited and nervous. Also I am trying real hard not to spoil the first episode for y’all because its 24 minutes of me pouring my dream of this podcast out for y’all, as well as about 10ish minutes of my friend Kennedy and myself throwing ideas back and forth and Ken giving me some encouragement and love for this crazy dream of mine.

So, I’ll see ya soon. Real soon.

Stephanie Lynn

 

 

We Women Need to Step Up

 

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Imma be real, real early on in this post: our young, tween, teen, junior high and high school, girls need help.

Sex is everywhere. And our girls are feeling it. They are feeling the pressures to look and act and be perfect. They are eating up the lies fed to them every day from Instagram to romantic comedies that their bodies, our bodies, are only meant for one thing. That their bodies have to be and look a certain way or they won’t fit in. That they were created not for His good and in His image, but only to wear skimpy bikinis, tight tops, or perfectly ripped up jeans while sipping on a Starbucks frappacino.

Ladies, our girls have fallen into the trap. We have fallen into the trap. I have fallen into the trap. The trap that is so hard to get out of. The trap that is sneaky and cruel and belittling and conniving. And we haven’t stopped it. We haven’t even tried to save them.

So now we are in a battle for our little girls’ souls. We are in a battle for our girls’ hearts.

And we need to step up and fight with them. We need to step up and be a model for them. We need to sit them down and look them in the eye and tell them, “You are enough, just the way you are.”

I never really liked junior highers. They are in that stage of wanting to still be their weird selves yet fit in with what Instagram has posted on its featured page. I just never thought I would understand them. But God was up to something when a mentoring position opened up for an 8th grade small group at my church. And then when one of my middle school teachers asked me to sub for her middle school classes three days straight. Because now, those girls have my heart. Now that generation has my full attention.

Because life is so confusing at that age. You’re just a girl walking down the 6th grade hallway, then suddenly boys start sending you messages on AIM and pushing you on the playground, and every girl around you is either ditching the sport bras and suddenly has all the guys attention or out of no where boys seem cute instead of gross- oh wait, that was when I was in middle school.

Now at that age, now our middle schoolers lives are still confusing, but a heck of a lot worse. There is no more AIM as a way to talk with boys, but Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, influencing our girls’ thoughts and actions at every turn. And that is only to name a few. And girls aren’t just ditching the sports bras, but they are embracing the push-ups and crop tops. And boys never went from gross to cute, they went from gross to the only reason girls should want to get up in the morning. The only reason the girls dress the way they do. The only reason a girl is a girl in the first place.

Our girls, your daughters, my peers, my junior high girls, are being told over and over, at school, on TV, from every corner in cyberspace, that they have one thing to flaunt and one thing only. That they can use their bodies to get what, where and when they want. Oh, and it better look this way and be dressed in this style.

And all of that is lies. Every single last word. Because our girls were and are created to live in His marvelous light. Our girls were and are created to be who their Creator made them to be. Our girls are not their own. They are His. They are loved. They are wanted. They are chosen. Yet, the world seems to be screaming its “truth” a little louder than we older women of Christ are proclaiming His. And that needs to stop.

I am not really sure what I wanted to come out of this post. I guess I just want women, women 23-83, to step up and BE a woman of God for our girls. We women need to step up and fight for our girls’ hearts.

We women need to step up and show our girls that our, their, bodies our not our/their own. That we were not created as a woman to be put down but to stand, strong and fearless in the name of the Lord. 

We women need to step up and be there for our girls. We women need to pour all His truth into the generations after us because they need us. Our girls need us. And God knows this fight wasn’t meant to be fought alone.

Our girls need older women, who have walked where they’ve walked, cried for the same reason they’ve cried, hurt for the same reasons they’ve hurt. We need older, wiser women to tell us it is all going to be okay. That we are enough. That this life has a purpose. That we have a purpose. That we can make a difference, not from how we look like the world says but from who we are like Jesus says.

So how can we do this?

Be there. Serve in the youth ministry at your church. Grab your daughter and her friends or your friends’ daughters and friends and talk about the crap that they see. Let them pour their hearts out to you. Let them be real with you. And speak truth every moment that you can. Use your place, where the Lord has placed you as a way to be a model for our girls, young and old.

I know it won’t be easy guys, believe me. Tween, teen and young twenty girls stink at being real, but we have to keep digging. We have to hit them where it hurts. We have to give them a safe place to pour their hearts out because if we don’t, they’ll find other avenues to do so.

We have all been there. We, each of us, have been 12, 13, 17. We know what it is like. So let’s step back in time a little bit and step up to the plate when see our girls hurting. When we see our girls trying to fit in and not squeezing into the impossible role the world has asked them to be.

Let’s step it up women. And show our girls Jesus. That’s it.

See ya soon,

Stephanie Lynn

 

 

I Wish I Was A WunderKid

 

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I finally recognized that too many artists at too young an age are compromising and ultimately shelving their dreams as a result of the rising cost of education. – Denise Troy

For the first time EVER I received an email to collaborate with an organization doing some good stuff for people- and I am STOKED.

WUNDERKID is it’s name and supporting young artists is their game.

WUNDERKID is an organization that empowers young artists and provides a platform for them to create beautiful art while simultaneously allowing them to meaningfully pursue a career in the arts. With each sale, they contribute into a tuition fund for the artist. Now that is an organization I can stand under. 

I think my favorite part about WUNDERKID is the fact that it not only gives students an outlet for their creativity, but it rewards them for it. It rewards them for being different; it asks them to be the change; it pushes them to pursue their dreams.

So I am totally on board with WUNDERKID, and I would love for y’all to join me.

From unique and silly and fun greeting cards, to original art and prints from emerging young artists, Wunderkid has created a little slice of heaven in their own little corner of cyberspace. 

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Like- who needs any Picasso or Warhol when you’ve got these kids?

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Guys their cards? I sent one to my mom for Mother’s Day and it was the hardest thing to let it go. They are that gorgeous. And fun. And unique.

I bought my mom this boring old, apron. But then I added the “I love you a latte” card from WUNDERKID and few little cheesy notes as well, and man did that apron look 20X better.

Greeting cards are a lost art, and I love that I have a new place to not only find unique ways to show people I love and support them, but I now have a place to support students and kids in what they are so brilliantly gifted to do- and help them take a step forward in their dreams of getting where they wanna be.

Honestly, I may just send all the cards to me-self. And hang them all on my walls. Their that great.

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So shoot on over to their website, give them a follow on Instagram or Facebook, or share this post just to get the word out.

Seriously guys- support the organizations that support our friends’, families’, kids’, students’ futures.

Cause we need more good things like this in the world. 

See ya soon,

Stephanie Lynn