No Valentine, No Problem

drgf7doee-o-roman-kraftValentine’s day was always THE BEST¬†in elementary school.

You got to make the best card boxes/bags, go shopping for just the right valentines (they had to have candy or they were useless), and sit in anticipation of getting valentines from almost everyone in your class.

And maybe if you were lucky, you’d get a card from your long-time crush with a heart and the best question to ever be asked, scribbled inside, “Will you be my Valentine?”

Those were the days. When love was innocent and pure and silly and honestly, so much more fun.

My biggest crush was on Wes Lunt in 1st grade. And guys, he liked me too. No, I have no recollection of him scribbling a love letter to me at the mature age of 6, but I do remember him sitting behind me on the reading rug counting the clips in my hair (I think my record was 13). True love at it’s finest.

But Valentine’s Day isn’t like that once you hit college life, adulthood and beyond.

Instead of an exciting time to love on everyone around us, we get sucked in by the one thing that haunts us single gals and lads:

“No Valentine, BIG problem.”

“WRONG” as President Trump would say.
(Had to throw a trump quote in here for the hack of it)

I had a valentine for 5 years in a row. And honestly, it was more pressure than fun and love and excitement filled.

Instead of being a fun, love filled day, it turned into another time where the guy was expected to blow my socks off yet not love me too crazy because “I’m an independent woman” (more on this one lata).

It has become a day where we obsess and fuss and groan and complain over the love we don’t have in our lives instead of a celebration of all the blessings we have thrown at us every stinkin’ day.

So really, instead of seeing a problem in not having someone stick a “Be Mine” letter in our mailbox this Valentine’s Day, we should be saying no Valentine? No problem.

Because Valentine’s day isn’t about that one person we may or may not have this year.

Valentine’s Day should be a day where we get excited for our kleenex box Valentine mailboxes to get filled with notes from our best friends and that one random kid in the class we always seem to forget about.

Valentine’s Day should be more about us loving people well, and never expecting anything in return.

Valentine’s Day should be about other’s and not ourselves.

So No Valentine? No problem.

Because every person deserves love. Those older men and women sitting in a nursing home today deserve a smiling face and a reminder that they are loved. Those busy moms who do everything for their kids and nothing for themselves deserve a break and a large fry and sweet tea from Chick-Fil-A.

Our classrooms used to come to a screeching halt on Valentine’s Day, turning from a room of non-stop learning to a room of celebration of friendships and candy for the whole entire day.
(I don’t know about your school, but we freaking partied and it was a blast)

You may not have the ability to stop your whole day or to throw a crazy party at your house this Valentine’s Day, but you can celebrate all the friends you have. You can celebrate all the good things you have been given. And you can definitely celebrate all the candy and chocolate that somehow always finds a way to your mouth.

You don’t need a Valentine to feel loved folks.

That’s what dark chocolate was created for.

Love people well this Valentine’s Day. Do some good.

See ya soon,

Stephanie Lynn

Hey God, Still Single Over Here

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Hey God, still single over hereūüĎč

Any of y’all feel like reminding God¬†this?

That, “Hey, I’ve been single for awhile and I’m not complaining, but that ‘real life love relationship marriage and family’ thing is still something I kinda want” request/plea/cry/you don’t want people to know how badly you want it, question?

Well, I need to be honest with you all. Because when I don’t tell the whole story, I feeling like I’m not telling the whole truth¬†and jypping y’all from knowing the real me.¬†

SO.

I super desire marriage, and wife stuff and mom stuff.

I so desire that relationship with someone where they are your person and you are theirs.  Where you are chosen and fought for and loved, not because they are family but because they want you. 

And sometimes it is scary to admit that. It is scary to admit that sometimes I long for it more than I’d ever want to admit. It’s scary to admit that I have to walk out of the sanctuary during a Q&A on marriage and family.

It is embarrassing to admit that I want something that I know isn’t promised, that isn’t something I need, and that Jesus is truly the One thing I need to be fulfilled.

It’s scary and embarrassing and hard to be that girl.

But I am, and it’s okay- and it’s okay for you to be too.¬†

It’s okay to want something that God¬†made¬†for his people. It is okay to desire something so beautiful and exciting.

It’s okay- but I’m here to tell you not to wait.

Don’t wait around. Don’t force it, and don’t settle. Don’t think that life starts when the ring is on the finger. Don’t wish your story to be any different.

This time last year I was freaked out of my stinkin’ mind I was going to be single forever.¬†

Like freaked out of my mind, tears on tears on tears kind of fear. 

And now here I am a whole year later, still single, still desiring someone to do life with, without someone to even dream of that future with.

I am still single, and I praise Jesus for that.

Because in this singleness, I have been forced to pursue what I want- who I want to be. And I want to meet new people, drink too much coffee and spend more than needed time with family and friends. 

And because I had 6 months at home when this season started, I did all that stuff.

Because it has just been me, myself and I, I had time for new and old people to step into my life.

Because I was “livin that single life” I could pack up and move my life across the country.

Because of this past year, I am more myself than ever before.

These last 366 days (leaper y’all) I learned to not wait, to not settle, to not not do crazy life things because I didn’t have my ‘person’ to experience it with.

Guys, it hasn’t been easy. I’m not someone to put on a face (sometimes to a major fault).

Healing hurts. Growing hurts. And being single isn’t always fun.

But I also experienced more than I could have dreamt the moment “single and ready to mingle” became my unwanted and oh-so-dreaded title.

So all I really want to say is this: it is so so¬†so¬†okay to want to meet your “match made in heaven.” It is so okay to desire and dream and hope for something that is good and pure and perfect in the Lord’s sight.

But don’t miss out on where He has you now.

I don’t want you to miss that He is the one and only thing we need. And He is what our story is all about.

So don’t miss out on being planted where you are; don’t ignore people God has so purposefully placed around you, who love you¬†deeply and¬†who you are called to love deeply. Don’t say no to¬†the unknown because you may miss¬†the guy of your dreams.¬†

Because God doesn’t miss a thing.

And He¬†wouldn’t dare miss the moment where two become one in His name. I promise.¬†

My crush with one the guy I randomly emailed¬†and met in real life/thought maybe just maybe we’d date,¬†may not have worked the way I planned, but I also didn’t plan on it happening at all.

But God did. And I learned a whole stinking’ lot (more coming on that soon) and met incredible humans in the process.

So this is the moment I’m just going to tell you to breathe and trust God because He knows what He is doing.

Breathe and know that your story is being written by the best Author of all.

And then repeat. Every stinking’ day.

And wake up ready to live the life the Lord has so graciously given you. It ain’t always easy, but it is¬†always¬†worth it.

Live loved, do good, and love deeply, and God will do His work as He promised.

See ya soon,

Stephanie Lynn

The Box That Matters

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Oh my oh my oh my.

Where do I start?

The box that matters.

The CAUSEBOX.

Let’s just say I love the internet. And I love connecting with people and organizations that I would not have heard of if it wasn’t for the world wide web.

And CAUSEBOX is one of them.

CAUSEBOX is an organization that teams up with do-gooders throughout the world, bringing their creativity, their spark, their story and their mission to your front door.

“The products inside CAUSEBOX help provide jobs, meals, education, clean water, and more to countless women, men, and children around the world.
They have been able to donate 20,000+ meals and support artisan groups in every corner of the world… and they’re only getting started.”
-CAUSEBOX

THAT is why I love them.

I sometimes wish the Lord placed one specific mission/focus on my heart, something like sex trafficking or youth ministry, but what He has given me has been a passion for all things that do good, mean good and love good (I know that is incorrect grammar, but roll with it).

So partnering with a business or organization/non-profit has always been a dream of mine, but without a specific passion or focus in mind, I’ve been lost in where to start.

And CAUSEBOX has given me a starting point.

Because they do what they say: the products inside each box provide jobs, meals, education, clean water and more to people all over the world- all GOOD things that every person in the world needs and deserves.

With every product comes a story and a purpose. A story that matters and a purpose that is   good.

And that is how I want to live my life: with a story that matters and a purpose that is good.

And as believers, we are called to give and love and share in the hope and grace and love that the Gospel has to offer.

And no, not all of the organizations that partner with CAUSEBOX are Christian based, nor is CAUSEBOX affiliated with Christianity, but I think that is what is so cool.

CAUSEBOX and every product within their boxes goes towards a cause, a purpose, and a story that shares hope and grace and love and is for the good of all people.

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A cause of hope because people are earning a better tomorrow and a joyful life through the products that CAUSEBOX distributes.

A story of grace and love because every one deserves to live this life in relationship and love and acceptance, and CAUSEBOX does that through every partnership.

A story of purpose because it is for the good of all people. And who doesn’t love a purpose that is good and for others?

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So there ya have it friends. I’m all in with this company, and I hope y’all will be too.

OH. And here’s a link to the beautiful CAUSEBOX site so you can signed up today.

See ya soon,

Stephanie Lynn

You Graduated, Now What?

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Do me a favor, and take a quick breath.¬†And stop listening to them.¬†Stop trying to answer the constant questions from everyone around you.¬†Stop trying to have all the answers.Because, you won’t have them. You don’t have them.

And that is okay. Not knowing is okay. And I want you to know that. Because you just graduated and that is a huge stinking accomplishment.

A HUGE accomplishment.

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And you should be proud of yourself for that.

And now that you’ve taken a few deep breaths, you can think a little clearer.¬†You can finally think about what you dream as lay your head down at night.¬†You can think about those things that you love, those things makes you giddy, those things that you know are part of your plan but you’re not so sure how to do it.¬†And do it.¬†

Figure out who you are and who you want to become and do it.

If you dream it you can do it. So do it.

By starting small.¬†By getting planted where you are.¬†By responding to that one random coffee date, or diving into that position that isn’t paid but is so where you want to be.

Give all you got into what you want, and don’t give a dang what the world thinks.

Embrace the awkward tension of not knowing what the heck you want to do with your life and take the little big baby steps that will one day get you there.

Forget about the failure. Forget about the money. Forget about the time.¬†And just give it all you’ve got.¬†Because¬†every step leads you somewhere, every decision is one step closer to your dream. And your dream can’t start without you.

Oh- and always remember that¬†your Heavenly Father doesn’t have a watch so it might take awhile (to you, not Him- more on this frustrating truth in a later post).

Trust yourself, pay the bills, and dream the dreams.

And I promise He won’t disappoint.

See ya soon,

Stephanie Lynn

Who Told You You Weren’t Brave?

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I ran into a friend from college at Starbucks while I was home.

A friend who is too sweet to handle, loves really well and went to Zambia for 3 solid months, and she’s a beast at nursing.

Yet she told me that she thought I was so brave to move all the way out to California by myself.

And I wanted to shake her and tell her with as much love and passion as I could that in no way am I brave- especially compared to her.

Now please hear me: I so so so so so appreciate everyone who has supported me and loved me and totally encouraged me as I have taken this literal leap of faith across the country. I am so humbled by every single person who gives me more credit for taking that risk than I ever could deserve.

But please know that I am not brave. I am not a risk-taker who is living a glorious life on the west coast. I do not have more faith in myself/trust myself better than you.

I am not braver than you.

I am not anything more than you.

I am just me.

Just an awkward, goofy, highly emotional-too obsessed with airports and cacti-kinda girl.

I am stinking normal, and so are you.

But that doesn’t mean normal can’t be brave.

That doesn’t mean that normal can’t take a risk, buy a new computer for the heck of it, or spend too much money on a memory or drive 2 hours just to meet a friend for coffee.

Just because you didn’t move across the country doesn’t mean you are a failure.

Just because you stayed in your hometown after college or are nannying full-time after graduating a whole semester early or living in your parent’s basement after 4 years in nursing school, doesn’t mean that you aren’t brave.
That you aren’t living your life.
That you don’t measure up to that person who got that full-time job and travels for a living (not me, just someone I have caught myself measuring myself up against.)

Being brave and taking a risk isn’t just for those few people whose lives look good on social media- it’s for you too.

And taking risks starts with little yet big baby steps.

Little big baby steps that hurt like hell. Lets be honest.

Because what you guys don’t know is that I have had a whole team backing me as I thought through what I wanted to do with my life after college. I took many many many little big baby steps that lead me to my big decision to move across the country.

I took 4 steps forward and 5 steps back almost every day.

I went to a counselor every two weeks or so.

I cried to my mom about my life choices more than I can count.

I questioned, I bargained, I doubted, I cried- a lot.

I took 7 months to learn about myself, learn my dreams, and made the decision to follow them.

I took time to figure it out, and it wasn’t easy.

It wasn’t easy, but I knew what my Heavenly Father was calling me to, and I had to keep moving, even if none of those moves made sense to the world.

And even after making that big decision to move to Southern California, I still am needing to take little big baby steps. I am still figuring out my life.

So the reason I am writing this?

Because I want you to stop saying you wish you could do something ‘crazy’ and
just do it. 

Because I want you to believe and know that you are brave, too.

Please stop telling me I am brave, and please see yourself as the wonderful, brave, strong person that you are, and do what you have been wanting to do.

Do what you think about as you lay your head down at night.

Do your dreams because you can.

I am nothing special. Nothing even close to it.

Please see that you can do it too, but it takes time. It takes steps that may seem so little yet are steps that are so incredibly vital to the process. It takes big decisions, it takes more prayer than you want, and it takes guts to take just one tiny step.

But I know you can do it.

And then remember that the journey isn’t over once you’ve taken the risk. My tears didn’t stop, my questions still linger, but my hope and faith in our God and myself grew 100x more because of those tiny steps.

So pick up your boot straps, write out your dreams and take the first step you need to in order to make those dreams a reality.

And dream big, because that is the only way to dream.

And luckily my good friend Jordan has a whole entire series on this, taking you step by step in how the heck to even take on adult life and take that “risk” you’ve dreamt of taking all your life.

Oh- and I am always open for a new roommate.

See ya soon,

Stephanie Lynn

Gwenn’s Diary | Entry 3: The End is Just the Beginning

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So as of about¬†2 and a half months ago, I emailed a guy thinking, “hey, maybe we’ll just talk and get to know each other. And then maybe in a few months, if I end up going to Passion in Atlanta, I can call him up.”

But instead he called me. He pursued me. He bought a plane ticket to meet me, and took the risk.

 And then, after a 4 day long first date, I put the car in drive and told this guy I was in.

I told him all the reasons he made the long distance worth it, why it he was worth setting my fear aside and trusting the process of it all.

So we trusted the process- the whole 6 weeks of long-distance, then I hopped on a plane and flew down Atlanta to see him for the 2nd time.

And it was great. And wonderful. The guy was a freaking blast.

2 months ago I emailed a guy because of a crush but had no plan- just 300 characters or so all held together in a little email, sent through the air and landing in the guy’s inbox minutes later.¬†

I knew there was a chance of hurt and failure and rejection, but I did it anyway. And little did I know he, the real guy, Jordan Nations, was the kind of guy to take the risk and hop on board the crazy story with me.

He took the risk of responding to me, a girl with a crush and no plan, and he gave it his all. He took me on 7 dates, in 2 different states and 3 different cities. He was a gentleman in every way. We both gave it our all and had a freaking blast doing it.

I had a huge crush on Jordan because he was a man pursing the Lord, living intentionally and taking risks. He took a risk with me, and in the end, the risk paid off.

I didn’t plan on meeting him. I didn’t plan on him flying out to meet me. I didn’t plan any of this.

I didn’t plan on having Jordan be a huge part of my story, teaching me how to love people better, how to trust the process and how to take risks.

We didn’t plan it, but we took the risk and had a blast trying.¬†

I got to be a part of his story, and him mine. With absolutely no regrets.

There is no denying that Jordan will do big things and when he does, I can’t wait to be someone with the privilege of knowing his heart and cheering him on.

Jordan, thank you for taking the risk with me; I wouldn’t have wanted to share this story with anyone else.

And yes it may be an ending of the “2,000 mile carrot throw” but I so know that it is just the beginning to something even crazier.

See ya soon,

Stephanie Lynn

Just 3 Resolutions for 1 New Year

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I really really like the idea of a new year.

A new beginning, a new start, a new “everything.”

But I also love how we can reflect on all the last year had to offer.

What we learned, what we gained, what we lost, and what we shared.

Because all the new is so so good, but the old is something to cherish and learn from, too.

And with that in mind, here are some ways in which I try to end the year right and start the new year rolling:

ONE: Celebrate, don’t hate.

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We all have crummy days. We all have crummy seasons. But don’t let those crummy moments or frustrating seasons keep you from celebrating the good moments. The best moments of your year. Because that is exactly what Satan wants: for you to forget about the good and only worry about the bad. Don’t let him win.

Instead, celebrate the first day you were actually okay to get up and go to work. Praise the Lord for the day your anxiety subsided enough for you to sleep in peace. Dance because you lost your license but got a new one for only $5.

Celebrate every moment of this last year. Don‚Äôt hate the bad times- appreciate ‚Äėem.

TWO: Make a list of all the things.

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Make a list of all you want to do/accomplish/celebrate/hope to do in 2017. Now- it will not all come true- but I have seen that when I write it down, it takes that idea one step closer to becoming a reality. Make it spiritual goals, life goals, travel goals; give it a theme or something- just make the list your own and put it somewhere where you know you’ll happen upon it more than once or twice.

I did this ‚Äúlist thing‚ÄĚ the last two years and have loved looking back on what I hoped to see happen the coming year. This past year, I made myself write out, ‚ÄėTeaching in my own classroom,‚ÄĚ even when I truly felt like I never would want to teach. And little did I know, that would happen 8 months later. For the year of 2015, I wrote a bunch of spiritual goals and the Lord met them and exceeded them in more ways than I could have ever imagined.
Write it down, and I promise you’ll be surprised what one year can do.

THREE: Write a letter to your 2018 future self.

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I did this last year and loved the idea- cept I lost that letter- hopefully I’ll find it soon.

But I remember the night I wrote it, tears streaming down my face, longing for just a glimpse of my future from my Heavenly Father. And a year later, I cannot believe how much has changed from that moment.

I even wrote my letter for next year on a plane to Atlanta- that definitely wasn’t something I planned to be in my 2016.

SO. I’m¬†super stoked to see what this year holds- for you and for me.¬†

OH- And I picked a theme for this coming year- but I’ll share that with ya next time.

See ya soon,

Stephanie Lynn

2016, you were pretty golden; 2017, I dare you to try and do better.

When Mom Was Right

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“Just give it time. Just wait until this time next year. Give it a year, babe.”
That’s what my mom would always tell me.

Because this time last year I was curled up in my pjs, nervous and scared and so worried about my life and what the future held.

I couldn’t see the finish line. I was worn to the bone to where my prayers were barely whispers.

I didn’t want to do anything, be anyone. I didn’t feel like dreaming or trying.

Nothing motivated me.

So I would curl up next to my mom, asking her to just take the pain away. To help me dream. To help me be okay again. To help my understand why Jesus wasn’t making my hurt disappear.

And all she would say would be this: “Just hold on, babe. Healing takes time. Give yourself time. Just imagine where you will be in a year.”

And oh what a difference a year makes.

Because today I am teaching in an elementary school classroom in Aguanga, California.

Today I am dreaming of flying to Washington DC for spring break, going to Europe for a few weeks once school ends and moving to a beach town for the rest of the summer.

I leave to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Atlanta in 3 days.

I am planning, dreaming, dancing and living – when just a year ago I could barely get out of bed.

And you guys know my story- a story where I had a plan and was determined to stick to it, but then God wanted something a little different for me.

So He changed my plans from marriage and Chicago to a move across the country, starting a new story and beginning a whole new adventure.

He changed the fear of the unknown of stage 4 cancer and an incurable disease to living in the moment and loving better and stronger than ever before.

He changed it all- but it took time.

And I am here to just whisper that truth to you today.

I want you to know that healing, growing, living, dreaming- they take time.

I am here to tell you that God isn’t holding back because he wants you to feel the consequences of your actions and reap what you sow. No, but instead, He is holding onto you, trying so hard not to let you go because He can see what comes next, and He can’t wait to let you fly- but you just have to hold out a little longer.

I want you to know that He hears you. That He is moving.
That He has been planning and moving and working this whole dang time.

He was working a year ago when you thought everything was perfect and nothing could go wrong.

He was working when you took your first steps, wrote your own name, and finally received that college diploma.

He was working and is still working and will never stop.

You just have to hold on.

You just have to make it through.

I remember the night I finally realized I was sick and that depression was a real thing- that I wasn’t “me” anymore.

And I remember sitting on my twin bed, in my apartment on the west side of Prague, white knuckle holding onto my bible and journal, hearing the Lord say, “You just have to make it through. Just hold on and make it through.”

And He wasn’t just talking about my next month abroad or the moment my dad told me he had Parkinson’s disease, or the next 6 months of me slowly but surely healing from depression and anxiety. No he wasn’t talking about just one of those moments, but all of them.

He was telling me, “This next season, this next year or so? It’s going to be hard. You are going to wish it away, you are going to cry out, but know, you just have to make it through. You just have to hold on.”

And oh sweet Jesus was my Lord and Savior more than right.

Man what a difference a year makes. Give it time guys. Give yourself time.

And I promise, sooner rather than later, you will be whispering, “Thank you, Jesus.”

See ya soon,

Stephanie Lynn

Day 24 & 25 of Giving | Give & Give Generously

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DECEMBER 24TH & 25TH:

Give & give generously

I am going to be signing off social media for a little while, which is why I am sharing two days of giving in one!

If there has been anything that I have learned during this 25 days of giving and just the last few years of my life in general, is that giving is and always will be way better than receiving.

Because when we give, we are showing that we care and love and cherish those around us.

We are showing that we value that person as a person, and that we see them for who they are, inside and out.

So give all you can today. Give and give well. Give and give generously.

Show someone you love them by buying them socks even though you are the one who loves socks, but it’s the thought that counts. Or give them way too long a hug. Or break your bank just because you love them so dang much.

Give a little too much today so that you are poured out, and I promise you you will be refilled in a heartbeat.

Give with all your might today.

Did I end cheesy enough for ya?

Merry Christmas eery-body.

See ya in a few days,

Stephanie Lynn

Day 23 of Giving | Give Compliments

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I need to let y’all know that I really don’t like using just pictures of myself for my blog, but my friend took these a year ago and made me feel so loved and valued and confident in who I am, so I need to share her work every once and awhile <3.

ANYWAY! 2 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!

SO.

DECEMBER 23RD:

Give compliments

Who doesn’t love a good compliment?

Who doesn’t love being seen and valued for who they are or something good they have done?

So that is my give today- give a compliment.

But not any compliment, like the easy “your hair looks nice,” or “I like your scarf” kind of compliment.

Give someone a compliment on their character. Or their smile. And go into detail a little bit.

Some people just have a smile that lights up the room, or a laugh that is contagious even in the crummiest of moments.

We are all people- people who are desperate to be seen not from the outside but from the inside. We want to be seen for who we are, not what we are wearing one day or how bad of a driver we may be.

See someone today. Give the gift of seeing someone for the true, good and beautiful person that the Lord made theM to be.

And don’t be frugal- throw those compliments out left and right.

Don’t hold anything back.

My Give of the Day:¬†I am going to try my hardest to just cover my parents and brother in compliments. My dad may be a little tough….

See ya soon,

Stephanie Lynn