What I learned from twenty six

Twenty six brought me (nearly) one year closer to my masters and grew my emotional resiliency in ways I am forever grateful for.

Twenty six was about holding out on the good in order for the great-

I learned friendships are best experienced in person-

I learned the peace that comes when you stop trying to change the whole world-

I learned simplicity can be as much a spiritual discipline as prayer or fasting-

Here's to the adventures of being twenty-seven!


P.S. YOU CAN READ WHAT I LEARNED FROM TWENTY-THREE HERE and TWENTY-FOUR HERE  and TWENTY-FIVE HERE

 

sayonara 2016 | end of year review

Much of 2016 was spent wishing I was in Greece, and in recent weeks Aleppo.  I am thankful for the prayers of each of you as I continue discerning this broken heart of mine.

(some of) This Year's Highlights
1. Greece
2. Starting the adventure of Graduate School
3. Val's wedding
4. Moving into my apartment
5. Traveling to Ohio to see family
6. M's confirmation
7. Grayton Beach with some of the greatest people
8. Lake Weekends
9. Squadmate Football traditions
10. M's new house

I listened to these albums on repeat
1. Let There Be Light- Hillsong Worship
2. Hardlove- Needtobreathe

Favorite Books
1. Seeking Refuge 
most other reading was grad school related

Favorite Reads Online
1. The Story of Iran's Church in Two Sentences 
2. Biblical Hospitality: What Happened When Our Christian Family Stopped Inviting Our Church Friends to Dinner
3. LESVOS, GREECE: AFTERWORD (THERE ARE THINGS WE DO NOT TALK ABOUT)

Favorite YouTube
Fear Not- The Church and the Syrian Refugee Crisis

Looking forward to 2017 because ...
1. I'll be three semesters closer to that MSW
2. International travel opportunities
3. Paying off my car! 

photos for val's wedding were taken by Love Be Photogaphy 

photos for val's wedding were taken by Love Be Photogaphy 

Bring it on 2017... bring.it.on

 

 

Christmas 2016

It is with weariness in my heart this morning, that I rejoice in this truth: The Light came into the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Even when there seems to be less than a thrill of hope in our dark days we cling to this truth. Merry Christmas all! I pray this season is filled with love and the expectation of hope God brings to our world. I pray this next year finds you surrounded by loved ones and the courage to pursue your deepest passions.

I cried through the Christmas Eve service last night in its entirety.  Memories of Lesvos, and Skala, and Moria filled my head and heart with such a contrast to the peace and warmth I was experiencing.  Reconciling the different worlds I belong to is becoming increasingly difficult these days.  

One of my favorite worship songs to this day is Hillsong's Hosanna.

Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause
— Hillsong's Hosanna

This year there has been much heart break, darkness, and grief.  
At times, I have begged to be aware of less, to feel less.  
Not last night though- last night I was so incredibly grateful for the privileges I have had this year to join others in the kingdom work of restoration.  I pray for opportunities, courage, and endurance to enter into broken places to bring light and life and peace.  

I am grateful for each of you!  Your support, friendship, and love is of great encouragement as I pursue passions that aren't always the most traditional or tidy in nature.  

Merry Christmas and may peace be with you, 
Stephanie-Therese

"Well someone is a little entitled..."  The comment left his lips after a moment of me insisting I deserved something absurd out of our relationship.  

Everything in me wanted to shut down, to walk out of the restaurant and be done with this brunch date.  It was like receiving feedback, but in a public place... this wasn't a Tuesday and it wasn't sandwiched between two other comments about how amazing I am.  No, this was just the truth.  Plainly put with no sugar-coating.

 We finished brunch on egg shells, he apologized for his remark and I said "it's fine."

Earlier, we had agreed to go pick out a Christmas tree; considering the circumstances I was feeling (and thinking) a lot of things but festive wasn't one of them.  We got in the car silently and headed east.  I looked out the window and tried to collect my thoughts.  

I wondered if this is what it meant to be an adult... hearing something that made you want to eat a pint of ice cream and still making the decision to stay instead of leave. 

I thought back to the constructive feedback I received while on the race... then I remembered something my squad leader said at month five debrief: 

If you're offended by something it's because of one of two reasons.  Either what was said is true and you don't want it to be -OR- what was said isn't true and you're not secure enough in what is true to not be bothered.  Either way, offenses are a personal issue. 

I choked back my tears as I opened my mouth to share... "I am really offended by what you said about me being entitled, because I think I am too" 

Sweet friends, 
This year has been amazing in so many ways.  I woke up on new years day in Greece.  I walked away from good-enough in search of can't live without.  I jumped in the lake and danced all night.  I moved into the sweetest little apartment and on Saturday I will be 33% of the way done with graduate school.  
I have great friends and access to very good wine.  Life is good. 

And yet... on any given day, if asked, I could list one hundred ways it could be better.  My flesh is so susceptible to comparison and jealousy it's shameful.  My demands for easier and faster and more are embarrassing.  And on Sunday, M pointed it out... called it like he saw it.  

While it's not fun for this to be the first post I am writing in months... it needed to be written.  

"We don't learn to love each other well in the easy moments.  Anyone is good company at a cocktail party.  Love is born when we misunderstand one another and make it right."- Shauna Niequist

My prayer for you tonight is not that you will never be offended.  It's not even that you will never find yourself feeling entitled (although personally I am doing some serious self reflection and prayer surrounding the issue).  
My prayer is that you have someone, a safe someone, who will call you out on the things that make you less than Christlike.  In moments when you're misunderstood, or understood a little too well, leaving is easy...I pray that in moments of offenses you stay and learn to love one another well.