Last Week

I’m back in Nashville. I was welcomed this morning with cold rain, traffic jams, more than one work crisis (which I am getting back to as soon as this little coffee break is over) and I’m desperately trying to ignore this funny little throat tickle.

It’s alright though, because my vacation was perfect. It was a complete blast. Time with family, fun activities, beautiful weather, a new sister, beach, and time with Dave (which is a rare occurrence this year.) It couldn’t have been better. I mean that.

Pictures will come. Lots and lots of pictures. I promise!

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Dance Party!

Something happened when my alarm went off this morning that hasn’t happened in a long time. I woke up.

I know. Weird, right?

I was WIDE awake. Almost jittery with anticipation. Because today is the first day of vacation! Dave and I fly out of Nashville around 4:30 today and we’ll be in Texas by dinner.

This space will probably be a little bare next week, but who knows, I may post a picture or two.

Two Years!

Today’s my blog anniversary. My blogiversary. Thanks for checking in with me over the years. (Ha. Like it’s been SOO long.) It’s weird for me to go back and read through old posts. I hadn’t quite found my voice yet, as they say in the writing world. But here it is! My voice! The one where I say “kind of” and “super” a lot and I use far too many commas.

Do you know what I’d really like for my blogiversary? I’d like you to leave a comment telling me how cool you are. I mean, I already know how cool you are, but if you type it in the comments section, everyone else can see it too. Example: “My name is Steph – I’m cool because I used to hate salad and I taught myself how to love it.” Or “Hi, my name is Dave – I’m cool because I’m married to a lady who taught herself how to love salad.” See what I did there? But really, its so easy and it would SERIOUSLY make my day. Please note: Google Analytics tells me how many people look at my blog. And where they’re from. (twilight zone music inserted here)

And lastly, as a super-awesome-one-of-a-kind-blogiversary-bonus (I’m really not enjoying the word blogiversary at this point) I’m going to give a CUSTOM PAINTING (like the one below) away to a random commenter! So, why are you cool? Get crackin’!

My Hope

I’m feeling a little gross today. Upset stomach, really sleep deprived, and a tinge cranky. But no need to worry, friends. Because yesterday was great.

I help lead a 9th grade girls Bible study at my church and last night we talked about the fact that each person who believes in Christ has a story to tell. We get caught up in trying to fit in or trying to lay low and we forget that the story we have to tell is important and life-changing. We encouraged the girls to share their personal stories about when they first believed that God was God and how their relationship with Him started.

Almost all the girls have shared at this point. Just two or three of the 14 are still holding out. A couple of them have brought me to tears. A couple of them have made me laugh (in a good way, of course) and a couple of them have challenged me to rethink the way I’m doing Christianity. Because these girls have been so willing to share their stories, I decided that today I’d tell you the greatest story I know.

I was practically born in a church. My dad was a youth and music minister and we were in the pew rain or shine, sickness or health, day and night. We even sat in the same spot in each church we attended. Third row back from the piano.

I have always been a rule follower. It was easy for me to obey and to do what was expected and I was always the kid saying, “You’re going to get in so much trouble!” My life of following rules was an easy transition into walking down the center aisle at church to learn about how to become a Christian. My parents and the pastor explained to me what that meant. I believed every word.

God is holy -set apart. He created man and woman in His own image, but Adam and Eve went against what God had planned for them. Their sin broke the bond we had with God and sin deserves death. Because life outside of Christ is a terrible and hopeless thing and God knew that when He made us, He wants us to live for Him. Every person from that day forward has sinned and so every person from that day forward deserved to be separated eternally from Christ by going to Hell. That’s a little heavy, right? The God who created the universe also put eyelashes on me. He wants me to know Him because He’s awesome. If I refuse to know Him, I’m going to suffer for it and He knows that and wants us to choose Him. Because God loved me in a way that still doesn’t make sense, He sent his son, Jesus, to earth to act as a bridge between our sinful lives and His complete forgiveness. Jesus was 100% God and 100% man.

As a kid that didn’t make much sense to me, and honestly it still doesn’t make sense. But my mind is finite, and I’m okay with not understanding everything. What I did understand was that Jesus died a terribly painful death. He was tortured and beaten because the love He had for me was so incredibly powerful that He chose to die – to take my place – because He wanted me to be with Him in Heaven after I die. His death gave me life. And do you know what happened after He died on the cross? He came back from the grave. For real. He was alive. People didn’t believe it, but it was real. He told them to tell their friends and they did because it was… well… shocking, I’m sure. But also because it was a relief. His life and His death and His resurrection from the grave are exactly what had been promised to us. His death saved us. His death saved me.

Isn’t that ridiculous? ME. I do some really awful stuff. I’m still a rule follower for the most part… but I am rotten. Rotten to the core. I’m judgmental and I’m selfish and I ignore Him most of the time. I go through life like I don’t need Him far too often. But He’s still completely in love with me. That sure doesn’t make sense to me either. I’m very unlovely at times and He’s still jealous for me. Because I believe that I’m a sinner and that my life is nowhere near complete without His love and forgiveness, I am trying to live a life in relationship with Him. I’ve accepted Him into my life and I’m forever saved. I can’t lose that. He won’t go back on His word. I’ve been washed clean by His grace.

I’ve been washed clean by His grace.

It hasn’t always been easy. You can read about how NOT easy it has been here. Being a Christian doesn’t mean life is perfect. It means life is hopeful.

All the really awful stuff is temporary. The stomach aches and the sleep deprivation too, I suppose. If you want to know more about being a Christian or if you want to share YOUR story with me… I would SO love to hear that. Shoot me an email (stephhagenart@gmail.com ) or leave a message in the comments section. I promise I will really listen to what you have to say.

Losing It

I just laughed out loud at a noise I heard from the construction project upstairs because I imagined a person making that noise and the look “she” had on her face while making it was hilarious. It’s a slow and interesting decent to crazy, friends.

Yesterday I dropped a banana pepper, 2 peanuts, and a dime under my desk. What I found when I finally got down there (the banana pepper was the tipping point. a dime and a couple of peanuts aren’t too gross. a banana pepper really warrants a small tidying up.) was a nickle and three paper clips. And that’s it. THAT’S IT!

And because everything is better in sets of three: I created 3 new iPhone hobbies in the past 3 days. That’s one per day, if you’re counting.

But I do believe that being slightly crazy gives me more credibility as an artist. So there’s that.

Tesskus

That’s how my youngest sister, whom I will see in one week(!), used to pronounce Texas. And taxi was taski and ask was aks. And when she was little bitty, she had no front teeth for a very long time after a terrible porch step accident and she cut her own bangs way too short and got a really awful Dorothy Hamil/scarecrow haircut. Oh what a sweet hillbilly baby she was. She totally made up for that though, because now she’s super gorgeous. Also she’s graduating high school this year. That’s weird.

Anyway. Texas. I’m leaving in a week. A WEEK, GUYS! It’s kind of all I can think about. And by kind of I mean it’s ALL I CAN THINK ABOUT. So to prepare myself for the journey ahead, the Tuesday list (as started here) is all about my packing list for Texas. Packing lists are a family tradition started by my grandpa on my dad’s side. My dad does them, and now I’m carrying on the wonderful tradition.

Things to pack for TX:

A New Twist on Christmas Crafting

Every year but one since we’ve been married I have decided to make all my Christmas gifts. I spend a great deal of time and effort making things. I call it Stephanie’s Christmas Workshop normally, and it’s very festive and fun and I really do love making things for people. I really really love it. But this year I think I decided to not make my gifts.

I KNOW! It’s hard to believe.

But what I AM doing this year, is crafting all sorts of lovely handmade Christmas decorations. I have ideas for ornaments, little table decorations, fun garland additions, etc. etc. etc. and I’ve never had the time to make any of them because I’m busy making gifts. I’ve finished a handful of ornaments already that I’m super excited about showing to you. So this year, I’m opting for store bought gifts and homemade decor. I’m unnervingly excited about it. (Though… shoot… I just realized that the only gift I’ve purchased so far is for my lovely mama. But also I made something for her a couple months ago that I forgot about. Well, mama, looks like you get two gifts this year!)
And before you all get your panties in a wad because it’s ONLY NOVEMBER 15th and I’m skipping Thanksgiving and corporate America is the devil for trying to jump from holiday to holiday and the world is coming to an end because someone mentioned Christmas before November 26th, let me say this: It takes a long time to make as many decorations as I’ve got floating in my head. I need a whole month. Ok? Fine.

So here’s my round-up of inspiration and things I plan to make. Sources for the ideas are below each picture. Also… all the Christmas decorations I bought on clearance last January are brown, gray, white, red, and a little dark green. Very traditional looking. I’m planning to stick to that color scheme.

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I want SO MUCH to hang that red coat and that little deer on my tree. Aren’t they the cutest?



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