Normal people –> live in same city, date, get engaged, take engagement photos, get married.

Stephen and I –> short time in same city, move to different states, get engaged, live in different states, still be engaged, look for jobs in same state, still be engaged, elope?, maybe get Brett Photography to snap some shots after the fact. I apologize if you aren’t getting cute engaged photo Christmas cards from us, but this isn’t our first Christmas as fiances (here’s hoping it will it be our last!!) and our only photos are instagrammed. So, from both of us to all of you . . . Merry Christmas.




give thanks – day 20

I know it’s a bit early, but since my family celebrated Thanksgiving last weekend, I have been in the Christmas spirit!

The trees are lit and decorated and I have dusted off all my Christmas CDs and found all my holiday playlists.

I love to sing “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and all the artist variations of classic holiday hits. However, I find myself focusing and thinking on the lyrics of several others “Mary Did You Know,” “O Holy Night,” “A Baby Changes Everything,” “O Come Let Us Adore Him,” and even “Little Drummer Boy.”

I am reminded of the true reason of Christmas. My heart is full of joy and my eyes of tears with gratitude that God has given me the greatest gift of all in the form of a baby in a manger. Not only that, but that Jesus agreed to step down from heaven to become a humble servant in order to tell of the Father’s love, be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, and allow us a way to be reconciled to God.

That is something to be thankful for. Thankful for Jesus’ ministry of reconciliation. Thankful that The Lord orchestrated that good news to be shared with me. Thankful for the opportunity to be Christ’s ambassador in a lost and broken world.

I pray as artists record and perform the Christmas songs this season that they would understand what they sing, and that the Lord breaks their hearts and draws them close to Him.

give thanks – day 17

Thankful for my incredible family, the memories, and the traditions.

Today, we went to the tree farm, got a Christmas tree for the house. Then we started the process of laying out all the lights for the outdoor tree. Halfway through we left for thanksgiving dinner with the family. Finished the day the lighting of both the indoor and outdoor trees.

The star on our outdoor tree has been in the family since my dad was in 1st grade. It’s been on top of a Bowles Christmas tree every year. Today was the 25th anniversary of the lighting of our outdoor tree and the 50th anniversary for that star.

It was a full day, but I have ended the day with such a full heart. I’m thankful for my family and all of the weird, awesome, and slightly redneck things we do.

They are my favorites.









lunar eclipse. bethlehem star.

On December 21 at 2:42 am, I stood in the crisp, quiet cold in absolute awe of my Creator.

The countryside presents me with many beauties that the city lacks—crystal clear, starry night skies and sunsets with seemingly haphazard strokes of color perfectly painted by the Creator.

Tonight I was thankful to be in the middle of nowhere. I stood in my back yard and beheld the awesomeness of God. As the shadow of earth cast a dusty-red haze on the moon, I was grateful that my God would put on such beautiful displays of His glory!

Because it is almost Christmas, the shepherds came to mind. Shepherds were marginalized individuals in Jewish culture. They were considered unclean because they killed and ate “unclean” animals in order to survive in the fields. They were also not allowed in the temple to worship due to their unclean nature. They reeked of sheep and often kept to themselves.

However, the beauty of Christmas is that Jesus stepped out of Heaven into a manger and became poor for our sake. He came in order to seek and save what is lost. He came for the broken, the marginalized, the downtrodden . . . for all.

The shepherds may not have been allowed in the temple, but they were the first personally invited into the presence of the Great High Priest as He lay in a manger.

How beautiful. I can only imagine that the Bethlehem star was as breathtaking to them as the eclipse was for me.

The invitation – a star. The event – the birth of their Savior.

May every glance at a star invite us into the presence of our Savior. May we praise His name with the Heavens and rejoice in the beauties that are afforded to even sinful men.

“He determines the number of stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power . . . Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights above . . . Praise him sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars.  . . Let them praise the name of the lord, for he commanded and they were created. He set them in place forever and ever. “ – Psalm 147:4-5 and Psalm 148:1, 3-5.

homeward bound rules

If you ever watched the movie Homeward Bound as a kid (or as a parent), then you are familiar with Homeward Bound Rules . . .

Every road leads home.

Today, that truth is ringing in my ears and warming my heart.

My focus is not on the cold, the slush, or the 6 hour drive ahead of me. My focus is on the destination and the loved ones who will be waiting on me. No matter how chaotic my life has been the past few weeks, I am always welcome at home. Now, there’s no promise that it’ll be less chaotic there. . . if you know my family, then you understand it’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation in full swing.

But there’s no place I’d rather be for the holidays. Mom still trying to get everything decorated and passing off cooking duties. My brother swearing he’s not touching another ornament and refusing to put on anything other than his Mt Dew pajama pants. My dad hiding his fruitcake (even though nobody else likes it) only to find it in June.

We’ll hustle and bustle to family functions, Christmas brunches, parties, and parades. At the end of the day we’ll come together in the living room, laugh, joke, and be warmed by the heat that “all those freaking lights” on our tree put off (according to Mom).

I like them 🙂

And Christmas morning we’ll wake up to a fire, super slow cooked grits, Kenny G Christmas music, and the blessing of another year together.

Today. . .nothing matters. Not finals. Not travel. Not packing or driving. Today, the only thing that matters is every road leads home, and that’s where I’m going.

So thankful. So blessed. So excited.