The Real Best Nine

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Every year on December 31st, my Instagram feed gets packed with the best nine photo collages, highlighting the year’s most liked moments. These colorful collages are fun to look at and get tagged in, but my favorite part is typically the ridiculously sappy captions, which should all come with a cheesy post alert at the beginning. Everyone gets all sentimental, mushy and thankful and I love it!!

The more time I looked at them, though, I realized that sure they highlight the “best” moments, but are these truly the ones I won’t forget?

Here’s my theory. Likes ≠ Memories.

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So, inspired by another friend’s blog, The Good Life of the Hunting Wife, I’ve decided to share my REAL best nine moments. In no particular order, these are the ones I won’t ever forget.

Some are places visited, relationships that have been built, new life seasons, or hard things endured with a new perspective. But these are the truly memorable moments. The ones that define me–as a daughter of Christ, an employee, daughter, sister and friend.

1) Seattle Trip

More about my experience here, but if you don’t want to read all that, here’s what went down. Went to Seattle for my quarter-life birthday. Fell in love with the city, culture, region. Seriously considered moving there. God said no. Learned slowly but surely that God will work every experience according to HIS PLAN, not mine.

All of these experiences are actually all part of a tapestry, being woven together by God, with us only looking at the back–messy, tangled and colorful. Every once in a while, He gives us a glimpse of the front, and, boy is it beautiful! Do you trust what He is doing?


2) Judy

What a blessing this time is in my life. My mentor, Judy, has been an angel in disguise, leading my heart to Christ every time we meet. Plus we meet at Taco Bell, so that’s a win. We haven’t taken a single photo of us hashing through literally everything together, but that’s what makes this relationship so special! It’s that kind of conversation where you forget about time and text messages that need to be answered. A true treasure.

3) Homeowning

So I went and did a crazy. While everyone else my age is traveling, getting married or getting promoted, I’m over here buying a house older than dirt. It has been one of the highlights for sure. But it has also been HARD. Hard to move, duh, that’s seriously the worst. But also, it’s been hard learning how to keep plants alive, change lightbulbs and knowing when to call Mom and Dad to come help. 😉

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But, as I mention in this post, I have no doubt that God is using this new season of homeownership for his glory. I’m just trying to not get in the way of what’s up his sleeve.

4) Barre

In the midst of a busy move, getting used to living all the way across town, far from my gym, I let my physical health get pushed to the back burner. It was fine for a while, but I learned quickly that self-care goes a long way. Bar Method was referred to me by my bestie, and was that gentle (ha!) reminder that I needed to take care of myself. But, this workout program quite literally kicks your butt, so be warned. After only one month of consistent 4-5 workouts a week, I noticed a significant change in my physical body, emotional health, and energy levels. Makes it on the best nine list cause it put my entire physical, spiritual, emotional well-being into check, and was a valuable lesson of treating my body like the temple God created it to be.

5) Lunch Dates

I’d like to say I made an intentional effort to have more lunch dates with friends, but that would be a lie. Often times, while I looked forward to catching up with friends from all parts of my life, it felt instead like I was squeezing them into an already overwhelming schedule. EVERY TIME afterwards, though, I realized why I loved these quality times together. The community we create is what matters–building each other up, laughing, crying, and easily losing track of time. Those lunches that accidentally went an hour over my lunch break? Those early mornings spent at a coffee shop? Those late nights spent with a friend on the couch for hours on hours? Totally worth investing in, and not easily forgotten.

6) ARE Progress

Here’s the truth. Architecture licensing is no joke. For heaven’s sake, you’d think it was medical school or something. 5 years (at least) of school, 5,600 hours of internship, six exams. Seven for me cause we’re in California and everything is harder here. *eyeroll*

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So, in 2016, I took two exams–passed one, failed one. Hey, that’s life. But making progress! Giving up my social life for weeks on end isn’t easy, but the days on days of studying in coffeeshops around town makes up for it. Hopefully 2017 will bring 4 more passed exams!

7) Lifegroup

Leading a small group has pushed me in all the uncomfortable ways. Challenged me to defend my faith, build vulnerable, lasting relationships with women, and welcome people into my house even when I haven’t vacuumed in a few weeks. But the group of ladies that we call lifegroup are the ones who make this memorable.

It’s here, in my un-vacuumed, tiny living room we’ve found refuge in the joys, pains and doubts of life, praying over each other, digging into scripture and having accountability to let it change us. Good stuff.

8) Downtown Academy

More about this enlightening experience of discovering my own city here. But, this program changed me–so much for the better! I ate at restaurants I’d never heard of, explored parts of downtown that I never would have gone before, and met people that are changing the paradigm of sprawl that plagues our city.

Let’s be real for a second. It challenged me. This place I’ve lived all my life has SO MUCH more than I knew about before. SO MUCH of our own city that needs to see the love of Jesus and needs a little love in the restoration of buildings and communities. I wouldn’t trade the connections and experiences for anything. If you’re ever in need of a recommendation of a hole in the wall restaurant with amazing food, I now either know one or know someone who knows one! Score.

9) Dry Seasons

(Might seem odd to put a memory in here that’s not filled to the brim with joy, but hang with me for a second.)

“When did I forget you’ve always been the king of the world?”

These song lyrics rang oh so true this year. My faith at times seemed dormant, stagnant, or just surviving. Naturally, I tried to “fix it” because I wanted that church camp high that makes your insides bubble.

But God proved to me in the waiting that He has always been there, and he always will be. That promise is enough for me. Christ is enough for any dry season or season of waiting.


Don’t worry about anything–pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and THANK HIM for all he has done.

–Philippians 4:6

In a time where the whole world seems to be struggling, sick or grieving, choose to seek thankfulness! The process of submitting your heart to God won’t be the same from one person to another, but I do know that He will work in you. Trust him with the best nine, the worst nine and the 1,483,890,098 (+/-) in between. 😉

What are your REAL best nine?

❤ Stephanie

the real best nine


One thought on “The Real Best Nine

  1. I am honored and blessed to call you friend! I think a friend at the very least knows or is familiar with many, most or all of the greatest moments of the other. It has been fun to hear about many of your adventures. You are remarkable and inspirational to others in how you life. Thank you for sharing your perspectives in life and thankfulness. Blessings in the year to come! 🙂


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