5 Years, 5 Reasons

5 Years, 5 Reasons

Today is our fifth wedding anniversary. It seems like just yesterday we were standing at the altar and saying, “I do.” We’ve been together almost nine years which seems unbelievable—how did nine years fly by so fast? How did five years of marriage happen so quickly?

I thank God every day for the gift He gave me when He brought Stephen into my life. In honor of our fifth anniversary, I thought I would share five things I admire and love about my husband.

He loves the Lord. I so admire Stephen’s relationship with the Lord. It’s real, and he is so full of faith. When things go wrong or outside of my plans, I begin to question God. Stephen is the one to remind me of God’s faithfulness, love and sovereignty.

He leads and guides me. Stephen’s the spiritual leader in our home and takes that responsibility seriously. He prays over me every morning before I leave for work. He shares with me what he is listening to or studying. He prays with me and for me.

He serves me without complaint. He creates spreadsheets to monitor our budget, takes my car in the early morning hours to get gas, makes sure my car is taken care of and maintained, cleans up after Rosie, helps with grocery shopping and laundry, and does the dishes every single night. Plus, he does so much more. Stephen understands the small things matter just as much as the big stuff, and he’s always looking for ways to serve me and help me.

He pursues me. He calls during the day just to say, “I love you,” or sends texts as a reminder. In May, he had to go to Birmingham to work for a couple of days, and he left loves notes hidden throughout the house and my car. I’ve never, in all the years we’ve been together, questioned whether I’m loved by him.

He cheers me on in whatever I pursue. Stephen reads every article I write while it’s still in draft form—and sometimes that means he reads 13 versions of the same article.  He supported me when I wanted to apply for graduate school a few years ago, and he supported me when I decided not to go. He is my taste-tester when I’m baking something new. It doesn’t matter what interest I’m pursuing—he’s my biggest cheerleader.

Happy Anniversary, Hamby. I’m honored to be your wife, and I love you more today than I did five years ago.

He Knows My Name

“Thank you for your time this morning, Morgan.”

I paused for a brief moment. I had just finished wrapping up an interview for an article I was writing. I had spent 30 minutes or so talking to this person on the phone, and I had exchanged several emails before the phone call. And he still didn’t know my name.

The professional side of me said to forget it—it was just a slip-up! But the human side of me grimaced and felt a twinge of hurt. Did I really make so little an impression that my name isn’t even memorable? Does he think that little of the time we’ve spent talking?

You see, I’m always worried that someone won’t remember my name. I’m guilty of reintroducing myself to people several times, worried that they won’t remember me from the last time we met. It’s not a great habit to have.

But after wrapping up that phone call this week, I started thinking about why it means so much when someone remembers your name. It makes you feel “known”—like the other person took the time to file away your name in their brain. It makes you feel special. (Or at least it makes me feel special.)

But the more I thought about names, I considered that God—the Creator of the universe—knows my name. He created me (Psalm 139:13). He knows the number of hairs on my head (Luke 12:7)—and there’s a lot of those! My name is written on the palm of His hand (Isaiah 49:16). He has redeemed me and called me by name (Isaiah 43:1).

Obviously people aren’t going to always remember my name. I’m not always going to be rememberable to everyone I meet. But truthfully, it doesn’t matter. My Heavenly Father knows my name.

 

photo credit: Greg Rakozy
photo credit: Greg Rakozy

When I Learned to Be a Rejoicing Friend

When I Learned to Be a Rejoicing Friend

REJOICING FRIENDTheodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

I compare myself to people (and by people, I mean my friends) quite a bit. There have been times when I felt like their lives were moving faster and going better than my own. Before Stephen and I got engaged (five years ago!), it seemed everyone else had a ring on their finger. When I lost my job, some friends were promoted or got new jobs. When we renewed a lease on our apartment, some friends were buying houses. When we began talking about starting a family, friends announced they were pregnant.

I won’t lie and say that I handled all of those situations with joy and grace. It’s a lot easier to mope and sulk and say, “Why can’t that be me?

But that’s not what God’s Word calls us to do. In his epistle to the Romans, the apostle Paul wrote, “Rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15). (He continues on to write, “Mourn with those who mourn,” but that’s a post for another day.)

We’re called to rejoice with our friends. We’re called to celebrate the engagements, weddings, new jobs, homes, promotions, babies, graduations, good days, etc.

It’s not always easy. Actually, I can tell you from personal experience that it can be hard sometimes. But my goal for the last year or so has been to be intentional in rejoicing with my friends and family. Here are a few things I’ve learned/gained from trying to be a rejoicing friend:

1. Rejoicing with those who rejoice gives me an opportunity to praise God. A friend just got engaged? Praise God for the marriage covenant. Someone got a promotion? Praise God for giving her the talents and skills she needs to thrive. A friend is expecting a baby? Praise God for new life. The blessing doesn’t have to be “mine” to praise Him.

2. Friendships are stronger when jealousy doesn’t hinder them. A jealous heart is not a joyful heart. If my first reaction to a friend’s good news is a stiff posture and quick grimace, it can strain a friendship. Celebrating your friends results in a closer bond.

3. The Lord is there (and cares) when rejoicing is hard. Let’s face it—sometimes celebrating is hard. It’s hard to go to a wedding when you’re wondering if you’ll ever plan your own. It’s difficult to celebrate a friend’s new job when you’re not even getting an interview. It’s hard to hold your friend’s baby when you’re wondering when your time will come. Rejoicing with those who rejoice doesn’t mean you can’t mourn and feel sorrow. But take that sorrow to the Lord. First Peter 5:7 says to cast your cares on the Lord because He cares for you. When rejoicing is hard, I need the Lord’s strength even more.

My Best Friend’s Wedding

Tomorrow is my best friend’s wedding day. Allison and I have been friends for almost 18 years. As she said earlier today, our friendship is officially a legal adult. I’m so thankful for Allison, and so happy that she has found Andrew. Their nerdiness complements each other. (Just kidding—okay, not really.)

Allison is the kind of friend everyone wishes they could have. When we were younger, people often told us that our friendship wouldn’t last after high school and we would eventually grow apart. Thankfully they were wrong. I still count her as one of my best friends.

In honor of Allison’s wedding weekend, I thought I would share something I wrote about her our senior year of high school. Allison and I were co-editors of our high school paper, and for the senior issue, we wrote a feature article on each other. (Please excuse the horrible writing and grammar. I’m happy to say I’m much better than I once was.)

Everyone needs a friend like this… and to think I met mine at Buddy’s BBQ

We disagree over who approached whom first, but it was one of those moments when you look back and realize God really had a plan. It was the summer before second grade at Buddy’s BBQ, and we were both there with our families. Eying one another from across the restaurant throughout all of dinner, one finally approached the other saying, “Don’t we go to the same school?”

That was the day I met Allison. Although the actual “friendship” didn’t quite begin on that particular day, that meeting sure helped when I walked into Mrs. Cox’s second grade class and saw her familiar face. It was nice to have somebody to sit next to during class and play with on the playground. When we would draw and color in class, I would draw pictures of the two of us. We became inseparable—where one went, the other followed.

littlekidsAllie and I are two of the most different people that you will ever meet. She’s logical, reasonable, and tends to be more upbeat than I am. I jump to conclusions, I’m very loud, and I’m not as perky as she is. Yet we’ve still somehow managed to be the perfect pair—we balance each other out, occasionally smack some sense into the other, and simply complete each other.

There have been times in my life where I don’t think I could have ever gotten through without Al. She has been there for me when I didn’t think I had anyone else to turn to. I remember when I was having a rough time in middle school going through some health problems. It was a difficult time for me, and Allison knew it. She showed up at my house one afternoon with a teddy bear and a plate of cookies. Those cookies didn’t last very long, but I still to this day have that teddy bear. Everyone needs a friend like Allison: someone who is going to support you no matter what, bring you a teddy bear when you’re not feeling well, and simply make you laugh hysterically just because she can. I’m lucky I have had this friend for 11 years.

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I probably know more about Allison than most people. I know she dances as she walks, she still has Christina Aguliera and N*Sync CDs on her shelf, and her closet is a complete mess most of the time. I also know she will probably kill me for telling the entire student body that her closet is usually a mess. She likes root beer and Dr. Pepper, and she really likes the fried chicken that is only served on Sunday at Cracker Barrel. She is a self-proclaimed nerd who loves reading Jane Austen, but Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is one of her favorite books. However, Ella Enchanted has been her favorite book since middle school and will probably remain her favorite for a while. She turns red when people rave about how amazing she is (because it is all true), and she is one of the only people that can be so insanely perky without being completely annoying. I could go on forever, but that would take away the little things you find out as you get to know her.

It has been a wonderful experience to work with her on the paper. To be honest, and I probably never even told her this, I was a little nervous about working side-by-side with her on The Panther Prowl. We had never actually worked together on a project in all the years we’ve been in school together. But all my nerves were pushed aside as we successfully finished the first issue of the paper. Honestly, if you’re looking for someone to keep you calm when you’re stressing out, Allison is the one to go to. She was the voice of reason among the editors and tried her hardest to de-stress us. This publication would not be the same without her.

olderThere are times where I wonder what I would do without her, or what my life would have been like had we not met at Buddy’s or were not in the same 2nd grade class. This August, we’ll be saying our goodbyes to each other as we go our separate ways on a new adventure in life. I know there will be times where I miss her hugs and the dorky faces she makes that make me laugh. But I know this goodbye is not forever—not a chance! In my opinion, we’ve made it through eleven years of friendship, so we can make it through many more.

Allison, you’ve been like a sister to me, and I love you. Good luck, and remember I’m always a phone call away.

To this day, every word is still true! Allison, I love you, and I’m so happy for you. Best wishes, and remember…I’m always a phone call away. 

Thank a Teacher

When I think about the people who have had the biggest influence in my life, I of course immediately think of my parents. But after them, I think of my teachers.

In today’s society, teachers are given a lot of… well, crap. Their importance is underestimated. Their worth is higher than the number on their paycheck. I think often times people forget about the little things teachers do daily— the little things teachers did for them.

When I think of teachers, here’s what I remember…

I remember my 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Bragwell. I remember how she called my parents and apologized for making me move a behavior card. I had gotten in trouble for reading out loud during quiet time. I was the only kid in the class who knew how to read, and she felt bad for squashing my desire to read.

I remember my 2nd grade teacher, Susan Cox. I remember how she made birthdays special.

I remember my 6th grade homeroom teacher, Mrs. Herald. My mom had a major surgery the day my great-grandmother died. She let me sit in her classroom and cry.

I remember my 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Perry. I was in her class when I discovered how much I really loved writing. She read everything I wrote and helped guide me in the right direction.

I remember my high school math teacher, Coach Klein. He was the lucky duck who got to have me for Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Statistics. Poor guy. I remember he would come in early and patiently help me with my homework every morning.

I remember my high school government teacher, Mrs. KP. It was in her class I realized I loved history and government. It was that class that motivated me to declare political science as my minor in college.

I remember my high school accounting teacher, Coach Bruce. When I was sick my junior year with kidney problems and my back would be hurting, he arranged for me to have a comfortable chair in his class so I would be more comfortable.

I remember my senior English teacher, Ms. Jordan. I remember how she made literature fun, and writing about it even more fun.

I remember my Latin teacher, Mrs. Holt. Even though all I actually know is “Aqua est bona,” Mrs. Holt really influenced my love for Roman history and Italian culture.

I remember my journalism teacher, Mrs. Williams. When another teacher decided to tell me I didn’t have a career in writing, she told me to forget her and keep on. She encouraged my dreams more than any other teacher.

I remember my English 1020 professor, Ms. Lynn. I never hesitated to go to her with a problem, even after the class was over.

I remember my editing professor, Dr. Gump. Though she intimidated me to death and once made me cry (okay, three times), she challenged me more than any other professor. As an editor now, I’m so grateful for her.

I remember my data analysis professor, Dr. Blake. Though I’m still not entirely sure what exactly I learned (sorry), I remember he was always available to help and answer questions.

I remember my reporting professor, Dr. Alligood. I remember when I felt like I was drowning in my classes, he sat in his office and listened to me cry and vent.

You see, most of these teachers probably don’t remember half these things. Some probably don’t even realize what an influence they’ve had on my life (or others). The thing is, I wasn’t some special student. These teachers went above and beyond the call of duty for everyone who walked in their classroom.

Besides my parents, these people have had the biggest influence on my life. They have encouraged me in my career, in my relationships, in my faith, and in life in general. They’ve been a listening ear. They’ve provided wisdom and counsel. They’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty.

Wherever you are in life today, you probably have a teacher (or a few) to thank.

So, thank you.

23 for 23

Today is my 23rd birthday. I would like to tell you that I feel older and wiser, but I don’t. Oh well. But I do feel really blessed to be where I am in life at 23-years-old. The past couple of years have been exciting— college graduation, a new job, marriage, another new job (my dream job). At 23, I’m working full-time at a job I love, I’m married to my best friend, and I’m thankful for the life God has blessed me with. It’s easy to take some things for granted sometimes, so I decided to list 23 things I’m really thankful for this year.

1. I’m thankful for a relationship with my heavenly Father and the grace He shows me daily. I became a Christian when I was 8-years-old. God has worked in my life in so many ways. Over the past few years, I’ve gained a better understanding of who God is. He’s not some hard-hearted taskmaster sitting in the clouds making sure I live a “good” life. He’s a loving Father, patient listener, righteous judge, and forgiver of my sins. He shows grace to me every time I mess up. I’m so thankful for that.

2. I’m thankful for a husband who loves me deeply. I don’t believe in soul mates at all, but Stephen is everything I could have ever hoped for in a husband. I’m thankful he loves me despite my flaws. He is patient and kind, and just a bit silly and weird. After all, I’m a little weird too. I don’t want to be cheesy and say he completes me, but my life wouldn’t be as wonderful without him.

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3. I’m thankful for my parents. My mom and dad have always been my biggest supporters. I’m thankful for the 30-minute phone conversation I have with my mom almost every afternoon and my dad’s constant support. They have always cheered me on in whatever I’ve set my mind to.

4. I’m thankful for my in-laws. From day one they accepted me into their family. If it wasn’t for them, I would have been eating college cafeteria food every day my freshman year (sorry mom for not using the meal plan). I’ve been welcomed into their family so well.

5. I’m thankful for my siblings— both blood and marriage. I’m thankful for my little brother’s dry, sarcastic humor. I’m thankful for Kelly’s personality and the way she can brighten up a room. I’m thankful for Chris’s (or Uncle Bubba as he is sometimes called) light-hearted spirit and kindness to everyone.

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6. I’m thankful for my job. The job-hunt season of my life was one of impatience, frustration, tears, and stress. It retrospect, it was all worth it. What a growing experience it was for me. I love my job and I’m grateful God allows me to use my gifts for His glory. I pray over each study before I start working on it and after it is completed. I pray for the people who will eventually buy it. What a blessing that God uses me for His kingdom work in this way.

7. I’m thankful for my co-workers and my company. I’m so thankful I work with genuine, thoughtful, godly people. It’s a blessing to work for a Christian company. I’m thankful for Chapel, for prayer times at work, for opportunities to dive into Scripture.

8. I’m thankful for the kids in my life and the parents who let me be part of their child’s life.  I never knew that baby fever would happen so quickly! I don’t really want kids at this stage in my life, but I’m really thankful for the parents who let me part of THEIR kid’s life. Thanks for letting Stephen and me come to sporting events, hold your babies, kidnap your kids and feed them ice cream, etc. For real, I love your kids. Thanks.

Let's me for real. Leslie, your kids are some of my favorites. Not that I play favorites. But if I did. Too bad Lauren is too cool to hang out with me. But I love her too.
Let’s be for real. Leslie, your kids are some of my favorites. Not that I play favorites. But if I did. Too bad Lauren is too cool to hang out with me. But I love her too.

9. I’m thankful for God’s provision. The first 15 months of marriage taught me to rely on God more than ever before. I don’t have my “dream house” yet. I probably won’t for a while, and that’s okay. I’m thankful I have what I need. I have a roof over my head. I have a furnished apartment. I have a bed. A door that locks. Running water. Electricity. Cable (even if it’s Comcast and sucks). Food in the refrigerator (actually I need to go grocery shopping, but I have money to do so). We have been so blessed. I’ve learned a lot about needs and wants. God has provided everything we needed.

10. I’m thankful for my best friend Kourtney (and you too, Dustin). Kourt and I lived together our sophomore year of college and then again during our senior year. Living together brings out the best and worst in people— and honestly, if Kourtney survived my worst…well, I need to keep her as my friend. Kourt is like the sister I never had. She has a sister, but whatever. I’m thankful that no matter how much time goes between each visit, we pick up right where we left off. She is one of the truest, most genuine, caring, loving friends I have. You can’t have her. I already have to share her with Dustin.  Sorry.

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11. I’m thankful I learned how to cook. I didn’t know how to boil water five years ago. Ask my sister-in-law. She taught me….she was 16. I’ve come a long way. I’m constantly trying new recipes, and even getting creative and making up some of my own unique recipes. There’s one other person who is very thankful I’ve picked up this skill— Stephen. I think he was getting tired of Chicken Alfredo and tacos every other night.

12. I’m thankful for my grandparents and Stephen’s grandparents. I’m thankful that at 23-years-old, I still have a great relationship with them. I’m thankful that they’re healthy and still an active part of my life. I know it’s a blessing to be in my twenties and still have all of my grandparents in my life.

13. I’m thankful for my friends. New friends and old friends. I’m thankful to still be friends with my best friends from high school. I truly believe we share a bond that neither distance nor time can break. I’m thankful for recent friends and the way they touch my life today.

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14. I’m thankful for the Bible. I’m really thankful for the Word. I’m thankful for the mornings spent reading it. I’m thankful for the quiet moments with the Lord turning through the pages of Scripture. I’m thankful He speaks to me through His Word. I’m thankful for the truths found in it. I’m thankful that at 23, I’m finally beginning to understand just how important God’s Word is for my daily life.

15. I’m thankful for Oreos. All the different kinds. If you’re not thankful for Oreos, you might not be human. Weirdo.

16. I’m thankful for my education. I’m thankful that my parents raised me with the mind-set that education is important. I’m thankful they saved for college so I went debt-free. I’m thankful for the teachers that influenced me along the way—elementary, middle-school, and high school (looking at you JJ, KP, Holt, and Williams). I’m thankful for the teachers that encouraged me to set my goals high. I’m thankful for college professors that let me break down in tears in their office (thanks Alligood), helped me sharpen my skills (Gump), patiently answered my questions (Blake), and provided wisdom and counsel (all of ya). Journalism isn’t always an easy major— I’m thankful for the professors that truly challenged me to be great.

17. I’m thankful for my experience at Vera Bradley. I’m glad I worked at a job I didn’t really care for. I’m glad I worked in a customer service field. I gained life skills and experience. I know what it feels like to be the store employee you’re yelling at over a coupon. I learned how to plaster a smile on my face even when I didn’t want to. I learned how to treat people with respect.

18. I’m thankful for Google. Whatever. I’m weird. But seriously, how many times a day do you google something? I’ve grown up in the information-at-your-fingertips era. It’s annoying, but let’s face it. Google is awesome.

19. I’m thankful for the unique personality God gave me. I’m so guilty of comparing myself to other people. I’m thankful that God made me me. I’ve got a lot of quirks, but hey, I believe it makes me special. As a treat, here’s my favorite song from when I was three-years-old, brought to you by the famous singer known as Big Bird (and you people wonder where my ego came from…this is what I listened to everyday).

20. I’m thankful for my family. I seriously have the best family ever. They’re wonderful and I love them. I grew up with all boys until I was 14 and my sweet Hannah entered the picture. Even though she’s now the favorite and Papaw built her a gigantic doll house (still waiting on my doll house, Papaw). I’m thankful for my aunts and uncles and cousins. They’re pretty great.

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21. I’m thankful for laughter and the people who make me laugh. Laughing is my favorite thing. Laughing so hard I can’t breathe—not so much.

22. I’m thankful for a new beginning every day. I’m thankful for each day God gives me to wake up and live my life. I may complain about waking up before the sun rises and going to work, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m thankful for the fresh start I have every day.

23. Finally, I’m thankful for the season of life I am in. I think 23 is going to be fun. 21 and 22 had some “big” moments— college graduation, marriage, two new jobs. I’m not really expecting any “big” moments for 23, but I’m excited to see where God takes me.

Bravo for making it through the longest blog ever!

Also, Facebook friends…thanks for the birthday love.

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