seek first…

This may be a somewhat controversial and difficult post, but try to bear with me until the end.

C and I have been married for 887 days, 19 hours, and some odd minutes and seconds by the time I submit this post. That translates into almost two and a half years. So basically no time at all. We’re still figuring things out. We strive to put the Lord first and use his Word as guidance for our daily lives together…but it’s always tempting (and not always wrong) to look to other earthly examples for guidance.

In the year leading up to our marriage and the one immediately following it, though, I played the comparison game. You may know how it goes, but let me explain. As a young married couple, you join in activities with other young, married couples. When you first start hanging out with this new crowd, it’s kinda like dating–you fail to see imperfections. All you see is all these couples who have everything together. They’ve been on mission trips together and traveled the world. They are graduated and have bought a home. They are planning for their first child. Perfect. Comparison ensues. It’s tough being a newly-wed couple and not playing the comparison game. It’s human nature–but what it really does is elevate the lives and choices of others above God’s divine plan for your own relationship (idolatry).

60681ed3926e7e176b96629476efb209

So needless to say, the comparison game never really got me anywhere in my marriage, and it certainly didn’t help me make friends all that much.

Now let’s jump to the other extreme–when couples around you are struggling. This is a new one for us, as we got married right before/around most of our friends. We have a few friends who’ve been married for years, but most are happy, honeymooning newlyweds like us (ha).
Sure, you know of people who have gone through difficulties in their marriage, but until you’re actually married, you never think that can happen to you. And it’s heartbreaking when it’s your friends–your family. All you want to do is whatever you can to help fix it…but then you realize that, hey, my relationship isn’t perfect. I really should be working on myself.
But isn’t this just a different kind of idolatry? Wanting to work on your marriage just so you don’t lose what you have?

fc2ace042845dd935ee47534977c6123

So what then, is our calling as a married couple? Believe me, if I had it all figured out, I probably wouldn’t be rambling away on this blog post. But here’s what I think…we are called to seek Christ above all else. When that’s happening in marriage, it shouldn’t matter if your with couples who seem to have everything together, seem to be struggling daily, or are a mix of both. If Christ is the focus, then marriage is less likely to be distracted by trying to achieve marital bliss or avoiding the pitfalls of relationships. It’s focused on service–to one another and to others in the name of Jesus.

bcc3fe91ba2c88abb40e327acf62ace3

Oh, how I pray for this for my marriage. (And no, after 2.5 years, we don’t have this all figured out.) I pray for a heart that seeks God’s will and timeline for our marriage instead of the world’s plan. I pray for God’s wisdom to guide my husband’s leadership in our marriage. Even when my actions and words don’t show it, I pray that my heart will be softened to the Lord’s will and my words and actions will follow.

0e0eb563316fd576bbfec0cbf07b0ee2

I know we aren’t perfect–but that’s really not our goal is it? I hope that we can be an example of how two imperfect people can choose to forgive and extend grace time and again and continue to love one another as Christ loved the church. I hope we continue to grow. I hope people look at the evolution of our relationship and see God’s hand in teaching us how to love daily.

9214263852f7c2c3b9bb64922e68ab12

As I wrap up this post, there are so many things that the enemy is trying to tell me to convince me not to post this….but I hope and pray that this post is something that at least one person needed to hear today. (Perhaps that one person is me!) Thanks for reading.

5eb7b5222a3fe7d6f97b196f6475040c

future is now

finishing up internship

passed the exam to become a school psychologist

secured a job

we’re moving back home!

home

The best part of this journey, from CHS to Mercer and Baylor to Cola SC, is knowing that I could go anywhere from here and being able to choose to go home.

Let’s take a look back to 18-year-old me (ahem, almost 7 years ago now) and ask her where she wanted to go. 3 hours–that’s how far the farthest college she applied to was from home. 1.5 hours–that’s how far she moved from home. Then HALFWAY ACROSS THE COUNTRY. It’s time. It’s time to go home. to watch softball games. to share Sunday lunches with families. to finally balance family, fun, and work.
How much stress do you think 20 years of school is for an A-type personality, perfectionist?! I’ve spent years pursuing my dreams, and now it’s time to LIVE them. Enjoy the moment. Treasure my marriage. Spend more time with my family. Do good work in my job. Stress less, love more.

liveyourdream

We have been so SO blessed, even in the toughest of tough times. This year has been by far one of the hardest of my life, and I can say with absolute certainty that I would not be here now without the love and support of my families and friends. There has been a lot of heartache this year. Family illness. Students passing away. Shootings. Social injustice. International warfare. I don’t know if it’s that I become more aware as I grow older or if things are growing worse and worse. Regardless, it has taken a toll on my heart. At the same time, there is so much joy in watching nieces, nephews, and cousins grow; friends building houses; new jobs; celebrating new marriages. Balance. Seeking balance. & thanking the Lord for providing that at home.

Thank you for sharing in this journey with us. Continue to pray for our marriage and health. We are overjoyed to share this news with you and thankful for you joining in our celebration!

lovebringsyouhome

help us make our house warm

a season of yearning

isaiah 269The older I get, the more life becomes about stages and less about discrete events.  Even looking back, I tend to associate periods of my life with certain descriptive terms.  Longing–the word of this stage/period in my life.  Perhaps this is a little confusing, as I just got married and landed the internship of my dreams.  However, this longing feels less for earthly things and more for the eternal.

Flashback to senior year of high school when communication with the Lord through prayer was the most consistent it’s ever been.  Then to junior year of college when I couldn’t get enough of the Word each day.  I find myself reflecting on these times of frequent communication with God and longing for that depth in our relationship again.  As things pop up at work, home, and with family, I find myself more and more turning to Him for guidance and peace, but I still miss the consistency.  Longing.  Craving.  Yearning.

steadfastlove

Praise for His steadfast love.  Thanks for His grace and forgiveness.  Blessed by new mercies every day.  In a world where longing for earthly things leads to loneliness, I’m grateful for a Lord who answers longing with love and wholeness.

 

sweet tea society

“I want a marriage more beautiful than my wedding.”

SweetTea2

This week in all of my wedding planning, I came across the most recent volume of Southern Weddings Magazine.  I was so thankful for their view on weddings and their belief that, “planning for a wedding means planning for more than just one day; that there is nothing on this earth more important than family; and that while details are nice, true love always, always wins.

Throughout this planning process, I’ve found it difficult to express how important planning for our marriage and joining our families is to me, and it is nice to see that people understand.  People get it.  And while we may get caught up in the wedding planning as a process, I’m thankful for understanding friends and family who know that marriage is beautiful and sacred–that a wedding is a tiny glimpse into the joy that is to come.

I’m thankful for this week of planning with my friends and family.  I’m thankful for sweet vendors and wonderful wedding planners.  But what I can’t forget is that I’m also thankful that when I fly back to Texas, I have a loving fiancé to celebrate life and family with.  I have someone who gets me and wants to grow with me–beyond January 3, 2015.

I believe the path God set before us did not start with an extravagant wedding day, nor will it end there.  However, that day will give us a time to gather with friends and family and celebrate the work that God is doing in our lives together.  So while I continue to plan and prepare for that day, I will also continue to plan and prepare for my marriage.

The Sweet Tea Society is comprised of a network of brides, wedding planners, vendors, and Southern Weddings Magazine, united in the belief that marriage is about more than one day–it’s about life and family.  For more information, click here.

the proposal

My sisters are chatting about candle lighting ceremonies.  My cousin has made herself available to help with questions and contest entries.  Local friends have given me names and websites for photographers. My aunt and mom have already started planning.  I now own several magazines.  I have a rather large rock on my hand.
It’s official, I’m engaged!
For the story of how we met, click here.
And without further ado, here’s the detailed engagement story you’ve been waiting for…

Our engagement story:

On Friday, November 1st Cason went in to work and I planned an afternoon of shopping followed by an evening of studying.  I was at Target when Cason texted me to let me know they had too many people for his shift, so he got to go home.  I asked if we were making plans for the night, and he said he wanted to have a nice date night since we hadn’t planned one in a while.  (This is not unusual–we like to randomly plan fun nights, spur of the moment, where I put on a dress and he wears something besides athletic shorts.)  He picked me up at 6:30pm and we ended up going to dinner downtown at a place called Sam’s on the Square.  They had about 10 different kinds of tacos to choose from–I got fish tacos, and they were surprisingly delicious.  At dinner we did our fair share of people-watching; we constantly overhear tons of hilarious conversations among “college kids.”  So at first I didn’t notice how quiet Cason was being.  Towards the end of dinner I remember asking why he was so quiet–come to find out, he was super nervous.

engagementday-0001-2

After dinner we went to one of my favorite places in Waco–Katie’s Frozen Custard.  We get Katie’s at least twice a week because it’s so delicious!  Then we took our frozen treats to Baylor instead of to my house to watch TV, which is perhaps when I realized something was up.  We parked on campus and walked towards Pat Neff Hall, passing the Judge Baylor statue and stopping in the gardens to sit and enjoy our frozen yogurt.  At one point in our walk I got pretty excited about the shrubs because they were cut to spell “Baylor Bears,” and I remember thinking it was strange that Cason seemed indifferent.  (We usually get excited about random/new things, but he had seen the shrubs before when he scoped out the location, and he had other things on his mind–which is obvious in retrospect.)

So we sat down in the middle of the garden looking at the glowing green Pat Neff Hall.  I’m trying to eat my frozen custard, but it was unusually cold outside for Texas so I gave up and listened to Cason tell me the history of the glowing green light.  (I’m still rather shocked that he did his research.)  After sitting for a few minutes I told Cason that I had to go to the bathroom, so he said, “Well then I will make this quick.”  (This is it!)  Then he got down on one knee, with the glowing green building behind him, and he told me how much he had always looked forward to finding the right person, how at times he wasn’t sure it would happen, and how he was blessed to have found me.  Then he said my full name and asked me to marry him.  I said, “Yes” through my tears and I got down to hug and kiss him.  Then he stood up and asked me if I was going to say yes (which apparently happens in more engagements than you would think), and I told him that I did say yes and that I do want to marry him.  So he put the ring on my finger and we smiled and laughed and kissed and hugged.  Then, since it was dark, he pulled out his iPhone and turned on his flashlight so I could see the ring. (It’s perfect, by the way.  We previously looked at rings, so he had a good idea of what I wanted, and he just took it and ran with it. 🙂

engagementday-0001-3

We walked back to the car, giddy, and I asked all sorts of questions like, “Were you nervous? Did you think I would say no?” etc.  (Yes he was nervous but not because he thought I would say no.)  Once we got back to the car, we called my parents and face-timed them so they could see the ring.  Then we face-timed Cason’s parents, who were on their way to Florida with his youngest brother.  It was all very exciting to start sharing with family.  I also called my aunt and my nana, and my cousin’s reaction was priceless.

engagementday-0003

People asked me if I was surprised, but I think the better question is, “Were you pleasantly surprised?”  Truth be told, if I had no inclination that it was coming, I would have been surprised, but I’m not sure that I would have liked it.  Cason’s proposal, for me, had the right balance of expectation and surprise.  So yes, I was pleasantly surprised.  It was a special moment shared between the two of us, which we will never forget.  Even now when I drive by campus at night and see Pat Neff Hall glowing green in the distance, I get this big grin on my face.

baylor is getting closer

While several Baylor updates have probably popped up in your newsfeed over the months, this one is perhaps the best.  I hope that once you read it, you will agree with me.

Baylor University
Baylor University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gosh I thought I had posted my Baylor happenings more often, but since I haven’t there will be lots to include in this post.

1st. Housing:
I HAVE A PLACE TO LIVE IN WACO, TX.  Praise!  I will be living with two second-year students and another first-year student (like myself) in a house that we are renting together.  Oh, and it’s fabulous! I absolutely hate carpet (allergies, asthma, and whatnot), and this house has ZERO square feet of carpet.  Hallelujah!  Yes, I get overly excited about floors.  It has stained concrete floors, which are tons nicer than they sound.  I have my own bedroom with a cute little nook by the window for my desk.  Hooray for natural lighting in my workspace.  It’s the little things that we have to get excited about, people.  I’ll be sharing a bathroom with my fellow first-year, and perhaps next year when the second-years move out then we can move into the rooms with their own bathrooms.  The kitchen is HUGE.  Like I could probably put my pet elephant in there and he would have room to do a dance…if I had a pet elephant, that is.

baylorblog-0005

2nd. Graduate Assistantship (GA):
First of all, the abbreviation GA for graduate assistantship confuses the mess out of me, seeing as my home state is also GA, for Georgia. I’ll use the abbreviation, however, and just pray you don’t get as confused as I do.  Now to the good stuff!  On May 9th (I remember the date because that was also the day my best friend got engaged and I took secret photos.  See engagement photos.), I had a phone interview with the sweetest lady from Baylor’s Office of Academic Support Programs.  Well, I’ll say that I anticipated an interview.  What I received was a 20 minute phone call highlighting the details of the program and welcoming me on board.  Needless to say, I got the GA position, which is, according to Dr. Robinson, a “coveted GA position.”
As an academic mentor I will work with at-risk students to monitor their academic progress and offer support and encouragement as they adjust to college life.  I will work 20 hours a week, meeting with about 35-40 students weekly.  I have my own office and a huge support team.  I cannot even begin to say how encouraging my interview was.  It got me even more excited for everything that is in store at Baylor.

3rd. Finances:
Well if that paragraph about my GA wasn’t enough of a blessing, the following week I received this email:
assistantshipmoney

Tuition remission means I don’t have to pay for 24 hours of tuition this year.  Considering I am only taking 24 hours of class per week this year, I’d say that’s the best financial offer I could have received.

I know that I’ve accomplished nothing on my own.  I am truly in awe of how greatly God has blessed me.  I could not have done this by myself, and I have not presumed to believe that I could.  I know that I would have failed miserably without the Lord directing my paths and blessing me with wonderful family, friends, and instructors to also help me along the way.  That’s why all of this goes back to Him.  He is the true reason for every educational, financial, and emotional provision in my life.  I know that He has given me these things in order that I use them to shine His light on this world.

I will say also that I am honestly amazed.  I have spent too much of the past 2 years underestimating the things I can do with the help of God, my family, my professors, and my friends.  I have been attacked by the enemy and been led to believe that I was once alone in all of this.  I don’t mean to get super spiritual on you, but that’s the truth.  I’m coming to realize that life is too short to waste time worrying about it, especially when you know that the Lord has a plan.  I’m thankful for that.

welcome to pre-k

Last Friday I completed my third full week as a Pre-K paraprofessional, and I’m amazed at how quickly I have become attached to these 4-year-olds.  There are still three weeks of school left, but I moved to another room this week.  I have mixed emotions about that because I feel like I have just started bonding with the 20 kids in my first class.

Over the past three weeks, one child, who rarely talked at school started talking to me regularly.  He has started asking for the things he needs and telling me the things he wants.  He still speaks softly, and sometimes I have a hard time understanding him.  However, it is no small accomplishment that he has gone from not talking at all, not even with his peers, to talking intermittently throughout the day.  It absolutely melts my heart when he asks me to come sit by him or asks me if he can pass out the spoons at lunch.

Honestly, that’s what I want to see happen in students.  If God uses me to touch one life out of 20 young ones, then I will feel blessed and greatful beyond measure.  I can’t even begin to express how excited I am to be going back to school in the fall to learn how to help at-risk students.  There have certainly been ups and downs with this new job.  I’m not a super fan of the level of ‘babysitting’ I have to do with Pre-K students, but it has taught me invaluable lessons about these children.  I think people would really be amazed at how much 4-year-olds analyze and feel and manipulate.  Human beings are capable of tremendous achievements, and children at this age are very impressionable.  They are sponges that soak up everything you give them.  I think the greatest fault we could have as educators is to expect too little out of these young minds.  They want structure.  They want to learn and be pushed.  They are capable of more than even they realize.  I’ve been amazed, truly.

This wasn’t quite the lengthy post I had anticipated, but I just wanted to write a little about my new job.  I’m sure the subject will continue to come up as there are two and a half weeks left.  Hopefully I will be back to write more sooner rather than later.