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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