Build Your Barn

If you’re a frequent reader, you may have noticed that I mention my mom in a lot of my posts.

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She is a talented writer, my most influential Christian role model, and truly exemplifies what it means to live out your faith. She has even had several devotionals published in The Upper Room, a daily devotional guide that is available in 33 different languages in 100 countries! I’d say she knows a thing or two about writing 🙂 She has always encouraged me to share my thoughts with others through the written word, and not only to write, but to write well.

She’s acquired so much wisdom over her lifetime and she and my dad have never been wrong in the advice they’ve given Daniel and me, especially when it comes to marriage. They will be celebrating their 34th wedding anniversary on Monday, so what better time for her to share some of her best marriage advice?

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When my daughter asked me to be a guest writer on her blog, my mind immediately whirled into overdrive.

After 34 years of marriage, I have quite a bit to say on the subject of newlyweds, marriage, husbands, and my contribution as a wife to the married state. In addition, I observed my own parents’ marriage of almost 45 years until my father passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack at age 71.

So, after musing on the marriage subject for awhile, I hearkened back to the sageness of my dad, whose wisdom I deeply respect and still rings in my ears 21 years after his death. One of the first “talking-to”s (that Southern slang term for sitting your gluteus maximus in a chair while someone else talks and you listen) I got when I was a newly engaged bride-to-be was this:

Dad: “Wilma, look around at all that your mother and I have accumulated over the years.”

I looked around and made the following wordless observations while I got my talking-to:

Me: Okay, life’s not bad. Our home is nice enough. We have three bedrooms and one bathroom. We have a car in the garage. We own our farm. Three square meals a day appear on our table, courtesy of sweet mom. You and mom sent me and sister to college. But, I wouldn’t say we are rich….no swimming pool in the backyard, no brand new car for me when I got my driver’s license, and we’re members of a REAL country club….we’re a farm family.

Dad: “I want you to know that when you get married, it takes YEARS to get established and grow your wealth. But just keep working at it. Time will go on and little by little, you’ll add to your bank account and build up your home.”

Me: Years? Oh, great. You mean when we get married, we’ll start out in a one-bedroom apartment with gold shag carpeting and matching harvest gold appliances, and we’ll drive two functional, but very OLD cars, and the A/C doesn’t even work in one?

Dad: “Patience is the key. Just work hard and don’t get greedy. Don’t go out and rack up debt on credit cards. Pay cash for things and build your barn slowly.”

Me: BARN?! Barns are great….for cows, horses, cats, tractors, cobwebs and mice. But I certainly don’t plan on living in one!

Dad: “You and Bill just work hard together, support each other, and don’t get in a big rush to get rich quick. That never works. Slow and steady wins the race, and at the end of the day, you’ll lay your head down on your pillow and have a clear conscience and you’ll sleep good. Marriage is a team effort, and if you’re willing to work hard and make some sacrifices, you’ll be like your mom and me someday and look back on the wonderful life you’ve built together.”

My dad’s advice and wisdom have never failed me. This is his wisdom that I am passing on to you too. Be blessed in your marriage, be patient and just enjoy the journey. Anticipation maximizes appreciation!

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Thank you, mom, for supporting my writing and sharing your marriage advice today! Happy 34th anniversary to you and dad, and stay spunky 😉

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Photography by Derek Couts

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3 Ways To Survive Your First Job After College

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When I was about to graduate college and searching for full time employment, a lot of people said to me, “Don’t snatch up the first job that comes your way!”.

I repeated these words over and over in my head and told myself, promised myself, that I would follow this advice.

But after I filled out a couple applications, talked my way through some phone interviews and was offered a job at a hotel a few weeks later, it was as if I had never heard that advice in the first place.

You see, after making nearly nothing at all in college, I jumped at the first job I was offered because it sounded like a million dollar deal at the time! Mind you, my starting salary wasn’t much, but for a fresh-outta-college gal like myself, it was enough to reel me in.

My start date was a week and a half after graduation and although I wished I had more of a summer break before I started working, I was ready to make some money. Donned in my new work clothes with my lunch box in hand, I headed out the door to sit in traffic alongside thousands of other working adults.

It didn’t take me long to realize what a big fat mistake I had made.

And I don’t say that because I didn’t want to work or that I was a lazy college grad.

Have you ever had a job that you knew you just weren’t cut out for? This was the exact thought that entered my mind after two short weeks at my new job.

Every day I dreaded going in and I practically sprinted out the door when my shift was over. I dealt with grumpy guests during my 10+ hour days which only added to my misery. Thankfully, I was transferred to another hotel once the summer came to a close, and my situation drastically improved.

But the good thing about going through tough times is that you come out on the other side having learned something. And maybe that something learned can help out someone else in the long run. Although I was very unhappy at my first job after college, I learned a few ways to cope with my less than idyllic situation that I hope you can put to use if you ever find yourself in similar shoes.

1. Find a mentor(s)
My parents were and are my best mentors. They didn’t let me take the easy way out by quitting my job, but they did help me see the good side of things. For example, they kept reminding me that I was able to save up money so that Daniel and I would have a nice little cushion once we got married. And my mom would always tell me, “At least you know now what you don’t want to do, which is just as important as figuring out what you do want to do!”. Keep this in mind when you are searching for a new job and steer clear of positions that are similar to the one you are trying to get out of.

Figuring out what you don’t want to do is just as important as figuring out what you do want to do. Keep this in mind when you are searching for a new job and steer clear of positions that are similar to the one you are trying to get out of.

Along with my parents, a few supervisors at the hotel I was transferred to after the summer took me under their wing. They made it fun to come to work, they taught me new things every day, and they listened to me when I needed to rant. Sometimes all it takes to feel valued and appreciated at your job is for someone to listen to what you have to say.

Sometimes all it takes to feel valued and appreciated at your job is for someone to listen to what you have to say.

2. Be a positivity sponge 
Most days at my job, the only thing that kept me going was listening to the Christian radio station, K-Love, during my morning and afternoon commutes. If it weren’t for those songs pouring out encouragement through the speakers and lifting my spirits before and after work, I wouldn’t have had the mental strength to go in each day. We can’t control what will happen to us at work, but we can control what we fill our minds with outside of it.

We can’t control what will happen to us at work, but we can control what we fill our minds with outside of it.

2. Have an end date in mind 
I knew I didn’t want to be at this job for much longer, but I didn’t want to quit either. The only way I could keep going was to dangle a carrot in front my nose. I told myself, “Just make it through the summer”. So I did. Then I told myself, “Just make it until the end of the year”. So I did that too. And around this time, Daniel told me that he had been offered a job back in Knoxville. With his new job lined up and our wedding right around the corner, I knew I only had 2-3 months left at my job. I was ecstatic! Finally, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. With an end date in sight, my outlook completely shifted.

Now, I don’t encourage you to up and quit your job without seriously thinking it through and consulting with your family and mentors first, but the truth of the matter is, if you aren’t happy at your job, nothing is going to change if you don’t have a plan in place to improve your situation. Whether that’s applying for five new jobs every week or making a deal with yourself to only stay put at your current job for one year and then move on, having an end date in mind with a plan to meet it will keep you motivated and determined to reach your goal.

If you aren’t happy at your job, nothing is going to change if you don’t have a plan in place to improve your situation.

With guidance from your mentors, staying focused on the positive, and reminding yourself that this season of life won’t last forever, I am confident that you will not only survive your first job after college, but that you will set yourself up for success for your next job as well!