Top 5 Posts of 2017

Anastasis Faith

2017 was a year of growth for me and for Morning Glory. I struggled with things I thought I had overcome—and learned so much in the process. Launching 30 Days of Surrender this past summer was an incredible journey full of ups and downs, successes and failures. All of the most popular posts EVER on this blog (except for one) were published this year. While going through the archives is always a great idea for when you missed posts (*wink, wink*), here's a list of the highlights!

So here we go: top 5 posts of 2017!

We’re not just talking about memorizing John 3:16 here. Remember my friend Dani who has memorized entire books of the Bible? I’ve been slowly plugging through Psalm 119—and she’s already memorized the entire thing plus so much more. In this post, she gives her best tips for memorizing large chunks of Scripture and retaining it forever.

In this post, my dear friend and author Alicia shares why it is so important for single girls to practice hospitality and homemaking—including practical tips for how you can start while living at home!

I saw a huge turn in my walk with Christ when I started seriously memorizing Scripture. Please, if you do not memorize Scripture regularly or aren’t convinced you need to, read this post. 

Far and above, these next two posts were popular beyond anything I’ve seen so far on the blog. Flirting is fun, addicting, and often all about self-worship. This post discussing how respect factors into the decision to flirt—and how you may lose more than you gain by making flirting a lifestyle.

1.  5 Reasons I Don’t Flirt Part 2 
In this post, we discuss how flirting affects your relationship with guys, God, and other girls.

There you have it—the top 5 posts of 2017. I hope you will take the time to read the ones you might have missed, or refresh yourself on the ones published nearly a year ago. Let me know what your thoughts are!

What was your favorite post of 2017? Share in the comments!

How to Prepare for Marriage

Anastasis Faith

-Brittanie Leake
How can we, as single teen girls, prepare now for marriage?
I think the most important thing to do as a single girl is trust in the Lord with your future, whether you want to be married or not. Pretty early in college, I felt the pressure to figure out what I wanted to do with my degree and where to go after graduation. This led to some anxiety, because I knew that my greatest desire was to be a wife and mother, and I had about zero interest and direction in the way of jobs. Add to this the fact that I was single until my senior year of college, you can imagine that I really was concerned about what life was going to look like after I graduated! 
What I Learned My First Year of Marriage

Psalm 37:4 was a key verse through all of college that remind me to be content in whatever life stage I was in, and to live in obedience to Christ: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” God knows our hearts far greater than we do, and He loves to give good gifts to His children! If we seek to please Him above all else, we can rest in the promise that He will grant our desires, according to His will. It won’t always work out the way you think, but it will be exactly what you need.

In the span of about two years, I went from being a single girl in my senior year of college, to being a married college graduate with a precious little baby! I never would have dreamed things would work out that quickly, but God knew what I would need, and at what times in my life.

The second most important thing is to take advantage of your single years to serve God in ways that you won’t be able to when you are married! I volunteered with an outreach organization all throughout college, I worked at Chick-fil-A, and I had roommates. Think about the things you are involved in and passionate about, and think about the people you are surrounded by everyday—where you live, where you work, where you go to school. Those are the places that God has you, for a time, and where you can be a witness for Him. They also offer great opportunities to grow in patience, love, and serving others—which are very important in marriage. Now that I am married, my ministry opportunities look a lot different – I no longer work, have roommates, or volunteer my time as much. Instead, my ministry focuses are around our home, our church, and our extended families; these are the ways that I can use my gifts and time best to serve God and others, as well as do ministry alongside my husband!

What is the best and most challenging thing about the first year?
Best thing: I think my husband and I would both agree that our favorite thing about this first year has been learning what ways we can better serve one another, and in what ways we are able to serve alongside one another. We made the decision before we got married that we would try to cut out extra commitments during the first year, so that we could make time to focus on our relationship and build a foundation as a family, before adding in outside commitments. That was such a good decision, because it really freed us up to figure out what was important to us both, along with what was good for us individually. By dropping some of the things that we did individually (for example, I quit working and my husband took a semester off from seminary classes), we were able to examine our life together and figure out what we could add back in. Because of this, we grew in our love and appreciation of one another, and expanded the ways we were involved with our church.

Most challenging thing: To not let my expectations of how things should be affect my appreciation of how things are. I feel like, especially as girls, we have this tendency to plan out perfect scenarios in our minds, and then get slightly disappointed when they don’t turn out that way. In relationships, this is especially apparent. My husband is very thoughtful, kind, and loving to me, so he made this one a lot easier, honestly, but I still found myself thinking things like “He should be leading us in Bible reading together more often,” or “I hope he buys me flowers this week,” or “I can’t wait for my husband to get home so he can help me fix this/paint that/do yard work/etc.”

You could insert any number of expectations, whether spiritual or romantic or practical, and then just sit back and watch them go unmet. This is because guys are humans too! They aren’t mind readers, they aren’t going to do everything perfectly the way you imagine. So early on in our marriage, I was challenged to let go of my high/impossible expectations for my husband and instead encourage him to live to please God, and trust that the Lord would take care of the rest.

What is your number one piece of advice for us?

My number one piece of advice for any woman, whether you are single, in a dating relationship, engaged, or even if you have been married for more than a year (!) would be this: Rejoice in the stage that you are in, and enjoy the people that are doing life alongside you! In the span of about two years, I went from being single, to dating for a few months, to being engaged and planning a wedding all summer, to getting married before my last semester of college, to becoming a mom. Looking back over this time, I can’t remember a single season that I just wished would end. Of course, I looked forward to the things that were to come, and still find myself getting excited as I think about the future of my growing family and the years I get to spend with my husband. But I enjoyed those seasons where God had me and the people that He placed in my life. And I am grateful for the time that I have right now, the season that I am in right now, and the ways that God has blessed me right now. This is because true joy, and the ability to truly love the people in your life, comes from the Lord. By knowing that I have a right relationship with God, that my sins have been forgiven in Christ’s redeeming work on the cross, and that I have the power of the Holy Spirit working in me, I am able to have eternal joy that surpasses any earthly hardships or sorrows. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)

Anything else you would like to share?

A lot of people say that the first year of marriage is the hardest. I’m not really sure what that is supposed to mean; I think we’ve have a pretty great year! Obviously, being married for a little over one year doesn’t make me an expert on marriage, but I do feel like I’ve learned and grown a lot over the past year, so I just want to give some encouragement about the first year of marriage, and marriage in general.

I think people say that the first year will be hard as a sort of encouragement (“The first year will be hard but it will get better”) or like it’s some sort of rite of passage/shared experience that you just have to have a tough first year, “like everyone else,” but it will be worth it. I don’t know if that mindset if particularly helpful though. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33); life in general is just hard, and marriage is no exception on that front. Marriage is a new experience, and it will be hard in the sense that all new things are hard, and will take a little work and getting used to. There are basically three ways that I have found to avoid the “first-year-is-the-hardest-year” disease, and I think they encompass just about everything a new marriage would encounter.

1.  Die to yourself.  
In marriage, you are learning to live with another person, who sees all of you, all the time. You see their shortcomings and their sinful tendencies, and at the same time you are exposing all your flaws and sins. This is hard, I think, if you aren’t prepared for it; as a Christian, we know that people are sinful by nature and that there are negative effects/consequences to our sins. Yet for some reason, we still expect our significant other to be perfect, and we tend to believe that we ourselves are perfect—or at least right most of the time. But in a marriage, every day is an opportunity to drop those expectations, trust in Christ’s perfection, and “die to yourself”—to lay down your own pride and desire to look good or be right, and to choose to humbly love and serve your husband.

2. Become a member at a church and attend consistently.  
Another thing that might make a new marriage hard is all the other new things that come along with it. A lot of people move right after marriage; they might be in a new town, starting a new job, attending a new church, living in a new house, making new friends, or any number of other new things. Thankfully, we were able to stay in our town and attend our same church after marriage, and I believe that helped us a lot in adjusting to married life.

I would encourage anyone who is about to get married—or move to a new place for any reason—to get involved in a church! Don’t just “go to church” on Sundays, but really get to know the people there, find ways to serve, go to Bible studies or other services the church offers. Having the consistency of godly fellowship and the influence of God’s Word will be a great comfort when it feels like everything else is changing.

3. Remember to have fun!  
I think the third way to “avoid” having a tough first year is to have fun! Marriage is a serious commitment and life decision, but you are making that commitment to the person you love the most! Your husband should be your best friend, the person that you enjoy being with the most, the person that you love to do nice things for, the person that is easiest to forgive, the person that makes you feel safe and loved, and the person that you have the most fun with!

This doesn’t mean that you have an extravagant date every week (or even every month). Rather, this means that daily, normal life is just fun! Whether you are staying in and watching a movie, going on a picnic, doing work around the house, going to church, or running errands, enjoy the fact that you are getting to do those things with your husband! Of course, there will be serious discussions, conflicts, and hard days, but I believe they pale in comparison to the gift of marriage and the enjoyment that the relationship brings. Praise God together in the good times, and praise God for giving you a husband to go through the bad times with. Having this perspective has helped me greatly to be continually thankful for my husband.

There is no reason that the first year has to be hard. By God’s grace, you and your (future) husband will figure out life together, and by His grace every year of marriage will be a joyful gift!
Brittanie is a college graduate, new wife, and new mother! She enjoys spending time with family, serving her church, and encouraging her friends.

If you are married and have anything else you would like to add as encouragement for young women who are thinking about marriage, leave a comment below!

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