I’m moving!

Reader friends,

It’s time for a change. “Megan Growing Up” has been my blog for quite a few years now—but it’s time to move on, start with a clean slate. I’m not necessarily closing this blog down (I like looking back on my life), but I am moving to a new location:

http://meganhamby.wordpress.com

I am moving for a couple of reasons—

1. Using my name in a web address is more professional and just plain easier to write.

2. I would like to eventually move the blog to a full website— meganhamby.com.

3. I’m hoping to move a different direction with my blog. I’m not sure which direction—but hopefully I’ll figure that out.

Please visit my new blog, click “follow blog,” and continue reading there!

love. 

My Favorite Children’s Books

1Recently I posted a blog about my 15 favorite books. I started reading at a young age. I remember staying with my Nana and Papaw during the summer and going to the Wartburg library to check out Nancy Drew books. I remember reading A Little Princess countless times. Reading at such a young age gave me a passion for books and words.

Here are 10 of my favorite books for kids (or pre-teens):

  1. A Little Princess by Frances Hodges Burnett
  2. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  3. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  4. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
  5. The Giving Tree by Shel Silvers
  6. Holes by Louis Sachar
  7. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  8. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  9. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodges Burnett
  10. Nancy Drew (All of them—the originals!) by Carolyn Keene (Mildred Wirt Benson was her actual name.)

Enjoy! Thinking of these titles makes me want to go back and read some of these again.

I love this country!

imagesI’ve had the opportunity to travel to quite a few different places in the world. I’ve been to Peru, France, Italy, Haiti, and Mexico—but nothing seems quite as grand as America. From the Miss America pageant to democracy, from the mountains in Tennessee to the lakes in Michigan, from the skyscrapers of New York City to the Grand Canyon—I love this country.

I don’t always agree with the politics of our government and the decisions our government makes. I don’t always understand them. But I know God has given me a command to respect the government and authorities above me. In Romans, Paul writes “Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God” (Romans 13:1).

Despite the constant debates, issues, and politics in this country, I love America. Here are two reasons why:

1. I have the freedom to worship.  My faith is the most important thing in my life. I am free to express that faith in public, free to worship in a building with other believers, and free to share my faith with others. I’m even free to work for a Christian company. Yes, being a Christian may not be the most “popular” thing anymore, but Jesus said the world would hate us (see John 15:18-21). Despite some recent (non-extreme) persecution these last few years, Christians are still free to worship. More than that, people of any religion are free to worship the way they choose.

2. I had the opportunity to receive quality education. One thing I cherish the most is my education. I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to go to college. There are so many countries where children don’t even receive a quality primary education, let alone a college education. I’m blessed to live in a country where I could receive an education.

I could continue on and give you more reasons why I love this country, but these two mean the most to me. It still surprises me when I hear that women don’t receive higher education in some countries. And I know I shouldn’t be shocked, but I couldn’t imagine not being able to worship freely. I’m so thankful for the men and women who have fought and given their lives to defend this country. Be grateful!

 

Happy 4th, y’all!

Turn off the TV—pick up a book!

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A large part of my job revolves around reading. Lots of reading. Whether I’m editing a manuscript of a Bible study, flipping through the pages of a trade book, or editing eBooks, I always have my nose in a book (or some form of a book). I grew up loving to read. I started reading at age 4 and have always read books far above my “grade level.” In the past few months, though, I’ve found myself not picking up books for enjoyment. By the time I come home from work, I’m usually tired of looking at words upon words, and turn on the television or my iPad. Very rarely have I picked up a novel to start reading!

I decided, though, that I needed to change that. So, over the past few weeks, I’ve read three books. All three have been different in style, tone, topic, and length. All three have been incredible! I started with Trevin Wax’s new fiction book, Clear Winter Nights. It comes out this September, so be looking for it! I moved on to Ann Brashears’ novel, The Last Summer (of You and Me). If you liked the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, you’ll love this one. It was a page-turner and a quick, summer read. Lastly, I read Khaled Hosseini’s first novel, The Kite Runner. I’ve read the book a few times already, but it remains one of my favorites.

After reading these books, I remembered how much I loved reading fiction books. Sure, I read Bible studies all day long. But there is something about fiction that allows you to put yourself in the story, build relationships with the characters, and escape from reality (if only for a little bit). Reading is also beneficial for you, too. Reading improves your vocabulary (and grammar). It takes you to worlds and places you might never go to. It expands your imagination. It opens your mind to different people and cultures. Reading is so important!

So, here’s my advice—put down the technology! Sure, the television show may be funny (and I do have my favorites). Yes, Candy Crush is addicting and that level seems impossible. But here’s my challenge: for 30 minutes every day, pick up a book and read! No, not a book you have to read for school or work. A book you want to read, whether it is fiction or non-fiction. I’ll even help you out and give you a list of my 15 favorite books (fiction and non-fiction):

  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  2.  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  3. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  4. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  5. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
  6. Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler
  7. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
  8. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini 
  9. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  10. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (take a moment and read a children’s novel!)
  11. Holy Subversion by Trevin Wax
  12. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  13. Emma by Jane Austen
  14. Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling
  15. The Hunger Games (series) by Suzanne Collins

I could probably continue on and make this list even longer. Since I just finished The Kite Runner, I think I’m going to read A Thousand Splendid Suns again before starting Hosseini’s latest novel, And The Mountains Echoed.

Pick up a book! Read!

Kourtney’s going to be a MRS.

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My best friend gets married on Saturday. I am so incredibly excited for her and Dustin as they start this new journey together. I can promise them that it won’t be easy, but it will be so worth it!

Some of you faithful readers may remember Kourtney from a pretty popular blog post—”Why My Roommate Is Better Than Your Dog.” If you would like to refresh your memory, you can read it here.

Kourtney and I first met in Alyson Lynn’s freshman English class at MTSU. Honestly, we really didn’t talk much that semester. However, that semester I was interviewing to be a resident assistant the following year. My freshman roommate was moving back to Knoxville and I wanted a job! However, I found out I didn’t get the position and was stuck without anywhere to live! I found out I was rejected right before English class. When I told Kourtney what happened, she said, “Well, I need a roommate next year.”

We moved in to Smith Hall the following fall. I remember being nervous! Kourtney became my best friend that year. We went through a lot and she was always by my side. Junior year came along and I decided to be an adult (big mistake) and get an apartment with some older girls (even bigger mistake). Kourtney remained my closest confidant and dearest friend. For senior year, we decided to move back in together to our own apartment. Senior year of college was seriously one of my favorite years. We had so much fun together. We have a lot of memories from that year too!

Throughout the past 3 (4?) years, we have been together for some of each other’s biggest moments. She and Dustin were there when Stephen and I got engaged. She sat in the living room and listened to countless songs as I picked wedding music. I figured out that Dustin was going to propose and managed to keep it a secret from her (for like FIVE WEEKS). She was in my wedding, planned my bachelorette party, and helped me pee while wearing that gigantic, poofy wedding dress.

Kourtney, I am so blessed to have you as my best friend. I couldn’t ask for a better friend and I’m so thankful you came to my rescue freshman year when I thought I was going to be homeless (or at least dorm-less). God definitely had His hand on our friendship. P.S. I promise to buy you the pregnancy test when you are freaking out and stand outside the bathroom while you pee just ’cause I love you that much. Also, Dustin is a lucky man.

Aren't they precious?

The First Year

On September 15, Stephen and I will celebrate the beginning of a long relationship (5 years!). As freshmen in college, we met at a college worship service, became friends on Facebook, and started dating rather quickly. Our first date was lunch at Applebees and watching Night At the Museum on DVD (hey, we were 18 and poor). I came back to my dorm room that evening and told my roommate that I had met the man I was going to marry. She laughed it off and rolled her eyes at me, but I was right.

On June 2, 2012, I married him. We got married really young. Heck, we’re still really young. I’m just 22-years-old. I think one of the best things about marrying Stephen so young is that we’re growing up together. Had we met and married later on in life, we would already have our own lives, own goals, own plans, etc. Jen Hatmaker, a Christian author and speaker, said if she had married her husband later in life, he would have been cramping her style (she married at 19). It’s true! I’m so thankful our parents were supportive of us getting married early in our twenties. We have matured and grown so much together.

I thought I would tell you the ten things that I admire and love most about my sweet husband. I could go on and on, but I think I would start to annoy you.

10. He has a servant’s heart. I am so blessed to be married to someone with a servant’s spirit. He is so quick to help out where needed, sacrifice his time for others, and help me around the house. Here’s an example: I hate doing the dishes. They gross me out. I think in the last year, I’ve only done them 3 times. Stephen always jumps at the opportunity to do them for me, because I hate doing them.

9. He is slow to anger. It takes a lot to make Stephen very angry. Now, that’s not to say that I don’t get on his nerves. I drive him absolutely crazy, I know. But it’s really hard to make him mad. He is slow to anger and quick to say “I’m sorry.”

8. He loves kids. I think one of the most attractive qualities in a man is seeing how he interacts with children. Stephen has worked for the Extended School Program for almost 5 years. He has been promoted through the ranks over the past 5 years and is now the assistant site director at a school. He loves his job. Yes, he will complain about it at times. But he genuinely loves the kids he works with and cares about their well-being. It breaks his heart when kids aren’t being cared for the way they should.

7. He makes me laugh. There is absolutely nobody else who makes me laugh like Stephen does. His jokes really aren’t that funny, either (sorry babe). His personality, ability to laugh at himself, and his own laugh just makes me laugh until I’m crying.

6. He is a hard worker. He has been enjoying his post-graduation down-time, but lazy is not a word I would ever use to describe him. He is constantly working on something—whether it be his actual job, planning a worship service, preparing a Bible study/lesson, or just helping out around the house.

5. He is incredibly humble. He likes to jokingly tell me that I’m incredibly conceited (and let’s face it, I really am), but Stephen is one of the most humble people I’ve ever met. You could tell him how incredible he is for hours, and he would downplay all of it. He never points to himself to receive glory and accolades—he is always focused on how what he does gives God glory.

4. He’s just downright attractive. If I wasn’t attracted to him, we’d have problems. I hope our future kids have blonde hair and his smile. (Hear that, God? Blonde hair. Thanks!)

3. He is an amazing encourager. The last year and a half was really hard for me. I struggled finding a job after graduation in 2011 and ended up working in retail for just under a year. I really felt like a failure because I wasn’t writing or editing. Stephen refused to let me give up. He constantly encouraged me, pushed me to keep chasing my dreams, and held me when I was upset about not succeeding. He never let me give up.

2. He is also my biggest cheerleader. Just like he encouraged me to pursue my dreams, he has cheered for me the entire time since achieving them. I know he is willing to listen when work is getting to me, he gets excited with me when something good happens, and he is always eager to look at recently completed projects. I’m blessed to be married to someone so invested in my career.

1. He loves the Lord and provides spiritual leadership. I count myself lucky and blessed to be married to someone with such a deep love for the Lord. He has a relationship with God, is invested in his quiet time, and seeks to serve Him every day. He leads me spiritually and provides wisdom and discernment. He loves the Lord so much more than he loves me, and that means so much to me. Our relationship is nowhere near perfect, but he strives to love me selflessly and sacrificially. I am incredibly blessed because of that.

This year has been the sweetest, hardest, most rewarding year of my life. I’m so thankful to be married to my best friend. Stephen, I love you so much and can’t wait for the years to come!

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#IncomingFreshmanAdvice

If you’re on Twitter, you’ve probably seen the trending hashtag #incomingfreshmanadvice. Basically, obnoxious high school students are giving “advice” to the incoming freshman class. The advice is dumb (there’s really no other word to describe it), misleading, and harmful. Some of it can be taken with a laugh, but the rest is crude. My sweet 8th graders…don’t read the advice and take it as truth. Here’s some examples:

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Let’s face it. Not many people would say that high school was the best years of their life. I loved high school, but even I would say that college trumped it in the “best years” award. I graduated from high school five years ago (ah!) and have some advice of my own. I’ll even include some pictures for you to prove that high school isn’t all that bad!

My best friends and I the summer before freshman year.

My best friends and I the summer before freshman year.

5. Be yourself. Even if “yourself” is a bit nerdy, dorky, and clumsy. Don’t change who you are to fit in. It’s not worth it. I was very blessed—my best friends from eighth grade remained my best friends through high school (and some even today). I didn’t have to change who I was to get people to like me, but I know people who did. High school is about learning who you are—what you’re interested in, what you’re passionate about, and how you treat other people. If you change who you are, figuring those things out will be a lot more difficult.

4. Kill them with kindness. Rumors fly in high school…quickly. Don’t take part in it. If you hear something, keep your mouth shut. Don’t run to your best friend and tell them. I don’t care if what you heard was true— there is no reason for you to help spread a rumor that could hurt someone else. Be nice. Be nice to the student that everyone else makes fun of. Open the door for the teacher who has her hands full. Be nice to people. Kill them with kindness.

3. Surround yourself with friends who point you to Christ. Having loving, supporting friends is so important. I was blessed to meet some of my best friends in the eighth grade and they remained my best friends through high school. At 22-years-old, some of these girls are still my closest companions today. These girls loved Jesus more than they loved anything or anyone else. They held me accountable. Our friendship’s foundation was centered around Christ and we pointed one another to Him. We went through a lot in our high school years—illnesses, parents dying, fear of families moving, and eventually us all moving away after graduation—but we shared a friendship that was deeper than most. Find friends like these. Hold dear to them. I wish I could clone those girls and give them to each of you to have as your best friend (but I can’t and I won’t because they’re mine!). Friends like these point you to Jesus, rejoice with you, and love you despite your faults.

Some of favorite people!

Some of my favorite people!

2. Cherish your family. Sweet 8th graders, these four years will fly by faster than you know. You’re getting ready to start high school now, but you’ll be walking across the stage and accepting your diploma before you know it. You’ll soon be making college visits, applying for scholarships, and studying for the ACT. Many of you will move away from home when you turn 18 and won’t return. I didn’t realize that when I moved out in August 2008 that I would never actually “live” at my house again. Spend time with your family now. Yes, your dad is probably dorky (at least mine is) and your mom might be overprotective, but embrace that. Yes, they may get on your nerves, give you a curfew, and demand to know all of your friends—but appreciate that. Soon enough you’ll be moving off to college and missing your overprotective, dorky parents.

1. Guard your heart (and your body). I know it’s so easy to desire love, attention, and affection. We crave the longing and the affection. Don’t give your heart or your body away. Relationships are important, but be protective of your heart. Don’t sleep with the first guy that gives you attention (or the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th). Your heart is so special and so is your body. Don’t willingly give of yourself.

Eighth graders, enjoy your high school years. They may not be the best years of your life, but make the most of them! Don’t listen to the #incomingfreshmanadvice on Twitter. Be yourself.

High School Graduation

High School Graduation

Don’t Let People Quench Your Dream

I started writing when I was very young. My dad has a gift for storytelling, so I suppose I inherited that from him. Growing up, I would write stories about my favorite television characters, my family, and my friends and illustrate with pictures from magazines.

My love for writing grew even more as I got older. I started writing poetry in middle school. I would give every poem I wrote to my eighth grade English teacher. Nobody in the eighth grade liked Ms. Perry, but I loved her. She taught me about constructive criticism that year. She would read my poems, show me areas where I could improve, and encourage my thoughts and ideas.

In high school, however, I met the one person who did not have confidence in my talents, my writing, or me. During a research paper consultation, I informed my junior English teacher that I wanted to study journalism in college. I told her I wanted to be a writer and an editor when I grew up. I’ll never forget what she told me:

“You really aren’t that gifted of a writer. You may want to consider other options where you’ll be more successful.

I’m not sure why I ever let that woman’s words bother me so much. I was on the school newspaper staff that year and became the editor-in-chief my senior year. I went on to MTSU after graduation, studied journalism, and graduated early with honors. I wrote a few articles for the MTSU newspaper, did an editorial internship at LifeWay, and started doing freelance work after my college graduation. I’ve been published in five newspapers and two magazines. Throughout my entire collegiate (and professional) career, hundreds of people have encouraged and supported me as a writer and editor. Not one person told me that I wasn’t gifted and should pursue other options.

But I still remembered her words. The “you’re not good enough” for that. I don’t even like this woman, yet I let her words haunt me for years. Every mistake I made, her words seeped into my head. That is, until Saturday.

This past Saturday, Stephen and I drove over to the LifeWay bookstore to buy a mother’s day gift for his mom. As I was browsing around, I caught a glimpse of the first book I edited—The Gospel of Luke: From the Outside In. I ran over to the bookshelf to pick it up and hold it. When I got to the bookshelf I saw the second book I worked on— Disciple Making: No Plan B. Then I saw the third book— Manhood Restored.

I was overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude. Four months of hard work and doubting if I was even capable of doing this. Here I was, standing in the store, and holding the books in my hands. I achieved my dream. I told my high school English teacher that I was going to be an editor and she told me that I wasn’t gifted enough. That night, holding those books in my hands…her words didn’t bother me anymore. I knew they didn’t matter (and they never should have mattered).

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God has gifted each of us in unique ways and for different purposes. Even in high school, I knew that God had given me a weird love for words, punctuation, and grammar. I knew that He would use that passion for His glory. Don’t listen to the people who tell you that you’re not good enough, smart enough, or talented enough. Don’t let people quench your dream and doubt the gifts God has given you.

The Ideal Woman

Raise your hand if you have ever felt self-conscious about your appearance.

If you were being honest, I bet most of you raised your hand. Let’s face it. We live in a world where “beautiful” is a size 2, flawless skin, and perfect hair. We live in a world dominated by advertisements, beauty magazines, and runway models. How many of you think to yourselves, “If only I looked like that…” when watching a fashion show or looking at magazine covers in the grocery store checkout line? I know I have. In Bossypants, writer/actress/comedian/mother Tina Fey writes about the ideal woman:

“Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits.”

Language aside, Tina Fey sums it up pretty accurately. When we pay attention to everything the world suggests we should look like, these are a lot of the characteristics we get. Let me be honest with you—I spent years hating my appearance. I wanted to look like the woman Tina Fey described (which would require lots of plastic surgery). I found it extremely hard to accept compliments until finally someone said this to me:

“God made you. He created you in His image. He fashioned you uniquely and wonderfully with His hands. If you are criticizing everything about yourself, what are you saying about Him?”

It’s like looking at a painting at an art show and pointing out the flaws without noticing the wonderful aspects. What does that say about the artist who poured time and love into it?

Psalm 139:13-14 says, “For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.”

Furthermore, in the Book of Proverbs, the ideal woman is described. And it doesn’t say anything about having a perfect body.

“25 Strength and honor are her clothing, and she can laugh at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom and loving instruction is on her tongue.
29 Man women are capable, but you surpass them all!
30 Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD will be praised.”
-Proverbs 31:25-26; 29-30

I encourage you to continue reading the rest of Psalm 139—it is a beautiful picture of God creating you, knowing your heart, and knowing each facet of your life. Read Proverbs 31:10-31. Be encouraged by the woman described in these verses. Her physical appearance is not described—her heart and personality is. She is hardworking, respected, loved, and honored. She is compassionate, helpful, respectful, and lighthearted. Most of, she loves and fears God…and that is the reason she is praised. Aspire to be that woman…not the woman Tina Fey described.

Top 5 Facebook Pet Peeves

Ah, Facebook. I love it. It’s a great way to keep up with the lives of your friends, stay in touch with family, and share pictures and memories with other people. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, right?

Wrong.

Actually, in the past couple of years, Facebook has become a place to let the entire world know everything that is going on in your personal life—the good, the bad, and the oh so very ugly. So let’s look at the five most common Facebook pet peeves:

5. Posting statuses such as “Facebook will charge you if you don’t post this to your account.” Newsflash. Facebook isn’t charging you money. If they did decide to start charging you to use the website, you would most likely hear about it on the news, websites such as Yahoo!, or Facebook themselves. Posting a status like that isn’t going to save you money.

4. Share this picture if you love Jesus, keep scrolling and you’re going to hell, if you don’t like this picture your mother is going to die. Dramatic much? I don’t really recall the part in the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus tells people they will go to hell for not sharing the picture. Look, sharing your faith is important—especially on social media. But some things are actually more harmful than they are helpful. So let’s cut back on those, okay?

3. Posting gross pictures of your child’s milestones. I love babies, kids, and the whole 9 yards. I think they’re cute and adorable and wonderful. What I don’t find cute, adorable, and wonderful are gross pictures. Your child lost their first tooth? That’s awesome. Post a status about it. Don’t post a picture of the bloody tooth on a napkin. Nobody wants to see this. At all. Your precious tot poo-pood in the potty for the very first time? Amazing. But I don’t need to see the turd in the toilet. Thanks.

2. The bragger. I love to share things I’ve accomplished on Facebook. I’m friends with all of my family members, so it’s a really easy thing to fall into. I get it. We want people to celebrate with us. But COME ON. We are not perfect people and we do not live perfect lives, so let’s stop pretending and acting like we do, okay? Okay. Share what you’ve accomplished, but don’t get arrogant.

1. The relationship drama.

Can I get real for a minute? Like in your face real? I don’t care how bad your argument with your boyfriend or girlfriend, fiancé, or spouse was—it doesn’t belong on Facebook. Not only is it annoying to read, but it is completely disrespectful to the other person. I don’t care what your argument was about. Here’s something teenagers (and some adults) need to learn—don’t talk bad about your significant other. I don’t care if you don’t name them—everyone still knows who you’re talking about. It is rude, disrespectful, and just plain immature. Don’t do it. And especially don’t do it on Facebook.

So, what are your Facebook pet peeves?

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