Second chance love

Special thanks to my former professor and friend, Dr. Teresa Burns Murphy, for sharing this beautiful piece on gratitude, friendship, and love with us today.

At the beginning of 2014, Bethany wrote a beautiful essay identifying still as her word for the new year. When Bethany invited other people to identify their words for 2014, I had a difficult time narrowing mine down to a single choice.

Teresa and Leisa in Carmel the summer after college

Teresa and Leisa in Carmel the summer after college

Finally, I selected friendship. During the course of my life, I have been fortunate to have wonderful friends.  One of those friends is a California girl named Leisa who was my college roommate.  From the day we met, we became friends and have remained friends over the years.  Shortly after Leisa married her high school sweetheart Scott in 2006, I wrote an essay for her titled “Boomerang Hearts” about her wedding and a long-ago memory I had of her relationship with Scott.  This post is an extension of that essay.

Friendship is a gift that yields many happy returns, and I am grateful to call Leisa my friend.

 

Two Valentine Memories

By Teresa Burns Murphy

 

Bethany's Blog, See's Candy Display (2) It happens every year around Valentine’s Day.  I walk past a display of See’s candy, and a memory is sparked of a Valentine’s when I was a college freshman.  My friend Leisa and I both had boyfriends back home, and we decided to make them heart-shaped pillows.  We had lots of fun getting the material, making the pillows, and sending them off so they would reach their respective destinations by Valentine’s Day.  My boyfriend sent me a dozen red roses, but no Valentine’s Day present arrived from Leisa’s boyfriend Scott.

During the days following Valentine’s, Leisa must have checked her campus mailbox a hundred times, returning to the dorm disappointed, but certain that Scott would not have forgotten her.  About a week after Valentine’s Day, Leisa came back to the dorm with a Valentine from Scott.  It was giant heart-shaped box of See’s Candy.  Apparently, the box had gone to the wrong address and was a little beaten up during the detour though the candy inside was unharmed.

Bethany's Blog, Leisa & Scott's Wedding

Leisa and Scott’s wedding

Several years later, just after Valentine’s Day in 2006, on the beach in Carmel, California, Leisa and Scott got married.  As they stood inside the heart-shaped rope on the sand, their smiles illuminated by the sun shining through the puffy white clouds, the turquoise sea foaming in the background, I thought about that long-ago Valentine’s Day.   Like the heart-shaped box of chocolates, Leisa and Scott’s hearts got re-routed to other relationships for a while, and they experienced their own share of less-than-gentle handling. A chance meeting brought them back together, and they discovered the love inside their hearts was still there, resilient and better than ever.

Since then, when those ubiquitous heart-shaped boxes start showing up in stores, I recall those two Valentine memories, and I’m reminded of the gift of second chances.  But most of all, I think of my friend Leisa and smile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The gift of growing up

Today’s post is written by my student, Regan Doyle, who wrote this essay in response to the question, “What are three gifts you’ve received this year, and what are their significance?” I’ll miss having Regan in class, but I know we’ll keep in touch–I need a good fashion consultant in my life :).

The year 2013 is almost over, and Christmas will be here soon. With the holiday approaching fast, I cannot help but think of all the gifts I will receive from friends and family. Although opening presents and getting new things is nice, the most important gifts I have received this year did not come wrapped. This year I have received the gift of a new job, the opportunity to travel, and a new puppy.

In September, my mom told me since I was in college, it was time for me to grow up and get a job. I applied nearly everywhere in Batesville, and after two weeks of trying, I was finally hired at Maurice’s. Working at Maurice’s is not a job to me because I enjoy what I do. I am required to dress fashionably and have fashion sense to help buying costumers. Every day I am required to walk in with a positive attitude and be ready to sell merchandise with a smile. It is always interesting to see who is going to walk through the door and to see who I get to help that day. Sometimes I get to do something fun like help a lady put together a hot outfit for a concert, or maybe help a lady put together a professional outfit for work. Another great plus about working at Maurice’s is my co-workers. While getting 10 girls to all get along without any drama seems impossible, we somehow manage it. My co-workers are more like family, and I know I can count on them for anything. I’m thankful for the gift of a job because it has taught me responsibility and has better prepared me for “growing up.” It has helped me learn to juggle school and work, and allowed me to make new friends in the process.

Another gift I am thankful for is traveling over the summer. My mom’s friends hired me as a nanny to watch their child while on vacation. With them I traveled to Chicago and experienced the big city for the very first time. The atmosphere of Chicago is busy, energetic, and unlike anything else I have ever experienced. The buildings are large, cramped together, and seem to go on forever. Things in Chicago never stand still, and even at night the city is alive and busy. I’m thankful for the gift to travel because it gives me the opportunity to experience new things. While I enjoy living in Cave City, it was nice to venture out and get to experience a whole new place. The way people live in Chicago is completely different from the way people live in Cave City.

The last special gift I have received this year is my new puppy. I had been begging my boyfriend for a puppy for almost four months. One night he came over, sat on my couch, and a tiny head peeked out of his coat. He was a solid black lab and absolutely perfect.  My boyfriend and I decided on the name Benny, and it fits him perfectly. Benny is black as night, and cute as a button. He just turned three months old and is potty trained and also knows out to sit. He’s rambunctious, playful, and even a little protective. He’s my company through out the day and my cuddle buddy by night. I’m thankful for Benny because he is my best friend. I know Benny, unlike like most people, will love me unconditionally. I love watching him grow and having the responsibility of taking care of him.        Black%20Lab%20Puppy

I know no matter what I get this Christmas, no gift will be better than the three I received this year. Nothing wrapped in a box with a bow is going to replace the things I was blessed to receive this year. My job taught me responsibility, getting to travel gave me experience, and getting a new puppy gave me a new friend. Since the year is almost over I’m ready to see what next year will bring, and the gifts I will receive then. I am so thankful for all three of these gifts, but I am also thankful for my amazing family, friends, and employers who made receiving these things possible.

The gift of a second chance

*Over the next few days, I’ll be posting essays by my amazing students who wrote in response to the question, “What are three gifts–proverbial or literal–that you’ve been given in 2013, and why are they significant to you?” Their responses made me laugh, cry, and most of all, thank God for the opportunity to invest in their lives. Today’s post is by a student who wishes to remain anonymous but wants to share her story. Names and locations have been changed.*

giftThis year, 2013, has been filled with  many life-changing events and blessings. Out of everything I have received this year, there are three special gifts that have made 2013 one of the happiest periods of my life.

The first gift I received this year was meeting my boyfriend John. We met this April on an online dating website, and we’ve been in love ever since. After a painful break-up with my ex-boyfriend in March, I was determined to find someone who would make me happy and treat me well. On a whim, I created a profile on a popular dating website and waited to see what would happen. It wasn’t long before I received a message from John, and I felt a connection right away.

At that time, I was living with my sister in Jonesboro, while he was living in Batesville. We spoke on the phone for hours every day, and we eventually decided to meet in person. My family and friends were concerned for my safety because meeting people off of the internet can be dangerous, but I was confident that everything would be fine. We met in Batesville for sushi and a movie at his place, and it was one of the best dates of my life.

After that,  we became inseparable. Even though our work schedules and distance apart made dating difficult, we were able to maintain a good relationship and quickly fell in love. Not long after our first date, John  offered to let me to move in with him in Batesville, and I was apprehensive at first. I had made many impulsive decisions in my dating life, and I didn’t want our relationship to end badly. After a lot of thought, I decided to go ahead and move in with him. Even though it was a struggle adjusting to a new town, John made the transition a little easier for me, and I am happier in our relationship than I could ever imagine. John has given me a love that I’ve always wanted, and I am very thankful to have him in my life.

The second gift I received this year was the ability to further my education at the University of Arkansas Community College in Batesville, or UACCB. In high school, I didn’t have any motivation or desire to perform well. Growing up, I had a lot of things going on at home that affected every aspect of my life and made school very difficult to handle. I ran away from home when I was 17 years old, and because of that, I was court ordered to stay at a hospital’s treatment center until I was 18. I graduated high school on the day of my discharge from the hospital in 2007, and I have kept my stay in the hospital secret for many years.

I felt ashamed because I had graduated from a mental health facility, and thought that I would never be able to perform well in college due to my past.  Many people in my life have encouraged me to go to college, but due to financial reasons, I felt like that wasn’t an option for me. When I moved to Batesville with John, I was finally in a position to attend college. Even though I didn’t necessarily want to apply for classes, I thought I might as well give it a try to keep everyone from bothering me about it. Now, at the end of my first semester, I can say that I am very happy that I decided to go college. I never dreamed that I would become a straight “A” student at 23 years old, and it makes me feel very proud of myself. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of my courses and have made a lot of great friends. College has given me the courage to achieve more in life and to believe in myself.

The third gift I received this year was becoming employed at a gas station. Before moving to Batesville, I worked as a Licensed Certified Nursing Assistant at a nursing home and was financially independent. Despite the good pay I received, I was miserable and loathed my job. Once I was living in Batesville, I assumed that I would have no problem finding a job. I quickly realized that wasn’t the case. I spent almost three months unemployed, and every application and job lead that I followed led to disappointment.

Finally, the week before the fall semester of college started, I received a call from the gas station about a job offer, and I gladly accepted. I have prior experience in sales, and I easily adjusted to my new job. All of the employees were very warm and welcoming, and I became fast friends with all of them. I also met my best friend Savannah, who is like a sister to me. My first months in Batesville were very depressing because I had no money and didn’t know anyone besides John. If I wouldn’t have found a job, I was seriously considering moving back home, which would have been a mistake. I have never been financially supported by a boyfriend before, and not being able to take care of myself was a big blow to my self-confidence. Now, I am happily employed and grateful to have a job that I love.

The year 2013 was filled with so many things that have changed my life for the better. I am thankful for all of the gifts I have received and the good people who are now such a big part of my life.