At a Night of Ministry with Kari Jobe & Christine Caine
Through each season of my life the Lord has been gracious enough to gift me with the presence of people who have influenced me for the better. This is a story of one of those people.After working as a pre-school teacher for a short time while I was living at an inner-city ministry, I did what I said I would never do: go to work for my alma mater. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy my time as a student at Belhaven University. I didn’t want to become an employee of the institution because so many graduates took that route, and ultimately I didn’t see it as part of my calling: ministry.
For those of you who know me well, you know that my journey to be in full time ministry has certainly been a winding road. Through each job, the Lord has shown me the importance of understanding that even the simplest task can be ministry when we are willing to commit our ways fully to Him. I could go on for a while about that lesson, but I won’t now.I didn’t quite understand why the Lord had me go back to Belhaven to work in the admission office. After much asking, He showed me.
Her name is Morganne.
I was in need of help from a work-study student and was in the process of interviewing new freshman students for the position. I had no idea how to interview someone who was not that much younger than me, so of course my “interviews” simply became chats about life. I wanted to know where they grew up, what they were interested in, and what they were passionate about. After I spoke with a couple of students, I heard her in the lobby of the office.When the receptionist told Morganne I that I was available right then I heard, “But I’m not dressed for an interview right now! Are you sure?” in the best Wetumpka, Alabama drawl.
Morganne rounded the corner to come to my desk and immediately I noticed the massive arm sling and pillow like brace holding her shoulder in place. “It’s from a tumbling accident. I just had surgery… but I can do whatever you need me to do!” Her enthusiasm was contagious, and we certainly needed more of it in the office. She was a very determined freshman elementary education major and cheerleader.After we discussed her babysitting job experience, I just had an overwhelming peace in my spirit that the Lord sent her to me. We talked more, and then I asked, “So, when can you start?” After working out a schedule around her classes and cheer practice, it had been set.
Each afternoon Morganne would come help me with seemingly meaningless tasks. But as she folded mail for me and complied supplies for admission packets, we were able to talk. We talked a lot! Many afternoons were simply spent with her sitting with me at my desk.
In the beginning of her time with me as work-study, our conversations were about freshman boys (one in particular), her weekend plans with Sydney (the other one J), and how her classes were going.As our friendship grew, the Lord continually showed me the importance in investing in Morganne’s life. She has always been super cute, friendly, smart (gosh, don’t you hate that?), but I feared that others didn’t see what I saw in Morganne. I wanted others to look past the cute exterior to see how much He planned to use her for the Kingdom.
After just a few short weeks of knowing her, I knew something great was going to transpire soon. But until then, I committed to chatting about cute clothes and cheer.Then it happened. There was a huge shift in her priorities and the Lord allowed me to witness it. Belhaven and being in Jackson wasn’t about being popular or even well liked. Morganne’s sole desire became simply to know God more intimately. After we walked through her dating here and there, it always came back to the one guy she told me about when we first spoke. Hamilton was the one. She told me. And let me just say, that when Morganne has something in mind, all systems are GO! Her confidence in the Lord’s call on her life and on Hamilton’s was inspiring. Rather than pursuing fleeting relationships, Morganne’s heart was only seeking the Lord. When I would say, “Morganne, are you sure? Have you asked God about this? Y’all are such good friends.” Morganne would simply say, “Yep. I just know I’m supposed to wait. I’m going to be Mrs. Hamilton Harper.” That same zeal encouraged me as Joseph and I first started dating. “Syd, this is a date!” “Morganne, we are just going to dinner to catch up. I want to hear about his summer in Africa.” The next day I had to tell her she was right.
Nine months after Joseph and I started dating, we were married. And my sweet Morganne and her best friend, Sydney, drove from Alabama to support us and help at the reception. Morganne’s relentless encouragement towards us still means the world. Sometimes “God things” don’t always make sense. Morganne never questioned Joseph and me after we were engaged just eleven weeks after we started dating. “When you know, you know, Syd!”
|Morganne with me minutes before I walked down the aisle|
As my time at Belhaven ended, I’m blessed to say that my relationship with Morganne didn’t. We endured the effects of almost going into a GiGi’s Cupcake sugar coma together, and made time to hang out when we could.
Joseph and I have watched Morganne become a woman with purpose. When she invited us to hear her share her testimony in front of her peers at church, I knew the mission of her life wasn’t simply to teach children and encourage others with her bubbly personality and her “everything happens for a reason” mentality. Her life’s aim became influencing people for the purpose of showing them a better glimpse of the Kingdom of God.Morganne has chosen joy despite difficult circumstances she has walked through. That contagious joy overflowed to Joseph and me when we were walking through infertility, then our miscarriage. She opened up her apartment to serve us and to love us well during those difficult days. She’s prayed and warred in the heavenly places on our behalf. She’s both laughed and cried with us when we needed it the most. Through it all she has continually helped me refocus my perspective.
|Celebrating at Morganne's wedding shower when I was VERY pregnant with Ada|
Today as Morganne celebrates another birthday, I celebrate the gift she is to me and so many others. I celebrate her willingness to confidently proclaim what the Lord has shown her. I celebrate the courage she has to stand out. And I celebrate the story the Lord has given her.
|Morganne meeting Ada for the first time|
Part of her story is that what she declared as a freshman student came to be. I was honored and privileged to stand with her as she became Mrs. Hamilton Harper. Their wedding ceremony was nothing short of glorious. It was a true testament of my banner “at just the right time”. Hamilton and Morganne are world-changers, a couple driven by the purpose of the Lord, and ones filled with an inspiring faith.
|Oh, glorious day!|
Morganne, you have taught me more about steadfast faith than you can ever know. I never imagined that the Lord would allow our relationship to go so far beyond being a work-study student, but I am honored that it has. You have reminded me of the importance of simply being kind to everyone. You are a precious gift to me and my family.
Happy birthday, my dear! You are so loved!
|Celebrating the Harpers!|