Today you are going to walk across that stage and receive your diploma. It is hard to believe that over seven years ago, our paths crossed when I first walked in the doors of the community of faith where you attended Sunday School, were Confirmed, and where you often could be found serving God's people.
This day I woke up reflecting on the many ways I have seen you grow over the years. I am proud of the men and women that you have become! You are a group of people who understand what it means to serve the church outside the church walls. You are men and women whose faith has been nurtured in your own homes and through caring, trusted relationships. Please know that I wish I could be with you today....and that my prayers are also with you on this day.
Today graduates, take a look around the gym and see the many people who have walked with you. You will see your parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts/uncles. cousins, family friends, and so many others. Know that their love...and especially God's love will carry you through. Remember always that you are a child of God. Never forget who and whose you are.
Since I am not with you today, I want to leave you with a few tips as you take this next journey. These are things that I have learned along my 36 years of life.
**Take time to laugh! Laughter really is good medicine especially during final's week. Make sure you study but also take time to laugh...and have a little fun. But not too much fun! Stay safe!
**Don't be afraid to try new experiences. I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn't try new things. I wouldn't have gone to work at a Bible camp. I wouldn't have gone to seminary. But those experiences truly blessed me and made me into the woman of faith that I am today.
**Find a community of faith. Just a few weeks ago (I think), you were presented with quilts in worship. Those quilts are a reminder that no matter where you go, you will always be wrapped in a community of faith. The quilt I was presented by DLC when I left sits on my couch and every time I wrap up in it I remember the wonderful ways that I was blessed by you and all the people there. It reminds me that I am ALWAYS being prayed for.
There are so many things that I wish I could tell you today. My blog friend Jennifer Dukes Lee wrote a letter to graduates several weeks ago....20 truths she wish she could share with you. It is such a great post so I am going to let her finish by sharing those truths with you. Here is the link: 20 Truths for Graduates.
One of my favorite Bible verses is Jeremiah 29: verse 11: "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper and not harm you, plans to give you a future of hope." These are great words to live by, but it is also ok to know that even when you don't know, God does. God stands with us in the midst of the uncertainties. God stands with us in the midst of the hard. (Check out the rest of the book of Jeremiah)
But I think the truths of life can truly be best summed up in these words from Laura Ingalls Wilder. "The real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong."
Enjoy today, dear graduates! Then go out into the world "blessed to be a blessing"
Linking up with Anita and Carol for Inspire Me Monday (Even though it is a Tuesday)