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A Dream vs A Call

Growing up my favorite game to play was “school” where I was the teacher and anyone I could find to play with me was the student. I loved school and I still do. There has always been something about learning new material in an academic environment that led me to immense joy. I was more often than not the student who always connected with her teachers. Even more so, many of my teachers have left lasting impacts on my life.

With all of this being said, since I was in first grade, I wanted to be a teacher; it was my dream. It really was all I could talk about. When the time came for me to check the box next to a major, it seemed like the simple, obvious option; however, there was something deep within me that stirred.

I wasn’t sure what that stirring inside me was nor what it meant. Later, I had a hint about what it possibly could be, but it did not match my plan, causing me to ignore it. The stirring inside me became stronger as the time for college crept closer. I wrestled with it until I decided to vocalize my thought of what the stirring could possibly be. After lots of discouraging responses, I decided that I was misinterpreting the feeling inside, and I would continue the plan I had always known–to  be a teacher.

I arrived at Indiana Wesleyan a little less than a month ago. My time here has been a roller coaster. It was different than I thought it would be. For some reason, something just did not feel right. While I was navigating the transition of college, the stirring inside me rose again only this time it was stronger than ever before. At first, I ignored it and went about my classes, but I couldn’t ignore it for long.

It all started with a conversation with a Professor. She had just finished a lecture that I attended with Lexi, my roommate. I was not even her student as I had decided to attend with Lexi for fun. (I recognize that a student who attends a lecture for fun is a nerd.) She approached me and introduced herself, asking me what my major was. I responded that I was an elementary education major. She smiled and asked if I had always wanted to do that. I hesitated. The conversation led to her telling me that it was one hundred percent biblical for a woman to be in ministry, and that is where my story begins.

I didn’t expect any of this to happen. Classes started and I still felt like something was off. I was enjoying my classes, but not as much as I thought I would. There was one class, though, that I loved; it was theology. I prayed to the Lord asking why I was feeling confused and disheartened. I had been looking forward to college for so long, but I was in my room crying more than socializing.

One night, I was in my dorm studying, and two girls on my floor at separate times asked if I was a ministry major or if I had considered being one. They each followed with the idea that they saw me as a ministry major, which was why they asked. I laughed and told them I was in education, but later I thought about their questioning more seriously. That night I prayed to God for a significant amount of time, seeking out what God wanted for me.

The next day, I had a mandatory, one-on-one meeting with my theology professor. Our conversation was great; I was able to learn about her as she was able to learn about me. I thought we were finishing up our conversation until she stopped me and asked if I had ever considered that maybe I had a call to ministry. I just laughed.

I prayed harder than I ever had before, wondering what in the world was wrong with me. I was not content here, and I had not the slightest clue why. I asked God to make it abundantly clear what path he wanted me to pursue. My dream was always education, but maybe my call was something else. The following weekend, I grabbed my friend Rebekah and headed to Fort Wayne to visit my former youth pastor’s church.

The service started with an opening prayer, and the word’s nearly knocked me out of my seat. The pastor stated that he felt that there was anxiety in the room and that whether it was caused by change, a large decision, financial insecurity, or a loss to trust the Lord and give it to Him. Rebekah and I laughed as the prayer was so relevant it was as if God was slamming a brick in our faces, saying here is what I want you to do. As I tried to comprehend the prayer and what God was saying to me, Matt, took the stage. He began preaching, and his sermon was the icing on the cake.

When I really considered why I hadn’t chose ministry as my major, I always went back to the same thoughts. I was afraid and it wasn’t part of the plan. Also, I didn’t want to upset the people who had discouraged me. Then Matt opened his Bible and read the following verse: “…Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent for I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you…” -Acts 18:9-10

I knew right then what that stirring was and why I was so discontent at IWU. Today I made one of the biggest decisions of my life. I chose to listen to God, and disregard my plans for myself. I chose to trust God. I met with my professor today and officially changed my major. I am now a christian ministries major with a minor in biblical literature. I am following my call that I know more clearly than ever to full time ministry. Only God knows exactly what that looks like, and I trust Him.

Since my decision, I have not stopped smiling. I have a couple of friends that I can already tell will be lifelong friends. My discontent is gone and the stirring inside my stomach is now buzzing inside my heart ready for whatever God has planned for me. This has not been my dream my whole life, but it has been my call, and God knew all along. I knew I always wanted to be a teacher, but I never knew it would be a teacher of the Word.

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Trust Your Instinct

“We are meeting every Wednesday night at this place. It is a restaurant. The vibe is weird there but the food is good. So good, in fact, that it is almost addicting,” Maddie told Jenna.

“Sure I will come,” Jenna replied.

An hour after their conversation Jenna pulled into the parking lot with a weird feeling rising from the pit of her stomach to her throat. The building was made of gray brick and there weren’t any windows. Jenna noticed that there weren’t very many cars in the parking lot either, but she did notice the gray transit and kia that Maddie’s family always drove. She parked next to them and turned off the car. The weird feeling flipped in her throat again. She acknowledged its recurrence, but chose to go inside anyway.

Walking up the cement steps, she looked up at the large black door. Once she reached the top of the steps, she reached for the knob; she hesitated. Something was not right, and she could not place it. She turned to look towards the street and noticed there wasn’t a restaurant sign. Actually, there wasn’t any way of knowing this building housed a restaurant at all. She turned back to face the door, contemplating whether or not she should enter. She started to leave, but remembered Maddie and her family were inside. There was no way this restaurant was inimical, because Maddie’s family would never attend there otherwise. Jenna chuckled at herself for being so paranoid and turned the knob, stepping her first foot on old, deteriorated wood. She walked in and noticed an old woman situated at the front desk right away. There were black chairs with green cushions that lined the walls. A few souls sat in the chairs dispersed around the room. Jenna avoided eye contact with any of them, heading straight for the old woman at the desk.

“Excuse me. I am looking for the restaurant” Jenna stated.

“Down the stairs,” the woman grunted.

The voice startled Jenna. It was much too low to be a voice of a woman and the grunt within the voice sounded like a noise from a pig. Jenna shook off the encounter and started for the staircase. Once she rounded the stairs, she saw another door. Turning past the door, she smiled at her second family sitting at a long table covered with a white cloth. Jenna laid eyes on Maddie first, smiled at her, then glanced around the table to see who would be present for dinner.

“Hey Jenna!” Emery exclaimed as he walked to her to greet her with a hug. The rest of the family followed suit. The dinner consisted of family style turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, and green beans. Everyone passed the bowls around after the waiter placed the food in the center. Jenna observed the waiter while everyone else jumped to serving the food.

He was tall, thin, and had some scruff. He wasn’t friendly nor was he rude; it was that awkward in between.

“What are you staring at?” Maddie asked.

“Oh nothing! I was just thinking, so I stared off into space.” Jenna replied quickly.

“The food is delicious, so you should dive in.” Linda exclaimed.

Jenna nibbled at her mashed potatoes, but because she could not shake the feeling that something was off, she decided it was probably better to shift her food around the plate instead of ingesting it. After hours of laughter and conversation, everyone realized that the restaurant would be closing soon, so it was time to leave. Everyone stood from their chairs overstuffed from the food.

The waiter darted back to the kitchen as everyone began to leave. Jenna exchanged hugs with everyone as they began to head up the stairs towards the parking lot. She was on her way out as well but decided to stop for a restroom break before her drive home.

The bathroom, old and unsanitary, was a destination in which Jenna would spend the least amount of time that she could. The feeling she got in this place was unlike anything she had ever experienced. She couldn’t interpret it, but she could interpret the growling of her stomach since she chose not to eat at the restaurant. The toilet flushed as she stood up. Quickly, she washed her hands and dried them. She opened the restroom door to find that everyone had left. That only made her want to leave that much more. On her way out, she glanced around the room. There were only two other guests dining in the restaurant and the waiter was in the kitchen doorway watching them like a hawk. Suddenly, his dark eyes met hers. She darted her eyes towards the wooden floor. After a couple steps, she glanced at him again. He was glaring at her. Her pace quickened as she reached the staircase. Taking two steps at a time, she made her way towards her car and farther away from the creepy place that gave her a feeling she just couldn’t shake.

The half way point of the staircase was marked by a landing; right as her foot hit the landing a large, disgruntled man stepped out of the door near the bottom of the stairs.

“This place isn’t what you think it is. This place doesn’t just have a restaurant for the money. They don’t make money just through the restaurant either. This place isn’t what you think it is,” he said panicked. Jenna turned to get a quick look at the character shouting such remarks, matching her suspicions. The crazy look in his eye told her that if she didn’t get out of this building right that second she may never see the light of day again. She practically ran the rest of the way up the stairs unaware that the strange man was following her. She ran past the people in the waiting room and the old woman at the desk. The front door shook, but it did not budge as she pulled.

“This place isn’t what you think it is,” the man shouted again. She shook the door as if her life depended on it, because quite frankly, she was pretty sure it did. Jenna observed the door from top to bottom. There were two small locks at the bottom near the floor. Kneeling down, she flipped both locks as the man made his way toward her; she was very aware of his closeness now. The door flew open this time, revealing the empty parking lot with only her car. Seconds passed, and she was in her car with the door shut and locked. She sped off unsure of where to even begin in attempting to process the events that just unraveled.

Jumbles of thoughts shot around in her brain. Did they poison the food? Was Maddie’s family who she thought they were? Was she just letting her imagination get the best of her? She arrived home and prayed.

“Amen,” she ended. She decided that it must have been all a pigment of her imagination. She probably misread the waiter, misheard the man at the bottom of the stairs, and Maddie’s family was her family now. She knew they wouldn’t ever do anything to put her in danger. Jenna thought about talking through the crazy thoughts she had with the family, but decided it was better just to keep it to herself and hope that they would choose another restaurant for the following Wednesday.

“Hey Jenna! We are planning to meet at the same restaurant as last week. I have been craving those mashed potatoes all week,” Maddie exclaimed.

“Oh. I though you said you wanted to cut back on the carbs,” Jenna replied, fishing for a reason to talk Maddie into another restaurant.

“Yeah I thought so too, but those mashed potatoes are all I can think about. I am not the only one either. The rest of my family has been craving the food as well. Meet us there at 7?” she asked.

“Uh I think I have something Wednesday.”

“You just told me you were free through text an hour ago.”

“Oh right… I forgot my plans were cancelled. I will be there.”

The clock ticked by as Jenna felt more uneasy by the second. She tried to convince herself that she needed to get out of her own head and enjoy some fellowship with her family in Christ.

She pulled into the parking lot just as the Youngs were getting out of their car. Molly ran over and opened her car door.

“Hey Jenna! I can’t wait to eat their food! Can you?” Molly yelled while jumping up and down.

“Uh yeah I can’t wait either,” Jenna said nervously smiling.

“Come on!” Molly grabbed Jenna’s hand and led her to the door. The old lady wasn’t at the desk this time nor were there people in the chairs. Molly pulled Jenna down the stairs right to the table they were at the week before. The table was set as if it were the Wednesday before; nothing was different.

The food was served in the same platter by the same waiter with the same weird look in his eye. Oddly enough, Jenna also noticed the same two diners at the same table as before. It was as if it was the following Wednesday and no time had passed at all. Everyone barely let the waiter set the food on the table before digging in. The feeling that overwhelmed Jenna the week before was unbearable this week. It did not leave room for an appetite. She quietly put her food in a slot under the table so that it looked as if she ate the meal alongside them. The waiter eyeballed her frequently, so Jenna had to be sly. Conversation was normal, but everything else was far from, and Jenna was in disbelief that she seemed to be the only one noticing.

Luckily, the night didn’t last as long as the week before as all of them had to be up early the next morning to drive a significant ways away for a job. Again, Jenna had to use the restroom. She thought that if she went right then, then they wouldn’t leave her there alone again. Four minutes passed during her bathroom trip, and she rushed back out only to find an empty table; it happened again. The waiter was in the same doorway except this time he was more intent on watching the couple at the far table. Jenna bolted towards the stairs. Immediately, the door flew open.

“You won’t listen, will you? This place isn’t what you think it is,” the same man from before yelled. Jenna didn’t take the time to look back at him this time. She went right for the two locks, noticing in her peripheral vision the chairs in the upstairs were still empty. She glided out the door to her car.

“There is absolutely no possible way I am returning to this place,” she wheezed to herself, driving home.

The phone rang Tuesday night, causing Jenna’s stomach to flip as Maddie’s name flashed across her phone’s screen.

“Hello?”

“Hey Jenna! Are you ready for those mashed potatoes tomorrow?” Maddie exclaimed.

“Uh sure.” Jenna couldn’t believe herself. She just agreed to go to the same place after promising herself not to go.

“Great! See you at 7!” The phone clicked. She would arrive and leave at the same time as the rest of them. No excuses. She also felt an obligation to go to watch out for them. They seemed to almost be in a trance while they were at this sketchy place.

She pulled in a little late as traffic was backed up more than normal. She opened the door to find the old woman back at the front desk. There were around six people dispersed in chairs around the room again. Jenna walked slower towards the stairs to give herself some time to look at the faces of the people. Every single one of them looked as if no one was home. They all had blank stares. Jenna made her way down the stairs, immediately, noticing that the dining area was more crowded than normal. Everyone was at the normal table, but in the back was a long table of special needs adults, each one wearing an identical set of blue scrubs.

Dinner carried on as usual; they devoured the food on their plates while Jenna shoved her food around to make it look like she ate as well. Jenna couldn’t believe that Maddie was more interested in the food than she was in the special needs adults sitting nearby. Normally, Jenna and Maddie would lose their minds over how much they loved any special needs they saw in public. Tonight, Maddie was completed uninterested.

The waiter walked over to the table full of the special needs and slammed the plate of mashed potatoes and gravy on the table. The gravy flew all over the adult nearest him.

“Hey! That not nice mister!” the man yelled. The waiter laughed and turned to walk back towards the kitchen. Jenna’s heart dropped. The Smiths were all exchanging hugs and goodbyes, complete missing the scene Jenna was appalled by. She quickly said her goodbyes before she quickly rushed to find a manager. She reached the manager and lost all control, completely forgetting where she was.

“Your waiter should be ashamed of himself. He should not treat someone with disabilities in the way he did. If you want our group’s business, then you better fire him,” Jenna screamed.

“Oh you will be back regardless of if we fire him,” she replied with a smile and walked away. Jenna was shocked; she turned to storm up the stairs right as the door swung open yet again.

“I told you. This place isn’t what you think it is. Those retarded people… you and your family are next.”

The door swung shut. He didn’t chase her this time. Jenna hustled out the door back to her car. She began processing everything that had occurred every trip she had made there. The realization of what was occurring hit her like a brick to the face. The food had poison in it… addictive poison. The next step was the waiting room. The table downstairs of special needs were the experiments gone wrong. Jenna threw up all over herself as she drove home, unwilling to stop. She had to call Maddie immediately. She would never allow them to reach level two, the waiting room. She dialed Maddie’s number. The phone rang and rang, but no one ever picked up.

Two Types of People I Love

I have a tendency to overcommit myself as I am someone who struggles with the word “no.” Guilt has a tendency to answer for me when people ask for favors. I love to volunteer and even more so, I love people; however, I recognize that too much can equal overwhelming feelings.

The idea of overcommitting stemmed from my exhausting (and extremely rewarding) week of volunteering at two major events. Over the course of this week, or more so the past three days, I have learned several things about myself.

The first is that I love people, but I also need time to recharge. I hosted my graduation open house on Sunday where I had the amazing opportunity to speak with many of my friends and family in the celebration of my graduation. While it was an incredible experience, I felt like I had been hit by a bus by the end of the party. I recognized pretty quickly at VBS the next night that I was not capable of serving in my fullest capacity if I did not allow myself some time to recharge with some quality time with myself as well as God.

The second thing I learned about myself this week is that I love both kids and special needs. They both can make you smile even when you are facing the toughest of circumstances. The pure joy and confidence that oozes from a student with a disability is simply remarkable. I enter into time with them thinking I will be able to help them and teach them. Ironically, they end up teaching me significantly more. Kids have a purity to them that I am jealous of. Most of them haven’t been completely tainted by the world yet. Their lack of a filter when sharing the way they see something or someone is humorous on a high level.

The third thing I learned about myself throughout the week is that I know God led me to the right decision in choosing a major for my future career. I learned that I love people, yes, but I have two favorite types of people: people with disabilities and kids. God led me on a path to study elementary education and special education. It is easy to question all the decisions you made that will impact your future over the course of the summer before starting college, especially when you see the dollar amount of debt you will soon drown in. The week of VBS and Project Reach made me realize that I should not question my calling. The Lord has placed me where he wants me, and everything else will eventually fall into place.

Busy weeks can be the most stressful; however, they are definitely the most rewarding. I am thankful for the opportunities I have been given this summer. The point I am at in life is interesting because I learn more and more about myself everyday. I recognize that lately, life has just been a journey to discover who I am as a daughter in Christ.

True Meaning of Memorial Day

The meaning behind Memorial Day is concealed by a race and a day off of school and work. When one pulls off the cover that consists of cars speeding around a track and cookouts, one can see the decorated graves of loved ones lost in order for people to have freedom. Bruce Lambert wrote an article for the New York Times titled “Recalling the Meaning Behind Memorial Day.” He includes in his article, “ In 1868, Maj. Gen. John A. Logan ordered that: ‘The 30th day of May is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land’” (Lambert). Memorial Day is in memory of the men and women who raced for their life on the battlefield so that Americans would have the freedom to watch cars race around a track.

Memorial Day is about the father, husband, son, brother, mother, daughter, wife, or friend that lost their life in the line of duty. War is not a video game that is played on a television screen nor is it a dramatic addition to make a movie or book action-packed. It is a reality in which millions of families face the day they look into their loved ones’ eyes to say goodbye—not knowing whether it could be the last time. War is a nightmare made into a reality into which men and women alike volunteer themselves in order to gain confidence that their American people are eligible to maintain their freedom. America would not be America without the soldiers that put their country before their own lives.

Memorial Day is a day to honor the men and women who kissed their loved ones goodbye before they left for war and never returned. The U. S. Department of Veteran Affairs explains further on their website The National Moment of Remembrance under “Memorial Day History.” The article states, “The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation” (“Office”). Although it is a significant day to recognize the fallen, it is important to remember them daily. Each soldier has an impact and a relevance to each American’s daily life. The families of a fallen soldier—it is your honor to be related to such a hero.

This day should not only be a day to remember the fallen heroes, but also to inspire Americans to live a life, embracing the gift of freedom. Wallace Bruce, a poet, once said in his poem “Memorial-Day,” “Who kept the faith and fought the fight; The glory theirs, the duty ours.” It is the American public’s duty to rise above the hatred that has consumed this country and join together, because regardless of race, gender, or religion, we are all American. Thank you to the fallen soldiers who have fought for the right to claim that title—American.

Selfless to Avoid Being Selfish

Most of my posts have been pertaining to graduation and senior year recently. It is most likely because I am chomping at the bit to graduate as it is happening in just two short weeks. I was reflecting over all the accomplishments I had achieved over my high school career when I realized something.

Those achievements mean nothing if you do not have people surrounding you to support you and cheer you on. Supporting one another and being genuinely happy for the accomplishments in which they achieve is what is beautiful about the situation. Unfortunately that does not occur very often. Instead, people become jealous.

I have been reading more the past couple weeks that I have in awhile. I have been hooked on poetry; I went to the bookstore and picked up the book “Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur. It is raw with emotion. It was not what I was expecting but it was brilliant. There was one page of her poetry that caught my eye towards the end.

“What terrifies me most is how we / foam at the mouth with envy / when other succeed / but sigh in relief / when they are failing / our struggle to / celebrate each other is / what’s proven most difficult / in being human” (Kaur).

I sat and stewed on that concept the words revealed. I realized that that is miraculously true. I was saddened by the reality that often times it is more accurate than someone being genuinely happy for a success of another human. I can even be honest in saying that I am a culprit of this on occasions.

I think that as I enter into a time of award ceremonies, graduation, and open houses, I want to celebrate people with my full heart. Like I mentioned earlier, the achievement mean so much more when there is a crowd of people beside you cheering you on along the way. I cannot even imagine what it would feel like to have a crowd of people cheering you along who are just as excited for you as if they themselves have achieved it.

My challenge for not only myself but also others is to appreciate the achievements of others–be proud of them like you are proud of yourself when you overcome an obstacle.

Be selfless in order to not be selfish.

The Importance of Laughter

When I laugh, I cry. I don’t mean a tear falls. I mean if I am laughing hard enough, tears pour down the side of my face like a waterfall. If you know I am taking a drink of something, DO NOT make me laugh. I am, like everyone, fortunate to have a couple weird quirks. One of mine just happens to be that for as long as I can remember, when I laugh with a drink in my mouth, it shoots our my nose. For the longest time, I was extremely embarrassed by it.

After awhile I realized a couple of different things. My embarrassment was holding me back and I was more stressed than a person should be. Laughter releases my stress like any prescribed medicine for a doctor. I decided it was time to embrace my quirk. Besides, I could just laugh with people rather than them laughing at me.

Since embracing my quirk, I realized a couple more things. I am happier. I laugh at the drop of a penny as I think just about anything is funny. I will sit at home and watch funny videos on youtube or look up corny jokes. I interact with my friends and family in such a way that laughing is a priority in our conversation at some point. Another concept I noticed is that I am less stressed. When I laugh, I completely forget about the reason behind my stress. When I do remember, I am lighthearted so it doesn’t seem as stressful anymore.

I think what I am attempting to say is amidst any stressful time (like graduation), laugh. Laugh even if you pee your pants, snot comes out, tears roll down your face, or you snort. Laugh because not only does it make you feel better, it makes others feel better too.

Bucket List of Things To Do Before I Start College

In no particular order, this is a list of things I want to do before I start college in the fall. The list could be edited over time.

  1. Write a letter to my all the people that made me the person I am walking into college.
  2. Eat at the local ice cream place Mrs. Curls as many times as my lactose intolerant body can handle
  3. Go on four dates with my little brother because when I come back from college he will officially be a teenager, which could me his interest in his sister could be lacking.
  4. Spend that night at my grandma’s a handful of times to embrace the childhood I am transitioning out of.
  5. Write. I don’t care what or how much but I have to continue writing this summer.
  6. Read. I hope to read at least five books of all genres. If I can partake in reading more then rock on.
  7. Be intentional in my time with the Lord. Spend one hour a day and maybe even more in intense study.
  8. Travel to Los Angeles with my best friend… I am still mind blown that that is actually happening.
  9. Ride a two seater bike downtown.
  10. Go to the IMA.
  11. Explore two bookstores that are different from the two I regularly visit.
  12. Find 5 coffee shops that are different than the local Starbucks that receives the majority of my paycheck every week.
  13. Go to Kings Island and ride roller coasters with my hands straight up in the air.
  14. Paint. Paint at least 4 painting as I never have time during the school year but I love it.
  15. Meet one new person and do something with them.
  16. Eat at 3 new restaurants I have never been to.
  17. Cook 10 new recipes.
  18. Go to Chicago (This is me dreaming.)
  19. Write at least one new spoken word and memorize it.
  20. Get into as many intriguing and deep conversations with people as much as I possibly can.

This is just the start of a list. I may be dreaming in some aspects of them but in my opinion, you have to dream in a world as dark as this one.

I am no the only one who has thought to make a list. Huffington Post released a list as well, although their list also includes the not so fun steps that should be done now that you are officially entering into adulthood. The link is below.

List to Do in the Summer

Calm Down~ It’s Just Graduation

Dear parents of a graduating senior,

Your child is not dying. You do not have to grieve your child as so many of you seem to do because news flash, we will be back every summer. I am not attempting to be rude but rather realistic with maybe a hint of sarcasm. It is ironic because most people I come into contact with would never catch me as someone that is sarcastic. If you spend enough time with me, you will see the sarcasm seep through the wall I built up around myself.

Anyway, back to the point of this blog. Parents, it is okay to be sad but please do not drown your child in your own tears. I recognize this is a tough transition for you as your baby is growing up but I also need you to recognize something for your senior’s sake. It is about a million times scarier for the seniors themselves.

As a senior weeks away from graduation, I am giving you advice for no other reason than to support your senior. I am not one that enjoys showing my emotion in front of others so the idea of participating in a senior walk where I say good bye to teachers that have sculpted me into the person I am, walking across a stage at graduation in front of thousands, and transitioning into a completely new world is exciting yet completely and utterly terrifying.

With all of this being said, parents, please be the rock that your senior can lean on. Please be smiling and cracking jokes because amidst this time of all things new and the intensity of all this change, they need you. I know the common theme of graduation means that you don’t need your parents anymore. Quite frankly, that is probably why you are so emotional during this time; don’t be. You do not have to be sad and I have one heck of a reason to justify that statement.

Your seniors need you now more than ever before.

Sincerely,

a terrified, excited senior

Senior Talk: Who is the One in Front of You?

I sat admiring the way the seniors talked about what they had learned during a year full of decisions that would impact the rest of their life. Contemplating what I would talk about during my senior talk, I chuckled to myself because that was a long ways away.

I blinked.

I sat preparing for my senior talk as it was only hours away. I could not believe that it was my time. Butterflies fluttered around my stomach like they owned the place. I have so many things I have learned that I could not even fathom choosing one to talk about. The idea of going up in front and speaking was also slightly intimidating but necessary.

I searched my heart and listened for the Lord’s guidance. Immediately, I heard my prior youth pastor’s voice from a sermon he introduced that led to a large portion of my story.

“Who is the one in front of you?”

The question struck me as I had never been someone who went out to share my faith with other intentionally. The concept led me to a girl that I had had conflict in the past with. Over a span of four months I was able to share Jesus with her and later lead her in a prayer to accept Christ as well as baptize her with her mom. Two years later she passed away; God knew what he was doing when he called me to her.

I knew immediately that that was what I was going to talk to the underclassmen about. It was not only going to be about the one in front of you and the importance of sharing but the importance of being rooted. I proceeded to make a list.

One, you must be in the Word. Within the word there is so much truth. It is the flashlight that God gifted us with in order to guide us through the darkness of this world.

Two, you must trust the Lord. That is so much easier said than done. Spending time in the Word and prayer goes hand in hand in with trusting the Lord. One would not go up to a random stranger to tell them about a struggle they are going through, one would go to someone they know well or rather someone that they trust. That is why the first point I make is so crucial. The more time with the Lord you spend the more you know and trust in Him.

Third, community is crucial. It is imperative that one has a community around them to hold them accountable. Someone who is entering into a surrounding where there nonbelievers make up the majority needs someone to hold them accountable more than ever. It is much easier for someone who does not believe to pull someone who believes down rather than than the other way around.

Those three things have moved from a stereotypical sermon preached by a pastor about being a “good” christian to a guideline to how I want to live my life. Those points are so much more than a guide to be a good christian. They are steps to grow and maintain a beautiful relationship with the Father.

I ended my senior talk to the other high school students with an analogy because analogies are what got me my decent grades and understanding of the bible.

Think of yourself as a tree. You put different people who are the one in front of you on your branches. If you are rooted in christ, you are going to be able to support the people on your branches as well as yourself. If you are not, the tree will not be able to handle all of the people placed on your branches; eventually, the tree will fall over.

As senior year comes to a close and I finish the list of “lasts,” I prepare for the list of “firsts.” I am unsure of a lot of what that lists entails, but I am sure of one thing in my future. I look forward to falling madly in love with my Savior each day more and more.

Engulfed in Memories

No one ever talked to the old man. Anytime someone passed him while he sat on the front porch, he would frown at them. He never talked to anyone; he rarely left his house. No one understood why he was the way he was, sitting on the porch silent.

“Mommy why is old man Sal always sitting there never talking?” the little girl questioned to her mother.

“I don’t know sweetie. Maybe he is lost in memories from the past,” the mother replied.

He grasped her hand.

“Remember when you forgot to tell your parents I was taking you out to dinner for our first date?” the old man chuckled.

“Remember when you told a random girl in the hair salon about how amazing I was and how much you loved me? Remember when you freaked out later after you found out it was my mother you were talking to?” he laughed.

“Remember when I got down on one knee and asked you to marry me at your family reunion?” he smiled.

“Remember when you tripped on our wedding day, leaving the chapel and I said I would always be there to catch you when you fall?” he asked, tightening his grip on her hand.

“Remember when we saw the glow of our first child’s eyes as you held her for the first time and we cried over the little life we brought into this world?” he said as tears filled his eyes.

“Remember when you talked me into taking a vacation to the beach and it was a time with out family of five that we vowed to never forget?” he asked.

“Remember when I threw you a surprise 40th birthday party?” he said with a side grin.

“Remember when you threw me a surprise retirement party?” he asked.

“Remember when we baptized all of our grandchildren in one day?” he said with disbelief in his voice.

“I remember all of those moments. Those are what will keep me going until I see you again one day. Don’t forget me. I didn’t go through 70 years of marriage for you to go and forget me now. Oh and honey, I love you,” he said tenderly as a tear glided across the wrinkled on his face.

He closed the casket lid, placed the red tulips on top, turned and whispered, “see you soon my love” and walked out the door.