An open letter to graduates…

This week marks one of my favorite times of year on our campus: commencement. It’s a time to celebrate the accomplishments of our students and congratulate them on successfully navigating four (or more) tough years of college. Countless hours of studying, writing papers and preparing oral presentations have culminated in this one moment.

And this year, graduates worldwide have navigated an even tougher set of circumstances. The coronavirus has created many new obstacles for all of us- especially our students. Through it all, they just kept pushing.

And I’ve got a short message for this week’s graduates….wherever you are.

Dear graduate:

You’ve made it. Take a moment and breathe it all in. No…really. These past four years have been tough, but the past 13 months have been really difficult. You’ve reached an important milestone in life and you need to stop and celebrate!

Let me leave you with three quick pieces of advice as you move forward.

  1. You are tough. Over the past year you have faced every type of obstacle that is humanly imaginable. You’ve experienced remote learning, the threat of physical illness, and an uncertain economic outlook. Through it all, you’ve kept pushing. Learning. Surviving. Succeeding. Don’t think about what you didn’t get to do this past year. Instead, think about the new ways you have learned to cope with challenges and overcome them with creativity, grit and determination. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
  2. Always give people the benefit of the doubt. It’s been a tough year. Most of us are carrying around a load of burdens and concerns. In a time when we need to come together and listen to each other, we’ve been isolated and alone. When you encounter someone who seems irritated, frustrated or withdrawn…remember that they may be experiencing a tough time and have a heavy heart. Give them grace and offer a smile. You never know what a kind word or nice gesture can do for a weary spirit. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
  3. Say “I love you” daily. As the world opens back up and you prepare for a new career and life adventures, you’ll be busier than you’ve ever been. Some of will be getting your first jobs. Others are starting graduate school or moving across the country. You’ll have countless new people to meet and new roles to learn. Through it all, don’t forget your family and friends. They’ve been there for you so far…and want to remain your support system as you move forward. Keep in touch with those special people in your life. Call them. Send them a quick note or text. Shoot them pictures of your new adventures. But most of all- tell someone you love them everyday. It’ll bring a smile to their face and the communication will brighten your day, too. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

I wish you the best as you transition to the next phase of life. You can do anything and be anything. Don’t ever stop believing in yourself…or loving others.

All the best,

me

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Hoarders

We adopted a rescue dog, Sky, almost 10 years ago. Sky is a terrier mix…full of nervous energy and excitement.

Perhaps it’s because she was on the streets and abandoned for a while, but Sky is a hoarder. She collects food, toys, food wrappers, containers and other household items- and she hides them in various places. Her favorite spot is her bed, which Sky will crowd with her “prizes”.

While hoarding sometimes has a negative connotation, I thought about another concept this week when I was studying the book of Psalms…where we are asked to fill our hearts with God’s word.

“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.” Psalms‬ ‭119:11-14‬ ‭

How do we store up His word? We’ve got to commit to seeking wisdom from the Bible daily.

Find a Bible study and commit to finishing it. Join a small group through your church. Commit to reading God’s word at a certain time each day. Download the YouVersion Bible app on your phone and read a plan with a friend.

If we store up God’s word in our hearts, it’ll spill over into every other aspect of our lives.

My prayer this week is to become increasingly intentional about reading and studying the Bible. I can do better.

And please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Adopt a Spot

One of my favorite running routes takes me through our downtown city park.  It’s a nice, shaded area with lots of room for families to play, eat and relax.

In one far corner rests a small flower bed. It’s an official “Adopt A Spot” location for the City of Martin. You’ve seen these places…different organizations and businesses adopt public areas and keep them clean and beautiful. I’ve seen hands working in this particular area on numerous occasions.  Planting, weeding, watering.  Multiple people pouring time, energy and care into one small spot.  The results are, well…amazing. It’s a vibrant bed of color because of the constant attention it receives.

What if we had our own “Adopt a Spot” approach to our daily lives?

Pick someone. A neighbor. A co worker. The widow down the street. The single mom or dad next door.

What if we poured our time, attention and genuine love into someone right beside us?

There’s brokenness all around us. Pain, suffering, despair. But what if we adopted a “spot” from our neighbors and showed some attention and love?

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13: 34-35

This week my prayer will be to focus on a small need around me…and to have the courage to act and make a difference.

And please let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

 

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Letters from home

img_1507We celebrated Valentine’s Day this past week.  My family did the normal things…preparing treats and cards for my son’s elementary school party, exchanging cards and- the best part- Hollianne’s baking.

My biggest surprise, however, came in the mail.

I arrived home after a long day at work and discovered a letter from my mom in the mailbox.  A hand-written letter that read:

“KS-  You have had my heart for 46+ years.  I think about you everyday and pray for you.  I appreciate your friendship and am so very thankful and blessed that you are my son.  God has been/is so good to us.  I love you- Mom”

I shouldn’t have been surprised.  Mom has told me that she loved me almost every day of my life.

But there’s something special about the written word that made this communication extra special.

I’ve got a family of writers.  I’ve got notes from mom tucked away from numerous periods of my life.

My dad is a letter-writer too.  He’s sent me letters for high school and college graduations, before my wedding day and to celebrate milestones in my marriage and career.  I cherish all of these.

We are called to encourage.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. I Thessalonians 5:11

Jesus was the ultimate encourager.  He lifted those who were hurting.  He provided hope for the lost.

And He still does today.

You never know when an encouraging word- or note- can lift the burden of another.  Just like my momma did on Valentine’s Day.

My prayer this weekend will focus on being more of an encourager.  Please pray for me to be more aware of how I can lift the burden of another.

And let me know how I can pray for you.

God bless.

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When you forget your pants

img_0751I’ve been preoccupied lately.  Too preoccupied, perhaps.

New job and new responsibilities.  Lots of commuting.  Long days and many new people to meet.  A schedule full of meetings, too.

I realized yesterday that I needed to pack for three consecutive days on the road.  While packing for the trip, I decided to return some phone calls.  Admittedly, I was distracted with the phone conversations and not focused on packing what I needed for my trip.

I got to the hotel late last night and realized that I didn’t have my shaving kit.  No toothbrush or toothpaste.  No razor.  Nothing.

I had also intended to finish up a Bible study during some quiet time at the hotel.  Nope.  I forgot my Bible too.

Finally- I realized that I had packed my new suit coat, but not the pants.  Yep, I had 1/2 a suit.  No tie either.

I didn’t have time to go purchase new dress slacks.  I would have to go with what I had in my suitcase…a mismatched suit coat and dress pants.

I drew lots of strange stares at the conference today, for sure.  If I were trying to make a fashion statement- it was an epic failure.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  Colossians 3:2

Has this ever happened to you?  Trivial things fill our days and preoccupy our minds.  If we aren’t careful, we can get so busy that we take our eyes off of what’s truly important.  We have to stay focused.

Please pray for me to spend less time being “busy” – and more time focused on Jesus.

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

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Level playing fields

Our boys are experiencing a special season- and they know it. 

JT is an eighth grade kicker, punter and safety for his middle school team.  Our 5th grader, Britton, is an offensive guard and defensive tackle for the same team. 

Britton normally wouldn’t be playing with JT’s team. After all, he’s still in elementary school. 

But his 5th grade team didn’t have enough players- so the middle school coach invited Britton to “play up” and practice with the older team. 

While Britton hasn’t played much, he’s learned a lot from the older players and the coaches. He’s gotten stronger, learned much more about the game and become more disciplined in his preparation.  

And it’s brought our boys closer. 

They talk about the games at the dinner table. In the car, they share jokes about things that happen at practices. 

Despite their age and skill differences- JT and Britton are sharing a common experience. 

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”  Mark 16:15

Isn’t that how the Bible draws it up?  

No matter our background…no matter our experience…no matter our status- the love of Jesus and the promise for salvation is for everyone. We have a shared experience. 

There’s no preferential treatment. Everyone is free to accept the same level of love, comfort and redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

We are all united through Jesus. Teammates. And we should teach, support and pray for one another during our time together on earth. 

Please let me know how I might pray for you this week. It would be my honor as your teammate. 

God bless. 

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