Here I am, walking to the car from the hotel in Salem where my family and I were staying this last weekend. My mom was getting ready to drop me off at the Salem Armory for the graduation rehearsal.
Tassel on the right? Check! Honor cord with the knot in the back? Check! We are ready for take-off!
After rehearsal and the long wait, it's finally time! I'm seated in the first row up there somewhere...
I'm now somewhere in that line getting ready to go up on stage...
And it was done in a flash. Here I am as a college graduate, with my sister on the left and my parents on either side of me. They have been so supportive of me these past three years, and my whole life long!
And my grandparents - it was wonderful to have them there with me and to finally get to show them the college (on Thursday)! I couldn't have made it this far without them. They are so good to me!
Me with my dear, sweet friend, Adrienne. She was my roommate last year, and I am so very grateful to know her! She graduated last May and got married last summer, but blessedly she remained in Salem this past year, and my senior year was all the better for spending time with her and her husband.
And speaking of Adrienne's husband - here he is now! He graduated back in December, but had to wait until the spring to be a part of the graduation ceremony. Brilliant and kind - Adrienne and Evan are a fantastic couple!
I didn't find all of the professors I wanted to see at graduation, but it was awesome to introduce my family to Professor Baker! He was my Teaching the Bible instructor last year.
Rachelle was my RA - the person in charge of my hall in the dorm - this year. As you can see, she is lovely - but not just on the outside! She is so sweet and talented and fun.
Christa was my RA's roommate. She is a super-smart mathematician who was sweet enough to answer my questions regarding my Statistics & Probability class this year. And she is an awesome friend!
This year I got to go to the Sadie Hawkins dance - Abel was kind enough to go with me even though I asked him the day before the dance! He's a gentleman, and we had a great time, so it was fun to introduce him to my family at graduation.
My godparents, Mr. and Mrs. Sanders, were generous enough to come all the way up to Salem to see me graduate, as well! We had such an awesome time together on Saturday...
...including a visit to the Riverfront Carousel!
Yes, it was another Jolly Holiday at the Carousel! ;)
And we couldn't end the day without a trip to Olive Garden. By the end of the night, I was stuffed!
Getting ready to leave Olive Garden - we will miss you!
And now I can finish my story! So many people have been asking me what my plans are now that I've graduated from college (with a Bachelor of Science degree in English). When I told Professor Hills last week at that poetry reading/dessert that I was planning on going home and seeing where God would lead me from there, he told me about a time when he was reading the book of Acts (not in these exact words, but you get the idea!)...
He asked me, "Do you know what God told Saul to do when Saul encountered Him on the road to Damascus?"
I shook my head.
My professor answered, "Go to Damascus. When I read that, I had to look again. But sure enough, that was all God told Saul at that point. He didn't tell him that he would be used to preach the Gospel to Gentiles in different countries or that he would be in a ship wreck or that he would be put in prison or that he would write so much of the New Testament. There was a lot that was going to happen to Saul/Paul in the years to come, but God just told him to take that next step, and he would get guidance from there."
Here is what Acts 9:6 says:
And he [Saul] trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do."
My professor encouraged me, reminding me that sometimes we just need to take that first step and trust that God will guide us when the time comes for us to take another step.
Max Lucado, in his devotional book Safe in the Shepherd's Arms, quotes part of a hymn called "Lead Kindly Light":
Lead kindly Light...
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
the distant scene; one step enough for me.
I want to remember that in the days ahead, when my pride might be a bit battered by not having my future all planned out - when people ask me what I'm going to do next, and I can't say that I have a job lined up and a path to earthly success set out before me. It feels strange to not have an expected answer to the inevitable question that comes to all new graduates. But I hope that God uses this time in my life to humble me, to strengthen my faith, and to help me trust in Him more and more.
In this moment, I am home. This summer, maybe I can learn how to cook better and how to drive and how to garden. Maybe I can spend a lot of time with my family and make more precious memories with them. Whatever comes next, I am beyond blessed to know that God will be right there beside me. With the assurance of His never-failing Presence and His grace, may I say with confidence that this one step is enough for me.