Tuesday, May 8, 2012

One Step Enough for Me: Graduation and Beyond

Last week I attended a poetry reading and Corban University's English department dessert one evening amid all of the craziness of finishing projects and studying for finals. While there, one of my professors gave me a beautiful and timely piece of encouragement. Want to know what he told me? Well, first let me share some pictures from graduation, and then I'll finish the story - it fits with where I am right now, after graduation has come and gone...

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!

One last picture from the day after graduation. May I still continue to learn even when I'm not in a classroom!

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.

31 comments:

Julie said...

love love love the pictures Amber! Congratulations!! Great thoughts on the future also! My daughter will be graduating with her Associates degree. The next steps in life can be a bit scary when you don't know exactly where the Lord is going to take you. Thankfully He is with us each step of the way. I'll be praying for direction for you :) and in the meantime enjoy the rest and being with your family!

Michelle said...

Thanks for sharing this special time, Amber! I love the pictures -- you look so happy! : )

It sounds like you have a great summer planned ahead! Can't wait to hear all about it as things unfold. : )

Enjoying your summer and your time with Him. Sweetest blessings to you, Amber.

Amanda Stanley said...

Oh Amber, you look so pretty! And so smart, too! ;-) Love all the pics you shared here! So happy you had such great people in your corner to encourage you and that your last year was a good one with great memories.

And I just loved what Professor Hills said to you! Wow, so beautifully fitting. The Lord knows just what we need to hear and God bless the messengers that He uses to deliver it.

Between what he said about Paul and the hymn quote from the Max Lucado devotional I have a great peace about it for you, my friend. Makes me think of Psalm 37:31 "The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide." God is keeping your steps. He's mapped out every single one of them. Just faithfully stay in His Word because that will light the path He has for you.

Your summer sounds very exciting! I love your closing sentences. He IS right beside you, ALWAYS. May this new season in Him be a fruitful one!

Blessings,
Amanda

Cathy said...

Congratulations on your graduation Amber! Love all your pictures. Looks like you have a wonderful family. :)

God bless, as you move onto new things and trust in Him for the coming years!

karenk said...

Congratulations Amber :)'

karenk

Faye said...

Happy Graduation. So happy for you and I know that the good Lord has plenty up the road for you :)

Linda said...

Thanks for sharing this special time, Amber! Have a wonderful summer and all the best wherever God leads you!

Jackie S. said...

Congrats...and thanks for sharing the pictures! I enjoy your blog and wish you the best in life!
God is in conrol!

Casey said...

Oh I love all those pictures! I am so glad so many of your friends and family got to be there. How special is that!

And what a great comment for your professor to say to you. Strikes me as well! God always has right where He wants us. We just have to take that leap of faith!

Congratulations, congratulations! So happy for you!!!

Susan Anne Mason said...

Congrats on your graduation! May your future be bright!

Sue

Ryan von Stark said...

This was so enjoyable to read. Thanks for bringing so much great energy and discernment to C.S. Lewis class, Amber. I was blessed to have you as a student.

Joy Tamsin David said...

Congratulations college graduate!!! Whooo-hooo!

Amber S. said...

Julie,

Thank you so much - glad you enjoyed the pictures! :) I really appreciate the prayers and the encouragement!

And congratulations to your daughter on graduating with her Associates degree!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Michelle,

You're welcome - and thank you! I was definitely happy, as I was surrounded by so many people I love and care about it! :) But it was also a bit bittersweet to see college come to an end...

Thank you so much for your friendship and your kind words! I look forward to sharing this summer with all of my blogging friends, as well. :)

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Amanda,

Awww, thank you! And yes - I'm blessed to have so many wonderful people encouraging me and cheering me on... Thank YOU for being one of those people!! :D

I'm so grateful for your prayers, your support, your encouraging words, and your friendship. Thank you for sharing that Scripture and for the great reminders!

Love you!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Cathy,

Thank you for the encouragement! And I do have a wonderful family, indeed. :) I'm so glad my grandparents, parents, godparents, and sister could all make the trip!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Karen,

Thank you! :)

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Faye,

Aww, thank you! I'm thankful for your friendship!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Linda,

You're very welcome - thank you for your friendship and support! :)

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Jackie,

Yes - God is in control, and that is a great and blessed comfort! :)

Thank you so much for the kind words! I'm honored that you enjoy reading my blog!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Casey,

Very special, indeed! :) Thank you so much for sharing in my excitement and for your friendship!

I'm glad that my professor's words encouraged you, as well. :)

And isn't it fun that you took me to the carousel just a couple of weeks before my parents, godparents, and sister all got to visit it? ;) I'm so glad we squeezed in that Sunday outing and that you showed me how lovely and fun that carousel is!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Sue,

Thank you! I really appreciate your continued support! :)

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Prof. Stark,

I was blessed to have you as a professor in my last semester of college! C.S. Lewis was one of my favorite classes at Corban (right up there with Lit. of the American West and Irish Lit.!). Thank you so much for your encouragement and your kindness, and for always being willing to listen, discuss, and help us think deeper about important philosophical issues. :)

God bless!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Joy,

Aww, thank you! :D

~Amber

KC Frantzen and May the K9 Spy said...

AMBER!!!!

Blinded (in a good way!) by those smiles.

Congratulations - and with highest honors! WAWZAH!!

Your Professor is so correct. All you need know is that you will serve the Lord with all your heart, mind, strength.

He WILL show you the way. I say this from personal experience! My path has SO not been what I planned... But then... He's God and I'm not... And He knows what's best.

Keep that humility, whatever the season, and you'll honor Him!

Love ya gal!!!
KC

KC Frantzen and May the K9 Spy said...

PS - I think the profile photo needs to be UPDATED NOW, OKAY Miss Graduate??!!! :)

Amber S. said...

KC,

Aww, thank you! ;) I really appreciate your encouragement - ever since you first contacted me after seeing one of my comments regarding "Mondays for the Military" on Seekerville, you have always been there for me to cheer me on and read my e-mails and support me in whatever I'm going through. Thank you so much for all you do, not just for me, but for our nation's heroes and the children (and adults!) who have read your book! :)

Love you, too!!

~Amber

P.S. I've updated the profile picture to one of me reading (surprise, surprise...!), but my current profile picture on Twitter is of me in my cap and gown. :)

Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

I'm a little behind the times here but congratulations!!! Life is going to get crazy now that you're officially an adult. I wish you all the best girl!

xoxo~ Renee

Amber S. said...

Renee,

Thank you so much! :)

And about life getting crazy now... I'm starting to get an inkling, and I think I'll feel it full-blown come the end of summer, LOL!

Thank you for always being so supportive and kind! You are a great friend!! :)

~Amber

Ella said...

Coingrats!
Thanks for following my blog!

Amber S. said...

Thank you, Ella! :)

And, you're welcome!

~Amber