Graduates I Have Known

This year I have found myself reminiscing a bit more than usual.  I am going to attribute that to turning 50.  For about seven years, I’ve attributed any of my abhorrent behaviors to being perimenopausal.  Don’t know if it is accurate, but as an American I feel the need to place blame somewhere.  I have thought a lot about the lives I have known and since it is graduation season, I have found myself pausing to remember different graduates I have known. I worked with 4-H youth for years, and Jonathan and I worked with church youth for years. Then there are our friend’s children, and the people who have come into Rachel’s life.  As I ponder these different individuals, I think of what great joy I’ve had in my life. People have trusted me with their children and their families. When I was a 23-year old 4-H Extension agent, you trusted me to take your children on trips in state and out of state to places like Washington DC.  Now that I have a child, all I can say is What were you thinking?  On a serious note, I have always considered it such a great honor and privilege to be welcomed into your homes in good times and bad, and I hope be a part of making your families’ lives better. I know my life is better for the 4-H families I have known. Thank you for sharing your children with me. They will always be Miss Jawanda’s Kids.

Our church kids.  Church kids don’t always have good lives either you know. Some of ours had some pretty tough stuff to deal with.  Again, you and your families trusted us. Jonathan in particular established a very close relationship with one of the classes we worked with at Calvary Baptist in Little Rock. We still love to hear when they get married and have babies (even if it makes us feel old).  I dug out a card from one young man the other day. I don’t know where he is now but his family life wasn’t the best. He sent us a note not long after he graduated and said thank you for being there. I needed some adults to love me and set me straight from time to time. I’ve kept it all these years. That card made it all worthwhile.

Rachel’s very first teenaged babysitter graduated from college last year and graduate school in social work this year.  She is an amazing young lady, and Rachel still refers to her as “my babysitter”.  This year, our second babysitter (the replacement!) graduated. How did that happen?  When we met her she was like 11 herself – the same age Rachel is now!  She’s going to be a speech therapist.  I’ve watched many of the kids we’ve invested in grow up. I’ve celebrated as they’ve graduated (for some that was a little iffy!). I’ve watched them celebrate and struggle in this world.  And my message to all those who are graduating now is not new. It won’t be new or different next year. It is simply this:  As you journey out into this world, it is not if your faith or core beliefs are challenged, it is when. It is not if you have problems, it is when. It is not if your heart is broken by love or family, it is when. As you go about this life, you will need that strong core of faith to withstand the challenges that are guaranteed to come your way. Many will come when you least expect it. Will you be prepared to deal? So on the mountaintops and in those valleys of life remember to embrace the words of Proverbs 3:5 – 6 and “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your pathways straight.”  Remember Twila Paris’ song, “I will trust you Lord when I don’t know why. I will trust you Lord til the day I die. I will trust you Lord.  I will trust you Lord.”  Then, live it.


A little walk down memory lane – my college graduation picture.



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