Along the path of life we have “adopted” many young people into our family and home. Some have had need of just an extra set of godly loving parents and some have suffered the absence of a parent or even both through the travesty of divorce, death or sometimes sad indifference and have needed everything from love, wisdom, help, encouragement and mentoring to often even meals, lodging and a place to call home.
One of these very special and dear to our heart daughters is Tiffana. She came into our lives over 8 years ago when she was literally saved off the streets of Chico and ended up as a senior at our high school. (and that there is an amazing story that perhaps someday I will have her share with you all). We loved her from the moment we met her and over the years we have had the joy of teaching, mentoring and watching her grow into a beautiful young woman with a heart after God. She is truly one of our family members. Dan and I love her as if she is one of our own. My children love her as a big sister and a friend. We are truly blessed to have her in our lives.
My second daughter, Amy is leaving for college this week in Waxahachie Texas and for her college send off party Tiffana wrote out the following words of wisdom that I asked her if I could post on this blog as I thought they were so perfect, not only for Amy, but for any student about to leave home for college. Tiffana speaks from experience as she has been at both a secular university as well as a Christian one, had a stint in the world of junior colleges and has lived both on campus in the dorms and off campus with friends. She is currently in the last season of her collegiate life and gives great warnings and great advice to those about to begin this journey.
My sweetest Amy!
You are about to embark on one of the most incredible journeys of your life. A journey filled with new ideas, experimenting, application and simple fun. A journey filled with challenges and exciting new territories: a season of being on your own and far away from mom and dad. I call this phase of life the experimental, preparation phase of your life. I was thinking about college, and I was thinking about the many years and many universities that I have attended, and all the things I wish I knew going into it. I was thinking about all the wrong choices that face us on a daily basis. Even beyond sex, drugs and rock and roll, I was thinking about relationships and friendships in college, and all the things that will bombard you on a daily basis. You have such an established foundation (please thank your parents for this on a daily basis), and I love your heart after God and your desire to please Him. And I know, in general terms, that we both know how incredibly wrong all these negative choices are, and the poor decisions that you could make are not one’s that you want to do, but for most people, including Christians, overt opportunities to do these things challenge the simple desire of wanting to do good. Sometimes, the battle in our minds and heart to choose the right thing hit the back burner when the stresses of life are right in front of your face and the choice to do wrong seems so much more attractive and easier. When things get difficult and you don’t feel like you have the support of your parents and sisters, things can feel unbearable, and we are often not disciplined enough in our minds to make the right decision. If we don’t decide in our heart going into this season to make the correct decision, before you know it, we make decisions that both break the heart of God and the heart of the people we love the most. So why am I saying all this? Because everyday you will have a hundred of possibilities to make the wrong decision, to engage in things and to act in ways that in the end will hurt you, and I wanted to encourage you and give you all the more reasons why you should continue to make the right decisions.
1.Learn to love God with all of your heart! Everything you do and don’t do will flow out of your identity, and your identity will flow out of who you know God to be. As much as you can find time, meditate on his word daily. I’ve heard it said like this, “We each have two dogs in us; a bad dog and a good dog. In any given battle, the dog that wins is the one you feed.”
2. Learn to love others unconditionally! Love is not selfish and should be freely given unconditionally. Keep loving people in the right way. The reality is that this will draw people much closer to you and make you quite attractive, but remember, when you see the line getting crossed, love them enough to clarify the line. NEVER forget who you are in Christ, and remember who they are as children of the Most High God. Remember that if they (including guys for this matter) want to cross that line, that to unconditionally love them is to respect their domain: it’s theirs, not yours and even if they willingly want to give it up, remind them that there is something much better.
3. Don’t forget about your soul: Value it! Remember to value who you are and to love who you are. Remind yourself daily that you truly are part of the fellowship of the One who made the heavens and the earth. Your design is perfect. Cherish the value of yourself and cherish the value of others around you. Don’t sacrifice your values in the name of loving people, bring them up and remind them of how valuable they are.
4. Remember that you are not alone! These years can seem to be some of the loneliest years. At least that’s how I have felt. There are times where I crave intimacy so deep that I’d be willing to sacrifice my values to feel a moment of closeness. Instead, cherish these seasons of loneliness. These seasons where it’s just you and God. Because when it’s gone, its gone! And heck, when you are feeling the most lonely, just kick your shoes off, get a few girlfriends, buy a carton of ice cream, get a funny chick flick and just laugh.
5. Remember your Destiny! You have a future and a hope that will follow you for generations to come. Remember your children’s children. You will one day have a family, and that will be a beautiful and wonderful thing that needs to be cherished and protected. You will have a life that is full of meaning, purpose, love and hope. Cherish and protect this during these years by talking about it, planning for it, dreaming it, and loving every moment of it. Cherish your loneliness and embrace it. Don’t run from it! Oh…and don’t forget about your cowboy!
6. Have the Time of your Life! I’m sure you’ve heard it over and over, but time flies by. Remember when you first started High School, and now it’s over. College goes by so incredible fast (except me because I can’t seem to get out of college), and before you know it, it’s over. Cherish this time of growth and learning and discovering new things. Cherish the relationships and friendships you will build and the intimacy that you get to develop with the Lord.
I don’t assume these are things that you don’t know already, especially with your parents, and there’s a good chance you’ve practiced these things. I just tell you simply because we often forget when times get lonely, or tough. Remember, the world around us is needy, and lonely and often unloving. Friends around us fail and people hurt us. But remember who you are, remember why you love, and remember who first loved you. Stay fit in the Lord, stay strong, and fight the good fight because in the end, it will be worth it.
I love you SO much! HAVE A BLAST!!!
A picture of Tiffana & Amy several years ago…time marches on!