Class of 2020, We See You During COVID-19

There’s something incredibly affirming about being seen and recognized for hard work. For high school and college seniors, they’ve been waiting for that moment when, traditionally in May, they would walk a platform, and all their family, friends, and peers would watch them receive their diplomas.

This May, however, COVID-19 is stealing that moment from the senior class of 2020. It stole prom, senior week, and so many other once-in-a-lifetime moments that they’d watched prior graduating classes experience. Many feel cheated, upset, or let-down, and no one can fault them for feeling that way. They should absolutely acknowledge the disappointment but refuse to let it keep them down.

Today’s post is for you, the Class of 2020.

Anticipate your moment.

That moment may not involve you crossing a literal stage, perhaps the most electrifying part of the traditional graduation ceremony. However, I challenge you to still anticipate your moment.

But how, you ask? Recently, I shared a post on my experience celebrating my first anniversary at home. It wasn’t what we had expected or wanted, but my husband and I weren’t going to let the day pass without a celebration.

You can also celebrate non-traditionally. Maybe you can plan a social-distancing-safe outdoor party with family and close friends. Maybe you can organize a caravan parade of you and your classmates, with cars decorated, driving down your streets. Maybe you can invent a virtual party or even a delayed celebration once your state reopens.

I know this situation is not what you expected, but you can make the most of your moment. Decide what’s special and doable, and go for it!

Choose what you do with this time.

Have you read or watched Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien? One of my favorite quotes from this saga is a conversation between Frodo and Gandalf discussing the growing evil they must confront.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

Timely, right? I don’t blame you seniors for wishing a worldwide pandemic hadn’t struck and ruined your senior-year celebrations. None of us wanted this to happen now or ever.

Although we can’t control what happens to us, we can decide what to do with it. @kjhogrefe

Deciding what to do is a personal choice each of us, high school senior or not, must make. Understand you’re not alone in dealing with wrecked plans. Couples have had to cancel wedding ceremonies. Carefully made travel plans have been thrown out the window. Even the Olympics has been postponed a full year. We all feel you!

But we can’t change anything by wishing it away. So what do we do? What can you, the Class of 2020, do with this time?

Scripture speaks to this very question. Let’s take a look at James 4:13-15:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” (NKJV)

Let’s break down those ideas and apply them to our situation. Last January, we were all making plans. You were making plans to graduate, maybe deciding what college you would attend next fall. But the truth is, we didn’t know March was going to put a pandemic at our doorsteps.

How should we proceed? We shouldn’t sit around aimlessly. Instead, we should make plans but hold them loosely, not tightly. Whatever good opportunity God presents us to do today, we should do it, and trust Him for tomorrow.

My hope is that you graduates prayerfully ask God what the next right thing is for you to do.

Focus on making a difference.

I remember my own high school graduation. As far as ceremonies go, it wasn’t anything grand. My homeschool class was a total of three (my twin brother and one other student in our umbrella school).

My grades were the highest of all three, but our overseer decided that being valedictorian would benefit the other male student more than me. He probably figured I’d just be a housewife someday and didn’t need the title on my resume. (For the record, there is no such thing as “just” a housewife. Being a wife and mom is such an important role, whether or not a woman also has a career outside the home. But I digress.)

Obviously, I was disappointed at the time, as were my parents, but today, I’m not going to go all Captain Marvel about it. I couldn’t control that I wasn’t valedictorian, and honestly, being slighted at my graduation doesn’t bother me today. The fact is that I got to choose what I did with the intellect God gave me. By his grace, I graduated college Summa Cum Laude, have published six books, have had the opportunity to speak to crowds much larger than those present during my high school graduation, and have the privilege of teaching English to my online students. And yes, I’m also proud to be a wife to the amazing man God brought into my life.

I say all that to say this: You can’t change the reality that you may not have a traditional graduation or enjoy all the regular pomp and circumstance. But you can decide what you’re going to do next with the abilities and opportunities God gives you. Class of 2020, how will you make a difference?

~ Kristen

Class of 2020, we see you during COVID-19. The disappointment of missing out on your pomp and circumstance is real, but refuse to let it keep you down. By @kjhogrefe

I’m honored that this post first appeared on DailyPS.com.

3 Habits of Satisfied People

More than likely, our lives have or will turn out differently than we plan. Even so, we can know the satisfaction of a life well-lived. The deciding factors have less to do with mountain-top moments and more with our everyday habits.

Last month, I had the opportunity to share with Alpha Omega Academy’s graduating class some habits that will help them live meaningfully, and I don’t think these practices are just for teens. They’re ones I have to work on intentionally every day. Maybe they’ll help you, too.

Habit #1: Guard Your Priorities.

We might be able to multi-task, but we can’t do everything. Or, if we try, we’ll do less well. Guarding our priorities means saying “no” to good things so we can “yes” to better ones.

By “better,” I don’t mean in terms of importance but in terms of our calling. Is this task or responsibility part of our God-given assignment? Is it something we should do or just something we could do?

The truth is that guarding our priorities sometimes means letting go in order to respect our commitments. But in the end, honoring our calling is more important than pleasing everyone.

To read about the other habits, click over to DailyPS.com. I look forward to your comments. 

Have you implemented these habits into your life, or what habits would you add to this list?

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

3 Habits of Satisfied People – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Honoring our calling is more important than pleasing everyone. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

The Places Graduates Go: Deserts and Gardens

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

Do you recognize this conversation from Alice in Wonderland? If you’re graduating, maybe you feel a little bit like Alice. You’d like very much to stop and ask for directions.

Along the way, though, life is going to take you places you might not expect. Last week, we saw the first two, and today, we’re going to look at two more.

THE DESERT

Missionary explorer David Livingston trekked across Africa from west to east and braved many hazards, including the Kalahari Desert. If you’re looking for an inspirational biography, I challenge you to read his.

He had this perspective on where life took him:

I’d rather be in the heart of Africa in the will of God, than on the throne of England, out of the will of God.

Although you may never cross a literal desert, you will face times of spiritual dryness or times when God just doesn’t seem to hear your prayers.

That’s when waiting on Him becomes so important. Trust me, I’ve been there. The “waiting room,” as I’ve come to call it, is not a fun place to be. When is a door going to open? When is God going to make a way where there seems to be no way?

Ironically, the barrenness of the desert can produce some of the richest fruit in our lives, because it forces us to depend day by day on our heavenly Father.

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV)

Learn to face deserts with anticipation, because you never know how God will lead you through and what will be waiting on the other side.

THE GARDEN

By garden, I mean quiet and still places with cool grass beneath your feet and gentle streams.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake. (Psalm 23:2-3 NKJV)

The garden is a place of rest, refreshment and refocus. When you find yourself with breathing room, don’t chide that the action and drama of life have slowed. Take the opportunity to spend more time in God’s Word and enjoy the people and opportunities at your fingertips.

While planning ahead is great, counting your blessings in the here and now is also important.

Thank God for what you have, and trust Him for tomorrow.

COMMENCEMENT

Graduate, I’m excited for all the places you’ll go! God has good plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11). Don’t waste the precious life entrusted to you, but pursue the passions God’s laid on your heart. Give God permission to redirect as He sees best, and get ready for the next step on your journey.

~ Kristen

Tweetable: The Places Graduates Go: Deserts and Gardens – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

The Places Graduates Go: Mountains and Valleys

Last year, I had the privilege of guest blogging for my friend and writer Ashley Jones. She invited me to share a two-part graduation challenge for graduates. This year, I’d like to share those posts here with you. Whether you’re graduating or have long since graduated, I think you’ll be able to relate to the places we’ll face on our journey.

***

You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!

Dr. Seuss penned these well-known verses which have become synonymous with graduation. They capture a sense of achievement and the anticipation of climbing the mountain ahead.

Mountains are awesome to climb (We’ll talk about that in just a minute.), but there are several other places graduates will find themselves in the years ahead. Some of them are exhilarating; others are exhausting.

Even if you’re not a graduate, you can still relate to these places. Wherever you are in your journey, I hope these words will encourage and challenge you to pursue your God-given dreams – wherever they take you.

THE MOUNTAINTOP

For those of you who are graduating, this is where you are right now. The spotlight is on you, and your parents are in a frenzy to make every moment special, every moment count.

Personally, I enjoy mountain climbing. A few summers back, my brother and I hiked Mount Washington, the tallest peak in the northeastern United States. The sense of achievement upon reaching the top (and surviving the round trip) merited a large iced coffee, a chocolate cake donut, and bragging rights.

Mountaintop moments chronicle our success stories, and you’ll probably climb several figurative, if not literal, mountains in your life. However, pinnacles can be dangerous if we hunger for them more than for God.

In The Truth ProjectDr. Del Tackett calls this desire a hunger for significance. The drive for success is natural and God-given, but it can become a killer when we crave significance above our relationship with God.

The Apostle Paul warns about this pitfall in Galatians 1:10.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (ESV)

Go climb a mountain. Go for your goals, and do so with the drive to please God with your life.

THE VALLEY

Geographically speaking, valleys are much wider places than mountaintops. Death Valley stretches 100 miles long across the borders of California and Nevada. It is one of the hottest places in the United States.

Life sometimes brings us face to face with trials that threaten to burn us. We lose someone we love. Our application is denied. We don’t get the job or promotion. The relationship ends.

Although the future sometimes looks hopeless in the valley, we don’t have to travel it alone.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me… (Psalm 23:4a ESV)

Valleys are part of living in an imperfect, broken world. By God’s grace, they won’t keep us down for long. Regardless, our Lord goes with us through them.

NEXT TIME

There are some other places you’ll go in life after graduation, and we’re going to look at two more next week.

Until then, I have an assignment for you. Grab a pen and notepad, and write down your hopes and dreams for tomorrow. No matter how crazy or impossible they seem. As someone has said, “A dream is just a wish until it’s written down.”

You’re either going to face these goals (take risks) or forget them (avoid life). I strongly recommend facing them, because no matter how scary your dreams seem, they are at least experience or at best, success.

After you’ve written them down, then pray over them – that God will shape them and give you the courage to pursue them tenaciously.

Then, get ready for the adventure. You never know what places you’ll go.

~ Kristen

Tweetable: The Places Graduates Go: Mountains & Valleys – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

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