Sunday, December 18, 2011

Graduation Day

One year ago, the Lord allowed me and several friends from the PBU international program to walk across the stage and graduate. It was an unbelievable sweet time of reconnecting with amazing friends and celebrating the Lord's faithfulness. 

To try and grasp the uniqueness of this experience, it is vital to realize that in our program the 8 graduates represented  were from or taught in 7 countries. Amazing! The other incredible part was that five of us were able to attend graduation, in Philadelphia. 

One of my favorite memories was showing up for the rehearsal. This rehearsal was only for the graduate students as the undergrads had rehearsed earlier in the day. My friend and I walked into the gymnasium, which is very quiet. Everyone is speaking hushed tones, waiting for it to start. The minute the five of us start seeing each other shouts, laughter, hugs, chatter, and LOUD talking break forth! So sweet! 

PBU had contacted me to speak at the graduation dinner on behalf of the education graduates. This is what the Lord led me to share. 

"None of this would be possible without God's unique and creative provision -
scholarship, tutoring, expected checks, and school help. 
Grad school was a dream. PBU's program attracted me with its
Biblical perspective for education, philosophy, and methodologies and its fit with my heart's passions. 

When the Lord took me to Panama, I thought this dream of furthering education was impossible. 
The option to begin the program came at a time of questioning whether I was in the right place if I knew how to be a teacher. 

This program provided more than just classes, but fellowship, encouragement, and renewal. 
Every summer I went back to Panama excited and renewed to begin again - to try new things and to stretch my mind. It was amazing to complete pre-course and post-course work and be able to use it right away. 

As I look back over the past three years, these lessons come to mind: 
* Renewed passion to that which God has called me in Christian education, specifically in the international context for now. 

* Relationships - taking a step back from the to-do list to make people a priority. Yes, it takes time, effort, and heart - but it is worth it. 

* Rest - Learning to come back to the place of stopping, being intentional about carving out time and guarding that time with Jesus. 

* Redemptive teaching - taking time to plan intentionally in a way that pushes me and my students to think Biblically. 

God has shown me in the last week to remember my students are asking questions and seeking answers - will I take the time to answer, to walk with them through hard things or will I let them find their answers through other means, such as media and culture? 

So this part of the journey has ended. 
Chris, Grace, Betsy, Cathy Anne, Felicia, Cathleen, Debbie Lynn, Joelma (the graduates) - to you they are only names. To me, they represent stories, places, people and ministries. They are only a few from this unique time. We've shared hurt, hope, laughter, tears, brokenness, healing, death, and life. 
So I hold on to more than photographs and memories - I hold on to hope, knowing heaven is coming with no more goodbyes. 

Thank you, PBU, for choosing to invest in us and walking this journey with us. Only God knows this side of heaven, the extent of the impact this education is having around the world." 

(Yes, I teared up through this - mostly at the name part. Love these people). 

During those few short hours of reconnecting, we all laughed and commented on how this was our first time to "hang out" in the United States together. Just today I was commenting with my roommate how I have only spent just weeks with the people in this program, but we became family. Such beauty in the body! 

I am so thankful for the sweetness one year of being able to celebrate God's faithfulness in graduating and celebrating with such sweet people. To see professors who gave so much of themselves for us to grow and learn and who cared for us as people. 

Also, being in Philly provided the opportunity to reconnect with one of my favorite families! I'm so thankful we could reconnect, if only for a little while! 

Wow! Thanks, Lord.

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