for graduates

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A couple of years ago, one of our youth groupers was graduating high school and her mom had asked a group of us to write her a letter giving her some encouragement and/or advice as she entered into college and a new season of life. Anthony and I prepared the following list for her and I thought, "Hey! Why not post this on the blog!" 

So, here you go... 

The Top 10 Things We've Learned So Far
By Anthony & Kimmi

10. Don't gossip - 100% of the time it makes you look bad and it never makes you feel better. Lift people up instead - 100% of the time it makes you look great and always makes you feel better. This is easier said than done, but try... and when you inevitably screw up, take ownership of your mistake by apologizing and asking anyone you may have hurt for their forgiveness. Again, this is difficult, but so important. Don't let your pride get in the way of your relationships or your growth.

9. Take care of your body: exercise regularly, make wise food decisions most of the time, and get a good night's sleep. If you get in the habit of doing this early in life, your future self will thank you. 

8. Live gently - treat all of creation with respect. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Don't be a mindless consumer - pay attention to where your food and clothing comes from, how it's made, and how God's creation was treated in the process... then make your decisions based on that knowledge. Appreciate animals. Don't pollute. Don't waste water. Pick up litter when you can. Treat all people with kindness. Honor God's creation and you will instantly become a more compassionate person. When you love what He loves, your heart will be so much closer to His.

7. The more you know, the more you realize how little you know. Always have a teachable spirit and be excited to learn and grow - especially when it comes to God. Learn to accept the advice and counsel of those who love you. It's natural to want to defend yourself when someone is pointing out a weakness but, over time, teach yourself to be patient and listen before reacting. Then, bring it all to God and ask Him to show you what is truth - just be willing to own it and work on it when He shows you. Pride is dangerous.

6. When you have a nice thought about somebody - tell them. Everybody loves to hear an encouraging word and some people's lives depend on it. 

5. Be present. Put your phone down, get off social media, turn off the TV, and just be. Look people in the eyes and listen intentionally. Take your shoes off and feel your feet on the ground. Take a deep breath in and relax. Open your eyes and look at all of the things God created or has blessed you with. Do this every day and thank Him for all of it.

4. Always do something that makes your spirit dance - even if it's not your day job. Find what makes you tick and make it a part of your everyday life. You will find God there.

3. God is always speaking - listen. He’s in nature. He’s in your relationships. He’s in music. He’s in movies and TV. He’s in books. He’s in your thoughts and feelings. He’s in the chaos. He’s in the silence. Seek Him and you will find Him every single time.

2. You are beautiful and you are loved deeply. Never, ever, ever forget that or allow anyone to make you feel otherwise - yourself included. 

1. Never give up on God. There will be times when you will want to. There will be times when you are frustrated. There will be times when you will doubt and wonder if you're just wasting your time. But, I promise you, when you dig in deeper and ask God to show you more, He will never disappoint. It won't always be a popular decision and you will be misunderstood and ridiculed often but, hands down, He is worth all of it. The love He wants to pour out on you and the relationship He wants to have with you will be the best you'll ever experience. He is kind, gentle, understanding, fun, funny, sweet, merciful, forgiving, and loving. He is all you will ever need and more. Never give up on God.