The graduation announcements are beginning to arrive on my desk as my students joyfully proclaim to the world that they only have a few more weeks of high school left. And in two years I’m sure I’ll begin receiving college graduation announcements as my first group of mentees will celebrate another milestone in their lives as they prepare to launch into the workforce.
I remember my own high school and college graduations. What a time of excitement and fear all bundled up together! I couldn’t wait to start the next phase of my life, and yet I was scared stiff. It was time to “spread my wings and fly,” but I worried about free-falling and crashing to the ground in my attempt to leave the nest.
Fortunately, I had a mom who encouraged me and gave me the confidence to push through the fear and tackle each new challenge. There were long phone conversations and helpful emails, but I always felt extra special when I would receive a card in the mail with a Bible promise written neatly inside.
Her cards always assured me that I was loved and pointed me back to the source of all strength and wisdom—Jesus.
As mentors, I believe we have a unique opportunity to direct our girls to Jesus as they celebrate the milestone of graduation.
Sure, we could give them cash or a gift card, but what if we took the time to give them a piece of who we are as devoted followers of Jesus Christ? It was this thought that sent my creative mind to spinning as I pondered what special token I could give them that would continually remind them of who they are in Christ and how much He cherishes them.
So, I came up with the idea to make a “Pennies from Heaven” jar for my girls. On the outside of the mason jar, I used Mod Podge to adhere a label I designed that includes three of my favorite Bible verses and the main point I want them to remember from each.
I included the word “Perspective” at the top because whether we have good or bad days, when we focus on Jesus our outlook shifts to that of heavenly reward instead of earthly gain.
I personalized the jar by hanging a penny dated with their graduation year. I then wrote a message explaining the pennies from heaven concept that I plan to roll up and include in the jar. You see, when I graduated from college, I heard a story that changed my view of the penny. Inscribed on the penny are the words “In God We Trust.” Instead of looking at it as a worthless coin or a “good luck” charm, I began to view it as a reminder to trust in God. Whenever I found a penny or another coin, I imagined that God was sending me a hug from heaven and reminding me to trust in Him.
I have so many “penny stories” where God has sent me a coin at just the right moment when I’m down or lonely or facing a difficult situation, but one of my favorite stories is when Ryan (my son) was six months old. He was in the hospital for the second of three surgeries. It had been an exhausting few days and I was naturally worried about my little guy, but I headed to the cafeteria to grab some food, knowing I needed to eat. I ordered a sandwich and looked for an empty table to sit at. (I wasn’t in the mood to make small talk with others.)
I found a completely empty table and set my tray down. I then glanced up at the TV across the cafeteria. When I looked back at my tray, there was a penny sitting right beside it. Tears sprang to my eyes when I thought about how much God loved me to send me a reminder that He was in control and my job was to simply trust.
I plan to stay in touch with my girls, but all of them will be attending college in other states, so I won’t be seeing them on a daily or weekly basis like I do now. We will no longer have Bible studies or lunch dates together. It will be different. Hence, my desire to give them something meaningful, something that is a part of me, something that will remind them that they are loved by their Creator and me.
How can you embrace a creative gift-giving ideas to the high school or college grads in you life?
Whether they are homemade or purchased, I encourage you to put thought into your graduation gifts and give your mentees gifts that will inspire them to continue walking with Jesus and allowing Him to guide their steps. There are so many life decisions that happen between high school and college graduation. May we intentionally remind our girls of who they are in Christ and what they can accomplish when they join Him in the work He has planned for them!