As a 17 year old heading into college back in 1991, my focus was laser sharp on what was ahead of me. My mind was consumed from sun up to sundown that I would be leaving my beloved Venezuela and heading north to the United States to begin college at Charleston Southern. Truth is, I was terrified, but excited. I was hopeful, yet fearful. My constant was only this, “God go before me”. My sweet daughter, the hope that outweighed all of the other stuff was that God had a plan for my life.
You are heading to walk the same halls I’ve walked, to the same classrooms in which I sat, to eat in the same cafeteria in which I ate and to trek over the same ground I’ve trekked. I never even imagined this is where you would be, but yet you are, and laced within the story God is writing on your life, He was beginning it long ago in my own. They say “hindsight is 20/20,” and I can definitely agree to that! While the prayers of my heart all those years ago were for my “hope and my future,” little did I know that you would be part of that one day. Little did I know that the days I began in my own dorm room in Women’s North dorm with my Bible open, heart seeking and praying that God would use me, that He would indeed use me in the greatest role of my life – as your Mama. The preparation God began in me in the halls of Charleston Southern University held no details of the outcome, no neon signs saying, “Go Here,” or no audible voice telling me the specifics of my future life. The halls of a college only represented the path laid out before me. The halls of that same college represent the path He’s laid out before you, too. Where He leads…well, only He knows. The hope you will always find is by answering ‘Yes’ to the question, “Will you commit to go?” I do not know the ultimate adventure God is laying out before you, but I do know that if you do not go and follow, you (we) will never know! If had never gone, I would never have discovered the potential that dwelled within me to be more, or never met some of the greatest people I’ve ever known in my life, or felt the deepest love I have ever felt when I met your Daddy on that campus. The not knowing what “could be” is so much more painful than the process it takes just to BE! So, as you go, I have only a few things to want to encourage you to do:
- Do you. You’ve been set apart. Live life out like you believe that. You never have to compare yourself with another, compete to be better than anyone else or pretend to be anybody else than exactly who you are. You will ALWAYS be the best you that you can be. Give the gift of McKenna to everyone you meet.
- Trust the process. A professor will give you a syllabus with instruction of what lies before you, but the path God has set out before you may not always make sense, but before you seek to be frustrated or confused, or when you can’t see His hand, simply TRUST HIS HEART.
- Be a friend to everyone, but give your heart to only a few. We’ve raised you under the banner of “Be a missionary where you live, work and play”. NEVER stop being that. It will be the greatest investment you can ever make in a life, but seek the true friendship of those whose heart beats to the same mission. They will be the 1 Thessalonians 5:11 friends in your life, the ones one will be the lifters of your head, the voices to spur you on and the ones who will rally around you no matter the season of life you are in.
- Be teachable – There’s something to learn in every situation. I pray you learn much from every interaction you have, every conversation you hold and every class in which you sit. Our greatest failures occur when we think we already know everything.
- Live like Jesus, love like Jesus and leave what Jesus left behind. You know the depth of this. With this thought at the forefront of everyday, it will THRUST you out the door with PURPOSE.
- Whatever it Takes. – Our family motto never changes even when our babies leave the nest. What sends you out the door to college to take on the world of unknowns, and sends you back home to safety, remains the same – No matter where the path leads you, the courage to do WHATEVER IT TAKES won’t change. It will be the very thing that can take an ordinary moment and turn it into extraordinary.
My girl, proud of you doesn’t even scratch the surface of how I feel. Even in the hardest of moments, you’ve never disappointed me for one singular reason – you have NEVER given up. What an inspiration you are for me to be just like you “when I grow up”. When words were never your favorite when you were a little girl, the evidence of Jesus in a sweet girl’s little heart was ever present. When you found your voice, and began to use it for Him, the evidence was even more clear. As you find your adult voice, walking on a somewhat shaky ground, with no obvious details of where God will ultimately lead you, Jesus is the clearest I’ve ever seen Him in your life. I see the words come to life now more than ever that I prayed over you from the first day of your life,
13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
You are living out the words “in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Embrace them, my girl! Embrace the days that are before you with the confidence that God is writing your story everyday. It’s a beautiful story – ALL of it, the ugly, the easy, the confusing, the mundane, even! It’s YOUR story. Live out its pages to the fullest! He goes before you!
I love you forever,