Senior year in high school, for a lot of people, is one last year you have to put up with before freedom. But senior year of college, you are trying to live up all of the "not actually acceptable after graduation" habits, getting a ton of time with friends you may part ways with for years and prepare for the real world.
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Dear Mom and Dad,
I know you both have been there for me every day since you first found out Mom was pregnant with me. I love you both for that and for so much more. But I am not sure if you know how much I appreciate everything you have done for me, everything you continue to do for me, and everything you will do for me. You two are my personal heroes. I look up to both of you all the time, even when you do not realize it.
You have been my guides in this world from my first, tentative, unsure steps—both as an infant and as a young woman attending college in a different state. No matter where I am or how much space, or how many zones, separates us, I know you are always there for me. You do not know how much I appreciate your constant presence. Even though we do not talk or text every day, I think of you constantly. I try calling at least once a week and sometimes we talk more often than that. You two are the first people I text or call when I receive any news—good or bad. When my legs feel like they will collapse under me at any moment, I can call either of you and know you will be there to catch me when I fall.
Dad, you have been the strong (What can I say instead of rock?) for me to lean on. You give me strength with your warm, quiet nature. In the past two years (and few months) at Stetson, you have heard me ask endless, unanswerable questions, scream unnecessarily at you when you did nothing wrong, cry hysterically when I begin teetering on the mountain that is school, and babble on and on about something you only care about because I care. You absorb it all without complaint. And then you find the right words to my random questions, to guide me on my way, to show me I can and will handle the obstacles in front of me, to calm me down, to prompt me to think of an alternative viewpoint to help me through a writer’s block. Thank you for being there when I needed you the most and when I just needed to hear your voice.
You gave me your joy and love for horses from the very first moment that you strapped me into one of those front-baby-carriers and rode Trampus when I was just a few months old. You taught me to ride, shoot, hunt (well you hunted, I fetched), fish, drive, and so much more. You show me what love is through your love for Mom. You show me patience, honesty, strength, honor, kindness, hard work. You show me how I should act and how I should treat others. Thank you for being the best dad that I’ve ever had. (Shhh, yes I know you’ve been my only dad.) Never forget that no matter how old I am or when I marry my future husband, I will always be your little girl. I love you Daddy!
Mom, you have always been there for me in so many ways. You listen to my worries, hear my complaints, watch me strive to find my path, see me learn. You reassure me all will be well, give me advice, bring me back when I wander, nudge me in the right direction, stand back and watch me grow. We have a bond that only mothers and daughters can share. You understand me because you were once like me. Whenever something happens, I text or call you first. I know how to love, laugh, cry tears of joy and sadness because of you. I love those sappy Hallmark movies and, as of the past year, those sappy Mystery Hallmark movies that we watch together. You encourage me every day. You constantly remind me that I am a better writer than I sometimes think.
You were there at every game, cheering me on. You made sure I ate when I just wanted to do my homework. You taught me to soar as far and as high as I could go while reminding me you would be waiting when I returned. You held me when one of the horses bucked me off in front of the house and I ran crying inside to you. We shared special moments by volunteering together and helping others. I learned by watching you and how you handled different situations. You taught me many of my values. You showed me what true respect looks like. You poured yourself into nurturing me and raising me to be a good human being. I will forever be grateful for all that you have done, do, and will do for me. Thank you for being my favorite and only mom. I love you Mama!
Both of you have helped transform me into the woman I am today. I could not have done that without either of you. You introduced me to God from a young age, but never pressured me, only guiding. You allowed me to know, understand, and love God. I cannot imagine a world without Him. Thank you for giving me the best gift you could ever give me: my education. You pushed me to be the best I could be, encouraged me to aim high, caught me when I fell, and supported me the entire way. Both of you are the best parents I could ever ask for and I am grateful that I can call you Mom and Dad. I love you both!
Forever your favorite daughter,
Stress is draining. It takes all of our energy, our focus, and just makes us feel almost useless.
When we are stressed we lose our focus on what we are stressed about and focus on how our stress is causing more stress. We take bubble baths, watch movies, put on face masks, we do whatever it takes to make our stress go away and often times it never does.
Lou Holtz says "it's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it." Our stress is so draining because we don't know how to carry it. We look at all these tips and tricks on how to organize our lives, we have Pinterest boards devoted to relaxation and healthy living, but when we get stressed we honestly don't know what to do.
There is no cure for stress.
Or is there?
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4
Our trials, seen in the right way, can produce joy. Our trials bring us perseverance and the fact that we can face one and then face another, and another after that is truly magnificent. Yes, stress is draining, but how often do we look at a road filled with green lights and say "wow all of those green lights really helped strengthen my patience"? No, we learn patience through getting red lights or getting stuck behind slow drivers when we're in a rush.
Everyone knows that stress kills joy, but when we look at stress from the end rather than the beginning or being stuck right in the middle it changes everything. It makes us think, it forces us to be uncomfortable, and best of all once we're through it there is always joy.
Stress drains us, but it also challenges us. It grows us and allows us to see that we are capable of doing more and being more. As Thanksgiving comes, we can be thankful for the hard times because we know they bring goodness.