May is when we normally celebrate our graduating seniors.  Our Grill Masters competition was birthed out of this celebration and we’ve now added the Sweet Treats prize as well.  It’s a milestone that for a lot of us is a distant memory.  But for Olivia Thomas it’s just over the horizon and I know she’s excited and prepared for what lies ahead of her.

I have the privilege of working with young people usually from their middle school through their high school years, but I’ve known Olivia for most of her life.  What a blessing it has been to watch her grow up and go through all the stages.  We’ve shared a lot of life here from VBS to Great Escape to Fall/Winter Retreats to Mission Trips to Chrysalis and much more.  It’s been one of those journeys when you know the young person is in it for the right reasons.  That’s been the case with Olivia.  Her heart is tender, her attitude is humble, and she has a great work ethic that she has shared on so many occasions with our group.

So Olivia, wherever your path takes you, please know that with each step you’ve taken so far, God has been preparing you for what lies ahead.  Hopefully you’ve noticed that, but if not then reflect and see where He’s shown up.  At this stage of life, you’re going to start realizing that time will begin to accelerate.  It’s a phenomenon you may not have noticed yet.  Enjoy your time and make the most of what comes your way.  Some things will happen to build your character.  That’s another way of saying that the disappointments and failures are going to be learning experiences as well as the successes. You already know that, though.  Whenever you can, pay for some random person’s meal anonymously.  Trust me you’ll enjoy it.  Being generous works on a part of us that God meant for us to develop - generosity with cheerfulness.  Humility is a trait that reminds us that God has made us all in His image, so we don’t feel like less or more than anyone else - just the unique, one-of-a-kind you He intended you to be.  Live life to the fullest and make the most of what comes your way, because life is going to go by quickly.  I know that you’ll do your best to soak in as much as you can!  Keep growing deeper in your faith in God, and don’t allow the world to distract you from that precious relationship.  God made you to be you, so don’t let anyone change what God has designed you to be!

Thanks for all the memories and the blessings you have given us!  You have blessed my life, and I will look forward to hearing and seeing how God is continuing to mold you into the woman He’s created you to be.  It’s hard to believe you’re all grown up and moving on, but what a privilege to have shared life with you here. Always remember that no matter where life takes you, you have a family here at First Pres that will be yours forever.  May the peace of Christ be yours now and forever!

Romans 12:1-2 and 9-16, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you.  Let them be a living and holy sacrifice - the kind he will find acceptable.  This is truly the way to worship him.  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Don’t just pretend to love others.  Really love them.  Hate what is wrong.  Hold tightly to what is good.  Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.  Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.  Rejoice in our confident hope.  Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.  When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them.  Always be eager to practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you.  Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.  Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with each other.  Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people.  And don’t think you know it all!”

Congratulations Olivia!  We love you and are so proud of you!

In Christ’s Love,

Rob,  Romans 12