Tomorrow marks the beginning of our fifth school year on the campus of the University of Texas, ministering with Longhorns for Christ. This means starting tomorrow, I will have been at UT longer than I was at OU. The 20 year old me just shuddered. (don’t fear Okies – I’m sooner born and sooner bred, and when I die, I’ll be sooner dead!). We have seen some tough times over the last four years, but more than anything, we have seen blessings upon blessings. Our time at UT has been graced with really meaningful relationships and changed lives. We are so grateful.
While so many celebrate December 31st as New Years Eve, in our world, August 20th seems like a more appropriate date for that title. Each year, this date makes me both reflective and hopeful. I think back on our time with LFC so far and remember all the students who have crossed our path. Some we only got to spend a few weeks with, others a semester or two, and then others who we’ve watched grow from awkward freshmen into beautiful, mature, inspiring men and women. All have been etched on our hearts. And thinking back then propels me to think forward. I get a small knot in my stomach anticipating all the new faces (sometimes scared and shy faces) we will meet over the next seven days. However, I am comforted that before we know their names and faces, God knows them and sees them. I am comforted and excited that He lets us be a part of their stories – for our good, their good, and His glory.
Because our family looks different this year, I know my role in our ministry will too look different. I really don’t know what our journey will look like – I know some days will be hard as we try and juggle family life and ministry, but I know that most days will be so special as we watch the Spirit move on campus and in our students, and Madeline will have a front row seat to all of that. It is the exact place I want my daughter growing up in and learning from. We have such a sweet community of students that love our little baby so well, and I am so excited about the new friends we will meet and add to our community. Over the past month, the specific word “FRESHMAN” has come to me over and over. And so that is what I am praying for tonight, our campus ministry new year’s eve, is the freshmen coming to the University of Texas. I would love for you to join me.
Three years ago around this time, an email from a blog I follow, Chatting at the Sky, popped into my inbox. It was a prayer written by Emily Freeman (blog creator and author) for college freshmen. It was so sweet, so appropriate, so beautiful that I pull it up at the beginning of each semester and pray these words over the students about to descend on campus.
They move in to the dorm this weekend and will bring their bags filled with clothes and their boxes filled with books. But you see what they bring in their hearts – anticipation, adventure, love, regret, anxiety, motivation, and hope.
They are a mix of excited, ready, terrified, and wide-eyed freedom.
As he looks for a fresh start, remind him of your faithfulness every morning no matter where he calls home.
As she looks for community, remind her you are always with her no matter where she may go.
As he looks for adventure, remind him how you walk on water, turn water to wine, feed thousands from just a few pieces of bread. Remind him how you bring life straight up out of death, beauty straight out of ashes.
May she have the patience to believe even when she doesn’t see results.
May he know the greatest adventures are found in your presence, the greatest love comes from your heart, the greatest hope is that you’ve made his heart your home.
When insecurity, comparison, disappointment and failure knock on her dorm room door, may she turn to you with her questions rather than run the other way.
Weave your wisdom into the fibers of his soul, bearing the fruit of confidence, clarity, contentment and a light heart.
May he not despise his humanity, rather may he embrace it.
May she not despise her body, rather may she learn to receive and respect her shape as a gift.
May he not despise his weakness, rather may he see how weakness brings a daily reminder to trust.
May they not fear failure, rather may they thrive in the midst of it.
May they not be quick to judge, rather may they be patient and curious.
Help them to find true friends and be a true friend in turn.
Help them find their voice and to use it to be an advocate for themselves and for others.
Replace her shame with courage.
Replace his confusion with peace.
Replace her fear with a love that moves within her beyond her ability to understand.
May your grace surprise them kindly.
May your grace surprise them kindly. Amen and Amen. Here is to another wonderful year at the University of Texas – what starts here, changes the world!