My husband is tutoring my son's Challenge IV class in Classical Conversations this year, so we're full on in graduation season. I tutored this class for a couple of years and my husband has had them for the last three, so these kids seem like family to us. As I thought about what I'd like to give them as graduation gifts, I thought it would be fun to bless them with some wisdom for their journey.
You could pick and choose from any of these ideas and throw in a gift card (or cash) to bless your graduate. Make sure to read to the end where you can find a printable version of these words of wisdom to add to your gift.
1. Reusable Bag
When life gets heavy, remember you don’t have to carry it alone.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30
As they walk out into the "real world" they can feel invincible until life comes and knocks the wind out of them. It's good to remember that Christ didn't ask us to follow Him alone. He gave us His Spirit and the church. Community is such a blessing for bearing burdens.
I found these cute reusable shopping bags at World Market for the girls, but I got the boys drawstring backpacks.
2. Hot Drink
When the heat turns up, remember that God never wastes suffering.
"Taste and see that the Lord is good."Psalm 34:8
When you think about the transformation that happens when you dip a tea bag into hot water, you can see how God can turn a difficult situation into something unexpected.
Hot drinks are the favorites of our coffee-shop loving kids. We opted for hot chocolate with a fun twist and hot tea. World Market has some really unique options!
3. Coffee Mug
Coffee is never just coffee...every pursuit can be to the glory of God or man.
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."1 Corinthians 10:31
It's easy to get distracted by plans and goals and miss the people that God places in your life. Having coffee with friends can be an opportunity to "unearth holiness" as Eugene Peterson calls it in Godspeed.
There are always cute coffee mugs everywhere. We picked the earthy glazed option from World Market.
You’ll focus on what you highlight.
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."Philippians 4:8
This is true for everyone. If you practice highlighting the lovely things God brings your way, you'll be surprised at how God will bring those stories back to mind in conversations.
5. Extra Gum
Always go the extra mile.
"If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."Matthew 5:41-42
Servant leadership is rare these days. This can apply to any of their pursuits as they launch out on their own. Professors and employers will notice this and reward the effort.
6. 100 Grand Candybar
No matter how much money you have, the real prize is not found in your bank account.
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."Matthew 6:19-21
Our world often tells this tale very differently. When people ask what my kids want to do when they grow up, it is generally assessed by how finically lucrative the career will be. Money isn't the only measure of success.
Nerdy is in the eye of the beholder.
"But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.'”1 Samuel 16:7
Trying to be what others think you ought to be is generally what gets people in trouble. I love that God looks beyond the outward appearance and sees the beautiful creation that He designed.
8. Index Cards
Notice godly character in others and pursue relationships with them.
"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry..."James 1:19
This goes with the idea behind the highlighters. If you seek out people with godly character, you'll find a group that will help you run the race of faith with integrity.
9. Sour Patch Kids
When you hit a sour patch in life, consider it joy.
"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
My son's class was especially fond of Sour Patch kids, so this one had to make it into their basket! This can be the hardest challenge they'll face in the next couple of years. Often, things do not work out as expected. The difference is how you respond to those hard times.
Desperate times do not call for desperate measures. Trust in the Lord.
"Then Jesus said to his disciples: 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.'"Luke 12:22-24, 31
I'm not as much of a fan of classic college ramen as my teens are, so they might not think it's a desperate time to have this as a staple in their diet. Worry, however, is something that we all seem to hold onto without any problem. So if they can think of trusting in the Lord every time they eat ramen, that would be a great reminder.
11. Thinking Putty
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. - Albert Einstein
"On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me."Psalm 63:6-8
My kids love thinking putty. I love how playing with it reminds me of meditating on scripture. Thinking through God's word transforms your mind which transforms your life.
12. A Good Book
Harry S. Truman said, “not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”
"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up."James 4:10
I always love a new book to read. This is a great way to remind them that education never ends. It will be something that they will pursue for the rest of their lives. Here are some great options:
Graduation Gift Basket
I found a fun little storage basket at Target that fit all of the treasures.
Grab the printable here to add these wisdom messages to your graduation gifts.
I cut some of my brown paper roll down to 8.5x11 size to put in my printer. It worked really well!