During Sunday School, I spoke with the youth about “next things” in my own calling. I came to Smoke Rise in August when I began school at McAfee School of Theology. In this year, I have learned much about doing life together in community through the work I have been blessed to be a part of at Smoke Rise. As I have been in Atlanta, I have continued to listen to and discern my calling, and listen to the places where I feel that my gifts meet a world in need. Part of this, for me, comes in the form of desiring to continue my education to help others who do not have advocates for their own education—to find places where my gifts, the church’s and communities’ resources, and the needs of those around us intersect.
I have decided to continue my graduate study at Vanderbilt University in August of 2017, so that I am well-equipped to participate in this work. As I have had to make decisions about these “next steps” I have struggled with having the words to communicate to the youth how hard of a decision this has been, as being at Smoke Rise has been the best part of my time in Atlanta, and I will miss being a part of the weekly community here. I am encouraged by the hope the students at Smoke Rise have given me about the present and the future of the church in our world and I am humbled by the ability to have had the opportunity to work alongside the families and youth at a church that listens to God’s daily call for community. I am excited about the future opportunities I will continue to have with each of you as I come back to be a part of the Disciple Now in the fall, and other youth events that will follow. Thank you for letting me be a part of your story, and know that I am grateful for the role each of you will continue to play in my story as I have learned invaluable lessons and been filled with wisdom, grace, and love that each of you exude.