A Graduation Week Epiphany

That’s right, an actual epiphany. I’ve always wanted to drop that word here on the blog. It’s cool how it can make List Wednesday sound like something really momentous. Plus, I figure, if you have a kid graduate from high school, and don’t have an epiphany of some sort, you’re probably doing it wrong.

A friend of mine who also has a child graduating this week had an epiphany, too. Or maybe it was just an emotional outburst; I’m not exactly sure. She texted me to say that she unexpectedly fell apart in the car when she heard Josh Groban’s You Raise Me Up come on the radio. Naturally, I’d like to laugh about that, but the truth is, none of us know how or when it could hit. It’s best we keep our laughter on the inside and not judge each others’ pitifulness in such times.

The first time I got teary was about a month ago, when Brandon brought home his cap and gown. The cap and gown were no big deal. But then he turned the thing over and I saw the dern tassel hanging there. I’m not prone to sudden outbursts of weeping, so my family stood staring at me with strange expressions. I felt I should explain, so I wailed, “The tassel! It was the tassel! I wasn’t ready for the dumb tassel!” I’m sure that cleared everything right up.

I cried again last week when I made his lunch. I thought it would be funny to write a note with a sharpie on the outside of the brown paper bag, but halfway through, that lunch sack somehow began to embody all the other lunches over the past 13 years. I was in the middle of writing a sentence like, “This is the last high school cafeteria lunch of your whole entire life, so tell all your friends I said hi,” and my eyes began to fill. Somehow, I didn’t just see the brown paper bag; I saw the Taz lunch box he carried to kindergarten and the Batman lunch box he toted to 2nd grade. Awesome.

I think another reason I’ve cried is that it’s a little scary. I wonder if I’ve taught him everything I should. There are so many things we parents overlook as we try to help our kids along in the maturation process; things like, how to pick a restaurant when you’re with a group. I mean, I’ve been in a lot of situations where people want to go out to eat together, but no one wants to say where. It seems to me that’s a life skill that’s not often covered.graduation meme

Let’s face it; life gets harder, not easier.

This List Wednesday, I’d like you to help me with that. Feel free to comment bits of wisdom for Brandon and other graduates that we, and other well-meaning parents, might have failed to mention along the way.

I’ll go ahead and get us started.

It’s true, pizza can be delivered right to your door, and it is delicious. But you probably shouldn’t eat that every day. Once a week is more than enough. As for that Sonic that’s across the street from your apartment with its more than 168,000 drink combinations? Same principle applies.

Do something every day to break a sweat. Or take a nap every day. One of the two.

When you’re having people over, make brownies. They are the wellspring of life, and a maker of friends. But not when you use oil that you previously used to make french fries.

Have your own style, and please don’t let it include Chacos.

If you’re going to run bath water, turn off the TV first. Otherwise, you might sit down for a moment and then get so caught up in a rerun of ER that you forget all about the bath water, which has now flooded your bathroom and is also flooding the apartment of the couple living next door. At least, that’s the way I imagine it could happen.

Tell me about your girlfriends. You can go ahead and send pictures, too. But there’s no need to bring anyone home to meet me unless you’re really serious. This should not happen for several years.

Please…for the love…clean your bathroom. Wash your towels, too. That’s a kind of gross that could keep me lying awake at night.

Let’s get these grads ready for the real world with nuggets of oft-overlooked wisdom. Serious or funny…doesn’t matter. What are some things you wish someone had told you when you graduated from high school? What are some things you hope you teach your kids?


Next Post
Previous Post

Sometimes, you make a group of new friends in college or one or two guys/gals bugs you a little. Be nice anyway. You never know whose parents have a lakehouse.


When one’s child passes into a new phase of life (no matter his/her age), parents always reflect on the past (“what did I do right/wrong”?) and look to the future, trusting God to guide that child through each phase of life. For grandparents, this process is increased two-fold.

Words of wisdom: Don’t go wild with your new sense of freedom. You are still setting the building blocks for your future.

Donna Wright

Fifteen years ago I was showing parents with a preschool daughter to their classroom. I asked the little girl’s name. It was Epiphany. I have never forgotten that child. That’s a rabbit trail. Back to the subject: If you treat others the way you want to be treated, then you won’t have as many regrets. As in comment #1, their parents may have a lake house or as was true in my case–her parents may live on the beach, in Florida. Also, go to class unless you are deathly ill, then when you are deathly ill, you don’t have to drag yourself in there because you have missed too much already. Professors are more benevolent to students who show up everyday and participate. I know, I was one.


Four tiny bits of advice:
1. Practice putting a new roll of toilet paper on the roll before you leave home. It is a skill your parents want you to have down before you leave.
2. If your parents are coming to visit, take out the trash so they don’t know that you are able to keep a week’s worth of trash in your kitchen and still live a happy life.
3. In addition to above mentioned towels, wash your sheets more than once a semester. You might gross out your roommate. I would know.
4. Embrace the differences you have with your roommate. This helps you learn the skill of compromise. Which is the most important skill you will learn to survive married life. Seriously, roommate living prepares you for marriage (you can even think of your RA as a marriage counselor).

Sarah Cooper

If you are a dorm-dweller and use a community shower, have a pair of shower flip-flops. Do NOT go into the community shower without them on. Ewwww. And then don’t wear your shower flip-flops anywhere else. (This same rule applies for the Hawaiian Falls bathroom)

When you are walking through the commons area at your college, DO NOT sign up for a credit card just for the free t-shirt/concert tickets/7-day cruise, etc. They will send a new credit card to your dorm/apartment address five years later with your name on it when you no longer live there. The person living there will max out that credit card at Best Buy within 24 hours and ruin your credit for years. TRUST ME.

Going to class is truly half the battle. GO! But try not to take 8 am classes…


Feel free to stay out later than your parents allowed, but don’t call them and tell them that you’re about to go out when it’s already later than your home curfew. Parents don’t tend to get much sleep when that information is shared. We know you go out with your friends, but we still like to think that you’re safe in bed at 11:00 or that you’re sitting there studying your heart out.

Call your mom at least once every couple of days – especially those first few weeks. It may be not more than “Hi” but to her it means everything from: ” I sure do love and miss you”, “I’m alive”, “Can’t wait to come home and see you”, ” I need to know how to…..” And be prepared to answer twenty questions even if it bugs you to answer them.

Tammy Condray

Regarding that whole cleaning the bathroom thing…do it. And that would include any dirty dishes you stash in there thinking you’re going to wash them. Like the spaghetti-o’s/cheerios/whatever-o’s in the hot pot/plastic bowls/etc…that end up in a stack beneath the sink. or on the back of the toilet. or in the shower.
And those cute stackable plastic cube things? The ones you can make bookshelves out of, or put clothes in, or make little bedside table things out of? Don’t try to burn candles on them. Sometimes the candle gets too hot and falls through the hole it melts in the plastic. It suddenly gets really loud and busy in your dorm room, and you get in trouble for having a candle when you weren’t supposed to have one and-and-and…
And don’t miss all 7 times allowed in a T/TH class at the beginning of the semester just because it’s at noon and the local pizza place has a special for college kids. You might get strep throat and be running 104 temp and be in the ER the night before and really-really need to skip but it would be number 8 and then you’d fail.
(just for the record, none of my kids did these things…that will be another entry of its own)

Sarah Cooper

Ummmm, that last one didn’t happen to me either. But it was a Mexican food restaurant with REALLY cheap Thursday Fajitas.

OOOOHHHH…one more thing. DON’T think there is such thing as a “blow-off class” in college. Like Step Aerobics. You can make a “C” in that class, too, if you don’t show up. AND that “A” could have really helped your GPA since you’ve failed your Thursday class because of cheap fajitas.


Washing or even changing the sheets would be great, we just threw them away:)
Perhaps knowing how to go to CVS and buy meds and actually taking them when they are sick.
Keep a hidden stash of cash ( locked away) for the one time the debit card doesn’t work.
Somehow they figure the rest out, just as we did. And they miss us just as much as we do them, don’t let them kid you:))


I agree with Tammy. Do the dishes!!! Your girlfriend will NOT think you are sweet and sensitive for creating a habitat for the maggots!

Lori Buford

Don’t ever take a PE class for a grade thinking it will be an easy A. Always take them pass/fail. You never know when you might end up with bronchitis and have too many absences to ever make up and you might accidentally forget to turn in your doctors note from the Quack Shack; thereby making the first and only C in your life; in tennis nonetheless. Not that I ever had that happen to me or anything.


1. Don’t take your books to class on the first day. Not only will you not need them on day one, but that’s definitely the quickest way to identify a freshman.
2. Enjoy the amount of make-up the ladies are wearing at orientation and the first week of class, because when finals come around, it will be gone.
3. Be careful if you start a band with your friends…you may regret those photoshoot pictures of the band someday.
4. Remember what your parents taught you when making big decisions. Over the next few years, you’ll realize they were right about a lot. You probably already know that, but it will almost become annoying how right they are. 😉

Kim Hodges

The three most important things are 1) go to class, 2) go to class and 3) go to class…a college education is one of the nicest gifts your parents can give you, it is not owed to you but is given to you with love – don’t make it a poor investment for them. Oh yeah, and if you are going to boil eggs set a timer – they will explode when the water boils out


1. When you run out of dishwasher detergent it’s not a good idea to use the hand detergent in its place.

2. Don’t mix Kaboom and Clorox to get the mold out of your bathtub.

3. If your roommates invite you to go camping in the woods behind your dorm, just say no.

4. Never under any circumstances let your roommate borrow your ear buds.

5. Don’t staple basketball shorts over an ac vent to keep it from blowing on you. If you do, please see number 2.

Kassidy Free

Mrs. Hopkins,
You probably don’t know me, but I’ve come to know your family through super summer and met Brandon last year after being a TL with a handful of midlothian members! I have been a counselor for Impact at A&M for the last two years and am a cochair for one of the camps this year! I just wanted to let you know that we have met weekly since last years impact retreat to pray for the class of 2017 and have been preparing to love them and guide them through their first year of college, and also praying that the gospel would transform their lives in a way that it becomes the center of all the do. I’ll be a senior this year (eeek!) and can promise you that early bedtimes, consistent exercise, healthy eating, clean apartments and straight A’s won’t matter at the end of these four years, what matters is the way Jesus radically reveals himself to us like never before, prompting a lifestyle that seeks more of his face and the furthering of his kingdom. I am beyond blessed to welcome my third incoming class of Aggies through Impact Retreat and it has been AMAZING to see God continually transform students and give them life-giving community.
Personally, I am amazed that I have the opportunity to read the heart of one of our freshman’s parents, and I’m brought to tears at the fact that our freshmen are REAL and God knows each of them personally and intimately and has huge plans for them at A&M 🙂
I hope this isn’t weird that I commented on here 🙂 Please don’t worry about Brandon, Texas A&M is the absolute best place in the world that he could be for the next four years. Not because of some camaraderie or set of traditions, but because the holy spirit is moving in heavy ways on this campus and in the hearts of its students! There are some incredible organizations, churches and ministries here that we are so excited to get the class of 2017 plugged into!
I hope this helps your mind be at ease. The best way I can describe my community and fellowship here is “it’s like super summer every single day!” (Quoted by a friend)
Thanks and Gig ’em

Kassidy Free
Class of 2014


Thank you, Kassidy, for leaving this comment; not weird at all! Most of all, thank you for praying for Brandon and the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of 2017! We are so thankful for Impact and are excited that Brandon will get to connect with so many other believers right off the bat. This post, like all my Wednesday posts, is mostly just for humor’s sake. If you check out some of the other posts, you will find that I am in full agreement with you on what really matters! Thanks for visiting the blog, and I will pray God continues to bless you and that entire campus for His glory!

Gig ’em!
Cynthia Hopkins
Class of 1991


There is such a thing as too much easy mac.

You will learn that you must balance these three things: sleep, school and social life. Sometimes you only get to pick two. Choose wisely.

Remember things like your mom’s birthday. Give her a phone call or just show up. It will leave a lasting impression. Trust me.

Don’t forget siblings at home. Call just to talk to them. Oh and bring home lots of gear from your school for them to wear and think they are cool!

Find out now where the closest walk-in-clinic is. Believe me, there will come a time when you need it. Also make sure you know where your insurance card is.

Make sure you can jump a car and change a tire before you leave home.

Most importantly. If you are going to stay up late studying for a final exam that counts for a third of your grade in a class, make sure your phone alarm is ON before you go to sleep… or you will not wake up in time.. and run into class in your PJs 5 minutes before the exam is over.. calmly begging your professor to let you take it anyway….

Not that that happened to me…

In this case, see the above comments that say GO TO CLASS (and don’t sleep while you are there). Your usually unmerciful professor may have mercy on you since you did.

Again, not like I did that… 🙂


Try to avoid:

a) the notion that a lame college degree is the same as a genuinely marketable education. They ought to start pricing tuition for every degree path according to where that path leads. An engineering degree would cost what most degrees cost now. A degree in fine art would basically be free.

b) thinking that “career” means working for someone else or some big company. If the degree to which you aspire doesn’t offer a significant self-employment opportunity it means you will be consigned to that slavery called employment. Personal and economic liberty results from self-employment….and if you’re not at all inclined to college, there’s still great hope: the world is full of wealthy people that didn’t bother with college. You’ll note that those people are very dedicated, hard working, smart, observant, innately curious and absorb their career as a big part of “who they are”….not simply something they do to support “who they are”.


Having trouble bringing the funny right now. I always have been a bit more free with the tears than Cynthia so if her eyes are full a lot these days, then mine are freely flowing.

Independence is cool but having parents you can depend on is pretty great, too. Don’t be afraid to tell them you’re struggling with school or even with your new found independence. They’ve been there, made some mistakes, and have some wisdom they can offer. Not just now but always.


Wait a minute…. so you’re telling a young believer to NOT wear Chacos at Texas A&M?? Thats like our version of the Ichthys….

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *