A Tribute to My Little Town….#HesstonStrong

When I was a senior in high school, I went through the process of applying to college. As the youngest of 3 who all went to the same college, along with my parents and other relatives, the idea was definitely there to attend the same place. It would be in my hometown, so I’d be able to visit home easily when I wanted to. Every year the seniors of the high school I attended, would visit this same local college to gauge whether or not it was a right fit for any one.

As visiting day arrived and I walked about the beautiful campus I had a thought: this was the wrong fit.

Then one day a cheerful recruiter from a 2-year Mennonite college in Kansas showed up at our school. I had a chance to meet with him and ask questions about the school; Hesston College.

One of my deepest concerns was safety. Not knowing I had an anxiety disorder yet, but  aware of my overwhelming need to feel safe, this was an important aspect of any school I’d choose.

Being as Hesston College was located among wheat fields in a very small farming community, very low crime rate, small classes and a Christ-centered environment, I deemed it the perfect fit. I applied and was accepted soon after my campus visit.

I spent two of the best years of my life at Hesston College. I met amazing friends, wonderful professors and grew spiritually and academically. Hesston College was the first place where I caught the writing bug. It was the first place where I pulled an all-nighter (wait, I forgot I did that once in high school). It was the first place I lived, away from my parents, where I still felt safe and protected. Even walking alone at night on the main street of town I felt safe.

I recommend Hesston College to anyone looking for an awesome introduction to the wonderful world of college.

This past Thursday, a gunman with a grudge opened fire 3 blocks away from my beloved alma-mater; at a factory specializing in the manufacturing of lawn mowers. The gunman killed 3 and injured 15 others before being shot and killed by law enforcement.

In the blink of an eye, my little town didn’t feel so safe anymore.

But after the tragedy, an extraordinary thing happened. Instead of taking to the streets to protest for tougher gun-control as is seen in other cities after similar events, the fine folks in Hesston gathered in places of worship to reflect and remember the lives lost; including the shooter. Let me re-state that:

The person who perpetrated such a violent act on a friendly town has not been characterized as a violent thug. He’s been looked on with sympathy and his family has been prayed for and embraced. A broken soul who in some twisted logic believed that the only way to get what he wanted was with a gun. Hesston is also mourning his loss with the sadness that comes with knowing that there was a person amongst them that needed help and yet he seemed out of reach.

Maybe my little college town, not used to national/international news exposure, can breathe new life in the discussions that always follows these tragic events. To live out Christ’s call to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

To be a light in a dark, broken world.

PS: If you’d like to make a tax deductible donation and purchase a T-shirt to help the victims families, click here

College Lessons to Last a Lifetime…..

The season for back to school is upon us. Kids of all ages are getting back into routines, making new friends and rekindling old ones. There is also a brave group of kids who are embarking on a journey that will affect them for the rest of their lives….they are entering college.

College can teach you way more than anything in a textbook. In my case, I learned something in my first year of college that has stayed with me through everything I’ve been through since. This lesson has helped form who I am and helped strengthen my marriage.

My freshman year of college, I lived with another young woman from the midwest. We quickly realized that, while we got along, there were some things we’d do that would annoy the other person. For me it was when she’d leave the room and leave the radio blasting. My annoying trait was the inability to pick up my dirty clothes from the floor. This would cause my roommate to regularly pile my dirty clothes on top of my bed. I’d then have to figure out what to do with them so I could sleep at night. I usually just put them back on the floor. It was a vicious cycle.

But one day everything changed. I woke up that morning and my roommate was not in her bed. I got ready for class and on my way, my Resident Director stopped me and told me that my roommate was in crisis. She was in the hospital after a suicide attempt the night before. She had been struggling with some personal issues and made a devastating choice-but she was gonna survive. I was in shock. The next few days were a blur. The first time I went back into our dorm room after I was told, I noticed the silence. It was deafening. In that moment the only thing I wanted was to hear music blasting from the radio.

My roommate returned a few weeks later. The first time I walked into our room after her return, the music was blasting from the radio. And I couldn’t have been happier or more relieved.

I’ve taken this lesson with me ever since: no matter how annoyed I am with someone’s quirks, at the end of the day, if that person were to suddenly leave, I know those annoying quirks would cease to be burdensome and I’d crave them.

My husband and I are working through year 3 of our marriage and this lesson has carried over and has helped to shape my attitude towards my husband and some of his quirky habits. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if anything happened to him I’d miss many things. I’ve even miss his heavy metal music and the way he piles his socks on the floor.

So next time your spouse or roommate leaves clothes on the floor or dirty dishes in the sink, before you get bent out of shape, take a moment and think about how you’d feel if they weren’t around to make those dirty dishes or leave clothes on the floor. And be grateful they are in your life.


**I couldn’t find a good meme to add to this post, so I left some room for you to draw whatever you wanted! You’re welcome! 😀