Hugs for Grads: Stories, Sayings, and Scriptures to Encourage and Inspire

Hugs for Grads: Stories, Sayings, and Scriptures to Encourage and Inspire

by Jeff Walling


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Graduation is a momentous occasion for young lives, and you want to give a gift that communicates the hopes, dreams, affection, and warmth you have for that special graduate. Filled with insight and inspiration for future decisions and direction, this book conveys your faith and confidence that the road ahead is full of promise and fulfillment.

Inspirational stories, uplifting messages, encouraging quotes, and personalized scriptures come together to give a hug to a special graduate that will impart a warmth that will be felt far beyond graduation day.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476751429
Publisher: Howard Books
Publication date: 06/01/2013
Series: Hugs Series
Pages: 128
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Jeff Walling has spent the last twenty years preaching and teaching about Jesus. His passionate style and dramatic delivery have made him a sought-after speaker, lecturing to tens of thousands annually at Christian universities, evangelism seminars, and conferences worldwide. He has written such books as Daring to Dance with God, Hugs for Grads, and Until I Return. Jeff lives in Charlotte, NC, with his wife, Cathryn, and their three sons, Taylor, Riley, and Spencer, where he has served as a minister since 1984.

Read an Excerpt

Hugs for Grads

Stories, Sayings, and Scriptures to Encourage and Inspire
By Jeff Walling

Howard Books

Copyright © 2000 Jeff Walling
All right reserved.

Staying Connected

    "Dad, I need to tell you


Jean had rehearsed the speech for hours and was determined to get through it

without breaking down. She bit her lip and prepared to plow ahead when the wind

blew the tassel from her mortarboard right in her face, distracting and

frustrating her. Who thought up these stupid tassels anyway? Jean pondered as

she adjusted the cap for the thousandth time. She wasn't much for formality: All

the pomp and circumstance was so overblown. But Dad was big on tradition and


"Don't you see, Jeanie," he had often lectured her; "tradition is what holds

families together. Without it you have no connection between the generations,

nothing to help hold you to what came before."

    And her dad definitely wanted her connected: Every family

reunion at the farm in Tennessee meant a mandatory appearance by the West Coast

wing of the McGee clan. Jean's dad and mom had both grown up in that small

Tennessee town, and all her uncles and aunts still lived within a hour's drive

of the family farm. Though her dad still called it "home," he hadn't lived there

since graduating from high school. A scholarship to a big California college was

too good to refuse, so he'd married Jean's mom two days after graduation and

thenmoved to the Sunshine State, where Jean and her little brother had been

born. The rest of the McGees predicted that Jean's family would lose their ties

to Tennessee, but every summer that Jean could remember had included a trip to

the farm and visiting all the relatives. Dad wanted them to know every cousin,

aunt, and uncle by name. "This is your heritage," Dad would say when anyone

complained about trips. "You have to stay connected!"

    "Do you miss the farm, Dad?" Jeanie had once asked her father

as they were starting the long drive back to California.

"Wouldn't you?" That was Dad -- answer a question with a question. "I learned to

drive a tractor, bale hay, and ride a horse on that farm. Why I remember when..."

If Jeanie would just sit tight, Dad would roll through one of his stories: The

time Uncle Willie had nailed his brother's hat to the farmhouse floor to teach

him not to be sloppy. Or the day Aunt Mildred nearly blew up the place when the

pressure cooker got too hot while she was canning peaches.

Although Jean had loved listening to those stories as a child, she had no

interest in them now. It was one more sign of the gulf that had come between her

and her dad: Mr. Tradition versus Miss New Age. From burning incense in her room

to a tattoo on her ankle, every issue became an argument. The year she ditched

the family reunion for her boyfriend's rock band's concert had nearly seen her

booted from the house. Only her mom's intercession had spared her from


    But then came the graduation thing.

Jean had been adamant: She was not taking part in the ceremonies. Her friends

had applauded her independent thinking. "The cap-and-gown thing is an

unnecessary, outdated custom," they had agreed. But needless to say, her dad saw

it differently and was ready to push the issue. Three weeks before graduation

day, she made her last stand. The announcements were lying on the hall table

waiting to be addressed, and her cap and gown were already hanging in the

closet. She dropped the bomb at dinnertime: "I've decided I am not wearing that

silly cap and gown and going through that lame ceremony," she had casually said

between bites; then she had added defiantly, "And there's nothing you can do

about it."

    Her dad's ears had gone crimson, and her mother just held her

breath. After a moment of painful silence, Jean's mother picked up her dinner,

nodded to Sammy, Jean's little brother, and quietly left the dining room. Sammy

took his cue and gathered up his plate as well, saying, "I guess nobody will

gripe if I eat in my room tonight." And with that the two combatants were left

alone to duke it out.

Jeanie's dad began with a predictable response: "What do you think this says to

your family?" When she did not respond, he continued, "Your grandmother and all

the folks from back home will be here to see you graduate. It means a lot to

them...and to me. Please, don't be so selfish!"

"Well, it means something to me too. I'm sorry, Dad, but I'm not backing down."

"I suppose you won't want the watch either," he had said softly.

She knew this was coming, but it made her mad that he brought it up so quickly.

"Oh, Dad, don't start with that."

    "The watch" was a gold pocket watch. When her paternal

grandfather had graduated from high school, the first McGee to do so, his father

hadn't been able to afford a proper graduation gift, so he gave him a family

heirloom, that pocket watch. That watch had been passed down from generation to

generation for six decades and was always given to the eldest child at his or

her graduation. Jean was the eldest McGee of her generation.

"So if I don't wear the cap and gown, I don't get the watch? Is that it?"

    Her dad just shook his head, and that had been the end of the

graduation conversation...until now.

The wind was getting chillier, and the ceremony was only a half-hour away. She

knew if she didn't get this said now, she might never, so she started again.

"Dad, this may seem strange, but I need to say this." She paused and soaked up

the silence. Her father would not interrupt her.

    She adjusted the cap one last time and couldn't help but

grin. Here she stood in the goofy cap and gown she'd sworn she'd never wear, all

ready to get her diploma in front of her relatives. But not because her father

had bullied her into it. Far from it. Three days after the dinner argument, her

dad had come to her room at bedtime and offered an olive branch.

    "Listen, I'm tired of being mad about this. I know you're a

bright girl and that you'll make your own way. Maybe it's time I let you do so."

And with that, he had laid the pocket watch on her bed and walked out.

The wind blew the tassel across her eyes one more time, but she barely noticed.

The tears she had fought back so fiercely now flowed freely...and she didn't care.

Somehow, she kept talking.

    "Dad, I want you to know why I'm doing this. It's not just

because of what happened. I've thought a lot about tradition in the last two

weeks. About staying connected. You never told me that it would become so much

more important when...things were different."

She wiped the tears back and held out the watch.

    "I'm going to carry this when I get my diploma. And one day

I'm gonna give it to my child, if I'm lucky enough to have one. And I want to

tell my children to stay connected to their history, their family. I want to

tell them about you...I love you, Daddy. And I'm sorry."

    There! She had said it. Those words had burned in her brain

for the last ten days, ever since the phone call about her dad's accident and

the painful meeting with her mother at the hospital. She knew she needed to say

them, but her dad hadn't been able to hear them. The doctors weren't even sure

if he was really alive when the ambulance brought him in: The drunk driver had

hit him head-on.

    "Good-bye, Daddy," she said softly as she laid a small piece

of paper on her father's headstone. Then Jean turned from the grave, walked back

to the car, and drove to meet the rest of family at her graduation. A gust of

wind gently spun the paper on the smooth granite, as though an unseen hand was

turning it around to read it: It was her graduation announcement.


Excerpted from Hugs for Grads by Jeff Walling Copyright © 2000 by Jeff Walling. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Chapter One: Holding On

Chapter Two: Trusting Truth

Chapter Three: Growing through Giving

Chapter Four: Balancing Priorities

Chapter Five: Choosing to Smile

Chapter Six: Letting Go

Chapter Seven: Healing Hurts

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