Matt's graduated!! Phew!! I wanted to write a few thoughts about that. But I have some special comments I want to post first. The parents of the graduates were asked to send their child off with a prayer, blessing or comments as they handed their son or daughter their diploma. I had prepared something, but then "chickened out" in delivering it. Matt's dad assured me he would say something instead. But I had neglected to communicate with him exactly to what depth or degree that should be. He was thinking that all he would have to say was something like "We love you and we are so proud." So he didn't really plan a "speech" to give. When he saw what the other parents had prepared, he realized that he was...well...unprepared in what he should say. As we stood to present Matthew with his diploma, he said, "Oh boy, I have no idea what I am going to say." That put me in panic mode, so I thought I had better at least start with something to help him out....I mumbled a few words just to help him get started, then he continued through broken voice, fighting tears, with what words he could muster. We both felt we had failed Matthew there, in comparison with what other parents had prepared for their child....Soooooo, I decided I would post here,what I had originally planned (but was unable) to say to Matthew in front of all those people:
When you were born, you created quite a celebration in both your dad’s family and mine. Everyone was so ecstatic, supportive and loving. You were considered a “gift from God”; your name was chosen for that reason. “Matthew” means – Gift from God. All these years later, we have always known, without question, that you are God’s gift to us. And what a great gift, indeed!
As a baby, when you were dedicated at our church, we planned for one, or two close family members to be your “godparents”. That is how we believed dedications were done. However, Pastor TR, whom we had asked to dedicate you, had a different idea…and at the time, I didn’t totally agree with him. We wanted there to be someone as you grew up, that you could feel you could call on at any time, if the need arose. But Pastor TR wanted everyone that had any importance in your life - who would promise to direct and guide you in your life - to come forward and stand with us as we dedicated you to the Lord. So that is the way we did it. We can now look back and see that Pastor TR was correct; there would be many that would influence you in your life and each of them should stand with us as we dedicated you (literally give you back) to the Lord. We can see that is exactly what happened in your life, as we look in retrospect the effect that each one has had on your life; the part each had in helping you become the person you are.
Now I’m not talking about “it taking a village to raise a child”. It takes two parents – that’s the way God intended, but there are those that definitely had a part in your life. We want to take this opportunity to publicly thank them. Several of those people are again here for this event.
Whenever some one would tell me, “You guys are doing a good job with Matthew.” I would always respond with a laugh and say “We have had nothing to do with it!”…meaning it has only been God’s grace that has brought us to this point…and that is true; but also true, is what Pastor TR intended when he asked all that would, to come forward at your baby dedication. Not everyone that has been important in your life are here today…we are noticeably missing Mr. and Mrs. B, Grandma Myrtle, Isaac, and our good friend, Bob. But present – just to name a few - are Grandpa who has taught you to steelhead, and taught you much about boating; he has taught you important skills such as how to drive and back up a trailer, the proper and easiest way for annual grass burning, as well as the reward of a job well done…then there’s Grandma that taught you to be able to laugh at yourself and not take yourself quite so seriously; to have pride in your heritage. You are indeed able to laugh at yourself and that is a good quality. Aunt Louise, and Aunt Helen as well as Grandma Myrtle, has each taught you about love unconditional. They have always offered it freely. Cousin G., who has taught you loyalty and the true meaning of friendship, is here. Uncle C and Aunt G have taught you strength in adversity and they, as well as Levi and Nate, have taught you to be true to your walk with the Lord at all costs. All your aunts, uncles and cousins have taught you the importance of family. They have all helped teach you about God’s love, mercy and grace; and each has helped advance your walk, with the Lord. To each of them, we are eternally grateful for their part in your life as you have matured.
Others are here that helped shape you: Mr. and Mrs. W. through all their efforts and patience in the 4-H program; Linda and Greg and Michael and Susie, who have helped you shape a great work ethic and to understand the importance of good neighbors…they have also shared their horse knowledge and been with you in your loss. We appreciate the time they have spent with you and all they have done in your life.
When we first began homeschooling, God showed me a scripture that I believe He intended for us to remember why we homeschool and it has helped us stay true to the cause. I think Aunt K happened to mention a study she was doing on this, and so at the time I wanted to do a little further study, too. I believe God intended us to use it in our job as your parents, but also in our homeschooling. It is the story of Nehemiah’s wall. “I have begun a great work and I cannot comedown.” Nehemiah was building a wall of protection for Jerusalem and he knew he could not get distracted or come down from the wall until it was complete. He knew there would be enemies that tried to distract him, tricks and selfishness…many things that could block his efforts. Now while of course this chapter in the Bible is in regard to the rebuilding of the wall for Israel, we can also learn from Nehemiah’s actions and apply it to our own lives. We experienced some of these same distractions and difficulties through out your life; i.e. fiery darts from the wicked one that would want to ruin what God had planned for you. Some of those darts came in the way of spiritual warfare, some came from our own camp; some came simply out of the nature of living life. But through it all we have tried to remain strong for you. We wanted to be “strong in the Lord.” - Which by the way was a verse and advice that you loved to share as just a little guy. That is a memory that will stay with us for sure for the rest of our lives.
Since that time, we may have carelessly lost our footing on the wall a time or two; but we can safely say that we never stepped down from that wall…As you got older, we have also invited you to be up there with us from time to time. This invitation was to be for your own growth and experience. But we have never wavered or doubted that God truly wanted us on that wall of protection and that it was a wall that deserved our complete and undivided attention….the building of your early life.
It is now time for us to step down from that wall… a changing of the guard so to speak. It is your watch now. But rest assured your dad and I will always “have your back” as we step down from the wall. We will do that through prayer; we will do it with moral support; financial support; counsel, advice, whatever it is you need. We have never doubted that God had a plan for your life. Sometimes through your choices, sometimes through “circumstances” it has seemed to be inevitably clear. But it is your battle now; and we know because of the foundation that has been laid for you by all those people that you love and that love you, that whatever you choose, will be a successful endeavor. We trust it is a battle you will win in our Lord’s strength and one that you will continue for those yet to come into your life.
We love you, son, and could not be more proud of you on this day.