I write this from NC. I’ll only be here a few days (returning in time to preach at Marble this Sunday), but these will be incredibly important days for our family.
Katharine, our youngest, graduates from high school Friday. She begins her college experience in July, enrolling at High Point University. Tonight (Memorial Day) we’ll be having family over (three of our four kids, one grandmother, and an uncle and aunt) for a Memorial day cookout. Burgers, beans, potato salad, ice cream. You know, a carb fest. I’m not sure there will be a single thing on the menu that is healthy. Oh, wait a minute. We do have some watermelon. Page will make certain I eat a little of that to offset the effect of the five chili cheeseburgers I also plan to consume. The way I see it, if I put lettuce and tomato on those burgers, they suddenly qualify as health food. But, I digress.
In any event, this will be a week about family. Wednesday night is the Baccalaureate Service with faith, friends, and family. Thursday night is a dinner for graduating seniors and their parents. Friday is Graduation. I’m the speaker. That gives me a great deal of pride. Admittedly, I was only asked because the intended speaker, Madeline Albright, had to back out due to her commitments on the campaign trail. Who cares? I don’t have to admit that to anyone but you. So far as the world knows, I was their first choice. And, even if the world knows better, I still get to speak at our daughter’s graduation ceremony. Think of the stories I can tell that will embarrass her. Why have kids if you can’t be a source of embarrassment? Anyway, I digress again.
Following the Graduation ceremony, friends and family will join at our house for more food, fellowship, and fun. We’ll tell stories and share memories. We’ll talk about what our college days were like. We will warn Katharine to make better choices than we did. And once again, she will be embarrassed. (In truth, our choices were pretty tame – but as one ages, his/her history is told from increasingly adventurous points of view.) We’ll talk about the good old days back then, and she and her buddies will roll their eyes. And we will silently pray that the next chapter of her life will be fulfilling and safe, preparing her for the journey to come.
I will look at our children from time to time this week – all of them. I will look at Adam, Alison, Zachary, and Katharine. I will remember when they were small, clinging to their parents’ hands, needing us in ways that they have since outgrown. I will see in their adult faces remnants of childhood faces, and I will recall the sound of their laughter before their voices changed, the feel of their chubby little hands holding mine as we crossed the street, the musical sound of the word “Daddy,” and the prayers I prayed way back then that their lives would be fulfilling and safe. Whatever age or stage a child is in, the fundamental hopes a parent has for their children does not change. Alison and Andy will have a baby in October, at which point they will begin praying that same pray that they will pray for the rest of their lives. I’m still praying it for my children.
So, this is a big week for us. A family week. A week of faith and dreams and love. A week of memories and anticipation. But as Katharine marches into a new future for her, one thing does not change. I will continue to pray for her, as I do for all our children, that the God Who loves her will stay with her at High Point University and beyond, making her life fulfilling and safe.