Tag Archive | graduation

Fleeting Life

Last week, I nearly lost a dear friend.

A call from her husband at 11:45 p.m. went unanswered as my phone was on “do not disturb” and my husband let the call go to voicemail. When our son, friends of their eldest daughter, came in moments later and told us to check our messages, Julie had been in an accident, I didn’t even know what to expect.

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My husband pulled on clothes and rushed to get her husband and go to the accident site as the vehicle she was driving was their only multi-passenger vehicle and he needed a ride there and a way to get them all home.

The images here are what she shared with us that night and the next morning.

But for the grace of God, Julie and her twin daughters would have been impaled by a guardrail into which their minivan was pushed by a reckless driver trying to squeeze in between their van and another vehicle in the next lane. His selfish action nearly cost the lives of 2 beautiful teenagers and their mom, grieving a husband, 2 other kids and numerous friends and family members in the process.

When I see the damage done to their van, I know that it is only by God’s hand that they survived with barely a scratch. They are sore, and Julie thinks the rail must have skimmed her head because she has bruises in a couple of places. But they walked away, glass encrusted hair bearing witness to the horrendous mess made of their vehicle.

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One of the girls was sitting in the back on this side of the van.

When they awoke the next morning, Julie was glad just to be alive. When one of her kids noted that they were out of coffee creamer, her response was, “Isn’t it nice to be out of creamer?”

In texts between a group of friends, she noted, “I cannot begin to convey how thankful I am to God and that waking up this morning, it was a very ordinary day when it could have so easily not been ordinary. We three are pretty sore understandably. But so thankful for so much. I told the girls that we will never have a bad day again, they’re all good days from here on out!”

Later she texted, “My words are too few and not nearly as adequate as I would like. It’s been very humbling that God would choose to save us in this way.”

Another in our text group said, “I’m so glad we are texting rather than crying over caskets!” Wow. That hit me hard and I just wept. What caused one daughter to duck when her sister in the front screamed, thus causing the deadly missile to miss her by inches? How was Julie not decapitated by the force of the pole through their windshield so close to her head?

IMG_55181How fleeting life is. Sometimes we don’t think about it. We just go about our business assuming we’re going to see our loved ones later. But sometimes they don’t come home.

But God is still good. Circumstances don’t change that. I am thankful for the lives that were saved last Friday night. Had things been different, I can’t even imagine what this next week would look like. Mother’s Day would have felt very different. Graduation just days away would be a wrenching event instead of a celebration for the senior daughter. Every “last” for that senior is more precious when Julie thinks how differently things could have turned out.

For this time we can breathe a sigh of relief and thank God that He spared them. But we know that not everyone can do that. Lives are lost every single day in tragic accidents caused by foolish people.

Take nothing for granted, except that God is good.

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Graduation Day!

IMG_0329Today we celebrated Justin’s graduation from high school. I wish I had been better about chronicling this year, but most of the time I was living it instead of writing about it. Or maybe I just didn’t know what to say. So, here is the biggest thing I learned this year: Letting my son work out his own decisions means he’ll own those decisions more. We were always there to talk through aspects of different decisions that he might not have thought through thoroughly, but ultimately, he needed to make his own choices.

I wouldn’t have chosen for him to have a girlfriend—especially one 5 years older than he—during high school, but he thought otherwise, and so Steph came into our lives. Because I have a heart for 20-something girls, I embraced Steph as someone I could pour into spiritually. We have had long talks many times, text frequently and have lunch together every so often. I treat her like a daughter and love it when she seeks my advice. His choice; our support.

I wouldn’t have chosen for him to work split shifts at 2 different Chick-fil-A restaurants while still going to school, but he wanted the challenge (and the money) and so he did it for a couple of weeks. I was concerned about how little sleep he was going to get. He said he hadn’t crashed and burned yet. I said it was only a matter of time. He said, Nah. He did it and he survived. But I think he learned that he didn’t really want to do that again.
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I didn’t like the idea that he only had 2 classes on his campus, and a couple on the local community college campus through the dual enrollment program. That left him with a lot of time in the mornings most days, and I wondered if his motivation to attend those few classes would wane over the course of the year. He’s never had as many unexcused absences as he had this year, but still he graduated with better than a 4.0 and a ranking of 10th in his class of 600+. He kept telling me, “Don’t worry about it.” I guess I should have listened.

When he talked of moving out of the house when he turned 18—5 months shy of high-school graduation—I told him he was out of his ever-loving mind. Probably not the best approach. So I backed off and gave him some compelling reasons why he shouldn’t: he wouldn’t have access to the vehicle he’d been driving, and he would lose the college fund we have for him. When he questioned why I would say that, I told him that he was making a foolish financial decision, and I wouldn’t support that. He saw the reason behind that and dropped the idea. Now, all I can do is point out that he would have a hard time making it financially if he moved out and really needs to keep up with school so he can keep his scholarships, but ultimately, the decision to move out when he starts college is his. We’ll see how that one turns out

IMG_0311Some of the dearest words to me this year have been, “That’s a good point.” Yay! I’m glad he listens to us even though he’s independent and likes to beat his own head against the wall. He says he doesn’t like people telling him he isn’t able to do something. He wants to find out for himself. I want to keep him from failing, but I’ve learned failing is probably the only way he’s going to learn.

Just like a toddler saying, “I do it myself!”

And he most often succeeds when he tries.

Congratulations, Justin. I love you to the moon!

Character Counts

Tonight, our school, Trace Academy, will hold our graduation and awards ceremony. Unlike other schools, we don’t give individual awards for attendance, or service or scholarship. Those often are just compiled by the few. Instead, we give each child an award for character. Each teaching team spends a lot of time praying and pondering on each child and what we have seen in them this year. We want to encourage those things. We pick a character trait that we have seen in them such as honesty or good friend or resourcefulness and present them with that at the ceremony, along with a ribbon and a magnet with that word and a Bible verse that goes along with it.

Character counts. It’s who you are when no one is looking. It’s not the persona of an athlete or a scholar or a good citizen who picks up trash or feeds the homeless or collects money for the starving children in Africa. Those are all good things. But in the dark, where only God can see you, are you humble and gentle of heart? Do you pray for the salvation and needs of the world? Do you love others like Jesus loved? Are you honest and pure?

I will be up on the stage tonight, handing to my  10 second graders blue ribbons and magnet cards, but what I really hope to hand to them is encouragement to keep letting God build in them good character, which is only produced by perseverance.

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3-5).

Thankful today for:

333. summer break!

334. our Incredible Journey plans coming together

335. the opportunity to sleep in, even if it doesn’t happen

336. my friend Sheryl, celebrating her birthday today

337. tonight’s event

338. sweet gifts and cards from my students