Friday, May 31, 2013

Launch Day, 2013


(What follows is an approximate version of a speech given by me to our 8th grade graduates on May 30)

Launch Day, 2013

One of my favorite things to do in the mornings is to take my little boys and “go watch car line.” You may have seen us there, me with my coffee, them with their bug keepers and swords. What you may not know is this: They are keeping you safe. They are constantly on the lookout for bad guys, and especially coyotes.  This is why they bring their swords and guns, and why my son Marcus rarely leaves home without his slingshot.

I’ve been thinking about slingshots this week.  No, we have not had any broken windows yet.  Marcus has been very responsible with his toy so far, and it helps that he is still learning how to use it. I’ve been thinking about slingshot because I’ve been thinking about graduation- your graduation. I’ve been thinking about times of transition, times when everything ‘normal’ is about to change, and it’s a bit like being in the seat of a slingshot. 

My oldest daughter is just finishing fourth grade, so I have yet to experience this kind of launch day with one of my own children. But we have had mini-launches. First steps, first overnight, first day of kindergarten, first week of camp.  I remember when Seth first learned to ride his bike.  He asked me to help him out of the blue one day.  He hopped on, and I walked beside him. “Go, go, go!” Soon I was running “go go  go” and he was off!  And then, “wait, slow down!” I wanted to say, but suddenly  he was out of my reach. That feeling- the “go go go!” mixed with “wait for me I’m not ready!” is one I feel all the time when my children wizz by milestones. I imagine your parents, grandparents, and teachers can relate to these mixed feelings on this day. We are cheering you on, but we are trying to catch up. We are proud of you, but we are nervous for you, too.

You graduates may not have these same feelings, but I am sure your feelings today are mixed.  I messaged many of you on facebook last week( those I could find), and asked you for three words to describe your feelings about graduation.  Excited. Sad. Ready. Relieved. Nervous. Ambitious. Appreciative. Blessed. Will. Miss. Girls.  (that was Nick)

Sitting in the seat of a slingshot may sound like a pretty fun thing to you, or it may be terrifying. Maybe it’s a bit of both.   Just about everything that makes up your normal day right now is about to change. Your commute. The friends you see at lunch. Your weekly chapel service. Normal is changing, and you are in the seat of the sling shot. Scarier still, you are not 100% sure where you are going to land.

I remember when we moved here to White Creek. Our families are from Michigan, and on call night I was hoping for a call somewhere near home. “Columbus, Indiana,” they said, and the first thing I said was, “Where? That’s Northern Indiana, right?”  Turns out it was not. I had mixed feelings, and we left many things behind when we climbed into that launch seat. But God was faithful, and that made all the difference.  We landed in a place far from family, where God sent us our fifth child, and then our sixth. But He was faithful. We landed in a place that included sickness, seizures and a brain tumor, and we were forced to learn to be weak and loved. But God was faithful, and that made all the difference.

Graduates, you are now being released from White Creek. Wherever you land, it will be in a place where more is expected of you. You will learn more, you will become more responsible, more capable. You will become more independent. We celebrate this with you, and we cheer you on. And yet, we hesitate. We might not be completely ready for this.  It might take us some time to catch up.

Awhile ago I was looking through some old clothes and I found a dress that fit my oldest daughter when she was two. She saw it and cried, “Oh mama! I wish this could still fit me!”
“Well, you shoulda thought of that before you grew up, young lady,” I joked.
“Mama, I couldn’t help it! God made me grow!”  And it’s true, God made her grow, and God made you grow. You can’t help it, and we can’t help it either. So we (your parents grandparents and teachers- all of us who love you) take comfort in this- the God who made you grow bigger will take care of you in the next stage of your life.

You know this already, I’m sure. We hope the years you have spent at White Creek have taught you these things- surely, God is gracious and merciful. Surely he will care for you. Surely He forgives sins, helps sinners, and cares for his children.

So we celebrate this milestone with you, trusting that God will continue to care for you.  But, I have to ask this one thing of you.  Please, don’t grow up too much.  (It was Tuesday, when I was here for recess with my boys, that I saw you all playing duck duck goose. Perhaps this will not be a problem!)

As you learn responsibility, remember how to be a child- especially a child before God.  Remember that you are welcomed into His presence, a loving Father welcomes His children with open arms. Remember to drink the pure milk of His Word, to gather together with your church family.  Remember the needs of your soul, which you will never outgrow. Remember to be fed by Word and Sacrament as often as you possibly can.  Remember that no matter how big and capable you become, you are free, before God and because of His grace, to be weak and loved.

Graduates, as we release you into your next stage of life, we know that we release you into the hands of God, the trustworthy, loving hands of God. 

Surely goodness and mercy will follow you all of your days.

Congratulations, class of 2013.



1 comment:

  1. I'm wiping tears. Beautiful and inspirational. Wonderful advice for all of God's children. Every day.

    ReplyDelete

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