boyradd

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Archive for the tag “graduation”

Another Graduate in the Family

Today I was at my daughter’s high school graduation. If you recall, last year at this time I was at my one son’s graduation. His was a little different. Jake isn’t my biological son. Kenzi is my biological daughter. I was with my daughter, and she was with me, from the beginning of her life.

I’ve been reading a lot of the book of Ecclesiastes lately. This is the 3rd time I have read it this year and each time I question why it belongs in the Bible.

And then days like today happen.

Then your daughter graduates high school.

And your mom, who every time I would see her and she would talk about how excited she is to see Kenzi graduate high school, isn’t there because God called her home too soon.

And I start to see the importance of a book like Ecclesiastes.

Ecclesiastes 3:2 – a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot.

I was in the delivery room when Kenzi was born. I was there when her mom needed an emergency C-section. I was there when the doctors said “we will do everything we can” as they worked on her and her mom.

I was also there when my mom died a little over a year ago. I was there when she told me that she probably wouldn’t be able to keep her promise of seeing Kenzi graduate. I was there when the tears came down her face as that became a reality to her and I.

But I was also there as my mom would pour into my daughter. I was able to see her learn how to love through interactions with the elders in her life. I was there to help plant the seeds of love and watch them sprout into the young woman she is today.

I was there, watching her leave, as she traveled out of the country for her first time without me. I was also there, watching her go, as she learned to split time between my home and her mom’s after we divorced. And I will be there as she digs up her roots and replants herself in a college away from home.

Ecclesiastes 3:3 – a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build up.

She was there as my relationship with her mom died. She was there when many of those seeds of love that were planted in her died from the blazing anger in her parent’s words toward each other.

And Kenzi and I were together as we tried to pick up the pieces from my failed marriage to her mom. I was there, working to build bridges between both my biological children and myself. We worked hard to build up that which God had started long ago and that her mom and I tried to unwittingly destroy.

And I will be there as our relationship morphs from my high school daughter and daddy to a beautiful young woman and her dad.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 – a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.

Kenzi and I both have seen many tears. I still remember the first day I upset her. She didn’t get very angry, she just cried. And the first time I was hurt by a decision she made, I spent time in tears.

But then we have also had a lot of laughs. Going to the movies and making fun of the characters or the script or the overall movie (can anyone say Sharknado?) is a tradition for us. She and I both have a very similar sense of humor, so we know what makes each other laugh.

I have seen Kenzi mourn, and we have mourned together. Mum’s death hit us both very hard, for example.

But then there are those times to dance. My wife will find this funny, but I remember getting her ready for her first school dance in middle school. I was trying to teach her how to dance and she was standing on my feet as I led. It is funnier than you might think because I truly cannot dance.

Ecclesiastes 3:5 – there is a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.

I have seen Kenzi grow into an amazing young adult. There have been “stones” in her life that she needed to remove in order to grow as a person. In this case, I have seen her know who and what to have in her life so that she can order her life in the way she needs it to be.

But on the opposite side, I have seen her add edifying “stones” to her life in order to build up the plan she has put in place. She is building a strong foundation of worldly success. I look forward to seeing her grow spiritually and build upon the worldly success she will have.

As for embracing, anyone who knows me knows that I will never hold back an “I love you” or a hug of those I love. For me, the time to embrace is always. Kenzi knows that there is a time for it. I have seen her initiate a hug or an “I love you” at times. But I have also seen her withhold it when it was necessary.

Ecclesiastes 3:6 – there is a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away.

Kenzi knows how to seek out that which she wants in this life. She will go after something tenaciously and will let absolutely nothing stand in her way. As her dad, sometimes I wish she would think about the consequences more and “give up” some of her ideas, but she is still in her time of searching.

As she grows, there are a lot of people and things in her life that she will throw away, and she needs to. I hope her love of family will keep strong. Family, even families that are broken or disjointed, are integral to success as one grows. I pray she will always need her family.

Ecclesiastes 3:7 – there is a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak.

Relationships, as we grow, become ever more important. It is vitally important to mend relationships of those who love you. If there is something else I can pray for my daughter about it is that I pray that God will place people in her life that will challenge her to grow. Those relationships are never easy, some are already there and some are yet to come. But humans don’t always like to be challenged and it is easy to tear those people out of our lives like they are toxic. But if we cultivate and mend those relationships we will find that we grow spiritually and emotionally. It is the toxic people we need to tear out of our lives.

The writer of Ecclesiastes goes on to tell us that there is a time to be silent and a time to speak. Kenzi has always been one to speak her mind. She typically doesn’t hold back. As she matures, she will hopefully find those times that she will learn when to be silent. I love that she speaks her mind, and that is a needed quality, but it must be tempered with timing as she matures and grows into the young adult God would have her be.

Ecclesiastes 3:8 – there is a time for love and a time for hate, a time for war and time for peace.

There is a time for love.

I have loved my daughter since the day I saw her born. The time to love someone is when they are your family. God loves His family. I love my family. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for them. And I pray that she feels the same about her family.

But there is also a time for hate. And that time is when your family gets hurt. Anything that breaks a family apart should be hated. Not the people but the systems and principalities that lead to brokenness. Fight the brokenness. Fight injustice. Hate that which destroys families and love.

That is our war. This is our time.

And in return, we a left with peace.

I pray for peace to fill my relationship with Kenzi. I desire everyone who I love to find peace with each other.

So now Kenzi is stepping out on her own. She has a full time job this summer that required her to move out of the house (even though she is only a few miles away) and she is going away to college (although she is still going to be in the same state).

It is time for her to grow. To allow God’s Word to be a lamp to her feet and a light to her path.

Psalm 119:105 – Your Word is lamp to feet and a light to my path.

The front porch light is always on for you Kenzi. Your family is here for you should you need us.

And we love you and pray for peace to fill you.

Amen.

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Graduation

Yesterday, our oldest son graduated high school.

This is a scary time for anyone who is graduating school because they have a lot of decisions they need to make.

Do I go to college or in the military or do I just keep working?

Do I want to move away or stay near home?

Will I want to maintain my old friends and life or start completely new?

For me, graduation was almost 30 years ago. By the time I graduated, I had a plan in place for where I wanted to go to college and even how I wanted my life to go. I knew I didn’t want to go into the military and that I did want to go to college. I knew that I wanted to stay close enough to home for the support from my parents but far enough away that I could start my life over.

Our oldest son is nothing like me when I was graduating. Jake is a little aimless. He is perfectly content washing dishes at the local café and coming home to play games on the computer while taking a class here and a class there.

For someone like myself, I find this frustrating.

But it is Jake. He is a really good young man. He’s just aimless.

I keep suggesting to his mom that he join the military. They have great programs that will help the aimless take aim. I don’t think she is as excited about that option as I am.

As I think about him joining the military, I remember how I felt when I was faced with that option. I hated the thought of it.

I was a pacifist. You would never find me holding a gun at anyone, much less joining an organization that focuses on just that. But now I actually wish I would have taken that route. If I knew then what I know now, I would have gone into the service for a few years and taken the training they provide and be more prepared for everything I have endured thus far in life.

You see, Jake is actually a lot more like me at that age than I want to admit. I was somewhat aimless. I knew I was going to college, but so does he. He actually wants to go to Northwestern so that he can get back to Minnesota, the place he left his heart. He just doesn’t know how to make it happen.

How many young men and women graduating high school see the amount of opportunities ahead of them and get overwhelmed? I bet it is a lot more than we realize.

So what is a parent to do when their kid is about to graduate?

I haven’t a fat clue.

You thought I was going to give a list of items that parents should and should not do. You thought I would espouse some sort of wisdom that would help you along the way.

I’m clueless.

Much like Jake, right now I am aimless.

I know the destination I would like to get him, I just don’t know how to help get him there.

Mimi and I are feeling this out as we go along.

I’ve read a lot of posts lately about how to help a child who is graduating to find their dreams but for almost all of those pieces I read, they were a vision given by God to a specific person for a specific time. If I were to put some of the advice I read into action with Jake, I think it would do more harm than good.

So where do Mimi and I (and Jake) go from here?

The Psalms.

Psalm 91:4 – He will cover you with His wings; you will be safe in His care; his faithfulness will protect and defend you.

Psalm 68:19 – Praise the Lord, who carries our burdens day after day; He is the God who saves us.

Psalm 138:3 – You answered me when I call to You; with Your strength you strengthened me.

Psalm 46:1 – God is our shelter and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

A lot of times parents want to help their kids to prevent trouble. I will be the first to tell you, parents, that is impossible. “Kid” in the original Greek is translated “Him who seeks trouble.” Ok, I am joking. But seriously, it should be.

Our job isn’t to teach our children how to avoid trouble. It is to teach them where to go when trouble comes knocking.

Our job isn’t to preserve children in our homes so that they grow weak in understanding and wisdom, it is to let them soar into the world, knowing where they receive their strength.

Our job isn’t to shelter our children, it is to show them that they have a much larger and more protective shelter in the Lord.

So where do Mimi and I go from here with Jake?

We hope the lessons we have taught him will stay in his mind and we will continue to educate him on the strength and grace of our Lord until the day comes when he is pushed out of the nest.

Congratulations, Jake. You earned you right to adult. You have shown society, and us, that you know about responsibility and how to seek out the opportunities. Jake, your mom and I will always be available to you to help you along your way, but we won’t be doing it for you. Because of that, I expect, and long for, some amazing things to come from you. Whether those amazing things include changing the world or simply living out your life in a mundane job somewhere, it is all amazing. It is amazing because God provided us the opportunity to see you grow and He provided you with the opportunity to live. He makes no mistakes. He loves you more than Mimi and I ever could.

Just learn what it means to lean on His understanding more and more and there is no end to what amazing things you will do in this life.

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