Five minute Friday – worship

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IMG_4986Before having my three sons, I don’t really remember meeting any boy who had an active, living, breathing faith.

I knew guys who went to church and performed a variety of religious sacraments

But it all seemed shallow

And I could relate

Because my spiritual practices were very superficial as well

Today, it’s my ministry-minded middle’s 19th birthday

And ladies, let me say he is a cutie (he also has a serious gfgf so he’s taken!)

wh1My superbaby is a reader of unusual books, uses quotes from great Puritan leaders with wild abandon

And he prays fervently, thinks passionately and feels the strong call to be in ministry – I am in awe

What brings me to tears though is his heart for worship

Aaron is a man of imperfection just like the rest of us

But the purity of his surrender and dependence on Jesus

Sometimes I look at him with fascination

He has a faith that is unashamed

His devotion to living a holy and righteous life

Are evidence of his worship to the King

And that’s not something you typically see in a 19-year-old.

They often worship other things far less honorable…

So what does the word "last" make you think about? Join this writing community and share! You'll feel better, trust me!

So what does the word “worship” make you think about? Join this writing community and share!

Today I rejoice that the Lord has blessed me with this child who has a true heart of worship and a love for Christ.

Today I ate two donuts, don’t judge – a daughter-in-law’s journey

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Take that Alzheimer's!

Take that Alzheimer’s!

Before 9 am,

I had an argument with my husband

I had an argument with my freckle-face, orange haired olive shoot

Contacted the 24 hour help/crisis line at the Alzheimer’s Association, again

I stressed about an impending, almost certain family conflict regarding care management of our loved one with a brain disease

I learned my ministry-minded middle’s bike had been stolen in Chicago

And I had not one but TWO donuts

A Boston creme and a marble chocolate/vanilla swirl one

You got a problem with that?

I didn’t think so.

Then I called my mom who listened without judgment

And I texted a friend who met me for lunch

And biked nearly 12 miles

While sweating

And talking to Jesus

Because I’m talented like that

Today's truism. This is the note attached to the container of cookies. I'm only showing the note NOT the cookies!

Today’s truism. This is the note attached to the container of cookies. I’m only showing the note NOT the cookies!

My friend greeted me with warm hugs, a pretty smile

And a container full of fresh, home- made cookies

Which are stowed away in the freezer

In an undisclosed location

I felt slightly normal

Then I cleaned up around the house

Began marinating the ginger/lime chicken

Patched things up between Ike and me

And the Hubs and me

Continued reading Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s too.

Tonight I just want to feel the Hub’s arms around me

And enjoy the refreshing circulation of our new air conditioner

Maybe go for another bike ride

I’d also like to laugh

And kind of marvel at the way the Lord got us through another day

And probably eat a cookie too

Shhhhh…

Love and letters, part one

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photo copy 5The response to writing my Soldier has been incredible.

Most of us do not understand how wonderful it is for a military person to hear from loved ones and friends.

The longer I am a mama of a Soldier, the more it sinks in.

For my son, he has loved every single message.

Here’s why. Imagine marching 800m through the swamps, then doing a 9k patrol base at night followed by a 17k back. Your letters matter to these weary men.

Picture getting 30 seconds to inhale an MRE (meals ready to eat) somewhere in the mountains but then getting a funny card from a friend delivered to you sometime during training. It can kind of make you feel like a person for a second. If there’s a stick of gum inside, even better!

So today I want to highlight some of the incredible letters and cards Nate has been receiving, I’m amazed at everyone’s thoughtfulness. We’re not done yet, so please keep writing, I feel blessed because of you.

Dog owners – Can you believe that Nate is getting a letter from a couple who adopted our emotionally disturbed greyhound, Toughie? Years ago, we were the owners of a retired racing greyhound. Poor Toughie was an emotional basket case and we had to find him another home. Before going over the Rainbow Bridge, Toughie found some infinitely patient souls to care for him. Now they are sending Nate a letter! Oh how he will chuckle seeing the name Toughie again!

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Oh dear nephew, your cousin will cherish this picture forever! He will love all the detail and action! I love you and so does Nate! RLTW!

Cousins – This picture is from Nate’s seven-year old cousin, Jon. The more I look at this picture, the more I love it. Tanks, swamps, fish, words of encouragement, this drawing also has plenty of action and Nate is smiling through the whole thing. I’m not so sure about that in real life but I do know this. Nate will grin ear to ear because of this letter. According to Jon, Nate is the #1 23-year-old and I have to agree!

Katie and the kids she's working with this summer.

Katie and the kids she’s working with this summer.

Classmates and cool kids – One of Nate’s high school classmates is working with K-5th kids this summer.

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Daniel, this is a beautifully written letter. You are a really nice guy!

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974857_10201224092465611_1526572933_n Stacey, this letter is a work of art. Nate will love it!

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Thank you Alajah for thinking of my Soldier.

Since Nate is a strong example of perseverance, obedience, courage and integrity, determination, Katie had an idea.

Last week she talked to her kids about unconditional love. Then the kids sent him some snail mail. Just look at the adorable sentiments expressed by these precious children!

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So bright and colorful! Much prettier than looking at the swamps! Thanks y’all!

Thanks to Katie and her efforts, Nate will receive 30 Scripture filled letters from these boys and girls. This will mean the world to him!

Brothers – Equally delightful are the cards my orange hair, freckle face OS sends his brother.

photo copy 4

It takes a unique mind to come up with this character. What a creative little brother!

Spermy the Whale is the featured character Ike created during his middle school years.

Spermy now makes regular appearances on correspondence with Nate.

In particular, Nate has specifically mentioned how much he enjoys getting these bizarre greetings.

Ike really makes some interesting cards...

Ike really makes some interesting cards…I know he enjoys sending them to his bro.

It would seem that Spermy the Whale is transforming from a gangsta with grillz and a gold chain to entering the business world sporting a briefcase and a professional tie. The grillz are now a thing of the past. Um, ok!

My joy multiples as a mom. On behalf of all the families we represent who have a son, fiance, husband, boyfriend or brother in Ranger School, know it is a highlight for us to know others care.

From Korea to California, Texas to Michigan, El Salvador to New York and all points in between, thank you, bless you. We should never undervalue the significance of sending support to our military servicemen and women.

Questions: If you have a special person in the military, how have letters and cards helped your loved one?  What are creative ways you offer support to others! Let’s share ideas!

You’ve got mail – what Bobby Bowden taught my son, the Soldier

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2013-06-09 12.33.01

On June 11, 1997, my oldest OS got the best surprise in the world.

A personalized letter from his hero, Coach Bobby Bowden!

Without telling anyone beforehand, my sister contacted the coach and told him Nate was a huge FSU fan. In the midst of many other tasks, somehow Coach Bowden found the time to write my boy!

Coach Bowden must be a very thoughtful man. He didn’t know that as a baby, Nate had been indoctrinated to supporting FSU through his aunt and his loyalty has never changed. He faithfully watched all the games in full FSU fan regalia and now, as time permits, he still tracks the team and cheers them onto victory.

Not only did Nate learn the chopping tomahawk motion, he taught it to his little brothers. When Aunt Neese would come over, they’d sport football eye patches and make it a big deal. I don’t understand football one lick so she took charge of this important responsibility. They have a forever connection because of football, I love that.

2013-06-09 12.40.40We didn’t know 16 years later, one of Florida State’s biggest fans would be at Ranger School. I was paging through a family scrapbook and stumbled upon it. When I saw the date, I knew I had to write a post.

Letters are important. Have you ever heard from a famous person? That can be so cool!

But when you get a special message from a loved one, wow, that is even better!2013-06-10 20.36.10

Here’s what I’m learning as a military parent.

  • A letter to an average Soldier doing the daily grind is not taken for granted.
  • A letter to a cadet candidate trying to get through Beast in order to become a lowly plebe is a way to help him/her feel like a real person with a first name.
  • A letter to an exhausted, starving and weary Ranger School student can provide the emotional fuel to push through to get that much esteemed Ranger patch.

Coach Bowden won’t ever realize how that letter to a seven-year-old still makes that now 23-year-old guy smile.

The same pertains to regular, everyday folks – don’t underestimate what a real letter FROM YOU can mean to a person.

Nate is in the swamps phase of Ranger School, letters lift him out of the muck and goo, he’s got about two more weeks to go, Lord willing he will have that treasured Ranger tab.

Thank you Coach Bowden for setting the bar high! Thank you Aunt Neese for the sweetest memory! And thank you to each of you who have written my boy during his military career. If you want Nate’s current address, leave me a message and I’ll be happy to provide it.

2013-06-09 12.20.20

Pray-for-Our-Troops

Military mom and artist – check her patriotic series out here!

Welcome guests with a great salad – get your crunch on!

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IMG_20110120_185631“What I love most is an abundance of simple food of perfect quality and staggering freshness, very simply and respectfully treated, tasting strongly of itself.” Sybille Bedford, in The Artist’s & Writer’s Cook Book, 1961*

Isn’t that an awesome quote?

On Fridays a box of locally grown, in-season produce arrives at my doorstep from The Produce Box. Fresh fruits and vegetables bursting with color and flavor are a highlight to my week.

In our family, salad is a verb. With the exception of my ministry-minded middle who is loath to leafy greens, the rest of the gang enjoys a fresh green salad. Click here for Nate’s favorite salad!

My first experience with homemade dressing was while living in Normandy, France. My French family created their own salad dressing using Dijon mustard and vinegar and it was sublime. Prior to that I thought the only way to have a salad dressing was to buy it! Boy, was I wrong!

I guess you could say I had “un grand moment avec une salade” or “a big moment with a salad” in France.

Really, it’s so simple to make your own salad dressing. Here are a few reasons why it’s worth the small effort involved.

IMG_3010_10241. The taste is far superior to that of a bottled salad dressing. It never ceases to amaze me how many salad dressings there are in the grocery aisle but you could do the same thing at home, quite honestly!

2. Instead of some gi-normous food manufacturer determining your ingredients, you can please your own palate and your family’s.

3. You can substitute, reduce or omit ingredients based on what’s available in your cupboards.

4. Time saving The few upfront minutes I (or one of my olive shoots) invest in making extra dressing beforehand, allows us to conveniently have a fresh salad in minutes. When I make extra, I  just use a clean glass jar to store it in the fridge. When making the dressing for others, I repurpose a jar that used to contain jelly or jam.

I prefer to buy only triple-washed spring mix or romaine lettuce. That’s because despite my valiant efforts to adequately wash the leaves, I’m often left with a gritty bunch of dirt in the greens and ain’t nobody got time for that.

The recipe I’m including below is a favorite.

Add blackberries plus yellow and red peppers to give the salad a summer flair. For a different salad, throw some pears and walnuts for a delightful and slightly fancy twist. Often in the Christmas season, I toss handfuls of pomegranate seeds to make it festive and add a fun crunch. My buddy and writer pal Meredith stopped by one night and got to try pomegranate seeds which totally rocked her world! #truestory

If I have some homemade kale, spinach or beet powder handy, I’ll sprinkle a little on the salad for additional flavor, color and nutrition. Yes, I take salads seriously.

Here’s the recipe, hope you enjoy!

4 teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon honey**

1/2 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Mix it all together and shablam, you’re ready to dress up your salad.

Questions – When you say salad, what is your family’s reaction? Does your family even eat salad? How do you make it appealing?

"My mom makes me eat salad and that's why I have big muscles. She's the best."

“My mom makes me eat salad and that’s why I have big muscles. She’s the best.” Aaron’s buddy Caleb looks by in awe.

*Quote from Simple Food for the Good Life by Helen Nearing

** Raw, unfiltered honey is the best. If you can, get your honey from a local beekeeper. Clover and wildflower honey have the mildest flavor.

Five minute Friday – fall

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I want things to be nice but never perfect.

I want things to be nice but never perfect.

When I have company over, there is temptation.

If I want things to be perfect, I fall into pride.

If the night didn’t gel as I had hoped, like, let’s say, the Hubs got on my nerves the entire evening (true story) I fall into despair.

It’s when I give the occasion to the Lord that I see the greatest rewards.

When the birthday party, dinner company, gathering of friends is marinated in prayer, that’s when everyone has the sweetest fellowship.

IMG_20110120_185631I once had a family member come over for dinner with his family.

They do not know Jesus and before they arrived, I prayed for us to have a special night together.

Strangely enough, as I asked the Lord what to serve this family, I sensed God said “barbecue chicken.”

I realize this might sound like a really stupid prayer and even more so, a really weird answer. You talk to God about food? He talks to you about barbecue chicken? Come on.

My answer is I talk to God about everything and occasionally chicken is part of our conversation. Jesus is my friend and he is intimately involved in my life, so yes poultry is even an open topic for us. Don’t you talk to your best friend about everything?

So this isn’t a usual main dish for me to cook but I listened to His voice and guess what? Barbecue chicken was this person’s favorite meal! I had no idea!

5minutefridayTime and time again, these things have happened to me where God confirms that He was with me the entire time. Falling into his arms, relinquishing the moments into His will keeps me focused on the right thing, serving Jesus by serving others.

Five Minute Friday is a gathering of super cool people who all write for five minutes about one word. If you’re up for the challenge, join us!

Entertaining thoughts about entertaining – getting kids ready for guests

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Lemonhead party!

Lemonhead party!

If we know you are coming over to our house, there are things we do before you arrive. As the mama of three sons, one of whom is currently in Ranger School, I have learned that in military terms, presumably we could call it a “movement.”

We straighten up – usually a vacuum is pushed throughout the area you will visit. There is often dusting beforehand and the bathroom is cleaned. The bathroom deserves its own post though, more on that later.

There they are wearing those collared shirts. We had a guest from El Salvador visiting us among other special people.

There they are wearing those collared shirts. We had a guest from El Salvador visiting us among other special people.

They put on a nice shirt– although my boys moaned and groaned about this, we found that the mere act of putting on a collared shirt indicated they were part of the team. In our family we call it W-H style since those are the initials to our last name. Changing out of regular clothes means something special is going to happen. The collared shirt (usually a polo shirt, rarely long-sleeved)  signifies that our family, every single one of us, not just Dad and Mom, is having company. Even if only one person is invited, the level of alert is heightened.

We rehearse – Just as we had practice training sessions about manners, throughout the years, our family still goes over a list of duties before people show up.

“Ike, you’re in charge of water and drinks. Make sure no one’s glass remains empty.”

“Aaron, don’t talk too much, let others also speak and try to sit still.”

“Nate, when we’re done with dinner, gather up the plates.”

All the guys had a purpose.

So maybe you’re wondering –

Did it always work perfectly? Of course not! We never expected things to be flawless but there was a standard.

Always the life of the party, that's my Aaron!

This guy needs more than a collared shirt! My Aaron!

Did your kids feel like robots devoid of any personality? You haven’t been to our house if you’re asking that question! No, they actually had more freedom because of the rules. We made it fun and not overly formal.

Collared shirts every single time? Not every single time but often. Freshly showered, collared young men are so adorable. Sometimes they would dab a bit of cologne on before bounding down the stairs. The hint of manly fragrance on their middle school necks always made my heart grin and grow wistful. I wish those days back again quite honestly. When the doorbell rang, we were ready for our guests’ arrival. We appreciated them coming into our home.

And I must share this.

Our guests appreciate these touches although most might not even realize what happened behind the scenes. They are just blessed and isn’t that the whole point to entertaining, blessing someone? The minimal preparation we employed allows our guests to be at ease. In some way it announces this family is ready and we have things (slightly) under control.

Last summer, my oldest OS rented a house near Fort Benning and he and his buddies hosted a gathering. Nate called me for advice on menu selection and such. He even wanted to make sure he served a salad (this melted my heart). My boy wanted people to feel welcome in his home. I’m sure my Soldier was a gracious host and maybe he even wore a collared shirt!

And we recently had a 51st birthday party for the Hubs. It was a Lemonhead theme because it’s his favorite candy. The orange hair, freckle face OS  was an integral part of the planning and a huge help before, during and after the event.

But true to form before the guests arrived, Ike asked the standard question. “Do I have to wear a collared shirt?” As this picture indicates, Ike got his answer.

Those are two very lemony collared shirts, don't you think?

Those are two very lemony collared shirts, don’t you think?

Out of all my boys, Ike is very gifted with hos- pitality. His servant’s heart has parlayed into him having a little part-time job at a nearby event venue. He’s the guy walking around with hors d’oeuvres and refilling non-alcoholic drinks. So I guess being a good host, getting kids ready for company has paid off both here and away from home. The more we do it, the better we become as both guests and faithful stewards of our home.

So what are the little things you do before you have dinner guests? Do you even dare try? It is scary! How have you prepared your kids to co-host special times at your house?

Prepare your young ones for dinner guests, it’s worth it!

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This dining room has housed many memories indeed!

This dining room has housed many memories.

When our olive shoots were small, we had little training sessions about manners.

We stressed several important things with our guys to prepare them for “company.” Now that they are 23, 18 and 16 respectively, I see the fruit of our labors. They really know how to be gracious hosts.

Here are the things we worked on:

1. Firm handshakes

2. Eye contact

3. Addressing adults by their last names.

Yes, this kid does have manners...

Yes, this kid does have manners…

To make the teaching time fun, (and I realize that the word “fun” might be a stretch), either one of my olive shoots or I would go into the hall closet. It was filled with coats and whatnot and after a second, I’d knock on the door or pretend to ring the doorbell. When the guys would “answer” the door, I would extend my hand and give them a hearty “Hello!”

From there, we practiced those aforementioned skills – often I’d invent a wildly funny last name with ample alliteration. One of my favorite last names was Mrs. Schpuhboodydootin. Oh the giggles we shared while learning the importance of addressing adults with respect. Occasionally I’d even hyphenate her name to keep things interesting.

This boy needed some teaching but that's ok!

This boy needed some teaching but that’s ok!

Let me tell you something. There isn’t anything cuter than being greeted by a little ginger boy with a strong handshake. Follow that up with a big brother who addresses you with  confidence and a middle guy asking to take your coat and welcome you into the home and shablam, there was a sweet mood in the air before the dinner even got started.

All this cost me was time and these guys were worth the investment.

I can’t tell you how many people have told me how conversational my boys were even during the awkward growing years. Those light-hearted training sessions were useful!

Controversial as it may seem, I do find the whole last-name thing ironic. We applaud our little children as they develop an ample vocabulary but we dumb them down when it comes to using an adult’s last name. People even put their kids in language classes to help them become bi-lingual but wow, ask them to use an adult’s last name and the parents instantly think it’s impossible!

That same dining room many years ago. Ike still sits in the same chair.

That same dining room many years ago. Ike still sits in the same chair.

Yes there are cultural preferences but people have told me that calling me Mrs. Cindy is a Northern thing, then others inform me that calling me Mrs. Cindy is a Southern phenomenon. I really don’t care, the standard in our home was to use an adult’s last name out of respect. We wanted to keep the bar high because it shows the preciousness of others.

As we taught our guys the fine art of cordiality, I always wanted to lift the standard. I can’t tell you how many people would say my last name was too difficult for their kids to pronounce. Really? My boys found a sense of comfort in acknowledging that they were in the midst of their elders.

This guy is now an officer in the Army!

This guy is now an officer in the Army!

Of course we had no idea one day our oldest OS would be a West Point graduate and an officer in the Army.

I know Nate appreciates the significance of rank and decorum. Maybe he learned some of that in our home training ground. Now it makes me smile when I hear people refer to him with respect and honor. A part of my heart leaps when people salute him, how can that be? He’s just a sugar boy after all.

Sugar boy/Soldier

Sugar boy/Soldier

I’d love to hear what you think about my suggestions. I realize I might have opened up a can of controversy with the whole last name thing but I want to put it out there. What are you doing to train your kids to be ready for guests?

Don’t be a party pooper!

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P1080266“I want to have a surprise 16th birthday party for my son.” This was the beginning of a phone conversation I had with a mom back in the spring of 1996.

Since I’m always up for a celebration and it was a party for one of Nate’s friends, I already liked the idea.

P1110409But then she surprised me.

“And I’d like to have it at your house…”

Say what???

We didn’t know each other that well and I didn’t quite understand.

Had she seen my house?

Did she call the right person?

She insisted she knew exactly whom she was calling and was familiar with my home’s accommodations. My brain ran through the list of other more luxurious houses I would have picked before mine but she was resolute with her request.

A few weeks later, we hosted a surprise Mexican-themed 16th birthday for her son. Mutual friends and their parents attended. The food was great and everybody had a fun time. My friend made the right decision in having the party at my house after all!

Though the party was for someone else, I was also given a gift.

It was the gift of saying yes. I ignored all my home’s imperfections and opened my home up for opportunity and blessings. Strangely enough I didn’t cook a thing and barely lifted a finger for the party. Just saying yes was all that was needed from me.

Not a picture of the party I wrote about but an example of my olive shoots and their buds hanging out. So cute seeing their little faces back in the day!

Not a picture of the party I wrote about but an example of my olive shoots and their buds hanging out. So cute seeing their little faces back in the day!

In the next upcoming posts, I want to write about the importance of cordiality in our menfolk and why hospitality not perfection is necessary in our homes especially if you have children. My boys are wonderful hosts in our home but that wasn’t something that came naturally, we work on it.

I want to offer some easy ideas and examples of things I do to put people at ease in my home, you know, the little touches that seem to bless folks sometimes before they even walk through the door.

I’d love to hear your suggestions, ideas and questions too. Many of you understand the fine art of gathering others together so the proverbial green welcome mat is out just for your comments.

When I opened up my home, the blessings flowed. Entertaining can be stressful but the art of hospitality isn’t something just for moms and females. Guys need to learn it too.

Questions: How easy is it for you to say yes to opening up your home? Do you think you’re good at it? Why? Why not?

What that (formerly) awkward Asian guy said at high school graduation, part one

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Due to illness, I didn’t attend the high school graduation at my children’s school this year.

However, when the Hubs and Ike came home from the ceremony, they both told me about the commencement messages.

One particular speech stood out and as soon as I got the gist of the message, that night, despite strep throat, I contacted the young man who had so boldly and honestly addressed his classmates.

“Would you allow me the honor of sharing your message on my blog?” I asked. What had I to lose?

attachmentTo my delight, Ben said yes!

His message speaks to anyone who understands the impact of encouragement. If you have ever been the awkward one, the misfit, the uncool person in a group, you just have to read this. If you’re on the other side of the spectrum, imagine how your words and actions can minister to another?

Had I been in the audience that day, I would have burst into tears because the message resonates deep within me. I think it will speak to your heart as well.

Here is part one of Benjamin Hoover’s valedictorian speech. I’m privileged to feature it on my blog. Thank you Ben, bless you.

I never, not for one second, thought I could be standing here as valedictorian of the incredibly talented, incredibly awesome, CCS class of 2013.

Middle school Ben, hands in pocket, rockin' those plaid pants on Tacky Day.

Middle school Ben, hands in pocket, rockin’ those plaid pants on Tacky Day.

In order to understand this, you have to understand who I was in sixth grade.

In sixth grade, seniors, do you remember the Asian sitting in the corner, with his pants hiked up to my belly button, buttons buttoned all the way to the top, glasses, baby face, the buzz cut, with maybe a little too much fat around the belly?

I was the kid who wouldn’t talk to you unless;

one, you needed help with a math problem;

or two, you shared my passion for Pokémon.

Playing the piano with Mom

Playing the piano with Mom

Of course, time goes on, and soon I joined the football team, thanks primarily to the persuasion of one guy.

I grew my hair out for the first time in nine years.

I lost the glasses in lieu of contacts.

I slimmed down and lost the bit of belly fat around the midriff. I started sagging.*

But I was still super shy, not confident at all in who I was, and absolutely mortified of speaking in public.

I was going through a time that most associate with teenage drama, and I associate with insecurity.

And then here I am today, standing in my graduation cap and gown, this shiny gold medal, and this really annoying tassel. I want to say, that without all of your encouragement, I could not be standing here today.

All of you have made me who I am.

All of you have shaped me and helped me grow.

Seniors, I don’t think any of you realize how much of an influence you have had on my life, and I thank you.

Teachers, I cannot thank you enough for your undying dedication to the growth and enrichment of us students and for setting yourselves as godly role models for us to follow, you have made me who I am.

I thank you.

Xperia X2 ImagesAnd of course I can’t go without thanking my family, my parents and my sisters, who have had the most influence over me for the past 17 almost 18 years, I thank you so very much for making me who I am today. I thank you all, so very much, for your encouragement. None of it has gone unnoticed.

You know, it never had to a large or flamboyant gesture. It could be as simple as giving me a pat on the back and saying, “Good luck,” as I came up here to give my speech.

It could be as simple as giving me a smile in the hallways when you could just as easily have walked on with your busy life.

It could be as simple as shaking me by the hand, making eye contact with me, and saying, “Well done.”

Or maybe, it could be as simple as bringing me a dustpan when you saw me sweeping the classroom after lunch all by myself.

I am who I am today because of you and your encouragement.

(I’m going to pause Ben’s message here and take it back up in the next post.)

So what do you think about his speech thus far? Can you remember those woeful adolescent transitions?

*sagging, in the context of Ben’s speech, means he wore his pants a little lower than previously 😉