[Below are Susie's remarks at Lillie's graduation ceremony yesterday.]
I stood in this same spot almost two years ago when we had Lincoln's graduation, and I can say that even though I've done this before, it doesn't get any easier. In fact in many ways it gets harder. It was a miracle I didn't cry during my first graduation speech; I’m not sure I can do it again.
I know I have many of the same feelings that I had two years ago: excitement, hope, sadness, relief, joy, and disbelief that it's over. I feel a little like I do when I watch a really good movie. A movie that has a little bit of everything: funny parts, sad parts, and maybe even parts that make me so nervous that I have to cover my eyes. But when the movie is over I think, "It's over already? It seemed so short. It feels like it just started." That's how I feel now. It's over already? There are times when I want to stop time and say, "Wait! I’m not done. There are so many things I don’t feel like I’ve finished." But I know that no matter how much time we have it will never seem like quite enough. Not that our parenting is over just because we have a high school graduate -- in fact, I have some people tell me this is when it gets really hard -- but we have come to the end of homeschooling. We have turned a page. We have finished a chapter.
So, today there are many things I'm feeling, but like I did two years ago the one feeling that stands out more than any other is gratitude. Complete gratitude for so many things. I'm grateful that in His good providence the Lord allowed us to homeschool. I'm grateful for our friends and family who have supported us and I'm grateful for this church. And today, I'm especially grateful for Lillie, our high-school graduate.
Most everyone here knows Lillie pretty well, but I imagine there might be a few things you don't know. Lillie is a glass-half-full kind of girl. She is a happy-go-lucky, cheerful, spontaneous extrovert. She likes to go places and do things. And she was born to two parents who are quiet, introverted, and glass-half-empty kind of people. Needless to say, Lillie brings joy and laughter and a little feistiness to our home. God knew exactly what we needed to loosen us up just a bit.
Lillie is also a loyal friend and sister, and she looks for the best in people. When Lillie was about three years old she asked me, "When is Be-guy-wuff [Goliath] going to get nice?" I wasn't sure what she was asking, but finally figured out that she wanted to know when Goliath was going to quit being mean and be on God's team. When I tried to explain to her that it wasn't ever going to happen, her little three-year old brain and heart wouldn't hear it. She picked up her pretend phone, babbled something into the receiver, then hung up and said, “That was Beguywuff. He said he would be nice." She is still just like that -- optimistic, hopeful, and looking for the best in people and situations.
Our feisty little girl has grown up into a beautiful, soft-hearted woman and we recognize that it’s only by God’s grace that we are here where we are today. I thank God that He has called Lillie to himself and for his protection over her mind and heart. I thank God for all the time we have had with her and the blessing she has been these many years. I thank Him that she knows that all things, both good and bad, come not by chance but by His fatherly hand. I thank Him that when hard things have come her way they haven't made her hard or bitter. And today I pray that the Lord would continue to draw her to Himself and continue to conform her to the image of Christ.
When Lillie was little Brandon used to play the Stevie Wonder song "Isn't She Lovely" while he held her and rocked her. The words to part of the song are: "I can’t believe what God has done; through us He’s given life to one." I echo those words today and marvel at God’s goodness to us. As the song says, "we have been heaven-blessed."