Friday, June 1, 2012

For Ryan

My Childhood Best Friend, Melis & I
Graduation Day June 9, 2002
10 years ago on a sunny day in June, I stood before my family & friends and proudly accepted my High School Diploma.  I have lived a lot of life in those 10 years, and for the last 6 I have had the pleasure honor of being your Aunt.  Tonight, we will gather together to celebrate your accomplishments and usher you into life as an official all-grown-up-ready-take-on-the-world adult as you accept your own hard-earned Diploma.  I have thought a lot about this day all year, and although I am one of the newest additions to your amazing family, I know it will be an emotional roller coaster for us all. 

There seems like so much to say, and I know that this Summer leading up to College is going to be a blur, so I thought I would get it all out here.  A few months ago, I wrote here about living life as a Champion, and let me assure you that this day qualifies.  We are so proud of you and will be here cheering you on through every new accomplishment and trial.  I don't sit here today claiming to know everything, but I have learned a few lessons in my life and I think they are worth sharing.

#1.  Life doesn't turn on you overnight.  The slippery slope of life very rarely gives way all at once.  It starts with one small compromise at a time. Just as a road slowly washes away after each hard rain and eventually erodes away to nothing, the path of our lives can diminish the very same way.  Compromise is a dangerous and slow process.  You must be diligent in your Faith and careful of your steps to avoid the snare that compromise can bring.  My first (and seemingly insignificant) step on the path of compromise was dating a non-Christian at 17. Within a year, I was a frightened 18 year old with a newborn in my arms and trapped in a volatile relationship.  I never dreamed that this was the way my life would turn out. I was too strong, too smart for that.  I couldn't see the danger that lay ahead and the drastic change that small compromises can make if given enough time. Only by the Grace of God, was I able to get help and start the process of restoring my life.

#2.  God's Grace is Incalculable.  This is one I am still learning.  God's promises never expire. He is patient and His timing is perfect.  Eric is the fulfillment of a promise from God made to me as a little girl.  The promise that someday I would be a Dancer. I was made to be a Dancer.  I never understood what this promise meant, and frustration set in over the years as I tried to make this dream come true on my own. I had planned to attend TCU and enroll in their dance program when I got pregnant with Max.  I was devastated and certain that God had forgotten me, or that I had heard Him wrong.  I gave up, but He never did. His plan for my life never changed and I am so thankful. God's will for our lives is always for the best, even when it doesn't look that way.

#3.  This is only the beginning.  Your parents have done an amazing job raising you & Brad. (I pray our kids turn out half as good as you 2!)  I am so thankful that my boys have you as a role model. You are dedicated, hard working and genuine. You inspire those around you to be better.  Today, we recognize your accomplishment of finishing High School and in essence, an ending to childhood.  But, mostly we celebrate the beginning of your life as an adult. The chance to go out and conquer life and all it has to offer.  Don't lose sight of what is important in life and know that we will always be here for you.  Don't worry too much about the details, just cling to Christ and enjoy the ride!

"Heavenly Father,
I pray a blessing today over Ryan and his fellow graduates. I pray that you would give each of them clear direction and the courage to live a life that glorifies You.  Thank you for your goodness and faithfulness in my own life and for all the ways I know you will show Yourself to these young men and women. Draw each one to you and give them people in their lives to keep them accountable and edified.  Lord, please guard their hearts against compromise and the wooing of this world. Amen."

We love you, Ryan and we couldn't be more proud! Love, Ashley

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