Friday, June 10, 2011

Graduation 2011

Class of 2011

Those words are significant to me for many reasons and really for just one.  My son.  After all these many years of homeschooling, I have my first graduate.  In some ways, its hard to believe.  In others, it seems like years ago (and it was) when I was doing preschool activities and then Five in a Row with him.

In trying to think about graduation, I wanted to do something special.  Something to mark this event as significant.  Something we would all enjoy ... and remember.  At times planning was a challenge as my graduate was happy not to have anything much for an event.

We settled on a party, outside at a park.  We wanted it to be casual and fun, but also special and personal.  We wanted a celebration with family and friends.  We hoped for beautiful weather.  

One of Christopher's close friends was also graduating and we decided to have the ceremony together.  We chose the details from decorating to the program, from food to the speakers.  It was personal.  It seemed fitting reflection of our style of education.

The day was amazing.  It started with beautiful weather - and 10 degrees cooler than had been forecasted earlier in the week!  Thank you God!  We chose some bright decorations - though not too many.

 We set up a display table with some of the things reflective of the graduates.

Christopher provided me with most of his things and it was fun to see what he picked.  (Though not surprising either.)

Rebecca (my friend) made delicious cupcakes!  Rebecca and I helped to make the decorations for the top.  (Can you tell that they are mortar boards and diplomas?)

We had some time of socializing before starting the program.  We then began with a welcome and an opening prayer.

Next was our commencement speaker.  I loved how he encouraged our sons to really look around and be there in the moment.  To take note of the many people gathered there who had been a part of their lives.  People who loved them and cared about them.

He encouraged them from Psalm 1 to be like the blessed man.  To learn to be like a tree with deep roots so that they can stand firm in all that they are going to face.  

Next, was time for the parents to speak.  Roger went first.

Then it was my turn.  I had a sweet friend join me for a little bit of it too.

 Conferring diplomas.  We gave Christopher his diploma.

Can you see his big grin?  (BTW, it is signed now too.)

Next, it was Christopher's turn.  It was fun hearing what he had to say.  I have to say too that he seemed quite comfortable talking to a crowd.

Next it was Rebecca, Eric and Dillon's turn to speak.  My pictures are dark too.  :-(  I'm hoping I can work on these and lighten them.  The angle of the sun was great for the event, but not so much for pictures as I have a lot of darker ones.  

Next we had slide shows of each of the graduates.  They each selected a song and had pictures to go with it.  I have to admit that it was tough going through 18 years of photos.  Seeing those adorable baby photos, the toddler, and young child to man.  It was hard holding it together, but I did pretty well by God's grace.  It was an answer to prayer for me.  Christopher even handed me a kleenex after the slide show.  I told him that I wasn't crying then.  One of my other boys heard this though and said that "he was crying on the inside".  I'm not the only one for whom this change is going to be hard.  

Our night ended with a prayer of blessing over our graduates.  I loved this time.  Anyone that wanted was invited to come forward and place their hands on them while we prayed.  This was a sweet time - and again a time of sweet tears.  It was the perfect ending to the ceremony.  

With the ceremony over, we invited our friends to join us for a meal.  We had barbeque, beans, mac n' cheese, slaw, hushpuppies, watermelon and for dessert - cupcakes and pumpkin bars.  The food (except for the desserts) came from Backyard Bistro (which I highly recommend if you are local).  

Thank you to both Kevin and Jason for investing in our guys lives at church and also making this a special event!  (Wish I had gotten Kevin in the picture too!)  

 Moms of the graduates with a close friend.  :-)
 Time to enjoy friends.  The kids played.  Some of the younger ones were enjoying the large coolers of ice.  The older boys were enjoying a frisbee game.
At the end of the evening, when it was dark and we were finishing cleaning up, we realized that we hadn't gotten any family pictures.  It was hard for me to take pictures at this event and thankfully one sweet friend had my camera and took photos for me!  Hoping a couple of others might have some photos too!

 All in all, it was a wonderful night.  I'm thankful for the many friends that came to celebrate with us.  I'm thankful for the many friends that have encouraged and supported us over the years and helped to shape these fine young men.  I enjoyed this celebration - and afterwards, Christopher told me that he had too.

Christopher and Dillon - I wish you both much success and happiness on this next step of your life.  I pray that you would stand strong and cling to God.  I pray that your faith would deepen and grow and that you would be lights to those around you.  I pray that you would always know that you have many people that love you and pray for you daily!  We will miss you and look forward to seeing and talking with you as often as we can.  I'm proud of both of you!  It has been a joy, honor and privilege to be a part of your lives!

Congratulations Class of 2011!  

With much love