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Hey, my friends. I’ve been feeling a little sappy and nostalgic for the last week or so. My oldest is graduating from High School this weekend. It’s hard to believe it’s finally here. On the other hand, it’s finally here!! Not everyone is cut out for a classroom setting. My oldest is smart and bright, but sitting in a classroom all day was not his favorite thing! To say the least, we are both relieved graduation is upon us. 

I’ve been reflecting back to my 17 year old self and my high school graduation.It’s been a few years since my high school graduation and my memory is shot. I could not tell you who the valedictorian was or who the special speaker was. Let alone the main point of their speeches. I do remember sitting next to a fellow student I barely spoke with during our high school career and carried on a decent conversation throughout the evening! Crazy! 

Emotional memories are the ones that are hanging around. The excitement of finally being finished with school (or so I thought!). The anticipation of my next chapter of being “out on my own!” The nervousness of going, living and experiencing something new. Part of me was barely able to stand still, jumping up and down with excitement. The other part of me was wondering, if I fail, then what??

School was not a walk in the park. I had many gracious, thoughtful, patient teachers who gave extra encouragement and support along the way. My chemistry teacher even tutored me after school for a time. My mind could not wrap around the periodic table. I’m pretty sure he passed me out of the kindness of his heart! I was not a natural academic student. I had to work hard, keep up with my homework and hope for the best on my tests! We haven’t even started on peer social awkwardness!! I was ready to break free of high school drama and figure out who I was going to be in the great big world awaiting me!

I’ve been thinking about my dad more than normal. I know he loved me and was proud of me. Around the time period of my high school graduation was when the power of, “I’m proud of you.” started to sink in a little deeper. He told me he loved me often. I was confident in his love for me. To hear him say he was proud of me was overwhelming.

I was getting ready for my high school graduation ceremony at the house. I had put on my cap and gown and was taking pictures with the family. Dad turned to me and said, “I’m proud of you, kid.” Tears immediately formed as I leaned in and hugged my Dad. Such power in 5 words. He said it many times over the years; college graduation, at my wedding, the arrival of our kids, starting new jobs, and random moments in between. Each time he said it, the power of the sentiment grew. I can still feel him through his arm around my shoulder, pull me in and say, “I’m proud of you, kid.” Oh how that washed over my soul and brushed away all doubts. 

My dad is enjoying his eternal retirement. Even so, as I’m writing, I can hear him remind me of how proud he is of me and how much he loves me. 

As my oldest graduates, it starts the wave of high school graduations through our family for the next few years. It’s a big milestone for our family in more ways than one. For so many days, we were only able to take one step at a time, make one decision at a time. It felt like this moment was so far away and we weren’t sure we were going to make it. Well, at least I wasn’t sure! As time has moved on, we have been able to look forward a little more and see there is so much more out there yet to come. 

My oldest struggled to get through his current education career, it caused a strain in and around us on a consistent basis. There were days I honestly wasn’t sure we would see graduation day. And now it’s finally here. It’s really here. It’s not a dream, it’s reality. 

My friends, Your Heavenly Father is so very proud of you and me. Life is hard, unfair, unpredictable, unsettling and messy. Even if you don’t feel it, have confidence in His love and pride for you. He delights in you. He sees you fighting and battling and getting back up time and time again. He’s giving you a hand up so you can try again. And each time He encourages you to take the next step, to give a little more, to push a little harder. In His delight in you, He showers you with strength, blessings, peace and endurance. 

I can hear and see my dad throw his arm around my oldest son, pull him in and say, “I’m proud of you, kid, You did good!” I am so very proud of my oldest son. He battled through difficult times and completed a goal we were unsure would be met. He made it. I made it. We all made it. Both my dad and my Heavenly Father are wrapping us in their arms and saying, “I’m proud of you, kid. You did it!”

Thanks for sharing a moment with me. We are in this together, proudly with Him.

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