May 16, 2008
Dear Beautiful, Talented, Godly, Intelligent, First-born Daughter,
You DID IT! Congratulations on your first of what are sure to be many major accomplishments! You have officially graduated from high school today.
I’m sure it probably seems like it took forever to get to this point in your life, but I assure you, for your dad and me, it’s been a blur! Today as I reflect back on your 13 years of “formal schooling,” I’m immediately taken back to your first day of Kindergarten. How vividly I recall tightly gripping your hand as we darkened the doors of A.L. Lotts Elementary School together for what was to be the first of many times. Do you remember finding your Clifford® nametag on the wall outside your class, and how devastated you were the first time you had to “bury your bone”? My heart aches with longing as I think of that little girl with a shy grin and a quiet disposition! Then when I see the young woman before me now, I can’t help but be overcome with gratitude to God who, in His infinite wisdom, entrusted your dad and me to serve as your earthly parents!
First grade brings to mind Mrs. Cutcliffe’s version of “You’re a Grand Ol’ Flag,” and the enthusiastic motions you learned as you marched to the patriotic beat of the “…ev’ry heart beats true…”. Do you remember the day she actually pulled your tooth for you? Ah, Chelcie, LIVE your days. Savor the little things in life because when you look back on it, it truly is the little things that matter most. I remember driving to school with you and Drew with me for the first time. Some days we would bow our heads and pray before we went in the doors of the school. Do you remember?
Your second grade teacher, Mrs. Mitchell, was BIG on writing! I’ve read a lot of books in my lifetime, but my all-time favorite is a short story entitled “Sunny, the Sunflower” about a little seed who lived in the dark and believed that the dark was all there was to life. Then, miraculously, through a period of growth and change, light appeared. That little sunflower story was amazingly philosophical about life itself. Sunny had her day in the sun and when it was her time to go away, she left her seeds to carry on after her. You, Chelcie are my legacy. You are proof that my life has not been lived in vain. It’s now up to you to stretch your arms toward to the Son and grow. Always remember where you came from, and Who it was who sent you here to make a difference in this world.
When I recall third grade, I’m reminded of Mrs. Dalimonte’s insistence on skills, skills, skills. She taught you the “meat and potatoes” of what you needed to build on to be an academically successful student in the days to come. Remember when I got to read to your class on Pajama Day? I think we have a picture somewhere…
Fourth grade got dramatic with Ms. Crossley’s play. You were by far the cutest lightning bug in the show, and I am completely unbiased! Nobody likes a tattletale-remember that!:) This was the year we welcomed Addie to our family and you became a big sister for the second time!
In fifth grade, for the first time in your life, you experienced the death of someone you knew. When Christian died, a part of your innocence was lost forever. You learned that children are not immortal and accidents happen. We had a blast at River Ridge your fifth grade year, compiling “food waste” in buckets and square dancing. I even recall scary faces in the light cast by Delaney’s flashlight on the wall of our cabin.
Then off you went to middle school. What a blur those years were! I was preoccupied with the two babies at home. On September 11, 2001, I watched in horror as two planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers. It seemed at the time that the world was coming to an end. All of us lost our innocence that day. Our country was forever changed. I remember thinking that if this is my last day on earth, I want my family with me, and I headed to school to pick you up and bring you home. Little did you know at the time, but your second little brother was on the way! Use your power of influence to make this world a better place. Remember what Hallerin said at the Baccalaureate service-“Love is the answer. I’m done!”
Oh, those awkward middle school years! You got braces on your first day of school which only served to make you a true adolescent girl! By the time you reached 8th grade, I was once again abundantly blessed to teach at the school you attended. If only other parents could know the joy of watching their children from a distance become adults right before their eyes.
Your high school years have been your “Sunny” years. You have emerged from the ground and have tilted your smiling face toward the sun. My baby girl “blossomed” in high school. Thankfully, you discovered Young Life and the eternal difference God can make in navigating your course in life. I couldn’t help but be prideful when I learned that my daughter and her friends were known as “The God Squad” at Bearden High School. Our two trips to the beach for Spring Break have been some of the most special times I’ve had with you and your six bestest friends on the planet. God has brought you all together for your reason. I know that together you will have an eternal impact on His kingdom.
Lord willing, someday, you too, will sit down to write a letter like this to your child. Will you fill it with thoughts of precious memories as I have? If I am allowed one regret- and I don’t want to think of my life as having anything to regret- it is that I’ve spent so much of my life rushing around in search of things that proved to matter little, while I walked past the things that matter much. Like spending time with you, Drew, Addie, and Sam.
Tonight, when you make your way across that stage, you’ll be leaving behind your childhood. Of course you’ll always be our baby girl. You’ll always be welcome home. Resist the temptation to crawl back into the nest where life is relatively safe, and you’re under the protective wings of your mom and dad. We are here for you now and always, but your life is waiting, Precious One. Change is tough. Uncertainty is unsettling, but you’ve been given the gift of life. Live it. Don’t spend too much time looking back through your rearview mirror and reflecting on days gone by. Put your foot on the accelerator and press on. New adventures await you. There are more things to see and experience. Enjoy the moments along the way and know that Daddy and I love you very, very much. You’ve made us all so proud of you.
Trust God and He will prove Himself trustworthy.
“Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he's the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3:5-6
I love you, Chelcie, no matter what, forever and ever!...even up to the ceiling!