Graduation, Memorial Day…And the First Day of the Rest of My Life

I like to say, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”. My friend Tracy hates that saying. But, I like it. It’s akin to…”His mercies are new every morning” (See Lamentations 3). A promise I heartily embrace, often needing the grace of a fresh start.

Tuesday, in the aftermath of our oldest son’s graduation celebration and our annual Memorial Day festivities, I sat in my new office (i.e., the patio Tim built just days before the party), soaking in the reality that a new beginning of monumental proportions was upon us. The birds sang, the sun shone down, and I breathed slow and easy. I didn’t feel the usual overwhelming grip as I read through the emails and looked at the upcoming schedule of events to plan, speaking engagements, interviews, and fundraising opportunities. I felt peace. I felt free. Free to serve the Lord and take care of my family’s needs. Gratefulness swept over me. Eucharisteo. Soaking in this moment. This first day of the rest of my life. (For those who may have missed the announcement, I will not be returning to my full-time school job next year, but will be working from home to devote my time to family and serving through SGM.)

I reflected on the weekend.

For months before our oldest son walked down the aisle of the high school gym robed in royal blue, to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance, the emotion poured from my heart and the tears fell freely from my eyes. The idea of this season coming to an end, even as we anticipate the new beginnings in his life, has not been easy to embrace. He has always been here, after all. Our entire marriage. Our entire adult life. Through the losses. Through the celebrations.

I dreaded what I will affectionately refer to as the “building of the shrine” and procrastinated the task until just a couple weeks before graduation day. But, it turns out, as I sat in my living room surrounded with the pictures that told a story of his life….of our lives…I smiled and laughed. Joy bubbled up, and I was able to embrace and celebrate the gifts of our family. Pictures from my own graduation were strewn in the midst. Pictures of my mother young and healthy, and alive. Pictures of  husband Tim, also wearing the blue graduation robe, looking much like his son. The tears didn’t fall until the “shrine” was complete….and his life literally unfolded before me. Eighteen years…years filled with great blessing.

 

Later that week, just a few days before graduation, I was reminded of a sweet classmate of the 2012 class that was killed by a drunk driver in the second grade. Her family would be receiving an honorary diploma, in Cassie’s name, during the ceremony. I looked again at my shrine, and the unfolding of Timothy’s life, and was humbled by my weeping over what was about to change. In that moment, I realized, we had been given all these years to tell his story. I thought of Cassie’s family, who long to be able to shed their tears over the sentimental passing of years filled with memories, instead of the ache of missing, that I also know well. I desired joy and celebration for what we had been given. And, when graduation day came, that’s exactly what filled the day. Joy and celebration. And, pride (the good kind….the kind that knows that God has been faithful when we are faithless, that somehow, despite all our inadequacies as parents, our son is filled with the character and qualities we have prayed for and more….because of His grace.). The only tears during the ceremony for me, were those shed for Cassie and her family.

The party was such busy fun. Friends and family filled our yard and garage. Corn hole was played, food was eaten, laughter rang out. I felt like I was in a blender greeting, thanking, filling, smiling, hugging, and saying goodbye to guests. It was splendid fun. And, joy abounded. We had tents with tables beneath in the yard and tables filling the garage. Children ran around happily, and bellies were filled with delicious food.

 

Have I mentioned how much I love these boys? My Tim and Ian….so proud of them.

And, love these boys, of course.  My Timothy and James….so proud of them. Cute brothers!

 

The next morning, we arose early to attend the Memorial Day services hosted in our tiny town, by the American Legion Post 316 and the Sons of the American Legion. Our band, One Way, was performing a couple songs, and I had the honor of singing the National Anthem and reading some of the names of the Veterans who are no longer with us. We were also blessed to hear the story of a local Vietnam Veteran, Steve Wing. The tears flowed freely as he spoke of his service and the sacrifice of one of his fellow servicemen, his friend. It was a beautiful time to honor those who serve our country.

 

The Saturday before, I did make a trip to the cemetery. A rare trip. Most of you who have been reading here know I don’t visit the cemetery much. I like to think of my babies and mom in heaven. The cemetery is not a comforting place to me. But, I went. It seemed they needed to be included somehow as we celebrated Timothy’s graduation and remembered those who served our country….and those we love who are no longer with us. I decided they needed red, white, and blue flowers. Sometimes I go. Sometimes I don’t. This year, I went. There aren’t any pictures of my time there, though.

As we look ahead to new beginnings and adventures, I hope you’ll continue to join our family and pray for us and for this ministry. God is working in mighty ways. I have much to share about coming events and other blessings that have already occurred. Thank you to all who support us, and stay tuned!

Today is the first day of the rest of your life…and mine. Love to all…

P.S. Thank you to those of you who offered your prayers for my friend Tracy, and her family, as we celebrated the life of her mother, Louise on Thursday. Your prayers were felt, and the Lord’s hand was evident through all the events of the day. It was a beautiful time of remembrance for a very special lady.

Comments

  1. Wow! First, you look amazing in all of these pictures!! Your dresses are adorable! And, it looks like he had a wonderful graduation ceremony and party. Good for you! You can breathe easier now I’m sure :) But big things ahead. Praying for you!

    • Thanks, Jennilee….it was such beautiful and blessed day! And, yes…it’s so nice to breathe a little. Thank you for the prayers…love to you!

      P.S. Women of Faith Columbus is coming up. Are you available?

  2. You’re so beautiful, Kelly. Inside, and out. Thank you for being so open to God’s direction for your life. I’ve already been blessed my your new freedom — heart to heart chats and IC Mochas….love it!

  3. I agree w/Jenilee…you look great. :) I didnt visit this memorial day or take anything but I dont feel bad about it. I’m sure she doesn’t care! The party decor looks great!

  4. I love this post Kelly! It is beautiful!….. You’re a foxy lady! (lol) ;0)

    “Today is the first day of the rest of your life,” so very true. What a special day to witness your son accomplishing many hard years of school, all the while finding who he is and God’s plan for his life.

    P.S. I just read your reply to see if I receive your reply in my e-mail, and I do not. I really don’t know how that works…. sorry. :(

    Love,
    your blonde sister (lol)

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