|Me and my graduation boy!|
Graduation Day – May 29, 2015
Austin, I know how little you enjoy being the center of attention, so I will keep this short and sweet.
In August of 2002, you and I sat at the kitchen table together after saying the Pledge of Allegiance and began the journey that has brought us here this evening. We have been through many ups and downs together in that time, including years of struggles in social and academic areas that had no explanations or answers. Even after the diagnoses – 2 years apart – of Autism Spectrum Disorder and Epilepsy, the struggles continued. Through it all, you never gave up! You have persevered in the face of many adversities.
I look back on days when you would wake up and you had forgotten things that you had mastered just the day or week before. The frustration was overwhelming. You could have thrown up your hands and given up. Nobody would have faulted you for doing so. Instead, you pressed on – always giving 100% of your best efforts to your education.
The specialists told us that we shouldn't homeschool. They told us that we couldn't do it. And with any other child, perhaps they would have been right. But they only knew your diagnoses, and not your character. They did not know that God had created within you a kind and compassionate heart, a desire to be respectful and obedient, and a drive and determination to work hard. Could they have ever predicted that you would work practically full-time in your Senior Year - 3rd shift – while continuing to take a full course load? That you would work all night and then come home to do lessons with me before going to bed? Or that you would work all night, come home long enough to take a shower, and then go play drums for the worship service at church every Sunday?
This determination and perseverance also showed itself on the baseball field from the time you were 7 years old until you were almost 16. It wasn't easy to handle the noises of the crowd, players, and coaches as well as the lights on the field, but you learned how to handle it! With hard work and the selfless dedication of your father's coaching and guidance, you became a starting pitcher with a wicked change-up, a strong hitter with 4 home runs to your credit, and a 5 time All-Star.
Additionally, God has blessed you with an incredible musical talent. One of my favorite memories was during some testing that you were undergoing for auditory processing disorder. You struggled mightily with every single area, except for the 2 sections that involved musicality. In both of those areas, you got every single task correct. The audiologist told me that she had never seen results like that in all of her years of experience. I never could have dreamed that one day you would play in a rock band, just like your dad, and that I would go to a concert and see your band's name on the marquee. You have a true gift for playing the drums, and I am thrilled that you have also chosen to use your gift to bless others in Praise and Worship. I know you still have many accomplishments ahead of you with your music and I cannot wait to see where it takes you.
Your path after graduation may not look like everyone else's. That's OK! I know the future that God has for you is a good one and I encourage you to always look to Him for your hope and strength. If you only ever remember one thing of all that I have tried to teach you, I hope it will be “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.”
Austin, you are truly the bravest and strongest young man I have ever known. I could not be more proud of you.
It is therefore an honor and a privilege for me, along with your father, to present you at this time with your high school diploma. Congratulations!