This Friday night my baby boys, aka the twins, are graduating from high school. For the first time in 25 years I won't have a child in school.
Every day for the last few weeks I have been looking at pictures and remembering. Every day for the last few weeks I have shed some tears. Remembering is like walking down a well traveled road, reaching the end and looking back over my shoulder to see where I've been.
Where did the years go? It seems like yesterday Bill and I brought Grant and Russell home to join big brothers Justin and Nick and big sis, Rachel.
Almost overnight I went from rubbing my nose into the softness of their light brown hair (it always stood straight up) to begging Russell to get a haircut. In the blink of an eye bitty ball turned into varsity ball. Dirty diapers disappeared and were replaced with stinky ball socks and compression shorts. Instead of losing teeth, they were losing car keys. And somewhere along the way they found their best friend, Jesse Jones. Suddenly instead of having twins, I had triplets. Jesse became like another son and when he wasn't at our house it felt like one of my children was missing.
I'm not the only mother who has trouble with her children's high school graduation Remember Erma Bombeck? Erma said, "Graduation day is tough for adults. They go to the ceremony as parents. They come home as contemporaries. After years of child-raising, they are unemployed."
The only thing Erma forgot to tell us was where moms go to collect unemployment.
I told my readers earlier this week that I was going to give a graduation speech on "NanaHood.} So here it is. It's the story of the orange pot. That's right. A big, heavy, ugly orange pot with a lid and black handle.
This pot belonged to my great Aunt Lizzie. Aunt Lizzie was a sweet little old lady who had to be one of the bravest women in the world. I know this because she rode in a car with my Uncle Charlie and he was the worst driver in the world. When Aunt Lizzie died and the older relatives were going through her belongings, one my aunts gave me something to remember her by ... a big orange pot.
I smiled and said "thank you," but truthfully I wasn't impressed. I stuck the pot in a cabinet and forgot about it until one day I needed something large to cook a roast, potatoes and carrots. I remembered the pot and pulled it out from the back of a cabinet, covered with dust. I washed it off and used it for the first time.
Something strange happened over the years. Whenever I needed to bake a roast, I found that the best pot to cook it in was the ugly orange pot. When someone in the community died and I needed to take food to the family, I pulled out the orange pot.
Make no mistake, I still think the pot is ugly and I wish it were UK blue instead of Tennessee orange, but I have developed an appreciation for it that I never thought I would. It doesn't match a thing in my kitchen but I no longer care. It's Aunt Lizzie's legacy to me and I appreciate it for what it does, not how it looks.
What does this have to do with graduation? Think about it.
Every one of us has been given a gift from God. Sometimes we look at our gifts the way I looked at Aunt Lizzie's orange pot. Instead of appreciating it, we wonder why we didn't get something of real value. Or wonder why we didn't get the gift that our neighbor received.
High school graduates ...
You are so young you may not know what your gifts are yet. That's okay. Right now it's more important to know that you have them than it is to know what those gifts are. God knows what your gift is. Trust him to lead you and you'll figure it out.
When you find your gift, don't worry if it isn't flashy or doesn't appear valuable. The value may not be in the gift itself, but in how you use it. Your gift may not make you rich or bring you fame; but if you learn to accept it and to share it with others, it may bring you something even better — the joy of a life well lived, happiness, peace, love and friendship.
Your calling isn't something that somebody can tell you about. It's what you feel. It's a part of your life force. It is the thing that gives you juice. The thing that you are supposed to do. And nobody can tell you what that is. You know it inside yourself.
My prayer for each and every graduate is that the good Lord will guard you, guide you and keep you in His care. And that when you find your gift (your juice), you will treasure it, but not to the point that you only use it to benefit yourself. Share it with others.
Life is a journey filled with discoveries. It is time for you to look ahead. There will be good times. There will be hard times. Lean on your friends and family but look to God for direction.
And if anyone gives you a big orange pot for a graduation gift, write them a nice thank you note. You'll need it someday to cook roast in.