It’s Your Graduation Day

Dear Amy,

Today is your graduation from college day! Wow! You made it. You overcame some great obstacles and you finished well, both on the field and in the classroom. I know this is not the Pomp and Circumstance we were hoping for, but it doesn’t make us any less proud of your accomplishments and the way you held together through some very adverse situations throughout your college years. You have endured well.

I will never forget about four weeks into your Freshman year, I was feeling pretty low. I was missing you. Maybe not missing you as much as the activity that always surrounded you. I had been asking God for quite some time to grow our relationship to a deeper level. That day, you called me and you were homesick and tired. The 5:00 AM practices were not exactly what you bargained for. The class load was heavy. Being away from home for the first time was hard for you. You cried, and Amy rarely cries. I almost cried with you. But instead, I encouraged you to keep on. I told you that it would get easier. And you actually believed me, maybe for the first time in your life. It did get easier. You found your rhythm.

You didn’t come home after your Freshman year, you stayed, worked a job, and worked out with your coach. You wanted to improve and that was the only way you knew it would happen. You were dedicated, not only for yourself but for your team.

Your Sophomore year, you moved into an apartment. Apartment life was much better than dorm life for you. You made tons of new friends. You also lost your biggest fan in October of your Sophomore year, your Papaw. Instead of allowing a shadow of despair to overtake you, you used his influence and his life to propel you to do better. You loved social life but you didn’t falter in your classwork or on the field. You performed well and you were part of the Southern Conference Women’s Championship Team. Again, you decided to remain throughout the summer and work with your coach, continuing to improve your skills and strength.

At the start of your Junior year, you were pumped. You were excited, not only for the school to start but you were ready for track season. You had worked hard and diligently. You were where you wanted to be athletically. However, a wrench was thrown into your plans and you learned very quickly that things aren’t always what they’re supposed to be. Your coach resigned and went to another team. You were devastated. But instead of quitting, you endured. You struggled a bit during the indoor season but you had no coach. Finally, during the outdoor season, a new coach was hired. You performed well. I know you wanted better finishes but considering the circumstances, you put your best foot forward and you encouraged your teammates to do the same.

During the summer you again remained in Cullowhee to work with your coach…..but one day, you thought it was a good idea to be funny and try to cannonball dive into 2 1/2’ of water. It didn’t turn out funny or to be a good idea at all. But we did see God’s hand of protection over you. The injury you suffered was only minor compared to what it could’ve been.

This injury put a halt to things for about a month. It afforded you some downtime which was much needed and gave you lots of time with your Mawmaw. She spoiled you and took great care of you. She loved every minute and I didn’t hear any complaints from you either. It also gave you perspective on life and how quickly things can change. It only took a split-second decision, didn’t it?

You recovered from your concussion. You returned to Cullowhee and resumed your practice schedule. Then classes began and you were back in the groove once more. One final rodeo: The Senior Year.

There was so much anticipation leading into October. Practice was going well. You were feeling more confident than you had in over a year. Then the unthinkable, your new coach announces that he is leaving to take a new coaching position. You were not quite as devastated the second time as the first time; but again, you had no time to prepare for this blow. A new coach was hired more quickly but you as well as your teammates still felt very alone. But again, you persevered and continued to practice and try to better yourself and encouraged your teammates to do the same.

Then on January 2, in a moment, a blink of an eye, you saw your life pass before you. The wreck happened so quickly you didn’t even know how to respond. By the time I arrived, you were shaking and in shock. When you put your head on my shoulders and cried like a baby, while I held you in my arms, through your sobs you kept repeating, “Mommy, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” The accident wasn’t your fault but sadly the only witness, who knew the accident wasn’t your fault, fled the scene, and didn’t leave his name. I calmed you down and told you, “Amy, you don’t need to worry about this. It will all be okay. You are alive and not hurt and that’s all that really matters. Right now, the only thing you need to worry about is finishing well in track and finishing well in school. That’s your job right now.” You agreed. Again, we saw God’s mighty hand of protection covering you.

On February 29, 2020, at the Southern Conference Indoor Championships, you took the bull by the horns and you finished in 3rd overall in the Shot Put. Not only did you finish in 3rd but you also had the best throw of your college career. You endured. You finished well.

A week later you would leave for Spring Break, only to learn that once you returned from Cancun you would have another week of Spring Break and then all of your classes would go online. Then the following week, the biggest blow, all spring sports would be canceled. It felt cruel and hard. Again, this is just not how things should be.

You didn’t allow the announcement to unravel you, instead, you put more effort into finishing well in the classroom. On Wednesday, you turned in your final paper. You completed your studies at WCU with excellence. You finished well. You endured. You persevered with grace and dignity.

Life is sure to throw some more adversities your way; however, I want you to remember that God will always see you through. His grace has brought you safe thus far and His grace will lead you home.

Today is your Graduation Day and it might not look the way it should but let it always be a reminder that in life things don’t alway work out the way we envision them; but in the end remember what C.S. Lewis says, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” And always remember that your Daddy and I are proud of you and your accomplishments; but we are most proud of the character that is developing in you.

Happy, happy Graduation Day!

I love you,

Mom

Photos by: Sarah Scoggins Siak

Our First College Graduate

Yesterday we had the awesome privilege of attending Alex’s graduation. He is our third child but the first one in our family to graduate with a college degree. He certainly won’t be the last.

Alex’s early years greeted us with many challenges. It was not always an easy task but so worth it in the end. Alex dedicates himself to everything he sets his mind to and he always completely finishes whatever he starts. He is dependable and reliable. He will go far in life because he’s fueled with a passion to do his best in everything he does.

Alex recognizes his strengths and weaknesses. He is not afraid to fail because he realizes that sometimes failure leads to greater success. He is highly independent and can definitely think for himself. But when advice is needed, he is not afraid to ask.

Since the summer of 2011, Alex has had a job. He began on waitstaff at Kanuga Conference. A job he would work through the summer of 2016. This was a year-round job with rona of flexibility for him. Alex also worked at Crooked Creek and Champion Hills golf courses. It was through his job at Champion Hills, Alex received over $10,000 in scholarship monies to help fund his education. Read here

Once Alex began his studies at UNCC, he worked 20 hours per week at Charlotte Country Club and currently works at Myers Park.

I’ve had folks tell me that to make a child work during school is a disservice to them because they need to focus on the academics. First of all, we didn’t force Alex to work. Our stipulation with all of our children was to have a summer job. This summer job would help pay for car insurance. We told each one of our children that if we were providing a car for them to drive, they could be responsible for the insurance. To be honest, we wanted our children to be responsible drivers and felt by making them responsible for insurance, maybe we could promote responsible driving. It worked.

Alex just loved working. He loved having extra money to do things he wanted to do. He loved the routine of work. It also helped him create a balance in high school between sports, school and work that would prove beneficial once in college.

It is really no surprise that Alex received his BS in Business Finance. It just seems the logical choice for him and I have no doubt he will go far. Words cannot express the joy my heart feels for Alex and his accomplishments.

Here’s the letter I wrote him before graduation

Dear Alex,

Words cannot begin to express the love Dad and I have for you. Being your parents has not always been easy or fun but watching you grow in the fine human you are is one of our greatest joys.

I remember a conversation I had with your Papaw (Ned) about three years ago. He said, ”Never in a million years could I have predicted or even thought Alex would. turn out to be such a remarkable young man. All I remember is that time he got so angry with me I had to pick him up by his feet kicking and swatting at me and thinking this child will. probably end up.in jail one.day.”

Your life has always had adversity and you have always risen above. It has not been easy and you’ve had bumps along the way, but by God’s grace, you’ve always risen far above your challenges.

When, as a four-year-old, you prayed earnestly for God to give you self-control and patience, I knew you were something special. Even as a young child, you didn’t want to be out of control. Your prayers were not answered immediately. It took time, patience and perseverance from.you as well as a healthy dose of consistent discipline from us.

I’ve always been amazed by your ability to exercise good and sound judgment and also your ability to use discernment and exercise wisdom. You’ve always set goals and been committed to working hard to achieve them.

No, you’ve never followed the beaten or normal paths of. others, you’ve always set out on paths best suited for you. In the end, choosing your own path, the one that God ordained, has always been the best one for you.

As we celebrate you on this your graduation day we, Dad and I, cannot contain the joy we feel. for you. We are so very proud of you. Most of all, we thank God for allowing and choosing us to be your parents. He did a great thing when he gave you to us!

Continue living your life by putting God first in everything and you will be a success in all you do.

Remember this. ”A man who walks with God always reaches his destination. ” John Hagee

And also the famous words of.Dr. Seuss, ”Why fit in when you were born to stand out.”

Love you more today than yesterday,

Mom

Ned and Sammy

One of my favorite stories to share about Ned is the love that developed between him and our dog Sammy. In order to do the story justice, I need to start from the beginning.

We had a dog growing up. A basset hound named, Duchess. She wasn’t the most loving dog. A good dog but not one that was allowed to come hangout in the house, primarily because she smelled and she shed!

She lived many years and Ned took really great care of her as she aged but he wasn’t all together fond of dogs.

Almost always on Christmas Eve, Mom and Ned would spend the night at our house. They were always eager to be part of watching their grandchildren open their gifts on Christmas morning.

In 2008, it was no different. Although, I did ask Ned if he was sure he wanted to stay because Amy was getting a puppy.

He replied, “Of course your Mom and I want to stay. I just don’t understand why you feel the need to get a dog. They’re nothing but trouble and you have to find someone to take care of them when you’re gone. Don’t ask me because I am not keeping yours or anyone else’s dog!”

I’ll bet as soon as he saw the delight in Amy’s eyes the next morning, he, too, was smitten by the 1.9 pound puff of white fluff.  However, he wasn’t about to cave-in at that point. He was way to stubborn!

After about 6 weeks, we were sitting at Amy’s basketball game and I told him we were going out of town the next weekend.  Jokingly I said, “You want to keep Sammy?”

His response, not shocking, “Now, I told you I don’t like dogs.  I am not keeping your dog.  I told you they’re a lot of trouble and you had to get care for them when you go out of town.”

I replied, “No worries.  I’m already boarding him.  I just wanted to see if your mind had changed.  You may not want to keep him now, but I’ll bet you will.  He’s so cute and sweet and he doesn’t shed.”

He huffed and said, “I’m not keeping your dog.”

After another few months, we had to board Sammy again.  It was not a good experience for him or us.  He was mistreated.  That didn’t make Ned happy either.  However, he still wouldn’t yield.

Then we found Emily.  A friend’s daughter who agreed to keep him.  He enjoyed staying with Emily and her family.  He was well-loved and cared for there.

One weekend, Emily wasn’t available and I decided to give Ned an opportunity to say, “yes”  By this time, Sammy was more than welcome in their house.  He was actually invited to come anytime we were visiting or having family functions.

I called and we chatted a few minutes.  I was prepping him for the big question.  “So, we’re going out of town this weekend and don’t have anywhere to leave Sammy.  I don’t want to board him.  Will you keep his cute little self?”

Without an ounce of hesitation, he responded, “Yeah.  I’ll keep him but I’ll tell you one thing right now, that dog is NOT sleeping in my bed. ”  I assured him that I would bring Sammy’s crate and he could put him in the crate at night.  I did forewarn him that he would cry because he was accustomed to sleeping with us.  I told him, “He likes his crate but only in the daytime and only when you’re not home.”

We left and Sammy was happy as a clam to be staying with Mamaw and Papaw.

The next morning, I get a call from Mom.  I just have to tell you what happened.  “We put Sammy in his crate last night.  (They put the crate in the laundry room which is on the opposite side of their bedroom)  He started to cry.  He was so pitiful.  I went to brush my teeth.  I told Ned, ‘if he doesn’t stop crying I’m going to get him.  I’ll take him upstairs with me and we will sleep on another bed.  I just can’t stand hearing that little thing cry.’  By the time I got ready for bed and came back into the room, Ned had the dog in our bed.”

She sent a picture and I can’t find it.

Needless to say, Sammy stayed with them anytime we went out-of-town, except for the past few times and Ned was too sick.  Good for Sammy, Alex was home and willing to take care of him.

The above picture was taken two Christmases after Sammy arrived.  Again, on Christmas day when Mom and Ned were at the house to watch their grandchildren open their gifts from Santa.  My what a difference two years made…….

This year will look and feel so different for us but I am so thankful and grateful for the many Christmases we had together!

Choosing Wisely

It’s funny how the order of things sometimes gets confusing.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve realized that a lot of folks think Alex, my third child, is actually the youngest. Well, he’s not.  Alex just made a different choice about higher education after high school.

Alex’s senior year of high school was filled with aspiring thoughts of playing collegiate golf. It was his dream. He was, in fact, given the opportunity to walk-on at Brevard college. However, a few weeks before the start of school, Alex informed us that he knew Brevard college was not the place for him and he couldn’t go to a school just to play a sport he loved. Hence, the decision to attend Blue Ridge Community College.

After his Freshman year, he was burned out. Begged us to allow him to take at least a semester off so he could work full-time .

Together, we decided the better choice was to go part-time, work and play golf. Part-time would keep him in the groove but allow him some time to refocus and figure out what he really wanted to do. It worked.

By the end of his second year, He decided to pursue a degree in business. All the while, making sure his classes would transfer to a university.

A few months ago, he received and acceptance letter to Clemson and UNC Charlotte . The only two schools he applied to.  After thoughtful prayer and consideration, he made his decision to attend UNCC.

Here’s what he had to say about that decision:

Since I’ve had numerous people asking me about my future school plans, here’s an update:

I’ve decided to attend UNC-Charlotte this upcoming fall. While I did really consider enrolling into Clemson, I’ve felt led, due to numerous factors, to attend Charlotte.

It’s been one heck of a ride since I got out of high school and at times has been fairly directionless. In May, I will graduate from Blue Ridge Community College with an associates degree. Now, would I change the path that I chose? Absolutely not. Honestly, I would really like to urge high school seniors that are unsure of their future plans to pursue this route. The benefits are astounding and there is no shame in attending a local community college.

This process, at times, has been quite the struggle… and at other times very rewarding. I cannot wait to see where God leads me on this next journey of my life.

Two days ago, he brought home his cap and gown. He will be graduating on May 13th and we are thrilled for him. He has chosen a different path but one that was wise for him.

One of my favorite quotes from The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst is, “Wisdom makes decisions today that are still good for tomorrow.”  Alex has used wisdom to make good decisions for himself and the dividends will be huge

I am so proud of this young man and his ability to think and reason through choices. He will be the first one in our family to actually hold a degree of some sort.  Like I’ve recently said to both Ryan and Matthew, “Bout time somebody gets a degree of some sort in our family. “.