June 30, 2018

Notes to the Graduate

We celebrate the blessing
 of our home school journey by announcing
 the High School Graduation of our daughter
Emma Rose Wachter
We thank God for the privilege
of investing in her life and education
Saturday June 30, 2018

Our theme for Emma's ceremony and reception is "Notes to the Graduate"  Friends and family will be sharing their notes with memories from the past and notes with advice for the future at the ceremony.  I have these good intentions of getting back here sometime to upload some video and pictures from the day for the friends and family who could not be with us.  But, just in case, I wanted to share some pictures from her senior photo shoot and my note to the graduate so when life gets super busy, this occasion doesn't go by unrecognized.

June 30,2018

Dear Emma,

We prayed for you!  After so many years of heartbreak waiting for the Lord to fill our arms, I can not begin to express the unbelievable joy in our hearts when He answered that prayer.  I was studying the book of Samuel at the time and I asked Pa if we could call you Samuel, because God truly had ‘heard my prayer.’ But your father was studying about the life of Nathanael and he said, “No, I would like to call this baby Nathaniel because ‘God has given.’ ”

Now, I know both you and Gracie have heard this story a hundred times.  But I think now would be a good time to share it once more. You know Pa and Uncle Terry and Aunt Kat and I had been long time friends since we were in our early twenties.  We worked and played together and spent much of our free time together ministering, studying, praying, teaching and serving in Frederick through church. And together we had also walked the mutual journey of infertility.  It was with great joy we celebrated together when mere months apart both our families were expecting. As we mused about names it turns out Uncle Terry also was set on naming a son, Nathaniel. For months we joked about the most spiritual couple being the one who would have a son and get to use the name.  Well, lovely ladies, you stand here today as evidence as to how that turned out.
As we approached our due date our family faced a great challenge.  There were difficult and dark times when the weight of the world seemed so oppressive.  But we asked the Lord to stand with us and hold us up. And we always felt his presence leading us.  For this reason we settled on the name Emma, short for Emmanuel, because God was with us and before we had even seen your face we prayed he would always walk with you and you with Him.  

Well, what is a Wachter name without thirty nicknames?  It wasn’t long before your Pa had many variations to choose from and I wondered why we had spent so much time praying over the perfect name.  As a little girl you took such pride in your name. I loved the way, as a preschooler, you signed all your art work with ERW… Emma Rose Wachter… and then sketched a little rose next to your initials.  But as it turned out, with all those nicknames, you were not entirely sure what your actual name was.

Do you remember your first day of kindergarten?  You were so excited. You laid out what you deemed the perfect first day of school dress and you could barely get through breakfast before climbing up to your brand new desk and joining your older sisters in the school room.  I remember the beautiful September sun streaming in the window and the smell of freshly sharpened No 2 American Gold pencils. We opened your very first workbook and you proudly wrote your name boldly across the top of the page.  “Emma Rose.” I can also still see the confused look on your face when we got to the next line and I asked you what was your last name. “The other name Pa always calls you,” I urged. And as if it were yesterday I can still see the look of recognition on your face with the big huge smile and hear your sweet little chirpy voice answering, “Dosie.”  As I promised, I will end the story there. And you can thank me later.
Over these twelve years it has been my great honor to watch you grow into and live up to that name.  You have truly sought the Lord in all you do. And as a result you have shown us, your family, your friends, strangers, the lost and believers,  what it is to have the Lord walk among us.

We have seen Him in your every action and we have heard it as your voice has grown stronger and more powerful each year.  

He is in the patient way you teach and instruct those younger than you.  He is in the way you advise and guide your peers. He is in the way you serve your family, your elders, the weak, the needy and the helpless.  He is evident in the way you rise to any occasion, taking on whatever job is at hand, even when it might involve some snakes. We have seen Him in the bold way you speak the truth to the world and as you express your frustration at the world going astray.  We have heard Him in your voice so strong and powerful speaking out against injustice and speaking up for those who have no voice.
Sweet, Emma.  As you began your high school journey, this family embarked on our greatest challenge yet.  We entered the world of down syndrome, special needs, and infantile spasms. As your peers were learning American History, biology and Geometry, you were studying neuro development, dysphagia, and physical therapy.  As your cohorts played sports and went to parties, you spent hours each day in feeding therapy and traveled out of state for training and surgeries and vital stim. I know you were tired. We were all tired. I know you were scared.  We were all scared. I know you were frustrated. Because we were all frustrated. But neither your voice nor your actions ever betrayed how you felt. No, you just kept going on. Helping to teach the younger children. Making menus.  Preparing meals. Doing whatever needed to be done, so your father and I could be available to tend to Addison’s needs, read a book with the younger kids or take nap once in a while. But this doesn’t mean you let your studies slide. No, you still maintained a 4.0 in all the advanced classes.  Studied the violin and viola. Got in frequent runs. And completed FBI all while finding time to volunteer in our community.
I wanted to melt down about three times a day.  But not you, Emma. Only once did I ever see you lose your cool.  As clearly as I remember that first day of school, I will always remember the day you came home angry, crying and shouting. Because I could not have been prouder.  You relayed a conversation from that morning and then looked me straight in the face and said, “Mom, there are children starving and dying for want of medical care.  There is Addison who fights for everything. But mom, people are only worried about their cars and vacations! It’s like they have no clue.” And darling girl, this is where you truly shine.  Because I would have been angry! But not you. Do you remember what you said? “Mom, I feel sorry for them. They will never know.”
But Emma you are wrong.  They will know. They will know because there are young women like you who love Jesus so much.  They will know all those unspoken things that you have learned and accomplished at such a young age because you love.           
Dear Emma, a teacher is not supposed to admire her students.  But I stand here today in front of these people to say I hope I grow up to be half the person you are.  Your voice has often caused me to strive to be a better version of myself. Your voice has brought me to life changing conviction.  Your voice has given me love and understanding. Your voice has showed me what it must have been like to be at Jesus gentle hands. Your voice has often reminded me just how much the world needs mercy and compassion and love.  
Dear Emma it is my honor to be the one who got to hear your voice grow wiser and stronger.  And it is my honor to be able to step aside now and watch as you take the reigns of this journey fully in your own hands.  I know by all academic and career standards you will excel. But most importantly I know as Romans 6:13 says you will continue to honor Him and bless your parents as you yield your members as instruments of righteousness unto our God.  

With deepest love,

Your Mama

Photo Credit:  Susan Schmidt 

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