Musician M’s Graduation
August 1, 2015
Dr. P and I want to thank all guests for being here to help us celebrate M and his graduation from our high school program at Legacy Academy. Many of you have not just supported us as we have raised him, but have also contributed to his growth academically and spiritually as employers, mentors, tutors, or as Bible study teachers. Thank you.
On July 19th, 1996, on the opening day of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and in Atlanta, a full term but tiny baby boy was born less than 10 minutes after arriving via ambulance to the hospital during what was termed a “precipitous labor.” It felt like an Olympic sprint.
We won the Gold.
M was quickly whisked to the Special Care nursery for oxygen treatment due to breathing issues. He proved himself small, but mighty, right from the start. During the process of setting up the oxygen tent, M regulated his breathing on his own. He remained in the special care nursery for monitoring for 24 hours where nurses reported that while he was small for full term, he was one of the healthiest babies in that Special Care nursery. As such, he was the only baby available to make a debut in the hospital newspaper for a hospital healthy baby campaign.
M was sick quite a bit as an infant, and yet he rarely cried. So rarely did he cry that I wondered if there something wrong with him. He tolerated without complaint Jonathan carrying him by the neck to play trains.
One day, when he was 6 months old, M got lost in our split level ranch. I could not find him on the main level, which was one open room. He could not crawl yet, and while we did have stairs–he couldn’t crawl. After several concerned minutes of searching, I found him upstairs where he’d stealthily managed to get to his room and had fallen asleep under his crib. We bought a gate for the stairs that evening.
In his toddler and preschool years, we and his preschool teachers quickly noted that M had a sincere love of God, and was always questioning, appropriately, but challenging even those teachers. Why? Why did people act a certain way when they had to know a certain situation was wrong? Why did God create him? Why did he have a sin nature? Why? Why? I often sent him to Peter with questions for which I had no energy for answers.
One day, we were in the car with insane Atlanta traffic and M’s incessant 3 year old questions would not stop. I said “I love your questions, but my ears are going to bleed. PLEASE, take a break.” In that stellar parenting moment, M tearfully said “I’m sorry. I don’t know why I have all these questions, but I HAVE to let them out of my body!” I sighed and said “I know. Carry on. “
We also noted that M had a knack for vocabulary and word play. Out of his tiny frame and his elfen voice often came unexpected correctly used big words. We would say “Wow, M! That’s a big word. Where did you hear it?” And he would say “I read it in a book.”
When we began doing our mandatory yearly standardized testing in Virginia, M’s test scores for vocabulary, spelling, grammar, math, and reasoning skills were far beyond expectation or grade level, even surprising us.
One normal school day morning in our Virginia home, when the big boys were supposed to be getting ready for school, and I was downstairs cleaning the kitchen, I heard a boom and screaming from overhead. Like a level headed (read frazzled) mom of 4 children under 7 yrs old, trying to get the day started, I marched myself fuming up the stairs with an “I told you to…” I was met at the top by M with blood spurting out of his forehead onto the carpet, and streaks of bloody handprints on the walls. We made our way to the ER, where M wowed the hospital staff with his large vocabulary story telling antics as he got stitches in his head. On that day, as the mom of three boys, I knew I better grow more nerves of steel, due to the future ER and urgent care runs that surely have come.
While we were in VA, our boys were part of an Upward basketball league, where the goals were not just learning basketball skills, but also Christian character. In one game, the other kids on M’s team were fairly matched in size and skill to the opponents’, but M was not. The kid from the other team was not giving M any room at all to throw the ball around or over anyone. We could see that M was getting exasperated as he just dribbled and contemplated his strategy. Everyone was yelling “Just throw the ball.” But he kept dribbling. In a sudden turn of events, M passed the ball-UNDER the legs of the competition and into the hands of his team mate, stunning his opponent and his own team. It was genius, and there was thunderous applause and cheering…especially by this proud mother.
A friend who watched the children while we were at a homeschool conference in 2006 shared this story with me about M: “The kids and I were talking about dates, and that Father’s Day was in June. Somehow we were discussing how far something was away, and M said, “That’s 3 times as many days.” I said “Wow M! You are really good at math!” to which he replied, “I know. That’s why my name is MATH-hew. “ And, of course, he said it with the best smile and freckles to go along with that…” Not very long after this we found that M had a developmental vision problem requiring 4 months of twice weekly office based vision therapy. Surprisingly, even with this vision issue, M remained steadfast in his academic challenges and skills, especially math, until it was corrected.
As M entered middle school age, he really liked science and questioning how things worked. One day, his science assignment was to melt chocolate using only a magnifying glass and the sun’s rays. Unfortunately, it was a cold November overcast day here in MI, and as I had younger kids needing attention in the house, I left M with his magnifying glass, chocolate, and lack of sun unattended on the deck, assuming this science experiment would be an epic fail. I looked out the window to be sure he was staying on task, and saw smoke rising off the deck rail as well as a small flame. He had not only melted the chocolate, but the Styrofoam plate too, and was burning a line into the deck rail. M definitely got an A in persistence and for not burning the house down that day. The text book writer also got an email stating that a disclaimer/warning might need to be put into the textbook for future General Science users.
Another school day adventure was the day M came to me and said “You know how that the box for the new stapler you got for the school room says “25 sheets of paper one finger? I think what they meant to say is that one thumb equals 25 sheets of paper.” He stuck his thumb out to me to show me that he had stapled through his thumb and thumb nail, earning himself yet another trip to urgent care and a tetanus shot.
One day recently, I opened my computer to find that the cord had gotten trapped inside when it got closed. The screen was shattered, and I had nothing showing but the screen of white death and random computer characters. I called Dr. P. to find out what I should do, saying “M thinks he can fix this.” He said “This is outside M’s pay scale. Call a computer repair place.” I figured I had nothing to lose by letting M try, as he couldn’t really make it WORSE. M ordered parts, systematically took apart the computer, and put it back together in working order. He has also repaired little issues on our lawn equipment and vehicles, mostly successfully, saving us a bunch of money with his mechanical problem solving skills.
As I end this, Musician M, I am really now speaking to just you.
3 John 3-4: It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
In the stories I have shared about you, I haven’t even touched on the depth of compassion and service you have for others, your dedication to our family vision, or the way you are a fine example to your siblings, but it is still not hard to discern that you are a young man who has grown in strong character, wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.
You are smart. You are capable, persistent, and determined. You have a strong work ethic. You are academically prepared, in spite of our earthly limitations.
As Dad and I launch you off into the “REAL” world, what I want to impress on you is this: Continue to walk in integrity and truth. Walk in knowledge of the Bible and His commands. Obey the Lord first. Pray as He directs your paths and carefully listen to Him. While we hope to continue to impart wisdom as you make decisions for your future, our opinion, albeit filled with life experience, is still only an opinion. We are not God, and we do not always discern what God thinks is best. We know that you will need to take risks, and that those risks will be of concern to us because we love you. We do not want to be a stumbling block to your obedience to the Lord. It will not be dishonoring to us for you to make choices we disagree with if those choices are ones that you make as you seek to Honor God. Discern how to Honor Him and seek his will for you, in truth, with your time, talents, and obedience based on diligent prayer.
Go follow the path the Lord has for you.
I love you, and I’m proud of you.
UPDATE: My husband posted his message on his blog, Legacy Academic, here.