When we look at you now, tall and strong, we don’t just see an eighteen-year-old man, we see you in all of your life’s stages at once. We remember the day we brought you home from Owosso Memorial Hospital and you barely let us sleep for the first month! Dad remembers you screaming for hours in our house on Missionary Ridge while your Mom was out with friends. We remember the way you welcomed your twin sisters into the world after we moved to Tennessee. We remember the day we tried to enroll you in Kindergarten but the headmaster thought you were too rambunctious to sit still in class. We remember watching you receive your Blackbelt in TaeKwonDo after years of training. We remember the video tape we submitted to Crosspointe where you informed the parishioners that you like play with knives and sticks. We remember bringing you to Timbercreek Elementary School for the first time but also sending you off to junior high prom in the back of a limo. We remember picking you up from Flower Mound High School everyday in the parking lot of the Presbyterian Church across the street. We remember the excitement of your first day at iSchool High. So many memories flash through our mind as you walk across that stage tonight.

As much as we have tried to teach you as our son, you have taught us as parents. From you we have learned the power of a tender heart as we’ve witnessed your quiet kindness to others all of your life.  Your teachers throughout grade school always remarked about your concern for the feelings of other children. You attract friends wherever you go, and you are loyal to them.

You taught us how to find humor in the moment. You see subtext and comic irony in the world around you. Your wry humor is a constant source of delight that lightens our days.  It reminds us to relax and not take everything so seriously.

And you taught us about courage.  Our family life has been marked by several transitions not the least of which was your father becoming a minister. You have endured the scrutiny that comes with being a PK with dignity. In your 18 years you have had five homes and attended five schools.  Change has been constant.  Anyone who has moved knows that it is never without trial.   You have navigated these changes with courage, acceptance, and with humor, when all else failed.  It has been remarkable to watch.

You have an uncanny ability to accept life as it unfolds.  This is a skill that will serve you well in the years to come. Life is about transformation, a decades long process of becoming the man God intends for you. There are many chapters in life’s journey and you are completing a monumental one today. Each chapter has a specific lesson that God, in His all knowing wisdom, sees that you must learn. Painful chapters draw us near to Him and joyful chapters illuminate the glory and wonder of our world. Both are important. Our prayer is that you will always recognize God’s plan for you as He chooses to reveal it. His plan is rarely the same one that we envision for ourselves.

Remember also that your faith journey is a daily one.  Your choices will lead you closer to God or further from Him.  They will lead you down a path toward a peaceful heart or a troubled one.  No choice is made in secret as God is always with you.  Choose wisely and you will live without regret. Remember that real and lasting happiness has nothing to do with material possessions, it is a result of living out your faith, even when it is difficult. His plan is rarely the same one that we envision for ourselves.

Travis, we love you. You are the son that every parent dreams of having. We could not be more thankful for you and proud of the man you have become.  We pray God’s covenant blessings upon you as move forward into the next stage of your journey.