Sid and I tell Lincoln what we really think

 

And then we present him with his high school diploma.

It is hard to hear me talking, so if you don’t want to struggle through that, just skip to the 5 minute mark where Sid shares his Lincoln story.  His voice carries better than mine, plus he is funnier.  I include a transcript of my “speech” below, since it is easier to read me than to hear me.

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Lincoln, “I admire you dreadfully.”

I am borrowing a statement your daddy once said to me.  And though I am still working out exactly what he meant when he spoke those words to me,

(looking at Sid, “I’ll get back to you on that one day”)

I know exactly what I mean when I say them to you.

“I admire you dreadfully.”

I use the word “dread” here with its sense of “awe.”  You inspire me, Lincoln.  You set a high bar for me, your Mama, to live up to.

Yes, you are smart, write a pretty entertaining essay, are a skilled musician and got some dance moves.  And while I certainly can’t live up to the music or dance skills, the part of you I find most awesome is how you live out your relationships, which is to say how you love God.  We can’t have one without the other.  One cannot love God without being love to people, We must be “walking temples” as NT Wright says, creating safe places for people to be.

You understand that Love is not a general, vague feeling of wishing good for someone.  You actively DO good things.

For me, one of the good things you do is repent.  If sin is defined as “missing the mark” and repent is defined as “making a 180 degree turn around, to change your direction,” then you are the most repentant person I know.

Not because you “miss the mark” more than most.  You have a clear eye on the RIGHT target, that goal of being love to others.  But you are finely tuned to notice when you even slightly glance away from the mark.

You have practiced that habit of “turning away” from a slightly questionable response to a better, more right one.  I have watched you do this in the smallest interactions – with me, with your sisters, your brother — basically those you live with and who have the capacity to cause you the most annoyance and test your patience.

 

“I’m sorry.  I sounded impatient,” you might say.

“Forgive me. It’s not you, I’m tired and grouchy,” I’ve heard you say.

“I should not have spoken to you in that way,” you have said.

 

In your smallest interactions, the ones most people view as trivial, or not even think about at all, you are aware of others, their feelings, and how you might negatively or positively impact their life.  You catch yourself in the moment, turn yourself around and redeem the slightest impatient word or irritable action.

You are less interested in proving yourself to be RIGHT, than you are in being a man of great kindness and mercy.

That is Love, Lincoln.  You do it so well.  And those of us in relationship with you feel so cherished.

We often think of parents as molding and shaping their children’s behavior, but that does not work in just one direction.  Lincoln, you have shaped and are continuing to shape me.

Lincoln’s Bio

One of the funnest things I get to do as a homeschool mom is plan my kid’s graduation.  I get to write a bio for the program, create a slideshow of his life, and present his diploma to him.  And since I’m his mom, I get a special dispensation to be proud and mushy.  It is like a Law.  Or something.

So!

I present Lincoln’s bio that will appear in the graduation program in a few weeks.

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“Dad taught me to control my anger, but Mom taught me that it is okay to be angry.”

—Lincoln James Gaskins

 

Lincoln is book-smart and talented, for which his parents are thankful, but they are most proud of the attributes for which he had to work hard.

He honors the vulnerable, whether that is a little sister, a grandmother, or a lonely person he meets in his day-to-day.  He challenges authority to behave better.

He takes risks, putting on a pink, sequined jacket and walking onto a stage to belt out a song in a huge theater when he feels like vomiting.

He has endured a storm that ripped through his life, stole his security, challenged everything he thought he knew to be true, and he turned to provide a safe haven for his younger sisters.

Lincoln is a man who puts aside his own comfort for the sake of others.

He dares to ask the big questions about God, life, and what it means to love and do good.  He is wise enough to know that he does not have all the answers, and that it is the questions that are important anyway.

At 17 years old, he has learned enough wisdom to recognize his many weaknesses.  He knows that his anger can consume him, that he has biases he knows about and those he doesn’t, that he avoids making decisions.

He is funny, kind, still kisses his mama and has a strong sense of justice.

In August, Lincoln will attend UNC Charlotte where he will play his cello, nerd out on music theory and play as many instruments as his fingers can touch.  Eventually, he will complete a degree in Music Education.

He plans to share a 12’ x 15’ dorm room with his older brother, Sidney, so he would appreciate prayers.

paying attention

I take the dog out for her nightly constitutional.

The evening, cool and eerily still, no heat pump running.  So silent I can hear the absence of sound.  My ears strain and I detect tiny feet walking across dry leaves, something easy to crush underfoot.

The dog has no interest in her bodily functions. She is more interested in peering into the dark dark wood.  Does she hear something? Or is the silence strange for her too?

One bright star blazes in a blue so dark that it is almost, but not quite, black.  It suspends directly over our house, blessing all those within.

Then it comes to me, the barest whisper, almost too far away — the call of a whip-poor-will.  A sound that recalls such longing.  I remember hearing whip-poor-wills as a little girl.  Our family did not have air conditioning, and we slept every night with the windows open, blankets and sheets thrown back, the night air gentling across skin.  I would drift away feeling safe and content in the night and song.

I’m not sure I can identify the bird and make a note to look it up.

Walking the dog back toward the porch, I remember how Sid and I sat there the previous evening with little tiki torches lit as the sun went down. We sat on the double rocker he bought me when I was pregnant with our first child.  Finances were tight, but I wanted it because I imagined that we would sit close together, holding our baby.

Of course, that rarely happened.  He was gone for long hours every day, working and I was up most of the night, desperate to get our small human to eat and to survive.

Here we are, 19 years later, and we can sit in the cool of the evening on this rocker on our front porch, flames dancing on the wine glass tiki torches made by that baby-grown-up.  We can talk about our hopes and plan for the future better than we could before.  I guess we grew up too.  Mostly.

It is like we are partners, after all this time, working together.  The way I had always dreamed.

I go in the house, intending to schedule more evenings on the porch with torches burning, listening for the whip-poor-will.


Some may note that this is not the season for porch-sitting.  I wrote this last year, late summer, early fall.