Accolades for Amy

Here I am on the eve of my second sweet daughter’s graduation from high school.

In many ways that is not remarkable as millions of families will watch their children and grandchildren march across a stage, field or platform in the upcoming days and weeks to receive that coveted diploma. Yes, she is just one of millions in the global class of 2011.

And it is quite unlike the first born graduate who accomplished this same milestone four years ago. There will be no valedictorian speeches, no honor cords or scholarships awarded her at the ceremony tomorrow. She will be just another one of the graduates in the JECHS class of 2011.

  • Unremarkable?
  • Average?
  • One of many?

NOT!

Amy, while not an academic achiever according to the standard of this world, is an amazing young lady with unique gifts and talents, influential leadership, godly character and a heart for the Lord!  She is remarkable! She is uncommon! She is stellar!

And yet she is in the season of life that I call the “academic” years.  Those years where it seems like most of life is centered around your academic achievements.  You are judged and evaluated by your ability to take tests, your grade point average, your SAT scores, your AP & honors courses, your college acceptance letters and your scholarship awards.  You are continually being asked questions about your academic achievements by relatives, adult mentors, teachers & peers.

Personally, I sailed through this season of life with relative ease. (and it truly is just a season…no one has asked my GPA in the last three decades!)  While I was the least “academically inclined” of my parents four children, I still had giftings in the area of academics and along with my brother & sisters acquired the appropriate amount of academic accolades, achievements & awards.  I was also an “academic snob”.  While I realized that people had various degrees of intellectual ability, I figured that most everyone (with the exception of the most severe disabilities) had the ability to achieve academically if they “put their mind to it”.  This carried into my early years as a teacher as I was appalled by students who came into my classroom as junior highers not being able to spell simple words like paper (papper) or having acquired basic reading skills or understanding of math.  Not that I expected everyone to be “straight A” students, I actually thought most had just not “worked hard enough” or were lazy.

My first born fell right into my line of academic thinking.In addition to being a classic first born overachiever, she spoke in full sentences by year one, began to read at age four and could spell “beautiful” in kindergarten. I am sure in my mind I was “patting myself on the back” for creating such an academic acheiver (which in reality I had precious little to do with it)  Then along came Amy….

She was the sweetest baby ever.  She was calm, good-natured, smiled & slept a lot. (in shocking comparison to her extremely colicky…crying for 9 months straight… elder sister).  We nicknamed her “Sleeping Beauty”.  It didn’t concern us that she was not speaking as early as her sister as we figured this was typical for a second child.  But….when she still was not speaking more than 10-15 coherent words by age four we knew there was some “issues”.  She was diagnosed with serious speech delay and began four years of therapy. Then she was only able to read very short kindergarten readers by age ten. After trying every program known to man to teach her to read we finally found the program (Powerline) and the teacher (the amazing Miss Pam) that worked for her dyslexia. We rejoiced that she was able to read and comprehend novels before going to high school (and went from “I HATE reading” to “Mom, can I read all day?”).

While I was raising Amy (or perhaps she was raising me) I began to change my mindset.  I began to “re-think” the way society sees academics. I began to be very purposeful about teaching Amy that her value did not come from her ability to excel academically (or for that matter athletically, musically, artistically or in outward beauty or wealth…all things the world puts a high value on) but that her value was to be found as a child of God. I also ingrained in her heart & mind that the God who created her had also endowed her with unique gifts and talents to be used for His glory. (“Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well.” 1 Peter 4:10)  For her those gifts did not happen to be in the area of academics and yet she would still be required to perform at a certain level to get through this academic season of life.  It is just the way we have set up our society.  (on a side note I find this interesting…what if we required someone to play sports for years and “pass” athletic milestones even if they had no athletic propensity?  Or if we required musical accomplishments from people who were tone-deaf or can’t clap & sing at the same time?) Of course since she was homeschooled, the normal academic pressures of traditional school were not something she had to face.  She had a happy, carefree childhood free from thoughts of – “I’m in the slow group” or “I am dumb” or “What is wrong with me?”.  She learned at her own pace. She discovered her unique gifts and talents and excelled at them. She learned to love the Lord. She developed godly character.  She actually blissfully unaware of any disabilities she had.  As she began to prepare to go to a traditional high school, I spent time reinforcing these values and ideas so that she would be able to get through school without losing her sense of value and purpose. I warned her:

  • She would have to work harder and likely not get as good results as many of those around her
  • That she may stay up half the night studying and still fail the test.
  • That some teachers would be “academic snobs” just as I had once been or think she was lazy or had not studied…just smile and pray for them.
  • This is just a academic season of life and that it has no reflection on her future success and plans
  • That her accolades would need to come from the Lord and the voice in her own head (she spent much of her childhood listening to motivational speakers and memorizing their quotes! It paid off!)

I encouraged her:

  • That God has uniquely gifted her and that she needed to develop those gifts and use them for His glory
  • That she needed to work hard (and thus develop godly character) no matter what the results
  • That it was much smarter to take the areas you are good at and make them great than to take things you are poor at and make them average. (Why spend time trying to take a two to a five when you could take a seven to a ten?)
  • God is in control of your life.  You seek Him, commit your way to Him and live upright, He will accomplish what concerns you and He will lead you in the right path.
  • Never forget your value lies in being a child of God!

And she did just that! It was hard at times. She had moments of disappointment and discouragement…but she pressed on!  As she walks across the stage tomorrow and receives her diploma, this former “academic snob” momma will be

  • rejoicing with her as she celebrates her success!
  • beaming with pride (just as I did with my first grad in ’07) that she is pursuing her God-given gifts and talents, developing godly character and loving the Lord
  • shedding a few bittersweet tears as she ends this season of life

PS – For those Moms of “youngins” who struggle with academic achievement and are concerned (translate worried) about their education and future let me encourage you.  Amy will graduate from high school with a 3.18. She was accepted to five colleges (two on academic probation) even with below average SAT scores and received financial aid & academic scholarships from the colleges (we did giggle with delight when these offers arrived). She will be attending Bethany University in the fall and continue to seek the Lord’s plan  & purpose for her life.  Who would have ever guessed that 10 years ago?  But God…..

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9 Comments

Filed under Attitude, College & Career, Determination, Homeschool, Jim Elliot Christian High School, Life Lessons, Lifes Challenges, My "take"

9 responses to “Accolades for Amy

  1. nina

    BEAUTIFUL! AMY IS A INSPIRATION AS YOU ARE.ONE OF MY FAVORITE BLOGS..NINA

  2. Susan Burlingham

    Thank you for sharing about Amy. I have never commented on your Monday Motivations even thought I have enjoyed them and shared them with another Mom of a Kings College student.
    I have just come from a christian high school baccalaureate that was wonderful-no complaints. Your story about Amy rings true for my high school years and my amazing Brazilian adopted son, Robert. We (Rob and me) are not stand outs. But we have value and worth that is not measurable because God has equipped us with heart.
    Thank you for being willing to share about Amy.

  3. Linda

    What a wonderful story about Amy! Congratulations to her and best of luck as she heads in to this next stage in her life journey.

    Hard to believe it’s already been 4 years since the oldest graduated. It seems you were just writing about her heading off to the east for college and it’s been 4 years.

  4. Stacey Nunes

    Beth, once again another fabulous inspiring story! Congrats Amy & may God bless you emmensely as you embark on the next chapter of your life! 🙂

  5. Pam Hendricks

    As usual you bring me to tears. Great Monday Motivation. It is exciting to celebrate everyone’s unique gifts. Let us remind ourselves that we are bringing up our children to achieve God’s unique plan for them. It isn’t about that they can achieve anything they set their mind to, it is all about that they can acheive all that God has set His mind to.

  6. Pam Williams

    Well, you did it Beth! I’m sitting at my computer with tears in my eyes. What a marvelous perspective. I will be printing this up and giving it to the parents of my current and future students. I count it a privilege to have been able to come alongside Amy for those four years and then later to be one of her mentors during her Rite of Passage. She is beautiful and talented and gifted in many ways (all things which the world admires). But better than that, she is a beautiful young woman of Godly character, a reflection of the LORD she serves. I’ll be praying that God uses these years ahead to continue what He has already begun in Amy. And He will, because He has promised to complete the work in her. Great is His Faithfulness!
    Love, “Miss” Pam

  7. Sheila

    I am so happy Beth for you and Amy!! If you had not been there cheering her on as a homeschool mom.., what would have happened to her in the public school setting? Amy I have also seen you grow from a quiet little girl in the nursery with a blanket, into a beautiful happy young woman who has a heart for God..
    Congratulations to both of you:)
    PS.. my son Joel didn’t know his colors at 5 and didn’t read until 10.. and he is off in College doing great… God can work through us moms to train His children in the way they should go… ohhh what a struggle that can be at times:) This is why I take my hat off to you Beth.. because you a double the children I do… Keep doing God’s work, raising those precious children of yours… Sheila

  8. Carleen

    Thanks Beth! even though Cassie is not struggling with any disabilities, she struggles with enjoying her “academia” and I am struggling to help her find her place. She will be turning 10 this year as well, and I would really love to come spend a day with you this summer, if you could spare some time (just a few hours maybe for lunch), to get some guidance with her. I would love for next year to go better than this with her.

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