For the past year, I've been dreading this day...3 of my girls moving on up...one from elementary to middle, one from middle to high school and one from high school to adulthood/college/she can vote/she doesn't need me to go to the doctor with her anymore/she could leave the country if she wanted to/etc./etc.etc. I wasn't dreading it because of where they are going or coming from. I wasn't dreading it because they are growing up....growing up is part of life. I wasn't dreading it because time is flying. I mean after all....that's one of the main goals as a parent....your children becoming productive, responsible, kind, serving, caring adults. I was dreading it because change is coming for our family. I was dreading it because I know how much we are going to miss seeing Addi every single day. It's going to be a big adjustment. Sometimes if I find myself thinking about it too much, my head hurts. We've had a lot of change this past year, and it has been very very difficult; so I have been trying to avoid it as much as possible. But recently I started thinking about it in a different way. Change can be hard, but sometimes you do your best growing there. As I was sitting at the graduation ceremony, I was thinking about the past 18 years....the first time I held her and looked at that beautiful face into those beautiful eyes. I was thinking about how I use to hold her and weep, because I had never known love like that before. I was thinking about my own mother and remembering the time I called her, a few days after Addi was born, to tell her..."I get it now. You really really love me. Thank you for loving me like that." I was thinking about the sacrifices my oldest has made for her siblings and how she has always done so without complaint....I mean NEVER did she complain. I was thinking about how she loves them all so very much and how they love her back. It is a sweet, pure, devoted love they share; and it is beautiful to see. And I was thinking about the person she has become, her gentle spirit and sweet sweet soul. She is sweet to the bone. God definitely had a big part in that. She has allowed Him to mold her and use her, and I am so very thankful for that.....so so thankful! I was thinking about all the people in her life, who have been wonderful role models, inspiration and support for her. WOW! It's amazing and comforting to know that many people love your baby. Today I thought I would cry all day long with this sad sad place in my heart, because I've been gearing myself up to dread this day all year long. But for the last few weeks, I've found myself very excited for Addi. Now I'm not saying I didn't cry at all today, because crying is almost an inert response for me in many every day situations....I'm just emotional like that. I did cry at my 5th graders clap out, but so did Addi. Seeing your 18 year old holding tight to her 11 year old sister while they cry together....people that will about bring you to your knees. I did get choked up during the Salute to the Armed Forces during the graduation ceremony....especially when those seniors who are already signed up to serve our country stood up in their caps & gowns...so humbling and grateful. I shed a quiet tear when Dr. Ryan, our superintendent, hugged my girl so tight on that stage after she received her diploma. I could see how proud he was for her. She has known him her whole life through our church family. But today....I am not sad. I cried a few times but I did not cry out of sadness. I am excited for what the future holds. Our world is a fallen place with many bad bad things, but there is good in so many of our youth....I can see it in their faces, their actions, their sacrifices. It gives me hope. There were many cheers, hoots & hollers tonight as each name was called. There are definitely a lot of proud families tonight....with good reason....and that makes me smile. Our CHHS principal, Conrad Streeter, closed the ceremony tonight with this advice: stick close to your family and friends...they are your support, hold tight to your faith, and from this moment on....time flies....so live in the moment. I hope everyone there tonight....especially all of those seniors were listening....because he is so so right. Change is hard, and it is not always easy; but oftentimes it is necessary....it's what's next....and next is on the horizon.