As your name means you truly are a gift from God. You will never know the deep joy you have brought to the lives of your Godly Mother and I. It started with me talking to you while still in the womb and addressing you as "Junior". Then I ran down the hospital corridor in Fort Worth yelling, "It's a boy, it's a boy!"
I remember the great time we spent together during the time between Seminary graduation and our next assignment in Ladonia Texas. Your Mom worked at General Dynamics so I was Mr. Mom for that time.
The town of Ladonia Texas remembers the little boy who would follow me back and forth with his plastic mower as I mowed the grass at the church parsonage. The church there remembers the cute little boy whom a certain Deacon taught to throw rocks at the cars in the church parking lot! I remember holding you down and nearly fainting as the Doctor stitched you up.
I remember your first day of school in Henderson. Even though your new classroom was only three doors around the corner from my office it seemed like you were a world away. I remember Scooter, the tenacious little weenie dog who was always yours. I remember the first day of home schooling and how I thought we would likely just do it a few years. Today you will graduate with a whole "class" of home schoolers.
I remember soccer, and T-ball, basketball and football. Seems like I remember a broken arm during the football part. (I'm sorry it took me four days to figure out your arm was really broken!) I remember our first Astros game. The Giants beat our Astros 6-3. (Two young players named Biggio and Bagwell scored twice and had three hits. We watched them do that for two decades. We are still watching Biggio do it today!) I remember you catching a bigger fish than me. The picture is still in our house.
I remember you complaining that you had to mow. It was no accident that I was the one who came to pick you up from Youth Camp so you could tell me on the drive home that God had called you to be a Worship Leader. I remember your first guitar. I remember you turning the other cheek, not because you are the Pastor's son but because you are the Father's child.
I remember the smile on your face the day we gave you your truck. I remember the lump in my throat as your Mother and I drove the 15 miles on that rainy night to get you out of the ditch where your truck had landed after you hit the tree. We had no peace in our hearts until we actually saw you and decided you were ok. I remember how proud I was of myself for not yelling at you until the next day! I remember thinking of how thankful I was that I sold the 1966 Red Convertible GTO before you were able to drive! I remember how bad I felt that you were never able to drive it.
I remember the fits you have given your Mother. You realize don't you that when you stir her up I am the one who has to go to the bedroom and get an earful don't you!?
I will remember today. I am so proud of you. You will walk across that stage and your Mom and I will hand you a diploma. We will stop just seven paces away, stand on the tape and someone will take a picture to mark the end of your high school career. Your Mother did a great job and I enjoyed being the "Principal" and bossing her around! You will walk across that stage as a man of integrity, far beyond anything I ever was.
You have run this course of the race well. I am not going to lie to you and tell you that the next leg is easy. College is a joy but at times it is an uphill climb into the face of a cold wind. At times you will feel like giving up. Don't. I am glad that you are going to our Alma mater, East Texas Baptist University. I am sad and terrified that you are going to move away from home in August to do it. (once more, remember whose you are!)
Here is my Fatherly advice. You only get one earthly life, make the most of it; don't leave anything on the table. Trust in God; trust Him with all your heart. Never limit your vision; if He can call you to do it then by His power you can do it! There are two things that last forever, the Word of God and the souls of men; major in both. When you feel like giving up remember to cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you. Do your best and you will have no regrets. Remember I will come to you any time, any place by any means I can. Just call. Remember prayer IS the relationship with God. Sing every day. See blue skies. Watch great sunsets. Share many sunrises with God. Love the girl you marry more than you love us. Be patient with my grandchildren (when they get here). If the Lord tarries, smile at my funeral and at your Mother's. Always watch Jesus.