Monday, May 31, 2010

My Other Graduate of 2010

My Mason graduated Kindergarten the Monday before Shelbi's graduation. He was so proud. :)

His self portrait. lol

His foot and hand prints butterfly

Their kindergarten class' self portraits are made into a quilt and auctioned off during the next year's Spring Fling as a fund raiser. Word has it, one of these went for 20K one year. *Gasp*

Here are a couple of his poses during the ceremony.

Getting a little comfortable, wasn't he? He was waiting for his turn to recite his poem.

Mrs. Traci handing out his diploma.
Then they danced to Dr. Jean's "Tooty Ta."
This part goes, "Eyes shut, tongue out, bottoms up and turn around." Love this picture!

Notice, by the end, the tie is on the outside of his gown??? He is so funny! I love this kid.
Congratulations, Mason! Who loves you the best? Mimi does. :)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Just Another Girl

What an emotional week! After Sunday's Baccalaureate and Shelbi's speech at Senior Night, I wondered if the actual graduation ceremony could get better than those two events. But it was even so much more than I imagined! This morning (4:30) to be exact, I just lay there in tears pondering and processing everything.
I shared with Larry that every mother simply wants their child to be loved. That is a mother's heart's desire. My heart's desire was realized last night for Shelbi.
After the processional, the prayer, the valedictorian's and salutatorian's speeches, and scholarships were announced, Shelbi's principal spoke. He talked about how being principal gave him certain advantages. He said he wanted to honor 4 ladies that had inspired him. He proceeded to tell the audience about one student that had not talked to him and how much he had longed for her to. He told the story of the morning announcement and the first time this student had said, "Good morning, Mr. Brown." In tears, he described how moved he was by my daughter. How she was "his miracle." He then called Shelbi forward and presented her with a rose and a big hug. One of the most touching moments I've ever witnessed. This tough high school principal reduced to tears because a seventeen year old had said good morning to him. The audience was in tears. Several of Shelbi's classmates were dabbing at their eyes. I glanced back at Debbie to find tears streaming down her cheeks. The love in that building was palpable. Love for my baby. Our sixth child. I was in tears.
And in the wee hours of the morning, with the events replaying in my mind, my tears flowed freely. Larry wasn't sleeping well either and reached out to hug me. I shared with him that I was finding it ironic that I cried so hard after the ultrasound showed us we were having "another girl." I remember feeling so afraid that, after having three of his own girls and taking on my two, Larry would be disappointed. I knew he'd love her. But maybe he wouldn't/couldn't love another girl as much as he would have a son. This was going to be our only child together, his last chance to carry on his name, our special baby. How, I thought, would another girl be special? I know some people might think that's silly, but it was what I felt almost nineteen years ago. We loved our five girls and I know all kids are special, but I wanted to give him the son he had always wanted. If Larry was disappointed during the ultrasound, he never showed it. When we got home, I called my Nannie like I had promised to give her the news. As the words, "It's another girl," came out of my mouth my voice cracked. I quickly told Nan good-bye and hung up. I recall Larry putting his arms around me from behind and telling me, "It's alright. It's our baby and she will be special because she's ours." I loved him for that. :) However, I guess I needed to grieve the loss of the son I had dreamed about for four months, so I ended up lying in the bed and sobbed for a couple of hours. I felt guilty about that for years. In a few days, I was fine. Leslie and I went through a box in the closet and pulled out Mallory and Sarah's newborn clothes. As I looked at the pink and lace, it started to matter less and less. I couldn't help but start getting excited. Still a little disappointed though, but only until I saw her face. The video of Shelbi's birth shows a room full of smiling, happy people celebrating a new little girl. Not one face looks disappointed.
At birth, I knew we loved her. At sixteen months, when she was being tested for leukemia, I knew we would die for her. At six, diagnosed with Selective Mutism, we cried for her when she couldn't get the words out. The wondering, "Will my child be loved?" came back. "Will she be accepted?" It was hard to send my baby off to a school with 400 other children and not worry. If she were bullied, who would tell? If she couldn't talk, how would she make friends? All valid concerns, but one by one God calmed our fears. One by one, He chose her teachers. One by one, He chose her friends. He protected her. She was never bullied, never tortured, and her teachers and other school employees loved her. Each step of progress was celebrated.
All any mother wants, really, is for her child to be loved. To know her child is loved. Last night, my child was loved. Not just by her family, not just by her friends, but by our town. It was beautiful. Just another girl? I think not.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart

My heart was in my throat Tuesday night as I watched my daughter give a farewell address to her Senior class at their Senior night. Beautiful testimony from a beautiful girl. I love you, Shelbi. You were so brave!

Walking out with her roses for the Rose Ceremony. She gave one to her best friend/cousin, one to me, one to her daddy, and one to her MawMaw. :)

Some sweet girls she's been in school with since Kindergarten/Pre-K. This part was where they shared students' memories of their school years.

Shelbi's English IV teacher, Mrs. West, introduced her with, "Remember when Shelbi spoke over the intercom for the first time?" (I blogged about that HERE.)
I don't know how she did it, but her voice was strong and clear. So was her heartfelt message.

One of her dearest friends, sweet Ebony

Shelbi and my niece, Hayley

More dear, and lovely friends: April and Dara

Here is her speech:

Dear the class of 2010,

My class of 2010, I realize now that in August 1997 most every one of you became a huge part of my life. You were the people that I was going to be spending eight hours a day for five days a week with for the next 13 years. You guys were going to be the people that really knew me. If only in August of 1997 we would have known I would not talk to most of you. For all of you who do not know, it is called selective mutism and considered to be an anxiety disorder. It never had anything to do with being anything against you. In all reality, you were the class that made it easy for me. You were the ones to accept me the way I was. Over the years it has been hard to deal with the pressures from people wanting me to talk but one important detail is that I cannot remember any specific moment where anyone in our class extremely pressured me. Even when a substitute called role and almost marked me absent, almost every one of you would suddenly say “she’s here.” It was appreciated by me more than you could ever realize.

Now in the year of 2010 I am proud to say that I grew up with this class, I learned from this class, and spent my time with this class. April 30, 2009 was an excellent day for me, maybe even for you too. Many of you thought that the day would never come; I never even thought the day would come, I only dreamed of it. Little did we know, it came and was absolutely one of the greatest days of my entire life. I am so proud of you guys for being so good to me over all the years; you may not realize it but you did make an impact. Saying farewell to you guys will not be the hardest thing to do but it will not be the easiest either. It will be hard for the fact that I probably will not see over half of you ever again after spending so much of my time with you. It is also hard to leave because I know that I’ll be leaving high school without actually bonding with my senior class. In all reality, I’m leaving here without everyone knowing who I really am and me knowing who everyone else really is; it does not settle well with me. I always wanted my senior year to be the best and filled with too many memories to remember all of them; it did not turn out that way for me though. I know that the reason for that is mainly because of the fact that I did not talk for the first 12 years we were together so most everyone is used to not having me in such a big part of their lives. Leaving high school may be good for most all of us though. It is time for a fresh start. We have been living in our comfort zones and with the people that make us most comfortable for a long time now so it is time to start over. I am one person to know that getting out of your comfort zone will not kill you. It honestly made me a much stronger person.

This is to all the friends I’m leaving behind, or becoming distant from, who shaped me along the way. I would never be the person I am today without each and every one of you coming into my life even if it was only for a season. There is always going to be a reason you came into my life at that exact moment you all did. You affected me greatly so I love every single one of you for that. Some of you made me stronger; others showed me what my breaking points were. Whatever kind of friend you were, you were never bad for me; I thank you for being you. I just want you to know that I love you; I miss you, right now and forever will. It does not matter where or how far life takes me from you, you will always be a part of my heart and never forgotten. So here I say to you, and my class of 2010, you all have grown in my heart. I would never want there to be any other people in my life. All of us may not truly know each other but when we hear each other’s names we will all remember something. I love you all, I’ll miss you all, and I congratulate you all for making it this far in life.

Love always,

A 2010 graduate,


It completely and utterly overwhelms me when I realize how God truly answers our prayers "above and beyond all we could ever hope or imagination." I always knew God would deliver Shelbi from the bonds of Selective Mutism, but never in my wildest dreams thought a year later she would be a public speaker. GOD IS SO GOOD!!! My heart is overflowing and I will forever give Him the praise for this.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Beginning Our Busy Week :)

Shelbi's Baccalaureate Service was this morning at 8:00, so my Mother's Day got off to a bright and early start. :)
Larry's mom (aka MawMaw) came too.

This was my view of the graduates for most of the ceremony.

My best friend's husband Todd, also my former pastor, spoke at the ceremony. He and Cristi are also the proud parents of the valedictorian, Joshua! =)

Todd is in the blue shirt behind the podium (and the ill-placed microphone). On his right is Shelbi's friend Gabby's Daddy, also a minister.
Shelbi and Joshua

Larry, Shelbi, and yours truly after the ceremony
Dara, Gabby, and Shelbi :)
Shelbi and her princiPAL, Mr. Brown~ We love this guy! He looks tough, but he's a real softy. ;)
And last, but not least, Shelbi and her proud Daddy!
This is already starting to be an emotional week. We are not only ending a chapter in Shelbi's life, but ours also. This is our sixth daughter to pass through this school system. This next fall will be the first school year that we don't have a child in the local schools. :( I absolutely can NOT say enough about the teachers in our local public school. They've not only been wonderful to Shelbi, but to all of our girls. We are going to miss being a part of that community. They will always be dear to us for many reasons, but especially for the kindness, compassion, and love they showed a little girl who didn't talk to them for twelve of her thirteen years with them. And the group of kids she's graduating with~ well, they are all part of Shelbi's miracle. A miracle that is speaking publicly again Tuesday at Senior Night. Would someone please pass the tissues?????

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Shelbi's Senior Portraits!

The day after Easter, Shelbi and I went to take her Senior portraits. We took some at Church Hill in front of the old Gothic style church and some at an antebellum home, Melrose, that is now a National Park. I was pleased with how they turned out. Now that the invitations have been sent, I am posting some of our favorites. I still cannot believe my youngest is graduating in thirteen days.

This one is Shelbi's favorite. :)

Here she is looking just like her big sister, Leslie! =)
Now, all I have left to take are the cap and gown ones. I still need to post the Prom ones, but they are still not edited completely. I took the prom pics just the Friday before these and these needed to be edited for grad invites, so these got priority. I'll get back to those as soon as possible. So much to do in the next twelve days. We've got family coming as far away as eight hours for this child's graduation, so lots of cleaning and decorating to be done. Hope to post some more soon. =)