Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Speech You've All Been Waiting For... ;)

This is not a picture of me giving my speech...it was taken by my cousin, Matthew, as part of a graduation photo-shoot for me. :) I had just burst into laughter...thus the tilted head and cheeky smile. :)
Anyway, at long last, after I have griped about it, worried over it, and finally read it in front of 150 people, I can show you my speech. I am not sure at all about how good or not good it is, having never had to give a speech before in my life. I only know that I spoke from my heart and that has to count for something...

"You know I cannot make speeches, Emma. Perhaps if I felt less I could talk about it more."
~Mr. Knightley

But for better or for worse my speech was given and I didn't botch it up too badly at any point. I wasn't even very nervous, which was a direct answer to prayer. I think my nervousness came out in a silly feeling and abnormal thirst. I was gulping ice-water until it was my turn! :D So, without further ado, you can read below, in full, my graduation speech and tell me what you thought about it. Oh yes. And before you read, please realize that I know it is not highly polished writing, but my edits were done in the crazy few days between laying on the couch with a dizzy head from wisdom teeth and the actual graduation. Time was limited, and talent would have to suffice. ;)
Also, I formatted the speech this way for ease of reading. I could see where I needed to emphasize things without having to think to hard about it. The great preacher, Peter Marshall, did the same...that's actually where I got the idea! :D Here you go:

"When people look at me with pitying eyes and ask if I’ve enjoyed being homeschooled, I have to laugh.

The idea of not enjoying it is so absurd.

Because the truth is, I love the life Jesus has given me.

I love my big, crazy, funny, hard-working family.

I love knowing my sisters so well that we can simply share a look and know just what the other thinks about a matter.

I love having an older brother who plays chauffer and takes me on adventures and isn’t ashamed to go into departments stores and try on crazy Sunday hats with me.

I love having a younger brother who brings me dead birds and trapped mice and frozen butterflies because he wants me to be able to draw them.

And I thank Jesus for sparing me from a conventional, pre-packaged education.

I used to wonder how it would feel to have a “normal” schedule like the public school kids and many home-schooling families.

What would it be like to go through my school-books without any interruptions?

My books were never pre-ordered for the next five years in a tidy curriculum package. Mama chose whichever books she felt we needed at that moment.

I doubted most girls my age accomplished their algebra in the bumpy work truck in between lawns.

Most girls don’t stop book-work for nine months to build a house with their dad.

That’s just not the way it’s generally done.

I never truly wished for a different schedule, but I did wonder what the benefits of our life-style were.

Now, as I look back, I can see many benefits of being raised differently than most girls.

One of the biggest blessings of our style of homeschooling is that my education has been chosen and designed by God particularly for me and my future.

I can know for sure that everything He has brought into my life will be needed someday. I can’t always see how I will use some of the knowledge I’ve been given…

Is there any particular reason I learned how to put tin roofing on a porch?

And will my skills racing walk-behind mowers ever come in handy again?

Yet because Dad and Mama have been faithful in following God’s leading, I have had many opportunities to gain new skills and I know that everything I have learned is useful.

I will admit that the life I’ve been given can be crazy and uproarious now and then.

This past winter we were having a slow season and I found it difficult to fill my time. That all ended when God saw fit to give us a crash course in botany, agriculture, marketing, and business management.

All at once.

Since then we have been so stretched for time it’s a mercy nothing important has snapped!

Another benefit of this life is the real experience I’ve been able to have. Not many girls my age have already had experience (however limited) as a carpenter, electrician, plumber, painter, landscaper, horticulturalist, floral designer, seamstress, author, and office manager.

If I cared to write everything down, I might end up with a pretty impressive resume!

Dad and Mama have passed along an admirable work-ethic to each of us children. Dad especially has always encouraged us to do hard things, to stretch and get outside our comfort-zone.

It’s the reason we joke that our family motto has become “Semper Gumbi: Always flexible.”

I suppose that’s how we built the house.

And I have a hunch that’s why I’m standing up here giving a speech.

Mama taught me at an early age to love literature, and now I’m a writer myself.

Perhaps because of both these things I have fallen into the habit of looking at life like a novel the Lord has written and placed me in the middle of.

Only the story is beautifully true.

I like flipping back through my memories like the pages in the book that I’ve already read.

My child-hood was one chapter.

My high-school years were another, packed with many of God’s Providences.

So now I stand on the brink of a new chapter in my life, and I can only guess at what is ahead. So far each chapter has been better than the one before.

I expect to meet with many adventures in this next chapter. And yet I’ve come to realize that adventures seldom happen to those who don’t look for them.

Oftentimes the things God means for adventures, we take as inconveniences and troubles and so we miss opportunities to see God work miracles.

I mean to take every adventure Jesus presents and “live it to the hilt” as the missionary, Jim Eliot, said. It’s exciting to think on the possibilities ahead.

But naturally the question comes up, “What will you be doing now, since you’ve finished school?”

Of course I can’t know for certain what sort of adventures are written down for me, but I do have some guesses and will work toward them until I come to the next bend in the road.

I have set my ambition on a career that I believe I am fitted for in every prospect. I know one of the most talented women in this field and greatly admire and love her.

For several years I have been in training for this occupation, and now that my school-work is finished, I will enter a season of even more intense training in hopes of one day making this my profession.

I am not going to merely be a doctor, for I will have the care of souls as well as bodies.

I am not going to be a lawyer, though my career will involve a sort of judicial system

The profession I am working towards is the noblest career a woman could have. It will involve every bit of knowledge I possess, and much more that I have yet to learn.

It will task my every skill and talent. And yet the rewards are bounteous and ever-lasting.

So what career am I training for?

That of being a wife, a mother, and a homemaker.

I believe that in this new season of my life, Jesus is calling me to stay at home, learning from Mama all the skills I will need for my hoped-for career.

Staying at home is so much more than pies and aprons, clothes-lines and curlers. The family is the most vital unit in society. A woman whose heart is in her home is a queen. Beside her husband, she helps rule a miniature kingdom with eternal effects.

I have always held that a conviction must be a personal thing, not brought on man’s opinion, but by God’s voice.

And so I do not choose this path because it is the “good Christian-girl” thing to do. I choose it because I feel that God has equipped me my whole life for this work, and that, as a woman, it glorifies Him when I work in this role.

I choose it because I truly admire Mama who has walked this road before me. I marvel at the feat it was raising me, remembering the days when I’d try her patience with my mistakes. I recall the days I would weep over my math-book and she’d stand patiently by, ready to explain the equation for the hundredth time.

And that was just me!

Mama has given her life to all eight, soon to be nine of us children. Motherhood is a noble calling indeed…

To be a wife, ready to love, help, and honor her husband,

To be a mother, bearing children and raising them be strong men and women for Christ’s kingdom,

To be a homemaker and create a beautiful, peaceful haven for my family and strangers alike,

This is one of my fondest hopes and dreams.

So much for the long-term ambition. As I said before, Jesus is writing my life-story, and He may have other plans for me.

At this point in the novel there is no knight in shining armor galloping down the hill to sweep me off my feet.

Jesus may call me to a life of singleness. That would be a new adventure, but I trust my Lord would be just as ever-present and faithful on that road, for if He has chosen it, there is nothing else that will fulfill me.

I am open to whatever my Lord wishes me to do.

But I do know that my education has not been so carefully cultured by the Lord merely to be laid aside like an old coat. I have confidence that no matter what capacity He calls me to, I am prepared.

I will enjoy the adventures God is giving me today while waiting to see what His plans are for this upcoming chapter.

My life is overflowing with the Lord’s abundance. I am working full time on our family farm, and part-time as the business manager of our landscape business. As an elder’s daughter there is plenty to do toward preparing our home for church and other ministry. I help Mama keep our home and family running smoothly. With soon to be twelve people in the house there is never a dull moment.

In my spare time I have many interests, among them sewing and historical-clothing designing, studying herbalism, watercolor painting and writing, all of which could easily be turned into business ventures. Who knows? I may publish one of my books and find myself a real author someday. I dearly love learning and there is a plethora of subjects I have only glanced over. I might just take it into my head to learn French, or teach myself how to play at least one song decently on the piano.

Thanks to both my parents, but especially Mama, I have a deep love for learning and a zeal for many pursuits. I will certainly lack nothing to keep my time filled.

As I look back on my education and my life so far I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Mama and Dad, under Jesus’ guidance, have placed me so far ahead of many girls my age… I know it will affect the rest of my years.

From my marvelously unconventional upbringing, I know I will never have a run-of-the-mill life.

I am living a life of adventure, wilder than any novel, because it is written by the King of kings.

It is written by the Creator of the world.

It is written by the Author and Finisher of my faith.

How can I keep from smiling at the doubts and fears when I have this assurance?

God’s plan may take me into uncharted territory, wilder than I could ever imagine, but I know that the same Lord who has led my life thus far will keep me, lead me, and guide me to the end.

And with such a promise, my story is guaranteed a Happily Ever After."


Anonymous said...

First of all, I love your graduation picture! Now I have a smiling face to put with your name. :-)

Second of all, your speech was absolutely wonderful! Amusing, genuine, and touching. Everything a graduation speech should be. Good job! :)

♥Katie said...

I LOVED it Rachel!! I knew you would do Great!! =)

Anonymous said...

First, before I gush, I love that photo. You look so happy - you must have been euphoric! :)

Now onto the speech... it was FANTASTIC. You did an awesome job on it! I second Katie's comment! ;)


Carilyn said...

Congratulations on graduating!! You have a great outlook on life, and your speech was great! It seemed a little long to me though; of course, when you are actually delivering it, it probably only took a few minutes. ;)

Love your friend,

P.S. I didn't know you built your own house! That sure is nice of you to share it with your family. ;) =)

Always Narnian said...

Awesome speech, Rachel. I can identify with some of those things, being homeschooled myself. I know God will truly bless and keep you if you keep living for Him. I am really glad to hear you say that stuff about being a wife and mother, it's the same way our family feels about my sisters and myself!

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful, Rachel.

"One of the biggest blessings of our style of homeschooling is that my education has been chosen and designed by God particularly for me and my future."

Amen! Being homeschooled myself, I can very much relate to this. And it's a blessing to find others who feel the same way.

Congratulations on graduating, and on writing a wonderful, lovely speech!