Fantastic Fifteen

Some bloggers write about events as they actually happen, or soon thereafter. Coincidentally, their posts are often timely and relevant.

Here at the Duckabush Blog, we are bound by no such constraints.

Some 45 days ago, our middle son (Daniel) celebrated his 15th birthday. Birthday parties often pose a certain challenge, especially with a large family living on a single income. Each child typically wants their party to surpass all previous parties, including those of siblings or friends. All it takes is one friend with a doting or wealthy parent, and the bar can be set impossibly high.

Nothing says '"happy birthday" like a wrestling match on the climbing wall.

We try all kinds of subterfuges and schemes to limit the cost of the party.

“Remember, every dollar we spend on your party is a dollar less that we spend on your gifts.”

“No, you had your big party last year — this year it is your turn to have a modest, family-only party.”

“As it turns out, we recently discovered that you were switched at birth, at the hospital. If we can find out who your real parents are, maybe they will throw you a party.”

OK, maybe we haven’t actually used that last one, but it is certainly worth a try.

We tried, with some success, to stop them from using the climbing wall as a tool to achieve escape-velocity.

Anyway, this year we were blessed with a cost-saving alternative. One of my good friends works at a nearby company that provides lavish recreational facilities for the workers, and makes them available to employee families and friends. He graciously invited us to join him for a morning of mini-golf, pickle ball, basketball, darts, air hockey, rock-climbing and massage chairs, to celebrate Daniel’s big day.

Daniel really seemed to enjoy the event, pictured here with Noah.

Afterwards, we enjoyed pizza and ice cream pies at home — definitely a fun and joyous way to celebrate Daniel’s big day.

Nothing says "Happy Birthday" like a photo-shopped, history-revisionist sign.

Happy birthday, beloved son!

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Our First Homeschool Graduate

Several weeks ago we celebrated the culmination of our efforts in homeschooling one of our children — his graduation ceremony. After twelve long years of careful instruction and effort, Joshua stood on the dais and received his diploma as a homeschool graduate.

Proud Parents of the Graduate

Joshua is a fine young man, thoroughly ready to take the next step in his education, godly and thoroughly equipped for every good work. I’d like to take the credit, but it is mostly Kathy who has made him the man that he is. She has crafted his learning plan throughout the years and has guided his mind in loving knowledge and preferring godly instruction. Truly a graduation ceremony is as much about the teachers as the students; as Joshua’s primary instructors, we are very proud of what he has become, and excited about what God will do in him, in the future.

This year's crop of H.O.P.E. graduates sit, listening to the Commencement Speaker.

The graduation ceremony was early this year, due to availability issues with the church where our Homeschool Co-operative meets. Seven other graduates shared the stage, with Ken Sartain presiding and Washington State Representative Jim McCune as Commencement Speaker. McCune, an unprepossessing, soft-spoken and casually-dressed man in his early sixties, gave the most powerful Commencement speech I have ever heard — strongly advocating homeschooling and charging the graduates to be spiritual leaders in their generation.

Stuart, Tim and Joshua have been friends since sixth grade.

Our family has attended H.O.P.E. Co-op for the last seven years, gathering each Friday with like-minded homeschool families, to pool teaching talent and to build friendships with other students. Joshua was blessed to find clever and quirky friends at H.O.P.E. — friendships which persisted throughout his high school years.

Joshua's Grandparents were able sneak away from their responsibilities as hosts at the Refuge, to attend the ceremony.

Obviously we were not the only ones to invest in Joshua and to disciple him. Many others deserve to be recognized, including:

  • Bill and Cindy Moore, grandparents
  • Jim and Robbie Edgren, grandparents
  • Jody Weed, Wilderness Northwest Camp
  • Kevin Klas, youth leader
  • Carl DeyArmin, youth leader
  • Jamie Davis, discipler
  • Jesse Roberge, boss
  • Dee Duke and Bill Jack, inspirational instructors
  • Many other small group and youth group leaders, over the years

Joshua with his beloved Mamie.

We wish that Kathy’s Dad could have been there to see Joshua’s graduation. With his deep love of learning and ability to celebrate joyfully, I can just imagine him avidly browsing the student displays or button-holing the Commencement Speaker for a quick chat. He is greatly missed by us all. We were thrilled to have Cindy with us to mark this momentous occasion.

It was inspiring to view so many of Joshua's accomplishments and honors, all in one place.

Kathy and the kids put together the ‘Student Display’, highlighting many of Joshua’s achievements as a student. It was a lot of fun to remember the stories that went along with many of these keepsakes, and to reflect on the rich tapestry of God’s work in his life. Indeed, God has been very good to Joshua, gifting him with a great number of opportunities and experiences far beyond those of most high school students.

A few weeks before Joshua’s graduation, I was asked to write a statement ‘from the parents of the graduate’ to be included in the program. As I thought about how to express our heart, one of my favorite verses from Proverbs came to my mind:

“Joshua, what a privilege it has been to watch you grow in grace as a mighty, young man of God. Laughing with you through the years, we have deeply enjoyed the adventure of teaching you and sharing our love for Jesus with you. Your godly character and deep convictions are a shining example and encouragement to those who know you. Your bold leadership, tempered with kindness toward your younger siblings, has profoundly impacted our family. Truly, you exemplify Proverbs 23:24: “The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.” We love you and rejoice in you, beloved son.


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