What an amazing weekend! Last weekend was my twentieth high school reunion and I’m not sure I’ve quite come down from the clouds yet. It was so good to see the people I grew up with — literally GREW UP with — and come toghether as we are now and not as we were at eighteen.

That was an incredibly messy sentence. Let me explain.

I grew up in a small Christian school. I went to church with the same people I went to school with. We all went to camp together in the summer and we played on the same ballteams in our small town. We ran around together on weekends and we rolled teachers’ houses together. We took chorus trips and mission trips and trips to out-of-town basketball and football games. This small group of about 40 people was my life for 12 years.

At the time, I didn’t realize what an incredible and unusual experience that was. We were a family. We argued constantly, but no one else could criticize us. My own family was experiencing great problems at the time and there was no stability there, but I knew that every morning I would get up, go to school and see this wonderful group of people. They were my stability.

I knew Britt, David, and Rusty would stand for me as I walked into chapel.

I knew that Kim’s locker would be a mess and a book or two would fall out.

I knew that we would all have a bad attitude in Mrs. Boyd’s English class.

I knew Craig, our choir director and class sponsor, would make me laugh and give me some deep matters to consider in Bible.

I knew that Coach Brown, our math teacher, would tell someone to “pick a door.” I didn’t know that one day it would be me!

I knew Becky would take care of the details, Karen would win the tennis game, and James would make us all laugh.

I knew that Mary, Laura, and Samantha would be my friends no matter what and that Jon would listen to my boy problems.

I knew Brad would throw the balls and Jay would catch them and score the touchdowns.

I knew Ellen would challenge me to do something outside my comfort zone and make me braver because of it.

I knew Kenny would always make a higher grade than I did.

What I didn’t know was how much I loved these people. What I still don’t know is exactly how much they’ve influenced me. I’m sure that a large part of who I am is due to my experience at Harding Academy.

Life has not been kind to many of us. There have been divorces, deaths, troubled marriages, and broken relationships. We’ve all grown from being idealistic teenagers to being adults unafraid to face life’s challenges. We’ve moved from following rules to following the Lord.

We’ve grown up.

So, to my friends, l’chaim! Thank you for being who you are and for helping make me who I am.

I love you all and pray God’s richest blessings on the next twenty years.

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