Saturday, June 5, 2010

Graduation Day

Dear Kate,

I couldn’t find a card that would say everything I want to say to you on your graduation day, so I thought I’d be my usual verbose self and write you a letter. What can I say? It’s what I do.

Today’s the day. Not the day you’ve been waiting for your whole life—I wouldn’t presume that the day of your high school graduation is “it” for you—but it is a fairly significant day.

Today marks a change for you. It’s a day that signifies leaving one part of your life behind and looking forward to new adventures and new challenges.

Today is the day you’ve prepared for, and I know you’re ready. As your mom, I could not be more proud of the young woman I see before me. She is beautiful. She is strong. She is ready.

I’m not going to write to you about what’s gone. It’s been a great 18 years, and we often reflect and laugh together about your days in our family. And it’s not like you’re leaving our family—you never will. You will always be a part of us, Kate.

No, today I’m going to write to you about what’s ahead, both for you and for the world you’re entering because if there is one thing I know with all my heart it is that you are going to make a difference. And the way you will best make a difference is to be exceptional.

So, be exceptional.

Be exceptional, not because of what you’ve done, but because of who you are.

When you were younger I encouraged you to NOT be known as the “smart girl” or the “basketball player” or the “tall girl” (not that you could help that!) I didn’t want those things to define you. I wanted, instead, for you to strive to be known as Kate W., the “kind girl” or “the girl who really loves Jesus.”

There are lots and lots of smart people out there. You’re one of them, as the cords around your neck today will signify. There are a lot of outstanding athletes out there too. The world has plenty of rich people and influential people and successful people. Musicians, businessmen and women, politicians.

Being exceptional has nothing to do with status or money or the type of job you hold. Being exceptional means taking everything God has given you—every gift, every talent, every opportunity—and using it for His glory and to lift up those around you.

Believe me, there are many “exceptional” people out there by the world’s standards, but there aren’t many people like you. Because there aren’t many who know the authors of nearly every childrens’ book series and who will enthusiastically share their recommendations with the kids at the library.

There aren’t many who will notice when a friend is hurting.

And there aren’t many people who will take the time to look a little boy named Ulysses right in the eye and tell him that he’s special and show him by spending time with him that he’s loved.

There’s only one you, Kate, and only you can love the way you do. So use that gift, and all the gifts you’ve been given, to promote the wellbeing of others. Use your “smart brain” as we always say, not for your own gain, but for the benefit of those around you so that you leave this world a little bit better than when you started, just because you were here.

And that’s what I want you to do. Love. Live a life that is marked by love so that everyone around you will be drawn to you because of what’s inside.

The Ulysses’ of this world need you.

You can do this because your dad and I believe in you. You will always have our support. You will always have our love.

So, off you go, dear girl, into a world that needs exceptional people just like you. You are going to do great!





  1. What a beautiful post for a beautiful girl! It will be our (speaking for all your readers) privilege to watch her grow up and make a HUGE impact on her world.

  2. Congratulations to Kate and to her parents! :)

    Your daughter sounds like QUITE the exceptional young woman, and I can't wait to hear what's next for her.

    And...because I'm NUTS...this post made me cry. When you said, "Being exceptional has nothing to do with status or money or the type of job you hold," I felt like you were talking to me. Even though you weren't. But I needed to hear it.

    (I hear it from my own mom, but I need to hear it a LOT!)

    I also loved this part: "Live a life that is marked by love so that everyone around you will be drawn to you because of what’s inside." That's something we should ALL strive for!

    Happy graduation day!

  3. Awww, thank you, girls. It has been such a wonderful day. Now, a party tomorrow!

  4. How beautiful. It made me cry. Congrats to you guys.

  5. Sniff, sniff, have to get kleenex...what a nice note for an exceptional daughter. Kate is very fortunate to have a mother that can so beautifully put her thoughts into words. I totally understand about not wanting the definition of the 'tall kid' or the 'smart kid' or the 'kid in a wheelchair'
    Can't wait to read the next chapter about Kate.

  6. Great comment, Lisa. I'm sure you DO understand that sentiment. Thanks!

  7. Congratulations to Kate!

    What a wonderful letter you wrote her. I should have had you do my son's grad card for me last month! :v)

  8. What a thoughtful post, Shelly - a beautiful letter written from one wonderful woman to another . . . I got teary, too!