Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Dan's D.Min Graduation- The Graduation

Disclosure: This post has been sitting in my draft folder for quite some time because the pictures are out of order.  Every time I try to reorder them, it messes up the entire post.  So, rather than starting over AGAIN.  I'm posting as is.  So, just when you think we have moved from graduation pictures to lunch, you will see pictures from earlier in the day.  So, rather than being unorganized, maybe I'm just trying to keep you guessing as to what is next!

We woke up fairly early on the morning of graduation.  We bought Nutrigrain and granola bars for breakfast because we knew eating downstairs, getting everyone dressed and being out the door on time would never happen.  So, we fed the boys and got them dressed then headed down to speak to everyone.  Micah's shirt was a 2T and apparently not quite long enough to stay tucked in.  That is why you won't see it again past these initial few pictures. 
We stopped by to see everyone at breakfast.  Jonah and Gavin made the rounds to be in all the pictures. 

Please notice the poeople at the table behind George and Melinda.  Either they like to photobomb or they were wondering why I was going from table to table to take photos!

By Saturday, Micah was already feeling crummy.  His asthma shows up with weather changes.  And. the lack of sleep he was getting didn't help much.  So, he happily put his head on Darryl's shoulder and got a little rest as we waited to get in. 
The few of us there early spread out and saved seats for everyone.  We had the largest crowd of anyone there.  We didn't find out until a few weeks before that the ceremony was supposed to be immediate family only.  By that time, people 28 people had contacted us to say they would be there.  Ummm...oops!  We decided not to un-invite any of them but if the chapel was over capacity, then some of our people would give up their seats.  That didn't have to happen because there were still plenty of seats. 

Here is little Jonah watching for his daddy to walk in.  He was only two when Dan started the Doctoral Program.  Dan worked through the course portion of this degree in record time.  They said it would take close to three years and he finished in a year and half.  Jonah doesn't even remember those days. He certainly remembers the portion of the degree that set Dan back. 

Our friends were so gracious to "entertain" Micah during the graduation.  He went between George, Melinda, Darryl and Denise.  And, he even walked across the aisle to me a few times.  He did very well for a 2 hour ceremony!
Whenever your graduate's name was called, the people with that graduate were asked to stand.  Here is the Vidalia crew standing for Dan. 

After the service, we all met outside for photos.  We had several people with cameras and ended up with 400 photos JUST from after graduation.  I did my best to weed through them and at least show everyone who was there. 

Sue and Amanda drove in that morning from Vidalia.  They have loved this little boy from the moment they heard he was on the way.  In those first few days/weeks/months of his life, he got almost as many hugs, kisses and rocking sessions from them as he did me. 
Dan was happy to show his diploma to Jonah.  That kiddo has sacrificed a lot of daddy time over the past 1.5 years so Dan could finish the writing portion of this degree.  I think Jonah was thinking that piece of paper would be some sort of magic as much as we all anticipated it. 
Sweet Rachel...I'd take that girl home with me. 
I love this picture. 
Kevin and Susie Lowry are members of our church here in Florida.  He is a Deacon, they teach Sunday School and serve on various committees in our church.  But, most of all, they are wonderful friends to our family.  They love us well.  They treat us well.  They support us in so many ways.  They are truly gifts to this pastor's family. 
Tee and Judy Johnson were Dan's "family" in his first church out of college.  He went straight to Liberty Baptist Church from college and that is where he learned to do ministry.  They had two daughters in Dan's student ministry.  He spent most holidays and almost every Sunday afternoon at their house.  When I visited him in Liberty, I stayed at their house.  They welcomed me, loved me and included me in their life.  They have been there for every major milestone since then.  They were there for our wedding, his Ordination, soon after the births of both of our kids and now for this.  They have loved us from a distance and always cared about us. 
Jimmy and Cathy drove in that morning from Vidalia.  Jimmy was my boss for the 7+ years we lived there.  They were part of our church the last couple of years we were there.  He was never one who liked kids all that much but somehow, Jonah wiggled his way right into Jimmy's heart and whether Jimmy admits it or not, he is actually quite the softie where kiddos are concerned.  Cathy makes the best dressing we've ever had and she has taught me to make it.  Dan is most grateful for this gift.  They have been to visit at least once a year since we moved here. They are actually flying in next month to go on a little spring break vacation with us. 
This is Dan's immediate family who were at graduation.  Chris and Darla were actually at graduation the year before for a friend of theirs so they gave us a little graduation insight!  Our kids loved having Gavin and Rachel there for the festivities. 
It was so special for Dan to have so much family there.  His Uncle Glenn and Aunt Susan drove in from Memphis.  Dan's grandmother moved to Memphis a few years ago from Meridian, MS.  She drove down with Uncle Glenn and Aunt Susan.  We got to see all of them at Thanksgiving but it was so wonderful to see them again and celebrate with them. 
Darryl and Denise Mraz were in a church I served right out of college.  They are the most generous people you will ever meet.  They have loved me and supported me for years.  Then, they lovingly welcomed Dan and treated him just as beautifully as they have always treated me. 
When we moved to Texas for Seminary, Dan decided not to serve on staff of a church so he could fully focus on school.  But, he did accept a Sunday only position of Interim Worship Leader at FBC, Glen Rose.  That position led us to a relationship with George and Melinda Strickland.  These two people confirmed the gifts God had placed in Dan's life and have encouraged him from the moment we met him.  They surprised Dan by flying in from Texas to be part of the celebration.  They were a HUGE help to us over the weekend.
Amanda and Sue drove in early that morning from Vidalia.  They were two of my closest friends from our time there.  I couldn't believe they made the trip with everything they had going on.  This family has been such a wonderful support for us.  Some of our happiest (and most hilarious) moments have involved this family!
Frank and Margie Wood were another set of folks who traveled all the way from DeLand to be there for Dan.  They were the first family we connected with upon arriving at Stetson.  We have spent countless holidays with their family.  Margie was even in the delivery room when Micah was born.  That forever bound us together!  :-) 

This girl right here is SO proud of Dan.  I'm amazed at his dedication and desire to always "know more."  He has never settled for mediocrity.  He always strives to know more and be better.  This journey to completing his D.Min was met with a toddler, an 800 mile move, a new church, staff changes, a new baby and so many other things.  But, he persevered.  And, he did it!  I could not be more proud!

As you can see here, Micah wasn't so sure he wanted to be in the pictures with us anymore. 

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