I'd like to tell you about my Lizzie and her big adventure. One reason for this is that I think it'll interest those of you who know her. Another reason is I think it may inspire you even if you've never met her.
Lizzie was blessed with the opportunity to attend Girls State here in South Carolina this past week at Presbyterian College. That's a pretty big deal. It was an honor for her to be a part of it.
On Sunday of last week, Lara and the girls drove her to the college and checked her in. Lizzie found her dorm room and quickly came back down stairs to hug them and tell them "Goodbye' before they left.
She got a picture with her sisters...
And she got a picture with her mom...
Then Lara and the other two girls made the trip back home, while leaving Lizzie behind for her big week.
The next day, which was Monday, I got a text from Lizzie. She was homesick. It was tough on her to be away from here. While it was an honor for her to attend Girls State, my girl was struggling a little bit. And she was saying that she'd like to leave and come on back to Sumter.
Now, I'm a normal parent. I don't like to see my kids sad or hurting. But
something Someone would not let me allow her to quit. I just couldn't do it. So here is part of what I texted her in response.
My point was pretty simple: People made sacrifices to get her there. And she needed to strongly fight through it. I reminded her that life can be difficult at times, so she needed to learn how to work through adversity rather than run from it. Of course I assured her that I loved her, and I knew she could do it.
A few minutes later, she texted me back and said, "Yes sir. Love you." That was all she had to say. But I knew from that moment on, she would give her best effort to work through it.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were busy days for her. Lizzie hung in there, made friends, and grew more comfortable with her new surroundings and schedule. She didn't sleep much, but she did have a lot of fun. As time went on, she adapted.
Then, on Friday, all of the students from Girls State and Boys State converged on Columbia, SC, our capital city. Totaling over 1,200 people, these young ladies and gentlemen marched in a big parade, led by a band. They made their way to the capital grounds and filled up the steps, which was quite an impressive sight. We knew that we would not get to speak with Lizzie, but we went just to see her in action.
Lara, Rachel, Emerson, and I were all excited to get a quick glimpse of Lizzie. Here is a picture of us waiting on all the fun to begin, while Emerson was striking a cool pose...
Then, as the parade made it's way towards us at the capital, we saw our girl. She was smiling, waving, and having fun with her friends. And while we didn't get to speak with her, I did hold out my hand and get a "high five" with my daughter. Here is Lizzie marching in the parade...
The girls and guys filled up the steps of the capital and began singing and chanting. It was really quite a sight. We enjoyed watching this. Here are all of the students from Girls State and Boys State on the capital steps in Columbia...
There were speeches and recognitions. Proud parents were everywhere snapping pictures of their kids. It was really a cool moment.
Lizzie got us all laughing when she scored somewhat of a "selfie" with Governor Nikki Hayley, who made an appearance, and texted it to us...
Then, when it was over, tons of busses got the girls back to their campus, and the guys back to their campus. Lizzie was gone. But we were glad that we at least got to catch a glimpse of her.
Yesterday, which was Saturday, my Katie and I picked her up. Girls State came to an end. It was time for her to go. And we were glad to get her back. We got Lizzie and all her stuff in the car, and made the two hour drive back home. Katie took a picture of all three of us while I was driving us home yesterday...
It felt good to get Lizzie back to our town and here under our roof. I could tell she was tired. But I could also tell she felt good about what she had done. I think my girl was pretty proud! She smiled as she told us lots of stories about her exciting week. It ended up being a very positive experience that broadened her horizons and blessed her life. Girls State was definitely a good thing for my daughter.
As I reflect on all this, I realize that sometimes we parents need to push our kids out of the nest, and encourage them to spread their wings. I knew that to go up there, pack her up, and bring her home early would have been a mistake. She needed to rise up to the challenge without me rescuing her.
When it comes to raising kids, may God give us dads and moms the wisdom to know when to step in and when to back off. There are some challenges they need to face and some lessons they need to learn on their own, without us interfering. So let's seek wisdom from above to know how to handle the struggles our daughters and sons face in life.
And here's another lesson I've been reminded of this past week with Lizzie's big adventure: Let's work through challenges rather than run from them. When times get tough, we grow and develop mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Adversity can enable us to mature in good ways. With a little encouragement, Lizzie hung in there and got through it. And with a little help from above, we all can do the same with whatever may come our way. It was worth it for Lizzie to hang in there. And it'll always be worth it for us.
Way to go, Lizzie! I'm proud of my girl. And thanks for inspiring all of us to hang in there and work through the little (and big) challenges that may come our way.
P.S. If you are not familiar with what Girls State is, you can visit their website, read their information, and view their pictures by clicking HERE.