1105 2014 Ocean Pointe-491-Edit Dennis took her senior pictures last week. My parents had taken us to Palm Beach, Singer Island for Spring Break. One of our favorite places on earth. One of her favorite places on earth. She's always been a beach girl. When she and I thought about the perfect setting to capture her senior year, the culmination of 18 years of growing up, it was a no brainer.

1105 2014 Ocean Pointe-490-Edit-Edit-EditThe wind whipped up to 30 mph. Clouds ran across the sky, Not ideal conditions for a portrait shoot. Madison and the photographer, her dad, had headed out to the boardwalk ahead of me. Five minutes later I turned a corner and there they were. She, a little hesitant. Passersby caused her discomfort. An introverts be the center of attention while the camera shoots is hard enough. Add an audience of passersby and the shell feels safer. But the shoot was scheduled and there she was, in charcoal gray dress. Stunning.

I was captured by her. Grateful for the 11 years of homeschooling we've shared. The good, the bad, the discovery, the growth, the tough questions, the challenges, the victories. The grit to press through another workbook was worth it. The grit to live the gospel together...sin, confession, forgiveness, repentance...was worth it. Over and over and over. And over. Together we learned to love closer to our Father's design. To love more for the other's sake. Our joy and brokenness all twisted together. Every hour. Every day. His grace weaving into our souls.

Now she's 18. Her hair is blowing long in the relentless wind. She's 5'6" tall. She's beautiful. And she's ready to launch. My girl is leaving for college in August. I offer my novice posing advice. Putting her in positions that reflect her. Simple. Not showy. Casual. Because I know her.

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And my face is aglow and my heart full with pride. I am crazy about her. I am as proud as a momma can be. She received a letter in 7th period a few weeks ago. Her three girlfriends at her table eagerly awaited the revelation of its contents. The principal notified her that she's been chosen as a valedictorian for her senior class of Timbercreek High School. Over 700 seniors. And she earned it. All her years of diligence awarded. Within minutes she was on my caller ID. Joy screaming through phone. Mine screaming back.

Palm Beach Atlantic University is taken by her, too. An esteemed private University with a socratic, classical-based Honors program has chosen her. She has earned an almost $160,000  college education over the next four years. 13 students per professor, mentoring after the Oxford model. If I could craft a University for my daughter, this would be it.

1105 2014 Ocean Pointe-399-Edit-3-EditAs she smiles, sits cross-legged on a railing, resists some coaching, and fights the desire to hide, I see her and all of this. The Father's grace has been sufficient. He promised it would be, but I doubted Him. He covered my angst at never feeling like we'd studied enough. My angst over my inability to love well so many days.

11 years ago I sat across the table from the director of the kids' homeschool program. It was our first year of homeschooling. I was a young mother fearing my potential failure. Fearing I'd severely damage my children by my inability to be the mom I thought I should be. Fearing I'd make my kids stupid. As I poured out my fears, Linda  said to me with conviction, "You have to believe that at the end of the day, God's grace is sufficient to fill in every crack, crevice, and gap that you created and couldn't fill. You have to believe God's grace is sufficient to cover your family every day." That has been my battle every day for the past 11 years.

I'm just starting to internalize His grace into my deepest parts. After 18 years of mothering her, I am changed. Changed by His grace, fleshed out. I'm captured by her. I'm captured by Him.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

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P.S.  A note from dad. Is a dad ever ready to “launch” his daughter? The above is my favorite picture (stand back 20 feet). It says it all. I think Lisa has processed this launching business a bit more thoroughly than I have. I am excited for Madison. I question if I am ready, but I could not be more happy for Madison. She has worked hard and it is a treat to see that work being rewarded so lavishly. God has been with her and will remain with her and that is a comfort for this dad.