Graduation Speech

My cousin, Rick, sent an email a couple days ago in which he shared a copy of a speech that was given by a graduating high school senior. I was so moved by the content that I asked for permission to post it here on my blog.

I want to preface the speech by mentioning that this student was graduating from a school in Tokyo, Japan where my cousin works.

It’s a long read, but well worth the time to read through to the end. I’d have to say that this is the most deep and meaningful graduation speech that I’ve ever known of. Read on……

When posed with the challenge of giving the graduation speech for the Class of 2011, I had trouble formulating exactly what I wanted to say. There was no rubric, no prompt, and an infinitely vast expanse of possibilities I could cover. While the idea of this freedom might sound freshly exhilarating to some, I found it rather troublesome.

This is, essentially, the closing statement we have to make, our final hug before we say goodbye, the punctuation ending our sentence here. But perhaps most daunting, it is the last time we will all be together. If you can’t tell, the pressure was starting to get to me. So, I thought to myself, what is it that needs most to be said? And more importantly, how do I not make this boring?

As cliche as it is, I could nostalgically trace back through our educational history here at CAJ, citing important works of literature we’ve read, global issues we’ve discussed, or the mistakes we’ve made – can anyone say ‘freshman ditch day?’ – but really, none of that matters at this point. Either we’ve learned something from these things or we haven’t, but I do not think that now is the time for me to stand here pretending to wax
poetic about the beauty of the journey we have taken thus far, and the resulting metamorphosis that has turned us into gorgeous butterflies ready to come forth from our cocoon and take flight. Because the truth is, retained academic knowledge and the pursuit of factual intelligence is not what the last twelve years of our lives have been about. When we need it most, though I know of some who undoubtedly question that
we’ll need it at all, we won’t be able to recall Newton’s third law, the graph of the cosine function, or which worldview Hobbes created.
Instead, we’ll remember a mix of the conversations we had with each other in class and waiting in the lunch line, a catchy chorus from that one choir song and the last second shot that determined our temporary fate, and, of course, the friendships we’ve forged with the very special people around us who have left lasting fingerprints on our lives.

But maybe most importantly, we’ll remember where we were at 2:46 pm on March 11th. I say this not to be dramatic, touching, or trite, but instead, to best summarize the feelings we confront tonight. The emotions stirred in our hearts from the earthquake and the weeks after it presented two paradoxes. The first was a feeling of fear in wanting to run to safety, but at the same time, courage in the determination of overcoming the obstacles before us. The second paradox we faced was the desperate desire to help those in need, while we found ourselves in a state of feeling utterly helpless. We faced the realization that, as much as we may have formerly believed, we were not in the driver’s seat.

But in this tangled mess of confusion, one truth ruled over all others: God’s sovereignty. Tonight, we are faced with similar feelings of fear, courage, and the understanding we are not in control. And tonight, we are met with the exact same conclusion: God is sovereign. For us Seniors, the moment we experienced as we stood evacuated on the soccer field, and the monumental earthquake we experienced in Thailand a mere two weeks later, shook each one of us to our cores. The emotionally draining experience of going through two straight life altering events left us with no other option than to run to the outstretched arms of God. Suddenly, the eyes of each student in this class were opened to what life is all about: depending on God. For the Class of 2011, these earthquakes brought cosmos into our lives, as we realized surrendering ourselves to God was the only thing that made sense.

As we move on from high school, we are thrust into a new chapter of our lives that is mysterious and unknown, much like the days after the earthquake. And while some part of all of us wants to stay behind in the comfortable habitat we’ve been in for so long, somewhere inside we also want to bravely jump into the enigmatic future, despite having no idea of what will happen to us when we do. But we do know one thing: that in the face of the coming uncertainty, as well as in the moments of peace, God remains in complete control. Though tonight is a reminiscent event full of farewells and tears, let us not treat it as such. But rather, let us enjoy tonight as the celebration of a leap of faith for these 47 individuals into an all-powerful, all-loving God’s arms, because he has a wonderful, wonderful plan in store for each of our lives.

Thank you.

Pray for Barak Obama

I received an email from my Uncle John recently that was a plea to pray for our new president Barak Obama. This is critical. Whether you support his policies, or not, he needs our prayers, his family needs our prayers, and our country needs our prayers.

We aren’t the only ones who will be lifting our prayers for the Obama family. Even the George W Bush family will be praying for them and encouraging them.

I See in Black and White

Is truth dependent upon an individual’s standards or their culture? Are there no absolute truth’s?

I’ve always believed that God created a very black and white world, leaving very little gray area. The philosophy of relativism has always confused me. When I stumbled across this website, I better understood why it so confused me. Relativism contradicts itself every way you look at it.

Bible Resources

For those who are using the internet for their bible studies and research, I thought I would add another option that I stumbled upon. is a popular site that I mentioned in a previous post has been my primary bible resource site for several years.

I think I may have found a new favorite. allows you to read different versions in parallel and it provides Greek text and interpretations, in addition to the commentaries, lexicons, atlases, etc. All this is in a much simpler navigation style of web page.

To your spiritual enrichment,
Don Wilson

Select Your Bible Reading Plan

Uncle Stan mentioned a website in his last email that I received. Someone had guided him to, which is a great resource for anyone interested in the bible. I don’t have a big library of commentaries, dictionaries, or other study tools, so when I’m researching a topic in the bible, I go to Bible Gateway.

I know that many people would like to have a daily bible reading schedule but have difficulty setting aside time. The busy-ness of life causes us to push that aside and forget about it. It was well said by the author, Don Marquis, “Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.”

Many have probably tried to read the bible through in a year and have gotten as far as Leviticus or Numbers before wearing out. I say “many” because I’m certain that I’m not the only one.

A few days ago, I stumbled across a website that should help me with my bible reading plan.

They offer several options for plans such as:

    Reading the Bible through in a year.
    Reading the New or Old Testament through in a year.
    Gospels, Psalms, or Proverbs in a month.
    and more.

They will send you an email with each day’s assignment that will keep you on task. It’s a free service with no advertisements and you can unsubscribe any time you wish.

It sounds like a great way to keep on task.

Our Pastor’s Last Sunday

After 13 years of dedicated service to Yakima’s West Valley, Pastor Holland Lewis and his wife, Mary, completed their final Sunday service last Sunday.

Their grand finale included the appearance of their daughters, Crystal, Candace, and Cassandra, along with spouses and children. Crystal sang some solos and some ensembles with her mother and sisters.

As I understand, Pastor Lewis will stay in Yakima and begin a new ministry, of some sort. He hasn’t provided us many details, as I believe the details are uncertain to him, at this time.

Today, marks the first Sunday of our interim pastor, who’s name escapes me at the moment. I’ll find that out next week when we are back in Yakima following our weekend at Coeur d’alene.

I’ll miss Pastor Lewis, greatly. He’s an amazing man and an excellent teacher of the Word. He’s the same person outside of the church walls as he is inside.

Lyrics to Amazing Grace

Although I haven’t posted here in some time, I have been actively writing and publishing material on the internet.  I thought that I should let you know about last week’s project which was a post on HubPages called “Lyrics to Amazing Grace“.

Lyrics to Amazing Grace” is designed as a commercial website, but I’ve added a good summary of the history of the song.  The story behind the song is really interesting, and I had a great time researching it.

I’ve always liked the song “Amazing Grace” and decided to use it as a topic for a web project.  The project was to undertake the challenge of creating a website that would reach the top in a Google search.  I selected the topic because of my interest in the song, and a desire to learn about its origin.

I began by deciding on a keyphrase that I would target.  That keyphrase was “Lyrics to Amazing Grace”.  I selected this keyphrase because my research determined that if I reach the #1 position in a Google search, I would receive 180 visitors to my site on a daily basis.  Also, the competition is a very low 2,000 sites competing for that keyphrase.

As it turns out, I published the site on 2/10 and by 2/12 the google search for the phrase match “Lyrics to Amazing Grace” was in the #7 position.  Not only that, but there are 2 other websites in the top 20 positions of the Google search that point directly to my website.  Now, of course, that can quickly change, but I’m working on some techniques that should improve the ranking.  In addition, I’m working on creating more high ranking links to that site.  this blog post is one of them.  Take notice that the title to this blog post is “Lyrics to Amazing Grace” and there is a heavy use of that phrase throughout this post.  That is done purposely so that the search engine spiders that crawl around the web seeking appropriate content will easily recognize the topic of this post.

All that probably sounds pretty Geekie to most, but I find it pretty fascinating and I don’t really consider myself a Geek.