In Psalm 63 it says, “Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings” This sums up my life and where I am today. The only reason I stand before you now is because God has been my help. He has carried me through the hard times and blessed me so much! All I can say is that we serve an amazing God! The biggest blessing he has given me is the people he has placed in my life that love me. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for all the blessings He has given me. I look out and see all the people whom God has placed in my life and I stand in awe! I have done nothing for God to bless me so much and yet He still chooses to do it. Each of you is a reminder of how much God loves me. There have been times in my life where I have struggled and God placed exactly the right person to help me during that season. I want to thank all you who were obedient to Christ, because without your obedience, God could not have used you in my life.
I just want to take the time right now to thank some of you that God has used. To Pastor and Mrs. Wood, I cannot begin to tell you how thankful I am for the Ranch. Your obedience to God in starting the Ranch is the one blessing that has had the biggest impact on my life. I thank you also for your guidance and prayers for me over the years. I love you both very much.
To Mr. Douglas and Mrs. Nancy, and Papa and Mama Bair, words cannot express how thankful I am to God for placing you all in my life. You all have had such an influence on my life and on my family’s lives. I am so thankful God brought us together almost 12 years ago. It is hard to believe it has been that long. It seems like time has flown, from when I was here as a 6 year old until now as I stand before you as a graduate.
To the ranch staff that has helped me so much in these last 4 years. I thank all the house parents for your guidance and love. I love all of you very much.
I am especially thankful for all the interns that I have had. You all who take a year or two to devote yourselves to serving all the kids here, I look up to you so much. I thank you for your all advice and friendship. I look forward to keeping in touch with you.
God has also blessed me with some wonderful friendships. My peers who help me to strive to be more like Christ. I am so glad that God gave me those friendships to sharpen me the way they have.
As I said before, we serve an amazing God. He placed me in just the right family so that I could come to know him and grow in him more. I love each of you, my grandparents and my uncle. My dad, I love you very much and I am thankful God has given me you for a father. To my brothers and sister, David and Jason, I look up to you both so much. I know God could not have given me two brothers who love me more than you two do. You two are my heroes and, I am so blessed to be your sister. My little “big” sister, Alex, I am so glad I can be your older sister and I don’t ever want you to forget how much I love you. I could not have asked for a better sister!
Now to all the students, you need to listen to me right now. Do not tune me out! I want to encourage you to realize what an amazing gift God has given you to be able to come to the Ranch. As students, I think we sometimes forget how great it is to be in a place where we are loved and cared for so much. I also want each of you to realize that God has brought you here for a reason. He has a purpose for you time here. The more time you spend complaining about being here, about the rules, and the adults, the less time you are spending glorifying God. Be sure your attitudes are attitudes of praise and not of complaining. I urge you to learn to shine like stars here, so that when you leave you will know how to shine in the darkness.
Finally, as I leave the Ranch and move into this next chapter in my life, I am thankful that God has given me the training and tools I need to serve him. I know I am nowhere near the end of learning what I need to know to serve him fully. And I don’t think I ever will be while I am still here on earth. But I am so thankful for what he has taught me so far. Now I face the same challenge I have given to you students: to leave the Ranch, and be a light in the darkness. I ask you to pray for me that I will step up to the challenge to shine like a star that is so bright that people will want to know our savior Jesus Christ.
And this is where I end, with Jesus, without whom none of this would have been possible. To my God, my Savior, my Friend, and my brother, to Jesus I give all the credit for all he has done in my life.