Monday, May 19, 2008

Keen Takes Flight

“Many are the plans in a man’s mind, but it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand.” ~ Proverbs 16:9

It’s Monday morning following one of those magical moments that we all get to experience every now and then.

Last Saturday, our son Keen II earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Kansas State University with dual majors in psychology and sociology. It was a picture perfect day, in more ways than one. Keen’s mom, sister, niece and great-niece came from Texas to join the celebration, and our daughter-in-law Lisa drove all the way from Wichita with two little ones to be a part of Keener’s special day. (Josh would have been there but he couldn’t get off work.)

Before the ceremony, Keen and I just happened to run into Keen II in the hallway. He was the last person in line waiting to march into the Coliseum. Seeing him standing there in his cap and gown with such a look of pride and anticipation on his face was a moment to remember.

Although Keen’s name was misspelled on the card the announcer reads (Kenn instead of Keen), he had time to whisper the correct pronunciation just before he walked across the stage, so his name was announced exactly right, followed by our round of cheers.

After the ceremony, we enjoyed a breakfast buffet at the Clarion Hotel in Manhattan. They did such a nice job decorating the tables with white table cloths and purple napkins. The food was delicious, too. Keen Sr. shared a few thoughts that he had prepared over the past week. He was going to read them, but decided he would just speak from his heart. It was very moving and emotional for everyone. Then we played the DVD I made with pictures of Keener growing up put to the music of Mark Harris’ song, “Find Your Wings.” (If you’d like to view it, you can go to

As I was pouring through photo albums looking for pictures to use in the DVD, I noticed that several pictures from Keen’s youth depicted him “taking flight” in various ways. There’s the picture of Keen jumping off the diving board at the Alma pool a few days before his 5th birthday (not the low dive, but the high dive). Then there’s one of Keen jumping off the rope swing at Low Water Bridge when he about seven. As an adult, Keen took sky diving lessons and jumped out of an airplane – more than once – without ever telling us until after it was over. So the song by Mark Harris and the theme, “Keen Takes Flight” just seemed to fit for our “high flying” and adventurous third-born son.

One of the highlights of the day last Saturday was meeting Keen’s new girlfriend, Tiffany. We had heard a lot about her – she grew up in Wichita, graduated from Wichita State University, and lives and works in Shawnee, Kansas – but it was so nice to have the chance to meet her in person. Tiffany and Keen met when they were attendants at the wedding of some mutual friends.

Tiffany is a strikingly beautiful young woman, but her beauty is not limited to the external. She is smart, ambitious, confident, articulate, accomplished, and, well, most importantly, she cares about our son. Tiffany said the thing that most attracted her to Keen was his sense of humor. I’ve always appreciated that quality in Keen Sr., too. As it says in Proverbs, “laughter does good like a medicine.”

Keen and Tiffany joined us back in Alma that afternoon for a “country-fied” celebration. Keen’s mom helped make a batch of the Umbehr family’s famous barbecue sauce for the pork ribs and chicken dinner. It was a beautiful day to just sit on the patio and enjoy the breeze and good conversation. In the evening, everyone enjoyed a bonfire and smores under the light of a full moon. (I forgot to buy graham crackers, so they made smores with one less key ingredient.) It was a wonderful day filled with memories that we will cherish for a lifetime.

As we watch our children grow from children to young adults and beyond, there are so many milestones to celebrate. But as Keen’s mom, I have to say that this one was the most significant – not because of the event we were celebrating, but because I can honestly say that I have never seen our son look so happy . . . so content . . . so complete.

“And now . . . I commit you to God, I deposit you in His charge, entrusting you to His protection and care.”

~ Acts 20:32a (Amplified)