Alaina Beth Johnson, daughter of Rachel, daughter of Barbara, daughter of Bonnie, daughter of Iva, and sister of Alexia Devin. Alaina Beth, you are of the Crawford - Cunningham Clans, the Johnson - Kellhofer families, and the Rineharts.
Laina, you are a daughter of the American Revolution. A daughter of the Native American Cherokee tribe. A daughter of inventors, leaders, homesteaders. You come from those who blaze their own path and those who fight for freedom, those who create and those who work the land, those who help others and those who teach, and those who heal and those who survive. Ultimately, you come from those who make things happen.
A farm girl, beach girl, big city girl, you know how to navigate many worlds. Like the time when, barely 16, you followed me from Missouri to Florida, and then at 18, you drove alone from Florida up to the Smoky Mountains. Or when you trained as a gymnast for 25 hours a week at age ten. And, I remember when you were only 16 and we were visiting Lexi and you hopped off the subway train in New York City alone at dusk to shop and your cell phone died but you were able to find your way back to our lodging. You are fierce, fearless, resilient, and resourceful.
When I look at the headlines and statistics around this country and in this world today and see all the devastation to our planet, the dangers, and the problems that your generation faces, I cringe to think this is what we leave you.
Yes, the world might seem scary and dark sometimes, and you have already endured so much more than I wanted you to have to deal with--too much heartache, loss, and pain. At the same time, you have also already seen great kindness, compassion, and goodness from others for which I am grateful.
In the past two years alone, you have lived through four moves and too many losses, but through it all, you have stood on a strong foundation, a foundation built from the sphere of your family, friends, and ancestors, from the land that has been in our family for over one hundred years, and from God.
Through it all, you have remained pure and kind and good and light. Yes, dark and light both exist, but remember that light can chase away the dark. Shadow disappears when light shines on it.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
When you were a child, I thought that you were poetry in action, and now that you are a young woman I see a firecracker who was born during Fourth of July weekend, and I know that your heart and your creativity and your smarts and your talents will come together to do some good in this world. Sassy and full of fire, you are the light this world needs.
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”
You've got this. Whether you follow your gifts or whether you follow your intellect or your beauty or all three, continue following your heart and you will leave an impact on your community and your country and your world, an impact that you have already started and that I'm so proud to see.
What we remember most, George Saunders said in a graduation speech at Syracuse University, are acts of kindness, so the most important thing is to be kind. I don't have to tell you this because you have the biggest heart of anyone I know. If the first rule is to be kind, then you have mastered it. I see the seeds of kindness in everything you do. I think of the time when your 9th grade teacher lost his dog and you picked out a special card, wrote in it, and gave it to him. Or when you, a stranger in a new school for your senior year, befriended the newer new girl who had nowhere to sit and knew no one. Or when you rescued the kitten, befriended the dog, wanted to take in every lost animal.
“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”
Laina, there are so many things I can say that I like about you. To start, you have a genuinely good spirit. You are a caring, intelligent and nurturing person who is beautiful on the inside and out. I’m so proud of you for graduating high school. This is a big transition for you into adulthood, and you will have a lot of fun and freedom that comes with it as well as responsibilities and trials. But when the challenges come, remember to use them as motivation to keep going and grow from the experience. Let each challenge help you grow and become the person that you are meant to be. I know that God has a great plan for you and that He will help you grow into the amazing woman He designed you to be. I’m so glad that you are my sister, and I wouldn’t want it to be anyone else in the world. I love you, Laina. Love, Lexi
Alaina: simple meanings; Little Rock, beautiful, light, torch, bright.
Alaina: simple meanings; Little Rock, beautiful, light, torch, bright.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Characteristics of Alaina: cooperative, considerate, compassionate, nurturing, sensitive, patient, loving, kind, gracious, balanced.
I am proud to say that you are a perfect embodiment of every one of those characteristics. I pray you will stay true to them and seek God's will for your life. I pray you will continue to be the bright light that you already are in this ever-darkening world where light is so desperately needed.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”
I cherish every moment I was able to spend with you last semester. I pray you will be a force for good everywhere you go. May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face shine upon you and give you peace. Love you, Granny
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
Graduation is just the beginning; let the Lord reveal his plan for your life by submitting to his Lordship. Love and prayers, Uncle Bob
“Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”
Twice-Laine, Congratulations! Remember, sometimes all you can bid is glasses. Love, Fred (Uncle Sonny’s ghost-friend).
Alaina, you are a blessed and beloved daughter of God. You are loved, you are wanted, you are wise, you are safe, and you are strong. Your family, your friends, and those who we lost too soon are with you. For instance, Grandma Johnson is watching over you, your special angel. Wherever you are, our hearts and love are with you. Wherever we are, your heart and love are with us. Our hearts and spirit are with you always.
It has been my honor and privilege to be your mother and to see you grow into this amazing, talented, kindhearted, bright, beautiful young woman.
And so with our blessing, we send you out into the world to work, to travel, to live, to love, to laugh.
The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
Together, we offer you our blessing. Now, we watch you flip into the wide world waiting for you as you tumble into your future of beauty, kindness, creativity, peace, and love. Travel with God’s love, His presence, His Word, and His promises.
With all our prayers, blessing, love, and faith in you,