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A Fall Wedding

Yesterday, I got all gussied up so that the Mr. and I could attend the wedding of a young lady we had known for fifteen years.

We first met her when we moved to Podunk, USA, and Chicky began playing on the same soccer team as her younger sister.

When you play travel soccer, you get to be very good friends with the families of the other players.  Strong bonds are forged…bonds that don’t go away when life leads you down different paths.

It was such a joy to watch people arrive…since we always seem to be the first to arrive at every single wedding we attend.

The location was a favorite for weddings.  We have a LOT of water around these here parts, and it provides a beautiful backdrop for fancy shindigs.

We saw a lot of the kids’ friends from high school.

Oh, it was a love fest, let me tell you.

Watching this beautiful young lady walk down the aisle to the man of her dreams brought tears to my eyes.

Photo cred to a gal I snagged this from on Facebook.  I know she wouldn’t mind.  😉

You should have seen the groom’s face as his precious bride made her way down that aisle on the arm of her father.

Both men had tears in their eyes…for very different reasons.

The ceremony was very traditional and so very sweet, and it wasn’t long before they got to do the kiss thing and walk off as husband and wife.

Meanwhile, we headed to the clubhouse for the reception.  I took a few pictures because this is the same place where Rooster and his girl will have their wedding in December (remember that they are already married, but this will be the big ceremony).

Everything was so shiny and oh so classy.  The decor took my breath away.

We sat at a table in front of the wedding party’s.

As we waited for the bride and groom to arrive, we chatted with friends.  The Mr. snagged some food to munch on.  There wasn’t anything that I could eat due to my food allergies and vegan lifestyle.  I knew I would be able to eat later when I got home, so it wasn’t a big deal.

Meanwhile, the conversation was really the most important thing.  Having the chance to catch up with the young people who had been such a big part of our lives for so many years was simply incredible.  Hearing about how they were renovating homes they’d purchased and making strides in their careers made me wish that time could slow down a bit.

How sweet, too, as we watched the bridal party arrive and then participate in the time-honored traditions that make weddings the sweet events that they are…first dance husband/wife…father/daughter dance…mother/son dance.

Oh, my heart.  Moved so very much it was.

We loved hearing the bride’s sister make her toast.  These girls…so special to us.

I’m not a huge socializer…introvert that I am…but I did seek out the bride’s parents.

Her mom is a classy lady.  She wore a long blue dress that was heavenly.  I love this woman to pieces, and seeing her smile was wonderful.  We don’t get to see each other very often.

I also spent time chatting with the bride’s father.  Oh boy, it was hard to see the tears in his eyes as he described his bittersweet feelings about having his oldest daughter leave.  Being a dad and letting go is so hard.

The DJs got cranked up after the cake had been cut, and I did dance to a few songs before the Mr. and I headed home to catch the last couple of college football games on TV.

Priorities, people.  Males.  Sigh.  I could have stayed all night just soaking up the love that made that large reception room so very, very small.

I look forward to the next soccer girl getting married so that we can all join once together in celebration.

No Ordinary People

I just got home from a wedding.

The bride…a young lady I’ve had the honor of knowing for about twelve years.  I am not a numbers gal, so let’s go with twelve, give or take a year.

She and Chicky formed an instant friendship when we moved to Podunk, USA way back when Chicky was beginning the seventh grade.

“J” and Chicky attended school and church together, and they were also on the same school and travel soccer teams.  Her parents, the Mr., and I quickly formed a strong bond (those of you who know me personally will get the pun).  🙂

I’m proud to say that it was my family who took J to her first Auburn football game, taught her the fight song on the way up, and nurtured that love…one she carried through her college career when she later attended and graduated from Auburn.

War Eagle, y’all!

J married her “buddy” a few hours ago, and the wedding was Christ-centered and full of fun.

I had known, when I received my Save the Date flyer, that it would be a wonderful evening.

Now that it’s come and gone, I can honestly say that my expectations were more than met.

My heart is full, and I almost want to cry now that it’s ended.

As I saw people arrive for the wedding, I couldn’t wait to hug their necks.  I couldn’t quite yet because the ceremony was about to start, so I eagerly awaited the reception.

You see, these were no ordinary “people.”

They were my fellow soccer parents.

Over the years, we had traveled far and wide together (all over the United States, in fact), rejoiced in victories, and dried tears after losses.

We had agonized over teenage/parent frustrations while cheering our girls from the sidelines.

We’d shared countless adventures together.

Holler if you remember getting lost on back roads in Virginia.

Ahem.

If you’re a sports parent, you know the unique bond that forms in such circumstances.

We had broken bread together at all hours of the day more times than I can remember and at more restaurants that I probably want to recall.  Hello, hotel oatmeal.  heehee

It’s a very good thing that social media wasn’t a thing back in those days.  😀

As the girls got older, we attended their college signings and cheered them on when we heard their names on the news or read about them in the paper or online.

And now…

They are getting older.  Many are either finished with college, almost finished, or in the case of K, the youngest of a LARGE crew, about to embark on a college career.

And then today, there was J’s wedding…

The most recent event to bring us together.

I cried a little when I saw her groom’s eyes fill with tears as he saw her.  It was absolutely precious to behold.

I saw J take a deep breath as she held her father’s arm and passed my aisle…on her way to her groom waiting for her.

She was drop-dead gorgeous, her dress conservative but so feminine with its lace and train.

The ceremony was so sweet – especially because they incorporated promises to forever cheer on Auburn in the vows they wrote for each other.

War Eagle!

After the ceremony, I greeted the other soccer moms with the hugs I’d been holding back.  We talked non-stop as we walked to the reception room.

Chicky, the Mr., and I were seated at the table with our soccer peeps.  Whoever made the seating arrangements, thank you!!

What fun we had describing past times.

Watching J and her guy dance their first dance…well, my goodness…I think we soccer moms all shed a few tears.

And then the dance floor was opened up to everyone.

I am not going to lie.  I danced.

A lot.

I pulled one of my friends, L, to the floor with me, and honey, that girl had moves!

Song after song played, and we parents had as much fun as the kids.  Seriously.

At one point, J’s mom got in the middle of the moms and totally cut loose.  My friend, L, looked at me and said, “I have goosebumps right now.”

You see, after our girls, in their senior year of high school, won the regional playoff game that sent them to the state playoffs, we had stood in the school’s parking lot, and J’s mom had gotten in the middle and danced in celebration.

It felt like deja vu.

We boogied our behinds off and did dances I didn’t know how to do.  I just followed the lead of S, one of the soccer dads, who had, apparently, been taught by his five kids.  🙂

We did the Wobble, which I had learned how to do on the cruise.

I learned that to dance like the young folks, all you have to do is point at someone or something every now and then.

heehee

The night went by too quickly, and before I knew it, the Mr. pried me off of the floor.  He and Chicky were ready to leave.  I could have partied all night.

#teachersonsummervacation

As I hugged L, she said, “I don’t want tonight to end.  I’ll probably be depressed tomorrow.”

I told her to focus on the positive memories, but now, I see what she meant.

We, despite having grown children, have gotten busier (who would have thunk it).

We aren’t required to meet up every few days for practices or tournaments.

Simply put, our lives don’t intersect very often any more.

Because we are family, this makes letting go of each other when we are together even more difficult.

You see, when you’re a soccer [insert your sport of choice] parent, you automatically adopt every player on the team.  You walk away from the experience having parented more children than you originally intended when you signed up for the sport.

Your heart gets bigger at the same rate that your “family” grows.

I’ll forever be grateful to J for including us on her special day.  Not only did we get to watch her marry the man God had planned as her soul mate, we got to do it together…like we always did…from the sidelines but with as much enthusiasm as ever.

I’ll carry these memories in my heart for a very long time and will look forward to the next celebration that reunites us once again.

Headed Home

I arrived at Chicky’s house twelve days ago.

It’s hard to believe that nearly two weeks have gone by so quickly.

During that time, she had her ACL surgery.  Life, for a few days, passed in four-hour increments…the amount of time between doses of pain medication…

I spent more money at CVS in a five-day span than should be allowed.  Chicky now has a fine assortment of stool softeners, anti-itch medicine, and Advil tablets (for the inflammation in her knee).

By the way, I think some of the above was a bit TMI.

Oh well.

We celebrated Christmas…

Puppy sitting for one of the athletic trainers…

I received lovely gifts.  The earrings were from Super Sis and her family.  They also gave me the jewelry stand.

I got to love on lots of fur babies, including Cali and the others Chicky’s roommate brought home with her on Saturday…

Cali was concerned about Chicky, sensing that things were off.  She has stuck close to her side ever since we got home from the surgery…

Chicky and I tried to get out to stores on the 26th; however, she became too ill from her pain meds, so we had to turn around and go home.

I was determined to get her moving, so we tried again the next day, after she’d quit taking her pain pills, and she fared much better, even riding around Target in a motorized wheelchair.

The 27th was a big day for Chicky; she had her follow-up with the surgeon and her first physical therapy appointment!

The PA in the doctor’s office got her leg to 80 degrees…

This was a huge step and vitally important to achieving full range of mobility again.

Some of the best news was that Chicky could take the immobilizer off and walk with one cane for support.  This made our shopping excursion the next day a lot less cumbersome…especially while we tried on shoes and fun leggings…

Those are my legs in the center picture, and no, I did not purchase the pants, showing great restraint. Had the Little Mermaid pair been available in my size, I would have bought them.

We had a bit of an adventure when we took Chicky’s laundry to a place that did everything for us.  At ninety cents a pound, with a minimum of nineteen pounds, we thought it was a great deal…

Until the woman weighted Chicky’s stuff…

And discovered that she had over thirty-six pounds of dirty clothes and linens.

I went halfsies with her, and we killed four hours of waiting by doing the above shopping.

We also ate a free lunch, courtesy of Tijuana Flats…

Chicky held up like a trooper.  I was extremely proud of her.  Neither one of us napped that day either!  It was a victory all the way around!

Our twelve days together found us watching a LOT of TV.  We decided to watch Prison Break, which I’d watched when the series originally aired and had gotten a hankering to watch after my nail salon played the pilot the last time I got my nails done.

Chicky was hooked from the first show, and we spent hours, end-on-end, watching.  We made it to Season 2, Episode 13, I think.

Our addiction was so bad that as we killed time on Saturday, we would look at each other, smile slyly, and admit to wanting to be back at the house watching TV.

Something I did not do much of during that twelve days was work.  I just didn’t feel like it, despite taking all of my lesson planning stuff and a bunch of grading.

My focus was Chicky…even on the days when I wanted to go into the bathroom and cry because of the way she was lashing out at me…a lot of it because of the pain and sickness from the surgery.

These last twelve days have been about servitude…giving when it’s not easy…forgiving when the hurting is more than physical…compromising when needed but standing your ground at certain times too (“Yes, you have to take these pain killers,” said on the second night home from the surgery).

These last twelve days have been about patience.  I did, after all, invade Chicky’s world…the microcosm of existence that she has created for herself as a bona-fide adult.  I didn’t always do things like she would have done, but I tried.  We both had to bite our tongues more than one, or three, or twenty times during these last couple of weeks.

These last twelve days have been about watching my little girl…not so little, really, this go-around with the ACL surgery (the last one was eight years ago)…fight for independence over the daily tasks that I won’t be here to help her do when I leave today.

While it’s going to be hard not to be with her, protecting her from puppies that might run into her in their exuberance (ahem), reminding her to ice her knee after doing her twice-daily exercises, and dispensing her Advil, I know that God continues to hold her in the palm of His gentle hands.

It’s been such an honor, and I do mean that, to take care of her…tending to her needs…being there when she called out for me in the middle of the night.

We will return to our busy lives, but I’ll never forget this time with my girl…a hidden blessing bestowed upon me by my gracious heavenly Father.

One Tough Cookie

Sorry I haven’t posted in a few days.  The days have passed by in a blur since Friday when Chicky had her surgery.

We drove down on Thursday and met Chicky and her roommate for dinner.  Chicky was in a very chipper mood despite knowing that she would soon be having her knee cut open and a new ACL constructed from her patella.  Her Tweets reflected her eagerness to get the surgery over with.

After we returned to the hotel, I caught up on reading my emails and found a couple from my students (they also attached the essays that had been due the day before)…touching thoughts wishing my Chicky well…

We spent Friday morning shopping for groceries at Sams and Publix.  We knew that we wouldn’t be in any shape to put a lot of effort into cooking, so we wanted to be prepared.

We were told that her surgery was scheduled for 1:30.  Showtime at the surgery center was 12:30 for prep work.

We arrived as told, given a pager and instructions on how things would proceed, and then waited.

Chicky was taken back by herself first to get an IV set up.  Once she was prepped, we were called back to wait with her until it was her time to be taken to the operating room.

We were very nervous, but once again, she surprised us with her winsome smile and easy laughter.  She even allowed me to take a picture of her giving a big thumbs up.

Her roommate arrived at the surgery center and went back to talk to her for awhile.  She left soon after so we could spend the rest of the time with Chicky.

We noticed her appointment time come and go without her being taken back.  It turned out that her actual surgery time was between 3 and 5, and the doctor was running a bit behind.  He had twelve surgeries that day.

Whew!

Finally, he stopped by, and we got to meet him…a very soft-spoken, calm man who, it turned out, hails from a town not too far from us.  Chicky showed him her right leg…the one she was being operated on…the one she had to write the word “Yes” on…the one that her roommate had a bit of fun with and wrote the word in various languages…

We got to ask questions, much to Chicky’s chagrin (she’s all grown up at nearly 22 years old, don’t you know), and we were left to wait some more.

Hurry up and wait seems to be the name of the game when you’re talking about anything medical related, eh?

Still, the staff was very kind and accommodating.

The dreaded moment came when we had to part with Chicky.  It was hard to watch her walk away, but she was laughing as she did, flanked on both sides by animated surgical assistants who, it wound up, were playing rap music in the OR.

We had been told that the surgery would take an hour and a half…two tops.  I set my timer, and we began to grow anxious as we watched the time creep past one hour forty-five minutes.  When it passed two hours fifteen minutes, our stomachs started flip-flopping.  At 2:20, our pager went off.  It was time to have a consultation with the doctor.

He met us in a private room and assured us that the surgery had gone very well and that there was no other damage.  Praise God!  I had been concerned that there might be extra stuff he’d have to fix.  MRIs don’t always show everything.

We were sent back to the waiting room for another twenty minutes before our pager went off for the final time.  It was finally time to be reunited with Chicky.  I was nervous.  The last time we’d visited her in recovery had been bad.

To our surprise, she was sitting up…very groggy…but in a pleasant mood!  Her head kept hanging over, and she kept dozing off, but she was smiling.

She made me take a picture of her leg with the immobilizer on it and post it on Instagram.

Modern technology, eh?

I was shocked when the nurses had her get up and walk, without crutches, to the bathroom to get dressed.  She was on so much medication that she couldn’t feel any pain, and she was able to dress herself, with me standing with my back to her but still in the room with her.

It wasn’t long before we put her in the car and headed to her house.  Still in a good mood, she joked the entire way…albeit slurring her words a bit.  She settled on the couch and had a lucid conversation until the Mr. left to return to the hotel.  I was staying with Chicky.

Chicky watched TV for a while, got up to potty…all the while walking without crutches…and even tried to clean up the house!  She did a bit of a dance before heading to bed.

Ahhh…the effects of anesthesia.  How very deceiving they were!

The Mr. returned the next morning and found a cheerful Chicky.  She’d had a good night and was still motoring around fairly easily.  When he left to return home, we were both laying on the pull-out couch set for a day of watching TV and me waiting on her hand-and-foot.

The rest of the day passed by without too much trouble.

It’s pretty hard to complain when your day looks like this…

Beggar!

Creepy movie…reminded me why I don’t watch these things…

Dog-sitting for the athletic trainer. This little girl has adopted me.

Toward the end of the evening, her pain started to get worse, and her leg started tightening up as the original pain meds worked their way out of her system.

Things turned ugly on Sunday when she woke up barely able to move her leg, in a lot more pain, and feeling very nauseous.  She was also unable to use the bathroom…an unfortunate side effect from the pain medicine.  She finally quit taking her pain meds…simply refused…and I wasn’t about to pull a defensive lineman move, pin her down, and force her to swallow those pills.  She paid the price late that night when she woke up in more pain than she could bear.

She took the pills after that.

God had been gracious, though, and helped her body start doing what it was supposed to do, if you catch my drift.

Poor girl.

That takes us through today, which has been up and down with a lot of aggravation on her part…unwrapping her immobilizer to let her leg breathe…unwrapping and re-wrapping the ACE bandage (I should have taken lessons pre-surgery…seriously)…and still more nausea.

I’m hoping that Christmas Eve will find her able to get out of the house for a few minutes, inhale fresh air, and feel a bit of holiday spirit.

I’m sure looking at my face is getting old by now.

I will say that despite the circumstances, we’ve managed to have some fun.

Our TV time has consisted of episodes of Say Yes to the Dress and Toddlers and Tiaras…both shows I’ve never watched before.

By the way, I find it disgraceful that kids are given sports drinks and such sugar snacks like Pixie Sticks to be able to “perform.”  Sorry to be judgmental, but what are people thinking?!  This show, while funny at times, makes me mad at the way kids are coddled and “beauty” that comes across as fake is applauded.  Sheesh.

Back to this post…

heehee

Please continue to pray for Chicky.  She still has a long road ahead of her.  She will return to work on the 6th.  She has a long way to go before she’s ready.

She’s shown me, once again, what a tough cookie she is…determined to lead life her way, push through obstacles, and come out on top.

I love her to pieces and am grateful that I can be here to take care of her during the toughest days.

All glory to God for the healing He is working in her body and the way He will use her trials to bring glory to Himself.

She Left It All On the Field

Dear Chicky,

I thought about the best way to blog about the events that transpired the last couple of days, and I decided that the most fitting format would be in the form of a letter…to you (not exactly private, though, since I am writing on a public forum).

I remember when Daddy and I dropped you off for the first time at school.

We were so upset at having to let you go but excited for you at the same time.  We wanted so badly for you to have a great soccer experience because that was what you had worked so hard for.

We didn’t really know how they did things in college soccer, but it didn’t take us long to learn what our new roles, as the parents of a college athlete, were.

I remember watching the first Senior Night that year, and in my head, I think that’s when I started looking ahead.

When I saw Puma’s pictures of the girls’ cleats, given up during a traditional end-of-season ceremony, my heart jumped in my throat, and I began anticipating what kinds of emotions that I, as your Mama, would feel when it would be your turn.

Never, in a million years, could I have imagined the joy and bits of sadness that this past weekend brought me.

I had known it would be difficult.

Soccer had been a part of our lives since you were six years old.

I remember how I’d felt your senior year of high school after that wonderful final season.

This past weekend was on another level altogether.

What intensified my feelings was your injury…which rendered you unable to play most of the season.

Yet, you showed such fortitude and determination as you planned your exit.

You have always lived life on your terms, and the final night of your soccer career was not going to be any different.

As you rehabbed last week, I sat on pins and needles.

Though I wanted to cry out, “No, don’t try it.  I don’t want you to risk further injury,” I (surprisingly enough) kept my thoughts away from your ears and chose to support you.

You needed closure.

Honestly, so did we, even though this has never, ever been about us.

So I prayed.

And yes, I worried.

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t.

I enjoyed the hours we spent leading up to your game.

Our time the night before, watching M in her Senior Night at UCF, spending precious time with the family we had traveled to dozens of tournaments with, was a precursor to the gamut of emotions that would invade my heart the next evening.

Yesterday (Saturday), as we shopped together, we shared some laughs and bonding moments (our love for all things office-supply related).  I wanted to keep things as low-key as possible.  I knew you were nervous, and I didn’t want you to feel my nerves as well, even when tears threatened to spill over a couple of times.

As we parted ways for you to prepare for your game with your team, my stomach started turning, and I grew silent…even as I watched the boys’ team play before it was your turn to take the field.

I prayed for you even as I spied on you as you warmed up on the field behind us.

I am ever the #stalkingmydaughter mother, after all.

🙂

It wasn’t long before your Daddy and I had to gather with the other parents of Seniors (I prefer this wording to that of “Senior Parents,” which would make us sound old).

I talked with the assistant coach to see how you were feeling.

You were nervous, she told me, and not sure how long you’d make it out there.  Your goal was 25 minutes.  You weren’t sure if you’d last ten after the warm-up.

As long as you got on that field and had your chance

It was time for your senior rite of passage…Senior Recognition.

Walking you to the center of the field as we linked arms, felt very surreal.

Was this really happening?

Were you really wearing a shirt that said Senior with your name across it?

How in the heck was this possible?

It’s almost a blur now, but I remember the cheers…cheers for YOU, my sweet daughter…recognition for all that YOU had done for Southeastern Women’s Soccer over the last four years.

You had made an impact.

But your time wasn’t finished yet.

We parted ways on the field, and I kissed and hugged you goodbye, desperate to hold on for as long as I could.

You had a game to play, though.

As you gathered beside your teammates, part of the starting lineup, I was so thankful that you were getting to do this one more time.

One month ago, we did not have this assurance.  You had worked hard, though, and God had been merciful to allow this one final night.

I watched as you met with the other team captain in the center of the field, shook hands with the other team’s captains, and did whatever you guys do with the refs.  For all I know, you could be talking about what you’re having for dinner afterward.  I think it must be some big joke on the rest of us, because we really never hear those conversations, now do we?

Then, you gathered with your team for a pre-game prayer, and I smiled with a grateful heart that you have been at a college where the Word of God is the focus, as is developing a God-serving heart.

And then it was time for the game to begin.

I cannot tell you that I wasn’t scared.

I was.

Holding my camera and snapping nearly 400 pictures kept me from wringing my hands.

I watched, breathless, as you called for balls, chased people down, and didn’t hesitate to get in the middle of the action.

I also saw as you pulled back when you knew things weren’t the safest, cautious about doing worse damage to your knee or injuring the good one.

Thank heavens you showed some restraint…very uncharacteristic but a wise decision, nonetheless.

As you deftly handled the ball, it was clear to see that you hadn’t lost your touch or your mad ball skills.

You connected passes together…a strength you have always had.

You’ve always been able to read the field and deliver the ball to people’s feet.

You came off the field after twelve minutes, and the crowd yelled and clapped in appreciation.

I wanted to cry as I saw you walk into Coach’s arms for a well-deserved hug, but I didn’t.  My emotions were going crazy.  I was thankful that you hadn’t gotten hurt.

The game went on, and I, in my #stalkingmydaughter way, continued to snap photos…namely of you holding court on the sideline.

🙂

The second half began, and to my shock, you were back on the field!!

I grabbed my camera, worry creeping back into my heart.

Oh Chicky, as I watched you speed down the field, often just a half second shy of beating the goalie to the ball, I was filled with such pride in you.

Girls pulled on your shirt and fought you for the ball, and you refused to give up.

I continued to snap photos.

And then came the moment I had dreaded.

You went down as you stretched for the ball, and as you struggled to get up, I knew you were hurt.

But you got up without anyone’s help, and as you limped off the field, in obvious pain, the crowd clapped.

I started to cry.

Ms. Barbara told me that she had seen an amazing thing.  One of the refs had clapped as you had taken yourself off the field…in obvious respect for you.

I used my camera’s ultra zoom to spy on you, once again in #stalkingmydaughter mode.

I saw you wiping your eyes, and the only thing that stopped me from going around the field to you was FEAR…fear that you would take my head off if I even stepped foot on your sideline.

heehee

So I stayed on my side, made sure you were okay, and cried as silently as I could in the stands.

My other daughter, your BFF, “M,” reached behind her and patted my leg to comfort me.

I can’t recall the last part of the game.  I remember bits and pieces.  I only know that I kept my eyes glued on you.  By the end of the game, you were standing up again, and I knew you were going to be okay.

After the game, you shook hands, and then both teams prayed together.  Once again, I was reminded of God’s graciousness and providence in leading you to a school that honors His name.

As you walked off of the field, a large icepack tied to your knee, I saw that you had a HUGE smile on your face.

Your joy was genuine, and it radiated from your eyes.

Thank you for humoring me and allowing me to take photos with and of you without complaining.  I will treasure the ones you took with me for years to come.

I watched you make the rounds, thanking everyone for coming, and then we made our way out.  We parted ways with the plan to meet for dinner a few minutes later, after you could grab your stuff from the locker room.

I’m not ashamed to tell you that when I got to my car, I broke down completely.

It was the last time I had walked off of the field as a soccer mom, even though in my heart, I’ll be a #soccermomforever.

Still, though, the emotions from the weekend and, in fact, the last sixteen-plus years, flooded my heart, and there were no gates to hold them back.

As I reflect on this time, I want to tell you, once again, how much you inspire me.

How I wish your career had not ended the way it did, and despite whatever feelings you wrestled with before stepping on the field last night, what you showed to me and everyone who knows your story and/or had the privilege of watching you play was that you are a young lady who handles herself with grace and determination.

You have always aspired to greatness, not for your glory but simply because you don’t know how else to do things.

You told me that you were going to leave everything on the field if given the opportunity to get back on it.

Oh Honey, you certainly did that, now didn’t you?

Not only did you leave everything on the field, but YOU decided how and when you would leave it.

You also managed to play a little over the 25 minutes you’d hoped for, once you tallied up the minutes from the first and second half.

Never have any regrets, my Dear, about the way you played the game.

Never have resentment over how your last season went.

God has a plan for your life, and His ways are not our own.

This you have learned, unfortunately, the hard way.

You did it wonderfully.

I’m thankful I could be there with you every step of the way.

It was a wonderful sixteen (nearly seventeen) years.

Hundreds and hundreds of practices, dozens of pairs of cleats, dozens and dozens of tournaments, countless minutes traveling in the car and by plane were all worth it to watch you exude joy in your final game last night.

I love you more than you will ever know.

Love,

Mama ♥

Your Biggest Fan

Heavy Metal

Today, the Mr. and I are on our way to visit Chicky.  She will be among the players being recognized at Senior Night during Saturday’s last home game.

What a bittersweet time this is for us.

As I gathered the items that Chicky had requested that we take to her, I couldn’t help but notice, for not the first time, the many many soccer medals hanging in her closet, all accumulated during sixteen years of play…

Those aren’t even all of her medals, I’m sure.

I inspected each one, slowly reading the name of each tournament, year, and place awarded.

A few stood out in my mind as memories invaded my mind.

The Orange Classic was one of our favorite tournaments to attend.  It is an annual tournament held in south Florida near where we spent eight years of our lives.  Chicky started playing soccer when she was six years old…in south Florida…so many of our friends were tied to the sport.  Years later, after we moved, we would run into these friends as we traveled from tournament to tournament.  Once, we even ran into someone in an airport across the country!

We attended the Top Gun tournament several times over the years.  The above medal came from one of the first tournaments Chicky played in after we moved away from south Florida.

The next medal was awarded at National Cup, which was held in Arkansas.  Chicky’s team had finished as #2 in the state of Florida.  Chicky’s team got to go because of some strange ranking thing that allowed certain teams to attend if they had won certain leagues.  Going to Nationals was an exhilarating experience, although it was a terribly long drive (and the hotel was a dump…next to a mall where a person got shot in the parking lot and someone…not on the team…got attacked in the hotel).

Yeah.  It was an interesting trip.  As a side note, I took my first real knitting project with me on this trip…the ugliest blue scarf you’ve ever seen.  I also took my first class through Troy’s online program…a basic here’s how you do long-distance learning class.

Chicky played at quite a few Disney tournaments.  Let me tell you that Disney knows how to put on an athletic event!  It was at one tournament where Chicky was reunited with players from south Florida.  This happened a few months after we had moved away, and it was a joyful time!  Chicky’s team won that tournament.  We played in the heat, and we played in the cold because yes, Orlando can get cold in the winter.

The Timberwolf Classic was put on by a rival high school a few hours away.  We loathed this school, and Chicky’s team played in the tournament every year she was in high school.  The way the tournament was planned out, we never won.  Ever.

Until 2008 when we beat our rival soundly in a thrilling game!  We had a dear friend whose daughter played on the other team.  She was a fierce competitor who always brought out the best in Chicky.

One of the most rewarding high school experiences was her senior season.  Chicky played some of the best soccer I’ve ever seen her play.  Her team went to the Final Four playoffs and lost the game in overtime in torrential rain and freezing cold.

She was named to the All Star team and had a wonderful experience playing in that game.  If I’m not mistaken, she was named MVP of that game.

Chicky’s travel teams were good.  They went to Final Four several times, although the teams she was on never won the entire thing.  Still, to be considered one of the top four in the state was a huge honor.

This medal came from her last Final Four.  It was a bittersweet end to her travel soccer career.

Chicky’s heavy metal doesn’t end with those hung around her neck.

She has received numerous awards and trophies over the years as well.  Here are a few of my favorite.

She was awarded Best Defensive Player her senior year of high school…

She also received a beautiful MVP award at that same banquet…a time of celebration that I cried through…

She’s also been recognized at her college awards ceremonies…

The last time I visited Chicky, I saw another award in her car.  It had not made it home to her shelf.

The above pictures are but snapshots of my sweet girl’s soccer career.

I posted the pictures, not to brag, but to celebrate her accomplishments.

She would be embarrassed, and I’m sure I’ll probably hear about it when she finds out I’ve written this.

She would be the first to put the honor where it’s due…to the One who blessed her with her talent.

 

Play Like It’s Your Last Game

Yesterday afternoon, after church, I had a long conversation with my Chicky.

Both of our schedules are hectic, and she’s not usually one for long chats, so catching her in a talkative mood was a dream come true.

One of the topics we covered was soccer.

Even though she’s unable to play because of her knee, she still attends every practice and sits on the bench during games, urging on her teammates the entire time.

It’s killing her not to play.

She’s a competitor.

She’s rarely been down for the count.

Not being able to contribute hurts her worse than the pain in her knee.

As we talked, she told me about how, since she tore her ACL the first time in the ninth grade, she’s always played like it was her last game.

Truth be told, she’s played this way since she first stepped onto a field at the tender age of six.  I don’t think I ever watched her play when she wasn’t going at it full speed ahead.

Still, though, I keep going back to her comment.

Before she tore her ACL during her first high school season, she was playing pretty darned good soccer.

She’d never given much thought to getting hurt because, quite frankly, she had rarely been hurt.  The worst she had experienced was a rolled ankle.

Her comment yesterday was extremely insightful, though, and gave me a rare glimpse into her heart…into her motivation.

If you’ve ever watched my girl play, you’ll know that she has played some phenomenal soccer since the ninth grade.

Her last season of high school soccer was especially breathtaking as I saw her make some of the most unbelievable plays I’d witnessed to that point.

Her intense play continued throughout her college career and often led me to suck in my breath in fear and admiration.

Watching her play simply took my breath away.

I never had any idea that she was playing as if each game was her last.

I thought she was simply taking care of business.

When Chicky tore her ACL that first time, she realized that she wasn’t invincible and that another game was never guaranteed.

As such, she always did everything possible to win.

She played when she was sick; she played when she was sore.  She iced aching muscles, loaded up on carbs before games, and got plenty of rest.

She did work on the field and sacrificed her body to do the job she was there to do…prevent the other team from getting the ball in the goal.

She did it so well that she stood out, and it was fun to listen to the ooohs and aaaahs as she won headers young ladies of her stature don’t normally win.

She did it with grace, style, and class.

As her mother, I look back to the time before soccer played a large role in her life, and I recognize signs of this motto…Play like it’s your last game…lived out early in her life.

She entered this world with a gusto and did everything early.  She hit all of the baby milestones weeks before what was considered “normal,”

She ran hard, and she played hard.  She didn’t stop for something silly like a meal, and there many, many nights when we fed her as she ran circles around the table.

As a student intern, she’s teaching amazing lessons and is making plans for the class she will one day lead.

She’s living life just as she’s played every soccer game…as if each moment is her last.

She is such an inspiration to me.  The conversation we had…that one small comment…is being stored up in my heart as one of my own new, personal mantras.

Leave everything on the field.

Don’t hold anything back.

Sacrifice willingly.

Play like it’s your last game.

I love you Chicky, more than you will ever possibly know, and I thank you for inspiring me with your dignity, grace, humbleness, and determination to be the best in whatever arena you find yourself, be it soccer, school, or your Christian walk.

Not Skilled to Understand

Yesterday was not a good day.

I woke up nervous for my Chicky, for it was the day we anticipated receiving the results from the MRI she’d had on Friday.

Her appointment was set for 2pm Eastern time.  I am an hour behind, so I sat quietly in my room during lunch, knitting and praying for her.

The angst grew with every passing minute until I was finally able to talk to her.

The news was what we had feared most:  her ACL had been completely torn.

Sigh.

I cried with Chicky as she shed tears over the phone.

It.

Was.

Devastating.

She didn’t stay on the phone long, too overcome with emotion to say much.

She didn’t need to talk, for my heart connected with hers in the way that mamas and their children link up.

I felt her pain as it reached out and gripped my soul.

We have been through this disappointment before when she tore her left ACL during her first year of high school.

That news had shattered us, but we had the promise of more years of play.

She came back from that injury and played the next six plus years of her career with sheer brilliance and mastery.

This time is different, because this is her senior year of college.

We are holding out a glimmer of hope that her coach’s petition for red-shirt status will get approved; however, we are realistic enough to believe that this may not happen.  Still, who is to say what God has planned.

And so my heart is heavy.

I am trying hard not to say, “It’s not fair,” for to go down that road would open me up to the resentment that would follow, and I will not allow that negativity into my life.

Instead, I am going to focus on the positives:

  • Chicky is alive.  I can hear her voice whenever I want (or whenever she answers the phone).  I know people who are grieving for family members they lost in recent days, so this gives me pause to be thankful.
  • Chicky can still walk, despite being pummeled during the hundreds of games she has played in over the years.
  • Chicky has played soccer for sixteen glorious years, and she has glorified God by using the talents He has blessed her with in Every. Single. Game.
  • Chicky has inspired so many people with her determined attitude and the fearlessness in which she has attacked each challenge she has been presented with.
  • I got to attend Chicky’s last full game of soccer…a game in which she scared the bejeepers out of me, but also one in which I was reminded, once again, just how special of a young lady she is…both on and off the field.

With all of the positives, I cannot forget the most important one:  that Chicky is a Christ-loving, God-serving young woman who has a bright future ahead of her.

I know she is hurting right now, but I believe that at the core of her heart is an attitude of trust in God’s perfect plan for her life.

Her days ahead will be tough, and her recovery will be painful.  This I know from the last time; however, I have no doubt that she will face the surgery and rehab with the same gusto and bravery that she has used when defending her team’s soccer goal against some of the fiercest opponents that ran her way.

I continue to trust in God’s promises, and though I am not skilled to understand, I know that He alone is wise, and He alone knows the plans He has for my sweet girl…plans to prosper her.

Chicky, I love you my precious daughter.  Hold on to the Lord during these difficult days and trust in His goodness.

Keep On Keeping On

It’s hard to believe that the weekend is just about over, eh?

I don’t have any news on Chicky.  Her team’s trainer is going to try to get her into the doctor’s office tomorrow to get the results of the MRI.  We probably won’t know anything until tomorrow afternoon.

She sounds okay…her usual annoyed self at my hovering, although I will say that I didn’t call until tonight.

And so we wait…

And pray…

And we continue living our lives, albeit on the edges of our seats, trusting God for His perfect plan to play out.

Thank you for your continued prayers.  They are very much appreciated.

 

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