"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Brilliant, Bold, and Beautiful

When Sierra entered high school, her goals revolved around cheerleading.  And she was really good at it.  She was beautiful, enthusiastic, and a natural-born encourager.  She LOVED cheering. 

But then she blew out her shoulder.

It was a "career ending" injury.  Surgery has made daily life easier, but her shoulder will never be stable enough for most sports, cheer included.

That was a rough time.  Really, really rough.

However, God always redeems us from ashes.  His plan is always better than ours.  It is SO, SO, SO, SO hard to see that in the moment.  When Sierra grieved the loss of the sport she loved and the identity she had chosen, it was heartbreaking.  BUT, during that time of loss, God revealed something to her that she had never realized about herself.

She discovered she was SMART.  Now, earlier in her life she never considered herself dumb - but she also thought of herself as really smart.  She honestly didn't care too much either way.  As long as she got descent grades, she was OK.  School was more about socialization than education.

As God removed sport from her life, she realized that she was SMART.  She began to truly focus on schoolwork.  She took harder and harder classes.  Her confidence soared.

The beginning of her junior year, she started talking about becoming a valedictorian.  Now, in order to do this, she had some hurdles to cross.  She had a few B's her freshman year.  If she wanted to get her GPA above a 4.0, she would have to take college courses and ace them.  (College courses have a different point value in the GPA computation.  An A in a college course gives 5 points, where an A in a high school course gives 4 points.)

She poured her heart and soul into her classes last year.  Slowly her GPA crept higher and higher.  And then one day, it happened. . . she had a cumulative 4.0 GPA. 

Today she received the gold ropes she will wear at graduation that signify she is a valedictorian.  She was so proud and excited.  Watching her joy made my heart happy and my eyes damp.  Oh Rah-Rah, I am more proud of you than I can ever explain.  Your determination, the way you embraced your new calling, inspires me so much.

She is UND bound as a part of their honor's program.  She is planning to major in kinesiology and sport's management  - which she plans to follow with PA school.  Her current dream job would be a PA in orthopedics.  (A love which stems from her experience as an orthopedic patient.)

He really does make beauty from ashes.

 It is super important to me that the littler kids make memories with the older kids.  So, I made sure Joshua and Mataya were at this ceremony - boring or not!  I had some momentary regrets when Mataya insisted on going potty just before Sierra was supposed to get her ropes - but in the end we made it back in time to witness Rah's moment.

I did give Joshua a choice about coming.  He said, "Well, it is probably more boring than school - BUT it is important to Sierra, so I better be there."  

 Mataya wanted to be in every picture.  And why would we say no?  For her to admire these smart, beautiful, determined young women is DREAMY.  I am so thankful for the ways they love and mentor her.
 Watch out UND these two are coming for you!

Here is to working hard and loving learning just like your big sister, baby girl!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Prom 2018

I have a few thoughts when it comes to Prom.  
1. The amount of attention we lavish on the day is pretty silly. 
2. It is also fun.

So, I chose to embrace the day like most other American mommas by overindulging in photos; all the while, silently giving thanks for a fun, kind, and polite group of young adults who were making good choices and great memories.

When shopping for her final Prom dress, Sierra wanted fun and different - yet not weird.  (Which is a little tricky!)  In the end, I think she found a dress that was perfect for her.  It truly reflected her personality with its classic lines and unexpected striped skirt.  It was bold and beautiful.  Fun. Expressive.  Totally Sierra.

 So, the biggest difference between junior prom and senior prom?
Turning 18 has come to = tattoos!  

These three will live together at UND next year.

 You have NO idea how much discussion went into Zac's socks.  I think it was easier for Sierra to find a dress she loved than it was for him to find socks she approved.  (HA!)

 Zac's older sister made their corsages.

 I had to snap this picture of parents taking pictures.  It is such a circus (which I did participate in).  But when you take a step back to observe the chaos, it's also kind of hilarious!
 Sierra's bestie Drew is an artist.  She had some great ideas for photo spots.  One place she wanted to go is a parking garage.  I HATE parking garages - but I cruised right on up to the very top as a dutiful momma.  The kids and parade of parents assemble to start photo op number 6 (or some such thing) and what do I see?  My beautifully clad daughter, the one with the perfect hair, nails, makeup, and dress, leaning over the side of the parking garage SPITTING!  She wanted to see how long it took for her spit to make it to the sidewalk below.

Only Sierra...

or at least that is what I thought until all 6 formally dressed "adults" had to try it. 

 Sierra asked us to serve dinner to her group.   And if I do say so myself, they were some spoiled kids.  Chad smoked some juicy T-bone steaks and chicken breasts.  My mom and Brenna made homemade mac and cheese, twice baked potatoes, and hot-from-the-oven popovers.  Drew's sister made a delicious cheesecake, and Ashley's parents brought a fresh garden salad.  YUMMO! 

I am so thankful for all the help!  Instead of being stuck in the kitchen, I was able to run around with Sierra to the salon and pictures.  It was a busy day, but thanks to my mom, Brenna, and Chad it was not stressful.
Our Brenna-girl has some serious skills.  She set the table beautifully, made a complex mac and cheese recipe, touched up Sierra's curls, served beautifully plated food, and cleaned up like a professional.  She did it all with a sweet smile on her face.  Her competence, grace, and ability amaze me.  She may have been our baby for many years, but she is definitely not "the baby."  She is the most capable of our children in many ways.  (If the rest of my older kids read this - please notice the words "in many ways!"  It is not a competition!  I know you all are amazing individuals with TONS of skills.  Trust me, I see your very best and am SO proud of each of you!)

 I am SO, SO thankful for my momma!
 I love their relationship.  They may look a lot alike - but they are very different individuals.  Yet they have learned to love and respect and support each other beautifully.  It makes my heart happy to see their sister bond grow.

After a full day of festivities, Chad and I skipped Grand March to go get Joshua and Mataya from my dad.  (Thank you Dad for keeping them busy and happy while the rest of us doted on the oldest kids! I appreciate you!) We came home and vegged on the couch in silence.  Even the little kids were wiped from the day!

The Prom-goers stopped after the dance to change before heading to the after-Prom party.  They returned to watch movies, play video games and crash in our loft, but I never heard a thing.  I am so thankful - like deeply grateful - for a group of kids that I have been able to trust to make good choices.

After "daddy-burgers"  (Chad is famous for his burgers) the next day, all the young people headed out.  We may have been ready for the quiet that followed, however Sierra was a bit misty eyed.  It is a season of endings in her life.  High School is coming to a close.  And while there are many beginnings just around the corner, there is also wisdom in grieving a bit as you say good-bye to some precious things as well.  As for me. . . I'm saving my tears for the drive home from GF when we drop her off in August.  I 'm quite sure that is the ending that will make me weep!