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!