Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Do as I say, not as I did...

For 13 years of my life, soccer was my thing.

I loved muddy knees, grass stains on my shorts and I LOVED scoring goals. 

Now that I clean up muddy knees and grassy shorts all day, I have relegated myself to the sidelines,  lately watching a lot of high school and college soccer games that all take me back. 

My love for soccer started when I was in 4th grade - back when only boys played during recess. 
I found it extremely satisfying to slide down that Schirle Elementary hill to "save" a goal, and while my mom shook her head at my new jeans caked in playground mud, it was always worth it because I had found something I was good at. 

I'm not sure how my fairy-like Mormon friend, Shayla, got roped into this madness but I remember we were the only two girls crazy enough to leave the gossip circles of the parallel bars and take on the boys.   
When I started playing organized soccer in 6th grade, I learned about 

I hated that place.

I played soccer so that I could spend my hot summer days beating a defender to the ball and making keepers drop their chins to their chests. I did not play so I could sit and watch others do so. 

My freshman year of high school, I was flying high. 

I was proud to make the JV team at Sprague High School, and happy to be the leading scorer by the end of the season. I was a cocky little 100-pound forward with no problems defending my faith to Shayla on the bus, but when it came to representing Christ on the field - not so much. 

If we lost, it was always someone else's fault.

Refs always got a lesson in how to do their job.

And I hated being benched.

Sophomore year, I was banking on varsity. 
I made JV again.
Needless to say, I had something to prove. 

God had something to prove too, but I just wasn't listening...yet.

The first game of the season, we were playing Redmond High School and I hyper-extended my right knee. 

There are no trainers at high school JV women's soccer games, so I spent the rest of the night hopping around on one foot, even going through the line at Taco Bell. 

After an Xray, my family doctor told me I had bruised my meniscus and it would heal on its own in 2 weeks. 
So, for 2 weeks, I sat on the dreaded bench. 

I was so excited when I was cleared to play, and couldn't wait to get out there and save my team from the brink of mediocrity. My attitude = my team is nothing without me.

Unfortunately, my knee was not cooperating. I would be backing up for a throw-in and it would just collapse me to the ground in tears of frustration. I'd wait a few more weeks, then try again. My whole skill set was built around my quickness, but any kind of cut floored me. I scored 1 goal that year. 

As the season drew to a close, I had only proved I wasn't about to make varsity next year, and I was no savior to any team. I went to a different doctor, who ordered an MRI, which showed I had actually torn my ACL back in September. 


Two months of crutches.

Physical therapy.

Once, I was late to catch my bus after school, and was crutching like a madwoman through the linoleum Sprague High School hallway. About 200 feet down the hall, I could see the buses slowly pulling away as I desperately click-clacked away. Then, as I hit the main thoroughfare, the muddy footprints from December rain got the better of my rubber-soled crutches and I crashed into a crumpled pile of embarrassment.

God taught me a lot that year. 

Junior year, I was on JV again, but with a renewed attitude. 
It was the best year.

Seniors can't play on JV, so the coach finally put me on varsity for my last year of high school. I mostly considered myself lucky to be on the team as the consummate ball girl. I played a little, but not enough to even show up on any college scout radars. 

I got lucky to play for a city club team coached by the Corban College women's soccer coach. He gave me my big break, inviting me to basically come and ride the bench at Corban. I never hesitated. 

A series of unfortunate events (teammate injuries) led to a heightened role on the Corban team my sophomore year, and by the end of that season, I was once again flying high as one of the leading scorers on the team. My ego wasn't far behind. 
I think that if Cayden decides to play soccer, I will make her learn defense first. It seems that goal-scoring is the root of all ego in my side of her gene pool.

During spring practice of my sophomore year of college, I tore my other ACL. 

I missed my entire junior season as a result. 

Senior year, I was back with, once again, something to prove.

The only thing I proved was my own immaturity.
My final collegiate game we were in the playoffs, after two overtimes, in penalty kicks. Best out of 5 shots wins. We missed our first two PKs. The other team made their first two. I had the third shot.

I ended my college career dropping to my knees in defeat as Eastern Oregon University mobbed their keeper for blocking my shot. 

My biggest regret is that in that moment I had a choice, and I chose to be wildly selfish.

Our bench was full of my wide-eyed teammates who cringed as I took a full swing to kick a water bottle across the practice field and storm away. 
I wasn't planning on shaking anyone's hand that day. 

Soccer is a game full of second chances and I violently blew my chance to be an example of Christ in the face of adversity. 

A competitive spirit is crucial to athletic success. 
If you don't care about winning, you won't win...period. 
But sometimes, even when you care so much that it hurts, you still don't win.
When the other team's "Two, four, six, eight....who do we appreciate..." is deafening and that selfish voice inside of me starts the blame game and self-loathing, THAT'S when I had the choice. 

I have the choice to be bigger than my pride. 
I have the choice to not sin in my anger.
I have the choice to be set apart.

Between chasing Cayden up and down the stairs at soccer games and making sure she doesn't eat the sunflower seeds left over from last Friday night's game, I get small glimpses into that old life I used to live on the soccer field. 

The shirt-over-the face frustration.
The bad calls.
The lack of ability to rise above it all. 

Even now, I have to remind myself to never forget that this game is a gift. 
God gave me the talent, and I slogged his name through the mud en route to fashioning my athletic legacy.
If you are still reading this novel, I would encourage you to not make the same mistake. 

Be that kid who jogs the whole way to the end line to thank the fans, even after ANOTHER loss.

Be that kid who claps encouragement from the bench instead of brooding for being taken out. 

Be that kid who helps up the person they just fouled.

Don't be the kid that was me.

Friday, October 5, 2012

How Cayden met Kinsley

I love ironic stories.

So here's one.

My favorite thing about Adair Village is the city-wide garage sale weekend at the end of August. This year, we missed the good stuff on Saturday because we had to work an OSU game, but Cayden and I set out Sunday morning before church to see what we could dig up out of the picked over stuff.

We scored bags of clothes, a coat and a sleeping bag for about $8 total, but the real score was right down the road. We had almost made it back to our house and were perusing our last sale when I noticed the family had a little girl about Cayden's size.
In passing, I asked how old she was.

"Almost a year and a half."

"Oh, yeah? So is my daughter," I said, motioning to Cayden, who was busy trying to buckle the baby swing being sold on the front lawn.

I continued to pick out a few articles of clothing from the table, then I asked when her birthday was.

"March 7."


And the irony kept coming.

Their daughter, Kinsley, was born around 11 a.m. on March 7, 2011, which was exactly the time I was READY for my epidural. Unfortunately, the anesthesiologist was busy in an emergency C-Section, and they kept telling me he would be done soon, but a very painful, long hour went by before they finally called in a different anesthesiologist after I made Bryan go yell at them (he didn't  really yell, but...). Cayden was born 8 hours later.

It's amazing how you can be so consumed with your own life, when there are other people all around you who might be suffering so much worse.

That emergency C-Section was because Kinsley had flipped to breech and after they got her out, Kinsley's mom, Dawn told her husband Jeff that she didn't feel well. He said she looked green. The anesthesiologist (the same one I was begging for upstairs) agreed with Jeff that something was really wrong, and that's when the doctors realized they had cut an artery and Dawn was bleeding out.

"They almost killed her," Jeff told me, as I had now stopped perusing the garage sale.

Obviously, they didn't kill Dawn. We went to the park together this week and watched the girls pet dogs, collect rocks and get staticky slide hair. They are going to be fast friends, and btw, I know staticky isn't a word.

Hearing the other side of the March 7, 2011 story really made me think long and hard about perspective. We live in a world full of 7 billion other people with messy living rooms, imperfect children and hurting hearts. God has a plan for each one, just as he had a plan for Dawn and I on March 7, 2011. He knew where that anesthesiologist needed to be to serve a greater purpose.

God has a plan. We can't always see it through the white-knuckle contractions of life, but the big picture thankfully rests safely in His capable hands.