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Tuesday was a hard day. Brooke, my seventeen-year old daughter, was vying for a spot in the Individual Cheer Competition to be held at the Annual Metro Cheer Competition (all the Christian high schools in her conference) on Feb. 23. Five girls on her varsity squad vying for three spots. Night after night, she worked on her routine, sharpening every snap, strengthening every jump, polishing every pose, and forcing her quiet demeanor to project loud, clear words. As I watched her practice, offering little bits of advice here and there, I couldn’t help but wonder at the young woman she has become. Once a shy, introverted child, she has morphed into one incredible social butterfly. “You are ready,” I assured her. “I think you are going to do great. Remember to keep it slow, clear and loud.”

All day Tuesday, I prayed for her. Help her do her best, Lord. Surround her with favor as with a shield. Give her strength, energy and stamina. I place Brooke in your hands. Amen. She called right before her turn.

“Okay, go get ’em! You can do this, Brooke! I am praying!”

A couple hours later, she called, “Mom, I didn’t make it. I have to go. We are still practicing.”

I could hear the angst in her voice.

“Brooke, I’ll be there to pick you up. I’m praying.”

Within minutes of picking her up, she broke down. Her pain caused me great pain. I’ve experienced great disappointments in my life, but none measure to seeing my child experience such pain. We drove through Starbuck’s, hoping a Strawberries-n-Creme Frappuccino would magically make her pain subside. Few words were shared. All I could do was offer support, a long, loving hug and a hand to hold. I assured her that God was in control and that he had a plan. It was hard to fall asleep that night. I tossed and turned. Finally, rest came.

Blaring like a loud siren, the alarm woke me from a deep sleep. 6:30 a.m. Throwing back the warm comforter, I began the morning routine. As I climbed the steps to Brooke’s bedroom, I couldn’t help but think, I’m sure she cried herself to sleep. As I opened her door and reached down to turn on the light by her bed, I saw an array of index cards. Hmm. What is this? Oftentimes, she leaves little notes on her night table for me. But, I didn’t see a message for me. I saw ten little handwritten scripture cards-complete with highlighting and fancy lettering:

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity; but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Corinthians 1:7).

“Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong. And everything you do must be done with love” (1 Corinthians [6:13]-14).

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us-they can help us learn to endure” (Romans 5:3, NLT).

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James [2:22]).

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit” (2 Corinthians 4:8, NLT).

“He alone is my ROCK and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will NEVER be shaken” (Psalm 62:2, NIV).

“Stand firm!” (1 Corinthians [15:58]).

“. . . forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians [3:13]-14).

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the FULL ARMOR OF GOD so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians [6:10]-11).

I can’t begin to tell you how this effected me. As I stood in front of those prayer cards, I realized that Brooke had found the great secret of turning to Christ. Looking to him for solace and strength. Overwhelmed with gratitude, I smiled. At that moment, I couldn’t have been more proud of her. No trophy, award, medal, or public praise could bring more joy.

In Chapter 8 of my book, Rock-Solid Families, I delve into a discussion about spiritual success. I suppose it was my own struggle that led me to search the scriptures about what being successful really means. Do you struggle with this question? I would love to hear about YOUR stories. How have your children taught you about life? about God? about love and success? If you have a minute, please jot down your thoughts. Let’s learn from each other and cheer each other on!

P.S. Happy Valentine’s Day!