“Keep calm, classy and respectful….”

It is our oldest daughter’s senior year of high school. We are in the first of “lasts,” feeling both excitement and grief…the now and not yet. SO MANY both/ands, the ones I have walked through many times with clients and this year, am experiencing myself. It is with profound excitement and tremendous reflection and sorrow that we attend each “last.” She is nearly 18, a last of its’ own.

THIS DAY, I sat in the packed bleachers next to my husband and our “swim family,” at E’s “last swim conference” of high school. My head feels confused, “how did we get here,” ringing like a bell in my busy brain. I watch her warm-up, her ease on the always packed pool deck, her legs powerful as she dives off the block. I have been profoundly awestruck with each and every dive she has taken…every. single. one.

Ten years ago, a group of parents sat in the stands of the high school pool, peering at our tiny second graders as they took part in swim lessons provided by the school and the gracious Panther Fund. Some of us were nervous, watching our kids cling to the side of the pool or take quick, cautious jumps to the high schoolers who were volunteering to teach our tiny babes.

I vividly remember sitting there, feeling like my sweet girl would “someday” be a high schooler, but it was a million miles away. I remember searching the deck for her tiny frame, then finding her, kneeling on the side, arms over her head like her papa taught her and ready to do “a real dive!”

Her excitement was palpable, a direct result of the the swimming lessons we’d enrolled her in as young as 3 or 4. She also spent a ton of time learning to swim at our beloved Wolf Lake with her equally beloved “Poppy,” my dad, who also taught me to swim. She stood on the deck, bouncing with excitement! As I watched her, her love for the water seemed to seep and shine out of her very being. I heard someone near me begin to talk about “swim club.” I began to understand the possibilities for her and thus was the beginning of her love affair with both the water and the pool.

While our beautiful girl seemed indeed, to be at least part mermaid, with passion, drive and pure joy in the water, there was a bit more of a learning curve for her mama and dad. Our entrance into the world of competitive swim was ENTIRELY new (meaning, we had NO clue). I remember attending her first dual meet, making sure we’d written her events on her arm in thick black Sharpie, and loaded her up with snacks. I watched her march unto the deck with her camp chair, her backpack and her swim cap in hand. MY OWN insecurities not withstanding, she was entirely in her element!

A friend patiently and thankfully explained some of the nuances, what a “heat sheet” was and how to pick her out in the crowd. I learned two things without a doubt during that first meet: 1) I had no idea what we’d begun and 2) she was already bitten by the swimming bug and was completely smitten. Though she had tried soccer, ballet and tumbling, it was abundantly clear that swimming was HER sport.

I will readily admit that I still do not always understand the competitive side of swim, time standards, choosing events or even how to guide her through the nuances. What I have ALWAYS UNDERSTOOD IS THIS: though I do LOVE swimming and the freedom it provides to my own body, she was never expected to swim or not swim because of us, her parents. She could not, nor should not try to journey her journey FOR ME. WE got to support her, them to be honest. Every single time I watched her and ALL the other kids, I was in awe. The freedom they displayed just walking across the slippery pool deck, getting up on the blocks, keeping their balance, diving and then swim entire events! This is NOTHING SHORT OF MIRACLULOUS.

Every meet therefore, for me, was like watching the Olympics. Brave kids, learning skill and team development, even healthy body image…THIS was how the world could begin to change. These kids were joyful, brave, playful and driven. And accomplished! What we could all learn from them….

For the last ten years, we have watched, cheered, cried, encouraged, and loved every minute of her swim career. We have borne witness to so many others who encouraged, praised, high-fived, and guided our girl and so many others as they have moved from being beginners, to USA competitor to high school swim team members. Then in a blink, it is HER senior year and the end of this chapter of her swim career.

I know this is some mama nostalgia, but it is also, an ode to her, her amazing teammates, coaches and fellow swim parents. I don’t know how else to thank you on her or my own behalf.

Behind this tiny girl smile is a kid who has and continues to inspire me with her love for her sport, her dedication and perseverance and her discipline. And all of that? Well, THAT is also Jesus….in her.

We got to show HER, unconditional support and belief, our own perseverance and true love as we watched nearly every event, time drop, success and error.

We got to love a whole other set of “daughters,” their families and understand another level of community. (Isn’t that Jesus too?)

SHE SHOWED Jesus to so many, writing Philippians 4:13 on her leg from the time she was about 10, always telling others about her prayers while she swims, her complete love for Jesus and how he made the water, her abilities and her blessings.

She learned and continues to learn good sportsmanship, how to regulate her own emotions, expectations and how to accept criticism AND praise. We’ve learned a lot about those, too, right along with her! There are student coaches who have impacted her, her USA coaches who have encouraged, taught, repeated and cheered and her middle school and high school coaches who have forever impacted her. I am sure she wouldn’t be the same without any of you….

She has learned to NEVER GIVE UP, or count herself out….

Do you remember how I started this one?

I sat at the conference meet last weekend and after the Star Spangled Banner, I heard the announcer say, “I want to encourage athletes and spectators to keep it calm, classy and respectful.” His statement hit me right between the eyes. Not because I thought anyone was going to fight (although swim parents CAN BE a rowdy crew,) but because it embodied her whole swim career perfectly. I sat surrounded by the parents who have loved and supported her, sometimes saying the same thing we might, just in a way that wouldn’t make her frustrated! We’ve also tried to calmly (albeit, loudly) and positively also support other teams we come in contact with.

Each one of us has their own phrase, from, “I love it so much!” to “No breathing!” to helping her adjust her turns, her splits or her attitude. I typically am yelling their names, as well as “so good!” We’ve laughed, definitely cried and everything in between.

Our E had a goal of getting a much-coveted state cut (in her 500 free) this year, her last goal in high school swim. Because we as a family made a decision to travel in September, she lost some ground toward that goal. As we entered conference weekend, she was still a bit far from the time she wanted. During Prelims, she seemed frustrated, folded into herself. I was praying, sending her all my love and belief in her. She dropped about 6 seconds, which was no small feat. Still, if she was to attain the cut she so badly wanted, she would need to drop almost 9 MORE seconds during finals the next day.

Finals the next day and I must’ve heard, “Wow, she looks like a different kid today,” about 10 times. I looked at her each time someone mentioned it and her shoulders were relaxed, smile widened and she even flashed her biceps at me, something we do ONLY when she is feeling pretty good before a race. She is stingy with that move!

She dropped 3 seconds in her 200, for which we were all screaming. Still, as that 500 was announced, I could barely breathe. I knew with every inch of my being, how important this was to her. She knows that something worked and waited for is so, so sweet, it would just be a matter of how she tempered her swim….

My good friend Katie sat beside me with the splits she needed, her words comforting as the race continued, her heart even more so. I am so grateful for her own experience as a distance swimmer, perspective and love for our girl. Another set of friends sat behind us, cheering like crazy which just means the world. E touched the wall….7/10ths of a second away from the time needed for the state-cut…

No pressure from us, but I knew she would be crushed…

And yet, she was smiling. She pulled herself from the water and smiled up at our crazy crew of parents, yelling, cheering and deliberately embarrassing our daughters. I was crying hot tears FOR and WITH her and yet, she WASNT. I think I was more proud of her calm, classy and respectful attitude than I might have been about that cut….

When she met us in the lobby, I wondered if her brave face would fall. It DID NOT. She was genuinely so proud of herself and THAT would be a great finish to her high school career from my perspective. Except it wasn’t….

It turns out, she literally would have one last chance in three days, at the last chance meet. We hadn’t even realized that was a thing….

Tuesday evening came and in an ironic twist, my muscles had a terrible day. I couldn’t go, but felt tremendous nerves as I watched on Facetime. My family cheered, Katie texted that “she’s right on pace!” And then…she hit the wall, just a smidge faster than the time she needed! My darling, strong, strong-willed girl had done it, in her very own way.

I still can’t wrap my head around how she must feel, how accomplished a nd how empowered. I do know that she instantly gave credit to her Jesus, which blesses her dad and I (and Jesus.)

I am overwhelmed with joy, completely grateful for every moment. To say watching them all has been a joy does not portray it well enough. I have been allowed a front row seat to the magnificent way that God creates “normal” bodies, strength and courage and FUN. It is and has been a WONDER.

I have loved every moment, my girl. I love being “a swim mom,” cheering and hoping along with you and your fantastically talented teammates. Thank you for it all. Never take it for granted, these skills and gifts that are yours by God’s grace. You inspire so many…be grateful for it all. The comfort you’ve found in a “team,” the comfort you’ve found in your own body, movement and needs; the drive, effort and hard-work you’ve come to embrace and the excitement of the opportunities ahead. I will be with you, every step of the way. Let’s be calm, classy and respectful together; you’ve certainly taught me how.


James 1:17


So much light, holiness, color and wonder….

Washington Highlights (part 5)

I did not intend to write this much detail about our trip; honestly, I feel a bit self-indulgent. To write and share at least 5 parts, I wonder if people really want to hear about the details or if this is just another authentic part of the blog, vacation memories for the last few weeks, another topic another time. I wonder if I can possibly convey it well enough because, well…our trip just was, magical. (and it WAS NOT my beloved Disney this time, if you can believe it… 🙂

Our third day in the city found us on the now familiar Metro. I will readily admit that my parents led the charge in becoming familiar with both the Metro and the public bus system. They are braver and more familiar with this in their 70’s after a few trips to England than hubby and I will ever be, probably. It was our first time using the Metro and I was immensely thankful for their adventurous spirit and ease in “just finding our way.”

This time, we’d all decided to go see the National Cathedral, something that we and the kids had only seen on TV. I am also always curious about old church buildings for many reasons, so this was a natural draw. We got a little turned around in terms of getting there, but as always, my family was so supportive and tough. After an almost 2 mile walk (or roll for me) from the Metro stop, we arrived at the National Cathedral. We had wandered past beautiful homes, landscape and overall scenery on the walk, but staring at the cathedral itself felt somewhat ethereal.

The official name of Washington National Cathedral is the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. We stood gaping at the towering columns, sharp, steep spires and steeples; a mix textures, including stone, shimmering glass of every color, windows of many shapes and sizes. There is an actual Darth Vader head hidden up there, no joke!

The bubbling sounds of a fountain mixed with the awe we were experiencing even before we set foot through the massive, dark wooden doors. We wandered into a courtyard, the fountain whimsical to our sweet youngest who exudes her own whimsy, always. I have said it many times, but I had a hard time taking it all it all in. I felt like I couldn’t find any words, which for me, is quite a thing….

We entered through the solid doors and were instantly awash with colors, all around. The whole rainbow rested everywhere, our faces, clothing, the floor and the many pews in front of us, the instant we arrived. We must have looked a bit overwhelmed, even in all the color. A docent walked swiftly to our group of 7, encouraging us to join the guided tour just a few feet away.

“The West Rose seeks to sing its own hymn of praise to the universe,” designer for creation Rose, Rowan, LeCompte said, “for all it’s impressive size in the cathedral that must be a tiny song indeed when we pause to consider the infinite grandeur of the cosmos, this unimaginably vast created and creating mysterious miracle.”
Upon arriving, the Nave completely took our breath away. You could FEEL the spirit of the Lord here. I could not believe the splendor….
Light everywhere❤️

Another knowledgeable and joyful docent was explaining the details of his beloved cathedral with the warmest of smiles and eyes. He was telling of the many chapels within the cathedral (9 total!), years of history, intentionality and how everything leads back to the Word, God’s love and Jesus’s sacrifice. To really explain it all would take days on my blog….so a few photo highlights and thoughts will have to suffice until you go experience it firsthand. (YES, GO! You will NOT be sorry!) Before our trip, my understanding was limited to “the church the presidents go to before inauguration and where they hold state funerals” and that was all. Now, having stood in the middle of this holy, beautiful ground, I am infinitely more curious about the life of the cathedral, more of Jesus and how this place points back to him, always.

The miracles of Jesus, located in Saint John’s chapel. Absolutely stunning to me…
Known as the space window, it is one of the most popular windows at the cathedral. It holds a lunar sample from the Apollo 11 mission. A quote from the Bible – Job 22:12 – runs along the base of the window: “Is not God in the height of heaven?”

As we ventured through the cathedral, we were privileged enough to see the places where Abraham Lincoln, Helen, Keller, and and Anne Sullivan have been interred, amongst many others. It was holy ground indeed.

The docent showed us this beautiful pulpit where, during many state funerals, memorials, tributes, and eulogies have been delivered, as well as very famous sermons. I had chills when he recalled Martin Luther King, standing in this very pulpit the day before he was killed.

As always, all good things come to an end. After listening to an impromptu organ concert for a few minutes, it was time for us to go. On the way out, we stopped by a very unique fundraiser for the Cathedral, a Lego brick building of the cathedral itself. You could make a donation and add a few bricks. it was incredible! My Lego loving boy was thrilled.

In the book Jewels of Light, the Stained Glass of the Washington National Cathedral, Elody R Crimi writes, “a blend of visual and emotional sensations are integral to the experience of stained glass.” Rowan LeCompote, the cathedrals for most stained glass artist, compares glass to music.” Like music, stained glass, can stimulate the imagination, it can lift the heart, it can enchant.”

When I was growing up, the church I attended had rows of Stained Glass windows along each side of the church. I used to look at them, taking in the colors, artistry and beauty for the whole church service. Sometimes, I was concentrating more on the details in those windows than I was concentrating on our pastor and his preaching. I was indeed enchanted by them, and I hadn’t remembered that until a bit later on our trip. The enchantment with these is next level. They each tell vivid, detailed, both heartbreaking and redeeming stories. They combined the values of Christ and the history of our country to bind present and future together with the backdrop of the stunning cathedral.

The cathedral was a gift of artistry, architecture, wonder, and pure holiness. I had no idea that that trip to the Cathedral would become one of my very favorite memories of our time together. I breathed gratitude, awe, pleading for many we love and awareness of the God-breathed gifts.

And again – the reminders that God is everywhere and saturates everything.

Thankful, prayerful and hopeful.



Job 22:12