Of Gratitude and Grapevine.  For Generations.

It’s funny how someone’s social media post can get you to thinking.  One old preacher I used to listen to a lot, regarding thinking, says that “you can start off on an old shoe and end up in China.”  Pretty much.

So, today, I saw a post about my children’s high school.  This is  a place I love.  While each of my children spent several years there, I spent a decade.  From Jeremy’s freshman entrance in 2003, to Molly’s grand exit in 2013.    The five Smith kids, and the Smith clan, definitely made their mark on Grapevine High School.  But GHS left a handprint on our hearts, as well.

During Molly’s Senior year, everything seemed to touch a chord in me.  I realized, as she didn’t, that it was not just HER last Homecoming parade, or costume Pep rally, or competition trip, but that all of us, as a group, were coming to the end of an era.  Molly would roll her eyes and say, “You’re not going to cry again, are you, Mom?  It’s MY senior year.”  And I would smile and promise not to cry.  And turn my head away as the tears flowed.

Tears of what? Gratitude.  I am not afraid of change.  Dear Lord, a quick glance across my life would show that.  I am not one to grieve for the past; I am usually too involved in the present.  And dreaming about the future.  But the past, and the present-that-is-rushing-to-quickly-become-a-memory, are treasures I savor.  So much joy.  So many precious people.  Experience on experience, happening so fast you just can’t seem to catalog them all for memory.  And I want to.

So I spent those years absorbing and cataloging.  Watching.  Letting my kids take the spotlight.  Me, as the mental videographer.  And this Facebook post brought back the memories.

It is, this week, the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Drill Team on which my youngest daughter was recently an officer.  And, if that doesn’t sound very spiritual to you, let me tell you how it happened.

In 5th grade, Molly was at church camp.  A really good one.  Learning about faith.  She was tall, and big for her age like women in my family can be.  She was outgoing, talkative and still hadn’t learned how to tame her curly hair.  (Like most of us, in my family, at that age).  And she came home with a God-given vision.

“Mom, I want to be a cheerleader.”

Be still, my heart.  Molly, please forgive me now, but at first I didn’t see it.   She wasn’t popular.  She was too tall.  Too muscular.  With braces and frizzy hair.  And, in our upper-middle-class Texas neighborhood, you didn’t just try out for cheerleader.  Molly knew this.  So she proposed that she quit a lifetime of ballet training and requested…private cheerleading lessons.

If you’re not from upper-middle-class Texas, that probably seems ridiculous.  These lessons are expensive.  And absoutely, positively necessary, if you are to have a chance.  She would be competing against girls who had been training, competing and winning medals for years.

And the first thought that tried to enter my mind was…fear.  I don’t want my little girl hurt by these people.  See, I still considered myself an outsider to the  upper-middle class, if not to Texas.  And on its heels, fear.  Again.  I don’t want my precious, compassionate daughter to become a shallow trophy-wife sort of woman.  BUT GOD.  (Isn’t that a great line?)  But God helped me.  You see, the children’s pastor had been teaching the kids to dream big.  To believe God for His vision for their lives.  Even if it seemed impossible. And she came up with this impossible vision at church camp. And I closed the door to fear ASAP and said, “Honey, I’m OK with that. Let’s use our faith together.”

She became a cheerleader.  She became popular.  Beautiful.  In high school she became a dancer again.  And from 7th grade cheer to Senior drill team officer tryouts, we used our faith every year.  There were setbacks.  But she flourished.  And she used her gifts to help others.  To be a leader in Young Life. Student body president.

There’s more to the story.  You see, this wasn’t my first middle-class Texas rodeo.  When I was in high school, as a frizzy-headed, braces-wearing science nerd, the Holy Spirit spoke to me.  “Try out for the drill team.”  What????  The drill team with short skirts, suggestive dance moves, and secular music???  Yes.  The peaceful, gentle leading of the Holy Spirit was crystal clear.  So I did.  And found that, by the grace of God,  I was the favorite, the first Girl-of-the Day, the likeliest to take the #1 spot.  Wow.  But, on the day of tryouts, I felt awkard.  Afraid and uncomfortable.  And, through a series of unimaginable setbacks, took place #29 instead.  First alternate.

And had to use my faith to complete the project.

I prayed in faith, and left it in God’s hands. Waiting, for what I now knew He was working out.

In August of 1982, I got the phone call.  A friend had moved away with her father’s job transition; my spot was open.  Did I still want to dance?  Oh, yes.  And that year, my public high school saw a miniature spiritual renewal.  A lot of it centered around the dance team.  We broke through cliques.  We openly served Jesus.  And the favor and social positions God had chosen to place us in helped us to do it.

So, this video doesn’t just bring back memories of generations of pom-poms and dance routines. Not even just sisterhood and friendship.  These are the situations of daily life in high-school Texas where my daughter and I learned to Use. Our. Faith.  Like a tool.

And, now I find that I want to thank…my mother.

High-school cheerleader, college drill teamer, and lover of Jesus.  In the 50’s and 60’s.

Maybe the greatest compliment I can give her is to know that I raised my children just like she raised me.

The God that helped David kill the bear and the lion, helped him slay Goliath.

The God that helped us take on the BayCity Black Cats, Humble Wildcats and Grapevine Mustangs, with success and excellence, will help me build my medical and missionary ministry.

It’s the little things.

And the big things.

And I’m grateful.

Wow.  Hold on for the ride; here we go again.

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