In 2012, Alivia discovered she loves volleyball. She tried out for VCN, a club volleyball team and made a team. And that’s where we saw her interest in the sport turn to her passion. It was her first team sport, besides a month playing on a YMCA team. Each year she’d try out again and she made a VCN team every year. She has worked hard over the last 4 years with intense practices 3 times a week and tournaments on the weekends. We have taken her to South Dakota, Kansas City, Chicago, Des Moines and many trips for tournaments to Omaha. Her summer was filled with camps and private lessons. Her room walls displaying her goals and Husker volleyball posters autographed by her favorite players.
November 2015, she made one of the college prep teams and this past June we followed #46 and her teammates to Orlando for Nationals. They went undefeated for 4 days then lost on the final day of the tournament, earning 5th place out of 172 teams from all across the United States with an 11-1 record. It was a great week of unforgettable memories made with her teammates.
So, you can understand how confused Gene and I were when she came to us this past spring and said, “I feel like God is asking me to lay down club volleyball to focus on Him.”
One would think Gene and I would’ve jumped for joy that not only is God steering her life, but that she would say yes to Him without hesitation and give up something she loves deeply to follow Him. But. We didn’t. We kept it spiritual though and told her we’d pray about it.
We live in a sports world that tells us that the way athletes get “discovered” by a college is to be playing for a club team and literally eat, drink and play that sport. So as a parent who didn’t want her to stop playing, I found myself trying to get her to doubt that she had really heard from God and despite my persuasive attempts, she remained steadfast in her life changing decision. If I’m honest, I was angry and sad that God would ask her to walk away from something that clearly brought her joy and that she was good at and that we loved watching her play.
Then my perspective changed completely one Wednesday night.
She had been asked by Bruce, the youth pastor, to share her decision in front of a few hundred kids and the youth sponsors in Wednesday night youth group. Her team practices Sunday mornings, and Monday and Wednesday nights so she had told her coach what she was doing and that she would be late to practice that night. As I sat in the church parking lot, I started to get mad again and when she got in the car, I let her know my frustrations of how she has a commitment to her team first. And that’s when she teared up and said with a trembling but determined tone in her voice something that hit me to the core and that I’ll never forget.
MOM!!! I need you to be on board with this! Do you think it’s easy for me to lay down something I love? I have cried at every tournament knowing I won’t be part of this next year, but I know without a doubt that this is what God wants me to do. This won’t be an empty exchange for me, but I know it will be worth it.”
She got out of the car and headed into practice as I sat in the car and bawled until my eyes were swollen. I kept apologizing to God. This won’t be an empty exchange. That statement Pastor Bruce shared with her when she told him about her “yes”, has helped her so much as she is already finding it to be true as she lays down a passionate part of her life.
Being in women’s ministry, if anyone walked up to me at a conference and shared how they were giving up something they loved for God, I’d be their biggest cheerleader, but when my own daughter came to me, I shamefully tried to lead her in a direction God never had planned for her. I’m so thankful she kept her focus on Christ and didn’t listen to her volleyball enthusiast of a mother.
She is still going to play in high school and last week she made us proud making the JV team so we are looking forward to watching her play this season. Since her decision, she has gotten involved in helping lead services for the junior high group in our church on Sunday mornings and she started a girls Bible study held at a park on Saturday mornings. She served in a week long mission project in July with our church that made her even more focused on God and she spoke at the parents night at the end of that week encouraging us parents to cheer our kids on in their walk with Christ. She has decided to make her school her mission field and on the first day of school during lunch in the cafeteria, she got up from the table she sat at with her friends and approached a girl sitting alone. Turns out this girl is a Christian and had just moved to town. Her mom had been praying she’d make friends and yesterday she joined Alivia and her friends at the park for Bible study. God. He is good and He is so faithful.
I am thankful for this now 15-year-old daughter of mine who has truly shown me how it must have been like for the disciples when Jesus said, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” The yes we give our Savior is worth it in the small and big areas of our lives and if you are surrounded by people who try to get you to doubt what God has told you, do like Alivia did and stay focused on God no matter what.
I took this picture of this sail boat while on Daytona Beach with Alivia after Nationals were finished and it reminded me of her obedience to God.
I’m excited about what God is doing and is going to to do in her life and she has encouraged me immensely to lay down some things in my own life and follow Him.
Empty exchange? Not when it comes to saying yes to God.