Christmas Playlist…. What Child Is This…. performed by Mahalia Jackson

A Night Like No Other….

Last night wasn’t a typical night, the Rabun County Wildcats played in the Final Four of the State Football Championships for a berth in the State Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium next Saturday in Atlanta.

It wasn’t a typical night because it had never happened before, in the over 60 years of our football program, we  had never reached this point in the play-offs.

After dominating every team through the season, the Cats entered the game ranked #1 in the State, the only undefeated team left in the play-offs.

Our opponent, a strong, fast south-Georgia powerhouse, Brooks County had traveled the length of Georgia,  to the North Carolina line from the Florida line.  Bus loads of Brooks County fans had made the trek, it was going to be a battle to the end.

All week the topic of conversation in our small little mountain town centered around the game.  We were told to arrive at the stadium early as a huge crowd was expected and parking would fill up fast.

I woke up yesterday morning with a sense of excitement, lump in my throat and stomach that wouldn’t stop turning.  It seems as though that queasy feeling was contagious as I got texts through the day from friends that usually started something like…”I feel like I am going to throw-up,”  I could relate, I guess we all had Wildcat Fever!

By 4:30 friends were posting that they were standing in line to get into the stadium, the gates opened at 5.

Once I closed the store, I rushed home, took Lita out for the quickest walk she has ever had, threw some food out for her and was out the door by 5:15.

On my way to the stadium multiple texts tinged my phone “where are you,”  “I got our seats, just one row back from where we normally sit,” “hurry up, this place is rocking.”

I found my seat next to Becky Simmons Berliner, my friend since first grade, my friend that I have sat with during every game this season.  We both expressed our stomach pains and impending heart attacks, Becky telling me if we win she would cry, she just knew she would cry.

I knew the feeling, we had been waiting for a moment like this our entire lives, a night like no other, a night when history would be made.

By 6 pm the stadium was packed, now we only had an hour and a half to wait before the actual game began.  Looking around, Wildcat heroes from decades back had gathered to witness this monumental night, their hearts were on the field and their excitement was palpable, they knew this was their night too.

Finally it was game time, everyone was in place and the roar of the crowd from both sides of the field was deafening.

Brooks County scored first, after a scoreless first quarter, they got an uncharacteristic safety as the second quarter began.  A few plays later the Cats scored and we never looked back.

When we scored a touchdown at the beginning of the fourth quarter, as fans celebrated and cheered, I looked at my friend Becky, tears streaming down her face, a face filled with joy and excitement…. we were doing this, we were going to win!

And win we did!  The Rabun County Wildcats beat Brooks County 23 – 12 carrying an undefeated season to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium next Saturday for the chance at a State Championship.

As the clock made its final tick into history, students, parents and fans rushed onto the field to celebrate a feeling we have never had before, one step closer to a dream that has for many years seemed unreachable.

I celebrated in the stands for a bit and then made my way towards my car.

I saw my friend Meredith standing in the end-zone with her four-year old son, sound asleep on her shoulder.  He had no idea of the history made on that night, but one day his daddy, one of our coaches, will tell him about the year a group of boys set out on a mission to be the best.

He will tell his son about that historic night, on the field where he had played as a high school quarterback, and he will share the memories of that night when history was made.

Just before I reached my car, I ran into a group of Brooks County fans waiting to load their school bus for an overnight drive back to the other end of Georgia.  In the crowd I saw a single mom I had met at halftime.  She had ridden the bus from south-Georgia to see her son, a saxophone player, march.

The saxophone player’s mom and her friends were all disappointed, they wanted to win as badly as we did, but as we talked she reached out and gave me a hug and said “y’all win next week.”  I thanked her and we wished each other a good night and safe travels home.

By the time I got home, I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep.  I sat down and started thinking about the night… a night like no other.

When the history of last night is written, it will focus on Coach Lee Shaw, Bailey Fisher, Braxton Hicks, Cole Keener, Austin Jones, Andrew Barnes, Dawson Henricks, Gavyn Jones, Tanner Jarrard and all the others who contributed week after week to make this night become a reality.  But it will also feature the hundreds of young men who marched onto the field as part of the Wildcat Nation from decades past, men who didn’t have the same successes as the 2017 Wildcats, but men whose dream was fulfilled on December 1, 2017.

I couldn’t help but think about my mama and daddy, former coach and wife of the Wildcats.  I thought about Chris Mance, Merle and Frank Snyder, Ed Singleton, Bill Hall and my brother Tom, former Wildcats who celebrated in heaven on this magical night.

As I thought about this Wildcat team and all the others who had come before, I cried, tears of joy for a night like no other!

Next Saturday, we have an appointment…. an appointment at THE BENZ!  GO CATS!

 

 

Christmas Playlist… Angels We Have Heard on High performed by Pentatonix

Thanksgiving 2017

This morning the alarm on my phone came to life at its normal 6AM.  My first thought was “oh no, I could have slept in.”  My second thought was “it’s Thanksgiving….. I am thankful!”

As I lay in bed a million thoughts began to flow through my head, thoughts of Thanksgiving and gratitude.

Today as I gather with my family, I am truly thankful.

First and foremost, I am thankful that the Lord let my eyes open with that alarm, that I am given another day on this earth.

I am thankful for the 11 lbs of fur resting on my hip, for the almost 10 years that she has been in my life and that every day of those 10 years she still runs to me when I walk in the door, tail wagging and happy to see me.

I am thankful for the creaks and cracks of age in my bones when my feet hit the floor.  A sign of a life well lived and appreciated.

I am thankful that as I grow older I have an appreciation for blessings large and small.

I am thankful for a tight-knit family.  A family that is boisterous, doesn’t take life too seriously, but forms the backbone of my existence and comes together in good times and bad to support and love one another.

I am thankful for a community that supports our elderly and our next generations.

I am thankful to live in a community that understands the importance of standing for the National Anthem, a community where cars pull to the side of the road when a funeral passes and “how’s your mama” is as common a phrase as “may I help you?”

I am thankful for my little cabin in the woods that gives me refuge from the world.  A place where I can diddle and doddle around, make my own, and I am especially thankful for my screened in back porch, where I can watch sunsets through the trees or just sit and enjoy the peace of life.

I am thankful for my brother and sister-in-law.  I am thankful that they allow me the privilege of “parenting” their children and being a secondary grandparent to their beloved Hadley.

I am thankful for my niece and nephew.  I am thankful that they come to me just to talk or for advice and I am thankful that they return the favor when I go to them for the same.

I am OH SO THANKFUL for a two-year old that swells my heart just by running into a room.  I am thankful for her smile, her huge hugs and those sloppy kisses planted firmly on my lips. I am thankful when she tells me she loves me and I am thankful that she has wrapped me so tightly around her little finger.

I am thankful that my niece has a guy in her life who loves her daughter as his own.

I am thankful for my store, for the customers we have and for the opportunities it allows us to be a part of our community.

I am thankful for my team who works so hard to provide quality service and product for our customers and I am thankful that they all have “sick” personalities that enjoy a good joke, can rib me as hard as I rib them and make my days brighter just by being around.

I am thankful for long time friends, from various parts of the world, that I can pick up where we left off the last time we spoke.

I am thankful for my cousin that I haven’t seen in 30 years, who I “speak” with on a daily basis, a cousin who enjoys a  well placed emoji or GIF as much as I do.

I am thankful for the generation of family members who were raised with me, who have grown with me and who now share friendship and family connections and stories.

I am especially thankful for my cousin who is as much of a brother to Sam and I as anyone could be.  I am thankful that he is in our lives and we are able to do life together.

I am thankful for friends who on the surface don’t make sense, but are part of my life and just stop by the store or text to see what’s going on.

I am thankful that I have been able to reconnect with old friends and make new ones since moving back to God’s Country.

I am thankful for those who understand and honor the phrase “judgement has no place here.”

I am thankful to live in a country that doesn’t always honor our fore-fathers, but when it means the most comes together for the greater good.

I am thankful to have the opportunity to gather together with family and friends, I am thankful to be able to do life with these people and I am thankful for the blessings I encounter every day.

I am thankful for more than I could ever express on the screen of this laptop.

I am thankful….. and I am blessed!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, may your blessings be bountiful!

 

Life’s Playlist….. The Doxology performed by Anthem Lights