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We call Friday nights “Friday Family Fun Night.”  It’s a little tradition we started years ago with the kids.


On this particular Friday night we decided to go shoot some hoops at the park.  The weather is just perfect here in Tennessee and it was the perfect night to be outdoors.


After about 2 hours of playing “Around the World” with my daughter I decided to see how far off my high school game I was by busting out a half court shot.  Much to my surprise, I still have a little (actually, a lot) left in the tank!



I was half expecting a new car to be rolled out onto the court or someone to hand me a check for $10K like they do in the half-time shows of big basketball games.  Instead, hitting this half court shot took me for a walk down memory lane to a shot that I hit at the buzzer in a sub-state game that sent our small private school to the state tournament for the first time in the school’s history.


It also reminded me of the many buzzer shots and half court shots I watched my sister Rebekah Joy hit, although hers were typically BEHIND the half court line.  Opponents were terrified of her.   The half court line was like her 3-point line.  I was amazed everytime she causally dribbled across the line, non-nonchalantly looked for someone to pass to, then pulled up and gracefully popped a beyond-NBA 3-pointer.  It was always fun to watch as mouths were on the floor.  I loved even more running past the player who still looked rather stunned and saying, “That’s my sister” (as if they didn’t already know).


Jenni Oates and Rebekah Joy - SistersI began to remember how grateful I am that I got to play all those years alongside my older sister.  She was the reason I ever even picked up a basketball.  Being only 16 months apart we got to enjoy quite a few years on the court together.


When I was in 4th grade, I remember watching her start to play around outside (she was in 6th).  She taught herself the game simply by sheer determination to play and excel.  She was so gifted and worked so hard that she started on the high school team in 7th grade.  Everything about how she played was graceful and fluid.  It was like the ball was attached to her hand and everything she did looked beautiful and effortless.  She pushed me to be better because of her work ethic and the character that she always played with.


My junior year, after she had left for college on a Division I scholarship to the University of Alabama, was a sad year for me. I was the youngest of four kids and it was my very first season to play without her (and to have the house to myself, for that matter).  I realized that year that my sister was my hero in every way.  Sure, she had her flaws and we had our fights.  But she made me a better person.


She still is my hero because she’s not satisfied with status quo.  She wants more out of life.  She doesn’t follow trends because everyone says to.   And she pushes me to grow beyond “comfortable” by challenging my thinking and encouraging me to believe Truth.  She walks in a depth of Peace most only dream of instead of living stressed-out and harried.


And she can still kick butt in basketball (which is why I won’t play her in 1-on-1).


It’s amazing how one shot can take you for a trip down memory lane.   This half court shot might not have won me a new car or a $10K check, but it definitely reminded me how incredibly grateful I am for being able to have played this game that I love for so many years alongside of a woman that I revere.


And gratitude is the attitude of champions.



What random events have recently caused you to pause and count your blessings?