Sun, Sand and… Surgery

It’s bye week for the Falcons! NFL wives pretty much live for this week. Our husbands work long hours seven days a week during the season and this is the one week out of a 22+ week season that the players have time off. For the last eight seasons we’ve traveled home to Kentucky for bye week. And even though I LOVE going home, we’ve always toyed with the idea of going to the beach during his week off.ja-pensacola-beach Well, this year Jacob finally took me to the beach for the bye! Can I tell you how incredibly WEIRD it felt wearing plaid at the beach? SOOO weird! Why I chose that shirt for our trip, is beyond me. I think it was the 4:15am wake-up call!

Unfortunately, we are not at the beach for vacation. We are here for Jacob to get season ending surgery on his shoulder. While this certainly isn’t what we had planned and dreamed of for this season, we know that God will use this season in our lives for good. And we are holding onto to that promise! Jacob has been SO blessed with his health through nine seasons in the league. To play nine NFL seasons without a single surgery is unheard of. He’s somewhat of a unicorn. Of course, he would die if called him unicorn, but I don’t really know any manly mythical characters, so unicorn it is.

aj-portofinoWe flew to Pensacola early Wednesday morning and it was fun to be heading back to our old stomping grounds. Pensacola Beach was our first big move after we were married. In January 2008, we packed our bags and headed south for Jacob to train for the NFL Combine. The condos I’m pointing to in the photo above is where we lived for two months. It was our first of many adventures and it was so fun to go back and see one of our old homes.

jake-in-recoveryThis morning, Dr. Andrews operated on Jacob’s shoulder and he is doing great! The surgery went well and he’s ready to recover, heal and rehab. We feel so fortunate to have Dr. Andrews and his team take such good care of Jacob. He is literally the BEST in ortho surgery and he was so kind, caring and humble. He put us at ease and we had such peace about the whole process. They even let me watch part of the surgery! I was not expecting to watch, but getting to see the inside of Jake’s shoulder was really neat and gave me a new understanding of what the surgery entailed.  I was SO happy to see his smiling face when I got back to recovery.

jacob-post-opHe was a pain free but hangry when we left the hospital.

jake-lunch-in-pensacolaNothing a little Panera couldn’t fix! We get to head home to Atlanta tomorrow. Please pray for complete healing for Jacob, that he will be a good patient and that I will be a good nurse!

nurse-alHere I am in all my nursing duties, also known as: personal driver, medicine distributor, ice pack changer and carrier of all things (since he is short one arm). Oh, and if someone wants to come to my house and cover that gray hair you can see in this pic, that would just be amazing!

A Friendly Reminder for Fantasy Football Owners

Football Field 1I wrote this letter last year and every single word of it still rings true today.

 

Dear Fantasy Football Owners,

This, my friends, is the most glorious time of year. The air is a little more crisp, the temperature is slowly dropping, pumpkin spice lattes are being purchased and… it’s football season!

With football season comes fantasy football season. Some of you are very serious fantasy football owners, some enjoy a casual competition, others may have had their spouse twist their arm to participate, while others may have been lured by free food at a draft party. No matter the manner in which you decided to become a fantasy football owner – congrats! You own a “team”! Hopefully, it’s your dream team that will bring you to victory.

Fantasy football can be a very serious competition in some leagues. This competition can lead to some VERY disgruntled owners – men and women alike. Disgruntled owners often feel the need to vent their frustrations to the players they “own” (and the entire world) via social media, which is where I want to focus this letter – the all too popular player bashing that’s ALL over the internet. Yes, my husband plays in the NFL, so this topic is personal.

As we sat around the table for Christmas dinner last year, we were surrounded by several of Jacob’s teammates. In attendance were a rookie, a Pro Bowler, a player who is the highest paid at his position in the league, and several veterans, all of which had been threatened, harassed, ridiculed and belittled on social media. As I listened to the guys talk about things people had written about them on Twitter, I realized that even these rough and tough NFL players can be bullied. There is nothing more cowardly (or silly) than personally attacking someone that you’ve never even met, and yet it happens day after day online. I dare say, not a single one of these online bullies would EVER be brave enough to say to an NFL player’s face what they have said online. Hiding behind their electronic device gives them a sense of security and social media gives them a voice – and a way to voice their opinions directly to athletes through mediums like Twitter.

I’m not naive. I’m not asking for sympathy for NFL players. I realize that they choose to play football for a living and therefore they choose the spotlight. However, they didn’t choose to be bullied, online or otherwise. [Jacob says “bullied” is not the right word to use… But I don’t know what else to call it!]

People feel the need to ridicule players when they don’t perform to their standards, which is just crazy. Have you ever had a bad day at work? Missed a meeting? Been late to an appointment? Lost a client? Didn’t close the big sale? Has your student ever failed a test? Or your child been disobedient? We ALL have bad days at work, no matter the profession. Usually a bad day at work elicits a “better luck next time” or passing the blame to [insert your excuse]. What excludes NFL players from that? The fact that their work is displayed for millions to see each week. Can you even imagine if your work was on network tv and shown to the masses? Yeah, me neither.

It seems so easy to bully NFL players. I mean, on the news they are portrayed (and sometimes rightfully so) as cheaters, womanizers, thieves, drunks, and even murderers. It’s easy to see them as something other than real people. However, when you’re on the inside of this fraternity of sorts, you see things a little differently. Before you decide to bully one of your fantasy football players, remember this: The VAST majority of men playing in the NFL are men of character and integrity. You may see them catch touchdowns on Sundays, but on Tuesdays they are visiting the pediatric cancer ward at the children’s hospital. On Wednesday evenings they are attending Bible Studies. Thursday nights are spent signing autographs for children at the local grocery store. The off-season is spent running non-profits and organizing fundraisers for charities. They use their breaks between practices to call fans with terminal illnesses. These men are not the thugs the media portrays them to be and they are certainly not deserving of the hate that is spewed at them when they drop a pass, throw an interception, or otherwise don’t play to the standard that would have helped win a fantasy football game.

So, fantasy football owners, my one request is this: Please be kind. What you say (or write) says much more about you as a person than the player you are writing about.

Regards,
An NFL wife

A Letter to Fantasy Football Owners – Football Friday

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Dear Fantasy Football Owners,

This, my friends, is the most glorious time of year. The air is a little more crisp, the temperature is slowly dropping, pumpkin spice lattes are being purchased and… it’s football season!

With football season comes fantasy football season. Some of you are very serious fantasy football owners, some enjoy a casual competition, others may have had their spouse twist their arm to participate, while others may have been lured by free food at a draft party. No matter the manner in which you decided to become a fantasy football owner – congrats! You own a “team”! Hopefully, it’s your dream team that will bring you to victory.

Fantasy football can be a very serious competition in some leagues. This competition can lead to some VERY disgruntled owners – men and women alike. Disgruntled owners often feel the need to vent their frustrations to the players they “own” (and the entire world) via social media, which is where I want to focus this letter – the all too popular player bashing that’s ALL over the internet. Yes, my husband plays in the NFL, so this topic is personal.

As we sat around the table for Christmas dinner last year, we were surrounded by several of Jacob’s teammates. In attendance were a rookie, a Pro Bowler, a player who is the highest paid at his position in the league, and several veterans, all of which had been threatened, harassed, ridiculed and belittled on social media. As I listened to the guys talk about things people had written about them on Twitter, I realized that even these rough and tough NFL players can be bullied. There is nothing more cowardly (or silly) than personally attacking someone that you’ve never even met, and yet it happens day after day online. I dare say, not a single one of these online bullies would EVER be brave enough to say to an NFL player’s face what they have said online. Hiding behind their electronic device gives them a sense of security and social media gives them a voice – and a way to voice their opinions directly to athletes through mediums like Twitter.

I’m not naive. I’m not asking for sympathy for NFL players. I realize that they choose to play football for a living and therefore they choose the spotlight. However, they didn’t choose to be bullied, online or otherwise. [Jacob says “bullied” is not the right word to use… But I don’t know what else to call it!]

People feel the need to ridicule players when they don’t perform to their standards, which is just crazy. Have you ever had a bad day at work? Missed a meeting? Been late to an appointment? Lost a client? Didn’t close the big sale? Has your student ever failed a test? Or your child been disobedient? We ALL have bad days at work, no matter the profession. Usually a bad day at work elicits a “better luck next time” or passing the blame to [insert your excuse]. What excludes NFL players from that? The fact that their work is displayed for millions to see each week. Can you even imagine if your work was on network tv and shown to the masses? Yeah, me neither.

It seems so easy to bully NFL players. I mean, on the news they are portrayed (and sometimes rightfully so) as cheaters, womanizers, thieves, drunks, and even murderers. It’s easy to see them as something other than real people. However, when you’re on the inside of this fraternity of sorts, you see things a little differently. Before you decide to bully one of your fantasy football players, remember this: The VAST majority of men playing in the NFL are men of character and integrity. You may see them catch touchdowns on Sundays, but on Tuesdays they are visiting the pediatric cancer ward at the children’s hospital. On Wednesday evenings they are attending Bible Studies. Thursday nights are spent signing autographs for children at the local grocery store. The off-season is spent running non-profits and organizing fundraisers for charities. They use their breaks between practices to call fans with terminal illnesses. These men are not the thugs the media portrays them to be and they are certainly not deserving of the hate that is spewed at them when they drop a pass, throw an interception, or otherwise don’t play to the standard that would have helped win a fantasy football game.

So, fantasy football owners, my one request is this: Please be kind. What you say (or write) says much more about you as a person than the player you are writing about.

Regards,
An NFL wife

Sunday Scriptures

ABC Scriptures - W

www.reversingverses.com

I often fall in to the trap of thinking I’m just a stay at home mom. I’m not teaching a classroom full of children. I’m not running a company. I’m not creating corporate budgets or marketing plans. I’m just a stay at home mom. I often feel like I’m not making an impact or that I could be doing more. I see moms all the time who “do it all” – moms who work full time, raise their kids, workout every day, have their own at-home sales business, keep their house freakishly clean. You know the kind, the super moms. Well, I must confess… I am NOT a super mom. And I can not for the life of me figure out just HOW they do it all!

Most days I barely make it until bedtime.
Most days I’m in mismatched gym clothes (with no intention of actually going to a gym) looking like a hot mess.
Most days you could feed a small army from the crumbs off my kitchen floor.
Most days you can write a novel in the layer of dust on my coffee table.
Most days I don’t find time to shower or even, heaven forbid, brush my teeth until just before bedtime.
But… most days my mornings are filled with smiles and giggles and “I love you’s” from my babies and that makes it ALL worth it.
I LOVE being a stay at home mom and feel SO incredibly blessed that I get to do it each and every day. Even though I love my job, I am still trying to grasp the fact that it is enough. Being a stay at home is enough. I’m not running a business of my own like I thought I would. No, I’m not changing the world in the ways I dreamed of. But I am changing their world – Luke and Lyla’s world.

I’m certainly not trying to stir up the whole working mom vs. stay at home mom debate. There are days when I long for a job outside my home. Days where I wish I had somewhere to get dressed up and go. I think what all moms (well, everyone really) need to remember is wherever you are, whatever you are doing… “work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for men.”

And, stop using that dirty little word “just”. You and I are not just anything. I’m just a girl from Kentucky. I’m just a football player’s wife. I’m just a mom. That “just” word is holding you back, holding me back from what I AM.

I AM a girl from Kentucky.
I AM a football player’s wife.
And I AM a mom.
We are something and whatever that it is… it is enough.

Aloha! – Our Hawaiian Vacation in Review

Last October, Jacob was nominated as the NFL Players Association representative for the Denver Broncos. Right after he was nominated, they informed him that he would need to attend their annual meeting… in Maui! They also let him know that he could bring his family with him! Vacation in Hawaii? Yes, please! Get ready for a picture overload from our trip! I’m happy to share all the adventures we take with you, but really, I love having a place where I can record this part of our lives. I know when I’m 80 I will want to read and remember everything we did .

So… fast forward five months and our family of four plus Jacob’s parents jetted off to Maui for work and play. The meetings were held at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua and we stayed there for the first five nights of our trip. Well, technically Jacob didn’t, but more on that in a minute! The resort was absolutely breathtaking! It was situated on a little bay and had a fabulous pool surrounded by cabanas that were perfect for my babies to take their afternoon naps!

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View from the lobby of the Ritz Carlton Kapalua in Maui

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Our family with Jacob’s parents at the welcome luau

    After 12 hours of flying, a two hour lay over in Los Angeles and a debacle at Dollar Rent a Car, we finally made it to our hotel. It was only 4pm local time, but to our East coast bodies, it was 10pm! As soon as we arrived Jacob headed off to his meetings and we met him that night at a luau for the player reps and their families. We were greeted with leis and enjoyed a traditional luau meal. They even had a kids buffet and a fun craft station to keep the little ones busy.

The next day was our first full day in Hawaii and Jacob had meetings from 7am until 7pm. I was shocked to learn the the player’s wives also had meetings! Say, what? I thought I was on vacay? I was relieved to find out that the “meetings” were actually fun activities for the wives to do while the players were working. [Jacob’s note: My meetings were real meetings.] About 35 NFL wives participated in the painting class that was held oceanside. We also had a private hula lesson afterwards. So fun! I was happy to find out a fellow NFL wife and Kentuckian was there as well. I got to sit with Amanda Masthay, wife of Tim Masthay, former UK and current Green Bay Packers Punter, and her darling son while we painted. We had a blast! It’s always great to get to know other ladies that are in the same phase as life. We mostly talk about people and former teams that we have in common, moving tips, and our kids! I’m sure you’ve seen those “Housewives” shows, but I’ll assure you the ladies were so kind and sweet!

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Our oceanside painting class. My painting is the one in front of the empty chair!

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Amanda Masthay and I with our masterpieces!

Due to the 6 hour time difference, we were usually awake each day around 4am, which honestly, isn’t too much different from my normal wake up time these days. On Monday morning, the 16th, we were all wide awake when Jacob got a text from his agent, Bill, saying that he needed to call him back. Of course, we were all excited because Jacob was a free agent and we knew it meant one thing – a team had interest in Jacob. That team happened to be the Atlanta Falcons! We soon found out that Jacob would need to leave Maui and fly to Atlanta to meet with the Falcons coaches. His flight was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon and he would return to Hawaii on Thursday! Wow – talk about racking up frequent flier miles! Good grief! I was sad for him to leave us on our trip, but I was also SO excited for the opportunity for him in Atlanta. We spent the rest of Monday on cloud 9, talking about all the “what ifs” while lounging around the pool and beach.

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Lyla’s first time in the pool! Bathing suit: Zulily, Headwrap: Ruby Blue

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Bathing suit: Janie and Jack, Hat: my niece’s hand me down from Gap

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Luke, our little goofball! Swim trunks: Old Navy

Monday night, we drove to Paia for Jacob’s 30th birthday dinner at Mama’s Fish House. It was recommended to us by several people and it did not disappoint! The open air dining room was very quaint and the food was phenomenal. All the fish was caught locally and the name of the fisherman who caught it was written on the menu. Very neat!

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Before Jacob left for Atlanta, we hiked to the Nakalele Blowhole. I found this blowhole in a tour book I borrowed from my sister. In the book it said that the trail was not clearly marked, but that it was manageable. I thought everyone was going to kill me when we pulled off the side of the road at mile marker 8, just as the book explained, and saw that there literally wasn’t a trail. Whoops! I was determined to see the blow hole, so off we went! We walked on a trampled grass path for several hundred yards and then we came to a steep rocky decline. We weren’t even sure if we were supposed to go down the cliff, so my father-in-law went down first to check it out. He waved us on so down we went, with an almost four year old and a six month old! Smart? No! Worth it? Definitely! The picture below shows the cliff we went down. Can’t you clearly see the marked trail? Hah!

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When we arrived at the blowhole it was breathtaking! We sat on the rocks and watched it spout for nearly an hour. Sometimes it would just gurgle and sometimes it would spout 50 feet in the air! In the background, humpback whales breeched in the ocean. It was truly amazing to experience this hidden gem of God’s creation!

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The mist from the Nakalele Blowhole was refreshing after our long, hot hike! Lyla was a trooper and didn’t make a sound the entire time!

On Tuesday, Jacob made the long flight to Atlanta and we patiently waited to see if he would be offered a contract with the Falcons. It felt like weeks passed by (it was really only half a day) before he called to let us know that they did indeed make an offer and that they had agreed to terms! Aka: The Tammes are moving to Atlanta! Woohoo! It was nearly bedtime when we found out the news and it was great to be able to sleep on the fact that Jacob would be joining the Falcons!

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Jacob and Bill finalizing his contract with the Atlanta Falcons!

The next day, we went whale watching in Lahaina on one of the Pacific Whale Foundation’s charters. I was so disappointed that Jacob had to miss it, because it was incredible. We had been whale watching pre-kids in the Caribbean, but only saw the fluke (tail) of one whale. We just so happened to be in Maui during prime whale season and we were sure to see several whales… and boy we did! Within fifteen minutes of leaving the dock, a mom and her baby were spotted. The baby whale, seen below, was breeching and playing in the water, while the mom followed close behind. We saw lots of other whales as well! If you are planning a trip to Hawaii, make sure you go during whale season! Luke learned SO much about nature and science from experiencing it!

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A baby humpback whale breaching in the Pacific Ocean.

Luke was very timid about going up on the top deck of the catamaran, but by the end of the two hour sail, he was brave enough to sit out on the mesh at the front of the sailboat with me. My in-laws had Lyla in the cabin of the boat and I soaked up my one on one time with my little man as the sun set over Maui. I will never forget his sweet face when he overcame his fear and stepped out on the mesh.
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On Thursday, we flew to Honolulu where we met Jacob at the airport to finish out the last three days of our trip. At this point he had flown nearly 36 hours in last five days… whoa! Which explains why he fell asleep in the hotel lobby one afternoon! Hah!

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Jacob and his dad, Theo, with Mr. Sterling Cale, a Pearl Harbor survivor.

While most of our time in Maui was spent at the pool and beach, most of our time in Oahu was spent site seeing! Our first stop was Pearl Harbor. We got there early in the morning, as they only allow 2,000 visitors per day and we didn’t want to have a long wait. We prepped Luke about our visit to Pearl Harbor by explaining to him (in kid terms) what happened there and that we needed to be somber and respectful while we were there. To our surprise, he actually was… except when we met Mr. Sterling Cale, SGM. Mr. Cale was in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Before we met him, we explained to Luke that he was a survivor and to shake his hand and tell him thank you. Well, Luke walked right up to him and shook his hand then turned to me and screamed, “Mama, he’s on Survivor!” I tried to hold it together and not laugh, but I just couldn’t do it. Thankfully, Mr. Cale is well in his nineties and couldn’t hear what Luke said and was distracted by conversation with Jacob and his dad. We got to spend a few minutes talking with Mr. Cale and he told us about that dreaded day. He worked as a pharmacist for the military and was at the dispensary when the Japanese attacked. He ran from there to the harbor where he dove in the water, under the burning oil, and pulled people (and bodies) on to shore. He explained how he wasn’t able to surface because oil was on fire across the surface of the water. He told how he and others spent the next six hours trying to save as many people as possible. Wow. This man was a true American hero. He is one of the reasons why WE are able to live freely. It was truly overwhelming to shake his hand and speak with him.

IMG_7605Lyla slept during our entire tour and woke up just before we left, so this is the only picture we have of here there. See the bright blue sky and palm trees? It’s hard to imagine that this was once a war zone. So.very.humbling.

If anyone is still reading this ridiculously long post, thank you! Hah! Stick with me, I’m almost finished!

On Saturday morning, we hiked to the top of Diamond Head! I wore Lyla in the ergo and Jacob was prepared to have to carry Luke piggy back style most of the way up. However, to our surprise, Luke hiked the entire way up and down by himself! We were so surprised, we bought him one of those super tacky shirts that said, “I hiked Diamond Head!” Hah! Diamond Head is actually part of an extinct volcano crater. Here’s an aerial photo of Diamond Head that I took from the plane as we flew home.
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Our last dinner in Honolulu! Can you tell that both babies were over taking pictures?

On Sunday, we drove to Aulani, the Disney resort on Oahu. I really wanted to take Luke to see Mickey for an early birthday present. Ok, I really wanted to go see the resort and I thought Luke would enjoy it too! Hah! We ate at Makahiki for Aunty’s Breakfast Celebration. It was a character breakfast in an open air restaurant and the food was divine! I highly recommend it! Luke was turning four two days after we left Hawaii, so we celebrated his birthday here too! Remember when we also celebrated at Disney World in February? Yeah, I love birthdays:)

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Meeting Mickey at Aulani

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We had a wonderful trip with Jacob’s parents to Hawaii! We were SO blessed to get to travel with the NFLPA even though Jacob missed half the meetings due to his impromptu trip to Atlanta! We came home with lots of memories and a new job!

And just to keep it real… this is what our hotel room looked like after living out of a suitcase in three different hotels in ten days… wow.
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You Can’t Win Them All

Losing is never easy, and Sunday’s game was no different. I was teary before the game started because I knew it might be our last game at Mile High Stadium, win or lose. The anthem was just beautiful, the crowd was electric and the roar of the pre-game fly over gives me chills every time. You see, Jacob will be a free agent this year and we don’t know where this crazy business will have him playing next season.

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Waiting for the game to start with my little buddy

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Player introductions on the jumbotron

 

Dealing with “lasts”is hard. You want to just soak it in and remember everything so you won’t ever forget what it was like. It reminds me of my senior year of high school, which was full of “lasts”. But Sunday’s game was an uncertain “last”. We may be back, we may not. That’s the nature of the business. So, after the game Luke and I were down on the field walking towards the tunnel. We stopped to take one last picture and I knelt down beside him and put my face next to his. I said, “Baby, soak it in. Look at the lights, see what they look like? Look at the scoreboard, see how big it is? Feel the grass, this is where Daddy played! We might not be back here, so just take one last look around.” I was saying this all to him, but really it was for me. So I could intentionally stop, take it all in, and remember.
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This pic was taken right before Luke and I had our talk about taking it all in

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Huddling up during warm-ups

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Jake lining up at fullback before going in motion

 

After the game, I found several wives and girlfriends and gave them hugs and we said our goodbyes. It’s always so awkward because these people who you’ve shared joy and pain with, who’ve prayed for you, who’ve been in this crazy NFL world with you in an instant can just be… gone. Even as a wife, a big loss, especially a season ending loss, makes it seem as if life is just crashing down. It’s just over. Done with. There is no more – until next year. But next year, even if we stay in Denver, it won’t be the same. Different coaches, different players, different friends. We will never have *that* team again. Oh sure, we will keep in touch through social media and texting, but it won’t ever be the same. While it is so sad, and boy did we cry some ugly tears, we have so many blessings! As one wife said as I hugged her goodbye, “You know what? What do we have to complain about? We are going home to healthy babies and healthy husbands!” She was SO right!
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Friends, teammates, Bible study partners, and all around just two great guys… in my opinion!

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Post game prayer circle at midfield

Once Jacob left the locker room, we walked out of the tunnel and stood in the parking lot and just stared at the stadium taking it all in. All he said was, “It was fun.” Gosh, it sure was!
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Last post game pic of the year of our fam (minus Lyla)

We spent most of yesterday packing everything we could into a u-haul trailer to begin the trek back to Kentucky. We are sad to leave Denver (even though we may be back), but could not be more excited to be going back home!
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Leaving the tunnel: Luke with his Granddaddy and Aunt SJ

Tonight we will have a little farewell dinner with some of our teammates and friends and I’m sure we will cry more ugly tears, but in the end it’s all just a blessing! The wins. The losses. The tears and frustrations. The friendships that will grow stale, but hopefully not. It’s all part of this awesome journey God chose us to be on and we are choosing to enjoy the ride!

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Miss Lyla didn’t make it to the game, but I couldn’t leave her out!