We are in Minnesota for the summer as my husband completes an internship he earned through a research fellowship at NC State. After 11 years in professional soccer and two years in graduate school, this is his first real exposure to a “jobby job” as he calls it. He’s mentioned a few times how he feels too old to be at this place in his career. Most of his classmates are ten years his junior and making the choice between cheap beer or boxed wine, instead of Pampers or Huggies.

However, if you know Mark, you would never place him in the category of “too old”.

One of my favorite stories about Mark’s youthfulness is from a few years ago when he was playing soccer for the Carolina Railhawks. We babysat the coach’s daughters, Chloe and Lauren, once in a while and they loved playing with Mark. He’s known in kid circles for his jungle gymesque physique and his unabashed silliness. Also, he’s always having a variation of the following conversation over and over with kids…

“Mark, let’s do hand stands!”

“Let’s do hams jams?”

“No, hand stands!”

“Handy yams?”

“No, hand stands!”

“Salty clams?”

“NOOOO, hand stands!!”

“Sandy bands?”

He keeps it going like this until he gets an eye roll and a palm smack on the forehead from the child. So incorrigible.

Anyway, I saw Chloe and Lauren at a soccer game and four-year-old Chloe pulled on my hand and looked up at me with her curious brown eyes, “Where’s your little boy?”

“I don’t have a little boy, silly.”

“Yes you do. Where is your little boy? I want to play with him.”

“Chloe, I really don’t know who you mean.”

“Your little boy, Mark.”

Hearing this I laughed and pointed out to the six-foot-three, 215 pound defender on the soccer field. “There he is Chloe. Sorry he can’t really play right now.”

Then she gave me a disappointed frown, shrugged her shoulders, and ran off to join her sister and a group of kids.

He has this effect on most of the children he encounters. Because of this, I’ve already faced the reality that Evy will no doubt be a daddy’s girl. Even as an infant, she gazes at him with what seems to be intense admiration and love. I thank the Lord that Evy will have a strong, loving, and protective father figure in her life as I see young girls look for that attention in other places when daddy is not available at home.

Besides all Mark’s wonderful qualities that I’ve listed above, I am most excited about one character trait in particular.

He never denies himself the opportunity for adventure.

Yes, he may be older than his graduate school compatriots, but he has traveled the world and gathered friends from all corners of the globe. I asked him, if he had to choose all over again, would he decide to delay his career in chemical engineering to play soccer?

Without a doubt. Every time, yes.

Never say no to adventure.

This is how I approached our 1,220 mile trek from Raleigh, NC to Minneapolis, MN. Evy’s routine was interrupted. Her surroundings have changed daily. The faces she encounters are consistently smiley, yet new and different. It’s hard to watch her little brain try to adapt when it yearns for familiarity.

However, that’s the life I would hope for her. Adaptation. Change. Adventure.

I also pray that she never finds herself feeling “too old” for anything.

After all, she will forever be my little girl.


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