My oldest daughter Emmalee is one of my heroes. In so many aspects of her life she's not afraid to take the more difficult path or to try new things that are unlikely to be easy or simple or comfortable. Where so many people today, especially young people, are happy to coast along in life, avoiding hard work and commitment, Emmalee is constantly stepping forward and looking for the challenges. She's not necessarily the best at everything she does, but she is willing to try and experience so much.
Unfortunately, she doesn't always consider doing the dishes or cleaning her room as challenges worthy of her attention, but that's okay because I don't like those things either.
In school Emmalee works hard, taking the difficult courses so she can learn as much as possible. She's my hero because she's not afraid to be a nerd, (even though she probably wouldn't choose that word).
I love to watch Emmalee play sports. She loves to win, but even more importantly she loves to play well and to have her team play well. I've seen her satisfied after a loss when she played well and I've seen her frustrated with her play after a solid win. Last year she tried a new sport, lacrosse, and is excited to play it again this year.
This fall, Emmalee ran two long relay races, the Red Rock Zion from above Cedar City to Springdale Utah and the Las Vegas Ragnar. At each race she ran a total of around 14 miles between three separate legs. Her last leg of the Red Rock was 7 miles in 100 degree heat in southern Utah. With teammates putting towels soaked in ice water on her head and shoulders she managed to finish the leg.
For the Las Vegas Ragnar she was assigned a position that included a 9.4 mile run for her third and final leg. When we asked her if she wanted to do a different leg, she hesitated, considering the challenge. She took the challenge turning down the offer to have someone run part of it for her. I was in a different van for this race and didn't get to see her run. My father, her grandfather, told me that she was strong through the first three miles, maintaining a good pace. At the six mile point, when they told her the distance remaining tears filled her eyes and she questioned her wisdom, strength and ability. Shutting out the encouragement of her grandfather and teammates, she walked forward until she could run again.
I doubt that she realizes or understands the lessons she learned as part of her recent run or other endeavors. As her father I see her growing in confidence and ability. I see her learning to push forward past the point of wanting to quit. I see her sacrificing to finish something worthwhile. I see her learning to push past her own pain and discomfort for the welfare of her teammates and others. I see her learning to look at new challenges and know that she can do it or at least have fun trying. I see her preparing for the unforeseen and unexpected challenges. I see her becoming a capable and dependable young woman, wife and mother.