Every Sunday afternoon and Wednesday evening I could count on having a house full of teens playing video games and emptying out my refrigerator before and after Temple City Nazarene youth group. I wouldn’t have had it any other way (even though my carpet and furniture paid the price). Unfortunately, the community changed and my daughter Sydney’s group started diminishing. She was devastated to find out she was the only teen interested in attending the Nazarene Youth Conference, so she joined the PazNaz youth group. She became fast friends with Pastor Jayme Lenker and her love for little ones had her volunteering in childcare. This is how I became involved at PazNaz, and my life has been blessed ever since. This is my story of an answered prayer.
Once Sydney laced up her first pair of skates and started playing hockey, she immediately fell in love and said that she wanted to go to college to play hockey and one day play in the NHL. My beautiful dreamer! She was offered a full-ride to a college in the Midwest … which meant no ice hockey. Sydney has played hockey since she was five, from roller hockey to ice hockey, from all girls’ teams to Pasadena’s SCAHA championship winning co-ed team. When she’s not playing, she referees and coaches. Giving up hockey was not an option. So she turned them down, confident she would find a way.
During Sydney’s final semester at Citrus College we prayed for guidance. She decided to continue with roller hockey and attend a local college for her undergraduate studies in kinesiology. I prayed, even pleaded, with God. If anyone deserved an opportunity, it was Sydney. She devoted herself to her teammates and the kids she worked with season after season at summer camps, all while working three jobs to help me pay rent and bills.
Our prayers were definitely answered in May when she heard from a coach in Connecticut. Post University was starting a women’s hockey team and they wanted her. She asked when she needed to fly out for tryouts. She was told she already had a spot on the team and all they needed was her application! I asked the tough question, “What kind of scholarship money are we talking about? After all, they called you.” She was disheartened to learn there were no scholarships. The coach told her to apply and that they would work on other options. Being a private out-of-state university, we were going to need a lot of options!
As an excited mother, I shared her good fortune with everyone in the office at PazNaz. That’s when we saw truly miraculous things happening! Sydney’s grades were good enough that the school offered her academic scholarships and, with her federal aid, she only needed $25,000. I prayed, continually hearing, “Just let her go … Just put her on the plane … Just get her there.” I thought, what kind of mom puts her child on a plane to travel clear across the country to be homeless?
Sydney continued to fill out grant and scholarship applications and was able to get that figure down to $17,000. She had received more than 50% of her tuition and a one way ticket to Connecticut with her teammate, Anna. Sydney had told her coach about Anna and he added her to the team. I found myself praying all the time. She had worked so hard all her life for this, devoting herself to others, volunteering her time and her talents year after year. She always lifts up others and helps them. How could she be so close and yet so far?
One day, as I was listening to Air 1, I heard Hillary Scott sing “Thy Will.”
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is … Thy will be done, Thy will be done … I know you see me, I know you hear me … Lord, Your plans are for me … Goodness you have in store.
Every time I heard that song I stopped and prayed, “Thy will be done, Lord.” All I heard was, “Just get her there … Just put her on the plane.”
On August 24, Sydney called her coach to let him know that she didn’t have the money. He told her, “Just get here.” Discouraged, she posted on Facebook that her dreams were over and that she couldn’t come up with the rest of the tuition.
I had no words. I wanted to fall to my knees and cry. I looked at Julie and told her that those were the exact words I heard over and over in prayer. Julie smiled and said, Well, what more do you need to hear?
The next morning I walked into work numb, feeling that this amazing opportunity was fading away. As I walked to my desk, Pastor Julie Keith, stopped me and said, “Rebecca, I know you don’t know where the money is going to come from, but have you thought that sometimes you just have to act on faith? You need to put her on the plane and just get her there!” I had no words. I wanted to fall to my knees and cry. I looked at Julie and told her that those were the exact words I had heard over and over in prayer. Julie smiled and said, “Well, what more do you need to hear?” Nothing.
I called my daughter and told her, “Pack your bags. I am getting you on that plane! Don’t get excited because I don’t have the money and I don’t know where it is coming from. I only know I need to let you go! If you can think of any way to raise money between now and when I come get you, let me know.” I hung up and prayed in gratitude for sending Julie as an affirmation of what I had been hearing all along and thanksgiving for the hope that all was going as God had planned.
When I got home, Sydney was all packed and waiting for me, holding her acoustic and electric guitar. She said the mom of the triplets she had coached called, and they wanted her to see their championship game that night. She also told Sydney about a pawn shop by the rink. I went to my room and grabbed every piece of jewelry I could think of, as well as my sterling silverware. Since she didn’t think she was going, Sydney hadn’t picked up her sports physical, so we raced to the doctor’s office to find the paperwork wasn’t complete. They told us to come back another day. I told them, “This was supposed to be ready yesterday. Her flight is at 5:00 am tomorrow. Are you going to be here at 2:00 am?” I was told to come back in an hour. Three hours later the paperwork and blood work was completed, but the pawn shop was closed. I told Sydney, “No worries. I will go tomorrow.” So we headed to the hockey game.
Everyone at the game gave Sydney lots of love, wished her well, and congratulated her even though they did not know the full situation. Around the middle of the first period I noticed her texting feverishly. She wouldn’t stop to tell me what was going on. Thirty minutes later Sydney showed me her phone. Her former coach, EB Jenson, saw her Facebook posts. Sydney had remained friends with his sons, Ryan and Sean, who also played hockey. They told their father about what she had been doing to raise money and how she planned to pay back a student loan. God bless the man, the night before she was to fly to Connecticut he co-signed her online student loan! If she had not packed for the flight earlier we would not have had her required medical records ready.
I walked out to the parking lot and broke down in tears, thanking God for his love and blessings. I am grateful to know that there are incredible people in our lives, praying for us, and answering our prayers as well. We just have to be bold enough to follow through. I only had the strength to let go and send my daughter nearly 3,000 miles away because of God’s grace. I am very grateful for everyone’s prayers.
Sydney’s inaugural season was amazing and the team moved up to Division 1, which means there will be scholarships. As long as she continues playing, her tuition will be covered.
As a side note, one of her professors notified her that during her senior year they have an internship for her with the American Hockey League, and 2016-2017 was the first season for the Women’s NHL.
I just needed to let her go … to put her on that plane and get her there. God is so good!
– Rebecca Conrad
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