Well I have to start by telling of our fantasy experience at the CMA's! Amazing! Amazing! We were so blessed, lucky, happy, grateful, and so much more. In Awe! Growing up with my mom being a huge Country music fan, I too am a huge fan! Even married a southern man, with an accent too! :) Casey and I were really just in awe with big grins as though we were back in Jr. High!
Trace Adkins and his wife Rhonda were so very generous and beyond, incredible hosts! We are indebted to them for this incredible experience. We were able to hang on Trace's tour bus for the night, met his management and band. Trace and Rhonda let us follow along like their puppy dogs. They took us everywhere, it was too sweet! We went to rehearsals and watched Kenny Chesney and Trace perform! Wow! Even able to snag some pictures with Taylor Swift and many more backstage. They took such great care of us, grubbed on TGIFridays appetizers before the big show, enjoying the company! Trace is so very humble, a good ole country boy! Casey and I went over right before the show... no idea where our tickets were. Trace's Manager escorted us closer and closer to the stage, yes to the 5Th row! In Awe! Randy Travis was seated in front of us (I'm a big fan of his!), and right behind us was Kidd Rock. Pretty incredible. One amazing performance after another! I'm not going to lie when we sat down I was filled with just complete joy and gratefulness, tears started to overflow. Casey was so sweet, he just grabbed my leg and kissed my forehead. He completely understood me with no words spoken. We were in awe! Trace and Rhonda, of course grabbed us to go backstage with them before Trace performed. They were so very kind and thoughtful! Here we were hanging out with Kenny Chesney, Kidd Rock, and more backstage. Everyone was so so sweet! Kenny's dad along with Kidd Rock, admitted they were softball fans! Who would've ever imagined. They were legit too, going back to my Wildcat days and talking baseball with Casey. We had a blast! It was so refreshing to see how laid back the Country scene is. Everyone was so sweet and really just chill. It made me even that much more of a fan. We ended the night with a few parties, of course right behind the Adkins! I can not thank them enough for their graciousness! Casey and I woke up the next morning laughing, saying to each other, "No way, no stinkin' way!" In Awe!
The next night I had the honor of attending a charity event honoring the Quincy Jones Foundation in NY hosted by Audemars Piguet. Another incredible night! In awe! They honored Dr. Jos Antonio Abreu and Maestro Gustavo Dudamel of Venezuelas El Sistema Program with the Q prize for this year. It is an outreach program that uses Classical Music to promote health and well-being in Venezuela. So many kids, thousands, have been touched and given an opportunity through this program. Siedah Garrett rocked the house with, "Man In the Mirror", Goldie Hawn was dancing up a storm! Michael McDonald performed along with an incredible closing jam session with Wycleaf Jean, again in awe! It was a great evening, closed with an intimate dinner with Audemars Piguets Francois-Henry Bennahmias, Quincy and their guests. So very inspiring, just in awe.
Slept for about an hour, and headed out on a 5 o'clock am flight out to Louisiana! Landed and headed straight out to the softball field for a day of setting up for camp. We had a great turnout for camp, its always nice to do in your "backyard"! Sulphur has been so supportive of softball and our camps. Its great to be able to do events locally. We enjoyed Boudain Balls, Deer Jerky, Pickled Quail eggs, and all the other yummy local food we are spoiled while we set up! Yes, I am a southern girl at heart. I enjoy it all! We had a great crew out to help Bustos, Kelly K, Mac V, Toni M, Jaime Clark, and Caitlin Lowe. I'm so grateful they make it happen. Along with McNeese University who helped, Thank you!
I was introduced and honored to meet Amber Kuntz on Saturday at camp, a local young lady who is 23. Amber is battling Lou Gehrig's Disease. Amber was a state champ softball pitcher for Sulphur High School just a couple of years ago. I heard about Amber a couple of months ago through our Aunt and was so happy to get to meet her. I immediately was drawn to her, she had this glow, this incredible spirit! I was so honored to be able to chat with her during our quick lunch at camp. She was and is God sent. She spoke of such peace and confidence. As my eyes just filled with tears hearing her so humbly speak. I was, In Awe. In awe, doesn't even do it justice. Just a few of her comments, "I have never been happier in my whole life!" "God has blessed me in so many ways!" "This is a gift, it is all a gift." Here is Amber a beautiful 23 year old girl now accepting the help of a wheel chair, focusing, and working hard to get out each sentence she speaks. We shared a few softball childhood memories, our dads coaching us, and how softball is so much more than a sport. She left down the stairs with the help of her parents mom on one side and her dad on the other. I couldn't hold myself together, I just bawled. Amber blew me away with her courage, strength, and most importantly her faith! She inspired me to be more, give more, and do more. I invited her back on Sunday and asked her to speak if she wouldn't mind. Well sure enough, with her mom her rock, pushing her wheel chair out to home plate she spoke to all 340 campers and their families. She was full of grace, passion, and spoke so eloquently. She touched everyone. Many tears, her faith and spirit are overwhelming. It's so hard not to fill with anger, Lord, why? Then you see her, her faith and peace that just blows you away. She is living it, she is such an example, shes allowing this/Him to touch so many lives. She spoke of making the most of it, appreciating your parents, the lessons that softball teaches you and how it will help you prepare for life, and so much more. She is a gift, and what a gift it was to get to know her and have her speak at camp. Thank you Amber!
I was again honored to have lunch with Amber again this week on Wednesday. She is the real deal, walking the walk, talking the talk. She continued to blow me away. She even said, "I am unworthy to have this disease." "He chose me, me to use." I'm so grateful I got the opportunity to meet Amber and to hear and see her faith. Since our first introduction she has been in my heart and on my mind. She gave me a bracelet from her wrist that was given to her with the serenity prayer on it, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage (in bold) to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference." I was so honored and humbled to accept her bracelet. Here, Amber is giving me courage and sharing her faith and strength. She just continues to give. Her mom replies with, "That's Amber." I have worn it since... Courage. I want Amber's courage, her faith, she is such a great example for all. I felt compelled to share Amber with you and maybe you too can be touched by Amber. Her reply would be, its not me its Him! It is indeed Him living in her. She has touched my life in a very special way. In Complete Awe!
Yesterday I was in Chicago, I flew out for a signing. It was fun being back in Bandits colors and seeing Bandit fans. I'm looking forward to the summer and getting back on the field.
I am honored to be the Grand Marshal of the McDonald's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Chicago this Thursday! Wow! I have to admit, I really like parades. One of my favorite childhood memories is watching them with my mom lying on the couch. I can't wait to experience it with Ace and our family this Thanksgiving. I'm so thankful! It will air on WGN if you are up that early to catch the start! :)
Dreaming & Believing,
The Parting Gift + the Final Goodbye
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