Each night the girls practiced their Dorian routines until almost midnight. Two nights before the big tryout in ninth grade, Natalee called me, crying. She had dropped into a split and torn her hamstring. It was a bad injury. I immediately called Jug's brother's wife, Marcia, who worked in public relations for the hospital. She helped us find the right therapy for Natalee's injury. For forty-eight hours Natalee worked through excruciating stretches, heat treatments, and other therapies to attempt to make it to the tryouts in time. Natalee was not about to let an injury keep her from her lifelong dream of making the dance team, no matter how bad it hurt. She comes from a long line of strong-willed, tenacious—some may even say stubborn—people.

The source for this personal inner strength and faithful determination can be traced to my parents. They were stern and as fiercely devout as they were demanding. Raised in the Methodist Church, we never missed Sunday school and worship on Sunday. The foundation of my faith that was established in my childhood was nurtured all through my teens as my whole family participated as active church members. Mom and her brother sang in the choir. We attended youth group and other fellowship activities. Then I went on to teach Sunday school and vacation Bible school for many years as I raised my children in the Methodist Church.

I remember my mother always proclaiming, "God is good." She lives by those three words and taught us to as well. My parents were very faithful and reverent people, yet my father in particular was a tough man. He could slice you up with words. When it came to dealing with my brothers, it was physical. He never laid a hand on my mother or me, but he shook an iron fist. There were no crybabies in our house. No quitters allowed. When I became a teenager, my father decided that I should be driving on my own. Way before I turned sixteen that's just what I did. No license. No driver's ed. He was ready for me to drive, and that was that. My parents' answer to dealing with any crisis was, "Suck it up and get over it. Press on." We were simply not supposed to cave in. I suppose these traits were passed along through me to my children. So Natalee sucked it up and, limping to the tryouts with her leg taped up, she earned a spot on the Dorian dance team.
From the book Loving Natalee: A Mother's Testament of Hope and Faith by Beth Holloway. Reprinted with permission from HarperOne.


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