Jen had a big smile on her face when she shared the news. Her soccer team had just won second place in the regionals. They'd won the state championship three years in a row, but this was the first year they were able to compete in the regionals. So this was a really special thing.
Jen has been playing soccer since she was four years old, so she knows a lot about the game. Here are some thoughts she shared.
"Winning the regional was really satisfying. We worked so hard, and no one really expected us to do that well.
"I prayed about those games. I prayed that we'd all do our best. Then we'd glorify God with our skill and talent. I was proud, because our team did their best. And I did the best I could do, too."
Prayer is important in Jen's life. So it's natural for her to pray about playing soccer. Jen knows that she's God's child and that God made her spiritual and perfect. She knows God loves her and always takes care of her. (And everyone else, too, of course.) So Jen feels connected to God.
Jen has a favorite verse in the Bible that helps her think about her playing. It's Matthew 5:16, and it says, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
"I like this verse," Jen said, "because it always reminds me that my purpose in playing is to glorify God. I don't play sports to make myself happy or to be able to be proud or to brag. I'm not hoping that others will think or say that I'm so good at sports. I don't play to glorify myself but to glorify God. He gave me all my talents. When I do well and use my talents, I'm doing what God made me to do. I'm using God's gifts to me. I like to think about that.
"I always pray before a game. I pray to do my best, but even if I don't do my best, I know that God still loves me. God always loves us no matter if we win or lose.
"One time our team was playing a really good team in a tournament game. No one thought we'd win. Everyone expected we'd get blown out. I thought, 'We have nothing to lose. Nothing to be afraid of. God will be there, and God will watch over us and protect us.' I think we all felt free just to play our best. Well, we won that game 10. And no one got hurt in that game.
"Another time, a girl on our team got an ankle injury. She was one of our strongest defenders. Everyone was worried, because they thought her ankle was broken. I thought about how God made her, and how He made her spiritual and perfect, too. God was loving her and always protecting her. He wouldn't let an injury happen. So what everyone was thinking and worrying about had to be a mistake. I prayed that God would show us all that He wouldn't let her be hurt, so we didn't need to worry. They took the girl to the doctor, and there wasn't anything wrong with her ankle. She just had some bruises and was back playing soccer in a week."
Jen talked about how she feels when her team loses. "Sometimes we lose a game, of course. I'm always disappointed. But if I did my best, I'm not ashamed. The other team must have had better skills. I know that I can work on my skills and improve. I know I'll always have another chance to play and do better."
Jen said she has never had a soccer injury. "I pray about this, too. I don't beg God to take care of me. I just know God is always protecting me. He is always keeping me safe. I know God is a comforter, and so He'll protect and comfort me. I know that God loves me."
Jen has played soccer for 10 years. Here's her advice for kids who want to play a better game: "Don't give up on yourself. You might think you're not very good. But keep practicing. You can always do better. Don't let fear and discouragement get in the way of doing something you love to do. Don't ever give up."
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee
will not slumber....
The Lord is thy keeper.
Psalm 121:2, 3, 5