rebelling against low expectations

Christian Osterhout, Age 17: Lost His Parents, Adopted By His Coach


The Rebelution is one of my favorite blogs. I love the continual reminder to do hard things, especially as young people. So when I heard about my neighbor Christian Osterhout’s story, I knew I wanted to share it with fellow Rebelutionaries.

Christian didn’t get to choose his hard things; they were chosen for him in middle school when he learned that both his parents were very ill.

His dad who had a genetic form of ALS, slowly deteriorated and passed away when Christian was only in 9th grade.

As if dealing with the loss of his dad wasn’t enough, he had to become caretaker for his mother who was struggling with Scleroderma. At the beginning of his senior year he lost her as well.

Christian said he wasn’t tempted to be angry with God during these trials he was facing – he was angry with God.

And yet somewhere in his sophomore year, in dealing with loss and disappointment, the Lord drew him close and he chose to trust the plan his Heavenly Father had for him.

Christian wasn’t the only one who had the opportunity to do hard things. Christian’s football coach Chris Roberts began taking him out to lunch weekly after his dad passed away and invested in him like a father.

Once his mom passed away, the Roberts family didn’t just say they would be there for him; they were. They brought him into their home and made him apart of the family.

When I asked him how he responded to his parent’s deaths, Christian said “Well, at first, I responded very well. But, something that often people don’t understand about death is it’s a long process and it’s a marathon, and like a marathon, everyone’s kind of cheering you on for the first couple miles but then everyone kind of starts to leave for the rest of the race. Really, when you lose somebody it’s about 20 month of recovery.”

He went on the say that the constant love and support of the Roberts made a huge impact on his life and his ability to cope with such deep grief.

Christian’s story has been picked up by NFL Films and has been nominated for the Together We Make Football contest — I really encourage you guys to go vote for him!

Those 13-and-older can vote once-per-day and if you aren’t old enough, you can ask your parents to vote for you.

Click on this link to go to the voting page and click on Christian’s name to watch his video and vote.

If he wins, he and the Roberts will win a trip to the Superbowl.

But more than just hoping to see him win, it would just be awesome for their story to be able to touch lives and inspire others to remember to trust the Lord with our struggles and that we should be willing to make sacrifices to minister to those who have lost loved ones or those who are going through trials.

Share Your Thoughts in the Comment Section!

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Photo courtesy of Together We Make Football and the NFL.

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About the author

Madison Woodard

is a 16-year-old from Oklahoma. She is the oldest of eight children and the daughter of two wonderful people she looks up to and still calls Mommy and Daddy. She has been home-educated her entire life and runs a blog entitled, Reflection, because she truly desires to reflect her Lord and Savior in everything.


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  • Thank you Madison for posting this!

    I love football – not just watching football, but playing football as well. So, I really can realate to Christian in that aspect.

    Can you ask Christian how he is able to reflect Christ on the field? Because finding that balance is something I struggle with when playing competitive football. (Knowing when and when not to be aggressive, etc.)

    God bless you and Happy New Year!
    – Trent Blake

    • Hey Trent, I’ve wondered that too. I play volleyball, and while it’s not near as aggressive as football (haha :)), I guess I’m pretty competitive and I’ve thought about how to play with a Christ-like attitude. Here’s a link to a super cool organization called AiA, or Athletes in Action, and some of the principles they teach: I really enjoyed listening to the lectures. It gave me a whole new perspective on sports, and I’ve learned that you can glorify and worship God in every aspect of your life – especially on the playing field or court.

      My opinion after listening to these talks is that, as Christians, we should be the most driven athletes out there – which is contrary to popular belief. It’s a God-given talent that brings Him glory and can be a ministry opportunity when we use it to the best of our ability.

      Bought with a Price!

    • Hey Trent! It was my pleasure to share Christian’s story. 🙂

      I asked him about your question and he said;

      “When trying to find the right balance between playing for God and diving into the ruthless competitiveness of sports, it is important to remember the
      question, “Why am I competing?” It is important to remember that everything we do, as Christians, we do for sweet omnipotent Jesus. When
      we become competitive out of pride for ourselves, we fail; however, when
      we find a way to become competitive out of a love for Jesus, we
      succeed. What a glorious blessing sports are from God. How we play
      sports can be similarly related to how we live life. when we wake up
      everyday, when we talk to our friends, when we smash running backs into the dirt (my favorite part) when we spike the ball in the oppositions’ face, we
      persistently try to fight against our pride to glorify our father in
      heaven. Sports teach Christians how to be Christians in the real
      world. So always play fast, play hard, and play for the
      Lord. Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it
      with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,” ”
      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

      • No problem, guys! Feel free to give me any more questions you would be interested in him answering and I’ll be sure to send them his way. (Just don’t expect quick responses, I’m sure he’s busy) 🙂

        • In that case, I do have a question for him: as time passes after such a loss, what is the most helpful thing a friend can do with or for you? I have a friend of a friend who is going through a similar situation, and I don’t exactly know how much attention to give to the subject. I mean, the balance between bringing up a hurtful subject and reminiscing about the good times, etc. If Christian has anything he would like to share on that that would be awesome! And if you get the chance, pass this on to him for me: Psalm 18:30-32

          In His Power,

          • Hey Ezra, here is his response!

            Everyone is different, sometimes it helps to talk about it and sometimes it doesn’t. What’s important to know is that if someone loses a family member they become low on love; a place in their heart where someone loved them seams to
            vanish. In such a time family is needed so just be family to them. Bring the subject up and give them an opportunity to talk about it, and if they choose to then remember to listen and to not give advice unless you have suffered a similar loss. Be listening and encouraging. The journey after losing someone isn’t a sprint it is a marathon. So many clap and cheer on the first mile when the reality is the runner needs the most
            encouragement during the middle and end of the race.

          • Thanks so much, I will be sure to keep those thoughts in mind when talking with my friend.


    • It really is great, isn’t it? I’m so glad you liked it! I really would like to get his story out to more people, and I thought this would be a great place. 🙂

  • Amazing story! And the quote from Christian gives some good insight about how we relate to people going through such a tragic loss. Thanks for posting and Happy New Year!

    • I found my talk with Christian to be incredibly helpful and eye opening when it comes to better understanding those going through trials. So glad you enjoyed it and found it to be helpful! 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing, Madison! What an amazing story. “But, something that often people don’t understand about death is it’s a long process and it’s a marathon, and like a marathon, everyone’s kind of cheering you on for the first couple miles but then everyone kind of starts to leave for the rest of the race.” Wow, that is a powerful and true sentence and such a good reminder for us to not forget about people that have lost someone, even if it’s been a year or two.

    • That was one of my favorite things he said – it gives us such a clear picture of what it’s like to be someone who has lost someone!

      I was just looking through your blog and wow…those posts about Camp David pulled at my heart! I would love to do something like be counselor for a camp. Especially for people like your sweet girls; people who don’t have many people who love them in their lives.
      I attended a camp this past summer, and I absolutely loved my counselor/group leader. She was fantastic and helped to draw me closer to God – How I would love the opportunity to do the same for others! Have you been able to keep in contact with your girls?

      • It was a very stretching and difficult, yet amazing experience working at Camp David of the Ozarks! I haven’t had a ton of contact, but definitely some! I am in contact with them via letters or calls every month or two.
        I think about them and pray for them everyday and constantly wonder of they’re okay and safe.
        Each one of them take up a very special part of my heart still!

        • I can only imagine that it was! Do you get special training beforehand?
          That is so wonderful 🙂 I love that you have such a caring heart for other people! I do hope you will get to see them again!

  • Thanks so much for sharing this. It is so powerful and a great reminder that even when terrible things happen, God is still in control. He knows what is going to happen and it’s not out of His control. Thanks so much!

  • Voting is now closed. I voted every day since I heard about it! Even if you don’t win, you have inspired many people…. But dude, I REALLY HOPE YOU WIN. IT’S THE SUPER BOWL, MAN!!

By Madison Woodard
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →