I’m a soccer mom.
But I’m more than that. I have 5 precious children–and one on the way. Some brought to us through the miracle of adoption. Some brought to us the old-fashioned way. Both beautiful miracles. As most moms, I play many roles–wife being priority and daughter of the Utmost High King being the most treasured of all.
Rarely do I leave the soccer field inspired…or with the need to process–but today…I did. My many worlds of transitioning collided all at once–where I felt like I was in the midst of culture shock…and the sacredness of who He is, what He came for and it being Easter weekend–collided with…well—soccer.
My kids’ team lost today–and honestly…I have never been prouder. But let me back up.
It’s been a long week–a good week, but a long week. My husband has been in Africa since last Friday serving with Wiphan Care Ministries in Ndola, Zambia. He has a “normal” job, but we also serve on the board of Wiphan a ministry we have been so honored to be a part of since the it’s first days 9 years ago in 2007. We serve alongside dear friends here–and champion many teachers, staff and 950 vulnerable and orphaned children in Zambia to dream big.
Leading up to today’s soccer game–which wasn’t on my radar as a monumental event;)…I have been doing what momma’s of littles do with daddy out of town–surviving. I’m also in my 3rd trimester of pregnancy so trying to take it easy with daddy in Zambia has been a funny challenge. These younger two have kept me on my toes…and all I have to say about this picture I took yesterday of them together is…poor cat.
On a side note: Every time I see pictures of my baby boys–my breath is taken away (no matter how tired I am;)–in thanksgiving of how the Lord has written our family’s story. Through sickness and health–life and loss–12 years of parenting…so much has happened to find us where we are now expecting a little miracle again. Each of our children–such miracles!
But I must confess–THIS week..momma being 32 weeks along and with daddy in Africa–oh my…I’m thankful he just arrived home today and has taken the children out to dinner…leaving me time to do what I love to do…write:).
Each night this week after getting the house cleaned, laundry put up, the next day’s homeschool lessons prepped, preschool bags read…and this week’s extras for preschool parties–Easter eggs stuffed.
At the end of each day, my sweet reward…I was able to either talk or text with Richard in Africa. Talking or texting him with our 9 years of pouring in there–takes me back…almost to the point of when I go out the next day I experience culture shock as if I just stepped off a plane myself;).
In the last 9 years so, so much has happened. Our eyes have been opened. Our hearts have been captured. Things that used to matter don’t matter as much and our perspectives for what does matter–well…is just different…in SUCH a good way. But some times it’s hard–crippling…and today—on the soccer field it was just that.
I think about the little boy in Ndola who had cancer at our school. He was able to get treatment and is doing well. I was so thankful for our school and having Nurse Becky catch his health decline…and his life restored.
I think about Margaret who had elephantiasis–surgery after surgery and the sponsored daughter to my sister. Just a few years older than my daughter–and just a few months ago lost her fight and went to be with Jesus. Oh but she left knowing she was loved, and there’s no doubt in my mind she’s dancing with Jesus with both legs well now.
I think about Pastor Aaron and our woodworker Justin…who disciple the children and are godly men mentors…daddy figures to the hundreds of children in the program who do not have fathers.
I think about the day I met little M. Younger than my daughter. Before she came to Wiphan she was raped over and over on the streets as day time is a dangerous time for children to not be enrolled in a school. She was able to get in Wiphan and into a care home where she would be safe.
Nine years…full of so many stories like these. THIS. This is what we know and what we are now responsible for now that we do know. These stories are what keeps us up at night and thinking what kind of fundraiser can we do next…or what sustainable trade could the 150 ladies in our program do to help…or how can we get the other 600 kids sponsored?
Each night I would talk with Richard about things he had seen, heard and game plans–plans for how to make things better and help the children and teachers thrive.
These thoughts stirring in my head…and I carried these pictures in my mind on the soccer field—waddling out there in the 3rd trimester with my blue fold-out chair and water bottle to cheer on my son during his game.
I sat down to watch this close game–and tried my best to focus. Game on.
Two parents from the opposing stood behind me–yelling at the kids…and I my instinct was to yell a bit for our kids to compete with their noise. But I took it in instead. We happen to be on a team where the coaches have asked the parents not to yell as it distracts the boys from the game–they can’t hear the coach for all the noise. (Another great life analogy there;).
In between screaming…adult banter behind me…
Spring break is next week.
We are going to the Berry Islands…off the Bahamas.
Well–we are going to Grand Caymen.
You have to catch a boat to get where we are going.
Yeah same here. We’ve thought about going there–BUT…
I was listening to this vacation one-up conversation in the midst of filing away pictures from Ndola…processing Zambia, the kids, 9 years…and oh man…it felt as if something was clashing in my heart…
More screaming. JEFFREYYYYYYYY. Show him who’s boss!
More noise. JEFFREY! Keeper! Come on!
A lot more screaming. Jeffrey own it! You got this! Jeffrey what are you thinking?!
For goodness sake Jeffrey–I’m going to have dreams tonight with your name in it thanks to the echoing noise.
It was intense. Like over the top. Like crazy intense. Like so much so the parents from our team I was sitting here all moved. But I stayed.
I was taking it all in.
Something about it all seemed to really clash with my processing Zambia.
There was something He has for me in this culture shock of different worlds colliding–so I sat and took in Jeffrey’s name over and over, the Berry Islands and past trips and a lump came to my throat remembering some we have loved and lost through the last 9 years–and why I’m tired this week with Richard gone and absorbed with much…like big crazy life-changing decisions–and how thankful I am we are a part of this…but how does this all play together right now?
Then there was some serious rough play from another kid on the other team. Like more unbelievable that the noise.
Pushing and shoving–and dirty playing. And I was so proud of our boys. They took tumbles. Whistles never blew when they should have. They just got back up–again and again. They weren’t going there–and I was so proud of them.
In the last few minutes we were down by 2 points–one of the dad’s on the other team came up and stood right behind me…no doubt intentional after I couldn’t help myself and cheered for the boys to shake off the rough play. Oh man–so tired…feeling so big in my 3rd trimester–it’s hard to breath just sitting there–so ready to have this baby—and thankful my husband just landed in the airport which meant I’d be coming home to HELP! And behind me he says…
“Come on boys! Y’all should let them score just one point to make it exciting because we know you are going to win anyway!”
Dirty plays off and on the field. What the what I thought? I could see in that moment why some of the kids played dirty–because they just didn’t know any better because of the noise that was coming there way. They learn from us–we shepherd and teach them…one way or the other.
Our boys did score as he wanted them to. But just once. Yes, it was more exciting. And they lost by 1 point.
And I’ve never been prouder.
They lost with integrity.
After the game–a few of the parents from our team came up to see how Richard was–and in talking they came up with an idea…what would it look like for our boys to take a soccer camp to Zambia? We laughed…dreamed…brainstormed a bit…
That conversation. Wow.
I think we just really won…
My son came up to me and looked me in the eye and said, “I’m so sorry mom.”
Son. What? Never–ever apologize for losing. You boys rocked it. You played hard. No matter what happened between the noise or shoves–you boys stood tall and played with integrity!
“No mom. I am sorry about that moment in the 2nd half of the game when I was kicking the ball down the line and I got too close to you on the sidelines. I was so worried someone might get too close to you–or the ball might accidentally go out of bounds as it almost did. I just didn’t want anything to happen to you and it almost did.”
And THAT conversation.
I think we just really won…I thought again.
The Lord was teaching me in this game–that what we instill in our boys…in all of our children on and off the field MATTERS.
How we live our lives–will be seen our children on and off the field too.
There will be noise. There will be the fight to compare and to keep up with one another–and we can’t compare…or even judge–yes…that goes for me too. The vacation talk Lord…what did you have for me in that? While I think vacations are awesome and it’s been a few years since we’ve had one as a family–I’m so thankful for the reasons we haven’t been able to. Our kids aren’t missing out as we say no to some things because we can’t do it all and yes to others–because as long as we are radically following Jesus to whatever He asks of us–they will be coming alongside us and changed with us. They will shine Jesus off the field–and even in a silly old (yet awesome to my son) game like soccer.
The world will be LOUD. Always. Like really loud. We can’t run from it. We can’t always pick up our easy chair and go some where else. Some times we just have to sit in it. And as much as we want to say something–some times we just have to be still. In the middle of our game–injustice will happen. We will be pushed, shoved and knocked down–and Jesus won’t always blow the whistle…
This Easter weekend I think about Jesus on the cross. Everyone standing around wanted that foul/time-out whistle to blow. It looked like He lost. But 3 days later—He won. But for awhile…it look very much like He lost. It was perspective.
I walked away from today’s game encouraged. In a really strange way the sacred and soccer collided for the first time in this soccer mom’s world. In 1 short hour it felt like so many things happened that represented so much that we face in this world. And that boy of mine–who barely talks or shares his heart…shined Jesus and what to do in the middle of this world.
You keep on rising. Isaiah 60:1…you ARISE, and you shine…for HIS light has come.
No matter what the other team plays like–you play for Him–with integrity.
Despite the noise–you listen to the One that leads your team…the Good Shepherd whose voice can be heard despite the world. You play on.
As you play–you look out for the vulnerable and protect them as He would. And you play with your whole heart for what matters—knowing the score is just a score the world keeps…winning is all a matter of perspective.
The world plays for numbers—but you play to bring Him glory. Always. No matter what.
Running this race with you…
From one soccer mom to another;)…