In the fall of 2004 we were well into the process of “closing up” before we left the first time for the mission field.  I remember being excited about selling everything, patient packing up and even saying goodbyes.  Although it was tough, medicine I was so excited about what was ahead that it overwhelmed the majority of sad or negative emotions.  One Saturday afternoon, however, a wave of panic hit me in the middle of one of Alex’s soccer games.

I had identified very well with the whole “soccer mom” label.  I had the minivan with the soccer ball magnet on the back.  I was the team mom, made the flag, brought the snacks, planned my Saturdays around Alex and Maggie’s games.  It was a role I had loved since Alex was four years old.  That late fall Saturday morning, I suddenly found myself overwhelmed with a need to cry.  I felt near hyperventilation and although giving up everything else had been pretty easy, all things considered, it suddenly felt impossible to let go of this one detail – soccer Saturdays.  I remember a conversation I had with one of our pastors who had been keeping tabs on our emotional stability through the process and through tears I blurted out “I don’t think I can give up being a soccer mom!”  Ridiculous…I know.  I believe the true reality was that I was realizing that my culture was about to change in a huge way.  It was true, Saturdays would never be the same.  The minivan would be gone.  Many things about everyday life were about to change in a big way!  Relieving my soccer mom duties became the straw that broke the camels back and suddenly I felt very unsure about everything, but of course, we pushed on with our plans.

“The Burn” ~ the team where I realized life was about to turn upside down

Over the years, Alex and Maggie have still been able to be involved in soccer, mostly at schools where there wasn’t a formal team, but they were still able to play with a group a couple times a week.  During our time to fund raise in the States they joined teams and we relished in a few months of “normalcy”.  Other than that short season, we became preoccupied with ministry, traveling and a million other things, so soccer Saturdays moved to the realm of things we used to love doing together.

However this year, after a long hiatus, soccer Saturdays are back!  No, I’m not the team mom – they’re teenagers and no longer need “team moms” and the team experience here looks nothing like what it did in the States – not that it’s bad, just different, but a couple of weeks ago as I sat with a bunch of moms watching the kids play, I realized God had restored a joy in my heart that had left so long ago.

Then and Now
Alex’s first soccer picture on the left and this season on the right.

  Although the whole soccer Saturday loss truly wasn’t a devastating change in our lives, it felt like a giant warm hug to see God had restored something that was once so precious to me, even after I had stopped longing for it – and I love it!  I love watching my kids in action.  I love spending time getting to know parents and build relationships with people from all walks of life who share in the joy of watching their kids play – although I’m learning here I need to brush up on knowing all of the national and international teams and players.  Everyone is very passionate about soccer here!

Parents gather around a field to watch the boys play their match.

It gives me great peace to know God knows the depths of my heart and cares about even the little things – and that it’s not just for me, but for my family and for you!  Have you ever let go of something that God later returned to you?

~Tona