Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dad, lads and the beautiful game

Psalm 149:4-5 (NIV)

For the Lord takes delight in his people;
   he crowns the humble with victory.
Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor
   and sing for joy on their beds.
It was a busy morning for the Holland boys. Max had his second soccer game. I’m a volunteer coach — and we use that term loosely given the shallow nature of my soccer knowledge. It also was our day to bring treats, a date I chose because I wanted to get it out of the way before we get to “any day now” status with the baby. But when I signed up, I failed to consider this was the morning some of Kristie’s church friends were taking her out to breakfast to celebrate her pregnancy.

Our budding soccer player, as captured by our budding photographer.
So it was just me and the guys… and our camera, four water bottles, two folding canvas chairs, a bag full of Pirate’s Booty and a wheeled cooler full of juice boxes and yogurt. Amazingly, we were not only on time but actually a few minutes early. That included the time it took to get Max’s shin guards and cleats on in the van in the parking lot, plus dragging the aforementioned cargo about 300 yards to our field.

But being early was just an omen of the way the morning would play out — a good omen. The game went incredibly well, as Max followed instructions, played like he’s been doing this for longer than three weeks and had a great attitude the entire hour. Charlie happily played fetch on the sidelines, bringing me a soccer ball so I could roll or kick it a few feet away time and time again, until he decided he wanted some water or a snack.

And Jack, well, Jack was incredible. I shouldn’t have been surprised, because I know exactly where he learned these habits, but every time I looked away form Charlie or the field I saw my oldest son, camera in hand, trying to capture the action for posterity. He was moving around the field — carrying a chair with him each time — shooting the action, isolating on the ball and occasionally his brother. He insisted on a portrait during the fourth quarter when Max played goalie (literally during the fourth quarter, getting his shot while the action was on the opposite end of the field).

I was so proud of all my sons. Charlie was a big enough boy to just sit in the chair with a bag of snacks, watching the action after politely asking for help getting the bag open. Max exuded as much maturity as you can get from a kindergartener and proved he’s paying attention in practice even when I think he’s just staring off into the distance. And Jack, well, I wasn’t even going to bring the camera given how much other junk we had to manage. But after dragging his rear to last week’s game, today he got up on time to eat breakfast, helped load his brothers and our gear into the car and managed the camera all on his own. And darn if the kid didn’t get some good shots.

When we got home I couldn’t decide which kid to brag about first. Max got inside first and gushed about the game the way five-year-olds do (open mouth, say things), but I think my favorite part of the whole day was sitting on the couch with Kristie, looking through the pictures on the camera. We could relive Max’s game through Jack’s eyes and even see how Charlie spent the morning. The entire thing is so remarkably mundane and yet incredibly special to me as their dad.

The only thing better? Knowing we’re soon going to be able to add one more munchkin to the mix. I’m so anxious to see how his personality stands out while also blending in with the family. The sun shone bright on the Holland boys today, but I’m even warmer thinking about the future. I know I’m not promised anything — next Saturday’s game could be a total disaster for all three kids, for example — but I’m still thrilled about the hope for blessings yet to come.

A prayer for August 31:

Lord, thank you for the simple gifts that fill my heart. May I never forget that you are the giver of all good things. Help me appropriately show my appreciation to you, and may my children see my thankfulness and learn to understand the power of your love in our lives. Please bind us closely together with you as we anticipate the growth of our family and help us welcome our newest member with unlimited joy. Amen.

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