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courage and heart

We’re living in such tough times. Some days it feels like every corner of the world is a complete mess. I am so mindful to try and keep my mind and my heart focussed on Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Last weekend we celebrated God’s goodness to a group of young guys and I thought I would share a sweet testimony with you all. Because seeing His hand in the big things and in the small things reminds us of His faithfulness and unfailing love.

My amazing husband. In his spare time Anthony coaches middle school soccer. With our busy lives, it’s quite a sacrifice to get to the field four or five times a week plus handle all of the correspondence and admin that goes with leading a sports team. It’s a lot!

But he loves it!

Back in August when the soccer season began, Anthony’s tiny team had just six players registered. In order to try and get more players, the school opened registration to the fifth graders. They gained a few more players. Just as the season was beginning, one morning my husband said, “Oh boy! We don’t even have enough players to have a full team this year. Nor do we have a goalie. We’re really going to have to trust God in this.”  Soon after that, another small school in our area reached out to him because they too had too few players and wondered if their teams could combine.  Only a few from there came, but God brought one or two others here and there and even from homeschooling families.  And with that, they finally had enough players–many whom had never even played the game before!

With eager hearts and a willingness to learn, their God-ordained, pieced-together, underdog team started practicing just before the school year began.  Anthony would come home with such a full heart after watching this unlikely group of boys figure out not only how to play the game, but how to work together as a team.

Our league is known to have some amazing soccer teams. Every year the competition is tough. Last year our school made it to the semifinals, but lost there, coming in fourth place. As the team approached their first game this year, my husband was quite nervous for his guys. How would they do?  Would the sweet boy who kindly volunteered to play goalie (for the first time ever!) feel confident enough after just a couple of weeks of practice? So many odds stacked against them.

To make things even tougher, in the middle of the season, a car ran over the foot of one of their key defensive players while in the parking lot right before a game.  He broke three toes and finished his season.  What would they do?

But God…

One thing Anthony had purposed to do with every practice and every game was to teach the boys to put God and their character first and foremost.  For the last fifteen minutes of every practice, the team had a “holy huddle,” where Anthony or a player picked a Scripture to focus on and relate it not only to soccer, but to their lives.  Then the prayer requests flowed and prayers rose to heaven, all the boys holding hands in unity.  At games, they held hands publicly in a circle and prayed before and after each game, praying that God would have His way, praying that our team and the other team had no injuries, and last but not least, praying that God would give them a huge opportunity to show Himself through each of the boys.  Anthony focused on “Godly character” for each of the boys, on and off the field.

Well…they won their first game. And their second. And their third.

By the fourth game, Anthony and Cade just came home shaking their heads.  They could not believe that they had done so well up until that point. Anthony was beaming with so much gratitude to God and love for his team who showed so much courage and heart.

By God’s amazing grace and His lovingkindness to a team of boys who got thrown together at the last minute, they advanced to the quarterfinals and then the semifinals….still undefeated. The experienced and inexperienced coming together and figuring it out one game at a time.  So far, their record was 10 wins and NO losses!

Last Friday I picked up all of my children from school early and we headed to the field en masse to cheer on our team.  My sweet hubby was so nervous for his boys.  To come so far undefeated and face their toughest opponent in the final game was nerve wracking–an opponent that also had a perfect record, save for their one loss earlier in the season–to our team!  I sat on the side of the field with a lump in my throat. To see these sweet boys playing their hearts out was such a precious moment for everyone who got to cheer them on.

They won the championship 2-0! Theirs is first team in the history of our school to win a league championship undefeated.

And with it came such a sweet lesson for every boy on the team.

Our God can use anyone.

He can take the most unexperienced, the most unlikely, and the last on the list…think Gideon, Moses, Jeremiah, Paul, Timothy, maybe you and me.

All He needs is a willing, humble heart…

…and He turns them into champions.