One I raised from birth. The other joined our family just shortly before turning 16. I have to be fair in parenting, but I can't parent them the same. At all. They come from two very different backgrounds and cultures. It's complicated.
Being a mom, I realize just how important it is for a teenage boy to have important men in their life. I am thankful for three very significant men in my boys' lives. Their Dad. Their Student Ministries Pastor. And their Soccer Coach.
Mike isn't the most talkative or sentimental guy. But the boys love him and respect him a great deal. David and his dad are like glue--they could spend all day together every day and never get tired of each other. Juan doesn't always connect with Mike emotionally, but he looks up to him for how much he knows about cars and how to fix them (especially that little Neon he's driving). He enjoys hanging out with him and just having fun. He doesn't have any of the same interests as Mike, but he has a heart of gold to try to connect with Mike while pursuing his own interests (using his artistic talent to create a memorable picture for Mike). I'm so thankful they both have a faithful Dad in their lives.
The second man I'm so thankful to God for putting in their lives is their Student Pastor at church. Actually, they've had another one (Shane) for the last three years who just got moved to the Rockwall campus. He's been incredibly influential in their lives, and because they go on Saturdays with the smaller crowd, they've been able to develop a closer relationship with him as their leader. But this guy in the picture (Mauricio) has been the assistant for the last two years and has gotten even closer into their lives than the other one, likely due to his age, personality, and less personal responsibility for the overall student ministries program. He's had more time to invest in them and just have fun with them. He even led their trip to California this summer and breathed so much into them both on a spiritual level. However, on the final night of the trip, he let the team know that he'd no longer be around as the assistant since he'd be looking into more opportunities to serve in a church at a higher level. Needless to say, David especially came home devastated to be losing such a significant person in his life. The good news now is that when the other Pastor got moved to the Rockwall campus just a week or so ago, the church hired Mauricio on as the full-time Student Pastor at our campus--so now he's back, and I have two very happy boys.
The third man I'm thankful to have in both of their lives is their soccer coach. Now, that "coach" often changes, but just the fact that they have one is significant. It's someone they can look up to and work hard for. It's someone else that can believe in them and critique them in ways that I can't. It's someone else that can keep an eye on their grades and keep them accountable. It's someone else who can push them and keep them active in ways that I can't. It's someone else who can teach them life values and teamwork.
Thankfully both boys made their high school soccer teams this year. Juan's coach is a humble, respectable guy who is very adamant about being respectful and not letting the boys use foul language or get into trouble. He encourages Juan, but keeps him humble, as well. I'm excited to see how he pushes him as a varsity player this year.
David made the freshman team at his new high school, and Mike and I are so thankful for his new coach. A solid Christian man who gave up a pretty big soccer career himself in order to pursue youth ministry for awhile. Now he's a Math teacher and a soccer coach, and he holds the boys to a very high standard in the school. It's a new level of soccer that David's not used to, but it's so good for him. We knew ahead of time that it's quite difficult to make the team at his particular high school just because of the kids that go there (many are involved in club soccer teams and have a lot more experience playing than he got on his recreational soccer team). We were so relieved when he made it through all the cuts during tryouts. I think the coach said they had about 119 kids try out, but they only kept 65.
Once the high school season is over, the recreational season will begin, and his Dad will continue being his coach for at least one more season. :)
It's going to make for a busy, busy spring (that will be on another post about looking carefully at my season of life), but I'm thankful for soccer's role in our village.