Can you be proud while you believe that your Savior was clothed with flesh, and lived in modesty, and made himself of no reputation, and was despised and scorned and spat upon by sinners, and shamefully treated and nailed as a common criminal to a cross?
Did Christ take upon himself the form of a servant so that you could domineer and have the highest place of honor? Did Christ not have a place to lay his head so that you could insist upon a home with luxurious furnishings?
Must you brave it out in your most fantastic outfits instead of your Savior’s seamless coat?
Did he pray for his murders so that you could demand vengeance for petty words and wrongs?
Did he patiently endure being spit upon and pummeled so that you could, with impatient pride, abuse others?
- Richard Baxter
Although I have mentioned various struggles of living the professional basketball lifestyle before, I think I can confidently say that the biggest one I have encountered is not becoming self-consumed. Another way I say it is “not getting caught up in your own 4 walls”. It is a very real struggle because not only do our husbands jobs mean that attention is often focused on them (and therefore us), but we are also isolated and away from community. This self-focus manifests itself in various ways int he basket life:
- Being so used to the conversation focusing around your husband or your life that you struggle to remember to talk about others
- Interacting mostly with people in your same lifestyle so that as you talk about their struggles, you can talk about yourself as well
- Not knowing what is going on back home in your community, church or family
- Having small inconveniences or trials blow up into major catastrophes, whether in your house or just in your mind
- Thinking your struggles are relatively important and wanting to share them (or blog of them…busted) in such a way as to receive attention for yourself
Those are just a few examples of the way I have struggled with this lifestyle. I think it is part of the reason I struggle over whether to blog and why I decided to ultimately do away with social media. At the heart of all of us is the ultimate struggle to want to make life about us. And the basket life makes that struggle even tougher in many ways.
So this week I am just going to share some quotes I have read lately that have been challenging and encouraging to me not to make my life about me. I want to be someone who stops trying to “make something” of myself, but to rest in who I already am in Jesus. I hope you are challenged and encouraged this week as well,
As a basketball wife, we get used to being on our own. Our husbands travel for away games, and depending on what league(s) they play in, that can mean days or weeks on our own in a foreign country. Many women stay home for either part of the season or the whole season and are by themselves in the U.S. But the past two weeks, I had a first as a Basket Wife. I spent two weeks by myself with the kids in Ukraine, while Joe was back at our home in the U.S. Usually if I am on my own overseas, it is because he is somewhere else in Europe, not back home. If one of us is back home, it is me there with him overseas. So this was a bit of a role reversal for us.
The short of it was after trying to rehab his torn adductor muscle here in Ukraine for 5 weeks, an MRI showed that there was still a partial tear near the insertion of the muscle. So the team offered him to go home to rehab for 2 weeks. In State College, he would be able to rehab much easier with the resources in and around Penn State. But for the whole family to go home for that time, didn’t make much sense financially or practically. So I stayed here with the kids.
It was really weird to have him at home and us sitting in Ukraine. The whole reason for being overseas is Joe and his job. So to be here by myself felt odd. But it did give me some good insight of what it is like when he is here on his own. And also was a good opportunity for me to serve him even though ti wasn’t necessarily easy or convenient for me. Here are a few lessons I learned in my two weeks:
1. Reading of others who have done hard things makes your hard things seem easier. When we decided Joe would head home, I was reading a book called “Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption“. It is the autobiography of a girl who goes to Uganda at age 18 and decides to spend her life there serving the poor and afflicted. As a single woman, she not only pioneers a path for herself in this foreign country, but also adopts FOURTEEN children along the way. When you read of stories like that, not only does your situation pale in comparison, but you are reminded that the same God who would strengthen a young girl to serve alone in a third world country is the same God who can strengthen you in whatever situation you find yourself in. Which leads to my next point…
2. Focusing on who God is more than your own struggles is what brings true freedom and victory. I am going to hit on this point more on Monday, but I realized while reading another book, “Jesus + Nothing = Everything” that too often our “good Christian thinking” of focusing on our own struggles is really selfish and unproductive. If we truly want to grow as a Christian, we need our focus to be on God and what He has done for us. Although it seems counterproductive, the hard work of simply resting in God’s love and acceptance of us will bring more change in our lives than any work of becoming more holy that we can ever produce.
3. Getting through hard times is always easier when you your focus is on others. All 4 kids were sick at one point, we lost power, we had cold, windy weather and few places to go and yet through it all, for the most part I had joy because I was serving Joe and the kids. But even more than that, the service was ultimately for God and the joy that He promises for those who pour themselves out for others. One of my favorite quotes is from John Piper when he says in speaking of dark times in life, “If you want the clouds to roll back, start pouring your life out for others people.” (A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer).
4. It is slow moving when you are over here by yourself, but that time can be used constructively. The hardest part for me was not that it was necessarily hard but that I had SO much time. The part I like about being over here is the slow pace of life, but when you are without your spouse and his job, that pace seems to slow to a crawl. It was in this time that I was able to spend even more time with the kids, get extra sleep, read a ton, and catch up on e-mail, Skype and phone calls with friends. I was also able to concentrate of loving my husband over a distance. I realized how when I am home and very busy and Joe is overseas, I don’t do as well with that as I would like. Now that I have seen how quiet it can be over here, I hope I can support and love him better when he is the one overseas by himself.
I am thankful for the lessons that were learned and for God using that time to chip away at sin to reveal more of Jesus in me. But as much as I am thankful for it, having my husband back is going to bring great joy too
Pride is an insidious thing. Just when you are convinced that you have one of its tentacles under control, another one snakes out to grab you. Oh, it has probably been there all along, but you never saw it before. So off you to to try to bring it under the Spirit’s control, and in time, by God’s grace, you do. Then, just as you’re thinking you’ve got it under control, out wriggles another one. Pride is like a garment with a million secret pockets that you’re constantly discovering.
Lou Priolo, Pleasing People: How not to be an “approval junkie”, page 113
The longer I live, the more I see how vitally important community is. This year’s top blessing for me was getting more settled and involved in State College after making it our first permanent summer there. In 2009 and 2010, we had split time between there and our house in New Jersey. And before that we had lived solely in New Jersey. So this past summer was our first time of really digging in and putting roots down in State College.
It was a joyous process. The number one priority for us was finding a church to attend regularly. We had visited a few in our split summers and decided on attending Oakwood Presbyterian Church. It was definitely a choice led by God as we met so many fabulous people, were fed the Word of God and loved by the body.
We also had the chance to get to know our neighbors better, spend more time with those whom we already had relationships with, get the kids involved in activities and learn more about an area where we were only really up on the college activities. The time there solidified within us how much we adore State College. Of course, everyone is familiar with the Sandusky scandal, but State College is so much more than just Penn State University. Although Penn State University is a large part of Happy Valley, football is not everything and even a horrible scandal can’t tarnish the loveliness of State College.
I am excited to get home and enjoy another 6 months in State College digging our roots even deeper into the town where Joe and I attended college, met, fell in love and spent some of the happiest times of our lives.
One of the greatest adjustments we made this year was to re-think our schooling options for the kids. I had been so used to having the kids home with me a lot overseas that when we spent more time back home, I never allowed my thinking to adjust to the change.
We first put Elijah and Naomi in a Christian preschool after glowing recommendations on it from two women whose opinions I highly value and respect. After seeing the preschool and the options, it was a great fit for us and them. But once they were going somewhere, Abby was having a tough time being at home. When we finally made the decision to put her in public school, we looked back and thought, “Well, of course, why didn’t we think of that sooner.” Now we were only a few months late because in past years we hadn’t spent time home at the beginning of the season. But since making the decision to stay back for a bit after Joe left and then go back early before the season ended for activities, school seemed to make sense.
Since then it has shown to be a great decision. Abby has more of a connection and grounding back home, which has helped her while we are abroad. Although she misses her friends, it gives her school work a bit more meaning being grounded in an actual classroom and friends. The school work has been much more conducive to getting the work completed with three other younger children in the house too while we are overseas.
So overall, I think it was one of the best decisions we made in 2011. But it also taught me to not bank on it to be the right choice for all the years to come.
I mentioned this year how precious it was for Joe and I to get time away together with just the two of us. We haven’t gone on many trips as a couple since having kids, but this past year’s trip made us both realize that it needs to be a priority. It doesn’t have to be a long or fancy trip, but a few days to reconnect is precious to us. So may parents are once again giving us a trip by ourselves again this summer. And we hope that this tradition will continue for many years. Of course, when Joe is done playing basketball, his job may lend to us doing it at another time of the year instead of the summer. Whenever we go or whatever we do, it is a special time that we are thankful to be able to do with one another.
One area that I noticed a huge area of growth in our family this year was in the area of thankfulness for Joe’s job and all the circumstances that come with it. And I know that the main reason we grew in that as a family was because Joe led us in that. It was a huge blessing to our family in the way that he appreciated his different jobs and callings this year.
There seemed to be an overall shift in our attitudes this year from merely putting up with or getting through the basketball season to truly enjoying it. Although I think we have enjoyed aspects int he past, I think God answered our prayer for thankfulness in that we appreciated it and embraced the many facets that go along with Joe’s job and our lifestyle.
I can picture sitting in our living room in Barcellona, Sicily and having Joe walk through the door and throw his stuff on the table and say, “I decided I don’t want to make war on complaining any more!” We had been focusing as a family on not complaining, but being thankful. God answered that prayer by giving us a lot of opportunities to see the good in situations that on the surface didn’t look so good, especially in terms of basketball.
So I am thankful that we made war on complaining in 2011 so that our eyes were opened to see all the joys of basketball that we had to be thankful for. I pray our eyes would continue to be opened in 2012,
Life on earth is not as it should be. It doesn’t matter what religion you subscribe to, it is easy to see there is evil and injustice everywhere. One area I was burdened to pray this past year was in the area of our dear family and friends who longed for children, but had been unable to conceive. It is heart wrenching to see people you love and know would make fabulous parents, not see that heart’s desire fulfilled month after month.
This past year I was praying for 4 couples in particular to become parents either for the first time or to be able to expand their families. It was a great exercise in persevering in prayer. I would love to be able to say that each couple is pregnant, but God’s plan is often different from ours. Two couples were able to conceive and one is already enjoying their precious baby (although born 7 weeks early). Another couple is well into the adoption process. And the last couple, whom I have been praying for now for about 2.5 years is still waiting. That couple is now the focus of our concentrated prayer in our family worship time this year. We are anticipating to see God do something wonderful for them this year!
Although it can be hard to really put your emotions into praying for others and expecting God to do wonderful things for them, the blessings are amazing. You not only get to join in another’s life and really see the way God is working on their hearts, but it works on your heart at the same time. You get to intercede and “wrestle” with God in a way that is different than when you are praying for yourself. It expands your heart as you look outward to others and the joy is incredible when those prayers are answered. May you pray for something big for others in 2012,
One of the favorite parts of my year is when we get to be home and spend concentrated time with our family and friends that we don’t see the majority of the year. Since we got married, we have always spent at least one week with my family (plus other short weekend or 2-3 day visits) and one week in Ocean City, New Jersey with Joe’s family each summer. Since moving, we now go back to New Jersey for Crispin Basketball Camp and spend another week with Joe’s parents.
In addition to those special times with our families this past summer, we were able to catch up with a lot of friends in our time home. Some of those visits came in State College with our friends there, other visits came with friends from New Jersey when we were back visiting Joe’s family, and others came when I was visiting with my family. This summer my mom gathered some of my high school friends during my visit there, we got to meet up with basketball friends while staying with Joe’s parents and we got to meet up with other basketball friends when we took our trip to Washington D.C. We also were blessed to have visitors in State College as well.
The summer is always a very busy time, but it is always a beautiful reminder of the wonderful fellowship God has blessed us with. We have so much love and support from our family and friends and the summer is a tangible reminder of those special people when we get to visit with them in person. I really don’t think we could do it without so many special people in our lives. So thank you to all of our family and friends who loved us in person this past year!