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
I have met some of the neatest women through our travels. And one of those women who ranks at the tops is my dear friend, Edwina Bucci. She is a fun and creative woman, who also has shared with me in my journey to buy less and re-use more. Eddie is so devoted to recycling that last year she kept separating her recycled materials even though she would see the garbage collectors dump the recycling right in with the other garbage when they collected. She just kept holding out hope that maybe it would make a difference!
So I wasn’t surprised when I saw her pictures of a house she had made for her daughter from an old refrigerator box. It turned out so adorable, I asked if she would write about it for this blog. It would be a great project for anyone, but especially for those of us who live overseas and the idea of paying for a playhouse you will only use for a few months doesn’t seem like the best use of money. Eddie gave a wonderful step-by-step description along with pictures and also got pictures from her friend who made one too to show the creativity variety that can go along with a project like this. Thanks for sharing, Eddie.
While discussing with a friend of mine the outrageous price of a plastic playhouse in Italy, we decided to just build one. Seriously, how hard could it really be? Kids can get hours of entertainment out of sheets and chairs building forts so just imagine the fun with a cardboard box with some life added to it! What I didn’t expect was the amount of fun I myself would have also. My friend lives in Rome so we shared photos of our progress. To start off, she recommended that I simply go across the street to the electronic store and ask for an empty refrigerator box. Even better is that while walking my dog one evening, there was an empty one right next to the garbage can. It was dark outside already so you can imagine the reaction of the guy who was also walking his dog when he witnessed me and my little shih-tzu trying to empty out all the Styrofoam and plastic wrap from a huge box next to the dumpster. The box was huge and even dragging it back to the apartment was a feat but we accomplished it. Here is where the fun begins.
It’s a relatively inexpensive project and most of the materials required you probably already have lying around your house. For this house, I used the following:
1 – a ton of construction paper. I used as many light colors as possible.
2 – glue sticks. I believe I used between 2 – 3 to complete everything.
3 – packing tape. I used clear and the brown colored one.
4 – scissors
5 – ruler or something with a straight edge
6 – these were extras but I had a spare set of curtains that we no longer used so I cut them apart to make the curtains for her house.
7 – paint and brushes
8 – for the door I went to the supermarket and bought this plastic type board that costs roughly 2 euro.
9 – a serrated knife (which I found easier than the scissors to cut through the cardboard)
I didn’t do these in any particular order (aside from the establishing the structure). In fact I would often start one thing and then begin another before completing the prior mainly because I would get bored and just needed change. Also because I would run out of materials for one step so I would start another until I had a chance to run to the store.
STEP ONE: I cut the box along one edge as well as the ends so I could lay the cardboard completely flat. I then raised the sides so to that the four sides of the cardboard now account for 2 side walls and 2 sides for the roof. There is no bottom. I would suggest doing this part on a carpet so the sides wont slip on the floor surface. The trickiest part of this was manipulating the ends (the front and back of the house) because these pieces overlapped one another. Its almost like wrapping a gift where you need to close off the ends, but with thick cardboard its not so easy. I used a TON of tape. Don’t worry about how ugly it might look now as you’ll eventually cover everything up with construction paper anyway.
STEP TWO: I cut out a large portion of one end of the house for the door. I had to be very careful here though because of the way the ends were closed, if you cut too high then the house is most likely to cave in. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I used a TON of tape. I also cut out two windows on each side of the house and used tape to cover the edges to avoid any papercuts and to just clean it up.
STEP THREE: This next step was probably my favorite but most tedious part. The roof. I used a plastic container for the round edges and made one template which I traced over and over again for each strip. I also used extra cardboard laying around to cut long thin strips and placed them underneath each row of “shingles” to give it a 3-D effect before laying the next row down. I also made sure to boldly outline each shingle so you could easily distinguish them. I used a combination of glue and tape (wrapped to make it double-sided) to lay down the roof shingles and I used only tape to lay down the cardboard strips.
STEP FOUR: This was my husband’s idea and probably one of the most sensible ones. I traced two large circles on one side of the roof using a cake pan to outline it. I then cut them out using the serrated knife. This allows for more “peek-a-boos” while playing but more importantly, it allows for more light to enter.
STEP FIVE: I attached the plastic material type door to the front. I just used tape and even cut out some pieces of the plastic beforehand to use as hinges to prevent the wear and tear from opening and closing the door.
THE REST: Super easy from here.
For the interior I filled the space with construction paper. I just used lighter colors so she could color and draw where she wanted. I cut out strips for window borders. I used tape and glue for all of this. FYI – before adding the cut out pieces for the curtains, I taped and glued them to the windows and then taped the border on top of that.
For the backdrop I painted a fireplace. I tried my best to copy the one from her favorite book “Goodnight Moon” (given to us from the generous Crispins which we read every night. She always says “hot” now when she sees the fire so I thought this would be a good way for her to interact with the house. I also added some extra photos we had lying around of her and added them above the fireplace to simulate a mantle.
For the ceiling I painted and cut out stars from old scrap paper I found lying around and glued them to the ceiling. “Stars” were a new word for her so she was excited. I also painted a moon.
For the backside of the house I cut strips of construction paper and made an attic window. For the bottom portion I just painted grass, a few flowers and a few bricks. I then just glued and taped it to the backside.
For the sides I just made some flowers using construction paper. I also cut out pieces of brick from the cardboard and then glued brown paper over it which I then attached to the house. I wanted to give it a 3-D effect but I think it was more work than its worth. You can simply just use the construction paper. I also cut out flowers from old scrapping paper someone had given me. Even gift wrapping paper would work if it had a fun design. I also cut out grass using green construction paper.
For the door I purchased it already red. I just added some strips of black construction paper to give it some character. I covered the inside of the door using construction paper and painted “Vivienne’s Place” and painted a window.
When everything was finished, I used clear tape to smooth out all edges and sides because I was just so worried about paper cuts. After a good month of use I can tell that the curtains are going to have a hard time keeping up but I can’t figure out a better way to keep them attached. I didn’t want to use staples or any other small objects because Vivi is still so small and I don’t want to worry about her putting things into her mouth. Other than that, I had a blast building it and Vivi is having a great time playing in it. Best part is that I wont feel guilty about leaving it behind once the season is over!
Pictures of Eddie’s friend’s house:
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.
Yesterday was National Sanctity of Human Life Day. I have posted on this special day in the past and today wanted to bring to light some great resources in the fight for life for the unborn.
- The first resource is a short, free book called Exposing the Dark Work of Abortion from Desiring God Ministries.
- Abort73 is offering an even deeper discount on their already affordable shirts in an effort to spread awareness about abortion. We have been wearing their t-shirts for a number of years and have had some great conversations as a result of them.
May God see fit to save more unborn from death in 2012,
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,