There was nothing spectacular in my upbringing that ever prepared me for being “married to a baller”. I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania where life was as it was for most American children. I was the oldest of two children, and my brother Sean was 4 years younger than me. My Dad (Jim) worked in health care and my mom (Karen) was a high school librarian. They are still working those jobs today. We did move 2 times during my years growing up, but the total distance we moved was probably about 2 miles. I started playing soccer when I was 5 years old, swimming competitively at age 6 and added volleyball into the mix during middle school. I played the French horn, sang in the chorus and was involved in student government starting when you did the head down voting for a class representative in elementary school. I was a very driven person, and never imagined my adult life would revolve around someone other than myself.
In high school I did pretty well in sports and was recruited for all three sports, but most heavily for soccer with Division I schools. I took 5 recruiting trips during my senior year to Penn State, University of Pittsburgh, University of Hartford, James Madison University and Loyola College of Baltimore, MD. In the end, I settled on going to Penn State as an invited walk-on (ie. with no scholarship). I majored in communication disorders and was set on going to graduate school after I finished my undergraduate degree. I worked hard to earn a scholarship in soccer my sophomore year and was enjoying living the “good life” of college.
During my sophomore year at Penn State (1999-2000) my Gram sent me a Bible. I had a general idea of what Christianity was all about. I had gone to church a few times growing up on the major holidays (Christmas and Easter). I subscribed to the old adage of being a “good person” though, meaning I wasn’t as bad as some other people. My drunkenness and premarital sex were both weighing on me heavily as not a satisfying way of living. So I started going to church more to see what Christianity might be about. At the end of my sophomore year, my roommate invited me to come with her to an Athletes in Action Bible study. It was there that I heard the gospel for the first time and knew something in my life needed to change. I just wasn’t sure what.
After a summer spent home, when I came back my junior year after school had started, I got a call from Naomi Williams, who was the women’s leader for Athletes in Action. She wanted to know if I would be interested in meeting one-on-one for Bible study. Everything in me was screaming to say “no”. I certainly wasn’t looking to be a Jesus freak. I just wanted to live a little better so my conscience would not be so heavy. But for some reason the word “yes’ formed on my lips. So that week I found myself meeting her with the Bible my Gram had gotten me (and almost never touched). It was during that time of meeting that Naomi explained to me that Christianity was not simply acknowledging Jesus or having Him in your life. He had to be the center, seated on the throne. When she asked me if that was where He was, I honestly replied “no”. Then she asked the all-important question: Do you want Him to be? I said that I did, which was a work of grace in my heart to even desire that Jesus be Lord of my life. Nothing in me could compel me to love God. It was truly a work of His mercy to make me desire Him.
Around that same time, I met a handsome, outspoken, on-fire Christian who happened to be a star player on the Penn State basketball team. Joe had a huge impact in my walk with the Lord and continues to be one who holds me accountable and stokes my fire for Jesus. You can read more about our story over on the “Journey to Married to a Baller” page.
Since that time we have gotten married, had 4 children and traveled to numerous countries. It has been a journey for me learning how to be a wife and mother that honors the name of Jesus. I do enjoy this life, although I never would have picked it for myself. I would have gone to graduate school, had my own career and thought of marriage and children many years later. Thankfully God was in control of all things and my plans were lovingly put aside. The path has not always been easy, but it has always been good.