To the Football Mama Who is Still Skeptical

Dear Mama,

I saw you out of the corner of my eye last night. I could tell you were surprised to hear my husband speak so honestly about the team. As he explained his philosophy about football being more than just a game, that it is also a tool to teach players to become men you seemed interested. He asked for your help in this journey and I could see the hesitation.

If you have had similar Mama experiences to the ones I’ve endured you know that not all coaches are the same. Coaching philosophies are as varied as coaches and you have likely had a coach let you down a time or two. If not you, then your son has certainly experienced disappointment from a coach who revealed their commitment was perhaps not all they originally presented.

I understand disappointment too Mama. My sons have had coaches who have built up their self-esteem, and those who have instead caused them to doubt their ability. I’ve experienced the frustration of a team that doesn’t live up to its potential and watched as disappointment overshadowed all that could be.

One Mama to another, I wanted you to know that I’m just as hopeful for this football season as you are. More than that, I’m expectant. You see, although you heard your son’s new coach’s philosophy talk for the first time, I’ve heard it much more. It was not my first, nor last time hearing my husband speak about the passion that drives him, the conviction that we both have.

I wonder if I might be able to set your mind at ease a bit as we begin this journey together. Our paths won’t align for long in the timeline of a lifetime, but the principles my husband will work tirelessly to teach your son will stay with him a long time. I know this because not a year goes by without former players reminding us of how their time playing football for my husband has shaped their future.

Further, Mama, your son is in good hands. His new football coach will be setting a new tone, but he is doing it with a lot of attention to detail. His job does not end when he leaves the field. Outside of teaching and coaching hours, he is watching game film, preparing team talks, meeting with coaches, reading for personal development, and watching more film.

He’s also doing some things much more important than all listed above. First, he’s working to develop our two sons at home into the leaders and men he believes they can be. Second, he’s practicing what he preaches. He’s serving his family, treating people with respect, working hard to respond well in tough situations, and striving to be a great communicator.

The season waits ahead of us, and regardless of buy-in games, practices, lifting, study hall, travel, and fundraisers will all happen. We don’t know what the scoreboard will show when the timer runs out, but the thing is, we can have a successful season regardless.

There are so many battles to win besides the one that happens Friday nights under the lights. And the best part is that all these other battles can all be won when the best decisions (not always the easiest) are executed. As your son is faced with decisions to encourage instead of complaining, speak respectfully instead of arguing, play with excellence instead of laziness you can cheer him on, and remind him when he needs it.

Don’t hesitate, Mama, you aren’t alone in this process. Your son’s football coach is doing his part. I know, because I’ve watched him do it for 16 years, and he isn’t stopping anytime soon. Regardless of past experiences, this time a great coach is leading things. Trust the process, it will be worth it.

 

Silver Holloware and Anniversary 16

Dear Ordell,

According to the Wedding Anniversary Gift Guide year, 16 is Silve Holloware. This seems fitting considering we seem to loose multiple forks with each recent move.

Reflecting on the last year our marriage it’s hard to believe so much has happened in just 365 days. Even harder to believe is that although neither of us could have predicted where we would be living, nor even both of our jobs transitioning, we’ve embraced things together so well it has been the smoothest transition so far.

This year marks the sale of our first home (finally), moving back to the Midwest, and the year we no longer have single digit children in our house. We’ve never been healthier physically, emotionally, spiritually nor as a married couple.

Our roles are ever-shifting as the boys needs change, as job demands change, and as we figure out our strengths and limits. I love watching your relationship with Elijah and Levi deepen. As they take on new challenges you are there with them reminding them to be courageous, and they are listening.

I love seeing you put into practice at home all the thing we’ve heard you say on the football field the last decade and I love seeing our sons respond.

We are figuring out another new normal these days, and yet our home has a calmness to it that I haven’t felt in years. I know it is in large part because that is the tempo and tone you strive for.

There is something solid about silver that seems so fitting for year 16. When tarnish build-up is removed a beautiful shine appears. There is no doubt of the sturdiness of silver. It will last, regardless of the shape, it is formed into. A dish, bowl, knife or fork will function as it is created to do. And right now I can’t think of a better symbol for year 16 of marriage.

Year 16 (1)

Football Family Lifestyle Transition Questions

2017 has been the most relaxing year for our family in close to two decades. That might sound confusing considering we spent almost three months in limbo not knowing where we would live nor when we would move. Regardless, it’s the truth. A large part of our year starting out so relaxing came from the circumstances allowing us the jump out of the circus tent of coaching. We spent four years serving a campus with all of our strength and ability. Ten years on the campus before that, two years the campus before that, and two on the campus before that with no break. To finally stop after non-stop bending over backward to serve a campus and all the late nights, early mornings, missing our own children’s school events with travel or college student’s needs, conflict, and so much more, a chapter was closed.

The great thing about the chance to stop and regroup is that you get to weigh the pros and cons. You get to take the time to ask yourself all the questions that need to be asked before diving back into the circus.

  • Where should we consider living

  • What things should we look to prioritize in our next community? Next job?

  • What is best for the whole family?

  • Is it worth it to continue knowing the insanity will start again?

  • Is it worth the sacrifice to our family?

Now, these questions can all be asked, but the context of these questions for our family begins with the most important question of all. We ask for God to make a clear path, and to give us united hearts in the decisions to come. And then I usually add in a “hey if we could be in a city again that would be great.” 😉

The best coaches are the ones who are willing to walk away from the sport they love for the family they love more. The coaches that you want to allow to lead your sons are the ones that prioritize God’s direction in their lives over their hunger for personal power and fame. Even if you don’t believe in living a surrendered life, you want this in your coach, because a coach who has his priorities straight will lead your child to do the same.

I feel pretty confident that I can speak for coaching families all over the country in every sport coached who also take the time to ask for God to direct their path first. The answers to these questions will have similar answers to ours:

  • Where should we consider living?
    • God, it would be great to live near friends or family, to live in a place where life is convenient and cost of living is reasonable, but more than that, we want to go where you are calling us. So will you clear the path? When you do, we will go.
  • What things should we look to prioritize in our next community? Next job?
    • We’d love to move to a diverse place where football fans aren’t fairweather fans. We’d love to be in a place where our kids can thrive. We want to prioritize a certain type of church or club or opportunity. We want to have a certain salary as a non-negotiable. But more than that, God, we want to serve the people you put in our path, wherever they live. Help us prioritize your desires. Help our heart beat for the things that make your heart beat. Help us weep for the things you weep for.
  • What is best for the whole family?
    • God, we aren’t sure if staying in coaching/coaching at this level is best for our kids. Is my ego driving this or are you? We know you love them even more than we do. Can you help us be where our kids will thrive, even if it’s the job with the lower salary or the job in the less desirable town?
  • Is it worth it to continue?
    • Hey God, you know we are tired. You know the commitment that comes with this career. The sacrifice our whole family makes. The long hours, all the things we have to say no to because there is a game or practice. So if we aren’t making an impact will you release us? Move us onward, because if it’s just about a game….it’s not worth it. God our strength and joy are found in you. Thank you for going before us and giving us everything we need to be successful for you.

The great thing about asking these questions is that wherever you land for your next job, you know you are exactly where you need to be. This makes giving your whole heart over yet again so much easier. It makes the risk easier, and the sacrifice worth it. And when confidence is present that God is orchestrating things then a comfort is present in the larger story yet to be fully understood.

These things make the transition a blessing and the energy for a new job comes quickly upon arrival. So go ahead and embrace the space you’ve been given (or try to create some if it’s not quite time to transition). Ask the hard questions, but ask the right ones too. You won’t reget it and your family will be better off too.

DotD Preview

I’m writing over at Daughters of the Deep today: Perspective in the Desert

Here’s a preview:

I stopped dusting and sat amazed. Bones was on in the background, and a short conversation between Angela and Dr. Brennen reminded me perspective in the wilderness is key in any circumstance. Mostly the conversation when like this:

Dr. Brennan: I can’t trust my eyes in the desert. What is near looks far away and what is far away looks close.

Angela: You can never trust your eyes alone in the desert. That’s why you don’t go into the desert alone.

Although this was not referencing a spiritual desert, I couldn’t help but apply the analogy. When I first started to learn about the term “wilderness” in relation to our spiritual lives, I was lead to believe that these seasons were built in isolation.  At first glance, it can seem that this is true, that times in the wilderness are experienced alone.

Book Review: The Turquoise Table

“Sometimes we are called far and wide on a mission, but more often we are called to love others in our everyday, ordinary lives…right where we live: in our own front yards.” Kristen Schell

Part life story, part “how-to” book The Turquoise Table is full of self-reflective quizzes, recipes, activities, and suggestions on how you can begin to be more connected to family and friends right where you are.

Small things like banning electronics from the dinner table will help create boundaries to be more present with family. By giving family members the undivided attention they deserve a standard will be set on how to treat each other.

When space is created for conversation it allows for people to speak deeply. To be unhurried. Brave conversation invites questions about God, relationships, and future dreams. The brave conversation begins when trust is cultivated. Trust is built in time.

Although some of the suggestions in Kristin Schell suggests (like having a picnic table in the front yard) aren’t going to be doable for everyone, the premise shouldn’t be ignored. We all live incredibly busy lives and yet many people wish to pair things down and slow down. To simplify.  I love that Schell reminds us that often, the things we crave are directly addressed in scripture. Romans 12:13 “Take every opportunity to open your life and home to others.”

I think that much of this book reflects the ideas that are presented with IF:Table. Still, The Turquoise Table is a little less structured, a little more frequent, and a has a lot more variety.

Favorite Tip: Set aside everyday supplies for “Turquoise Table Time

Favorite Recipe to Try: Old Fashioned Almond Sheet Cake (pg 191-192)

Favorite Suggestion: Choose Hospitality

If you’ve found yourself looking for new ways to be hospitable this book will be a great resource to you. Perhaps a gift for your favorite neighbor who is always inviting the kids over for cookies, or the college graduate setting off on their own. There is someone in your life who will find The Turquoise Table inspiring and encouraging. Maybe that someone is you.

In exchange for an honest review, I was given a free copy of this book via BookLookBloggers. The opinions expressed are my own.

 

Top Jobs for Coaches’ Wives

One of the most common questions I’m asked by other coaches’ wives moving to the area I’m living in is “what do I do for work?”. We’ve lived in two very small communities which made finding local jobs close to impossible. Toss in the need to be home for kids or the inability to afford to work and pay child care and it can be extra challenging.

Although some families find it most convenient in the coaching lifestyle to be a one income household, many wives seek work out of necessity. Coaches at most levels aren’t paid well and as costs of living rise, some wives work just to afford health insurance.

Still, I know several coaches’ wives who work because they choose to. They love having the extra income, but more so, their job is the place they aren’t “Mrs. Coach”, and they thrive by having something of their own.

Regardless, the challenge still remains. What jobs are easiest for women who move every 18-24 months on average to obtain? When you answer the application question “Why did you leave your previous job?” with “a move for husband’s job” five times over, are you going to be marketable? Almost two decades in the coaching business has revealed the answer to that question is sometimes yes, and sometimes no.

Here are my top suggestions for finding a job in your new community:

Sales:

This is the most common area of employment for coaches’ wives. The virtual company has propelled this option into the forefront of many lists. Whether it’s clothing, cooking utensils, makeup, oils, or shakes third-party marketing businesses seem to be popping up all around me.

Not everyone is cut out to sell something. In fact, it can actually be a hindrance in some places. As the new person coming in, being flagged as a sales person can hinder relationships. For the introverted person asking them to sell something or even host a party could be considered a form of torture. In a small town, building your downline can be hard, because you can oversaturate an area quickly.

The positives are numerous once you have built your business. First, you should have some of the flexibility that you seek. There are tax benefits to owning a business, and you can work from almost anywhere, so you shouldn’t have to start over with every move. This is especially true if you utilize social media and online sales options.

Etsy:

If you love crafting or are a creative person this might be your thing. Having time to craft that earns you money can’t be a bad thing right? The sales may not always be steady so this might only be an option for those looking for something that provides some spending money.  On the positive side, you can take this business with you anywhere and work the hours you prefer.

Virtual Assistant:

The job that I added to my resume last September is the one I always suggest first. My role as a virtual assistant is unique, even for the VA world, but my company paired me with someone who would utilize my experiences and strengths in our partnership. For example, one aspect of my job is to write blog posts.

At my request, I have worked my way from 5 hours a week to 25 growing my commitment from one client to two and adding hours when my client needed. My tasks vary and my relationship managers (think HR reps) are always available to make sure I am comfortable in my role.

Although many people work independently as VA’s, I chose to go with a company because of the additional benefits provided. Ongoing training, salary collection, and client placement allow me to focus on being the best VA without any other concerns.

My job offers flexibility in that I can shift my weekly hours to accommodate my family. I can also take my work with me when we move or travel if needed.

(Our company also hires bookkeepers and writers)

Writer:

Looking to be a writer without all the extra? Freelance writing is a growing field. Zerys is a company I work with in my job as a VA. We seek out the same writers weekly who do excellent work.

Be cautious, not all companies are legitimate.

Teaching English Virtually:

Having a job that offers flexibility in hours is a significant bonus in any job. VIPKID is a company that contracts people to teach English to Chinese students via Skype. The process is fairly simple, and you don’t have to have a teaching degree to work for them. Training is included.

The hours on this particular job range from very early in the morning to very late at night with the middle of the day being open. The reason is simple. You are teaching on Chinese time.  So if you aren’t a morning person this might not be the job for you.

Babysitting:

This is a great option for a stay-at-home mom, or for someone who loves little kids. I spent years watching other kids in addition to my own. The positives were numerous. My kids had built in friends. They had to learn to share sooner and to be flexible about where they napped. We got out of the house to explore a bit more than I think we would have otherwise because a crowded house encourages outside adventure. I didn’t have to work nights or weekends and I was always able to take the time off that I wanted.

The hard part was that I didn’t make a huge amount of money. It was nice extra cash, but still less than minimum wage, which made some days challenging. Further, I couldn’t run out and do many errands, so there was a good amount of schedule shifting that needed to be done.

Other Local Options:

Besides babysitting most communities will offer several local options for you to consider. Temporary work can often be the best option to offer flexibility. These are all jobs coaches’ wives I know have obtained.

  • Substitute teaching
  • Adjunct Professor
  • Seasonal employment at local stores
  • H & R Block
  • Real-Estate
  • House cleaning
  • Private lessons (instrument, sports, singing)
  • Tutoring

Weighing out pros and cons in any job situation can be a stressful thing. Coaches’ wives are often the most tenacious people I encounter. Their lifestyle has exposed them to many personalities and situations that make coaches’ wives ideal for various jobs. Most jobs involve someone being hired into their position. The process of finding a new job with every move can become frustrating. Considering an option that will move with you may be the way to go. Regardless of your decision know any company would be lucky to have you!

How Are You Spending Your Hours?

My word for 2017 is still, and I’ve been wrestling with the purpose of it. I know God placed it on my heart, but the why has been eluding me.

Meanwhile, I’ve been getting into the habit of listening to podcasts while I work. A few weeks ago I was typing away for a project when I had to pause and rewind the Declare Conference Podcast. Speaker Alli Worthington had said, “The way to be successful in life is to look for the opportunities God is giving us to use our natural gifts and abilities.” I couldn’t help feeling I needed to apply her words personally.

To read the rest head over The Glorious Table

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This Honey Vanilla Fruit Salad looks amazing. Can’t wait to try it this summer!

11 Simple Changes I Made to Improve My Writing Habit was inspiring and motivating. Where am I starting? A daily word count goal.

I’ll be implementing this Gmail process for a client this week. I’ve heard from other’s it’s a game changer.

My guys should be heading out on their annual camping trip soon. The Ultimate Camping Checklist for Families from All Mom Does should make packing run smoothly.

Little Known Ways to Build a Platform and Protect Your Soul by Margaret Feinberg is an excellent reminder in an ongoing conversation.

What did you love last month?

 

Book Review: The Sacrament of Happy

“If we will choose to love hard, even when it is hard, I’m willing to be all the hot bread and tortilla chips of my future on the fact that our planet will be a much better –much happier–place to live.” Lisa HarperThe Sacrament of Happy

The Sacrament of Happy combines Scripture with Lisa Harper’s life experiences ranging from childhood through her present life with her adopted daughter Missy.

Life has not always been as joy-filled as her present circumstances might lead you to believe. And that is what make Lisa Harper one of many experts on the subject of God-given happiness.

Happiness is something I’ve been exploring lately, and it hasn’t been out of a need to find a way to be happy. Life has been going well for the most part, which has made this the perfect time to read about the subject.

Lisa Harper refers to other resources throughout this book and explains aspects of her personal study of happiness. Her relatable life examples of motherhood and heartbreak had me cackling and tearing up. Her insights into scripture were deep and thought-provoking.

Harper’s writing is refreshingly humorous and transparent without the layer of sarcasm that seems prevalent in other books I’ve read recently. That alone has created a repeat customer. But Harper doesn’t stop there. After pointing to the Bible for teaching on why happiness is important she then reveals how to begin the process of understanding the happiness Scripture refers to.

As part of Lisa’s launch team, I received a free Ebook to review. The opinions expressed are my own.

College Comparison Questions

“Women are like cars, you need to test drive a few before you purchase one.”

“Shut the F… up and listen, you ladies are playing like Bi…. and it stops now.”

“Mary wasn’t a virgin was Jesus was born, conceived yes, but it wouldn’t make cultural sense that Joseph and Mary waited for Jesus’ birth to consummate their marriage.”

It’s Time For A Reality Check

Can we have an honest chat about college? Can we talk honestly while remembering that generalities are just that, generalities? Do you know what these three quotes have in common? They were all said by employees of private Christian colleges.

After 2 decades in the private liberal arts college sector, there is a scenario that has repeated itself multiple times each year. It’s best summarized by a dear friend who obtained her bachelor’s degree in her late 30’s. She said,”I feel like I paid a lot of money to go to a Christian institution and it wasn’t any different than a public school.” My friend isn’t the only one asking this question. Millennial students seek authenticity in every aspect of their lives, and that includes their college experience.

Reasons To Choose A Small College

The main reasons I’ve heard for why students have chosen one school over another hasn’t varied that much in 20 years.

  • They want to play sports
  • A friend is also attending
  • There was a specific degree they wanted to study
  • They prefer the small atmosphere
  • They or their parents (usually parents) wanted them to be in an environment where there were fewer chances of peer pressure as well as a spiritual emphasis on the education and campus experiences

Although there isn’t anything wrong with the list above, the majority of these things aren’t unique to a small college experience.

The most sensitive subject on this list, in my opinion, is assumption vs. reality surrounding the spiritual emphasis of a campus. Each college campus has a culture which will shift to reflect campus leadership’s priorities. That being said, there are some questions you might consider asking someone familiar with the campus you are considering. You will likely receive the most unbiased and truthful answers from some who isn’t paid to convince you to attend.

Key Questions For Better Insight

  • How many active Bible studies are currently on campus?
  • What is the percentage of the student body which participates in these Bible studies?
  • How are the spiritual tenets of the college’s spiritual formation plan integrated into a typical class, not including chapel (which is often counted)?
  • Whether you are an athlete or not, an important question to ask is what types of spiritual development and leadership development programs the coaches use (Since an athlete spends more time with a coach than anyone else on campus, and are often the largest percentage of the student body this is key)

These questions are meant to dig beyond the surface of what a college’s admissions department is promoting. The most common frustration brought up to me in the last 20 years regarding a small Christian campus is the contradiction between what was presented in an admissions tour or recruiting talk vs. the reality of campus operations.

It’s not uncommon for college campuses to have aspects which align with the college mission and others in the next building which contradict that mission completely. It is those situations which cause students to ask “why am I paying all this extra money for something that doesn’t exist?”

Another Option

Schools that identify themselves as Christian colleges aren’t the only ones where spiritual support is available.

Interestingly to me, the variety of spiritual support options offered on and around college campuses classified as public colleges and universities is large and varied. FCA, InterVarsity, CRU (Campus Crusade for Christ) YoungLife College, as well as college and career small groups at local churches, offer support and opportunities for students to grow in their faith while in college.

There is a bonus with this option as well. There is no expectation of spiritual development included with the college degree. The frustration element where blame can be placed on the college is eliminated.  Further, many students report that since their pursuit of spiritual growth is voluntary as opposed to “forced” by required events or classes it feels more authentic.

Many times the cost of attending these colleges is much less of a financial burden, or at minimum equal to a small college and include many more opportunities.

A Few Additional Items

The divorce rate of our friends and acquaintances is equal. In fact, our circle has been slanted towards those who have graduated from private Christian colleges due to our employment, and the 50% rate of divorce holds true. Meeting and marrying a spouse at a Christian college does not guarantee a marriage until death us do part.

20 years has included hundreds of relationships. We’ve watched just as many people walk away from the church as we have seen run towards it. Their college institution has not been an overall statistical factor. For each personal story of a person who deepened their relationship with Jesus, another decided God wasn’t a necessary part of their life.

At least 80% of those we have interacted with over our service times who have chosen the small college route have graduated deeply in debt. Many then marry someone else deeply in debt and find themselves committing to payment plans extending into their 40’s.

There Is A Place For Small Colleges

For the purposes of this blog post, small colleges will reference colleges that identify with a church denomination, offer chapel services weekly, and require employees to submit a statement of faith upon application.

Small colleges offer a much lower student to professor ratio. Professors are also the ones teaching their classes as opposed to teacher aids which can be common in larger institutions.

A smaller campus atmosphere is one that many students thrive on. Whether a student is coming from a small school or their learning style is one that is strengthened in a more focused atmosphere, fewer students translate to fewer students everywhere. The dorms, classes, and extracurricular activities. Some students bloom in this type of atmosphere.

Finally, many students find that a small college experience offers them a space to explore their faith in a different way than their previous school experiences allowed. The freedom to speak openly about God in a setting that encourages and supports the pursuit of God create opportunities for growth and development of an individual personal faith.

The intention of this post is to encourage a deeper conversation around the college decision. Choosing a certain collegiate environment does not guarantee a specific outcome. Weighing multiple pros and cons will help you and your child make the best decision about their individual future.