Tag: coach’s wife

Pursuing Your Calling in Difficult Seasons

Pursuing Your Calling in Difficult Seasons

clarify your calling

We are a difficult season as coaching families right now. Every day we wake up to discover that new states are suspending fall athletics, school districts are considering not paying coaching stipends, or another coach or coach’s wife is battling COVID-19. The only thing we can rely on right now is that every day we will have to adjust to something new.

But here’s the good news. God is not surprised by the events of 2020! More than that, he is bigger than all of this confusion and concern. When we don’t know what to pray we can look in the Bible at those who have walked in difficult seasons before us and learn from them. Theologians consider Pauls’s letter to the Church in Rome “the most complete compendium of Christian doctrine. Romans has been called “The Constitution of Christianity,” “The Christian Manifesto,” and “The Cathedral of the Christian Faith.”

Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (emphasis mine)

As encouraging as this passage in Romans is, I love this conversation in Exodus between Moses and God even more. Moses was not afraid to hold back his thoughts with God. This courage developed as their relationship strengthened, but we can learn from Moses and be just as bold in our conversations with God.

Moses had Honest Conversations with God

Exodus 33:12-18 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’  If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.  How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

I was so thankful to spend an incredibly encouraging hour talking with my friend Anne Rulo about these Bible passages as well as why we both believe that it’s possible to pursue your calling even in difficult seasons.

Curious to know more about Lessons from the Sidelines? Check out my Media Kit here. And stay tuned. A preorder link will be live soon!

Meet Tia Reid Barlow

Meet Tia Reid Barlow

I connected with Tia when she generously invited me to promote our upcoming Pursue coaches’ wives retreat in her Facebook group. It feels so rare these days that women will go out of their way to elevate each other, however, Tia is consistent in her ministry publicly and privately. It’s my joy to celebrate her today in my monthly feature post Wives Who Thrive.

I hope you will find inspiration in Tia’s story as she draws a distinction between deciding to pursue a job in the traditional sense and a calling from God. The passion to see women reach their full potential in their personal and spiritual lives is something else Tia and I share!

Meet Tia Reid Barlow

Tia is a social media influencer, blogger, and speaker. She is a football coach’s wife of 16 years. Tia writes and shares words of encouragement, exhortation, and ministry devotions in her social media communities on Facebook: His Coaches’ Wives and His Elect Ladies. Tia is a platform speaker. She is sought out by women’s ministries and conference hosts in the gospel community.

Tia Reid Barlow

Tell me about your career

I am a fixture of inspiration and hope for those in the gospel community. Serving as an example to coaches’ wives, women in ministry and the Body of Christ. I use my social media platforms, private online communities, and blog to edify, build and encourage believers. I am a public speaker, sought out by women’s ministry groups and conference hosts in the gospel community. It is my mission to see women reach their full potential in their personal and spiritual lives.

What part of your career are you most passionate about and why?

I am fueled by a passion to see spiritual growth in coaches’ wives and women in the gospel community. I am unashamed to use my life as a teaching mechanism through storytelling and in your face messages. I have been given a divine calling to exhort, encourage, and empower my listeners.

Why did you choose your niche?

The necessity to serve coaches’ wives and women in the gospel community was a result of a burden laid upon me by God. Before the foundations of the world, I believe God decided I would be a coach’s wife. He has shown me through dreams and visions how much influence He has given me with this community of women. There is an irresistible impulse in my spirit to help women in the gospel community see and walk in their callings. I didn’t choose this work. This burden happened to me by God acting upon me by His Holy Spirit.

When you dreamed of the ideal career where your strengths, passions, gifts, and talents would connect did you think you would be doing what you are doing? How are things the same/different? 

When I begin to step out in faith and embrace this work I imagined I would spend more time on speaking platforms and in pulpits. I assumed this was the best way to engage my listeners. As I considered how to gather coaches’ wives and women of the faith the Lord inspired me to simply go where they are. I knew this meant social media. This led me to use my public social media pages and create private online communities where I could share devotionals, spiritual encouragement and spiritual exhortations. I see this method as an enlarged tent enabling me to reach a broader audience.

What is your best advice for someone wanting to pursue a career in your field?

Search your inner compulsion. There will be a consciousness within your own spirit, an awareness or a kind of pressure to share the gospel message with others. Affirmation of this work is divine.

Do you have any tips to share about balancing work and the rest of life? 

Strive for a realistic schedule and remain fluid. God has called you to this work. He is responsible for the content you will be sharing.

Is there anything else you would like to share? 

The scripture verse I live by: Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

Connect with Tia:

Facebook

Instagram

Facebook Group for Coaches’ Wives

Tia’s Website

If you have any questions about the calling Tia has described I encourage you to join her Facebook group and ask questions. I know she will be happy to help you clarify your calling and develop a discerning ear for God’s voice.

Are you Interested in a Monthly Spotlight Feature?

Are you interested in having a featured post on Wives Who Thrive? Fill out the linked Google Doc for a chance to have a feature on this monthly post. Interested in learning more about this monthly spotlight? Check out this invitation post.

Anniversary 19

Anniversary 19

Dear Ordell,

Year 19 is the year we can define by surprising ups and downs that made this one like none other. This is the year the entire globe faced a viral pandemic and our country reacted to racism in a way we’ve never seen. It’s been overwhelming and at the same time clarifying. In many ways, what we’re seeing play out on the news is confirmation of every challenging conversation we’ve had through the years. I’m thankful for every location we’ve lived and for the way you’ve prayerfully moved our family. I’m also deeply thankful God moved us ahead of 2020 to where we live now. You’ve led our family well by listening to God even in the most challenging seasons.

We’ve moved around this country for your career and I’ve tried to support you and partner with you in helpful ways. Whereas most of our marriage football has been the all-consuming factor, in the last few years there has been a shift that has allowed me to focus on a long term project I’ve felt called to pursue for over a decade. In a few weeks, my first book will release. As the submission due date neared and the tasks intensified you stepped up to fill every gap our family needed to keep moving forward. More than that, you embraced cooking as a whole new adventure and we’re all enjoying your experimentation with the smoker and grill. I’ve not said this enough; thank you for your calm and consistent support.

Serving each other in the mundane tasks with joy isn’t always easy, however, it strengths our connection as a couple as well as the ties of trust. As an added bonus, our sons see that your actions at home match the words you speak in public. I’m so thankful our sons have a visual example of how marriage is a daily partnership.

Traditional and Modern Gift Anniuversary 19: Bronze

According to the Knot—just like the traditional eighth-year gift, bronze indicates that our relationship has grown stronger. Additionally, bronze signifies health within a marriage union even through tough times. Bronze was chosen because some believe it has healing properties.

Gemstone: Aquamarine

The Knot also explains that the Aquamarine is the gemstone for anniversary 19. Interestingly, this is also both of our birthstones. The aquamarine represents protection. The stone is said to keep everything that’s bad out but still keep all the love in for your 19th anniversary. Of course, this is interesting, but not a value to hold on to any more than good luck charms.

Marriage is a Partnership

As I reflect on the past 19 years of marriage and our years dating before then it amazes me that there are still moments when we encounter completely new experiences. What is comforting is the consistency in knowing that we will walk through these situations (good and difficult) together even if it means starting by giving each other space and sitting shoulder to shoulder. I’m thankful for the partnership we’ve built and look forward to how that grows in the years to come.

Who knows what this fall holds. Will we have a football season? Will we have a season that allows our presence by your side? Will we resume online teaching and learning? Regardless of what the next adventure holds I know we’ll tackle it together.

Love you always.

Pursue Retreat Recap

Pursue Retreat Recap

Pursue Retreat Recap

We’re just a few days past our first Pursue Coaches’ Wives Retreat and I’m so thankful for how smoothly everything went! I knew we were in good hands partnering with Illini Land FCA because we’ve attended other events that Liz has put together. Regardless, it’s one thing to attend an event and quite another to work together to put the details together, get the word out, prepare the talks for sessions and everything else that goes on behind the scenes.

If you’ve never put together a retreat your head may be spinning, so I thought I’d give you a recap of some of the behind-the-scenes things we did to prepare for our first retreat and a few things we’re already doing to prepare for next year.

Preparation

Before the retreat, we had a lot of different things to figure out. Thankfully, many of them were quick because of previous relationships our FCA group has with local venues. We knew which hotel set up would be best and we also knew the window of time we were looking at which narrowed our weekends down considerably.

Once our date was set (January 31-February 1) we needed to figure out a lot of the details:

  • Colors
  • Theme, Verse, Name
  • Design
  • Schedule and Format for sessions
  • Speakers
  • Promotion
  • Vendors
  • Extra activities
  • Food
  • Cost and what would cost include

Thankfully we had a small team and we were on the same page about things, When we needed to make decisions we could do so quickly. We also chose to keep things simple. For example. Rather than worrying about creating a program with outlines, we opted to provide people with a custom spiral notebook. They will get a lot more use out of the notebook and it was a lot easier for us in the long run. Liz created personalized name tags for each attendee which included the sessions they signed up for on Saturday. This reduced confusion significantly and was a very welcoming touch.

Another way we chose to make things easier is that we opened a block of hotel rooms, but left reservations up to registrations. They were free to stay at the hotel or make other arrangements. Regardless, we didn’t have to deal with pairing up roommates or figuring out who was staying at the hotel.

This also kept registration costs much lower. Our registration costs included the event, t-shirt, journal, pen, dinner, snacks, and a sundae bar. Breakfast was provided by the hotel and the event ended by lunchtime so our guests we fed well the entire time they were with us.

One thing we thought of late was a group discount. That will happen right away next year.

Promotion

This was the most challenging and frustrating part in many ways. Social media algorithms are a beast to battle but we were doing so over the holidays which made it even more challenging. We created videos, a Facebook event, and promoted the event and website link on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and through Email.

We shared about the event in targeted Facebook groups, Instagram stories, tagged people, we even did a registration giveaway. With all that, we still had people the week of the event who were hearing about things for the first time. (sigh)

The lesson I learned for next time: You can never promote enough. Just keep sharing and sharing and sharing. The Illini Land FCA team had a Facebook Header and I think that would have been a good thing for us to switch out on our pages. Next year we will hopefully have more people help us promote as well since we have previous attendees.

Pursue Retreat

Before the retreat, we also had several meetings to discuss different aspects of the sessions and to fine-tune our talks. Since the team was spread across 3 states this meant chatting over video calls, voxer, and a lot of emails.

On the day of the retreat, we divided our tasks into set up (thanks to Liz and Robbie for doing the majority of this work and making things look absolutely amazing) check-in, vendors, and making sure people were feeling welcome as they entered the event.

Thankfully women are pretty chatty and we didn’t have to do much to entertain women as they arrived but we were ready to make everyone feel welcome if needed! We also planned some activities to fill in the silent times that we didn’t end up using. We had an area for women to paint their nails, and another to spend time relaxing and coloring while they chatted.

Our schedule included group programming Friday night and breakout sessions on Saturday as well as a Q & A session. Everything was well-received, although I wouldn’t be surprised to hear women say they prefer more breakout options rather than the Q & A. We started Saturday morning with a lesson on the BOAT Bible Study method which is a great way to inductively study the Bible.

Preparing for Next Year

It’s hard to believe we’re already talking about next year but at the retreat questions were already coming my way about next year’s event. After a few days of rest, I sent a request to some of the team asking them to join me for a month praying about the word purse. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that God has given me that word for 2020 and the thought I can’t seem to shake is that there are more Biblical lessons to learn around that theme.

One thing I know for sure is that God was present at our retreat and I am so incredibly thankful for all the ways he covered that weekend and brought the right group together for an awesome first retreat. I’m incredibly thankful for the leadership at Illini Land FCA who heard about a dream and kept it moving forward. And I’m excited to see all that will happen as this retreat continues to grow!

If you’re considering putting together a conference or event I encourage you to start by finding a team that believes in the same mission you are striving to accomplish. Find people who have different strengths than you but who also understands the vision you’re presenting. It’s important to have people who can unite around the same mission. But it’s also incredibly valuable to have a variety of strengths, gifts and experiences come to the table together.

Gift Ideas for the Coach’s Wife in Your Life

Gift Ideas for the Coach’s Wife in Your Life

gift ideas for the coach's wife in your life

It’s February which means it’s time to think about how to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your favorite coach’s wife! I’m a huge fan of meaningful gifts and I’m also a huge fan of creating amazing experiences like when Ordell recently surprised me with a getaway. But today’s post isn’t about my favorite things. Instead, I’m featuring some of my favorite people as well as some ideas you might want to consider as you hunt for gift ideas for the coach’s wife in your life.

Experiences

Dinner and a movie is always great, but what about checking to see what theatre? A high school theatre performance is a great way to support your local community and add variety to your date night.

Try a new restaurant, check out a concert, or consider something even more adventurous. One year for our anniversary I surprised Ordell with a date at the gun range. I hadn’t ever shot a gun before, and we haven’t been back to the range since, but going to the range together helped me learn about something that Ordell enjoys doing outside of football and we discovered that I’m actually a pretty good shot!

Coaches’ Wives Specific Gifts

Friday Night Wives has a great book written by Jordan Harrell that is a wonderful source of encouragement called 31 Days of Prayer for the Coach’s Wife as well as an adorable line of clothing including one of my favorite tshirts May Your Coffee Be Strong and Your Season Be Long

Fly Fox Apparel has this ADORABLE tote for all those game day necessities as well as the cutest mugs, home decor and apparel for the whole family.

Gifts

favorite pens

These journal planner pens are my favorite and they are the perfect addition to the gift of a journal, book, Bible, Bible study, planner, or even an adult coloring book.

Is your wife a health enthusiast? What about gifting her a new outfit from Zyia Activewear? This is a great way to tell her that you want her to feel confident and comfortable in this high-quality workout gear. You could pair this with a few online fitness and nutrition sessions with Caitlin Caserta owner of Confident Fitness

Plan for a Future Getaway

There are some amazing opportunities for you to invest in your marriage by attending a marriage conference. In addition to spending quality time together on Valentine’s Day surprise your wife with a future getaway. FCA has marriage retreats at different times of the year including one in May in Central, IL. Coaches Outreach hosts retreats all summer long over various weekends.

Regardless of how you spend valentine’s day make sure you spend part of the weekend together, even if that means hanging out on the sidelines of the basketball court or the wrestling mat.

Where Everybody Understands

Where Everybody Understands

AFCWA where everybody understands

Last weekend thousands of coaches and hundreds of their wives headed to Nashville, TN to attend the annual American Football Coaches’ Association Convention and American Football Coaches’ Wives Association Convention

I have been a member of the AFCWA for 15 years. I know this because I attended my first convention when I was pregnant with Elijah. It was in Louisville and Elizabeth Smart played the harp at the luncheon. This was also the year I met Carolyn Allen and discovered she is just as kind and down to earth as her book led me to surmise.

This used to be the one weekend where I knew no explanations were needed. Every year I would look forward to conversations that didn’t start with a lengthy explanation as well as multiple questions about football. It’s almost always been my experience when interacting with coaches’ wives at the convention they ask wise questions and receive experienced answers.

The advice is thoughtful and kind and generally without an agenda or judgement attached. Seasoned wives offer advice with the understanding that younger wives are scared. Many women learn their husbands loose their jobs while they are at convention. Many learn they are moving, others receive promotions and will return home to new responsibilities.

For me, this weekend was the only place where I was able to gather varied perspectives about the coaching life, receive encouragement, and connect with coaches’ wives in person I rarely see any other time of year.

The American Football Coaches Wives Association board members work very hard all year to connect with coaches’ wives around the country. They volunteer their time and the committment is for multiple years. It requires a financial committment to be present at the convention which isn’t cheap, so there is certainly a sacrifice. The board has expanded over the years, as have the sponsors. The impact of awarding a scholarship to a coach’s wife pursuing her education is one of the first things that led me to pay attention to AFCWA and I’m thankful I did because it connected me with some amazing women. I’m also thankful it continues to be an important part of AFCWA.

Much has changed in 15 Years

Over the past 15 years I’ve learned about multiple opportunities for coaches and coaches’ wives to get away, many of them much less expensive and MUCH more restful! If your husband is attending the AFCA convention I certainly encourage you to find the time to join him if you can. However, you should know you won’t see your husband much if at all.

These conventions run parallel to each other. In fact, there are many times when I didn’t see Ordell other than to sleep the first two days. So, it’s something to consider when you are paying that much to getaway with your spouse!

If you would prefer a getaway that focuses on the coaching life where you and your husband will see each other I suggest you consider one of these events.

If you aren’t one for large crowds you may also want to consider whether this is the venue for you. The convention is a wonderful place, however coaching is a cut throat business and I will be honest it’s not pleasant to encounter the wife who you know spoke poorly about your husband to help elevate her own without your husband around. Those things happen at convention as well on occasion and it wouldn’t be fair to only present one side of the experience. 

And if you’re looking for a less expensive coaches’ wives retreat that doesn’t require you and your husband to leave the kids don’t forget there are other options for those too! There is still time to join us at the Pursue Coaches’ Wives Retreat!!

Coaches’ Wives: Your Community Needs You

Coaches’ Wives: Your Community Needs You

coaches' wives your community needs you

There is something that has weighed on me for years. Until recently I wasn’t sure what to do, but then I had the opportunity to spend a week with my friend during her husband’s deployment.

They haven’t lived in their current city very long and they aren’t near family. My friend works full time, volunteers, leads a ministry, and works hard to raise her two young daughters. Deployment adds stress to her marriage as she and her husband strive to parent their daughters, care for each other well, and focus on their daily tasks.

This makes for long, stressful weeks. A Military Times article states only 19% of military spouses report having excellent or very good support during a spouse’s deployment. In 2017 the same survey results reported 23% of spouses had the same response. While neither is great, the drop is important to note.

You may wonder why I’m sharing this here. I’ve explored the similarities between what military families and coaching families deal with for a while now and I believe there is something coaches’ wives should consider.

Did You Notice the Outcry from Bad Memories?

Recently our country faced an extremely tense and confusing political situation. For days we waited and watched Twitter to see when Iran would follow through on their threats to retaliate against our military. Would the United States enter yet another decades-long war costing thousands of lives and wounding hundreds of thousands more?

As reports of troops deployed began to appear something else started to make the rounds as well. Wives of veterans began to share posts. Articles about how hard deployment is, photos of their husbands deploying 20 years prior, stories of fear they fought as they waited for reports after bombings on military bases. Military families across the US are experiencing trauma from their past deployments. And it’s our job to listen.

And while listening is a great first step, we can’t stop there because veterans may be facing bad memories, but there are families of troops that still deploy regularly and with this month’s announcement that is going to increase rapidly.

Coaches’ Wives: There May Be a Wife Who Needs You

I’m not going to put words in the mouths of military wives (they are doing an amazing job speaking up for themselves) but I do want to try to highlight why I believe coaches’ wives are uniquely qualified to step in and encourage and support military wives.

First, those who serve in the military are sacrificing everything for our safety. Regardless of the benefits, they may receive it’s never enough. They are sacrificing their lives, their health, their time with family, and often their mental health.

Coaching families may not have the same stresses as military families dealing with deployment, but the similarities are there and we speak a very similar language.

Consider these examples:

Moving: I wrote a post The Fear that Lingers with Coaches’ Kids and talked about how even when our boys knew we were moving locally they still instinctively had a moment of fear. Several military wives and women who grew up in the military commented that most of what I wrote translates exactly for their lives as well.

Preparing: A military wife posted: Is nesting before deployment a real thing? If not I may need to get a pregnancy test! I knew exactly what she was referring to because I “nest” at the beginning of every football season. We joked a little about it, but I also made sure to let her know we’re praying for her family. Their sacrifice is different, but I understand the stress she is facing.

The unknown: As coaching families, we often hear rumors that we’ll be facing job searches soon. How much longer will we live in our home? Where will we go next? Military families deal with the same rumors.

Building community far from family: Coaching families go where the job is and military families go where the orders move them. Both require that we build support systems in our local communities that often don’t include family.

Burdening expectations: Recently a military wife shared with me that she realized she was still carrying unnecessary guilt due to the language the military uses during deployments. Wives are told that when their husbands are deployed they need to do everything they can to let them focus on their deployment. They shouldn’t fight or upset their husbands because if their husbands are distracted lives could be lost.

THINK ABOUT THAT. What kind of unrealistic expectation does that place on a marriage during deployment when a wife, carrying the burden of everything going on at home is also afraid of distracting her husband if she SAYS THE WRONG THING?

While coaches’ wives certainly don’t need to worry about a conflict leading to the type of tension seen on the battlefield we are very familiar with burdening expectations. Whether it is the parent who expects you to act as your husband’s secretary and mouthpiece or that family member who places unrealistic demands on your time during the season, the reality is that we understand what it’s like to bear the brunt of other people’s disappointments and expectations for us about our husband’s job.

Why Should I Reach Out?

The truth is that we have an opportunity to not only build a relationship with a family in our community who needs support but to build a bridge where the media has worked to create a divide.

There are some sections of the media that are strategically trying to create a division between athletics and patriotism. The rhetoric is exhausting but the only way to fight against hateful words is to prove with action that their words are lies. The best way to prove those know-it-all opinionists wrong is to actively and intentionally serve one family at a time the best way you can.

Actions speak louder than words. Coaching families value, appreciate and respect the tremendous sacrifice of military families and it’s time to show the military wives in our communities a little more activity how far that gratitude extends. We don’t need to make a public spectacle of our gratitude. That’ s not helpful. But as coaches’ wives, WE KNOW what is helpful, loving, and caring in overwhelming situations.

Still looking for a little guidance? Check out this recent article 6 Ways to Help a Military Spouse Dealing with a Surprise Deployment

Veterans who Coach

One of the main reasons the media rhetoric surrounding a division between patriotism and athletics is false is that many veterans adopt second careers as coaches. There is a significant overlap within these careers on the other side as well in that it is not uncommon for high school and college athletics to enlist once their playing careers are complete. Military and Athletic ties run deep and because of this, I believe it’s a natural fit for coaches’ wives and military wives to pitch in and support each other when they can.

The Most Important Reason to Reach Out to a Military Wife

I can list many additional reasons why I believe you should consider reaching out to a military wife in your community. Instead, I’ll say that the most important reason to reach out is that just like you, my coach’s wife friend, military wives are used to doing things without asking for help.

They are also used to not having the option to share openly about stressful situations, and they understand that there are days when cereal is a perfectly acceptable dinner. You have more in common with the military wife in your community than you realize and my guess is that you will enjoy spending time together as well as helping each other out in stressful seasons. It’s a special thing to have a friend you can count on when family is far away. It’s even more special when that friend just gets the why about your crazy life.

So, here’s my encouragement to you. Stay attentive to who the military families in your community are and reach out to them and let them know you are glad they are a part of your neighborhood. Do more to thank them for their service. If your kids are similar ages invite them over or meet up somewhere to get to know each other better. You’re resourceful, you know what to do and if nothing else, rely on the Golden Rule. Remember, your community needs your support just as you need the support of your community. Show your local military wives your home is a compassionate and safe space where they can talk freely. You know how important it is to have someone to listen when your husband isn’t around. Military wives need that too.

Editors note: This post was originally written September 2019 and was updated for accuracy January 2020

One Word 2020: Pursue

One Word 2020: Pursue

One Word 2020 Pursue

I’ve participated in choosing One Word for several years now, and I have found that each year has challenged me to consider different aspects of my relationship with God and to take a deeper look at my choices with intentionality. Past words Growth, Still, Ready, and Inquire have created filters for the seasons that have helped to block out the white noise and keep my focus on God.

Each year I’ve used the process outlined by the oneword.org Pick a Word outline. And with prayer and a few weeks of intentional listening, the word would become clear. This year was different. In the planning for the Coaches’ Wives retreat in partnership with the Illini Land FCA we met to decide on programming direction.

Liz texted me and said “I feel like we need to name this retreat Pursue” and I knew in my gut she was right. The group chose Colossians 3:17 NASB which says, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” as the theme verse, so Purse fit, but Liz was honing in on this word for more than one reason. Colossians 3:17 is the last verse in a section of with the heading Put On the New Self even though these headings were added much later, they summarize the sections well.

Colossians 3:1-17 is a call to righteous living. It begins this way “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”

Psalm 63:8 TPT

Our retreat will focus on encouraging coaches’ wives to courageously step into their full calling and to pursue living out their strengths, gifts, talents, and skills. Additionally, we will encourage wives to look to the Bible and learn from the Lord from other people’s stories.

Pursuing these disciplines isn’t a one-time thing. It’s sometimes daunting when we remember we will never finish learning about God. Our Creator is more complex than we can even begin to put into words. However, as we pursue understanding more of his character and heart we will naturally align ours with his and pursue the things that delights him. These are all good things and they will invite us to flourish in the totality of who God has created us to individually be.

As I reflected on the word Pursue and all the applications for the retreat I knew that this word was just as much for me as for the retreat. 2020 is going to be a busy year, the discipline of pursuing God to keep my soul close to his heart feels like the perfect focus for this season.

What Does This Look Like?

I think that we sometimes step into seasons expecting that since we are committing more intentional time focusing on God that things should somehow be easier. But, that’s not always the case. Not that this means life will be miserable, but I think we can consider stories like the Israelites in Joshua and the lives of the disciples and know that life will not automatically become filled with riches and glory. In fact, if you find yourself in the presence of someone demanding those things you need to walk away as quickly as possible. But that’s a side note.

In Joshua 1 Moses has just buried Moses at the top of Mt. Siani and Joshua is the new leader of the Israelites. They have wandered in the desert for 40 years and are ready to take the land they were promised by God.

God speaks directly to Joshua and says these words which are recorded in Joshua 1:1-11:

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide:  “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites.  I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.  Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.  No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.  Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.

 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (emphasis mine)

Pursuing the Lord Begins with Listening

Joshua spent years in God’s presence watching and listening as he served Moses. He saw every miracle Moses performed at God’s direction. Still, when Joshua took command God began by telling him THREE times to be strong and courageous.

God knew what was ahead for the Israelites. He knew how hard the years ahead would be, but he also knew success was possible with obedience. That obedience would require the Israelites to take courageous steps of faith previous generations weren’t willing to take.

“Be careful to obey the law”, is the other thing God says to Joshua. We now live under the New Testament laws, which doesn’t cancel out all of the Old Testament laws, but Jesus’ death does allow us to live under a new covenant (Luke 22:20).

We aren’t only supposed to be careful to obey the law, we are to meditate on it daily. We should know God’s boundaries so well that when anyone twists God’s words for their benefit we identify it quickly and redirect our focus back to God.

Matthew 6:24 NIV says  “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” While someone may be tempted to take this verse legalistically and say point out that Jesus was only referring to money, the Exodus 20:3 begins lists the first of the ten commandments which is “You shall have no other gods before me.”

It is vital that as we pursue God we seek the truth even when it’s not the popular opinion. Joshua and Caleb were the only two who believed the Israelites could take the Promised Land the first time, had the other then spies listened the nation wouldn’t have wandered in the desert for forty years.

Coaches: Surprise Your Wives

Coaches: Surprise Your Wives

Coaches: Surprise Your WIves

Years ago I could tell that my husband was in need of a break, but as I looked at our calendars it was clear finding time was going to be a challenge because as a newer head coach he was still trying to figure out how to balance work and family. I packed our bags and booked a hotel in St. Louis and arranged for one of the coach’s wives to meet us at Elijah’s Upward basketball game on Saturday afternoon.

Instead of heading home we moved the car seats over and headed into St. Louis for dinner, dessert, and a restful evening. The next day we took our time heading back after grabbing our favorite Trader Joe’s goodies and for years I’ve known that if I ever do something like that again I need to figure out a way to pack Ordell’s laptop. It was the one thing I couldn’t get into the car without raising suspicion.

He Finally Surprised Me

Last month Ordell planned a 24-hour getaway for us that was a complete surprise for me and I have to admit I was pretty impressed. Not only did he pull off a complete surprise as far as the initial getaway, he also had additional surprises along the way.

The timing of this surprise trip was similar in that I’ve been buried in a project that has taken a lot of my focus and at the end of a very busy and extremely long football season (June-October) we needed time to have fun. Although we’ve been diligent about our weekly date nights on Wednesdays even those grow stale after a while when you are lulled into a routine of exhaustion.

Our weekend included exploring a new spa, a gluten-free bakery, middle eastern food, and some shopping. Ordell planned every detail of what we did while we were away focusing on many of our favorite things. Everything was preplanned so I didn’t have to make any decisions on than choosing a menu item. Similarly to when he was feeling exhausted in other areas and needed time away, this was a huge part of what made our time away special.

So here’s my suggestion coaches, surprise your wives.

  • Be intentional with a plan.
  • Take care of all the details from the hotel, to the date, to what will happen with the kids while you are away.
  • Prepare a budget so there aren’t any regrets when you come back either.
  • While away serve your wife. Let her sleep in if that is something she never gets to do.

I have to admit, the most shocking part of this surprise is that both our boys were in on it and neither one spilled the beans. I’m not sure if this is a good thing, because them not being able to keep secrets well has been a great comfort of mine. However, now that they are old enough to help arrange rides to and from school, I know this was helpful for Ordell.

I’m also deeply grateful for our local family members who were willing to stay overnight with the boys and carpool them around. It takes a village to pull off a surprise when you are busy, and in both our cases we needed help to make sure our boys were in good hands so we could relax while away.

If you don’t have family nearby consider swapping with a friend. I’m sure you will find that someone else will happily hand over their kids so they can have a kid-free night if you offer!

Start Somewhere

Is an out of town overnight out of reach with time or budget or both? There are a ton of ways to surprise your wife and show her you are intentionally thinking about the things SHE loves without leaving your house.

  • Send flowers
  • Show up with a babysitter and take her out for dinner
  • Arrange for someone to clean the house while you are out for the day
  • Take a day off work and send the kids away for the day

So coaches, take time every once in a while to invest in your marriage by surprising your wives. I guarantee you will both appreciate the effort.

Hey Coaches’ Wives We’re Cheering for You this Winter!

Hey Coaches’ Wives We’re Cheering for You this Winter!

Hey Coaches' Wives We're Cheering for You this Winter!

We’re heading into basketball, wrestling, hockey, and indoor track season! As an athletic trainer, I loved the transition to indoor sports. It was so much more convenient to throw a few water bottles on a cart and roll them into the wrestling room or gym rather than to pack everything up and haul it all outside.

In the Midwest indoor seasons start just as the weather invites everyone to bundle up and stay in so it works out perfectly. No more winter coats and no more hand warmers tucked strategically into boots, gloves, and pockets. Ah…it’s really a great time of year.

So Winter Coaches’ Wives we know you are kicking things off just as things are winding down for the fall sports and we want you to know that we see you!

We’re Cheering for you this Winter!

Wrestling tournaments that will last all weekend mean late nights followed by early mornings. Do you need someone to hang with your kiddos? Give us a call. We know what it’s like to need a break.

We know your season overlaps with two major holidays. This may mean you miss time with family. We want you to know coaching families stick together so you always have a place at our table.

Most of all, you have a safe place in the stands near us. We know the crowd can get loud and opinionated when things don’t go our way. Coaches’ wives stick together regardless of the scoreboard. We know your husband is doing his best to rally the team regardless of what anyone else thinks.

Please Ask for Help

We want to help you in the most specific ways you need. We understand that every season brings unique challenges. We won’t know how to help you unless you tell us exactly what you need.

  • Is there a night of the week that is particularly crazy?
  • Do you need help with carpooling?
  • What about a listening ear?
  • A quiet space to get away from the craziness?

We’re supporting you as best we can. We’re cheering for you any way we can this winter. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, we’ll step up when we can because coaches’ wives stick together.

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