I was brainstorming new ideas for shirts and products for the website, and I thought of a sign/picture holder that says “Where you go, I will go”. I thought this was fitting for our life as a coaching family, seeing as we have been to many schools throughout our dating, engagement, and marriage. Some moves were by choice, while others were due to a new head coach coming in and bringing new staff. I thought it would be fun to have somewhere to hang our staff pictures and pictures of our kids as they grow up on the football field. This new thought also caused me to dive further into the book of Ruth. In a lot of ways, I feel like the coach’s wife in me can totally relate to Ruth, granted, I don’t live in an age where running out of male relatives is as good as a death sentence, but the new place, new culture, new experience, world of unknowns is definitely relatable. As I’ve delved deeper and deeper into the character of Ruth, her relationship with Naomi, and the way she tackles the obstacles in front of her, I have found myself inspired and encouraged... I hope you will be as well.
Disclaimer: the book of Ruth is saturated in so much wisdom and golden nuggets that I could take weeks going through what The Lord has taught me here... but, for the sake of not droning on and on, I’m narrowing it down to one little piece.. However, I would enthusiastically encourage you to go read the book - it’s not long and I have a feeling you’ll be blessed by it.
I made the doe-eyed, newly engaged lovebirds the headlining photo for a reason.. in many ways, I was the Ruth we find in the beginning of the book. (Again, some key differences - the glaringly obvious one being I was getting married, so clearly my husband hadn’t died). Ruth had great head knowledge of the journey ahead. Naomi explained in no uncertain terms what they would surely face on the journey ahead. She was very clear about the many obstacles that lay before them - no male relatives to redeem them, her land would be sold from under her because she was a female, no way to provide for them, and the list goes on and on. Ruth was well-informed and still answered by essentially saying “Stop trying to talk me out of this... wherever you go, I’m going with you.... I’m IN and I’m not turning back or changing my mind.” I kind of picture Naomi hesitantly saying “well... okayyyy.... if you insist...” and maybe even expecting Ruth to change her mind later one when they were in the thick of it. Naomi truly knew what lay ahead because she had been there, she had experienced it, she had seen first hand what happened to the widowed women. Ruth had the head knowledge and a great love and trust for Naomi who loved The Lord. In this picture, I had the head knowledge. I had dated the coach, been engaged to the coach, I had read “The Coach’s Wife” by Carolyn Allen (highly recommend) in preparation for what lay before me. I had the head knowledge and said “I’m with you.. I’m in. Wherever The Lord leads you, I’ll follow.” The game changes when you get in the middle of it and it gets real and you feel ALLLLLL the feels that comes with the coaching life, the coaching moves, the coaching relationships, the coaching letdowns, and we can’t forget, the coaching victories. That’s when you have to put it into action... and it’s hard. But Ruth offers us a great example, and even better... HOPE that The Lord is working in the details of it all.
We weren’t far into our married life when the first move came, and to be honest, it wasn’t a super tough one. It was an opportunity for Tommy to move up on the coaching ladder and work with a great staff. It wasn’t super far from family, so it wasn’t so tough. The next year is when things start getting trickier - the first GA offer came about - from Rice University... in Houston.... not Dallas. (Note - our family is in Dallas). I was currently in nursing school and had just walked through thyroid cancer, surgery, and radiation. We decided this was a test, not an opportunity (maybe a blog post on this some time in the future when I’m not trying to wrap up the backstory and get to the MEAT of Ruth). Then came the next GA offer - SMU. Dallas. Perfect. Let’s do it. This move came with the security of family, but a big culture change. I was an Aggie and SMU is definitely a whole different culture than what I had experienced in college. I was on staff with FCA at time and ended up working with the female athletes at TCU and SMU. The Lord was gracious in giving me and in with the girls and allowing me to experience abundant fruit in our ministry during our time there. I learned to rely on him so much, as the college coaching schedule is super hectic, especially for GAs who are also juggling school.
SMU was a sweet time of growth (and football - I mean you can’t really beat a bowl game in Hawaii) that prepared us for the changes that were to come. A test was coming and, to be quite honest, I was definitely more of a Naomi than a Ruth.
After two years at SMU, Tommy was offered the O-line job at Jackson State University... in Jackson... Mississippi... not Texas. I, like Naomi (or maybe even the other DIL Orpah), saw every obstacle possible. I hadn’t been a nurse for a year - pretty much all jobs require at least one year as a nurse or you may need to repeat your internship in ICU, and that’s only if you even can find another ICU nurse intern position. Mississippi nurse pay is a lot less than DFW... like $8-10/hr less. Oh! And now we are pregnant with our first baby.. so show up in Mississippi and say “oh PS I’m going to take my unpaid maternity leave in a few months.” And, even better, baby is due smack dab in the middle of football season when hubby will be traveling with the team to away games every other week.
Ruth mindset - all in. No matter what the obstacles. We got this. We’ll do it together.
Naomi - there are SO many reasons (mind you very valid reasons) this is NOT going to work out well.
Orpha - yep, you’re right. This isn’t going to work, and while I love you and I want to say I’m in, I think I’ll take the advice and go back to family.
I don’t know if I would do things differently now or not, so I’m not here to analyze the decision or say I should have for sure done something different - merely seeing SO many similarities and learning and growing and praying I draw wisdom by reflecting on it.
It was definitely tough, but we were determined and I will give us credit and that we made every effort to stay engaged with one another, be present in any time we had together, and make it work. I stayed in Dallas, would work a couple days and then fly or drive to Jackson for a week and half and go back to Dallas, work, and repeat. I can say with absolute certainty The Lord was gracious to us and provided an amazing church, small group, and friendships we cherish to this day. I mean, my brother got married that summer and a fellow bridesmaid lived literally 5 minutes from our MS house. We became instant friends.... seriously how great and gracious is our God?!?!
The next year, Tommy made the decision to move back to HS coaching and raise our child (soon to be children) close to family and without the business/madness of college recruiting. Then, bring about the whirlwind of changing school every year up until now - go two rounds deep in the playoffs and head coach is fired, buy a new house in new town and head coach receives an offer elsewhere that is best for him and his fam, on to a new school and end of season T is offered OC job that comes with a larger commute and big pay cut - we decide to go all in this time.. make the sacrifice so he can learn and grow. Again, circumstances that lead to head coach making a decision that’s best for him and his fam and he resigns. God is gracious and provides our current situation. A coordinator position at a school close to our house with a family-friendly head coach.
Sometimes the changes have been easy, the transitions smooth and the circumstances pretty incredible. Sometimes the move is forced before we feel ready, the circumstances surrounding it are tough, we are wading through an array of emotions and facing obstacles at every turn. We feel like we’ve had to prematurely leave what was known and seemingly good for a new culture, new traditions, new set of athletes, new administration and all new set of coach’s and wives. This is where I have to take a step back and decide who I want to be - Naomi or Ruth?
Side note: I don’t want to complete knock Naomi - she had it rough. Her sons are all dead and so is her husband. She has nothing left and seemingly no hope. But she allows bitterness to blind her and negativity to breed more negativity... to the point that she forgets she does indeed have a relative back home named Boaz who is wealthy, has land, and can (and does) redeem them. But she also had to have done something incredibly right in that Ruth, being a Moabite, was not raised to know The Lord, yet somewhere along the way, Ruth, either through her relationship with Naomi or through her marriage to Naomi’s son, comes to know and trust The God of Naomi.
In contrast, Ruth goes all in. She doesn’t leave one foot in and one foot out. She says “I’m in” and puts her money where her mouth is. She pretty much tells Naomi that no obstacle is insurmountable and follows that up by researching the laws of the land and finding ways to provide for them and doing whatever it takes to love her mother-in-law well and assimilate into the culture The Lord brought her into.
That’s who I want to be. When the Lord calls us to a new field to harvest, I want to say “I am in. I am ready Lord to do your work in the land you have called me to. No matter the obstacles, I trust you. I trust that you will lead my husband, and I know that together we can bear fruit and experience a harvest wherever You take us.” When we are called to move, it’s an adjustment and it’s a challenge... a challenge which can either be compounded or overcome by our attitudes and mindset. I want to be a Ruth. Someone who sees the odds, see the challenges, sees the work to be done and goes and does it, regardless of my perceived limitations, what others may think or say, and what my finicky emotions and feelings may tell me.
For the sake of not droning on and on I won’t fully go into how amazing and awe-striking it is to me that The Lord perfectly aligned all the details of Boaz, Ruth, and Naomi’s lives to be in perfect sync so that He could provide for Ruth and Naomi in this new land through Boaz. Again, this little book is RICH.
Needless to say, this sign will certainly have a prominent place in our house as we continue to journey, so I can be reminded on a daily basis to make the most of where the Lord has placed us in this season of life. To embrace the culture, do the hard work, and love/serve others with an “all in” mindset. And maybe even shed a tear when I see how much my children continue to grow each year.
Living that pre-baby, GA life
That moment when your child has a blow out so we spend the rest of the game pantless...
As I look back through these pictures and reflect on our journey thus far, I can’t help but get a little emotional. God has been so faithful. He has been there through it all, always by our side or even carrying us as we limp along through the hard stuff. We’ve grown in maturity, in our relationship with The Lord and in our marriage. He’s brought us so far and allowed us to see and experience so much fruit in the ministry he’s given us through coaching. And the crazy part - we’re just getting started.. He’s not done with us yet. I know there will likely be many more opportunities to choose to embrace the journey or allow it to embitter us. I hope He will continually to remind me of Ruth and her example.
”Where you go, I will go. Where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people.”
- Ruth 1:16