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Relationship Tithing

Relationship Tithing
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Football season has begun. Our 16th season as a married couple kicked off August 25th under the lights. Pre-season camp was especially chaotic this year with a cracked pipe resulting in not only a giant hole in the middle of our driveway, but the need to move into a guest cottage on campus for 11 days. Pre-season camp doesn’t faze me anymore. Our boys are old enough to understand it will not last forever and independent enough that when they are really missing Ordell I can drop them off at practice. Still, each year there is a bit of mourning.

Each year we squeeze in the last bit of summer never feeling as if it’s been enough time. We welcome the team to campus, we appreciate the meals we share together in the dining commons and we take advantage of the flexible schedule. I’ve learned over the seasons that approaching camp with a positive attitude helps things to run smoothly and peaceably. I’ve created an August routine that works for our family and learned to go with the flow. In 16 years I’ve never seen this as tithing until this year.

A quick glance though pictures of years of our football seasons past will reveal a consistent theme, the picture from the sidelines peering over Ordell’s shoulder. It is my view. It’s the view I’ve had for years, and it’s the view I’m comfortable with. Still, accepting a view, accepting a lifestyle does not guarantee an easy time.

There are plenty of posts on “Surviving the Season” and they are full of encouragement and ideas. But I don’t want to simply survive camp, football season or life. I want my view from the sidelines to be one that glorifies God.

Thankfully for me I’m not the first wife to miss her husband while he works incredibly long hours. I’m not the first mom to try to figure out how to be both mom and dad plus all of the parts of life that don’t stop just because football season has begun. I’m not the first woman to wrestle with my desire to be supportive and my need to talk to my husband uninterrupted before 11pm every once in a while. If it wasn’t for the experience of others I’d be lost, no doubt, so when they pass along the wisdom of those who have come before them I listen very closely.

I was recently encouraged to consider my husband’s time away as a form of tithing. This might sound strange if we consider tithing to be a portion of money given to God, but most would agree that tithing includes not only financial surrender, but that of our time and attention as well. 1 Corinthians 10:31 “ Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” For me that includes having a good attitude about the long hours of football season.

College football is the path God has called our family to walk. It is the ministry he has entrusted to us, and it is also the job that pays the bills. 😉 There are times when it feels like our whole lives center around the football team, and in those times it can be hard to keep feelings of frustration or jealousy away.

Tithing is defined by scripture is 10% of the total amount. This is a number that has been debated by those wiser than myself, but I bring this up to point out that tithing of time does not give freedom to a work-a-holic to stay in the office as long as they want. It simply creates space for that coach who says they will be home by 8pm but doesn’t walk in until 10pm. Tithing my relationship means when Ordell comes home to have lunch together and then nods off on the couch before I can get food to the table I’ll let him sleep.

Tithing my relationship means I will go one step further than stopping myself from taking my frustration or loneliness out on my husband. I will choose to see the long hours as opportunity to influence and encourage the next generation. I will embrace quality time over quantity time and strive to go through the season thankful for the opportunities that lay ahead.  Finally, tithing my relationship means I will cheer on my husband and his team each year from my view on the sidelines and strive to do so with joy even in overtime. 😉

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Beth Walker Beth Walker is a coach's wife and mom of 2 energetic boys. Having grown up in the suburbs of Chicago, the adventure of being married to a college football coach has allowed Beth to live in different areas of the country including the middle of a cornfield in Southern IL, and most recently the amazing mountains of Southwest Virginia. Beth has been blogging over at Lessons from the Sidelines (lessonsfromthesidelines.wordpress.com) where she has been striving to finding her own voice, both through personal life reflection and her ministry of serving the girls of Bluefield College as the leader of Women's Ministries called Pursuit. Her husband Ordell is currently the head coach of the Bluefield Rams.