By Guest blogger Stephanie Green Scott
Life as a coach’s wife is like a Hallmark movie when we have faith. Have you ever seen one that ends unhappily? All’s well that ends well on our TV screen as the credits roll on the Hallmark Channel. The circumstances vary scene to scene and movie to movie, but the final result is the same.
Just for a moment we can get caught up in the virtual happily ever after. But real joy comes in Him, whatever the changing circumstances. It is already inside us with the Holy Spirit and is there for us to tap into at any time. JOY THROUGH TEARS
It seems so easy to mine for joy when I type it. But maybe the following story will assure you that I know JUST how hard it can be. However, life has taught me that…
Joy Without Tears Isn’t Quite as Sweet
JOY OF PREGNANCY
On a starry night in November 1999, I had just laid down to start my slumber when I felt a flutter in my stomach. It felt like the wings of a hummingbird hovering over a brightly colored blossom. I had felt my baby move for the very first time! And I would see him on the ultrasound the next morning.
In the sterile examination room with its grey walls and low ceiling, my world spun on its axis. My blood pressure was 220 over 120. Dimly, the unfamiliar word Preeclampsia reverberated through my mind. My body was hostile to my baby.
Isolation instilled fear as the nurse turned off the lights and shut the door. The consternation on the doctor’s face when he creaked open the door confirmed it. He said, “It’s dangerous to you AND your baby to continue this pregnancy. We need to send you to Chattanooga where they have a level 3 NICU for an emergency caesarian.”
Somehow my mind cleared to razor-like precision as I asked, “What is a NICU?”
“Neonatal Intensive Care Unit”
“What is the highest Level?” I asked with a hitch in my throat.
“Level 5 at Northside Hospital in Atlanta,” he said, “but I don’t know if we can keep you stable for the three-hour ride.”
“I need to give my baby the best chance to live. So, you’ve got to send me to Atlanta.”
My isolation was compounded upon a heart-sinking realization. My football coach husband was on the practice field. Any football coach’s wife could tell you he would not be answering the phone. As I desperately placed a call to the landline in the assistant coaches’ office, I prayed like I never had before or since.
IT’S A JOYFUL MIRACLE
An assistant coach who left his whistle in the fieldhouse actually answered the phone. Upon hearing the details, he promised to tell my husband. It is probably how I had the courage to let them load me into the ambulance.
To this day the ambulance ride is a blur but was told it was touch and go the whole way. What I will always remember though… is how joy stole over me when I saw my husband standing in the ambulance bay with his shoulders thrown back. He grasped my hand tightly as he ran beside the gurney saying, “Everything’s going to be ok now. God’s got this.”
RUNNING THE GAMUT
I knew the longer my blood pressure stayed stable, the greater the chances my son would live. Therefore, the blood pressure machine and I were in a mortal battle as the vise tightened and untightened and 27 weeks’ gestation became 28. We thought we might even be going home on bedrest.
But on November 8th, 1999 the monitors went off like a cacophony of crows. When the staff rushed in, I found out that my kidneys and liver were shutting down. And that they would have to immediately whisk me away to the operating room for a caesarian section.
THE JOYOUS BIRTH
There wasn’t a lot of time for the epidural to take. So, I felt every slice of the knife. It did not matter one bit when they pressed his downy cheek to mine though. His lusty cry was a boon for his Mommy’s heart. He had been aptly named Wyn.
The lighting in the NICU was soft and the machines provided a melodic hum. For hours each day I would sit by the isolette and gaze upon his beautiful face in wonder. He was such a little fighter!
On Thanksgiving Day, Wyn was taken off the hated respirator. I held him for the very first time. When his deep brown eyes locked with my blue ones, I was a goner. In that moment I knew my life was changed forever.
Tommy visited as often as he could, but it was football season. This is where the resentment of football started. I just couldn’t summon the grace to realize how very much my coach wanted to be with us.
In the dark of the night on December 2nd the phone woke us out of a blissful sleep. I could barely understand the words, “Something is wrong with Wyn and we’re transferring him to Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital for surgery.” The foxhole prayers began in earnest.
On December 3rd, 1999 I held my son as he took his last breath. The anger that surged through me towards God became a tidal wave by the time the last shovel full of red Georgia clay covered his grave. How could Heaven be a better place for my son than his mother’s arms?
RESURRECTION OF FAITH
I’d like to write that my faith easily returned after Wyn’s death. However,
We are on His time, Not a Deadline.
My marriage was rocked, my career self-destructed, and my soul became fallow ground. For a time. It was only when I threw myself into bible study AND football that things changed.
I had prayed on my knees for another biological child (in vain). But over the intervening years God gifted me hundreds upon hundreds of “sons’ in the form of football players. And has given me an appreciation of the profession that is my husband’s passion. Thus, I am able to mean it when I write that blessings come from tragedy.
Scripture does not say some things come together for our good. It says ALL things (Romans 8:28 ESV)
SEEDS OF FAITH
Like in Matthew 13:32, my “seed” has “grown larger than all the garden plants and become a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” As I write this, I am outside on a beautiful spring day with budding trees and birdsong that emphasize the joy in life itself…
Joy Spelled with a Capital J
J as in Jesus. This kind of Joy is not based on circumstances or feelings. Not on people or places. God is Joy personified.
The see-saw of emotions that ruled and even defined me during that dark period did not employ this concept. Prayerfully, what I am able to see in hindsight will continue to bless me into the future. And others as God leads me to share my story.
Lately I have been doing a Bible study on a fabulous book called Joykeeper by Suzanne Eller, a mentor of mine. Suzie’s premise is that “joy is not a feeling but a knowing.” And she has “six truths that change everything you thought you knew about joy.”
My sweet husband treated me to a workshop with Suzie for my birthday a few years ago. Suzie used her book proposal on Joykeeper to teach the group about how to write one. So, I have intimate knowledge of how plugged in Suzie was writing this book.
AS THE CREDITS ROLL
Coaches’ wives have changing circumstances all the time. People are in and out of our lives constantly. Geographic changes are commonplace. Stress is as familiar as our own faces. And, yes, conflict and hardships occur with varying frequency. Just like a Hallmark movie.
If we want to have a Hallmark ending to each of our “seasons” as a coach’s wife, we don’t have to look any further than inside ourselves. Where Joy resides. And where it is cultivated by things like:
· The Word
· quiet time
Joy is mentioned in the Bible hundreds of times. Whereas happiness only a couple of dozen. My favorite scripture about joy is James 1:2: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”
Knowing Joy is Knowing God.
About the author
Stephanie Green Scott grew up in Tallahassee, Florida and currently resides in Birmingham, Alabama. As a formerly grieving mother, wife of a college football coach, and suicide survivor, Stephanie is able to use real life experiences to illustrate the transformative Power of the Lord to coaches’ wives everywhere as a writer. She attended Florida State University and most recently has studied creative writing at Reinhardt University.
Her current project is a book called Gridiron Joy which is in development now. It centers around twelve spiritual truths that apply to the lives of football coaches’ wives endemic with change, trials, tribulations and joy. And is filled with interviews from football coaches wives across all divisions.
Stephanie has been married to Tommy for twenty-one years. And has two children in Heaven as well as a stepdaughter, Nicki, who lives in Colorado. When she is writing, you can find her at her favorite coffee shop with her goldendoodle Blazer.
When not writing, she enjoys volunteering, photography, bible study, travel, exercise and reading. Her favorite role as a volunteer is as a Board Member of the AFCWA (American Football Coaches Wives Association) where her heart for other coaches wives is the driving force.