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Super Couple: Kate Ridnour Q&A

 
Every love story deserves to be told. Especially when it is scripted by Almighty God—the author of incomparable romances. One of His latest and greatest is that of Luke and Kate Ridnour. It’s clear that not only are they tremendously “in love” in the common understanding of the term, but they are also tremendously “in love” in the way intended by the Lord. They are a team, called together to take on the world with the purpose of furthering the Kingdom of God.

“We’re like a force,” Kate said. “I always think of us like that game Red Rover—when God’s in your life, when God is in your marriage, nothing is going to break through that bond He has made between you.”

But there’s more to it than that. In order to fully appreciate this God orchestrated tale—including Kate’s humorous first impression of Luke (who wore shorts and a cap to a formal occasion)—you’ll have to get it straight from the woman who lived it.


Sharing the Victory: How did you and Luke meet?

Kate Ridnour: The first time we met was in high school. We met at the state basketball tournament. He was from Blaine, obviously. I was from Lakeside High School. There was a Rotary Club luncheon. He got selected as the male athlete to represent the male side, and I got chosen to represent the female side. So, we both actually sat at the same table. And I knew of Luke because all the girls on my team were in love with him.

But you know it's funny because we got introduced to each other and he said hi and that was about it. And, to be totally honest, my first impression was, "What a little punk. Who does he think he is?" Because this was a dressed-up occasion, and he was in a t-shirt, shorts and a backwards hat, and we were in dresses and suits.

So, it's pretty funny. People say, "Oh, what was your first impression?" And I say, "You don't want to know." It wasn't exactly love at first sight.

STV: How did it develop after that?

KR: Well, then he went off to college in Oregon and I still had a year of high school. When I was done I got a scholarship to play volleyball at Central Washington University. And while I was there, there was a friend of mine who grew up with Luke but then had moved to the school where I went—he moved to my area. I grew up with him and his family in his older years, probably from around middle school to high school.

I went over to his dorm one day to get some e-mail addresses from some old friends because I'd lost contact with a lot of people; and he was like, "Oh! Here's Luke's e-mail! Do you remember him? You should e-mail him." And I was like, "Oh, gosh. He's gonna think I'm like an eighth-grade fan." But I figured what the heck, I'd e-mail him. I wanted to see how he was doing in basketball. And who knows? Maybe he'll remember, maybe he won't.

After I e-mailed him, he responded, like, the next day. And it was during their March Madness, so I was really surprised. I was like, "Woah!" He wrote back, "Of course I remember you."

So, we just started e-mailing, and we finally started talking on the phone. A few months went by, and I think he came up and watched one of my volleyball tournaments. And it kind of went from there. We started to talk a lot, and we hit it off and started dating. And three years later, we were walking down the isle.

STV: You must have made a big impression on him, then.

KR: You know, I guess so. He told me later on that after we met at that Rotary Club that he went home and tried to get my phone number from my high school. I kidded him that he was a stalker.

But, I look back on that day that I went over to get e-mails, and it was such a God thing; because it was windy out, and I was like, "I don't want to go anywhere." But then I decided to just do it so that I could keep in touch with friends. So, it's just funny how that panned out.

STV: You can see how you almost didn't go?

KR: Oh, yeah! Looking back you can see how it was just scripted, you know? God was like, "Okay, go here. Go here. Okay, e-mail. Talk. Now you're together."

It's funny. It's almost a boring story because we weren't high school sweethearts. But it's neat, because I did know him before he was in the league. I knew him before he was the big Luke Ridnour from the Seattle SuperSonics. I knew the little, scrawny white guy.

STV: Is that how you still think about him?

KR: Oh, no! He's so much bigger. He's strong and manly!

But you know, he is just a boy. There are things that he does, and in how he acts. He's just a boy in a big man's world.

STV: Now, you said you were from Lakeside, right?

KR: Yeah, I went to Lakeside High School. It's on the east side of Washington over by Spokane. So, we were in complete different corners.

STV: Is that kind of the same environment as Blaine?

KR: Yeah, we lived in Nine Mile Falls. It was a really small community. We were 2A, and so were they. So, it was about the same sized school. We both grew up in a small town with a small town family. Not big city people.

STV: Have you had trouble adjusting to city life, or do you like it?

KR: I love it! I definitely love going into the city, but we live a little bit out of the city on a lake, so it's definitely nice to go out of the city and get some peace and quiet. But, I like it. It's convenient, and I love living near big shopping areas. Luke doesn't really like that. He's like, "Come on, stay in tonight."

STV: Well, tell me what it's like for you to be the wife of a professional basketball player. What's that lifestyle like?

KR: In the beginning, I was like, "I don't know what's more stressful, having him play in the league, or being married to someone in the league." Especially when you're married and you become one, you feel when they're frustrated or when they're excited or when they're down. So, it was really hard to adjust that first year. And I still am adjusting. There are so many different things that just get thrown at you. Because it's so time-consuming. It's like, "Gosh, I dated long-distance for three years. I don't want to share him, now." I don't want to share him with all of Seattle, but I have to. He'll come home and say that we have a function that night and that the whole team has to be there. And then they're on the road a lot.

So, it's definitely been hard at times. At the same time, I think God was preparing us because we did date long distance for three years. I think He prepared my heart and said, "This is how it is going to be. You might be saying good-bye more than hello."

But it is a blessing to be here, and we love it. And I know that this is his job and there's a lot of requirements for him being in different places at different times. I am still learning.

STV: Do you ever look at it as just a certain season of life?

KR: Yeah it really is. You have the struggling time, and then you will just have the time where you are completely in awe of everything you have and where you are and what you are doing. And it is just like any other person going through their struggles and all the things they need to get done.

STV: How recognizable is Luke when you guys go out? Does Seattle pay close attention to the Sonics?

KR: I think it was two years ago--or maybe about a year ago--he didn't get recognized as much. Luke blends in really well. He's 6-2, and he doesn't wear flashy things. He is in jeans and a t-shirt and most of the time a hat, so he didn't get recognized too often. But more so this past year.

We will go to the mall and little kids will be running up, "Luke! Luke! Can I get your autograph?" I think last year they had a really good year, so the Sonics were getting recognized a lot. Plus, they are on TV quite a bit. So, I think as the years go on, he is going to get even more recognized by people. But, he does blend in really well.

STV: That has to be a little bit of a blessing too.

KR: You know it is, because I am like, "Man how do you handle that?" But I think he knows it goes with the territory.

STV: When I was interviewing him, it was neat because he spoke so highly of you. He just mentioned how much of an encouragement you are in his life. Tell me, what are some of the ways you can encourage him?

KR: Sometimes it's not even saying anything about basketball. It's him walking in the doors and me just having a smile on my face and telling him how excited I am to see him. Because in this league and profession you can get so caught up in wins and losses, and you life becomes this running record of wins and losses. That's how you see it. You look at it as your worth. You know, if you won you have a great day, and if you lost you have a bad day.

So, I have just tried to bring a balance in to our family and our relationship. You are going to win you are going to lose--praise God for both of them and just be thankful that we're here and that we have what we have.

It is definitely easier said than done, because there are times when it is really frustrating--if I know he is going through things. But we kind of just come together. We pray about it. We'll vent a little, and then we will just let it go. You gotta move on. 

STV: I know that you guys recently went through a seemingly frustrating situation with him being benched. How did you guys handle that? Did that get to you?

KR: It did a little, to be honest. I grew up playing sports—I played college volleyball, and I was a starter my whole life. I was never taken out like he was to come off the bench. And I'm not saying that was a bad thing, I just never went through that. So, I could only imagine how hard it was to automatically have to switch roles. He handled it, though.

You know, all you can do is leave it in God's hands. There are so many promises that we have to hold on to that He has given us, and at the end of the day He is the one who will have the final say.

This season has been probably about the toughest--not necessarily basketball seasons but more of just our walk and the season of growing. Really, our faith has increased. We have just come together. We're stronger together. I really have that sense that he has my back, and I have his back.

STV: Through this growing time, have you guys had to change how you approach God?

KR: Yeah I think we have. You know, it is almost like you get complacent, and you get in the routine of, "Okay, I am going to pray, I am going to worship, I'm going to set aside this time," but it is almost like we've gotten to the point where we need Him. We need Him in our lives. He wants to be in our lives not just in the mornings, not just in the nights, but wherever we go.

Our time together in prayer has increased. And it has been amazing because, you know, when two or more come together the presence of God is there. It's that feeling that we don't want to leave that place.

I think both of our faith has increased, and he has encouraged me. He probably thinks I encourage him more, but he encourages me just by seeing the way he is and his walk with God and how strong he is. Because some of the things that are done to him or that he is around—it really shows his strength.

STV: How does his strength affect you as a wife? Does that encourage you spiritually? 

KR: You know, it makes me want to go deeper. It makes me want to get an even more intimate relationship with God and with Luke. He is a real encouragement.

STV: Well, Luke also mentioned the source of accountability that you are to him. He specifically referenced the greed and all that around the NBA and how you bring him back down. What are some of the ways you hold him accountable?

KR: I am kind of a reality check. I try to stay mindful of what we don't need, or if something in our life really isn't going to change anything. Because at the end of the day, you don't take anything with you. You don't take the fancy cars, the houses--you take none of it with you.

I do believe that what we have is a blessing from God, and He wants us to get nice things, because it is a blessing. But I think there is defiantly a fine line of getting consumed with materials and everything that is on the outside.

But Luke is pretty good. I want him to get a nicer car, and he doesn't want to. He wants to get a beat up truck and drive it around. And I am like, "Luke if you car breaks down on the way to practice, that is like a $5,000.00 fine."

STV: Man, that's tough! I didn't realize all the restrictions they had.

KR: Yeah, they have so many rules—rules about dress codes, and if their jersey comes un-tucked during games they could get fined.

STV: That's crazy! Well, more on the materialism thing. Is that hard for you? Do you ever catch yourself saying, "Oh, I would love to have this," or "We can splurge on that"?

KR:  It is tough. I think our world is so focused on that--your worth is based on as what you have, and how much you have equals how important you are.

It's definitely hard, because it's something that is all around us. I think our families keep us grounded. I think the fact that we both came from a small communities, small towns, small schools helps. It's weird because we are both on a pretty even keel when it comes to that kind of stuff. I love getting nice things, but half the time I'm in sweats and a t-shirt, and we are walking the dog somewhere.

But you have to guard against that, and we pray that our eyes wouldn't drop above the sky--that we would continue to look at Him and keep Him as the most high possession that we would like to own.

STV: That's a great phrase—your eyes wouldn't drop from the skies. I like that! Now, Luke also mentioned that you help calm him down a lot. What was he like before you guys got married?

KR: Oh, goodness. He'd have a bad game, and he wouldn't call me for, like, a week. But I think he just really took it hard if they would lose or if he had a bad game. It's normal when you are competitive and you are competing at a high level. You expect yourself to perform day-in and day-out, and it is not realistic to have a perfect game every night. I just try to remind him this isn't what makes him, whether he has a good game or bad game, he is still an amazing person and he is going to be known for the things that he does off the court more than the things that he does on the court.

I just try to bring a sense of peace to his life, and he has just matured in the Lord. He has begun to give it to God. We'll just say, "Okay, we vent and just give it to God. It isn't in our hands to continue to whine or complain or vent."

Luke has done a lot of it by turning to the Word, and he prays a lot. I mean he probably gives himself way less credit than he deserves. He gives himself no credit, probably. But he has grown a lot. He is in the Word, like, all day. I'm like, "Are you going to bed?"

STV: Does that inspire you to get in the Word as well?

KR:  It does. We can get caught up in our days, like, "Oh, I have to run here. I have to run there." And sometimes if all you can get in is a couple of verses, then that is all you can get in. Just taking something from it and carrying that on with you during the day.

The road is a great place for him to spend a lot of time in the Word and prayer, because he is alone at the hotel room. He'll make a point not to turn on the TV the whole trip. He'll just read the Word and pray and write things down. Like, if we are both fasting—I will be fasting from food, but he will be fasting from the TV on a road trip.  You get so bored sometimes when you are in your room and you say, "Okay, I'll just watch TV." He will keep himself from that. We can be filling ourselves with something more substantial.

STV: That's awesome. Well, last question. When did you accept Christ? What is your testimony?

KR: I grew up going to church a little bit, but when we—my two sisters and I—started to get into sports, it was harder to make it to church on Sundays, so we kind of stopped going.

When I got into high school, there was this thing called YoungLife, and my sisters and I started going to that, and I really loved it. There was just something in my heart--I just wanted more.

So, I started going to YoungLife, and I started going to a church in town on Wednesday nights with some girlfriends from high school, and it was just a great worship time. People would sing, and then there would be a small message following. It was usually targeted toward high school or college people. I remember going one time and whoever was giving the message just said that if you hadn't made that decision to accept Him into your life and into your heart then to say this prayer he led.

I'm not really sure of all the facts, but I just thought, "I don't really know if I should be doing this," but it just felt right in my heart that I needed to accept Him and move forward and start a relationship with Him rather than just putting it off any longer.

I think you just know in your heart when it is your time to take that step and accept Him. I did in high school, and I found a really nice church in college that I loved. And we are in an amazing church right now, with a lot of amazing people who really keep us accountable and who are always praying for us—really good people to fellowship with.

I definitely I started later than Luke, so he really helped me. We would talk on the phone, and we would pray together and read the Bible. He was really helpful, and since then he's been really good about not making it seem like, "Okay, you have to catch up to this level." He let me have my own relationship with God without forcing me to go any faster or any slower. And I really felt like I flourished because he gave God that room to work in me.

I think we get caught up with the feeling that we have to be a certain way or at a certain level. We all give our life to the Lord at different ages: 7,20,30,50, whatever. It's not a race to God. You can be taking your last few breaths and tell Him you want to spend eternity with Him, and He will say okay.

STV:  Did you know Luke was a Christian when you first met?

KR:  No, I didn't really. We started talking on the phone a little about God. I always wanted to. I wasn't turned away by the "G" word, or by religion. I was probably so intrigued, I was like, "Yeah, I want to know more. I want to have that relationship and go to church and worship." God always put that hunger inside of me for more.
Really, He had it all lined up. I look back now, and I'm like, "God, you're so smart." He just amazes me every day, and He has this plan. Luke and I are so much stronger together. We are like a force. I always think of us like that game Red Rover. When God's in your life and in your marriage, nothing is going to break through that bond He made between you two. I just feel so much stronger with Luke in my life.


 


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