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Faith is the base for Julianna and Ben Zobrist's family

Julianna Zobrist says husband Ben’s baseball career allows daughter Kruse, left, and son Zion to travel and be around many different people. She also hopes to dye her hair blue for a Rays World Series trip.
Published Apr. 30, 2014

For the six months of the year known as baseball season, Ben and Julianna Zobrist rent a house in South Tampa.

Here, a bridge and a bay away from Tropicana Field, the Tampa Bay Rays second baseman and Christian recording artist make a temporary home with their children Zion, 5 and Kruse, 2.

They attend Relevant Church in Ybor City, where Julianna's drummer and bassist are members of the praise band.

Here, the Zobrists appear at fundraisers and do radio spots for Joy FM, a Christian station. Julianna homeschools Zion. Ben takes him out to play catch. Then they rush to catch planes headed for away games.

In 2001, Ben and Julianna Zobrist started their relationship instant messaging. A prayerful courtship followed. There were chaste dates and long phone conversations about God, family and baseball. In 2005, the two "pastor's kids" became one at a mid-December wedding where they both wore white.

In March the couple released a book Double Play: Faith and Family First, a love story about two imperfect believers. It is a testament to God's grace and will, they say.

On May 10, Julianna Zobrist, who is recording her third studio album, will perform a concert at Relevant to benefit Lifesong for Orphans. She will sing her hit Behind Me, which hubby Ben uses as his walk up song at home games. I talked to "Jules" about first dates, parenting and the Christian life.

Here is what she had to say.

On dating Ben . . .

It wasn't flirting and physical attraction that made me decide to date him. Of course we were attracted to each other but it was more than that. It was a lot of prayer and heavy leaning on my heart. I loved the way that he was so thoughtful. Our conversations were always purposeful. I felt safe with him. It was that way from the beginning. Of course, because we were long distance, our first real date was totally awkward. We had to learn how to actually be in the same place.

On opening up for the book . . .

It was a struggle deciding what to share. There are things in our lives we aren't proud of and the story of what happened to me as a girl at camp, the molestation, that's not something easy to share. We took those parts out and read it, and then we put them back in. Without the tougher parts, it didn't make sense. It was like playing a song on a piano made of only white keys.

On being a Christian parent . . .

I don't want my children to fear me or to obey me just for the sake of obedience. I want them to be very educated and aware of the realities of the world. I want them to know what is out there, to be able to read a book on a different religion and still be confident in what they believe. I don't want them to be afraid of what others believe or think they have to live in a bunker.

On road trips . . .

I am grateful for baseball because my children always get to travel, to be out and about. They have visited museums across the world. They are around a lot of different people. I love that. It isn't always ideal but I am happy to do it, because it means we get to be together. When Ben and I married, we agreed we would never spend more than six days apart. It isn't always easy flying alone with the kids. It takes effort on my part. And it takes effort for Ben to wake up and be active with the kids instead of lounging before a game. But for us, being together is way more valuable than having a set routine.

On Relevant Church . . .

I love it. It has a rock 'n' roll style. Definitely a different worship style than my dad's church but the same dedication to outreach, the same love for people and for Jesus. I go as often as I can when I'm in town.

On the Rays 2014 season . . .

I want to dye my hair blue in October and go to the World Series. I think we can go all the way.

Julianna Zobrist will perform at 6:30 p.m. May 10 at Relevant Church, 1704 N 16th St. Her second album, Say It Now, is on iTunes. For more on her music and book, visit thezobrists.com.

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