5. Growing our Faith Community
RiverTree is in the midst of an exciting season of change and development. We have established a strong sense of mission, and the committed ones among us are discovering how to live well as a diverse community of Christ-seekers.
It was my church family that graciously allowed more than 5 weeks of paid time off when Kaile and I were engaged and busy with the details of our wedding celebration.
It was my church family that paid for home repairs when a family’s home was damaged in a windstorm. They didn’t even attend; it was just something our church family decided to do.
It was my church family that has provided strong relationships that are all moving in the same direction.
2014 was a big year for this messy group we call church.
About four months into our marriage, my wife was suddenly between jobs. It was midwinter 2014. As one of the coldest winters on records here in Michigan, the temperature continued to drop as we plunged through a January and February. Heating became more and more expensive, and my church work was not keeping our bank account from sinking lower and lower. Throughout, however, God miraculously gave us a resonant sense of peace. We prayed for opportunity. Soon, it unexpectedly came in the form of a couple very meaningful yet financially rewarding opportunities for Kaile.
She thinks God put money in our account. I have come to agree with her.
3. New relationships.
Over the past year, Kaile and I have made several new friends. One couple, neighbors of ours, have journeyed with us through our pregnancy. She had their first child, Amos, just over a month ago.
Another couple we have known for years, but have taken new strides of honesty and trust in 2014. Since having moved back from Minnesota, they have launched back into life in Grand Rapids, and into deeper friendship with us.
One dear friend from seminary has grown closer by the year. He has a form of depression that shows up when you know how to recognize it. We sit and talk every month or two and listen to each other. I need friends like him.
My wife and I have both grown closer to my family and hers–my new family [some call this “in-laws”]. We chalk it up as pure divine blessing to be close to one another’s original and still-intact family.
Relationships are eternal, but they start now.
2. Helped me understand my wife’s calling [Dale Savidge conference].
In July of 2014, Kaile and I traveled to Greenville, South Carolina for a conference on “applied theatre.” For those of you reading this who do not know what that means, you would be in company with me. I did not honestly know what applied theatre was until the host of the conference, Dale Savidge, graciously invited me to attend, free of charge, several of the workshop sessions.
One activity we did was a psycho and socio-dramatic exercise in which Dale asked us to pause and consider whether our Christian journey, at this very moment, was most similar to three biblical characters: 1. Paul [it’s about logic/the head] 2. Mary [it’s about the affections/the heart] 3. Martha [it’s about action/the hands].
At the time, I could not help but resonate the most with Paul and his very theologically-driven picture of Christ’s work. Soon, Dale asked us to line up and go to various places in the room that correlated with our choice. This is where the psycho turned socio.
In no time, he was asking us questions of how and why we arrived to the decisions we had made. We were interacting with the nuances of our formation. He instructed us that if we were moved by the explanations of others, that we could take a step their direction in the room.
It was magical.
Principles from the world of theatre arts carried directly over into group dynamics, psychology, sociology, and spiritual formation.
I watched in wonder.
As I participated, my mind flashed back and forth between the experience we had and the journey my wife has been on for years now. We still have conversations about the conference. God was especially present during that time, planting seeds of confidence and trust that her vocational momentum is moving to the divine rhythm, seeds that have since grown in our marriage.
Kaile and I agree on lots of things relating to the field of theatre–goals, purposes, meanings–and we have differences. I enjoy some shows, others not as much. Throughout the experience in Greenville, though, I learned to respect her perspectives in a new and life changing way. She has a lot of insight and a lot of experience in her field; I do not. Humility is the path to deference, which is the best starting place.
I don’t know that much about theatre. But she does.
I was in the middle of installing a ceiling fan when Kaile came out of the bathroom, pregnancy test in-hand. For those of you who have not used one, it is simple. If the little blue line appears forming an “x,” you are pregnant. If it is light blue, you are potentially pregnant.
Our little blue line looked like someone took a blue Sharpie marker to a white paper. The line was as dark and solid as a toddler’s homework.
We were pregnant.
Immediately, Kaile felt compelled to take another test. If anything, the second test was more blue than the first.
I kept working on my ceiling fan project, racking my brain and imagining how our lives would soon change.
And change they have. During Advent, we felt a little bit like Joseph and Mary, preparing their souls and their lives for the coming of a child. During the throes of our insurance changes, we felt for a time that there was no room in the inn.
Eventually, however, we have discovered a network of support throughout our nearly nine months of sojourning into the land of parenthood. God has been faithful, and we have been changed. In a much smaller and less cosmic sort of manner, what was true for the parents of Jesus has been true for us:
A baby changes everything.