I mentioned in a previous post that Jeremy and I have decided to join up with a church plant we heard about through some friends. The plant is called Renovo and means to restore, rebuild or renew. I thought it would be fun to document our story of how we got involved both for some St. Louis people to hear our new gig and for looking back purposes. I fully expect some neat things to come of this both from the Lord and by the Lord in our own characters, hearts, and souls as we journey through this.
When we first moved to Washington, my heart was fully excited to check out the Army Chapel. I wanted very much to be a part of the Army Christian community because I knew how important it would be in my own heart as we spent the next 4 years of our life here in Washington. Plus, I really wanted to make a difference, if I could, in the lives of other Army families. The first Sunday we went however, I knew it was most certainly not the place for me. It was awful and I cried the whole way home. Mostly out of a deep disappointment that my plans had “failed” but also out of a fear that we wouldn’t find the spiritual community we so longed to connect into and had prayed about for so long. But the very next week, we received a postcard in the mail for a church in Parkland called Rainier View Christian Church. It was talking about their current series “24” and the things they had going on leading up to Easter. I got excited again because the church was literally a couple blocks from our apartment.
That Sunday we went to RVCC and I again cried the whole time. But this time they were tears of gratefulness, release and comfort because I knew immediately that was where we were meant to be. I called the church the next week and asked to meet with a pastor (we met with Scott Wallace later) and checked out some things I saw were ways to hopefully get involved. In the bulletin, I noticed they did MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) and I was again really excited. Jeremy and I share the Nissan so Cooper and I were stuck in the apartment by ourselves all day, everyday and we knew absolutely no one! AGH! I can’t communicate in words how miserable and alone I felt and poor Jeremy would come home at night and feel just awful. I think I was usually crying or on the verge on a daily basis. I just can’t stand being alone like that-and trapped in an apartment. It was just boring and lonely and I needed a friend bad!
I went to the very next MOPs meeting at RVCC and I had my heart and mind set that I would emerge from that meeting with a friend and a person’s phone number; and I did! I met Crystal Metcalfe at that meeting and we had an instant connection. I joked here on my blog in fact, that making friends is like dating. Crystal and I still laugh about that today! I LOVE YOU GIRL!
After that, my heart just began to soar at the possibilities. We joined the Metcalfes HFG (Home Fellowship Group) and met even MORE great people (like Shari and John Schock!) and the spiritual community that had been so longed for and prayed over was finally beginning to emerge. It’s funny that I say finally because it happened in a matter of only 8 weeks or so! HA! God works fast even if it doesn’t feel fast enough for me sometimes.
As we grew in our HFG and at RVCC through an amazing fall sermon series on prayer that just challenged my heart and soul deeply-we really enjoyed (and hated) that time of working through the kinks of a totally new life. A lot happened in those months in our lives behind the scenes as we struggled DEEPLY adjusting to a radical change in income and lifestyle. Christmas was a healing time for my heart and a welcomed break back in St. Louis. And afterwards, I felt healed and even released to grow and start doing some more things that I was too timid to do before. Not to mention that we had been “working” on expanding our family for several months to no avail in this time.
This past spring, I decided to take a few more steps forward and planned to volunteer on my beloved MOPs steering team-if they would have me! But even still, Jeremy and I began to feel like we were ready to move to the next level in both our spiritual communities of church and HFG. A lot was growing in our hearts and we weren’t sure what we would do about that.
Along this same time of spring/early summer, our friends the Metcalfes, had been telling us for a while about their decision to join up with Renovo and help out. It was exciting to hear Crystal tell me stories about it and to hear Scott’s vision for this new community. We were interested in it, but we didn’t want to jump on the proverbial bandwagon just because our friends were doing it. So we waited and just kept on chugging along.
Then a whole whirl-wind of things happened; I got pregnant (YAY!) and Jeremy got assigned to an Arabic class. Both these things don’t seem big-but to us they were huge. Mostly the Arabic class though because it had a HUGE impact on his Army career and the progression (or he would say lack-thereof) of it. It meant ALL his training that he would normally be active in with his unit, ceased completely. Jeremy does PT (physical training) with them in the mornings, but otherwise is completely separated from his unit right now. He is in class all day, every day of the week doing nothing but learning this immensely complicated language. And while it had a huge impact on Jeremy and even our life, it also impacted us in several good ways that were highly unexpected and surprising.
For one, Jeremy’s unit has a busy schedule this fall and next spring. If he was in normal circumstances, he’d be gone in California for a whole month of pre-deployment training right after the baby was born and possibly even missing the birth completely. That’s in addition to all the time he’d be gone this fall. The Arabic class erased that concern and Jeremy will be in town when Chase is born! (Though time off is not going to happen; no more 4 weeks off like he had when Cooper was born.) Second, this meant that Jeremy is home A LOT more. He’s home every evening and all weekend long and predictably so! This was a big pain before because the Army does not give advance notice to enlisted soldiers and their families. You do what they say when they say and that is extremely frustrating when you try to have a life outside the Army too.
That second point opened up some huge possiblities for us; this meant that Jeremy could get involved in the church (RVCC) and maybe start doing Junior High ministry again. (He had done it for a little while originally but had to stop due to such a busy training schedule.) Along about this same time, we decided we’d check out Renovo just to see what the Metcalfes were doing. Crystal and Travis had invited us and asked if Jeremy would mind helping out with worship that night too. It had been a long time since Jeremy had led worship – almost 7 years since Vespers’ hay day in St. Louis I guess. But he was excited for the opportunity and we went. (Vespers was an evening worship service Jeremy did -with Dan for a while-back in St. Louis when we were in college ministry.)
Well, we loved Renovo. We loved so many different things about it in fact – but the best part for me was watching my husband come to life. All this time (2 years now), I had been getting involved with ministry and enjoying myself in some great spiritual community, but he wasn’t feeling the same love. He enjoyed HFG (oh that’s Home Fellowship Group by the way which is like a small group Bible study), but was taken from it often with training so it was hit or miss. The junior high ministry gig had fallen through too with his unavailability. So now, here was the perfect marriage of opportunity and time. When does that happen so perfectly?
He got together with Scott Christianson, the planter of Renovo, and they had a long night of talking over coffee about church, God, Pagan Christianity and Jeremy’s previous experience with Vesper’s and other ministries we’d been involved with in St. Louis. After that meeting, he came home with a new spark in his eyes. It was so exciting for my heart to see my husband so happy and excited about something like this! After a couple weeks (I think…maybe?), we decided we would join up with Renovo.
We have had to adjust to having a lot less these days and have struggled through that at times, but the things that God has richly blessed us with right now we want to use. Time is quite a commodity and it’s one money can never buy. So with excited hearts, we made the decision to leave RVCC. We love Rainier and are so blessed for all the wonderful opportunities the church opened up for us, but we are ready for more and we see it in Renovo. We most likely, will not be here forever, so for the short time we are here we deeply desire to let God use us.
This past Sunday was the first run at Woodland Elementary school in Puyallup (over off fruitland and 112th). We had close to 60 people there today-and we haven’t even officially launched our services yet! There were even some new faces that I’m guessing came from the information tent we had up at the Puyallup Farmer’s Market for the last couple of weeks. Sunday, October 5 is the big launch and we are all pretty nervous I think. The school was greatly transformed this morning though- it didn’t feel cold or unwelcoming but warm and new – it may have been just me, but there was an excitement in the air.
We’ve got some kinks to work out for sure-as any new church would. Jeremy is leading worship; it’s him, his guitar and a couple girls on vocals. I’m working with the little kids and helping out with the bulletin. It is certainly going to be an interesting journey – Jamie Hartke and Kelli McGill…I now know what your Sunday is like and all I gotta say is WHEW GIRLS! It makes for a long day. But we both feel so excited that God could use us in this way and we are full of anticipation at what this will open up.
So, our hearts are grateful for all the ways that God has taken the prayers of so many back in St. Louis, prayers for us to find a spiritual community we could plug into and grow with, and answered them!