“Maybe next week.” “We can start checking out churches when we aren’t so busy.” “There are so many churches in the area, we will definitely be able to find one that we like.” “It will be easier to check out churches in the summer when we aren’t busy.” Excuses. Sarah and I said each of these lines more times than we would care to admit. After college, we moved back to Des Moines, got married, and talked about visiting area churches to find our “together church” for about two years. We both grew up going to different churches, different denominations, but we wanted to have a common church that we could both call home. Somewhere we could grow and potentially have a family. But as each Sunday would come and go, we formulated excuses. But God seemed to have other plans in our lives that we were not even expecting.
Going into my second year of teaching, Sarah and I both thought the crazy stressful first year was behind us. Many Sundays during my first year of teaching were spent in my classroom, lesson planning for the week ahead. But I believed the second year would be simpler, that I would be ready. I even took on a new role as an assistant drama coach, where I would be helping out with the musical, Beauty and the Beast, Jr. Both Sarah and I grew up participating in speech and drama at Nevada High School, so I thought this would be an awesome opportunity to help other students see how fun, how creative, and how freeing plays and musicals could be. Sarah, too, took on a new role, going to grad school at Drake University to get her Master’s in education. However, within the first couple of weeks of the school year, things took an unexpected turn.
During auditions for this musical, I was asked if I would be able to take over the production. I had no experience at that point with directing a show, especially not one that ended up with a cast and crew of 204 7th and 8th grade students. I did not want to see the show just stop. So many students look forward to their junior high drama experiences, so I knew I had to keep it going for the kids. But I knew I needed help. With Sarah just starting grad school and this large task added to my own plate, I remember how stressed both of us were. She helped as much as she could in between her homework assignments for her classes and I did have co-workers that answered the call and helped me out. But the biggest area for stress for me was how the set design and construction was going to come together.
For those that know me, I have no experience nor expertise with building, construction, or really any kind of hands-on creation. I do remember praying for help in this area. I was left with some cool designs for the set for this show, and I did not have time to re-invent the wheel with different designs. A meeting was arranged for any interested parties and Sarah and I both sat in the auditorium waiting to see who might show up. This was when we met Jason and Stacie Moore.
Caleb, Chaim, and Caden were all involved with the show either as cast members or in the crew. Although Sarah and I did not know Jason and Stacie at this time, they took the time to come in and help us draft plans and begin building the complicated set, even when they knew little about us. Their help was such a blessing through the whole musical. We learned that both Jason and Stacie worked at a church, and they showed us Christ’s love through their own service to
us. Sarah and I distinctly remember when the Moore family prepared a ready-to-make dinner for us during show week of the musical. We both talked about how thoughtful this was and that it reminded us of our own church families growing up, serving others when they were going through painful and stressful situations in their lives.
After the play, Jason and Stacie asked us if we would be interested in attending a dinner theater at their church. We had a great time, laughing at all that Uncle Phil’s Diner had to offer. Jason showed Sarah and me around the church after the dinner theater and we went home. Sarah and I talked over the next couple of weeks about returning to Des Moines First for a service. The dinner theater and the welcoming environment we had experienced at DSM First, and the love we were shown from the Moore family made us curious for more. We also felt good about our decision to come to a service after Jason emailed us about attending the Christmas Eve service, almost like he was checking in on us. Almost like God was speaking through him to us, telling us that this was where we were being called. Where we belonged. Where we would be loved and be able to show love to others.
Sarah and I began attending DSM First the first week of January in 2017. And we never stopped coming. From how we were welcomed right when we walked in the door, to others coming over to talk to us as we sat in a section by ourselves, we recognized that this was the place God was calling us toward. For two years, we made up excuse after excuse for why we would not check out churches in the area. But in our own time of need, God showed us a path toward our “together church,” the church we could grow in Christ together as husband and wife. And since we have started attending DSM First, we both feel that we have grown in our faith. We have both reconnected with God as He intended all along. We believe wholeheartedly that God worked through Jason, Stacie, and the entire Moore family to bring us to DSM First and we are forever thankful to Him and to the Moore family for extending loving hands and allowing us to get involved right away. So many things had to fall into place for us to be at DSM First, to be where we are now. It wasn’t a coincidence. It was God.