Last year we went through a decent-sized transition as a family. My husband and I had lived in a small university town in Nova Scotia throughout much of our relationship: four university/dating years, engagement, marriage, Rowan's birth, and her first nine months. We were never in the same living space more than a year, but moved from one tiny apartment to the next, trying to find the perfect balance of nice surroundings and cheap rent.
We were surrounded by an incredible, Jesus-focused community. Day-in and day-out, these people did life together. Part of it, I know, is the natural way of life at university; living in a house with five other women pursuing Christ means shared meals and struggles and celebrations. But more than just in roommates, the entire group of Christians living on campus and off would get together regularly to worship, play games, and study the Word. There was almost always food involved.
As great as the fellowship was, the way our family was growing just wasn't cohesive with the university life. We were going out past midnight for fast food and praying until the wee hours of the morning, which was all good until 6am when the baby woke up. We wanted to be involved and do life with these people, with our people, but we found ourselves in a completely new stage of life than even the few other married couples there.
We were battling a few other issues in our marriage at that point, and the moment arose when I told my husband that I was going to move back to our hometown. I would love for him to come with me, but I'd had enough of being completely isolated as a mother. Our church in Nova Scotia had only one other child under the age of four, and her family moved away shortly before we left. On the other hand, the church in our hometown had a bustling nursery, which would only get fuller through the following year.
So we moved. We lived with Joey's parents for a few months, and then my parents, before getting a house of our own: an early 20th century home right downtown, a two-minute walk to our church, on a quiet street that I'd never even known existed until we looked at the house, even though I'd gone to school just one street over as a pre-teen.
Living back home has brought its own struggles, of course. In some ways, it's been a harder year than all those away, even though my recurrent depression hasn't been much of an issue for the first time in a decade. But the unexpected community that's been forged here is undeniable. When we left home at 18, we left a church that from my perspective was stagnant, surface, and lukewarm. My concerns were quickly dispersed when we got connected with a small group within just a few weeks of getting to town, and we began to see Jesus in the places we least expected to find Him.
It's been just over a year since we've been in this place both old and new. The community we've encountered here — especially the other young couples with young children, maneuvering parenthood and serving Jesus — is like breathing fresh ocean air after having been cooped up in a months-long winter. I'm in awe of His love for us, placing us in the very spot we would best grow and serve Him, even though we may not have seen it in the beginning.