Hello, ladies. We are continuing our posts high-lighting each of the care group leader wives. Today we get to talk to Chris Oliver.
Chris is a real sweetheart. I love her laugh and the joy that she brings to fellowship. Her life is F-U-L-L!! She is actively involved in her family….and her church. And guess what? She works at Clipper Magazine for 30 hours a week. She has held different positions there over the years, even managing a department for 5 years. Now she is a proofreader/copywriter for Clipper. (Interesting detail alert: she was hired by our own Julie [Gregg] Garner!) (Um…..who does Julie not know?!) I don’t know how Chris does it. The only explanation is that God is giving her grace. When I feel really stretched and want to complain in my heart, I think of women like Chris.
John and Chris have been married for 24 years. (I know…..they don’t look much older than 24! Actually, one of my sons thought that John was a single guy in the Young Adults group for about a year. And Chris blends right in there with her girls!) They have four children….David (married to Krista), Kelly, Kaitlyn & Megan. They started coming to Crossway in the summer of 2005 and have been care group leaders for 3 years.
Chris, how did you and John meet? And what was the journey that brought you to Crossway? John and I met when we were both part of a ministry started by the late Christian artist Keith Green, called Last Days Ministries (in the mid-1980′s). We became friends and then after being “thrown together” on a project in the spring of 1986, we began to fall in love. After leaving Last Days, we were married on Long Island, NY and then soon moved to Lancaster County, PA.
After we moved to Lancaster, many of our friends from Last Days, now married too, began to move here to be closer to fellowship. There were a lot of things wrong doctrinally about the ministry we were apart of, but one thing we learned there that I am so grateful for, is the importance of living life in community with other believers. All of us felt like fish out of water in most of the churches we visited, and so we began to meet together as a home church. Most of our years since we moved here (other than a 7-year stint at another local church) were spent as part of a home church with these friends. We were weak doctrinally, but we lived life together and bore each other’s burdens. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the ladies who walked alongside me my first years of having kids!
Then in 2003, John was exposed to reformed theology and this started a new journey for the both of us. I caught up to him theologically about a year later and we began to hunger for a church where we could sit under the gospel and fellowship with like-hearted believers. At this time, our home church had disbanded permanently for a number of reasons. We had some friends who were members of Living Hope Church in Harrisburg and they told us about Crossway. While we were intrigued about what we heard about this fellowship, we really desired to be in a church closer to our home in Lititz, so that we could be a part of our community. After visiting a few churches closer to us, we couldn’t seem to find one that seemed right for our family at that time. So, one hot July morning, we made the long journey to New Danville. As soon as the first worship song was over, we both knew we had found our church home. I can remember wanting to get up and applaud when Pete finished his message that morning. We were so excited!
Chris, you are giving on so many “fronts”….in your home….at work….in the church. I’m sure that there are days when you wonder how you’re going to “do it all”. How is the Lord helping you to stay focused and find joy in your life of giving? To be honest, I feel weak most of the time. Serving my family and church is a real joy to me….but also holding down an almost full-time job (out of necessity) can make juggling life’s priorities difficult. I am such a doer and most of the time I don’t feel there is time to “do” everything that I think needs to be done. I can be tempted to feel like a failure on every front. God’s grace has been rich to me; through my husband who is faithful to speak the truth to me and who is my greatest cheerleader and through the members of our care group who pour out grace and care for me on a continual basis. It’s very humbling! Coming to a better understanding of God’s sovereignty and grace has helped me so much, too. I know that He is sovereign in my circumstances. I know that He could change them with just one word, and He could change ME with just one word…..and yet, He is choosing to work through my weaknesses instead, to keep me needy before Him and patiently working in me, even though I’m slow to learn!
Looking back at the years with young children (4 in 5 years!!), what would you say to young moms as encouragement? Observing the lives of the young moms at Crossway brings such encouragement to me. In a good way I envy them; I see them taking the gospel teaching being poured into them and working faithfully to build a gospel-centered foundation in their children. Two things I have pondered and that have encouraged me in my parenting are:
- 1) You are not going to do everything right. We all know this, but we all need to be reminded of God’s redeeming grace, especially in our parenting. What a comfort to know that in spite of our sin and weaknesses, the Lord loves to save and loves to redeem our children. I wish I had understood grace better when I was a young mom…..I think I could have enjoyed it better!
- 2) Even when you do things right, only the Lord can change our children’s hearts. We need to keep building the right foundation, keep teaching our kids the gospel….but never think we can hold the Lord “hostage” to saving our kids in our time and in our way. It’s always going to be by His grace and for His glory.
This verse in Isaiah was an encouragement to me when I had little ones..
He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11 ESV