A Big Complicated Family

A Big Complicated Family

Posted on August 31, 2016

Leading up to Grace Church's 25th Anniversary, we are counting down the days by posting 25 blog posts in 25 days by 25 authors (well, 24... Dave wrote twice)! The post below is one of these posts. 


By the time I was 25 I had lived in ten different family situations.

1. For the first nine or 10 years of my life I lived with my mom, dad, an older sister, and an older brother (six and seven years older, respectively). 
2. My parents divorced and I lived for a couple of years with a single mom and my brother and sister. 
3. My siblings soon graduated and left the house which left me to experience living virtually as an only child with a single mom. 
4. But that didn’t last very long as my mom remarried and I found myself living with my mom and a stepdad. My stepdad happened to have three children (a boy several years older than me and two girls younger than me) and the girls visited our home every other weekend. 
5. At about the same time, my dad remarried a woman who had five children (three older boys and a younger girl and boy).  That certainly changed the dynamics in the home when I visited my dad! 
6. Then, when I was 13, my mom and stepdad decided to move to another community and I decided to live with my dad. At the time, two of my older stepbrothers and my younger stepsister and step brother were all living with my dad and stepmom.  So, I became the middle child among five. 
7. Shortly after, the two older stepbrothers moved out and I finished my high school years and first two years of college as an older brother of three kids. 
8. At age 20, I married my amazing wife and I finished college living as a young married couple without kids.
9. At age 22, our first of four children was born and we were parents of an only child.
10. At age 25, our second child was born and we were parents of a boy and a girl.

Ok, I am exhausted just recounting that brief history of my childhood and early adult years. And, the dynamics of my big complicated family continue to this day (I have four adult children and three grandchildren along with countless nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews, etc.). Just imagine birthdays and holidays! But, as big and as complicated as it is, it is my family—and I love them. My family has shaped me and influenced me. While I’m not relationally close to everyone who makes up my twisted family tree, I am thankful that God worked in the midst of all those family dynamics to teach me about accepting people, adjusting to circumstances, sharing space and stuff, and putting the good of the whole family above my personal desires and preferences. I’ve learned that big and complicated does not equal bad.

I have often referred to Grace Church as a big complicated family. If we traced back over 25 years we would remember many names and faces, ministry expressions, leadership structures, buildings, and experiences. I joined this family over 21 years ago and I have personally watched as Grace has grown, changed, adapted, and become bigger and more complicated over the years. I’ve not only watched it, I’ve experienced it. And, I’ve had the incredible privilege to help lead and influence it as a pastor. But Grace Church has shaped and influenced me far more than I have shaped and influenced it. God has use the worship, teaching, ministries, experiences, and most of all, the people of Grace to transform me. God has worked in the midst of this big complicated family that I love to influence my life and my family in ways that I could never have imagined 21 years ago. And, I’ve been amazed at how God has used the family of Grace to change the world. I’ll save those stories for another day!

So, whether you are new to the family or you were here when we became a family, I hope you can join me in being thankful to God for who he has made us to be—a big complicated, and powerfully transforming family of Christ-followers who can, together, change lives and this world in Jesus’ name! Imagine the next 25 years!


I think our first Sunday at Grace you were introduced as the new children's pastor. I remember serving our "required" time in the nursery and making friends and the being recruited by Sandi Nussbaum to serve as"story lady" for the 2-3 year olds. We've come a long way😊

Posted by Ann Marie Ravenna on August 31, 2016 @ 10:17 am