Christina Kaiserman’s Story
as told by Randi Peck
One Big, Happy Family: An Idea Mourned, an Idol Born
Christina Kaiserman never felt victimized, growing up with her single mom. Like many of the other 17.4 million children being raised in single-parent families in the U.S., this was simply her reality.
In the absence of brand name clothes and lavish holidays, Christina never doubted her mother’s love; for she witnessed her work tirelessly, as a nurse, to make ends meet. And yet, from very early on, she carried the stress of unpaid bills. She sensed that her family was not whole. And she longed for security in her life.
Christina’s biological dad had been out of the picture since she was a baby, stamping out any drive to be a good or present father with drugs and alcohol. She assumed he was dead until she was nine years old because, she recalls, “No one talked about him.”
Though Christina’s mother was never interested in church, a friend started bringing her to hear about Jesus every week, in elementary school. Her grandma also played a supportive role as she was baptized at twelve years old. But while her belief in the Lord was established early, her commitment to him would fade to the background.
When Christina was thirteen, a man came into her mother’s life and she thought, finally, security would come in the form of a double-income and a makeshift family. She recalls the hope that dared rise within. After all, she had made some friends, was going to church every week, and she now had baby siblings: “I felt like my life was finally stable.”
Ultimately, however, this sense of security would slip from her fingers. Christina found herself hardly surprised when a short time later, another father figure walked out her door, and out of her life. At the same time, their family moved and Christina lost connection with her church friends.
It seemed that every year further enforced the reality that true family was a myth, financial security an illusion…. But rather than hardening herself to hope, Christina began to wind her heart around the idea of creating her own life of safety and assurance one day.
A Family of Her Own
As a sophomore in high school, Christina started dating Anthony. When he enrolled in the military, they made the decision to get married. At the age of eighteen, she sat across from her mother and informed her of their plans: “She looked [at me] like I was crazy… It wasn’t like she was being mean, she just didn’t want me to live her life.” Her mom worried that Christina was on the same path of difficulty and loneliness that she had unknowingly embarked on, at about the same age.
But against all odds, Christina and Anthony remained committed through two deployments, as he served his country in both Afghanistan and Iraq. When she looks back, she recognizes, “We both loved God and knew that God loved us, but it wasn’t what we built our marriage on initially… It was amazing to me that it still worked.”
While Anthony was on his second deployment, Christina grew depressed. She had hoped to create stability with in her new family, but now she felt more alone and uncertain than ever. It was in this state of despair that she agreed to attend church with her father-in-law.
Then when Anthony returned, and as they awaited the arrival of their first child, they began to seek out the Lord together. It was in this season that Christina realized she could not raise a family in the ways of the Lord when she herself did not understand the Bible.
During one of their first visits to Heritage, Pastor Jeff preceded his sermon by handing out some free books. The children’s Bible, he specifically handed to her: “I saw somebody pregnant in here.” Little did he know, she would take it home and read it cover to cover, over the course of the next two weeks, devouring this truth her heart had always longed for.
Christina observed the women who greeted her at church each week and recognized that, as much as she wanted to be like them and get to know them, “I had no idea how.” She decided to step out of her comfort zone and start volunteering, watching babies in the nursery. But feelings of being an outsider quickly began to crowd out the excitement she had felt for getting involved. She feared that in sharing her struggles, she would be judged or even pitied. Before long, she stopped coming to church altogether.
But God wouldn’t let her off the hook that easy. For after this season of discouragement, God gently prodded her back into church. And much more important than developing a faithful attendance record, Christina developed a hunger for the Word. A hunger for truth. A hunger for the God she kept hearing about.
Perhaps due to her roots, Christina accepted that she needed church as more than a weekly service or a moral obligation. She needed a home- a family. She needed to love and to serve; to be loved and be served. Christina admits that, to push through the difficulty of new relationships and the failed attempts to get connected, “It’s taken that mentality: that it’s family.”
The Kaisermans joined a Huddle group and continued to grow in their love for Jesus. But in the back of Christina’s mind, she was taking an inventory of her life… Now that she had graduated college, her husband was home, and their family was growing, the security she had long-sought seemed in reach.
But the limits of Christina’s control continued to be tested. First, her labor and delivery with her firstborn took a scary turn, and her neat and detailed birth plan was turned on its head. Then financial struggles continued to mount. Most difficult of all, she experienced the devastation of miscarrying her second baby.
As Christina sat in the hospital, grieving the raw loss of her child, someone attempted to console her: “You believe in God? You can find comfort in that.” Christina confesses the crisis this presented in her heart. She thought, “Yeah, but that doesn’t mean I’m not doubting all of that right now.”
But the Lord revived her heart through Pastor Jeff’s sermon, that Sunday, as he taught on 2 Corinthians 1, the “God of all comfort”. As her mind was opened to God’s purposes for suffering, she was overwhelmed with peace: “It just changed everything… It was like, okay, I can deal with that and wrap my head around that. It still hurt… [But] I had to realize it really is God’s hands at work… No matter what happens, it’s all part of his plans, and it’s going to be better for me.”
As her eyes are opened to who God is, she has grown to view each instance of being stretched as an opportunity to grow in faith: “When I feel that shadow of fear coming on, I spend a lot of time praying.” And those opportunities come, not infrequently.
For example, at one point the Kaisermans added up their monthly bills and were confounded at how to come up with the five-hundred dollars they were short. Her husband suggested, “Let’s just give it to Lord,” and, incredibly, a check for the exact amount needed showed up in their mailbox that week.
The Kaiserman’s marriage, initially formed by a couple immature teenagers without so much as a prayer or blessing at their wedding, is now being strengthened and bound together by their faith in God. A union many would deem doomed from the start is, a decade later, being shaped and strengthened by the One who “holds all things together”.
Christina acknowledges the continual temptation to make decision based on the temporal: “I want my kids to feel very safe and secure. And to know, this is my home and it’s not going anywhere. And my dad’s not going anywhere. And it’s all going to be okay.”
Of course, what mother doesn’t want this for her children? For her family? For herself? And yet, Christina recognizes the life God calls her to is not one of earthly assurance. More than she wants stability, she wants to leave a legacy of loving Christ.
This past year, after Christina gave up her income to be at home fulltime, their family was given the incredible opportunity to buy a house from her mom for far less than it was worth. The only “problem” with this 3,500 square-foot house: “What was I going to do with all those seven rooms?” But instead of snatching up this blessing as a step toward security, the Kaisermans felt God tugging on their heart to fill those rooms with children… Foster children, who were experiencing the devastating effects of losing their own families and homes.
As they finish the application process, Christina is still working through her fears. After all, she will be opening up her home to be the very “revolving door” which she had vowed not to imitate from her childhood. Only, this revolving door will bring healing, not heartbreak. Restoration, rather than abandonment. “I hear stories, good and bad. The bad ones kind of scare me,” she confesses. But right when she begins to think, “I don’t know if this is the best thing for my family… Two days later, I will hear some story of some amazing redemption that’s beautiful, through foster care. And those stories always outweigh the bad. I feel like that’s God encouraging me … Whether the bad happens or the good happens, God has a plan in it and it will be okay.”
Over the past few years, as idols are being uprooted and ideas born, God continues to reveal his faithfulness to Christina. It is only this discovery- of Christ himself- that enables her to lay down her idea of what family should be, and her desire for security. She has learned that, “Knowledge alone isn’t going to get you anywhere,” but her life is evidence that loving and leaning upon the Lord does. Each surrendering up of temporal comfort draws Christina closer and closer into the arms of the “God of all comfort”.
“It really is in God’s hands.”