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The Promise is Hidden

By August 15, 2019 11 Comments

This morning there was a frog in my shower.

I was at a campground in Northern Michigan, and the little green guy was all huddled up in the corner. Maybe looking for cooler temps, or more moisture, or maybe I’d just scared him until he backed in there and hoped I couldn’t see.

My family and I moved into a 19’ trailer this week. Our house is rented, our stuff is in storage, our last paychecks deposited. (I’ll be working but a handful of hours remotely for the CRC’s Office of Social Justice.) 

I write this from the front seat of a Toyota Tundra, my kids and dog stuffed in the back seat. We are heading north. Then west. Then, who knows.

My husband and I decided it was time to do something different — something radical, something risky, something we’ve never done before. There’s lots of reasons why, and some are probably more interesting than others. Some have to do with politics. Some with Jesus. Some with marriage. Some with parenting. But all of them are pointing us toward the same thing: more space. 

So we’re living in a lot less space, and hoping it will give us more space. More space to follow passions and interests, to follow our kids feelings, to follow the Holy Spirit’s promptings. There just hasn’t been a lot of space for that in this modern life, it seems. Too many cell phones and google calendar appointments, too many emails and too many headlines, too many possessions and too many “just a second, I’m busy”s.

There’s this line from an Advent devotional by Henri Nouwen. “When I have no eyes for the small signs of God’s presence – the smile of a baby, the carefree play of children, the words of encouragement and gestures of love offered by friends – I will always remain tempted to despair. . . The work of our salvation takes place in the midst of a world that continues to shout, scream, and overwhelm us with its claims and promises. But the promise is hidden in the shoot that sprouts from the stump, a shoot that hardly anyone notices.” (“Reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent” from the Henri Nouwen Society)

I got worried that I had no eyes for those small signs anymore. So, this risky, wild, off-the-wall decision is a way of getting those eyes back.

I am investing in shoots and stumps, in the play of children, in gestures of love, in shower-buddy frogs. It is my hope that this will be my antidote to despair, my inoculation to overwhelm, the work of my salvation.

(If you want to follow along, check out @family.rerouting on Instagram.)

Kate Kooyman

Rev. Kate Kooyman is a minister of the Reformed Church in America who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


  • mstair says:

    “It is my hope that this will be my antidote to despair, … “

    No, not despair; not for A Child of God. Praying that it will vanish – supplanted by mysterious, unexplainable peace ….

    … traveling mercies …

  • Helen P says:

    Rest well Kate…and get back perspective.


  • Lynn Setsma says:

    Thanks, Kate. Retirement has given me this kind of space and I am often overwhelmed with gratitude. May you experience all the space you need my friend.

  • Grace Shearer says:

    Thanks, Kate. You and your family are on an interesting journey. Hope all goes well and that you enjoy your new space. Blessings!

  • Karen Schuitema says:

    Thanks, Kate! May this year be all that and more! Know that my prayers follow and surround you and your precious ones.

  • Lou Roossien says:

    Kate, thanks for reminding me of little green creatures and surprising shoots sprouting from stumps (like from that seemingly dead stump in my Grandpa Pete’s backyard)… and that our Creator nurtured the little shoot from the roots in the stump of Jesse. For the sake of “righteousness and justice”, and a bit of camping shalom, even little children can lead us. Praying for your and yours to play well…

  • Daniel Meeter says:

    The way the crow shook down on me
    The dust of snow from a hemlock tree
    Has given my heart a change of mood
    And saved one part of a day I had rued.

  • Thomas Goodhart says:

    Great for you! I’m a little jealous…

  • Beth Jammal says:

    God’s blessing to you and your family. Such a valuable time of learning and growing.

  • Elly says:

    I’m sure it’s not lost on you, how privileged you are to be able to do this. Safe travels!

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