Babies on the Bus: Trust in Life Unfolding

Volunteer Babysitters

“Hey, Out of the Grey, here’s your babysitter for the day,” said Ron, the road manager. The teenage boy stood at the door of our tour bus and reached to shake our hands. Gulp. My husband and I exchanged a quick glance then invited him into our home on the road.  Up the steps came another test of my trust in the unfolding nature of life.

Scott and I were touring with Steven Curtis Chapman as his opening act. Our 8-month-old baby was along for the ride. Therefore, the road manager had arranged volunteer nannies at each venue so we could do a quick soundcheck, graze through catering, and play our 20-minute set.

In each town, generous people donated their time to care for our baby. They came in many shapes and ages. We often scored a wonderful middle-aged woman partial to babies and unimpressed with performers.

Occasionally, Scott and I punted the sitter for the day. Like the woman we met in the green room at an arena show. Our would-be nanny was a tough-looking lady, part of the local load-in crew. Waving her cigarette, she reached for baby Julian and told us how good she was with kids. Probably she was. We just weren’t good with smoke in our precious baby’s lungs.

“Um, we’re sorry to say we don’t need you today. But thank you for offering to help.”

Eager Teenager

However, the eager teenage boy was a toss-up. Could he take care of a baby? And why would he want to? The road manager brought him to the bus because Julian was asleep in his portable crib. We were due on stage for a soundcheck. I hesitated.

“If the baby wakes up, bring him right into the venue,” I said.trust in life unfolding

Concern crossed the boy’s face. “He might wake up?”

Ron clomped up the bus steps from the street. “Scott and Christine, they’re waiting for you. C’mon or you’ll lose your soundcheck. Doors open in 15.”

Ugh, we had to go.

Scott said to the young man, “He’ll probably keep sleeping. Christine will be back soon. Just check on him once or twice. Oh, and thanks.”

Scott and I traded worried looks as we hurried through the stage door. Singing a quick verse of a song while Scott played guitar, I got a good balance of sound in my monitor. Then I rushed back to the bus to discover the young caregiver sitting in the front lounge, tossing a cassette tape in his hands. He jumped up when he saw me, relieved. Julian had stayed asleep.

After thanking him, I said we wouldn’t need him for the rest of the evening. He held out the cassette.

“Do you think I could meet Steven Curtis Chapman and get him to sign this for me?”

I laughed. “Yes. Let me pick up the baby and you can follow us inside to find Steven.”

Trust in Life Unfolding

trust in life unfoldingThe song, “Unfolding,” comes to mind when I remember these scenarios. We wrote it in the throes of performing our music and raising our children. It became part of our third Out of the Grey record, Diamond Days.

How many times did I worry about my baby boy in the tumult of travel? And then our two baby girls who followed to journey with us? How many miles did I sit and stare out the window of a rolling vehicle that carried my family down another highway, wondering how this touring-artist thing would turn out? I never knew what was around the bend, waiting at the next performance, the next tour when this one ended.

However, my 2020 hindsight tells me that trusting the changing nature of life was the only way to go. The unfolding was inevitable. Better to surrender to the flow.

But I didn’t trust the unfolding much. The erratic character of road life made me anxious. I longed for predictable patterns and solvable puzzles. Also, I needed my kids to be safe and have the best situation for their growth. My desire to impact the lives of others, to be engaged in the great adventure, added to my angst. The tour bus window, wide as it was, only framed a small stretch of sky. Sometimes, I couldn’t see beyond mere survival.

The years rolled on. Scott and I eventually hired nannies who rode the buses with us when they weren’t helping at home while we worked on another record. These dear ladies also became dear friends. Eventually, the added miles and experiences subtracted from my stress. I kept my eyes and my mind open. Companions in cramped buses and audiences in wide venues showed me I was playing a good part, in my children’s lives and in the lives of others. My clenched fist unfolded a bit.

The Changing Nature of Life

In the upheaval of touring, my questions to God were always: How does each soul fit into the big picture? Can You really care for me, my family, and each stranger we meet along the way? From the middle of my tiny story, I scanned the horizon for the grander scheme.

Now that I’m off the road, I volunteer as a babysitter for my grandson. Watching my grown son and his wife work on their version of the unfolding story, I know they know how the future gets done. They try to live the moments one by one. May they trust their small choices and acts of love that add up to compose the bigger picture.

As a fifty-something, my energy for engaging the wider world is flagging. But I continue to ask the big questions: Can I still have an impact, make a splash in my little pond? Believing it is possible, I write. I write to the young adults puzzling it out as I did almost three decades ago. I write for the older folks, too, who wonder at their purpose and position in Creation.

My hope and prayer are that we may all enjoy life now, trust in its unfolding nature, its steady, relentless stream. We cannot see our impact in our small stretches of imagination, but we always have a part in the grandeur of the grander scheme unfolding.

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36 thoughts on “Babies on the Bus: Trust in Life Unfolding”

  1. Love this blog! Really interesting to hear about your (past) life on the road and also couldn’t agree more with your conclusion. In church we’ve been learning that sometimes our journey is a winding staircase. We can only see a few steps ahead of us and can’t see the end, but we keep going higher and higher, closer to Jesus.

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  2. Hello! I was one of Julian’s babysitters at a Mpls Christian club in 1995. I was in early pregnancy with my first child at the time and remember having a pager and some books to read to baby Julian. We had a short sweet time together reading stories! Later that year, I gave birth to my firstborn (a boy). During pregnancy, everything had felt so safe and dreamy, then after he was born I wanted to protect him so much, it surprised me. 4 sons and many years later, it’s been quite a process in trusting them into God’s care as we go along. Thank you so much for your relatable and encouraging blogs written with transparency and honesty! I look forward to reading them very much!

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  3. Christine, I’m so glad you wrote about “Unfolding,” which is my all-time favorite Out of the Grey song, perfect both musically and lyrically. I’ve written to you before that your music intersected my life very meaningfully in the mid-90s. “Diamond Days” came out in 1994, a few months before my wife and I started dating, and the next three years saw me finish graduate school, start my first job, get married, and start married life. Those were heady times, full of excitement but also uncertainty, the same emotions you wrote about. Since I turned 50 (I’m just a couple years behind you), I’ve often wondered: would I rather be in my early 50s or my late 20s? I can completely relate to your “energy for engaging the wider world flagging” (my memory also isn’t as good as it used to be), but I can respond now to the events of life with greater wisdom and perspective, and I can look back with deeper gratitude at how God has kept me through the years. Late 20s me lived with greater energy and optimism, but also a certain amount of anxiety about the unknown: buying a house, raising kids, carving out a career, making a mark for God’s kingdom. The one constant from then until now is that our great God was and is unfolding His plans according to His good purposes. That’s why I love your song every time I hear it. Thank you as always for sharing (and how would you answer my question: early 50s or late 20s?).

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    • Nigel, you said it well: In my twenties, I lived with the energy and the anxiety you describe. The fifties have weakened my memory and body. I’ll take early-fifites wisdom and experience with twenty-something brain and health! Thanks for listening and engaging again ( :

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  4. Thank you for being authentic. This is one of the most powerful thing! You, sharing the real you, is one of the ways you still serve the “crowd” part of your life. I know that you continue to make my life better. You are a good friend. Hugs and love to you. Keep on keeping on. You are more than enough.

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  5. It never occurred to me at the time I was consuming your music that other chapters of our lives would connect and produce a new narrative. This is a new thing made possible by your ongoing curiosity and openness. Thank you for courageously walking in plain view and letting us walk with you. Blessings!

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  6. each year starts another journey into the unknown. The body slows just a bit, there is more past, a bit less future in which to fulfill hopes and dreams. And then there is our Lord, who speaks in a soft voice, indirectly, through events and through the voice of others in our lives. It’s often easy to miss the message and thus feel as if life lacks direction and purpose. That has hit me like no other time previously, has me on my heels many days. I pray for peace, for a sense of knowing that I am in the center of God’s will for the present and future. Thanks for the opportunity to share in your seeking and to share mine

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    • Nathan, I agree with everything you said. A louder, more direct voice would be nice, sometimes. These unknowns are nothing new to humanity but new to each one of us as we experience them. Thanks for weighing in.

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  7. I remember seeing you in concert Some years ago and just loving your music! I was blessed to see you a few years ago at the Well coffee house and your voice is still just beautiful. It’s so nice to know you a little a better through your writing and see how your beautiful family has grown.

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  8. I can’t imagine juggling babies and a road show. It must have been a great relief when you got help to come along! Every dream has a price, doesn’t it! And I totally get that about losing interest in some things as you get older. I’ve always had a long list of dreams and I’ve often wondered how or if I would get to to them all. But I find that over the years, God either heightens the desire for the dreams or they fade away and that helps me focus on what to do next. He is so good!

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  9. Hi Christine. Great to hear from you. Every time you email me I know that what I have to read will challenge and inspire me. I am not yet in my 50’s but not that far away and I fully understand where you’re coming from. I have one son who is an adult and 3 teenagers fast approaching adulthood in my household (2 girls 2 boys). Your music and lyrics have meant a lot to me over the years and I now relate much better to some of the songs than when I first heard them even though I loved them at the time. Please keep going with this blog. It’s a ray of light in what can sometimes be the gloom of everyday existence. Blessings to you and family.

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  10. Great story!!! Thanks so much for sharing – would also love to see photos of mom, dad and band from the stage from that time period. Or any period lol! Always love seeing your new shares here

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  11. I met you and Scott after a show here in the Chicago area when my niece, Juliana, was traveling with you as your nanny – I know she loved being with your family and my Dad and sister and I enjoyed your performance immensely – C

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  12. I’m always excited to see the veil lifted on what inspired a favorite Out of the Grey song of mine! I recently did a column on my 20 favorite songs of yours; “Unfolding” was #8 on the list, and this is what I had to say about it:

    I feel like this song got overlooked by a lot of folks. It was technically a single, but I can’t remember it doing more than modestly well on the charts (back when I actually bothered to listen to the weekly Top 20 countdown on my local Christian radio station – a questionable hobby that was often more frustrating than fun). It was a bit more of a relaxed turn after the one-two opening punch of “If I Know You” and “All We Need” on that album, but this one resonated with me more than those two songs did. It was actually my favorite track on the album for a while. Superficially, I was once again drawn in by the reverb-y guitar and the snappy percussion – even for a mellower song, they were leaning a lot more heavily on the crisp sound of a live drum kit on Diamond Days than they had on The Shape of Grace, which in many places felt like it relied more on programmed drums. It’s funny because I think of Diamond Days as their glossiest pop record out of them all, and yet there was an underrated live element to that record that I think made it a more fulfilling listen, even if these were things I wasn’t actively listening for at the time. But more than that, I was drawn to Christine’s wordsmithing here, as she subtly played with homonyms, declaring that she wanted to see “The grandeur of the grander scheme unfolding”. The song was born out of a desire to not just see the world from her own myopic perspective, but to understand what God was doing in other people’s lives, especially those who didn’t live in her same city or espouse her same worldview. This is a theme that I feel has come up in her songwriting multiple times – most recently “Culdesac Cathy” on her Closer to Free EP. It was a refreshing change of pace from the glut of “If I could only get the world to see things my way” sorts of songs I was used to hearing on Christian radio at the time.

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    • Wow, David, I appreciate your review and your insights. Astute of you to notice that Diamond Days brought Steve Brewster to the mix. His eclectic drum/ percussion style made those songs pop! Thanks for investing the time and attention : )

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  13. I woke up one morning recently scanning my iPhone for your albums. Somehow they didn’t copy over with my new iPhone. Found your music on iTunes. Listening to your music again was like being with an old friend.

    In the 90s my husband surprised me with tickets to one of your shows in the San Diego area. Loved it.

    The conversation of touring brought back memories. I toured with a group in the “Up With People” era. Now I’m really aging myself. In my early twenties it was a lot of fun getting to travel but by year four not so much. I can’t imagine touring with children but if you have kids there’s no other way. I bless you for valuing your children as you also touched people’s lives. We’re ready for another album. ☺️

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    • Amanda, thanks for being a long time listener. Yes, the touring thing is exhilarating at first but gets old as we do 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  14. Very sweet musings! Love reading about your adventures…. I am so glad I ran across your recent FB video because I wondered what had become of you guys after all the albums and Scott’s show, etc, then poof–you were gone!!! Anyway, I believe I bought just about all of your albums–loved them all so much. But your album “Becoming” really got me through the toughest part of my life, a devastating divorce… the songs really really touched and helped me. —–Anyhoo, I hope to hear more music from you either together or as OOTG==Stay safe and God give you grace and peace always! your new little friend, Stephanie 🙂

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    • Stephanie, Thanks for reading my post and for letting me know : ) I am glad Becoming helped you through some hard parts–helped me too!

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  15. Can’t miss with this:

    “Along the road:”

    “Blessing in disguise”
    “Walk on, waiting to be found”
    “Breathe on me, angels”

    Interior reflection; superior direction.

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