Cahaba Heights church of Christ in Birmingham, Alabama

Kashka Hargis was a toddler when her mom and dad moved to Beaverton, Oregon and began worshipping with us. Always very sweet and cheerful, her parents, Ericka and Daron raised her to be as pleasant and poised as a Disney princess. In time, when Kashka eventually went off to college, we all missed her happy little giggle and gentle positivity. She was not long at college when she met her future husband, Gregory Kline, who was himself in the early stages of preparing to preach the gospel. Gregory proposed to Kashka at Disneyworld, amongst an elaborate array of carefully thought out lovely surprises involving her family being present for the big proposal day. When we saw the proposal video everyone knew this was the man for Kashka, and that he would certainly dwell with his princess “in an understanding way” (1 Peter 3:7) and if there was ever going to be a “happily ever after” this love story seemed to have all the right stuff.

Some time after the engagement, Kashka began to ponder more often what life as a preacher’s wife might look and feel like, and what she might do to prepare herself for the challenges and blessings that could lay ahead. She invited me to share my story and perspectives on the matter over dinner one night at Thai Bloom while we dined on Tom Kha soup and Penang Chicken. I shared with her this story:

I decided to live in this so called "glass house" when I was 14, of being a preacher's wife. The reasons were numerous, and may have even included some “nudges from above”. I believe in that kind of thing. I was deeply in love with my Savior and wanted to forever be as close to Him as I could be. For me that meant immersing myself in the work of God by being the wife of a preacher. I was disinterested about the “public eye” piece of the decision, except that I figured the extra accountability of living in a “glass house” would be extra motivation for me to always stretch to do my best, and I felt the self-imposed social pressure of needing to set a good example by making little sacrifices day to day would perhaps make my family’s life more fruitful spiritually.
During career counseling, I realized the classes I had enjoyed most in high school touched on topics I still find the most interesting: psychology, sociology, human behavior, brain science and counseling, and I knew much of what I was learning and would continue to learn in college would be useful in this kind of work.

I also knew I wanted to make the biggest difference for good in the world I possibly could, and had taken to heart that if one soul was worth more than the entire world, then working toward changing the eternal destiny of souls would be the ultimate life well-lived. Plus I loved how in the course of helping individuals, that such an undertaking would be making the world a better place on every level , given the reality that the virtues of Christianity bring only peace and beauty to lives and cultures and prevent every social problem that I’d seen bring so much chaos throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s. Like every Christian life ever lived, in the end, it would be a little like the sweet story in “It’s a Wonderful Life” with its beautiful and immeasurable ripple effects adding quality to the lives open to our influence.

I had anticipated my decision to be a preacher’s wife would likely mean a lifetime of financial instability and struggle, but the personal satisfaction and feeling I would experience from the realization that I was fulfilling my purpose for being created --- to help people --- this would be quite worth the financial strain. I was grateful for this perspective my mother had been instrumental in forming within me. Surviving on my dad’s humble paychecks as a gas station attendant and later a letter carrier, still, every time she was overwhelmed over her priceless, intangible blessings of life she would repeatedly exclaim with genuine enthusiasm “I’m the richest woman in the world!” She taught me to measure our standard of living, not by those around us who had more, but rather to compare what we had to everyone who had lived long before us, as well as our contemporaries in undeveloped countries. I never lost that deep gratitude just being born when and where I was. Even if I struggled financially on a preacher’s salary and even if I was forced to repeatedly relocate, I too would be “The richest woman in the world”.

In the end, we only relocated once, and it was voluntary. And rather than struggling financially for a lifetime, we only struggled somewhat for about 30 years--- which was good for us. There’s a kind of fulfillment that only comes by doing hard things, and a small part of me sometimes even enjoyed the challenge of stretching our dollars, for example, by making our secondhand décor and wardrobe look like a million bucks.

It had been about seven years since that dinner conversation with Kashka and the elegant country wedding of her and her soulmate, Gregory that took place shortly thereafter. When we arrived in Birmingham, Alabama to visit them, they’d only been at their new work with the Cahaba church of Christ in Birmingham, Alabama for about nine months. Because they moved right as COVID was preventing large gatherings, they had little closure with their beloved former congregation in Orlando, and Gregory only was allowed to preach once, before similar laws had the congregation meeting remotely. This, of course, was far from the first challenge Gregory and Kashka had faced together as “newly marrieds”, but such is the life of any princess and prince, in this story, this happy pair were realists all along, both understanding that all the challenges of life need not undo one’s “happily ever after”. It was good to see, during our visit, their hearts so tightly knitted together both to one another and to their new congregation. The Klines expressed to me their deep appreciation of the open, welcoming arms into this new church family and how quickly they felt included when they arrived. We witnessed this bonding firsthand, after several members expressed to us how blessed they felt to have this happy couple in their midst. In fact, one gentleman who happened to announce during our visit his farewell from the congregation in order to be physically closer to extended family during his elderly years, got teary and gave Gregory a public “thank you” for something creative I’d like to mention, that this congregation does to grow spiritually both as individuals and together.

They, like many great congregations, enjoy an annual daily Bible reading program together. Theirs’s happens to consists of a brief Old Testament section, a Psalm or two, and one chapter of the New Testament. Five days each week, a deacon daily posts all the daily Bible readings, word for word, into an email for the members. On those same days, Gregory posts a video commentary on each New Testament reading to YouTube that is sent out in an email with the direct link to that day’s video.

These spiritual feastings on the same bread of life together, combined with Gregory’s taking the time to write supplemental material corresponding to the daily readings to complement and help the flock make applications to life, reminds me of the old adage “Families that eat together, stay together” --- an expression that often rings true not just physically, but spiritually as well.

Here’s to happily ever afters!

Cahaba Heights church of Christ
4602 Caldwell Mill Road
Birmingham, AL 35243
(205) 967-2150