OPEN: Riley + Xandra Egge

Photos by Merissa Humes, Story by Riley + Xandra Egge | July 5, 2023

Where were you on July 4, 2019? Most likely eating a hot dog and some watermelon, waiting for the fireworks to begin? Well, for Xandra and Riley, they were about to meet For the very first time. They met that night, four years ago, set up on a blind date by one of Xandra's many sisters. And while the only sparks that flew that night were in the night sky, something was brewing between the two of them.

Do you remember what were you doing on June 20th, 2020? While most of us were hunkered down and figuring out a path forward in the still evolving COVID pandemic, Riley and Xandra were having an incredibly small and discreet wedding, in Xandra's parents' backyard. Immediate family attended but that was it. They knew they wanted to get married and wanted to tackle whatever was to come next TOGETHER.

Any idea what happened in your life for the two weeks following? The brand new Egge Family was soon blindsided by a situation that would test their resolve and their bourgeoning relationship, and help them redefine community and what it should look like for them as they tentatively stepped back into it.


First impressions?

Riley: She was really cute and definitely not interested in me!

Discovery Community Church: First off, I'm always curious as to who grew up in the church and who didn't. I find that's where my assumptions fade and curiosity grows! So, were either of you in church as kids?

Riley Egge: I have been going to church for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I really enjoyed Sunday school because my dad led children's worship on the guitar, which made me want to learn how to play. When I was young, I remember having such a close relationship with Jesus, where I would ask Him silly questions, and He would answer, like if I lost my football and cried, I would ask Jesus where it was, and He would help me find it. 

Xandra Egge: I grew up in church as well, but had a completely different experience. My siblings and I were the only brown kids at a hyper-conservative white Presbyterian church. So to me, the whole thing was uncomfortable and also super boring.

DCC: So, Xandra, how did that shape your view of church moving forward? Did you become more selective about where you attended as a grown up?

XE: Definitely! Now, I try to experience church on my own terms, and not blindly, in spaces where I feel safe and can relearn Jesus's love and what that means for me.

DCC: Is that what initially drew you to Discovery?

XE: It was one of the things, yes. I liked that it was in a familiar spot. I grew up right down the road, off 56th and A St. Then, I was drawn to the different groups around racial equity and learning. I don't think God's love is avoidant, so it was important to me that this was a church that was responding to community hurts in real time.

RE: Xandra and I fasted and prayed for an extended period of time when we were looking for a new church. As we did, we wrote down 3 main things we were looking for in a church: 1) A church where we can be ourselves, let our walls down and grow with others in the community. 2) A church that is actively investing in its community. 3) A church that is deeply committed to doing racial reconciliation work, so that the manifold(multicolored) wisdom of God would be made known. 

DCC: Those were some of my reasons, too!


First impressions?

Xandra: He was very present. I noticed his green eyes and I was like, yeah, that’s pretty cute.

DCC: Congratulations on your third wedding anniversary last month! It must still feel like you're newlyweds in some areas and in others that you've been together forever, given the context of these past three years in particular.

RE: Very true!

DCC: Can you tell us about that first year of marriage? I remember from talking with you previously that you'd been involved in an accident of some kind?

RE: Seven days after our wedding, Xandra and got hit by a truck that ran a red light. It was a hit-and-run. The airbags didn't deploy on my old 97' Camry and I hit my head on the steering wheel. Luckily, we didn't have any super serious injuries, just minor concussions, whiplash and a totaled car. The bad news came on slowly afterward. I have always struggled with migraines since being a little kid. I began to get pretty bad headaches from the concussion, but as the concussion subsided, the headaches kept getting worse. They continued to spiral into chronic migraine. I started to have daily migraines that would reach a 7 - 9 on the 1-10 pain scale. Finding help from doctors was really slow going. I was so sick that I lost touch with the church I was going to. I could no longer lead worship, or even attend a service. So, Xandra found herself caretaking for me, a few weeks into a brand new marriage right in the middle of the pandemic. She was very much struggling with burnout from supporting us financially on top of all of that.

DCC: Wow, that's intense. I'm so sorry! And not only were you newlyweds, but you'd only known each other for a little over a year in total. What was that like, from a relationship standpoint?

XE: All we wanted was just to enjoy each other and our new life! But INSTEAD, the next months were full of chiropractor appointments, insurance claims and those chronic migraines Riley mentioned. I was working full time, and we were both trying to juggle pain, depression and appointments. You're very right, it was kind of an intense way to learn who leaves laundry on the floor and which one of you is a person who forgets to buy more toilet paper. Your normal range of reactions is just amplified by 1000.


Xandra, five words to describe Riley:

Passionate, creative, wrestler, learner, WHIRLWIND!


Riley, five words to describe Xandra:

Honest, just, gracious, creative, witty

DCC: This all seems like it could've been acutely isolating for you two. Was it? How did you care for each other best?

RE: The past three years following the accident have been some of the hardest of my life. I found myself in a new city ( I grew up on the peninsula) and unable to do anything that I felt gave me value. I did not know how to share with many people the level of pain that I was in, struggling with an invisible illness. So many relationships fell away, right when I needed them most. That being said, I am deeply grateful for that time. When I look back on the past three years of MARRIAGE, I have had such an amazing time. Xandra and I have had so much fun growing up and going through life together. Xandra and learned to fall apart together, love each other at our lowest, and have a super good time cooking, cleaning, working and growing alongside each other. 

XE: It was really isolating. I guess a lot of people think you are supposed to leave newlyweds alone anyways, so that didn't help either. We tried to support each other in finding hobbies and things that helped us cope and feel creative. We had to speak a lot of reassurance over each other when we felt stuck and depressed. We were in crisis mode, but we tried to make space for things that felt like more than survival to help each other remember we wouldn't be in the same spot forever.

DCC: Wow, that's just incredibly mature and forward thinking. So thankful that God grew that in both of you!


What’s something the other person does that makes you laugh the hardest?

Xandra: Riley’s impression of Russell Crowe singing “Stars” from the movie version of Les Miserable literally kills me.

Riley: Probably Xandra trying to beat me at thumb wars and losing every time. EVERY. TIME.

DCC: It doesn't sound like you were able to attend church at all during this time. How did your family and friends help you both pick yourselves up and move forward?

XE: Essentially it was through food and listening. Riley's mom shared a lot of food with us and my friends and sisters did a lot of listening to me cry.

RE: I owe at lot to Xandra and my parents for helping keep me afloat during those dark times. They encouraged me and reminded me who I was, where God was taking me, and grieved with me when I felt like I couldn't keep going on.

XE: You're right, we did have to stop attending church.

RE: After eight years of being deeply involved in church leadership, it was a super abrupt and painful transition. After half a year or so, I was able to be a part of a small popup house church which was an amazing time of healing and grieving. 

XE: That home church we started attending was so needed. We could be sick and struggling on the couch and still participate. 


What’s your relationship superpower?

Xandra: It’s how we lean in; leaning in together through the fun and the fights and the growth.

DCC: Did you purposefully take some time when you first visited Discovery to feel things out, or did you jump right in with both feet? Why or why not?

RE: The period of time after our accident taught me a lot. I learned that just because you serve alongside someone, doesn't mean that you are truly building relationships that last. Church relationship changed dramatically for us when I got sick and could no longer serve. Because of that, we felt like it was important for us to get to know the actual people of Discovery. Also, I think it's important to realize that going through seasons of hiddenness and simplicity where you are not always serving is a good thing. So, we are approaching our service with better boundaries and more thought. 

XE: We had and have a lot of healing to do, so jumping in right away didn't seem smart. We want to have sustainable relationships which means saying no a lot of the time, so what we do give, we can give freely.

RE: Yes! Also, I think it's important to realize that going through seasons of hiddenness and simplicity where you are not always serving is a good thing. So, we are approaching our service with better boundaries and more thought. 


What’s your relationship superpower?

Riley: Honestly, it’s that we learn to love each other more as we change and grow.

DCC: I see now that you've stepped into different spaces of service within our community: leading worship, joining a small group, coordinating Sports and Arts Camp later this month...What made now the right time?

XE: To be perfectly honest, we thought it [Sports and Arts Camp] would be an easy no! But, we met with Kirstin and decided to pray about it and felt like God wanted us to lean into being stretched. It's all pretty overwhelming and uncomfortable, so we continue to lean into the growth God has for us and hope that by trusting Him with the rest, everything will work out.

RE: Right now, life is super full. But one of our main mission values is that we invest deeply in our community. We felt like even though this is a significant role, God would provide the Grace for us to serve and love on our community, especially the next generation. As we prayed, also felt like this was not something we are going to need to carry alone. So far, Disco has been eager to help and support in every aspect of the event. Lastly, when we prayed, we felt Jesus telling us to go for it. Sometimes saying yes is as simple as that! 


DCC: Sometimes a yes IS as simple as that. I need to tell myself that sometimes! Finally, in this intentions season of 120 Days of Prayer that we are in, how can we be praying for you two?

XE: Oh man, so many things. Both Riley and I still need prayer for our health. Chronic illness is an ongoing faith battle. I'm searching for new work at the moment, trying to trust God in the dreaming process. I'm praying for God to show us His vision for our family and to learn how to follow Jesus when it feels impossible.

RE: As we focus on Sports & Arts Camp, our hope is that many kids would come to know Jesus. It's amazing how many people we talk to that share stories about giving their life to Jesus at 4, 5, or 6 years old. When we say yes to Jesus, it changes our life forever, even if those seeds take time to grow. So, let's pray that our next generation comes to know Jesus Christ, the one who all life and goodness flow from. Also, let's pray for continued connection and partnership with our community in east Tacoma. 

DCC: We will be praying for you. Thank you so much for stepping into service to our community and our greater neighborhood. We love you guys!