Five years ago, when we very first started talking about church planting, I was a family-mama-blogger writing to a much smaller crowd in a much less intentional way. To be totally honest, I wasn't the most receptive to church planting when Nick first pitched the idea to me. I'll never forget how it went down because we were snowed in by a massive storm in Seattle and Nick and I were stuck in the house together for five days when he first laid the idea. I told him "no way, no how" but he asked me to pray and five days later, I told him in a relenting, defeated way - "yes, yes, ok." During that massive snowstorm, I remember sitting on our bed in Seattle and Nick pointing at the computer while I was blogging and he said, "And I want you to tell the whole story. Blog through it. Encourage other church planter's wives and women who are terrified of what their husband is called to."
Now it's five years later and my heart is in a much different place. We've served at one church plant and he's pastored at another. We're moving to Charleston this week and I'm more than happy to identify with being a church planter's wife - not from a place of pride or knowing anything at all, but from the humbled place of a woman who has had the mess loved out of her and who has received grace upon grace when it comes to the body of Christ. Nick and I are truly equipped by the gospel-based community that has been poured out on us over the past few years. I haven't written a ton about the ministry that goes on in our churches over the past few years, but I would like to begin to tell the stories. Whether you're a church planter's wife or a pastor's wife or a wife or a future wife - I pray that as the grace pours out of my cracked places and words, you'll be blessed and encouraged.
The stories I have right now are all sending stories - little glimpses of ways we've been put into that I want to remember and cherish and hold on the days when we might feel alone, tired, or beat up by ministry.
Last week, we had a big fun goodbye leadership dinner at the Arnolds. First of all, we love our friends, the Arnolds, and their house so much. It's a beautiful family home on a ton of land and every corner of the home feels magical and loving. The Arnolds have seven kids and they're some of the most relaxed and intentional and best parents I've ever met. I literally could write an entire post on Hannah and Bryce and what a blessing they've been to us and Gospel Community Charleston, so I might just save more on them for later.
Anyhow, we had our big leadership dinner at their home - there were probably 50 of us including adults and kids - just enjoying a sweet Indiana night. All the other pastors and deacons in Indiana are real guys-guys. They're into shooting guns and they know how to fix stuff. They constantly pick on Nick for being a city boy, which he doesn't mind in the slightest. Anyhow, for this last get together, they were going to Indianify him just a little so they set up a mini shooting range behind the Arnold's house and spelled out "N I C K" on the targets.
All the men started hauling their massive bags of guns out to the targets, so to one up them - Nick went to our van and grabbed Benja's Toy Story backpack with a toy gun in it. He slung it over his shoulder and walked proudly to go shoot some guns with the guys. Hannah and I and the other mamas kept the kids a safe ways back and later all the kids went on a trailer ride with Bryce. We ended the night with a bonfire and couch bonding and even though I hadn't slept at all the night before (up late launching Refresh), I was willing my eyes to stay open so I could keep soaking up time with these precious people.
The leadership at Gospel Community Fort Wayne taught us so much. In word, in deed, in happy and laughing times and in the storms and bumping up against one another that we did. I see now that the gospel is as alive in the cornfields of Indiana as it is anywhere else. It's exciting and thrilling and life giving and life changing. It transforms hanging out and fellowshipping into true community, into family because we're inextricably bonded by grace that flows down from the cross. We can be so crazy different from one another, we can disagree and see one another's sin and still love each other. We can not agree on many things and agree on the only thing that matters all at once.
We can be Gospel Community.
psssst: today is the last day to get The Refresh Book for $4.99,
if you haven't bought your copy - buy it now!