There's so much to catch you up on, I'm not sure where to start.
Back in December of 2008, Nick told me he wanted to plant a church called Gospel Community. It was a snowy night in Seattle and I was angry. I didn't want to be a church planter's wife - I wanted to be a pastor's wife. I didn't want to move, I wanted to live in Seattle forever. I didn't want things to be unknown, I wanted to follow an easy and structured path that included private schools and money for manicures. I'll never forget when he said it in an almost bribery-based way, "but Jess! I want you to document it all. I want you to blog the whole thing, tell the story and encourage other women along the way!"
I sort of did and I sort of didn't. I've told you guys a good bit, and you've probably gathered - our life has been far from easy. We didn't just move once more. We moved six more times. Plus there was a three month span in there where we were essentially homeless and during that month we shifted about a dozen times. Money, or the lack of it, genuinely was the least of our concerns. We were determined to plant a church in Boston, fundraised and started to make our way there - only to be shut down by a horrible season for our family, my struggle with depression, and basically the Lord's will closing that door very resolutely. We found ourselves in Columbia and then Indiana, assisting another church and that church very quickly decided they wanted Nick as one of their pastors. We dove in head first to small business. The Lord put Charleston on Nick's heart and I waited and held my breath. I waited for him to slam that door closed.
But He didn't. Rather, He really went before us in every sense. Each and every time we put up a barrier, He broke it. Each and every time we asked for wisdom and waited for rebuke, we got blessing. The Lord provided what seems to be the perfect house for us, the perfect street, the most amazing school for our kids with a newly remodeled building on King Street that just so happens to be thrilled to let us have church there. I'm not saying that it's all been seamless and without struggle, but it's been very different than having to knock doors down. And now, all of a sudden, I find myself one week out from our official church planting and I haven't said much. I haven't told the story.
I'm not sure how I could have told it and completely protected the hearts of those I love. There were dark days and long years (about 4 to be exact) where Nick had every reason to doubt the call the Lord gave him. Things would move forward on the internet in our business, but the plant seemed on pause. And when we moved to Fort Wayne I didn't know how to tell the stories, even my own stories, of what it was like to be a transient new pastor's wife - trying to adjust to the culture and let the Lord grow a culture in me at the same time. It didn't seem right to tell the stories of the hard meetings he had or the spiritual victories that weren't necessarily mine. But I find a hesitation to begin telling the story now, for fear that you'll think everything has just gone our way.
I'm sweeping my house tonight, thinking how pastors-wifey this feels. Prepping the home and laying out clothes so that tomorrow morning, all will run smoothly. It's funny that now it comes instinctively, when five years ago, on that snowy night in Seattle I couldn't imagine how I'd ever manage in this role. I couldn't imagine it every coming to fruition, but the Lord spoke it all into place. It's not as tidy as I would have pictured it. There were lots of tears, and many years, mistakes, successes, and a million lessons learned. But here we are, planting a church.
Right now, we're a super small group of believers, trying to live as family and reach our neighborhood. There are eight of us who live here and two who are on their way. We are about the gospel and community. We don't feel confident in anything but Jesus. Our church is based around the belief that God can and will change us by the grace of the gospel, that He will utilize community to do that gospel work, and He has commissioned us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Our to-do list regarding the lost is very simple: begin with prayer, look and listen, eat together, serve the city, and share the truth of Jesus Christ. We've spent the last few months storming as a team, praying together, learning from our pastor and one another, meeting people, finding our rhythms and now - ready or not, we're starting a service.
I really love being my pastor's wife. He's been pastoring me unofficially and off the charts for almost 12 years now. He's been leading me to Jesus, walking with me beside the still waters. We've bumped together in life rafts after failing, flailing, and nearly sinking. We've laughed and we've cried a lot. Correction, I've cried. A lot.
But now it's time and I'll tell this story.
We are planting a church.
It's Saturday night & I'm the pastor's wife.