on church planting & provision

By the time this posts, it will have been a little over a month since my last update about our church plant and we will have had our second service. For a catch up - Nick (my husband) and I are planting a church in Charleston, SC. We moved in June 2013 with five other friends and spent our first six months here acclimating to the city, meeting our neighbors, praying, and building the early culture of our church. On January 19th, we launched with our first public service and we're meeting monthly till September on Sunday mornings, but weekly we're having family groups. To read a bit more about our church planting story - here are some catch up posts: 

Chest Pains & Church Planting - thoughts before our move to Charleston
The Story of Sending - leaving Indiana  
Being Missional in the Thick of It - part of our plan 
The Story of a Church Plant - our first service

We sat the other night with our friend Brittany and even though we weren't meaning to, we ended up spending an hour or so just telling her our story. Brittany lives with us, she has for almost five months, and I've known her fairly well for over two years - but somehow there felt like huge chunks of our life that she didn't know about. Like, for instance? We lived in some intensely bad financial situations for a few years. Like, well below the poverty line bad. There were super dark days where we'd gather up our quarters and our dimes to buy enough bread and peanut butter to last us a few days or we'd pray for just enough gas to get to church and home. Our hard financial season isn't something we are embarrassed about, and even though it was incredibly difficult - it was in those days that we got to truly live the gospel with one another. We were a far cry from the young and hopeful couple that had gotten married a few years earlier, we were just busted kids having kids trying to do ministry and figure life out. 

I don't mind remembering those hard days for another reason, and that is because we truly learned that the Lord provides. Though our bank account was bleak and the economy was tanking, we never went hungry and our kids never missed a meal. We were never evicted and our power wasn't ever turned off. Our Father worked straight up miracles over and over again to take care of us. And now, we can boldly pray with confidence when people we love are struggling with finances. We can look them in the eye and tell them - He will provide, and then walk with them because that particular struggle will never be quite so terrifying to us again. 

The bad news in this story is that I somehow stopped really praying for provision. I trusted God for provision and learned to thank God for how He'd provide financially, but I stopped seeing the other needs in my life as something I could cry out to Him and ask Him to meet. I'd find myself slumping forward into my own reality, assuming it would "always be this way" in several different areas of life. 

The other day a friend challenged me because I said "that's just the way it is" regarding two separate things in the same conversation. And I'm so glad she did. My personal issues, our circumstances, pain in relationships, issues with our kids - that's never just the way it is in the Lord's economy, right? All things are subject to Him and He can provide, shift, grow, and change our circumstances however He sees fit. When we ask Him for something, His answer may not always be "yes, right away!" - but He is still good and wants us to ask. 

In light of that - here are some things I've seen him provide (outside of money) for us in church planting so far. 
- A few times when we've really needed it, friends (and new friends) have gotten in our face and asked us how they can pray for and/or serve us. Nick and I tend to plow ahead without asking for help, and these people in our life are really helping us start new rhythms. 
- One day when I was particularly burdened by church-related meetings, my mom texted me and asked if I could stop by the place she was having lunch. It was 2pm and I hadn't eaten. She held my baby, ordered me some sweet potato fries and just let me talk for a minute. There have been so many little provision-like-moments like this in the past month.
- The Lord provided a worship leader for our monthly service in January, February, and we already have someone lined up for March. 
- Our "team" has almost doubled in a month. In the midst of people visiting and figuring us out, we've had a handful of people say they're all in and jump beside us to serve and move forward as a church. This has been beautiful and so encouraging. 
- I feel like the Lord is providing such sweet intimacy with Nick and I as we navigate these early months. It's been a huge blessing to turn to one another and then the Lord together for wisdom. 

So I'm learning. I'm learning to see my needs, learning to believe He wants good for me, and remembering to ask my Father for help. In all the things. 

Whether you're a church planter's wife or in ministry or not, I'm sure you've seen the Lord provide in ways you didn't imagine possible you've seen Him provide for things you forgot to ask for. I'd love to hear from y'all - what are those things?