It’s been a while since I wrote a blog. Life has been a whirlwind lately.
As many of you know, Kyle and I have wanted to start a church for quite some time. When we took the youth pastor position at Life Bridge, we were very open with everyone that we would eventually be moving to start a church. We felt God’s purpose for us being at Life Bridge was to prepare us for this next step. It was amazing seeing the young lives God changed and worked through in the process and the relationships and support we built while there!
And God did prepare us in so many ways while we were in Fort Wayne. First of all, it was the first 2.5 years of our marriage. We have had some serious struggles and some amazing highs together so far. By God’s grace we’ve been able to work with each other through them and come out on the other side stronger. We are still navigating through the unexpected situations marriage brings, but are constantly striving to honor God in how we do so.Sometime in January, Kyle began to feel a quiet stirring in his heart that God was wanting us to start taking more active steps towards starting the church. But God wasn’t clear on what those next steps were supposed to be, just that we were supposed to go do them. Because of the great uncertainty, we were hesitant to dive in.
At the end of July, something clicked in both of us: if God was telling us it was time to go, and we weren’t going, what would be the consequences of disobedience? We didn’t want to have any part in even unintentionally tearing down any of the work God had built up at Elevate. We decided to obey, even if it meant blindly going.
It was some time before that when we first thought of Abraham and Sarah when God called them to leave their homeland and follow God without knowing where they were going. God hasn’t really ever asked Kyle or I to do much of anything blindly before. This was stretching for both of us. The old but true cliche that we’d both found slightly annoying before became something we had to take more seriously and believe for real: God will provide.
And he did! Before we had even left Fort Wayne, we both had job offers in the new area where we moved. God has even provided for us in other surprisingly large ways that have blown our minds! We are so grateful.
Even with the amazing provisions and blessing, I have had a few hard days adjusting. I knew going into this, moving and a new job are considered two of the most stressful life events. I knew the road to starting a new church is considered one of the hardest ministry endeavors. But I didn’t really expect how it would all be difficult.
I love working at Starbucks – it’s a great company to work for and the people are so patient and friendly. But as anyone who works in a job that is not their heart’s desire knows, it is still difficult.
There was one day last week when I was seriously struggling to find my purpose. I tried everything I have always taught others to do about turning thoughts around into what you know is true, focusing on prayer asking God to walk with you, confiding in my husband for comfort, journaling, reading the Bible… and I still could not shake this horrible feeling of dread, fear, and confusion on what my role is for this season.
I ended up searching “church planter’s wife” online and finding some amazing articles and blogs all about how ambiguous and confusing the expectations for the role of “church planter’s wife” can be.
Every single word mirrored the emotions I was feeling. Without even offering a tangible way to fix it, I was almost instantly comforted. Just knowing it is a confusing role and season, and that God still has grace to cover it as long as I trust in Him, was enough to put me at peace.
We’ve only been here two weeks so far – Kyle keeps reminding me. But so far I’ve ridden an emotional rollercoaster. Thankfully we were able to visit with some ARC (the organization we’re planting with) pastors over the weekend who really poured into us (1) simply by loving and being open to us, and (2) by words of wisdom and experience.
While listening to the messages, I was more acutely reminded than ever before of who I was before Jesus became my personal friend. I was someone bogged down by the rules that had been set for me. I was someone who wilted under attempts to please everyone around me. I was someone who felt smothered by the expectations of me. I was obsessed with being “good” at everything for everyone else. I was unknowingly insistent on having to prove myself to God, that I’d been good enough to earn salvation. And every time I messed up in even the slightest way – even times when I didn’t mess up at all – I was overwhelmed by guilt and shame.
Sure I was a child and a teen, but those years shape a deep, intrinsic part of a person and who that person becomes. Even though Jesus showed me that’s not what he wants for me and shoulders the majority of those things for me now, I consistently struggle with letting him carry it all. Temptation to feel guilt still creeps up. Shame of my wrong thoughts and uncalled for emotions shadow me. Attempting to prove my worth and “goodness” is a battle.
But this weekend, Pastor Aaron Jayne said in his first message that when we define ourself by how much we love God, we only become full of shame and insecurity. But when we find our identity solely in how incredibly much Jesus loves us, we have confidence in the fact that he has made us righteous.
It’s only been two weeks. We’ve been sent off, we’ve had everything tossed up in the air, and we’re scrambling to catch everything as it falls and put it back into place… as we find a new place for it all.
But Jesus has already proven himself more real and more present and more involved with us than ever before. He’s proven yet again how much he loves us and is watching out for us and how much is words are desperately true.
I’ve been asking Jesus to transform me into who he created me to be. He is doing it. Transformation is not easy or fun – it’s messy and painful and trying. But I already know it is so worth it and so exciting!
As far as our practical next steps in the church planting process, this is what we’re looking at:
- We will be going to an ARC training in Birmingham for church planters in November. After the training, we will interview with them in depth to determine whether it’s best for us to be fully partnered with ARC or not.
- Right now, we are adjusting to the new area, the new jobs, and finding new routines. Kyle is beginning to search our pastors and church who are open to meeting with us or having us speak to raise money and prayer for our church. If you or others you know feel passionate about reaching the lost in the Indianapolis area, Indiana missions, or the ministry of starting new churches, please reach out!
- In January we will begin more intentionally searching for team members to help us launch the church. There are different levels of involvement with this, from helping on just the first Sunday, to joining us in this area as your home and ministry. If you’re interested in any of those, please let us know and we’d love to explore together!
Thank you so much to all of you who are praying for us personally and for our ministry and for our future! We are so blessed by you and every time we hear of someone else who has been praying, we are truly, deeply touched and grateful.