We pulled in to clear blue skies, white puffy clouds, and pink cherry blossoms in full bloom. We had just driven across the country from San Francisco, and everything we owned was in our jeep. As I opened the car door I heard the sounds of my new city. Chirping birds. Lawn mowers. And stillness.
It was spring.
There we were. Living with our in-laws. Fundraising our salary.
Those first few weeks and months were spent on the phone or at dinners with close friends and family asking them to support what God had called us to do. We knew we couldn’t do it alone. We were blown away to receive support from so many of our friends and family and several churches.
The girls and I started having playdates and enjoying the sunny days with our new friends. There were days we longed to hangout just one more time with our San Francisco friends. On those days, we let ourselves be sad. Then we would go to Target and make lists of all the things we loved and wanted in our future house. Then we would schedule more playdates.
Then spring turned to summer.
We bought a house in a neighborhood we love. The same part of town we wanted the church to be located.
They say the hardest time to plant a tree is during the summer. It takes constant watering, and even then it might not survive.
We planted five trees last summer.
We nurtured them, gave them constant attention, and lots of daily watering. They were so fragile and it was so hot. One whole day without watering was a red alert. Two days and they were goners for sure. It would take a while for them to take root and start showing signs of life. Despite our best efforts, there was no way for us to know if they would survive or not. Only time would tell.
We did everything we knew to do to give the church a successful start. Fundraising events. Dessert nights. Vision tours. We shared the vision of our new church with anyone and everyone. We began forming what would become our launch team. Then we sat on our porch at night with tiki torches lit as we pondered all the unknowns that were still ahead.
The pink leaves began falling to the ground from trees around our neighborhood.
Then summer turned to fall.
The leaves around town began turning the most beautiful shades of red and orange and yellow. The trees in our yard still left us wondering if they were going to make it. They showed no signs of life yet.
On November 8 we had our first preview service. It was a day we had imagined in our minds for almost a year. We had planned and dreamed and prepared. However, one thing you cannot prepare for with a very first church service is how many people to expect. There is no way to guess. We were blown away when 196 people showed up.
And the last of the fall leaves began to fall.
Then it was winter.
Winter brought rest for us.
The constant unknowns, preparation, and anticipation began to wind down. But they had taken a toll. We were approaching our February launch, which meant weekly services and a regular routine.
On February 21, Essential Church launched with 227 people. Even reflecting on it, it seems so crazy. This was something Tim and I could have never done on our own. Yet sometimes it still seems delicate. Sometimes it still feels like it’s a red alert if we don’t water it everyday.
Then one day, I went outside and there it was. One of the baby trees we had nurtured from last summer had its very first bloom. A white pedal. It’s first sign it had taken root. It was alive. In the coming days, four of the five trees we planted had their first bloom.
At Essential, on the eve of our one year anniversary of moving here, we had our very first Baptism celebration. Initially four people wanted to be Baptized. Then a fifth person made the decision to follow Christ, and she was baptized as well.
Our church’s first bloom. Life in Christ taking root.
And it was spring again.