Big news, Big fears and lots of feels.

I think that some of the best news you ever get to announce in life is usually two parts excited and one part scary.  Like pregnancy or a book deal or a big kid job… exciting but, pretty scary and fraught with thoughts of inadequacy.

I have news like that, news I’ve had to keep under wraps for a bit… while things became a little more…. official.

Our family is planting a church.  Technically Kel is, as it’s going to be his full time work, but this sort of thing is best done as a family endeavor.  


It’s a church replant in downtown Grand Rapids, in a 100 year old building that is sitting empty right now. All except the food pantry in the basement (something which makes me feel better about everything)

We’re going to be moving to an area where the schools are a little sketchy and I won’t be able to leave my car keys in the ignition anymore.

And I’ll be an official pastor’s wife, with all the expectations and feelings that go with that and trust me when I say that I am feeling all. the. feels.

This journey doesn’t kick off until January, so right now we sit in a time of in-between, more optimistically a time of preparation… I guess. Kel is so ready to start the somedays I wonder if his head is going to explode with excitement and really beautiful, tender, God-given ideas.

Even among the scariest moments of anxiety over this church planting journey, I believe that God is working through Kel. That He is in this.  It gives me something to hang onto when the ride feels a little too wild and I sort of want to get off.  

Some moments I wonder why the city needs another church just like most days I wonder why the internet needs another blogger. Some days my melancholy gets me all “lamentations-ey” and I start in with the “meaningless, meaningless… a chasing after the wind” talk.

Other days I yell at Kel and tell him that our family isn’t strong enough to do this right now.  Although in my bones I truly believe that God calls us to do the hardest tasks when we feel the least equipped, the weakest, the most wobbly.

I know that we’re experiencing an attack of sorts. I hate even writing about that because so many of us got SO SICK of that phrase and concept: “I feel like the enemy is really trying to attack us right now.”

But does that mean that it stopped being true?

Along with all the other evangelical words and phrases that cause so many of us to roll our eyes… it still has it’s roots in the Bible.

In this beautiful story that is all about repentance, restoration and love.

More than I want to be a part of something big and
more than I want to be a part of something popular
I want to be the wife of a pastor whose church knows authenticity.

Who does’t doubt the reality of his family.

Who really do feel safe to come as they are.

I want a place where single moms always have someone to help them walk their kids inside, under an umbrella if needed.

A place where little kids run in excited because, while they’re still learning about Jesus, they know his love when they see it.

I want to be a part of a place that loves people like God does.  For exactly who they are, where they are, when they are with no strings attached.  Including my family.

I’m really not ready for this God, don’t know You how incredibly broken I am? So very much in the throes of being healed and redeemed.  I’m not “there yet.”

Maybe this is our safeguard from my putting on a front, from being someone women can’t identify with.  I’m guaranteed to ball in worship and randomly stop singing so that I can sit and feverishly scribble words in my notebook.

If they can get on board with my crazy, then maybe we will be okay.

I can’t promise that people won’t judge me and I can’t promise that our church won’t make mistakes.  I can’t promise much of anything right now except this:

I won’t let go of my belief in the restoration, redemption and the being the hands and feet of Jesus to a part of downtown Grand Rapids that could probably use a church on the corner again.

  • Natalie Hart

    Okay, I both love and hate this line, “Although in my bones I truly believe that God calls us to do the hardest tasks when we feel the least equipped, the weakest, the most wobbly.” Because I think it might be true, too, and I’m feeling the weakest and wobbliest I have in awhile, and things are ramping up instead of down. If nothing else, we’ll both get a lot of practice in the prayer, “God, you’re going to have to do this for me because I’ve got nothing left.” I wish you many blessings in this transition :-)

    • Leanne Penny

      Solidarity friend. Coffee to mutually struggle and carry on sometime?

  • Ed_Cyzewski

    So excited for you and I will be praying. Spiritual attacks are legit, even if they’re often misunderstood.

    • Leanne Penny

      Thanks Ed :)

  • Mark Allman


    I do not believe the statement that God does not give us more than we can handle because I think He often does. The only way to deal with that is to lean into Him and let Him work. It may be more than you guys can handle but I know you hang onto God and He will bless you willingness to stand in this gap.

    I know with you and Kel that your church will a true Sanctuary not only in the sense of being a sacred place but I know you guys will offer people sanctuary; a place to come to find safety; to find relief; and to find Jesus who can take them into eternal sanctuary.

    • Leanne Penny

      You are beyond faithful in your encouragement Mark

  • Lisa Adams

    Been reading your blog for a few months amazed at your brutal honesty. I too am a church planter, well we are doing this with another couple. Launch Sunday was 9/15. If I were to give advice it’s to find some support outside the church, people who can listen to you, tell you the truth and pray you back to the trenches. It’s hard. Opposition is fierce. What you are doing is good and honorable. Blessings and pray, pray, pray. You are launching alongside your husband!

    • Leanne Penny

      Feeling that opposition. Tha n you so much for chiming in and encouraging.

  • Abby Norman

    I have a lot of really detail oriented questions about the sketchy schools and are you enrolling your kids and don’t be afraid and ALL THE THOUGHTS! So….expect an email or a facebook message about all of that. And also YES!!! To the part about the evangelical phrases that are still true and the does the world need and most deeply yes to the vision of this church that makes me want to move our family to join yours. Who know where we will be in two years when the man’s PhD is done….

    • Leanne Penny

      I’d absolutely love to chat about all that and more! Google chat? Skype? Email also works 😉

  • Brenda W.

    I’m not “in ministry” but I relate to a lot of your thoughts here. God bless you guys as you make this transition.

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