Hey friends, team West checking in with our "Top Nine" liked photos from this last year. More than these photos, this is an "end-of-year-recap" of sorts. Looking back, the big theme for us if quite simply: the faithfulness of God. He has been good to us and worked in our midst even when we have struggled to sense his nearness. Here's a few more thoughts...
Here's a photo and a few thoughts from the year that's been...
After a fun Carol Service in December 2019 we were able to host a few in-person gatherings before Covid set in. Getting together in the school hall was really encouraging to realise the progress that Redeemer was making in moving from an idea to a reality. God moved a million details for this moment to take place.
We began the half term break with a Christian Heritage walking tour with our dear friend: Ben Virgo. Ben has been a real friend and support to us over the last year. The Heritage walks tell the powerful story of what God has done in London over the centuries. They're really inspiring.
A refreshing trip Stateside in February allowed us some much needed family time before we'd arrive back in London for a full lockdown in just a matter of weeks. We loved being back in the States to see family and friends - especially getting to see Jay and Katherine Wolf who have the most incredible story; check em out: Hope Heals. God provided real refreshment and encouragement to us as we were able to spend some time around the church family that raised us.
Our February trip to the States was made even sweeter by a date night at the spot we would frequent while dating in high school and college. It was so much fun to reflect on our journey together from our hometown of Montgomery, Alabama. Realising where we've come from, and all that God has brought us through, makes us so grateful for the grace of God.
The next couple of months were a blur. Lockdown, home learning, Redeemer began gathering weekly and virtually, and the highs and lows of lockdown made their way through our home and hearts. Now that we're removed from those months can we begin to appreciate the deep heart work that God was working out. Needless to say, flying back to the States for some work, a wedding, and some much needed rest was just the right thing for us in July.
WEDDING FOR FRIENDS IN RALEIGH
Part of the reason we went back to the States was for Thomas to officiate a wedding for dear friends of ours: the Millers. Time in Raleigh was sweetened even more by visiting with friends and being in the place that Perry and Shepherd remember as home. Raleigh is such an important part of our story. God grew us more in those 10 years in Raleigh than we did in the previous 20.
REDEEMER GATHERS AGAIN
October was ripe with anticipation as Perry and Shepherd were back in school and Redeemer was able to gather in-person again. God had grown us and our small team a lot over the lockdown season and it was only being able to do things - like meet in-person - again that we were able to really appreciate it. This picture of Shepherd with some goodies before we walked into Hampstead Heath was a cute one for sure.
THANKSGIVING IN LOCKDOWN
November was discouraging as London was plunged into it's second (or third?) lockdown. Plans of having a few friends over to celebrate Thanksgiving were dashed by new restrictions that forced people to isolate. We made the most of our time together and tried to care for a few neighbours from afar. The highlight of our night was dressing up for Thanksgiving dinner and taking silly photos together. The kids being in school for Thanksgiving continues to be a new adjustment for us.
MERRY CHRISTMAS + HAPPY NEW TIER
We're tucked in to Tier 4 and apparently there are new levels that we could climb to as well. We just received news that schools in our borough (Brent) will remain shut for a few more weeks due to the rapid increase of Covid cases and deaths. Essential shops remain open and you're allowed to leave your house for limited reasons. Redeemer was hoping to meet weekly and in-person from this Saturday but we will be paused until the schools are open and things ease a little.
We are grateful to be a happy family of four + Lulu!
We are aware of just a few of the many things God is doing.
We are grateful to have recovered from Covid and been spared many trials.
We are grateful for you, your encouragements, and support.
Here we are, wishing you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year! This has not been the year that anyone anticipated but we are finding ourselves grateful for the pruning and growth that God has taken us through in this last year. If 2021 doesn't change at all then at least we will be changed people in it. Nothing really in and of ourselves to boast about other than our gracious God who has been faithfully at work in our hearts, home, and community.
Thank you for being on this journey with us.
The LORD's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.