Fall has been slow to arrive this year in Denver, but you won’t hear us complaining! Locals tell us that this is a very unusually mild fall, but we are soaking in the beautiful sunny days and unusually-warm temperatures! And the beautiful fall colors and first mountain snow capping off the Rockies make for a pretty breathtaking sight!
As we approach the end of our second year here in Denver we are so grateful for all the things God has done and continues to do in our lives. The boys continue to grow at a shocking pace – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. They have both changed so much in the last two years. They barely resemble the toddlers they were when we first arrived (don’t believe me, check out this video from our arrival).
Ethan started kindergarten this year at our neighborhood school, Steele Elementary. True to his outgoing personality, he loves it. He quickly made many new friends and keeps us busy with after school play-dates around the neighborhood. Recently he told us he even has two “girlfriends!” In September we celebrated his sixth birthday with a party at Chuck-E-Cheese (mom and dad will be glad when we outgrow that place) with friends from the school and our neighborhood, and Kate’s mom and sister came down with his cousins Lily and Caroline too. Of course sports remains a big part of Ethan’s life. Shortly after finishing tee ball season, Ethan jumped right back into soccer. This is the third season we’ve played with the same team as part of the Fusion Soccer Club. It’s been great to track with the same families the last 18 months and to see the kids develop together. One of the highlights of this season was the team getting to play at halftime of the University of Denver vs. Penn State soccer game!
Andrew is still doing preschool three half days a week, but he doesn’t like it any better than he ever has! Most days start with the question, “Do I have to go to school today?” While he may not love it, school has definitely been good for Andrew. He’s still pretty reserved, but interacting with new kids at school is definitely helping him come out of his shell. Andrew was very excited to sign up to play soccer for the first time this fall. Unfortunately he wasn’t as excited to actually play soccer when game day came along. Sitting with mom and drinking juice seemed much more attractive. Of course he wasn’t alone . This team of 3 and 4-year olds had a pretty hard time staying focused on playing the game, but by the end of the season they actually made a lot of progress.
Kate continues to stay busy keeping our family organized and her work at Ronald Blue & Company. Ethan starting school has opened up even more for her to do including volunteering as a room mom, going on field trips, getting involved with the PTA, and keeping track of Ethan’s busy play date schedule! But it hasn’t been all work for Kate. Continuing a new tradition, her friends Niki and Jennifer came out from Atlanta over Labor Day for a girls’ weekend in the mountains. They enjoyed hiking, mountain biking, and most of all a brief respite from the daily duty of being moms! Kate also recently traveled back to Atlanta for meetings with her team which also gave her a chance to see some friends (and to catch the Braves’ last playoff game). These trips are always a mixed blessing – great to see friends and colleagues but very hectic and tiring.
Stephen survived coaching tee ball for both boys and rolled right into coaching Andrew’s soccer team, maybe his toughest challenge to date. Three and four-year olds aren’t the most focused or coachable group, but the kids all had fun and seemed to get better as the season went along. Of course working for New Denver Church and doing part-time I/T contracting continues to fill most of Stephen’s working hours. The last few months have been very defining for our young congregation. We’ve had some good people leave the church over differences in opinion over mission and strategy, which is always disappointing for any church but especially so in a small church plant. However, God has brought so many more people whose heart beats with ours and share our desire to reach this community with the love of Jesus. We have seen slow and steady growth in our weekend attendance (hitting our all-time high in September), added new small groups this fall, and have seen new leaders stepping up to fill the needs that growth brings. Most exciting for us have been the friends and neighbors who have no church background or affiliation who have begun taking steps of faith. We feel like these are the people that God brought us to Denver for, and after almost two years of planting seeds and watering, it’s encouraging to see the first signs that he is at work and using us in these people’s lives.
We continue to deepen in our love for this city we now call home. As we continue to invest in relationships and see real friendships blossom, we are so thankful that God has planted us here for this season of our lives. As we’ve been intentional in the process of building community with friends and neighbors, people are beginning to take notice. Several neighbors have made comments to us at how different our block is since we’ve arrived and how people seem to be growing in relationship with one another through us. Through dinners, cookouts, and front-porch conversations we believe that these new friends are getting a taste of the Kingdom of God and the love of Christ. Please continue to pray that God will open opportunities for us to be used to help these friends begin or progress in their relationship with him.
We’ve also made some special friends who have become a special part of our family. Back in April we met Nicole and her sons Aidan and Christopher at McDonald’s. They began attending New Denver and we soon learned that they were homeless and living in temporary housing. When they were forced to leave a shelter and didn’t have a good option for a place to stay, we invited them to stay with us. They all lived with us for a couple weeks until Nicole found another shelter and left hoping to get help from the programs and services offered there. We hadn’t heard from Nicole and the boys since this summer and were unable to get in touch with her. Then a few weeks ago we got a call from her at the hospital. It turns out they had bounced in and out of several shelters and had been living in a motel on the south side of town when she called for help. The boys are now living with their grandfather and Nicole is staying with us while we sort out how to help her get her life headed in a positive direction. She is a great mom and wants a better life for herself and her boys. But bad decisions and difficult circumstances continue to make this difficult for her. Please pray for Nicole – that she would get opportunities to improve her situation and that she will take advantage of them. Please also pray that God would give us wisdom in how to best help her.
If you read this far, thank you. Thank you for caring enough for our family to check in and keep up with us. Your prayers and encouragement are fuel for the journey.