Turkey Day at Steele Elementary!
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Ethan’s 9th birthday party!
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First day of school. August 26, 2013. Ethan – 8 yrs old, 3rd grade. Andrew – 6 yrs old, 1st grade.
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Thinking back to where we left off with our last update, it seems like time has flown! After a great holidays in Virginia and North Carolina with family we were back in Denver and really hit the ground running! Being away from Denver for a few weeks gave us a great appreciation to be back in the city that has become our home. The excitement we felt to get back was a real confirmation of how much we love this place and that we know God has us right were he wants us for now.
As you probably know, we’re not a family that sits still easily, and 2010 has started with quite a lot of traveling for all of us. In January we traveled to Casper, WY for the first family business meeting for Willow Creek Ranch , Kate’s family’s ranch in central WY. This was the first time we all gathered together since Kate’s dad’s passing to discuss how to best manage the ranch. His vision and expertise are sorely missed but he would certainly be proud of how his wife and girls are stepping up to continue his legacy. One of the things we love about being in Denver is being closer to Kate’s family and being more involved with the ranch.
Kate and Stephen have both had trips for work over the last couple months. Kate traveled to Atlanta for Ronald Blue & Company’s annual meetings in January, and Stephen just got back from the Ecclesia Network’s national gathering in Washington, DC. As a result both Kate and Stephen have felt a little like off and on single parents this year (though admittedly Stephen got some help from Kate’s sister Kristen while Kate was gone).
Of course all our trips haven’t been business. We’ve made time to take a couple trips up to the mountains to ski a bit. We did a few days at Vail as a family, and Kate and Stephen have taken turns taking Ethan up for the day to Loveland and to Keystone. Ethan really loves to ski and continues to get better, as evidenced in this video where he takes off and leaves mom in the dust!
Stephen also got the chance to go with some guys from New Denver on a “hut trip.” There is a great system of remote mountain cabins managed by the 10th Mountain Division where you can hike in (actually snowshoe this time of year) and experience some of Colorado’s amazing back country. The highlight of the trip was a snowshoe hike at night – with no flashlights or headlamps! The night was so clear and the moon so bright reflecting off the snow that it wasn’t necessary to have any other light!
Ethan continues to keep us busy following his sports career. We just wrapped up his first season of basketball and will start soccer next week. Ethan had fun playing basketball, but it’s not his favorite. I think football is still his first love with soccer a close second (much to his daddy’s delight). Andrew continues to be our “little dictator” – swinging the mood of our household with all his two-year-old attitude shifts! He has warmed to his babysitters but still would rather do anything except go to school. Still, in his best moments he keeps us all laughing and can melt your heart with his sweetness. Both our boys are such an amazing blessing.
Things continue to move forward for New Denver Church. The most exciting news is our new location at Bonnie Brae Church which is just about six blocks from our house! A friend of Stephen’s from a Bible study here in Denver connected us with the church after they contacted him seeking a young new church to meet in their building. After a couple months of discussions both churches felt like it was a good partnership. Though we continue to emphasize that our church is about people, not a building or programs, we are excited to have a place to call “home” for our worship services for the foreseeable future. We have learned so much this year about the culture of Denver and just how difficult it is going to be to grow a church in this climate, but we are encouraged by steady growth of our small congregation and remain committed to the vision God called us to here in this city.
If you’ve read this far, I’ll say again – thank you for caring enough to track with us, and a special thanks to all of you who pray for us. This move to Denver is the adventure of a lifetime, and we are loving every minute of it. But it is not without significant difficulties and disappointments. We feel a dependence on God in this season of our life that is unlike any time before. More than ever we are grateful for all our friends and family that pray for us and for New Denver Church. Please let us know if there are ways we can pray for you as well – either post a comment or send us an email (to stephen[at]thereddens.com or kate[at]thereddens.com).
Fall has arrived in Denver, and it feels a bit like winter back in the south!! We had a very unseasonably cold week last week and actually got our first snow! The boys were so excited to get outside and start playing in it. I think they’ve fully adapted to life in Colorado! A lot has happened since our last update that we’re eager to share with you.
As a family we have been doing our best to enjoy all the great things that our new home has to offer. Last month we did our first family camping trip with the Malecs and had a great time (despite the trip getting cut short by rain). We went up to Rocky Mountain National Park and camped one night and toured the park. We even got to see a little snow when we went up the mountain! We’re also finding that Denver is a sports-crazy town! The whole town is buzzing about the Broncos’ 5-0 start, and even though the Rockies made the baseball playoffs, Stephen refuses to jump on the home-team bandwagon and continues cheering for his Dodgers. Ethan got a special treat recently when Stephen took him to a Colorado Rapids game – Denver’s pro soccer team.
We have also been very intentional about getting to know our neighbors better. It helps that there are lots of young kids on our block and that Ethan and Andrew love to meet new people! Kate helped organize a block party last month, and it was so much fun to spend a beautiful afternoon getting to know our neighbors better. We continue to hope and pray that God will give us opportunities as a family to be used as a redemptive and life-giving presence in this neighborhood.
Last month was a big one for Ethan who turned five years old on September 23rd! We did a party for him in Washington Park near our home with pizza, a football-field cake, and (too many) presents. Kate’s mom, aunt Harriet and uncle Dick were all in town to celebrate with us, as well as kids from New Denver Church, Ethan’s school, and from our neighborhood were there. It was so fun to see the friends that God has brought into our lives over the last eight months gather together to celebrate our precious Ethan. On top of getting a year older, Ethan has been busy as a two-sport athlete the last couple months! He signed up to play in the fall season with the Fusion Soccer Club (the same group we played with in the spring), but he also begged us to play kindergarten flag football. Despite swearing to never do two activities at once, we caved and let him play both. He loved both, but for whatever reason, he is obsessed with football. Kate hopes it is a passing obsession! 😉 Ethan started pre-kindergarten in September at St. John’s Lutheran School near our home. With a cutoff date of October 1 for kindergarten, Ethan could have started this year, but we decided to hold him back to make his transition into school a bit easier. He attends three full days per week, and so far he’s loving it.
Andrew is doing well, but it is safe to say we are passing through the “terrible” part of the “two’s.” His vocabulary continues to grow, and he is expressing himself more and more. Often those expressions include “no”, “mine”, and “wo-wee dat” (translation: I don’t want that). But as Kate often says, “It’s a good thing that God made two-year-olds so cute, because otherwise no one could stand them!” Just when you’re at the end of your patience with him, Andrew will do something adorable and melt your heart. We were able to get Andrew a spot in the preschool where Ethan goes to school, and he goes to school two half days a week with his big brother. Unfortunately he doesn’t enjoy it quite as much as Ethan!
Kate continues her work with Ron Blue & Company and is finding a little bit more margin in her schedule with Ethan in school three full days per week. At the beginning of October she traveled back to Atlanta for meetings with her company and was also able to meet with several clients and friends. Each trip back to Atlanta reminds us how much we left behind and how much we want to continue to maintain the relationships we built in the years we spent there. Here in Denver Kate has continued to work tirelessly on our house. After we exhausted the major house projects (that we could afford), she has steadily done all the little things that have transformed our house into a wonderful home.
Stephen has had a busy couple months as well. In October, New Denver Church began meeting for worship services twice per month. We had been gathering with a small core of people monthly to that point but felt that it was time to step up the frequency and the production quality of our gatherings. Stephen was excited to have the opportunity to preach at our opening service and will be preaching again on November 15th (if you pray, he’d appreciate your prayers – it will be a challenging message on the purpose of suffering from Philippians 1). While this is a significant step for us, and we are pleased with the turnout at our first service (about 60 adults and about 18 kids), the most gratifying thing for Stephen has been the growth of community at our church. We currently have about 40 people who meet weekly in homes to share their lives and grow together in their relationship with Christ and one another. We have also been excited to see the leadership culture that is rising at New Denver Church through our Leadership Development Program and volunteer leaders. It is both exciting and humbling to see other people investing themselves in the vision we’ve had for so long and came to Denver for.
In September Stephen traveled back to Atlanta to be with our friends Bryan and Kathryn Apinis as they mourned the loss of their baby, Samuel Erik. Bryan and Kathryn have beautifully captured this journey on their blog, and it is well worth taking some time to read. It was a difficult trip emotionally, but it was good to be with friends even in difficult circumstances. It was a reminder of how precious life is, how risky and beautiful it is to hope in a broken world, how great is the hope we have in Christ, and how beautiful the Church, the Body of Christ, is in the worst of circumstances. If you think about it, continue to pray for this family and for God’s grace in their life.
We continue to be grateful for the story that God is writing in and through our family – and our growing church family – here in Denver. As always we are grateful for you following and praying for us!
Things just don’t seem to slow down. For some reason I always associate summer as a time of relaxation and less responsibility. That must just be an artifact in my memory from long ago, because this summer has been anything but “lazy” around the Redden household!
We continue to love our house and neighborhood, but we’re learning that when you buy an old house you commit to a lifetime of home repair projects! Stephen is not naturally a super handy guy, but he continues to learn and has tackled projects like installing a drainage ditch, battling old wiring to update light fixtures, and doing the demolition work to remove the windows and security door to open up our front porch. Kate continues making this house a home – one room at a time. We finally unpacked enough boxes that she can actually park in the garage, which we consider a victory!
In July we got to experience our first Fourth-of-July celebration in Denver, and it was a great one. Ethan participated in the local bike parade through Washington Park with his good friend Kate from across the street. They decorated their bikes and had a great time riding through the cheering crowd assembled at the park. Andrew was a little too young to participate this year, but given his growing bike obsession, there’s no doubt that he’ll be there next year.
In late July Kate and the boys traveled back east to spend time with her family. Every summer Kate’s family gathers at their lake house on Kerr Reservoir in North Carolina, and it is a highlight of the summer for the boys. Unfortunately Stephen was trying to flying out on a buddy pass to join them and was unable to get out of Denver. While he missed spending some time on the lake with the family, at least he got some projects done around the house (and slept in a couple days)!
When we moved to Denver, one of the things that we hoped for was that we would have the opportunity host friends and family when they visited town. We love sharing our home and the beauty of this city we now call home. The last couple months have been a great realization of that hope as we had a steady stream of guests! Members of Kate and Stephen’s extended family came through town, as well as several good friends from North Point in Atlanta and some friends from Dallas. It was great to share a little slice of our life with them and to spend some good time together. So remember, if you’re ever in Denver – give us a call, we’d love to see you! Remember, ski season is just around the corner… 😉
Ethan and Andrew continue to grow bigger every day. We were recently able to move Andrew over to Ethan’s school, St. John’s Lutheran School, just a few blocks from our house. Ethan started his pre-kindergarten class and is loving it so far. Changing schools hasn’t improved Andrews attitude much about school in general. His teachers tell us he does great…as soon as we leave. We’re so thankful to have the boys at a school they enjoy and to have them just around the corner from home. Ethan just finished tee ball season, and Stephen survived the season as team coach! We moved right out of tee ball and jumped back into soccer for the fall season with the Fusion Soccer Club. To make things a bit busier, we agreed to let Ethan sign up for flag football this fall as well. Just when Stephen thought he might get a break from coaching, the team coach asked for someone to help, and Kate graciously volunteered Stephen!
On top of being a mom and homemaker, Kate continues to support her clients with Ron Blue & Co. She still loves her job and the opportunity she has to help people to understand their opportunity to be good stewards of all that God has entrusted to them. Navigating the uncertain financial climate that faces us all makes her job extremely challenging right now, but the recent strength of the market has made her job at least a little easier. We are grateful that Kate still loves what she does and thankful for the financial stability that her work affords us as we work to get New Denver Church started.
Stephen is still staying busy – working most days for New Denver Church but also increasingly doing contract I/T work to supplement his income. While starting a church may be the hardest thing he’s ever done, it may also be the most fun and rewarding. Every day presents new and different challenges and uncertainties, but he continues to find God to be more than he needs to face them.
With every day that passes we feel a little more at home in and a bit more in love with the city of Denver. Through the good days and bad, the encouragements and the disappointments, we are more certain than ever that this is the place to which God has called us. This assurance makes the challenging days more bearable, and it definitely makes the rewarding days even sweeter. Thanks to all of you who love, follow, and pray for us. We are grateful.
Life continues to stay busy at the Redden household, and so much has happened since our last update. For starters, the Redden household has a new address! On May 1 we finally moved into our house. We would definitely not recommend moving twice in four months to anyone, but we are so grateful that we took the time to wait for the right place. After just over a month, we already love our house and our neighborhood and are starting more and more to feel like Denver is home. One of our hopes when we moved was to find a neighborhood with more of a sense of community where we could develop relationships with neighbors. That hope has already become reality. Sometimes we joke that our neighborhood feels a little bit like Mayberry with warm and friendly people who have quickly embraced our family. Of course we have also been busy with many renovation projects. We have been working on all the things that we knew needed addressing when we bought the house and discovering all the things we didn’t! We love our house, but it is definitely old and has lots of “character.” We continually remind ourselves to be patient and just keep moving ahead one project at a time.
In mid-May we took some time away from projects and unpacking to travel to the Willow Creek Ranch in Wyoming, Kate’s family’s ranch. Stephen was invited to come speak to a men’s retreat, and we marked the one-year anniversary of Kate’s dad’s passing. It was a great weekend to get away together and to enjoy some time with Kate’s family. One of the motivating factors for us moving to Denver was being closer to the ranch and Kate’s family, and this trip was a great reminder of how much we enjoy being close. Watching Ethan and Andrew playing with their cousins, feeding the orphaned lambs, and explore the ranch is such a joy. The ranch provides the opportunity to experience a way of life that is almost gone, and we are grateful that our kids will have the opportunity to grow up and experience things most kids never will.
Ethan is doing great and keeping us all busy. He remains as outgoing as ever, and we have joked that he is our neighborhood evangelist! Always eager to meet new people, Ethan has initiated meeting half the neighbors that we’ve gotten to know so far. He continues to enjoy school and still loves sports. We finished spring soccer last month and just started t-ball last week. Even a case of the chicken pox couldn’t slow him down for more than a few days. Fortunately Stephen’s parents were here while he was sick, and there’s no sickness that a little grandparent spoiling can’t fix!
Andrew continues to grow and is talking more and more. Though he has always been our “serious child,” he is so full of joy and has a laugh that is infectious to anyone nearby. He remains skeptical about preschool teachers and babysitters, but is becoming more and more outgoing. He also loves sports and is currently obsessed with golf. He got his first set of toy golf clubs for his birthday in April and frequently swings them wildly in the house screaming, “GOF, GOF, GOF!!”
Kate is also doing very well. Still juggling kids and working part-time for Ron Blue, she has added “home decorator and general contractor” to her list of responsibilities. Though she stays incredibly busy, she loves our neighborhood and regularly makes time to go for walks or rides in nearby Washington Park. We celebrated her birthday in May by all going out and helping her find a bicycle and now enjoy riding together as a family with Andrew in tow behind mom in a pull-behind baby cart! Kate recently traveled back to Georgia for some client meetings and for a friend’s wedding. Unfortunately (for Stephen, fortunately for her) she was gone the week Ethan had chicken pox! So we were doubly grateful that Stephen’s parents were here to help.
Stephen continues to balance time between a host of projects. Working to get New Denver Church remains his passion (at least when he’s not coaching soccer or t-ball), but he also has worked on a variety of consulting projects – both in the area of technology and church leadership. He is enjoying the diversity and variety of work he’s doing and is also thankful for these opportunities God has provided to stretch the support we’ve raised by taking less salary from the church. Of course our new house is providing him ample opportunities to improve on his handyman skills in whatever free time he has. In May he had the opportunity to travel back to Atlanta and participate in the Drive conference at North Point. The conference was great, but reconnecting with so many friends with whom he had done life and ministry over many years was certainly the highlight.
We continue to be grateful and amazed at the way we see God working in our lives and confirming our decision to follow him to Denver. We still have our share of up and down days, but we are excited to be living in the adventure God is writing for our family. We are excited to see the slow momentum that is building with the church and seeing the community that is already beginning to grow among our core members. We are also grateful to the many friends and family members whose generous contributions to New Denver Church have enabled us to be here working to lead people into a growing relationship with Christ.