Hello Friends, Family, Loved Ones, and Distant Admirers. We hope that you are finding moments of joy in the midst of this unique holiday season.

How do you even begin to summarize a year like this one? How do you do it with any sense of honesty without becoming morose; or cheerfulness without becoming shallow?

In so many ways, we are all doing so incredibly well. Audrey, newly 5 years old, is just as intelligent and loquacious as ever. Her favorite questions are, “What if…?” and “What’s today’s mystery?” Audrey is — as we were informed during her parent-teacher conference — a bilingual preschool rockstar. She’s writing letters, recognizing words, garbling English and Spanish together. Her drawing skills have nearly surpassed her dad’s (though that’s not saying much). It’s astounding that Audrey can learn so much, all while doing school virtually.

And yet…she’s doing school virtually. Her school has offered two in-person playdates, the first of which made Emily and I tear-up, just because it had been so long since we had seen her play with other kids. It’s amazing that children are so resilient and flexible. But it’s also sad that, in a year when Audrey has had more changes in her life than ever before, that resiliency had to be stretched even more by #PandemicProblems.

Wesley, 2 and 3/4 years old, is our cuddly, adventurous, and ornery little man. He loves dinosaurs and fancy shoes, sharks and his sister’s Barbies. You’ve never met a boy more sweet or more cantankerous. He knows how to get everyone to laugh; he knows how to raise his voice; he knows how to look at you in just the right way to get you to forgive him…immediately after doing something he knows to be unconscionable.

We’re glad that Wesley doesn’t need to be in daycare right now and gets to spend so much time with us. But his first few years are so dramatically different from Audrey’s. Audrey’s were marked by always being around other people, having folks over, singing with us at church, serving at the food pantry, and airplane trips. This year has very little of that. We know, in the long term, Wesley will be absolutely fine. But it’s hard not to feel like 2020 robbed Wesley of many experiences he otherwise would have had by now.

We’re very fortunate to be in a situation where Emily does not yet need to work outside the home. Of course, her work, like many parents, is Audrey’s Full Time Virtual Educational Assistant. I can’t even imagine how hard it would be to help with Audrey’s schooling (and chase around a 2-year-old!) if Emily and I both were working full time during this period.

But part of the Grand Vision of Moving to Washington D.C.® was for Emily to find a job that she could fall in love with. That’s been delayed, but we’re hoping that as the pandemic comes to an end in 2021, Emily can begin looking for a position that complements our (eventually busy) life as Professional Church People.

Speaking of being a Professional Church Person, I never dreamed that I would be the lead pastor of an online-only church. I’ve been the pastor of The Table Church for 9 months…and have yet to preach in-person. Fortunately, church is much, much more than preaching and buildings. My days are filled with counseling, coaching, and mentoring others. Emily and I have led a couple of discipleship groups (we should get a sponsorship by Zoom at this point). We even baptized a couple of people in our children’s inflatable pool! Though leading a church through a pandemic is probably not on anyone’s bucket list, I am so glad we get to do it with the people of The Table Church.

We want to admit that it’s been a difficult year. We moved away from everyone we knew to an incredibly different city and culture than we had ever lived in before. Many times we felt alone and isolated and wondered if we had made a massive mistake. We grieved alongside others who experienced loss and had friendships broken off because of our beliefs.

But through it all, we had new friendships begin. We have (thus far) been spared from much of the immediate grief that so many others have suffered. We paid attention to the silver linings, but never denied the gloomy clouds they were tracing. We trusted that God was near to us, always working for our good.

It’s hard to imagine how next year will feel. By September, both kids will be in school (!) and, Lord willing, Emily will have a job she loves. We look forward to finally experiencing all our new city has to offer. To having people visit; having people eat and play games around our table again. We look forward to finally meeting everyone in our church and worshiping with them in-person. To seeing friends and family again.

Until then, we pray that God would protect you and make His presence real in your life. Until we meet again,

Anthony, Emily, Audrey, & Wesley

Lead Pastor of The Table Church, D.C.