Merry Christmas from The Bryants in South Austin!

2020 is almost over!!


 

What a crazy year!
It’s been a hard year in many ways as we have needed to be on quarantine moreso than most with some pre-existing conditions in our family.

Usually in these newsletters we love to share some of our adventures from the previous year. This year we can almost share an entire newsletter of what we did not get to do or what was postponed.

Here’s a quick list of what did not happen:

  • My parents’ 50th anniversary party (although our zoom surprise party ended up being featured on a Facebook commercial. You can see some of us at the 1:00 and 1:04 mark). We celebrated my in-laws 50th anniversary in January. Congratulations Ray and Darlene Ellis and Pat and JoAnne Bryant! Quite a remarkable achievement! Such great examples to us all!
  • Trevi’s prom and graduation were cancelled, but they did have a really sweet parade for the graduating high school seniors. The Class of 2020 is resilient! (The Class of 1990 cancelled our Reunion).
  • Trevi’s year abroad serving as an au pair and church intern in Paris was postponed until 2021. She made the best of her time with us and took 5 college classes (including French to prepare for her trip.)
  • Caleb had planned to work full time at Regal Theaters, but that did not work out.
  • We missed our extended family, having friends or neighbors over to the house, eating out, movies in the theater, some of our favorite trails in downtown, concerts at Zilker Park, and so many other things we definitely had taken for granted.

The biggest change for us was our move from near downtown Austin to South Austin. We loved our house in Barton Hills where we’ve lived for the past 10 years, but we needed to move to a more affordable place after we received a surprise tax bill due to an accounting error and all of our income disappeared (outside of Gateway which I share more below about in our highlights). 

Here’s a pic of us in front of our old house before the move:

I shared more about some of the challenges we have faced this year in a message at Gateway.

We received a great deal of support from our church family and friends, and somehow with God’s help feel stronger today than we were before the pandemic. We paid off our tax bill and landed in new place we all really love. 

We did have some highlights too!

  • For the four of us, this has been a year of connecting more with each other than we probably ever would have, and for that we are grateful. Lots and lots of meals together, walks together, movies together at home, and great conversations.
  • Trevi has really been growing in her faith and even sang for our online audience when we were all online.
  • Caleb has been growing out his hair! (I admit, I’m jealous!)
  • Gateway has been remarkable this year! So many have jumped into help us serve those who have been hardest hit by the pandemic. I am now serving as one of the Executive Pastors working with the Inspire Team and South Campuses (Dripping Springs, Buda, and South Austin). (I speak about every 6 weeks to our Online Campus and just about every week at Gateway in South Austin which you can watch online at 11:15am on Sundays).
  • Our church family has also worked hard to become more and more a voice for change when it comes to bringing life and freedom to all people, and this year we have grieved along with our black friends and families for the injustice that they often face. We continue to work towards creating more of heaven on earth here in Austin and everywhere we influence. One of my favorite events in these efforts was our guest speakers who shared a message called The Dream King. You have to hear it to believe it! It’s a truly remarkable and miraculous story!
  • I’ve been part of a remarkable team of creatives at Gateway in Austin which has created some great online resources including messages, worship songs, spoken word pieces, dance, and short teaching vignettes. You can find these resources at our new youtube channel – YouTube.com/GatewayChurchAustin
  • Through my non-profit (Catalyzing Community), I started The Post-Christian Podcast. You can subscribe on iTunes or Spotify. Our goal is to reframe, simplify, and focus on our mission to make disciples in a post Christian culture. We discuss reaching new people and raising up leaders while removing the barriers of churchianity. There are some courses we’ve made available as well, and I have been working on a new book which should be coming out in 2021. 🙂

Here are some of the messages I have shared this past year:

On Growing Personally
Letting Go of S.E.L.F. – Overcoming Selfishness, Ego, Labels, and Fear (message manuscript)

Self-Aware: See Your World – Being on a great team, getting out of a trigger loop, and managing leadership anxiety (message manuscript)

Decision-Making: God’s Will, Free Will – Getting past decision fatigue and walking in the way of wisdom (message manuscript)

Envision a New You (Growing Spiritually) – Having a growth mindset means your family of origin does not have to limit you. (message manuscript)

An Unmanageable Life: Fearless and Vulnerable – Stress, cell phone addiction, and being truly honest with ourselves (message manuscript)

Overcoming Anxiety – Wrong thinking leads to destructive words and actions.

On Knowing God
What Now? (Embrace a New Reality) – How should we live in the midst of a pandemic and a world of injustice? The answer may not be what you think. (message manuscript)

Pursuing God’s Provision – Pain, Impatience, and Our Response (message manuscript)

Who Is Jesus, Really? – Apocalyptic Visions and the Son of Man (message manuscript)

Other Resources:

What’s After Life? by John Burke – a series featuring Near Death Experiences and Proof of life after death

When God Found a Muslim Boy by Aman Quadri – One man’s story that shows God cares for all regardless of spiritual background

Cold Case Christianity by J. Werner Wallace – An atheist homicide detective uses his investigation skills on Jesus.

Connecting to God (Luke) – in partnership with Bible.com and The Bible Project videos, I created a reading plan for skeptics, seekers, and those wanting to go deeper looking at the person of Jesus.

Connecting to God (Acts) –  A reading plan for skeptics, seekers, and those wanting to go deeper looking at the effects of Jesus on those who followed Him.


Stay safe and God bless,

Eric, Deborah, Caleb, and Trevi

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