About two weeks ago, our small group gathered together for a "goodbye" party for our dear friends Brett and Jody (and their two daughters), who were due to move to Tennessee. Brett has served as the Youth Pastor of our church, but he was also our small group leader and dear friend. We had planned to go out to eat at a fancy, local restaurant, called the Metro, but we knew this evening would be slightly sappy, so we moved the "party" to the Fernandez's new home. We ordered Firehouse Subs and I made three homemade desserts in honor of this bitter-sweet celebration.
Jody's favorite dessert is cheesecake, so I made a strawberry cheesecake and an oreo cheesecake, along with my favorite dessert, Tiramisu. They could NOT have turned out more beautiful. They were also so delicious. I am drooling over them as I stare at these photographs.
We all brought gifts and letters to give to Brett and Jody! We prayed over them. The night was really emotional. We poured out our hearts to this sweet couple, but we laughed just as much as we cried. And then... we captured a few photos of our group's last time as a party of 6 guys and 6 gals. We have been in this small group for well over 5 years now. Having Brett and Jody absent, every other Friday at small group, AND at Church AND around town, will be hard to accept as a reality.
I love all of these people. Above from left to right: Nathan, Zach, Brett, Aaron, Darren, and Dennis. Below from left to right: Erin, Ashely, ME, Jody, Shannon, and Lisa. This group is a BEAUTIFUL picture of the Lord's grace. We all fight faithfully and hard to love each other, hold each other accountable, and encourage each other. Don't look too closely... we all cried every bit of our make-up off.
I purchased this beautiful necklace for Ansley, their daughter. From Virginia to Tennessee she goes. Ansley will definitely be missed. Be sure to check out Ivy By Design's ETSY shop!
It's called a state bar necklace.
I also purchased a photo album for Ansley of the mountains. I felt like this represented Roanoke well. I filled it will all kinds of photos taken over the years as well as the photos from the "Childhood Friends" photo shoot.
Believe it or not, I found it at Michaels Craft Store.
I fell in love with this saying, "How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard!" So, I contacted Cultural Bindings on ETSY and had a notebook made for BOTH Ansley and Jody. I LOVED the image below and asked her to use it in place of the one she features on her ETSY shop.
I had a wood panel made for Ansley. I also had a wooden panel made for the first group photo pictured in this post. These were purchased at Walgreens and I LOVE THEM!
We have LOVED having Brett and Jody do life with us. They have truly left their mark in ROANOKE, VA. I purchased this gorgeous Roanoke ornament from Steger Creek. The ornament was designed by the owner himself.
I purchased a glass dome for the ornament to be displayed in.
I am hoping they will display it in their home, along with the group photo, reminding them of their wonderful memories in Roanoke and the FIRST place they called home as a married couple.
Life is certainly going to look different for a while both HERE, in Roanoke, and in Tennessee. It's not easy saying goodbye to someone. Empty seats will exist, new friendships will need to be discovered, intentional LOVE and staying in touch will be necessary, and some of the most amazing memories will be reminisced on often.
I read a quote from a pastor that went something similar to this, "The kingdom doesn't grow by holding on, but rather by letting go!" SO... I am staying focused on letting go simply because I know Brett and Jody will do MIGHTY things at their new church, Lyon's Creek Baptist Church. BUT, it doesn't mean I can't hold on to my love for them and memories made with them.
We will be praying for all of their adjustments, for their faith to increase, and for the Lord's will to be evident to them as they walk in obedience. This is not goodbye, but so long. Shoot, we plan to go visit them and hang out in DOLLYWOOD soon!!! LOL! We love you WILLIAMS' family.