Only God can connect a group of people as quickly as the women’s Bible study has connected. Over time, I’ve become convinced that to have a vibrant relationship with Jesus requires at least one time in a person’s life of significant brokenness. And we definitely have that in our little group of women who meet on Wednesdays. Whether for that or other reasons, it’s been amazing to see them begin to encourage one another in such real and deep ways during the few weeks we have met so far. Only in the family of God…

Both Slick (Pastor Rich) and I have been immensely humbled by the outpouring of encouragement and practical support of the members of Washington Valley Chapel not only for us, but also for the church and its family. Though the numbers are small, the effort and commitment the folks put in is impressive. In some ways it is a very healthy church and definitely a testament to the work God has done in their hearts that they give so freely of their time, talent and treasure to often thankless Kingdom work behind the scenes.

For the most part, kids grow so slowly it’s hard to see them actually change, but along with Gwendi’s pants that were suddenly 2 inches too short yesterday, Zoe has begun spontaneously asking how she can help around the house, and actually did the dishes one day without being asked! It’s refreshing to see God working in them as well. And we even see God clearly working in me as His peace surrounds the days I’ve spent being with Matti and Zoe on their field trips instead of moving the painting and unpacking forward. Now THAT is all a God-thing!

However, even with all the good evident in this church body, there are still some very deep hurts that need healing and it is for that which we would appreciate your prayers. God is the Healer and Comforter, but please ask with us for His insight as we seek to be His hands and feet in those endeavors. Thank you for joining us before the throne and please let us know how we can lift you up as well.

Cows, pigs and horses. What else would anyone see in Washington DC?? (That’s Grandma with the girls.)

Advertisements

We are two days into living in NJ again – yikes! When I (Donna) left 23 years ago for Colorado, I never imagined I’d be back, let alone with a husband, three kids and as a retired Air Force fighter pilot turned pastor’s wife!!

Since the beginning of August, Donna and all three girls drove from NY to NJ. Donna, Gwendi and Zoe then flew to NM for two weeks to pack the house. Slick and Matti joined them ten days later to help with the packers and the drive from NM to NJ. We all piled into the truck, with Chili our faithful mutt, to traverse TX, AR, MO, IL, IN, OH and PA en route to NJ. Why the "S" shaped path? Because we visited a handful of family and friends along the way, making it a terrific trip. In all those moving parts, we have clearly felt the hand of God.

In the myriad of "spitballs"* that we’ve experienced recently, the Lord has given us grace with each other and the ability to recognize Satan’s meddling for what it is. It confirms that the enemy is not happy and thus we are heartened! We are also fortified by how God has helped Slick (now called "Pastor Rich” seeing as “Pastor Slick” is just wrong – lol!) to connect with the people here at Washington Valley Chapel in Morristown, NJ. Many have stopped by and truly blessed us by preparing the house and yard in countless ways and providing many things all the way from grass seed to groceries.

The Lord has clearly responded to so many of your prayers and out of necessity we request you keep them going as we move through this last phase of transition to actually living here and serving the church as a family. Please pray that we would be sensitive to where God is working and make wise choices to join Him there, that He would continue to supply us grace for each other and that He would clearly guide our decisions with folks related to Camp and our future involvement there. And of course, that we’d get the house and life here settled in supernatural time and totally uneventfully J.

Please do let us know how we can be praying for you as well!

In His grip –

Slick/Rich and Donna

*Spitballs are relatively minor annoyances that seem to accumulate at times. If we look from a perspective of the Kingdom’s advance, it seems like the enemy is peppering us with little spitballs to distract or discourage us, or to trip us up and slow progress.

Crossing the Mississippi River via ferry!

Traveling across the country is hard work!

Abundant and demonstrative. That has been our experience of God in the past when He confirms a path we have begun to walk. In July again He was demonstrative in confirming Slick’s call to Washington Valley: the certification that normally takes months was done and published in less than 48 hours. The last roadblock removed, Slick stepped into the pulpit on 16 July – and spent the first 10 days of his pastorate in his second favorite situation: going to school at Nyack, working on his doctorate.

However, as is nearly always the case in ministry, the road is neither smooth nor easy, so we do covet your prayers for him to speak and act in wisdom and gentleness.

On Donna’s side of the ring, the summer at Camp is already almost over. The last campers depart on 5 August. Praise God for the initials in our notebook of many campers who opened the door of their hearts to Jesus for the first time while they were away in His creation. It is truly wonderful to watch God at work in the stories of these precious lives.

Looking forward over the next month, please do pray that the completion of our move from NM to NJ would be expeditions and uneventful despite all the moving parts. Slick and Matti go to a family reunion in MN next week, followed by Donna and all three girls going to NM to pack. The end of August will find us all together, traveling back across the country in the truck again and finally arriving in NJ to begin the final stage of this transition. Please join us in asking for clarity of mind as we deal with countless details, and grace with each other as we move through these changes. They makes us long even more for our unchanging, turmoil-free heavenly home…

Please let us know how we can be praying for you more specifically. And thank you for standing beside us in this windy journey!

Though it entails much hard work (see below), camp has been fun for all. Zoe was a camper for her first time!

The girls get to enjoy the wood chips that the horse stable helpers loaded into the pick-up truck.

In some months God seems quiet. Others, He works overtime! At the tail end of May, God answered countless prayers for some key positions at Camp – a nurse, a maintenance person, an office person and a kitchen manager! He provided some great folks and did so way before it was time to get really nervous about operating without one of these key roles filled. Now we need His wisdom, insight and patience to lead well, as well as protection over Slick and my relationship as we are apart and both a bit busy – and in the midst of a significant transition…

On the home front, Slick accepted, with some humbling trepidation, a call as Lead Pastor Washington Valley Chapel in Morristown, NJ! Many details still remain to be sorted out, so we greatly appreciate you partnering with us in requesting a smooth transition both for us and for the outgoing pastor and his family as well. Grandma Kohout lives 40 mins away, there is a terrific Classical Christian school 15 mins away for the girls, a YMCA 3 miles away for all of us, Morristown airport 7 miles away for the two pilots in the family and a 5-bedroom parsonage with a great guestroom for y’all! But most specifically we are thankful for His peace that tangibly surrounds us in the midst of great change and countless decisions.

Thank you for coming alongside us in prayer! We wouldn’t be here without your partnership. Please let us know how we can be praying for you as well…especially as Slick will soon be a “professional” intercessor – lol!

In His grip –

The Douglasses

"We ate pie in Pie Town, New Mexico!"

A benefit of staying in one place for more than a year is being able to connect with people less transient than ourselves. We thank God for his using us to encourage other folks throughout the month as we continued our regular pizza-and-salad Sunday evenings. He’s also used our house to provide a place for a young Air Force family just moving to the area, while they look for a home. And He may be doing even more than just giving them a comfortable place for these few months, but that story is still unfolding and must wait to be told.

Another story of which we are in the middle, but where we sense God workings, is our next step. Several churches have expressed significant interest in Slick, and he has an interview with one in just a few days and is preaching there the following Sunday. Several details surrounding that have also begun falling into place. In the past (and according to Dr. Blackaby in Experiencing God) when details began to align, that is confirmation that this is both God’s direction and His timing. That it is not just "an open door," but The Specific Door that He is directing us through at this time. We would appreciate your intersession for the Lord’s clear guidance-we want to be on the path He ordains and not any other.

So standby for more on that next month! In the meantime, we continue to pray for you. Please let us know how we can sharpen our aim.

Exploring the Gila Cliff Dwellings in western New Mexico.

The basics (church, date night and Sunday dinners) continue and have evolved into a little bit of outreach as weekly we share “pizza and salad” with friends and acquaintances from the aeroclub or Slick’s work.

And we are grateful to continue to see His activity in our life: In a twist on date night, Donna convinced Slick to do the “Sunset Stroll” at White Sands one Monday evening. The Master Artist showed up at well, painting a beautiful sky shortly after sundown. And He continues to guard and protect our little ones as well: after an evening in the emergency room for breathing trouble, three bags of IV saline and a few inhaler treatments, Gwendi has returned to being her happy little, left-handed self. Slick’s dad also came for a visit for Matti’s 5th birthday and left more interested in reading the Bible – which is evidence that God can use anyone for His purposes, even a family of energetic munchkins corralled in a not-always-graceful manner!

Doors of direction continue to crack open a hair and to slam shut, so we would greatly appreciate your joining us in prayers to wait well, pray expectantly, serve where we can and be available whenever He gives the "go." How might we intercede for you and yours?

White Sands after sunset.

God’s great playground!

Back to the basics. After having things a little unsettled for the last year (both Donna’s dad and Slick’s biological dad had medical struggles and then passed away in the last year), we feel we are finally beginning to regroup. In the wake of the marriage retreat and thanks to our friends’ daughter wanting babysitting jobs, we rekindled the weekly date night. The chance to talked uninterrupted refreshes our relationship and emotional strength for the next week.

Now somewhat settled in a new church, we joined a Sunday School class just launching and look forward to getting to know the folks in it even better.

And finally, we’ve rekindled our Sunday evening connection with families and couples God’s placed in our lives. It’s an informal tradition to hopefully encourage folks and deepen relationship over pizza and salad.

Even as we hunker back to these basics, we wonder about and seek the next step: whether we might re-enter full-time ministry or if we might stay where we are. And if staying where we are, how we might become more engaged in ministry. Would you join us in prayer that God would enable contentment even as He brings direction quickly and clearly?

Gwendi helps me preflight a Holloman Aeroclub T-41 (Cessna 172) at Alamogordo Airport.

Winter in NM: a hike in Alamo Canyon near our house. Zoe and Matti also chose to hike the mile and a half back home!