January 2011

Zoe makes Daddy take a break from running & studying

Slick ran the other day. He wants to run these short training runs at 8 minutes per mile. He’s training for the Paris marathon and he’d like to run it in under in four hours (roughly 9 minutes per mile). But on this run, he initially didn’t have a set goal. He just wanted run and put in a little effort.

But somewhere during the first half of his out-and-back run along the foot of the snow-muted Alps, God led him to set a more solid pace for the second three miles. Without looking at the GPS that told him his pace, Slick simply stepped it up a notch. He noted the time when he turned around.

The whole way back, he just focused on running a good strong tempo, giving it his best effort, but determined leave the results to God, rather than consulting the GPS for feedback along the way.

When he hit “stop” at the end of the run, he discovered he’d run exactly 8 minutes per mile. Not 8:01, not 7:59. His best effort at doing what God had laid upon him to do, plus the empowerment God gave for carrying out His command, was exactly enough, not one iota too much, nor too little.

And so it is with what He sets before us to do. Our best effort, plus His enablement, is exactly enough. Not too much, and not too little. In His hand, our all is sufficient for Him, and in our lives, He is sufficient for us.

At the school, Zoe found a pair of skis that fit her and her face almost got stuck in a huge grin after her first day on them

Although we greeted the New Year with snores of very welcome sleep, we woke up to another bright, beautiful day in 2011, thanks be to the God Who holds this all together and keeps it running1.

He not only gives us the gift of this Earth and each day on it, but He gave us some very special gifts this Christmas. The first was a set of skate skis for Donna. She’s loved skate skiing since she lived in Colorado many years ago, but since she doesn’t often get to skate (like, twice in 15 years!), she could never justify buying a pair of skate skis, which cost several hundred dollars. But as we visited with good friends in Germany, they mentioned that someone had given the wife a set of skate skis. They didn’t like skating the one time they tried it, however, would we like the skis? We could barely dare to say, yes! But they very generously gave us not only a pair of skate skis, but the boots and poles, too, which fit Donna perfectly! An unexpected gift from God that spoke volumes in a very unique way.

If that weren’t enough, this just happened to happen only a couple days before we were going to XC ski and snowshoe for a few days over the vacation. God authored this story, then signed it with His special signature of coincidence, a small miracle where God remains anonymous.

Then He continued to shower kindness on us, allowing us four wonderful days of exploring a winter mountain valley with all its associated beauty and fun: seemingly endless XC ski and snowshoe trails for Mommy and Daddy, and use of a sled for sliding along the walking paths and down 1+km sledding hills for Zoe (and Mommy & Daddy!).

Sometimes it makes me wonder what Africa will be like, that God is filling us with such wonder and joy now. I quite willingly walk His path now, with all the blessings He showers upon us. Will I walk it as joyfully when it moves down the mountain slopes and into the shadows and valleys? Lord, teach me to fix my eyes ever on You2, here where I can see You clearly, so that I’ll still be able to see You through the haze that will likely come, as You draw us along this path of life on Earth.

Hiking the road less traveled in the Alps.

1. Colossians 1:17
2. Romans 12:1-3

We hope that this Christmas season found you warmly embraced in the loving arms of your Christian family, and often reminded of the immense gift the Father has given us in the form of His Son’s life.

We praise God for the calmness He surrounded us with as we completed a week full of tests, supported tangibly by your prayers. He was also gracious enough to help us do relatively well on them.

This season of a fresh, untarnished year always reminds us of one of our favorite verses: “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:1b-2) We hope the coming year brings you may blessings and joy in Him!

In response to your prayers for disciplined studying last month, God showed us the companion CDs that go with the Rosetta Stone Language Learning program (which we’ve had for a while). During the many hours driving on the roads, we were able to easily and safely hear and practice speaking French as the miles rolled by!

God also provided Zoe and Donna with much-needed rest as His amazing design enabled their bodies to heal from pink-eye and an allergic reaction Donna had to the eye drops. And He gifted us with a very peaceful Christmas with a family of good friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, (Below is a picture of His most special present of a long walk through a silent, snow-filled forest near their home in Germany.)

As we head back to school on 3 Jan and begin to tackle more complicated intricacies of the language, we are appreciate your prayers for understanding and application. We will both be meeting regularly this semester with “language partners,” native French speakers with whom we can practice speaking. As you can imagine this can be a very humbling experience 🙂 !

Slick & Steffen walk into the forest. I wonder why God created snow, so magical and fun...