April 2020

Once upon a time seven cousins, five parents and two grandparents and an assortment of other relatives gathered on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas in Thornewood, NY at Dad’s childhood home. Thirty years later, a new generation of grandparents gathered their progeny for holidays and the rest of us transitioned to occasional family reunions. But in recent years, time and space joined forces to prevent extended family from visiting at all. Then we were told to stay apart – and incredibly, that brought us together! Across six states and four countries we gathered Zoom style to celebrate Easter and family together. What a blessing!

That theme continued with Matti’s virtual 8th birthday party with "cousins" across the US. They played Scattergories and 20 questions, sang, blew out candles and ate a big bite of cake – all at 8am for us! Abundant, undeserved blessing.

Yet a third blessing was Slick being able to defend his dissertation from the comfort of his office – and receiving a passing grade for his two years’ work!

And a fourth blessing has been a Bible study group Donna e-meets with weekly – a wonderful group of gals in five states and two countries digging deep into WHY we believe the Bible anyway. A 12-week overview of the Bible is next. Any takers?

We recognize, however, that for many this time is still fraught with loneliness and uncertainty. Will you continue to pray with us for the isolated and those in danger during this situation, as well as many doors for the Gospel to open in new and fruitful ways? Will you join us in thanking our faithful Father for the ways He is working on many fronts, including making many aware of their own mortality and need for Him? Thank you for standing with us from afar, and please let us know how we might meet with you before the throne – even without the use of technology!

Sand Dollar Beach on the Pacific Ocean’s west end

Some of the sand dollars we took home, which we dyed with our Easter eggs

Ironic…or divinely appointed? In January we discussed doing online schooling with the girls. We decided against it, but only barely. Now we are getting a free trial…and quite enjoying it! When we consider Romans 8:28 and just how God works all things together, we stand amazed at just how many things He is able to weave together for good – all at the same time!

In New Jersey, Donna’s mom noted how many families have suddenly appeared in the neighborhood, laughing, working and playing outside together. We’ve heard many comments about the great family time and even more about numbers of people seeking God and turning to Jesus. We’ve even sensed a hint of God’s judgment against some of the evil we’d been seeing recently. In the context of a dark tragedy, there are points of light like stars to praise God for.

We also praise Him for restoration of some relationships, one simply stretched by distance for a time and the others far more complicated. We also thank Him for what seems to be a dawning of gifts and passions being used again: Slick’s to pastor and Donna’s to write. But even as the horizon is getting lighter on one hand, on the other we look forward with grave concern toward the unfolding pandemic around us all. While the closest cases to us are ten miles away, what disquiets us is the collateral damage that we may not hear about for years to come, if ever: abuse of children kept in unsafe homes; emotional harm to the lonely elderly in the name of physical protection; the hard-working poor living pay check to pay check now cast out of jobs; youth just beginning to find their way now barred from healthy outlets like gyms, playgrounds and basketball courts…

Would you also join us in doing all you can to stop the spread by willingly keeping your distance and urging others to do the same? More importantly, will you stand with us before the throne for these folks and these issues, as well as asking God to turn people to Him in this time? Thank you and please let us know how we might represent you before the throne as well!

One last day of skiing – at Hachimantai Resort with our kids and some of their friends. A very fast group!