Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sleadd family year-end newsletter

It is Christmas Day as I (Arden) begin this letter. Our celebration of Christmas started two days ago, when Naomi and Nathan’s families joined us for corn chowder, gift-exchange, playing with the grandson, scrapbooking, entertaining my grandson, munching on snacks, lighting candles, watching The Nativity Story, and did I mention my grandson?
I have been pondering and treasuring many things in my heart today. We have kept a 25-year Christmas scrapbook since John and I married, and this year we are filling the last page with our newsletter and memories. Naomi shares an interest in scrapbooking and memory-keeping, as she sells Creative Memories products. She and I scrapbooked together, and I loved that time. So much has happened these 25 years. How can life be so full? How can my heart hold so much?

Far and away the main event in the Sleadd household this year was Nathan’s courtship, engagement and marriage on October 25th to Colleen McMurray. Colleen and her parents Robin and Brad, and my buddy Carla Deems directed a wedding to beat all weddings. God provided many favors, and Christ was glorified at every turn. Alexa was a bridesmaid; Aaron was a groomsman, and Caleb a lantern-bearer. Nathan and Colleen, both 19, came home from their two-week honeymoon in Leavenworth, WA with the news that they were pregnant. Their honeymoon baby is due July 22nd.
The church is a central feature of our lives. Coram Deo Church has some of our sweetest friends. John is pastoring the church for his second year part-time while teaching fulltime at Highland Elementary. He preaches twice a month and the children join him to lead worship once a month. There is much participation in each service by the young people, and easily 40% of our church is composed of teenagers. We have moved to a better location with an awesome kitchen, and our weekly shared meals are a high point in our social life. We anticipate a name change to Household of Faith Community Church,, as we affiliate with the consociation by the same name ( Alexa says, “I love our church!”

• Naomi, Colleen, Alexa and I hosted a Thanksgiving celebration for 25 people in our home. You can see more pictures on Alexa’s Facebook page. The girls brought their china, I got out my silver, and Alexa decorated the tables fabulously. We dressed up as Pilgrims and Indians; each person shared what they were thankful for; we played a Pilgrim Trivia game, ate turkey, made pumpkin ice cream, staged a paper boat race and played a hootin’ good game of Guesstures.
• Nathan and Colleen were blessed to secure a guest-house apartment from our friends Bryan and Lori Scott. Several work parties were organized to remodel the interior of the apartment, (see also Alexa’s blog,
• Naomi and Nathanael announced their expectancy of #2 the same weekend as Nathan’s engagement, right after July 4th. Naomi is due in March. They sold their trailer home a week before Christmas in spite of economic turbulence. PTL!
• Aaron received the Iron Man Award at regional speech competition last spring, having placed and qualified in six speech events plus LD debate. He and Alexa took two first places with their duo interpretive The Elephant’s Child . They qualified for Regionals but were one place short of qualifying for Nationals. This year Alexa is the only Sleadd competing, in LD debate, impromptu, and apologetics. I count 32 medals and four trophies accumulating in our study (okay, I’m bragging!).

• Aaron has been spending his Wednesdays at our friend Stephen Hewitt’s home learning about HTML, web design, and other computer stuff. Aaron aspires to be a computer programmer. He will be graduating from high school this spring. He has also taken over the snack-machine business from Nathan, with a new machine I helped him buy for the YMCA location.

• John launched Covered Bridge Academy, a home school cooperative, last fall. Seven classes were offered; John taught beginning speech, and I taught writing. I am also facilitating an AP Physics class which Aaron and Alexa are taking. The Academy has received a scholarship for the start of our Family Choir, which has four families presently and is directed by Ron Strom.
• Caleb joined Aaron in the egg production business this spring with 20 new chicks. Recall our story last year of the slaughtering raccoons? Well, this spring all but two chicks were killed, perhaps by a skunk, in one night. This year we were not so charmed by the cute critters. Nathanael lent us a live trap, and we dispatched two skunks and one raccoon. The boys bought another 18 chicks and they are now grown and laying brown eggs like crazy, even in sub-freezing temperatures. You can buy some from them for $3 a dozen.

• In October I began antiviral treatment for HHV-6 and EBV. These viruses are among those suspected to cause chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. I am hoping that this will finally be the answer to curing my 17-year illness.
• My parents have had serious health issues this year. Dad has been on the edge of eternity several times. His foot was amputated this month and is spending Christmas in a nursing home. My mother battled breast cancer for the second time while trying to care for my dad. I am frustrated by my own health keeping me from being more helpful and leaving the work to my sister Julia, bless her heart. Tomorrow we will attempt to brave the snow over the pass and visit them.
• John and I hit the big 5-0 this year. I planned a surprise birthday party for him, and he really was surprised. He thought it was just another pool party at the Scotts’.
• For our 24th anniversary in August we spent time at Lake of the Woods. The weather was perfect, while back home it was baking. There were millions of butterflies throughout the camp. How romantic. We love being married. This year we re-instituted a weekly marriage-date-night, and I recommend it for anyone. For our 25th we have reservations to go to Kauai Island, Hawaii. It will be John’s first time to visit the islands. I hope and pray that my treatment will cure me by then, or I will be well enough to make the trip.
• After building a business from the ground up for four years, Nathan put up a new website last spring for and sales took off running. When business boogies, he hires helpers among friends and siblings. With no debt to pay, he is making enough to support his new family; not bad for a 19-year-old.
In Christ’s Love,
Arden for the Sleadds
Thoughts from John
Life is a workshop, and we are all works in progress. I say this because I have been spending long, blissful hours in my garage during Christmas vacation building cabinets for Alexa. Her craft clutter had begun to spread like a flood, offering the perfect excuse for me to buy a new table saw and launch into a woodworking project. I picked up a new belt sander, shop vac and quick-grip clamps, too. O the joys of ripping, chopping, routing, clamping and sanding. A man is in his element when he dances to the buzz and whir of spinning blades. Now that I’ve finished the cabinets, allow me to wax reflective on the passing year.
Last January I got ordained as pastor by Bear Creek Church in Medford, Oregon. I’m still waiting for the pastor police to show up some Sunday morning and cart me off for impersonating a real reverend. I can’t claim to really know what I’m doing, but whatever it is, I love it and I can’t help but do more of it. I get to study and talk about the best Book ever written, and try to live out what it says with fellow fans of the sovereign, triune Author. Last year I preached 30 sermons. This means that the talented men of God with whom I share the pulpit got to preach the other 22. I’m really just a cheerleader for Christ and a recruiter for kingdom servants. I enjoy watching others excel at teaching and I hope to expand our church’s preaching and leadership team in 2009.
For fair weather frolics the kids and I enjoyed camping with the Holst family at Silver Falls, and we joined the Bear Creek Church campers at Howard Prairie Lake. We tried to squeeze in a cool backpacking trip before school resumed, but it got cancelled due to smoky forest fires.
For a good portion of 2008 I duked it out with chronic shoulder pain until pouring concrete sidewalks by our pool cured me. Right now things are in relatively good working order as long as I don’t break dance, do acrobatics or jujitsu with my fifty-year-old bod.
In September I wrapped up my one-year leave of absence from teaching and reported for duty at Highland Elementary School, where I now teach fourth grade. Being a bi-vocational pastor can be a challenge, but I enjoy the fruitful labor of working with young minds and a great staff. The high percentage of students who live in broken homes is a strong reminder of the urgent need for family restoration in the American divorce culture.
With graying beard and ever-present reading glasses, I am looking more and more the part of a grandpa. I’m thrilled to cackle and burble with my grandson, Boone, at every opportunity. Now that two of my wee tikes have grown up into parents, I’m reminded how fun it was/is to be a dad. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” (Psalm 127:3-4).
May God’s abundant blessings draw you to Himself. -John