Every year I send out a pile of Christmas cards, but I know I don’t get one to everyone that is a friend online. So I try and share our Christmas letter in a blog post too. This post is coming a little after Christmas only because we spent a week away from MN in AZ over the Christmas break and I am finally now getting time to post it. I will share more about our time away in a future post. But for now, our 2020 Christmas letter…

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” This is the very reason we celebrate Christmas. Remember the gift that Jesus is to a lost world.  This year, maybe more than ever, our family has had to walk in Faith.  We cling to the hope that is found in God, especially in our darkest moments. The gift of His Son, Jesus, is something that we are incredibly thankful for.

As many of you know, we lost our oldest son, Isaac, to depression and suicide right before Christmas last year on December 21, 2019.  The way that our family, church and community supported and encouraged us during that heartbreaking time was overwhelming.  I am sure there are people we did not thank properly, so let us say it here:  “We are so grateful for the way you prayed for us and carried us in the hardest moments of our life thus far. We saw what the hands and feet of Jesus looked like in the flesh.”  While we miss our son tremendously, we have not walked these last 11 months without hope.  Christ came to seek and save the lost.  We believe this truth for ourselves personally, and we trust the same for Isaac.  We have hope that this is not the end of the story.  Christ conquered death once and for all!  We pray you have that hope as well.

Like so many of you, our lives were drastically changed by the Covid pandemic and we made many adjustments with a new “normal” of distance learning and sheltering-in-place in March.  As hard as this was, we saw many blessings.  Having time as a family together all day was healing, especially in the early months following Isaac’s death.  Time together as a family, with all our children, may have been just what we needed to heal and process the loss of our son.

In late June we travelled to Colorado for a family vacation.  We had scheduled the trip 18 months prior and decided we could socially distance safely in the mountains!  We enjoyed gorgeous views and numerous sunsets.  We stayed on Scar Mountain, a fitting reminder that we all carry scars in this life, but we can be grateful for the moments that lead us to a closer relationship with God.

Gabe, Elijah and Karlena started the new 2020 school year in a “hybrid” model.  They are at school in-person a few days and at home the others.  Gabe a Junior, is driving now, he is very diligent in his work, and achieves notable academic success!  Elijah is in 5th grade, and Karlena is in 4th grade!  Elijah participated in football for the first time this fall and enjoyed that experience.  Karlena had horse lessons this summer and is still convinced we need a horse of our own.

After two years of waiting and saving, we were finally able to secure a contractor to replace 15 windows and redo our siding.  We are very pleased with the results.  Thanks to Karlena’s persistence, we added an adorable, friendly and loving Aussalier puppy named Hudson to our family this fall.  He is a wonderful friend and brings us all great joy and is the perfect companion to our six-year-old Aussie, Sydney.

Finally, we have some exciting news! Dominic and I are making a big change with LEPS. We recently made an offer on our own office space! Details are still being worked out, but we hope to be in our new location after the first of the year.  Our new address will be 203 Jewett Street #2 in Marshall!   Many things fell into place to make this move possible. After much prayer, we believe it is the right move to make for our business!  In the New Year, please stop in, say “Hi,” and see our new space!

While Christmas will never be the same for our family, we have made a choice to praise God in these hard moments, regardless of how we are feeling. Isaiah 41:10 has been a verse I have clung to this year. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” God has been our strength, our comfort, and our guide. We praise Him for that!  Dominic, Kristin, Gabe, Elijah and Karlena.