This page on our website is entitled “Updates from Caleb & Lynnae”, because Lynnae sends Pastor Mandy regular updates. She has also given Pastor Mandy permission to post these updates and photos she sends so that the entire congregation can be kept abreast of Caleb and Lynnae’s progress. In these days of real clergy shortage throughout the entire Christian Church “in the West”, both pastors rejoice that Holy Trinity is blessed to have Caleb and Lynnae Douglas at the NALC seminary in Ambridge, PA. Caleb graduated from Ambridge in May 2017 and is presently serving his Internship year at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New York City. This internship year is necessary before anyone can be ordained a pastor of the NALC. Lynnae is finishing her MAR degree (Master of Arts and Religion) — she will be working on her thesis while Caleb is serving his internship year. Pastor Mike, Pastor Mandy and Council are just so proud of them both and want to keep you up-to-date on their progress. (Plus Elias and Nathaniel are SO adorable!) You can keep updated on their progress right here. And by the way … Caleb is not serving his internship year here at Holy Trinity because it is never a good idea for young pastors either to serve their internship in their home congregation or to have the first congregation they serve once they are ordained be their home congregation. The NALC absolutely discourages both.
Caleb is Installed on August 6, 2017 as an Intern at Immanuel Lutheran Church, NYC
Dear Holy Trinity,
Grace and peace to you all through Christ Jesus our Lord!
And thanks be to God, Caleb has finally graduated with his Masters of Divinity! This is indeed the answer to many of your prayers and such a testament to God’s faithfulness, strength and mercy. Though delighted to have completed his degree, Caleb is still grieving the loss of no longer being in school (for now, anyways). He was an excellent student and loved his time in seminary. He even received special recognition at the commencement ceremony for excelling in biblical studies and he received the Senior Theology award as well. There are a few pictures of all of us at St. Stephens Anglican Church where graduation was held. Our Bishop, John Bradosky, preached for the Baccalaureate service which was lovely.
My last update included a request for prayer that the Lord would lead us in our discernment process with the candidacy committee in choosing a site for Caleb’s vicarage (internship) year. He has been so gracious to guide us to Immanuel Lutheran Church in Manhattan NY where Caleb will be supervised by Pastor Gregory Fryer. This is an incredible opportunity for Caleb to serve under and be formed by such a holy and faithful shepherd. Though living in Manhattan with two small boys seems a little daunting, we are grateful for the Lord’s leading in all of this and we praise him for the support we have received from the candidacy committee and already from Pastor Fryer. Caleb is quite eager to begin this new call as he continues to prepare for ordained ministry.
I (Lynnae) just finished my final residential course (my first preaching class, no less!) at Trinity and am very busy trying to finish writing my last few papers and sermons before we move in just three weeks! After I complete these last two summer courses I will only have my thesis left to write which I will, if all goes as planned, defend in April before graduating next May. It is surely an exciting time for our family, though we are as you might imagine a little overwhelmed by all that needs to happen these next few weeks. Please continue to pray for strength and focus as we seek to be faithful in finishing well here.
Elias and Nathaniel are doing very well. They are loving the warm weather and playing outside as much as we let them! Eli definitely is aware that we are moving soon and is expressing some sadness (in a 3-year old sort-of-way) which makes sense. He has already had to say goodbye to some of his little buddies from seminary, and he certainly has made dear friends just as Caleb and I have. He continues to struggle with some ongoing health concerns, so we are also asking the Lord to direct us to a good pediatrician in Manhattan. But overall he is doing well. He still loves trains and trucks, but now he is really into telling stories which are both clever and hilarious. Nathaniel has just hit another developmental milestone and is starting to talk more and copy words, some of which we can make out and others…well, we pretend! It has been a joy to watch them grow together and grow to love being together. Thank you for your continued prayers for our boys, especially during the coming move.
Now that we will be closer to Abington, we are hoping to visit very soon after we move! It will be absolutely wonderful to worship with you all, and hey, maybe Pastor Mike will be teaching another class on Luther (part 7 or so?) that we can sit in on. 😉
Blessings in Christ Jesus to each of you, and thank you so very much for joining us on this journey through our time in seminary.
With Much Love,
Graduation Photo of Caleb Douglas from North American Lutheran Seminary.
Following his graduation, Caleb and Lynnae will be moving to New York City. Caleb will be serving his one-year internship at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Manhattan.
Update from March 21, 2017
Yesterday I was doing some work up in our study and Eli came in holding the check from Holy Trinity shouting to me! What a joy that was, and I wish you could have seen his face (even though he didn’t really understand what he was showing me!). We are so grateful to Holy Trinity for your ongoing support since we began at the NALS, and now we are only months away from a move. Caleb’s candidacy meeting went very well, he is approved for internship and we should know by the end of the month where we will be placed!
In other news, I know I mentioned to you awhile ago that we have been seeking care for Eli’s ongoing ailments. Well, thanks be to God, it seems that we have an answer. He has been diagnosed with Lyme’s Disease, and the presenting symptom that finally led his pediatrician to that diagnosis was arthritis in his knee. We have no idea how long ago he may have contracted it, but it seems to be very common in our area. We are hoping it hasn’t been in his system for long and that the month of antibiotics will kill the bacteria so he can return to normal. At this point there is no way to know if that’s all it will take or not.
He has not wanted to walk the past two days which is horrifying to see. He’s still reasonably happy, singing, laughing, eating…but seeing him scoot around on his butt because of pain is just awful. We would surely be comforted by your prayers for his quick and full healing.
I will write more when I can, love you all much!
Update from February 14, 2017
Dear Holy Trinity Church Family,
Please do rejoice with us in the mercy and kindness of God who has brought us to this last semester of our time in seminary (well, for Caleb at least!). It is wonderful to look back over these last 2 ½ years and recognize the manifold ways in which our Lord has been blessing and sustaining our family while we have been studying at the NALS. At the outset of this update, we surely want to express our humble thanks to you, our sending church, for participating with him in his care, provision, and faithfulness to us.
By his grace, we have begun our first (and last) semester as both full-time students. This was a difficult decision, but in order for me (Lynnae) to receive scholarship help I needed to be full-time and we were able to work out our schedules in such a way to make this feasible. It has by far been the hardest semester yet in terms of work loads/scheduling, and we are thankful there is an end in sight, but we are grateful for the opportunity to study together and be formed in this way as a family.
Caleb will be heading to Columbus Ohio at the beginning of March for the next step in his candidacy process. He will have an interview with several pastors who will, Lord-willing, endorse him for his year-long pastoral internship which will likely begin some time this summer. We probably will not find out where this will be until later in March, but we will certainly keep you informed on their decision and we are excited to see where the Lord will place us as we continue to prepare for ministry in the church.
I will, Lord-willing, be done with my course work in June and will have my thesis left to write during Caleb’s internship year. I am in the beginning stages of my research for this, but already I am excited and eager (which is, I hear, a good thing when you need to write 60-80 pages) to immerse myself in my chosen thesis topic which will be on the beauty of the Lord, and particularly on what it means that the invisible beauty of God took on human flesh and became for us Incarnate Beauty.
Elias, who many of you remember as a tiny baby wrapped in a green swaddle looking like a pea in a pod, will be turning 3 in two weeks! He is very much aware of this and looking forward to his birthday, constantly reminding me of the “cake Thomas” I am supposed to make for him . He loves all things trains including Thomas the tank engine. He is also fond of making his little brother laugh incessantly, working on puzzles, and finding “trucks moving.” It’s been a joy to watch him learn, grow and be formed in this unique seminary community where he too has made some great friends.
Nathaniel will be turning 1 next month which is also hard to believe! He has just learned to walk and is wobbling all over the place now, including over to the stairs which he recently figured out how to climb! He adores his brother and constantly wants to be near him, though he’s normally knocking the trains off their tracks and taking the puzzles apart. We praise the Lord for the gifts he has given us in these two boys and ask for your continued prayers for their growth both physically and into Christ, and for brotherly affection for one another!
We truly appreciate your prayers for Caleb and me as we seek to be faithful in these final months here at Trinity as well. Being in seminary with two small kids has its challenges as you know, but we also recognize that the way we are being formed by Christ as we study and learn is growing us to be more holy and loving parents too. We covet your prayers for continued strength and rest, and for joy as we study and seek to be more conformed to Christ.
With Deep Gratitude and Love,
P.S. Please do feel free at any time to update us or share any prayer requests you may have with us, we can be reached via email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos of Nathaniel’s Baptism
Update from October 23, 2016
Grace and Peace to our Holy Trinity Church Family!
As you all may have guessed by the lapse of time between updates, seminary with two kids is quite busy! As Pastor Mandy has helpfully quipped, “One is like none, two is like ten.” This has proven to be the case in the Douglas household, and yet, thanks be to God he is graciously providing for our needs and giving us his mercy and strength as we shepherd our boys and attend to our studies.
This semester has been full unlike any before it. We have six classes between the two of us and not only are we busy switching off who is in class or studying and who is home with the boys, the classes are (expectedly) more difficult as we near the end of our time at Trinity. We have grown accustomed to a pretty tight schedule that mostly allows us to get the work done we need to and not neglect to care for the needs of our household. That said, there is not a whole lot of margin for extra things, but it is working out pretty well so far. We know it is a unique season and we are grateful for the strength the Lord is providing for us as we seek to be faithful to his call both in serving one another and our kids and his church. We greatly appreciate your prayers for loving attentiveness to one another and our sons, and for rigor and diligence in our studies.
Our plan at this point is to finish up at Trinity in May and then head off to Caleb’s internship next summer. The NALC candidacy committee will be placing him at a church for a full-time, year long internship after graduation and before he can be approved to seek a call. We are still discerning with professors and others on the committee whether or not he/we will go on for further studies, but at this point we are expecting to do his internship first, and then my internship the year after. I am currently still an MAR student and candidacy is willing to work with me and tailor my process a bit so I can continue to pursue my thesis. I will likely take a few extra pastoral specific courses after completing my degree, but my hope is to be done with course work and only have my thesis left to write during Caleb’s internship year. It is a lot to sort through, but thanks be to God we do not have to figure it all out on our own! The Lord has faithfully used his Body to direct us and shepherd us as we discern his call.
Elias Owen is thriving. He is talking like you wouldn’t believe, making us laugh until we cry and now sometimes negotiating with us until we want to cry. We are learning life is different with a 2 1/2 year old who has a will all his own, but he forcing his parents to grow in manifold ways. He asks great questions and notices things we often look past. He helps us open our ears to hear passages like our Gospel lesson this morning (Luke 18:9-17) with new understanding, and he provokes us to want to enter the kingdom of God like little children. He still loves trains and seeing construction trucks, and he loves reading and making up stories. He also really loves his little brother and is great at making him laugh too.
Nathaniel Myles is flourishing and it’s hard to believe he is already 7 months old. He is growing very well, he is on the verge of crawling, and he loves playing peek-a-boo especially with his brother. Thanks be to God he has not had any of the same eating/digestive issues that Eli had. He now has four teeth and will be starting solids soon which will be great fun and a big mess! He will be getting baptized into Christ in just a couple of weeks. We waited to baptize him until November 9th because it is “Lutheran week” at TSM which means the Lutheran students lead chapel services including the Wednesday Eucharist service. We are thrilled Dr. Schifrin happily agreed to preside and Dr. Yeago will be preaching. Rejoice with us over another little one coming into Christ’s presence and being united to him through baptism! And if for some reason any of you are in the Pittsburgh area that Wednesday please join us at Trinity’s chapel!
Thank you, once again, for your kindness toward us and your faithfulness to join us from afar as we journey through our time in seminary and prepare for pastoral ministry. Your love and generosity humbles us and encourages us more than we know how to express. We would love to hear from you all as you have time to update us or share prayer requests as well.
With Much Love in Christ,
Update from May 1, 2016
Dear Holy Trinity Family,
What a whirlwind this last month has been!
Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement on our behalf, especially during this very unique season of life.
Our semester is nearly finished, we have one more week of class and then finals, though we will likely take extensions because of Nathaniel’s birth and my intense recovery. We are gaining a bit of perspective that our family’s needs have to come before school, and being faithful one day at a time is what we are called to do and be. Caleb has done an amazing job helping me as often as he can while still juggling 5 classes, and I have put school on hold for a bit as I am still healing and trying to care for two precious boys!
Elias is thrilled to be a big brother and a big helper. He mostly kisses, hugs, sings and talks to Nathaniel–though sometimes his excitement gets a little rough (he is still two after all)! Nathaniel is thriving and doing wonderfully. Thanks be to God he is eating well, digesting well and gaining weight well which has been a huge relief. Some of you may remember that his big brother did not quite have the same experience!
Thank you for continued prayers for my recovery and full healing. We were not anticipating this to be such a long and slow process, but the Lord is merciful and reminding us of his grace that is sufficient for each day. I do not mean that in any way to sound trite; our Father is caring for us in such sweet ways through family and friends and the prayers of his people.
One of the most amazing ways he has demonstrated his loving kindness has been through the support of Holy Trinity. I just sent out our rent check for the month of May and we were preparing ourselves to need to take out a loan to pay for next month’s rent and remaining bills. Then, around 1:30 a.m. Monday morning we heard an incredible noise unlike we had ever heard before. Caleb looked out the window and saw that our car and several others had been hit. Long story short, a drunk driver wiped out 13 cars on our block, and ours was one of the ones deemed totaled. To God be the glory, no one was injured at all, just the cars. With remaining bills to pay and a car that needed to be scrapped, we received another check in the mail from Holy Trinity on Tuesday afternoon. The Lord’s timing of that provision was such an encouragement to us. He continues to remind us that he will take care of our needs, and we need not fear. I can hardly articulate how grateful we are for the support we’ve continually received from the Lord through you all. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
We covet your prayers for everyone involved in this horrible car accident. We pray that God’s justice would be served and that He would bring the driver to repent and hear the good news of Christ Jesus. We also would appreciate prayer as we try to finish up school and attempt to find another car (and rides in the mean time!).
May the Lord continue to bless and mightily use Holy Trinity as you seek to further his kingdom.
Update from March 17, 2016
Dear Pastor Mike and Mandy,
We rejoice with you and our Holy Trinity family that the Lord has given us another son! He was born on the morning of 3/17, weighing 8 lbs, 5 oz and 20 1/2 inches long! A little bigger than Eli, that’s for sure. He and Lynnae are both doing well, though Lynnae’s recovery time will be much longer. She had a pretty severe tear during delivery that needed to be surgically repaired. This has made for some unexpected challenges, and we certainly covet your prayers. Thankfully we have a great deal of help from family who are coming in, and from friends/neighbors in our seminary community.
We love you and I will try to send a longer update with pictures when we have had some time to settle in as a family of four.
Caleb, Lynnae, Elias and Nathaniel
P.S. Oh and I should mention Eli is loving his new role as big brother, thanks be to God! He is very gentle and loves to help however he can.
Update from January 10, 2016
Greetings in our Incarnate, Baptized Lord!
We hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Christmas season, rejoicing in our Lord who took on our flesh and chooses to remain in our flesh at the right hand of the Father! This is good news indeed.
Caleb and I finished the fall semester on December 26th which was a little stressful to say the least, but by God’s grace we made it and we were able to have some time to rest before our January intensive started. We saw some family in the Midwest for a couple of days and then my mom came down to help out with Eli so we could take a one-week course on Luther’s theology and writings with Dr. Jim Nestingen. He is a delightful scholar, full of knowledge, and he imparts it in extraordinarily accessible ways. He has a discerning eye to see issues in the contemporary church and how Luther can help us in our present context with all its drifts and changes. We were grateful we took this class together and we were especially glad that Elias had such a fun time with grandma!
We are now just 10 (or so) weeks away from meeting our second child! We are full of excitement and anticipation, and as you can imagine, some fear and trembling too. It will be a very different semester as I will be taking only two classes online and Caleb will be full-time again. There will be more adjustments to be made than we realize, I am sure, but we rest in Christ knowing that he has called us to one another, our children, and to be trained for his service in his church. Please join with us in praying for peace and assurance, that God would make us worthy of our calling and give us strength and wisdom one day at a time. We grow anxious when we try to see the future and all the changes approaching, when we try to figure out how things will work out or how we will pay for unexpected car problems, for instance. The devil tempts us to doubt that God has led us here and we grow weary and faithless. But Christ Jesus remains faithful in us and for us, thanks be to God!
And to God be all praise and thanksgiving for each of you. I was recently sitting in an evening prayer service when one of my fellow students thanked our Father for the people who were diligently working at that moment so that we could be in seminary preparing for ministry. As he spoke those words and I added my amen, I saw many faces from Holy Trinity in my head. I thought about how so many of you work tirelessly and give faithfully so that you can provide for your families and give to the church’s various ministries—all in order that God’s kingdom might grow and flourish. Perhaps at times you too wonder why God called you to your particular vocation. I hope you will be encouraged to know that you are being used by God in mighty ways—beyond your finding out—as you serve him and your neighbor through your work. Caleb and I continually thank God for Holy Trinity and the rich blessings we have received from your faithfulness and kindness. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And please do let us know how we can be joining Christ in prayer for you!
With Love and Joy,
Lynnae, Caleb, Elias and the 30 week little one (about the size of a large cabbage )
Update from December 8, 2015
Dear Pastor Mike, Pastor Mandy, Council, and Parish Family,
It is hard to know how to express in words our gratitude for your gift to us! We recently received news that Holy Trinity had sent us another check and we were stunned. Holy Trinity has been so faithful and gracious and kind to us since we have been here. Thanks be to God for His provision through Holy Trinity, and thanks to all of you for your generosity in His name. Thank you, truly, from our very depths. We do not take these gifts lightly and pray to our Father that He would form us in His wisdom and likeness as we continue to study here, so that we might be made worthy of our calling.
Lynnae will soon be sending another update, but we wanted to let you know right away that we did receive the gift and we are so very grateful!
The Lord’s richest blessings on all of you as you continue to bear witness to Jesus and await His return.
Caleb (and Lynnae)
Update from October 14, 2015
Yesterday I (Pastor Mandy) received the following update from Lynnae about how things are going for the Douglas Family at seminary. I was floored by how much Elias has grown! He is a veritable man! Good grief — where did the baby go? It’s a great letter. Enjoy. Holy Trinity is SO blessed to have two of our own in seminary — and I DO mean two!!)
Greetings in Christ Jesus Holy Trinity Family!
We are so sorry for the delay in sending you all an update. This summer flew by (as they always seem to do), and we were very busy trying to pick up odd jobs, travel to see family members, and we also took on an editing project for one of our professor’s forthcoming textbooks. Needless to say we stayed quite busy! We had earnestly hoped to visit Holy Trinity this summer, but circumstances did not allow for it just yet.
The most exciting news to tell you all about (if you hadn’t read the previous update)…personal drumroll if you’d like…is that we are pregnant and expecting our second baby to be born in the middle of March! We praise God for the gift of another precious little one to love and nurture in the faith. And I must add that when I said “we were very busy trying to pick up odd jobs”, I confess that was mainly Caleb because I was so sick! Thankfully the morning sickness seems to have subsided and I’m feeling much better now. We have such fond memories of going through our first pregnancy with all of you. Though it won’t be the same, I will try to send pictures as the baby (and I!) grow throughout this pregnancy. Please rejoice with us and pray with us for the growth and health of this new little one!
Elias is a little man on the move and he’s discovering all sorts of new words. He is quite a parrot, which, as many of you can relate, makes Caleb and I a little more careful with our own words! He is a continuous delight for us to be with and watch. He’s really into trains, being outside, throwing balls (and sometimes his food), reading books, and coloring. His enjoyment of small things in life and for learning is remarkably contagious. And he’s also invited us into the world of loving discipline as he exercises his own will. As you may expect, there is a lot of confessing and repenting that all three of us are learning together!
We are now a few weeks into our semester at the NALS, this time both as full-time students. Caleb’s excited for his exclusively Lutheran semester as he only has classes with Dr. Yeago and Dr. Schifrin. They continue to be deeply influential for us and for our formation here. We are so thankful the NALC has called on such gifted teachers to be helping to shape the future of our church body. My classes are equally enjoyable and rigorous as I am learning some of the same truths from many different angles. The theme of my learning so far has been about hearing from and seeing Jesus Christ particularly in the Old Testament scriptures.
I am pleased to inform you that I have begun candidacy with the NALC as well. I traveled to Columbus last week for my entrance interview with members from the candidacy committee, and this was a very encouraging and confirming experience for me. The committee is deeply committed to uphold our call as husband and wife and as parents, and to not see our call in the church separate from this primary call even though there are different challenges presented to us. We trust that God will continue to affirm our calls and direct us even through the changes and blessings of a growing family.
For those of you who don’t know, Holy Trinity gave our family an incredible monetary gift that we received just days after we found out we were pregnant. We cannot express our humble thanks for the support of our home church, and the timing of this gift was especially comforting to us. We began to worry and wonder after we found out we were having another baby that maybe slowing down seminary or thinking of other options might be necessary, but there has been confirmation after confirmation that God has called us to this task and he will take care of our needs. And of course he is teaching us to be frugal and learn the beautiful difference between wants and needs. We sincerely thank you for sharing in his love and his caring provision for us!
Lynnae, Caleb, Elias & little one in the womb 🙂
Update from September 19, 2015
Dear Pastor Mike, Pastor Mandy and Church Council,
As we begin a new semester at the NALS [North American Lutheran Seminary] and reflect on this past year, we want to express our deep gratitude for the ways in which you have joined us on this journey even from afar. Thank you for helping us discern God’s call for us to serve His Church and testify to Jesus Christ! Thank you for your prayers for our protection, for provision, for relationships, and health. We are amazed at how God has answered and continues to show us His great love and kindness through you all. Thank you for encouraging us through financial gifts and strengthening our faith that we can rest assured God will take care of us and provide for our needs.
The timing of the last check you mailed was truly miraculous and so comforting. We had actually just found out a few days prior that the Lord has given us a new child! And of course the fears begin to set it, especially how we were going to make seminary work — now with two little ones!
Well, our God is so faithful and though we don’t see all the answers, we know that He has called us here and will take care of our needs. I am almost 14 weeks pregnant now and think back to such fond memories of my growing belly at Holy Trinity. Please join us in rejoicing over the great gift of this new little baby! And I will be sending an update to our entire church family soon.
With love and thankful hearts,
Lynnae, Caleb and Elias Douglas
Update from June 2, 2015
Dear Church Family,
To God be the glory, we have finished our first year at the North American Lutheran Seminary!! It was a difficult finish in many ways with Caleb and I both trying to write research papers and finish other final projects, but we are grateful our Father provided for us and we ended well. Of course, we forgot to feed Eli a couple of times and he walked around in the same clothes for a few weeks, but he survived too! Okay, just kidding – but he was quite a trooper while we were so busy.
Elias is thriving in many ways. It seemed like he started to enjoy playing well by himself just as we needed him to 🙂 and he has especially loved being outside this Spring. He is REALLY interested in just about every animal he sees, and he affectionately calls birds “dees” (for birdies, I think) and he has a name for dogs that I don’t know how to spell. He is saying many more words, some we can identify and some we just guess at. He enjoys picking up sticks and, strangely, he loves vacuums, brooms, sponges and anything else he finds to “help” his mama clean the house. For the most part he is eating well and we have been able to introduce many more new foods which has been great. He is still a little guy for his age, but his doctor is pleased with his growth and we are rejoicing that his tummy troubles are much more infrequent. We are so blessed to be his parents. The joy he brings to us is inexpressible. I hope some of these pictures of him can share that with you.
Caleb and I are certainly in need of a change of rhythm, but we are doing well also. We both are taking summer intensives, so he just started his two week Hebrew exegesis class today, and I will begin Lutheran Discipleship the third week of June. Bishop John and Dr. Schifrin will be teaching that class and I am really looking forward to learning from them. After that, we will be done with school for the summer and will enjoy some rest and relaxation (and picking up odd jobs as seminarians do to make money! :)) before we start up again in September. We are eager to read for pleasure and see more of Pittsburgh, especially through the eyes of a one year old!
Thank you for your prayers for us as we continue to discern this call of God in our lives and desire to build up his church. We are deeply grateful for your care and love for us, even from afar. We marvel at the Lord’s leading us to Holy Trinity and how he completely redirected our steps as we became members of such an amazing church family.
With Love and Prayers,
Lynnae (Caleb and Elias)
Update from March 30, 2015
Dear Holy Trinity Family,
We hope you all have had a holy lenten season as we share in Christ’s suffering and await the joy that was set before him. Caleb, Elias and I are doing well and we are thankful Easter is coming soon! This Lenten season for us has been marked both by joy and also weariness as we continue to keep up with a busy semester.
Caleb and I have been enjoying our classes (for the most part, Hebrew has been quite a challenge!) and we are continually thankful to be surrounded by such a faithful community of brothers and sisters. We are learning to confess and repent more regularly as we remember our baptism and continue to die and rise with Christ.
We celebrated Elias’ first birthday with some family and friends which was special. It was fun to watch him attempt to eat frosting for the first time. He was very careful and we were surprised he wasn’t messier! He has been eating pretty well and his pediatrician has been pleased with his weight gain and development, thanks be to God! We are hopeful that he has outgrown most of his tummy troubles which is truly a blessing. Thank you again for your prayers!
A few weeks ago Caleb went to Columbus to begin the first step in the candidacy process with the NALC. His entrance interview went very well and he is now officially in the process to be ordained, God-willing. We are overwhelmed with joy to begin this journey and he was especially grateful for the care and discernment of the men and women who interviewed him. I have not begun this process yet because we are still trying to discern what the Lord is specifically calling me to, whether that be ministry of Word and Sacrament or a teaching ministry of some kind. Thank you for continuing to join us in prayer as God directs us in the way he desires for us to go. This is such an exciting journey!
Please let us know how we can be praying for you all too. We look forward to celebrating our Lord with you from afar this Sunday!
Lynnae, Caleb, and Elias
Update from February 9, 2015
Dear Church Family,
We are thrilled to update you as we are now two weeks into our spring semester at the NALS. Having a break for Christmas was certainly needed, but we are very glad to get back into the routine of seminary life. Caleb was able to take a one week intensive church history class with Dr. Jim Nestingen on the Modern period. He absolutely loved it and said much of the class was listening to Dr. Nestingen tell stories about various experiences he has had through the years both as a pastor and teacher. This was especially helpful for Caleb as he continues to pursue the candidacy process. The next step for him will be an in person interview in March, so please pray that this will be a fruitful time.
We are thoroughly enjoying our theology class with Dr. Yeago on the Lutheran Confessions. We are going through the Book of Concord in greater detail this semester, and it has been such a comfort to read the documents that gave shape to this wonderful tradition. It is also comforting that the NALC seeks to adhere to these documents faithfully and not create a new name for itself, so to speak. We are thankful to have guiding confessions that not only proclaim who our God is, but they provide protection against the spirits of the age that seek to deceive and destroy worshiping assemblies.
The Lutheran Liturgy course has also been especially comforting and enjoyable. Dr. Schifrin’s lectures are artful and provoking. Particularly since we did not grow up in a liturgical tradition, this class has been incredibly helpful for catechesis and formation. We are eager to continue learning from her. Last week we covered the Baptismal liturgy and it was wonderful to think back on Elias’ baptism at Holy Trinity. Thank you for continuing to welcome us and include all three of us into your assembly, even if from a distance!
Speaking of Elias, he doing much better health-wise and he is just a delight! Thanks be to God and thanks for praying! He will turn one this month, on February 28th, and it is so hard to believe. He is doing well with trying new foods, he is starting to take steps, and he continues to make us laugh quite often. He loves discovering new textures and sounds, and he especially loves playing guitar with daddy. We are blessed to be in this community and watch him grow around so many who care for him, and also around other little ones he can grow and play with!
If any of you would like to update us, we would love to hear from you! And of course, if you are ever traveling through the Pittsburgh area please do let us know. Just connect with Pastor Mandy or Pastor Mike and they can give you our contact information.
We think of you all with deep fondness, and we pray the mercy and peace of God will be with you this Lenten season.
With Much Love,
Caleb, Lynnae and Elias
Update from January 26, 2015
(Aside from Pastor Mandy: This letter is a heartfelt thank-you from Caleb Douglas for the gift Council approved and sent to pay the tuition for Caleb’s first year of seminary at Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge, Pennsylvania. Caleb is a member of our congregation and is studying to become a Lutheran pastor.)
January 26, 2015
Dear Council and Holy Trinity Family,
Greetings in Christ Jesus our Lord! Lynnae and I would like to express our deep gratitude for the generosity that you have shown us this past semester. Your gift to us is a wonderful reminder of the love and favor that our Father continues to show and give us, ever in his Son, Jesus Christ. I am reminded of Paul’s letter to the Philippians: Paul was in need, and the church at Philippi supported him. In this letter Paul is thanking them for what they did, but then he does something rather radical. He tells them that it was not just a gift to him, but a ‘fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God’ (4:18). Though they may have thought that they were simply giving to Paul, that was not the case: their gift was an offering and a sacrifice which God accepts and is pleased with.
We know from elsewhere in Scripture that there is only one sacrifice, only one offering which God accepts and is pleased by, that is the offering which his Son gave, the sacrifice which his Son offered: himself. Jesus Christ offered up himself for us, sacrificed himself for us, and the Philippian gift is a participation in Christ’s one offering and sacrifice. I think I can say with confidence that your gift to Lynnae and Elias and me is no different, it is nothing other than a participation in Christ Jesus, which our Father receives and is pleased with in his Son. And just as Paul rejoices that God will supply the needs of the church at Philippi and rejoices in the ‘fruit that increases to [their] credit’, so do Lynnae and I. We rejoice in the work that our Father has begun in you and eagerly look forward to the completion of that work, in Christ through his Spirit. And, all of this is to say, we praise the Lord for blessing us through your generosity, and we are deeply grateful to you. Thank you.
As Lynnae has already said in other letters and updates, Trinity School for Ministry is a wonderful place. We could not ask for better professors than David Yeago and Amy Schifrin and the rest of the professors at TSM. We have come to appreciate and love our common heritage in the historic church, and in our common entry into this historic church, the Lutheran tradition. Your grace-gift will undoubtedly go towards the spreading and furthering of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are deeply blessed by your love for us, and we eagerly await the day when we can commune together once again, together celebrating our common Life.
Until then, may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Caleb, Lynnae and Elias
Update from December 27, 2014
Dear Parish Family,
Greetings in the Name of Emmanuel, Christ our Lord!
Caleb and I (Lynnae) have had a marvelous time observing Advent with our church family here in Pittsburgh, but we do greatly miss all of you and wish you a Merry Christmas!
We cannot thank you enough for your prayers and support this semester. We finished our last papers December 19th, and enjoyed a nice time in Rochester visiting family after that.
In terms of our formation and study here at the North American Lutheran Seminary (The NALS), our semester far exceeded our expectations. We were absolutely delighted by the way that the seminary begins and ends each day with morning and evening prayer, and we have been particularly blessed as we get to know the LBW more and more (especially since we did not grow up Lutheran!). Caleb and I were privileged with opportunities to lead morning and evening prayer, which brought both excitement and exceeding nervousness!
Our classes were all wonderful, but we especially loved taking Creeds and Catechisms from Dr. David Yeago. He is an excellent Lutheran theologian with a deep zeal for the faithfulness of the church as a whole and the NALC particularly. We are immensely privileged to be learning from him. Getting to know Dr. Schifrin, the NALS president, has also been such a joy. She is a wonderful leader, liturgist and teacher, and has a sincere, pastoral heart. Much more could be said, but suffice it to say we love it here! Again, thank you for all of your support as we study and grow.
Elias is slowly growing out of some of his digestive issues, and thanks be to God (!!!), he is beginning to eat better and sleep better! Thank you for praying for him, and please continue to pray he can handle more foods and digest them comfortably. We are full of joy as we watch him grow and learn. He is always on the move, getting into every cupboard and putting everything in his mouth! He has just begun to take steps, but he is still working on the whole balance thing before he will start to walk. He is a fast little crawler, so for now, that works! We are truly blessed to be around several other families with young boys, so he has a blast playing with the other little kids here.
I’ve included some more pictures. We are eager and hopeful we can make a trip to see you all again in person, maybe in 2015!
With Affection and Gratitude,
Lynnae, Caleb and Elias Douglas
Update from November 12, 2014
Dear Pastor Mandy,
In some ways it seems like time has flown since I last updated you, and in other ways it seems like the days are crawling. The semester certainly keeps things at a face pace and it seems hardly possible that we only have a few weeks left before finals. We are still really loving our classes and we are flourishing here, thanks be to God!
In two weeks the Lutheran students will be leading morning and evening prayers for our Anglican brothers and sisters and we are very eager for the opportunity. I am also quite nervous about my first time leading (and chanting!!) an LBW service. Caleb has already led Compline one evening and it was lovely.
Elias has gained some weight in the past few days which is WONDERFUL news! He has also mastered this worm scoot thing, but doesn’t seem to be interested in crawling yet.
As far as his health and all of his appointments are concerned, this week has been a whirlwind in particular. Monday we saw a nutritionist and she was somewhat helpful especially with different ideas for me to help him with feedings.
Yesterday we saw an ENT who told us that Elias had a posterior tongue tie. He couldn’t guarantee this would resolve all of the feeding/weight gain issues, but he definitely thought it was worth a try to snip the tongue and give it proper mobility. So there was obviously crying and some blood, but he calmed down pretty quickly. He is such a trooper. We are hopeful this might make a huge difference for him! Please pray his tongue will heal quickly and that he can nurse/eat with ease and comfort. Also, he may have an upper lip tie as well and we are still seeking guidance as to whether or not we should move forward and pursue treatment for that.
Today we met with his GI and that was nothing too new but we found out he did gain a few ounces which of course we celebrated!
Thank you so much for continuing to intercede for us and for inviting our church family too as well. We miss you all dearly and hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
With Love and Gratitude,
Update from September 4, 2014
Dear Pastor Mandy,
Greetings in the Lord from Western PA!
We trust you & Pastor Mike are doing well and flourishing in Christ Jesus. We hope our church family back in Abington is growing and being nourished through the two of you.
I just wanted to write quickly and let you know what a wonderful move this has been for the three of us. We started classes on Tuesday, our first one was Creeds and Catechisms with David Yeago. Suffice it to say we are experiencing a stark contrast from Westminster in every way, and we are loving it! The community life has proved to be our Father’s benevolent provision for us as well. We have made great friends already and are continuing to be amazed at the riches of His grace toward us in Christ.
I attached a few pictures for your enjoyment 🙂 Elias is growing and changing all the time! He just started eating “solids” (aka blended up oatmeal with breast milk) and is really loving that! Please continue to pray for him as we are still struggling with understanding what is going on inside his belly. He will occasionally still scream after feedings and flail his body until he can get out whatever is upsetting him. We are asking the Father to guide us to a pediatrician and possibly an allergist out here who can help us, especially as I am really unsure what to feed him now that he can actually eat himself. I do remember though, no no blueberries! 🙂
We miss you dearly, please send our warmest greetings to the congregation!
Love in Christ,