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I am a 1967 graduate of The Citadel (Distinguished Military Student, member of the Economic Honor Society, Dean's List), a 1975 graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div., magna cum laude, member of the Phi Alpha Chi academic honor society); I attended the Free University of Amsterdam and completed my History of Dogma there and then received a full scholarship from the Dutch government to transfer to the sister school in Kampen, Holland. In 1979 I graduated from the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Churches of Holland (Drs. with honors in Ethics). My New Testament minor was completed with Herman Ridderbos. I am also a 2001 Ph.D. graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (Systematic Theology) in Philly with a dissertation on the "unio mystica" in the theology of Dr. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921). I am a former tank commander, and instructor in the US Army Armor School at Ft. Knox, KY. I have been happily married to my childhood sweetheart and best friend, Sally, for 43 years. We have 6 children, one of whom is with the Lord, and 14 wonderful grandchildren.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gleason Family Christmas Letter

Dear Friends & Family,

It is that time of the year when you make up as many lies as you can about your family, telling the world how great you are. Being completely disingenuous at least once a year assuages the conscience. So here goes!

This past year was a good one in the Gleason household! We’ll start with Sally (a.k.a Sister Sarah) who is in green and sitting in the chair at the right of the photograph. Right next to her is Jennifer, wife of Ronnie. She’s from Canada and isn’t used to electricity. Earlier that day, she stuck a paper clip into an electrical socket which explains why her hair is so curly. She’s a good sport. (She’d have to be to put up with this family for over twenty years!) Anyway, Sally has had a very eventful year. She continues to serve on the PCA National Board for Women in the Church. In both March and May, Sally spoke at women’s conferences. One of them was in Oahu, Hawaii, so Nicky, Janneke, and I decided to tag along to keep her company. We had a great time meeting Christians in Hawaii and enjoying the beauty that enveloped us there. Sally cares for my mom and Janneke, makes sure our family stays close and connected, keeps our home, and opens it up to others, befriends and mentors many young women in our church, teaches Bible studies, and makes me a happy man. After years of threats, she has finally embarked on writing a book on marriage. I still love our Fridays at the beach together. She remains the joy of my life and my best critic.

Ron II is at the back left and not at the side of his beloved Jennifer which is normally where he is whenever she is around. Their four children are practically grown up—Laura (20), Avery (19), Cailen (17), and Cole (16). Except for Avery who is wearing a blue sweater and sitting on the floor, they are all sitting to the left of Sally on the couch. Ron is part owner and CEO of a large vegetable farm in Bradford, Ontario, Canada. Though there are certainly challenges in farming, Ron is doing an excellent job. He is also a wise family leader. They are all thriving spiritually and are very active in their church. Jennifer loves books and learning. She is a gracious hostess and organized homemaker. Laura, who attends Providence College here in California, lives with us during the school year. Avery’s interested in writing poetry and creative writing. Cailen enjoys Irish dancing and Cole loves to write music.

Geoff (back row next to the lamp) and Lisa (back row in white sweatshirt) and their eight children (just about everyone in the photo I haven’t mentioned yet!) will be moving to Jackson, Mississippi for Geoff to study at Reformed Theological Seminary in 2009. Geoff observed my life for a few years and decided the working one hour a week thing wasn’t a bad gig. Their children are Rachel (glasses, second row), Laken (orange shirt, second row), Naya (already asleep), Sawyer (front row, blue shark shirt), Noel (front row, yellow shirt), Marin (sleeping), Emma (with Lisa), and Charlotte (sleeping). In whatever spare time they can find, Lisa and Geoff teach “Growing Kids God’s Way”, a Bible-based parenting course. They have an amazing family! Lisa home schools them all and they both are dedicated parents who work together to teach and train their children well. God has blessed their labors! Until they move, Geoff will continue to work as a graphic designer for Duca Credit Union in Toronto.

Janneke (in front of Sally) turned 31 this year and still lives at home with us. She works for Real Challenges and FedEx. She loves everything she does, especially getting pay checks. Janneke has a steady nature and an upbeat attitude, but who wouldn’t with a social calendar like she has! Every Tuesday she has Bible study in downtown Orange and Saturday mornings she goes bowling. Shopping is her favorite activity and her favorite thing to buy is markers. She loves church and her Sunday school teachers, Mr. Randall and Mrs. Olson. She is joyful in worship and her enthusiasm for singing gets even the “frozen chosen” revved up! She is a faithful prayer warrior.

Nicky (back row, red shirt) continues working as a paralegal for Klein and Wilson, a law firm in Newport Beach, California. She has a very demanding job, but is really good at it. Her mom keeps bugging the Nickster to make time for her singing. Nicky sang Panis Angelicus at Hans’ and Blanca’s wedding and was magnificent! She bought a bike that she rides back and forth to work for exercise, has her own apartment in Costa Mesa, loves to cook, and is active in many ways at Grace. She is still looking for Mr. Right and when he comes along, he will find a woman who has her act together. She visits us on Sundays and calls in between, mostly to have some girl chat with Sally in the mornings.

Hans (front row, baseball cap) and Blanca (next to Hans. Where else?) are the new item. It’s great to have another “Mrs. Gleason” in the family! This photograph was taken the day after their wedding. The next morning they left for a honeymoon week on Oahu. They are decorating their apartment and adjusting well to married life. Sally and I rejoice with them! Hans continues to enjoy his work as a police officer and is seriously working on becoming a strong spiritual leader in his home. Blanca has a new job and is learning to cook. That girl can fix a great lamb dinner! There is lots of laughter and life in that home!

My mom (not pictured) lives in Fullerton in a very nice assisted living facility. She turned 84 this year, is still in reasonably good health, and her mind is still quite quick. She still misses her friends back on Oak Island, NC, where she and dad lived for 15 years. But it’s good she is nearby where we can better help her.

Let me describe a few more folks in the picture. Aunt Bobbe (sitting near Hans on the left side) lives in Palos Verdes Estates. She is the only sister of Sally’s mom. She was with us for the wedding and took on her usual role of being the life of the party!

Bill and Amy Sullivan (back row, next to Geoff) and their daughter, Sarah (second row, black shirt, long red hair) also came to the wedding. Bill, like me, is fondly called an “outlaw” by the Yopp clan. He works in occupational therapy and Amy is a professor of dance at New York State University (Stony Brook) on Long Island.

Our dear Canadian friends, Chuck and Claudia Loopstra (to the right of Lisa) flew in from Toronto for the wedding, too. Chuck is a lawyer so he billed me for the hours of flying time (that’s a joke!). We had some time to catch up with each other and enjoy their company. We usually have a chance to see them at least once a year and it’s always a treat. They are wonderful friends.

Another set of dear friends with us, but not pictured are Rick and Jesse Hudson. Yes, it takes two of them to take the picture. Rick is a former-Marine. Maybe that explains why? We met Rick and Jesse at Fort Knox about two weeks after our marriage. God has kept us in touch and now we live near enough to each other to see them regularly. It has been so great to spend over forty years being friends with Jesse and Rick.

This year has been a good one for me. In addition to my pastoral work, I have been writing books. The first entitled Reforming or Conforming? co-edited with Gary Johnson was released by Crossway in September. Another on a Christian view of capital punishment will be released in January 2009. A sequel volume on the Christian and the Second Amendment will follow that volume sometime later in the year. Finally, I hope to complete my biography of Herman Bavinck, which will be published by Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co. sometime in 2009. I am particularly excited about that work because of my long term interest in Herman Bavinck and all I have learned from his writings. I will also be teaming up with Gary again to co-edit a Festschrift for David Wells that will be published by Crossway and is scheduled for 2009.

This coming year will be my fourteenth year at Grace Presbyterian Church in Yorba Linda. The time has flown! I must say that I have never been more blessed in ministry in my entire life. Recently a friend of mine commented to me that he was amazed at the talent and spiritual maturity present in this relatively small church of 200 members. Indeed, God has richly blessed this place through his people. I count it all joy to minister here! We have learned to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. The Lord continues to bless us with new faces and new lessons in life. We thank our God that our church building escaped the fires in Yorba Linda. The flames came within 200 feet of the front and back doors.

In closing, I need to remember one more family member, our German Shepherd, Hosanna. OK, I love my dog! Since I’m her Alpha, I just couldn’t sign off without telling you how much she is a part of the fun and joy in our family. Hosie turns 6 in January.

From our family to yours, we wish you the most blessed Christmas and a very happy New Year. May our Lord continue to go before you. It is my prayer that 2009 will be a year in which we all grow nearer to the Lord and deepen our understanding of the greatness of our God and the truth of His Word.


Ron and Sally and the Whole Gleason Clan



Blogger Jhonsun said...

Merry Christmas!

2:36 PM  

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