Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

December 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

Wow! 2009 has been a year of beginnings, endings, and firsts for the 
Shook family! Not exactly the year we were expecting, but an amazing 
year nonetheless!

All of our children are healthy and doing well! David and Sydneyann 
are still at home in Los Angeles. They have established a network of 
amazing relationships with their neighbors and friends. David 
completed his master’s thesis at Oxford this year. He has applied for 
graduation and we will hopefully see that take place in 2010. He is 
at the top of his class! He has had several works published in 2009 
and will have more published in the coming year. Sydneyann continues 
to work in the TV industry and pops up occasionally to surprise us as 
we watch TV! She also works with David to promote justice for the 
“least of these” worldwide. We are very proud of these two!

Sarah is taking finals this week and will graduate with honors from 
the University of Oklahoma on December 18th! She will have a degree 
in Anthropology with a minor in non-profit studies. She was recently 
hired by Teach For America to teach in a bilingual middle school 
classroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is very excited about this 
opportunity! She will begin training in June and begin teaching in 
August of next year. We know that she will be an amazing teacher and 
will make a lasting impact on many children! We couldn’t be more 

Ashley graduated from high school with honors in June and started her 
OU career in August of this year. Her first semester has flown by! 
She has settled in well, made lots of friends, and enjoyed time with 
her big sister. She worked in the President’s Suite at the football 
stadium and got to enjoy all the home games this season! She 
continues to amaze us with her compassion for people and her heart to 
follow God wherever He leads. We are very proud of her! (Do you sense 
a theme here?)

Our church, Community of Faith, continues to be a source of great joy 
in our lives. We now have over 7000 people who worship with us each 
weekend, and COF was recently listed as one of the top 100 churches 
in the nation. It has been amazing to see what God has done, and very 
humbling to know that He would allow us to have a small part in it 
all. We continue to hear stories of restoration, healing, and total 
life-change taking place in the lives of the people of COF. We have 
continued our work in Burundi, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Haiti. God has 
been good in 2009!

So, that’s the good news; now for the unexpected news. On May 27th 
Laura was diagnosed with stage 3 rectal cancer. She has no family 
history of colorectal cancer or any risk factors for this disease. 
Thankfully, we found the best doctors in Houston and quickly went 
forward with treatment as recommended. She went through six weeks of 
radiation and oral chemotherapy during the summer, followed by 
surgery the end of August. At this point she was declared 
cancer-free! She has endured five IV chemotherapy treatments this 
fall with three more to come. These treatments are to kill any 
micro-metastases and prevent recurrence of the disease. It has been a 
long, difficult road, and we don’t have space to give you all the 
details here. If you are interested in reading more about Laura’s 
journey you can check out her blog at for regular 

The one constant that we have experienced in 2009 has been God’s 
presence and His faithfulness. He has proven Himself over and over to 
be true to everything He’s ever said in His word. We look forward to 
celebrating a great 2010! We pray that you and your family will have 
a Very Merry Christmas and that you will experience God’s peace and 
presence like never before.

With love,
Mark, Laura, Sarah and Ashley Shook


  1. Merry Christmas to you!

    Paula P.

  2. Merry Christmas to you and your's! We bless the Lord for ALL HE has done in & thru each of you.
    Ps 32: 3....THOU, O LORD, - ART - (right NOW) a SHEILD for LAURA & MARK; THEIR GLORY, and THE LIFTER up of THEIR headS. 4 MARK & LARUA cry unto YOU, LORD, with THEIR voices, and YOU hear THEM out of YOUR Holy Hill. Selah. (wow!!!)
    Blessed be : The Name of The LORD - YWHW!! JEHOVAH
    Jehovah-ShalomJehovah is Mark & Laura's PEACE
    Jehovah-Rohe Jehovah HEALS Laura
    Jehovah-Shammah - JEHOVAH is "THERE"!
    EMMANUEL - amen & amen.
    Because He Lives, charity