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Cowboy Logic: 2007

Dear Friends and Family,

Our family found this song at the library that helps to define the boys’ training for this year. It’s called Cowboy Logic. Feel free to tap your feet and add your own country twang to it—as we have done.

Cowboy Logic

I guess that we’ve adopted that ‘logic’ in our family and even added to it. We have a saying that says: “If you open the door, you shut the door. If you make a mess, you clean it up. If you hurt someone, you say ‘you’re sorry.’ If you empty a jar, you throw it out. If you finish something, you replace it. If you eat from a dish, you wash the dish. ….” Maybe you could even say that it was “Contreras’s Logic”—although I think that it would more likely be called, ‘Mommy’s Logic’ that is trying to be impressed on some Contreras’s.

Some other bits of logic that I won’t even admit were mine—it’s got to be “Contreras’s Logic” came to my ears. Joshua (3), when asked by his teacher what animals went into Noah’s ark, answered, “Dirt Bikes.” James (6) made it fit by adding, “Well, dirt bikes do eat gas and give off exhaust.”

During a discussion the boys and Joey were having about whether I could still fit into my wedding dress (why this discussion came up, I don’t even remember), James responded “Well, everybody knows that dresses don’t grow!" (That settled it for him—and I guess for me, too.) The logic of a six year old. Just add to the song, “If it don’t fit, don’t wear it.”

James, living again by his own logic, was told to put Vaseline on his lips. I explained that his lips were rough and the Vaseline would make them smooth so they wouldn’t bleed. A few minutes later he came back to me to ask if I would feel his lips. I did. They were perfectly smooth. I asked him what he had done. His response, “I used sandpaper.” To the logic we add, “If it’s rough, use sandpaper.”

Three of my sisters and I went to Europe for two weeks. When Joey asked the boys when I was gone, what they thought about me being gone, there was a long silence.  Jacob (8) then said, “I don’t have any clean socks.” Joey John (16) was in charge of washing/sorting whites. He said, “Well, you have to put them in the laundry for me to do.” Joey tried again to get a response, “What else have you noticed while Mommy’s been gone?” Long pause…Then James true to his common sense said, “Well, I have clean socks.” And to the song, we add, “If it’s dirty, clean it—If it’s not, wear it.”

I had to laugh at the friends that helped make dinners while I was gone. One said, “I felt like I just got through making Thanksgiving dinner, then I had to make it for the next meal.” Another commented that she was sure that she had made more than enough, but as she saw the boys finish helping after helping, she started digging through her cupboards for anything to fill the gap. And to the logic we add, “If it’s food, eat it.”  

I’ve also added after certain meals, “If it’s burnt, pretend that you like it and always tell the cook ‘thank you.’” I suggested to the boys to vary the words, instead of always saying ‘thanks, Mom, that was good’ after every meal. James took the suggestion to heart and will now say, “Mom, that was the most delicious meal, delicious indeed. Thank you. Yes, thank you so much.” (Makes me look at him to see if he is smart-mouthing me, but he is in utmost seriousness.)  

Josiah (14) has been learning reining for a year now. His brothers have been watching him practice at home with his horse. Jonas was always out there with him, lugging the fly spray, or saddle blanket or whatever he needed. Finally, we felt the horse was calm enough for Jonas (10) to learn to ride. Josiah gave him the basics of riding. Now he’s going with Josiah twice a week to lessons. “If it’s a horse, ride it.”

Josiah thrives on challenges. He asked if he could buy a horse that he could break. After working with the three year old filly at the trainer’s place for a few weeks, he was able to bring her home. When he was just getting her gentled, her hoof cracked up to the hair line. The horse shoer didn’t give much hope for recovery, short of 6 months to one year with no riding. Josiah worked with his other horse and did what he could with the filly. In a little over two month’s time, the shoer, to his astonishment, allowed Josiah to ride her again. He had no explanation why her hoof grew back so quickly.  “If it’s beyond logic, thank God.”

Joey John (16) is our resident mechanic. He changes the oil, rotates the tires, which with 35,000 miles/year for just Joey’s car is frequent. When it comes to the boys’ dirt bikes, he disassembles, and then reassembles to ‘check things out.’ In the process, sometimes he adds additional parts, like the bigger exhaust pipe which in turn needed a better jet, which in turn needed…. which in turn gave him more noise and more power. His ability to check things out has saved us many trips to the mechanic—as well as, some extra trips to fine-tune adjust things that he wasn’t able to do. It’s always nice to hear that one of the dirt bikes needed something. The boys ask Joey John to fix it for them—and he is able to get them back on the dirt again. “If it runs fine, I can make it run better.”

I had been writing the Christmas program for the AWANA children. We’ve been walking them through the Israelites’ journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. I tried to visualize who would make a good Moses—going before Pharaoh, leading the people, getting the Ten Commandments. We had a preliminary “Moses check” when the children all dressed up like Moses. I had purchased beards for a few of our boys who wanted them; Jonas wanted to be a young Moses who had grown up in Pharaoh’s house and looked like an Egyptian. The Moses that I was looking for came out in Jonathan (12)--authentic character with a flamboyant personality to fit. “If it’s Jonathan, don’t expect the usual.”

Jacob (8), with his tender heart, is always watching out for me. If I’m carrying something heavy, he will say, “Let me get that for you, Mom.” And he takes it from me to carry. One night before going to sleep, he seemed a bit restless. When I asked him what was wrong, he answered with tears in his voice, “Mom, can you forgive me?” I asked, “Of what?” Thinking, “What did he do now?” He said, “Of everything that I’ve done.” That led to a discussion about Jesus removing our sin when we confess it and forgetting it. We still bear the consequences of those sins, but He remembers them no more. I told him that I try to forget others’ sins—not holding grudges even when someone doesn’t ask for forgiveness---but that was sometimes hard for me. I needed God to help me forgive, every time that pain comes back. But I assured him that his list of sins weren’t in God’s book, or in mine since he had confessed them---his slate was wiped clean. “If it’s a sin, confess it and God will forgive you.”

We drove to Arkansas to meet a family that we hadn’t seen in awhile. The older boys and part of their crew with Joey went spelunking (crawling on hands and knees through tight holes in a cave). They came back with muddy smiles. The rest of us walked a saner cave tour minus the bats and mud that still provided interest and memories. It really is beyond my logic, how the muddier the adventure, the greater they enjoy it. (They go around our pond to see how close they can come without getting their bikes stuck in the muck---If you play in the mud, you hose off everything—outside.) “If it’s adventure, it’s good. If it’s surprise adventure, it’s better. If it’s muddy, surprise adventure, it’s great.”

We also journeyed to Indy to help my folks move into their new house. My sisters and their families were there to help also. A friend went with us to help prepare their previous house for sale. We found jobs for all the boys to do.  “If it’s a job, do it. Put your back into it.”

It was an almost every time event—every time that we loaded up the excursion, Joshua would start to whine. His car seat was too tight, his car seat was twisted, he was thirsty, someone didn’t help him, or someone helped him when he didn’t want it. He recently turned four. It was like overnight that I would get into the car and be driving down the road and think for sure that I had left someone behind. It was too quiet. I mentioned this to the boys. Jonathan without hesitation said, “We don’t have any three year olds in the car anymore.” Wow, what a difference.  “If it’s Josh, scratch your head, and give him slack. And don’t expect a four year old to act like a three year old.”

Speaking of maturity, Joey John (16) is of course 16. Permit time. How do you cram 25 years of experience into 50 hours of practice driving?   After I told Joey that I was finding more nerves that were stretched than I thought possible, he informed me that we had to do this for the next 13 years. (In asking a mother of 5 who is training her 5th  to drive, ‘Does it get any easier?’ she responded by saying that it gets worse—you’re more nervous with the last one because you  have seen a lot of mistakes.) “If it’s driving, just ride with the grace of God resting heavy on the car and on the heart.”

Another sign of growing up came when we purchased shoes for Jonathan (12) and Josiah (14). Jonathan’s shoe size was 5 ½, while Josiah’s shoe size was 10 ½ (double the size in two short years). “If the shoe fits, you better wear it while it fits!”

We recently purchased four pigs to raise. In the process of tying them up to cart home, we asked about some rash one of them had. The seller gave a spray and softly said that it was surface worms and lice. When I questioned him further, he said it could spread to people, other animals, etc.  What good would picking out another pig, if they were all together? The boys had to shower and change every time they went into their pen—with prayers that we wouldn’t get lice. Every itch sent a prayer that we didn’t have lice.  I had more than second doubts regarding the logic of purchasing those animals. “If it’s a pig, feed it and hope that he’s fat soon.”

Josiah received six cockatiels from a neighbor. He has been busy preparing perches in the aviary and monitoring the temperature for them. Initially, they had come from a crowded cage that didn’t allow them to fly.  When he put them into this big cage, they would fall to the cage’s floor and have to beak-walk up to a perch. Or they would fly into the wall and then drop to the floor. It didn’t take them long to strengthen their wings. But not before we had judged them pretty, well, retarded. “If it’s a bird, help it fly, if that’s possible.”

While I’m on the subject of animals, we still have our dairy cow. She would give me her big soft brown eyes and beg to eat my roses….I would ask the boys, “Are you sure you’re feeding her enough? She acts hungry.” They would say “yes” but give her a bit more just to appease me. While a vet was here, she saw that cow and exclaimed, “That cow is 250 pounds overweight!” So much for mercy from me….Helps to know some animal logic or maybe the right word is psychology. I can’t even put fake greenery around the outside gate for Christmas. She sees it and runs down there to eat it. “If it’s a cow, don’t trust it.”

A large percentage of Joey’s time this year was spent in meetings. He had to make some changes. “If it’s right, do it.”

We were informed that an identity theft happened with Joey’s information. While attempting to use his card, the individual knew Joey’s SS number, birthday, driver’s license, address, and the three digits on the back of the business credit card. The only thing that stopped the transaction was the $4,500 purchase required previous permission. I spend many hours on hold, getting through to government agencies to make sure that his information is flagged. “If it’s right, do it…that would be a simple solution to just about anything.”

 One has to shake his head and wonder, “Where do people learn their logic?” The thinking of today’s world isn’t based on Christianity. “If it’s right, do it…..” It’s more like “If it’s best for me, then I’ll do it.”

You know, that Cowboy Logic has a lot of Christian logic behind it.

There’s One great world-wide Hero that all will some day look up to. When the times are hard and the chips are down, we know what He will do. Now this Man has got a set of rules He lives by day by day. If you ask for His advice, He’d more than likely say, “If it’s not your fence, help mend it. If it’s a dollar bill, lend it. If it’s a load, share it. If it’s a punch, spare it. If she’s a lady, she’ll know Who I AM.

That’s Christ’s logic, and every Christian should have it. It should be in the way he lives his life, not just in the songs he sings. That’s Christ’s logic, and every Christian should have it. He’s got a right solution to, well, everything.

We live differently because the logic that guides us is different from the world. God’s Word guides us to do things that most would shake their heads and say, “That ain’t logic” –like loving someone instead of getting rid of them; like doing what is right, even when it hurts.

That’s what Christ came to do. He showed us God’s logic by giving His own life for us, the unworthy. His death and resurrection gave us redemption and the only way to make His logic our own. He did this, not for us to have a nice, comfortable life, but rather for us to live a life that shows His logic---that glorifies His Father. Others will see---and say, “that ain’t logical, I won’t get what I need if I did that,” yet we can know “that is what’s right” and Christ will be all we need.

At this Christmas time, may you reflect on Christ’s logic and come to know the “One great world-wide Hero--- Christ, who has the right solution to, well, everything."

Joey and Sonya Joey John, Josiah, Jonathan, Jonas, Jacob, James, and Joshua

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Share below in the comments!

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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