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The Forever Year: Respect--2012

Dear Friends and Family,

 If I could share what I have learned, it would take a book. So, I hope you have some time.

Joey left for his deployment in October of 2011. He took my heart, my confidence and my reassurance with him. So at home, we were working to survive the year--the eternal, forever year.

Friends loaned us the DVD’s Facing the Giants, Fire Proof, and Courageous. I sent them to Joey along with companion books with the movies---Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and The Love Dare. I thought that he could use them with his talks with other soldiers. He got them and asked if we had a problem. (Good Man.)

As problems at home came, he counseled me that the issues involved respecting the boys.  I found that I wasn’t even sure what respect meant.  The boys had grown up to be men and I had to relate to them as men---not as a protective, nurturing Mom. Does letting go ever become easier?

Eggerich from his book states,   ”‘respect is the key to motivating a husband.’ Leaders motivated their troops through unconditional honor. …When a general respects his men and believes in them more than they believe in themselves, these soldiers want to… fulfill that potential this general sees in them. Such men want to serve….to fight and die for honor.”(p. 50) The “prince goes into battle for the princess, not vice versa. She yearns to be honored, valued, and prized as a precious equal. As prince, the husband is to be considered … first to provide, to protect….” (p. 53). “When he honors her as first in importance and she respects him as first among equals, their marriage works.” (p. 54)

Joey asked the boys, “Would you rather never be loved or never be respected?” Even our thirteen year old replied that he would rather never be loved.  I really need to know what it means to respect and how to show respect to our boys. With that in mind, allow me to share this year’s learnings.

“As the husband, he ties his self-image into who he is in the field—that is, in work, in accomplishments, in conquests. The wife, however, ties her self-worth into who she is in the family” (p. 176). “Women see careers as a freedom of choice issue…they want the freedom to choose full-time mothering and/or a career. Most men feel that work is not an option….women have all kinds of choices. Men have one; ‘work or go to jail.’ If the wife is out there doing the providing, bringing home the money while he stays home, her insecurity goes up not down….A man always feels the call to the field.” (p. 199-200).
Respect involves appreciating his provisions.

The boys provided much this year through the animals.

Jonathan (17) took complete ownership of the twelve pigs this year. He tried a bulk food that cost much less, but he found didn’t pay, when low protein content caused some problems and one death. We had one escapee pig, who daily enjoyed rubbing against the front and back doors of the house. One day, I chased it out of my house after eating Jacob’s home-made, hand-dipped candles, with Dixie (his dog) sitting behind it watching it. Two days later, the dogs were inside choking on the same candles….I really need to keep my back door locked at all times. 

The boys asked to purchase goats. Each one being told that they had to ask Dad. When he said “yes” to all, and then asked “How many goats are you getting, two?” I had to wonder if he remembered all of the asking. I told him that he had told everyone they could get one---Michael (6), Josh (8), James (11), Jacob (13) and Jonas (15). We bought six (one extra for mishaps)—four-day olds, requiring bottle-feeding for almost two months. Michael didn’t get the man-thing about providing, when he would ‘disappear’, so he wouldn’t have to bottle feed his goat or move his goat to pasture. His brothers ‘encouraged’ him to do the man-thing and pull his share. Jonas managed them well, both the goats and his brothers.  After bottles, the boys worked hard to provide for their goats—without requiring any feed or hay purchases. They staked them and cut neighbors’ grass for months to provide for their food daily. They even swept feed store hay areas to collect the extra scraps. After Jonas castrated one goat by himself, he decided to wait for the vet who allowed him to assist the remaining four (one was a female).

We had several mishaps. Two cases of bloat didn’t make it. A third case, nursed to wellness by making needle-sized holes in its gut to release the gas, did make it. Another time, a goat found the neighbor’s poison and we were ready to put it down during a seizure, when he jumped up and revived. We coaxed it along, and it survived----and continued to be the biggest pain of all the animals, escaping from the kennel, pen and where ever he was put. The boys counted down the days until the chevon jerky was ready.  Providing is a challenge.

James (11) continues to provide for his chickens. He raised Partridge Cochins from one-day old. After several shipments---they just weren’t living beyond a week; he had his flock under wing, and provided for their every need.  When it came time for butchering half of his flock, he was out there with his brothers doing the work. Jacob (13) especially liked tracking down one escapee rooster who ran the entire five acres. He shot it and laughed as it fell into a hole in front of it. Jonas (15) commented rather sarcastically, “That was just what I dreamed about when I think of butchering---chasing a chicken around five acres.” (Maybe that’s why our meat is rather tough.)  Jacob came into the house, leaving the door open, I told him to shut the door. He gave me this look, and said “Sure Mom.” Until I saw his hands covered in butchering guts, he laughed when I told him “never mind.” Persistent trials brought final provisions. 

James also took forty eggs and incubated them to increase his laying flock. After a poor hatching rate, I was ready to cry. He wanted to try again. Maybe that has something to do with the challenge a man needs. Later, he allowed one broody hen to hatch and raise eight chicks to replace some non-laying hens. He was told that some customer had fifty hens and chicks. He said wistfully “That would be like being in heaven.”  His passion brought provisions.

Jonas enjoys his cows. He took it as his challenge to ask neighbors for grazing, faithfully moving the cows around daily to where they needed to be.  He milks our Dexter, Lolly, as well as our beef cow, Bonnie Lass who freshened Barney several months ago. He records the gallons with businesslike pleasure. He kept us with milk and made cheese upon request. We butchered two of his cows this year, Henry and Ginger---He has been the man to provide. He also took our bull to auction while Josiah was home on break from school to help. 

During my sister’s visit, Steph told the boys at the table that she did not want to hear talk about dead, dying, names of who we were eating, or even the birth of animals. Later Jonathan commented that no one got to talk to me like she did. I responded, “That’s because we have to get along.” She added, “Until I die.” Jonathan then said, “Then we couldn’t talk about you at the table,” (because she would be dead.)  We definitely don’t think in terms of women’s wishes for table manners---as much as I request it, even as we eat what they work to provide.

Jonas sold one of Josiah’s horses, Smokey, and worked on training a friend’s horse for a time. We still have two---that Josiah and he find time to ride.  Cutting back on what we need.

Jonas and James purchased three pounds of honey bees and a queen in the spring, after trying last year to attract a swarm on their own with pheromones. The rewards of honey have been wonderful.  While checking to make sure the bees were ready for winter, Jonas was stung twice in the face.  A few hours later his face was swollen beyond recognition. The following day, even his eye was swollen closed. His brothers, nurturing as they are, laughed at him. Providing pays.

Jacob (13) was invited to hunt doves. He came home with ten, his quota. He later went duck hunting and brought one to the table. Don’t enjoy providing too much.

Jonathan cleared and cut a pasture area for a neighbor and provided us with firewood---as well as a means of income for himself.  He also does the maintenance for the vehicles. As I would ‘remind’ him of maintenance, I would explain to him, that I wasn’t reminding him for his benefit, especially when I would ask him several times. It was more for my reassurance that everything with the car was going to be fine.  My history with cars and oil hasn’t been real good---one time we put in five quarts of oil (it holds six)another time we put in two gallons of antifreeze….so I tried to explain the paranoia had nothing to do with his ability to do the job well, or of his knowledge of how to do the job---it was more my need for reassurance. Jonathan is not the reassuring type; he likes to provide the life of risk.

The boys picked cherries, apples, grapes and black walnuts. They provided the pitting, peeling and husking to prepare for canning, drying and freezing.  James even did some of the actual canning. We are ready for winter.

The garden provided the vegetables needed. Josiah did the planning even while at Shasta Bible College for the year. Jonas would tell us, “We need to plant the beans this week, Josiah says.”  And made sure the ground was ready and that we did. During one weeding session, Jonas said, “I’d better pick my quota before I am tarred and feathered.” James questioned, “You’re a retarded feather?”  Another time, after a lapse in required chores, Jonas told Josiah before I got up, “The whip is going to crack today.” Unbeknownst to me, I woke to inform them that they had their break, but today we’d get back to working.  Jonas does make me laugh. His ‘slave labor’ is greatly  appreciated.

 We’ve had discussions over how they will NOT provide. Josiah commented about his math teacher only had ten minutes between teaching two classes of math. Jonas responded, “What a life going from one math class to another.”  Guess he won’t be teaching any math classes.

Jonathan loves to run big equipment. If he can do a job sitting behind a powerful machine or doing it by hand, he will find a way to borrow or rent the equipment.  Someone called for a job that they said required ‘some tractor work’. When he returned from the job, I asked how it was, he said, ‘it wasn’t tractor work, it was a lawn mower and trailer and I moved barn waste to their pasture.” How disappointing! Other jobs revealed that they are not what they seemed, especially when people cannot be pleased. He is learning that not all jobs are worth the hassle. 

All this goes without telling how Joey provided, as always. I was concerned how we would pay our bills without him home…and me trying to do it. His faith and reassurances of God’s miraculous provisions saw us through each month and through the year.  Joey’s faith in God helps provide for all of us.

Respect involves acknowledging his need to protect.

“A man…will serve his wife and even die for her. There is no expectation of the wife to die for her husband” (p. 51).
Joey John brought Rachel, his fiancé, home for the Christmas Holiday, 2011.  Protect was definitely what Joey John had to do with Rachel, with a house-full of guys whose first response is not nurturing.  She was thrust into our normal events of the Cookie Exchange with the neighbors, visiting the Sequoias and meeting part of the family in Monterey, and our Christmas customs—very different from hers.  She needed reassurance, as I did: I, because, my son was spreading his wings to leave the nest. Joey John purchased and presented her with THE RING, while here.  “Keep me close to yourself like the ring on your finger.” (Song of Solomon 8:6). The wedding ring is a symbol of loyalty. Some of his brothers had difficulty understanding the change in Joey John, how he would ‘esteem’ Rachel over them sometimes.

After a particularly windy storm, my gazebo on the back deck was missing. I looked down at the garage and against the fence line to find it. I finally sent Jacob out to look. I saw him turn around and look up and smile. It had blown to our roof and was all bent up and crushed. He enjoyed getting it down with Jonas. 

Once Joey returned home, I had carpel tunnel surgery on both my hands, not at the same time. The boys were quite attentive to my need not to lift anything, even a gallon of milk, and helped to do all the dishes. I did find that a houseful of men cannot put a barrette in my hair. After several attempts by a few, Jonathan said, “What can be so hard?” After his attempt, he laughed, but had trouble acknowledging defeat. James was able to put small barrettes to keep my hair out of my eyes.  Sheltering and protecting….my household of men.

After Dixie, our black lab, had four puppies, Jacob felt the need to strut and protect, strut and brag, strut and did I say strut? This was after I said “No more animals.” He’s doing a fine job protecting his own.

“Correcting and mothering her husband are not good ways to approach him.” (p. 76)
We have had these discussions, especially with Jonathan. He’s asked, “Why do you always tell me to ‘be careful’?”  Because that’s what mom’s do. The balance is hard to achieve when they have grown up and don’t need the constant supervision of a mom….Can a mom ever not be a mom?  Joey tells him, “I still call my mom when I return from trips.” We need reassurance that you will remember to ‘be careful.’

“The male feels a deep need to be involved in adventure and conquest. This is not an option for him; it is a deep-seated trait” (p. 196). “…natural inborn desire of the man to go out and conquer the challenges of this world.” (p. 193).

Respecting involves acknowledging (different from understanding) his need for challenge.
We went to Josiah’s graduation in Redding from Shasta Bible College. We stayed with friends that he had met that quickly became the entire family’s friends.  Josiah and Jonathan have on several occasions returned to help work various projects with them. The family has become a mentor for Josiah challenging him to stay focused on his goals and desires.  

While in Redding, we explored a cave. Michael and I waited in the ‘lobby’ of the cave while the others explored the cave. This was after walking a mile over an open water sluiceway. I know that they need a challenge, but I certainly don’t.

Jonas went to Canada in March to help his uncle with calving his herd of cattle. My challenge was to make sure he was warm enough; his was to finish enough school to allow a three week break. I was not in the ‘he’s a man-mode’ when I took him to the airport. On his return, the airline didn’t allow him to enter the plane---he was underage, but he had already gone through security and my sister’s family was already heading toward the Canada’s border. The airline personnel kept him until my sister and brother-in-law returned, spent the night, and paid for another ticket with an escort between each gate change. Jonas commented that all his escorts were tiny women shoulder-height to him. Do we try to keep boys from becoming men on purpose?

Jonathan also went to Canada.  When Jonathan attempted to cross into Canada, the border patrol wouldn’t let him because he was ‘taking someone’s job.’ He would have gone without payment, just to run the combiner, the trucks, and the big equipment.  He returned home the next day. Later when time for harvesting, we had learned that he was going to ‘visit family.’ The challenge is just to get them to the place of work.

Baseball season arrived. Jonathan helped coach Josh and James’ team. Jonas and Jacob umped games.  They allowed Josh (8) to play in the 10-12 year old league. The coach asked if I would mind if Josh pitched.  I cautioned Josh that the return balls came flying so much faster from the bat and that he should be ready to get hit by the ball. He told me, “If I place my feet like this and throw like that, I will be in position to catch any ball that comes back at me.”  I just prayed that he didn’t have to experience it to make sure he was standing properly. Jonas found too much enjoyment behind the plate bossing people around. He said during one discussion, “You have to tell them that they are wrong, but respectfully.” Dinner time conversation centers on baseball plays, rules, and performances. During one discussion, Michael interjected, “Instead of being a giraffe when I grow up, I think that I’ll be a lion.”  Well, at least he gives us a different challenge to conquer.

Jonathan plays softball in Fresno. It’s twice a week, with no practices---makes for saving some fuel money. I know it’s not much of a challenge for him but he does enjoy it.

I don’t think challenge is the right word for this activity, but for lack of a nice word…I’ll concede to challenge. The boys, all but Josh, Jacob, and Joey John went to the Sequoia’s and proceeded to walk two and a half miles in bare feet on a trail. They came home limping and sore---they ‘didn’t realize how hot and pokey the trail would get.’ Like I said, I don’t have to understand their need to be challenged, just know that it exists. 

We went fishing. Actually, I sat on the beach and let them figure it out. Mostly it’s the kind people that invite us fishing who help them. Jacob went with one friend who took him on his boat. He came back with some whoppers, both in stories and in fish. Jacob said, ‘fishing from shore will never be the same.’  Another family invited us to fish with them. Michael caught ten—with a borrowed Mickey Mouse rod. Some of the others were trying hard to catch just one. After fishing for hours, Josh talked about getting all these bites….I thought that he was talking bug bites---shows how much I’m paying attention to their challenges.

Trying to keep the boys challenged at all levels, I planned a canoe trip. The anticipation and planning caused more grief than the actual trip---when we finally did it---borrowing one canoe, one kayak, and inflating and attaching one floating raft, and using our own canoe.  We recruited our neighbor last minute to come also. We all thought it was worth doing again. The timing was crucial, for the river height (one week later and it would have been too high and fast), the crowd on the river (early is best) and duration (not enough drinking water).  Jonathan would have liked more rapids, I couldn’t ask for enough calm water….challenges….

When Joey returned in September, he took Jacob and Jonathan to an edged weapons course. It was more on self-defense and going home when someone approaches you with a fight. Now we know how to disable someone so we can run away. Now we can make someone unconscious while they are attacking us….things we need to know??

Jacob continues to enjoy his taxidermy. He’s recruited James. I’m not sure if James started so that he can not only have his chickens outside the house, but inside the house as well. He stuffed his hen and  rooster. Jacob completed a variety of things including a squirrel, a woodpecker, and a grouse. I think that he enjoys the comrade ire as much as the accomplishment. 

Sometimes I’m not sure that I’d classify ‘events’ as challenges, they seem more like “what if’s” that really shouldn’t be experimented to find the real answer. Like, what if I burn a dog biscuit?... It smells like cigars for hours (Jacob’s question). What if I wing this plastic bag with cat litter as high as I can throw?...It wraps high in a tree for us to see every time we enter our property (James’ experiment). What if I don’t ever obey, I won’t have to do school. (Michael’s conclusion). What if I ask Mom when she’s real busy, as if it’s an emergency, if I could bring a dog home?…. (Jonathan’s attempt). Then I ask myself out loud, “Do I just have sucker across my forehead?” Only to have my five year old answer, “Yes.” What if I build a halter to harness two goats together to pull a sled big enough for our neighbor’s son to ride? (Jonas and James)  This is just a few of the questions that I have heard, not to mention those that I haven’t found yet….challenges, they need them.

Joey John (21) has found plenty of challenges with finding a job and an apartment in Milwaukee, and learning to cook, especially rice.  He’s stayed there through the summer. He is in his third year and prepared for Rachel to come after their wedding in December. He’s entered life’s challenges without our shelter. 

Josiah has attended Reedley College for his undergraduate work in animal science. It is nice to have him home, although he stays at friends of ours during the week to save one and a half hours a day of travel time. He enjoys the people and socialization, but studying continues as his hardest challenge.

“Another aspect of respect involves his authority. Guard against slowly ‘taking over.’”(p. 213). “If you are judging your husband with contempt, you are hurting God’s heart. Your convictions can please God, but your contempt can also grieve Him. A contemptuous, critical spirit is not the way to win over your ‘disobedient’ husband to your convictions.” (p. 232). “…stop being your husband’s Holy Spirit….self-righteousness can deceive you more than any other sin. If you see yourself as far better than your husband, especially in the spiritual realm, he will back away from you spiritually and probably in many other ways….as the years pass, your husband will stop giving advice at almost every level. What can he say to a person who is always right and righteous….You don’t have to ‘think’ for both of us.” (p. 235).
Respect allows him to lead.

I’ve tried to let the boys’ problem solve. Guidance, tools and materials are what I add to the situation---along with encouragement.  I try to ask them during a project,” how would you do this?”….and then we’d try it together. Now, most of the boys don’t want me around when they are solving their problems. They’ll say, ‘I got this, Mom.’ In other words, go inside the house and let me do it…. Before it was so much easier….to be the mom. 

Joey’s good about giving each boy a chance to be in charge of a project, so that each one has practice leading. He has cultivated a house full of leaders. That was part of the problem when Joey was gone.  Sometimes decisions were made by the boys without  consulting everyone’s schedule. This made it hard to coordinate everyone’s needs.  I would consult with Joey to see---Am I overstepping my mom boundaries to request, i.e. they tell me where they are going?

Unfortunately, or not, by teaching them to think for themselves, I have to stay several steps in front of them. Jonathan starting asking questions that would require the answer, “I’ll have to run that by Dad.”
It seemed that he had already planned his future four years down the road…I was just trying to survive today. He asked to graduate early….which would mean doing two years of work in one. Okay, we’ll see what classwork Dad will require for completion. He asked to go to Reedley College for their two year CAT program, for running and repairing CAT machines. He asked to test out of school to finish school now….I felt like I was unprepared for today, let alone for his future. Other questions resulted that I would have to sift through my thoughts over a few days, and he seemed already moving on to the next question….My talking with him seemed more like a confrontation and I had to learn to say my piece then keep my mouth shut. 

I recently read a book, not recommended reading, Shut Your Mouth and Wear Beige. It’s about the mother-of-the-groom and the wedding plans.   I catch myself talking to one of the boys, but then think; they don’t need me to tell them that….Joey reminds me ‘they’ll figure it out.’ Oftentimes they don’t want me to advise them, they just want me to approve of what they have already decided. Letting go, letting them leave, and allowing them to grow up….Breaks a mom’s heart.

Respect involves Relationship.
Men are energized merely by their wives’ presence. ‘This is how men communicate, by sharing experiences.’(p. 240). Why do men like this shoulder-to-shoulder silence from their wives? I don’t know.” (p. 241).  

Joey works to do this with all the boys. Find their interests and spend time with them.  I think that was the hardest for the boys this year while he was gone. I was at a loss, and so were the boys. We are very glad Joey is back. It’s been nice when he first came home to have him working with the younger boys on fence repair, preparing for winter, cleaning the garage. It makes a big difference in the peace that flows in the house.

“Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33

The other side of the verse: ‘to love our wife, you’ll have to wait for Joey to write his version. He continues to treat me like a queen. The boys have learned from him.  This year I’ve seen evidence of his training and modeling ‘how to love your wife.’ 

“Because a woman is an integrated personality, she is like a teakettle—she collects all the things that have happened to her over the day and there is a buildup (p. 151). Men are compartmentalized. You can stuff things away and not have to talk about them. Women also need to talk to realize their feelings. Men usually know what they are feeling, and they will talk about it if they think it is necessary. Women, on the other hand, can be feeling a lot of things but not know exactly what they are. As they begin to talk about what happened through the day, they can work back to the problem that they can’t seem to put their finger on. (p. 152). She is not trying to provoke you…when she gets historical (returning to previous ‘discussions’), she is trying to reconcile with you…She wants to be sure you aren’t angry with her so that she can feel loved.” (p. 159).
He doesn’t try to solve her problems, he just listens.

Both Joey John and Josiah called me every week from college to encourage and to listen to whatever I had to say.  
Joey made time to call regularly even when he was eleven hours ahead of us. One time I texted him to call me before he went to bed. He called three nights later, at 2 AM our time saying he had just received the text. I was glad to hear from him, regardless of the time, but glad that it wasn’t an emergency with the boys. Another time, when he had gotten back into the country, I received a text saying, “Here safe. Call our moms tell them I’m okay. Love you.”  Within 15 minutes he called. I told him that I got his text. He said that he didn’t text me.  It was the text that he had sent back in October 2011 when he got to his deployed country. His phone didn’t send it until he returned back to the States this year and his phone worked again. His calls were my lifeline to sanity and reassurance but sometimes it took a while to feel it.

“Live with your wife in ‘an understanding way’ doesn’t mean understand her,” Joey explains to the boys.

I have been looking for a dress to wear to the wedding for a year. Finally, I thought the time had come to really search all the thrift stores and find one. The boys questioned me when I told them that I was looking for a wedding dress. Two of them asked, “You need a wedding dress, like in white….”  As I was explaining that Rachel’s colors were blue, silver and white. My dress needed to match, their ties were going to match, and we all needed to match. Jonathan said, “You mean they tell you what to wear?”  I inadequately explained how the pictures needed to coordinate…. This was her special day. In describing it to Joey John, he said, “I’m learning the same thing.”

Michael somehow heard that the dress that I had found was going to be worn by Jonathan. He was having his own conversation about “Jonathan wearing this wedding dress. He was going to look great in it. He couldn’t wait to see him in it…this was going to be GREAT.” Sometimes I don’t know how he makes the connections that he does.  The disadvantages of no sisters….
 
Our Christmas letter was delayed to include Joey John and Rachel’s wedding. We all drove back to Illinois to attend their wedding.  The boys experienced how to live in ‘an understanding way,’ and I had another chance to learn to let go ad to hide my tears. The bride was beautiful, the wedding went smoothly and the boys saw how Joey John esteemed his bride. When I asked Joey John if he had butterflies, he responded descriptively, “no, big eagles.” Many came from Wisconsin where his school is, along with some of my family from Indiana and even a family from California. We appreciated all who traveled to witness their promise and pledge for life. Memories made and lessons learned.

Understanding may not be what we all experienced in the trip driving to and from IL---we made it home in 33 driving hours, with stopping for gas, and eating breaks.  The excursion rolls on. The boys behaved well, we are thankful that Jonathan and Josiah shared the driving load with Joey to keep us moving toward the goal.  Challenges met.

“Your wife, however, ties her self-worth into who she is in the family.” (p. 176).

Joey has modeled and trained the boys to thank me for the meal. They know, if I burnt the rice or threw together left-overs, that I still appreciate their thanks.  When they give details like, “I like the way you fixed the potatoes,” or “Good, I like the rice fixed that way,” that makes me want to make it again. While preserving the cherries, Josiah said, “Cherry pie would be good.” Jonathan tried the same technique with apples, saying, “We all need to get out of the kitchen, so Mom can make apple dumplings.” They both received what they wanted.

Albee, Joey’s brother, visited several times while Joey was gone and encouraged the boys in their jobs and chores. He described what he found while coaching girls’ softball versus boys’, “Girls have to FEEL GOOD to DO GOOD; whereas, boys had to DO GOOD to FEEL GOOD.” 

 I opened this letter with the key to motivating a man was through respect; I shared the key to motivating a woman is through love. The combined respect and love showed how God motivates. Yet it wasn’t just a means to motivate, but the way God used to restore man’s relationship to Him. God asked in Malachi 1:6 “A son honors his father and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect, due me? Says the Lord Almighty.”

This relationship with God was broken in the Garden of Eden by our choice to sin and perpetuated every generation since, by our desire to do ‘what is right in our own eyes.’ This relationship couldn’t be reconciled until the perfect Sacrifice was made. “This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His One and Only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (I John 4:9).

His death made restitution possible for our wrong. Like the respect He commands wives to show their husbands, He desires the relationship of our presence with Him and our respect for Him. Like the love He commands husbands to show to their wives, He commands us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37).  He desires our respect and our love.

At Christmas time, we remember the Divine Baby sent by love to be one with us. But His motive wasn’t just love; it was restoration of His created people to give Him the respect due Him as Creator, Provider, Protector, Challenger, Leader and Savior.  Ultimately He desired our relationship.

May this next year find you, not only returning the love He gives but developing the relationship He desires, as Hosea 12:6 said, “But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.” And Deuteronomy 4:9, “Be very careful never to forget what you have seen the Lord do for you. Do not let these things escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.”

May we all seek to love and respect the One to Whom it is due,

The Contreras Family



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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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