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Wow! What a Ride! 2006

Dear Friends and Family,

I found this bit of philosophy in a magazine, “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming, ‘Wow, what a ride!!!’”
What a contrasting philosophy that depicts the battle that takes place at our house. Not that my body is pretty and well preserved, more like I’m just trying to hold it together while the rest of the family flies by me.

In keeping with the ‘skid in broadside’, Joey thought that the boys needed at least ‘to be exposed’ to various situations for their proper boyhood education…. This year those various situations led us to try skiing and snow boarding. While they were doing the skidding, I was trying to make sure Josh (2) arrived at the end of the day ‘safely’.

We took them for a night camping at the Sequoia’s. We had prepared them with bear strategies: making sure the car seats were scrubbed to avoid the bears tearing off the truck doors, and storing food properly. We saw no bears, but when we saw a deer peacefully grazing at dusk close to our campsite, Josh became so terrified that he wanted to retreat to the only safe place, the truck. Once there, he wanted to shoot the deer. Camping didn’t keep us ‘pretty’ but we finished safely.

After getting a ‘flavor’ of camping, we tried mountain biking. The major obstacle in this endeavor was to have all bikes in working order at the same time. (They know us well at the bike repair store.) Our weekend experience led us to Mammoth in June, where the snow had just melted and the ski lifts were open for mountain biking---riding the gondola up the mountain to fly on bikes down the mountain in a matter of minutes. We had all planned to do some biking, but the flying didn’t take well with me and my preserved body philosophy. James (5), Josh and I found more pleasure going up and down the gondola three times a day watching for the flying bikers. Some of the expert bikers, after seeing Joey’s tires and bike, commented that they wouldn’t be going down on that; it would be asking for trouble….What a perspective from someone who pedals down a cliff. The boys’ training on our hills at home helped them maneuver the expert paths with no broadside skids. Although at that altitude, we all had to take a moment to catch our breath to avoid being totally worn out.
 
While resting between bike flyers, Jacob (7) asked about the statue of the Wooly Mammoth. I explained about Noah’s flood changing the climate. Some of the animals, like the Wooly Mammoth, were not able to survive the changes after the flood. He piped up to ask, “You mean Noah’s flood was real?” I looked at him and tried to remind myself to shut my mouth. What have we been teaching him the past ummm…seven years? My response didn’t show my thoughts when I said, “All the Bible is true---.” Then he added, “Then Jesus actually came to earth?”  I later asked Joey John (15) if the other boys knew what is true, maybe I was missing this teaching thing….He looked at me reassuringly, “Mom, we know….”  Too late for the body, just help me not to lose my mind.

From the mountains, we went to San Diego, where Joey had a conference. While he was busy ‘conferencing’, we took the ferry over to Coronado Island. Another day, we went to the San Diego Zoo. While riding the tour bus, Josh, in his high-pitched squeaky voice that all could hear, said, “Mom, look at that (the hippo), it’s dead.” No matter how much I tried to convince him otherwise, that hippo was dead. When we approached the many antelope, gazelles and deer on display, his voice again rang out, “A deer, Mom, shoot it.” (His terrifying scare of camping was still fresh on his mind.) After walking all day, I managed to drag my totally worn out body to the hotel, and I can safely say that we all slept well that night. 

Joey John’s riding his dirt bike came to an end after the crankcase was cracked on a rock. He spent months taking the bike apart, rebuilding it, waiting for parts, waiting for help, just waiting. In the mean time, he used Jacob’s (7) bicycle on our hills. Jacob came inside to tell me that Joey had fallen down the hill. I had seen Joey come inside and thought that he was finally going to do some school. When he came down the hall, his entire chin was covered with blood. I sent the alarm to have everyone get ready “to go to see Daddy.” On the hour and half trip down the hill, I thought maybe I overreacted (you know, I like a well preserved body), and asked to see his chin again. “No,” I thought. “I didn’t overreact.” When asked why he didn’t tell me of his fall, Joey John just said, “I was going to later.” Joey John spent the day at the office so Joey, between patients, could put four internal stitches and eight outside ones. “Wow, what a ride!”

Joey was bit by something in his sleep. We didn’t think anything of it—we have fire ants, scorpions, black widows….until a week later and several red streak episodes during the night. He had a friend look at it since his hand was still swollen twice its normal size. He opened it up and took out a stinger (?).  A week later I was bit. Joey dug around to remove a stinger. The only thing we could surmise was a scorpion, although they normally don’t leave a stinger. Skip the well preserved body, just help me arrive safely.

Jacob developed an allergy to something. He’d break out in a rash, be ‘all itchy’; we’d give him Benadryl and it would calm down the rash. One time, though, he said that he was having trouble breathing. Being 45 minutes away from anything, Joey took him to the emergency room in case his breathing shut down. After that, Joey gave me a prescription for a shot that I would ‘stab into his leg’ should his breathing become difficult due to his allergy. Now we carry around a needle for that one emergency---one of those wearing out the mind things, if I dwell upon it.

I heard the snake alarm---“Get the shovel, another rattler.” After we killed it, I asked Jonas (9) how he found it. “Oh, Mom, it struck me, that’s how I knew it was there.”  “WHAT??”  “I walked by it and it struck me.” “WHERE???”  “Oh, just on my boot.” Normally he wears no boots, no shoes of any kind…. Skip the skidding.  Let’s just be totally worn out. 

Jonas, Jacob, James and Josh were playing cowboys. The boys escorted the disabled member, Josh, to the house. He had fallen off ‘just a rock’.  We have no ‘just rocks’ on the property, they are all boulders. My mind asks, “What was he doing on a boulder? How did he even get up there?” Questions that are never answered. His green and black forehead spoke of his adventure for several weeks. Body…thoroughly used up….

Josiah (13) had trained his horse as far as he knew how. He was ready for specialized training. We found a trainer that has done it for 50 years. We travel twice a week for Josiah to ride several of the trainers’ horses. He learns how to use his body to control the horse. I get a little uneasy while I watch him fly across the field then stop in an instant. Before one lesson, just as he was getting out of the car, Josiah asked, “Mom, may I wear my cowboy hat instead of my helmet, today?” ummm…visions of rodeo antics come to my mind…preserved body… “We’ll ask Daddy about that one.” He finishes his lessons smiling, “Wow, what a ride!”

Tackle football is a four month adventure for the entire family. Josiah, Jonathan (11), and Jonas played on three different teams. But it was a family project to get to the three practices a week and games all day Saturday. Joey John found it hard to just watch after playing last year.  (He was too old for the league, unless he wanted to play on the high school team.) After Jonathan played his game, he would come sauntering back to the bleachers, wearing a big smile, unable to wait to play again.

Joey has talked for years of taking the boys to Magic Mountain—Six Flags. This year he mentioned it to my sister who picked up on the idea and said that she’d come to Cal. for that. We went on Homeschool Day: no lines, no rudeness, no strange apparel (well, almost none.)  James and Jonas are the two we’ve got to watch---speed, thrill, excitement was where they shown. James and Jacob went on this Tweety Bird cage ride. Each person had their own ‘bird cage’ that they would stand and hold onto the cage. Looking at Jacob, we could see the whites of his knuckles as he clung to the cage, his head down, eyes closed in deep concentration to survive the ride. James, on the other extreme, had his eyes wide open, smile on face, hands held up, not holding anything to see if he would spin inside the cage without falling, as the cage was spun around in a circle. And he’s going to be driving on the road, when?  “Wow, what a ride!”

 “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming, ‘Wow, what a ride!!!’”  I think of the words of Jesus, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy …but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy…” (Matthew 6:19) So much for my pretty, well preserved body. It just turns to dust—and I try to get rid of the dust that I have in my house. Paul described his life like this, “For I am already being poured out (thoroughly used up, totally worn out) like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (II Timothy 4:6-7) His ride was over and he had a better one waiting for him. 

During this time of year, we reflect on Christ’s birth---not much of comfort; itchy hay, smelly animals, no money. His death brought no difference, only He carried the beatings that disfigured his face and body so that He couldn’t be recognized. His body was bruised for us. His blood was poured out for us. But do you know what He said when He died, “It is finished.” His life, His body---all used up, totally worn out and still proclaiming to His Father, “Father, into Your Hands I commit My Spirit.” (Luke 23:46). “Wow, what a life He gave for us.” Guess, I’d better reevaluate my journey—my ride to give my all for Him Who gave me all of His. 

We wish your Christmas finds you taking that ride, too….

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



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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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