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December, 1996

Dear Friends and Family,

What a season to know God’s love for us and for others. If we were to choose a word that has been impressed upon us this year, it would be that, love.

If we were to elaborate on God’s love, we could tell you about His daily protection especially with the boys. Josiah called me into the room where they were playing with, “Mom, Jonathan is playing with a scorpion!” (which I promptly killed.) Or we could tell a story behind each of the six rattlesnakes that were killed, several close to the house. Josiah, as he bent to pick up a piece of wood that we were stacking, came a foot from a baby rattler. Not to mention the normal boy things, like Joey John climbing as high in a tree as he can, yet managing to stay in them. As Jonathan has become more mobile, his creativity to solve problems has increased. He knows how to crawl, climb, or run where he wants to go, making it a challenge for all of us to keep him away from the pond. One day he ran down to the cow pen, crawled under the fence only to find himself looking into the face of the 700 lb steer. When a yellow jacket flew directly at Joey John’s eye, Joey though he would be stung there. It missed to sting his eyelid. Some would say, “A close call, or lucky.” We say, “In God’s love, He’s watching over our sons!”

Not only in the form of protection have we seen God’s love, but also in His provision. We raised two pigs, later a steer, as well as our vegetables. The garden required extensive preparation on our hills. We hand dug terraces, put up fences, and installed a drip system (a necessity when it doesn’t rain for May til Nov except for a total of a few hours, yet temperatures reach 100’ and remain.) After being given last year’s seeds by a friend, we were ready. When I’m working in the garden, the boys would wander over to the peas, beans or tomatoes for a snack. I’m not surprised that the peas never made it to the table. In spite of the war with ants, aphids, white flies…we still managed to can some tomatoes, plums, pickles and salsa. WE even were told that we have an elderberry tree on our property that we went to pick of its bounty. We’ll know better next year what to do with them once picked, but we’re learning.

We’ve been busy preparing the ground for my herb garden. Joey has been preparing a spot for strawberries, as well.

We have a small pond that we stocked in June with fryers, blue gill and bullhead catfish. Now that t rains still haven’t come, our dog spends at least an hour at a time making circles in the pond eating them. We’ll see in spring if we have any left.

God’s provision didn’t stop with food, He provided someone at the right time with a truck to get the pigs, freezer, hay and mower and other assorted items up the mountain to our house.

God’s love has been manifested to us by His protection and provision, yet we are reminded that “to whom much is given, much shall be required.” This growth of love has involved several areas for us: hospitality, sharing and just plain living love. With God’s giving us our house, we made a commitment to give it back to Him. When the ladies’ Bible study for young mothers in the mountains needed a place to call home, God allowed our house to be used. When a few couples needed help, God provided an invitation to our house for a meal to open the opportunity for sharing. When an acquaintance of Joey’s visited the church, God worked it out for them to follow us home for dinner. After one such throw-together meals, the visitor sat back and said, “Them’s some fine vittles!” We, in turn, have been greatly blessed.

The second area of love that God has been working on us is sharing. Joey has been sharing the Word through a Bible study with his co-workers. Their growth and interest has been exciting to see. Joey also took the opportunity during his softball season to share with his team players. Some were not ready, but know where to come when they are. Joey has discussed the Bible with our neighbor who is sifting through the Eastern mysticism that has formed his foundation.

The boys have been sharing their own views of God with me. When asked what he would like to be when he grew up, Josiah replied without hesitation, “God.” Guess, he remembered what I have told them, “He is the Boss and He makes the rules…” Joey John asked, “If Satan sinned, and we sinned, why won’t Satan go to heaven?” Jonathan is too little to ask his questions, but we can tell he has them! Josiah invited Jesus as his Savior this year, so Christmas will be even more special for him and for us.

Although the first two areas, giving and sharing, seem to stretch us, the final area—living love is indeed my toughest. Praying for love is like prayer for patience—with patience, one should expect trials, with love, one should expect an unlovely person to come along. I was specifically referring to my boys when I asked God for love. Little did I foresee that He would send a neighbor, five kittens and their mama, and two dogs that would test my limits. (Our kittens have since been decreased to just two, thanks to our dog. I’ve rigged a leash for the cat when she has one of “those dart inside every time its open” days and the kittens are learning that they are outside animals. The one dog is in the process of being “trained” but that only means she’ll obey Joey when he is home. I’ve threatened to send her with Joey to work.

God’s love—so great to be the recipient of His protection and provision, but oh, so had to model. Yet at this season may we all take time to reflect on His goodness and to rely on His help to live His love—the love that sent Him to earth for us.

In His love,

Joey, Sonya, Joey John, Josiah, and Jonathan

 

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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