Dear Family and Friends 
alt                                                                                                 December, 2018

Jonas posted this on our family hangouts:
I had a terrible accident yesterday, but I am doing better now. I decided to go horseback riding which I haven’t done in years. Well, I got on the horse and started out slow, and then we went a little faster and then we were going as fast as the horse could go. All of a sudden, I fell off and caught my foot in the stirrup and the horse was dragging me around. If it was not for the quick thinking of the woman I owe my life to, I probably would not have made it…Thank goodness for the store manager at Walmart who came out and unplugged the machine.
Rachel responded: “Thanks for that Jonas. I just got a notification on my phone with your name on it that just said, “I was in a terrible accident.”
Jacob posted: “Mom just came running out of her room all concerned for you. LOL.”
Dad posted: Stick to live horses, they’re less dangerous.

We live in it, with it, and through it.
Men seek it.
Me? My danger involves getting to art class on time every week, so Jeremiah and I can paint inside our drawn lines.

What kind of dangers have my men pursued this year?
The word “danger” would not be what come to their minds for most these things, because they train to do them. They’re knowledgeable, experienced and able to perform them.
You judge “their danger.”

Just getting to work and school is an act of danger.
Jacob bought a motorcycle. Just registering it required three trips to the DMV, each time in the rain. He also enjoyed a few spring rides in the snow.
Jacob went with his employer/owner to drop off a truck load. Jacob asked him, “How long he’d had his CDL?” The owner shrugged, “I have my permit.”
“Don’t you need to drive with someone who has a license?”
The owner smiled, “That’s why you’re with me.” (Jacob got his Class A license last year.)

While discussing wheels, Jonas bought a cart and harness for his horse to pull.
He sold his truck in November, 2017 when it needed a new engine, and bought another. There’s always danger in buying and selling a “California-legal” vehicle.

When Josiah took our Excursion’s flat tire to get fixed, Josiah’s own car had a blowout.

Not only getting to work and school, but once there, there’s danger.
a crane operator, worked the oil fields for a short time, before returning to Dallas. He stops working when lightning strikes. Why? He’s in the tall metal machine reaching to the clouds, sitting on a metal seat.

But lightning isn’t his only danger, with some Texas downpours, just getting to his ladder to climb to his seat means sloshing through the mud.

He dropped his phone down 250 feet and couldn’t find it. Later, a co-worker found it and sent it up in his bucket. Jonathan climbed to his bucket to get it. He saw no danger. His mom did.

Then there’s Joey John. Mostly he’s designing massive machines to remove ships from lakes, but he also inspects their assembly. Putting them together requires specially designed forklifts. Their wheels are twice his height.

Jonas breaks and trains horses and shoes them.

Jonas and James were rounding up and loading cows in our only snowfall. While driving the trailer filled with cows and horses, the horses slipped and fell. When James opened the trailer gate, the horses rolled out upside down. His horse was on the bottom, pretty messed up. James took his horse to the vet, assuming not to bring it back. I could only think of James’s danger: driving while grieving. He returned with the horse and a recommendation to “wait and see.” Later he sold the horse. It would never be strong enough for roping cows.

James purchased another horse that required training. (More danger.)

James called me while I was in town. Jonas had called him, but couldn’t remember how he got off the horse he was training, but found himself sitting at his kitchen table with his horse tied up. After an ER visit, CAT-scan, and neck x-ray, the imminent danger was passed and he was to restrict his danger for two weeks.

Jonas became the “local cowboy” where he broke and shoed horses for a “dude ranch” in Yosemite.

At dinner, I noticed James’s entire arm was scraped and bruised. When asked how, James said, “The neighbor’s milk cow wasn’t quite ready to milk.” I suggested he wear a helmet when he milked. Later that same cow escaped milking by running through a hole in the fence the size of our dog (not our fat one).

When we told Emma that Sadie, James’s cow dog, delivered 11 cow pups, she asked, “How do you know they are cow dogs?” Papa’s explanation that their parents were cow dogs left her confused. Jonas said, “They like chasing cows.” When the mother didn’t feed them enough, Jeremiah gladly bottle fed them, when James was at school. But even as they are sold, so much energy wrapped up in such little, but fast-growing bodies keeps Jeremiah, James and me busy keeping them out of destruction and danger.

Then there’s danger in the boys’ lawn-care business. James was boss again this year.
Weedwacking among rattlesnakes demands they stay alert.

Listening to the boys’ banter before they even leave for work makes me wonder about their danger. Josh is convinced James adds more work each time he tells me where they’re working. Josh pushes to return home before lunch—for his own business—shooting dart guns, eliminating squirrels, carving knives. . .

Jacob sips his treasured coffee to the very last minute then flies around getting ready, arriving in the truck as the wheels roll down the driveway.
Quietness descends after their truck leaves as Jeremiah and I are left alone.

You may not think of danger when you think of baby chicks, but when James hatched 52 of them, their fragile lives would consider “life dangerous.” So many factors to control—in spite of James’s careful turning the eggs, regulating the temperature, keeping the cat out of his room. . . all 52 chicks hatched, then died. When he tried again, all 50 of them made it outside to his special chicken coop where a raccoon killed them all in one night, along with Jeremiah’s duck.

Jeremiah decided to include some danger of his own. He is raising ducklings for their eggs.

At 2 AM, I was awakened by shrieking and honking. A goose paced outside our yard. We led it to our ducks, where I hoped it would be quiet so we could finish our night’s sleep.

The next day it honked like an animal in distress, another goose paced at our gate and a third honked outside Jeremiah’s duck pen. Their owner followed their distress calls and promised to return after building a pen. Jeremiah hoped to keep them. When the owner returned, Jeremiah’s disappointment was great, but my relief was greater. Now we can hear their honking from a distance and sleep.

Josh strives to live at the cutting edge of danger. When he purchased a neck knife, Jonas said, “I thought you were getting a knife, not a toothpick.” Josh’s response, “That’s the biggest it can be and still be California concealed.”

Josh soon grew tired after dismantling, fine-tuning and rebuilding a gas-powered, remote control car. He moved on to making knives, throwing stars, dart guns and darts, and axes—grinding, sanding, picking up scrap metal junk—always on the cutting edge of danger.

When a neighbor couldn’t get rid of a squirrel that was eating his chickens, Josh went with his blow dart gun and took care of it.

I puzzled over these perfectly round holes in my lily leaves, until I asked, “Josh, are you shooting my lilies?”
With a smile and a shrug, he responded, “Not this minute.”
When I glared at him, he said, “Just a little.”
“We are NOT using my lilies for target practice.”
“But Mom, they’re perfect targets.” Some danger he walks right into.

Even while playing baseball, Josh finds danger. While catching in the bull pen, he found an arrow.

When Josh chose not to try out with the 14-year-old All Star Team, his coach asked him to play on his 15-year-old team. As catcher, he thrived with the danger of a close game.

When Josh went archery hunting with a friend, they sighted several bears. One charged them. The friend notched his arrow and aimed. Josh blew out a “pipsqueak tweet” from his whistle. When he tried again with a more piercing note, the bear dropped down on all fours and ran off with her cub following. Is that not enough danger? (Note: the story will change as to who reports the incident.)

While breaking a nervous horse, Jonas sighted a bear within fifty yards. He had a few tense moments before he knew if the horse would dump him and run for the barn.

Jeremiah was included in Josh’s rifle hunting trip, in spite of the bear event with their archery hunt. After the first downpour and lightning storm with some snow sprinkled in, Jeremiah decided the dangers of camp life didn’t compare with the security of home. He returned home grateful to stay for a long time.

Josiah, although seemingly behind the scenes studying, has not been exempt from danger. After visiting missionaries in Brazil at the beginning of the year, he spent two summer months as a travel companion with a missionary who hikes over the Copper Canyon Mountains in Chihuahua. These 8,000’ mountains are deeper that the Grand Canyon in the heart of drug cartel territory. He hitched a ride in the back of the cartel truck filled with men carrying sub-machine guns ready to use them. Josiah’s visit was not without experiencing a few dangers of his own (cartel aside). Avoiding unfiltered water was difficult when villagers offered him a thick, corn-mash drink. He became very sick, weak and dehydrated. With not much more than corn tortillas and beans, with an occasional dead cow found on a hillside thrown in, his diet was not tender on his stomach. The missionaries nursed him back to semi-health before sending him home to regain his strength. But not before he learned a few words of Tarahumara, gained a love for the work and its people and yearned to return.

Joey continues his monthly danger jumping from planes in the army. He also taught an army class in Texas this year, and went to Japan to pursue training and readiness for any Korean activity. He’s also preached at our church once a month; although not like the other dangers, he holds this responsibility carefully to “rightly divide the Word of truth.”

My danger lies vicariously through my men. And because I don’t always leave my concerns in God’s Hands, we spent a night in the emergency room at the insistence of my husband. Tests confirmed I should not be anxious, and everything else was fine. (Little does a test show!) Later more tests were required that increased my “anxiousness.” But don’t fear, dear husband, I’m not in danger.

But getting back to the boys. Their danger stories are shared at the dinner table:
Someone reported that batteries kept in the refrigerator last longer—“like new.”
The discussion digressed to putting car batteries in the frig and selling them as “new.”
Jacob suggested, “Let’s just live at the North Pole.”
Or Josh’s comment, “Or near a telephone pole.”

Jonas was told to bond with his 12-year-old Sunday School class. He invited them to ride horses. The woman, who suggested the “bonding activity,” asked to include another class. When Jonas said yes, she announced the event from the pulpit. Fifty people showed up for pizza and horse-back riding. Now the students ask Jonas for something “just for them.” (The danger of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, it will ask for a glass of milk, then this and then that.)

Jacob shared how his employer’s mom was upset because she couldn’t find her special shovel after Jacob had used it. When Jacob apologized, she said, “That’s okay, mi hijo (my son). I lose things all the time.” And gave him cookies. Being caught between owner and the owner’s mother could be dangerous. But not for Jacob.

Jeremiah corrected Josh, “You don’t need to say the obvious.”
Josh informed him, “It was necessary to state the obvious. Atoms are obvious, everyone sees the results of them, but it wasn’t until recently someone actually found them…so I’ll continue to state the obvious for lack of some who don’t know the obvious.”
Is it dangerous to talk around here?

James and Jacob escorted high school FFA-ers to various horse stations for extra credit for a class. James described how he had to smack one horse to switch leads or pick up its lead.

Jacob told how the announcer said, “’Go to the northeast corner for an event.’ These high schoolers had NO idea where to go.” Life in the city must be so hard. Where is north, anyway?

I asked Jeremiah if he needed new pants for Frontsight for a four-day shooting lesson. He said he had a pair but they had two little holes in them. Josh said, “That’s for your legs.”
Is it safe to even open our mouth?

When Joey asked Josh to make another hole in his pants’ belt, Josh debated whether he should use his dart gun or his .22.
Joey said, “When all you got is a hammer, everything’s a nail.”

I had a thick teriyaki sauce for a condiment. Jonas commented that we’ve had that since…then looked at the date on the container. Jeremiah went on and on about how good it was and how he eats it all the time. Jonas found the date and said, “We’ve had it since before you were born—1998.” Josh said “Seasoned to perfection…and probably fermented.” I threw it out.
Scary when the danger comes from the food I put on the table.

It could also be dangerous if someone eats the last apple dumpling…
When Emma was asked if she could eat a whole pie, she said, “Only half, I would have to share it with others.” Now that’s a well-trained child.

Emma told her dad (Joey John) as he made a sandwich, “I don’t know why you like hot sauce. It’s like hot eggs that never cool down.”

In her short visit to Papa and Nana’s, she asked at her tea party, “Why are those pickles in my drink?” The delicate cucumber-flavor was probably lost to this age. But Grace enjoyed her canoe ride. And Emma thrilled with her horse-drawn cart ride provided by her Uncle Jonas.

James tried for months to get seat covers for his truck.
I suggested, “Gammy used towels, but it would be hard for you to make sure others kept them in place.” He said, “Oh, no. I’d make sure they kept them clean.” Beware of the danger of James’s cleaning wrath!

Instructing Jeremiah, I told him, to clean his floor so I didn’t trip over stuff to go to the bathroom.”
Jonas said, “I trip over stuff to go to my bathroom.”
James said, “Well, pick up your feet and cut your toenails.”
Jonas said, “Now that’s a mental image while we eat dinner.”

When Joey missed some of Josh’s baseball games (while in Japan), Jonas told Josh, “What would Dad tell you on two outs—run on anything. You could have scored a run from second base.”
Josh laughed, “Yea, maybe.” Some danger isn’t even tried. Should I be grateful?

James asked Jacob, “What is the Statue of Liberty made of? You should know from class.”
Jacob said he didn’t listen to his teacher because he was busy furiously writing down her slide presentation. He added with a laugh, “My fortune cookie said this: ‘Be considerate to your teacher.’” Ummm. The danger of even a fortune cookie reminding you.

James wrote a paper for his English class about how men are also misrepresented in culture. The teacher said it didn’t “fit her requirements that women, minorities and the underclass are misrepresented.” We are proud he stood on his integrity, challenged the teacher with his writing, and took the poor grade. It is dangerous to speak out with truth.

When Rachel told Emma, “You’re getting so big. Pretty soon you’ll be getting a driver’s license and going to college.”
Emma responded: “No, I’m not going to college, but I will go to Walmart by myself.”
Danger is indeed coming.
Especially as Josh just turned 15 and he has been reminding me of his nearness to driving on the street!

While doing Family Hangouts, Emma said, “She was just relaxing, shopping and hanging out.”
I asked, “Can you relax when you shop?”
Emma: “I can’t relax with shopping. I always forget how far away Mama is from me. When I look ahead, I run with my sneakers to catch up with her.”

Emma found a stuffed mouse at the thrift store like the mouse in If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. While playing at home, she asked it if it wanted some carrots. The mouse responded, “No, thank you. It’s not If You Give a Mouse a Vegetable. It’s If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” The danger of using the wrong word.

After Jonas visited Joey John, Emma said, “Uncle Jonas looks like Daddy. The only way I can tell them apart is which home they are in.”

Even devotions can be wrought with danger.
Josh interjected after we had digressed from the text, “This isn’t a rabbit trail; it’s a kangaroo trail—way off track.” How would he know?

Joey and I have prayed for the boys’ wives since before they were born and continue to pray as they live their married lives.

In May, Jonathan married McKenna. McKenna seeks to be his helpmeet, bringing joy not only to him, but to us. They complement each other well. We are grateful for her sweet and joyful spirit.

While Joey and I visited them on a quick weekend trip, we experienced a tractor and truck pull. Now we must not only be in danger, but watch it.

I found a hamburger place with 5-star reviews. When the Uber driver dropped Joey and me off on the downtown Dallas street, across from a tattoo parlor, a quick-money place and a marijuana dispensary—I wasn’t sure what kind of danger I had drug us into now. But after our delicious meal and our second Uber ride away from the place, I breathed better. It is dangerous to let me out of my box.

Danger came from people we trust. Josiah found by obeying God and pursuing the woman God chose for him, he was excommunicated from his church. Although painful, God has rewarded Josiah with great joy and freedom by obeying Him. He awaits marrying Dana (pronounced “Donna”) in the spring of next year after they finish nursing school. She is a gem and a gift from God.

Jacob also is courting a wonderful girl we’ve known since the boys were little. We have enjoyed watching their love for each other grow.

Some ask about my books. The two published this year were the hardest. Faith Like a Mustard Seed: Wisdom for Your Walk were articles compiled from my website. They were hard to write, because I had to learn them first, then be vulnerable to share those lessons with others.
The second book, But You Have Not Obeyed Me, tells of the first six judges (from the book of Judges). Not a pretty, inspiring look at who man is without God. My danger? Of refusing to tell what God has said. Of sugar-coating man’s depravity. Of writing a book that makes you feel good.
I’ve faced the danger and finished the books. I pray it will point man to their need of God.
Because without recognizing our unworthiness and need, we won’t seek the Savior and will remain separated from God.

Jesus accepted danger: rejection, scorn, crucifixion from the people He created. His greatest danger was separation and silence from His Father, a relationship never before broken. But He endured it.
By facing these dangers, Christ provided a way for us sinners to stand righteous before the Righteous Judge.
By accepting what He did for us, we won’t know God’s judgment. We know Him.
Jesus thought the danger was worth it.
I’m glad He did.
But He has also asked us to pursue Him, in spite of dangers that come.
Like Peter who asked to walk on the water with Christ, we can either look at the danger of the waves or we can look to Christ Who enables us to do the danger to know Him better.
What danger is God bringing you through to know Him?

Do you avoid danger to be safe?
Sir Francis Drake
, an English sea captain during the Elizabethan era, was the second sailor to sail around the world, claiming the western coast of the Americans for England. Although considered a hero by the English, the Spanish labeled him El Draque or Dragon. King Philip II allegedly offered a substantial reward (US $8 million) for his capture or death.
Although many attribute the following prayer to him, resources aren’t conclusive, and some argue the language doesn’t support the Elizabethan era; nevertheless, the prayer is worthy of consideration and speaks of our need to move beyond our comfort to allow God to change us—whatever danger that may bring.

Disturb us Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
​Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and loved.

This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.

Does your danger seem overwhelming?
Last year I told of a supplement found by Dr. Gerald Aardsma. After taking the supplement over a year, I have found not only are my migraines and joint pain gone, but other health issues are mending.

And I can face the danger God has for me with the courage it needs to face another day.Anchor

This Christmas, when we remember what dangers Jesus endured for us, may we pursue God, regardless of the dangers that surround us.

Joey, Sonya, Josiah, Jonas, Jacob, James, Joshua and Jeremiah (those boys “kinda” still at home), with events about Joey John and Jonathan’s families included.

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I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

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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