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Picture: Jerry, Miriam, Dana, Josiah, Heidi, Josh, Jonas, Jane, Inna, Jacob, Sonya, Joey, Grace, Emma, James, Callum, McKenna, Jonathan, Elanna, Joey John, Anne, Rachel

Life's Little Pleasures
December, 2022
Dear Family and Friends,

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wears you out; it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.”

What’s been in your shoe this year?
Do you feel the sand for five minutes and rehearse it for the next five hours? 
Do you see God in your moments?
I encouraged our family to share how they saw God in “Life’s Little Pleasures.” Here’s our year of “Little Pleasures.”

Last Thanksgiving, Joey (who was deployed in El Paso) and James came home! 
Returning with Joey to El Paso for a week, I saw the Mexican border. I’m thankful for the country where I live.
Grateful James could return for Christmas. We enjoyed ice skating and miniature golfing. Though Josh didn’t see the purpose for miniature golf.
Precious though perilous pleasures—watching Elanna while Callum was born. (Jonathan and McKenna’s).
Joey came home for good in February!
Saw all our family THREE TIMES this year!!
Visited our California boys, with Jonas and Jane coming, too. 
(Josh stayed home for a welding competition.)
Celebrated Joey’s birthday with the California office girls, friends and family. (Josiah and Dana arranged everything.)
Saw Heidi Jane for the first time. (Josiah and Dana’s).
Joey John and Rachel moved from WI to IL, takes  a “quick” 11 hour drive to see them. (Emma, Grace and Anne, too!) And two hours from James.
Easter brought all our boys to OK. Big Pleasure!

We celebrated Joshua’s graduation, with shooting of course.
Josh completed his welding coursework and is now certified.
He was hired to drive trucks and completed his CDL license.
His first job was to drive a dump truck. Jacob, while visiting went with him for a day, described it as a “Man’s Job.”
What’s the pleasure in that? SAFETY! Every day! Don’t take it for granted.

After multiple tests, appointments and procedures, I consented for some nerves to be burned.
What’s the pleasure? No pain for a short time. (The energy I have when not in pain!)

A month later had five surgeries, (four hours of long moments for Joey) that required no lifting for 10 weeks. Joey and boys helped—move laundry, lift pans,… But I couldlift my lightweight garden hose, and water my plants—EVERY DAY! God knew I needed those moments.

James continues helping my mom in IN. He finished his EMT coursework and has been thriving with driving the ambulance and responding to emergency calls. He waits further schooling, as taking care of my mom permits. These long serving “moments” are a constant prayer of mine.

Another trip to CA for Jacob and Inna’s wedding. Another daughter added! 

A summer of sunshine! 
After last year’s abnormal amounts of rain (we dug drainage ditches everywhere), this year Oklahoma had no rain and highest prolonged temperatures recorded in weather history; some likened it to the dust bowl. When the rains came, we were grateful. Life’s unsung pleasures.

A neighbor knocked on our door and handed Jeremiah a great yard job.
An answer to prayer for me!
Jerry’s new interest in acting brought a part in the Newsies. 
He enjoyed working in VBS. He bemoaned how hard it was to make children do what they should.
He helped framing walls in our church’s new building. Work is good.

We hosted some hymn sings. I do miss James and Jacob’s guitars, but Jeremiah continues to learn more chords.
Maybe someday he’ll join me in playing. Inna’s violin, added while they visited, brings depth to our singing. Blessed moments of worship.

Jacob and Inna took Jerry back with them to California. They stopped at the Grand Canyon. 
Josiah and Dana also detoured when they came for Easter. Glad some of our boys could take a moment to see its splendor and vastness! 
Indescribable majesty of our Creator’s Work!

Joey and I planned a weekend to Lake Wister, which promised hiking trails.  One highly recommended trail resulted in only a ¼ mile paved trail. Another trail left us wondering where the path went. At the hotel, we read about a trail made from a former railroad. That was worth it.

The following day, we drove the world’s tallest hill— 1999 feet (mountains are defined as 2000 ft or higher) where articles promised vista views. Though the vista views were disappointing, the pleasure? We didn’t hike up that hill.

We tried again on Labor Day; this time to Broken Bow and Beaver’s Bend. The mountain trail Look Out Mountain Loop must have meant, “LOOK OUT! You’re going to slip!”, rather than mountain top vista views, which are absent. When the trail disappeared, we noticed a couple ahead of us appeared “lost” too. (Though Joey assures me “we weren’t lost”.) Together we re-found the trail. Pleasant moment! 
Next time I’ll bring matches in case we stay “lost.”

Growing vegetables here requires a learning curve. I’m thrilled with every success! (There aren’t many.)
Pollinators aren’t so plentiful here (maybe the bees kept the queen cool); next year I’ll plant more flowers. Moments to anticipate.
One fruit tree out of four that we planted made it.
One chicken, out of two, survived the heat. The chicken continues to provide “little moments.” Like when she stood drenched in the rain, because the dog was lying in her house. (He does have a dog house.) 
How God must laugh at His creatures.

After months when Joey didn’t get paid by the Army, we appreciate greatly when he does get paid.
When his transfer from the Salt Lake City, UT Army unit was delayed, we gave great thanks when they finally DID transfer him closer to home.
Joey can workout at home and has time—first time in our married life. Great satisfaction.

For an early Thanksgiving this year, we drove to IN and IL to see some of the boys. Jonas and Jane also visited. Cherished moments. The girls grow up so fast!

We anticipate precious moments next year, as our eighth grandbaby is expected. (Added to Josiah and Dana’s girls: Miriam and Heidi.)

As I recount all our family’s little moments, I’m drawn to consider that moment when God became man. He, not confined by time, space or power, restricted Himself to man’s flesh to become like us, so we could know Him.

Or that moment on the cross, because God couldn’t look on our sin that Christ took on Himself, Christ cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me.” 
Those “moments” of God provided for me to come to Him. He brought me to that moment when I knew I needed God. 
No other moment compares to allowing God save and control my life. 
That one moment enables me now to see God in all life’s other moments.

Are your moments complete? Does your life revolve around you? 
Do you see God in your moments? 
What’s in your shoe?

May this Christmas bring you to that special moment when God becomes your life and you see Him in every moment you are given.

Joey, Sonya, Josh, Jeremiah and James


What's your little pleasures from the year?
 

Always enjoy your Christmas letters, but they make my head spin with all the boys being here and there and doing this and that, don't know how you keep track of them all. When I get over this cough (again!) I'll call you. Thanks again for all your sharing, it gives me hope.

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I write about what matters...to 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 matters...to 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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