Jonathan, Elanna, McKenna, Anne, Rachel, Grace, Emma, Joey John, James, Jeremiah, Joey, Jane and Jonas, Sonya, Jacob, Joshua, Dana, Miriam, Josiah

November 2020
Dear Family and Friends,
Wonder if God cares about the details in your life? Maybe this epistle will help you decide.

When we returned from visiting my family in January, I felt the urgency to prepare. Joey felt the same prompting. Prepare for what? We didn’t know. I painted the house. And decluttered— a lot. When I’d ask God, “What should we prepare for?”The only answer was, “Paint and pack.”
I wanted to ask, “Pack for what?” Since it would be easier to pack if I knew where we’d be going. But I packed. And painted.

While we painted, James took a search and rescue class in Texas. How would he get from the airport to the rural school three hours away? (James is under 25 and couldn’t rent a car) We ran into a friend who was willing to fly to TX and drive the rental car. Just a little detail, but essential for his class.

Jacob continued working at the community college as a farm tech. He enjoyed the challenge—baling hay, irrigating—all gave him time to think these words of wisdom: “Knowledge is like underwear, necessary to have, but not necessary to show off.” 

Josh regularly prayed for James and Jacob in school. After a few weeks, he figured out Jacob wasn’t attending school. After Josh paused in his prayer, James thought Josh was trying to figure out what Jacob was doing. Josh answered, “No, I was trying to remember his name.” Details that aren’t forgotten by God, Who knows us all by name.

All prayers were needed, as Jacob, while unclogging an animal drain, almost lost two of his fingers when the industrial snake twisted around his glove and kept pulling. Split-second details of protection.

Jonas left home to work in Idaho. His cow dogs were given a new home. Details that change a lot.

Our fifth granddaughter, Miriam, arrived holding the umbilical cord with both hands.  No health complications, only virus related regulations. Josiah was able to attend the birth.
Emma (6) suggested, “Miriam didn’t want to be taken away from her precious home.” Emma added, “Twelve hours is a long time for labor, but really a short time—just a day.” 
We were very thankful they allowed grandparent visits without quarantines once the baby came home. Details requiring great gratitude!

When Joey John and Rachel returned from a hike with their girls, Grace (4) said, “I’m ready for my ‘lonely alone time.’” That phrase is now used when we need our alone time too.
Josiah asked about Josh’s spiritual gifts. Josh answered, “My spiritual gift is time alone.”

After Rachel created a beautiful camping cake for Grace’s birthday, Jonathan asked Grace whether it was all she could imagine. After thinking, Grace said, “No.” What details did she want?

When Joey’s two week army training was cancelled too late to schedule patients, we went to Oklahoma to visit friends. The trip brought potential land and a job. Details that led to a move. 
We rented a Pod to store all our belongings, making our house appear spacious.
Professional rug and house cleaners came. Twenty-five years’ worth of dirt gone!
Our house went on the market July 1st. Pictures made me wonder whose house this was!
Keeping it clean and ready for viewing became our new stress. 
After a fifteen minute warning, we’d wait next door as realtors showed the house. How do you consider great neighbors a little detail? The house sold in 12 days. A rare detailin our rural area.

Jeremiah expressed his desire to buy an obsidian knife that would bend and scoop.
Josh said, “You don’t need a knife for that—that’s a shovel.”
As Jeremiah further explained this knife that looks so good…
Josh said, “A good looking knife doesn’t have to do anything—that’s like a $2 knife James buys.”
Jeremiah again answered, “Youbuy knives that look good.”
Josh said, “I get knives that I use andlook good.”
Details change with who’s using the knife.

Josh passed his driver’s permit. Stress anyone?
While Josh drove to his job, his truck’s engine turned off on Pepperweed Street, (a grade of +20%). Somehow he backed into a driveway. He turned the engine off and on, then said, “It was fine.” 
I sat in the passenger seat and chewed off my lip! 
Another time, Josh stopped for a car pulling out of their driveway (again on Pepperweed). I noticed a nice car almost on his bumper and asked if he saw it. He answered, “Yeah, he would just run into my trailer hitch, then I could haul him up the road with us.” Details of protection and safety that we may never know—yet still God protects.
Jeremiah expressed his desire to drive while sitting in Joey’s driver’s seat. Josh told him, “You can’t see through the steering wheel to see how fast you’re going, let alone where you are going.”
Jeremiah explained he’d adjust the seat. 
Josh retorted, “Dad’s been driving, so the seat’s as high as it could go.” Details aren’t lost to him.

Jacob asked, “What question can’t be answered, ‘yes’?”
Josh answered, “Are you dead?”
Jacob responded, “That works, but the question is ‘Are you asleep?’”
While Joey shared how to tell people they have cancer, “People misunderstand a ‘positive result.’ They think it means something ‘good.’ When it really means you have cancer.” 
Josh instructed him how he should tell them, “I have positive and negative news. Positive: you definitely have cancer. The negative news is you’re going to die.” 
Josiah told Josh, “You’d make a good nurse.”
Josh said, “I wouldn’t want to see anyone with problems.”
Josiah added, “You’d keep the nurses laughing.”
Details that require careful communication. God gave us that communication through His Word.

Jacob bid for a welding job: thirty individual, moveable goat pens for the Community College. When his bid was accepted and funded, he had a short time before our move to complete it. Both Josh and Jacob welded day and night to complete the task. I wouldn’t mind some of those panels!

James was behind the scenes decluttering, especially the garage where I was afraid to venture—he sold Jacob’s boat, Jonas’s horse cart and panels, his chickens and chicken pens, and helped Jeremiah sell his ducks. 

Jeremiah told James to buy a quad for him to take to Oklahoma. (James isn’t coming with us right away.) Jeremiah volunteered to buy the gas. Sometimes the details are all we see.

Jeremiah asked while eating chocolate cake, “What’s brown and fluffy?” We never heard what he thought, for Josh, without a second thought, answered, “You.”
When Joey commented how he liked the salad.
I said, “The avocado made it.”
Josh responded, “I thought you did.” Details get lost in some communication.

I fretted about how to get Josh’s driver’s license. DMV wasn’t accepting any appointments for on-road testing until cancelled appointments were honored from COVID. How would we get all three vehicles to OK without him driving? Someone randomlytold me how DMV wasnowallowingjuston-road test appointments. I scheduled Josh. He passed. We now had three drivers for three vehicles for our move. Don’t believe God cares about the details?

Josh and Jeremiah carried on the weed-wacking business. James and Jacob advised Josh to purchase a new weedwacker. When Josh procrastinated, James and Jacob both purchased new ones. Both old weedwacker shafts melted on the same job (they know us at the repair shop). Jacob rented his equipment to Josh, hoping his advice would be heeded. Josh paid the equipment rental fee, complaining as he did so. Business details may cost more than you think.

My mom broke her arm then later her hip. I visited for a quick weekend. Later James helped, more for my sister who is the main caregiver. Torn so many different ways by details. 

Our escrow was scheduled to close Aug 14. Our pod left for Oklahoma that day. I had enough toilet paper, napkins and food to last until then. (You know, those important details!)
But escrow did not close. The appraiser came with mask, plastic gloves and booties and required I wear a mask in my own house. When I asked why he checked certain things that the inspector already had checked, he responded, “his loan was special.”
He submitted his report two days before escrow was to close. He required scrapping and painting beams in the detached garage (for safety) and adding a safety rail on our back deck (less than 19” from the ground).
A building inspector laughed and said he had no codes to enforce these requirements.
We stopped laughing when the auditor would not answer his phone or email for two weeks. 
The realtor’s experience showed that appraisal would stand for three months and we could not get a second opinion. His demands could be carried over to another buyer.
We completed the tasks. The railing looked very red-neck and the painting merely a slap-stick response. We asked if pictures could fulfill his “re-inspection.” The appraiser said, “no,” but was too busy to come any time soon.
Escrow continued week after week.
Four weeks later, we closed and moved out.
Friends invited us to stay at their house while Joey finished work. Another detail that eliminated fretting. It was the best “homeless” experience I’ve ever had!
Joey’s last day at work was September 30th
It’s impossible for man to anticipate and manipulate all the details in life to make them fit!

We bid on a house, sight-unseen, using a friend’s view. After inspection, we backed out. The inspector noted a door not shutting correctly (he recommended replacing the door), the chimney had a crack (he recommended slapping some sealant on it), the bricks on the outside of the house had extensive cracks (he again said to seal it). Those little details indicated the foundation of the house was a BIG problem.

In considering our trip across country, I was trying not to worry about how we would take three dogs, three vehicles and all our left-over belongings that didn’t get crammed in the Pod at the end of escrow. We would also make a stop in Idaho for Jonas and Jane’s wedding, so all the wedding clothes must be accessible—Minor detail, but Big!

Joey’s brother, Albee, recounted how he was helping a family move to Virginia. I asked if he’d be willing to help us. He consented. We now had a fourth driver and an experienced driver to be with Josh while he drove. Big Detail off my mind!

The day before our trip, as Joey washed off the ashes (from the fires) from my Excursion, it wouldn’t start. (Minor detail, but essential to be able to leave at the designated 4 AM the next day.) A new battery was purchased.

We made our way to Idaho for Jonas and Jane’s wedding. The boys prepared the way for us, with more details than I could even think about as we moved from our house of 25 years. They arranged housing and meals for all of us. Because of COVID their original reservation was cancelled shortly before we were to leave. They scrambled to find another available place. All this was unknown to Joey and me, until I heard a comment about “the house not being available”, I asked James, “I thought you had a house for us.” He answered confidently, “We do,” as Josiah and Dana scrambled to find something available.  I was quite oblivious to all the details that they worked out. But the boys found a large ranch house. They prepared a wonderful meal to celebrate our 30thanniversary. The boys noticed during pictures that the boy-girl ratio concerned them: 9:10 with five granddaughters. What a special time! 

From there, we headed to Oklahoma—22 hour drive with four drivers, three dogs, three vehicles and enough snacks to never stop again!

Albee stayed with Josh when I drove, then drove when I couldn’t drive anymore.(The boys call my Excursion, “The Boat” because you must fight hard to keep it on the road.) Josh and Joey drove the entire way. We finished the journey in two days. Dogs did well. Lots of details. Lots of protection. Lots of thanks to God for it all.

Friends provided a rental property we could call home until we found something. Another huge detail that enabled us not to fret about not having a house, or closing escrow in conjunction with moving. It was comforting to settle after a long journey.

The following day Albee helped drive a 26-foot U-haul to Tulsa (almost 2 hrs away) to unload our Pod and bring our stuff to the rental house. Most remains packed in a shed, waiting our next move. (I don’t want to pack everything AGAIN.) Some details can be omitted.

Joey transferred from his army unit to a medical unit in Salt Lake City. A long jaunt for a weekend drill, but we hope it’s temporary. No more jumping out of planes or jump master duties for him. Sad details of loss.

Being in Oklahoma enabled us to renew our search for a house. How do you figure out what you really need and want? We considered both land and houses, reminding ourselves that we weren’t in any hurry. On the second day, we bid on one. Someone else also bid. We countered low—asking God to help us decide. They accepted ours. We entered escrow. Ever consider how your name signed on a paper is such a little thing, but could cost so much?

After inspection found some issues, we declined the offer. We remain at the rental. 

We send this letter early to catch your letters before they are lost or returned. Your details we don’t want to miss.

James finishes his semester in December and will take his journey with his horse, to come here. Details I must commit to the Lord’s keeping.

But aren’t details what make our lives? 
How do people explain so many details working together so well without acknowledging Someone Who Organizes all those details? 
And wrong details can change our lives. Like our sin. It’s just a little thing—at first. 
But it made a chasm, separating us from God. 
Little details, choices, that changed how our life will be.
But God didn’t allow those big details to hinder Him. He planned for them.
He foretold, with vivid details, His Son’s coming to redeem us. 
God did what He promised. And how He promised. Important details.
He brought redemption to those who would acknowledge their poor choices and accept His payment.
Details that matter for this life and the next.

May this year find you thanking God for all the details, for they are blessings,

​Joey and Sonya, Josh and Jeremiah, James and Jacob

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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.
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               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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