Dear Friends and Family,
Our children, like all children, love stories. They love stories read to them, told them using the “flannel-graph,” and stories made up, but I think their favorite are stories that are true especially of when I was growing up. Before bedtime, if they have their “4” done: teeth brushed and flossed, gone potty, and their jammies on, then they get their choice of a story. If they choose a made-up story, they will remember it years later, long after I told them. This is difficult especially when they want me to tell them the same story. True stories are always easy to tell over and over again.
Well, this time you get a bedtime story from my childhood. It’s called, “The Crooked “J” Log.” “One time, a long time ago (this is how all stories start) when I was 8 or 9 years old, our family was on vacation on Orcas Island. The ocean was cold but that never stopped us. We just loved to play in the water. The beach we were at had many logs along the shore. They came in all sizes and shapes. We found some round logs and sat on them and paddled them like a canoe. One day, we were playing like usual with the logs, when a police boat came up to shore pulling a round log behind it. My dad and this police man were talking, and they later pushed the log high up on the beach. The policeman later talked to us, telling us to never leave logs in along the shore, because the tide takes them out and a boat may hit one of the logs. After the policeman left, my Dad gave us a stern warning to never leave the logs near the water, but to roll it high up on the beach.
I was sharing a log with my brother or sister and I wanted my own log, so I began to search for a nice round log, but I couldn’t find one. All I found was an odd shaped log, like a stump. It was shaped somewhat like the letter “j.” I struggled but I finally got it to the water and it floated. It was a bit awkward to sit on, but at least it floated. I could go wherever I wanted to because I had my own log. I decided to head out to the deep waters. “This is fun!” I said to myself. I was having so much fun that I wasn’t paying attention to where I was heading. When I looked up, I saw that I was already far from the shore. The harder I kicked and paddled the further out it went. Now I was getting scared. I remembered my Dad saying not to leave any logs in the water. My brother and sisters seemed so far away. I didn’t even know if I could swim that far. I thought if I stay with this log, I’ll be in the middle of the ocean. I needed to make a decision fast. If I wat any longer then for sure I wouldn’t be able to swim to shore. Should I disobey my Dad, or should I stay with this log? This crooked “J” log? I was scared knowing that either way I may die. I decided to try to swim for it. I slowly slid into the water and held onto the log for the last time before pushing off of it. The water was cold and dark. I swam as hard as I could. I looked at the shore which still seemed far off. I turned around and saw that the log also was far away. My only hope was to keep swimming to the shore. I was getting tired. Would I make it? Was I going to drown? I kept on swimming. Finally, I made it to the shallow water, but I was too exhausted to walk. My brother and sisters paddled their logs over. “Where’s your log?” they asked. I pointed out. Now it could hardly be seen. “You are going to be in big trouble! Remember what Daddy said?” I told them what had happened. We all decided not to tell Dad about the log when we went in for lunch. When we went back to the beach, my heart sank as I again saw the policeman’s boat and behind it was the crooked “J” log. My Daddy and all of us went down to the beach. “Did any of your children leave this log in the water?” My Dad looked at all of us. I rushed to my Daddy’s side and told him that I did, and I tried to explain why. We all helped push the crooked “J” log up on the beach. My Dad must have understood because I didn’t get any punishment besides his look of disappointment.
Thinking back, my life could have ended there. In just one decision, my life was laid on the line. Have you ever been faced with a life and death decision? Time was a luxury I didn’t have. If I didn’t decide, then fate would decide for me. You know life is like that. Each day we make decisions―some good and some foolish. Like it or not, our lives hang on by a thread. We may think that we will live long lives, well into the next millennium. Death may be at our doorstep and we may not even know it. Is there any decision you need to make today? You may think that I made the right decision that fateful day on the crooked “J” log, but there was a decision that far out-strips that decision. That decision was placing my trust in Jesus Christ, which determines my eternal life. I made that decision some 15 years ago. Sure, I still have struggles and hardships, but my life has meaning, hope, joy, and security, which this world cannot offer. If you haven’t made the decision to put your trust in Jesus, do it today! Waiting or postponing is like me sitting on the crooked “J” log. Heaven awaits those who decide and hell to those who choose not to accept Jesus’ free gift of salvation and to those who just do not decide. Christmas is a great time to make that decision. All you need to do is to pray to God who hears even in the privacy of your home a prayer like this: “Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I know You are God and died on the cross for my sins and today I put my trust in You for my salvation and accept Your free gift of eternal life.”
Now just a bit about all of us. Amy, our oldest is 8 ½. She really has grown this year and, in a year, or two she’ll pass Lori up. With all the children, they all cannot be doing extracurriculars at the same time. Amy quietly stopped ballet and encouraged Stefanie while Stefanie was able to take ballet. I’m sure that that was not easy for her. She is growing up to be a gentle young lady.
Jonathan (6 ½) is our one and only boy. He is currently playing soccer and loves it. It is fun watching them play. No keeping score and no goalie, just go out and have fun. We are pleased with his sensitive heart. He may initially try to tell a lie or not admit his fault, but he invariably will come back repentant.
Stefanie (5 ½) is Bethany’s faithful friend. Sometimes the older children play together, so Steffi and Bethany have become quite close. Steffi really is free-spirited and enjoys life. She is probably the most patient of all the children and is great around children. She says she wats to grow up to be a babysitter.
Bethany (3) is our children waiting for an accident. She fell into a pond head first (all I saw were her two yellow boots) and she was the first child in the family needing surgery (getting a hanger surgically removed from her mouth). She is our friendly child and is usually sitting on someone’s lap or carried on someone’s hip. She still apologizes by stroking your cheeks with both of her hands.
Kristi (1 ½) is our youngest. She is our slowest talker. She really doesn’t say a thing on a consistent basis. Her first and so far, her only consistent word was “Boo Poo,” for you know what. It is nice of her to let us know but usually, our noses could have told us that. She knows how to vocabulary is “up, more, please, all-done, pray” and if tit is not in her vocabulary she’ll let you know what it is. Just because she doesn’t talk, doesn’t mean she is quiet though.
Lori (?) is well-what can I say the greatest! She runs a tight-ship. She states she has the gift of administration and organization and I would have to agree. She is an excellent cook and always health conscious, homeschool teacher, homemaker, excellent mother, and wife. How she can keep all of this going and not lose her sanity. It minds me of those plate spinners who can keep 20 plates spinning―amazing, especially when you have trouble just keeping your one plate spinning. Children do occupy a big part of our lives. I am excited that this winter, we are planning on leading/facilitating a Bible-study in our home together. It will be good working together, reaching out and touching others; lives.
Rich (Big 40) is not ready to admit he is over the hill. All of those black balloons at work must have been left overs from a friend and coworker at word who also turned 40 this year. I really enjoy my work, but the pace can at times (most of the time) is brisk. My nurse, Melissa, is excellent! Some days we hit the ground running and don’t stop until the last patient leaves, but somehow, she always makes sure I eat my lunch. Even when we have a bad day she heats up my lunch for me―not that’s caring! Even though Lori does most of the teaching for our homeschool, I do get my hands into it. I really enjoy teaching. This year I’ll be teaching bible and science and work on character building and disciplining our children.
Our family saves al the Christmas cards and letters we get and have been picking out our per day and praying for that person or family, so keep those cards or letters coming! May this Christmas season bring you many happy memories. May I leave you this quote by Jim Elliot, a martyred missionary in Ecuador: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” I’d love to explain that to you, just give me a call!
Merry Christmas! Rich (for Lori, Amy, Jonathan, Stefanie, Bethany, and Kristi)