Dear Friends and Family,
“You’ve got to be kidding!!! What are we going to do with all those Tanakas running around?”
“Don’t you use any birth control?!?”
“Doc, you Do know how this happens now don’t you?”
“HOW MANY are you going to have?”
“What are you trying to do…populate the whole city of Port Orchard?!?”
These are only some of the comments we get when we tell someone we are expecting our newest addition in January. If you didn’t know and something funny came out of your mouth—you can share that with us and we’ll add it to our list. We do get some stares and some comments about our family size—but I would not have it any other way. I see each of our children (two are in heaven already) as such a blessing and joy.
Children do add complexity to our lives. ‘There is never a dull moment in our home—always a lot of love, tons of questions and a strong sense of family. When I come home from work, I get such a hearty welcome home—full of yelling, hugs, and kisses—you wonder why I ever would leave in the first place. I do miss them dearly at works and that is why I keep so many pictures of my family at my work. Even though we are all excited with our baby coming—I still have some work to do—finish the bathroom and get another seat into our van, so I’m hoping our baby doesn’t come early.
Our baby will be born pretty close to Christmas. let’s take a closer look at Jesus’ earthly family. Mary and Joseph most likely were in their late teens or early twenties. Mary was warned ahead of time that she would be carrying baby Jesus. Joseph, however, was not, and he was engaged to be married to Mary. He expected her to be a virgin, so when he found her with child—he jumped to the only logical conclusion—she must not be a virgin. Under the Jewish laws, he could have exposed her supposed sin publicly and had her stoned—which would have killed her and the baby she was carrying. Because of his love for Mary and concern for the baby’s life, he chose to quietly divorce Mary (engagements were more serious back then).
What if Jesus were born today? Would the options be so much different? Today we have given mothers the ability to end the life of their own babies all the way up to delivery and in partial-birth abortions—babies are killed while being delivered. We say we are making such progress in medicine—I find it quite difficult to consider this “progress.” We label it “choice” but certainly not the unborn child’s choice. Shall we not love them both? You now we can rationalize just about anything, but what really is important is what God says. Nowhere in Scripture does God condone this, in fact quite the opposite. Fortunately, Joseph didn’t live in his day and age and he made the right choice and chose life—both for Mary and baby Jesus. I am sure he suffered humiliation with everyone thinking that he father Jesus out of wedlock. However, he could live without guilt and he was blessed by being the earthly father of Jesus.
Likewise, as we await the celebration of Jesus’ birth, we are also excited about the coming birth of God’s precious gift to our family. We can feel and at times see the baby kicking around inside. WE are often asked, “Is a boy or girl?” I may respond, ‘I hope so.” Or, “Do you know what it is?”, to which Lori likes to reply, “We’re sure that it’s a baby!” Really, we are just going to wait and see. If Lori had it, her way she would want to know. I, on the other hand, would rather wait. I have my reasons, “There are only a few surprises in life—this should be one of them” and “it is like knowing what is inside of a Christmas present before you open it—it is not as much fun opening it.” I have to give Lori credit, she has respected my wishes for the past 5 children and now the sixth. Now that is love in action.
Well, I will allow you an inside picture of our family with an “up close and personal” with each family member. Let’s begin with the youngest first, Kristi. Kristi (2 ½ years old) is our slowest talker. She has her own language that contains words that only she knows. We are not too worried though and I don’t think our ears can tolerate another talker—like her older sister. If she doesn’t know you and you try to talk to her, she will most likely give you her “stare at the ground” glance. What she lacks in verbal skills she makes up for in motor skills and patience. She makes a great fishing partner as she will fish for hours and not complain, and she actually catches fish on her own. She hates to bel left out of things and will keep right up with the older children—on top of a fence or walking across a fallen log or up a ladder. Kristi and Bethany share a room—it is often quite entertaining listening to their conversations over the baby monitor when they are supposed to be going to sleep. For several months Kristi used to take off all her clothes and diaper at bedtime. To counteract this, we used to put her Jammies on backwards, have several shirts over it and even put her diaper on backwards. Over the monitor, you could hear her grunting trying to get all of this off and sometimes she would succeed before she’ fall asleep. I wonder who she inherited that from?
Bethany (4 years old) is our social butterfly. She loves to talk, and it doesn’t matter to whom. At the soccer game, I even caught her talking to three women, who were strangers to me, but to Bethany best friends. She also has to talk with her hands, so her hands were making all sorts of gestures. I could hear her talking but could not make out what she was saying. Whatever she said must have been pretty entertaining, because as she talked, they laughed and smiled for about five minutes. I don’t know where she gets this from because Lori and I would never feel comfortable doing that. This year, fortunately, no hanger stuck in her mouth nor falling into a pond accident to report. However, we are still trying to recover from an incident that happened this summer. After a family reunion this past July, my immediate family went camping in the Olympic Mountains and in a visitor center, Bethany got separated from us as everyone was looking at an exhibit. Thankfully she was not taken, but she was traumatized and now she will not allow us out of her sight. If she sees anyone getting their shoes on, she is right there with hers along with her jacket. All the reassuring doesn’t seem to help much, but time seems to be breaking this fear somewhat—I feel for her and just reassure her and tie her shoes and zip up her jacket.
Stefanie (6 ½ years old) is our middle child—well, just for a bit longer. It is not easy to be the middle child. You are not as big and fast or as knowledgeable or as wise a s the older children and not as cute as the younger. Stefanie taught herself to tie her own shoes—quite a unique way if you watch her, and even to write her own name. Her strengths have always been in “caring and concern for others.” The minute Bethany was brought home from the hospital, Stefanie did not suffer jealousy but just wanted to cuddle and carry her. The same was tur with Kristi. She is the best with the “little ones.” She still wants to be a babysitter when she grows up—she’ll be great and she’s getting some very good experience. The past Spring, we got a miniature Lop-Eared Bunny Rabbit. Stefanie just loves that bunny (It name is “Abby Lucy Tanaka”) and Abbey loves Stefanie. Steffi holds Abby across her shoulder so tightly it looks lie she is wearing a light brown fur shawl. Steffi can hardly wait for this new baby. Stefanie also has a strong concern for the salvation of her friends and relatives. She may ask you, “Have you given your life to Jesus.” Don’t be offended—it is her way of showing her love for you.
Jonathan (7 ¾ years old) is our only boy. He is the young man of the house when I am at work and he does all the heavy work and kills all the bugs (if he can beat Steffi to it—Jonathan usually drags his feet for that job). Boys sure are different—he loves to wrestle, kick, and hit things and ride his bike fast and hard. Jonathan is one I can count on to play by the rules. God has also given him a very sensitive conscience. Before he goes to sleep he often wants to confide in me something that they did wrong or wants my opinion about. It may take him 30 or more minutes to get it all out and I have had to put on hold all my plans for that evening and give him the time he needs I am glad he feels comfortable sharing his inner feelings with me and I’ll continue to be there for him.
Amy (9 ½ years old) is our oldest. She is no longer a little girl and she wants me to treat her like a young lady. This is new territory for me and I’m glad she is patient with me. I see my girl growing up on the outside, but I see an even greater beauty developing on the inside. Amy is tone I can count on to always tell the truth. She respects and desires to stay under authority, stands up for what is right—even if she has to stand alone and a genuine love for God and others. She loves to organize anything and everything, just like her mom. She is a great helper and a joy to be around.
Lori (37 years old) is the mastermind that keeps our home running. She has the gift of administration and she has been using it to the hilt. Her favorite sayings are “If you take it out put it away” and “Everything has a home.” You can rightly call her the “The bin Lady.” When I look around our home, I see labeled bins for everything: pictures, bulk foods, schoolbooks, clothing, toys, etc. She is the perfect wife for me because I am not that organized. She can look at my “to=do list” and prioritize it and I find this to be such a big help. I suffer from getting overwhelmed and “blocked.” She tells me you need to break your day up into 5-10-minute increments and just keep pushing forward. She somehow homeschools the older three, does all the meals shopping, and keeps the house. I would think that that is a three-person job. Besides all that she is a terrific wife. When we get all the children down—that is our time and I just love those times together. She is getting better every year.
Rich (41 ½ years old) is not really that old. I do feel old at times but he children sure can keep you thinking young. I just love being with my family. I do like my work, but it really does not compare with being at home. It sure is difficult to find a balance between family and work. Right now, we are going through some difficult changes at work—hopefully, to improve not only patient satisfaction but also a provider and support staff satisfaction. At the end of 1999 y nurse, Melissa, moved to Virginia to be closer to her family. In January 2000, I did get a new nurse, Kathy. She sure is a hard worker and we both work long and hard. Amazingly, she can keep a smile and cheerful disposition on even our worse days—that helps me to not have a bad attitude.
Having 5 (soon to be 6) children really makes me respect my parents, who raised 5 children without disposable diapers and minivans. I find the hardest thing to give children is the thing they desire the most—my time. For them, “quality” time is “quantity” time. Everything screams for my time—chores, home projects, things to fix, work, work related things like studying, church, Sunday school preparations, etc. They need that time and so I plan that into my schedule. Their reward for doing their chores is having one on one time with Daddy—like going tout o A&W, watching a video and eating popcorn, going out to breakfast—how special it is to see their excitement during these one-on-one times. I enjoy these times as much as they do. I do cherish these fun times because they will not last forever—they are growing up so fast.
Sometimes I wish children came with owner’s manuals *however, I am one of those guys who doesn’t like to read manuals), at least you would know what you are supposed to do and what to do when things go wrong. Parenting is one of those “no experience needed but learning on the job” types of jobs—maybe by our last one, we’ll finally know something about raising children. By the time you feel more confident about parenting—you’re done. I want to prepare them for this world. I have seen what the world has to offer and with all of its shine and charm which cannot bring true joy and security. The apostle Paul stated it quite clearly, in Philippians 3:8 when he stated, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” That is one of my biggest responsibility, to help each child come to know and trust in God as their own Savior and Lord. I want to help them come out from under my authority and be under God’s authority, who will be with them forever. You know I am raising the parents of our grandchildren. What other job can have that lasting impact? A job well done will be evident in the grandchildren. As Proverbs 17:6 says, “Children’s children are the crown to the aged.” I want to keep this long term and eternal perspective before me as we have so little time to train them up and prepare them not only for this world but for God’ service. I’ll need to lead the way and rely on God to mold them along the way. What a great responsibility and privilege—our children are counting and depending on me and by God’s grace, I am not going to let them down.
Our family saves all the Christmas cards and letters we get and have been picking one out at a time and praying for that person or family, so keep those cards or letters coming! Christmas can be a very busy time but take the time to reflect on the tur meaning of Christmas. It is not about presents, decorations, trees, carols, food, football games—it has to do with God’s gift to the world some 2,000 years ago. He gave us the most precious gift of all—His Only Son, Jesus. Now that is “love’…for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
Rich (for Lori, Amy, Jonathan, Stefanie, Bethany, Kristi, and God’s gift still wrapped up)