Dear Family and Friends,. Christmas 2019
Friday nights at the Tanakas is usually game night or movie night. My favorite movies are those that are based on a true story. Christmas is based on a true story, but is the truth that God “humbled Himself taking the form of man and became the likeness of man…” Phil. 2:8 You may ask, “How is that relevant to me today?” What happened to our family this summer, I hope will shed some new light on Christmas. Yes, I like Charlie Brown, believe that Christmas is too commercial and often the true significance is lost in all of the hustle and bustle, traditions and preparations. Don’t get me wrong, I love traditions, so I am guilty also. I also love to tell stories. This one, I will not embellish. Let’s begin… My Mom, two sisters and my youngest brother had been vacationing at Lake Chelan every year and a few years ago our family joined them. Packing bedding and clothes for all nine of us and some food takes a lot of room. Since Aaron, had to work, we decide that we could fit into two cars and we did not need to take the Big White, our 15 passenger van. We decided to take the Highlander and Aaron could drive his Subaru. As usual we took the ferry and decided to take I-90 . What a perfect day, sunny. I told Aaron that it is not a race. Bethany decided to ride with Aaron. Once out of Seattle, Aaron and I were play leap frog. Yes, we were going a bit over the speed limit, but not much. At one point Aaron was so far ahead that I lost sight of him and conceded that he would win. I piered ahead, looking for a navy blue Subaru. None in sight. Then far ahead, I saw a very large cloud of dust. My worse fears flooded my thoughts. As we got closer, my greatest fear became reality. The blue Subaru was off the road, perpendicular to the freeway with the back of the car facing the ditch. I pulled off next to them. To my relief, Aaron was uninjured and able to relate to me what happened. Aaron said a pickup truck cut him off, forcing him off the road, hitting the soft sand, causing his car to spin in one direction then the other. Aaron and Bethany said that they spun around about 3 times, but didn’t roll. Aaron and the driver of the pickup truck yelled at each other, then the pick up truck drove off. Bethany screamed during the whole incident and was shaken up. We checked Aarons car. Other than unusual wear patterns on the tires, no other damage found. I think all of us realize that this could have easily ended in tragedy. I believe that there is nothing in this worldt happens by chance. God not only knows all things but He also controls all things. Even things like earthquakes, floods and death or cancer, God allows to occur. I believe there are many things beyond our understanding and “only God knows.” A few Bible verses do shed some light on this difficult area. How does an all powerful God allow what we consider evil in this world. I have met people who refuse to believe in God, blaming Him for the evil in the world or demand answers or understanding before they would believe in God. I too find it difficult to understand how a “good” and “all powerful” God can allow suffering and evil in this world when He can easily stop it. If you are in this camp, I understand. The Bible does shed some light on this area. This comes from the books of “Romans”: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR?” (Romans 11: 32-34) God is way beyond our understanding. If we can fully understand God and His ways, then He certainly is not the God of the Bible. God not only created (made out of nothing) all things but holds everything together. What even holds together every atom with those electrons spinning around their nucleus at incredible speeds. God does: “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1: 16-17) There is a person in the Bible, mentioned in the oldest book in the Bible. His name was Job. All ten of his children died, he was inflicted with painful sores covering his body and he never found out the reason for all of his suffering. Here is his response to his suffering: “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" In all this did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:10) I know I don’t have the trust in God of Job. Pain, evil, death and suffering are all around us. These are all the consequences of sin, man’s rebellion "disobedience to a holy and sinless God. God is not be to blamed and He did not leave us without hope or an answer and remedy. All of us are guilty of disobeying God. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Since humans are unable to save themselves from their own sins, God intervened. (John 3:16) "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” I can’t say it any better than Linus explaining to Charlie Brown what “Christmas is all about.” Linus quotes Luke 2:8-12 :“In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12“This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Jesus became like us. Unlike us, Jesus never sinned. Even His thought life, Jesus never sinned. Even His name points to why Jesus became like us. ““She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) Jesus did not come to to live the perfect life and to show us a good example for us to follow, for we could never do that. Jesus came to be the sacrifice to pay for our rebellion. Jesus is called the “Lamb of God.” “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) The innocent dying for us the guilty. Jesus’ death only pays the penalty for those who follow Him. Jesus is not one god among many, He is the only God. There is only one way to have your sins forgiven and be made right with God. Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6) What must one do to be saved? The Bible is clear that you must repent and believe: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."(Mark 1:15) Repent is to acknowledge that you have been disobedient and in rebellion against God and desiring to turn away from that life and follow God’s ways. Believe the Gospel. The Gospel is another term for “Good News”. The Good News is that there is hope for you. Jesus’ death on the cross can pay for your penalty of all of your sins- past, present and future sins. You can never be good enough to earn God’s favor or His forgiveness. What must I do to be saved. Tell God that you are sorry for your rebellion against Him, turn from that way of life and ask God to help you follow His ways, trust in Jesus’ death on the cross as your only means to be made right with God. Jesus who shed His blood, was buried for three days and rose on the third day, will save you from your sins and grants you eternal life with Him in heaven. If this sounds complicated, it really is not. If you would like to learn more or if you have any questions. It would be my honor, to help you in this most important endeavor, for it will determine where you will spend eternity- with God or apart from God. Don’t put off this decision. I made that decision back in 1984 and I assure you that it by far is the best decision I will ever make. My life still has its struggles, suffering, sin, disappointments, but I have a joy and a hope that this world can never give. Don’t put of this decision, because we are not guaranteed another day. I want to see you in heaven, but God wants that more than me. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) He is a good and just God, so He needs to punish sin and rebellion. God is loving, so He sent Jesus to pay the penalty for our rebellion. Justice and Love demonstrated at the cross. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Aaron and Bethany both could have easily been killed. They both by God’s grace, were spared and live. No matter how well you watch what you eat, get regular exercise and live a “clean” life. The inevitable comes. We all have to realize that with each passing day, we are one day closer to the end of this life. One of my favorite quotes is from a martyred missionary, Jim Elliot: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” I used to think of all the things I would have to give up if I became a Christian. Trust me, God changed my desires, so things of this world no longer have the draw on me that they used and things of God have a greater pull. God is offering the greatest gift to you, forgiveness and life eternal with Him, but only you can accept His gift. You can never earn it or deserve it. God’s gifts are the best as they are eternal. Have a blessed Christmas.
Now my favorite: Up close and personal:
Jairus (13) is the last of our children to become a “teenager.” Years ago when all of the children were young, we used to comment on the foolishness of some of the “teenagers” around us. One of the children said, “I am not ever going to be a teenager”. Still makes me smile. Actually, we all have a “teenager” in us. The solution is not to get rid of the “teenager”, but to acknowledge it and helping that person himself or herself to harness and bring that power under control. Like breaking in a horse. That is a lifelong process for all of us, not just a few years to deal with. I learned the slow way that the best way to help a person through this process is to walk alongside of them, model and be very patient. I have not done this well, but have one more left and want to do it better this time. I am spending more time with Jairus, and investing into his physical and spiritual life. It is paying off, mostly on me. I find myself more patient with him and being less upset. I also let him know that his struggles, I too struggle with. Mentoring helps everyone involved to grow. I need someone to speak into my life and I need to be mentoring those younger than me. Jairus is my sole helper with all of the outdoor chores. It is so nice to have a helper, especially when the work requires two people. We finished the tree house, rope swing and zip line. Trying to make each of these safe, yet not taking the fun out of them. These are all things that I wanted, and now I am working on a teeter totter, or see saw. Making it safe is going to be the challenge. When I was growing up, our family always made these out of the driftwood along the beach. Now I trying to bring that same experience- home. Jairus likes the outdoors and he is my consistent backpacking buddy. We have been on some really great trips. The latest is going to Lake Constance. This hike has a reputation around here as the hardest hike in the Olympic Mountains. We decided to take on this challenge and find out ourselves. All of the books recommended riding a bike for first 4-5 miles as the road was washed out years ago. This is just to get to the original trailhead. I am so glad we did, but they did not tell us that it is all uphill. All of our legs were burning before we even started. The hike is more like following a goat trail, straight up the mountain, with a few areas where you want to pay close attention as a slip may be your last. It is short, only 2.2 miles but 3,300 vertical feet elevation gain. It is worth all of the effort. The lake sits among all of these tall mountain peaks and the water is perfectly clear and turquoise blue. The fishing is great and they provided us a side dish to our lunch. He not only likes the outdoors, but he is our go-to person for anything with computers. He taught himself computer programming, bots, and computer language. We are trying to help him learn how to use his skills safely, as the internet and computers can be used for great and yet also for extreme destruction. Navigating through life has its rewards and challenges. Jairus, you are on the right path, just keep it up. I am right beside you.
Lily (15) has grown up. Since Amy turned 15 and we went on our father:daughter date at the Space Needle, each successive daughter looked forward to that special date. 2018 the Space Needle was undergoing some major remodeling, putting in a glass floor. We had another year and were looking forward to the re-opening of the Space Needle. The rotating restaurant is so unique as you get a 360 degree view of Seattle while your eat. The glass floor would just add to this experience. I called and either listening to a recording or speaking to a person I kept getting an evasive answer to when “SkyCity Restaurant” would be open. Through persistence, I was told that the SkyCity Restaurant would not re-open as they could make more money with the observation deck than the restaurant. It made both of us sad, but we still went and enjoyed the glass floor. We also found a very nice restaurant called “Palisade” along the waterfront. We enjoyed the window seat overlooking the boats and Puget Sound. We talked about life, marriage and purity. The last father: daughter date, the last purity ring. There is a sadness, but also great joy, as I feel so blessed. “Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house, your children like olive plants around your table.” (Psalm 128:3) She is still taking violin lessons. This year she has her first violin student. I think both are learning along the way and enjoying each moment. She is probably our most consistent and hardest worker and non-complainer. She is a lot of fun to be around and if she is not busy, she loves to do things together. We have done art together. She has done some amazing “zentangles.” You should ask her to show you some of her artwork. Her schoolwork is very challenging and very time consuming. She really enjoys the course called, Poiema. Its goal is to; “Cultivating the life of the mind, seeking the common good, and creating things that are good, true, and beautiful.” It involves a lot of reading, writing and discussion. I often see her studying late into the night or weekends.
Noelle (17) is a thinker. It really takes some time and effort to attempt to get to know her, but it is well worth it. As her Dad, you would think that I would have a good handle on what is going on inside, but is unfortunately am just tapping into that vast reservoir. She is currently enrolled in Spurgeon College. You wouldn’t think that a teenager would enjoy classes discussing the Great Books, History, Worldview, but this is what Noelle thrives on. One of her favorite classes last year was Scott Postma’s Poiema, just what Lily is currently taking and Spurgeon College classes has a similar format. Classes like Old and New Testament Survey, Christian Doctrine, the Church, Hermeneutics, Ethics, Evangelism and Discipleship are just some of the classes she is taking or will be taking. She is currently taking Greek through our church. It is a difficult class but she is up to the challenge. She has her sights on her future and preparing for her future as best as she can. I know I didn’t have that maturity as her age. She also volunteers at Fishline, the local food bank. Everyone loves her there. She doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty, and this provides plenty of opportunity for that. She mainly is a sorter/stocker and cashier, but she is a quick and eager learner. She is also one of the main baby sister for our neighbor’s child/grandchild. She is now three years old. I am certain she is learning some important life skills. This year she got her ears pierced. She has been patient, looking forward to this day. Goodbye clip-on earrings. She reminds me that our little girls are not so little, growing up before our eyes. I am trying to make up for lost time and trying to build a deeper relationship. This is so important that there is mutual trust between us. “for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16: 7) I need to do the same and I am certain that I will find even more treasures.
Aaron (18) has a very busy life. He is our only child who was owner of two cars. Well the first one unfortunately was a lemon. I hate to see his hard earned dollars lost. He was able to sell his Volkswagen Passat for parts on Craig’s List. He has a Subaru Impreza. It’s nice that is has 4 wheel drive as I used it to get to work this year after it snowed 4-5 inches. My Prius by the way is a terrible snow car. We went to Cambodia together this year and it was so good to serve together. He and the translators really connected. Aaron’s job was to sterilize the dental instruments. Standing in front of a hot pressure-cooker while it is already over 100 degrees in the shade sounds like torture, but Aaron never complained. We enjoyed going out with the translators, going to the Night Market, riding TukTuks, going to the Floating Village by boat along a river with close up views of houses build on stilts over 40 feet tall for flood stage. Sad to see how poor they are, but there is community that they have that USA has long forgotten. We were there in the evening and many were eating or preparing for a shared meal. One of my favorite memories is watching a woman slide open a coconut with a machete without even a care of her fingers and drinking its juice while in a hammock on a floating dock. We got to see one of the greatest still standing wonders of the ancient world- Angkor Wat. It was built over 900 years ago. It stand almost 700 feet tall, surrounded by a 3.5 mile moat, 5-10 millions stones some weighing over 3000 pounds brought from over 30 miles away. Aaron and I arrived to see sunrise at about 5 am. It is free to citizens of Cambodia but each tourist needs to buy a ticket which has your picture on it. Aaron handed me to hold onto his ticket after we arrived. Sunrise over the temple was impressive and even more impressive was going inside. After this we wanted to go to a couple other temples nearby. Very impressive in their own rank. I searched for our tickets and only found my ticket. We even went back to where we stood to watch the sunrise, but to our chagrin it was nowhere to be found. I had already seen these temples and I did not want Aaron to miss out. We didn’t have time to go back and purchase another ticket. I had this idea. I would wait with the TukTuk driver and Aaron would use my ticket. Well the man took one look at the ticket and said, “this is not you.” They were questioning him, so I went over to talk to them. They ordered both of us to wait, until another officer arrived. I told him that we both would not go in, but that was not enough. Now I was beginning to understand the gravity of my offense. It was not just a little thing, it was a crime. I am to blame. Now I wished I didn’t do this, unable to undo it. The officer arrived and the men talked. He through broken English told me that he could have me arrested but he will let us both go. He would keep my ticket. The only Khmer word I knew he could understand, “Akun Akun” (which means “thank you, thank you”) I learned by lesson. Being honest even if you are not caught is the right thing to do. I realized that I am setting am example for my children. Things from me are “more caught than taught” and I better set a better example and f I mess up as I often do. Admit it, confess it and apologize. I am thank for even difficult lessons like this as I need to learn these lesson just as much as he does. He has his own place, works at Starbucks as a barista, tutors math and physics at Olympic College. He and I meet weekly on campus. He bought a season pass to Snoqualmie Summit. He snowboarded and I skied. The conditions were not good- very foggy, then snowing very hard. Visibility was poor at the best. This made it very difficult to see what was coming, so made for some very spectacular wipe outs and very sore bodies. We had a wonderful time. I am going to work on my leg muscles and hope to go up again under better weather conditions.
Kristi (21) began last year with pursuing her degree in graphic design through Pittsburgh School of the Arts. Unfortunately this along with Seattle Art Institute and several other art schools closed down. Well I see God had other things in mind for Kristi. Through JoAnn Fitch who attends our weekly Neighborhood Fellowship Bible study, Kristi heard about MasterWorks a local graphic design a Christiian Marketing agency right here in Poulsbo, which over the past 30 years has been serving a vast group of Christian organizations reach the world without compromising their core values. They have a group of graphic designers and Kristi began at the entry level and they hired her and she is slowing moving up with the help and support of their team. MasterWork seems like a fun place to work. We had several of her coworkers over for dinner and games. She also found another online art school called, Rocky Mountain College of the Arts and Design, based in Colorado. With her added responsibilities, she has had to only take one class at a time. She is learning and putting those skills into practice. What a neat balance. God closed one door and opened up several others. She still does the newsletter for Fishline, our local food bank. This is actually much bigger than just a food bank. They really needed more space and the whole community got behind them and raised the money needed to build a brand new facility expanding their service and making space available for other local organizations. All of this was done debt free. I was the main drivers-ed teacher at the same time for Bethany, Kristi and Aaron. Yes, I had to squeeze my door handle more than a few times, but we never got into a wreck on the road. Kristi from the start wanted to get her driver’s license and eventually buy her own car. She began looking at cars before she even had her driver’s license. She also began attending a young adult group called, “Thrive.” Even though I have never been there. You have to be under 25 to attend and I don’t think I would pass for one of them. It does seem to be good as it has a message and time to discuss. Then fellowship follows. It seems like a good way to meet other peers from a variety of churches.
Bethany (23) went to Chicago for ESL (teaching English as a Second Language) From this she actually got a Celta Certificate for Teaching English from Cambridge. Her school was not in the best neighborhood, so Lori and Jairus went with her. What a good experience. God even provided two Christian students, who she had to work with. Her dream is to service overseas teaching English. Well she got half of her dream. She and I volunteer through a group called, English Corner. A local Christian group reaching out to international students attending Olympic College. We meet weekly to build friendships with the hope of introducing some of them to Jesus, through a student discovery Bible study, where the leader only helps to direct the student to discover truths and the person of Jesus found in the Bible. We are under the umbrella organization called ISI, “International Students Incorporated.” There are over 270 international students at Olympic College. We do get a good attendance. Through these friendships we have invited several to our place for food and games. Bethany offered her help to any student wanting help in English, from conversation to writing. So even though she is not overseas, the world has come to her. She also tutors students from all over the world using Skype. She is our most creative musician around. I am not certain how she does what she does, but it is so creative and beautiful. Ask her to play one of her pieces. It usually involves two familiar songs woven together in the most unique and flowing way. She takes her violin or plays at Clear Brook, where Stefanie works. The residents there also get to be blessed with her gift of music. February 2020, Bethany and I head off to Cambodia again. This will be her second trip. She is always such a blessing there. She is hoping to have room to bring her music. Let’s see what God opens up. She has inherited my large flannel graph set. She is great at stories, as words flow, as music flows from her fingers.
Stefanie (25) continues to work as a CNA at Clear Brook. Many of her residents are old with multiple medical conditions. Not because of her care, but this year has been extra difficult for her as many of her residents have passed away. Her whole life she has been the “nurse” in our home. When one of her siblings was hurt, it was often her crying. Compassion and care are her fortes. This can be difficult especially to those like her. There is a lot of emphasis on health care provider burnout. It is only now coming out that there is a separate group burning out and now labeling it, “Compassion Fatigue.” It is more than being over worked, it comes from giving to meet the emotional and physical needs over time, and being immersed in suffering and loss to the point of exhaustion. I believe nurses and caregivers are most susceptible as they are most involved with direct patient care. Symptoms include exhaustion, reduced ability to feel sympathy or empathy, diminished enjoyment of work, anxiety and these affecting relationships and other non-work areas. Fortunately this was recognized and Stefanie was able to cut back, cut back her work schedule and even get away to recharge. She seems more like herself. She planned a mother and female siblings get-away. What a nice gift. Amy was able to be there also. You see, she sees the needs of others, even before her own needs. She has some things in place to provider herself space when she needs to be alone. She has her own membership to Bloedel’s. It is a huge garden with many trails. Great place to think and be alone. Something else is quite big in Stefanie’s life. She is in a courtship. That just means that there is a young man interested in marrying her and both are evaluating to determine if marriage is for their future. Courtship is just the step before engagement, where both are committed to marriage and then free to make plans for the wedding. I have never heard Stefanie talk so long to a person. That is neat to see. This definitely is some new territory for her and Elisha. I pray regularly that God would direct their future, no matter where that leads.
Jonathan and Emma. May of this year was a huge milestone for both Jonathan and Emma. Jonathan took the Texas bar exam for the 4th time. It is a three day exam. Taking it once sounds hard enough to me. The medical board examinations are only one long day. The consecutive days, makes it difficult as you got to save up for the rest of your examine and can’t put everything into the first day and have nothing left over. Jonathan I am so proud of you. Emma you must be a good cheerleader, as I’m sure you know, Jonathan can get pretty down and discouraged and lack confidence. Good job cheering him on! It paid off! I was able to fly down for his swearing in ceremony. It was so special to be there. Following the ceremony, we took some pictures. To fit in the Hopkins’ family, you need a wide angle lense. There must have been 30 people. Nice to celebrate together this great achievement. It was extra nice to see their apartment, visit their church, meet some of their friends, eat Texas BBQ, ride an electric scooter for the first time, visit a state park, visit with the Hopkins and play some fun volleyball. I can’t believe how much was packed into that short visit. Thanks for the nice time. At their church the lady in front of us was Amy and her husband, Josh was in the hospital in Austin, where the swearing in ceremony was to be held. Josh has cystic fibrosis and was very ill and almost didn’t survive. He was hoping to recover from this battle and get placed on the waiting list for lung transplant. He had not been to that point prior to this episode. He and his wife have a little child. We decided to visit. Everyone needed a mask. The CF had taken much of his strength out, but not his faith. He told all of us, that whenever he feels discouraged, “I go through the ABCs of all the things that are here on earth but not in heaven. He gave examples beginning with “A”. I can’t remember his examples but something like this. In heaven there is no “A= antibiotics, B= backaches, C= coughs, … He said that when he gets to “Z” his grip on this earth is lighter and heaven looks so much sweeter. His faith in God and love for Him, is truly inspiring. Continue to pray for Josh, as he is still waiting. He almost had a lung transplant and fortunately they found out before his surgery that the donor lung was not properly stored. Had he had the surgery, he would have died. Jonathan and Emma come for a visit, usually twice a year. April for the homeschool conference, as they man a booth at the conference for the organization Jonathan work for. They usually come in the winter. They will be here in January 2020. They will try to sneak in a trip to Leavenworth, where they spent their honeymoon. It really looks nice all lit up, especially with the blanket of snow.
Jon, Amy and Jet. In April of 2019 Kansas lost, but Washington gained. Jon and Amy decided to move West. I wasn’t certain exactly what that meant. When they said that they are looking for a place in the Bremerton area. We were all excited. Jet was only 7 months old but already changing by the day and we didn’t want to miss his growing up.
Yes, we didn’t want to miss Jon and Amy growing up either. This move required a lot of coordination. Jon had to drive a rental car with Jet to the airport and let me know where to find it and I needed to drive the Prius to the airport. We both had to meet in the Seattle airport, so I could give him the keys to the Pruis and tell him where to find it. We had a very short visit before I had to board my plane to fly out to Kansas. After a few moments I found their rental car and it took some time to drive to their apartment. Just a few things to throw into the moving truck. Then said goodbye to their place and headed west with Amy. We got a bit later start than expected, but off to Colorado. If you remember, early 2019, the midwest got snowstorm after snowstorm. Followed by flooding, closing down both I-70 and I-80 in both directions. It didn't look promising but God opened up I-80 just in time. Everything went well. I really didn't want to try chaining up and fortunately we didn't have to. It was night and driving down a perfectly straight and perfectly flat roads was so different from Washington State. Jon joking said Kansas is so flat that you could stand on a styrofoam cup and see the back of your head. Well I never tried that. One huge advantage is that you can see traffic several miles ahead. To pass the time we were listening to a book called, "50 Degrees Below Zero.". It really got my interest but was difficult to hear in the noisy truck, so I learned over to hear better. Miles ahead I could see a state patrol with its lights on. A bit distracted I noticed that now we were quickly approaching the state trooper and he was on our side of the road. I didn't want to switch lanes without checking. By the time I determined that it was safe to move over, I blew by the state trooper. Shortly after this, I had flashing lights behind us. I learned that it is Kansas law to slow down and move over. I figure that Kansas is losing three great residents of Kansas, so at least I should compensate them with done monetary compensation. Amy drove the hardest part, through the mountains. Nice to spend there time together. They are renting a quaint house. They became members of the church we attend, so we see them every week and often more. Jon got transferred to Fort Lewis, case manager at Coffee Oasis, and organization helping homeless teens, just started private practice. It is so nice to have them close. Jet use walking and just started speaking. I can't understand him. We all went camping at the ocean together and Hurricane Ridge. Advantages of being close together. I got to attend Jon's swearing in ceremony held at Port Orchard courthouse near my work. Both Jon and Amy are great parents.
Lori. We have been married for 31 years. She is my best friend. She really wanted to go to Los Angeles for our anniversary. She stayed near Hollywood with her Uncle and Aunt while in college. We actually got to see that house and go to Japan Town, which Uncle Ken helped to plan. Drove along the beautiful California coast, road electric assisted bike for the first time and just spend time together. Lori is taking on-line classes from Westminster working on a master’s degree in Biblical counseling. She is doing great and she has started counseling some ladies at church. Putting some of what she is learning into practice. She is still homeschooling Lily and Jairus. If that wasn't enough she is taking Greek. She stated that learning Latin really helped her. We are going through a book titled, "Marriage Matters.". It has done really good points. One thing about marriage, there is always room for improvement, especially me!
Rich just turned 60 this year. I really don't feel much older, except skiing with Aaron really got my legs tired. My flight out to Cambodia didn't start well. My incoming flight got delayed for over 3 hours so I would miss my connection. The customer service lady worked and worked for 2 hours. She finally got me a flight in the morning that would fly me to Boston then, Hong Kong, then Bangkok then Cambodia, arriving a day and a half later than my original schedule. God "worked all things together for good." Sometime not in my time, but His. While in Cambodia there often are difficult things on the home front. This year was no different. An unusual cold front came through sending temperatures well below freezing. Unfortunately the faucet cover was taken off and not replaced and one of our pipes broke, sending water into our house. Our fireplace also overheated and made some strange sounds. All of this happens when I am away. I believe this forces others to trust in God and not in me. I am forced to trust God for His protection of my family when I can't be there.I had the privilege to preach a sermon a pastor we work alongside. Using a translator, I preached about Abraham and Isaac. Some important truths about faith, sacrifice and obedience. Kristi, Noelle and I volunteer at Fishline. I also am a leader at English Corner. I had the privilege to mentor an international student from Cameron, Africa. We were able to read the Bible, pray, talk together and hopefully we can continue to this mentoring relationship through Skype. July 2020 I will be at my office for 25 years. I've grown older with my patients. Many are now in their 80s and 90s. Over the years, I've grown attached to them and them to me. Everyday I look forward to a new day and after everyday I am glad for the day even through it often was difficult. Nurse Kathy has been my nurse for 19 years and some times my patients are looking forward to her as much as me. With both of us being Christians I feel we bring a special dimension to our patients. In my office everyone is retiring and now I'm the longest working provider. I currently can't think of retiring. I love my work too much. I have condensed my work week into three days of about 13 hours. This gives me more flexibility. I am trying to be more consistent in meeting each family member, while trying to maintain my other responsibilities. I have had missed success. Life is full but I want to help younger Christians navigate through life and prepare them for their future. I want to help those searching to find Jesus as He alone is what they need even if they don't realize it now. "My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you " (Galatians 4:19) I hope we all draw nearer to Jesus this coming year. "But from there you will sell the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him work all your heart and work all your soul." (Deuteronomy 4:29). As my newsletter began, we don't know how much time we have on this Earth. Make those decisions today as we are not promised another tomorrow. John 3:16 sounds so wonderful, while the next two verses remind us of this important reality. "For God's so loved there world, that He have His only before Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (16). For God did not send the Son into there world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him (17). He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe had been judged already, because he had not believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God (18). It is our belief in Jesus that determined where we will spend eternity. Don't trust your good works, your lack of "bad" sins or your associations or affiliations, your knowledge or anytime else we tend to place our trust. If you are uncertain or want to learn more, please contact me and it would be my privilege to help you be certain where you stand with God. Christmas certainly is something to celebrate. The humble beginning of Jesus. "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there had been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.". Have a blessed Christmas, from our family to ours.
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