Dear Family and Friends:
Around Christmas time every year, I write my Christmas letter. I always wonder what I should write about. It is also a good opportunity for me to reflect on my past and especially over the past year. This year I decided to reflect how my Dad has influenced my life for the better. One thing in life that everyone has no control over-that is your parents. No one gets to choose their parents. Well in that case, they had no choice over you either.
I had the best Dad a man could ever want, however I never realized much of that until after I became a husband and father myself. He was not perfect, but he was real. He was a man of principle and integrity. He was who he was when no one else was looking. He did what was right, even when there was a cost. What molded his character to be so? Maybe it was that he was the first-born in a Japanese immigrant family. His father, my grandfather, started a restaurant in Juneau, Alaska, during the gold rush years, open 24/7. I’m certain much of the responsibility of the home rested on my father’s shoulders. Maybe it was serving in the 442nd infantry battalion during WW2. Maybe it was the long journey of schooling and training to become a doctor. Maybe it was upholding a marriage, and raising five children. He was a hard working man. I never remember him complaining about work, other than he was uncertain if he could keep it up. However, this was at a time when his body was battling cancer, unbeknownst to him. He would often volunteer to work for one of his coworkers so that his coworker could have that time off. He died at age 53, long before I would get my medical degree. I would have loved to “make rounds” (see patients before surgery) with him. My Dad was an anesthesiologist, the doctor who puts a patient to sleep before surgery and wakes him up after surgery. I am certain my Dad calmed patients’ fears and assured that he will be there for them. He was loved by his patients and his coworkers and hospital staff. Marriage: In my parent’s marriage, there was some conflict as in every marriage. My Dad was a peacemaker. The Bible is correct when it states: “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.’ (Proverbs 10:19) Not certain how he did it, but I only remember one major argument. Because this was almost never witnessed by us children, it was unsettling. However in a couple of hours, my Dad apologized and peace and security was restored in our home. There was never any question of my parents’ faithfulness and love for each other . This above all things, gave us the most security. Discipline: My older brother and I (second born) received the most of the discipline. Well we needed it. My Dad was a man of few words, so when he needed to talk about something, he meant it and if was to correct us, we knew we were in the wrong. He called my bluff many times. How he knew I was not honest or forthright, I don’t know. He was my barrier to keep me from getting into even worse trouble than I happened to get into. Discipline was actually a sign of his love for me. “For what son is there when his father does not discipline? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them.” (Hebrews 12: 7,9) Lead By Example: My Dad led by example. Hard working, I often helped hold the plywood as he ripped it with a skillsaw, getting a face full of sawdust and ringing ears. We built bookshelves, beds, repaired decks and stairs. Now I find myself loving wood work. He always talked about having a Japanese rock garden. My old house I actually had one with pond and stream and koi. This house well, it is still in my future plans. Compassion: my dad often took me to visit elderly and lonely people. Now my practice is full of these and I love them. I drive by two closer offices, 27 miles each direction to care for my patients. Some patients I have had for over 26 years. Well they also come for my nurse, who has put up with me for 21 years. There should be a reward for that. My Dad gave me this compassion and I am forever grateful as I view my work as ministry rather than a job. I actually get paid for what I love. Principles of Medicine: I remember talking to him. My Dad was an anesthesiologist, and even back in the 1970s there was talk about the role of narcotics in treating pain. He said some doctors were so fearful of addiction that they would not prescribe narcotics even in treating cancer pain. My Dad closely evaluated his patients and the pain they described. He prescribed limited short-term use of narcotics for non-cancer pain, and he was criticized for doing that. Narcotics are invaluable in treating cancer pain and reducing their suffering. Treating chronic non-cancer pain with narcotics,my Dad faced these same issues we are now facing 50 years later. As I tell my children, most often the correct path is somewhere down the middle. We are paying the price right now of too liberal and long-term use of narcotics. Prejudice: I never saw prejudice in my Dad. It seemed that he was caring, patient and loving toward everyone no matter what race or religion or economic stasis. Politics: My Mom said that my Dad and her would cancel out each other’s votes. Back then it was Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and then Jimmy Carter as presidents. This whole COVID 19 has been so divisive and heated. I wonder how he would treat those who believed differently than his views. I don’t think he would force his views onto others. Inside his immediate family, my Dad had some strict principles, like going to church on Sunday, even during our vacation and respecting others and their property. Outside of our immediate family, like relatives, neighbors and friends, I did not see him forcing his way or views on others.
It is interesting what we inherit or carry on from our parents. This goes beyond physical attributes. Much of who I am today comes from my Dad and for that I am forever greteful! All of my siblings and children have brown eyes and straight black hair. They had no choice. It is interesting to see how our grandchildren are truly a mix of both parents. Wow! I love this! What does all of this have to do with Christmas. Glad you asked. We are all off-springs of the original parents, Adam and Eve. How are we like them? Adam and Eve were not only the first parents but the first sinners (disobedient to God). Romans 5…. Sin came into the world through one man. Sin not only leads to physical death but also spiritual death (eternal separation from God). Can man save himself? There are only two religions in the world. 1) Man’s attempt to please God (Muslim, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, etc.) 2) Divine (God’s) accomplishment. Humans are always searching to solve human problems with human solutions. If man could save himself then Jesus died for no reason. Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”
The familiar Bible verse: 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.” This is followed by some harsh realities: Verses: 17 & 18 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Jesus came to save us from ourselves. There is something in each of us that doesn’t want to acknowledge that we can’t do it ourselves and we never want to ask for help. That is not just a man thing, but I do believe that the pride that is in all of us that is difficult to overcome. How often when we’re asked: “Do you need help?” We quickly respond with: “Ah, it’s alright.” Let’s be honest. We are not ‘alright” and we really do need help. You see we have all offended God, a perfect God (holy God). The punishment is high- eternity in hell. What? I thought God is love! He is, but He also just. Evil, sin, wrong thought, word or action deserves punishment, so God if He is “good” He can’t just overlook “bad”. The good news is that God can be fully loving and fully just! How can that be? God paid for our punishment Himself, when He sacrificed Jesus on the cross. If there was any other way to get to God, then Jesus died for no reason. There was no other way other than sacrificing His own Son, Jesus. Now that is love! Since we have all sinned and are under God’s judgment - does God save everyone? God has provided the way and He does allow us a choice. Many choose to not follow Jesus. “Wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.” (Matthew 7:13) “…dealing out retribution to those who do not know God, an to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These people will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” (2 Thess. 2:8-9
What must a person do to be saved? It takes humility to acknowledge that you are a sinner and need a Savior. This attitude is well illustrated by the tax collector’s attitude: Luke 18:13 “But the tax-gatherer standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!”
Bible says, "that if you confess with our mouth Jesus as Lord (your master), and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead (your only means of salvation), you will be saved, for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth, he confesses, resulting in salvation." (Romans 10: 9-10) How much does it cost? Salvation is a gift of God. As a gift it can’t be bought or earn, but given and received. It will cost you nothing, but it cost Jesus His life. The innocent dying for the guilty. They call this the great exchange: Jesus took away and paid for all of my sins and gives me all of his righteousness and holiness. "But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) A good friend of mine toldd me that we are not saved by good works, but save for good works. When you become a Christian, God begins to slowly change your heart. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age.” (Titus 2: 11-13) Slowly God makes you more like Himself and less like your old self. There may be a cost. People may hate you just because you are a follower of Jesus. Jesus calls us to love people, even our enemies and forgive them. Even on the cross, Jesus called out to God the Father: “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” The world may think that they are free. But they are only free to choose which sins, but not free to no sin. Yes, they can resist some sins but common sins of anger, impatience, ungratefulness, lust, pornography, addictions, unforgiveness, bitterness- the flesh is powerless to conquer. Christians will never be sinless this side of heaven, but will experience victories where only defeat existed before. If you have questions about Christianity or want to know how to be saved, just let me know. You can email me. I was once where you are and someone helped me with this very same decision. I assure you, this will be the very best decision you will ever make. We are not promise another tomorrow. The best time is now. Merry Christmas. Christmas will never be the same.
Now my favorite: UpCloseAndPersonal:
My oldest son gave me some great advice: “Take an interest in what your child is interested in, not just expect them to be interested in what I am interested in.” Jairus is most interested in coding. He contributed in a new language called, “Assembly Script.” He is currently developing his own computer language, called, “Levitate.” Jairus tried to teach me to code, but I didn’t do very well. Jairus also likes to play chess. I am afraid to play him now as he often wins. Jairus started an online chess club and joined two separate online schools with a mutual chess club. He used to be president of both clubs but now president of just one club. He was interviewed on the spot, asking why he loves chess and why others should join his club. Check out the podcast: https://theeccentricpodcast.podbean.com/e/episode-4-on-chess-with-jairus-tanaka/
You never know you just might find yourself wanting to play more chess. I joined https://www.chess.com/ and sometimes Jairus and I play against each other online. What other things does Jairus like? He likes fishing, hiking, backpacking- well I like these also. This year Jairus, Jon, my son in law wanted to go snow camping. We hiked up to Lena Lake, but there was just ice and no snow. It was cold enough, got into the teens at night. I put up a challenge: “start the fire with only one match-your life depends on it!”. It is actually very difficult to find anything dry in the winters around here. Jairus had his hopes that mushrooms would give him victory. Almost burning his fingers, he found out that mushrooms were not very flammable. Jon whittled some kindling and this worked for a bit, but no success. Now it was my turn. I was never a boy scout, but I understood the principles of tinder, kindling and fuel and being prepared. Mine looked promising but also failed. I’m glad our survival was not dependent on our firing starting skills. Well we cheated and got a nice warm fire going. One thing I enjoy about a nice warm fire is the warm conversations around that fire. This was no exception. Jon shared about what opportunities, people and choices were instrumental in his life which helped him navigate through life’s landmines to get himself to where he is now. Jon had a mentor and also mentoring someone younger. Jon got pushed out of his comfort zone and taking on responsibilities at a young age. The most important of coarse was his salvation and allowing Jesus and His Word direct his steps. I also shared with Jairus. Everyone needs someone to speak into their life no matter how old you are. I am blessed by having that in my own life. Making opportunities and being there to speak into Jairus’ life is my privilege. One of biggest breakthrough in Jairus and my relationship was on our cross-country road trip. Driving Kristi’s car from Washington to the other Washington: Washington DC. We camped near Mt. Rushmore, visited Lori sister’s family in Chicago. 2,700 miles gave us plenty of time together, but time is not the only factor. Humility and transparency seemed to be the path that brought us closer than we have ever been. In life one must be intentional. Lori often says, “fail to plan- plan on failing.” He went snowboarding and I went skiing. He found out that it is quite different from rip-sticking. This year Jairus and I each caught one salmon. He caught it flossing. Jared and Tyler introduced that to us. We are hooked but far from good at it. We go around midnight. It all part of the experience. Stopping at the local gas station and loading up on foods our wives and mother, won’t allow and head off for a night of “wonder, excitement and adventure.” Jairus I’m looking forward to what other new adventures we can discover and experience together.
“Lily Mei” that’s what I’ve always called her. Maybe because she is the youngest daughter, I somehow always thought of her as being young and cute. Well children have a way of growing up despite our wishes. Lily Mei has done just that. Young lady and actually I am glad of that. “And let not your adornment be merely external-braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry or putting on dresses, but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” (1 Peter 3:3-4) I get to witness a young lady growing up with a true love for God and His ways- that true beauty! I always enjoy doing things with her, like hunting for chanterelle, picking blueberries, planting a garden, hiking or painting together. She is more interested in just being together and it really doesn’t matter what if anything you do together. Lily Mei got her first job this year at an ice cream shop in Poulsbo called “Mora,” which is the Italian word for blackberry. Guess what color their uniform is? No, not black, but purple. Mora makes their own ice cream and it is delicious. Many unique flavors. I wish I could try each one. My favorite so far is mango sorbet. It was a great experience for her, learning to work together, keeping customers happy and working under a boss. With it being rainy many months of the year, you could see coffee shops doing well but you wouldn’t think an ice cream shop would do so well but it does. Even with COVID business seemed to do well. Our family kept them busy. Lily Mei is now working as a bagger for Central Market, a local grocery store. This is a perfect job for her as she always is friendly and has a perpetual smile on her face. I may just need to do some shopping there to see her do what she does best, make people just glad to be with her. Lily has her own website/blog: Here is sample : “I’m passionate about minimalism, tiny houses, eating whole foods, and organization. During my free time, you’ll find me…” If you want to know more click here: https://lilytanaka.godaddysites.com/
Noelle got her driver’s license this year. To celebrate we went out to local Italian restaurant, Sogno di Vino. COVID has been very difficult on local businesses. This restaurant was no exception. Limited hours due to lack of qualified workers. We had a great time and it was actually very busy that day. Noelle still worked at Clear Brook nursing home as a food server/kitchen crew. That was until she decided she wanted to go to Boyce College to get a degree in Biblical Studies. She had been taking online classes through Boyce, but wanted to experience being on campus. Her choice of colleges was great. I often listen to “The Briefing” a podcast by Albert Mohler, the president of Boyce College and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He gives a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview. If you have never listened to it, I highly recommend it. Click here to here today’s podcast: https://albertmohler.com/the-briefing
I believe she still does some work for Masterworks, a local marketing agency. Noelle and I flew out to Louisville, Kentucky for Boyce College orientation. Even though this is norm for most families, this was totally new for Lori and I sending our daughter off to a college half way across the country. I have to admit that I was impressed my whole time there. You would think that their focus would be so much on the new incoming students, that parents would be somewhat ignored. That was not the case. They were so glad that so many parents came, and actually had parents be part of the program. They also had only student time, which actually gave me some time to explore Louisville. I got to tour the Louisville Slugger factory and museum. Pretty impressive! Noelle and I went to the Ark Encounter, a life size replica of the Ark, full of amazing facts and displays. It is only 1 & ½ hour drive from Boyce. Well worth it! https://arkencounter.com/
The Creation Museum https://creationmuseum.org/ is also close and definitely worth the trip! Sunday we attended Noelle’s first choice of churches, Clifton Baptist Church. People were friendly and a good mix of families, students and oldies like myself. I know how important music is for the youth. This church sang only hymns and we didn’t know some of them. The sermon was great. I liked the church and asked what Noelle thought. She said that it reminded her of our church, Westside Baptist Church. She wanted to check out at least one other church and then decide which to commit to. I hoped that this would be her church, but I didn’t want to influence her decision. The following week, I got a text and picture from a family Noelle and I met at Clifton. The text read, “Guess who came to membership class,” with a picture of the couple and Noelle. I talked with her and she went to another church as she wanted to but was not impressed and decided to become a member of Clifton Baptist Church. I am happy for her and know that she will grow and be stretched there.
Aaron is in his last year of college and is attending University of Washington. It is my Alma mater and also my Dad’s Alma mater Three generations. It would be fun to spend the day at UW together and glad to say we did just that. He will be graduating with a mechanical engineering degree. I must say that his car has captured Aaron’s attention and passion. He and two of his buddies, switched out his perfectly fine automatic transmission to a five speed manual transmission.. New tires, lowered suspension, new paint job, new wheels... and eventually turbo-charged. It was fast enough for me. Aaron let me drive the windy roads around Leavenworth. A lot of fun. I held onto my seat as he drove back those same roads in half the time. :) To finance this, he worked at PABCO Roofing. They manufacture roofing shingles. Dusty and loud would be hard enough, but it was dangerously hot inside the factory. It didn’t help that Seattle broke its record, hitting 108 degrees. With only fans, I can’t imagine how hot it was inside the factory. His boss told him that he is one of his best workers. Aaron told his boss that he got that from his Dad. Thanks Aaron, but I got it from my Dad. We recently had some good conversations. He said that our relationship is better now than ever. Some of this comes from just being real and to admit my shortcomings and struggles. It is not easy for any young man to grow up in today’s culture. He needs a Dad to walk along side him and to encourage him along the way. I want to be that for Aaron. I always look forward to hitting the ski/snowboard slopes together. Let it snow!
Kristi is great at thinking outside the box. Maybe that is why she is good at graphic design. She worked her way up at Masterworks as graphic designer.Check out Masterworks website: Move Hearts and Mind to Action. https://masterworks.com/ This year she finishes her degree in graphic design , graduating from Rocky Mountain School of the Arts. Here is the link to her final project:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrKgI_eTsBI Congratulations! That is quite the accomplishment! One great advantage of being a graphic designer is that your work is all online. This gave Kristi the idea that she can live anywhere and still work. She thought of California, Chicago and Washington DC. Our family vacationed in Washington DC about three years ago. Not certain her exact reasons, but she settled on Washington DC. If Kristi had a rebellious attitude then I would be concerned, but she doesn’t. She felt a need to live out her faith on her own. Before she took off she spent some one on one time with each of us. She and I went to Blue Mountain. You can drive almost to the of the mountain. I brought Stagg’s chili, precooked potatoes and a stove. On a clear day you supposedly could see Canada, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, Cascade and Olympic mountain range. Well unfortunately it was foggy. :( It was still fun and memorable. On September 11th she flew to Washington, DC. Historic day, twenty years after that tragic day. She learned to use the light rail system and settled on Waterfront Church, in the heart of Washington, DC. She was finding it most difficult to be involved in a Bible study, outreach or other ministry to get there and back without having a car. I volunteered to drive her car out, but needed to decide soon before the heavy snows hit the Rockies. Lori suggested that I take Jairus. That was a great suggestion. That long trip drew us closer. I had driven that same trip many times being single when I was in medical school. I think I would have been very lonely this time. So glad to have Jairus with me. In Washington, DC we got to go to the Smithsonian Natural History museum. Amazingly, all of the Smithsonian museums are free. We also got to see her place, meet her landlords and one of her housemates. Sunday we attended her church. I loved it. The preaching was expository and so clear and challenging. I think Kristi chose well. Many opportunities for Kristi to meet others and serve God together. With her car she drove up to visit Noelle and will be with the Friesen’s for Thanksgiving. She likes adventure. Our family back home is missing her enthusiasm and lists of things to do for family night. Maybe someone will rise to take her place. :) This year Jairus and Kristi made a homemade origami kayak. It is extremely light and folds down to the size of a large suit bag folded over. Everyone was so excited for its maiden voyage at none other than Kitsap Memorial State Park, just one mile from our home. They unfolded and folded it and put the braces and screws in place. It worked perfectly and just glides effortlessly along the surface. I tried it out also and it is actually extremely stable and fun! Great job at team work and adventure! What next? :)
Bethany of all of our children has a natural affinity and abilities for languages. I never knew this about languages, that much of language is nonverbal. Pastor John and I went through a book called “Complete Husband.” One of the main premises of the book is that husbands must “love” their wives and one of the main ways to do this is to “understand” your wife and that “relationship” is through “revelation.” It says that 70% of communication is nonverbal. This just blew me away. I pay most attention to the words I speak and hear, and almost no attention to the nonverbal I communicate and transmit. Wow! I told Bethany that I feel like an international student who just learned the language and now must learn the other aspect of a language that I never learned. Bethany is helping me with these nonverbal language and also my verbal. Can you believe Bethany wrote 8 pages of communication involving one’s eyes. She is a good teacher and it is humbling for me to be a student. We have been meeting weekly. Some involve watching myself speak in front of a mirror and watching my eyes, eyebrows, mouth, chin, corners of my mouth. So many things to think about. She is a good teacher. I hope I am a good student. This has helped our relationship and she told me recently that she feels closer to me than ever before. She still has a heart for missions and languages. She is still teaching herself several languages. I was looking on U-tube to see if Bethany posted any of her piano playing. I found her talking about our family in Japanese. I have no idea what she is saying. It’s 4 years old but still interesting. Check it out: https://youtu.be/lWYjVp3ffoQ
She is taking classes from Spurgeon College. Her long term goal is a bachelor’s degree. Our dog, Bella is now Bethany’s dog and is about 1 &1/2 years old and needs to be trained. Bethany has taken on this task. Bethany has taught Bella about twenty tricks. Training Bella is not easy but Bethany is strict, persistent and patient. Great job!
Stefanie, Elisha, Xanthi: It is hard to believe it was just last year that I walked Stefanie down the aisle. They have a cute place in Bremerton and it is working out well for them. They eventually would like their own place rather than renting. This past September their family just grew with the addition of a baby girl, Xanthi. She weighed about 6 pounds but was healthy and strong. She is growing right along and it is so neat to see both of them taking such good care of her. Newborns take a lot of work, but they are adjusting so well. Elisha’s music studio is doing very well and COVID may have even been beneficial in that people are more used to doing things online. He is getting the church’s orchestra going again. I am looking forward to having special music and the orchestra accompanying the singing. For my birthday they gave me a book called, “Social Skills.” This along with Bethany’s help has been good for all of my communications. My patients,wife, family and coworkers will also benefit. Their marriage is strong. This Bible verse is so true, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear your children walking in the truth.” 3 John 4
Jonathan and Emma:
I had a wonderful trip to Texas to visit Jonathan and Emma. There is something about a face to face visit that a phone call or even a video chat can’t reproduce. It is so nice to see their love for each other, for God and their church family. I got to hang out with Jonathan at his work. He has a great Christian boss and support. He is learning a lot of skills necessary for being a good lawyer. Since some of his cases are online, I have been able to watch Jonathan in action. Wow. From what I can tell he does a great job. I’ll stick to medicine, which is something I know something about. We went to Waco, Texas, home of Chip and Joanna Gaines. They have really helped that community thrive. Had a great time at Top Golf, go-karts and laser tag. They have a great church, Steve Hopkins, Emma’s father is the pastor. Dinner and fellowship at the Hopkins is always fun. Their children didn’t get to play me ping pong. That will have to wait. Jonathan and Emma came up to Washington in July. We stayed in Leavenworth. That has special memories for both of our families. Highlights were hanging out, floating the Leavenworth River, playing Slamo and going to a Mariners game.
Amy, Jon, Jet, Rezi:
Jon is in the army reserves and he got activated to South Korea with orders to report within two weeks. Amy packed up their rental home and we all moved it into our basement. Amy, Jet and Rezi were able to join Jon. That was probably a trip Amy would not want to do alone again. In South Korea they have a great landlord, who tells them that they are “heros.” I think it because USA helped South Korea during the Korean war. Rezi waves to everyone and she is called “Hero baby.” Jet is growing up. He used to have brown shoulder length hair but Lori gave him a haircut. He always looked like a boy, even with long hair. Jet said that he could hardly wait to get back and tell scary stories with me. He said it is hard to be in Korea, because all of his “friends” are not with him. He considers all relatives his friends. :) They arrived back in USA two days before Thanksgiving. God’s timing is perfect. Just after they landed, Jon got notified from his commander asking him to stay one more year. Since he was in SeaTac airport, he was excused from that duty. God’s timing is perfect! They are renting a place in Seabeck, out in the woods. From their deck and windows, it looks like they live in a treehouse. Jon was promoted to captain. Being a lawyer in the army, he had to handle the legal issues that came up in South Korea and some of Japan. He said that he has never been that busy ever before. He was awarded Meritorious Service Metal and Amy received an Excellent Service Certificate for supporting Jon, so that he could do all he had to do. I would love to go snow camping with him and backpacking again. South Korea had been a good experience for Amy, but difficult. She looks Asian so people expect her to speak Korean, but she doesn’t know enough to communicate well. Maybe we need to watch more Korean dramas :). These move slowly compared with American dramas but are fun to watch. Eventually they would like to own their own place rather than renting, but their place works out great for now, and it even has a firepit for campfires!
Lori and I in October we celebrated 33 years of marriage. Lori arranged a 3 night stay at an Airbnb. Such a nice get away, right on a lake, quiet and peaceful. We needed that. Life can get so busy that we don’t slow down to just enjoy time together and communicate. I may do a lot of talking but I am not a good communicator. At this place they had two different stacks of questions. Just conversation starters. We used them and had some good talks. Maybe we aren’t the only ones who need some help with just getting started. I need to get better at keeping the conversation going. One of our friends gave some good advice: “Be curious, not furious.” I need to be more genuinely curious, concerned and interested in Lori and her views, rather than interested in sharing my views and especially less interested in convincing Lori that my opinion is better than hers. Lori and I have been meeting with a counselor and our pastor for help with our marriage. I went through Complete Husband with this pastor and am now going through “Uprooting Anger” by Robert Jones and Lori and I are going through “How to Act Right, When Our Spouse Acts Wrong” by Leslie Vernick. I have learned so much about communication that I had never considered before. Wow, where have I been and what have I been doing? I am not where I want to be, but I am slowly moving in the right direction. I really like this Bible verse, “The intentions of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” Proverbs 20:5 God expects me to “understand” my wife. I need to get better at drawing her intentions out, through listening, asking more questions, and being interested in learning Lori’s heart. Lori said that the highlight of this trip was when I asked her questions about herself as we were walking. Wow, I can do it! God is working a miracle in my life and our marriage. What treasures I may discover in Lori’s deep waters as I take up deep sea fishing. I’m excited! Lori graduates with a master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Westminster Seminary. It’s been a long and hard road, but Lori is so good at sticking with a task. Like she says, “No Pain, No Gain.” It has been a great experience for her. Quite the accomplishment! Can’t wait to see how God will use this in her life! Lori leads a prayer cohort. Not only to study about prayer, but more importantly incorporating prayer as central to our lives. What is prayer: communion with God. Nothing is more important than that. If prayer is not central to your life, maybe you can join Lori’s cohort It is through seeJesus Ministry, which is a global discipling mission helping churches to love and imitate Jesus. Check out their website: https://www.seejesus.net/
I am so blessed to have a wife who loves God. “Charm is deceitful, an beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31: 30) I love and praise you!
Rich: One of the highlights of this past year was my trip to Spokane to visit my Mom, my younger sister, Liz and my brother Ed, who is the principal caregiver for my Mom. What a nice visit! My Mom who is almost 98 years old, is a night owl. We stayed up often past 1 am talking and sharing about the past. My Mom showed me a silk kimono she received when she was 6 years old, from her grandfather still living in Japan. We went through photo albums, watched Mariners, the news and some of the Olympics. Mom, Ed and I even went fishing at Badger Lake. I was probably a teenager the previous time fishing at Badger Lake. Fishing was our family’s most fun activity. Fishing together brought back such wonderful memories of my childhood. We didn’t go home skunked, but even if we did it would have been all worth it.
Another highlight of this past year was going snow-camping with Jared, a friend from church. God watched over us all the way. Our SUV got high-centered, Jared had a snow shovel, we both had microspikes, which I heard about from one of my patients, a snow shoer who came down the trail we were heading up, marked our path, which would be impossible to tell with 4-5 feet of snow on the ground. Jared’s boss lent him a GPS which could also guide our hike and God led both of us to stop and set up camp, before the steepest part, which we should have had a ice pick to arrest a slide. We worked as a team getting a fire going, dinner cooked and pitching the tent. We spent hours standing around the fire getting to know each other more. We both want to go again. Maybe one that is shorter, safer and less steep.
I’m not the best but I try to regularly contact each of our children on a regular basis. It is not easy to get our schedules to match. Over the past couple of years we went from having 7 children at home to having 3 children at home. We are not empty nesters, but at times feels like. I still volunteer with English Corner, a ministry to international students attending Olympic College. I hope to restart volunteering at Fishline, a local food bank and possible volunteering at Scarlet Road, a Kitsap County Christian ministry to help victims of sex trafficking. No mission trips for me, now going on three years. Those have always been a blessing in my life. It has been almost 27 years as a family doctor in the Port Orchard office and 35 years total. Retirement? My nurse, Kathy, is talking about it and I am considering it also. Not certain when for me. I never see myself retiring from ministry. Maybe this is a good time for you to also reflect on this past year and see where you have been, where you are headed and who has influenced your life to get you to where you are now. Are you headed in the direction you want or should be headed? Now is a great time. Like GoogleMaps you can redirect your life, so that you get to your final destination. My life still has many struggles, difficulties and sins. God doesn’t expect perfection but direction and He promises to be with me every step of the way. Let’s walk together!
From my family to yours: “Merry Christmas!”