Peace on Earth? 2005

Dear Friends and Family,

Peace on Earth; goodwill to all Men.

Peace on Earth! What a thought!  I look in my back yard and wonder if I can have peace. We have two dogs, that when they even see each other, they growl deep in their throats and act as if they will attack each other at any moment.

I put up a humming bird feeder to enjoy the dainty little sweet looking birds as they flittered around the feeder. I watched as one dominant hummer chased all the others away any time they even tried to get a drink. I let the feeder go dry and didn’t refill it; I was so disgusted with such dainty birds fighting. 

I had a sales woman call me trying to sell me plants. By the time, that I told her (1) The Plants had to be in containers to avoid the gophers. (2) They had to be disliked by cows and horses but not poisonous to them when they did eat them. (3) They had to be hardy to withstand dogs running through them and boys jumping over them with skateboards and bikes. (4) They had to live in my zone and (5) they had to be able to withstand periods of drought when football season is in peak and I am unable to water them consistently… When she heard all of that, she said, “Boy, this is a hard one.” I remembered another nursery woman’s reply, when asked what she would plant for ground cover with these circumstances, “Pea gravel.” So much for a peaceful, green yard for reflective times.

We now have a horse that likes to boss around our milk cow. The cow hides behind the garage in the mud to get away from him. We have two yearling cows that want to be with the mike cow---both of them will drink from her if they are with her. So, we hear the wailing of discontent from our cattle when they are separated.

t know where it is. One night I found a toad as big as my fist hopping down the hallway. How do these things get inside? Tranquility inside my house walls may not be so easy to maintain.

Peace---I’m surrounded with animals in conflict. Then we add it to seven boys who will not let the words ‘you win’ come out of their mouths and I am bound to have opposition.

Of course, when Josiah (12) is training his horse, and the horse is trying to get its own way, I struggle inwardly for Josiah to win, to conquer the will of the horse.

When Joey John (14) is riding his dirt bike (I hesitate to call him riding, he is flying), I pray that he masters the skills well, without defeat.

When Jacob (6) is leaning his letters and sounds and he hesitated to think through what he remembers, I urge him not to quit.

When Jonas (8) steps forward to attempt bigger jobs to help, I certainly don’t want to discourage him or his servant’s heart.

Nor do I want to discourage curiosity when I hear questions like, “Is God naked?” from James (4) and I hear his much older brother Jacob (6) tell him like a teacher, “James, God can’t be naked; He’s a spirit.” Or I hear the discussion between them, “Is Jesus God?” James asks. Jacob responds with, “of course, Jesus is God.” “Is Jesus a man?” “Of course, Jesus was a man.” I could hear his brain working about how that can be, having been discussed by theologians from the beginning of time. “But,” he asks again, “Is Jesus God?” Jacob again says, like he’s the all-knowing teacher, “Of course.”  The war for understanding---understanding beyond our comprehension.

When I finally think that I am going to have ‘peace and quiet,’ the boys are in bed and the house is quiet. I’m laying down with Josh until he is finally asleep. He has not stirred for some time, and I’m thinking that he’s asleep… He’ll turn to me and say, wide awake, “Swim. Swim.” I’ll answer, “No, it’s not time to swim. We already went today. Go to sleep.” “Sleep. Sleep.” Yes, he still fights it. Then finally, he really is asleep.

Sand Creek Road is a winding, turning narrow road that wraps around the mountains as we go to our house. One day, Josh is back there, “Whoaaaaaa… Whoaaaaaa… EEEEEeeeee.” I asked the boys what he was doing. When they looked, his car seat was tipping with the car as we went around the curves and each time, Josh would go, “Whoooooooaaa.” Some days it is not so fun to be in the car seat--- and he fights it. Like the rest of us, he dislikes restraint.

Jonathan (10) had some battle with his bike. He ended up with no front nor back brakes, no kickstand and I don’t know what else was wrong. We were loading it in the car to be repaired when I remembered that the bike store would be closed. He commented that it would be ten years before we got it fixed. Later, but not ten years, we were able to have it repaired. When I asked him how the ten years were, he just smiled, It was quiet for a few moments, then Jonas pipes up to say, “Then I’m 18 years old.” Then they proceeded to figure out how old everyone else would be.  I stopped them when they started to say how old I would be. Never mind. The constant fight of keeping things working… The failing fight against age…

Joey John, Jonathan and Jonas played tackle football this year. Every time the team would ‘take a knee’ for someone who had an injury, I would be praying that they would get off the field without harm. I’d hear the crunch of what Joey would say was a good tackle, and I would cringe looking for everyone to be okay. Yet I would hear around me, “Hit someone.” “Plow them over.” I’d catch myself yelling, “Get the ball.” I can say, “Tackle football can strengthen a Mom’s prayer life.” The harder Jonathan was tackled, the stronger he would stand and smile. And I’m surprised that at home he won’t back down and be quiet?

Tackling at our house is an every day, all throughout the day, exercise that I have learned to walk away and not watch. Josh (just turned 2) is usually in the heat of it, either walking through it oblivious to the turmoil, or instigating it and falling on the other. Joey would call it wrestling or when he is home participating in it, “Daddy’s time.” I would call it, “Guardian Angel Overtime.”

I wonder how we can expect nations, with different cultures and ideologies, to get along when a house full of boys with the same parents, teaching and training can’t seem to make peace. I hear the banter back and forth, “if your horse was a dirt bike, we wouldn’t be going to the vet for medicine,” “but we would be asking a mechanic to fix it”; “if your horse was a dirt bike, we wouldn’t have to buy it hay,” “but we would be buying gas,” “…but I get feelings from my horse.” “Ahhh, but my bike feels good.” Personalities, temperaments, interests, abilities, gifts all fighting for dominance. The younger boys may not have a horse or bike but they won’t be left out. They take sides and compete to win. They even have Josh saying, “horse, bike, fun.”

We went back to be with my family in Indiana, both in February and in June, both times we drove. Three thirteen-hour days driving (one-way) tested our family’s togetherness and peace-making abilities in the car. 

So where does peace come in?

My sister Susie, as most of you know, battled with leukemia for five years. She knows peace, the peace of God, and the peace of being with God.

We know from the Bible that people will say, “’Peace and safety,’ yet destruction will come one” (I Thess 5:3). A worldwide peace won’t happen without Christ’s rule.
Joey will continue to go on missions to ‘make peaceful relations with other countries.’ He will just be getting home from a month and a half of one of those missions when I finish this letter. Nations will continue to war it out for ‘peace’.

But I know that I do not have to wait to die to have peace. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let you hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 15:17) “I have told you these things, so that in (Jesus), you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

I have hope when I hear peace and overcoming in the same sentence---that battles and winning, which implies fighting, do bring peace. My dogs may never get along; my plants may not survive, but I can still have peace.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,” (Col 3:15). Ruling means someone had to win. Someone had to submit his will. Peace and conflict are not opposites. “Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ, For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…” (Eph 2:13-14). I know that my boys can decide to fight for what is right, to choose God’s way over the world, to experience the “peace God which transcends all understanding, (which) will guard their hearts and their minds,” (Phil 4:7) I know, because He has kept me in perfect peace when my mind is steadfast on Him,” (Isaiah 26:3). All the worries, conflicts, and unknowns are washed away in the blood of Christ Who washed my sin away. When I allow Him to rule over my mind, because He already rules over the world, I know peace and I can trust Him to provide peace to our boys, to those around us, and finally, when He comes to rule directly, the world.

"Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”

The Contreras Family,
Joey, Sonya, Joey John, Josiah, Jonathan, Jonas, Jacob, James, and Joshua

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