December, 2000
Dear Family and Friends,

Ever feel like you are in a battle zone? I can certainly understand the command in Ephesians to put on the whole armor of God so you can withstand.

Joey started out the year, January 2, in Houston, TX for his two-week officer’s training. The boys and I started out the year sick with the flu and feeling like dying or at least crawling in a hole to get some sleep.

The battlegrounds switched in February, when he was gone for his weekend drill. We had a stove fire. After our fire with the property beside, us, the boys were ready to call the fire dept and get out. It left the microwave panel melted and my house’s spider webs looking like we decorated for Halloween. When I went to wash down the ceiling, I found that you can’t stop—the smoke marks keep going….

When March came with cold weather training for Joey, we decided that it might be easier not to have to battle all the animals and the children’s restlessness. The boys and I flew to Indy and Joey met us there after he was finished. Flying with five small boys on late, and cancelled flights was enough to show that the battle was in the air, too! WE had a good time at home, but I never quite won the battle for my sleep. (Does a mom, ever?)

Soon after returning, we entered another stage of the battle, nauseousness—the nine-month kind that precedes the delivery of our baby.

I could talk about our ever constant battle of the fire ants—especially since Jacob (now 1 year) will feel his feet being bit and sit down in their work zone to get bit everywhere…or the battle with meat bees, which crawl inside his diaper and bite him. We went a couple of months where the bees were winning the attack on someone every day. They were even chewing down our peaches before they could even ripen. We also fought scorpions—with three ‘soldiers’ getting ambushed and bitten. Joey John even had a surprise attack from a tarantula that he allowed to crawl up his arm. In the process of retrieving it off his neck, he stuck his finger in the “red thing.” The “red thing” proceeded to bite him, breaking the skin’s surface. Guess the docility of tarantulas stop when something is put in its mouth.

Joey John (9), Josiah (7), and Jonathan (5) took on the battle with our goats, as they (the goats) could be very ornery when milking time comes. It relieved me of the daily fight with them. They have done well, although for the sake of their overwhelming frustration, Joey oversees it.

In keeping with the goats, we had two sets of twins delivered. Can you guess? All male—not a good way to build up our herd. Jonathan (5) would help move them as we searched for pasture for them. The boys fought dumped water buckets, tangled lines and crying “kids” until we sold them in the summer.

We’ve purchased a beef and a dairy cow this summer. The beef cow would rather walk over and bend the fence posts and fencing, rather than walk around any obstacle when it’s time for eating. Joey has more fences to fix than he or I wish to think about.

As for the garden…it’s better to say it’s non-existent this year. I fought getting the seed in with my nauseousness. Once in and growing, I watched in one day an entire 20-foot bean row disappear. The boys found the plants in a hole used as padding for a baby mole. They carried that thing around for the entire day, trying to feed it when it squeaked, with the threat that when daddy came home, it would be “taken care of.” What a downpour of tears that was. We have a tombstone marker in our yard as memory—one battle fatality.

What the weeds didn’t choke out, the loose goats helped eat. When our corn was getting ready, we would tramp through our weed rows, trying to find our corn. One morning when I went to water, an entire row of corn had the husk, silk and corn chewed off, leaving nothing but the cob. The score: squirrels 1, us nothing. When the tomatoes started ripening, I would go to pick one and there would be nothing but the skin facing me hanging on the vine. The score: squirrels 2, us nothing. When I noticed even the green tomatoes were being eaten, I stopped watering and put the goats in there to eat the plants before the squirrels did. Thus ended our garden, thus ended our fresh produce. The battle over the garden remains till some tactic is discovered for winning over the squirrels.

Joey John attempted to even the score by sitting on our deck and shooting them. He got one. But we still see 20 scatter when we open our back door. The battle still rages—with no back up in sight.

Without the care of the garden, my energies turned inside the house. Joey allowed me to have a laminate floor in the kitchen and family room. It sure lessened the battle with the vacuum cleaner, especially under the eating table. I worked on putting wainscoting up around the room—won the battle of visible dirt on the walls. I even made my first quilt to replace a broken blind for the sliding glass doors. The boys, especially Jacob (1), Jonas (3) and Jonathan (5) helped me stain all the benches and furniture so we ‘match’ in the room, instead of looking like garage sale give-away. The battle over dirt and ugliness…it still rages in and out of the house. I’ve started to work through the house to paint the other rooms as my grocery money allows me, replacing the unwashable dirt and grim with freshness, a slow victory. Jacob (1), my avid interior decorator is quick to step in to help paint…his clothes, the windows, his hair and the dog.
The battle still raged as the baby time approached and the discomfort increased. The boys have been quick to step in to help, volunteering for various jobs, helping to cook, to clean, to watch Jacob, to allow me to rest. Joey has brought home more food “just for mommy” than I care to think about. I battle with what to feed these boys. One loaf of bread is gone in one sitting, and it’s not too uncommon to see Joey John eat four full plates, finishing long after everyone is finished with their evening chores, or getting up at 3:30 AM regularly to give Jacob and Jonas a bowl of cereal. The battle over the empty stomach never quite is won.

We’ve been fighting the feeling of helplessness after receiving word, the day before Thanksgiving that my sister was diagnosed with leukemia. They started chemotherapy the day after Thanksgiving. A difficult struggle to hear updates but unable to help from a distance—a battle to let God be God and to accept His plans for day-to-day life.

Labor came with its own set of skirmishes. The due date changed from October 31 to November 23 and finally actually came November 30th. After laboring steady for five hours, it eased up. The baby’s position didn’t allow it to be delivered. We made the hour trip to the hospital for help. While being tossed and turned over our mountains, the baby’s position moved and it was ready to be delivered when we reached the hospital, with no drugs, naturally. He (of course, the baby was a boy, was there any other option?) will have a war story to tell when he compares notes with his brothers.

Guess when you think about it, the battle started in a garden a long time ago when man chose his own way rather than God’s. The battle has raged through the ages, but victory came in the form of a Baby delivered on Christmas. He provided the way to win not only the daily skirmishes and yearly battles, but also the major war against sin, helplessness, and defeat…The Baby brought the recruits in to give peace, comfort and strength by His Spirit. The Baby brought the battle plan, in the form of His Word, the Bible, to give victory. The Baby followed the Father’s orders to model to us the training. Yes, we are in a battle zone—but not alone, not without a plan, not without the victory, not without His strength.

May the Baby of that Christmas help to make you a soldier on His Side.


I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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