October, 2021
Dear Family and Friends,                                                      

A baby’s life is measured by his eating, sleeping, and pooping. For older people, though they can’t taste or sleep and they need help for that third thing, yet those things also consume their thoughts. In between, we work for food, sleep when we can, and discreetly don’t discuss the third subject. We strive for bigger houses, better cars, more conveniences. Yet they don’t satisfy. In the end, we leave it all behind.  
Ever wonder, “Is this it?”
Shouldn’t there be more?
Do you yearn for a place but not sure where?

When we wrote last year to tell we had moved to Oklahoma, we knew that the rental wasn’t it. We continued to look for land and a house.

James, after finishing his school semester in California, joined us here. Within a month of arriving, James volunteered to help my mom. He sold his horse, postponed his EMT classes and moved to Indiana. He left a big hole here—a reminder that no resident is permanent.

After renting, we purchased a house in town (with no land) in February.

Someone from church volunteered to paint for us. Because of his help, we were forced from the rental house (long story)—Definitely not our permanent place.Please note our change of address from last letter. (Omitted from here)
(Mail delivered to the rental is a hassle to retrieve. And for some reason, it is too difficult for the post office to attach the forwarding sticker to it.)

After our escape from the rental, I got COVID with much to do and no energy to do it. Definitely hard to make any house a home by resting all the time.

February brought McAlester’s worst ice storm in 20 years, shutting down the town. Only 4-wheel drive vehicles could navigate the icy roads. Walmart’s shelves were bare. Trash pick-up stopped for four weeks. The city’s water pipes burst, including those to the hospital. All this reminded us we hadn’t quite reached our dream home.

Ice turned to rain. Rain fell—every day for three weeks. Three to four inches of rain fell in 15 minutes. Floods followed. One old-time resident said, “First time that canal flooded in 35 years!”

Water pooled under houses. Ours included. Jeremiah and I dug ditches, channeling water away from the house’s foundation. Our street, without drains, formed a giant pond. All reminding me this would never be our forever home.

Spring came. While most identify spring with tulips and daffodils—Oklahoma knows the coming of spring when tornadoes start. With conditions right, a “circular” was sighted on 6th street. Phone alarms rang warning residents to seek shelter immediately. We tested our storm shelter, though leaking. One must choose whether to die by tornado or drowning! Another reminder this world isn’t home; we were made for something else.

Between rain clouds, Jeremiah and I limewashed the brick. Making a house a home takes more than covering bricks, but the white lightens the dingy atmosphere, making our short stay here a bit brighter.

Easter brought all the boys and their families, except Josiah’s who had just returned from Ukraine. The house brimmed with talking and laughter. A glimpse of what heaven will be like. 

The boys returned to their respective homes—Joey John and Rachel with their three girls to Wisconsin, Jonathan and McKenna with Elanna to Texas, Jonas and Jane to Idaho, Jacob back to California where Josiah, Dana and Miriam live. James returned to Indiana.

We are left with only Joshua and Jeremiah at home.  Quiet times for they too are growing up and planning soon their departure.

Joshua applied and interviewed at a local school for a two-year welding program. Out of fifty applicants, he was accepted, but not without extensive, nervous waiting for this mom, especially when he delayed checking to see if he was accepted.

Preliminary experience came when our pastor hired Josh to weld his cow fence—a task keeping Josh busy for months. Local ranchers raved about his welded fence. Always stuff to do at any home. 

May brought more rain. Jeremiah and I hacked through bushes and leaves to design a stream bed. Ended up itching from poison ivy for four weeks. Another reminder that this isn’t the land we are seeking. 

We found enough boulders and rocks on the property or from the neighbor’s donation to form the edges of a stream. For the stream bed, we filled buckets of gravel from our back yard. Picking them up one at time was tedious and odious but the stream bed is complete, though the gravel in the back yard still seems endless. That desire for something more perfect is getting stronger.

Josh asked to purchase tree trimming equipment. His equipment would be far less than hiring someone for the job. He practiced climbing trees with his gear before tackling two trees in our yard. Joey and Jeremiah acted as ground pulleys while Josh, suspended by harness and ropes, cut branches high in the trees. Every branch landed exactly where he wanted. No dead branches will be falling on the house from those trees, even if the house is temporary.

We made the 11 hour trip to Indianapolis over Memorial Weekend. Living in OK does have its advantages by being closer to my family. My sister filled our Excursion with plants to encourage my dreams of a landscaped yard. 

Joey received orders to be mobilized to El Paso, Texas for six months, starting in August. Our plans are temporary—at best.

Before Joey left, Jonathan made a quick trip to help Josh install gutters. 

Josiah, Dana and Miriam came, in spite of being in the midst of escrow for their newly purchased house.

Jacob visited too. After purchasing a specialized trailer, he started his dumpster business and hired Josh as driver.

Josh purchased a 3500 Dodge diesel truck from Waco, Texas to haul the dumpsters. Driving through Waco and Dallas always brings to mind life’s frailty, but God protected in spite of my fragile faith.

Oklahoma’s humidity, another adjustment, reminded me we haven’t arrived in perfection yet. Even placing Damp Rid canisters everywhere to absorb moisture didn’t keep James’s saddle from molding in the living room, or from two inch slugs escaping from my kitchen cupboards! Towels don’t dry. Crackers and chips turn soggy within hours. Salt, sugar, and other dry goods clump. Definitely not like California’s dry heat. Yet a caution that they don’t get rain for months through the summer. Where’s the mold get the moisture? Under the house? Maybe I don’t want t know. And mosquitoes last the summer, not until temperatures reach 100 when they should die. More reminders that we won’t be staying here forever.

Joey and Rachel organized a family gathering in Nebraska for those who could come. We visited Omaha’s zoo and Lincoln’s natural museum and gardens. We watched fireworks for the first time in years (fireworks bring fire where we lived in California). The patriotism of normal, hard-working, home-loving people was refreshing.

From Nebraska, Jeremiah left with Jonas and Jane for Idaho for a week. He witnessed more horse shoeing than he probably wanted, paddle-boarded down the Snake River, and made cream-filled eclairs with Jane.

From there, he visited his half-sisters and half-brothers in LA. Joey met him there for a brief visit with family. 

Jeremiah’s trip came to an end, but Joey’s continued when he returned. He took me to a cabin two hours from here, nestled in the eastern hills of Oklahoma and Arkansas. We hiked to Lover’s Leap where an Indian maiden leaped to her death when her beloved didn’t return from battle–a reminder not only this house isn’t forever, but neither will this life last.

Joey left for El Paso when we returned. It’s a 12 hour drive. He’s allowed two passes to come home. 

In August, Joey and Rachel and their girls moved from their Wisconsin home for 10 years to Illinois. Only a day’s trip from us! They too are finding moving adjustments more than anticipated. Makes the perfection of heaven all the sweeter!
Josh’s nickname in welding is “Powder.”
I asked, “Gun or drug?”
“Because I do everything fast.”
His instructor after several months of hearing “Powder” called across the room, requested it be changed to “Flash.”
He said, “Josh goes home and sleeps all night in 30 minutes.” Fast or not, our time here on earth is fleeting quickly.

Jacob arranged for me to visit California. Leaving Josh and Jeremiah home alone was an exercise in trust for me. While I was gone, Jeremiah tried some new recipes. Gauging how much macaroni to make was a challenge. One  church family supplemented their meals. So grateful. Josh assured me the house was still standing. Long lasting—but still temporary. Josh told someone with a smile, “Mom hasn’t found everything that we did, yet.” 

While in California, Jacob took me on two trips in his semi-truck. Much of trucking is not learned from books. Lots of planning—just to get gas, or would that be diesel? I’m amazed at how and what all our boys have learned in their respective fields. Appreciate their talents and expertise. Jacob expressed this may not be a life-time occupation, but what job is? 

After my Excursion lived at the mechanics for seven weeks, (actually it came back three times only to return again soon after), my boys said, “350,000 miles is long past its prime.” “You’re living on borrowed time. Got your money’s worth.” Even the mechanic said, “God’s shown grace on that car!” The boys were quick to help. Joey found a car while I was still in California. Josiah and Jacob made it a family affair to check it out. We were ready to drive it away, but the dealer wasn’t.

Jeremiah volunteered, “Get a Mustang. I’ll drive it for you, Mom.” His driving days have yet to come, if they do.

We still look for the right car. Harder than it should be.

We look for perfection in a world broken by our choices and sin. 

Life’s got to be more than eating, sleeping and human needs.
We yearn for a place that isn’t here.
God has put eternity in our hearts. Ecclesiastes 3:11.
That longing for something more, placed in our hearts 
by God should bring us to God.
Nothing but HIM satisfies. 

Through Him, we find meaning—not in temporary places and things, 
but through time and eternity with God—only made possible by submitting to His lordship—our heart’s fulfillment.

Jesus prepares a place for those who accepts His death as God’s payment for our sin and recognize His lordship in their lives. This place won’t have tornadoes, slugs, cracks, need painted, but will be perfect—All that we ever longed for—but it’s not the place our heart craves, but the Person—God. And God will definitely be there. That will make all the difference. 

Though this isn’t quite Christmas, may this season of your life bring you to know God in all His glory. He, alone, brings meaning to your life—both in this life and the life to come. He fulfills that longing for something more. 

Run to Him,


Joey and Sonya, Joshua and Jeremiah

No Christmas picture this year. (No one mourns more than me.) I thought it was hard to get a Christmas picture when children were small—it’s impossible when they have families of their own!
Please note our change of address: 801 S 9th Street McAlester, OK 74501

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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