Chapter 10 – Copyright 2023 – Carla J. Wood
Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.
Gary’s new job was not close to our house, but a twenty-three-mile drive into the canyon. With shift work that took more family time away from us, I had a hard time getting used to the new routine. We finally did adjust, and I began to focus on our family and made plans to homeschool Shawn. The nearest school was fifteen miles away and on Pacific Time with us living on Mountain Time, so I became serious about teaching him at home. Shawn was four at this time and eager to learn to read. So, we started a year early with light Kindergarten phonics. That was the start of nine years of homeschooling that would prove to be a huge God-planned blessing in our lives giving us extended family time we would treasure someday.
The boys loved our larger home and the front door wilderness with the Snake River just a few hundred yards below our home. Our boys were blessed with many places to play inside and outside our home, so we were eager to ask God to fill up our large home with more children. Thinking I might be pregnant before we moved, I had bought a pregnancy test and finally decided to try it one day in June. One night when Gary was on swing shift arriving home at 11:30 PM, I left a little positive test result on his pillow with a note saying, “Happy Early Father’s Day.” Pretending I was asleep, it was fun to peak and see the shocked expression on his face followed with joy in his eyes as he reached down and kissed my forehead.
At that point, I loved raising boys and, because of my difficult relationship with my mom, was scared to have girls, so I seriously hoped for three sons, with one of my old favorite TV shows being My Three Sons. Taylor, still rambunctious and active, motivated me to pray for a quiet and happy baby. Some days I felt I’d over-prayed for a peaceful baby since the new bundle was so prone to moving only about once an hour. This solitude was a great answer to prayer, and it gave me more than enough sleep but sometimes I was worried the baby wasn’t alive.
At five months into the pregnancy, I slipped going down the steep basement stairs bouncing to the bottom. With the closest and small hospital 75 miles away, we were going to have this baby in Boise, a three-hour drive. I called the hospital after a half hour waiting to see if the baby moved – it didn’t. They told me to get ready and come to town and if he moved while I was getting ready to call back. No positive results, Gary and I drove to Boise. They did a non-stress test, and the baby was fine. During the ultrasound, the technician asked if I wanted to know what gender this baby was. We hadn’t thought about finding out since Shawn and Taylor were surprises, but when I looked over at the ultrasound screen, it was obvious, we would have our three sons. We were very happy to have another boy!
In late February 1992, Andrew, affectionately called Drew, came into the world with hardly a peep. He was a happy baby right from the start. We took him home when he was three days old. One of Shawn’s little friends, came to visit, and started singing Pop Goes the Weasel! Every time he got to the “Pop!” part, Drew would laugh! We couldn’t believe it, so we had our little friend wait awhile then try it again. “Pop! Goes the weasel!” Drew laughed again. It was amazing. Praying for a happy and quiet baby, God had answered my prayers in unique way. He had kissed us with another special child.
Our three sons were so fun, and their individual sweet personalities blessed our hearts. Taylor was the most energetic with Shawn being the natural leader and so fatherly and kind to Drew who made us smile all the time. Like all siblings, they fought, but living in a remote area they were each other’s best playmates. They had friends at our church which was below our home near the river. God had given us another family with our little Oxbow church and wonderful neighbors with many young ones to play with. As a family, we went on camping trips often, drove into the forest to get our Christmas trees, swam in the river, and took hikes through the many amazing places in Hell’s Canyon.
Soon God blessed us again with another healthy pregnancy. This baby moved in graceful sweeps, but it was a much different pregnancy, and I was extremely sick and emotional. For no reason at all, tears would just start flowing from my eyes. Midway through this pregnancy I watched Gary and the boys wrestle with lots of yelling for about a half hour. I burst into tears and Gary asked what was wrong. “This baby HAS to be a girl! I DO need a girl!”, I sobbed. Gary was pretty sure with my emotions it would be a girl.
With ultrasounds common by 1993, I had one at 20 weeks explaining my strange emotional state. It was a girl! We walked out of the doctor’s office and a man was selling long stemmed roses. Gary sweetly walked over and bought me a pink rose. I was ready for a little girl and ready to start buying pink! We decided to give her the name Bethany.
On the worst snow day of the year, in February 1994 Bethany joined our family. I finally felt our family was complete. Our boys loved their little sister. She was the icing on the cake and her brothers adored her. Life moved on and we seemed to have the perfect life. Once again, I thought life couldn’t get any better. She would soon prove to be a little princess girl who could hold her own boxing with her brothers in her pink tutu.
Shawn and Taylor both asked Jesus to be their best friend at Oxbow, both around the age of four. Like most kids, Shawn, wanted to avoid hell and get his ticket to Heaven. He was a really well-behaved little guy and didn’t seem to see a need for Jesus to help him be good, but he understood he wasn’t perfect, Jesus loved him, and he wanted to be with him in Heaven and be his best friend on Earth. Taylor was another story. Around the time Bethany was born, he was going through the worst of his stubborn streaks. At prayer time one night, he asked why Shawn didn’t get into as much trouble as he did. I told him that we are all different, but Shawn had asked Jesus to be his Savior and the Holy Spirit was in his heart helping him to make wise choices. Taylor thought for a minute and said, “I think I’d betta get Jesus in my hawt!” I told Taylor that God gave him a strong spirit and since he was letting Jesus be Lord of his life, he and Jesus would do great things and have great adventures together.
After this decision, Taylor truly became much easier to live with and was kinder to his siblings. He still maintained his adventurous spirit and began to see life as a quest with Jesus but was still a normal boy and got into trouble like all kids, but there was a distinct change, and we all were relieved. He loved Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, The Great Adventure, or as Taylor called it, “Saddle up Yo Hoeses!” Every morning after Bible time, he would grab his wooden stick horse and get the others to do the same. We would play Steven’s song and run around the living room claiming our great adventure in Jesus. This song would prove to be the anthem of Taylor’s life.
Taylor wanted other children to know Jesus and sometimes let his honesty first policy in his evangelism go to the extreme. One summer afternoon, I was playing with Bethany and talking with my friend and her visiting nieces in my house. All the other children were playing out in our back yard. Suddenly, Shawn came running into the house yelling.
“Mom, Taylor just told Junior, he was going to hell because he’s a Mormon!” Mortified, I got up whispering, “Help me, Jesus!”
My friend followed me, smartly commenting, “I’m going to watch this one!”
I found Taylor playing happily out on the swing set next to twelve-year-old Junior’s backyard where he and his parents were hoeing their garden next to the fence, hiding the need to burst into laughter. Rather than let it pass and take him inside, the Lord pushed me to openly expose Taylor and all to the truth at hand.
“Taylor what did you tell Junior?”
“I toed him he’s goin’ to hehw because he’s a Mow-man,” he nonchalantly replied.
“Taylor, people don’t go to hell because they are Mormons, they go to hell if they haven’t asked Jesus to be Lord of their life. You need to ask Junior if he has asked Jesus to be Lord of his life.”
Taylor twisted the swing around. “Junyo, do yo have Jesus in yo haht?”
Junior sweetly told Taylor he did, and I replied, “Well there you go, Taylor. You have nothing to worry about.”
Junior and his parents were humorously touched by Taylor’s concern for Junior. I was blessed to have such gracious neighbors and friends plus a son who cared for the souls of others. He and Shawn led two other boys to Jesus in our car going to t-ball practice one day as well. I was amazed at my boys’ natural desire to share God’s love. This started our family on an amazing journey with our kids showing concern for others and their place in God’s kingdom.
By Steven Curtis Chapman
Saddle up your horses
We’ve got a trail to blaze
Through the wild blue yonder of God’s amazing grace
Let’s follow our Leader into the glorious unknown
This is the life like no other, whoa oh!
This is the Great Adventure!