March 28, 2007

"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'" Luke 15:4-6


Fear is an emotion we have all felt at one time or another. It may be something that is temporary and lasts for only a short while, or something that we deal with for prolonged periods of time.

For centuries, parents have calmed the fears of their children. Somehow, just knowing that Daddy or Mama is there makes things better.

I am the youngest of five girls. When my sister, Janie, began sharing a bed with me, Mama would lay by us sometimes to get me to sleep. If I was lying still and not crying for Mama, Janie would say, "Loretta, are you scared? Do you want Mama to lay by us?" If that didn't work, she would think of something to say to scare me. She felt like she was too big to admit that she was scared herself. Finally, I would start crying, and Janie would say, "Mama, Loretta is crying." Mama would come to our bed and either lay down beside us, or stand beside the bed and gently rock the bed with her knee as she sang to us. No matter how wide awake Janie was when Mama came into the room, just having her there would make my sister sleepy.

No matter our age, sometimes we may face situations where we need the comfort of having someone there with us. Knowing that we have their love and support, gets us through our difficulties. In my own life, when a problem arises that causes me worry or grief, it is comforting to know that my awesome husband is there to tell me that everything is going to be okay. I also have the strong support of four wonderful sisters, who I can call, and know that they will pray with me. When it's silly things that I'm fretting about, I can count on Jon or one of my sisters to make me laugh, and show me how unnecessary and pointless my worry is. At times, laughter really is the best medicine and helps us get our focus off our circumstances.

There may be situations that arise unexpectedly that causes us to be afraid. Luke chapter two tells the story of the birth of Jesus. There was a group of shepherds out in the field, watching their sheep. I'm sure that this was something many of them had done, day after day, for years. An angel suddenly appeared and the glory of the Lord shone all around them, and they were very afraid. The first words the angel spoke, before giving them the good news, was, "Fear not." I think the angel knew that in order for the shepherds to hear and receive the message, their fears had to first be calmed.

At other times, our fear may be something that consumes us, and as it takes root, begins to grow. Our mind and imagination can be very powerful when we're afraid.

When I was growing up, stormy weather never really frightened me. Maybe it was having my family there with me that gave me assurance. In 1995, I was single and living alone in Lampe, MO, when I bought a new mobile home. I had been living in an old, run-down trailer, and was thrilled with my new purchase. The house had a pitched, metal roof. When the wind blew hard, it was very loud, and the roof sounded as if it were going to blow off. The way the windows were placed, you could see the lightning flash throughout the whole house. I became scared of storms. Over time, it seemed as if this fear continued to grow, until I got to the point where I was absolutely terrified every time there was wind and lightning. During the day, it didn't bother me, because I could see what was going on. But at night, when it was dark and I couldn't see what was happening, I became afraid. It seemed as if storms would hit during the night, ninety-nine percent of the time. The bathroom was the only room without a window, and sometimes I would go in there and shut the door, so I couldn't see the lightning. Other times, I would turn on all the lights in the house.

One Sunday afternoon, I talked to my oldest sister on the phone, and she told me about a conversation she had with someone from a former church she and her husband had pastored. That spring, a tornado had hit the area where they lived. They were standing in their parents' house watching the storm, and saw the tornado pick up a family members mobile home, and it exploded in the air.

A couple of days later, I was sitting in my living room, with all the windows shut and the air conditioning on, watching a movie. One of my sister's called and asked if I was okay. I had no idea what she was talking about. She said they had just heard that a tornado had been spotted in the town located a few miles from where I lived. I looked out the window and saw it was lightning. About that time the wind hit, and my electric went off. I panicked, slammed down the phone, dropped to my knees and yelled, "God, help me!" All I could picture in my mind was a tornado hitting, picking my mobile home up and it exploding in the air, with me inside. It is strange the thoughts that go through your mind, when you panic. I had my nightgown on, and I remember thinking, "If my house explodes, no telling where I'll end up. If someone finds me in a tree somewhere, I want to be fully clothed." I ran into my bedroom and threw on jeans, t-shirt, and even tennis shoes. I ran outside to my car and took off like a mad woman to a nearby cousin's house. Not the smartest thing to do in the middle of a potential tornado! A short time later, the storm was over, and both my home and I were safe. The next day, when I thought about my reaction it was kind of funny. But I also realized that my fear of storms was a real problem, and that it was getting out of hand. I didn't want to spend my life consumed and paralyzed with fright, every time there was bad weather. I prayed and confessed my fear, ask God to please deliver me, and from that moment on I was no longer gripped with terror when it stormed. Shortly thereafter, a storm moved through the area during the night and I slept through it. I only found out about it the following day. Whenever the weather was severe, even if I woke up, I would feel calm. If those old fears tried to creep back in, Bible verses would come to mind, and I would fall back asleep.

Mark 4:35-41 is the story of the disciples and Jesus in a ship, out in the middle of the sea. It was evening and Jesus was lying in the back of the boat, sleeping. The disciples became afraid when a storm hit. They woke Jesus up and asked, "Do you not care that we are perishing?" Jesus rebuked the wind and spoke these words to the sea, "Peace, be still." The wind ceased and there was a great calm. Jesus asked them why they were so fearful, and how it was that they had no faith.

In the midst of any storms that we may face in our lives, whether it be internal or something external that we fear, if we will place our faith and trust in God, He will speak peace to those situations.

When fear arises within you; whether it be something fleeting, family situations, lack or loss of finances, job security, health issues, or any number of things; give those things to God and allow him to calm your fears. Whatever you may face, Jesus knows all about it, and is ready to speak to your situation and say, "Peace, be still."

Scripture's that helped me are:

(Jesus holding a lamb)


"Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn't stop to enjoy it." -W. Feather


Hidden Valley Ranch Oyster Crackers

3/4 cup oil

1 (10 oz.) pkg Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix (dry)

1/2 tsp. dill weed

1/4 tsp. lemon pepper

1/4 tsp. garlic pepper

12 to 16 oz. plain oyster crackers

Whisk together the first five ingredients. Pour over crackers, stirring to coat.

Place on baking sheet and bake at 275 for 15-20 minutes.



To keep weeds out of your flower or vegetable garden, put down layers of newspaper and cover with mulch. We have been told that the Amish in Pennsylvania do this.


In the story of creation, God "spoke" everything into existence, until he got to man. Then in Genesis 2:7, we read where God "formed" man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. God didn't just speak man into existence, but he took the time to come down and fashion and create him. That shows how much love God had for mankind. His love for people has never changed. Today, God stills takes the time to form and give the breathe of life to each and every individual.

I love ewe

May the blessings of God abundantly enrich your life.

Loretta Gray

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