"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

April 4, 2007



As Easter approaches, we are reminded of the ultimate sacrifice and gift of love given by Jesus.  It is hard for our minds to comprehend Jesus loving us so much, that He was willing to endure suffering and death, on our behalf.

The best example I can think of in my personal life, is so minute compared to what Christ endured for my sake.

My mother was diagnosed with colon cancer when I was eight years old.  From that time until her death, when I was fifteen, she valiantly fought to win the battle over cancer.  Over the period of seven years, Mama went through four surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, wearing a colostomy, and much pain and suffering.  Through it all, her faith in God remained steadfast and strong.  There were mornings when I heard her in the bathroom crying because of the severity of the pain.  She would be begging God to either heal her or let her die.  (I will share her story more in depth in later newsletters).

A few years after her death on February 22, 1981, one of my aunts was talking to me about Mama, and told me that the two of them had talked many times, and the reason my mom had fought so long and so hard was for my sake.  I was so young at the time, and she felt like I needed her.  Mama was concerned about me, and how I would adjust if she were no longer there to take care of me and guide me.

After my aunt told me that, I felt really guilty for several years.  I had seen firsthand the extreme suffering that Mama had dealt with, and I felt like it was my fault that she had endured it for so many years.

I was talking to one of my sister's about it a few years ago, and she was surprised that I had felt that way.  She told me that she thought I would have felt honored that Mama would love me enough, that she was willing to go through all that for me.

It made me stop and realize that Mama would never have wanted me to carry the load of guilt I had been feeling.  Mama would have wanted me to know that she had willingly chosen to fight for her life, out of love for her "baby" daughter.

I loved my Mama with my whole heart, but it wasn't until I was older and had matured, that I was able to recognize and appreciate the depth of love she had for me.

It would have been so easy to blame God and be angry at Him, for not healing Mama and not leaving her here to nurture and care for me.  I could have chosen to let bitterness reside within me, because she was taken away from her family at the age of forty-eight, when we all needed her so much.

But I know to do so would dishonor everything that my mom ever taught me and all that she stood for.  The best way I can think of to honor the legacy Mama left behind is to grow to be the Godly, Christian woman that she would have wanted me to be.  I can be a woman of integrity and follow her example of being a loving, faithful wife.  All the characteristics and traits that made her such a remarkable woman, I can choose to incorporate into my own life.  Then her suffering will not have been in vain, but the end result is a daughter who follows God and is strong in her faith.  That would have been the desire of Mama's heart, and what she would have wanted more than anything for me.

Out of his boundless love for us, God sent His only Son to suffer and die for our sins, yet how many times do we let circumstances keep us from accepting that gift?  Life doesn't go as planned or we face difficulties, so we blame God.  Or we carry around guilt for bad decisions or mistakes we have made, so we feel unworthy to come to God and ask Him for forgiveness.

The whole time He is waiting, with arms outstretched, for us to come to Him.  Can you imagine how it must break the heart of God, that He gave His only Son for mankind, yet that gift and promise of eternal life is not accepted by multitudes of individuals?  It's like people are saying, "Sorry God, I don't need Your gift."  We show dishonor by not accepting Jesus into our hearts.

The best way we can honor and thank Jesus for coming to earth and dying on the cross for our sins, is to accept His gift of salvation and live our lives for Him.  We do that by asking Jesus to come into our hearts and forgive us for our sins.  We then get to know Him and form a relationship with Him, through prayer and reading the Bible.  If we choose to do so, then His suffering was not in vain.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  (John 3:16)



The value of a gift is determined not by the amount of money the giver spends, but whether or not the receiver uses it.


A great website to visit to get cute Easter idea's is:

Yes, this is Hershey's as in Hershey's chocolate.  You will find cute ideas for Easter crafts, egg decorating, basket fillers, etc.  They even have coloring pages and activities.  Best of all, they also have really delicious recipes.



Strawberry Dream Cake

1 angel food cake 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 (2 oz.) pkg. Dream Whip 1 (8 oz.) cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup milk 1 quart diced sweet strawberries
1 tsp. vanilla

Bake cake (or buy one).  Mix Dream Whip, milk, and vanilla according to package directions.  Add powdered sugar and cream cheese.  Reserve part of mixture for frosting.  Fold in strawberries to remaining mixture.  Cut top off cake and remove.  Hollow out inside of cake.  Cube cake up that you take out and add to strawberry mixture.  Put all back in cake and put top of cake back on.  Frost with rest of Dream Whip mixture.  Refrigerate.

(forgive them)


When I was growing up, Easter was always a special occasion to celebrate.  The week leading up to Easter Sunday was always filled with activities.  Six area churches, where I grew up in Lampe, Missouri, would gather together each evening for special services.  There would be a host church, then each evening a different church would provide the music and their pastor would preach.  On Sunday morning, there would be a sunrise service.  The church was always full each evening and it was a time of not only different denominations coming together, but the people within the community.  On Easter Sunday, the "Horton girls" would always have new homemade dresses and new shoes.  Mama made our dresses each year, until my older sisters learned how to sew and began making their own.  (Which is a skill I never learned very well, nor did I have any desire to learn!)  To this day, it's hard for me not to buy a new dress and shoes to wear Easter Sunday.  In my mind, that's just what you're supposed to do.  When I was in elementary school, we would always have a party and egg hunt the Friday before Easter.  Mama would boil some eggs, which were laid by our own chickens, and we would use food coloring to dye them (the eggs, not the chickens!).  On Sunday following the morning service, there would also be an egg hunt for the kids at church.  When we got home, I remember my parents or one of my sisters, hiding the eggs I had found at church and brought home, out in our front yard.  I would have my own private egg hunt.  I always associated Easter with the beginning of warm weather and springtime.  It was about that time, that my dad would hook an old mule or horse up to a hand plow and would get our garden ready for planting.  It also meant running around barefoot and playing outside.  To this day, I still spend hours outdoors every spring just sitting and admiring the green grass, the trees budding out, the flowers blooming and all the color and beauty of God's creation.  Each day, I can see new growth and something different.  I love the newness and freshness of life that both Easter and springtime represent.


May the message of this Easter season be real and fresh in your heart.  May your eyes view the beauty of God's creation and the newness of spring with eyes of appreciation.  May you stop and take the time to see the handiwork of God in your life and the world He has made for our enjoyment.  May your heart be filled with thankfulness and praise when you consider the blessings God has bestowed upon you and yours.  My prayer for each of you is that you will experience the love of God as never before, during this Easter season.

(I love ewe)

Loretta Gray

I have so much appreciated the response and e-mails received the past few weeks regarding this newsletter.  It makes my day when I hear from someone who is reading our website and enjoying it and being ministered to by something that has been written.  You may not think that hearing from you means anything to me, but every message is an encouragement and blessing to me.  Thank you so much, for not only reading this newsletter each week, but for sharing our website with others.  Please keep your e-mails coming!

I would like to share one of the e-mails I have received from a reader:

I just finished reading the story about your wedding ring.  The first thought that came to me, that just like your ring Jesus to was broken (cut) for each of us and that his blood was shed for us.  You really do have a gift for words please continue to put down your thoughts and pass them on to others.

(pink sheep)