"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

October 3, 2007


When I was in my early twenties, I started getting a lot of gray in my hair. Therefore, I've been coloring my hair for about twenty years now. I originally had it done at the beauty shop, but soon realized that was going to be expensive to keep up, so began doing it myself. Some women like to try to keep secret the fact that they color their hair, but this is not something that has ever bothered me. My thought is, if anyone is really paying any attention, they'll see that my hair at the temples and in my part are occasionally gray, and the next time they see me it may not be. It's just more of a hassle keeping it looking nice, more than anything else. I've told my husband that I've decided that once I turn fifty, I'm going all natural. I figure that thirty years of messing with coloring their hair should be long enough for any woman!

Although I'm the youngest sister and started getting gray first, at one time or another all of my other sisters have colored theirs also. Some have kept it up, and some thought it was too much trouble. Being the pro, when it came time for each of them to try coloring their hair, they all called me for advice on brands, colors, etc.

The funniest call came several years ago. (I won't tell from which sister!) She wanted to make sure I was alone because she didn't want anyone overhearing our conversation. She wanted to know exactly where in Walmart the hair color was located, and which brand and color she needed to buy. Afraid that someone would see her buying it, she wanted to be able to run in and pick it up as fast as possible, hopefully without running into anyone she knew. Each time she would buy it, she would do her other shopping first, so that she would have items in her cart to hide her box of hair color under.

Each of us have situations or circumstances that are personally embarrassing or hard for us to deal with. It may be anything from coloring your hair, to your husband or dad piling junk around your house. Perhaps it's the embarrassment of a family member, or the car you drive, or house you live in. What bothers one person, may not affect someone else.

We need to be considerate of feelings and be sensitive when we know that something in particular bothers someone. We may look at the situation and think that it's no big deal, so think that person is just being touchy for no reason.

At other times, we may not know the story or reasoning behind why someone is sensitive about something in particular. There have been occasions when I feel a certain way about something. Others may have dealt with similar situations and reacted differently, yet it affected me unlike it did them. In my head, I may know that it doesn't make sense or isn't a big deal, yet I have difficulty overcoming that feeling.

I have this hangup about having plenty of groceries in my refrigerator and pantry. When I start running out or get low on items, I start to panic. One of my sisters feels the same way. She told me on one occasion she ran out of flour and had this feeling of panic that she needed to go to the store right then and buy more. She didn't even use flour that often, but it was knowing that it wasn't there if she needed it. We have discussed this and feel that it's connected to growing up with our mother being so ill and our family doing without many things. We always had food to eat, but there were times when our cupboards were pretty bare, and finances were extremely tight. To some, having few groceries in their home wouldn't bother them whatsoever, but to me it's a big deal.

There are also things that are priority to some people but not to others, small things as well as bigger issues. For me, keeping my house clean is important. It doesn't have to be spotless, but I like having it orderly. It doesn't bother me to go to other people's homes and things be disorderly or messy, but it does bother me for my house to be like that.

In the area in which I grew up, there was a couple whose house always looked like a big whirlwind had passed through. Their lawn was only mowed half the time, and there might be a car motor hanging from a tree. I was inside their house a few times and was absolutely appalled. The woman would have to clean off the couch, where clothes and magazines and various other items were piled, in order to offer me a chair. Every table top would be covered with dirty dishes. Empty pop cans and potato chip bags would be lying around. I would think to myself, “How can anyone possibly live this way!?” Yet it never bothered them at all and they were happy as could be. They had lived like that their whole marriage and they didn't even think anything about it. I would have been devastated for anyone to see my house in that condition, yet it never embarrassed her at all and she would welcome in whoever stopped by.

Family situations can also be very touchy and embarrassing at times. I have talked to those who were raised with an alcoholic parent and heard the stories of what all they had to deal with during those growing up years. Drug involvement, carousing, imprisonment, abuse, and other activities can be difficult situations for families to deal with. If we would only realize how many others have encountered these same types of circumstances and that we are not a minority or alone, perhaps it would help us know that we don't have to be ashamed. But we tend to feel shame and embarrassment and try to keep those things secret and hidden, as much as possible. Perhaps one reason is because at times, people can say hurtful or judgmental things when they don't understand or haven't faced certain difficulties. Other times, people say hurtful things to try and keep the conversation and attention off from their own painful situations.

Divorce can also be a devastating family situation. It not only hurts those involved in the marriage, but any children involved. It can cut deeply and affect how they perceive relationships and marriage. At times they may think “I will never let myself be treated like that”, therefore they habitually run at the first sign of trouble. They build a wall around their heart and never let themselves love or be fully loved. Other times it can determine their sense of self worth. They have been hurt by words and actions, and allow themselves to be trampled over repeatedly by those they date and eventually by spouses. I have seen women especially, get involved in one bad relationship or marriage after another, allowing themselves to be verbally or physically abused, not thinking they deserve anything better.

Mental illnesses can bring havoc and embarrassment to a home. It affects not only the one who has the problem, but deeply involves all family members. Everyone's days revolve around and goes according to how that one person is feeling and dealing with things. It's a life filled with stress, embarrassment, heartache, and emotional roller coaster rides. No matter how much you love the one who is battling the mental illness, there is only so much you can do to help them and show your love. Yet it's not something that is easy to discuss with others and is something that is often misunderstood.

It is sometimes easy for us to look at various situations that have never touched our lives personally, or the lives of our family or friends, and we say how we would handle it differently. Until we walk a mile in someones shoes, we honestly have no idea how we would respond. We can guess how we would handle it, but we really don't know.

Some people are strong enough individuals to get through difficulties on their own, and become a better person because of it. Others may need to go through counseling sessions with a pastor or professional counselor, in order to deal with those hardships and be able to move forward. An individual may handle one situation independently and bravely, yet something else may occur that devastates them. Some find it embarrassing to admit that they or a family member need help. It's like they feel shame that they can't deal with things and figure it all out on their own, and have to go to an outside source. There are so many times when someone doesn't seek the help they need, either because of their own stubbornness, or because their family or friends shame them into thinking they are lesser, weaker individuals if they do so. I have seen where someone is desperate for help, and they go seeking for it in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways. Regardless, we as family and friends need to encourage and uphold them in our prayers.

If you are dealing with something that is an embarrassment to you, or if there is a hardship that you are struggling with, the first thing you need to do is pray and ask God to help you. Perhaps there is someone close to you that is dealing with difficult issues, and you feel helpless. Worrying and fretting will only cause you to become stressed and depressed. Asking God for guidance and help will bring peace in the middle of any and all situations. Many times in my life I have had to stop and get alone, and say, “God, I can't do this anymore. It's too hard and this burden is to heavy to carry anymore. I need you to help me and I need wisdom in how to best handle this situation. Please give me strength and let me know that you are with me.”

When I finish praying, I may not immediately know the answer. But the problem many times doesn't feel quite so large and overwhelming, and I know that God is with me. I have assurance that He heard my cry and will answer. You too can know that same peace and assurance that only comes from God.

A few scriptures of encouragement are:

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

...For your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:32-34)


I like short sayings that can really get me thinking. “What I'm telling you right now is completely and utterly false.” “What if there were no hypothetical questions?”

One of the shortest scriptures that can keep me contemplating for a long time is: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you.” [Luke 12:31] It's hard to use it as instruction. The idea is that if we want to have all our needs provided, seek the Kingdom of God, and we'll get them. But if we seek the Kingdom of God so we can get all those things, we aren't seeking the Kingdom of God FIRST. Instead, we're seeking the Kingdom of God so that we can get the things we want.

Another point about the scripture is in how it uses the word Kingdom. It's a big word, and can mean a lot of things. It can refer to a government structure, leadership, and method for selecting the next leader. It can refer to a land that is ruled by a King, or the people who live there, or both. It could also refer to the status. In more modern English, the word Kinghood might make more sense (my spell checker complains that there is no such word).

So, how do we seek the Kingdom of God (or Kinghood of God)? As with many scriptures, it probably has two meanings. In one sense, we should seek after heaven. When we are in heaven, we will have everything we need. In the other sense, we should seek to have God as our King. And that has a lot of meaning behind it, too. A King is an absolute ruler. But a King is also responsible for protecting and caring for His people. With God as our King, we give up ourselves and become His. But he also takes on the responsibility to provide for and protect us.


Stuffed Pasta Shells

4 cup (16 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese

1 (12 oz.) pkg. jumbo pasta shells, cooked and drained

1 (15 oz.) carton ricotta cheese

1 (28 oz.) jar spaghetti sauce

1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, cooked and drained

Combine cheeses and spinach; stuff into shells. Arrange in a greased baking dish. Pour spaghetti sauce over the shells. Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until heated thoroughly.


Fall has arrived and it's the time of year where your summer flowers are beginning to die back. If you would like to plant something so you will have color in your yard throughout the fall, garden mums come in a variety of colors and are easy to grow. Mums come in garden and potted plant variety, so be sure and get the garden mums to plant. The flowers on the garden mums are smaller than the potted plant variety.

If you would like to spruce up your front porch for the fall season, pots of mums can add beauty to your home. You can also purchase pumpkins to sit amidst the mums for more variety. Depending on how much money you have to spend and the room available to work with, a bale of straw can also be purchased. You can put some of the pumpkins and mums on the bale of straw, and others on the ground around it to add depth and varied height.


My family got our first telephone when my oldest sister got married and moved to Kansas. I was almost six years of age at that time. When we first had our phone installed, we were on a party line with a couple other people. My step-grandma, Gertie, was on our party line for a while. She was elderly and pretty much housebound at that time. When someone called your phone number, your phone would ring nice and clear. But when someone on your party line received a phone call, your phone would vibrate. Gertie would sit in a big chair in her living room with the phone on a little table right beside her. Anytime her phone would vibrate, she would pick it up and listen in on everyone's phone calls. She wasn't very subtle about it. You could hear her breathing at times, and she would clear her throat or cough right into the receiver without covering it up.

My dad began his own business, hauling rock for contractors to put on the outsides of houses or to build fireplaces with. Most of the contractors had to call long distance to order rock from him. Daddy began getting complaints from them that when he wasn't home, some older lady would answer the phone and tell them that she had seen us drive by and didn't know where we were going or when we'd be home. By her answering the phone, it was costing them a long distance charge. My parents knew that it had to be Gertie who was “playing secretary”, anytime we weren't home.

My mom called her and told her that if she didn't stop picking up the phone and answering when the call wasn't for her, that the phone company would come out and take her phone out. Mama was trying to get her bluff in on Gertie. Gertie told her that she couldn't tell when the call was her phone or someone on the party line, which Mama knew wasn't true. My mom had to end up calling the phone company and having Gertie moved to another party line.


When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

Just don't forget to add the sugar; or else it will be sour and make you pucker.

We love and appreciate each of you so much.

Loretta & Jon