"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!'"
December 31, 2008
Happy New Year
It's hard to believe that another year has already come and gone. Time seems to go by so quickly; and the older I get, the faster it goes. It doesn't seem as if it's been that long since the beginning of 2008, and now it's come to an end.
This has truly been a blessed year for Jon and me. Jon started working for a new company this year, which has been such a wonderful opportunity for him. We can see how God led Jon to this position. Both the owner and Jon's boss are Christians, as well as many of the other employees, which makes for a great working environment. It has truly been a tremendous blessing for Jon.
I've been able to stay home again this year. I love being a homemaker and with Jon's present position, I'm able to continue doing so. I thank God everyday for this awesome blessing and opportunity. And furthermore, Jon enjoys having me here to take care of things; and he especially likes me doing the yard work so that he doesn't have to. It's nice that he gets to enjoy his evenings and weekends, and sit down and relax after a hard day at work; without having to worry about mowing or helping me with the housework or cooking or paying bills or grocery shopping, etc. (which he did help with when I was working full time). I'm able to take care of all those things during the day. He's very proud that he is able to support the two of us without me having to work outside the home. We know that in this day and age and with the economy the way that it is, not many wives are able to enjoy this privilege. So we feel very honored and blessed.
My sisters and I fixed up the house where we grew up in Missouri, in the spring of this year. Jon and I spent at least one or two weekends a month there since that time. We thoroughly enjoy spending time in the country at my family homestead. Walking in the woods, and sitting out in the yard enjoying the fresh air is very relaxing for us. We love the peace and quiet, the beauty of nature, and not being surrounded by the noise of traffic and people. Even though I live in the city now, I'm still a country girl at heart, and get homesick for the serenity and slower pace of country living. Occasionally getting to go back where I grew up helps me cope with that. And Jon has decided that he is truly a country boy at heart too. We both love and thoroughly enjoy the time that we get to spend in Missouri. Plus it's nice getting to see some of my aunts and uncles and cousins.
We also have had several opportunities to spend time with members of both of our families this year. There's something special about being with siblings, nieces and nephews, and parents. Friends can sometimes come and go, but your relatives are there for keeps. And we are blessed to have such awesome families.
Both of us have been blessed with great health, and neither of us have been sick much at all this past year; except for an occasional stuffy nose or headache.
Yes, we have been abundantly blessed and praise God everyday for His provision and goodness to us. We try to always have a thankful heart and not take these things for granted.
We know that many of our family and friends have experienced both blessing and sorrow this past year. Jon's niece had a beautiful baby girl in July. We celebrated Jon's father's 70th birthday this year. Jon's parents were able to retire. One of my nephews and his wife had a sweet baby girl in March.
But there was also sorrow this past year. Jon's grandmother passed away in November, after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Two of my former co-workers and friends from my banking days in Missouri passed away; one in the spring and the other in the fall. A cousin of mine died suddenly the Sunday after Thanksgiving. A lady whom I'd know for many years, and whose family attended the same church as I did when I was a teenager, also passed away. I have uncles and aunts whose health has deteriorated over this past year. So 2008 has been filled with a myriad of emotions, and filled with both highs and lows.
It's easy at times to look back and have regrets. There is a saying that "Hindsight is always twenty-twenty." There are always things that we could have done differently or choices that could have been better or mistakes that we made. But as we all know, in life there are no do-overs. What we can do though, is learn from those particular incidences and our mistakes. We can allow those situations to make us better and stronger people, instead of letting it ruin our lives and make us bitter or filled with guilt.
The year 2008 has come to an end, and we can't go back and make any changes. What's done is done and it's now in the past. What we now have an opportunity to do is start 2009 with a fresh slate -- a new beginning. We can choose to look back and let our past ruin our future; or we can let the past stay behind us and choose to move forward.
We have a choice right now to allow God to make everything new in our lives as we look forward to what is ahead of us. Don't live regretting past mistakes and sins, burdened down by a heavy load of self-condemnation and guilt. But allow God to forgive you of those things, and give you a fresh new beginning. Start this year out with a different outlook and take hold of the new opportunities that lie ahead of you.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new."
Every year on New Year's eve, I used to take a few moments and look back over the year and reflect. What good did I do? Did anyone benefit from anything that I did? What mistakes did I make that needed to be corrected so that I won't make them again? What could I learn from the past year so that the following year would be better? What changes do I need to make to become a better person and fulfill the role that God created me for?
All of our lives are filled with surprised and none of us can plan or know exactly what the future will hold in store for us. It's pretty much a guarantee that 2009 will hold unexpected things for each of us. Some of us may face tragedy or sorrow that catches us unaware. Others may encounter much blessing and unexpected surprises. Most of us may experience a year that has a mixture of the good in with the bad. None us know what all is going to happen.
I do know that our family is going to grow -- NO! Not mine and Jon's personally!!! Jon's nephew and wife are expecting their second child in January. I have a niece and her husband expecting their first child the first week of May, and another nephew and his wife expecting their third child about a week or so later. And all three babies are supposed to be boys.
With a new president taking office in January, none of us know how that will affect our nation or economy. With the ongoing war in Iraq and bailouts, we cannot predict what will happen in those areas either. There is much uncertainty in so many areas of our society. Just as the 9-11 tragedy that occurred so suddenly and unexpected, none of us know what could possibly happen on any given day.
Yet there is one certainty that we can always rely on. God, the Creator of all life and the whole universe, will never ever change. He is that One solid factor that we can depend on, regardless of what else may happen in our personal life, health, family, community, job, or nation.
Hebrews 13: 8 declares that, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."
He's the same God today, as when He protected and guided the Israelites out of Egypt. He's the same who was with Noah and his family in the ark during the flood. He's the same God who was with Esther, when she risked everything to speak to the king on behalf of her people, saving the Jewish people from death. He was with David when he faced Goliath, and when he was running for his life from Saul; just as He is with us when we face uncertain situations. God was with Mary and Joseph there in the stable. He is the still the same God who was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo when they were thrown into the fiery furnace, and with Daniel when he was thrown into the den of lions. God hasn't changed from the One who was there when Paul and Silas and Peter and John the Baptist were all in prison. He is that same God today, as the God who was there when His Son, Jesus, was being crucified on a cross.
In each and every situation throughout history, God was present. There is nothing that surprises Him. We may face new and sometimes scary circumstances, but although it's new to us, it's not new to God. He has dealt with every imaginable scenario and situation possible. And there is nothing that is too difficult for Him. The world will never become so chaotic or crowded that He can't keep up with what all is going on. God's eyes will always be on each and every individual. None of us are ever out from under His ever-watchful eyes. God has always been and will always be every present and all-knowing.
So as we look towards the new year, we don't have to live in fear and worry about what the future holds. It may look uncertain at times, but we can trust that God is there with us every step of the way. He will never turn His back on us or leave us. We can put our hope, trust, and faith securely in God.
We pray that 2009 is a blessed year for each and every one of you. Regardless of what each of us may face this year, may we all firmly keep our eyes on God. He will never let us down or disappoint us, if we truly trust Him.
Happy New Year to you and your family. We love you and thank you for reading our newsletter. It's a blessing to be able to write it each week, and we pray that something we have to say will encourage you. God bless you all.
Leviticus 25 describes the Year of Jubilee. Deuteronomy 15 says to forgive debts and release slaves each seven years (to other Hebrews). Either time is a time of forgiveness and new starts. It's like a reset button of life. We tend to celebrate that each January 1.
A period of seven years comes up a lot in The Bible. Jacob had to serve his father-in-law seven for each wife. Egypt had seven years of feast and seven years of famine when Joseph lived there. And many scholars interpret The Revelation to mean that The Tribulation will last seven years, divided so that half is The Tribulation and half is The Great Tribulation. Many others interpret it to mean The Tribulation will last seven years and The Great Tribulation will last another seven years.
It may seem like a hard connection, but The Tribulation is much like the seventh year described in Deuteronomy. It will be one last chance for people who had rejected Christ to wake up. Even in my own life, I can see that it's often in adversity or desperation that people turn to Christ. A series of unnatural disasters may be the only thing that will convince those people left after the Rapture to look to God for relief. For those who accept Christ's salvation, The Tribulation will be freeing.
1 (7 oz.) jar Marshmallow Creme
1 (8 oz.) carton soft Cream Cheese
Mix these two ingredients together. Serve as a dip for cut up fruit.
For most of the years that I worked at the bank in Missouri, we processed and mailed out our own bank statements. We had them cycle so that they would cut four times a month, and depending on what type of account you had depended on when your statement was processed. Our data center would print them out for us, then we would [by hand] match the customers checks to the statement and count each item to make sure that they had as many checks and deposits as the statement said they did. Then we'd stuff the statement and checks into an envelope, seal it, and then finally postage them and mail them out.
The envelopes we used were thankfully self-stick, which made things go a lot faster and easier. The glue across the flap was probably an inch wide and was thick and gummy. I once had a new employee and the first time we processed statements after she was hired, either me or one of my bookkeepers showed her what to do, and we sat her up at a desk and let her get to work. I was busy myself and really wasn't paying any attention to her. Some time later I glanced over at her to make sure she was doing okay, and thought, "Surely she's not sitting there doing what it looks like she's doing!!" Bewildered, I asked, "Are you licking every envelope?!" Yes, she was! I know that being supervisor, I shouldn't have laughed, but it struck me as being funny. Of course, when I asked, all the other women stopped what they were doing and all looked up and giggled. With the glue being so thick and gummy, I didn't even consider that I would need to tell her that they were self-stick and she didn't have to lick them. I'm sure the glue had to have tasted nasty. We all had a good laugh about it, and thankfully after her initial embarrassment, she had a good sense of humor about it and laughed too. I did learn from that experience to tell the new employees to not lick the envelopes!
"Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present." - unknown
We pray that 2009 will be filled with blessing for you and your family.
We love you!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read our newsletter. We appreciate you very much.
Loretta & Jon