"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

January 12, 2011


This past Christmas was one of the best I've ever had; of course, I always think every year is my favorite and best. I just thoroughly enjoy Christmas and am always a little disappointed and let down when it's over each year.

My sister, Janie, and I were telling one another about our Christmas. She got to have both grandkids at her house, which was a lot of fun. But she said the one they all enjoyed watching opening gifts the most was Devin, their "son" by guardianship. Devin is 8, and no matter what the gift was, he was absolutely thrilled and each one was his favorite. My nephew got him a remote control motorcycle and that was his favorite. But when he opened up a flannel shirt, he really liked it and that was also his favorite. It didn't matter how much the gift cost, if it was a toy or something to wear, or who gave it to him. Each gift was equally appreciated and his eyes would light up with excitement.

Before Christmas my sister kept asking what he wanted for Christmas, and Devin couldn't think of anything. Finally, he told her he'd like a little matchbox car. He already has many! The thing is, if that was all he had got he would have been happy. Devin is a special kid and unspoiled in many ways. He is very good to say thanks, and is sincerely appreciative of everything he's given.

I've heard the saying before: "Have an attitude of gratitude." So far, Devin has a very grateful attitude; and hopefully he will remain that way as he gets older. We could all learn a lesson from him. He is basically deaf and has very little speech, but he is happy and very contented.

In many ways, I'm very grateful and thankful for what I have. But I also tend to have a huge wish list! Often I'll comment, "I wish I had......" Someone will get something and I'll say, "I'd like to have that." I'm always wanting, wanting, wanting.....

My great-nephew, Jax, is a year and a half old. My niece and her husband, Janee' and Jeremy, were opening Christmas presents with his family. Jax was opening up lots of fun toys and was very excited. But then he opened up a gift from his grandparents and they had bought him clothes. He looked at it and said, "No!" and started crying. Of course, his parents were embarrassed but Jeremy's parents thought it was funny. Jeremy's mom told him that he was just getting paid back for when he was little. His grandmother had bought him a sweater one year for Christmas and called to ask if he liked it. His response was a very blunt, "No".

Jax responded like a typical one year old. He hasn't yet learned tact and has no concept of rudeness. He knows what he likes and doesn't like and reacts accordingly. That's acceptable for a toddler, but not quite so cute when an adult behaves that way.

Not only can we often be spoiled in life and want our own way and want what we want, when we want it, but we also can become spiritual brats. We're grateful as long as God is doing things the way we want Him to, and is answering our prayers the way we want them to be answered. But let one thing happen that's unexpected or not to our liking and we begin to whine and complain. "No! Why are you putting me through this and allowing this to happen? Have I not been a good person and lived for You?" We become disgruntled and sometimes even angry. Maybe not physically, but we're basically lying down and throwing a temper tantrum because we didn't get our way and God did something we didn't like.

Psalm 92:1 says, "It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High."

Does this mean we're to only give thanks when we're being blessed and life is good?

1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

The scripture doesn't say to only be thankful when all our prayers are being answered and we have everything we want. It doesn't say to only give thanks when we're feeling healthy and strong. We're not admonished to give thanks to the Lord only when our family is all doing well. And it doesn't say to give thanks when we're financially secure and can go out and buy whatever we want or think we need.

But we are told that it is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord. Why? Because this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for each of us. It's not just a good, helpful suggestion that could be beneficial if we chose to follow it. But the scripture says that this is the will of God for us. In all things we're to give thanks.

We don't always know what God is up to when things happen. We don't always know the reason why things occur. And some things we may never understand in this life. But there are times when God knows what's best for us, although we can't see it at the time.

Jax thought all he needed was more toys. But his mommy and daddy had told the grandparents that he was growing and in need of clothes and shoes. Jax didn't see or understand that, and that wasn't what he wanted when he unwrapped the gift box with clothing inside. But those who are older and wiser and more mature knew what he needed most. He may not realize it and may take it for granted, but clothes and shoes are much more needed than new toys to play with. When it's cold outside, toys won't keep him warm and protect him from frostbite and sickness.

I want to develop an attitude of gratitude. I want to learn from Devin and be thankful for whatever I have. I want to be grateful; regardless if it's the latest and greatest and really cool, or if it's something older that's somewhat worn and not quite as up-to-date and trendy. I want to rejoice with others when they get something new that I would like to have; and not always think I have to have everything I want.

My sister and niece both received a Kindle for Christmas. I'm and avid reader and after seeing how much they are enjoying theirs, tend to think I should have one now, too. But I know that I don't particularly need one, and have plenty of other books to read without one. Yes, it would be nice to have but not something we necessarily should spend money on right now. We have other expenses that are more important and a priority at this time.

Jon has a cool iPhone and I have an older phone that gives me problems from time to time. The thing is, I was qualified to upgrade to a new phone but Jon wasn't, so the company let me give my renewal to Jon so he could get the phone (it was a birthday gift from me). They then put my phone on Jon's old renewal date to be able to upgrade and I'm not eligible until the end of this coming June. I've seen the new iPhone 4 and would like both myself and Jon to get one because they have "face talk", so we could call each other when he's out of town and see each other as we talked. But since we're not eligible for new phones right now, it would be expensive to buy new phones. That's not wise or feasible for us to do right now. And we'd each have to have a new phone in order for the face talk to work. Yes, it would be really cool to have and it's tempting to run out and buy them; especially if Jon has to travel out of town anytime soon. But that's not a wise choice in how to spend our money at this particular time. As Jon would say, "Patience, honey! You need to have patience and maybe one day we'll be able to afford to get them!"

I have wants and wishes and desires. And sometimes I give into those without giving it a lot of thought because I know if I wait, wisdom will kick in and I'll talk myself out of it. Jon tells me that I lack in patience, which is true. Sometimes if I'd just wait, I may still obtain some of the things I want, but it would come at a more reasonable time or when we could better afford it. That's what anniversary and birthday and Christmas gifts are for! getting those thing that are splurges or wishes. And there have actually been times when I've really thought I just had to have something, only to later realize it was a whim. Or something better comes along, and I'm glad that I was patient and waited.

There was something in particular that I kept mentioning earlier this year that I really, really wanted. At the time, I thought it would be the greatest thing ever and absolutely wonderful. Jon planned to surprise me and give that to me for Christmas. Only when it came down to it and I began to really research and look at details, I discovered that it wasn't quite as wonderful as I had anticipated in my mind. He ended up getting me something different for Christmas that I've used much more and has been more beneficial for me. Sometimes what we daydream in our minds makes things much more awesome than reality really is.

This year one of my greatest desires is to become more thankful. I want to be grateful and happy when Jon and I are being blessed and our needs are being met. But I also want to be just as grateful and happy when finances are tight and we have insurance and bills to pay or unexpected and unplanned expenses and have to pinch pennies. I want to have a thankful heart when I'm healthy and feeling great and also if I have allergies or a cold. I don't want my circumstances to dictate my thankfulness. May we all choose to obey the scriptures and give thanks in everything. That's the will of God for us on a daily basis.


I've been reading Job lately. It really is a depressing book. Fortunately for us readers, though, it starts with a discussion between God and Satan. We get to know that Satan plans to plague poor Job to try to get him to curse God, and that God allows it to demonstrate Job's faithfulness.

Job never knew about God's discussion with Satan. All he knew was that his kids all died, his sheep died, his cattle died, etc. And later, he got sick with some kind of rash. I don't know what kind of rash it was, but it was bad enough that Job started cursing the day he was born and wishing his parents had drown him when he was born, and wishing he would die in a variety of ways. He didn't curse God, and he didn't blaspheme. But he did blame God for all his pain and loss, even though we as readers know God wasn't the one cursing Job.

That's not that uncommon. Nearly all of us go through tough times. But we never get to read that first chapter that explains why. If he'd understood, it might have made his ordeal easier to take. Then again, it might have made it much worse.


Taco Soup

1-2 lb. Hamburger

1 pkg. Dry Ranch dressing mix

1 can whole kernel corn

1 can diced green chiles (optional)

2 cans Ranch-Style beans

Onion, chopped

2-3 cans Ro-tel

2 pkg. Taco Seasoning mix

Brown hamburger and onion together; drain. Pul all ingredients in a crock-pot. (You can substitute stewed tomatoes for one of the cans of Rotel, if desired. Also, I don't add the can of green chiles since I use all Rotel tomatoes.) Slow cook. You can cook on high if you are in a hurry, or on low if you are busy and want it to cook for several hours. To serve: crunch up tortilla chips in bottom of each individual bowl, ladle in soup, top with sour cream and shredded cheese. Reheats very well.


Jon recently trimmed some limbs that were hanging over our roof. Apparently the squirrels weren't hanging around watching him when he did the work and were unaware that Jon cut off their "jumping branches". The next day, Jon and I were taking our regular Sunday afternoon nap and heard a noise on the roof above our bedroom that soon became obnoxious. A squirrel had jumped off the big limb that goes across the roof of our house, then had no way of getting off the roof back into the tree. Previously there were branches hanging low enough to brush the rooftop, so they had their own jungle gym. After Jon did the trim work, the squirrels no longer had access from the roof back up to the tree. We heard a confused squirrel running circles overhead trying to find a way off the roof. And it ran and ran and ran and ran..... right overhead. Jon finally got up and stuck a board out the window of another bedroom and propped it from the rooftop to the roof of our back porch, thinking he was giving the squirrel a ramp down. But from what we can tell, the poor squirrel got scared out of its mind when it saw a board coming over the edge of the roof and jumped. We never found it in our yard, so we are guessing it survived. But it learned it's lesson and must have passed the word on to all it's friends and family because we haven't heard anymore squirrels on our roof since that time.


Other people's opinion of you does not have to become your reality. -Les Brown


We love you!

Loretta & Jon