"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

July 25, 2012


As I write this, I have just returned from an early morning dentist appointment. I have a crown on the bottom right side of my mouth on the next to the back tooth. Lately when I eat it feels as if the crown has perhaps raised up a tad and is hitting the top tooth when I chew on that side. Then a couple days ago, it began feeling sensitive when I drank anything cold. I thought that the crown, which is 15-20 years old, had perhaps slipped up a bit or had a crack in it.

The dentist did an x-ray and checked the tooth. The x-ray showed that the crown was still firmly in place and doing well. The dentist asked if I knew for sure that the crown was the problem. No, that was just the assumption I had made. In the past, I have had a crown come out while eating so knew that could happen, and knew that was the vicinity of the problem, so assumed that was the issue. He began checking and asking questions and found that the problem was the very back tooth behind the crown. It had a crack in it, causing part of the tooth to slightly raise. That was what I felt hitting when I chewed on that side, not the crown. And the crack was causing the sensitivity to cold beverages.

The dentist gave me two options: I could have him put a filling in the crack and it would temporarily fix the problem, but was not a long-term solution. Or I could have a crown put on that tooth.

My first intuition was to just have a filling put in, then deal with a crown later if the filling didn't work. That was the easiest, cheapest solution. But then I found that our dental insurance would pay 60% of the cost of a crown if I got it now, but they would not pay anything towards the cost of a crown for at least 2 years if I got a filling in that tooth now. That meant if the filling didn't work and the tooth ended up cracking more or there were other issues with it during the next couple years, then we would be out the full amount of having a crown put on. So even though it cost more right now than having a filling put in and was more painful and more time consuming, the best long-term solution was to go ahead and get the crown now. Instead of potentially paying $850 down the road, my cost for getting the crown now was $365, more or less.

The definition of assumption is: a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.

We may not think of it as such, but we daily make assumptions about things. Most of them are things that we really don't put thought into, such as my assuming that when Jon leaves for work in the mornings that he will return back home around 5:00-5:30. I assume that when I get into our car or truck to go somewhere that it's going to start. I assume that when I turn the TV on that it's going to work. When I get up in the morning, I assume that when I go into the bathroom and get ready to take a shower that we will have running water.

It's when something happens to cause one of our assumptions to be incorrect that we realize how much we take things for granted. If I go to turn the water on and nothing comes out of the faucet, I realize there's a problem and "assume" that there has been a break in a main water line and they've had to temporarily turn the water off to repair it. And I assume that within a reasonable period of time it will be fixed and we will once again have water.

But sometimes what we assume to be the problem is not the actual issue; such as the case with my tooth. I have had very few problems with my teeth and only have one filling, other than the two crowns I have. But several years ago, I did have one of my crowns come off while eating so I knew that could happen. Therefore, since I was familiar with that scenario, I assumed that issues with the crown was causing the problem, since it was originating from that general vicinity. I didn't even consider that perhaps another tooth was the culprit.

We may face issues in our life and assume that the source is something completely different from what it actually is. Sometimes we don't want to face or deal with the real problem, so we try to cover it up with something that would be easier to deal with. I've seen people become angry and fly off the handle at something that is minor, but the real source of their anger is something entirely different that they've not yet acknowledged or dealt with or faced.

Perhaps it's a family member who is dealing with a life-threatening diagnosis and we are trying to be strong and handle it in order to get through each day. We sometimes become angry at something minor, but it's the stress of our personal situation that is the root of our emotion. Or there may be something major going on at work and we are trying to juggle a dozen different things at one time and stay focused. Something happens or someone says something that we instantly react negatively to, but that's not really what's bothering us.

People become upset with pastors and churches because of something that happens or a rumor, and sometimes will even leave the church and never return. But the root of the problem is a spiritual battle they are waging within themselves. Often they don't want to acknowledge that or deal with that, so it's easier to believe a rumor or gossip and get upset with the pastor or a member of the congregation and point the finger at them. And there may be times when people may unknowingly say something to offend or hurt feelings, after all we are all human. But instead of accepting an apology or asking forgiveness or trying to work things out, the reaction is to become offended and run away. And we often want others to be on our side, so we will try to sway others to accept our version of the event in order to gain their sympathy. We need to be careful that we don't do that because it can cause offense in others. But we also need to be careful that we aren't swayed by the gossip and sad stories that others "share" in order to try to gain our sympathies.

What is the true root of the issue? Is it really what we assume it is or is it something totally different that we need to take care of?

If we don't take care of the problem and try to cover over it, it may cause bigger issues later. We may think what we're doing is good enough, but in the long run, is it really the right answer? Sometimes taking care of the bigger issues of the heart and spirit can be painful. It may take work and time and may even hurt. But if we choose to allow God to refine our lives and repair the issue, then we will end up being stronger and better than before.

Too often we want the easy, quick fix. That may work for a short period of time, but it's not going to last and we may end up with bigger issues than we bargained for. My niece and her husband have a small backyard. They live in a neighborhood and the home behind them sits up a lot higher than theirs does, which means their backyard has a huge downward slope. It was never correctly fixed with a retaining wall. Several months ago we had huge rains in a short period of time, and my niece and her husband ended up with water running into their home. It came into their master bedroom and they had to move things and dry the carpet out. They are in the process of getting bids to get a retaining wall put in to keep from having these issues. If they don't get it taken care of, they will eventually end up with bigger, more expensive problems in their home.

Psalms 66:10 says, "For You, O God, have proved us; You have tried us as silver is tried, refined and purified."

The refining process can be painful and no fun. Allowing God to remove the impurities and dirt from our lives can be time consuming and uncomfortable. At times we may feel as if we're doing okay living with a little dirt in our lives and would rather stay as we are than to allow God to purify us and make us better, stronger individuals.

I really didn't want to pay $365 to get a tooth fixed. And the process of getting a crown is painful and time consuming. But I also didn't want to take the gamble that it would be fine without me doing anything to take care of the problem. I was concerned that Jon and I would be traveling somewhere out of town, or on a weekend when the dentist's office was closed, the tooth would break. I wasn't willing to take that risk, so went ahead and chose to make the decision to get the tooth taken care of now.

Are you willing to risk your spiritual relationship with God for a quick fix that covers the problem instead of getting rid of it? Too often, we put more time and effort into caring for our home or car or family or appearance than we do in our our relationship with God. But all those things are only temporary and our spiritual life is eternal. Are you willing to allow God to refine and purify you? It may be time consuming and painful at times, but it will be the best investment you'll ever make, with eternal benefits.


I've heard a quote years ago that stuck with me, "Never attribute to malice what can be explained by ignorance." I never found out who for sure first said it, but it isn't that important.

So often, when someone does something wrong to us, we think they are being mean, cruel, or heartless. But more often, they probably don't even know we wanted that last aspirin, or wanted to be invited, or were driving in their blind spot.

Not everything bad that happens was deliberate. And that includes someone cutting us off in traffic, sickness, storm damage, or other circumstances.


Peach Glazed Grilled Pork Chops

This is our new favorite way to prepare pork chops -- this makes all other pork chops pale by comparison!

Pork Chops

Peach Jam

Worcestershire Sauce

Lawry's Seasoned Salt

Make a marinade of peach jam and worcestershire sauce; amounts depend on how many pork chops you are grilling. I would guess approximately 1/2 to 3/4 cup peach jam and 3-4 tablespoons worcestershire sauce for 4 pork chops. Mix the jam and worcestershire together. Put pork chops in a baking dish. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Spread the jam mixture over the top; flip pork chops over and sprinkle with seasoned salt and spread remaining peach sauce over the top. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate at least 1-2 hours. When ready to cook, place the pork chops on the grill. When you turn over, baste with the peach jam/worcestershire sauce mixture to keep moist. Baste occasionally as you grill the chops.

I made up this recipe so you can adapt the ingredient amounts to your own liking and for the amount of pork chops you want to grill.


Interesting Household Tips and Hints:

Before painting galvanized metal or concrete, wipe down the object or surface with vinegar, using a sponge or lint-free cloth. This little trick will help your paint last longer.

Use a swimming noodle under a fitted sheet on each outer side to keep a toddler from rolling off the bed.

To clean your microwave: Fill a microwaveable bowl with 1-2 cups of water and a dash of white vinegar (about 1-2 tablespoons). Put the bowl in the microwave, shut the door, and turn it on for 5 minutes. The steam from the bowl will help loosen up caked on bits of food and the vinegar will help eliminate any odors. Once the 5 minutes are up you can start cleaning right away. Be careful when removing the hot bowl from the microwave. Remove the turntable tray and wash it in the sink. Take a cloth and wipe down the inside of the microwave.

Another alternative to cleaning the microwave is to add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract instead of the vinegar. The other instructions are exactly the same as above.


Everyone is a genius.

But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. - Albert Einstein


We love you!

Loretta & Jon