"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!'"
January 1, 2014
Happy New Year!!
Overall, this has been a good year for me and Jon. We've both been healthy, Jon has kept busy at work and the company he works for has grown, and we've been protected and safe.
I look back over this past year and see God's favor upon me and Jon in so many ways. It hasn't been a perfect year and not everything happened as I would have desired, but we have been blessed by God.
The downside of Jon being so busy at work was that we had little opportunity to enjoy our property in Missouri; nor was Jon able to take off work so we could enjoy a vacation. But we would choose for Jon to have a steady job and the company he works for the be blessed with a lot of work, than to have Jon be laid off or be worried about the company's future. Although I do have high hopes that we will be able to take a vacation in the coming year!
Jon and I have been praying about a specific need ever since we were dating. There have been times when I've wanted to "do" something to try and make an answer come to pass, but Jon will say, "No. I've prayed about it and feel like God is saying that He has it taken care of." Then other times when we've both wondered if perhaps we need to do something. (And NO -- we are not Abraham and Sarah, praying for a baby!!!) This past year something occurred that gave us hope that an answer was on the way, and we both fully expected for something miraculous to happen by the end of 2013. We both prayed about whether or not we needed to get involved and do something to try and speed up the process, but we both felt as if God were telling us to wait; He had things taken care of. In fact, before we were married, Jon was given a specific scripture by someone who knew of our situation, and we have stood upon that for all these years. Trust me (Loretta)! I know that waiting is hard to do!! And what we thought would happen by the end of last year has still not taken place; and we are still waiting on God to intervene and fulfill His promise to us.
Overall, both of our families have been blessed this past year, also, for which we are grateful. But our hearts ache for those family members who have struggled with health issues. Both Jon's dad and my step-mother have continuing health problems that has taken a toll on their bodies, and it saddens us to see this happening.
This past Monday, December 30th, our family was blessed by the birth of two healthy girls; my nephew and his wife's daughter was born in the morning, and my niece and her husband's daughter was born in the late afternoon. Both baby girls and their mama's are all healthy and doing well.
The scripture that best describes how we feel about this past year is found in 1 Corinthians 12:26. The verses leading up to this is describing the importance of each member of the body and how each part has a role and are necessary. Verse 26 says, "If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad."
Romans 12:15 goes along with that verse: "Be happy (or rejoice) with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep."
As each year comes to a close, I think a lot of people tend to review the events of that year in their mind. There will always be those who will conclude, "This was the worst year ever!," while others think that it was one of their best. Then there are those who straddle the line: "I've had worse years, but I've also had better."
There are some events that we have no control over when they occur. Some situations are painful, heart-breaking, and stressful. Sometimes we need God to intervene in our lives, and we pray and feel like we are truly trusting Him and putting our faith in Him, yet the total breakthrough has yet to come. Life can get discouraging at times. And we often base how we feel our year went according to such circumstances.
When we are going through adverse situations, it's easy to look at the lives of others and sometimes feel as if everyone is being blessed, except us. The truth is, we may not know what someone else is going through in their private life. On the other hand, we have all had times when we are the ones who are being blessed and enjoying the favor of God upon us. We all have times of rejoicing, as well as the times of weeping.
The one thing we do have control over is our attitude. Are we really able to rejoice with those who rejoice, especially when we ourselves are going through trials and difficulties? And are we able to weep with those who are weeping and going through a time of turmoil, when we are being blessed and all our needs are being met?
None of us have any idea what 2014 has in store for us. We can plan and anticipate, but only God truly knows what lies ahead for us all. We don't know if we will have a year of jubilation and blessing; or if we will endure hardship and difficulties. We don't know if this will perhaps be the year that Jesus returns for those who love Him and have accepted Him as their Savior. We have no way of knowing that natural disasters may occur that will affect us or perhaps a loved one. We don't know what the government or economy will do that will have an adverse affect on our nation, and will ultimately affect us. We don't know who may lose a loved one. We also don't know who may unexpectedly get married, have a baby, get a job promotion with a huge raise, buy a home or new car, be financially blessed, etc.....
But we can put into practice what the word of God instructs us to do and rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep; or to suffer with those who suffer and be glad when someone is honored.
We can do as instructed in Philippians 4:4 and "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" The New Living Translation says it this way: "Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again -- rejoice!"
It doesn't say that we have to rejoice in our situation, but that we rejoice in the Lord always -- or always be full of the joy in the Lord.
When things aren't going as planned and we are feeling stressed and discouraged, we can always have the confidence and peace of knowing that the Lord is always near and at hand. He will never leave or forsake us. God loves us with an everlasting love. That's why we can rejoice and praise the Lord at all times!
May you be blessed and be filled with the fullness of the joy of the Lord in 2014!
We have a lot to be thankful for in this past year. And we just know that there will be a lot to be thankful for in the coming year. We try to be sure to thank God for what He does for us each day. If we don't feel very thankful for ourselves, we thank Him for great things He does for others.
Please take a little time to remember the great things that God has done for you and for those close to you this year. And also take time to thank God for the great things He has in store for 2014.
Aunt Betty's Hot Cocoa
(This recipe was given to Betty by another aunt, Shirley Parton, years ago. Shirley passed away before I was born, so this recipe has been around for many years. This hot cocoa is really good and worth the time to make it!)
1/2 to 1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 quart milk
Mix sugar, cocoa, and water in a saucepan. (Sugar amount depends on how sweet you like it. I used 3/4 cup and it was still a tad sweet for my liking so will probably use a little less next time.) Bring to a boil. Turn heat down and add milk. Stir and bring to a boil again; then turn off heat.
I know I've already mentioned this, but I am so excited to be a great-aunt once again. My family was doubly blessed this past Monday, December 30th, to welcome two newborn girls; one born to my nephew and his wife in the morning, and the other born in the afternoon to my niece and her husband. How exciting to welcome new life into our family!
I also want to say how blessed Jon and I were this past Christmas. We had a few quiet days at home, but also were able to spend time with family. Our highlight was having family pictures taken with Jon's family on the Saturday following Christmas. The weather was beautiful, everyone was relaxed and enjoying themselves, and it was a perfect day.
God is so good and we feel so overwhelmingly blessed!
Live as though you're alive!! - Pastor Scott
We love you!
Loretta & Jon