"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

February 12, 2014


Valentine's Day is considered by many as being a day of love and romance. There are many couples who become engaged or married on this day. It is one of the busiest days of the year for florist. Special dinners are planned. Boxes of chocolate are given as presents. Ahh.... love is in the air!

Honestly, I enjoy the flowers, chocolates, cards, special dinners, and romance -- but not just only on Valentine's Day. I will take them any day of the year! I will say that Jon does surprise me with a bouquet of flowers occasionally. And I'd rather have a $10 bouquet from Walmart, than an expensive one from a florist.... and that is the truth!

I have not been married for so long that I've forgotten the giddiness of dating. And yes, even though I was in my late thirties at the time, I still experienced that! Wanting to talk to Jon on the phone every evening; sitting in the car and kissing until the windows fogged over (ohh... gross!); staring in each other's eyes and holding hands across the dinner table; dreaming of what it would be like to become Mrs. Jon Gray; my heart beating a little faster when I saw Jon walking towards me or hearing his voice on the phone......

During those months of dating and falling in love and planning a wedding and dreaming of marriage, it was hard to believe that we would ever feel or deal with any of the negative aspects of marriage that married couples talked about.... the disagreements, struggles, work, financial controversies.... and just the general differences in men and woman and how they think and deal with situations. We were in LOVE! Maybe they just didn't feel the same about one another as we did; because our marriage was going to be perfect and we would lovingly and kindly deal with each situation as it arose. And all the married couples can laugh now right along with me and Jon!

No matter what people may say or the advice they may give, it's hard for a couple in the throes of love to understand or comprehend or believe. It's like: I see your mouth moving and hear words, but they don't pertain to me and my beloved! Our relationship will be different.

But the honest truth is, marriage takes work. And it can't be just one-sided, but has to be both spouses committed 100% to the relationship and working to make it succeed. You don't always feel the fluttery heart as you see your spouse walking towards you. There may be days when you want to kick them on the backside. Occasionally you may grit your teeth and roll your eyes. Sometimes you may even clench your jaw and bite your tongue to keep from saying what you really would like to say. Other times you wonder what in the world they're thinking! I'm sure Jon has felt that way about me a time or two in the past 8 1/2- plus years.

Men think that women are too detailed in their conversations and women think men are too uncommunicative. Men respond to situations much differently than women do. Women will hang up the phone and give a detailed word for word replay of the conversation; men will hang up the phone and not say anything until prompted. When asked what the person on the phone wanted, they will say, "I don't know," or "I don't remember," or "Not much," or give a one sentence abbreviated version of a ten minute conversation.

There may be times when one will spend or want to spend money on something that the other thinks is unnecessary. A couple is not always going to agree on how finances should be handled.

Sometimes the wife wants to talk and the husband wants to watch TV in silence. Or she will jump from one topic of conversation to another, and the man just can't keep up! He will respond to something and she's already moved onto something else by that time.

But regardless of all the differences and all the work, building a strong marriage and keeping love in the relationship is worth all the effort. Not holding a grudge, talking things out, not bringing up past mistakes or arguments, and practicing forgiveness is a big step in keeping your marriage on a firm foundation. Communication is also a key factor.

It seems as if marriage is no longer considered sacred as it once was. Divorces are rampant and so easily gotten. There no longer needs to be a valid reason for a couple to call it quits on their marriage, but any excuse is acceptable. I read statistics that basically said there is one divorce that occurs about every 10-15 seconds, equalling about 46,000 per week in our country. Most online sources say that most marriages end within the first ten years, and is generally younger couples. But divorce among older adults is becoming more and more common; and often in situations where the couple has been married for many years. Close to half of all children will witness the divorce of their parents; and half of those children will watch a second marriage of a parent fall apart. The rate of divorce among those children who grew up with this situation is very high when they marry themselves.

I heard about a new fad of throwing extravagant divorce parties and found an article on Fox News regarding this subject. A party planner for such events said, "I call it 'divorced is the new single'. Clients gather their friends and throw a big party as a way of thanking them for their support throughout the divorce process and for hating their ex with them."

When we stand before a minister and recite our wedding vows, we are making them to one another -- before God. The traditional vows state: "I (name), take you (name), to be my lawfully wedded husband/wife. To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part." Those should not be words spoken out of tradition, but should be spoken as our word of honor.

Vow means: oath, pledge, promise, bond, covenant, commitment, guarantee.

Ecclesiastes 5:5-6 (NIV) says, "It is better to not make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, 'My vow was a mistake.'" God takes the vows we make, whether they be to Him or to a person, very seriously. We, in turn, should also realize the seriousness of keeping a vow that we make and attempt to do everything we can to honor it.

Matthew 19:4-6 reiterates what God spoke in Genesis 2:18-24 and is often read at weddings. In Matthew, Jesus is speaking and says, "Haven't you read the scriptures (referring to Genesis 2)? They record that from the beginning God made them male and female. This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together." (NLT)

I am writing this with the understanding that there are times when someone has no other choice but to divorce. There are times when a spouse has done all they can and the other person refuses to get counseling or refuses to stay; or times when there are abusive situations; or truly legitimate reasons for leaving a marriage. I don't have the statistics, but I would guess to say that these situations make up only a small percentage of divorces.

I believe that the majority of time, divorce occurs because people are too lazy to try, or the grass looks greener on the other side, or they're bored, or they see someone that looks more appealing, or they feel tied down and think the single life looks like a lot more fun and less responsibility, or they hit a rough patch and would rather walk away than work through it, or the excitement of having their own home and becoming a husband/wife and/or having a cute little sweet baby wears off and it becomes work, or they're hanging out with other divorcees who make the single life sound glamourous. Perhaps it's because they become selfish and want what they want, regardless of who gets hurt in the process.

I believe that it's time that we begin to take marriage seriously and make it a priority; and making it a matter of prayer. Couples need to make God the central focus of their lives and their home. Parents need to pray over the marriages of their kids and grandkids. Singles need to pray for their future spouse. Churches need to teach about the seriousness of the wedding vows and give strong pre-marital counseling. There is a great need for examples of strong, godly marriages for children, teens, and young adults to see and desire to have for themselves when they reach a marriageable age.

For many years before I met Jon, I prayed for my future husband. I had no idea at the time who that was going to be, where he lived, or what he was doing. But I prayed for him often. Long before Jon and I ever knew one another, I had prayed specifically for him; although I didn't have a name or face to put with my prayers. God knew who and where Jon was. He prepared us for one another long before we met in December of 2003. God aligned our paths so that we would meet and directed our steps to prepare us for marriage. We became friends first and got to know one another for five months before we ever dated. I believe that we both knew by the time that we went out on our first date that we were going to be married. We knew that God had brought us together for a special reason and that we were meant to become husband and wife. We dated for nine months before Jon proposed and were married four months later. Even though we knew that God had brought us together, we took time to really get to know one another and prepare for marriage. We were honest and open with one another about our insecurities, past mistakes, what we wanted in marriage, whether or not we wanted kids, and whatever other details that came up. When we were preparing for our wedding, Jon told me, "I don't want all our focus to be on our wedding, because that will only last maybe an hour then it will be over. But I want us to focus on our marriage, because that is going to last a lifetime." Good advice!

I encourage you to pray daily for God's protection on your marriage; pray for God's protection upon your children's marriages; pray for your children or grandchildren or nieces or nephews that are unmarried that God would place the right person in their lives for them to marry -- and they would keep themselves pure until that happens. It's time for a change and for marriage to once again be viewed as sacred and the vows that are made to be taken seriously.


Sometimes in a marriage, the husband and wife have different goals. Sometimes the couple can reach both goals. Sometimes, one wants to build up a savings, and the other wants to spend it on a more reliable car. One may want to have many kids, and the other only wants one or two. If you can't find a compromise, you can't always have one spouse giving in to the other.

God's relationship with man is often compared to a marriage. God wants us to be happy, but sometimes His goals and ours don't line up. But in this case, we can always give in. No spouse is omnipotent, but God is. No spouse is all powerful, but God is. Constantly giving in to a spouse can make for a rough marriage. But constantly giving in to God just makes for a better relationship.


Pork Tenderloin Roast

1 Pork Tenderloin

Salt and Pepper

Garlic Cloves

1-2 cups Apple Juice

Put meat in a roaster pan. Cut slits in meat and push cloves down into the slits. (Depending on the size of the cloves of garlic, I cut the larger ones into halves.) Do this every 2-3 inches all over the top. Salt and pepper the meat. Pour apple juice over the top. Cover and bake for 450 for 1 hour; then reduce heat and cook at 325 for 3 hours. You can also slow cook the meat for several hours in a crock-pot.


I worked in banking for many years -- as most of you already know. During the 13 years I spent at the Bank of Kimberling City, we had a lot of older retired customers. Numerous times, one of them would come in and tell us younger folk to enjoy life while we still could. They would encourage us to not wait until we retired to travel or do the things that we wanted to do. Many of them had lost spouses or had health issues and were unable to do all those things that they had put off until retirement, thinking they'd have plenty of time to enjoy their golden years and be able to mark things off their bucket list. The goals they had looked forward to and dreamed of after retiring never happened, and they wished they had of taken advantage of their time when they were younger and healthier or had their spouse to enjoy life with and do the things that they had wanted to do, instead of putting it off until they "had more time" or more money.

Financially, we may not be able to always do everything we want to do (like travel as extensively or often as we might like) or buy everything we want to buy (like my nephew-in-law's sporty little Miata convertible he has for sale); but I encourage us all to enjoy life and not get so hung up on always saving or waiting until tomorrow or until retirement -- because none of us know what our future has in store. Let's make memories, not regrets.


A good marriage is built with patience, sewn together with grace, laced with kindness and grounded in faith.

- Darlene Schacht


We love you!

Loretta & Jon