"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 7, 2015


How often have we said or heard others say, "Oh, I could never do that!" Or, "I've always wanted to do that, but there's no way I would be able to." Or, "I wish I could do that, but I know I can't." The thing is, when we or someone else says these things, it's about things that we have never even tried to do. We see ourselves as failures and set ourselves up to be unsuccessful before even attempting to do those things. If we ever do try our hand at it and don't at first succeed, our initial thought is, "I knew I wouldn't be able to do that!"

But what if we do try something, and find out that we like it, or it's something we're good at, or that it's not nearly as scary as what we had anticipated? It's something that we would never know, if we had never been willing to take a risk. Granted, not everyone is going to be good at everything; not everyone is going to enjoy doing the same things; and not every attempt we make at new things is going to be a success.

Jon's parents were amazing at encouraging their three kids in whatever pursuits they showed an interest in. Growing up, if Jon or his siblings said they wanted to try something new, then their parents would try and make it happen.

When Jon was a young boy, he and one of his neighborhood buddies decided that they wanted to dig a tunnel between the two yards. How cool would that be, to have an underground secret tunnel that the two of them could use?! Jon asked his dad if they could dig a tunnel and surprisingly his dad agreed and said to go for it. Stan knew that the water table was very high in this area, at that time, and that the boys would hit water before getting too deep. But he was willing to let them try, if that was what they wanted to do. So Jon and his friend excitedly got their shovels and started digging. They were only able to dig down several inches before water started seeping up and they realized that their tunnel wasn't going to happen. But instead of initially being told no, they were encouraged to try digging their secret tunnel.

Then later, Jon and his family visited Silver Dollar City and Jon was intrigued watching with the pottery maker and came home wanting a pottery wheel so he could learn how to do it. His dad helped him build one, and Jon was encouraged to try his hand at making pottery. The only thing we have to show for his endeavor is a black piece of pottery that resembles a small bowl. Jon lost interest after that, but he had been encouraged to try his hand at it, if that was what he wanted to do.

When Jon was a young boy, he was fascinated with how things worked. He would take things apart, then put them back together, so that he could see how it all functioned. It was around this time that he became interested in computers. When he was nine or ten years old, he got his first mail-order computer. He started doing software programming for his dad's business when he was twelve, then started doing jobs for his dad's customers when he was fourteen. Yes, he was pretty much a young geeky genius!!

When Jon wanted to do something, his parents didn't tell him, "No, you wouldn't be good at that," or "No, we don't think you would really like that," or "No, that's a silly idea... or would be boring.... or would be messy...." But they encouraged his endeavors, and he found out at an early age that he had a knack for computer programming, and was really good at it.

I believe that it was because of that encouragement that Jon is the man he is today. When we've done home remodels or various repairs or when we built a gazebo at our property in Lampe or a pergola here at our home or anytime something breaks down......., I have rarely heard Jon say, "I don't think I can do that" or "There's no way I can fix that." He is always willing to try his hand at it, whether he's done it before or not. We've had to call in repairmen before, but generally it's after Jon has taken a look at it to see if he can do it. I truly think that because Jon was motivated and encouraged to try new things as a kid, this has inspired him to put himself out there and try new things today.

Because of Jon's influence, during the nine and half years that we've been married, I have been brave enough to experience new things and see them as adventures. When we've traveled, I've done things that has surprised Jon, because he didn't really think I would be able to do them due to my dislike of heights. He never forced me or talked me into doing anything, but I knew that I would later regret it if I didn't at least try. In fact, most of the things we've tried have been things that were initially my idea. And guess what?! I've succeeded at doing every single thing that I've tried, although at times my knees were shaking like crazy at the time. Afterwards, I was always so excited and happy that I went through with it. Each experience has caused me to become a little more brave. I've come to realize that "thinking" I was unable to do something was due to my own fears or insecurities, and the only way I could overcome was to at least try.

When we were in Singapore, we rode the Singapore Flyer which was 541 feet high (about the equivalent of a 42 story building); when we were in Wyoming we rode a gondola to the top of the Teton Mountains; when in Germany we walked to the top of the old church tower (which was an old, narrow, wooden staircase that went up and up...). The only time that I was unsure whether or not I was going to make it was going to the top of the church tower in Germany. You could see down over the side of the staircase about three stories down and there really were no safety measures and it was a narrow spiral stairway that wound round and round. We came to a small room about halfway up and my heart was beating fast and my knees were so weak, that I didn't know if I could finish or not. But I didn't want to turn around and quit either! When we got to the top and walked outside, it was old wooden boards for the flooring (I'm sure that they were over another surface... or at least that's what I told myself). I did manage to make a full circle walking around to look out over the town. I'm glad that I didn't give up but climbed to the top of that church tower.

Spiritually, we often make excuses for failure before we even try. Maybe we've tried and failed in the past, so we expect it to happen again should we try. Perhaps, we are afraid that if we pray for something that God won't do or give us what we want and we'll be disappointed. We may even compare ourselves to other people and think that there is no way we could ever be like them or live up to what we think their expectations are for us. So we eventually stop trying to take care of our spiritual life; or we occasionally give it a half-hearted attempt to ease our conscience.

One of my favorite scriptures is Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

When we see how much God truly loves us, it gives us a deeper understanding that He has awesome plans for each of us. His plans for me and for you is to prosper us and not to harm us. His plan is to give every one of us hope and a future. But when we live in fear of failure or quit trying, then we stop experiencing all the great things that God has for us. Our lack of faith hinders us from stepping out and trusting God to have our best interest at heart.

So this new year, let's be brave; both spiritually and in life. Stop making excuses and allowing fear to prevent us from experiencing the best that God has for us; both spiritually and in life. It's time to take heart and be encouraged. It's time to stop making excuses and preparing ourselves for failure. Let's see what God's plans for us are and see where they take us!!


My parents weren't just encouraging to me. When my sister wanted to learn to paint, they helped her get all the oil paints and water paints she needed to give it a try. And she was really good. Later, she wanted to try air-brush painting, so Dad rigged up an old propane tank to supply air. She got her own air-brush, and gave that a try, too.

My brother got to keep almost any animal he wanted in our home, including a raccoon, python, and squirrel (not at the same time). They also let him learn to play the trumpet when he wanted to, even if he did have to practice in the garage. He got really good, and loved being in the band for years. He also seemed to get to work on heavy machinery and got to build cool things much younger than I could ever dream to.

Our parents gave us all opportunities, and encouraged us all. But they didn't encourage my sister to try computers, or encourage me to have odd animals as pets. They did treat us differently, but it was because we each needed our own path. I would have been terrible at painting, and probably would have hurt myself if I used the lathe when I was too young.

We sometimes look at others, and complain that God blessed them in some way we wish He would bless us, or complain that we go through something no one else has to go through. But God knows us all, and knows the path He has set for us.


Cream Cheese Sausage Dip

(I got this recipe from my nephew's wife. It is a really great dip; and easy to make!)

5 packages of cream cheese (yes 5)

1 pound Jimmy Dean sausage

1 can Rotel

Brown the sausage; drain. Put all ingredients in a crock-pot. Heat until cream cheese melts; stir well. Serve with tortilla chips.


A Prayer for 2015:


I want to walk in your favor and flavor.

I want to live out your story, all for your glory.


You are the King of me, reign in every part of my life.

I fix my eyes on you so that you can fix my eyes.

Help me see what really matters.

May I see people and situations the way that you do.

Holy Spirit...

Give me fresh faith and a fire in my gut.

Refill me...consume me.

Lead me into truth and beauty.

Work wonder in my life.

My God...

I give you this year, let your will be done.

Your joy is my strength.Your peace is my anchor.I love you.

- written by Luke Lang


We don't grow when things are easy; we grow when we face challenges. - Zig Ziglar


We love you!

Loretta & Jon