"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!'"
July 1, 2015
Happy 50th Birthday to ME (Loretta)!!!
Wow, today is my 50th birthday! Happy birthday to me!! I can honestly say that turning fifty doesn't bother me, and I really wouldn't want to go back to a younger age, even if I could. I'm at a very good place in my life and am happy being where I am and wouldn't want to turn back the clock to be young again.
There are some things I've learned over the years as I've matured and gotten older; things that had I learned them earlier it would have made my life easier and less stressful.
I've learned that I am not going to always be able to please everyone, no matter how hard I may try.
I've learned that not everyone is going to agree with or like my decisions.
I've learned how to say no, when asked to do something that I don't particularly want to do; and it's okay to do so.
I've learned to love, and even like, myself..... which, I haven't always done throughout the years.
I've learned that my weight and size doesn't define who I am as a person; it's what's inside my heart that matters most.
On that same note, I've learned that I'm generally my own worse critic, and what I think people are thinking and saying about me are usually not things they've even thought or said. I'm not on people's mind or a topic of their conversation nearly as much as I might think!!
As a PPS to this same topic, I've also learned not to make jokes about myself, thinking that if I said it first and put myself down or criticized myself first, then I would beat others to the punchline and say it before they could; which resulted in me saying things that others had no intention of ever saying and not what they were thinking about me. Making jokes about myself or my size only resulted in me feeling bad about myself, and made me look insecure to others; it didn't make me look like I had accepted myself or was happy within. God convicted me of that a few years back, and I chose to stop saying critical and negative things about myself, which resulted in me loving and liking the woman that God created me to be. I still have moments of saying things about myself that I shouldn't, but those times are fewer and further between. I'm a much happier person now!
I've learned to enjoy adventures and try new things.
I've learned that friends may come and go, but family is there for life, so I need to truly appreciate and love them; and spend as much time with them as possible.
I've learned that parents aren't going to be around forever, so cherish the time we have with them.
I've learned that marriage can be one of life's greatest blessings; but it doesn't come naturally, and takes commitment and dedication to God and one another; but it's definitely worth the effort!
I've learned that it's okay to wear comfortable shoes and clothes -- in public!
I've learned that even though I don't have kids, therefore will never have grandkids, that spoiling my great-nieces and great-nephews can be very fulfilling, and fill that mothering/grandmothering spot in my heart.
I've learned that getting Sammie (our cute little dog) was good for me and Jon.
I've learned that the older I get, the more drawn I am to the older songs; and I can remember the words to songs I sang as a kid and young adult, but not remember the words to songs we sing every week at church nowadays. I've also learned that it's okay to break out in song when someone (usually Jon) says something that triggers a remembrance of one in particular.
I've learned that I really like early retirement, and that God directed my steps so that financially I was able to quit working outside the home when I did (I cannot say that I quit working -- it's just different work than I used to do). It has been shown to us over and over again how this was God's plan for me!!
I've learned that my four sisters have always been, and will always be, my closest and best friends (well, for the past 10 years Jon has been my #1 best friend, but they are very close seconds!). We have shared sorrows and cried together, but also have laughed a lot and shared countless joys. They have made my life much sweeter!
I've learned that life with Jon is a God-given blessing, and well worth the long wait of holding out for God's perfect mate for me!! We compliment each others lives and balance one another. We are so blessed and so incredibly happy!
I've learned that I have been blessed with some incredible friends, some family and some not, throughout the years that have enriched my life and made it better.
I've learned that I had/have some of the best uncles, aunts, and cousins ever, who genuinely care(d) for one another.
I've learned that not every mother-in-law is like Marie Barone, from the TV show "Everyone Loves Raymond"; nor are they the nightmare or dreaded visitor that many portray them to be. I've been blessed with great in-laws, who welcomed me with open arms into their family. All of Jon's family (his parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins) have been good to me and made me feel like I belong. I've also learned that his aunts are all big-time huggers!
I've learned, and am still working on this, to be more diligent about hugging and saying, "I love you," and letting others know that they are important to me and that I genuinely love and care for them. I didn't grow up in a family of "huggy people", so this really doesn't come very natural to me; but I am working on it.
I've learned that most of us will go through financial hardships at one time or another in our lives; probably more than once. But I've learned that those times of difficulty aren't going to last forever and I will get through them, and there will be "green pastures" to come my way.
I've learned to bless others when I have the opportunity and means to do so; whether it be financially, babysitting, helping with a particular need, giving of my time, etc. I've learned that if I will do so, then God will send those who will stand by, help, and bless me when I have a need. Paying it forward has merit and is a huge blessing when we are on both the giving and receiving end. I've also learned to accept help and gifts from others graciously. When we allow others to lend a hand or give to us, we are allowing God to bless them; and are allowing God to bless us when we lend a hand or give to others.
Even though I've been in church all of my life, something that I've learned (and am still learning) only in the past few years is about the grace of God and what that really means. It's more than singing the hymn 'Amazing Grace' and knowing all the words! I grew up hearing about the judgement of God, hell, fire, and damnation; which is something this world needs to hear about today! But it's only been in recent years that I've truly begun to understand that it's only through God's grace that I am saved; not by my works or how good I am. I could write an entire devotional on this subject! But in a nutshell, I am thankful that I have truly grasped and learned what the grace and mercy of God looks like and means.
I've learned that I never stop gleaning new truths and seeing scriptures in a new and fresh way, no matter how often I read the Bible or hear sermons preached. I can read a story or passage of scripture that I've read dozens of times in the past, and something will stand out to me that I never really saw or understood or remember reading. God's Word can always be fresh and new and alive in my heart, if I will allow it to be so.
When I get to the end of my life, I don't want to have a list of regrets. I want to love and be loved. I want to appreciate and be appreciate. I want others to have good memories when they think of me, therefore, I want to create good memories with them throughout my entire life. I want to be remembered for my joy, laugh, love, and caring; therefore, I have to cultivate and make those things an important part of my life now. I want my love and commitment to God to be an example to my family and friends, so, I have to maintain that relationship with God on a daily basis throughout life.
I am sure that I've left out a whole bunch of things that I will think of after this newsletter is published; and as I sit here writing, the list keeps growing longer and longer!!
I pray that I never stop learning and growing in the Lord and in life, regardless of how old I am!!
Loretta has also learned that broken toes really hurt, and for some reason you bump broken or sprained toes much more than you bump healthy toes.
I've learned how to finish a couple of projects, in the past 10 years.
I've learned not to pray for patience. God gives us patience by making us practice it.
I've learned to part with a little money. It's hard. But it's much better than being single.
I've learned that I don't have to be happy in every situation. But if I try, I can choose to be. And I don't have to be unhappy in any situation, but if I try, I can be. The same goes for others. If they choose to be unhappy, there's nothing I can do to force them to be happy. I like to try, but it isn't an insult to me if I fail. And if someone chooses to be happy, no one can force them to be unhappy. But some people sure seem eager to try.
And I've learned to be a man of few words, instead of being a man of practically no words.
(This was our favorite breakfast Mama made for us girls growing up! My oldest sister made this for us Friday morning when we sisters got together last week.... and it was really good!)
Mama's Cocoa Gravy
1 quart of milk (approximately)
Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 Tablespoons cocoa
3 Tablespoons flour
Pour milk into a 2 quart saucepan and begin to warm until milk steams. In a bowl mix sugar, cocoa, flour, and salt. Add enough warm milk from the saucepan to the mixture to make a pourable sauce. Stir well to make sure there are no lumps. When the milk in the pan begins to steam, pour in mixture from the bowl very slowly, stirring constantly. Cook until it bubbles and thickens; stirring often. Remove from heat and add butter (we just put some in and don't measure, so probably around 1-2 Tablespoons) and vanilla. Serve over hot biscuits.
(For those of you who have never eaten this, this is NOT the same as hot chocolate pudding! My cousin's wife used to buy the boxes of cook and serve chocolate pudding mix and call it cocoa gravy, which irritated him, because it is not the same as homemade cocoa gravy our moms used to make! Cocoa gravy is so very good -- but may be an acquired taste, because some of the in-laws coming into our family doesn't like it nearly as well as the rest of us do; but what's not to like!?!)
Last week my sisters surprised me for an early birthday celebration! I thought I was riding along to an interpreting job that Janie was scheduled to do, to keep her company. I had no idea that she was kidnapping me to meet my other sisters, or that they had three days of fun planned for the five of us. We were together Wednesday afternoon through Saturday morning. It had been a really long time since we had been able to spend that much time together. We ate out, visited our step-mother, went to Silver Dollar City, went to a big outdoor gospel singing, and picked blueberries and blackberries at a big berry farm. Early Friday evening they took me for a drive and we stopped at different locations that special memories, and we would get out and take a picture as they shared the memory they had of me and them at that particular place. They cooked a birthday meal for me on Friday evening, that was delicious. We had a late night visit from a cousin. We laughed and talked for hours on end! It was a special time and a whole lot of fun for all five of us!!!
Then this week on Tuesday, the day before my birthday, I thought I was going to babysit my nieces four kids. Instead, my niece and niece-in-law came by and picked me up and took me out for lunch for my birthday. Afterwards, we went to my sister's house and had birthday cake with the two of them and all their kids, Janie, and her sons, Devin and Jordan. The kids had all been waiting on us to get there and had been hiding for thirty minutes so they could jump out and surprise me. When I got there, they were out of their hiding places, so I had to go back outside and give them time to hide so they could jump out and yell, "Surprise!"
It's been a wonderful 50th birthday so far and a great start to a new decade in my life!!!
That time in your life when you get your head together and then your body falls apart!- (unknown)
We love you!
Loretta & Jon