"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

November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!!


Happy Thanksgiving!! I hope everyone has a wonderfully blessed day. Even if you are unable to be with family, take time to call them, letting them know how grateful you are to have them in your life. Eat lots of good food, enjoy time with loved ones (if possible), and take time to count your blessings.

This week I had considered writing something related to Thanksgiving, but decided to continue the series I've been working on, so will be writing from Ecclesiastes chapter three. (All scripture taken from the NLV.) This chapter begins with a passage of scripture that many people are quite familiar with:

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace."

I recently heard a song that reminded me of these verses. The title of the song is "Through" and was written by Bill and Gloria Gaither. Here are the lyrics:

"When I saw what laid before me, 'Lord,' I cried, 'what will you do?' I thought He would just remove it, but He gently led me through. Without fire there's no refining. Without pain no relief. Without flood there's no rescue. Without testing no belief. Through the fire. Through the flood. Through the water. Through the blood. Through the dry and barren places. Through life's dense and maddening mazes. Through the pain and through the glory. Through... will always tell the story; of the God whose power and mercy, will not fail to take us through."

It's not the good times that strengthen us as individuals, as well as help us to grow and mature spiritually; but it's the tough times that build character and strengthen our relationship with God. If life was all births, harvesting, healing, building up, dancing, embracing, loving, and peace then we would be very spoiled, lazy, unappreciative men and women who depended on ourselves, without feeling a real need for God. If no one ever had a problem or had to deal with hard work or sickness or grief or hardships, then the promise of that "blessed hope" and eternity in heaven would mean very little.

It's death, crying, grieving, and all the trials and troubles we endure on earth that causes people to call upon God and realize that they need Him. It's those difficult times that helps us to mature and grow. Suffering and sickness and times of hardship bind families and communities and churches and friends together through compassion and leaning on and helping one another.

When I heard the lyrics to the above song, it struck a chord within my heart. Many times we pray and desire for God to remove difficult circumstances from our life, but His answer is often, "No". God knows that is how we become the man or woman that He created us to be. We cannot be refined unless we first go through the fire. We can't find relief until we first go through pain. We can't be rescued without having experienced the flood. Our belief and faith in God are built through times of testing. You cannot have one without the other.

Solomon continues, "What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God."

God has placed eternity in the human heart. There is no way that any of us can comprehend or see the entire scope of God's work from beginning to end. We do know that we are placed on this earth for a season, then after that, there is eternity. While here on earth, there is a lot of hard work and burdens that we all must bear. There are times when life can be downright tough. But it shouldn't be all drudgery and hardships and work and burdensome. That's not how God intended life to be for us. Yes, we do have to go through difficult situations from time to time, but God also created us to enjoy life and one another.

I like that Solomon wrote that there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. We should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of our labor. Why? Because these things are gifts from God!!!

The next verses say, "I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God's purpose is that people should fear Him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again."

I find it interesting when Solomon writes that what is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again. We tend to think that the sin and evil in the world is much worse now that it has ever been before. Honestly, it is much worse now than it was 30-40 years ago during my growing up years. When I read some of the stories in the Bible, as well as look back at different time periods in history, I realize that it's actually not any worse now than it's ever been before. History has repeated itself over and over again since the beginning of time. If you think things are worse now than ever before, go back and read in Genesis about Sodom and Gomorrah. Read about Noah and how it was before God sent the flood to destroy the earth. What is happening now isn't anything new.

It's easy to focus on the evil and sinful nature of mankind and what all is happening in the world around us. What did Solomon write towards the beginning of these couple of verses? "God's purpose is that people should fear Him." This doesn't mean that God's purpose is that people be fearful and scared of Him! It means that people have a reverence and respect for Him. God is a holy and perfect and all-knowing God, and we should think of Him as such. Perhaps He allows things to sin and evil to run rampant on earth, growing worse and worse at times, in order to test the hearts and faith of those who say that they are christians. Do we truly love Him and trust Him, or are we just saying words?

Nowadays, too many have the attitude that God is all about love, therefore, they can live how they want and made whatever choices they desire and God will over look all that because He loves them. Really?! Does a good parent overlook the bad choices and harmful decisions their son or daughter make, and allow them to get by with bad behavior and do whatever they want, because they love them? No. A good father and/or mother will discipline their child for reckless or foolish or selfish or hurtful or bad behavior. If they refuse to discipline, and turn a blind eye to this type of negative behavior, then that child could either get hurt or hurt someone; or they will grow up to be very selfish, destructive individuals that nobody's going to like much or want to be around. So why do we think that God, as our Heavenly Father, should turn a blind eye to our sinful choices and bad behavior? Believe it or not, God loves us much more than our earthly parents could ever love us -- or much more than you could ever, as a parent, love your child. He does love us, but that doesn't mean He will allow us to do what we want and get away with it. His purpose is to raise us to have a reverence and respect for Him, as our Father. God wants us to grow up to be responsible, loving, caring, kind, godly men and women.

Solomon writes that he also noticed that there is evil in the courtroom. Yes, even the courts of law are corrupt. He said to himself, "In due season God will judge everyone, both good and bad, for all their deeds."

We hear and read in the news about the evil and corruptness in our government and courts of law. Something that we think should be there to help and protect the people often has adverse results. Jon and I seldom listen to or read the news, because we don't trust that what is being reported is the truth; and it often seems as if the media tries to get people stirred up over events that may or may not have happened as it's being shown to the public. There are times when the right lawyer with the right connections can get a criminal or someone who is well-known off with little or no punishment; while someone who really isn't a bad person, but was in the wrong place at the wrong time and made a bad choice gets the book thrown at them. The justice system doesn't always seem very just. But from Solomon's writing thousands of years ago, it was the same back then. Apparently, this is nothing new! Our only consolation is in knowing that the day will come when God will judge everyone, both the good and bad, for all their deeds. People may think they're getting away with things now, but one day they will stand before the ultimate judge [God], and there is no attorney or lawyer or government that can speak for them or defend them.

Solomon concludes chapter three by writing, "So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is our lot in life. And no one can bring us back to see what happens after we die."

I think this verse sums things up pretty well. When we die, life will continue on for those left behind. We're not going to know what happens once we leave this earth. Our life will be finished and our eternity will begin, and those left behind will continue on with their lives until that day comes for each of them when their time on earth will come to an end and they too will die. That's how God intended the life of mankind to be. It has a beginning, but it also has an end.

I've heard it said that on our headstones will be engraved our date of birth, a dash, then our date of death. That dash represents the years in between our birth and death; it's what represents our years of living. What does that dash represent for you? Will it represent years of bitterness, a critical nature, hardship, pain, trying to get by on your own, harboring hate in your heart, holding grudges, destructive lifestyles and habits, etc.....? Will it represent years of living life to the fullest, a heart full of love and compassion, having strived to be your best, a life of joy and happiness, fully trusting and putting your faith in God -- even when things were tough and the road was difficult? The choice is ours to make. If you take inventory of your life and aren't liking all that you see in yourself, it's not too late to make changes and ask God to help you become the man or woman He created you to be.

Solomon wrote, "There is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work." In other words, whatever you do in life, be happy doing it. Find joy in whatever life brings.


Loretta and I have had our season of financial struggles. Loretta had many trips to the grocery store where she had to carefully add up the costs of food to make sure we could afford it. We were careful during that time to make sure we didn't charge more on credit than we would be able to pay off that month, and we were careful to tithe. And we made it through that season. Fortunately, we are enjoying a season of financial peace.

We've had other kinds of seasons coming and going. We had a season of home remodeling until recently. We only got our furniture back in place a few days ago.

Someday, this entire season of life on Earth will be over. We will be released in a way we don't really understand now. I don't mean to hurry the process along, especially since I don't look forward to the transition, but I do look forward to seeing what it will be like.

Just like we can look back at our financial struggles, and say "It wasn't horrible, but I'd rather not go back", I'm sure we'll feel similar about this life, "It wasn't horrible, but I'd rather not go back."


Pumpkin Roll

3 eggs

2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ginger

2/3 cup pumpkin

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

3/4 cup flour

Mix dry ingredients and set aside. Beat eggs and sugar at high speed for 5 minutes. Add pumpkin and lemon juice; fold in dry ingredients. Pour into 10x15 pan that has been lined with waxed paper and well greased and floured. Bake 15 minutes at 350. As soon as taken from oven, put wet cheesecloth on top and roll up. Put in refrigerator to cool about 15 minutes. Unroll and spread with filling.


1 (8 ounce) cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

4 Tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Beat ingredients together until mixed well. Unroll pumpkin roll, take off cheesecloth, and spread the filling evenly over the top. Re-roll and refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into slices to serve.


Thanksgiving is a good time to count your blessings and think about all the good things that God has placed in your life. I am thankful for having God in my life, for a godly heritage, and my family. But I wanted to take a little space and write about the blessings of this past year that I'm grateful for.

I'm thankful that Jon and I finally finished our living room remodel, after two years of working on it! It is so nice to be able to relax in a finished, beautiful room that is all cleaned up. No ladders, no tools lying around, no big hole in the carpet in the middle of the floor, no unfinished trim........ I am truly grateful!! Thank you, Jon, for all your hard work and for doing a great job.

I'm thankful that when I had my little accident a few weeks ago that no one was hurt. Other than the minor inconvenience of our car being in the body shop for a week getting the front fender and grill replaced, and having to pay the $1000 deductible on our insurance, it was all good.

I'm thankful that I still get to babysit Jovie. My, how I love that little girl!! She is my sunshine and brings me so much joy. And she is so much easier to babysit now than she was this time last year, when she started crawling and put everything in her mouth -- mainly picking at the carpet edges and eating carpet fibers! I'm thankful she finally outgrew that stage!!

I'm thankful that earlier this year when Jon's dad's Alzheimers got to the point where he could no longer stay at home, that we were able to find a good nursing home for him to move into. I'm thankful that it is close and convenient to Jon's mom's house, so she can easily go spend time with him whenever she wants. I'm thankful that Stan still knows who we are and we can have conversations with him. It may be a new normal and different types of conversations than what we used to have with him, and it may be the same conversations over and over and over again, and he may often say the wrong word or struggle to come up with a word, but he is still able to visit with us. I'm also thankful that he is finally settling in and has made friends there. God has used him to encourage and help and pray for others in his unit, which I'm also so thankful for.

I'm thankful that when my sister, Janie, had a house fire several weeks ago that no one was hurt. I'm sad that she lost everything, and so sorry for the devastation and hardship and insurance that she's had to deal with, but those are "things". Everyone was safe, and that is what matters more than anything.

I'm thankful that Jon and I have both been overall healthy and well and protected this past year. That is a huge blessing that we never take for granted and thank God for each and every day!


Be thankful in all circumstance, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)


We love you!

Loretta & Jon