"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 27, 2016


My Grandma Horton very much had favorites when it came to her grandchildren. To this day, my sisters and I can still name who those chosen ones were. In our family, it was Linda. She made it obvious who her favorite grandkids were. I'm not sure if she realized that she was doing this and did it on purpose, or if she would have argued that she treated each grandchild equally the same. I do believe that she loved us all in her own way, even though she wasn't particularly a "grandmotherly" type of person; but she very much made a difference.

On the other hand, two of my sisters were talking together a few years following my mama's death and had this conversation:

Janie: "I always felt like I was Mama's favorite."

Shirley: "No, I was her favorite!"

Had I been there at the time, I would have argued that I was her favorite!!

There were five girls in my family, and Mama had a special way of making each and every one of us feel as if we were her favorite child. She never said the words, "You're my favorite," but her actions and love made us each individually feel as if we were. All five of us girls were made to feel exceptionally special and as if Mama loved us best.

Galatians 4:1-7 (NLT) says this: "Think of it this way. If a father dies and leaves an inheritance for his young children, those children are not much better off than slaves until they grow up, even though they actually own everything their father had. They have to obey their guardians until they reach whatever age their father set. And that's the way it was with us before Christ came. We were like children; we were slaves to the basic spiritual principles of this world. But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, 'Abba, Father.' Now you are no longer a slave, but God's own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir."

Romans 8:14-17 (NLT) tell us: "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God's Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, 'Abba, Father'. For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God's children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering."

John 15:15 (NLT): "I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn't confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me."

As much as Mama loved her daughters, our Heavenly Father has an even deeper love for His children. We are not His slaves that He bosses around and commands. But we are His heirs, His children, His friends. That's amazing, that God would desire that type of deep connection and level of relationship with us.

A master would say "go here or there" and "do this or that" to his slaves, not explaining why; but expected immediate, unquestioning obedience. The slave was not privy to the secrets and plans that His master had.

But that's not the relationship that God originally established with mankind. God created man with His very own hands, and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils. In the cool of the evening, God would come down and walk in the garden with Adam and Eve, prior to their disobedience and exile from Eden. He was the Father of Adam and Eve! Ever since that time, God has strived and desired to maintain that same father/child relationship with all mankind. He loves us and every single detail of our lives.

Just as Mama was gifted in making each of her daughters to feel as if we were her favorite, I believe that God has that very same ability -- in an even greater capacity. We are His special treasure! But in order for that relationship to be established, we have to make ourselves available to love and be loved and believe that we are indeed the apple of His eye. He doesn't choose favorites, nor does He show favoritism to some, nor is anyone considered more special than others.

May we each truly have a deeper understanding of the relationship that God desires to have with us; living as the children and heirs of God..... believing that He considers each and every one of us as His best friend, whom He will reveal His heart and secrets to.


Growing up, some of the most hated words I ever heard were, "because I said so." I couldn't stand not understanding why. If I didn't understand why I wasn't allowed to do something, I couldn't argue against it effectively. Once in a while, though, if I understood why I wasn't allowed to play in the rain, I might agree, and comply more easily. More often, though, I would argue that I could keep my socks clean if I wrapped trash bags around them, or some other bad idea.

Now that I'm grown, I never hear those dreaded words. And I never say them (of course, if I was a father, I might). Partly, that comes with growing up. But it's also partly because no one really has the kind of authority to order me around just "because they said so." Sure, I have bosses, but they like to keep a good relationship, and don't want to drive off employees. And lastly, I never get told what to do "because I said so", because most of the things I used to be told to do "because I said so", I know better, and do it because I know I should.

As we mature in our relationship with God, we move from simply doing as we are told "because God said so", to doing what we know is right because we know it is right. And maybe we stop trying to find some way around the right way (like wearing trash bags to keep clean).


Chicken Gnocchi Soup (copycat recipe of Olive Garden's soup)

(This is really good soup -- don't let the number of ingredients scare you!)

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 cup finely diced onion

1/2 cup finely diced celery

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 quart half-n-half

1 (32 ounce) chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup finely shredded carrots

1 rotisserie chicken -- deboned

2 (12 ounce) packages frozen ready-to-use gnocchi

1-2 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach leaves

Melt the butter into the oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is soft and becomes translucent. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in the half-n-half. Simmer until thickened. Whisk in the chicken broth. Simmer until thickened again. Stir in salt, thyme, parsley, nutmeg and carrots. Bring heat back up and bring to a slight boil. Add gnocchi and cook according to package directions. Turn heat back down and add in chicken and spinach leaves. Simmer until soup is heated through. This soup is also delicious reheated the next day.

**This soup is really pretty easy to make, but does require some time and you need to keep an eye on it while cooking.


Here are some household uses for distilled white vinegar (from This Old House):

Remove mineral deposits from shower-heads. Pour 1/2 cup of warm vinegar in a resealable plastic bag. Drop in the shower-head, making sure the holes are submerged, and seal the bag. Let sit for 1 hour. Rinse and wipe clean, then reattach.

Remove decals and stickers. Dab vinegar onto stubborn price tags and stickers affixed to glass, plastic, or wood. Scrape the surface clean, then rub the area with more vinegar to remove any sticky residue.

Whiten grout. For stubborn stains on ceramic-tile surfaces, scrub grout with a stiff-bristled toothbrush dipped in vinegar and watch it whiten.


You have a purpose way beyond your past. - Christine Caine


We love you!

Loretta & Jon