"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 10, 2016


Recently, my great-niece broke out with a rash that was highly contagious. She had to stay home from school for a couple days until the antibiotic cream kicked in, and her skin cleared up. I babysat her and her baby sister those two mornings that she was home, while their mama was working. Before their daddy left for work that first day, he instructed her: "Remember, you're not supposed to touch your little sister, and don't touch the remotes and other things, because you are very contagious!"

A little later she informed me that she hadn't yet eaten breakfast and wanted me to scramble her an egg. I scrambled eggs for both girls and put the little one in her highchair and sat the other plate on the table. The older one was having a really hard time keeping her hands to herself and not hug and love on her baby sister. I had to remind her that she was contagious and wasn't supposed to be touching anyone. She immediately got her feelings hurt and reacted to my words. She hung her head, crossed her arms, wouldn't eat, wouldn't talk to me, and I could see that she was really upset; but even though I felt bad for her, I couldn't give in and allow her to touch her sister and put her hands all over everything.

The story that came to mind was the woman in the Bible that had had the issue of blood for twelve years.

Mark 5:25-34 (NLT) tells this woman's story: "A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, 'If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.' Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition. Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, 'Who touched my robe?' His disciples said to him, 'Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, "Who touched me?"' But he kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell on her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. And he said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.'"

I looked up some information on this passage of scripture and found out these facts regarding this woman: Because of the continual bleeding, the woman would have been continually regarded in Jewish law as being ceremonially unclean. In order to be regarded as clean, the flow of blood would need to stop for at least seven days. Because of the constant bleeding, this women lived in a constant state of uncleanness, which would have brought upon her social and religious isolation. The law in Leviticus 15:25-31 stated: "If a woman has a flow of blood for many days that is unrelated to her menstrual period, or if the blood continues beyond the normal period, she is ceremonially unclean. As during her menstrual period, the woman will be unclean as long as the discharge continues. Any bed she lies on and any object she sits on during that time will be unclean, just as during her normal menstrual period. If any of you touch these things, you will be ceremonially unclean. You must wash your clothes and bathe yourself in water, and you will remain unclean until evening. When the woman's bleeding stops, she must count off seven days. Then she will be ceremonial clean. On the eighth day she must bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons and present them to the priest at the entrance of the Tabernacle. The priest will offer one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. Through this process, the priest will purify her before the Lord for the ceremonial impurity caused by her bleeding. This is how you will guard the people of Israel from ceremonial uncleanness. Otherwise they would die, for their impurity would defile my Tabernacle that stands among them."

This meant that she would not have been permitted to enter the temple for Jewish religious ceremonies. According to the law, anything or anyone she touched became unclean as well. I believe that is why she was fearful when Jesus asked, "Who touched me?" Anything she touched or sat on or slept on were considered unclean. I'm sure she was extremely lonely. It's doubtful that anyone would come inside her house to visit; nor was she allowed inside of their homes, or else they would be considered unclean, just as she was. She had no one to give her hugs, no babies to cuddle and love on, no friend to chat with and hang out with, and likely wasn't married. She was probably not allowed inside her family's home, nor did they come to visit her. In fact, when she went back and forth to see all the various doctors, probably many would cross to the other side of the street when they saw her coming. I don't know how she purchased food or clothing or what type of dwelling she lived in. There were likely merchants who didn't want to have anything to do with her and refused to give her service. I cannot imagine her horribly lonely existence, and the ridicule, and label she wore of being unclean for twelve long years!

Her being in the crowd, pressing in to get to Jesus, meant that anyone who touched her was considered to be unclean, due to that contact, including Jesus. But apparently she was willing to take that risk, and was desperate for a miracle. She didn't try to touch Jesus, but had faith to believe if she could just touch the hem of his robe, she would be made whole.

I believe that the reason Jesus took the time to stop and acknowledge this woman was because he wanted the crowd of people surrounding her to know that they had nothing to fear from her. They would not be unclean from her being in their midst, and possibly bumping into her. But He had healed her, made her completely well, and she was to be considered clean. I believe that Jesus was also showing the people that because of him coming to earth, they would no longer be bound by the law, but He had come to give them grace. How that day changed that woman's future!

Ceremonial cleansing and customs and living under the Old Testament law were very different from what we're used to. Nowadays, this woman's physical condition wouldn't be as big of a deal to others and she wouldn't be considered unclean in our society. Medicine and surgeries could possibly take care of it; and if not, other women would sympathize and befriend her. She would still be allow to attend our churches, visit our homes, hold our babies, work at a job, and lead a fairly normal life. She wouldn't have the stigma of being unclean and an outcast.

As I was considering this, I began to wonder if perhaps we sometimes treat others, who may have different beliefs or been raised in very different circumstances than we were, as if they were contagious. Do we see women who may dress provocatively, or those who have multiple piercings and tattoos, or panhandlers who stand on street corners begging for money, or someone who is stumbling around drunk, or someone who is filthy and stinky, or even someone who seems to be very wealthy and perhaps egotistical....... and treat them as if they are contagious and unclean? Do we hear of someone who committed a horrible, sinful act at some point during their past; and even though they may have truly repented and changed their life around and have lived a godly life for many years, we consistently watch and wait for them to make a mistake so we can point a finger at them -- accusing them of being unclean? Have we ever turned our noses up at someone and made them feel as if they were an outcast?

Most of us are familiar with Matthew 7:1 (NLT) that says, "Do not judge others, and you will not be judged." That's a great scripture to quote when we don't want others to judge us; or if a family member makes a mistake or bad choices and we are defending their actions. But what about our treatment of others? The following verse says, "For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged." Ouch!!

I hope that I always remember the look on my great-nieces face when I told her that she was highly contagious and couldn't touch her baby sister. I hope that I remember that look of hurt and how she withdrew into herself. Why? Because I want to relate that to how others feel when I treat them as if they are unclean or contagious. I want to be able to look past what their flesh or actions may look like, and see their heart. I never want to cause someone hurt or pain or loneliness or grief or make them feel like an outcast, when it is within my power to show them the love of God.

When that woman, who was considered by everyone in the town, touched Jesus, his thoughts or reactions wasn't, "I hope nobody saw her touch me! If I ignore her, then maybe no one will know this unclean woman touched my clothes! I'll just heal her quietly and no one need know about it!" No! He was on his way to the home of the leader of the local synagogue, because his twelve year old daughter was dying. Wasn't that dying little girl more important than an unclean woman who had inched her way through the crowd to touch the hem of his garment? Not to Jesus! He took the time to stop, acknowledge her, speak to her, and proclaim that she was now healed in front of all her friends and neighbors. He showed compassion and love. That's what Jesus would have us do, also!


Avoiding someone for a medical issue that surely isn't contagious reminds me a lot of cooties. "Don't touch that woman! She has cooties."

Hearing kids shun someone for having cooties seems so silly and petty. But to a kid who is being shunned for cooties, it can hurt. Having adults do it seems silly, too, but after months, it would still hurt. After 12 years, and running through her life savings, it must have been horrible. People probably thought she had committed some horrible, secret sin to be afflicted like that. People already looked down on a woman who couldn't have children. But to not be able to even try probably looked like she was being punished for something she just wouldn't admit to.

But just like the story of the blind beggar who Jesus healed, it wasn't about any sin she had committed. It was about purifying her just by touching Jesus's robe. She didn't taint Jesus, like many people would expect. He purified and healed her.

Some people may suspect their lifestyle or sin is too much for Jesus to clean up. And some may think they might taint God or a church by getting too close. But it works the other way around. God's purity overpowers the cooties.


Snicker Doodle Cookies

1 cup shortening

2 teaspoons cream of tarter

1-1/2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

2 Tablespoons sugar

2-2/3 cups flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix shortening, sugar (1-1/2 cups), and eggs together. Sift together flour, baking soda, cream of tarter, and salt; stir into the shortening mixture. Chill dough. Roll into balls the size of a walnut. Mix 2 Tablespoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon together and roll each ball into the mixture. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 until browned (about 10-12 minutes), but still soft. These cookies will puff up at first, then flatten out with crinkled tops.


Jon and I don't eat nearly enough vegetable and fruit. When we first got married, Jon told me that basically the only veggie he liked was corn. I think that he thought all vegetables came from a can, which was opened up and microwaved. I grew up with fresh garden vegetables that Mama either canned or froze; and she cooked them seasoned with bacon grease or new potatoes or various other ways. But honestly, about the only vegetables we had were corn or green beans.

I've been trying to figure out ways to incorporate more vegetables into our daily eating. I've discovered that we prefer either fresh or frozen, not canned. We both thought we hated spinach; after all, that nasty canned spinach looks like slimy grass and is strongly vinegar flavored. We have found that we both really like fresh spinach, so I've been looking into ways to add it to various dishes. I make a chicken gnocchi soup that has fresh spinach cut up in it. I've added fresh spinach to omelets/egg breakfast dishes. It doesn't add an overpowering flavor. I've also tried a creamed spinach as a side dish that we both thought was pretty good. I am also going to dry cutting up fresh spinach and adding to various dishes; such as chicken enchiladas, various pasta entrees such as manicotti or Alfredo, breakfast casseroles. My niece told me that she likes to saute fresh spinach in butter with some garlic and a little salt to season it.

We both used to think we didn't like avocados, but have found that we really like them. I add sliced or diced avocados to tacos or burritos.... to breakfast tacos.... to salads. One of our favorite meals at a particular Mexican restaurant is a chicken stuffed fried avocado.

We also have found that we like vegetables drizzled with olive oil, seasoned, and cooked in the oven much better than when they're steamed. We like yellow squash and zucchini sliced up and baked like this. My sister also cooks asparagus in the oven, which is her favorite way to cook it, so I will be trying that.

I'm on a quest this year to try and find ways that Jon and I can add more veggies to our meals. I thought perhaps some of these suggestions may be helpful to you, if needed.


"Because a thing is not known, celebrated, or applauded by man

does not mean that it is not valuable to God or vital in eternity." - Christine Caine


We love you!

Loretta & Jon