"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

December 20, 2017

Merry Christmas!


Occasionally I will take one of Janee' or Jordan's children (my niece and nephew) a few hours for some one-on-one time. They look forward to it, and I thoroughly enjoy it. Sometimes they will have a plan on what they want to do, and I usually let them, if it's within reason. The thing is, they rarely ask for anything big. I feel like it's good for them to be given some special attention and be spoiled just a tad by their Aunt Retta.

Two or three weeks ago, Jax got to come spend some time with me. He had written out a list of things he wanted the two of us to do together. His list included things like: build something together out of Legos, watch a TV show, play a game.

Jemma, who is age seven, had been asking to spend some time with me for several weeks. About once a month they have early-release day at their school and she had asked if I could pick her up on one of those days so that she could spend the afternoon with me, but that had not worked out. Either I had something that I needed to do or some other activity interfered with that happening.

Finally, last week we got to spend some time together. Jon was out of town working so I had promised her that I would pick her up one afternoon. On Thursday, I had been at their house babysitting Jovie all day and was there when the older kids got off the school bus, so we finally got our special one-on-one time.

Janee' told me that the timing was perfect! The older two kids have been having quite a bit of homework, so she has been needing to spending a lot of time during the evenings helping them; which meant that Jemma was not getting much mommy attention.

Jemma was so excited, that she was almost giddy. When we got into my car I asked what she wanted to do and she said that she had a plan, but was only going to tell me one thing at a time so that I would be surprised. She had been putting a lot of thought into this and had had a lot of time to work out the details.

First of all we went to Walmart and looked at Baby Alive dolls and accessories. She really wanted some diapers for the Baby Alive doll that she already has. I could buy a pack of real newborn pampers (the off brand was $6.44) with a 48 count as cheap as a 4 pack of Baby Alive brand, so that's what we did. Oh my! She was so excited to get a large pack of pampers for her baby doll! Jemma talked non-stop the entire time we were in the store. She told me that she couldn't stop talking, because she was so excited that she finally got to spend time with me.

Next we drove through McDonalds to pick up dinner and took it back to my house to eat. After we ate, she got to choose a show to watch on TV and laid back in our massage recliner, covered up with a blanket, and relaxed. Actually, she was so relaxed, I thought she was going to fall asleep. Lastly, we went to Andy's Frozen Custard and got ice cream. It was a good 3-1/2 hours that we had together and we both thoroughly enjoyed it!

When I dropped Jemma off at home, her older sister asked, "Is it my turn next? When can I spend some time with you?" She is already thinking about what she wants to do. Then Jax piped up, "After Jaycee's turn, will it be my turn again?" I also have plans with Jordan's two kids during Christmas break.

Yes, sometimes I will take them out to eat (they are usually very cheap "dates"!) or will let them pick out a cheap toy or something at the store.... occasionally, they get to do both. I've even taken them to Dollar Tree, where everything cost $1.00, and they have been excited about that. But there have been other times when we don't actually do anything special and I don't spend any money on them at all. We may watch a kids movie together, or I may watch them play a video game, or we may just chit-chat.

I've found that it's not necessarily about what they get, but more about giving them my time. Time where I focus on them and what their interests are; even if it is them playing Minecraft and explaining every thing that they are building, which I really couldn't care less about and find boring. It's about me showing an interests in them, giving them my time, and making them my focus. It's about making them feel as if they are special and have my full attention. And really, don't we all need that from time to time; regardless of our age?!

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 says, "Remember this -- a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully. And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others."

There is a biblical principle of sowing and reaping, that truly works when we put it into practice; the more generous we sow, the more generous crop we will reap. Not because we are being pressured or giving out of guilt, but because we are giving with a cheerful heart. When we do so, then we are promised to have everything that we need, with plenty left over to share with others.

This isn't speaking only of finances. Do you feel as if you are short on time? Then sow time into others! That is probably one of the most valuable commodities that we can give to someone. We can also sow kindness, mercy, encouragement and so many other types of seeds.

God gave us the ultimate example of what giving should look like. John 3:16: "For God so loved the world (us) that He gave His only, begotten Son. That whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

God sent His only Son to earth, in the form of a human baby, to live with all the sin and filth and jealousies and abuse and selfishness and pride and sickness and pain and ugliness of earth. Jesus, who is eternal and had never had a beginning, because He has always been, was suddenly taken out of the eternal and put on the time-line of mankind. He, who had never known time, was suddenly restricted by time. His life was measured by days and years and milestones. For thirty-three years, Jesus was taken out of that eternal realm and was ruled by time.

Jesus gave us the gift of His time. He grew from a seed planted within Mary's womb, to a baby, to a small child, to a teenager, to a man. He gathered twelve men to travel and minister by His side so that He could teach and mentor them. His words and miracles were put in written form so that for over 2,000 years, mankind could read and learn about Him and how to live their lives.

Then Jesus was tortured and was crucified. But in three days He rose from the grave, no longer a man but the glorified Savior, so that we could have the eternal gift of life, that will never end. That is the absolute, most ultimate gift that we could ever receive!!

That is truly what we should celebrate on Christmas! We should thank God for sending His Son to earth and giving us the gift of His time. Time that was spent giving His wisdom and His words so that we could read them today and be encouraged and taught how to live. Time that was spent away from His Father and out of the realm of eternity. Time that was given to us, then ultimately taken away by the men that He came to save, when they crucified Him. Time that was redeemed when He rose from the grave and ascended back to His Father, so that we could have direct access to the Father. (Ephesians 2:18) Jesus once again entered into the eternal realm where He was no longer limited by time, as we know it.

Accepting the gift of salvation, that was given to us through Jesus, is the very best gift that we could receive from our Heavenly Father. Giving our time is one of the best gifts that we can give to others.


I don't remember the details, but I'm sure I've heard a lesson on giving presents/presence/presents. The point of the lesson was that we can give someone our present (as in the current time), by simply investing time to be with them. We can give our presence, by being close and paying attention to them while we are present. Or we can give gifts. I'm sure it's obvious which are more important.


Cream Cheese Dip

5 packages Cream Cheese

1 pound pork sausage

1 can Rotel

Brown the sausage; drain. Place all ingredients in a crockpot and heat until the cream cheese is melted to a good consistency. Stir occasionally to ensure ingredients are sufficiently blended together. Serve with tortilla chips.


I have so many wonderful memories of Christmas! Have I said how much I love this time of year?! When I was a kid, we always had a real Christmas tree... that dropped needles everywhere... but thankfully, we had wood flooring in our home. All of the churches in the area would have Christmas plays and would schedule them on different week nights so that everyone could visit one another's churches to see the plays. Some of them were a little hokey, but it was always fun being involved in our church play, as well as going to see what programs the other churches did. When I was young, my mom's family would all get together on Christmas Eve night and have a big potluck meal; but that ended as families grew and cousins began getting married and having their own family. We always opened our presents on Christmas Eve night... always... so that's how it's supposed to be done... which is a continuing debate between Jon and myself, because his family always opened gifts on Christmas morning, so he thinks that is the right way to do it. Until my grandpa passed away in 1975, we would get together with Daddy's family at my grandparents house for Christmas lunch. I don't particularly remember getting together much after that, but we may have.

One of my very favorite Christmas gifts was a hooded cardigan zip-up sweater that my parents got me when I was around 12 years old. I had found it in a catalog and thought it was the prettiest sweater I'd ever seen and wanted it so badly, but didn't think my parents had enough money to get it for me. I remember being so surprised when I opened up the gift and saw that sweater inside. It was white with navy and red trim and I loved that sweater. I wore it for many years, until it finally got holes in it. It seemed to just stretch and grow as I did, and I kept wearing it until it got too raggedy and had to be thrown out.


Who can add to Christmas?

The perfect motive is that God so loved the world.

The perfect gift is that He gave His only son.

The only requirement is to believe in Him.

The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life. - Corrie Ten Boom


We love you!

Loretta & Jon