"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 23, 2019


Jon and I are in the middle of updating our kitchen and dining room. Jon's parents bought this house around 1969, and it was built around 1968, so is a little over 50 years old now. We moved in in June of 2005 when we got married, at first renting the house from Jon's parents before deciding to buy it a few years ago.

We have done some painting and remodeling since living here, but there is just a lot of upkeep and expense that goes into maintaining a home so are just doing the bigger jobs a little at a time. Plus with Jon working full-time and our busy lives and trying to do the work on the house ourselves, it's difficult to find time to invest in large projects.

As with most projects, one thing leads to another to another, until the job ends up being much more involved than the original plan. I'm sure Jon would say that a lot of that is my fault, because I tend to keep noticing things and thinking, "If we do this, then that's going to make that look bad, so we really should replace that, too,".... and so on and so forth; but he notices things, too.... and generally agrees with the changes that I suggest.

We have been wanting to replace the flooring in our kitchen and dining room ever since moving into the house. There was an indoor/outdoor type carpeting in the dining room and linoleum in the kitchen. From pictures Jon's mom gave us, it looks as if the last time that the flooring was replaced in 1990; so it's twenty-nine years old and time for new. We chose laminate flooring for both rooms and Jon is taking off a week in February for us to do the work.

We decided that now would be a good time to give the rooms a fresh coat of paint. The baseboards needed to be taken off before the new flooring installation, and after working on that, Jon realizes that they really just need to be replaced. We've decided to add crown molding around the ceiling to match the living room. The lights in the kitchen need to be updated. A wall in the dining room has painted paneling on the lower half that we painted a barn red several years ago, but that needs to be redone so our new dining room doesn't look red, white, and blue (we are patriotic, but don't particularly want that theme in our house); since the walls will be a blue/gray and the trim is white, once they are newly painted. The back door needs repainted. We'll need new curtains to match the new colors; plus the old ones are thirteen years old.

See what I mean about one job leading to another to another......

Right now our kitchen looks like a messy work zone. But Jon and I both know that in about three weeks, the work will be finished and the rooms will look beautiful, and all of our hard work will well be worth it.

Here's the thing; a home can last for many, many years if it is taken care of and kept from being in disrepair. If things are fixed or replaced when they become broken or worn out, remodeling occasionally done to keep things from becoming very dated and worn out, and general maintenance done on an ongoing basis then a house can be useable and sturdy and livable for an a long period of time. Even though our home is over fifty years old, it is still very sturdy and strong and could very likely last another fifty years; if it is maintained and cared for and kept in good repair.

When traveling, I have often seen old homes that were abandoned at some point. Often the roof is sagging, windows may be broken, weeds have overtaken the yard, the porch has missing floor boards, the exterior has been neglected and is often rotting. I always wonder about the original owner of the home that built it. What had brought them to that particular area.... was it family property.... what had their lives been like.... was it a married couple that raised their children in that home.... had they endured hardships.... what had been their hopes and dreams, and did they see them come to pass.... were they godly people.....

Then I wonder what they would think if they were to see the home as it is today. Would they be saddened that what had once been their home where they had raised and loved their family, perhaps a home that they had taken pride in and maintained, now sat in disrepair and was neglected and falling down? Would their heart be broken over the fact that no one loved the property as they had and that it was now setting unused and empty?

Nehemiah was at the fortress of Susa, serving as cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. Hanani, one of his brothers, came to visit, along with other men who had just arrived from Judah. Nehemiah asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem.

They replied, "Things are not going well for those who returned to the providence of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire."

When Nehemiah heard this, he sat down and wept. In fact, he mourned, fasted, and prayed for many days. The king noticed his sad countenance, for Nehemiah had never before appeared sad in his presence. So the king asked, "Why are you looking so sad? You don't look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled."

Nehemiah was terrified, but told the king, "How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the ages have been destroyed by fire."

The king asked how he could help. Nehemiah asked permission to go to Judah to rebuild the city. The king granted Nehemiah his request.

Three days after arriving in Jerusalem, Nehemiah slipped out during the night taking a few others with him, in order to inspect the damage and see what needed to be done. He saw the broken walls and burned gates. At one point, there was so much rubble that his donkey couldn't get through.

Nehemiah then spoke to the Jewish leaders and said, "You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!" They replied, "Yes, let's rebuild the wall!" So they began the work.

Different groups took responsibility for specific sections. They didn't just get excited about rebuilding Jerusalem and everybody run and start all in the same spot or no one knowing what anyone else was doing; but they were organized and different individuals oversaw each specific area.

As you read through Nehemiah you read where there were enemies who opposed the rebuilding of the wall. Not just one time, but over and over again. There were obstacles that had to be overcome and their faith and vision had to remain steadfast and strong.

But in chapter 6 we read where just fifty-two days after the workers had begun, the wall was finished. Verse 16 says, "When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God."

When Nehemiah heard about the disrepair of the wall and gates in Jerusalem, he could have wept and said, "Oh that's too bad! I wish I could do something, but I'm stuck here as the cupbearer to the king. God, I hope you put it on someone's heart to go rebuild the city." He could have thought, "That is going to be a huge job! Even if I were able to go, I don't have the money or resources or knowledge on how to rebuilt the walls and gates. I hate this, for my ancestors sake and for my people, but there's nothing I can do."

But when God opened the door for Nehemiah to speak to the king, even though he was terrified, he chose to be bold and ask permission to go rebuild the city. He heard about the need, he wept and mourned over the need, he fasted and prayed, then he acted. When he did so, God responded by giving Nehemiah great favor with the king, by him having the support of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, and by there being enough volunteers who were willing to give their time and energy and talents in helping to rebuild the wall. God protected them from their opposition and in the end there came a time of repentance and recommitment.

God calls each of us to be good stewards of those things that He blesses us with and places in our care. Jon and I have a responsibility to care for our home and keeping it in good repair. If we fail to do so, then how can God trust us with other things? How can He trust us with finances, health, good jobs, material possessions, etc if we are not going to be good stewards and give them the best of care? But when we choose to do so, then God sees that we are trustworthy and blesses us with more.

The walls of Jerusalem being in disrepair was not the Jewish peoples fault. The enemy had done the damage when they took the people into exile years previous to this. But once the people began being released from exile and made their way back into Jerusalem, it then became their responsibility to repair and rebuild the wall and gates; even though they hadn't been the ones who burned and destroyed them. This was their home, their city, and they had to choose to resist the oppression and opposition of their enemies and work hard to rebuild what had been destroyed. That was their responsibility. When they did the work, God gave them great favor. When the surrounding nations and enemies saw it, they were humbled and frightened, for they recognized that God had helped His people.

There may be times when there are things in our spirit that become broken and in disrepair. Perhaps someone has deeply hurt us and we have a difficult time trusting and forgiving. Perhaps our spiritual life becomes neglected. Weeds of sin begin creeping in and begin choking out the good seed in our heart. Our mind springs a leak as we allow ungodly thoughts to fill our thoughts and after a while things begin weakening and our foundation isn't as strong as it once was.

The truth is, all of us have to do constant ongoing maintenance on our spiritual houses. There has to be checks to make sure that all is intact as it should be, times of letting go of old thinking and habits and traditions and not fearing making changes, and a willingness to put in the time and labor to keep our spirit clean and healthy and maintained. We don't just receive salvation, then that's it until we see Jesus. But there is ongoing work involved in keeping a strong spiritual house (life). Honestly, there are times when it seems as if one thing leads to another to another once you begin repairing your spiritual life. It seems like a lot of work and overwhelming. But we can be assured that it will be well worth the time and effort, for there will be something very beautiful when it's completed.

Being a homeowner requires a lot of work, commitment, expense, and time. From spring through fall, Jon and I have to keep the yard mowed and maintained.... trash picked up that may blow in from a neighbors trash bin or that is thrown in our ditch by people passing by... it's not our trash, but our responsibility to pick it up and throw it away. Limbs have to constantly be picked up. We have to keep an eye out for any leaks or damage that may need fixed, because if left it will only lead to more expense and damage. We have to occasionally paint and replace flooring and keep the house up to date and maintained. We (I) have to clean and keep the house free from trash and dirt and grime and spills and mess. We have to pay our mortgage and pay insurance. We have to pay property taxes. If we want to own this home, then we have to be responsible for all of these numerous things.

That's the same with our lives, our spiritual houses. We can't neglect our relationship with God, then wonder why we have so many problems and why we think things we shouldn't, and why we can't overcome bad habits, or why we struggle so much, why things are deteriorating and are in neglect. We have to be good stewards of our spirits!

Perhaps something happens and the enemy comes in and seemingly destroys you, and you feel like your life is full of rubble and brokenness. All is not lost and your life is not without hope! When you repent and recommit your life to God, He will bring about restoration and rebuild your life; just as He did with Jerusalem. He will frustrate the enemy when they look at you and see that God has indeed done a miracle in your heart.

If you feel as if your life has been broken and everything just looks like a big rubble heap and in total disrepair, allow God to bring about complete restoration and give you a new life. If you feel like there have been some areas of disrepair in your life that needs to be fixed and some maintenance done, don't wait until things completely fall apart, but allow God to fix those things today.

Let's make 2019 a year of God building His people into strong, unshakeable, faith-filled individuals!


The owners of a house behind us moved out, but instead of selling, they rented their house out. The tenants were good. They payed their rent on time, kept the yard mowed, and so forth. They didn't make a bother about much of anything. In fact, there was a drip in one bathroom, and instead of making a fuss about it, they just stopped using that bathroom. The leak started rotting the floor and surrounding areas. By the time they moved out, there was such a huge pile of mold that the bathroom had to be gutted and rebuilt. It would have been much easier to make a small fuss, and get the hose tightened. And who knows how much health impact all that mold had on the tenants. It might have been as minor as causing bad itching, or as bad as chronic bronchitis.

Loretta is right. You have to maintain your home. But maintaining the yard and most of the house isn't always enough. It seems so easy to close a bathroom door, and ignore a tiny leak. But left ignored, it can cause more and more problems.


Cocoa Brownies Supreme

(This is the very first brownie recipe that I ever learned how to make when I was maybe 12 yrs old.)

1 cup shortening

3/4 cup cocoa

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

1-1/2 cup flour

4 eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder

Cream shortening and sugar together; add in vanilla and eggs. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Grease and flour 9x13 baking pan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until done.


When one of my uncles was about 6-7 years old, the preacher asked if any of the Parton boys had a special song to sing. He jumped up and walked to the front of the church and sang, "I washed my hands this morning, I washed them clean and bright. I lift them up to Jesus, for Him to see them right." He did all of the hand motions, and when he "lifted them up to Jesus", he had little dirty hands.... that hadn't been washed quite so clean and bright. From my understanding, the family was surprised when he jumped up to sing, because this was his first time of ever singing in church.


The razor blade is sharp but can't cut a tree; the axe is strong but can't cut the hair.

Everyone is important according to his/her own unique purpose.

Never look down on anyone unless you are admiring their shoes. - unknown


We love you!

Loretta & Jon