"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

May 1, 2019


I woke up a few mornings ago with a phrase on my mind, and haven't been able to stop thinking about it ever since. It was, "Don't always be the one taking the picture; be in the picture." There are so many lessons that God has been showing me from these seemingly simple words.

A couple weeks ago I attended a birthday party for my great-nephew. It was all family in attendance, except for his grandparents on his mother's side. We were all sitting in the living room visiting, laughing, and enjoying our time together. One of my nephews was sitting on the couch beside me, and I had seen that he had his cell phone out messing with it, but thought he was going to take a picture of one of his kids or was looking at something. I happened to glance over and saw that he was videoing me! When I saw that his phone turned on me, I said, "Oh please!!" When he played it back, I was a tad embarrassed; yet I found it weirdly funny! I had this horrible frowny expression on my face and sounded like a hillbilly; more so than usual. The angle that it was taken from showed my double-chin and there was absolutely nothing flattering about it! Of course, he showed his brother, who was sitting next to him.... then his sister.... and before I knew it, the phone was passed around the room so that everyone could watch it!

My first initial inclination was to feel embarrassed for everyone to see the video. But then almost immediately I thought, "It's okay! It's funny and making people laugh." No one was being mean, or humiliating me. It was funny and obvious that I had unexpectedly got caught on video. Who cares if I wasn't at my best?! No one watched it and was critiquing how I looked or sounded; they saw the humor and it made everyone laugh.

God has had to really worked in me over the years regarding self-image, and I have greatly improved how I view myself; although there are times when I still have to change my attitude and stop speaking words of criticism. Having my picture taken, I wanted to be in the back to try and "hide" my size. When I saw pictures of myself I would nitpick and point out all of my flaws: "Look at my double-chin and how the skin sags around my neck.... my nose is too big.... I'm having a bad hair day.... look how big my belly is.... my rear looks so big.... I shouldn't have worn that...."

"You all go ahead and be in the picture, I'll take it!" I have heard that comment so many times over the years, especially by women. They would much rather be the one taking the photo so that they don't have to be in the picture. Most times it's because they don't like seeing themselves in pictures.

Learning to laugh at ourself, seeing pictures of ourself without finding fault and looking for imperfections, and actually being in the picture are things that most of us need to work on.

Jon's cousin, Luke, recently went home to be with Jesus. After his death, there were many people who posted pictures of him on Facebook. At his memorial service they played a video with pictures of him. One thing that caught my attention was that not every picture of Luke was flattering or posed or him looking his very best. There were so many pictures of Luke having fun, being silly, and enjoying life! He was totally uninhibited. He danced like nobody was watching; danced like everybody was watching; and then invited everyone to watch the party. He was in the picture, in the moment, and lived life full of joy and to the fullest. Therefore, there are numerous pictures of him that people have that they can now look at and remember how fun and special and joyful he was!

We could learn a lot from Luke! Our family and friends don't care if we look silly or "fat" or if the picture turns out unflattering. They just want us to be in the picture with them!

Mathew 22:37-39 says, "Jesus replied, 'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.' And the second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

Have you ever noticed what those scriptures say.... that equally important to loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind is to love your neighbor as you love yourself? You can't love God and love your neighbor, but not love yourself. They all go together. You don't truly love yourself if you speak negatively about yourself, see yourself as insignificant and unworthy, and find fault with yourself.

God never looks at me and say, "Oh my goodness! Loretta is so overweight! Look at her double-chin and her big belly. I can't believe that she is wearing that today; that is so unflattering. She should stand back behind someone to try and hide herself." Never does God say or think that about me!!

Instead, God looks at me and says things like, "Look at Loretta today! I'm so happy that she's my daughter! She has so much worth and value and carries herself with dignity. I love to see her smile and hear her laugh. I love her so much!! She is such an incredible treasure to me, so special, and so beautiful!" The truth is, God says the same type of things about you!!

Have you ever heard parents who used curse words punish their kids for saying those same words? I have! It's a double-standard and somewhat hypocritical. Yet we do the same type of thing. We criticize ourself, talk about our faults and how bad we think we look, hide behind people in pictures or stay out of them altogether; then tell younger folk that they need to be self-confident and to not put themselves down. We tell them that their heart is much more important than their appearance; but then they hear us griping about how we look. If we want younger generations to see and know and appreciate their worth, to walk with confidence, and to love themselves (which is scriptural!), then we need to teach by example.

We need to practice what we preach! We need to truly love ourself, then show the younger generations how to do likewise. We don't have to be perfect; but we can laugh and have fun and be silly and dance and learn how to enjoy life as God intended. We can portray joy in our journey! We can know our value and worth, know who we are in Christ, and act as sons and daughters of the King -- our Father!!

There is a second part to this phrase of "don't always be the one taking the picture, but be in the picture,"; that meaning is to live in the moment, instead of always trying to capture it. I think it's about living in the moment, instead of being on the sidelines. Participating in what is going on; being involved and not an onlooker.

Often when we are sitting on the sidelines, it is easy to criticize those "in the picture". We think about how we would do things differently. We miss out on so much by not being a participant.

One such story is found in Luke 10:38-42. "As Jesus and the disciples continued on their journey, they came to a village where a woman welcomed Jesus into her home. Her name was Martha and she had a sister named Mary. Mary sat down attentively before the Master, absorbing every revelation He shared. But Martha became exasperated by finishing the numerous household chores in preparation for her guests, so she interrupted Jesus and said, 'Lord, don't you think it's unfair that my sister left me to do all the work by myself? You should tell her to get up and help me.' The Lord answered her, 'Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Are they really that important? Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won't take this privilege from her.'"

Martha wanted to be in the picture with Jesus, but felt like she had too much work to do. She had a meal to prepare and household chores to do in preparation for all of the guests. So she stayed busy doing everything that she felt needed to be done. I'm sure that the more she worked, the more she worked up steam and the more upset she got at her sister. "Why isn't she in here helping me?!" The truth was, Martha wanted to be in there with Jesus, too, but felt like she had too much that needed done. So she went straight to Jesus, "Tell my sister to get up and help me!"

But Jesus asked why she was pulled away by all the many distractions.... why was she upset and troubled. He asked, "Are they really that important?"

Many times we allow distractions to pull us away from the picture, the action, what is going on at the time. We miss visiting with family, because we feel like being in the kitchen preparing a meal is more important. We miss watching the little ones play, because we feel like we need to clean up... or they're too noisy... or they want to go outside and it's too hot. We go off by ourself, thinking we need some quiet time, when really it takes us away from being a participant in what is happening. We think that someone else would do a better job than us, so we hold back and don't get involved at church. We stay where we can see the picture, but stay out of it.

How sad to go through our journey on earth without ever being in the middle of life and the joys that our Father has for us to enjoy. We watch other people enjoying their lives, but we keep busy or stay to ourselves; then get frustrated because we are stressed and tired and overworked and emotionally drained. We think it's not fair! We often become like Martha and allow life's distractions make us upset and troubled. We may even complain to Jesus.

Not all of life is fun. Sometimes it is tough and can be really difficult. But even during those times, we can stay in the picture, in the middle of life and what is going on, and maintain our joy in the journey.


I recently had a discussion with someone who thought men who play fantasy games are ridiculous. She argued that it was pointless, and a waste of time. After all, she had better things to do with her time, like go watch a movie.

I pointed out how ridiculous her argument was, but she still didn't see it. Sitting quietly watching the product of someone else's imagination seemed much more valuable to her than using your own imagination. And sitting quietly with friends, watching strangers seemed like a better social event than visiting, joking, and having fun with friends.

She took the role of looking at someone else's pictures, neither being in them or taking the pictures herself.

We tend to do the same with God, though. It's a lot easier to attend a church, and watch performers worship on stage, watch the other members worship, and enjoy observing it all. But it's much more valuable to participate, and enter into God's presence ourselves.


Italian Chicken

Chicken Breasts

Italian Dressing

Place chicken breasts in baking pan and cover with Italian dressing. Marinate for 1 hour or longer in refrigerator. Don't remove dressing before baking. Bake covered at 325 for 2 hours or in crockpot until tender.

You can also cook pork roast the same way.


I get my nephew's kids up and off to school some mornings. A few days ago I woke up my 6-year old great-nephew. He sat straight up in bed, looked at me, and said, "It's complicated!" I asked, "What's complicated?" About that time he blinked as if he were truly waking up, then giggled and said, "I have no idea!" I asked if he had been dreaming and he said, "I have no idea!" Apparently, he had been in the middle of dreaming of something that was complicated!!


Don't ask God why He's allowing something to happen.

Ask Him what He wants you to learn and do in the midst of it. - unknown


We love you!

Loretta & Jon