"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

October 23, 2019


Last week I wasn't babysitting due to fall break, so Jon took a couple days off work. We went to my family homestead in Missouri to do a couple projects. There had been a leak around the toilet, so it needed repaired. Then there was a tree that had died and needed cut down. My nephew and his family were staying at the house for a few days, enjoying some activities in the area; so he was going to help Jon with the work on Friday while his wife, the kids, and I went outlet mall shopping. Another nephew came that evening and the next day to help.

The project ended up being much more involved than they had hoped. When Jon and my nephew tried to take the toilet out, the bolts were rusted and the wood was rotted so the floor that the toilet was attached to came up with the toilet. When they began cutting out a large square, they found that there were three layers of flooring that they had to cut out and remove. The supports underneath had started rotting, so they had to bolster those up.

After several hours of working, they realized that they weren't going to get finished Friday evening. My nephew and his family decided that since the house had no toilet for the night, they would go ahead and drive home. Jon and I had our dog with us, hadn't yet checked into a hotel, so decided to "rough" it and spend the night at the house. Country living at it's finest! It had been many years since I'd had no indoor plumbing; but we managed and did fine.

The next morning another nephew came and he and Jon were able to finish up the bathroom project. They had found time to get the tree cut down on Friday; and clean up on that can wait until spring.

The house in Lampe is approximately 64-48 years old.... more or less. The original two rooms were build in 1955, then two more rooms built on sometime later; then the last addition built on in 1971. Family didn't live in the house from 1985 till 2007. My dad maintained ownership, but rented the house out. After his death, my sisters and I took the house and property back to use for our families.

Being an older house, it is needing TLC with some much needed repairs and maintenance. If it's not cared for, then there will come the time when the house will rot and need to be torn down.

In each of our lives it is vitally important that we are continually taking care of ourselves spiritually, as well as physically and all areas of our life. If not, we will find that we grow weak and will have things that can cause rot.

We keep ourselves strong spiritually by spending time with God through prayer, reading His Word, fellowshipping with believers, receiving Bible-based teaching and preaching, and worship. We allow God to prune our lives so that we can become more and more fruitful.

John 15:1-3 says, "I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He trims (prunes) so that it may bear more fruit."

Verse 5 continues: "I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for apart from Me, you can do nothing."

So if we want a healthy, strong spiritual foundation we have to consistently be abiding in Jesus and allow Him to prune us so that our lives will be abundantly fruitful. If we stop abiding in Him, then there will be consequences and our lives will rot and be in ruins.

Verse 6 says, "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away like a branch and is dried up. Such branches are picked up and thrown into the fire and burned." We cannot live apart from Jesus and expect to remain spiritually stable and healthy.

While in Lampe last week, Jon and a couple of my nephews also cut down a tree that had died and was rotting on the inside. It had been a strong oak for many, many years offering shade and serving a purpose. But over the past few years the hole on the inside had grown larger and larger until it came to the point where it was a possible hazard. One of the kids who were at the house when they cut it down kept insisting that the men should save the tree and were being mean by cutting it down; even after the guys tried to explain to her that the rot had caused the tree to weaken and a strong wind or storm could cause the tree to fall; and should someone be out in the yard at that time, it could cause them harm.

When our lives grow weak and rotten inside and we do nothing to maintain or strengthen ourselves, nor clean out the bad stuff that is growing within, then it will not only cause hurt to ourself, but can also cause hurt and harm to others.

Not only is it important to care for ourselves spiritually, it is also vitally important that we take care of ourselves physically, emotionally, and mentally. There are many scriptures that speak about the importance of rest. When we fail to allow ourselves time to rest, then we not only go against what God tells us to do through scripture, but we also cause harm to our health and relationships. Stress and tiredness and weakness and sickness are more apt to attach itself to someone who fails to properly rest.

Jon and I have had some stressful years for the past 5-6 years, feeling as if we don't have time to get away and truly rest. We always have something to do, whether it be at home or church or helping others, and so pay more attention to taking care of everything else other than what we need; and I truly believe that most people do this very thing.

We have recently talked and decided that next year will be our year of rest; a sabbatical of sorts. Although we have to work in order to pay bills and buy groceries and pay for those things which we will need, we are intentionally making plans to get away more, vacation, do things just for fun, and rest. Why? To build our relationship to be even stronger than it already is, to relax, and to become healthier and more rejuvenated. We are excited and looking forward to this! We don't want to become so acclimated to the busyness of life that we accept stress as normal. We don't want our foundation, exterior, and interior to become rotted and deteriorated without us realizing it. So we are going to take next year as a year of maintenance and upkeep, and believe that we will be much better because of it.

I encourage you to do a "house" check. How are you spiritually and physically? Do you need to do some much needed maintenance or get rid of some rot and deterioration; or is everything in great condition? Either way, don't forget to maintain yourself in all areas!


The dead tree makes a great case for rest, too. Most people know trees have rings, one for each year. And many also know why, but I'll go into it anyway.

During the spring, summer, and fall, the tree grows, stretching itself toward the sunlight, and claiming more territory. It grows thicker and taller. It is adding the lighter wood everywhere. And it produces fruit with seeds. And it produces green leaves to manufacture sugar for growth. But it doesn't grow much stronger.

During the winter, the tree also grows, but very slowly. It doesn't grow taller, and doesn't spread out. But it does grow ever so slightly thicker. It is adding the darker, harder wood. This time of harsh weather, and dormancy adds strength to the tree.

Decades ago, a group of scientists tried growing trees in a controlled environment. It had no wind to damage the trees, and no winter. The trees grew, but broke under their own weight in just a few years because they had all size and no strength.

This is a great analogy in several ways. First, the summer is like our work week. We invest our time into producing our income. We grow our empire, but not our strength. Then on the weekend, we get the chance to rest, and grow stronger.

It is also a great analogy for times of bounty and times of trial. During our times of bounty, we can grow, and expand, but can also grow weak. It is during our trials that we gain our greatest strength. In both times, we can grow.


Crock Pot Hot Chocolate

1/2 cup cocoa

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

5-6 cups water

2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix all ingredients together in a crockpot.

Set on high for 2 hours.

Remove lid and set to warm to enjoy all day long (or as long as it will last!).

Remove skin that forms on top and stir if necessary before serving.


When my sister, Janie, was about 5-6 years old she had gone somewhere with Daddy in his big flat-bed truck. He was visiting with our uncle while Janie played on back of the truck. She got this big idea that she would jump off the back of the truck onto Daddy's back. He was turned where he couldn't see her. She took off running across the back of the truck and jumped off onto his back. He staggered when she landed, but thankfully, was able to reach back and grab onto her. It scared him, thinking of the possibilities of how badly she could have gotten hurt, had she missed and landed on the ground. He asked what she had been thinking and she had no idea; but in her mind she had no doubt but what Daddy would catch her and she would be safe.

Oh to have that type of trust in our Heavenly Father! To believe, whole-heartedly, and without doubt that He will always catch us and that we can put our full, complete trust in Him!!


I am not the man I used to be. I am not the man I want to be. I am not the man I will be.

But I am trusting God to mold me into the man He envisioned when He formed me in my mother's womb.

- Kris Vallotton


We love you!

Loretta & Jon