"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!'"
June 8, 2016
I'm going to preface this devotional by saying that it may at first sound as if I'm on a soapbox or venting or spilling my gut (so to speak)..... but please hang in there with me, and hopefully, I will leave you something to think about and you will see yourself in a new light by the time you finish reading this.
Those of you who have known me for most of my life know that I've always been the chunky girl. I was always the chubbiest girl in my class at school. To make matters worse, I really never cared for school and was overall pretty shy. On top of that, I was the only girl in my class -- especially in high school -- who wore a dress and pantyhose (all the females wore hose back in the early '80s when wearing a dress) every single day. In fact, I daresay, that I was the only girl in my class who ever wore a dress during my high school years. A short explanation: Wearing dresses was not an ordinance of my church. All my sisters, as well as my mom, always wore dresses when out in public. I don't think it was my mom's preference, because I've seen pictures where she grew up wearing pants. My guess is, my Grandma Horton (who had some odd notions on things and would have caused a stink had we worn jeans) lived within walking distance of us and it was easier for my dad to say that we had to wear dresses, instead of arguing with his mom!
I attended a small school (I think there were 34 students in my graduating class), and most of the kids that I grew up with were always pretty nice to me. But there were a handful of students (whom I hadn't grown up with and moved to the area) who were rude and would make comments, within my hearing, about my weight or whatever. I always rode the school bus, and there were a few other high schoolers who would ride the bus from time to time; until we were seniors, then most of them had their own vehicles. The bus driver wanted all the younger kids to ride in front, and the high schoolers ride in the back. I was one of the last ones to get onto the bus, which meant all the seats had someone sitting in them. None of the other kids my age ever wanted me to sit with them. They would slide to the end of the seat, or put their feet up in the seat, and I would invariably always have to ask one of them if I could set with them. Occasionally, when I got onto the bus I would see one of them asking someone else to sit with them, either leaving an empty seat for me or arranging things so I had to sit with someone else.
One time, a group of students were setting behind me in class and the teacher was out of the room. The girls started this conversation, speaking loud enough for me to overhear: If you want to lose weight and get into shape you need to do this and this and this...... I happened to glance around and they were all setting there looking at me, and I knew that they were having this discussion for my benefit.
After high school I was still the chubby girl! I had people tell me such things as: "You would be pretty if you lost weight." "No guy is ever going to want to date you until you lose weight." "I'll pay you $50 if you'll lose 50 pounds."
When I was a little girl, one of my uncles-in-law would always tell me, "I wish I had a fat little girl like you!" I rarely saw him, but even after growing up, every single time I saw him he would say, "I see you're still fat!"
Needless to say, I grew up feeling ugly and fat and awkward and having little self-confidence. I started putting myself down and making negative comments about myself and making self-deprecating jokes, thinking I would beat others to the punch line. The thing is, I would often say things about myself that others probably weren't even thinking or going to say! It was a downward spiral that caused me to always feel bad about myself, ugly, and insignificant.
I had God-given talents and abilities, and when I was singing and/or playing the piano, that was the only time that I felt secure and self-confident.
Around 1987-88, I got a job working in the bookkeeping department in the local bank. I did everything that was asked of me, learned whatever I needed, and began to excel. My supervisor saw potential in me and began giving me more and more responsibilities. As I begin to take on more responsibilities, my confidence began to grow. My performance wasn't based on what I looked like or how I dressed or what my size was; but on how well I did the work. Honestly, I was very good at what I did. I eventually became the bookkeeping supervisor; then later became the bookkeeping and teller supervisor jointly. I also began doing the accounts payable for the bank; even teaching myself how to download and use a new system at one point. I became a pro at diagnosing and fixing our ATM. Several times when the repairman was on another call, he would be able to talk me through doing the repair, coming only if a part needed replaced. I came out of my shell, gained confidence, and became a leader.
As I became more confident, God began working on my attitude regarding myself. I started feeling convicted when I would say negative things or make jokes about myself. When I did so, the thought would come to mind, "STOP doing that!!" I realized that I was only making myself feel worse about myself, and pointing out my faults to others. I wasn't accomplishing anything useful. It took a lot of years to overcome, and occasionally I still have a lapse, but I've tried to change my attitude regarding myself and stop making those negative remarks. On occasion, I will feel inferior to others or feel like I'm still the "fat girl". I'm an ongoing work in progress!
My pastor preached a sermon recently that has been on my heart and has made me stop and think about things. It has made me start praying and asking God to help me see myself as He sees me.
Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) says, "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago."
WHAT?!?!? I'm God's masterpiece??? You're God's masterpiece??? Yes, we are!!!
Do you know what a masterpiece is? The definition is: a work of outstanding artistry, skill, or workmanship. An artist's or craftsman's best piece of work.
God considers each of us His very best piece of work!! We're not a carbon copy or duplicate of someone else who is outstanding, but He sees each and every one of us as being unique and special and one of a kind. He looks at us, individually, and thinks, "Wow!! He/She is outstanding!! They are my very best work; the best I've ever created!" Isn't that amazing?!? None of us are duds or rejects or flawed, but in God's eyes, we are His masterpiece!!
Most of the time, many of us have a false sense of humility, thinking that we're being boastful or prideful if we speak positively about ourself and acknowledge that we are a precious treasure of God and His masterpiece. We are so afraid that someone will think us prideful or full of ourselves, that we will put ourselves down; or when given a compliment, we invalidate it by refusing to accept it or by responding negatively; or we try to hide our talents, gifts, and abilities, or will try to make them look insignificant and of little value.
Let's just suppose that we are outside one evening as the sun is going down. We look at the sky and the sunset is absolutely breath-taking. There are brilliant pinks and reds and streaks of color across the horizon. It is incredibly beautiful. We say, "God, you did amazing work this evening on that sunset!! Wow! I believe that's one of the prettiest I've ever seen. Good job, God!! I'm thankful that I got to enjoy it." Do you suppose God's response to us would be, "Thanks..... but I've done better. I should have added a little more orangish color to that right side, and I don't really like how the pink is going through those clouds on the left; maybe I should have moved those clouds over a tad. I don't really like how it turned out. Maybe I should have waited a few minutes longer until the sun was a little lower on the horizon before adding so much color......" or "Shh... don't tell anyone that I did this! I don't want to seem boastful or arrogant or prideful; but want people to see me as being humble." I'm positive that would not be God's response; yet, that is often the attitude and response we have regarding ourselves.
We're so worried if we view ourselves as the masterpiece of God, then people will perceive us as thinking we're better than them, or that we think we're perfect, or that we are prideful; so we try and portray ourselves as serfs and peons (who are unskilled, low-ranking workers or slaves). We criticize ourselves and downplay the abilities that God has blessed us with.
God has given each of us various talents, skills, abilities, and gifts. When we use our talent, skill, ability, or gift then we should do it to the best of our ability. By doing so, we are glorifying God, the giver of those things. When someone compliments or recognizes or likes something that we may do or give or whatever..... we should accept that and be grateful, knowing that we have done something that not only is pleasing to God, but has blessed someone else.
A couple days ago I heard this story on the radio: Several years ago, a mother and her children started buying a bunch of single-stemmed flowers once a week and would go to the Cancer Treatment Center in their hometown and walk throughout the entire hospital giving one to each patient, nurse, doctor, and staff-member. When asked why, they would tell the person, "Because you're beautiful!" A local school heard of what they were doing and started making cards to go along with the flowers that said that on it. A few years ago, the mother passed away from cancer, but the family is still carrying on that weekly tradition. They said that it's amazing how special it makes each of those people feel to be told that they're beautiful.
In the Kingdom of God, there is no need to feel like the "short, chubby, unpopular girl" who lacks self-confidence. Our Father is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!! We are sons and daughters of royalty!! We are each a masterpiece!! It's time to stop viewing ourselves as being insignificant and as the ugly-duckling of the Kingdom of God. Let's start taking our place and living like the princes and princesses of God, that we are!!
I'll try to quote one of my favorite TV shows, and hope I get it right: "It's fine to be smarter than everyone else, but you can't go around telling them." "Why not!" "'Cause they don't like it."
As a young kid (I'll say about 4 years old, but my family probably says closer to 8), I would ask someone about something, then when they answered, I'd say, "Oh, yeah, I knew that before you." I also think I only did that 2 or 3 times, but my family might say I did it constantly for a year or two.
I went through a much longer phase of trying to impress people, and get them to compliment me, whether I really deserved it or not. I thrived on it. I thought of myself as humble because I wasn't complimenting myself. But I sure wasn't going to stop anyone else.
Okay, I was a twit of a kid. I hope I've outgrown that at least a little. I know I haven't grown up much. But I hope I'm not so obnoxious.
Most of the time if someone compliments my work, I just mention that's what I get from over 30 years of experience. The next oldest person in my group has about 8 years of experience. That's how long I've been at my current job. Sometimes, I also mention that I've been very fortunate to have worked for my dad, doing work in a lot of different fields and applications, so I've gotten to learn how my work is applied.
Honestly, though, unless I have some reason to think of it, or get some reminder, I don't think to mention that I'm very blessed by my opportunities to get all that experience. God has given me those opportunities. But I don't even think to give Him praise for it. But I'm learning...
Salsa Shredded Chicken
6-8 boneless chicken breasts
1 package taco seasoning
1 jar salsa (or picante sauce)
Cilantro (approximately 1/4 cup)
Place chicken in a single layer either in the crock-pot or in an oven-proof dish. Sprinkle the taco seasoning over the top. Cut the lime(s) in half and squeeze the juice over the top of the chicken. Pour the jar of salsa over the top. Chop up fresh cilantro and sprinkle over the top. Cook in a crock-pot on low for 6 hours, or in the oven at 350 for 1-1/2 hours -- until chicken is tender. Take 2 forks and shred the chicken, leaving it in the sauce. Stir to coat with the sauce. You can use the meat served in flour tortillas as chicken tacos or on tortilla chips as nachos. Top with your favorite toppings: shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, sliced avocados, etc.
**I found a peach salsa that I used and it was delicious! It just added a hint of the peach flavor.
Grandma Horton would have been 108 today. That seems crazy! She was born June 8, 1908 and passed away April 25, 1996.
Here are a few memories I have of her: She always made her own dresses, and they were all made almost exactly alike, just out of different fabric. They were cotton, buttoned to the waist, and had 3/4-length sleeves. She wore canvas tennis shoes and would cut a hole somewhere around the big toe area -- perhaps to accommodate a bunion; and wore stockings/hosiery rolled to just below the knee or sometimes down around the ankle. Grandma wasn't very "grandmotherly"; she never wanted her grandkids to spend the night, and never wanted to babysit. She would buy Little Debbie cakes to keep as a snack to give grandkids when they came; generally the Oatmeal ones. No color was ever plain red, purple, orange..... it was teal, violet, rose, mauve..... After grandpa passed away, she ate a lot of tuna. But she would open the cans, then toss the cans and the lids with the sharp edges out the backdoor. We mowed for her most times, and Daddy would fuss at her for doing that, saying that the mower could catch one of those sharp-edged lids and throw it back and cut the leg of whichever one of us girls was mowing. For whatever reason, she continued doing it, so Daddy told us not to mow back there, so it became overgrown. Grandma made beautiful quilts!! For many years she hand-quilted them, then in later years she began paying someone to do machine quilting for her. Grandma never had a telephone, saying that she couldn't hear on one. She would always say that she didn't read anything but the Bible. She liked to sing at church, but wanted to be fussed over and begged to sing, even though she would have the words to a song in her pocket. She never would stand on the platform, and always made a big deal about not needing a microphone. The pianist never knew what song she was going to sing, or what key it would be in. Grandma would take off singing, and want the musicians to play with her, but they would have to do a search on the keys to figure out what key she was in. The favorite song that everyone liked hearing her sing was the "Aeroplane" song. After Grandpa passed away, she went to the same church as we did. We would always go down to pick her up so that she could ride with us, but she would make sure that she left early enough so that she could walk....then people would say, "Poor Ms. Horton has to walk to church!" and feel sorry for her and give her attention, which she liked. That was so irritating to our dad!!! On the rare occasion that we did pick her up, she would always open the front passenger door, then stand there saying, "Do any of you want to ride up here? I can ride in back." When I was probably 6-7 years old, one time she was going through that routine and I said, "Grandma, just get in the car!!" It hurt her feelings, because she thought I was disrespectful. Afterwards Mama told me not to do that again.
"All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)
We love you!
Loretta & Jon