"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 18, 2019


Christmas is generally viewed as a joyful, joy-filled holiday. First and foremost, we remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus. There are church programs and nativities to remind us of the reason for the season.

There are parties and programs, shopping and gift exchanges, lights and trees and pretty decorations. There are the holiday movies that we watch once a year, as well as the special music that we enjoy listening to. Santa is a make believe figure for children.... and adults.... to have fun with.

Christmas is also a special time for families to spend quality time together; enjoying laughter and good food and reminiscing of past holiday memories. It is that one time of the year that families plan for, come home for, and anticipate. There is something heartwarming about being together as a family, celebrating and worshiping the Savior's birth.

When a family has a loved one who has passed during the year, that first Christmas is especially difficult. There is a vital piece missing when the family gets together, and it is difficult seeing the empty chair and not hearing that familiar voice. At times, it is hard to laugh and feel the joy that others around you are experiencing. Grief may be felt like a wave at unexpected times, even though you try to hide it. You may try to laugh and put on a good front, for the sake of the children, but inside your heart is breaking and you feel as if you are only going through the motions.

Even though you know that Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas.... and even though you have the comfort of knowing that your loved one is in Heaven and is with Jesus.... and even though people will say words, with the intent of bringing comfort..... your life has changed with the death of a vital member of your family, and it hurts when they are missing at family gatherings or special occasions.

This year my heart hurts for many who are dealing with getting through this first Christmas without their spouse, parent, grandparent, sibling, child, or grandchild. I have faced those first Christmases after the death of both of my parents. It hurts and it's difficult!

I want you to know that your Father in Heaven is tenderly holding you close in His arms! He loves you and understands your grief and your heartache; after all, He too had a son who died. But He also understands the celebration that awaits you when you will one day soon be united for all eternity with family and friends; for He too has experienced the joy of having His Son return to Heaven to be with Him for all eternity. He sees your tears and stores them in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). He has promises to be close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18 & 147:3). He will comfort those who mourn (Matthew 5:4). He has also promised that after the weeping, there will be joy (Psalm 30:5).

Perhaps it hasn't been the death of a loved one that has caused your grief this Christmas; it may be a divorce that has caused division in your family. Perhaps it's someone who is a beloved family member or friend who has severed their relationship with you. You may not know where someone you care for deeply is living, for they have run away or cut ties.

Know that those same verses above apply to you, and that God has not forsaken or forgotten about you. He has not forgotten about that other person either, and sees their heart and knows where they are. If they are running from God, there is no where they can go out of His presence! He is with them always and never takes His eyes off them.

Even when we don't feel like celebrating, we can always give thanks! We enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; and that is not dependent on how we feel or our emotions. We press through and we worship, even when it's a sacrifice of praise. We put on the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness. We thank Jesus for coming to earth in human form, so that He could experience life on earth as a man.... so He could teach and leave us His word.... so He could die for our sins.... and so He could raise from the grave in three days and ascend back to His Father to prepare a place for us to dwell in forever!


If you do know anyone who has lost someone since last Christmas, whether by death, divorce, growing up & moving out, or whatever, please show them some sympathy. Please let them talk if they need to, or let them be alone if they need to, or let them just sit quietly with you if they need to. I know it's tempting, but please don't tell them how to feel or how they should do their grieving. A person's grief is their own to navigate in their own way. Just like a teen has to figure out how to navigate their way through the jungle of high school, we have to navigate our own way through a loss.

And try to keep in mind that the random people you cross paths with may be suffering in their own way this year. They might have lost someone or something, and need a kind word or simply a smile to help them through.


Microwave Peanut Brittle

1 cup raw peanuts

1 teaspoon butter

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup white corn syrup

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

Stir together peanuts, sugar, syrup, and salt in 1-1/2 quart bowl. Microwave 4 minutes. Stir well. Microwave for 4 more minutes. Add butter and vanilla to the syrup mixture. Return to microwave for 2 minutes. Add baking soda and stir until light and foamy. Pour onto greased cookie sheet. Makes 1 pound.


One of my favorite Christmas memories was when I was probably about 12 years old. We would look through the catalog and pick out things we'd like for Christmas; and we may or may not get it, depending on our parents financial situation that year. We always got a gift from Mama and Daddy, but nothing expensive. I had picked out a sweater that I thought was the prettiest thing I'd ever seen and wanted it so badly! It was white with navy stripes around the sleeves with a red stripe inside the navy strip, navy cuffs, a hood, pocket in front on both sides of the zipper. I really didn't think I would get it. I'm not sure why -- if I thought it cost too much money or that Mama wouldn't be able to order it. When I opened my gift from Mama and Daddy and saw that sweater, I was so excited!! Funny thing, that sweater seemed to grow as I did and I ended up wearing it for many years. I was so sad when it finally got holes in it and had to be thrown away!


When you come out of the storm you will not be the same person who walked in.

That is what this storm is all about. - Haruki Murakami


We love you!

Loretta & Jon