"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!'"
February 5, 2020
Jon and I were engaged fifteen years ago today! February holds many important memories for me, which I've been thinking a lot about lately.
It was in February of 1971 that I was saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit at a revival at my home church, when I was five years old. We were having a revival at the time. I vividly remember Mama kneeling beside me at the altar that night and how wonderful I felt. Finally she leaned over and said, "You can get up now, if you want." I don't know how long I'd been kneeling there, but her feet may have been falling asleep! Never underestimate the understanding that a child can have of spiritual things. Perhaps I didn't fully understand as someone older would, but I understood that I needed to ask Jesus into my heart and I did so. I understood the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, and was filled. This experience has lasted for the past forty-nine years, so as you can see, it worked! Jesus has been very real to me throughout these many years, which I'm very thankful for.
I honestly believe that much of my early hunger for spiritual things was a result of my parents and upbringing. We faithfully attended church together as a family, every time the doors were open. Daddy and Mama didn't send us to church, they took us. They didn't expect the pastor and Sunday School teachers to have full responsibility of teaching us about God, but they were daily examples to their five daughters and Jesus was a very real part of our lives. Each night before going to bed we would gather in the living room and kneel down and pray together as a family. We prayed before meals. Prayer was an important part of our family.
Mama had colon cancer for seven years and the last couple years of her life there were times when she was in severe pain and unable to sleep. Sometimes this happened around bed time and sometimes during the night. Daddy would call her brother-in-law, Bill, who lived about half a mile from us and he would call her other siblings. Within 30 minutes or so our home would be filled with Mama's brothers, sister, and their spouses and they would pray until the pain eased and she could rest. That happened numerous times. None of them ever complained about having to get up and come, even though they had to get up and go to work the next day; but they were willing to come and pray and wanted to do so. That makes an impression on a young teenage girl!
I learned the importance of prayer. I learned that family is there to love and support one another, regardless if it's convenient or not. I learned that when you are in pain or have a need, you call upon God and He will answer. I learned what faith is. I learned that you need Jesus every single day of your life.
It was February of 1981, ten years after I was saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, that Mama passed away. Our family was gathered around her as she entered eternity. I was sitting at the end of her bed and I will never forget the moment. Even though we didn't want to see her suffer and knew that she was ready to hear her Father say, "Well done, good and faithful servant," the grief was overwhelming. The death of a loved one changes everything for those left behind. Yes, we have that blessed hope of knowing that one day we will be reunited for all eternity; but it's still not easy to go through life without that one whom we love so dearly.
I remember the day after Mama passed away I was sleeping on the couch and woke up early. I heard Satan whispering in my ear, "If God really loved you, He would have healed your mom! Why should you serve Him? You know who in school you could join up with to party and rebel against God... you should do that!" My response was to open my Bible that I had laying beside me and I read Matthew chapters six and seven. They ministered to what I needed at that moment and I determined in my heart that I was not going to turn my back on God. I chose to remain faithful. I also knew that my mama was with Jesus and if I chose to rebel, then I was making a choice that I would never see her again in heaven someday. The spiritual foundation that my parents gave to me up to that point helped me to stand firm and not give into temptation and believe the lies of Satan. I was grounded enough to say no, and choose to hold fast to my faith.
It was February 5th, 1982 when my sister Janie married Jimmy. Woo-hoo! For the first time in my life, I had a bed and bedroom to myself. That's what I first thought, but really, I missed our nightly talks.
Then finally, on February 5th of 2005 arrived and that was when Jon proposed to me!! That was the day that God answered years worth of prayer for many people on my behalf. I knew that he had my engagement ring since before Christmas, and had been disappointed when Christmas came and went and no proposal. What I didn't know was that he was waiting for an opportunity to first ask my dad permission to marry me.
On that day, my oldest sister and nephew brought Daddy and June to Janie's house for the day to visit. Jimmy was out of town preaching that weekend, so wasn't home. We all ate lunch together and were sitting around the living room visiting. I didn't know that Jon was waiting for me to leave the room! Finally, I got up to go to the bathroom. Jon took that opportunity to ask Daddy if he could marry me; and he said yes. They were all surprised that Jon had asked in front of everyone, because he was quieter and shyer around them at that time. I came back out and sat down, then Jon came over and knelt in front of me and asked me to marry him. He says that I grabbed for the ring without answering him; but I'm sure that I said yes as I was reaching for the ring. In my defense, he had taunted me with that ring for a couple months so I was anxious to see it. It was a huge day in my life to finally be proposed to!
Again, this was a day wrapped in prayer. When one of my nephews was just a little boy, my sister would listen to his bedtime prayers. For a long, long time, every night his prayer request would be for "Loretta to have a boyfriend husband." A cousin recently reminded me that when I was teaching her son at our church's preschool he came home one day and as they were preparing to eat lunch he told her, "Mama, we need to pray for Miss Horton." She asked why and he told her, "She is really needing a husband!" It took several years for these two little boys' prayers to be answered, but it happened!
There are other months that have hold many memories for me, too, but recently my mind has been thinking of those that have happened in February. Attached to those memories are the people who have impacted my life.
It has made me question how many people my life has impacted. How many have seen an example of Jesus in me? How many people have I influenced for the kingdom of God?
1 Timothy 4:12 says, "Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but become an example of the faithful -- in speech, in conduct, in love, in faithfulness, and in purity."
Matthew 5:16 says, "In the same way, let your light shine before men so they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
My desire is to allow the light of my Father to shine through my life so that He can be seen and glorified. I want to impact the lives of others in such a way that it will influence them to be stronger in their faith.
Of course, I remember the evening I proposed. And I think it was a little bit of an exaggeration that Loretta's father said I could marry her. He was a man of few words. I'd heard that before, but thought it was a typical exaggeration of a man that doesn't talk a whole lot. But he was closer to a man of no words.
I didn't exactly ask if I could marry Loretta. Instead, I showed him a carving of a sheep, with a plaque that said "Wood Ewe"--Miriam E., and asked if I could give that to Loretta. He understood it right away without any explanation. But he all he really did was smile and nod. Looking back, I think it was only a few months later that I really got to hear his voice.
And yes, Loretta did grab for the ring as soon as I asked her to marry me. But there was no way I was going to part with the most expensive jewelry I'd ever bought without securing a promise first. So, I snatched it back, and asked her again. That time, she said, "Yes", and I gave her the ring.
I felt like I had a lot to offer Loretta. But I wanted the promise from her first. Then, all I have is hers. But it was never about having things; it was about our relationship.
God wants to have a lasting relationship with us, too. And once again, all we have to do is answer "Yes", and promise to make that commitment. Then all He has is shared with us. Most importantly, we have that lasting relationship with Him.
2 cans crescent rolls
1/2 pound sausage
Preheat oven to 375.
Roll out crescent rolls and cut 24 pieces with a biscuit cutter. Spray 12 muffin cups. Place cut out crescent in each muffin cup.
Cook sausage; drain. Sprinkle sausage on dough in muffin pan. Scramble eggs in a bowl (do not cook); salt and pepper. Pour on top of sausage until 1/2 full. Sprinkle cheese on top. Place the remaining cut out crescents on top of each muffin cup. Bake until light brown. Do not overfill. Makes 12 muffins.
With snow in our forecast it brings back memories of my childhood. Seems like back then we always had at least 3-4 good snows each winter that were deep enough to play in (and miss school!). In the late 1970's, there was one year when we only had school one day in January due to getting so much snow.
I remember my sisters and I getting outside and taking long walks in the snow. We'd walk down into the woods and climb out up the steep hillsides out of the holler. I don't think any of us would have the stamina to do that nowadays; but we were all at least forty years younger then. One winter during the snow a couple of teenage friends would walk to our house (they lived probably half a mile or so away) and we'd play games and visit and bake. Mama would make homemade snow ice cream out of the freshly fallen snow, which was always a big treat for our family. We always had a wood stove that we used for heat. Daddy would sometimes not have enough wood cut and have to go down into the woods and cut up some firewood for us. He'd cut it up and haul it to the house, then we girls would stack it on the porch. Perhaps it's due to all of the good memories I have of snow days from my childhood is what makes it sentimental and something I enjoy even now; although our snow days are few and far between anymore.
"A mistake that makes you humble is better than an achievement that makes you arrogant." - Awareness 22
We love you!
Loretta & Jon