"Prodigal Son lesson: Bringing back lost sheep" by: Rosario Resendez

“Continued from last week - The Prodigal Son.
   Your brother has come, he replied and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back save and sound.’ 
   The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.  
   But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.  
   But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!” Luke 15:27-30 
   The older brother was not too happy to see his brother back at home getting all the special attention from his father. I think this happens a lot today among us Christians even if we don’t care to admit it. 

"The Lord will never leave, abandon you" by: Betsy Monico

   I just got back from five nights in Florida with my family. It was the best trip of my life. In my late teens and 20s,  
   I backpacked through Europe, landed on a glacier in Alaska, fell in love with Vancouver, and strolled along beaches in the south of France, Jamaica and the Caribbean. 
   I loved my adventures in my previous life, but I had given up on travel since I became a parent.  
   It seemed overwhelming with a family of six. This week reminded me how fun it is to go and do new things; hence, my column will be an assortment of my reflections from our vacation. 
   First of all, I would not have booked the trip if my friend did not invite me over and say we were doing it. I needed a nudge! I needed encouragement. I needed to know that I was not doing it alone. 
   Is not that what we all need more of in life? I do not mean just with travel. I mean with everything!  

"Dog new feline’s best friend" by: Jessica Shepard

   We recently acquired a new family member a little while ago.
   Someone or something dropped off a kitten at our house.
   Said kitten, we’re pretty sure it’s a female, was scared and running around outside.
   We put some food out in hopes of luring her out of the bushes.
   But, we weren’t that lucky.
   I almost managed to get her out, but, my mom came over and messed up my “kitten whispering” skills.
   We managed to get her out of the plants, but, she disappeared into one of the cars and we were at a loss then.
   For the next ensuing hours, I was worried and scared to take the Jeep to the store.
   But, as it turns out, the kitten was hiding in mom’s car and only made an appearance after I returned home.
   Mom rescued her from under the hood and the kitten has taken up residence in my bathroom for the time being.

"Learning how Prodigal Son feels when God showers blessings" by: Rosario Resendez

   “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 
   “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found…’” Luke 15:21-24 
   The story of the prodigal son is one of my favorite bible stories. 
   Now, I may be the only person in the world that didn’t know the exact meaning of the word prodigal.  
   I assumed it meant repentant, or returning, but I just found out what is the exact definition. 
   Prodigal means spending money or resources freely and recklessly.  

"Doing life with Jesus is doing life an easier way" by: Betsy Monico

   I spent some time this week in the car with my kiddos.  
   The first trip that I mentally related to life was with my 15-year -old daughter.  
   We were navigating our way through Dallas. 
   We had to conquer 635 or totally avoid it at all cost to get to our destination.  
   We used my handy-dandy app on my phone to survey the traffic up ahead. 
   Much to my surprise, the usually congested highway was only showing a brief orange slow down, but nothing red.  
   Red means stop, meaning traffic is stopped and also tells me to STOP going that way if it is at all possible.  
   We were so excited that we could continue on. 
   Later that night when we were headed home, it was another story.  

"Anger at agency depends on issue" by: Mike Reddell

   It appears we go around vilifying and praising some government entities at the same time these days. 
   Take the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ).  
   Yes, please take it. Stacked with political appointees from the Perry regime, TCEQ’s least concern is environmental quality. 
   TCEQ last week – to nobody’s great surprise down here in the lower Colorado River basin – sided with LCRA’s “emergency order” to limit downstream releases from its Buchanan and Travis storage reservoirs. 
   LCRA will continue to cut off water from its reservoirs – lakes usually are formed naturally which these definitely are not – to interruptible water customers that include “rice farmers and interests in the Gulf Coast, Lakeside and Pierce Ranch irrigation operations” through Oct. 15 and up to 60 days after that. 

"Never stop pursuing things you love" by: Jessica Shepard

   As I’m drawing closer to turning 28 and my 10-year high school reunion, I find myself thinking about my dreams or goals back then.
   I ask myself, how far have I come? What dreams have stuck with me?
   Sometimes I look further back to my childhood.
   I remember wanting to be a princess or a ballerina while I was in elementary school.
   But, by the time I reach junior high I wanted to be a martial arts master and kick bullies’ butts.
   I also wanted to be a Pokemon Master, a singer in a band, a videogame tester, a writer and to learn how to fly.
   Reality set in not too long after that and those dreams faded into little reminders and collectibles.
   I’m terrified to fly, because I’m afraid of heights.
   Pokemon don’t really exist, though I have a handful of shiny holofoil trading cards still – Japanese imports, too!

"Be cautious about popular stocks" by: John Sample

   I am writing this on Friday, July 3, due to the fact that I will be traveling to Ireland for the next two weeks. 
   I would only stipulate that I am going to go have fun and worry about whatever happens later this month.  
   I sincerely believe that this market needs to correct this year.  
   I have no idea if it will.  
   What I think or feel means nothing. I know this due to nearly 50 years investing in equities. 
   The only thing that I cling to is that the world will not end no matter what happens.  
   Moreover, the vast majority is always wrong.  
   As such, I would be careful investing in sectors that are wildly popular.  
   I use the term investing carefully.  
   Investing means a longer term investment.  

"Instead of dragging heavy loads, let Jesus take lead" by: Betsy Monico

  I made a trip to Walmart yesterday to finish up our July 4th shopping list. 
   We really did not plan on doing much at all, but ended up with a house full of kids and friends all weekend.  
   It was great! We must have made four grocery trips in like four days.  
   To conclude it all, I walked into Walmart alone and just knew that my outing would be quick and easy.  
   I grabbed a shopping cart and headed towards the deodorant. (You have no idea how much deodorant that a family of six uses. It is epic!) 
   I knew right off the bat that I had a bad shopping cart. It had one wheel that was not cooperating with the other three.  
   For some reason, I did not return it.  
   I thought to myself “How bad can it really be?” 

"Shouldn’t we be like Jesus in recovering black sheep? " by: Rosario Resendez

   “Suppose one of you has a 100 sheep and loses one of them.  
   “Doesn’t he leave the 99 in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  
   “And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.  
   “Then he calls his friends and neighbors and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’” Luke 15:4-6 
   How many images of the Good Shepherd have we seen.  
   I know I have seen plenty.  
   Usually it’s Jesus dressed in a bright white tunic and red robe holding a bright white sheep across His shoulders.  
   He always seems to be looking straight back at whoever is looking at the image with a serene and majestic face.  
   It’s always a very beautiful image to look at, whether it be a painting, picture or statue.  


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