THE NEW EWE
"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
May 16, 2007
LIFE IN THE FOLD:
Change is something that each of us must deal with during our lifetime. Graduating from high school, getting married, raising children, having your children leave home, career changes, and financial status are only a few that most of us will have to deal with. How we react to those changes can determine our level of contentment and happiness. If we reject change and choose to react negatively, then we will spend our life being miserable and bitter.
I grew up and lived in a small town in Missouri all of my life, until about four years ago. I lived out in the country and loved it. I knew all of my neighbors and was related to most of them. I was used to the two lane, curvy highways. I had worked at the same bank for almost fourteen years. I grew discontent and felt like I was in a rut and decided that I needed to make some changes. I moved to Oklahoma, where one of my sisters lived. It ended up being one of the best decisions I could have made, because I met Jon and got married. But the adjustments I had to make were many, and city living took some getting used to. I still miss living in the country, but have chosen to adapt to my surroundings and make the best of the location where I now live. I have chosen to make my home and yard a place of relaxation and comfort. The result is that I am contented and happy, which in turn makes my husbands life more peaceful.
When Jesus chose his disciples that traveled and ministered with Him, He chose men from all walks of life. Peter and his brother, Andrew, were fishermen, as well as the two brothers, James and John. Although they still got to fish from time to time, and occasionally rode on boats to get to various locations, they had to leave behind all that they were familiar with in order to follow Jesus. I'm sure there were probably times they missed being on the water and longed to get out of the cities, which were crowded with people, and surround themselves with what they were familiar with.
On the other hand, Matthew was a tax collector. Hanging out with fishermen was probably not the type of crowd he was used to being with. He was more than likely used to the luxury of city living, and having to travel on boats with fishermen was out of his comfort zone.
They were willing to adapt to their circumstances in order to fulfill their destiny of being a disciple of Christ. They were willing to leave the comfort of home and family in order to follow Jesus and minister along side of Him.
More than likely, the majority of us are not going to be asked to leave our home and families in order to follow God and obey His plan for our life. But in order for us to truly follow Him and grow in our relationship with Him, we may be required to give up some things or make some changes. If we do it grudgingly, we will probably end up either becoming bitter and angry, or else we will end up falling back into old lifestyles and habits. If we allow God to direct and help us, we will find ourselves more fulfilled and experience growth which will result in us having the joy and peace of God.
Sometimes it's the smallest of changes that can be the hardest for us to make. I've known people who will keep the same haircut, wear the same style of clothes, and eat at the same restaurants all their lives. (And my husband will say, “What's wrong with that?”) They never want to try anything new or different, and even though they are unhappy and are in a rut, they are unwilling to leave their comfort zone. Sometimes it may be a fear of failure that keeps them there. It may be the fear of trying something new and not liking it. I have known people who will say they don't like something, without ever trying it.
When Jon and I got married, he had clothes and shoes from high school and college. Some of the t-shirts were so thread bare, you could see through them. Most of the things he never even wore anymore. But I was told to not ever throw them away without asking him first. When we were dating, the only type of clothes he wore were black jeans, t-shirts (he did wear a pullover sweater in the winter sometimes), and tennis shoes. I bought him some blue jeans and different types of shirts and found out that it wasn't that he wouldn't change the type of clothing he wore (within reason), but that he just hated shopping and didn't know how to match clothes. He knew that anything went with black jeans so that's what he always bought. He was willing to wear the new clothes I bought him and to update and change his style a little. He's perfectly happy for me to go shopping and pick out his clothes for him.
On the other hand, right before we got married we went shopping and I helped him pick out a pair of black dress shoes to wear at our wedding. Even though he wore a tux, I'm not really partial to the shiny shoes that come with them. We had decided to just go with black dress shoes, so he could buy something that would be comfortable. In the back of my mind, I also knew that this would probably be my one and only opportunity to get him to buy a pair of shoes that weren't tennis shoes. I can pretty much guarantee that these shoes will probably last him the rest of his life. I think he has worn them only three or four times since our wedding. He calls them his “fancy, tux shoes”. Both my sister and I have tried to explain to him that they are not actual tuxedo shoes, and the only reason they are still shiny is because they've rarely been worn, so are still new. I don't think I'm going to convince him to change.
Since Jon and I have been together, I've tried sushi and found that I don't care for it. On the other hand, I've tried crab legs and found that I do like them. Jon has gone sky diving (before I met him) and really enjoyed it. Yet you would have to knock me out cold and push me out of a plane. There is no way I would even consider sky diving. Jon can sit for hours at a computer doing programming work, which makes no sense to me. On the other hand, I can sit for hours reading a book which makes no sense to Jon.
People have different likes and dislikes and interest, which is okay. We're not all cookie cutter clones of one another. But I think one of the best ways of getting out of daily grinds and ruts is by trying new things.
When I lived in Missouri, I never ever mowed or did my own yard work. My philosophy was, if I had to work and pay bills and make a living, that I was going to allow myself at least one luxury. The luxury I chose was paying to have my yard mowed. I also never did any gardening. If you have ever tried to dig a hole in southwest Missouri soil, you would understand why. You have to move ten rocks for every inch of dirt you dig, or so it seems and the ground it hard. When Jon and I got married, he suggested we plant a garden. I was a little skeptical, but thought I'd give it a try. I was absolutely amazed to discover that you could dig in the dirt here where we live in Oklahoma, and rarely even see a rock. I didn't know there was soil that wasn't rocky and hard! My dad and sisters, and even my husband, have been shocked at how much I have enjoyed gardening and yard work. This summer I have done a lot of the gardening and most of the mowing. I love being outdoors. But if I had of said, “No, I don't want to try it because I don't think I'd like it” or “I don't think I would be good at it”, then I would never have made that discovery. I was willing to risk making a change in my activities and try something new.
First of all, you may be facing a huge change in your life. It may involve you moving to a different state, a child graduating and/or moving away from home, a career change, a change in finances, health issues, etc. How you react and handle that change is not only going to affect you, but those around you. It can also affect the outcome of your situation. If you complain, gripe, and cry then it will have a negative impact. On the flip side, if you choose to make the best of it and try to look for positive aspects of that change, then not only you, but your whole family will be more settled and happier.
Secondly, if your life is in a rut and you are tired of the daily grind of the same old thing, try making some changes. It may be something as easy as trying a new restaurant and ordering something off the menu you've never eaten, to trying a new hobby. Maybe you need to consider a new career or job change. Don't let fear of failure or fear of trying something and not enjoying it, hinder you from trying new things or taking that first step to get out of your rut.
Lastly, if your relationship with God is stale and not growing, take time to search your heart and see what changes need to be made. If you've lost your enthusiasm for learning about God, reading the Bible, or prayer, don't continue on like you are. This is too important to not take care of. See if there is a habit or activity that is keeping you from spiritual growth. If you had a teenager that had never matured and grown since they were a child, you would be concerned and take the time to find out what the problem was and do everything possible to correct it. Yet many people accept Jesus into their heart, but never grow beyond being a baby Christian. Sadly, they don't take the time to stop and diligently search for the cause of the problem, and take the necessary steps to correct it so they can be a vibrant, healthy, child of God.
Change is not something to dread and fear, unless you are digressing and giving up good habits and lifestyles for bad. Change can be exciting!
words to this worship song is my prayer and hopefully yours as
“Change my heart, oh God. Make it ever true. Change my heart, oh God. May I be like You.”
It's true that I avoid many kinds of change. But for a long time in my life, I also made a very bad habit of looking to changes to make me happy. I was content most of that time, but I couldn't let myself be really happy because there was that something that I still didn't have. I thought that once I graduate, I'd be happy. And then, once I got a job on my own, I'd be happy. And then, once I moved, I'd be happy. And then, when I had my own home, I'd be happy. But my focus was always on what I was missing. All that time, my focus should have been on God and all of the wonderful, marvelous, miraculous things he's done for me. There is another song that says, “Count your blessings one by one.” That really helps. Even when it doesn't make me happy, it shows me how silly I'm being by focusing on unhappiness.
The point is that I may look forward to something (like I looked forward to getting married), but I can't put off being happy till I get it. And I can't count on that to make me be happy. If I count on my wife to make me be happy, I would eventually be sad anyway and blame her for it. Wouldn't it sound ridiculous if I actually turned to her and said, “Make me happy.”
ON THE MENEWE:
Oven Fried Chicken
1 chicken, cut up (or boneless chicken breast)
1/2 cup melted butter
3 cups crushed corn flakes (seasoned with
1/4 tsp. garlic salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper)
Dip chicken pieces in melted butter, then roll in seasoned crushed corn flakes. Place chicken, not touching, in greased shallow baking pan. Sprinkle with remaining butter and crumbs. Bake at 375 about 1 hour. If using boneless chicken you won't have to bake quite as long. Do not turn.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK:
"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us." -Helen Keller
Jon and I have many family graduates this year and would like to take this opportunity to wish them our very best. We are so proud of each of you and your accomplishments and pray that your future will be filled with God's blessings.
Tara - High School
(Loretta's nieces & nephews)
Rachel - High School
Steven - High School
Jared - High School
Janee' - College
Brent & Amanda - Theological Seminary
My brother-in-law graduated from Bible college the same year my niece graduated from Kindergarten. She thought once she had completed Kindergarten, that she was finished with school. She found out that her dad was graduating and asked how long he had went to school. He told her about eighteen years total. Her eyes grew big as she said, “Wow, Daddy! It took you eighteen years and it only took me one!”
Once again, we want to thank you all for your encouragement and support.
We so much appreciate you taking the time to read our newsletter each week. May the blessings of God rest upon your life and may each day be filled with peace and joy.
Loretta & Jon