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!'"
September 26, 2007
Home! I love what that word represents. Home is a place of security and safety. It is also a place of comfort. It's a place where we can put all our “things” and make it our very own. After being gone for a few days on vacation, or even after a hard day of work, there is nothing like going home. You can kick your shoes off, put your feet up on the furniture if you want, eat dinner sitting in front of the TV; after all this is home.
Growing up, I loved being home with my family. I would occasionally spend the night with someone, but never really enjoyed it. I remember once when I was very young, that my mom's sister who lived nearby, wanted me to spend the night with her and my uncle. About bedtime, I started crying and wanted to go home. My uncle and aunt tried to console me and told me that they would take me the next morning, but I wanted to go then. I wanted to sleep in my own bed that I shared with my sister, knowing that Mama and Daddy were in the bedroom right next to us. My uncle ended up taking me home. On several other occasions, when one of my mom's brothers and his family came to visit, my cousin would ask me to spend the night with her. I wouldn't want to, but also didn't want to hurt her feelings. So I would sneak into the house and whisper to Mama to say no when we came in and asked permission.
I liked waking up in the mornings to the sound of my mom humming. It was comforting to wake up to the sound of the washing machine running, and the smell of sausage frying as Mama cooked breakfast. I could smell the pot of coffee percolating on the stove top, and hear my mom and dad softly talking to each other in the kitchen. I knew when I got home from school in the afternoon that my mom would be there to greet me and ask about my day. When Daddy got home from work, we would all sit down together around the kitchen table and eat supper. Before bedtime, we would gather in the living room and kneel as a family and have prayer together each night.
Home brings to mind the image of my sisters and I singing together and arguing over who got to play the piano. We would always get ready for church early and sing until time to leave. I recall the cold winter evenings when we would all sit in the living room, where the wood stove was, and read. During winter, Daddy would wake up early to get the fire going to heat up the house, before we girls had to get up.
Home was a place of welcome. It was a place where my sisters and I knew we were loved. It was where family and friends like to come and visit. It was a place my mom's brothers knew they could stop by anytime during the day and be fed blackberry cobbler, donuts, leftover fried chicken, or whatever else Mama had cooked. More importantly, it was where my uncles knew the door was always open and they could come in without knocking, to visit with their beloved sister.
I cherish the memories of my childhood home, but now that I am married, it is my responsibility to make the place my husband and I live a true home. There is a big difference between a house and a home.
A house can be filled with quarrels, dissension, and tension. It can be a place where the occupants don't feel safe and protected. It can be a place of disarray and mess. A guard dog can be placed in the yard to keep away unwanted guests. It can be a depressing atmosphere, with the curtains, doors, and windows always closed. It can be a place where there is no sense of family, and everyone has their own agenda. A house can also just be a place to “store” all your belongings; just a place to sleep.
But a home is a place of peace. Joy and laughter will fill the rooms of a home. A light will be left on so you can find your way after dark. Arms will be outstretched to welcome those who enter in.
Jon and I have built a home together. We have a place of refuge. Our desire is that each individual who walks through our door feel welcome and comfortable enough to relax and “make themselves at home.” The rooms are filled with love, joy, and peace. We have painted the walls together and decorated with things that we either chose, or were given to us as gifts, or have special meaning. Family photos are proudly displayed for all to see. It's a place where we can plan our future and dream big dreams together. We can be ourselves without worry of condemnation. It's a place filled with mutual trust and respect.
It really doesn't matter how small or large your house is. It doesn't matter if you own or rent; if it's a mobile home or made of brick. What matters is that you make it a true home. A house doesn't make a home; people make a home. It's not always easy, and takes an investment of time, patience, and endurance. But the end results are well worth the labor. We all have memories, good and bad. It is so important that your home and my home alike, are places where cherished memories are made.
Our earthly homes are only temporary. They are only beneficial to us during our lifespan. But we have a hope and promise of a ultimate heavenly home being prepared for all those who believe in Jesus Christ. In John 14:2,3 Jesus is speaking and says, “In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
After the loss of my dad, I received a letter from one of my cousins. She was reading a book about Heaven and shared this from that book:
“We live as those who are on a journey home. A home we know will have the lights on and the door open and our Heavenly Father waiting for us when we arrive.”
She wrote that when she read that, she pictured my Daddy going home with the lights on and the door open and our Heavenly Father waiting to welcome him.
What an awesome thought that is! For those who have accepted Jesus into their heart, death is not something to be feared. But God will be standing at the entrance of Heaven waiting for us, with arms outstretched. The lights will be on and the door will be open, as a sign of welcome.
When I travel someplace I've never been, the roads are unfamiliar and it seems to take a long time to get there. But afterwards, I can look back and see that it really didn't take that long at all.
We are on a journey to Heaven. The journey is unfamiliar because we've never been there before, we're not sure how long it will take for us to arrive, and we run into obstacles along the way. Yet we know that if we keep on and don't stop, we will eventually reach our destination. We have no idea when, but we can know with assurance that we will one day reach “home”. We don't know if we have one more mile to travel or a thousand. It may be that when we walk over the next hill, we will see in the distance a light shining, beckoning us to come. We may arrive in another hour, another day, another year, another decade, or longer. Regardless of the time frame, once we arrive, we will look back and realize that our journey “home” really didn't take that long at all.
Upon arrival, we will see Jesus standing in the open door, ready to welcome us. Once we enter into our eternal home, we will once again be reunited with loved ones who arrived beforehand. Perhaps Jesus will beckon to let them know that we are almost there, and they will be waiting at His side, ready to welcome us home.
For however long my journey lasts, I never want to give up or quit or turn back. I want my life to count while I'm on this earth. And until I reach my final destination, I want my home here to be everything that God would want it to be. May that also be your goal and desire.
But how exciting and awesome it will be when I reach the end of my journey, to enter that open door filled with light, and hear the audible voice of God saying, “Welcome home, Loretta. Your journey has ended, you've done well, and you are home at last.” We can all be encouraged to know that our journey is not endless, and that one day we will reach the lights of our eternal, Heavenly home!
“Are we there, yet?” “Are we there, yet?” “Are we there, yet?”
I remember times in my life when I was so excited to think about getting home to heaven. But the fact is, I get so wrapped up in all the things I 'have to' do that I lose focus. I stop asking if we're there yet. I sometimes feel like I'm back in the Rabbit in the 1970s kicking one sibling or the other because I'm tired of being stuck in the car. Other times, I can sit back and enjoy the scenery.
Loretta and I rode together to and from work for a long time. We used to enjoy looking at the sunset or sunrise together. It was a great way to enjoy the ride. And it reminded us how great and awesome God is. The same habit is good in our journey through life. Sometimes, and especially when we're at a red light, we all need to take our eyes off the road for a moment to see the sunrise.
Ranch Style Potatoes
6-8 new red potatoes
6 to 8 oz. Ranch dressing
1 bunch chopped green onions
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz. grated Cheddar cheese
¼ cup butter or margarine - melted
Boil potatoes; cool; cut in chunks; put in baking dish. Pour in butter. Add salt and pepper. Pour on Ranch dressing. Sprinkle onions and cheese on top. Bake at 300 to 325 for 20 minutes or until bubbling.
At times there are family pictures that are passed down, but more than one person to divide them between. In this age of technology, one solution is to scan all the old pictures and put them on a disk or CD so all family members can have copies. They can then either copy them to their computer, or purchase photo paper and copy off the ones they want to frame or put in albums. Then the original pictures can either all be put in photo albums and one person be the “keeper of the family photos”, or they can be divided out between family members.
Also, if you know someone who is very computer savvy there are other ideas you can do. We scanned pictures of Daddy and put together a slide show to have playing on a laptop at the visitation, when he passed away. One of my nephews is taking those pictures and setting them to music and making a DVD for my sisters and me to have. He also had made a DVD for my dad a couple years ago with pictures of my dad and all the grandkids on it.
My mom's dad, whom the family all called Poppy, was a rather large, jolly man. He was a great story-teller, and when the family all got together they would sit around and listen to stories he made up. Everyone greatly loved him.
When my mom's two youngest brothers were just starting to drive, they thought they would take Poppy for the ride of his life. They talked him into getting into the car, then took off as fast as they could and started turning donuts. They were trying to scare him. Poppy just sat there, not saying a word, smiling. That took all the fun out of it, so they took him back home. I'm sure he knew if he if he could survive that one ride, without saying anything, then they would never do that to him again.
Poppy passed away when I was only a year old, so I never had a chance to know him. But I remember my mom and sisters telling me that when I was a baby, he would call me “the girl” because he thought my name was too hard to say. By the time I was born, he was so large and his feet and ankles were so swollen, that he mostly just sat in a chair with his feet up. He would lay me on top of his belly to hold me.
Poppy's love of family, laughter and story-telling, was passed down to his children and grandchildren.
“Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.”
May each of your days be blessed. We appreciate each of our readers so very much.
Loretta & Jon