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

November 7, 2007

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

Exaggerating statements has become an accepted pattern of speech in our society. You see it in the news media, commercials and advertising, business practices, hear it in statistics, sales pitches, political speeches, and in everyday conversations. We live in a competitive age, so in order to succeed there is an overwhelming need to appear appealing and overemphasize importance. We are consistently bombarded with exaggerated promises. As individuals, we in turn have taken up the habit of exaggerating facts and statements in general. It's become such an accepted practice, that most times we don't really hear what we're saying, therefore don't realize how often we do this.

If you have ever tried to make a purchase, whether it be a home, car, appliance, computer, etc., you have seen this tactic practiced by Realtors and sales people. Everyone claims that what they are trying to sell you is the best deal possible. They may even compare their products to others, and make a pitch to try and make you feel like what they have is the best product on the market. They may even appeal to your ego. Everyone is competing to be the best, and they will say whatever is necessary in order to make a sale.

We have all heard political speeches and promises made, especially during presidential elections. In order to make themselves look like the best possible candidate, they will say whatever necessary in order to appeal to the senses of the people. We are constantly surrounded by statements of exaggeration.

Anytime I accuse my husband of exaggerating a statement, he always laughs and replies, “I've told you a million times that I never exaggerate.” That statement of course is an exaggeration! We are of course joking around when we have this conversation.

I dare say that everyone has embellished details from time to time. It may be those hunting and fishing stories of the big one that got away. Perhaps it's how close we came to catastrophe or how we almost won a big prize. It could be in the retelling of a story, adding to the account in order to make it more interesting.

My uncle Jay was a great storyteller. He would take some small incident that had actually happened to him, then build on it in order to make it exciting. Every time he told the story it would grow and become more and more embellished. He knew he was doing that, everyone listening knew what he was doing, yet you would sit and listen to the same story over and over and laugh every time. Occasionally my dad or one of my uncles would say, “Now Jay, you know it didn't happen like that!” Jay would just laugh and say that yes he knew, but he was just trying to make it a little more exciting. What he did was harmless and was for entertainment.

I have made the comment to my husband a couple weeks ago that it seems like all I've done is pick up limbs out of our yard. Now is that true? NO! I did walk around the yard and pick up limbs one day, so that I could mow the next. Then when I got ready to mow, more had fallen during the night, so I had to pick up again. The day after mowing, I found still more limbs lying around. It had been windy all week which blew all those small dead branches and limbs off the trees. But overall, I had spent very little time picking up and cleaning the yard.

At times we exaggerate how tired we are, or how busy we've been, or how sick we feel. We may want our spouse to pamper us or feel sorry for us, so we overemphasize how badly our day was or how exhausted we feel. We may stretch the truth in order to get out of going places we don't want to go or doing things we don't want to do; such as party invitations (such as those Mary Kay, Tupperware, Pampered Chef parties), family gatherings, or getting out of cleaning up after those church dinners or participating in work days, etc. There are so many ways we embellish the truth to fit our own needs and purposes.

Have you ever heard the saying, “I almost died laughing.” How about, “I was so embarrassed, I just wanted to die.” Or, “If they ever do that again, I'm going to......(something that we would never follow through and actually do). We often exaggerate our own feelings or responses to situations.

Exaggeration isn't always inflating information. You may buy something and not want your mate to know how much you spent on a particular item, so instead giving the real price, you say it cost around $xx, quoting a lesser amount. You can exaggerate to make something look a lot better than it is...like my weight on my drivers license!

When Jon and I were first married, we kept separate checking accounts for the first couple of years of our marriage. Jon paid our rent and utilities out of his account, and I bought groceries, fuel, household supplies and clothes out of mine. Our names were on each others' account, but we pretty much just kept track of our own stuff. After I stopped working at a bank, we decided to just have one account and chose a bank that was the most convenient for our needs.

A few months ago, it seemed like we were continuously being hit with one thing after another which caused our finances to be pretty tight and shaky. I offered to go back to work, but after praying about it we both felt like I was where I needed to be. So Jon found this budget/financial record program on the computer and set our account up so we could keep track of everything online, in order to better monitor our spending. At first that was very difficult for me to get used to.

I had been independent and single for many, many years before Jon and I got married. During those years, no one cared how I spent my money, no one told me if I could or couldn't buy something, how much I could spend, if I could spend, etc. I've never been real extravagant, but if I'm in the right mood, I occasionally enjoy shopping for new clothes and shoes or picking up little extras. Now, my husband was taking our checkbook and inputting the information on the computer on a regular basis. He knew every penny that was spend, how and why it was spent, and where it was spent. I had to tell my husband exactly where and how much money I spent, so he could log it in our personal finance record. There was no room for exaggeration! It's made me accountable to my husband, but it's also made him accountable to me too. Of course, the only thing he ever spends money on is something that is computer or electronics related and he rarely shops!

Sometimes we may need to be put in the situation where total and complete honesty and truth is our only option, in order for us to recognize that we really do exaggerate what we say and do from time to time. We may discover that it's much more often than we think. We may not exactly lie, but we hedge around the truth a little. If we get by with it in small things, it becomes easier to eventually begin exaggerating larger and more important things.

In Exodus, is the story of the Israelites escaping from Egypt and traveling to the promised land. In Numbers chapter thirteen, they are on the border of the land of Canaan and God tells Moses to send out twelve men to search the land. Moses chooses one man from each of the twelve tribes, and tells them to go spy out the land and to come back and give him a report on their findings. These men were gone for forty days. Upon return, ten of the men show Moses and Aaron fruit from the land and said that surely it flowed with milk and honey. Then they continued with that one defining word, “nevertheless.” They proceeded to describe the people as being strong, and the cities being walled and very great. The land was described as eating up the inhabitants. They described the men as giants and compared themselves as grasshoppers. No one would listen to Joshua and Caleb, the other two spies, who gave a good report and said, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.”

Fear caused the ten spies to exaggerate their report, which resulted in unbelief and chaos among the Israelite people. The result was in them spending years living in the wilderness, and not being able to enter into the promised land. The reason the Israelites wandered around for forty years was not because they couldn't find their destination. It was because they disobeyed God by not going to fight to take the land He had promised to them, once they arrived. Out of the original Israelites who left Egypt, only Joshua and Caleb were able to enter Canaan land. The rest died in the wilderness.

This is one example where exaggerated details wrought fear, and fear brought about sin, which resulted in God's punishment.

There may be times when exaggerations are harmless. But there may also be times when it leads to lying and deception. There are occasions when it may cause hurt to other people. We all want to do business with those we can trust, whether it's buying a car or home, hiring someone to do repair work, or any number of things. We want our friends to be those whom we know are honest and trustworthy. If exaggerating the facts has become a way of speech for you, it may lead to distrust and disbelief.

More importantly, we need to be honest in our Christian witness. At times we never share the hardships or struggles we sometimes face in our Christian walk. We exaggerate how easy and carefree and problem free the Christian life is. The truth is, we all face difficulties, but with God's help and intervention our circumstances aren't so overwhelming. We can also exaggerate how “perfect” and spiritually strong we are, never wanting to admit that we all sin and mess up from time to time. The truth is, we all make mistakes and sin, but God's mercy, grace and forgiveness is always extended to us when we ask.

Check out your exaggerations! If they consist of an occasional, harmless story where those who hear it recognize it for what it is, and you recognize what you're saying, that's fine. But if they could cause hurt or are actually lies, you need a change. If you are using exaggeration to cover up your actions, that's just another word for deceit. If you have a problem with exaggerating, ask God to help you. He wants you to enter the promise land, not spend your life running around in the wilderness!

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

Exaggerating can be more of a mood or way of life than just verbal. As Christians, we've been given righteousness as a gift. When we focus on the righteousness and not on the gift, it's easy to exaggerate it and come across as self-righteous. I'm convinced that that's why I've met so many people who seem to think that all Christians are self-righteous. The Christians they know or see might exaggerate how holy they have become (and hide how holy they weren't). And their friends might have exaggerated stories about Christians they knew. So it's important to remember that the righteousness I have was a gift I never deserved. I wish others would receive it, too.

ON THE MENEWE:

Turtle Pumpkin Pie

¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. caramel topping, divided

1 graham cracker pie crust

½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. pecan pieces, divided

1 cup cold milk

2 pkg. (4-serving size) instant vanilla pudding

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground nutmeg

1 (8 oz.) tub Cool Whip, divided (thawed)

Pour ¼ cup caramel topping onto crust; sprinkle with ½ cup pecans.

Beat milk, dry pudding mixes, pumpkin and spices with whisk until blended. Stir in 1 ½ cups Cool Whip. Spread onto crust. Top with remaining Cool Whip.

Refrigerate 1 hour. Top with pecans and drizzle with the remaining caramel. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

RAM-BLING IDEAS:

Baking Tips:
An easy way to decorate with powdered sugar is to fill and empty salt shaker with it and dust tops of cakes, cookies and other baked goods.

To add a decorative garnish using powdered sugar, place strips of wax paper or a stencil on top of the baked item. Using a wire mesh sifter, sprinkle evenly with powdered sugar. Slowly and carefully, remove the wax paper or stencil.

Line your baking sheets with parchment paper or wax paper. There's no need for greasing your pans, and cleanup will be easy.

LAUGHING LAMBS:

When I was growing up, I shared a room (and bed) with my older sister. She really liked having her back scratched. Almost every night she would say, “If you scratch my back fifty times, I'll scratch yours. But you have to scratch mine first.” It never failed that if I gave in and scratched her back, when I finished she would say she was too tired and would scratch mine the next night, or say that she was too sleepy, or some other excuse. Somehow my back rarely got scratched! She was five years older than me, so was pretty good at talking me into things or using bribery. It didn't take long for me to smarten up and realize that if I scratched her back first, I might as well forget about her returning the favor!

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

If you give to others not expecting anything in return, you will never be disappointed.


We enjoy hearing from you! May your lives be filled with much contentment and joy.

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org