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

June 11, 2008

Happy Father's Day

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

With Sunday being Father's Day, I began thinking about Daddy and also my Heavenly Father.

When I was a child and teenager, my dad had the role of teaching me right from wrong. When I chose to do wrong, he then had to dole out discipline. He didn't punish me to be mean or spiteful, but because he wanted to instill in me the fact that when I do things I shouldn't, there are consequences. Daddy wanted me to mature into a person with high morals and strong principles. He wanted me to love and obey God, respect others, and make wise choices. He knew that the day would come when I would no longer be under his authority. I would have to grow up and be responsible for my own choices.

And that day did arrive. When I became an adult and was no longer living in his household, he then refused to make my choices for me or to tell me what to do; even those times when I wanted him to. I vividly recall the first time that was very clear to me.

My first car was a big, white, two-door Chrysler Cordova. My sister worked at a Chrysler dealership, and knowing that I needed a car, the owner gave me a really good deal on that car. I didn't have a choice in picking out the car. He just told my sister that he would give me that car at a good deal, if I wanted to buy it. I drove it for several years, but after it got a lot of miles on it, it became undependable and I was having to have a lot of repair work done on it. I was living by myself by that time, and needed something I could rely on. The material of the roof lining was also coming loose and sagging all over. So I decided to trade cars. I asked my dad to go with me to a particular dealership that had been recommended to me. I didn't know anything about cars, and at that time my only criteria was: I wanted a red car.

We arrived at the dealership and the salesman showed me a used red Ford Tempo. Compared to what I had, it looked good to me. During the test driving and signing of the papers, I kept asking Daddy what he thought. He would just say, "It's up to you. You're the one who's going to have to be paying for it." He would not tell me what to do or advise me. He was leaving the choice, and the consequences of that choice, up to me. My dad never owned a new vehicle, and the most he ever paid for one during his entire life was maybe a couple thousand dollars. He would buy older cars or trucks, and if they broke down, did most of the repair work himself. I'm sure he thought I was paying an extraordinary amount of money for a car. I believe it was three or four years old. Another reason Daddy would never ever tell us kids what to do, once we were adults, was because he didn't want anyone coming back to him, if it was a wrong decision, and say, "You told me to do this."

I drove the car for a few months, then started having a lot of problems with it. A mechanic told me that he was sure it had been wrecked before I bought it. It would short out unexpectedly. I would be driving down the road and all of a sudden it would just die. Or I might have driven it somewhere, then when I got ready to leave, it wouldn't start. I took it to the Ford Dealership and they ran diagnostics on it, took it to several different mechanics, and no one could find the problem. One time I was driving to work and was at the guardrails before the bridge when it died. There was no place to roll it off the road, and it wouldn't start. A sheriff stopped by and took me on to work. That was the one and only time I've ridden in a police car! I kept the car for a couple years before deciding to trade it in. That time I didn't bother to ask Daddy to go with me. I just went alone, picked out the car and made the deal. After the fact, I went by his house and showed him what I'd bought. He asked who had gone with me, and was surprised when I told him I went by myself. I've bought three more cars since then, and each time did it alone. Every time, I would go by his house first thing, and show him my car. Actually, I think he was pretty proud of me for being able to do that for myself. It let him know that he raised me handle situations that arose. Especially when I was single, I know there were times when he worried about me, but he knew that I was able to make decisions and care for myself.

When thinking about this, I thought about my Heavenly Father. I was saved and filled with the Holy Spirit during a revival when I was five years old. I clearly remember that experience. Maybe I didn't have a deep understanding of salvation or what being spirit filled truly meant, but I knew enough to know that I needed to ask forgiveness of my sins and ask Jesus into my heart. I was raised in a pentecostal church and knew what being spirit filled meant, and I wanted that in my life. During the next few years, I was taken to church by my parents and we had nightly prayer at our home. I learned about the Bible from Sunday School lessons and listening to sermons. But eventually there came a point where I was fully responsible for my relationship with God. I couldn't depend on Mama and Daddy to take me to church and have nightly prayer with me. Mama had passed away, and Daddy was remarried and lived in a different house. It was up to me to read the Bible and pray daily. I had to make the decision to attend church on my own. The choices regarding my relationship with God was up to me.

God also expected me to grow up spiritually from that little 5-year girl. I had His Word to teach me, I had communication with God through prayer, and I had the Holy Spirit to guide me. But I couldn't just stay a baby Christian. If a child doesn't develop and grow, that is a sure sign of a physical problem that needs to be dealt with. The same applies to us spiritually. Whether we become a Christian when we're a child or adult, it is our responsibility to grow and develop in our knowledge and relationship with God. If we don't, we will grow weak and will eventually suffer a spiritual death.

But I'm sure it excites and thrills God when He sees us put into practice those things that He has taught us. When He sees us make wise choices and develop into spiritual maturity, it makes His heart glad. Just as earthly parents love to see their children excel and mature into responsible adults, God also enjoys watching His children grow up.

I Corinthians 13:11 says, "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

There comes a time when we have to stop acting like a child and grow up. The actions, speech and thoughts of a child can be humorous, frustrating, and surprising at times. But what's cute for a child is not cute for an adult. You expect the behavior and actions of a person to reflect their age as they grow up. You don't want a thirteen year old acting like a two year old; and you sure don't want a forty year old trying to act and look eighteen. I've known a few of those! You expect maturity and wisdom to come with age. The same can be applied spiritually. Nothing is more ugly or frustrating than church people, who are supposedly wise and mature, acting like immature children.

In 1995, I bought a brand new mobile home. I had lived in an old, dilapidated, tiny one before then. The one I bought wasn't big or fancy, but it was new and sturdy and it was mine. My dad gave me four acres of land on our home place to set it. The day it was to arrive, I had to work. Daddy came down and waited there on the property until they arrived with it. My dad was not one given to tears or crying. But he later told June that he didn't know why, but when he saw my new house coming down the road, he got a little teary eyed. He was so happy that his baby girl was getting a new mobile home. He was proud of me for working hard to pay for it, and that I finally had something nice. He stayed down there all afternoon, watching the men set it up.

I believe when we are blessed and do well, our Heavenly Father also gets excited and His heart swells with pleasure. Perhaps as He looks from Heaven, He motions for an angel to come over and points down at us and says, "That's my child!"

When I used to call Daddy, I didn't have to identify myself. As soon as he picked up the phone, he recognized my voice and knew who I was. Daddy knew the personalities and characteristics of all five of us girls. He knew everything there was to know about us – good and bad. And he loved us unconditionally.

When we pray, we don't have to identify ourselves to God. He recognizes our voice. He knows everything about us; even more than our earthly parents or spouse or siblings do. God knows our heart and our every thought. That's a little scary at times! My thoughts aren't always very pleasant. He even knows how many hairs are on our heads. More importantly, God loves us unconditionally. He is also willing to forgive and welcome us back home when we sin and mess up.

Romans 8:16,17 speaks of us as being children of God. As His children, we are heirs and joint-heirs with His Son, Jesus. That's a pretty incredible thought. All that God has is ours to inherit! Even now, He is in Heaven preparing a place for us. And it's not just any place. It has streets paved with gold, jasper walls, costly stones everywhere and filled with mansions built for us. What an incredible place to spend eternity!

Lastly, there comes a time as children mature and become adults, when the relationship changes somewhat. It's no longer the caregiver/child relationship. But the parents and their adult children have and opportunity to become the best of friends. Their relationship transcends to a new, deeper level. They can share thoughts and feelings with one another. They can sit down and discuss issues and problems. They can visit and laugh together as best friends.

I think one of the most precious relationships, is the one of friendship. Many are blood-related, but don't have any more bond or connection between them. There are different levels of friendship. There is the best friend; those who we are closest to and know without a doubt will always be there in our life. We know we can tell them anything without fear of condemnation or judgment. There is a deep bond that has been forged by time and experiences; and regardless of time or miles, that friendship will always be. That's the relationship I have with my husband, sisters and my friend, Pam. It's the deepest level of friendship. Then we may have other friends that we love and care for, but the relationship and bond isn't quite as strong. Then there are those that we care for and enjoy spending time with, but it's on a simpler level of friendship. Perhaps you haven't had the shared experiences that truly bind people together.

Growing up, I remember hearing stories of my sister, Linda, and her two cousins, Sherry and Bunny. When the three girls were young, they were all three best friends. The only problem was, they could only get along if there were two of them together at a time. If all three of them were together, one of them would end up feeling left out and would get jealous or their feelings hurt. They all loved one other and consider each other as their best friends. But the best solution was for two of the girls to be together at a time.

That's the "junior high" best friend mentality where "I can only have one best friend at a time." Some people never outgrow that mentality. They want to be someone's one and only best friend, and want that relationship to be exclusive.

Jon and I are best friends, but we each have other people in our lives that we consider best friends too. That doesn't take away from our relationship or make it less precious. We have a husband/wife bond that binds the two of us together, and that is exclusive. We share our hopes, dreams, and can freely share our deepest thoughts and our heart with one another. We've gone through experiences that no one would fully understand, unless they've been there specifically. It's made our relationship and marriage rock-solid and strong. But God has created us with hearts big enough to love others and share a deep friendship with them too.

My sisters and I have always shared a treasured bond between us as best friends. We have memories and experiences that are only ours to share. We've been through things together that has strengthened that relationship over the years. We can tell our spouses or kids about the things that we have been through or remember, but they weren't there like we were, so really can't fully understand. We all know that if we need to talk to someone, all we have to do is pick up the phone and one of our sisters will be there to listen. If we are going through something, our sisters will be there to support and encourage us. Being best friends is a gift from God.

I have a best friend named Pam. We first met in 1989, when we started working together. Over the years, we've forged a friendship that is strong. We've been there for one another during many difficult and trying times. Even though we're separated by miles now, we are still really close. Monday through Friday, we generally email everyday, sometimes three or four times a day; unless one of us is on vacation or really busy. We know that we can always count on one another.

Some seem to have the have the junior high exclusive friendship mentality when it comes to God. Throughout the years, I've heard comments from individuals about God being too busy for them, or having so many other people to listen to that He doesn't have time for them. They don't seem to be able to comprehend that His heart is big enough for all of us. We are all special and a treasure to Him.

I've also heard the theory that we should only be best friends with God and no one else. Yes, God should be loved and revered above all else in our lives. He should be our priority and take first place in our lives over our spouse, children, family or friends. But He has created us with hearts big enough to encompass so many others. He didn't want us to have such an exclusive relationship with Him that we ignore everything else around us. We are not to build walls around us and put up barriers. We are not created to have "holier than thou" attitudes that gives the wrong impression to unbelievers about what being a Christian is all about. We can be friends with God, but still have enough love left over to encompass others.

Not only does God want to have the Father/child relationship with us, but He wants to call us His friends. He doesn't want to just be the disciplinarian and teacher. He doesn't only want to be our caregiver and provider. God wants us to be His best friends. What an awesome thought!!

Jesus is speaking in John 15:12-15 and says, "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you."

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

One of the best examples of friendship in The Bible is probably familiar to you all: David and Jonathan. Jonathan was torn during their friendship because he loved his father, too. To put things lightly, Jonathan's father and David didn't get along.

Even as close as David's and Jonathan's friendship was, it probably wouldn't have survived all the trials they went through except that they also shared their love for God. God kept them strong.

Loretta and I have the same bond. It makes hard times much easier. Whatever we go through, God is with us both, keeping us strong.

ON THE MENEWE:

Aunt Ruth's Homemade Banana Ice Cream

6 Eggs

2 ½ cups Sugar

Pinch of Salt

2 Tbsp. Vanilla

1 qt. Half & Half

3-4 ripe Bananas

Beat eggs, sugar and salt together. Add vanilla and half and half. Mash bananas and add; mix well. Pour into ice cream freezer bucket and add milk to bring up to fill line. Let the ice cream maker do it's job. Enjoy!

LAUGHING LAMBS:

For several years, Daddy had a big flatbed truck and hauled rock for contractors. They would build fireplaces out of it or put if on the outside of houses. Anytime he could talk anyone into going with him (well, sometimes he told us and we didn't have a choice), he was glad for the company and what little help he'd get out of us. The selling point was, we could always count on him buying us a candy bar or bottle of pop!

One time he took one of his grandsons with him. Brian was pretty young at that time. Daddy stopped to buy Brian a bottle of pop, and instead of picking up a Pepsi, mistakenly picked up a Pepsi Free (caffeine free that wasn't on the market long). Brian threw a fit when Daddy gave it to him and said he didn't want no Pepsi Free, he wanted Pepsi. Brian had a bit of a temper back then! Daddy took the bottle of pop back into the store and exchanged it for the right kind. Oh the things you do for the grandkids! Would he have went back in and exchanged it for one of us girls...I don't think so!

Another time my sisters, Linda and Janie, and I were helping Daddy unload rock at a construction sight. The truck was parked on a hill. Daddy had homemade rails on the sides of the truck that were probably about a foot tall. We had unloaded the rock next to it, and Daddy wanted us to grab onto it and pull up in order to take it off, which would make it easier to unload the rest of the load. I was standing in the middle and when we pulled it up, it clipped me (really, really hard) right under the chin. It gave me quite a jolt and made tears come to my eyes. Daddy felt really bad that I got hurt. Seems like after that, he never would let me help take the side boards off anymore. He said I was too short and didn't want me to get hurt again. He mentioned that many times over the years.

When I was around twelve, Daddy and my brother-in-law, Robert, were cutting logs out of the holler. They were using a horse to pull them out. The horse got his foot caught, and when Daddy bent down to undo it, the horse kicked him in the head right above one of his eyes. Back then we didn't have ambulances in that area. Some guys had to carry him out of the woods, then drive him to the hospital. He had surgery and they put a metal plate in his head. When he got home, he was pretty cranky (actually he was very cranky) for a while. One time he was outside doing something, and he came and told my mom, "You all follow me around everywhere I go. Now you even have the dog following me!"

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

The legacy you leave behind is of much greater importance than inheritance.

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

This is the first Father's Day without my dad. My mind goes back to last year, when my sisters and I and our families decided, as a Father's Day gift, to go to Daddy's house and do a lot of work and maintenance that needed done around his yard. There were things that had been let go, due to his age and it being too much to keep up with. As the family worked outside, Daddy was right out there with us the whole time. He loved having us all there, and was so proud of how the yard looked when we were finished. At that time, we had no idea that it would be the last Father's Day we would celebrate with Daddy. We are so happy to have that memory of spending that day with him. This year is a little emotional and sad, knowing that I won't be able to call and talk to him.

During the past nine months that he's been gone, sometimes I will have a fleeting thought, then realize he's gone. For instance, a few days ago I was in the store and saw a display of Father's Day cards. I immediately thought, "I need to pick up a card to send to Daddy." Then immediately it will hit me that he's no longer here. Daddy was the first one to call us girls regarding any news of people we knew. There have been a couple times when I have found out some news about a relative and think, "I need to call and tell Daddy." Then realize no, I can't do that. There have been other times when I've wanted to call and tell him about my garden or ask him a question or just visit. At times it's difficult knowing that I can no longer do that.

For those of you whose dads are still with you, take time this Father's Day to let them know how much you appreciate them. Without trying to sound negative, the honest truth is, none of us are promised tomorrow. It didn't even cross my mind last Father's Day that Daddy wouldn't be here this year. We are so grateful that we took that time to spend with him; and that we made our last Father's day with Daddy one that was memorable. Take a minute this Father's Day and talk to your dad. Tell him thanks. And believe it or not, it would be okay to even say the words, "I love you."

Happy Father's Day to Jon's dad, Stan.

May the blessings of God rest upon your life.

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org