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 20, 2009

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

A few days ago, Jon and I traded one of our cars in for a truck. It's a beautiful red 2007 Ford F-150. We were at the dealership visiting with the salesman, and he made a comment that has stuck in my head since that time. He was 72 years old, and was not ashamed to say that he was a Christian. As we were walking across the parking lot from one building to another, he told us that everyone in his family had died when they were in their 40's or 50's. At some point, he had had a stroke and also had some other health issues. He said that looking at his family history and the things that had happened with his own health, that he should not even be here today. But God had blessed him, and he had been able to see all his kids grow up and was enjoying watching his grandkids grow up now. He said that each day was a gift from God. Each morning when he got up, he prayed and asked God to place the people in his path that he could be a blessing to. Then each night before he went to sleep, he prayed and asked God if he had done his best and pleased Him.

I was talking to Jon, and later one of my sisters, about this salesman and what he had said. I commented that it's too bad that most people don't realize that each day is a gift from God, until something bad happens. They begin having health problems or have a heart attack or major surgery, then they realize that each day is a gift from God. Or they lose a spouse or a child, and realize how short and precious life is. How much more enjoyable life would be if we could grasp that without trauma happening to get our attention.

For several weeks now I have begun going through some things physically in my own body. It's nothing that anyone can really fix or do anything about. It's that nasty change of life that women begin going through when they're in their 40's. I have had hot flashes occasionally for a few months now, but the past couple of months this has hit me from head to toe in a big way. I've been doing a lot of reading and research, and have found out that this pre-menopause stuff could go on anywhere from 2-15 years. That's not a very comforting thought for me, at this point in time. The only ones who may miss out on this great adventure in life are those women who have had hysterectomies. Apparently, this effects some women worse than others. I keep telling myself that millions of other women have gone through this, so I'm not the first, nor will I be the last. That's not very comforting either!

I think this is one of those things that no one can truly understand until they go through it. I remember hearing women talk about it when I was younger and thinking, "Oh, it can't be that bad!" Or thinking that they were exaggerating or were just being silly. I now know first hand that that's not the case.

The first night that I really knew something was going on was probably 6-8 weeks ago. I get moody occasionally or upset, but don't see myself as being over the top emotionally. I've dealt with stressful circumstances many times in my life, and was able to handle it. But this night was different. I woke up around midnight, and the best way to describe how I felt was that I was having a full-blown anxiety attack. I didn't know or understand what was going on at that time, because I had never felt that way. I felt shaky and nervous inside and knew I'd really begin to panic if I didn't get this under control. I stared thinking, "What if I'm having a heart attack?" No, my chest wasn't hurting or I didn't have any symptoms so it couldn't be a heart attack. Then I would think, "I think I'm having a stroke." I began praying and confessing every sin, both known and unknown, that I could think of. I almost had myself convinced that I was going to die. I finally woke Jon up and told him that something was going on, but I wasn't sure what. The thing was, other than feeling really anxious inside and the nervousness and shakiness, I felt fine. I would begin to wonder if I needed to go to the emergency room, but then would think, "What would I tell them? Nothing is really hurting."

I had never woken Jon up like that, so he knew that something was going on. He sat up in the bed and held me in his arms and prayed for me and with me until I was able to calm down. Right before I went to sleep, I felt like I was burning up and knew I was having a hot flash. That tipped me off that perhaps I should look up pre-menopause online the next day and find out what all the symptoms could be.

I found out that anxiety and nervousness was one of the symptoms. I have not experienced it to that extent since that time, but it does occur fairly often and I have to calm myself and talk myself through it, as I pray.

A couple things became evident to me after that first initial night of anxiety. The first was that there for a few moments, I really did consider the fact that I could die. It's easy to say that we're ready to die and meet God when we don't think it's going to happen anytime soon. But when the possibility of death happening to us in the next few moments of time, the reality of our life ending and us standing before God hits us square in the face. It made me realize that there were some changes that needed to take place in my heart. Not that I was out committing big sins, but I had grown very comfortable and lax spiritually and was taking God for granted. I was allowing everything and everyone else to be more important to me than God was. I was so busy doing things, that God only got any leftover time I might have. I realized that I am not guaranteed a long life. Jon and I talk about growing old together and that's our plan, but we're not assured that that is God's plan for us. Not that I should live in fear of death, but I should celebrate each day as a gift from God and keep my heart prepared to meet God at all times.

The second thing that was apparent to me was how important it is to know and use the Word of God. Now when I begin feeling anxious and I feel fear creep up within me, I can say, "God, Your Word declares that You have not give me the spirit of fear; but of power, love and a sound mind. Your Word also tells us to be anxious for nothing, but to let our request be made known. So I'm asking You to give me peace and remove the anxiety from my mind. For Your Word says that the peace of God which passes all understanding shall fill my heart and mind through Christ Jesus."

Even if you don't have scriptures memorized, you can go to the concordance in the back of your Bible and look up the word fear or anxiety, and it will direct you where to find scriptures that deal with those things. Whatever you may be facing, go to the Word of God and find what it has to say about your situation. If your Bible doesn't have a concordance, ask a friend or pastor to help you find scriptures that deal with your issues.

The message from the salesman about each day being a gift, came at a time when I needed to be reminded of that. Listen to what people around you are saying. God may be using them to speak something that you need to hear.

No, I don't like feeling anxious or nervous or shaky. I don't like being moody or having my emotions feel like they're on a roller coaster (up and down). I don't like having hot flashes, or having interrupted sleep where I wake up in the middle of the night and can't fall back asleep. I don't like my legs feeling restless when I'm trying to relax. I don't like being forgetful or saying the wrong words. I don't like the weird sensation I feel inside my head at times. And I don't like all the other changes that are taking place in my body. This isn't my idea of being in the prime of my life!

But I know that I can either embrace life and try to deal with these changes the best I can, or I can be miserable and make my husband's life a living nightmare. I can't make pre-menopause go away. But how I choose to react and deal with it is my choice. How I treat my husband is also my choice.

Right now it's not out of hand, and I'm choosing to take a natural herb pill to help regulate my symptoms. I'm choosing to not let my emotions and the anxiety rule or ruin my life. I am praying and using scriptures to help combat those things when they pop up. I'm choosing to stay active and garden and do yard work and keep busy so that I don't have time to sit around and worry and fret and feel sorry for myself. I talk to one of my sisters who is also going through much of the same thing I am and we're getting support from one another. It helps to know that I'm not an oddball and not alone, and that there is someone else who is feeling and going through much the same thing I am.

Some things are not easy to talk about to others. We have this idea that it's okay for Christians to talk about some things and keep others hush-hush. Therefore there are men and women who feel alone and that they are the only ones who are dealing with specific issues, and that no one understands.

Reading about me going through pre-menopause is probably not something that really gets you excited and makes you comfortable. And you probably wish I had not spoken of it and kept it to myself. But I truly believe that we need to support and encourage each other in all stages of our life. When we are going through something, find someone who is also going through it or has gone through it, and support one another. And once we have gone through situations, help those who are dealing with those same types of issues. We need to let people know that they are not alone, regardless of what they're going through.

Lastly, I also think it is important to try and keep a sense of humor, regardless of what we're dealing with. I have heard cancer patients say that what kept them going and helped them the most was laughing with others and keeping their sense of humor. Laughing releases tension and stress and is very healing.

I thought it important to let Jon know what he was in for with me, so one evening was talking with him and telling him the various symptoms of pre-menopause that I may or may not have to deal with. I want him to be prepared! I had finished talking and he had gone back to watching TV. About five or ten minutes later I suddenly remembered another symptom and told him, "Oh by the way, another symptom is memory loss." I really wasn't trying to be funny and didn't think about the lapse of time between our original conversation and me saying this until Jon started laughing. It struck me as funny then that out of all the symptoms, memory loss would be the one that I would forget.

There are times when my words just don't come out right. I may be telling Jon something about our lawn mower and call it a paint can. Jon finds it quite humorous, and I know that I've just got to laugh and go on. If I get uptight and worry about it, it's not going to make it go away, but will only make me feel stressed. It's better to just laugh and go on. This is a very normal part of this stage of life that I'm in right now, and there is nothing wrong with my mind. I'd rather people have a good laugh about it when this happens, instead of fearing that I'll get upset or will be offended if they snigger. And I've decided that I'll laugh right along with them.

I am determined to take the words of our salesman to heart and see each day as a gift from God. I want my life to encourage and bless others. I want to find the blessing in each day and see the good in life. May each of you be encouraged to do likewise.

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

I try to remember to thank God for all the great blessings He gives us. He has blessed me and Loretta incredibly. And I think I'm even more blessed than Loretta. First, because when it comes to her marrying me and me marrying her, I win. She's a much better cook, takes great care of me and our home. She's such a blessing to me in more ways than I could count. And second, I don't have to go through menopause. Loretta actually apologized recently for putting my through her menopause. Hmm. She's so sweet.

It's important to be thankful. The Israelites often forgot to be thankful, and they were always conquered. America has been blessed tremendously. Please take some time to give God thanks often.

ON THE MENEWE:

Cornbread Salad

1 pkg. Cornbread mix

1 pkg. Mexican cornbread mix

1 bunch green onions, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1/3 lb. American cheese

1/3 lb. Cheddar cheese

1 can whole kernel corn, drained

2 cups mayonnaise

Cook both packages of cornbread separately as directed on packages. Cool and crumble in a large bowl. Mix in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate.

LAMB TALES:

We hope you all have a safe and happy Memorial weekend. Take some time to relax and enjoy time with family or friends. Jon and I will be going to Lampe, MO to spend time with some of my family. Hopefully the weather will be pretty and we can sit outside and visit and do a whole lot of nothing.

I remember growing up that Memorial Day was a big event where everyone would go by the cemetery and put flowers of the graves of loved ones. There was a wild rose bush growing up the road from our house, and Mama would cut fresh flowers from it to put on her parents' graves.

For my step-mother, it was always a big day for her family to get together at the little cemetery and church where their family was buried and they'd bring a potluck dish and all get together and eat after decorating the graves. I was talking to her on the phone a few days ago, and she asked if we were coming up for "decoration day". I remember hearing it called that growing up, but it had been so long since I'd heard Memorial Day referred to as Decoration Day that I had forgotten.

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

Life can be fragile -- handle with prayer.

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org