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

July 8, 2009

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

I'm pretty sure that everyone has had those incidences where their mouths work faster than their brain. It's only after the words are spoken that they realize that they should have thought a little more before speaking. Other times they know what they are wanting to say, but it just doesn't come out right. Then there are situations where emotions are involved and the words come out in anger, or are hurtful, or are just downright rude.

I've had all of these things happen to me at one time or another. That's why I'd rather write or email, because you can read back over what you "say", before the other person "hears" it. Even then I have trouble at times! That's why I have my husband edit these newsletters. In those cases, it's more humorous things that I miswrite. I know what I want to say, but it doesn't come out quite right. I tend to write like I talk, and that's not always a good thing.

Recently our pastor's wife, who plays piano and leads worship at our church, was going to be gone for a Sunday evening service. She called and asked if I could fill in for her. There were only about ten people present for that service. I had led a couple of songs and was talking before leading the last song. That's when my mouth spoke faster than my brain was processing the words.

I was talking about how much God cares about everything in our life. We hear about God answering a big prayer for someone or a miracle occurring and we think, "Wow, that was definitely a God thing!" But many times when God answers those small prayers or request we have, we tend to blow it off as just being luck or coincidence. We think, "Oh God would have done that anyway whether or not I had prayed." Or else we totally disregard it as being God and forget that we had even prayed about it.

The example I used was mowing on hot days. There have been times when I'm mowing and it is really hot, with no breeze. It's not that I stop and get on my knees and pray, or say a long, lengthy prayer. But while I'm mowing, I'll just say, "God, it sure would be nice if you would send a breeze until I finish mowing!" I'll go on with what I'm doing; and there have been several times when I've looked up later and realized that the leaves were blowing. It would be easy to think, "My prayer really didn't matter; God would have sent the wind at that particular time anyway!" But I truly believe that God cares enough about me that He answered my prayer and sent the breeze.

That last line is what I meant to say! But what came out of my mouth was, "I believe that God looked down and saw a hot woman...." As soon as I said that God saw a hot woman, I realized how that sounded! When a person refers to someone as "being hot", it often means that they're viewed as being good looking or sexy. That was the first thought that everyone else present had, too, as soon as I said the words. Immediately after saying that phrase, everyone erupted in laughter, and Jon left out a big hearty, "Amen!" It struck me funny, and I started laughing too and had a hard time getting my thoughts back to what my original point was.

There are occasions when people, as well as myself, talk just for the sake of talking. Intentions may be good and the heart may be in the right place, but sometimes words don't always need to be spoken.

You may disagree with this statement, and that's fine; but people don't always need to hear spiritual words in every situation. Some individuals seem to feel that it is their Christian duty to always give "spiritual encouragement" and speak "spiritual words of comfort" to others in every single circumstance.

I know that God is in control. I know that God is with me and has reasons for things happening as they do, even when I don't understand. I know that God is with me. And I know that God has answers to my prayers.

But honestly, there are times when things happen and instead of hearing "spiritual platitudes", I want sympathy. What I really want to hear is, "What you're going through really stinks!!" I'm not going to backslide or turn my back on God if I don't get reminders to keep trusting God or that God will work things out, etc. I can continue having faith in God, yet still feel like my situation stinks.

Don't misunderstand, there is a time and place for encouraging others spiritually. But at times, it seems as if Christians has a book of "spiritual sayings, platitudes, and spiritual words of encouragement". Regardless of the circumstances, you hear the same phrases and words used over and over.

There is a phrase from a country song that says it very well. It says, "You say it best, when you say nothing at all." Words aren't always needed. Sometimes what others need is just a smile, a hug, a squeeze of the hand, or a shoulder to cry on. They need friendship and love more than they need to hear words.

But too many people don't know how to offer quiet encouragement or comfort, and feel the need to always say something out loud. Honestly, words aren't always the best way to uplift or help someone; even spiritual words.

When my dad passed away, it was a shock to me and my sisters. His death happened so suddenly and unexpectedly that we had no time to say goodbye or prepare ourselves for his passing. None of us were there with him when it happened. Being woken up in the middle of the night to hear that he was being rushed to the emergency room, then in the next few minutes receiving another call that he was already gone before they could even get an ambulance there or get him in a car to go to the hospital, was unexpected and shocking. We were all moving in a daze as we made arrangements and went through the visitation and funeral.

At the visitation, the night before the funeral, I was very emotional and still in shock and trying to grasp that he was really gone. A pastor came up and began spouting off scripture and spiritual platitudes. Although it may not have been his intention, I felt as if I were being rebuked for grieving the loss of my dad. Honestly, it made me very angry. That wasn't what I needed at that moment. Yes, I knew that my dad was in Heaven. I knew that he hadn't had to suffer, and I was grateful for that. I wasn't mad at God for taking my dad and I was drawing comfort from my relationship with God. But my heart was broken and I was mourning the loss of Daddy. I didn't need to feel condemned for my tears and grief. And although he spoke all the "right Christian" words, it upset me more than it calmed and comforted me.

Do you know what meant more to me than anything, and what stands out in my memory? It's those people who came and just held me and cried with me. I can't say that I recollect ever hugging my Uncle Wayne, even though our families were close as I was growing up. But I remember him coming up and pulling me in a bear hug and letting me cry on his shoulder. That meant more to me and ministered to me more than all the words that pastor spoke to me.

I had a cousin who was in Chicago on business when he got the call about my dad's passing. He was at our house a lot when he was growing up, and when he was young would ride with my dad to Springfield to get dozer parts occasionally. Danny flew in so that he could come to the visitation, then had to fly back out to Chicago early the next morning. He didn't have to do that. But he respected Daddy and wanted to be there for me and my sisters. Doing that meant more to me than all the spiritual words of comfort that could have been spoken.

There was a lady whom I went to church with many years ago. Every time you were with her she'd ask, "What is God speaking to you today?" I honestly can't say that I have a word from God everyday or that He's always saying anything in particular to me. But whenever I told her that, she'd give me a "sermon" about the need to listen to what God is saying to each of us individually, because she believed that He spoke something to us each and every day. If I wasn't hearing from Him, then I must not be listening. Her words made me feel as if I were lacking spiritually. I started avoiding her and didn't want to be around her.

There is power in words. They can bring about hurt, judgement, condemnation, guilt, offense and other negative feelings. But they can also bring healing, comfort, friendship, laughter, joy, peace and have a great positive affect. Our tongue is the most powerful weapon that we each own. What we do with it is up to us.

Proverbs 25:11 says, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver."

Proverbs 15:23 says, "A man has joy by the answer of his mouth. And a word spoken in due season, how good it is."

Ecclesiastes 3:7 says, "...A time to keep silence, and a time to speak."

May we all be discerning of when to keep quiet and when to speak. And when we do talk, may we choose our words wisely.

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

Two old proverbs come to mind (not the Biblical book of Proverbs). "Discretion is the better part of valor." It doesn't often refer to speech. But I think it works very well. It's often more noble to say nothing than to join an argument, to take sides, or to try to fix someone or something.

The second proverb is, "It's better to let others think you are a fool than to speak and prove it."

When I was younger, I didn't take that kind of advice well. The truth is, I didn't hold my tongue much at all. It's hard to learn wisdom with a wagging tongue.

ON THE MENEWE:

Sausage Stuffed Jalapenos

1 pound pork sausage

1 (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened

1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

large jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded

Brown sausage; drain. In a small mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and parmesan cheese; fold in the browned sausage. Spoon 1 tablespoon of mixture into each jalapeno half. Place in an ungreased baking dish. Bake uncovered at 425 for 15-20 minutes or until filling lightly browned and bubbly. Can be served with ranch dressing (for dipping) if desired.

LAMB TALES:

There are occasions when I realize that my body just won't bend and move the way it did thirty-five years ago. Imagine that!!

Jon and I went to Lampe to spend the July 4th weekend with family. Two of my sisters, a couple nieces, two of my nephews and I were all sitting outside in the yard, under the big oak trees, visiting. There is a large swingset underneath the trees. I was sitting there looking at it, and remembered when I was a kid that I used to hang by my knees on the end bar and then flip over to get off. The thought went through my head, "I wonder if I could still do that?" I should have realized that I couldn't and left it at that. But no, I had to give it a try!

This swingset is probably twice as big as the one we had when I was a kid. I think my brother-in-law got it from someone who built it, and it's more of a commercial size; not the smaller one like we had when I was little. It was so tall that I had to climb up on a folding chair to even get onto the bar. That should have clued me in! Once I got up there, I couldn't figure out how to get my hands from the side bars onto the bottom bar without falling off. Of course, Jon walked up about this time and someone told him, "Look what your wife is doing!" I decided to just go for it, so hurried and put my hands down onto the lower bar where my legs were, and fell back so I was hanging from my knees. I did it too fast and got my momentum going and started swinging back and forth. One knee slipped off the bar and I started falling off to one side. I couldn't hold on, and ended up dismounting quite ungracefully. I ended up on the ground, and it wasn't feet first!

Fortunately, I wasn't hurt and my family found the whole thing very entertaining. As I was hanging from my knees swinging, then as I was falling, no one ran over to help me! I think they were enjoying the free entertainment way too much. All I could hear were comments about everyone wishing they had a camera to take a picture or a video recorder. They wanted me to get up there and do it again so they could take pictures, but once was enough for me. I told them that it probably wouldn't be as entertaining the second time (which they thought it would be), or else I'd end up hurting myself. I learned that all childhood memories shouldn't be reenacted once you get over 40!

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. Proverbs 15:2

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We hope you all are having an enjoyable summer.

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org