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

December 30, 2009

Happy New Year

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

2009 is very quickly coming to an end, whether we want it to or not. I've heard some people comment that this has been a bad year, and they were ready for a new year to begin. They're hoping that next year will be better for them than this year was. Others have said that this has been a great year and they've thoroughly enjoyed it. Then there are some who really have no opinion on it; it hasn't been really bad, but not really good either.

This has been one of those mixed years for me and Jon. Overall, it has been a year filled with a lot of blessing and good things. But it has in no way been completely perfect.

I've experienced more health issues this year, and been to the doctor, and had more tests done, than in all my other years put together. I can't say that I was really sick a lot, but just going through the long drawn out process, of getting diagnosed for the issues I had going on with my health, was frustrating. I didn't feel really bad, but for seven months didn't feel as well as I knew that I could; which wears on you after a while. Finally, after gallbladder surgery the first week in December, I'm beginning to fully recuperate and feel great again; like I should.

Then Jon had to make a second trip to Singapore for business, and had to end up staying longer than we thought. The three week separation was no fun for either of us!

But other than that, 2009 has been a good year for us.

In the midst of layoffs and cutbacks, Jon has been able to stay employed; for which we are extremely thankful!

We were able to finally get rid of Jon's old 1993 Ford Thunderbird, with the peeling paint and rust spots, and buy a 2007 Ford truck. After much prayer and searching (Well, I did the online searching. Jon was patiently waiting for a truck to roll into our driveway with a sign on it that said, "Buy me!"), we found a great deal on a truck. An older man had bought it new, then decided he didn't want a truck after all. It only had 2,000 miles on it.

In April we vacationed in Texas. We went to the Space Center in Houston, the coast in Galveston, and was able to stop by and visit Jon's sister and her family. We spent a few days enjoying San Antonio, and had a wonderful time. Both of us had been wanting to go to Sea World, and that was the highlight of our trip. The two of us were able to travel to Singapore for three weeks in the fall; business for Jon, and pleasure for me. It was a trip that neither of us ever dreamed we'd be able to take. It was awesome!

I've been able to continue being a stay at home wife; which I thoroughly enjoy! I'm getting to live my dream. I'm married to a wonderful man, don't have to work outside the home, get to write this weekly newsletter, get to babysit my great-nephew three mornings a week, and am able to take care of errands and our home during the day while Jon's at work.

Both of our families have enjoyed good health this past year. Everyone has been safe and protected.

So we feel abundantly blessed.

Growing up in Missouri, people often commented on the ever changing weather. They'd say if you don't like the weather today, just wait and it will be different tomorrow. Since moving to Oklahoma, I've heard the same comments made here. The weather is never the same and you never know what to expect.

For instance, the week of Christmas, we had a couple days where the temperatures were up in the 50's; even close to 60 one day. It was sunny and really nice out. Then on Thursday we had high winds, rain, sleet and snow all in one day. In fact, before the day was over Oklahoma was having blizzard conditions.

A couple of years ago, it seemed like it rained the entire spring and summer. Other years it has been almost drought conditions. In the spring and fall you may need the air conditioner turned on one day, and the heat the next. There have been days where it's warm and sunny out, so I put on shorts and flip flops; then by evening it's cooled down so much that I'm wearing jeans, a jacket, and the dreaded socks and shoes. There have been times when the weather during the day is beautiful, then during the night there will be tornado warnings and we'll be having severe storms. The weather is very unpredictable in the tri-state area of Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas. You never know what it's going to be like from one day to the next. Many times the weathermen have a difficult time making predictions.

That's a good analogy of life. There is no way we can predict or know for certain what will happen from one day to another; let alone one year to the next. There will be times of sunshine and warm temperatures. These are the periods of blessing and rest. All your needs are being met, everyone is healthy and happy, everything (cars, appliances, etc.) is working, work is plentiful, everyone is getting along...... These are the seasons that we all love and enjoy.

But there may come times when a tornado, ice storm or blizzard blows through our life. It seems devastating at the time and you begin to wonder if things will ever get back to normal. Life is turned upside down and chaos seemingly reigns. And these situations can be very life-changing. But how it personally changes us on the inside depends upon us. It can make us into stronger, better people who are more reliant on God; or it can make us into bitter, negative, hate-filled individuals who are angry at God and the world in general.

We can be assured that life will never stay the same, but it is ever changing and different. No two years are the same. We can look back at various years and remember, "That was the year that this happened..." Some years bring about great memories; while other years may have been filled with a lot of pain and not so pleasant memories.

In the midst of all the ups and downs and good and bad times called life, the One and Only consistency is God. Through it all, He remains the same.

Hebrews 13:8 says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."

There has never been a time when God has not existed. It seems almost inconceivable that even before the world was created, God was there. There was no beginning for God, and there will be no end. He always was, is, and will be. And God has always been the same. He's unchanging. He's perfection, so there's no need for Him to change. We can rest in the knowledge that God is always dependable, always present, all-knowing, and can never fail or mess up. We may not always understand or comprehend why He seemingly doesn't answer our prayers, or why things happen as they do, or why certain people have to suffer and die. Some things we'll never know while upon this earth. That's when faith has to kick in and we recognize that God is God, and His ways are far above ours, and we cannot figure Him out or fully understand Him. But we can know that He loves us and will never leave us.

Whatever type of year 2009 was for you, you can be assured that 2010 will be different. For some it will be a year of blessing and miracles. For others it may be a year filled with ups and downs. It may be a year of sorrow and pain and sickness for some. At the end of it, some will say it was their best year ever; while others may say it was their worst. None of us know what lies ahead in the next 12 months. But this time next year, we will all have memories of 2010. Death may claim me or you this year, and it will be the year that we begin eternity. I'm sure that most of us will have deaths, births and/or marriages take place within our family. It will be a year of beginnings and endings. It could be the year of the rapture, when Jesus returns to earth and all those who are saved and ready will be caught up to Heaven.

I pray that regardless of what the new year brings, you will know God better this next year than ever before. That your commitment and relationship to Him will be unshakable and on solid ground. I pray that regardless of what comes your way, you will rely and lean on God. My desire is that each of us (myself included) will grow in our relationship with God and truly commit our hearts and lives to Him. I want to be ready to meet God at any given moment; whether it be through the rapture or death. And I want my faith to be strong enough to endure whatever life brings my way.

I hope and pray that each of you will be blessed abundantly and know the love and protections of God in 2010. Happy New Year!

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

One of my favorite songs is "Amazing Grace". One of the lines mentions, "When we've been there ten thousand years, ... we've only just begun."

I have a tough time remembering which year I did a lot of things. For example, did I really buy the T-Bird in '94, or was it in '95? I remember it was in March, and it was a year old when I bought it (the dealer got the next model before they sold it, and they were eager to get rid of it). And that was only 15 years ago.

After ten thousand years, I wonder how much I'll remember of this life. Now, which century was I born in? I don't really have much idea what we will experience or feel while we are in heaven (Matthew has probably a dozen metaphors to hint at it, but I still don't understand). But I'm pretty sure that most of what we see of this life will be completely unimportant. Matthew 6:33 says, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness". So, even as much as I don't understand, I think it's best to keep dreaming and seeking.

ON THE MENEWE:

Chicken Enchilada Soup

1 lb. Chicken breast (about 3 - deboned)

1/2 diced onion

1 garlic clove

4 cups chicken broth

1 cup Masa Harina (Mexican flour)

3 cups water

1 cup red enchilada sauce

1 lb. Velveeta

1 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Chili powder

1/2 tsp. cumin

Saute chicken, onion and garlic until chicken is cooked. Add chicken broth. Mix masa flour with 2 cups water with whisk, then add to broth. Add 1 cup water, enchilada sauce, Velveeta, salt, chili powder and cumin. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30-40 minutes or until thick. Serve topped with tortilla chips.

LAMB TALES:

Daddy's birthday was on January 1st. For many years, I'd stay up until after midnight, then call and tell Daddy, "Happy birthday." I'm sure that really got his birthday off to a good start; being awakened by a phone call from his baby girl! Then as I got older, it was harder for me to stay awake that late, and I began to realize that it really wasn't that funny to be awakened after you fell asleep. Now when I get a phone call that wakes me up, the first thing that comes to mind is that something bad must have happened. Generally people don't call during the night, and when they do, it's because something bad did happen; or else it's a wrong number. I also sometimes have a hard time falling back asleep after getting woke up at night. But it took me maturing and getting older to realize that Daddy probably didn't really appreciated the midnight phone calls on his birthday. He never complained, but I'm sure he was glad when I quit calling that late to wish him a happy birthday!

My brother-in-law, Ken, (Jon's brother) also has a New Year's Day birthday. And no, I've never called him at midnight to wish him a happy birthday! Age has settled in and Jon and I are usually asleep by 10:30. But Jon and I would like to wish Ken a very happy birthday! We pray that both your special day and this next year will be filled with many blessings for you. We love you!

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

I don't hurry, and I don't worry!

(quote from my 80 year old Uncle Kenneth -- and he never hurries or worries! And I don't think he ever has!!)

Think how much more pleasant and happy our lives would be if we would actually live by these words.

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

Our prayer for you is that 2010 will be filled with God's blessing.

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org