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

February 17, 2010

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

I believe that the majority of the time, we go through our daily lives taking things for granted, not really realizing how blessed we are. We are busy with work, family, errands, home chores, and all the many things that make up our days. It's only when something happens to disrupt our routines or lives, that we stop and realize how much we miss whatever it is that has suddenly changed or that's no longer there.

I didn't truly appreciate my good health, until I started having problems last year. It was only when my gallbladder started making me have health issues, that I became aware of how much I missed feeling well. But now that I've recovered from gallbladder surgery and am once again feeling healthy, I remember what I went through last year, and am grateful for good health once again.

The second year of our marriage we had several months that were filled with a lot of difficulties. Jon and I weren't having problems in our relationship, but there were some trying circumstances that we were having to deal with. On top of everything that was going on, we began having financial difficulties. During that spring and summer, Jon was temporarily working at a job where he only made $7.00 an hour. We were thankful that he had work, and I was proud of Jon for taking the job, even though the pay was low. There are men who would rather sit at home and do nothing than take a low paying job; thinking they're worth more money than that. But even though the pay was low, at least Jon was bringing in some income. I was working at a bank and making $13.00 an hour, which helped us tremendously during that time. But finances were tight for a few months. By the time we paid bills, bought groceries and put gas in the car we didn't have much left over. We didn't go out to eat, go to movies, buy clothes or do anything extra. We prayed that we wouldn't have car problems or unexpected expenses, because there were some paydays where we only had maybe $30-$40 left in our account, after paying the bills. During those months, when I went grocery shopping, I would be sure to always take a piece of paper and calculator with me. I would write down the price of every single item I put in my cart, rounding it up to the next dollar amount to be sure I had enough for tax, then add it up on the calculator before checking out, to make sure I didn't go over the amount I could spend. Several times, I would have to put items back because I had gone over; so I tried to figure out what we could do without.

There were days when it felt overwhelming, and I wondered how long our life was going to be like that. At times I wanted to sit down and cry because I couldn't see any end in sight. I had those moments when I grew weary of watching every penny we spent, and wished for enough money to go do something fun to break the monotony. I wasn't upset or angry at Jon, because I knew he was doing the best he could under the circumstances. I was angry at our situation. God was merciful to us during those months, because when I was feeling weak and overwhelmed, Jon would be feeling strong; and when Jon was feeling upset or weary, I'd be I'd be feeling supportive. We leaned upon God and one another during that time; and we got through it.

Now we look back and see how God took care of us during those months. It was hard for me to see beyond our situation, and although I knew that the day would come when things would turn around, I never visualized that our circumstances would change so drastically. I dreamed that I would one day get to be a stay at home wife, but never really expected it to become a reality. We dreamed of Jon getting a job where he could fully utilize his degrees and talents, but the door that God opened up for him far exceeded our expectations. God has blessed us above and beyond what we ever thought was possible. But even now, we look back at 2006 and remember the hardships we endured, and it makes us more grateful for what we have today.

Having finances suddenly missing or lowered can be a real hardship; not only on your lifestyle but also on relationships. You may be going through life thinking that everything is great, then suddenly something happens that upsets your world.

Jon and I have made a habit of telling each other, "I love you," several times a day. We say it when we first get up, when Jon leaves for work, when he gets home, before we go to sleep, before we hang up if we're talking on the phone to one another, etc. We enjoy saying it to one another and both enjoy hearing it. Yes, we're a little sappy; but it's important to us. It's hard to be upset with someone or be unhappy in your relationship when you're constantly being reminded that the other person loves you.

A few days ago I was at the dentist to get a crown re-glued. Before leaving I decided to make appointments for both Jon and myself to get check-ups. The lady doing the scheduling had various times and dates available, so I called Jon on my cell phone to see which would work best for him. I was in a hurry and he was at lunch and we failed to say, "I love you," before hanging up. Shortly after we disconnected, my cell phone rang, and it was Jon calling back to tell me that he loves me. That was his only purpose for calling.

The receptionist overheard and was greatly touched by him calling me back just to say, "I love you." She looked like she was about to cry, and began sharing a little about her situation. Her husband has been laid off work for a year, and apparently is going through a depression. He lays on the couch all day, and won't get out and look for work. She is working two jobs to try and make ends meet. She said that they used to be really in love like me and my husband, but that the past year has really taken a toll on their relationship. She doesn't want to give up on their marriage, but really misses the closeness that they used to share.

Jon calling me back wasn't a big deal for us. But it seemed to stir up a dormant emotion within this lady, that made her aware of what was missing from her own marriage. I think it caused her to remember how things used to be between her and her husband, and how far removed they are from that now. She misses the love and bond that they once shared.

I worked at a bank in Missouri for several years. It really was a great place to work, and we were a very close-knit group. Not everything was perfect during those years, but we did have a lot of fun and genuinely cared for one another. But none of us realized, at the time, how good we really had it or what an unique experience it was. It was only as things changed and a lot of us went our separate ways, that we began to look back and recognize that we had something very rare. It's something that none of us will probably ever have again, or be able to recapture in any other working environment. It was only as we moved on to other jobs that we were able to realize that there was something now missing, and that we didn't truly appreciate what we once had.

Sometimes we can move on and things are much better than we ever imagined. That's what has happened with me and Jon. He is now working for a wonderful company, making very good money, has great co-workers, and is in a very positive working environment. I have been able to "retire" early and live my dream of being a stay at home wife. I get to babysit my great-nephew three mornings a week, and have time to take care of the yard, all the household duties and run errands while Jon's at work so we can enjoy our time together in the evenings.

But other times, things change and we recognize that something is missing from our lives. Only then do we realize that we didn't really appreciate what we once had. But that doesn't mean that our lives are over. God may have something completely different for our lives. But it may take a lot of adjustments and us sorting through a lot of different things to find it.

In 2 Kings 6:1-7 we read a short story of a man who lost something important. Elisha and a group of prophets went to the Jordan River to cut down trees for beams, in order to build a larger dwelling place for themselves. One of the men was working when suddenly the axe head flew off and fell into the water. More than likely, he had been working hard for several hours and never even thought about the possibility of the iron head coming off. But when it happened, he became very distressed and cried out to Elisha.

I have heard that owning an iron axe head was very rare during those days and was very expensive. It would have been bad enough for this man to lose something so valuable if he had paid for it himself and owned it. But he had borrowed the axe from someone. When the iron axe head fell into the water he probably thought, "Oh no! How will I ever make enough money to replace this borrowed tool?"

Elisha walked over and asked where the axehead had fallen into the water, and the man pointed to the specific spot where he had seen it fall. What happened next is nothing short of a miracle. Elisha cut off a stick, threw it into the water where the iron axehead had sank, and the axehead came to the surface of the water and floated. The man reached out and picked it up.

Now we all know that a heavy iron axehead doesn't float on top of the water. In fact, I'm sure it immediately sank. We know that a wooden stick has no magnetic powers in which to draw a piece of iron up from the bottom of a river. Only God could have possibly caused that miracle to occur.

I love that story in the Bible because it shows that God cares about everything that concerns us; even when we borrow a tool and lose it.

Whatever is missing from your life, God can bring about restoration. He can restore your missing finances to more than you can even dare to dream. He can heal relationships and restore love. He can mend broken hearts. God can bring healing to your body and allow you to once again enjoy good health. He can overcome any hardship or difficulty that you're facing. He can give you peace of mind, remove depression, and bring joy back to your life. God can help you find missing car keys, or find a missing tool that you borrowed from a friend. He cares about every single detail of our lives.

It doesn't matter the size or importance of what you may find missing; doesn't matter if it's something spiritually, physical, mental or emotional; doesn't matter if it's something that belongs to you or something that's borrowed; God cares and can bring those missing things back into your life. Not only can he bring back what's missing, but He can restore it to something that is better than what you had to begin with. All you have to do is ask God, then allow Him to work in your situation. Try it today and see what happens!!

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

For the last couple weeks, I went without pop. It's one of those things I've always liked having. Sure, I appreciate it, but it's easy to take for granted.

Giving up pop isn't exactly a Biblical fasting. I didn't do it because God led me to. I did it to show off to Loretta (and to get a little healthier).

But one of the good reasons for fasting is to remind us to be thankful for what we have. Giving up food for a day or several days can really help us to remember to be thankful for all that God has provided for us.

ON THE MENEWE:

Gooey Butter Cake

1 yellow cake mix

1 (1 lb.) box powdered sugar

1 stick butter, melted

1 (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened

4 eggs

Grease and flour 9x13 inch pan. Preheat oven to 350.

Bottom layer: Mix cake mix, 2 eggs, and 1 stick melted butter. Spread evenly in bottom of pan. This will be thick.

Topping: Mix box of powdered sugar, softened cream cheese and 2 eggs together. Combined until thoroughly mixed. Spread over bottom layer and bake at 350 for 35 minutes. While hot, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Store in refrigerator.

LAMB TALES:

I am using this space this week to remind you to pray for our military who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Also, remember their families in prayer. It is a difficult situation for so many thousands of people, and our prayers really do count and are appreciated.

My nephew, Jordan, is in the Army and recently left to begin deployment in Afghanistan. It looks as if he will be gone at least a year. Please pray for his protection; but also pray that he will meet other Christian men with whom he can fellowship and have Bible studies. Also, pray for his wife and little girl who are here in the states. I know they will greatly appreciate it.

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

No man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:8

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

Thank you so much for reading our weekly newsletter. We pray that you will be encouraged and blessed.

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org