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 21, 2010

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

When I was living in Missouri I would hear people comment, "If you don't like the weather today, just wait and it will be different tomorrow." After moving to Oklahoma, I've heard people make those same remarks. I was recently watching a Christian concert on TV that had been filmed in Chicago, Illinois and the group's leader made basically that same comment regarding the weather there; saying that it changes every few hours. I find it a bit humorous because it seems as if everyone seems to think that they coined that phrase and it is unique to their state. But I've come to the conclusion that the changing weather fits more areas than not.

The week that Jon and I were on vacation we seemingly had changing weather from one minute to the next at times. We left 90-plus, hot, sunny weather in Oklahoma. The next day we drove through Colorado and it was cool and rainy most of the day. When we got out to walk around, we needed a jacket. We were driving through the Rockies to get to Steamboat Springs, CO and at the top of Rabbit Ear Pass, it started snowing. It had been raining and it began as a rain/snow mixture, that eventually turned into a heavy snow with huge flakes.

We noticed a couple of different drivers that seemed to panic at the sight of snow, and they pulled over and stopped. It wasn't sticking on the road at that point, and they would have been better off to keep going. As we headed back down the mountain pass, the snow turned back into rain.

When unexpected circumstances happen, people tend to react in different ways. Some will immediately expect the worse, and begin to panic and worry. Their mind will head towards the worst case scenario, and their thinking is, "This is just my luck! Bad things always happens to me, and nothing ever goes right." They seem unable to look beyond that moment as they focus on the problem. If they'd just keep going, instead of stopping to analyze the problem, they would find that it's not nearly as bad as it first seems.

When it started snowing those huge flakes, for some reason, it hit me and Jon as being funny. It was unexpected, and not what we had planned for our vacation. We pulled over a couple times and took pictures. It was so cold and the wind was blowing the snow in our faces. We stopped by the Rabbit Ears Pass sign, which is also one of the Continental Divide points. There was a pile of snow there, and Jon made a snowball for me and took my picture. We realized that this was just a short moment of time during our vacation, and it wasn't going to be like that the whole week.

There's a saying that "Variety is the spice of life." Most of us enjoy a little variety in life, as long as we can control it. But it's when things occur that seem out of our control or unpleasant events take place, that we decide that we like boring and don't like variety after all. I'm of the opinion that it's life's variety that can shape us into better, stronger individuals. How we choose to adapt and handle various circumstances can either develop or destroy us.

During our time in Yellowstone, we literally didn't know from one moment to the next what the weather was going to be. We were told by a park ranger and other workers in the park that spring was late in arriving and they were only then beginning their springtime. The weather was unusual for this time of year, and the amount of rain they had been getting was not normal.

There were areas where flowers were just beginning to bloom. Grass was still brown in places and was just starting to green up. There were higher altitude areas where there was still snow beside the road. We passed by a lake close to the east entrance and there was still ice frozen over part of the surface.

We might get out of the car and walk around one area and it would be sunny and warm and we'd comment that we wished we had on cooler clothes. Then a few minutes later we'd stopped at another area, and it would be overcast and cool and we'd have to wear jackets, and were glad we had on warmer clothing.

When we stopped by Old Faithful, we had to sit and wait for 30-45 minutes for it to go off. There are long bleacher seating all around the front and side of the area, and it was filling up. Old Faithful used to go off regularly every hour, but not so anymore. There is a park ranger that will watch and mark down the time that it goes off, then calculate approximately when it will go off again, which is roughly about every 90 minutes; give or take 15 minutes. And apparently sometimes the geyser shoots up higher and longer than it does at other times. But since Old Faithful is an icon of Yellowstone, we didn't want to miss seeing it.

When we got out of the car and walked around it was quite warm. We had put a window shade in the car's front window to keep the interior cooler. The sun was brightly shining, and we were wishing we had on shorts and t-shirts. Sitting there waiting, it felt really hot. All of a sudden the sun went behind a cloud and it felt as if the temperature suddenly dropped 20 degrees. The wind started blowing and rain clouds moved in. It all happened rather quickly without warning. It began sprinkling rain, and felt downright chilly. We were wishing for our jackets, but it was too far back to the car; plus it was almost time for the Old Faithful geyser to blow. We were sitting there shivering. But by the time Old Faithful had done its thing, the sky was clearing up and it was getting warm again.

We spent one night out the east entrance in a cabin surrounded by the Shoshone Mountains. The next morning we were going to walk up to the restaurant that was located on the property. Jon was getting his wallet and cabin keys, and I went ahead and opened the door. Jon asked if we needed a jacket, so I stepped out on the porch to see what the weather was like. I glanced out to the left side of the cabin and told him that it was raining. We grabbed our jackets and went outside. Jon went out to put something in our car, which was parked directly in front of the cabin and he said, "It's not raining!" But then when we looked to the left, there was a heavy rain shower. It was very odd! We could see a very distinct line right beside our cabin where the rain was. The car in front of the cabin next to ours was wet, and our car was dry. Another couple further down from us were sitting out on their porch as we walked by. They were watching the rain and could see the line where it started and ended. Neither Jon nor I had ever seen such a prominent rain boundary like that.

We had spent Wednesday night in a cabin in Montana, and woke up to snow flurries the next morning.

We drove the Chief Joseph scenic drive between Montana and Cody, WY. It was a gorgeous drive filled with switchbacks up and down the mountainside. At the top, there was a scenic overlook that we stopped at. Our intent was to get out and walk around and take some pictures. I started to open the car door and as soon as I got it barely open, the cold air hit me and I realized that we were going to need a jacket. We put them on, then got out. The wind speed was probably at least 60-70 mph (we heard later that it was 40 mph in the valley far below). It was freezing cold and windy! Needless to say we didn't stay outside long.

We drove through the Big Horn Mountains, which were a lot like the Chief Joseph scenic drive. At the top of the mountain, it had apparently snowed the night before. We could see a fresh layer of snow on the trees and ground. It looked like a scene from a Christmas postcard.

The day we spent in South Dakota was calm, sunny and warm. The drive home was warm, but we drove through quite a bit of rain. We arrived back home in Oklahoma to 90-plus temperatures and hot sunshine. So we enjoyed quite a variety of weather and temperatures during the week.

Jon and I have heard comments regarding our Yellowstone experience such as, "You shouldn't have taken your trip so early, but should have waited until later in the summer." "Instead of going north on your vacation, you should have gone south where it would have been warmer." "That stinks that you had such bad weather on your trip."

But honestly, people's best memories are often times when things aren't quite perfect and didn't go as planned. Otherwise, we may remember where we went and what we did, but that's about it.

Jon and I wouldn't trade the memories we have of our Yellowstone vacation for anything. We may not have had the warm weather and sunshine that we had anticipated when we were originally planning the trip, but what we experienced serve as memories that we'll never forget. Instead of wearing shorts and flip flops, I had to wear jeans, tennis shoes and jackets; but really, did that change anything? In the grand scheme of things it was a moot point.

We got to see a breathtaking sunrise and gorgeous scenery, watch animals that we normally don't see, and enjoy beautiful nature. Plus we had quality time with each other without TV, computers, or cell phone. We got to share this special experience together. That's really what was most important.

One thing that Jon and I try to do when we go away is to enjoy our time together. When we vacation or go away for the weekend we rarely watch TV in our hotel room, unless it's to check the weather. We don't spend our time on the internet or computer. We don't text and talk on our cell phones. That is our special time to relax and have fun; and I have to say that we do well at this. There are no alarm clocks and no time schedules to keep to. That is our time to get away from everyone and everything and our normal routine. We've found that we can relax and make it perfectly fine without TV, computers, and cell phones. We're perfectly content sitting still and doing nothing but watching nature. I thank God for blessing me with a husband that works hard and is a great provider, but he also knows how to put work aside and relax. We enjoy the same things and vacation well together.

Too often we get so caught up in details that we miss what really matters. If we plan something and it doesn't work out as we thought, then we become so disappointed that we forget to enjoy the good things. When it comes to enjoying time with people we love, what does a detail like uncooperative weather really matter? Years later what's really going to matter is creating memories with loved ones; not whether it rained, snowed or there was sunshine.

When reading about Jesus' ministry you read about the healing's and miracles. That's wonderful, but don't forget that someone has to be sick, suffering and in pain in order to receive a miraculous healing. We can read about the threats made, and all the people who were constantly trying to find fault with Jesus and destroy Him. But we can also read about all the many times that Jesus spent sitting down with His disciples or groups of people and teaching them.

Do you think after Jesus ascended into Heaven that what His disciples remembered were the days when everything went according to plan? Probably not! What they more than likely reminisced about were the times when adverse situations occurred and they were witness to the miracles of Jesus. What stood out in their minds were probably not the times when Jesus taught the multitudes and then everyone left and went home afterwards. But they remembered the time when the people grew hungry and Jesus feed 5,000 with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. I'm sure they crossed the sea multiple times with no mishaps. But the trip they most remembered was the time when a storm hit and they grew fearful, and Jesus came to them walking on the water and calmed the storm.

The point is, life is not always made up of blessings and sunshine. There are times when we face storms. But regardless, if we will stay focused on Jesus we will find peace in joy in the midst of our circumstances. Life may not always go as planned, but it can still be memorable. It's often during the times when things don't go smoothly that we can most see Jesus at work in our lives.

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

Our wedding went about as smoothly as we could have hoped. I remember that there was something that wasn't quite according to plan, but now, I can't even remember what it was.

We've seen dozens of clips from weddings that went even worse: fainting grooms, brides, preachers, and others; bored kids; falling decorations. In most of them, the wedding party takes it in stride. The important thing is the marriage, not the ceremony. Once in awhile, we see someone that doesn't take it well. Most often, it's a bride who probably imagined and dreamed about the ceremony for years, and had some expectation about what it must be. When it doesn't turn out exactly as her fantasy, she loses it.

That's one of the pitfalls of fantasizing. It could be anything, from a wedding ceremony, to a vacation, to some business plan, or building a dream home. Having a dream is fine. King Solomon dreamed of building a temple to God. But we need to be flexible enough to put God's will first, to avoid making it a matter of selfish pride, and to accept the stumbling blocks and changes that are inevitable.

BIBLE TRIVIA QUESTIONS:

      1. From which book in the Bible comes the phrase: "By the skin of my teeth?"

      2. From which book in the Bible comes the phrase: "The blind leading the blind?"

      3. From which book in the Bible comes the phrase: "My brother's keeper?"

      4. From which book in the Bible comes the phrase: "Pride goeth before a fall?"

      5. From which book in the bible comes the phrase: "A lamb for the slaughter?"

ON THE MENEWE:

Nicole's Zucchini Bread

3 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup oil

2 tsp. Vanilla

2 cups grated zucchini

1 can crushed pineapple -- drained

3 cups flour

1 tsp. Salt

1 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

2 tsp. Baking soda

1/2 tsp. Baking powder

3/4 tsp. Nutmeg

1 cup nuts (optional)

In a large mixing bowl put eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla; beat until foamy. Add remaining ingredients (be sure and drain the crushed pineapple). Pour batter into two greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

BIBLE TRIVIA ANSWERS:

  1. Job 19:20

  2. Matthew 15:14

  3. Genesis 4:9

  4. Proverbs 16:18

  5. Isaiah 53:7

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

Some of the most beautiful rainbows are after the most severe storms.

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org