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

October 13, 2010

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

Sometimes life throws in unexpected moments for each of us. It may be something major or catastrophic, but usually it's those little events or minor issues that can throw us off kilter or put us in a bad mood. We have our day or weekend or vacation planned out, then something unexpected happens that puts us off balance. It may be something as small as a flat tire, to having to change the timing in when you can do something. Regardless of what it is, those little things will usually cause us to react in some way. There are times when a flat tire may be a nuisance, but it's really no big deal; while other times it frustrates us because it delays us getting to our destination on time. Life is full of these unexpected happenings.

Jon has been working a lot of overtime so we've been trying to find time to get away for a long weekend. Things finally calmed down enough where he was able to take last Thursday, Friday and Monday off work. Our original plan was to leave sometime Thursday morning to head to Lampe, stopping to eat lunch at a restaurant we like in Springdale, AR.

We have been wanting to replace the living room ceiling in the family home in Lampe. Some of the old tiles were sagging and they were stained from years of having wood heat in the house. Tuesday evening I called one of my nephews and he said that he would be able to come down Thursday to help Jon tear down the old tiles and put up new sheetrock. We figured he'd be a lot more help than I would be! But he was going out of town Thursday evening with his wife and needed to leave by 2:30 to pick her up, which meant the guys would need to begin working earlier in the morning. That meant that Wednesday I had to do laundry, pack and get ready to leave. Jon was able to take off work early, and we went ahead and left town Wednesday evening.

Overall, things went well Thursday. Jon and I began the day by eating breakfast outside. As I was heading back into the house, I looked over and a beautiful gray fox was standing at the edge of the yard watching us. Later we saw a wild turkey fly away. We were enjoying the country life! The guys were able to get the sheetrock put up, while I mowed, and my nephew was able to get away on time.

We also had wanted to get some surveying work done while there. Jon had contacted a surveying company and after working out all the details, had asked if they possibly could do the work one of the days we were going to be in town. He had tried to call and was unable to get in touch with anyone, and had left a few messages to no avail. We decided we'd have to either have them come another time and we'd go back, or they'd have to do the work when we weren't there. Thursday afternoon the surveyor called and said he'd been out in the field, apologized for not returning Jon's call, and said they could be there at 8:15 on Friday morning. We were thrilled to be able to get the work done while we were there.

On Friday, after the surveying team left, Jon did some mudding on the sheetrock and I did more mowing. The weather was perfect and everything seemed to be falling into place with no problems or issues. Later that afternoon we had a late lunch in Branson. We were enjoying ourselves and having a wonderful time. Then Saturday morning happened.

Jon was going to mow, after doing more mudding and sanding. He went out to start his big walk behind mower and the pull cord broke. We ran to a small hardware store to buy a replacement, but the only one they had was too short and didn't work. In the meantime, I was using an old self-propel mower. I had been mowing and had stopped to take a break. When I went back out and tried to start the mower, the pull cord pulled all the way out and stuck. What are the chances of the pull cords messing up at the same time on both mowers?!?

A friend of mine had given me a couple of ceiling fans, she had taken out of her house during a recent remodel, and we were going to use one in the living room. Only when Jon went to put it up, we couldn't find the small ziplock bag with all the screws in it that she had left beside the fans when she dropped them off. So we had to make a trip to Branson to Lowe's to pick up a new pull cord for Jon's mower and buy replacement screws for the fan.

I was able to get the living room ceiling painted, while Jon mowed, on Sunday afternoon. Then we were finally able to get the ceiling fan installed and I was able to clean up all the mess and put things back in order. We had originally planned on trying to finish the ceiling by Saturday evening, but that didn't work. We also didn't get the mowing done as quickly as we had anticipated. And neither of us even considered having mower problems.

Sometimes when we have a plan, and everything doesn't work out exactly as we wanted, it's easy to focus on what went wrong instead of what went right. We become so disappointed because every little detail didn't go perfect, and forget about the blessings. When we later recount what transpired, we will tell about the bad first and have a "poor me" attitude.

So what if we have a few little mishaps along the way! I'm sure if most of us will be honest, we'll realize that the blessings far outweigh the problems. But how easy it is to get sidetracked at times.

On the way home on Monday afternoon, Jon and I were talking that we had one of the most enjoyable times in Lampe that we'd had in a long time. Not that we don't usually enjoy ourselves, but generally we're only there from late Friday night until Sunday afternoon and try to squeeze too much into such a short trip. This time, even though we did get a lot of work accomplished, we didn't feel rushed and were able to rest and relax. We spent Saturday afternoon at a local nature park and used the walking trail. We spent time sitting outdoors during the day while at the house. One evening we went outside and stood for a long period of time looking up at all the stars. While doing so, the scripture from Psalms came to mind, "The heavens declare the glory of God..." It seemed as if we could see millions of stars right up above is. It was breathtaking!

When we take the time to stop our busyness and enjoy the beauty that God has created for our enjoyment, it's amazing how awesome and incredible nature is. It's not always the big moments in life that can impact our lives, but those small events and moments of time when we stop what we're doing and look at God's handiwork, that we can truly see how big and magnificent He really is.

While there, it seemed as if the trees changed from day to day. As we looked across the hillside we could see splashes of color making an appearance. In the early mornings as the sun rose over the treetops, it would shine directly on the hill opposite the homestead. The colors seemed to shimmer and shine as the sunlight glinted off the trees.

On Sunday morning we went to a local church where I had attended for most of my life. After the service a lady in the church gave me and Jon each a free day pass to Silver Dollar City. It was an unexpected blessing. The day before we had passed by the entrance of Silver Dollar City and I had mentioned to Jon that I'd really like to go one time during the Christmas season, but tickets were so expensive. That was about the extent of the conversation. I never dreamed that someone would bless us with free day passes the next day.

Compared to the blessings and enjoyment of our long weekend, the problems we encountered were only a minor nuisance. If we had allowed those little things to hinder us from truly enjoying the time we had together in the country, how small and petty we would have been.

We all need to take the time to stop what we're doing from time to time and find the blessings God places in our path. It may be someone lending a helping hand to make a project easier, standing outside and star gazing at night, taking a nature walk, looking at the sunlight glint off fall leaves, or someone sharing free passes to a theme park with you. May we all stop focusing on the negative things that come across our path, and continuously look for the goodness in life.

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

The land in Lampe is beautiful. But it takes a lot of work. There are years of trash we need to clean up--mostly car parts. There are dead trees, weeds, vines, poison ivy, and thorn bushes to cut out and burn. There are lawns and driveways to mow (yes, we need to mow the drive). And that's just the outside.

We thank God often for the land and for providing it for us, and the beautiful plants and animals. But we are the stewards of the land. It's up to us to do the work, and keep it up.

That's the case in most of our lives. God gives us a bounty, and it's up to us to use it wisely, tend to it, and be thankful for it. I'm usually not one to push tithing and financial giving, mostly because I don't like how I hear it. Some preachers use a verse that says God will bless you in exchange for tithing in a way that sounds like you'll get rich if you give 10% of what you make. But that's not quite what the verse says. It says that God will bless you for tithing, but not that God is some kind of investment bank; the blessing you receive can be anything from good friends to good health.

Still, I do encourage giving. The church Loretta and I go to clearly doesn't need our money. But that's fine. There are plenty of churches that do need some extra income. If you seriously can't manage to give money, time is good, too.

ON THE MENEWE:

Beef Stroganoff

1 round steak

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 soup can of water

1 small carton of sour cream

onion

Cut up round steak in either thin strips or cubes (cut off fat). Put flour in a ziplock bag or small brown paper bag; season with salt and garlic salt (or garlic powder). Put meat in the bag of flour and shake to coat. Cut up onion (as much as desired) and brown with meat in butter until meat is tender. Add both soups and water to the meat/onion mixture and let cook until mixture is smooth and hot. Add sour cream (approximately 1 cup) just before serving; stir well. Serve over egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

LAMB TALES:

My 3 year old great-niece loves wearing swimsuits. When she gets home from daycare, she'll usually go straight up to her bedroom and put on a swimsuit. A while back it was quite chilly outside when my nephew brought the kids home from daycare. His wife got home from work and asked where their daughter was. He thought she was in her bedroom, but they couldn't find her. They looked outside and there she was -- wearing nothing but a stocking hat, trying to put her sweater on! They're guessing she couldn't find her swimsuit. Apparently it was too warm for clothes, but cold enough for a sweater and stocking hat!

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

Even if you are on the right track, you might get run over if you just sit there.

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org