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

November 24, 2010

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

I would like to begin by wishing each of you a "Happy Thanksgiving"! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year. Every time I say the word "Thanksgiving" it reminds me to give thanks for the many blessings that God has bestowed upon me and Jon. It's a time to stop and consider what all God has done for us and to take a few moments to tell Him, "Thank you!"

There's an old song that has been going over and over in my mind for the past few weeks. I've heard it sung many times over the years and the message has always been relevant to me. I'd like to share those lyrics with you because they sum up Thanksgiving and God's blessing far better than I could. The title of the song is "Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me" and was written by one of the Easter Brothers, who sang together as a gospel bluegrass group for many years. I can't find the first name of the author or the date it was written, but am guessing in the 1960's or 1970's. But the writer of this song is the dad of Jeff Easter, who is part of the gospel duo, Jeff and Sherri Easter.

Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me

(verse 1)

As the world looks upon me, as I struggle along

They say I have nothing, but they are so wrong

In my heart I'm rejoicing, how I wish they could see

Thank you Lord, for Your blessings on me.

(chorus)

There's a roof up above me, I've a good place to sleep

There's food on my table, and shoes on my feet

You gave me Your love, Lord, and a fine family

Thank you Lord, for your blessings on me.

(verse 2)

Now I know I'm not wealthy, and these clothes they're not new

I don't have much money, but Lord I have You

And to me that's all that matters, though the world cannot see

Thank you Lord, for Your blessings on me.

Growing up, there were many times when we didn't have a whole lot. Money was scarce and we didn't have much extra. Compared to a lot of my classmates and others in the community, I'm sure it looked as if we were poor. But the lyrics of this song sum up how we felt, as a family. We never felt poor or as if we were lacking. We always had a roof above our heads and a good bed to sleep in. There was always food on our table, and we always had shoes on our feet. Our clothes may have been homemade, but that didn't bother us. What we may have lacked in material possessions, we more than made up for in having the love of a close family. And above all, we had the blessings and love of the Lord.

Too often, our society gets caught up in how much money or how many possessions someone has. Parents want to give their kids the very best of everything, even if they can't afford it. People owe thousands in credit card bills because they think they should be able to have anything they want. Couples buy expensive houses and cars they can't pay for, living beyond their means. Shopping has become a favorite hobby for some, and they buy things they have no use for and don't need. Buying name brand clothes, purses and shoes in order to impress others seem to be particularly important to some women. And men think they need the latest and greatest in all technology, even when what they have is still comparably new. But overall, many people seem to never be satisfied and are continually searching for that one thing that will make them "happy". But they buy and buy and accumulate possessions, only to never find the fulfillment they're looking for.

I'm not saying you have to be poor to be happy. Neither am I saying that people should never buy anything new. Jon and I have had some tough financial times since we've been married and we'll both whole-heartedly tell you that we'd much rather not be struggling from paycheck to paycheck. But we learned through those hard times that happiness cannot be dependent on what we have or don't have. It has to come from within. It wasn't fun having to watch our pennies and never being able to go out to eat or being able to spend money on extras. But it didn't cause division between us and we didn't blame one another or argue over it. We both knew that our contentment has to come from God, not from money and not from each other. Now that we've come through that difficult time and have been enjoying a time of financial comfort, we still realize that our contentment can't come from money and what we can or cannot buy; it has to continue coming from God.

It's easy to gripe and complain and feel sorry for ourselves when times are hard and we're struggling. It's also easy to get into the habit of looking at the negative and focusing on what we don't have, instead of what we do have. Or else we're constantly searching for that cloud with the silver lining and end up missing out on the rainbow right in front of our face.

Jon and I both enjoy looking at the sky. We like watching sunrises, sunsets, cloud formations, etc. Recently we were driving home from Missouri and I looked ahead of us into the clouds and in a little patch of blue between some clouds was a tiny piece of a rainbow. It was sunny and hadn't been raining, so I was hesitant to say anything, wondering if perhaps my eyes were deceiving me. As I was observing it, Jon noticed it and pointed it out. Whew! I really was seeing something spectacular!! What was amazing and made it so special was that often your eyes can pick out the red and yellow and often the green of a rainbow, but it seems as if many times you don't really see the blue and purple. But in that little slice of the sky we could see all the colors. It eventually faded, but later we looked and once again in a different section of the sky we could see another small section of the rainbow. This happened three or four times. It wasn't a huge rainbow sweeping across the sky, and I wondered how many hundreds of people driving along that evening completely missed seeing those small sections of beautiful color? Many were probably focused on getting to a particular destination and didn't take the time to look at the clouds. Or perhaps they were involved in their own thoughts or thinking of what all they needed to do that they didn't bother to look up. The sun was beginning to set during this time, and a short time later was an absolutely gorgeous sunset with bright vivid colors. Yet how many people didn't take the time to admire it and notice?

That's basically how many of us go through life. God places those pockets of rainbow (blessings) right in front of us, but we're too busy and too pre-occupied to pay attention. We have our own agenda or problems, so completely miss out on what God is trying to show us. We focus on the leafless, barren trees along the road and gripe because there's no beauty in our lives, instead of looking around and trying to find those vibrant colors in the clouds.

This Thanksgiving, take a few moments and thank God for His blessings. Maybe you've been going through a difficult time where it seems like you are being bombarded on every side. But do you still have a home to live in and a bed in which to sleep? Do you have food to eat and shoes on your feet? Do you have a family that loves you? I do know you have the love of the Lord. He will never leave nor forsake you, and will always love you with an everlasting love that will not ever fade.

If you are having trouble finding a blessing to thank God for, re-read the words of this song and maybe it will remind you of what you really do have. I know that God has blessed mine and Jon's socks off this past year! That doesn't mean it's been a perfect year in every way, but it has been a blessed year. And I can truly say with a grateful heart, "Thank you Lord for your blessings on me!"

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

I remember a few times at Thanksgiving when we were expected to each say something we were thankful for. I always hated that game. I spent most of the time trying to come up with something that sounded thoughtful, but not sickly sweet. I didn't want to say something sappy, like "I'm thankful for living in a free country." Or, "I'm thankful I have food to eat." I think that's a game that the person starting it loves, but no one else likes. It's funner to hear all the answers people come up with when they don't have any warning than it is to come up with something to say.

Even though I don't want to be put on the spot like that, I agree that it's good to stop and remember the blessings we've received. Not just once each year, but often. It helps us remember to thank God--one of the more important ways to worship Him. It also helps us to think on the positive things in our lives, which keeps our hearts right. And it's a great way to cancel out depression. Sadly, doctors wouldn't be able to prescribe giving thanks instead of valium.

ON THE MENEWE:

This is a family favorite that we generally have at Thanksgiving gatherings. I will admit that I have never made this myself, but usually either Shirley or Janie will will make one. This is a favorite of some of my nephews and nieces and they are unhappy if someone forgets to make the pumpkin roll!

Pumpkin Roll

3 eggs

2 tsp. Cinnamon

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. Ginger

2/3 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 tsp. Nutmeg

1 tsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Lemon Juice

3/4 cup flour

Mix dry ingredients and set aside. Beat eggs and sugar at high speed for 5 minutes. Add pumpkin and lemon juice; fold in dry ingredients. Pour into 10x15 jelly roll pan (or sheet pan) that has been lined with waxed paper and well greased and floured. Bake 15 minutes on 350. As soon as taken from oven, put wet cheesecloth on top and roll up. Put in refrigerator to cool about 15 minutes. Unroll and spread with filling.

Filling:

1 (8 oz.) pkg. Cream Cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

4 Tbsp. Butter

1/2 tsp. Vanilla

Beat ingredients together until mixed well. Unroll pumpkin roll, take off cheesecloth; spread top with filling mixture. Re-roll and refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into slices.

LAMB TALES:

Many years ago, in my younger days when I had more patience, I taught preschool for 3 and 4 year olds for a couple years. The church I attended had one three mornings a week, which gave mommy's about three hours to do grocery shopping and run errands. We would do a Thanksgiving program for the parents each year. One year we had the kids dress up like pilgrims, turkeys, and indians and they acted out a story as we read it. This was a very low budget production and the turkeys wore a trash-bag stuffed with newspaper as part of their costume. They had practiced the play a few times, but didn't actually wear their costumes until the day of the program. One of the little boys was a turkey and when we got him dressed up in his trash-bag and tried to send him out with the other kids to perform, he absolutely started boo-hooing and was inconsolable. We tried bribery and various tactics and he was having no part of it! He finally did stand up front with the other kids, but cried during the entire story. Afterwards we found out from his mother that he hated wearing costumes and dressing up. The other teacher and I both felt really bad for making the poor kid dress up in a trash-bag! Had we known, we would have given him another part where he only had to wear a headband or something simple. We thought he was just nervous about standing in front of the parents!

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

To be contented with what one possesses is great riches.

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org