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

April 13, 2011

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

As I've mentioned numerous times lately, Jon and I have been in the middle of a remodeling project for the past month or so. Won't you be glad when we finish, so I'll stop talking about it?! We completely gutted a half bath and pantry in order to redo them both. With Jon working full-time and only being able to work on the house in the evenings and on weekends, it has been a long, tedious journey and we've run into a few obstacles along the way. I've helped as much as possible, but there are many things I don't know how to do, so have had to wait for Jon to have time to do them. When we were doing the sheetrock work, it seemed as if no matter what I did, I could not keep my house clean. Every time we sanded, the entire downstairs would be completely covered with dust. Every single surface in our utility room, kitchen, dining room and living room were dusty. The floors would be covered with a layer of dust; as well as all the carpet. When I vacuumed our dining room carpet, you could see puffs of dust billow up as I ran the sweeper across it. No matter how careful we were, we would track dirt and grime onto the floors throughout the house. I finally gave up, knowing it would soon come to an end, and I could clean then.

My nephew, Jared, is also in the middle of a complete kitchen remodel in his house. He had a friend build the cabinets for him and help with the countertops, but he installed the tile flooring and did all the other work himself. Jared is extremely busy, working a full-time job, as well as being a full-time online student at Full Sail University, where he is working on his computer animation bachelors degree. Full Sail is the top university for the field in which Jared is specializing, and has some tough courses. When Jared's not at work, he's either having to work on a project for college or is busy working on his house. We were visiting recently about remodeling and he made a statement that has stuck in my mind ever since: "It has to get ugly before it gets pretty."

I've reminded myself of that statement over and over again when I've look at our "mess" and wondered when things would ever get back to normal. When I've walked in and seen the bare ugly concrete floor; walls with no sheetrock with all the studs showing, plumbing and electrical wiring visible; the irritating plumbing leak that Jon had to fix three times; tools, ladders and supplies filling every possible space in our utility room and garage with only a little walking path around them; trying to do laundry in a utility room that is filled with supplies and tools, with dust covering everything inside the room; and just the general inconvenience of having the bathroom and pantry torn out; I've had those moments when I've thought, "We're never going to get this finished!" But little by little we've made progress, and are now seeing very visible results that are exciting. Through it all, I've kept reminding myself, "It has to get ugly before it gets pretty!" Finally, all the sheetrock is up, the ceiling and walls in the hallway and pantry are painted, we've starting installing some of the ceramic tiles, and we can begin to envision how the finished rooms are going to look. We're encouraged to see all of our hard work pay off, and something beautiful emerge. Bit by bit, the ugliness is being replace by something very pretty.

The phrase, "It has to get ugly before it gets pretty," can be applied to many life situations. Before a woman becomes a mother, she has to go through the ugliness and pain of labor. But the end result is a beautiful baby being placed in her arms. Before an individual can enjoy the luxury of retirement, they have to endure years of hard toil and labor. To have a beautiful yard, you have to be willing to sweat and get dirty and do all the "ugly" work of mowing, pulling weeds, pruning, planting and watering.

Most parents will admit that they have a few ugly days (sometimes years) of child-rearing. There are those awkward, pimply-face, smart-mouth, "I know everything and you don't know anything", middle school and high school years. I've heard a few parents admit that they have days where if the child wasn't theirs, they really wouldn't like them much. They love their son or daughter, but just don't like them a whole lot from time to time. But eventually, most kids get through those years and begin to mature into likeable, loving adults that parents are proud to have, not only as their child, but as a friend. Then they become grandparents, and can enjoy sitting back and watching their kids go through similar situations with their children, while they laugh as they hear their son/daughter say [regarding their own children], "I was never this bad!" You sometimes have to go through some ugly years, before you get to enjoy the productive, pretty years where you watch your kids or grandkids excel and do well.

Spiritually, we may go through some ugly times. Times of hardship, seemingly unanswered prayers, being in a spiritual rut, complacency, frustration..... There may be times when it seems as if God is a million miles away and doesn't hear a word we pray. Sometimes we may feel empty inside, and go through a dry period. I've gone through times when it seems like praying, reading my Bible and going to church is not accomplishing anything. God seems far away and nothing I do or say seems to bring Him nearer. It's as if I'm going through a spiritual drought.

When we are going through those "ugly" periods in our life, we tend to feel overwhelmed and hopeless. But be encouraged, and know that it's not going to last forever. The day will come when the ugliness will be gone and something very beautiful and wonderful will be revealed in its place.

Isaiah 61:3 says, "To console those who mourn in Zion; to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called tress of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."

There is nothing attractive about ashes. Ashes indicate that something has been burned and is now gone. But out of those ashes can arise something even better, stronger and more beautiful. Ashes don't have to indicate that your life is over, but can be an indication that God has something even more beautiful in store for you.

So if you are going through something ugly in your life, don't lose hope and don't give up. Remember Jared's words, "It has to get ugly, before it can get pretty." God may be pruning and burning away old things in your life in order to make room for something greater and better.

Perhaps one of the best analogies would be the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus endured the ugliness of being mocked, denied, beaten, having a crown of thorns placed on His head, people requesting the release of a known criminal so they could crucify Jesus, having to carry His own cross, having spikes driven through His hands and feet as he was placed upon the cross, having soldiers gamble for His robe, a sword pierced through His side and death. Jesus allowed Himself to suffer through all that for our sin. It doesn't get any uglier than this!

But something spectacular and amazingly beautiful happened on that third day! The stone was rolled away from the entrance of that tomb, and Jesus rose from the dead. He had fulfilled His mission on earth and was now the risen Savior! He remained upon earth for a few days before being translated into heaven, as His disciples watched. Today, Jesus is sitting on the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us.

Because of the gift of the Father sending His Son to earth to die for our sins, we have the choice of accepting the gift of salvation. All the ugliness of life will one day be past, and we will see the beauty and splendor of heaven. "It has to get ugly before it gets pretty" can sum up life on earth and eternity in heaven. Eternity in heaven will be worth all the ugliness we may have to endure during our life on earth.

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

We had to look back through our pictures to figure out how long we've been remodeling. At first I'd misread the first date as March 26. That would have meant we'd only been working for two and a half weeks. That didn't seem right; it feels like we've been working for months. It wasn't right. We've been working since February 26, which makes it six and a half weeks.

Last weekend, I kept looking forward to Monday. Monday means I have to get up earlier. And I have to go to work. But it's a break from cutting sheetrock, lifting sheetrock, holding up a heavy drill motor over my head, kneeling and reaching around to tile, and all the other miscellaneous work.

About two weeks ago, it seemed that we finally made it around that last curve. You know the one--when we get around the next curve, you'll be able to see the end. We spent the first half of the time tearing out the old. We did get to rebuild a little, but you'd have to know where we planned to go with it to see the difference. But a couple weeks ago, we got the new washer hookups in. It seems minor, but it was finally something that showed, and it looks good. And since then, we got all the sheetrock in, Loretta has painted a lot, and we have some of the tile floor in. It feels good.

It's been much easier to get motivated and work over the past week. But we would never have gotten around that curve if we hadn't kept at it for the first four weeks. The goal didn't seem in sight, but we were able to envision it, and kept working toward it, even when we found the sewer pipe that cut almost through a supporting wall, even when our new plumbing leaked--3 times.

ON THE MENEWE:

BBQ Pork Roast

4-5 lb. Pork roast

Salt and Pepper

Onion

1 can or small bottle Dr. Pepper

BBQ Sauce

Cut an onion into thick slices or wedges and lay in the bottom of a roasting pan. Salt and pepper the pork roast and lay on top of the onion. Pour the can or small bottle of Dr. Pepper over the top of the meat. Pour a bottle (regular size -- not the big jumbo size) of BBQ sauce on top to cover meat. Cover and cook in 300 degree oven for 5-6 hours until meat is tender. Halfway through cooking, I spooned the juice in the pan over the top of the meat. Remove meat from pan; take two forks and shred the meat. Put in a serving bowl and pour the juices over the top and stir. You can eat this various ways: as a main dish with a side of hashbrown casserole, mashed potatoes or rice; as the meat for nachos; in a sandwich; in a tortilla with shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, diced tomato and sour cream. This meat is very, very tender and has a really good flavor. Really easy to make too!

LAMB TALES:

One of my favorite things to do when I was a kid was play "pretend" and use my imagination. My cousin and I would play cowboys and indians, using a stick as our gun. I had some miniature plastic farm animals and spent hours playing in the dirt at the edge of our yard building fences out of sticks and using a jar lid with some water in it as a pond. When I was about 3 or 4 years old I had an imaginary friend named 'Loretta Martin' for a while. One day I waved goodbye as she rode away on her horse, never to return. I still like to use my imagination and daydream. It gets my creative juices flowing! Plus some really good ideas can come from those thoughts.

I love it when I see kids put away their expensive toys and video games to play "pretend" and use their imagination. It expands their creativity. When Devin first came to live with Janie (my sister) and Jimmy, he had no idea how to play "pretend" or how to use his imagination. The first time they ever saw him doing so was exciting for them. He's come a long way since then and can spend hours playing with a stick in the backyard, use his imagination to make pretend people out of lincoln logs, etc. For a long time he would re-enact "Horton Hears a Who", which was a lincoln log with paper hair on it, puppet show. Recently he watched the movie, Tangled, and has be re-enacting the story. The characters are as follows: Villain/Prince...play by Devin; Rapunzel... played by a stick with shoelace and yarn hair; Lizard... played by a stuffed green dinosaur; Tower.... railing of the hallway upstairs.

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

A bulldog can whip a skunk anytime he wants to, but he's got to figure out if it's worth the stink. - Jentzen Franklin

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org