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

June 1, 2011

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

Three or four years ago my nephew, Brian, gave me some starts of different kinds of plants. There was one that he was unfamiliar with, so really had no idea whether it took sun or shade, if it was a perennial or annual, or any other information about it. I planted it in a flowerbed in our backyard around the lamppost. The first year or so it grew, but I couldn't really tell that much about it. But last year green stalks began taking over that flowerbed, and I realized that the plant was very fertile and had spread over the entire area. The roots are shallow and run parallel to the ground and new sprouts form over the entire root system. Last year I thought perhaps if I thinned it out, it would be fine. But this spring I realized that I had a major problem.

Those plants grew tall and leafy and had taken over my entire flowerbed. It was crowding my other flowers and was trying to choke them out. In fact, the roots were even running beneath the pavers surrounding the flowerbed and were sprouting up on the lawn side. So I knew it was time to be proactive and nip the situation in the bud -- literally. I pulled up all the plants that I saw, trying to get the roots with it, and laid them in a pile beside the flowerbed. I knew I couldn't just mow over them and mulch them or they'd end up taking root all over our yard and then I'd really have a mess; so I bagged them up in a trash bag and threw them away. The problem was, there were stalks growing up through the greenery of some of my other plants and it was hard to see them. I would think I had them all, then look and see a 1-2 inch tall stalk sprouting through the dirt. I know that I'm going to have to keep an eye on it and periodically go back out and pull up other stalks from this plant as they come up. Without digging up my entire flowerbed, I have no idea how many roots may still be left underneath the dirt that I can't see.

I'm hoping I'll be able to get rid of this plant by keeping close watch over that area and pulling up any as they sprout up. If not, the only solution I can think of is to dig up this entire flowerbed either in the fall or next spring and till up the dirt so I can find all the roots that are left behind, and perhaps spray it with weed killer.

These plants are not ugly or unattractive, but run rampant and have gotten out of hand. They are choking out the more desirable, flowering plants that bloom in the spring. If I don't get rid of them, they're going to end up killing the other plants and are going to spread out into our yard, which has already begun to happen. If I had only known how prolific they were, then I'd never have planted them.

Right after Jon and I got married, we got this bright idea to plant canna bulbs around the perimeter of the chain-link fence that then surrounded our backyard. Jon's mom gave us a bunch of bulbs that she dug up from the yard where her mother had lived, after she and Jon's dad moved into that house. We had leftover bulbs, so I decided to plant the remainder bulbs directly behind our house. We already had one patch growing on the other end of the our house by the back garage door. They were fine for a year or so and looked pretty, then the bulbs rapidly started multiplying, or so it seemed. We ended up with huge canna mounds growing out into our yard, and underneath the fence into our neighbors' yards. They were really thick in places and kept growing further and further out into the yard. I first dug up all the ones I'd planted behind our house and gave them away to Jon's brother and my sister. A couple years ago we had a new privacy fence installed in place of the chain-link, and that process killed off a lot of the other cannas surrounding our yard. I dug up all those left behind. No one would take those, so I ended up throwing them away. This past spring I finally dug up the remaining patch that was originally behind the house. Occasionally, we still find a canna trying to grow where apparently I missed a bulb and we have to pull those out. They have been a mess trying to get rid of.

It's amazing how something that's supposed to be pretty and enjoyable to look at can turn out to be pesky, as they choke out everything around them or spread to areas you don't want them to. Trying to dig them all up and permanently get rid of them is a huge chore and can be aggravating. About the time I think I've conquered the task and give a sigh of relief, I'll see one sprouting up somewhere.

Our yard already has enough weeds growing in it! We sure don't need anything else taking up residence. This past spring we had henbit (those annoying plants with the little purple flowers) all over our yard. They're kind of pretty at first, but take over your yard and grow back an hour after you mow, or so it seems. About the time it died out, dandelions took over. We have wild strawberries growing in our backyard. Now there are some kind of tiny yellow flowers growing in our yard. Jon and I have talked that it would do no good to have our lawn treated for weeds, because seeds or pollen or whatever causes them to spread like wildfire would blow right back from the neighbors' yards.

Jesus taught many times using parables. In Matthew 13:24-30, Jesus gave a parable regarding weeds.

"Jesus told them another parable: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' 'An enemy did this,' he replied. The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"

The disciples were confused over this parable, so after after Jesus left the crowd and went into the house, they followed and asked Him to explain the parable of the weeds in the field.

"He [Jesus] answered, 'The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are the angels. As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.'"

While we're upon this earth the believers will have to co-exist with those who choose to resist God and live in sin. But the day will come when the sinful ones who have not repented of their sins will be separated from those who are saved. Those who are the "weeds", who have sin and evil in their hearts, will be sent to their judgement of eternal punishment in the fiery furnace of hell. The righteous, or those who have accepted salvation, will shine like the sun in heaven, the kingdom of their Father [God].

The devil is consistently trying to sow weeds of sin into our lives. Some may seem attractive or non-destructive. But if we're not careful, we will find that they have spread and are trying to choke out and destroy all the good seeds that God has sown into our heart. We need to daily do a "weed check" and pluck out any sin that has entered our heart to keep it from taking root and spreading. Sometimes the pretty things are nothing but weeds and can cause havoc and destruction, if we're not careful. Satan can cause sin to look attractive and harmless, but once we allow it to take root in our heart, we find that it's troublesome and hard to get rid of. But God will plant only good seeds within us that are fruitful and have worth.

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

Have you ever looked closely at seeds? There's a wide variety. Okra seeds are big balls of seed, but carrot seeds are so tiny and black that they're almost impossible to see once they are on the ground. But most of the pepper and tomato seeds I've seen are little, flat teardrops, and all look alike. They may vary a little in color, but the only easy way to tell which are which is by watching which envelope they came out of. It sometimes seems that if you didn't know what packet they came from, the only way to tell what the seeds are is to plant them, wait, and see what they grow into.

But I'm sure that anyone who looks closely and plants the seeds year after year can learn to tell the difference. As we grow to know God more and more closely, we can also learn to see the difference in the seeds.

A friend may start complaining about their spouse who doesn't seem to understand them. One 'seed' may be to show sympathy by agreeing, "My spouse is the same way--but you can talk to me." Another seed may be to show sympathy by agreeing, "My spouse is the same way--but I'm sure she understands the important stuff." The differences aren't always so obvious, but one can grow into stinging nettle, and the other into sweet basil.

[The last paragraph is a second version. Loretta didn't understand what I meant the way I wrote it the first time.]

ON THE MENEWE:

Strawberry Pie

1 (8 oz.) Shasta strawberry pop

3 Tbsp. Corn Starch (do not use flour)

3/4 cup sugar

1 pint strawberries, stemmed and washed

1/4 tsp. Red food coloring

1 baked pie shell

Cook sugar, corn starch and pop until thick and smooth. Remove from heat and add food coloring. Cool slightly, then add strawberries. Leave berries whole for a tart taste or slice and add 1/4 cup more sugar for sweeter taste. Put in a 9-inch pie shell. Cool. Top with Cool Whip.

LAMB TALES:

Jon and I spent this past weekend at our favorite place, my family home in Lampe, MO. On Monday, all my sisters and their spouses and some of the kids all got together for a barbecue. A few of us had spent Sunday night at the house. Janie and Jimmy had stopped by Sunday afternoon to visit, but spent the night with his brother. Devin was with them, but wanted to stay at the house with us. He had so much fun! Sunday afternoon he was exploring and found a small metal trailer that Jon and I have. It was stored down by a shed we have on our property. He asked if he could pull it up to the house. Janie asked if it was okay with us and told Devin, "If you think you can pull it up here, go for it!", thinking that it would keep him occupied and give him something to do. He worked and worked and finally got it up there. On our last trip, I had raked some rocks into a pile at the edge of the yard, so we had Devin load those up into the trailer, which he thought was fun to do. The next morning, Jon and my brother-in-law, Robert, were doing some work around the house. Jon was using the chainsaw cleaning up some brush. A while back we had some old junker cars, that had been left down in the holler over the years, pulled up so we could sell them for scrap metal. It messed up our drive where they had been parked and dragged around and left a lot of bigger rocks and trash lying around. Robert hooked our trailer to a older riding mower that's at the house and was picking some of those things up. He showed Devin how to drive the mower and let him move it around the drive from place to place for him. Oh my!! Devin was beaming and having the time of his life! Later, after Janie and Jimmy and another sister and her husband arrived, they unhooked the trailer and let Devin drive the mower up and down the drive that goes from the house down to mine and Jon's property. He did really well and was having a ball! He didn't want to stop and kept telling everyone, "I really like driving the mower!" That will be a day he won't ever forget! (Of course, he won't enjoy mowers when it's a chore.)

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

Don't use your past as an excuse to ruin your future.

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org