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 8, 2011

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

Jon and I will celebrate our 6th anniversary on Saturday, June 18th. And yes, I'm a week early mentioning this, but since Father's Day is coming up on the 19th, I wanted to honor the dads and write something appropriate for them next week.

Six years doesn't seem very long compared to other family members: Joyce, my oldest sister, and Robert just celebrated their 40th anniversary last month. Linda and Art celebrated their 25th last August. Darryl and Shirley have been married 33 years; and Janie and Jimmy have been married 29 years. Hopefully, my math was correct when figuring this all up! Jon's parents will celebrate their 50th next year. I have uncles and aunts who have been married over 50-60 years (or were prior to one of both of them passing away), and several cousins who have been married 30-40 years. Jon and I have many examples in our lives of couples who have celebrated longevity in marriage.

I don't want to be repetitive every year and write the same thing every time we celebrate an anniversary. I have previously written regarding how Jon and I met and our courtship. I have written about our relationship and priorities in marriage. So I started thinking: "What makes our marriage and relationship so special, other than those things?" I know, without a doubt, that the strongest bond that holds our marriage together and what brings the most peace to our home is both of us having a relationship with God and keeping Him as the center of our lives. When we made the vows at our wedding to "love, honor and cherish" we meant what we said, and we have done those things. They weren't just traditional words that were part of our ceremony, but were a genuine promise. Neither of us have ever doubted our love for one another. We honor each other by showing respect and putting the other's needs before our own. I know that Jon cherishes me, for he makes me feel as if I'm a special God-given treasure; and hopefully he feels the same. I spoil Jon, and he equally spoils me in return; and we both see and recognize that fact -- and love it!

We trust each other and are not jealous. I know that when Jon has to travel out of town for work that I can trust him to remain faithful to me. When he had to work off-shore on the ship a couple times, one of the main people he worked with was a young, single woman. Granted, I did jokingly ask just how pretty she was! But I know that whenever Jon and I are apart that he is trustworthy and I have nothing to be jealous of and no cause to worry that he would ever be unfaithful to me. And Jon knows that when I'm home by myself during those times that I'm being faithful to him and he has nothing to fear. Jealousy is an ugly emotion, and can cause problems and suspicion if we ever allow that seed to take root in our mind. We can begin to imagine things that aren't there. If we're not careful, we can build an entire scenario in our mind that has absolutely no foundation of truth to it. And I've seen spouses intentionally flirt with someone, trying to make their husband/wife jealous. That's a dangerous game to play, and we choose to not play it. Jon and I choose to not allow the seed of jealousy to be planted in our mind, and to whole-heartedly trust one another.

Another vital aspect of our relationship is humor and enjoyment of life. There's something special about laughing together; and occasionally even laughing at one another. And believe me, I've provided lots and lots of laughs for Jon over the past six years! Most times it's how I mispronounce words or my backwoods Missouri slang. And Jon has made me laugh with his corny jokes and one-liners. (And when Jon reads this, his response to me will be, "See, I knew you liked my jokes!") Granted, sometimes I'm shaking my head at Jon's cheesy comments, but he's somewhat rubbed off on me over the years and I've been known to occasionally come up with "Jon-like" one-liners. Whenever I do, it makes Jon's day and always brings a chuckle.

Jon is incredibly ticklish! Sometimes I don't even have to touch him, but just hover my hand near his side and just the possibility of being tickled will set him off. Other times I may innocently touch him or rub his back and he gets chills and flinches. There have been days when I know he's been stressed and working hard and I will intentionally tickle him, and tell him it's been too long since I've heard him laugh. Of course, he always reciprocates and gets me back. I'm not quite as ticklish as he is, but it doesn't take much to get me going. Those moments of play and fun and giggling (okay, perhaps men don't giggle) together, is another thing that strengthens the bond of our marriage.

Life is filled with many serious decisions, stress and work, sickness and death, financial difficulties, family issues, etc. At times it's easy to allow those things to weigh us down and fill us with worry. We will fret or become frustrated and feel overwhelmed, and if we're not careful we will focus on those things so much that we miss out on the joy and blessings in our lives. Life can become a drudgery and we can get into the rut of everything always being serious and depressing. Sometimes we have to decide to do something for the pure fun and enjoyment of it. It's amazing how much better we feel when we laugh and do something fun. It puts our problems back into perspective and can give us a new outlook on our situation.

Jon and I consistently have date night once a week. Sometimes we go to nicer restaurants and sometimes do cheap fast-food dates. We watch movies on TV together at home. We sit out on the back porch and daydream about the future, or watch the birds and squirrels playing in the yard. Our favorite place is going to Lampe and being in the country, and we spend as much time there as possible. It's not necessarily about what we do or how much or little money we spend, but it's about taking the time to not think about work or about our bank account or what may not be going right in our lives, just relaxing and enjoying life together.

One time I told Jon that winter was my least favorite season of the year because everything was so barren and ugly (that's beside the fact that I hate cold weather). He said that he kind of liked it because when you looked at trees without all the leaves on them, you could really see the unique details of their branches and how they were shaped. That was something you couldn't do when they were budded out and covered with leaves. Winter is still not my favorite season, but it made me to start looking at the different trees and see the uniqueness of how they are formed. It changed my perspective. Sometimes that's what we have to do as couples; we have to get a fresh, new perspective of life and find the joy and blessings that surround us. Even in the most barren, cold situations, if we look hard enough, we can find something unique and beautiful in our lives.

Proverbs 17:22 says, "A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones."

Ecclesiastes 3:4 says, "A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance."

There are times to weep and mourn and be serious, but there are also times for laughter and dancing. I've heard many times that when someone is going through an illness, laughter can make a huge difference in their attitude and healing process. As Proverbs says, "A merry or joyful heart does good, like medicine." I believe that laughter and a joyful heart can bring healing to relationships and keep marriages strong. Not spiteful humor that is mean or makes fun of the other person, or laughing at the expense of the other person's feelings; but being able to laugh at each other and even at ourselves in a kind, loving way.

There may be moments when you have to sense the mood of the other person and analyze the situation and handle it accordingly. There may be times when humor can ease a tense moment, and other times when we need to just walk away and give our spouse time alone. We may be able to laugh about something at a later date that's not humorous to us at the time that it happens.

Recently, Jon had been working on a big commercial walk-behind mower that we bought to use on our property in Missouri. We bought it used and have had it for a couple years, but at the end of last year Jon began having problems with it. We brought it home, thinking Jon would have all winter to work on it, but ended up working on other things and putting it off until we needed it. Jon had replaced several parts and spent a lot of time working on it, but kept running into problems. We were leaving the Friday before Memorial Day to go to Lampe, and wanted to take the mower with us. Jon had gotten most of it repaired, except for a couple of flat tires. The front tire had a tube inside it, but the back tire didn't. He worked and worked on the tire with the tube, and ended up puncturing both new tubes he had bought when he was trying to put the tire back onto the wheel. He was getting really frustrated, and in hindsight, I probably wasn't much help. I thought I would keep him company while he worked on the tires, so was sitting in a lawn chair in the garage visiting with him. Probably not the time for my chatter, although I did offer to go inside and leave him alone if he wanted, and he said he didn't mind my company. But I could tell Jon was starting to get really frustrated. Normally, he's very easy-going and doesn't get easily upset, but this mower situation was pushing his buttons the wrong way. There were a couple times when I said something, honestly thinking I was talking in my normal everyday voice, but Jon took it wrong and said I sounded gruff and hateful. Going back over what I had said, I really couldn't tell that I'd talked any differently that I had the rest of the evening. And I really didn't think what I'd said was offensive or anything to rub him the wrong way. I have concluded that it is just the pitch of my hick voice and my hillbilly accent that makes my words sometimes sound gruff and bad-tempered, when I honestly don't mean them that way. I knew that in this particular instance that Jon was more sensitive due to the stress of the situation. Instead of making me upset, it struck me funny. I started laughing and made a teasing comment to Jon about being touchy. We took a break and went to eat, and he decided to wait until the next morning to finish up. The next day, Jon was able to get the tires fixed fairly quickly and easily. He was joking about being so touchy the night before and we had a good laugh over it.

Sometimes in marriage you have to know when to stay, and when to walk away and give one another a break. Wanting some alone time doesn't mean the other person doesn't like to spend time with you, but they just need some down time by themselves. Jon and I both like our alone time. I get a lot more than Jon does since I'm a stay-at-home wife; but I can tell when he's needing me to go somewhere or go outside and read for a while and give him some time by himself. We like being together and doing things as a couple, but both need those moments by ourselves. Realizing that and being willing to give the other person their space when they need it can also make your relationship stronger. It doesn't take away from our marriage but makes our time together more special. And it's easier to laugh and have a good time when we've had that solitary time that we needed.

Sharing those little jokes that no one else understands, laughing at nothing in particular, and getting those secret winks and smiles when we're in a group of people are those special moments that I love with Jon.

Many times during the past six years, I will say or do something that makes Jon laugh and he'll comment, "You're so much fun! I love being married to you!" The feeling is mutual. We enjoy life, have fun together, and love being married to one another. Our life has been so blessed and we've already had such an incredible journey together these six years, and we can't wait to see what the future holds in store for us.

Whether you're married or single, don't forget to laugh and find humor in life. I believe that God truly loves hearing us laughing and enjoying life.

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

I have read something passed around in e-mails that went something like (in part), "God gave Adam and Eve and all their descendants delicious fruit to eat that they would grow strong and healthy. But Satan gave them caramel to dip the fruit in, and mankind enjoyed the caramel and grew fat. God gave them sports and games to give them fun exercise, but Satan gave them video games.", and so on. I don't think it was included, but it could have included, "God gave mankind a sense of humor to make them smile and share joy. But Satan gave them mockery and insults so mankind would take joy in hurting others."

Last saturday, we were going to grill some burgers. Loretta opened our back door, stepped out, and got a startling shock. A rat snake had somehow climbed onto the top of the screen door. The poor little snake (about 18" long, and as big around as a ring finger) was probably resting on the top of the door after it's long climb. It may have even started taking a little nap. Hearing the main door open probably woke it up. Then, quite suddenly, still a little groggy from its nap, its perch was flung out from under it. It fell through the air, and landed in a nice, soft head of hair, only to have the head jerk away, too. It's next landing was on concrete. Loretta didn't have much sympathy for it. It didn't matter why it was cranky. All she knew was something had fallen on her head, then on the ground, and it was a huge snake coiled up and opening its mouth threateningly at her.

Last saturday, if I'd laughed at Loretta when a snake fell on her head, I would have only hurt her. But today, I can laugh with her, and she won't mind--she might cringe, but she can smile about it, too. She might not appreciate my showing a little sympathy for the snake, but I'm sure she'll smile.

We may poke fun at each other and others, but we do try to be careful. Kidding can easily get out of hand and turn into insults. We've caught ourselves laughing about the bizarre hair and piercings on people around us. It feels like harmless amusement, as long as the other person never knows we're laughing at them. But I've heard a similar argument for stealing a little from others: it's no big deal as long as you only rip them off a little so they don't notice or care.

ON THE MENEWE:

Easy Breakfast Casserole

Sausage -- browned and crumbled

Hashbrown Potatoes

Salt & Pepper, to taste

Eggs

Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Butter or Margarine

Amounts vary due to the quantity you want to make. Brown sausage in a skillet. Add butter to the pan; add in hashbrown potatoes to the cooked sausage. Cook until potatoes are tender. Add in eggs (may need to add a bit more butter if the potatoes are starting to stick to the skillet); stir to scramble and to keep eggs from sticking to the skillet. Salt and pepper to taste. When eggs are cooked in with the mixture, sprinkle shredded cheese on the top. (We like a lot of cheese, so add a handful in, then stir so it will melt in with the potato/sausage/egg mixture.) You could also make this with bacon or ham, or a mixture of the different meats. For a different variation, you can serve the mixture in warm flour tortillas like a breakfast taco, and could even add in salsa if you want. You can use the shredded hashbrowns or the southern-style small chunk hashbrowns. This is an easy dish that you can pretty much make to your own taste, and in however large or small quantity needed. We have even had this for supper occasionally.

LAMB TALES:

Wednesday, June 8th, would have been my Grandma Horton's 103th birthday. She was born June 8th, 1908 and passed away in April, 1996. Her name was Earsley Almeta (Rogers) Horton, but no one ever called her by her first name -- and I mean no one. Grandpa called her Ms. Horton, and everyone else either call her that or Granny Horton. Her mother passed away when she was a young girl, so she and her siblings were raised by her dad. My sister, Linda, has done a lot of ancestry research, and she and I have wondered if her first name wasn't supposed to be Ursula, but her parents may not have known the correct spelling, so spelled it like it sounded. I do know that many of the old-timers would add an "e-y" sound to words that ended in an "a". For instance, when I was a kid I heard a lot of the old-timers called Nixa, MO, "Nixy". There was an old man in our community whose name was Hosea and everyone called him "Hosie". I never ever heard anyone called him anything but Hosie. So I've wondered if perhaps Grandma's name wasn't supposed to be Ursula, but her parents put an "e-y" sound on the end of it and may not have had much schooling, so her name ended up being said and spelled "Earsley". And before her mom passed away, her dad may have never seen her name written down. I'm not sure how educated Grandma's parents were. I do know a lot of the older folk only attended school until around 6th grade, and some of the boys didn't go at all when there was any farm work to be done at home. Linda has found copies of various old censuses that were taken. Grandma's dad may not have even known how to spell her name and pronounced it "Earsley" to the census taker, and they guessed at the spelling. One of those little known facts that we'll never know, and something that Grandma may not have even known herself.

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

"Give the devil an inch, and he'll become a ruler." - seen on a church sign

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org