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

January 8, 2014

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

I suppose I could title this, "More Lessons Learned From Sammie"! It's amazing how much we've learned from observing our dog.

Sammie's favorite toys are these 3-4 inch stuffed animals that he can carry around in his mouth. First of all, he had a frog that he had carried around so much, that I finally had to throw away because it was so nasty and dirty and starting to fall apart. I tried to find another one like it, but they had discontinued making them. So I bought him a duck that was the same size.... and he now has two just alike. I also bought him a beaver. The ducks and beaver are getting pretty worn now, too. But the toys that size are his favorites and what he'll always go back to. I've bought him numerous other toys, and thought once he got bigger that he might want a bigger toy, but he always gravitates back to those smaller stuffed animals that he can carry around with him.

His favorite game is for Jon or me to grab hold of the stuffed toy, while he has in gripped tightly in his mouth, and try to tug it away from him. That's one reason I've tried bigger toys! There's just a little sticking out of either side of his mouth, and we generally grab onto his facial hair when trying to get hold of the toy; plus the toy tends to get wet from being in his mouth and a tad gross.

Sammie has a really strong grip and there is no way we can pull it out of his mouth, unless he really wants us to. When he's ready to play, he'll let go and want us to throw it, then he will run and get it and jump back on our lap so we can do it all over again.

The thing is, every time we try to grab onto the toy, Sammie will turn his head away so we can't get it. But if we ignore him or stop trying for it, he will paw at our hand until we pay attention to him again.

Another way he likes to play this game is for us to chase him around the living room, trying to get the stuffed toy away from him. He will run from chair to chair, jumping up onto them. Occasionally, he will drop the toy out of his mouth and want us to throw it and he will jump down, run around the living room, behind the chairs trying to hide from us -- while we pursue him, then he will jump back onto a chair. His very favorite thing is to jump up onto a chair and have us go over and give him a belly rub.

We are often that way in our attitude towards God. We want God to pursue us, while we run away and do our own thing. We want God to pay attention to us, but tend to make a game of it, of sorts.

God will fill our life with new blessings, yet we often tend to gravitate back to the old things. Even if the old things in our life are filthy and disgusting, or worn out and needing repaired, or even falling apart to the point where it could cause us harm; we are comfortable and familiar with that, so will keep trying to latch back onto it. Even though God has taken it away from us and given us something of greater value and more beneficial for us, we will miss the old and find ourselves wanting it back.

It can be old lifestyles, people who drag us down and fill our life with stress, destructive habits, bad attitudes, negativity..... and the list could go on and on. God will give an escape route and fill our life with positive friends, or place us in a position where we're not surrounded by people who are a bad influence on us, or help us get out of debt, or bless us with good things that should erase the bad attitudes and negativity, or aid us in breaking bad habits; yet we fall into the trap of going backwards instead of forwards. We may do well for a while, then something will happen or someone will say something, and we fall back into the old rut we were in before.

2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

That is an awesome promise! It's not only the newly saved that can stand upon this word and believe it; but it is for us at all times. When we fail or fall down or fall back into old ruts, we can repent and Jesus can make us new again. I love the promise that God's mercies are new every morning!! That means if I mess up today, God doesn't make me stand in time out for a period of time, before extending His mercies and grace and forgiveness to me; but each day He has a fresh supply of mercies with my name on them.

Luke 19:10 says, "For the Son of Man [Jesus] came to seek and save those who are lost."

We are not pursuing Jesus when we are lost and needing a Savior, but He chases after us and pursues us. In the parable of the lost lamb, the scripture says that He is not willing that even one should perish. Jesus will leave those who are saved and in the safety of His fold to seek for that one that is lost.

Individuals can ran away and try to hide, but Jesus is right there at all times. We cannot ever hide from Him, but He knows where we are at all times. Most don't want to be completely hidden from Jesus, for they want to know that He is there should they need Him; so they will say an occasional prayer or attend church once in a while or do something to "remind" God where they are.

Psalm 139:1-18, 23-24 sums it up best (New Living Translation):

"O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I'm far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

'I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I go down to the grave, You are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there Your hand will guide me, and Your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night -- but even in the darkness I cannot hide from You. To You the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to You.

'You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous -- how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day passed.

'Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life."

I have prayed that last paragraph many, many times during my life. May each of us make that our constant prayer in 2014, as we strive to become more deeply committed in our relationship with God.

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

Sammie also loves ice. If he hears us getting any ice from the freezer, he will usually run up, and stare at us, looking pathetic till we throw him a chunk. He will run to snatch it up before we have any chance to pick it back up. Then, he will guard his piece of ice to make sure we can't get it back.

People can do the same with tithes. God gives us prosperity, and we snatch it up, refusing to risk letting go of it. Sammie could justify guarding his ice so jealously because he ran out to get it, and deserves it. We may justify guarding our income because we worked at some job to earn it.

Sammie should know by now, that if we take the ice back, it's just to throw it, and let him have fun chasing it again. If you don't already, please give your tithes to a church or other trustworthy charity, and see what God will do with it.

ON THE MENEWE:

Sausage, Potato, and Kale Soup

(Similar to Olive Garden's "Zuppa Toscana" soup)

2 bunches Kale, torn into bite-sized pieces

12 whole Red Potatoes, sliced thin

1 small Onion, chopped

1-1/2 pound Italian Sausage (ground not the links)

1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

2 cups low sodium Chicken Broth

2 cups Whole Milk

4 cups Half-and-Half

Heavy Cream

fresh or dried Oregano

Black Pepper, to taste

Clean the kale and tear into bite-sized pieces; set aside.

In a medium pot, boil sliced potatoes until tender. Drain and set aside.

In a large pot, crumble and brown the Italian sausage. Drain as much as the fat as you can. Stir in red pepper flakes, oregano, chicken broth, milk, and half-and-half. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Give it a taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add the potatoes, a splash of heavy cream for richness, then stir in the kale. Simmer an additional 10-15 minutes, then serve.

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

When my nephew, Jared, was born he was a preemie so had to stay in the Neonatal ICU for a while. He will really small and they had IV's and tubes in him. When his brother, Jordan, was brought to the hospital nursery window to see his new baby brother, his response was, "Umm... I don't want that one. Let's trade him for another baby!"

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

A good life is when you assume nothing, do more, need less, smile often, dream big, laugh a lot,

and realize how blessed you are! - unknown

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

http://www.graysheep.org