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

August 19, 2015

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

My sister, Janie, her thirteen year old son, Devin, and I just returned from a two week trip. We left on a Tuesday morning, knowing that we had to be in Orlando by Sunday evening. Janie was interpreting, for the deaf, at the General Council of the Assemblies of God in Orlando on Monday through Friday, which was our main reason for this particular trip, but we left early in order to take our time driving there.

We had an idea of a few things that we wanted to do on our way to Florida, but didn't really have a definite route mapped out. For instance, we woke up in Kentucky on Wednesday morning, and when we got in the car decided to drive east until we hit West Virginia. We did know that we wanted to tour Biltmore Estates in Ashville, NC, and wanted to eat at Lady and Sons (Paula Deen's restaurant) in Savannah, GA. Other than that, we were open to see where the road took us.

Beginning in Oklahoma, we went through or touched upon eleven states on our drive to Florida: Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

On our way home, we added 5 more states to the total: (Florida), Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas (just barely, but enough to see the state sign in Texarkana), Texas, (Oklahoma). Whew!!

One thing really stood out to both Janie and me on our entire journey; and that was how many genuinely nice people crossed our path. Every single place we went, we met people with a hospitable spirit. Regardless if it were at an information center, restaurant, hotel, attraction, etc..... everyone that we met was very friendly. In fact, out of all the people we talked to on our entire trip, there was only one lady who wasn't upbeat and friendly; but even then, she wasn't rude or hateful. We stopped at a hotel to check to see if they had any vacancies, and Janie said, "No, thank you," when she found how much the rooms were. The lady didn't say anything unpleasant, but just gave Janie a look as if she didn't think we'd find anything any cheaper.

When Janie and I have tried to explain to people how impressed we were with the hospitality and friendliness of the people we met on our trip, I don't think they really understand how it truly affected us both. The responses have been, "Well, you and Janie are nice, so people are nice back to you." There may be some truth to that, but honestly, there have been occasions when I've been nice to people and they've been rude or unfriendly; so how you treat or speak to others is not always the response you get in return. Sometimes, it's not that they are even rude or hateful, but they just give the impression that they're doing their job and don't want to be bothered with questions or interruptions. This trip was just very, very different; enough so that it really stood out and was noticeable to me and Janie.

Here are just a few examples that stand out in my mind from our trip:

*In Morehead, Kentucky we decided to stop at a folk art museum in order to walk around and stretch our legs. The young lady working there gave us a couple recommendations for lunch. We chose Root-A-Bakers, which was really delicious. It was fairly small inside with limited seating. One thing we noticed was a New Testament on every table. While waiting in the entryway for a table, I noticed that there were four women in front of us and a couple of them had menus. I asked one of the ladies where she had got the menu and she handed hers to me, and asked if we had eaten there before. I told her that we were from Oklahoma and were just passing through. With the sweetest Kentucky accent, she said, "Thank you so much for stopping and visiting our town! I hope you had a really good time and enjoyed yourself." Then when I was paying our ticket at the cash register, the owner asked if we had received our free cookie, since it was our first visit to the cafe. When I said no, she had one of the employees bag up three cookies for me, Janie, and Devin; which by the way, were the best sugar cookies we've ever eaten! They made us feel as if they were genuinely happy that we had stopped in.

*In West Virginia, we stopped at a rest stop and Janie asked the lady working in the information center for recommendations for things to do, and told her which route we were taking. The woman was very pleasant and helpful, and gave us some really good advice. One of the places she recommended was Pipestem State Park, which had an awesome view of the BlueRidge Mountains. The park had a lodge, and upon arrival, I went in to see if they had available rooms. The young lady helping me was funny, helpful, and very welcoming. I asked if they perhaps had any rooms available with a view of the mountains. She handed me a key card and told me to go look at the room she had available to see if it was okay. I have never before had a hotel/lodge ask me to go look at a room before paying for it! The room was perfect, with a balcony you could sit on that overlooked the mountains. She asked how many people, and I said two adults and a thirteen year old -- which I wasn't sure if he was still considered a child or not (motels differ on ages for children). She told me, "Just say, 'Two adults and a child', then that's what I have to put down.... I have to take your word for it; and that will give you the better rate!" Every employee that we met at the park were very friendly.

*On Thursday, we made it to Boone, NC. We knew that we were going to Horn In The West outdoor theater to see a drama about Daniel Boone and the Revolutionary War that evening, and had directions to the theater, but didn't know where to look for lodging. At an intersection, we saw a sign that said, 'Daniel Boone Inn and Restaurant', so pulled in. They had beautiful flower gardens outside, and there was an older, grandmotherly-type woman watering and weeding them. We pulled up beside her and asked if there was an inn located there (we couldn't find anything that looked like an office); and found out it used to be years ago, but is now a restaurant only. She walked over to our car, and stood there visiting with us for quite a while, giving us good information; as well, as telling us about a beautiful flower garden at a bed and breakfast in town. A car finally pulled up behind us, needing to get out of the parking lot, so we had to move. I think she may have taken us home with her, if we'd stayed much longer!

*During the week that we were in Orlando when we were in restaurants, on the elevator, walking to the convention center, sitting in the lobby, standing in the registration line, when I was at the pool with Devin...... people would begin visiting with us and were very friendly. Two years ago, the General Council had a different feel to it. People were nice, but seemed to keep to themselves more and weren't so apt to speak or start conversations. There was a more laid-back atmosphere and a deeper sense of unity this year.

*I took Devin to Magic Kingdom at Disney World in Orlando on Thursday. I don't think I've ever walked so much in one day! The shuttle was supposed to pick us up at 6:00 to take us back to our hotel. The shuttle also dropped off people at other hotels. We were the only two sitting on the bench waiting for the shuttle (I for sure didn't want to miss it, so we'd arrived there early -- plus my feet were hurting after so much walking that I was done for the day), when another family walked up. The mother and daughter sat down beside us. The parents began visiting with me, and we sat there for probably half an hour comfortably chit-chatting. They were very easy to talk to and we comfortably visited and laughed together and I thought, "These are people I'd enjoy hanging out with." Come to find out, they were from Ireland!

*On the way home, we stopped at an old sugar cane southern plantation. The employees there were all really friendly and nice. We ate at the restaurant, and staff would stop by our table occasionally to chat. We went to their gift shop and the gals doing the cashier work started visiting with us, and we stood there for probably 15-20 minutes, and it felt like we were chatting with old friends. Janie and I both left thinking that those would be fun ladies to hang out with, if we lived in that area.

There were more incidences than these, but this gives you an idea of the wonderful people we met on our trip. It made me stop and think: When strangers cross my path, do I give them this same sense of hospitality and genuine friendliness; or do I seem hurried and keep to myself, without taking the time to smile and say howdy or to answer questions? Do I intentionally go out of my way to make others feel welcome so that they leave my presence thinking, "Wow! She is a really nice lady and someone that I'd enjoy hanging out with!" Do I leave a positive impression on strangers? More times than not, the answer is probably a no. When I'm out and about, I tend to be focused on what I'm doing and want to get it done as quickly possible, without being bothered. But this trip has made me want to be like the people that we met all along our journey.

Romans 12:13 (NLT) says, "When God's people are in need, always be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality."

That last line caught my attention: "ALWAYS be EAGER to practice hospitality!!"

Hebrews 13:2 (NLT): "Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!"

Hospitality can mean opening your home to entertain or welcome guests, visitors, or strangers; whether it's for a meal or to stay overnight or to drop by for a visit. Some of us may not be in a position to be able to do this; or we may only be able to do it occasionally. But that doesn't let us off the hook of practicing hospitality! We can all have a hospitable spirit within us and can practice showing that to others each and every day, wherever we may be. It doesn't only have to be inside of our home; but can be wherever we go each day. That spirit of hospitality, a genuine love for people, and showing and speaking words of kindness can be shown to each and every person that crosses our path every single day.

That hospitable spirit so made an impression upon me during our two week trip, that it made me want to have that same spirit within myself to share with others. May we all desire to have a spirit of hospitality! In fact, let's be eager to always practice hospitality. I think it will make God's heart happy!

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

In my line of work, I have to practice being nice with customers all the time. Sometimes when I see the caller-ID, I have to stop, take a deep breath, and steel myself to be friendly and helpful.

With some people, it comes naturally and comfortably. I enjoy visiting with them, learning new techniques, and approaching interesting problems.

Overall, I prefer learning and overcoming problems by myself, but that isn't always an option. And over the years, I've trained myself to be more pleasant, even with people I can't stand. Over time, it has become more of a habit. In fact, most of the time, it even feels natural.

It's like many things. Sometimes we have to work at it and work at it until it becomes habit. Eventually, it can even feel natural.

ON THE MENEWE:

Buttermilk Pie

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1-3/4 cups raw sugar (granulated sugar can be substituted)

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell

3 eggs

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir to blend. Pour the mixture into the pie shell. Bake until the mixture sets, about 50 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and sprinkle with the cinnamon. Cool, then refrigerate for a least 3 hours. Serve cold.

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

A few years ago, Jon and I took a trip to Yellowstone National Park, and drove through the Teton Mountains on our way there. We made a stop in Teton Village and took an aerial tram to the top of the mountain. When I looked down and saw how far up we were, it was a tad nerve-wracking, but I didn't really feel scared. The tram felt safe. It held probably 20-25 people comfortably, had three cables that held it up, was operated electronically, and I thought, "Even if the cables should break and it fell, I think there's a possibility that we could survive."

So on this recent trip, we stopped for the night at Pipestem National Park. Janie had read where there was an aerial tram that went to the bottom of the canyon, where they had lodging and a restaurant. So she thought it would be fun for us to ride on it. Since I had ridden the one in Wyoming and it was safe and fun, I thought, "No problem!" We got there, and when Janie saw how deep and steep the canyon was and how far down the aerial tram had to go, she had a serious panic attack. We had already told Devin that we were riding it and he was excited, and I didn't have the heart to tell him no, so without giving it any thought or time for me to back out, I said that I would go with him.

This tram was NOTHING like the one in Wyoming -- not even close!! It was built in 1971 and had 1971 technology. Each of the aerial tram cars supposedly held 4 people, but that would have been a tight fit. They were little gray metal cars, with a door (that resembled a truck door) that had a window in it -- and the window was opened as far down as it would go. The park ranger had to push it to get it started down the cable -- nothing electronic. On the way down, every time we went over the post that held the cables, the tram felt like it dropped about 2 feet. I thought, "If the one (1) cable that is holding this breaks, we will die!" There is no way it would have survived a fall down into the canyon. Devin had no such qualms and absolutely loved it!! In fact, he probably would have ridden down to the canyon with his head hanging out the window, if I had let him! We got to the bottom and he was ready to get right back on and ride it back to the top. I told him no -- I had to walk around and relax for a little bit first. It was so hot inside that little tram with no breeze or air (the opened window did not help!), and I was sweaty and my knees were shaking and my heart pumping. I had to walk around and talk myself into getting back on to go back up. It was a 6 minute trip each way; which felt a whole lot longer. When we got back to the top and the park ranger opened the door for us to get off (after grabbing onto the tram when it came in to get it to stop!), I told him that was absolutely the scariest thing I've ever done in my entire life and I would never, ever do it again!!! And that is the truth!! The park was beautiful and I'd like to go back to that area, but I will never get back onto that little bitty old aerial tram -- never, never, never!!!

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

Hospitality is love in action. - unknown

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

http://www.graysheep.org