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!'"
June 6, 2007
LIFE IN THE FOLD:
In Philippians 4:11-13 Paul says, “...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything (all things) through Him (Christ) who gives me strength.”
Paul didn't say that contentment was something that came naturally to him, but said that he learned how to be content regardless of his circumstances.
How do we learn something? One way is through hearing something taught; but the most valuable way we learn is through experience. How can we learn how to be content in different situations unless we are personally tested in those areas? We all want to go through life with everything being perfect and never having to face difficulties. We want to be safe and healthy, live in a nice home, have a large sum of money in the bank, and never have a worry or care. Are those things wrong? No! But the truth is, life isn't perfect and we all will deal with various situations that may not always be comfortable. How we handle those things and what we learn from them is the key to living a life filled with contentment.
Many people live their whole life always thinking, “If only”, and never being content. “If only I had more money...” “If only I wasn't overweight and was more attractive...” “If only I had a better job or another career...” Marriages end in divorce every day because couples start thinking, “If only my husband/wife would....” or “If only I had a different husband/wife things would be better...”. People begin every work week thinking, “If only it were Friday.”
When their “If only” comes to pass and they get a raise at work, or a promotion, or lose weight, or whatever it is they're wanting, then something else will come up that will cause them to begin the cycle of wishing, “If only” all over again. People have this little “voice” within them that tells them if they get a certain thing, then their life will be better and complete. I have even heard individuals say, “If only such and such would happen, then I'd never ask for anything ever again.”
I was single and lived on my own for many years. My mom passed away when I was a sophomore and my dad remarried when I was a senior in high school. For the next couple of years one of my sisters and I stayed in our family home, until she got married. I then lived on my own for the next eighteen years or so. I was from a small town where there really weren't that many opportunities to meet good Christian men. I attended the same church for many of those years and was related to the majority of the congregation. From time to time I would meet guys, but rarely any that I was interested in. I never dated and would get very lonely at times. I spent many years thinking, “If only I could meet someone and get married, then I would be happy and my life would be fulfilled.” I never truly allowed myself to be content, and it seemed like what I considered to be the ultimate happiness, was always out of reach.
The year before I met Jon, I was convinced that I would never meet the right man and get married. I started doing a lot of soul searching and asking myself some hard questions. If I never married, could I learn how to be content as a single woman? Was I basing the happiness of my future on whether or not I got married? I came to the conclusion that I was on the road to becoming a bitter, unhappy woman unless I changed my outlook. I also realized that I was placing the burden of responsibility of making sure I was happy on an individual. If I did meet the right man, then my way of thinking was putting him in the impossible position of insuring my contentment.
I was awakened to the fact that I couldn't depend on a husband for my happiness. My peace and contentment had to come from within. I had to learn to accept and love myself. I came to the point where if I never married and was single the rest of my life, then I would be content. My contentment came from my relationship with God and being the woman He had created me to be. I was okay with that! It was only then, that God brought Jon into my life. Although Jon adds to my life, he isn't my life. I can't look to him to be my source of joy and contentment. That has to come from my relationship with God and being happy with who I am.
If you are living your life constantly desiring a “If only”, you will never learn how to be content. You will always be striving and looking for something that is always right outside your reach. People, health, wealth, and material things won't bring you contentment. Think about the words that Paul spoke and reevaluate your thinking and LEARN how to be content regardless of your situation.
There is a lot of danger in living in the future. When we keep our eyes focused too hard on the future we can miss out on the present. It's easy to look forward to what could be or should be. But I know I also waste a lot of time worrying about what might be and shouldn't be. In the same way, it's easy to live in the past. It can be reminiscing about how great the past was (and the present isn't), or it can be fretting about past mistakes. I believe it was C. S. Lewis who described this. He said that there is no sense worrying about the future because that's in God's hands and we have no control over it. And there's no use living in the past because we can't change that either. We have to give it over to God and trust him to make the best of it. It's the present we need to work on.
ON THE MENEWE:
1 lb. bulk pork sausage
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Parmesan cheese
22 large jalapeño peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
In a large skillet, cook the sausage; drain. In a small mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and Parmesan cheese; fold in the sausage.
Spoon about 1 tablespoon of mixture into each jalapeño half. Place in an ungreased baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 425 for 15-20 minutes or until filling is lightly browned and bubbly. Serve with ranch dressing, if desired.
This is the time of year where people are having barbecues and outdoor parties, so here are a few ideas.
For table decorations, use glass pop bottles as vases for flowers. You can also use glass quart jars as a vases. You can leave the jars plain, or tie twine in a bow around the top.
To make them harder to tip over, put rocks, sand or something else heavy in the bottom.
Get a small kiddie pool and fill it with ice. You can either use this to put cans of soft drinks in to keep cold, or put salad fixings in bowls down in the ice.
The perfect dessert is “fix it yourself” ice cream sundaes. Get a tub of vanilla ice cream and different toppings and let everyone make their own sundae.
When I was a little girl, one of my cousins and his family lived close by. I would play with his oldest son fairly often. Sometimes the younger son would tag along, much to our dismay. When he was about three, my mom would often keep him with her and entertain him so he wouldn't follow us around. My dad was a dozer operator at that time and anytime the dozer would break down, he would bring it to our house and work on it. On one particular occasion, my dad had emptied the oil out of the dozer and had it sitting in a bucket. My mom looked outside to check on the youngest boy, and discovered that he had been playing in that bucket of oil. He was covered from head to toe and had it dripping off from him. She asked him why he had done that and his reply was, “Well, Doyal [my dad] plays in it!” She cleaned him up as best as she could before taking him home to his mom.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK:
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
May your live be filled with contentment and peace.
We appreciate and love each of you very much.
Loretta & Jon