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 13, 2007

CHANGE IN PLANS:

We're departing from the normal format this week. This week, I [Jon] am writing everything except Loretta's Perspective. I've been hinting for some time that I'd like to write one newsletter someday, and the week leading up to Fathers' Day seemed appropriate.

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

I had several teachers when it came time for me to learn to ride a bicycle. My mom was probably nervous, but my dad wanted me to learn. It would have been a hard decision to make. I wasn't exactly a dexterous kid. In fact, I was pretty clumsy. It wasn't hard to realize that I was going to get hurt. But it was right that I should learn. And I did get hurt. I had a bicycle with no rubber covers on the handlebars. In one fall, the rough steel pipe scraped my chest and took off a swath of skin from one side to the other. It hurt for almost a week. But my dad encouraged me to get out and ride the bike again. It taught me to shake off pain and keep going.

My dad taught me many great lessons over the years. He taught me rules and how to follow them. He taught me to respect others. He taught me compassion. And he taught me to work and earn my way. Some of those lessons have been harder than others. But I know that everything he did for me was for me, not against me (yeah, even when I needed to be punished).

I'm not a father myself, but I know a lot of great fathers in my family and in Loretta's family. And there are many great examples in The Bible. There are a couple of great things that come from all of their examples. The first one that stands out here is that they each want to raise their children to be good, compassionate, and respectful, and also strong and able to function as adults. In some cases, that means giving them enough freedom to get scraped up. In others, it means having rules that their kids just can't understand. That's a hard job. But the wise fathers do a great job.

Our Heavenly Father is the wisest of all. And when we're willing to listen to Him, he does the best job of raising us, too. The New Testament calls God our Heavenly Father many, many times(*). And God is trying to raise us in the way that we should go.

It isn't always easy on me. There have been many times in my life that I have looked to God and cried out, “Why!?” But afterward, I trust that He has perfect wisdom. I know that His plans for me are for good and not for bad. Just like Dad.

When wrecked my bike, it would've been easy for me to blame Dad. After all, he had encouraged me to learn how to ride. But that's an easy one to figure out. On a bike, I couldn't get hurt all that badly. And because I learned how to handle surprises and get control over the bike, I was later able to keep my cool and avoid car wrecks. On at least two occasions, it probably saved my life.

Another point shows up in one family after another in the Old Testament. When a father serves God well, God blesses his children. And that's the greatest blessing a father can have. What's even better about these examples is that God obviously knows this. And He calls us his children!

(*) [Heavenly Father] There are a couple of verses that clarify this. They describe God as our Adoptive Father. After all, Jesus is his only begotten Son. We are the step-kids. But God loves us so much that He gave his only begotten Son for the rest of us!

LORETTA'S PERSPECTIVE:

I am very thankful for my dad and the upbringing I had in a Christian home. Although I appreciate that now, I wasn't always particularly thankful when I was growing up. My dad was very strict and had a lot of rules. He loved his family, but wasn't affectionate and didn't show his feelings very well.

Many times I felt like there were a whole lot more things we weren't allowed to do, than what we could do. A few of those rules seem silly now and my dad has mellowed some over the years. We weren't allowed to go to movies, skating, or bowling. We couldn't wear jeans nor get our ears pierced. Playing cards were a big no-no. We didn't have a TV in our home until I was sixteen. Part of those rules were my dad's personal beliefs, some were because my grandparents lived close by and it was easier to tell us no than for my dad to argue with his mom, and some were things our church preached at that time. I look back now and realize that my dad wasn't trying to be harsh or unfair. He was trying to be the best father possible and raise his girls the best way he knew how. I have to say that it worked well. Even though my sisters and I came to a point where we made our own decisions on what we felt was right and wrong, and don't necessarily hold to the strictness that my father raised us with, we all have a very strong faith. I am proud to say that neither my sisters nor I have ever taken a drink of alcohol nor tried smoking. We all became Christians at a very early age and have all been in church and faithful to God all of our lives. Three of my sisters are married to pastors. I now have five nephews who are ministers. I think we owe all of that to having parents who loved us, taught us right from wrong, and stood by their rules, even when we argued or disagreed with them.

You hear so many kids and adults blaming their parents for all of their problems. While that may be true in some cases, I also think that it's become an easy out for many. It's easier to blame “their dad for being so strict and having so many rules” or whatever the case may be, instead of taking responsibility for their own actions and decisions. There is a time when we all reach the age of accountability and have to be mature and responsible enough to answer for the things we do.

I thank God for my dad and for him laying a foundation in my life. He is one of the most honest and upright people I have ever known. For many years, when I was growing up, he had a big flatbed truck and hauled sandstone or creek rock for building contractors. The rock was used for fireplaces and to put on the outside of houses. I didn't mind helping him unload the truck, but I hated it when I had to go with him to load the rock. He didn't want anyone to ever think that he was trying to rip them off, and would go above and beyond what was required. A full load was four layers high on the whole truck bed. He would throw extra rock in the middle and round it up. I would keep asking, “Are we almost finished?” He would say, “We need a few more over here.” I learned the value of honesty, hard work, and going above and beyond what was required. I learned from his example on how to give 110%.

Daddy still has a hard time showing his feelings or telling us that he loves us. We girls know when he is getting emotional because he will start clearing his throat and get choked up. At my wedding, I had secretly decided that when Daddy gave me away that I was going to lean over and give him a kiss on the cheek. I hadn't mentioned it to him or anyone else. When I did, Jon and I both noticed that he got real teary eyed, and was pretty emotional, and choked up. I don't think he would ever admit it, but I know that it really touched him and meant a lot to him. It was kind of funny, because I was almost forty when I got married, yet my dad seemed emotional about walking his “little girl” down the aisle and giving her away. I'm not sure if it was because I was his baby girl, or if he was in shock that I was finally getting married!!!

Take time this Fathers Day and let your dad know you love them and appreciate your upbringing. Don't assume that they know how you feel, but take a minute and tell them thanks.

ON THE MENEWE:

Seafood Jambalaya

Saute:

½

Onion, coarsely chopped

10 cloves

Garlic, whole or halved

¼ cup

Mushrooms, sliced (optional)

1 tbsp.

Brown sugar

Boil long:

8 oz.

Sausage, Johnsonville New Orleans andouille spicy smoked

3

Cayennes, sliced (optionally with seeds removed)

8-10

Okras, sliced

14 oz.

Chicken broth

½ lb.

Corn

¼ cup

Milk

1 tbsp.

Creole seasoning

1 tsp.

Garlic salt

1 slice

Bread crumbs

Boil short:

1 pkg.

Large, uncooked shrimp

2 pkg.

Crab

Boil separately:

4 cups

Instant rice

In a large pan, saute the first group of ingredients in olive oil. When the onions are translucent, transfer to a crock pot and add all of the second group. Boil for two to four hours. Prepare rice according to box. Add the last group to crock pot. Bring back to a boil. Leave boiling for as long as the shrimp requires (check the package; probably about three minutes). Serve rice with everything else dished on top.

Some tips and options:

RAM-BLING IDEA:

It's almost time for many of us to find something for Fathers' Day. Here are a couple of ideas that might help in a pinch.

LAUGHING LAMBS:

My brother is a great dad, but he gave his kids a hard time sometimes. He told them about how he had to walk to school every day, even in the snow. And it was uphill both ways. And the worst part of the walk was that he had to carry his little brother (me). There was one year that we had a shoe that fit him. He switched off feet so he wouldn't get frostbite. But it hurt when it was on the wrong foot. So it wasn't any wonder that his kids were pretty skeptical when he told them something that seemed unbelievable.

His son loved watching The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They were turtles that were turned into something more human-like. But they still lived in the sewer with a human that was turned into something like a rat. One day, he finally asked his dad what a sewer was. After he explained, the boy stared at him deep in thought for awhile. Finally, he shook his head, wrinkled up his nose, and said, “Naw”.

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

Wouldn't it be great if we could be as thankful to God that we don't need a miracle today as we are when we've receive a miracle we desperately needed?

We love and appreciate you all so very much!!

Loretta & Jon Gray

www.graysheep.org