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

July 11, 2007

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

When my dad married June back in 1983, she did a lot of sewing and was a very good seamstress. June was always at her sewing machine making something for somebody. Over the next few years, she made several dresses for me. But her taste in material and styles weren't necessarily mine. She liked flowered prints and always added lace or ruffles to whatever she was making. Throughout the years I have occasionally worn some flowered or striped patterns, but overall prefer to wear solid colors. For myself, I usually go for a more basic, simple look. I had a hard time convincing June that that was what I really liked. I would buy some material and tell her how I wanted a dress made and she just couldn't believe that I didn't want lace or ruffles added to it. Usually she would make it how I wanted, but her response was, “This is going to look really plain. Are you sure you don't want me to add something to it to dress it up?” During those years that she sewed for me, I don't think I ever convinced her that I really did not go for ruffles and lace. She wasn't trying to be pushy or overbearing, but she just couldn't understand that I really did not go for all the frills.

One particular dress that stands out in my mind, is the one she made me for my birthday a couple of years after she and my dad were married. The fabric was pink (I rarely wear pink), with big flowers all over it. There was a really big ruffle that ran down the front from the neck to the waist. It was short sleeved, and she had pulled the bottom of the material when she hemmed the sleeves so that they would be full and flare out. I didn't want to hurt June's feelings, and never told her that I didn't like it and would never, ever wear it! I had the dress on one time, and that was only because June called to see if it fit. I put it on, told her that it fit, took it back off, and hung it in the closet where it stayed until I somehow got rid of it. The fabric and style were so totally opposite of my taste. That has been well over twenty years ago, and still yet today one of my sisters will laugh as she mentions that “pink, ruffly dress June made for you.”

Just as people differ in taste, they also differ in interest, talents, and abilities. My mom and all four of my sisters knew how to sew and were quite good at it. That is something that I dislike doing and was never good at. When I was a young girl we had a Christian girls group, called Missionettes, at my church. For one of the badges, I was supposed to make a doll. It was the most hideous, ugly thing you can imagine. I wasn't trying to make it look that way, but that's just how it turned out.

When I was around ten or twelve years old, my Grandma Horton was determined that I needed to learn how to do embroidery. She made a pair of pillow cases and hand crocheted red lace around the edge of the openings, then ironed on a pattern for me to embroider. That was kind of a big thing at that time and my sisters knew how to do it. I would work on them every once in a while during the winter when it was cold out and there was nothing else to do. It took me two years to get them done. It was not fun for me at all. I have not done any embroidery work since, and would have no idea how to even begin. Those pillow cases have never been used and are folded away in my cedar chest.

It has amazed me over the years when something comes up in conversation and I tell someone that I don't enjoy a particular thing or am not good at something. At times they've almost argued with me! I don't know if they think I'm just being modest or exactly why they believe that. I've had friends who wanted me to enjoy the same hobbies that they do, and get offended when I don't. Many times, when someone really likes or enjoys something, they seem to think that everyone else does too.

Several years ago, the church I was attending had a Christmas party for all the women. I have never liked eggnog, yet one of the ladies was convinced that it was only because I had only tasted store bought and not homemade. She said that if I would just taste her homemade eggnog, that I would really like it. Wrong!! I took one drink of it and still didn't like it. It kind of hurt her feelings and she just couldn't believe that I wouldn't like the eggnog she had made.

There are so many levels and different areas where people try to push their likes, dislikes, thoughts, beliefs, wants, desires, etc. on others. At times they may be something silly, or it can be something serious. Some things can just be laughed off, but sad to say, there are other times when it can cause hurt and division among family, friends, and even church members.

I have seen fathers degrade and at times even resent their children because they don't enjoy the same things as they do. For instance, the father may like hunting, fishing and camping and can't wait until their son grows up so they can do those things together. The son goes a few times with his dad, but absolutely hates those activities. Or the dad was really involved in sports in high school and wants his boy to be an athlete. He ends up being awkward, or more interested in music, yet the father tries to force his son to be like him. There ends up being conflict. The father thinks the son is just being stubborn and rebellious, and the son feels that his dad doesn't respect him or his interest. Sadly, that can either pull the whole family apart or the relationship between the parent and child ends up being strained and estranged. After years of conflict, it's hard to make amends and apologize.

It's not only between fathers and sons, but can happen between mothers and sons too. There can also be those expectations and conflicts between mothers and daughters or fathers and daughters. It can also be between siblings. For example, the oldest child is exceptionally bright and seemingly never makes a mistake or gets into trouble. Along comes another child, who is the complete opposite. They go through life feeling like they are always being compared to their older sibling. Parents say, “Why can't you be more like your sister/brother”, and are also bragging to others about that child. Teachers in school remember what a brilliant student the older child was and compares the younger one to them. It can cause resentment to build between the two siblings.

People will always differ and have their own likes and dislikes. What one person finds that meets their spiritual needs, may not be what someone else needs. As long as the central focus is God, and His Word is being taught as truth, that is what is important. That's why there's not just one church denomination. Not everyone will agree on the same style of music in churches, and people can become wrapped up in that. Not everyone worships God the same way. Some may be more boisterous, while others are quiet. What's important is that we “worship Him in spirit and in truth”, according to His Word. People vary on the styles of preaching they enjoy. Some enjoy the quieter, point by point, structured, teaching style. I grew up listening to energetic, fired up ministers and that's what I enjoy. The important thing is to not judge others because they are not doing things the way we think they should be done, or because their likes differ from ours. Nor should we push them to be or think like us.

As we go through life, in various situations, there will always be those who will try to “dress us up in a pink flowered, ruffly dress” (figuratively, not literally). That's what they like, that's how they think it should be done, and they are convinced that that's what we really want. How we handle those situations will show what's inside of us. We can give in to the pressure and go along with them, regardless of our individual desires or beliefs. Or we can resist and become resentful and bitter. There are many people with broken family relations, or who refuse to attend church today because of someone's words or actions. They have allowed those things to harden their hearts and spend years being filled with hurt, anger, and unforgiveness. Or we can gracefully decline the pattern being thrust upon us, and remain the unique individual that God created us to be. We can also make sure we're not the ones trying to put others into the mold we want them to be in!

Isaiah 64:8 says, “But now, O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay, and you our potter; and we are the work of your hand.” Just as clay is worked and shaped on the potters wheel, God wants to shape and mold our lives. If we would be more concerned about being molded in our Heavenly Father's hands, instead of allowing our lives and thoughts to be shaped by those around us, we would all be so much more contented and at peace. I encourage you today to stop and consider who you are allowing to influence your life. Also be honest with yourself, and consider if you are trying to influence and shape someone to be and think like you want them to. Submit yourself to God, and allow Him to be the One to mold and shape your life.

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

I've heard for years that the Holy Spirit is our Comforter and that he convicts us of sin. But I've also heard that Satan is our condemnation. That left me pretty confused for a long time. How can the Holy Spirit comfort and convict at the same time? And why do the Holy Spirit and Satan have the same job? I've looked up convict and condemn, though. And it's pretty interesting. To convict simply means to declare that someone has done wrong (they are guilty). But condemnation is about punishment. Sure, we make mistakes. The Holy Spirit is there to tell us we've done wrong, then hold our hand and help us improve. But Satan is there to tell us we failed and to punish us and to try to convince us that we can never improve.

ON THE MENEWE:

Fruit Pizza

Prepare Crust:

1 box Duncan Hines golden sugar cookie mix (Prepare as directed for cut cookies. Press onto ungreased pizza pan to make the crust. Bake until golden light brown, about 10-12 minutes.)

(You can use the rolled sugar cookie dough instead.)

Next Step:

2 pkg. cream cheese (8 oz.) - softened

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

Mix the above ingredients and spread on the cookie crust.

Next Step:

Arrange fruit on cookie.

1 can sliced peaches

1 can pineapple tidbits (save the juice)

sliced bananas, strawberries, kiwi

Next Step:

In a saucepan cook the ingredients below until clear and thick.

1 cup pineapple juice or add enough water to the juice you saved to make one cup of liquid

½ cup sugar

2 tbsp cornstarch

Pour over top of the fruit and chill.

Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve. (This is better if you let it sit for a while before serving.)

CONGRATULATIONS:

This has been a big year for both of our families. Not only did we have several high school, college, and seminary graduations, our families are continuing to grow by weddings and births. We just want to send out our congratulations and best wishes to the following couples:

Kevyn and Kandis who were married on July 7th (Jon's nephew)

Mark and Kara who will be married on September 8th (Loretta's nephew)

Brian and Nicole who welcomed a baby girl, Lillian, on May 15th (Loretta's nephew)

Brent and Amanda who welcomed a baby girl, Elliana, on July 4th (Loretta's nephew)

Kevyn and Kandis who are expecting a baby girl in September

Also, getting a head start on next year – Jordan and Shelby expecting a baby in March (Loretta's nephew)

Jon and I love you all and pray for God's blessing upon each of your families.

LAUGHING LAMBS:

When one of my nieces was around four of five years of age, my sister went to a fabric store and took her kids with her. They had a kiddie corner, and she left her daughter there to play while she shopped. Her son was a baby at that time, so she kept him with her. She stayed within range so she could keep an eye out and watch her little girl.

My sister overheard her daughter talking to another little girl. She was asking the other girl if she went to church and if she knew Jesus.

On the way home, she proudly told her mom, “I witnessed today to another girl at the store.”

My sister said, “I know you did. I heard you and am very proud of you.”

My niece asked, “How much are you going to pay me?”

My sister had to explain to her that witnessing is something you do because you love Jesus, not because you want to be paid for it!

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” - Leo Buscaglia

We love and appreciate you all so very much!!

If you would like to contact us, we would love to hear from you!!!!

Our e-mail address is: shepherd@grayengineers.com

Loretta & Jon Gray

www.graysheep.org