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!'"
October 10, 2007
Genesis 8:22 says, “While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.”
As we enter into each new season we can see changes take place around us. Since fall has arrived, I have begun to notice a few of these changes already. We have some large pecan trees in our yard, and it seems as if I can't keep the dead limbs picked up out of our yard. When I sit outside I can see small leaves, clusters of dead leaves, twigs, and pecans constantly falling. I've given up on trying to keep my porch and sidewalk swept off. The past couple of weeks, the temperatures have cooled down and there is a steadier breeze blowing throughout the day. My flowers that once looked so pretty throughout the summer are now starting to droop and turn brown. The one thing that I anticipate and can hardly wait for though, has yet to happen. That's for the grass to stop growing so that I can stop mowing for this year!
For the past several days we have had many yellow butterflies in our backyard. They flit around from flower to flower around our fence line. They look so fragile and delicate, and their grace and speed is quite amazing. Squirrels are busily hiding pecans, preparing for winter.
In the upcoming weeks we will begin to see the leaves gradually turn from their summer green to various brilliant colors. Last fall, Jon and I took a day trip and drove around admiring all the color and beauty of the fall foliage. We chose a day when the leaves were at their peak, and it was so relaxing to drive around and admire God's creation. We anticipate and plan on doing that again this year.
God has created such beauty for us to enjoy, yet many times we become too busy to take the time to really stop and enjoy it. Thankfully, nature is something that Jon and I both enjoy. He mentioned a couple weeks ago in his weekly perspective, that when I was working outside the home, we shared a ride most days. Depending on the time of year, we enjoyed watching the sunrises or sunsets together. We enjoyed watching the sky change and how the various colors would paint the horizon.
We have stood outside on our back porch and watched the changing clouds as a storm passes over. Some of the most interesting and beautiful clouds are those following a storm, just as the sun is trying to peek back through them.
Jon and I not only enjoy admiring the trees and sky, but also flowers and rock formations and all other aspects of nature. Somehow when you stop and take the time to look at the creation around you, it makes you realize the awesomeness of God. You become more relaxed and it helps you to get things back into proper perspective.
Psalms 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” How true that scripture is. You can get a sense of how vast and great God truly is when you look towards the heavens. His glory is truly revealed. When you look at the earth and all the intricate details displayed in all of nature, we see the handiwork of God's hands. As intelligent and knowledgeable and advanced in technology as man is, no one has ever been able to, nor will they ever be able to, duplicate the creation of God.
When I lived in Missouri, I worked at a bank for over thirteen years. Each day on my drive to and from work, I drove over a bridge that crossed Table Rock Lake. One of my favorite things to do every morning was to look at the water. Each day it seemed to look different. It could be rough and choppy, or smooth where you could see reflections in the water. The color would change seemingly from day to day. At times there would be a fog that lay just above the lake. It was amazing how many different aspects the water had.
Several years ago, there was a brother and sister who were friends of my older sister and me. They lived close by, and during one winter they walked to our house to play games and visit occasionally. For Christmas, they bought a picture for our family. It was a peaceful nature setting and the caption at the bottom read, “Slow me down, Lord.” I remember my parents joking that they didn't feel like they needed to be slowed down anymore than they already were. But the message of the picture was for us to not get so wrapped up in all the busyness around us, that we forget to acknowledge God and enjoy all the creation He made especially for us. We need to slow down and take time for God each day.
At times we may think, “I have so much to do that I don't have time to slow down or enjoy anything around me.” How sad it is when we let jobs and responsibilities consume our lives to the point that it takes up all of our time and we get no enjoyment out of our days. One day we will wake up and realize that children are grown, loved ones are no longer there to spend time with, and we are now the age our uncles and aunts were back when we thought they were so old! Time passes us by and all those things we had plans to do someday, are still undone.
I encourage you to stop for a few moments each day and enjoy a sunrise or sunset; enjoy nature and the beauty of the trees and flowers surrounding you. Take that time to acknowledge God and to thank Him for His creativity and splendor. Let Him know that you appreciate His handiwork. Just as parents want to be acknowledged and told thank you when they give their children gifts, our Heavenly Father also desires to be acknowledged and thanked.
Also, just as season change from winter, to spring, to summer, to fall year after year, seasons in our lives also change. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”
Then verses two through eight goes on to say, “A time to be born, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, and and a time to lose; A time to keep, and a time to throw away; A time to tear, and a time to sew; A time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; A time of war, and a time of peace.”
During our lifespan upon earth, we will all experience different seasons. The bad news is, if you are going through a season of blessing and peace right now, it's not going to last forever. The good news is, if you are going through a time of hardship and sadness during this season of your life, it's not going to last forever either. Psalms 30:5 says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
Whatever season you may be in the midst of right now, know that God is with you. Life may be filled with unpredictabilities and change, but we can rest assure that God is the same yesterday, today and forever, and He will remain the same and never change. He has promised to never leave nor forsake you. Good times, bad times, happy or sad times, God is there. Look and behold the beauty of the season you are currently in. You may not see it right away, but keep looking and God will reveal it to you.
I think I'm in the minority here, but if I look closely, I can see a lot of beauty in bare, winter trees. Stripped bare, you can see the structure to a tree. You can sometimes even see a history. When a tree's biggest limbs reach one way, it's a good sign that there was once a tree shading it on the other side. When they get dusted with snow or glazed with ice, they can be absolutely stunning.
Deeper down, winter is a benefit to the tree itself. During the summer, the tree grows the yellow wood. During the winter, the dark rings grow. The darker wood is much stronger. It's the darker wood that gives most trees their greatest strength. It may be tough on the tree, but they need winter to grow strong.
Sweet Potato Casserole (My Aunt Ruth's Recipe)
3 cups sweet potatoes, drained and mashed
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
½ stick butter
½ cup milk
Stir all ingredients together and pour into an 8x13 inch dish.
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans
Add to the top of the sweet potato mixture. Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes.
Our death or the death of our spouse is not something that any of us wish to discuss, but there are some things that can be done now to make it easier if it does happen. Whether married or single, young or old, there are a few things that we can do ahead of time to make things easier on loved ones if something unexpected should occur.
Start a file folder that has pertinent information in it, and let a couple of family members know where the folder is located. Some of the information you should make available in that folder is:
All checking, savings, money market and certificates of deposit (CD) accounts, and which financial institution those accounts are located at. List if you have a safe deposit box and where it is located, who has keys, and who all is able to get into the box.
All investments, 401K, retirement plans, IRA's, bonds, stock ownerships and the information of where each of these are located.
Insurances – health, life, home, car, etc. Also, the names of the companies they are with and how to get in touch with those companies in order to file or cancel.
Any property ownerships – where and how much. List whose name(s) is on the property deeds.
If you have anything in storage, any machinery, vehicles, or any miscellaneous items that may not be stored on your property or may be loaned out to someone.
If you prepay for a cemetery lot somewhere, or have prepaid or made previous arrangements with a funeral home include that information. If you have specific wishes regarding your memorial service, write everything down.
Should there be any items that you want to be given to a specific individual, write all that information down.
In my years in banking, there were a few times when someone in the community would pass away and the family would be grasping at straws trying to locate all this information. They would contact us to see if that individual had accounts with us, or if we could look at their cleared checks to give them an idea of any insurance, etc. The problem is, unless that person is a signer or beneficiary on the account, the bank is very limited on what information they can give out. In addition to grieving for the loss of that loved one, they had to go through the lengthy process of trying to get everything figured out and taken care of, which really isn't fair to them.
Especially since Jon and I have no children to take care of details or to will our possessions to, we have been putting things in a file as we think of information that could be vital. Not that either of us plan on dying anytime soon, but we have recently bought a burial plot. If nothing happens in the next fifty years, then we will consider ourselves truly blessed. If it does, then the more pre-planning and organization we do ahead of time, it will at least lift that burden from the surviving spouse. Or if something should happen to the two of us at the same time, it will make it that much less stressful on our families.
Lastly, keep the information in the folder current and updated, and don't move it without letting someone know!
My oldest sister has four boys (no girls), with only about six years difference in age between the oldest and youngest. Being so close in age, she had her hands full when they growing up. She had to constantly be on her toes, for she never knew what they would be up to. She also had to have a really good sense of humor. What one boy didn't think of, one of the others would!
Once the oldest son put a rubber band around the handle of the sprayer hose on the kitchen sink and turned it where it would spray my sister when she turned the water on. Another time, she was outside and the four boys started chasing her (all in good fun, of course). They got her down and tied her hands and feet together. Then they turned the water hose on and put it just close enough where the water would soak into the ground around her and get her wet. Of course, they thought they were quite clever, until their mom got loose and they got into trouble. They were never really mean, just ornery and mischievous.
My sister also had to deal with all the mishaps; such as one of the boys and his friend trying to ciphon gas when they were about eight years old, the youngest jumping off the bed and breaking his arm and then a few years later jumping out of a tree and breaking his arm again, and another one walking across hot ashes from a campfire with bare feet when he was a toddler. Then there was the incident where one of the boys, who was a biter when he was little, crawled under a pew during church (their dad was the pastor) and bit a lady on the back of her leg. He also bit a hunk out of the dash of another one of my sister's car, shortly after she bought the car.
Wow!! Makes me thankful to not have kids!!
Remember that each season has its purpose!
May the favor of the Lord be upon your life.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon