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!'"
December 26, 2007
Happy New Year
It's hard to believe that another year is already coming to a close. In a few short days 2007 will be over, and we will enter into a brand new year. It's strange how when we are going though difficulties or dealing with adversities, time seems to drag by and we feel as if we are never going to get through that period. But when we stop and think about our life as a whole, we realize how quickly time has really gone.
I remember when I first graduated from high school, and the feeling of elation of reaching that milestone in my life. A few years later, it really hit me how long it had been since that day had occurred. A young lady, who I attended church with at that time, was graduating from high school that year, and came up to me and said, “I remember that the year I started kindergarten was the year you graduated.” It caught me off guard and I stopped and thought, “Oh my goodness! Have I really been out of school that many years already!!” Coming up in May 2008, when my youngest niece and nephew both graduate from high school, it will be the 25th anniversary of my own graduation. Where has time gone!?
Remember the big Y2K scare? During the whole year of 1999, all you heard on the news media was all the disastrous possibilities of what could take place when the clock struck midnight on January 1st, 2000. There were ministers preaching and writing books about the end of the world. People were stockpiling water and supplies, afraid that they wouldn't be able to buy anything.
I was a supervisor at a bank in Missouri during that period. It was absolutely ridiculous the rules and regulations that banks were having to follow to prepare for Y2K. We had to have written procedures and a strategic plan on how we were going to continue to operate, if we had no power or way of processing work. We had to test our ATM and every piece of equipment that had a date on it, to see if the date was going to roll over correctly. We spent hours upon hours that whole year leading up to 2000, testing and writing procedures and preparing for possible catastrophe. Banking and financial regulators and examiners were checking the banks to make sure they had all this stuff in place. We had to make up boxes of supplies for each teller and for the bookkeeping department in preparation of moving to another facility, in case we were without power and unable to operate. We had to find other facilities ahead of time where we could go and process our work. Nothing happened, and we opened business as usual on January 2nd, 2000. Now I look back, and find it hard to believe that eight years has already passed since all that took place.
Jon and I got married June 18, 2005 and just spent our third Christmas together as husband and wife, and our fourth Christmas together as a couple (we were dating in 2004). In some ways it seems like we've known each other, and been a part of one another's life a lot longer than that. In other ways, it's hard to believe that much time has already passed by.
James 4:14 says, “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”
How quickly life passes by. When you look at the span of eternity, you realize that no matter how many years you may live on earth, it is only a tiny, minute period of time.
With both of my parents now gone, my sisters and I (them more than me, because they're older) are now the senior, elder generation of our family. My oldest nephews are already in their mid-30's. My youngest niece and nephew will be finishing up high school this year. Two of my sisters are already grandmothers, and another sister will be a grandma in March. That third generation behind us is already growing. Right now, I have two great-nephews and eight great-nieces. My oldest great-nephew is in kindergarten this year. Hard to believe, but my oldest brother-in-law turned 60 on his last birthday in January, and is about to turn 61. I remember when he and my sister first got married, and he took his little, chubby, 6 year old sister-in-law (that would be me) fishing with him.
How did all this happen! At times it's hard to comprehend how quickly the years have gone.
So many times I have heard people say, “I would like to do this or that some day”, or “One thing I would like to do before I die is .....” or “While I still have my health and am able to enjoy it, I want to go to such and such a place.” Yet life passes them by and they never do any of those things, or go to any of those places, or enjoy the activities that they dreamed of doing.
When I was single, I flew to Austin,Texas a few times to visit my sister and her family, who lived close by there at that time. My dad told me numerous times, that the one thing he really wanted to do someday was to fly on an airplane. That was a dream of his and something that he really wanted to experience. My oldest nephew worked at a travel agency for a while, and was able to get tickets for his mom and my dad to fly to Texas a few years ago. My sister there was going to have surgery, and they flew down to be with her. When he got home, my dad talked about that for months. He enjoyed it so much and was so excited. My family and I were so happy that a big dream of his was fulfilled.
Jon and I have discussed that we don't want to spend all our “younger” years so involved in work and saving money, thinking that “some day” we will be able to slow down and enjoy ourselves, that we end up missing out on this time together. In the midst of working and taking care of business, we conscientiously make the effort to stop and do things together and enjoy our life. Not knowing what our future holds for either of us, or how long we may have on this earth (hopefully a long, long time), we want to take advantage of the years we do have together. Neither of us want to ever have any regrets down the road and think, “Why didn't we spend more time together” or “Why did we get so wrapped up in planning and saving for the future that we forgot to enjoy the time we did have”, etc.
Perhaps it's because I have lost so many family members of all ages, that makes me more aware of how precious and uncertain life is. I realize that death sometimes comes unexpectedly and is no respecter of age. I've seen too many family and friends deal with major health issues during the prime of their life. It makes me appreciative of the time I have myself, and realize that neither I nor my family members are promised tomorrow. I don't live in fear or dread of what the future may hold, but I'm aware of the fact that there are uncertainties. It causes me to cherish each moment with my loved ones. It also causes me to thank God every day for my health.
James 4:13 says, “Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit.'” Verse 15 says, “Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.'”
My prayer for you as we enter the new year, is that you will live and enjoy your life to the fullest. Begin doing some of those things you have on your list to do “someday”. Spend time with your spouse and family. Those are the moments you will cherish and remember; not the hours you or they spend working. Yes, it takes money to survive and pay the bills, but there can and must be a balance between work and family. I am grateful that my husband works hard and brings home a paycheck, and I often tell him how much I appreciate what he does and tell him thank you. But what I cherish and am even more grateful and thankful for, are the times he spends doing things with me. It may be just sitting on the couch talking and holding hands, or in the summer sitting on our back porch and enjoying our yard, or taking a drive and enjoying the scenery, or walking though the woods, etc. When he stops and gives me his undivided attention, it makes me feel so special and loved, and lets me know that he enjoys spending time with his wife. It also lets me know that I am more important to him than his job or money, or his computer and electronic projects.
Life is very fleeting and passes us by so quickly. If you make a resolution for the new year, let it be that you will take time to enjoy being with your loved ones.
Several years ago, I heard a sermon that inspired me to think about what words I wanted to surmise my life. I put a lot of thought into it; and it has remained my goal and how I want to live my life. I hope these words will also be something that you will remember and allow to guide your life. These words are applied to my salvation and relationship with God, my actions, words, how I treat others, my relationship with my husband and family, and every little detail in my life. They sum up how I want to feel when I reach the end of my life, and they also sum up how I want to feel if/when I may lose any member of my family. If there are words engraved on my tombstone when I die, these would be the ones I would want. Those two little words are, “No Regrets!”
I have a lot of goals. One for this past year (and continuing) is to publish this newsletter. It's my wife that does the real work. But I reformat it to publish on a web page. One, mainly for next year, is to start my own consulting/contracting company to design and program electronics. And the third biggy is to write some games with Christian themes.
Before I spend time on any of these goals, I need to spend time in prayer. Is it a goal God supports? If so, I still need His blessing and support. Just because one of my goals doesn't focus on God doesn't mean God won't bless it. I want to make a good living with a company of my own. Will God bless that? I do believe so. But as with all endeavors, I'll have to take care to put God first.
Puppy Chow (or if it sounds better to you, People Chow)
1 box Crispex cereal
1 (12 oz.) pkg. chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter
1 (16 oz.) box powdered sugar
1 stick butter
Melt chocolate chips, margarine, and peanut butter together in a saucepan. Have cereal ready in another bowl and slowly pour mixture over the cereal; stir carefully so as not to break up the cereal (I pour a little mixture, then toss, pour, then toss....until all the cereal is coated with the chocolate mixture.) Put powdered sugar in a bag, pour the cereal mixture into the bag and shake to coat. Store in ziplock bags, and it will stay fresh.
Many people make new year resolutions; and a lot of times end of making the same ones year after year. I cannot tell you the number of times my resolution has been to lose weight and exercise regularly. I pretty much no longer make any new year resolutions!
An alternative is to make a short list of reasonable goals you want to achieve in 2008. Or instead of a list, just set one goal. The key here is reasonable! For instance, if I write down that I want to lose 50 pounds in the first six months of the year, and exercise two hours every day, and drink a gallon of water per day.....it's not going to happen!! But a reasonable example is; last January my goal was to exercise and be more active this past year. I can honestly say that has happened. I found a type of indoor exercise that I enjoy and do when it's rainy or cold out, and I mowed and worked outside in our yard spring through the fall season, and the past couple of weeks I've been working on getting the tree limbs and all that mess cleaned out of our backyard (after effects of the big ice storm we had). I have stayed active all year. Now, granted you can't see any change in my size and I'm not all sleek and trim like I wish I were, but I feel so much better and a lot healthier than I have in years. After years of sitting at a job behind a desk, it took a while to get the muscles loosened up, but I know that I'm in better physical shape now than I have been in a long time.
Know your limitations, be reasonable, and think about the one thing you know you can accomplish.....then go for it!!
I am absolutely terrified of snakes! I don't care how big or little they are, or if they're poisonous or not; I don't like them and don't even want to see them on TV. There is something about them that just creeps me out and I hate them!
Several years ago, I was living in a tiny, old, decrepit (that is not even a slight exaggeration) mobile home. It was in really bad condition and was absolutely horrible. The size was probably 8x30. I have many stories about my years of living there. That is not an experience I would ever want to repeat!
One particular Sunday, my two oldest nephews, who were young boys at that time, were spending the day with me. By the time you put furniture in the living room, there was very little floor space. I had laid down in the floor and was taking a nap. I was lying on my back, with my feet propped up on a chair. The boys were sitting on a couch watching TV. Suddenly they started yelling, “Loretta, wake up! There's a snake in the corner.” At first I thought they were just joking around, then opened my eyes and saw they were both standing on the couch, pointing to the corner. I jumped up and sure enough, about 2 or 3 feet from where I had been lying was a huge black snake curled up in the corner. I jumped up on a chair and called my uncle, who lived next door. He came down and got it out of the house for me.
After that, I was petrified that there would be more snakes getting into my house. Every night before I climbed into bed, I would check under the sheets to make sure it was safe. I was constantly looking around to make sure there were no snakes in my house. I was scared that I was going to get up during the night to use the bathroom, and step on one.
A few years later, I finally saved up enough to make a down payment on a new mobile home. What a day of rejoicing I had when I moved in to my new, safe home! Words cannot even begin to describe how ecstatic this ol' girl was!!!
Difficulties and trials can either make us bitter or better....the difference is “I”.
It's up to each of us how we deal with them and let them affect us.
We pray your new year is filled with God's abundant and plentiful blessings.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon