"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!'"
February 18, 2009
A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year-old grandson. The old man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate together at the table, but the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth. The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. 'We must do something about Father,' said the son. 'I've had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.' So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl. When the family glanced in Grandfather's direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food. The four-year-old watched it all in silence. One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, 'What are you making?' Just as sweetly, the boy responded, 'Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up.' The four-year-old smiled and went back to work. The words so struck the parents so that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done. That evening the husband took Grandfather's hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.
This story was sent to me this past week, and although I'm unsure of the original source or of it actually occurring, it made me stop and think.
The first thought that I had was how time, incidents that happen, or life in general can change our perspective. We will make comments that, "I will never do such and such," only to find ourselves doing that very thing at some point in our life. We will feel a particular way about a situation and think that our viewpoint will never change, only to find that it sometimes does. We can say things or act a certain way, not realizing the consequences or how it's affecting others, until we see a child or another individual copying our behavior.
One of our neighbors recently had a daughter that got married. Afterwards I was asking the dad about it, and he made an interesting and fairly normal parental comment. He said, "When my three kids were babies, I didn't think that I would ever be able to stand letting them go and get married. Now I can't wait! I have one down and two to go."
I've seen parents nurture and care for their children; and during those first few years they see so many changes occur so quickly, that they want to keep their kids by their side and cherish each moment. The thought of that son or daughter not being in their home where they can oversee their activities and nourish them is incomprehensible.
But over the years, something begins to happen. That child begins to learn and mature and develop talents. As time goes by, they begin making choices (both good and bad) for themselves. As they blossom into young adults, the parents desire to see them excel, do well, and pursue their dreams. It becomes exciting to see their baby succeed. Perhaps the parents realize that they've done all that they can as far as guidance and discipline, and now it's time for them to step back and allow their children to fly solo. It's not that they've stop caring or loving their son/daughter, but that their relationship is now headed in a new direction. Now instead of being in the role of teacher, the parent and child can relate as friends. A whole other level is obtained in the relationship.
I was recently reading about eagles. When it's time for the eaglets to learn to fly, the parents will gradually stop bringing food to the nest. Instead, they will go get food, and fly close to the nest so that their babies can see them. They are trying to teach their young that if they want to eat and survive, they have to learn how to fly and leave the nest. The eaglets will often lose weight during this time. But they are also developing in other ways. The time finally comes when they begin lifting themselves off the nest. The father or mother will then fly so that when the eaglets lift themselves off the nest, the wind will catch them and carry them away from the nest. The eaglet then begins flying short distances. The parents can't tell them how to hunt for food, but can only show them by example. Eventually the eaglet becomes an adult and begins flying and hunting for itself, and leaves the nest to go find a mate and begin it's own life.
What stood out to me when reading this, was that the parents have to teach their eaglets how to leave the nest and survive by example.
When reading the story about the grandfather, it made me realize how important our example it. Often we think that no one is paying any attention to what we say and do, but that's not true. The father didn't realize the impact that his actions were making on his son, until he saw his son making a little bowl for him and his wife to use when they got old. Had the child concocted that idea by himself? No, he was just following the example set by his parents. His young mind may have thought, "Old people have to eat out of wooden bowls at a table by themselves, so I'll make a bowl for my daddy and mommy to use when they get old like grandpa."
We may think that our actions have no repercussion, but that's just not true. It may be how we treat people, how we talk to others, how we handle various situations, etc. The saying "actions speak louder than words" is so true. You can tell someone something over and over, but often it's not until you show them how to do it that they really get it and understand. Fathers can't expect their sons to learn how to respect women, unless they show honor and respect to their wife themselves. Mothers can't expect their daughters to know how to care for a home and family, unless she is taught.
Granted sometimes kids can take the "show me by example" attitude a step too far; but it's the parents responsibility to have patience, and be willing to take the time to teach. When my sisters kids were young, her husband was determined to show the kids how to load the dishwasher for their mom. My sister worked, and he knew that each of them needed to help out and do their part in the household. Plus they were old enough to do chores around the house. He would show the two oldest kids the proper way to load the dishwasher. They didn't particularly want to do this duty. The next time when it was their turn to do dishes they would say, "Dad, will you show me how to load the dishes; I can't remember how." Time and time again, he would patiently show them how to do it. My sister quickly caught onto what the kids were doing, and knew that they were just trying to get out of work. Finally, my brother-in-law realized that his kids knew how to do it; they just wanted him to do it for them while they stood and watched.
Jon often laughs at how I pronounce words, or some little saying that I come up with. I'm not trying to be funny, but it keeps him humored. But the things that I say are things that I grew up hearing, and sometimes I don't realize that they're wrong until he laughs.
One night my sister, Janie, called me and asked if "dun" was a word. Well, of course it is! She had been talking to her kids and one of them had borrowed some money from a friend. She told them if they didn't pay it back soon, that their friend was going dun them. Her kids thought that she had just made it up, and were laughing at her. They looked it up in the dictionary and sure enough, it was there. [In case you've never heard if, dun means: to make repeated and insistent demands upon, especially for the payment of a debt. A person, especially a creditor, who duns another. A demand for payment, especially a written one.] This was an expression that Janie and I had grown up hearing our parents and other relatives say. But nowadays it's not a common expression, and not one that her children had grown up hearing.
Each of us are currently, and throughout our lives, have been impacted by parents, our upbringing, church, friends, and so many other things. It may be something as simple as the accent we speak with, the sayings or words that we use, or our mannerisms. But it can also be things that are on a much larger scale; such as our beliefs, how we treat others, the respect that we have for our elders, our work ethics, etc.
Some years ago, I was speaking to a man who was a supervisor, and oversaw a lot of building and maintenance projects. He had his nephew working for him. He was having problems, because if his nephew woke up one morning and decided that he didn't want to go to work, then he just wouldn't show up. He wouldn't call or have a good reason for missing. Then the next day, he'd show up like nothing had happened. The uncle had to finally have a heart to heart talk and tell the young man that if he wanted to keep his job, he couldn't do that. He was being relied upon to fill a position, and needed to be dependable. The man told me that the nephew was only following the example set by his father. The father had always worked, but also would miss work whenever he took a notion. The son had grown up thinking that this was acceptable behavior for an employee to have.
It's not only the adults that need to set a good example, but also the youthful. In 1 Timothy 4:12 Paul is giving instructions to Timothy. He starts out by telling him, "Don't let anyone look down you because you are young." Then Paul continues, "...but be an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity."
We all need to be aware that we do influence those around us. We should always be careful to watch our words and attitude; knowing that there are those around us who are listening to and watching us. If we don't want our children (or nieces and nephews in my case) carving a little wooden bowl for us to eat out of when we get old, then we need to be sure that we are teaching them how to truly love and respect others.
Bad backs kind of run in my family. I'm one of the fortunate ones because I haven't had to have surgery yet. Mostly, my back troubles come from tension in my upper back. Some of the others in my family have problems in their spines, which is much harder to recuperate from.
Last week, work was more stressful than usual, and I kept having to sit at a computer, but twist around to work with about a dozen other people. The combination had my back in a knot and I seem to have sprained a muscle in my side. For several days and nights, I was in quite a bit of pain off-an-on. Driving was the worst because I had to sit on one position for a long time. Sleeping was next worse.
But one night, I learned how to hold off the pain. The one and only position that didn't hurt was on my knees, bowed over.
It's not a position I take up often enough. Even when my body isn't hurting, it's a healing thing to do. Jesus taught in Matthew 6:6 to "pray to thy Father who is, in secret", not to pray for show. But even in private, it's still good to pray on our knees once in a while. It's one of those symbolic acts that can really get into your heart. I've seen a study that when someone smiles, it's hard to be unhappy; when they frown, it's hard to be happy. When you pray on your knees, it's hard to be prideful.
Coconut Cream Pie
(This was my mom's recipe)
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs, separated
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 Tbsp. Butter
1/3 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 cups scalded milk
1 cup coconut
1 baked pie crust
Blend sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan. Stir in scalded milk slowly. Cook and stir until mixture thickens. Add 1/3 of mixture to beaten egg yolks, and mix thoroughly. Stir egg yolk mixture back into the pan with the custard. Stir and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter, vanilla and coconut; beat well. Pour into baked pie crust. Make meringue. Spread over filling. Brown lightly in 450 degree oven.
I probably share things at times that most people would keep silent, but I've learned that life is too short to not have fun and laugh. And when we learn to laugh at ourselves, it makes us embrace who we are; warts and all. Plus everyone does goofy things, or has silly things happen to them occasionally; it's just that not everyone admits to it!
When Jon and I recently went to Missouri to celebrate Valentine's Day a week early, we spend some time on Sunday morning at my family home there. The house is surrounded by woods, and we were walking around hoping to see some deer. As we were walking and talking, Jon suddenly stopped me and said that he didn't see any deer, but thought he heard some wild turkeys down in the woods. I've seen wild turkeys there before, so knew that was a possibility. When we stopped, he couldn't hear them anymore. We started walking, and the noise started back up. It wasn't loud and actually did sound like wild turkeys in the distance. It wasn't the loud cackling noise, but the distinct quieter one that they are known to make. Jon stopped me once again, and when he did the noise once again quit. We started walking again, and it dawned on me what he was hearing. I had on a pair of lightweight jeans that have a little bit of a texture to the material. As I was walking, my chubby thighs were rubbing together, which was causing the fabric to make a "turkey-like" sound. I had to confess to my husband that he wasn't hearing wild turkeys after all!
Then a few days ago, I was putting on my tennis shoes to walk across the street to get our mail. I had been walking around in my socks, and when I put my first shoe on, the sock was kind of twisted, which caused it to wrinkle on the bottom. I was standing up and was going to put my foot up on the ledge that goes around our fireplace (which is probably 16 inches tall), to fix my sock. When I did, I was looking out the window and not paying attention to what I was doing. Next thing I knew, I had lost my balance and was toppling over. I fell flat on the floor. I had put my arm out to try and catch myself and fell on my wrist. At first my wrist really hurt and I thought, "Oh great! If I sprained my wrist and it swells up, how am I ever going to explain this to anyone?!" I was sure grateful that I hadn't broke it, as that would have been embarrassing to have to try and explain to the doctor, and everyone else that I happened to see. Saying that I fell in my own living room while putting on my shoes just doesn't sound very graceful. Thankfully I was fine, and the pain in my wrist went away after a few minutes. It was one of those moments when I hurt at first, but couldn't help laughing at myself.
It's not every man who has a wife who can make the noise of a wild turkey when she walks, or fall flat in her own living room while putting on her shoes. Jon is married to a multi-talented wife!
I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles four things:
a rainy day, the elderly, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. - unknown
Thanks for taking the time to read our newsletter each week; we truly appreciate each and every one of you.
And we really do enjoy hearing your comments and words of encouragement from time to time.
I'm not sure if you realize just how heartfelt our thanks is, or how deep our gratitude.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon