"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!'"
April 7, 2010
I've often heard sayings along the line, "If God closes a door, He'll open a window," or "When one door closes, another will open." And there is a lot of truth to that. We will all face times when one phase of our life ends, and we move on to something else. Perhaps it's going from being married to being single, or vice versa. It may be moving, changing jobs or careers, or retiring. It could be going from having a houseful of kids to an empty nest; or having an empty nest and then having a baby. Whatever it may be, we all go through times when doors close and others open.
Sometimes it's difficult to know what God wants us to do. Which job are we supposed to take? Which car are we supposed to buy? Are we supposed to sell our house and move, or stay where we are? Should we take every single opportunity that comes our way; or are there times when we should say no, and take care of the things we're already doing?
I've often thought that it would be nice if God would just write me a letter and tell me exactly what I'm supposed to do. It would simplify things and make it much easier, but so far, that has never happened. Sure we can pray and read the Bible and ask for guidance, but sometimes it's still hard to know which direction we're supposed to go. At times we need to just be patient and do nothing until God answers. Other times, we need to act and get up and do something, in order to see which door is opening for us. And it is extremely difficult to get our own personal wants, desires and emotions out of the way.
Recently, Jon was at work and I was doing some work around the house. I have a big planter beside the front door, with some artificial greenery in it. One of the pieces had blown out, and I had found it when I was mowing the yard. I opened up the front door but didn't unlock the doorknob; I could get out, but not back in. I thought I had the door latched to the magnetic doorstop, but apparently didn't. I walked out and was standing right beside the door. In fact, I was holding the storm door open and had stooped down to put the ivy back into the planter. It was extremely windy that morning, and next thing I knew, I heard a loud slam. The wind had caught the front door, and slammed it shut. As soon as it happened, I had this sinking feeling. I was locked outside without any way to get back in. All the windows and doors were locked. I checked on the off-chance that we'd left our truck door unlocked, so I could get to our garage remote. Nope! I was locked outside. It was around 9:45 in the morning, and I knew that Jon wouldn't be home from work until sometime between 5:00 and 6:00. I had to walk to a neighbor's house and borrow their phone to call Jon. He had to leave work and come home to let me back inside the house. This happened on April Fools Day, but thankfully Jon didn't question whether or not I was joking, and came home to unlock the house for me.
When the door slammed shut, my first response was to check all the other doors to try and get back inside. I didn't want to be stuck outside with nothing to do all day. When I was assured that there was no way to get back inside, I had to make a choice. I could sit around on our back porch with nothing to do and wait for Jon to get home from work; or I could eat humble pie, and go borrow a neighbor's phone, call Jon, and have him leave work to come unlock the door for me.
There are times in our lives when a door will slam shut. We will try and try to get it back open. We will analyze and try to figure out a way to get it reopened. We may have liked how things were going in our life, and we don't want anything to change. Perhaps we know things need to go in a different direction, but we are comfortable where we are and don't want to put the effort into doing anything different.
It's easy to get into a rut at times. Jon and I were recently talking about how some people have a hard time taking the initiative to get up and do something differently with their life. They may gripe and complain about their job and really aren't happy with it; but they'll stay there, and never try to find something that will be a better fit for them and make them happier. They may not be getting paid any benefits, getting any raises, have any type of vacation pay or insurance; but they would rather stay there and be miserable, than to get out and look for something that would be better for them. It's kind of like if I had chosen to stay outside on our back porch all day long with nothing to do. I would have been miserable and unhappy; and before the day was out, would probably have been having a pity party. Eventually it would have been easy to start thinking, "This is Jon's fault! He should have hidden a key somewhere." Sitting there locked outside all day was an option. But I chose to put aside my embarrassment, and get up and do something about my situation.
Too often we try to get a door, that God closes, back open because of all the "what ifs". What if we embarrass ourself and fail? What if we make a mistake and try something that really isn't God's will? What if people think we're doomed to fail or think we're silly? What if we're not good at what we try to do? What if we do something, then realize that's not the direction we were supposed to go? What if, what if, what if.........
What if I had went to a neighbor's house and they weren't home? What if they didn't want me to borrow their phone? What if they laughed at me for locking myself out of the house? What if I called Jon and he was in the middle of a meeting and couldn't come unlock the door for me; or thought I was pulling an April Fool's joke on him? What if he got aggravated for having to take time off work to come home and unlock the door?
You read that and think, "Loretta, that's just silly! If one neighbor was gone, you could just go to another neighbor's house. No one would care for you to borrow their phone. You're husband loves you and wouldn't mind running home to let you back inside. Why are you even fretting about this? It's not a big deal!"
That's true! But how silly are most of our "what ifs"? I daresay that probably 95% of things we worry about never come to pass.
Sometimes we just have to get up and do something! Quit worrying and try it. If you fail, so what? But if you succeed, then yippee! Not everyone is going to succeed at everything they try. Not everyone is going to be the best at everything they do. But that's okay. Many times that 's how we find those open doors and windows; just getting up and doing something. A thought is planted in our mind and we act upon it. That's God! Not every idea that comes to mind is from God, but ofttimes that's how we discern what God want us to do. We get an idea, pray about it, then get up and try.
When I first got the idea to do this newsletter I had no way of knowing if it would be a success or failure. But it was something I felt strongly about and wanted to try. This week is our 161st edition of the newsletter. I forgot to mention it, but last month we celebrated our 3rd year of writing this. We've had over 2300 hits on our website. That's pretty good for two, little-known people writing a Christian website. God has blessed us and we're still excited to do this each week.
But not every idea I've had has been wonderful! There have been times when I've wanted something so badly, that I will try to finagle a way to get it. Surely it's God will because it seems so good! But nothing comes of it, and I later realize that God had something much better for me.
In life, doors will open and shut. And some may slam shut right in front of our face. But we have to just keep getting up and going on. Don't give up, don't sit down and cry, don't worry and fret, and don't get in a rut. But know that as long as there is breath in our body, God will direct our steps; if we will only let Him do so.
I didn't even think of the "door incident of 2010" as being on April Fool's Day. I didn't even question if Loretta was joking. She just said she needed something, and I responded. I briefly thought that I could probably wait till closer to lunch, but I was already on my way by then.
I wish I was able to respond to God's calling the same way. But most of the time, I stop and question, "Was that something God wanted from me, or was I just making that up?" And even when I'm sure that something I could do is God's will, I often stop and ask, "Okay, when do you want that by?" God doesn't often seem to work in deadlines. But I tend to put things off until I know it's urgent.
As I grow up, I hope I'm learning to respond more quickly and without question.
Roasted Potato Salad
When I make potato salad, I don't measure any of the ingredients, so all these are just approximates and can be changed to your taste and the amount of potato salad you want to make.
red or new baby red potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 -- 2 cups Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
3-4 Tbsp. mustard
2 boiled eggs
1/2 -- 1 tsp. Paprika
onions & pickles, if desired
Cut red potatoes into bite-sized chunks. Dice up onion, if you want. Spread the potatoes and onion out on a baking sheet and sprinkle Olive oil over the top; add salt and pepper. Bake at 350 until potatoes are tender; probably 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and slightly cool. In a bowl mix up the mayo, mustard and paprika. You can add a little salt and pepper if you want. Do a small taste test and see if the flavors are to your liking; if not add more mayo or mustard to get it right. I like to use half yellow mustard and half honey mustard in the mixture; I like the flavor it gives. Put the potatoes and onions in a large bowl. Add the mayo/mustard mixture. I like to start out adding about half of this mixture, then mixing more in as I need to get it to the right consistency. You can always add more in, but can't take it out! Slice the boiled eggs and add to mixture. I also like to add bacon bits or crumbled up bacon. I don't personally like pickles, but you can also add diced pickles or pickle relish if you want. You can eat warm, or refrigerate and eat cold. I prefer it warm or room temperature; but this is to your personal taste.
This past weekend, Jon and I made a trip to Missouri. While there, we spent some time with my nephew and his two kids. They are about a year and a half apart in age, so get competitive and both want the same thing at the same time. Winston is going through a phase where he says he "hates" everything or "doesn't like it". I had bought him some shorts and a shirt and he had to try them on right away, and was wearing them around. I asked if he liked them and he said, "No, I don't like them." I asked if he wanted me to take them back to the store and he said, "No! I like them a little!" He had found a couple straws of pixie stick candy and wanted me to open one up for him to try. He said that he had never eaten any before and wanted to taste it. He ate some and made a face and said, "I hate it!" I taped the end shut so it wouldn't spill out. I really don't think he liked it very much; and it is a little sour. But then his little sister had me open hers, and she started eating it and really liked it. So Winston decided he wanted his candy untaped. I told him that I thought he hated it, and he said, "Well, I don't REALLY hate it." He did manage to eat a little before having me tape it back shut. Kids can be so entertaining!
The will of God will never lead you where His grace cannot keep you. - unknown
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Loretta & Jon