"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!'"
July 20, 2011
I am not good at waiting! The main reason being that waiting requires patience, and being patient is not one of my strengths. In fact, most times, I downright stink at being patient. So considering that waiting and patience go hand in hand, I don't do well in either area.
When Jon recently had to work in Brazil for three weeks, the wait for him to return home was almost torturous for me. From the time I woke up until I went to bed at night most of my thoughts were consumed by wondering what Jon was doing, how things were going for him, what he was doing in the evenings and where they ate dinner, if he would get to come home on time or have to stay longer, etc. I would think of things I wanted to tell him. When I did things or went places, I wished he was with me. Even though I went out of town for over a week and visited family and did some fun things myself, I still missed Jon and the wait for him to come home seemed endless. When I finally made it to that first weekend, it was disheartening to think that I still had two more weeks to go until he arrived home. Because it cost $2.50 per minute, we didn't get to talk on the phone much. Before Jon left, we set up Face Time between Jon's phone and my laptop, hoping to be able to talk while seeing one another for free, but the internet connection in Brazil was not usually very good, so the voice would cut out and we'd miss part of what the other person was saying or the picture would freeze. Although that worked for a few minutes occasionally where we could at least see one another, it was not a great way to communicate. And we couldn't tell for for sure whether or not it was truly free or was charging fees on Jon's phone. So we generally used email.
But that final week, something started happening. As Jon and I began to count down the days, then count down how many hours until we'd see one another the excitement began to grow. We would write or say things such as: "Tomorrow is the last day of work in Brazil, then you can come home." "72 hours and I (Jon) will see you!" "This is the last night you have to sleep in the hotel in Macae before heading home." "I (Jon) am packing up my bags and getting ready to check out of the hotel, and we have the taxi scheduled to pick us up at noon to take us to Rio to the airport!" Later Jon called to let me know that he was checked in, and they were getting ready to board the plane in Rio for the flight to Houston. Then as soon as the plane landed in Houston, Jon texted to let me know that he was in the USA. After he went through security and customs, then we were able to talk on the phone for free and really visit. We knew that the wait of seeing one another was getting shorter and shorter.
Jon managed to get booked on an earlier flight between Houston and Tulsa, and was scheduled to arrive three hours earlier than his original flight. We were so excited! Then I got the call that the flight had maintenance issues (with the toilet, of all things) and they had everyone get back off the plane. For the next couple hours, Jon didn't know how or when he was getting home. His seat on the original flight he had been booked on was already given to someone else, so he had lost out arriving home on that plane. Regarding his new "earlier" flight, they kept saying they were hoping to either fix the problem or find another plane. Finally, the passengers were loaded onto another plane and Jon arrived back in Tulsa 10 minutes later than he would have had he stayed on his original flight.
But once we saw each other, none of those details mattered anymore. The wait was over! Those three weeks of being separated was ended, the anxiety of getting on a flight from Houston to Tulsa was gone, and Jon was home. Nothing else mattered anymore. We were thrilled to finally be together again.
When Jon is home, he drives the car most of the time to work and I drive our truck for any errands I need to do. The reason being, our car is a 1999 and has a lot of miles on it, and our truck is a 2007 and is low mileage, so we'd rather try to keep the mileage down on our truck as much as possible. We know that probably within the next couple years we'll have to finally break down and get a new car, but are trying to hold off as long as possible. But while Jon was gone, I did a lot of running around and drove our car the whole time. I made a trip to Missouri by myself and did a lot of driving to various places while I was there. Right before Jon left we had bought all new tires for the car and had a lot of brake work done, so I felt fairly safe driving it even with the high mileage. But that Friday before Jon got back, something happened that shook my confidence. I had been out doing a little shopping and decided to drive through Sonic for a half-price drink before going home. Right before getting to Sonic, I heard this loud, continuous popping noise. There had been a lot of dump trucks working on the lot beside where I was and there was a lot of gravel to the side of the street, so my first thought was that I must have had a flat tire and driving on that gravel was making the noise. I pulled to the side of Sonic's drive-through and got out of the car and all four tires looked fine, but even after I stopped I could hear that popping noise underneath the hood. What now?!
Jon wasn't nearby to call and ask his advice. I didn't want to leave our car abandoned in a parking lot somewhere until Jon got back home. And I really didn't want to call a tow truck, because what if there really wasn't anything wrong other than the car being overheated, then I'd have spent all that money to have it towed. But if I continued driving it, would I really mess something up? Right down the street was the garage where we buy our tires and where they've done work on our car before, so I decided I'd try to make it there. Thankfully, there was very little traffic right then. I made it to the Lowe's parking lot and was coasting slowly across it towards the garage when all the dash lights came on, the power-steering stopped working and the popping under the hood continued. I tried to call my sister to have her ask my brother-in-law what to do, but she didn't answer her phone. All I knew to do was pray and ask God to help me make it the rest of the way to the garage. I got into their drive and pulled over beside their bay area. By the time I got inside, I was an emotional wreck and almost in tears. Did I mention that I had slept very poorly the night before and was already exhausted, but was trying to do things to stay awake instead of napping so I'd sleep better that last night before Jon got home? That poor man that had to try to help me! I felt a little sorry for him afterwards. I didn't cry, but was babbling and he was trying to write down the information. They closed in an hour and were busy so I knew there was no way they could check the car out that afternoon. I tried my sister again, and still no answer. I was only a mile from my house but it was 105 and too hot to walk. I got in touch with my niece and she came and picked me up and took me home. I was upset and thinking, "Why couldn't this have waited and happened tomorrow after Jon got home!?"
I got a message to Jon before he got on his flight leaving Brazil to let him know what had happened, and he was thinking the computer may have gone bad in the car, which could end up costing a lot of money. So then we both started worrying about it -- after all, I didn't want to be upset all by myself! All night we were both trying to figure out what to do if this ended up being a major issue. As old as our car is and as many miles as it has on it, how much money did we want to put into it? If it was going to be really expensive to fix and potentially have ongoing problems, would we be better off going ahead and getting a new car now instead of waiting? I didn't want to make any decisions about telling the garage what to do with the repairs, especially if it was going to be expensive, without consulting Jon. It was a relief when he made it to Houston before I heard back from the garage the next morning, so I knew we could at least discuss it. By 10:00 I still hadn't heard anything about the car, so decided to bite the bullet and give them a call. "I was just getting ready to call you...." Yeah, right! It ended up that the serpentine belt that this garage had replaced a while back broke. They couldn't find a cause for it so assume it was a bad belt from the manufacturer. That belt drives the power-steering, which is why I lost that while driving across the parking lot. That's what caused all the light sensors to come on. And the popping was that belt coming apart and hitting other parts. Since they had put a new one on a few months ago, they replaced it for free and didn't charge anything for the labor. So our car was fixed completely free of charge! All our worries about the possibilities of what the problem could be, the expense of fixing it, and whether it would be worth fixing should it cost a lot of money were all in vain. And God was protecting me during those three weeks that Jon was gone. The serpentine belt didn't break while I was traveling alone between Oklahoma and Missouri and leave me stranded on the side of the road out in the country or on the turnpike somewhere. It happened the day before Jon arrived home, and happened within sight of the very garage that had put the new belt on months ago, and therefore, was replaced it at no charge to us. God had His hand upon me!
The thing about waiting is that it gives our minds time to imagine all kinds of possibilities. But the problem is, we generally imagine the worst possible scenario. In the interim period while we wait, we can experience a wide variety of emotions, depending on the situation: anger, frustration, worry, fear, anxiety.... But do you see a pattern here? None of these things are positive, but are all negative feelings, emotions and imaginings. And we often feel that we have to "do something" in the meantime. It's so difficult to be patient and sit back and relax while we wait.
While we wait on someone in surgery, even if it's a seemingly simple procedure, there is a feeling of anxiety and nervousness until the doctor comes out and says that all is well. Even though we may think we're calm, when we hear those words and know that our loved one is safe and doing okay, a feeling of relief comes over us that lets us know that we were feeling more stressed than we knew. When Jon was flying home from Brazil I didn't feel that worried about his safety, but the moment he texted from Houston to let me know the plane had landed, I breathed a big sigh of relief to know that he was safely in the airport. It's kind of like holding your breath, then giving a big sigh that releases all that built-up tension and relaxes your muscles.
Isaiah 40:31 says, "Those who wait on the Lord will gain new strength (or renew their strength). They will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary (or faint)."
Psalm 37:7 tells us to "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him."
Psalm 40:1 says, "I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry."
Psalm 27:14, "Wait for the Lord. Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord."
David seems to have known a lot about waiting for God. He was anointed by Samuel to be the next King of Israel after Saul. But David had to spend a lot of years waiting for that to happen. In the interim, he had King Saul chasing him and threatening to kill him. He had to hide out in caves and leave his home and family. I'm sure there were times when he wondered if perhaps Samuel had made a mistake. And there may have been days when he wondered if he even wanted to be king if this was what he was going to have to endure in the meantime. David had a long, long waiting period between the time he was anointed to be Israel's next king and the time Saul was killed and he actually took the throne. And it wasn't an easy waiting period, but held many years of hardship and battles.
Telling someone to wait on the Lord and see what He has in store for them is easy to say; but when we're the ones doing the waiting, it's very, very difficult. We don't know when the waiting period is going to end, or what will actually take place once God intervenes and works on our behalf. It's hard to do as the scriptures say and to rest, be patient, be strong, and take courage while we wait on the Lord. We start wanting to figure things out and see if we can't help God out a little. We can become discouraged and feel like God has abandoned or forgotten us. It's easy to become tired and weary as we wait.
But eventually we find that the wait was well worth it. Why? Because we're promised that we will gain new strength. We will soar like the eagle. We will run the race of life and not get tired, and not become weary. We wait patiently for God, knowing that He turns to us and hears our every cry. And that knowledge is why we can be strong, and let our heart take courage. The benefits of waiting are worth it.
I've been trying to learn to play the piano. I have no high hopes of being great at it. But I think it'll be fun to be mildly capable. I have hopes of at least being able to play Row-Row-Row Your Boat within another month or two. I have a little book that I can work through. I can get through the first song okay. It's very easy. The second song is a lot of work, and I usually have to run through it quite a few times before I can get through without sounding like a tone-deaf cat swatting at a mouse on the keyboard. If I get through it, I sometimes try the third song, Row-Row-Row Your Boat. I'm not close on that one. If I dive in to the third song, I'm awful. I have to back up and start with the first one. The more I mess up, the more I need to go back and start again, and practice.
Learning to play the piano is easy compared to learning patience. But learning patience is painfully similar. It takes using it again and again. And if we fail in showing patience with something big, we need to back up and practice with something easier. Unfortunately, we don't usually get to choose when we need patience. And to make matters worse, it takes a lot of patience to endure all that practicing.
But, God will help us learn the things we need most. If we need to be patient, God will help us by giving us practice.
So, if you have difficulty with being patient, be careful before you pray, "God, please teach me to be patient."
Fresh Peach Pie
5 cups fresh peaches, peeled and sliced (about 9 medium peaches)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. Lemon Juice
1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. Butter
Preheat oven to 425. Prepare a pastry (or buy a frozen pie crust, which is much easier). Mix peaches and lemon juice. Mix sugar, flour and cinnamon; stir into peaches. Turn into pastry-lined pie plate; dot with butter. Cover with top crust; seal and flute around the edges; cut slits into the top. You can sprinkle sugar on top of crust,if desired. Cover edge of pie with 2-3 inch strip of aluminum foil to prevent excess browning; remove foil during last 15 minutes of baking. Bake until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through the slits in crust, 35-45 minutes. If peaches are not in season and you use canned or frozen peaches, decrease sugar to 1/2 cup.
I spent my birthday, a few weeks ago, in Lampe with a few family members, since Jon was out of the country working. Here is a conversation that took place between my nephew, Brian, and myself:
(Brian) "How old are you? About 43 or 44?"
(Me -- giving him a puzzled look, trying to figure out if he was serious or teasing) "No! I'm 46!"
(Brian -- sounding surprised) "Really? You can't be that old. I thought you were only about 8 years older than me!"
(Me -- still somewhat puzzled) "I am 8 years older than you. How old do you think you are? You're 38, which makes me 46!!"
(Brian -- sounding surprised, but for a different reason this time) "Oh. I was thinking I was just around 35 or 36. I guess I am 38!"
Brian is always joking around, and at first I thought he was just playing around and giving me a hard time. What made it so funny, he was completely sincere and was somewhat surprised to be reminded that he was 38 years old and not quite as young as he thought. Although it did make me feel good that he thought I was younger than what I actually am!
Apologizing does not always mean that you were wrong and the other person is right. It just means that you value your relationship more than your ego.
(borrowed from a Facebook status)
We love you!
Loretta & Jon