"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 14, 2011
Jax has been spending the night with his grandpa and grandma (Janie, my sister) sometimes on Sunday nights, then they babysit him on Mondays. A while back, he and his grandma had their first argument. Jax was putting together his train track and wanted to build more bridges. He was using a part of the track that had no support to be a bridge and was frustrated that it wouldn't work. Janie told him that it wasn't a bridge and he said, "Yes it is!" Janie tried to get it together and told him that it wasn't going to work, but Jax was insistent that it would. The little stinker was persistent and kept working on it until he figured out how to build more bridges, then turned around and looked at Janie and said, "SEE!" Nothing like Grandma being outsmarted by a 2 year old! Sure enough there were some little wooden pieces you put underneath the track to make bridges.
The thing is, Jax plays with his trains often and likes building tracks and taking them apart, then building them again. He knew that it was possible to build more bridges and wanted his grandma to help because he was getting frustrated. But Janie doesn't play with the train tracks so didn't see how it could possibly go together to build more bridges. Jax had done it before so was aware of the possibilities, but to Janie it looked impossible. It took a 2 year old little boy to show a 51-year old how to do it.
We've all faced those impossible looking situations before. Countless times I have made comments, and have heard others say such things as, "There's no way I could ever do that!" or "I would never succeed at that!" or "I wouldn't even try that because I know I could never do it!" or "I wish I could do such and such, but there's no way!" We don't think it's possible, so we don't even try. We give up before ever starting. Granted, not all people are talented in the same areas but often we don't even try something before saying we can't do it.
There have been numerous times when I've wanted to say, "No! Please don't make me do this! I can't!" as I was forced out of my comfort zone to do things I didn't think I was capable of doing or was fearful of messing up if I tried. When I first started working at a bank I was very quiet and shy, and at first mostly only talked to people if they initiated the conversation. I felt like a fish out of water for a long time and was so afraid that I was going to mess up or do something stupid, then people would find out that I really didn't know what I was doing and I'd lose my job. When asked to do something, I did it because I was afraid to say no. After I had worked there for a while my supervisor started giving me more responsibilities. She started showing me how to do adjustments, which sometimes required me calling Social Security or the Federal Reserve Bank or our data processor. She would tell me who to call and what to ask, but I was petrified! I would get this sick feeling and would have to mentally prepare myself to make the call. I thought that everyone knew what they were doing, except me, and they would ask me questions I didn't know the answer to and would think I was stupid. I would give myself a pep talk and tell myself, "They are regular people working at a job, just like me. Just pick up the phone and get it over with!" I went from that insecure young woman to being assistant cashier who was supervisor over the tellers and bookkeeping department. I discovered that if I called someone and they asked me something I didn't know all I had to do was say, "I'm not sure what you're talking about." Sometimes it was just a matter of different technical terms being used. And I also figured out why my supervisor handed over adjustments to me! They were a pain to deal with. They were my very least favorite job to do, and as soon as I was supervisor and had the authority to "train" someone in my department to take over that responsibility, that was one of the first things I did. But I learned that I was capable of doing and learning a lot more and take on a lot more responsibility than I originally gave myself credit for.
A while back I got an instant message from my nephew asking, "I have an interesting concept. Want to hear it?" At first he sent me a link and asked me to read it, then to read a scripture. I could tell that he was unsure how I would respond so wanted to get my initial reaction before going into exactly what his concept was. When I gave some validity to it and shared my thoughts, then he opened up more and we began discussing it more in depth. I think sometimes people are afraid that others will disagree with them or think they're dumb for thinking a certain way, so they're leery about saying what their ideas or thoughts are. And I do understand. I've been in Sunday School or Bible Study or workshops when a discussion is taking place and the person in charge will ask a question. If people don't answer with the response they're looking for or says something they don't necessarily agree with, they can sometimes respond in a way that is embarrassing to the individual who answered and tried to participate. My sister remembers commenting in a Sunday School class one time, and having the teachers laugh at her. I had something similar happen to me in a class; the teachers and some of the students shot down my comment and made me feel very humiliated by the way they reacted to what I had said. I had been serious and was made to feel that they thought I was either joking or didn't know what I was talking about. That was the first time I had participated by speaking up, and needless to say, that was the last time I attended that class. When that happens to a person, they begin feeling insecure and as if their opinion is worthless, so are hesitant to ever speak out again. By not speaking up and voicing our opinion or thoughts, others may be missing out on some great insight that we may have. We don't have to agree with everything others say, but can disagree in a way that allows them to keep their pride and makes them feel like their contributing to the conversation or discussion.
There have been times when Jon will be working on a project at home and gets frustrated when he hits a roadblock. He may something to the effect, "I can't get this to work. It's not doing what it's suppose to, and I can't figure it out." I tend to be over-confident in his abilities because I've watched him the past 6-plus years, and know that sooner or later he will get it fixed. My response is usually along the lines of, "You're smart; you will get it figured out and working!" And I'm serious when I say that to Jon. I do think he is smart and have seen him persevere past his frustrations and find a solution time and time again. I may not have any idea what he's doing, but I know that he will keep working at it and not give up until he gets it resolved.
Doesn't it make us feel good when others have confidence in our abilities and encourage us? We all need words of encouragement from time to time. Sometimes we may feel like giving up or like no one appreciates us, and then a kind word spoken to us gives us the encouragement we need to keep going and persevere.
We don't know what we're capable of doing, unless we're willing to try. We need to make sure that when we are given an opportunity or are asked to do something or are faced with a new challenge when we say, "I can't do that!" that it's not an excuse for just not wanting to do it. There's a huge difference between not being able to do something and not wanting to do it.
God may push us out of our comfort zones at times, and we don't like it so respond by saying, "God, there's no way I can do that! You've got the wrong person. So and so would do so much better. Why don't you let me do this instead?" But God would never ask us to do something that He won't enable and help us to do. We may find that it's something that we love doing. Other times, it may not be fun or enjoyable and may be a test that is frustrating and difficult. But how we respond and deal with it can make us a better, stronger person.
A few weeks ago one of my older nephews called me. The men at his church had a chili cook-off and he had won. He was pretty excited! I congratulated him and told him that I didn't know he could even make chili. He said he didn't either. But he wanted to participate so went online and started looking up recipes for chili. His wife makes a dish using black beans and sausage, so thought that would be good in chili so started looking for recipes along those lines. He found one that sounded good, then read the responses from people who had used the recipe and what tweaks they had made to it, and figured out what he wanted to do. He made the chili and it won first place and he got a little trophy for it. I was proud of him and thought it was pretty incredible that he had never made chili before, but was willing to put himself out there and try. He didn't know exactly how the chili was going to turn out and didn't have time to practice, so just went for it.
All throughout life we will all have new opportunities given to us. Sometimes we may succeed and other times not. Some situations may be more fun and enjoyable than others. Sometimes the challenges may feel overwhelming and impossible. But we all have to choose our responses. We can go through life always trying to play it safe and never trying anything new or different and never leaving our comfort zone. How boring! When Jax wanted to build the bridges with his train track, his grandma was saying, "You can't do that. There's no way to build bridges. It's impossible." But Jax didn't let that hinder him or stop him from continuing to try. And he succeeded! The thing is, our Heavenly Father is not sitting there, watching us and saying, "You can't do that. It's impossible." But He is consistently encouraging us and cheering us on. "You can do it! You may have failed the first time, but come on, get back up and try again." And when we succeed I believe God pumps His arms in the air and gives a resounding, "YES!"
The Old Testament has a great story about a man who refused to get out of his comfort zone. It's only 4 chapters. Some of you probably already know who I'm talking about: Jonah. He has his own book, his story is so important. I'll abbreviate the first three chapters: God told Jonah to go to Ninevah (a city steeped in sin); Jonah got up the next morning and ran the other way; God sent a big fish to fetch Jonah; Jonah ended up in Ninevah; Jonah convinced many people to believe in God. The fourth chapter is more on a different topic; good to read, but not today's topic.
Sometimes God calls us into uncomfortable situations. When we refuse, sometimes the only consequence is that we miss out on something great. We may not ever know what it is we miss; or we might see it all too well. Other times, the consequences might be much bigger. But I'm sure no one else spent several days in the belly of a fish!
I'm sure I'll avoid running into the city filled with sin if I'm called to. But Jonah had a second chance. Hopefully I will, too.
Old Fashioned Cocoa Fudge
(This was my mom's recipe)
3 cups sugar
2/3 cups cocoa
dash of salt
1 1/2 cups milk
3 Tbsp. Butter
1 tsp. vanilla
Combine sugar, cocoa, salt and milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Boil until mixture forms a soft ball when put in cold water. Add butter and cool to lukewarm. Add vanilla. Beat until it loses creamy look. Pour into buttered platter.
I think I may have shared this photo before at Christmas, but it's one of my favorites. This is a picture the "Horton Girls": Back Row -- Shirley, Joyce, Linda Front Row -- Janie & Me (I think I'm around 4 in this picture). My dad always went down into the holler by our house and cut a Christmas tree and I'm thinking some probably looked better out in the woods than they did when they got inside the house. This is a really scraggly tree that makes me laugh when I look at the picture. I'm sure Mama let us girls decorate. It's a cardboard star on top wrapped is wrapped in aluminum foil. You'll notice there are only 2 strands of garland; the silver around the middle then around the very bottom is a blue one. Then all over is the infamous icicles everyone used to always use. It has colored balls on it and the multi-colored strands of lights that are those big bulbs. We still have that picture of Jesus hanging on the wall behind Joyce's head and have it at the Lampe house now. Good memories!!
Who followed Jesus at His birth? Wise men.
Wise men still see him today.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon