"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 29, 2012
I tend to start new projects or tasks feeling really gung-ho and excited, then when it turns into work and gets hard or boring I find an excuse to quit. Sound familiar? I don't think I'm the only one who does that... or am I?
I have begun exercise programs numerous times, but then when my muscles get sore and achy I quit. Or if I find something better to do, which is easy to do, I quickly get out of the habit and stop exercising. This year I have determined to not stop but to persevere and stick to it the entire year. I know myself well enough to know that if I don't exercise as soon as Jon leaves for work, then I will find excuses to put it off and not do it. So the past few weeks that's what I have made myself do. When I get up in the mornings I put on sweats and a t-shirt or comfortable clothing so that as soon as Jon leaves the house I can immediately begin exercising. I have to have that rigidity of a routine to make myself stick to it. Lately I have been walking in the morning with my sister; it makes it much easier to have someone to exercise with; plus time goes by much more quickly having someone to talk to. And getting outside in the fresh air first thing in the morning makes us both feel invigorated and energized.
Last summer I began learning how to play the fiddle and was so excited and enthusiastic about learning how to play a new instrument. I even got to where I could play several songs well enough so that they were recognizable. But my instructor lives three and a half hours away in Arkansas, and we haven't been back for a couple months for me to have a lesson, and have no plans to return for probably another 2-3 months, so it's been easy for me to slack off. Throughout the Christmas holidays I was busy, then was busy with anniversary parties and family being in town, and I put my fiddle away so kids couldn't bother it when they have been here. Out of sight, out of mind. I got out of the habit of playing a little each day and have kind of lost interest. I'd still like to play, but without having a local teacher and a reason to practice, I've lost a lot of my enthusiasm. I did make myself get it out again a while back and play again. I don't want to lose what little skills I have learned.
Jon and I bought our home from his parents at the beginning of 2011. Our first project was to remodel our downstairs bathroom and the pantry, which is across the hall from the bathroom. We worked hard for several weekends and got the bathroom mostly finished, then fizzled out and have never completed the project. The sink still isn't fixed correctly, the border tile in the hallway isn't mortared, the nail holes in the trim hasn't been painted, and the inside of the pantry has been painted but no shelving are built in it yet. We temporarily set in a small set of shelves, and that's how it has remained for the past 8-9 months. We fully intended to finish up that project last year, but then got sidetracked building a gazebo on our property in Missouri. We then decided that we would finish this winter, but have a lot of traveling plans for Jon's job so that's not going to happen either. I did tell Jon that we had to complete that project before beginning another one. We'll see if that happens or not! Our garage has to be cleaned out so that Jon has room to get his saws out and work. First one thing, and then another.....
I am sure that most people go into anything new, fully intending to follow through to completion. What would be the use of beginning it with the thought that you were not going to finish what you started? But we easily become sidetracked, discouraged, busy with other things, or lose interest. We see something else that looks more interesting or fun, or think of another project that seems more important, or think we'll take a short break then get back to what we're working on, so take off on something new without finishing what we were initially working on.
Sometimes we can be like that in our relationship with God. We become a christian and are so excited and ready to take on the world. We think we can overcome any obstacle and face any situation with faith and joy. Then life happens and we get knocked off our feet a few times. After a while we start taking longer and longer to get back on our feet. Discouragement sets in and we wonder if living for God is truly worthwhile. What once seemed exciting and new now seems like a lot of hard work. Or years down the road, we become stagnant and comfortable, and think we are wise enough to make it through life without fully depending on God; until something happens to get our attention.
What people don't seem to realize is that we are all committed to someone or something. Some people are committed to themselves and only depend on their own strength, intelligence and hard work to get them through life. Some depend heavily on people to make their decisions for them and do everything for them. They put their faith in a person, and then are let down and hurt if that person leaves them or disappoints them. Some are committed to a job or career and believe that enough hard work will make them financially secure. Their trust is in their bank account and material possessions.
The truth is, God has given us the knowledge to live day to day and survive life. He has made us to be a people of choice, and many times our decisions can affect the course of our life. God gives us strength to work, gives us hearts to love others, and the desire to trust. Those things are in all people, regardless of whether or not they choose to have a relationship with Him. So why would we choose to commit ourselves to God?
Proverbs 3:5,6 tells us to "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."
Psalm 37:23 says, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord."
There are many times in my life when I've not understood circumstances that happened to me or my family; it was beyond my comprehension. There have been times when I've needed to make decisions and was unsure what to do. It's those times when I can choose to trust in the Lord, and pray for His guidance. When I acknowledge God and place my trust in Him, then He promises to make my paths straight. He promises to order and establish my steps. And when I fall down or mess up, He will lift me up and help me. I don't have to always rely on my own wisdom and strength for every situation, but can depend of the wisdom and strength of God.
One scripture that I go back to over and over again is found in Philippians 4:6,7: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Life brings situations at times that can cause anxiety and worry to us all. But these verses tells us that we can present all of our requests to God. We can talk to God and tell Him what's on our heart and can petition Him to intercede on our behalf. God may not always answer the way we would like, but He will guard our hearts and minds with His peace. Until you've truly experienced the peace that God brings, it's hard to truly explain or understand. In the direst of circumstances, we may cry and grieve and be heart-broken, yet we still can still sense the arms of God surrounding us and have a sense of peace. When we're at our weakest, God is strong and will infuse us with His strength. When we don't think we can take another step and go on, He lifts us up and helps us put one foot in front of the other and get through one day at a time.
I'm so thankful that I don't have to go through life with no hope. I don't have to worry about my future. But I can have assurance that God is always with me, and that when I reach the end of my life, He will be there waiting for me with His arms wide open. Therefore, I choose to finish what I've started. I choose to surrender my heart and life to God and commit myself to Him. This decision was not forced on me by my parents or anyone else. They may have been the ones who took me to church and taught me about Jesus, but the decision to ask Jesus into my heart was my own.
I don't always live the way I should and often fail. I don't always make wise decisions or have the right attitude. I don't always say the right words or act the way I should. But I know that God is always waiting to respond to my cry each and every day, if I will only ask. Sometimes I'm too stubborn to admit I need help and try to figure things out by myself. There have been occasions when I'm embarrassed or feel guilty for the things I've done, so I try to hide from God until I think I've been good enough to come back to Him. And sometimes I get busy with life and my daily routine and forget to spend time with God. But when I talk to God and ask for forgiveness or help, He is always there ready and waiting and willing to respond. Now that's true love! God never gives up on me or writes me off as being hopeless. He doesn't tire of my mistakes or turn His back on me. But God is always right beside me, whether I acknowledge Him or not, waiting on me to ask for His help and to talk with Him. He loves me unconditionally and desires to be my Heavenly Father. Why wouldn't I want to commit my life to Someone like that? He's always with you, too.
If you've come to a place in your life where your spiritual condition is no longer a priority, for whatever reason, it's not too late to make things right with God. Stop making excuses, and get your life back on track. Finish what you started. Life can be hard, no matter what you do, but wouldn't you rather go through it with God than without Him? Make a decision to follow through and complete the race through life with God by your side. It's never too late to ask for His help or pray a prayer of forgiveness and commitment.
The projects we have started and never completed will still be there waiting for completion, no matter how long we put them off. They're not going anywhere, even if we try to put them out of our mind. "Out of sight, out of mind" may work for a while, but that doesn't mean that the projects have disappeared. They're only waiting for us to uncover them and finish what we started.
We may try to forget God for periods of times in our life, but that doesn't mean that He has left our side. Even though we may try to put Him out of our minds, He's still with us and will never leave us. God is patiently waiting for us to uncover or discover our need for Him, so that we will call upon Him.
Loretta quoted Philippians 4 above, "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding." I know we've been given that peace. And many members of our family have, too. There are times when peace seems impossible. It might seem like the only option is anger, hatred, despair, or forfeit. But if we look to God for peace, He will give it.
Chicken and Cheese Lasagna Roll-Ups
3 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/4 cup milk
1 cup Ricotta cheese
1/8 tsp. White Pepper
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
8 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
2 cups spaghetti sauce
In a medium bowl combine chicken, cheeses, milk and pepper. Spread 1/2 cup mixture on each lasagna noodle; roll up jelly-roll fashion. (Note: You cannot use the lasagna noodles that you don't cook ahead of time with this recipe, but must use the ones you boil in water to cook. When you roll them up, you start at the end and roll up so they're short, not side to side where they're long.) In a 9x13 pan, spread 1 cup spaghetti sauce. Arrange filled lasagna rolls, seam-side down in baking dish. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce. You can sprinkle more cheese (perhaps Mozzarella or Parmesan) on top, if desired. Cover. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until hot.
When my nephew, Jared, was a little boy, his parents would read a Bible story to him and his brother and sister each night before they went to bed. Afterwards they would ask the kids questions about the story. No matter who the story was about, Jared's standard answer was always, "Moses".
My great-nephew, Jax, is almost three now and is going to a beginner Sunday School class. Recently, he heard the story about Jonah and the whale. His grandma asked what Jonah did and Jax answered, "Get wet!"
Before you speak, THINK:
T .... is it true? H.... is it helpful? I .... is it inspiring? N .... is it necessary? K .... is it kind?
We love you!
Loretta & Jon