"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!'"
March 14, 2012
Happy Anniversary to 'The New Ewe' weekly newsletter!! Our first publication was March 15, 2007. I cannot believe that we've been doing this for 5 years now!! Wow, this is our 262nd newsletter and we've had over 3,200 hits on our website (if the counter is working correctly). I am absolutely amazed and a bit overwhelmed! When I first began doing this, I had no idea if this would ever be read by anyone or if I'd be doing it for a few months or if it would be something ongoing for years. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to write, what I hope to be encouraging devotionals each week, and have people who actually read them. I honestly have no idea who all reads this each week, but I would like to say a big heartfelt thank you! It means so much to me that you would be willing to take a few minutes of your time to read something that I'd write. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I will never forget how this newsletter initially started. I had quit my banking job, thanks to my very sweet husband's support, but wanted to do something useful and beneficial. I was making our bed one morning, after Jon went to work, and was praying and asking God to show me something that I could do that would be a ministry and encouragement to others. The idea for doing this newsletter immediately began forming in my mind, and I believed that it was inspiration from God. I have always enjoyed writing, and throughout the years have written silly little poems and other unimportant things. Even when I was a little girl, I liked to write and make up stories and songs and poems.
The first song I wrote was in first grade at age 6. I still have the original copy of it. It goes like this (I'll even type it out exactly like I wrote it -- if spell check will let me).
"Some day Jeses is comeing. I will be glad. You will be glad to. How many times did I tell you Jeses is a comeing soon. I want ever family to make it to heaven. Jeses is comeing soon. The trees are green. The flowers are red. The bird's are blue. The duck are yellow. Well Jeses is comeing. Yes Jeses is comeing."
By the way, I really meant Jesus, but had a few spelling errors at age 6. Sad to say, my songwriting abilities never progressed much past this level! I've always wanted to write songs and have tried, and that has just never been my talent.
But I digress! Back to my original story. As soon as Jon got home from work that evening, I shared with him what had happened and what I felt like God had placed in my heart to do. I knew that for this to be successful, I'd need his help. I could write, but I had no idea how to set up a website or publish what I'd written online. Jon thought it was a wonderful idea and said he would be glad to work on the technical end of things.
In fact, for a few years, it had been on Jon's heart to do something similar. He said that he'd been thinking that he'd like to set up a christian website that had devotionals on it, and would be out there as a ministry tool for after the rapture (whenever that may be) for people to hopefully find if they couldn't find or get to a church.
Jon had the expertise to set up our website, and within a few days I began writing a weekly devotional; and we've now been doing this for five years! Who'd a thought it?!?
I find it interesting how God will bring two people together as husband and wife in order to fulfill His plan for their lives. He may have placed a particular desire in their heart years prior to them meeting, but He then orchestrates their lives in an amazing way once they come together in marriage. When they first begin their lives together it may not be something that they suspect or foresee, but as time goes by, God puts His plan into motion and they see how He brought them together for a greater purpose than they ever realized.
My sister, Janie, had a high school english teacher who taught the students some sign language. She thoroughly enjoyed it and thought that she'd like to learn more, at some point. Several years later, she met Jimmy at a church service and they began dating and got married. Shortly after marriage Jimmy felt called into the ministry. They began praying about it and felt God leading them into deaf ministry. At that time they had no idea how to do sign language or what ministering to the deaf would require. They only knew they were called, so packed up and headed to Bible College.
When Janie was a teenager, God placed a desire in her heart to learn sign language, after she was introduced to it. She had no idea that she would eventually marry a deaf man who God would call into the ministry, and that they would spend their lives ministering to the deaf and hard of hearing. But God saw the path that He had laid out for them both and directed her and Jimmy together as a couple, so that His purpose could be fulfilled in their lives.
We often don't know what God is doing when He places people in our life, or puts an interest in our heart, or places a desire in us to do something. But God can see the whole picture and knows what the future has in store for us. He gives us each talents and abilities, gives us different personalities, and creates us to fulfill a purpose in life.
I love the scripture in Jeremiah 29:11 that says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
God has a plan to give us each hope and a future, not only in eternity, but for our time on earth. And that plan may change from time to time, depending on where we're at in our life.
I was in a Sunday School class several years ago that a pastor's wife was teaching. One Sunday we were having a discussion and a young mother mentioned that she often felt guilty for not being more active in the church and helping out more, but with two young children she just didn't feel like she had the time to commit. But she saw others who had children take on leadership roles, and so felt like she should be more organized and productive so that she could do more. I think she was afraid that people would think that she was lazy or not interested in the church or didn't want to get involved; or were using her kids as an excuse.
I thought the pastor's wife had a wonderful response. Her kids were grown by then, but she said that she remembered being a young mother and pastor's wife and felt like she needed to be actively involved in church ministries, but didn't seem to have the extra time or energy. She was trying, but felt like she was being pulled in a hundred different directions, and ended up not being good at anything she was doing. One day she was rocking one of her babies to sleep and singing to them, when she felt God speak softly to her heart to tell her that this was what her calling was for that period of time; to rock her babies and mother them. Being a mother was a ministry to her kids, and that needed to be her priority at that time in her life. After the kids got bigger and weren't so dependent on her, then she began being more involved in various church ministries once again.
There may be those few years when a mother needs to take care of her young children and focus on their needs. But as we all know, years go by quickly, and those babies grow up and priorities change. God may have a plan for the years that a man or woman is single, but once they are married that plan will change or merge into something bigger. There may be areas that middle aged couples are involved in, but as they get older and retire, God may open up new doors for them. Perhaps a spouse passes away, and God will lead the one who is widowed down a new path. He never gets finished with us as long as we have breath in us, but always has a plan to give us hope and a future.
We may not understand the circumstances we go through from time to time, but one thing we can know is that the plan that God has for us is to prosper us and not to harm us. Many see the word prosper and immediately think "financial prosperity". But the definition of prosper is: "flourish, thrive, do well, blossom, bloom, get ahead, be successful". God wants those things for us. He never desires for us to be harmed or down-trodden, but wants us to flourish and thrive. God desires for us to be successful in His plan for our lives. He doesn't want us to shrivel up and be weak, but wants us to bloom and blossom and succeed. God is rooting for us. He wants us to thoroughly prosper and be the best we can be.
I've done a little acting in high school and college. One little lesson from acting to a script is that if everyone knows their lines, when and where to move, and what to take on stage with them, the plans go great. But when someone forgets to get their sword from the shelf before walking on stage, it can really mess up the play when it's time to draw the sword and fight someone. If someone isn't in the wings when it's time for them to go on stage, everyone already on stage will have to fake it until they can be found. It's only when everyone is following the script perfectly that the play goes exactly how it's supposed to.
If we all believed in God, followed God's calling, and followed His every instruction, we might all be amazed how life plays out. All our lives could go exactly as they are supposed to.
Cream Cheese Sausage Balls
1 lb. Sausage, uncooked
8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups Bisquick
1 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Mix all ingredients together until well combined (may need to use your hands). Roll into 1-inch balls. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes, until browned.
**Sausage balls may be frozen uncooked. If baking frozen, add a few minutes to the baking time.
(I have not yet tried this) Tub and Shower Magic: 12 ounces white vinegar and 12 ounces liquid blue Dawn detergent. Heat vinegar in microwave until hot and pour into a squirt bottle. Add the Dawn soap. Put the lid on and gently shake to incorporate. You now have a powerful cleaning product that will melt soap scum and tub and shower buildup, clean sinks, appliances, and just about anything. Spray it on, scrub, rinse, and be amazed. For tough soap scum build-up, spray the mixture on and allow it to sit as long as overnight. Then scrub and rinse.
I found the above information and the ratings are high and the comments from people who have actually used this are very positive, so I will be trying it soon.
You can't learn anything new from people who always agree with you.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon