"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 31, 2014
Happy New Year
May your 2015 be blessed beyond measure!!
There is a mindset of many people that goes like this: "Hope for the best, but expect the worst." They hope that good things will somehow happen in their lives, but they really don't expect it. Whenever anything negative or bad occurs, their first thought is, "That's just my luck! Bad things always happens to me!"
I was chatting with a lady one time and something a tad negative had happened in her life. It really wasn't that big of a deal, but her comment was, "I knew that would happen. Nothing good ever happens for me!" She was so focused on anything that was even a little bit negative, that she never recognized the blessings and good things that took place. For whatever reason, she felt like her life was a series of one bad thing after another, and that was her expectation.
The truth is, bad things do happen to us all on occasion. It can be anything from a severe illness, to the loss of a loved one, to a car accident..... all the way to the other end of the spectrum of having a flat tire at an inconvenient time, to running late in the morning and having icy vehicle windows, to appliance problems.... and a wide variety of occurrences in between. But overall, we are blessed; if we would only recognize what those blessings are and fully appreciate them. Instead, many, while admitting that perhaps something good does occasionally happen in their life, they are waiting for the ax to fall and something bad to come along. Their expectations are very low. Perhaps they feel if they don't expect much, then they won't ever be disappointed. But that's a sad way to live life.
I wonder what would happen if we went through life expecting the best -- always? Would we be more appreciative of all the good things that occur, recognize our blessings more, and realize that life is filled with good things?
Sometimes, those things that we consider bad may be God preparing us for something better; or perhaps He is wanting us to trust Him. Other times, we may never understand why certain things happen like they do, but we can have peace knowing that God is in control.
A TV show that Jon and I really like is "The Middle". The daughter, Sue, is one of those kids who can't win, no matter how hard she tries. She wants to be part of a team, any team, and has tried out over and over again for various things, only to never succeed. But she keeps trying and is optimistic that one day she is going to make it! Sue is awkward and clumsy and a bit dorky, but is always upbeat and willing to put herself out there, trying hard to find something that she can achieve at.
In one particular episode, Sue had just gotten her driver's license and a local sleazy car dealership (where her mom used to work) was having a contest. The signs alluded to the fact that the grand prize was a car. All the contestants had to touch the car, and the last one left standing, without taking their hand off the car, was the winner. Sue had stood there all day in the hot sun, without using the bathroom or taking her hand off the car, and was exhausted and severely sunburned. After several hours, she ended up being the winner. The owner of the dealership came out to announce the winner -- only the prize wasn't the car -- it was a family trip to Disney World. Sue's parents felt horrible and were worried how Sue was going to react to the news that she hadn't won the car, which she had desperately wanted. She was quiet for just a moment, soaking in the news, then started jumping up and down, enthusiastically yelling, "We're going to Disney World..... we're going to Disney World!!!" Her parents reaction was, "Wow! You just can't get Sue down, no matter what - she's always optimistic!!"
Psalm 103:2-5 (NIV) says, "Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits -- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."
Psalm 68:19 (NKJV) says, "Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation!"
Whenever something negative happened in someone's life, whether it be his own or my or one of my sisters' or someone else's life, my dad's attitude and comment always was, "You better appreciate it, because God may have been protecting you from something worse happening. You never know what God is doing or what He's protecting you from." My sisters and I have thought of this many times since Daddy has passed away, and been reminded of his words of wisdom.
During this new year, may we all consciously make the choice to focus on the daily benefits that God pours out upon us. Stop looking at the negative and expecting the worst, but hope for and expect the best that God has to offer.
I don't think of myself as a pessimist. I think I'm more of a realist. And I certainly never think of myself as an optimist. But I've been told that I have an annoying habit of hunting for something good in other peoples' tales of woe. I guess it comes across as though I'm not showing enough sympathy or enough respect for their pain. To me, it's more about understanding their pain, and trying to find a way to relax it.
For example, several people have complained to me that whenever they talk to someone about something, "they always do this", which is obviously a terrible thing to do. My first instinct is to ask if they really "always" do this, but that comment usually isn't received well. And it reminds me too much of teenagers complaining that their parents "always say, 'No'". But I usually wonder why the other person always responds the way they do. I sometimes ask why, or speculate at why they might have a good reason for it. But I'm learning more and more to not to say anything.
I guess I do understand why my habit can be frustrating. Sometimes, I want to cling to my anger and frustration at a situation, especially when it seems like someone else is being intentionally frustrating, selfish, or mean. Coming to the realization that they are really just uninformed, or acting in a way they think is nice can rob me of a good rant.
It seems obvious that we should focus on whatever is good, positive, and uplifting. So why do we cling to a good rant once in a while? A little righteous indignation does feel good for a while, especially if we find someone to agree with us.
Perhaps we should read Philippians 4:8 and put that scripture into practice, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things."
Hidden Valley Ranch Oyster Crackers
(This is a good snack to make up during the holidays or winter days for people to snack on.)
3/4 cup oil
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 (10 oz.) package Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1 package oyster crackers
Whisk together oil, dry dressing mix, and spices. Put crackers in a large bowl and pour mixture over the top; stir to evenly coat. Place on a large baking sheet and bake at 275 for 15-20 minutes. Store in ziplock bag or airtight container.
My little great-niece received a diary for Christmas. She had been wanting one for a long time, so was excited. She told her family that it was her diary, and no one was allowed to touch it. Her little brother had received a play mat for his Lego's. He can spread it out flat and play with his Lego's, then when he's finished, there is a drawstring around the top and he can turn it into a bag for easy clean-up. He told his sister, "Well, this is my diarrhea (diary) mat and no one is allowed to touch it and play with it!!" Don't think anyone would want to!! ha ha
May God's face shine upon you, may He give you peace, and you be blessed in 2015!!
We love you!
Loretta & Jon