THE NEW EWE

"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!'"

Luke 15:4-6

July 27, 2016

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

Jon and I grew up very, very differently. Our families were different, our neighborhoods were different, our finances were different, our traditions were different, our vacations were different, our extra-curricular activities were different, and our church upbringing was different.

Jon grew up a city kid, in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Tulsa. He grew up with stores and shopping and pretty much any type of entertainment he'd want to do nearby. Jon's dad owned his own business, and it was doing rather well by the time Jon was an adolescent. His family wasn't necessarily wealthy, but they were very comfortable. Their family took big vacations each year; to Disney in Orlando or skiing trips in Colorado or New Mexico. If Jon or one of his siblings had an interest they wanted to pursue, their parents encouraged and helped them to do so, in order to see if it was something they really enjoyed. Gayla enjoyed painting and drawing. Ken had a plethora of all different kinds of animals -- in the house: snakes, pet squirrel, iguana, and I'm not sure what all. Jon liked to take things apart and put them back together; and built his own computer from a kit when he was 10 years old (he was a bit of a smarty pants!) Jon participated in science fairs in high school and college. He got to attend the international science fair in Puerto Rico when he was in 10th grade. While growing up, Jon's family attended a Church of Christ for a while; then when Jon was around 10-12, they started attending an Assembly of God Church. Jon's mom was hard of hearing, so they were taught that when you spoke to her, you needed to stand in front of her and speak clearly. Jon's mom worked outside the home; whether it be volunteer work or working as secretary at their business. Cooking was not something that she ever really enjoyed doing. Jon began working at his dad's shop when he was 10 years old. He bought an old Camero when he was 14. He became involved with computers at an early age, and knew from age 10 that he wanted to be an engineer when he grew up. Jon graduated from TU (University of Tulsa) with a double major in electrical engineering and computer science.

I grew up in a very rural area out in the country. The closest shopping was a 30 minute drive. Our entertainment was reading, playing outside, hanging out with our cousins, and church. My dad was a hard worker, but there weren't a lot of high paying jobs in the area in which we lived. He was a bulldozer operator for a few years, then hauled sandstone and creek rock for contractors to use for fireplaces and the outsides of homes. After my mom became sick, we really were pretty poor, having hospital and doctor bills to pay. My sisters and I would pick up pop bottles to sell at the local gas station, if we wanted a bottle of pop or candy bar. We raised our own chickens, cows, or pigs for butchering. Mama always grew a garden and canned vegetables, as well as picked berries for canning. Mama was also a wonderful cook! She was a stay at home wife and mother, never working outside the home. We never really vacationed. There was a big outdoor southern gospel singing each August in Springdale, AR (a couple hours from our home), and we started attending that when I was probably around age 10 or so. A few times we stayed overnight at the Big Chief motel (an older, one level motel), one or two nights during the singing; which was a big deal to stay at a motel and get to go shopping during the day. My parents were both raised pentecostal and we regularly attended the Assembly of God church, faithfully in attendance every time they had a service; and back then there were revivals that would last for a couple weeks. We would also attend revivals and singings at other area churches. Mama, and then later my sisters, sewed all of our clothes. We didn't have a bathroom in the house until I was six years old (yep, we had an outhouse out back); which I believe was the same year that we had a home telephone (which had a party line) installed. We had a cistern behind our house, and a water truck would deliver our water and fill the cistern. I loved watching the "water man" fill the cistern and would stand out there and talk to him. Later we ran a water line from my uncles house; then when I was a teenager, city water came to the area and we got that. We never had central heat and air or a dishwasher. We had a wood stove for the heat, and box fans and open windows for the air. I remember Mama doing laundry, using a wringer washing machine and she hung them outside on a clothes line to dry. I was probably around 10-12 years old when she got an electric washer and dryer. Three of my sisters never owned their own cars, before getting married. Only my next to the oldest sister and myself ever bought our own cars, after high school when we began working full-time. We also weren't familiar with computers, and the only kind of engineers we had heard of were train engineers! (I had no idea until I met Jon that there were other types of engineers!)

Our small home was filled with music; as well as a lot of family coming and going. We had a piano, and often one of us girls were playing it and singing (sometimes all of us singing). We'd get ready for church early, then play the piano and sing until time to leave. We had company in and out of our house on a regular basis. One of mama's brothers would often stop by during the day, when they were passing by, for a cup of coffee. We never locked our doors and whoever showed up would come in without knocking; it didn't matter if we were home or not; and they would look in our fridge or countertops to see if there were any leftovers they might want to eat, and help themselves. We visited my parent's siblings and their families, or they were at our house, often; and there were never any phone calls to see if they were home or if it was convenient for us to come. We just showed up, or they showed up. If we got to someone's home and they weren't there, we'd go somewhere else. My mom's family were big talkers, and storytellers; and we all liked to eat good home-cooking and visit!

Jon and I have discovered over our years of marriage, that a few of the things that we grew up with as being normal, sometimes seems odd to the other spouse; but to us, personally, it feels right. For instance, I grew up that we always ate supper around 5:00-5:30. That was when Daddy (and later my sisters when they began working) got home from work, and Mama had a meal fixed and ready for us at that time. We never had a TV, so we always sat at the kitchen table to eat. Even when I was single and living alone, as soon as I got home from work, I would eat supper. That has always been my custom, and I hate eating later than 5:30....6:00 at the very latest. When we got married, that is what time I'd have supper ready and want to eat. At first, Jon thought that was really early and that it just felt wrong to be eating at that time. His custom was to eat anywhere from 7:30-9:00. But he enjoyed my home-cooked meals, so was willing to compromise! And I was willing to compromise and eat in the living room in front of the TV, instead of at the kitchen table.

When you have habitually done something a particular way for a length of time, it becomes a custom. You do it without conscious thought; it is a way of life for you. Jon has accused me of intentionally doing things that I honestly wasn't aware of doing (not necessarily in a bad way!). It was a custom, a habit, a way of doing or saying something; and I did so without forethought, because it was ingrained in me and a natural response. He does this, also, but doesn't notice, because it is his personal custom, habit, way of doing things and response.

Many times Jon will move his hands or say something that reflects the influence his father had on him. Jon does this unconsciously and is usually unaware that he is doing it, but I have seen this happen often. He will gesture, or phrase something, or move in a way that is a carbon copy of Stan. He can't stop doing those things, because it is ingrained in him and in his genes. He has his father's DNA, worked for his dad for many years, and has spend numerous hours with his dad. Over that time, he picked up many of his father's mannerisms. Who we spend the most time with, tends to be the one(s) who has the most influence on us and makes the biggest impression; and we often will pick up certain traits or thoughts or phrases.

My sisters and I also have a lot of traits that our Mama had. We all stand with our arms akimbo (hands resting on our hips with elbows turned outward); which Mama did. Many times when we've been together, I've noticed that all five of us girls will all be standing like this. We all also tend to hum a lot. Mama hummed as she cooked or cleaned house or whatever she was doing, and we girls do the same thing.

Custom means: habit, practice, routine, way. It also means: tradition, usage, and observance. Our customs are things that have been done over and over again over a period of time, until it becomes a way of life and very familiar to us. Jesus, also, had some customs and things that were done "as usual".

In Luke 4:16 says, "When he [Jesus] came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual [some versions read "as was his custom"] to the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read the Scriptures."

It was Jesus' custom to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath. It wasn't something He began doing when He became an adult, or when He started his ministry at the age of 30, or when it grew close to the time of His crucifixion. Jesus' parents started taking him there at an early age, and it was something He continued doing after He left home. It was His usual place to go, a custom for Him.

Parents, you can't expect your kids to automatically know God and attend church, if that is not how you raise them. I daresay that few people make it their way of life, as an adult, if they've never had that experience and training as a child; although it's not an impossibility and there are some that do. You have to make it your custom to be faithful to church, and raise your kids to know the importance of loving God and pursuing a relationship with him. You have to be an example to them. Don't send your kids to church, while you stay home and sleep in or go fishing or mow the yard or whatever; but go with them -- take them. They need you to be an example of showing them what it means to love God, and not just hear the words told to them.

It was also Jesus' custom to go to the Mount of Olives to pray. Luke 22:39-41 says, "Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual [or as was his custom] to the Mount of Olives. Then he told them, 'Pray that you will not give in to temptation.' He walked away, about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed."

Again, this wasn't the first time that Jesus had been there to pray. He didn't wait until the night of His arrest before running up the mountain to pray. He didn't think, "Oh no! It's almost time for my death; I need to hurry and pray!" It was His custom to go there. He had made a practice of finding a place in which to pray.

We also need to make prayer our custom, our usual way of life. Prayer shouldn't be something we do when we're scared or in trouble or sick or facing difficulty. Yes, we definitely need to pray during those times; but it should be our custom to find a place to pray on a regular basis.

Praying and worshipping at church with others should be a way of life, a custom, our usual; so ingrained in us that it is done without forethought or with conscious effort. We just do it. It's natural and done habitually.

Also, when we spend time with our Heavenly Father, we will begin to take on His mannerisms and way of acting and speaking and doing things. The more time we spend with God, the more we will begin to look like Him. It won't be done for show or for attention, but will be so ingrained within us, that we can't help but be like Him. Just as Jon has unconsciously taken on many of his dad's way of moving and talking, we will begin acting like God after spending more and more time with Him. It's the same with how my sisters and I all stand and hum like our Mama; we didn't intentionally practice this or begin doing it on purpose, it was a characteristic of hers that we inherited by being her daughters. When we live in the Kingdom of God and reside close to the King, we will begin acting like His sons and daughters. People will look at us and recognize that fact and think, "You must be a christian. You have love and mercy and forgiveness and kindness and generosity and joy, just like Jesus!"

There is a lot being said today about the differences between the various races of people; and most of what we hear is negative. The truth is, we don't have to be just like one another to love and get along. We don't have to have the same backgrounds, upbringings, and lifestyles to find common ground. In fact, if we take the time and make the effort to get to know those who are different than we are, we may find, to our surprise, that we appreciate and like them. When Jon and I met and started to become acquainted, we could have thought, "Oh, we're too different! Our backgrounds and upbringings are way too different for us to ever become friends or build a relationship! We have absolutely nothing in common." "Eww... I don't want to marry a city boy; who is a geek and likes sci-fi's!" "Look at that hillbilly, country girl with that strong accent; she says the wrong words and has these oddball country saying!" If we had done this, we would have missed out on finding love and 11 years of marriage. Differences can be challenging at times; but also can be very rewarding, if we're willing to work at it and find that common ground.

We may all come from different backgrounds and may have been brought up with very different customs. That's okay! We can still communicate and love and get along. We don't have to be a cookie cutter of someone to get along with them and love them. If that were so, the marriage of Jon and I wouldn't have lasted these past 11 years. God can take all those differences, and make something worthwhile and beautiful out of them. We may drive each other crazy from time to time, but we can still love and accept and appreciate and respect one another.

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

I've noticed when I spend a lot of time around people with particular accents that I start talking a little like them. Mostly it isn't on purpose. But to some extent, I suspect it makes it easier for them to understand me, and it helps me get into a mindset where I start to understand them.

Both relate to how we start to behave when we spend enough time basking in God's presence. First, we will start to imitate Him without even thinking about it. Second, we start to understand Him better. I don't think He needs any help understanding us, but I think we can learn to express our feelings to Him in a way that helps us through things better.

ON THE MENEWE:

Piccalilli

1-2 gallons green tomatoes

6 cups sugar

4-5 green peppers

1 teaspoon celery seed

3-4 red peppers

2 teaspoons mustard seed

8-10 onions

3 teaspoons mixed spices

1/2 cup salt

4 cups vinegar

Finely chop all the vegetables; cover with salt. Let stand overnight. Drain in cheesecloth and squeeze out all water. Cover with cold water. Drain, and squeeze out again. Drain well. Add sugar, celery seed, mustard seed, mixed spices, and vinegar. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Put in glass jars boiling hot and seal. Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.

**This is Mama's recipe. Growing up, the only thing I ever remember eating piccalilli with is pinto beans and cornbread.

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

With this being an election year, and with the particular candidates that we have to choose from, it's been a tough year to stay positive and upbeat regarding our next president. I understand that. But I am also almost to the point of being anti-Facebook (and I am pretty much anti-news -- never watching or listening to it), due to all the negative political posts and reposts and shares that are on there continuously. Is posting those things making a difference and encouraging to look at and read? No!

We need to take 1 Timothy 2:1-4 to heart, instead of listening to everything that is being posted and what is on the daily news. This is the only hope and only thing that will make a difference and impact on America:

"I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them, intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings [I'm pretty sure this also means presidents] and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives, marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and understand the truth."

According to these scriptures, this is what we need to do: 1. Pray for one another, asking God to help them; as well as giving thanks for them. 2. Pray for our president and the one who will become our next president; as well as other government officials.

According to this passage of scripture, it is only when we do those things that we can live peaceful and quiet lives, marked by godliness and dignity. Complaining and being critical and negative doesn't make for peaceful and quiet lives; neither does it bring about godliness and dignity. You want to know what good to do and how to please God? Pray for others, pray for our president, and pray for our government officials. The last line in that passage says that God wants everyone to be saved and understand truth. That's not only for your family, friends, and neighbors. That is for our president and any future presidents we may have in office. Have you interceded and prayed for President Obama's salvation and for him to understand the truth? Have you interceded and prayed that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be saved and understand the truth? Honestly, I've been very slack regarding this, and have been convicted. God wants everyone to be saved, and that means our president and our future president. I've begun to pray for this, and encourage for you to, also.

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

When we're stressed, our brains consistently mis-predict what will make us happy. - Kelly McGonigal

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

http://www.graysheep.org