"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!'"
October 5, 2016
I am beyond excited and overwhelmed this week!! This is the 500th edition of our weekend newsletter!! Five Hundred.... 500.... 5-0-0!! Wow!!! I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to do something that I love doing for this long; and actually still have people who are reading what I write each week. Our first newsletter was published on March 12th, 2007. It's amazing to think that we've been doing this for 9-1/2 years!! I had no idea when I first started writing this what the outcome would be, or how long I would be doing it. Thank you so much for your support and for reading our newsletter each week. It means more to us than you'll ever know!
I will never forget the morning that God gave me this dream. I was making our bed when the idea of writing a weekly devotional came to mind. That idea began to take root and grow as the day went by; excitement building. That evening, I shared my dream with Jon, not sure what his response would be. He was immediately supportive, volunteering to do the technical side of setting up our website and taking care of all the technical aspects; putting his skills into use. Then he decided that he would also like to write something each week. So that was how this all began.
Since that time, we have worked as a team to weekly write and publish The New Ewe newsletter on our Gray Sheep website. I am happy to say that we have never missed an edition; even when traveling/vacationing, Jon working out of town, when one of us wasn't feeling well, etc. It's exciting when couples work together as a team to accomplish a purpose; both being committed to seeing it through. It's even more exciting to see God blessing your dreams.
Proverbs 16:3 says, "Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed." Then in Psalms 37:5 we're told, "Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you."
How many times have we been afraid to follow our dream, fearing failure? We have a thought, an idea, a passion, a dream, a desire to do something..... yet we will question it, feel as if we're unqualified, ponder all the what ifs, worry about what others will think, and wonder if the dream is from God or our own aspiration. We often miss out on God's will and never pursue the dream that He places in our heart.
The truth is, probably very few of us (that I know of) will receive a huge revelation or letter from Heaven or hear the audible voice of God, although He is capable of speaking in such a way, should He choose. But more times than not, it's that still small voice, that thought or idea that strikes a chord in our heart, that is God speaking to us and giving us a dream of something that He wants us to do. When that happens, we need to trust Him, commit our actions and all that we do to the Lord; then He will help us and our plans will succeed. That's a promise from His Word!
Occasionally, we may get off track or may even occasionally mishear the voice of God; but God is loving enough to gently guide us back to where we need to be. He's not going to punish or discipline us for earnestly trying to follow Him and obey.
One thing that Jon and I are learning is that the more often we commit our plans to Him and obey, the easier it is to hear His voice. When we practice obedience, the clearer the promptings of God will become. I'm not only speaking of following dreams, but in all that we do. I've erred and made mistakes, and I'm still a work in progress, but am trying to mature and grow in this area.
What's your dream? What is it that God has placed in your heart that you would like to do or accomplish? Furthermore, what is hindering you from pursuing that dream? Is it a matter of feeling as if God is asking you to wait on His timing, or is it fear? Whatever God calls you to do, He will equip you with what you need to fulfill it.
For us it was obeying and starting a christian website where we write a weekly newsletter. Now, 9-1/2 years later and 500 issues written, we see the blessings of God upon our obedience. We will continue to do so for as long as we have people reading each week and we feel God leading us down this path. The truth is, I don't feel like this is the only dream that God has given to me. Perhaps it's time for me to take another step of faith and see what God does, in addition to this website and newsletter, over the upcoming years. In fact, this past weekend, I had a couple of godly women urge me to do something that I've long had a desire to do. I believe that it was the confirmation that I needed to follow another dream, and see where it takes me. I don't yet know what the outcome will be, but am willing to pursue this to see what happens.
I encourage you today to let go of fears and questions and doubts and worries, say, "Yes, Lord!" and step out in faith to pursue that dream that God has given to you!! Now is the time for action, for committing your plans to the Lord and see what He can do through you. When you do so, I'd like to hear how God answers and how He blesses the dream that He has placed in your heart to pursue! I want to hear your testimony!! When we share our story, our testimony, it often encourages others to act and believe for themselves.
I get lots of dreams. Not all of them are from God.
I dream of getting rich, or at least wealthy enough to retire someday. I'm sure that's not from God. I have several ideas on things I might be able to build and sell to earn riches, and I don't think those are really God's desire, but I'll still give Him credit for His hand in the ideas. And I don't think pursuing this is against God's will, I'm just not certain it's His plan for me.
I dream of adding a lot of cool features to the GraySheep, but never seem to have enough time to focus deeply on it enough to make much progress. I suspect that is one of those dreams I'm meant to pursue more than I do.
I dream of building a home in the country, probably to move into when I retire. I know God has "made us to walk by the still waters". So even if this isn't a dream that shares His glory, I think it still shows His love for us that I might be able to walk by the still waters in my old age.
I dream of helping build our new church sanctuary. I have many ideas on features I think it should have, and want to be a major part in making them real. We've been held up due to paperwork, but I'm hoping we can move forward over this winter.
I dream of making lots of cool tools, toys, and fun robots. And many evenings, I just dream of beating the daily challenge in a game of solitaire.
Some of our dreams aren't really a gift from God. Some are just for our simple pleasure or even greed. Some are good intentions, but not really God's will. Some aren't even possible. It isn't always easy to know which are which. We can dismiss a Godly dream easily if we think it's impossible, or hit one snag and assume God is trying to stop us, or if we don't feel we could be the right one for the job. Then again, we might be pursuing an ungodly dream. How do we know? The best test is, "does it bring glory to God, or ourselves?" Patience and listening to God can also help. I wish I had more of an answer than that.
Aunt Ruth's Hashbrown Casserole
2 pound package frozen hashbrowns, thawed
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick melted butter
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pint sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup chopped onion (optional)
Thaw hash-browns completely. Mix hash-browns and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Combine completely and place in a buttered 9x13 cake pan or casserole dish.
2 cups crushed Cornflakes
1/4 cup melted butter
Mix crushed Cornflakes and melted butter together and spread evenly on top of hash-brown casserole. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Watch after 30 minutes to avoid over-browning.
**Note: I sometimes just used crushed Cornflakes on top without adding the butter in with it when making for me and Jon. I think that it reheats better and the topping doesn't get quite as soggy when eating leftovers.
Below is one of my all-time favorite stories about my dad. I still laugh every time I think about this incident:
Several years ago, my dad decided to take my stepmother to visit a retired minister and his wife, who had been his former pastor. She had never met the couple and he had not seen them for quite a few years. It was about a four hour drive, and they pulled up in front the house. An older couple welcomed them inside and told them to make themselves at home. Daddy thought they looked a little different than what he remembered, but thought he must have just forgotten what they looked like. My stepmother sat down, took her shoes off, and got comfortable. After visiting for a short time, my dad realized that he had no idea who this couple was. The older couple was glad for the company and invited them to come back and visit again. Embarrassed, my dad left and drove straight home.
Patience is to idle your motor when you feel like stripping the gears.
(This was the "Thought To Ponder" that I used in our very first newsletter.)
We love you!
Loretta & Jon