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

March 14, 2018

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

A couple weeks ago I had the top and bottom wisdom teeth pulled on the left side. When my dentist had discussed them needing to come out with me, he had mentioned that normally he likes to pull wisdom teeth by the time that someone is age 28.... and well, I'm 52! I've heard the wisdom teeth horror stories of the pain and swelling and dry socket. I didn't really tell a lot of people about me having them pulled beforehand, because everyone likes to share their terrible experiences and I didn't want to listen to their stories.

I set an appointment to have the teeth pulled, then had to reschedule due to a conflict, so had to wait about 5 weeks between making the decision to having them taken out to actually having it done. Honestly, I was not in the least bit worried about it and had a great sense of peace that everything was going to be okay.

After we got married, Jon went to an oral surgeon and had his wisdom teeth extracted and the antithesis made him sick and right afterwards it made him goofy. His mouth hurt, so he decided to do sign language to me; only his hands were just kind of flopping around and not making real signs, and he was frustrated at me for not understanding him. It was cold out, and when he finally got released, we had a low back tire on our car. We made it home, and his face was swollen and his mouth hurt and he was miserable for a couple days.

My niece, Janee', had so much swelling after having her wisdom teeth removed that she looked like a little chipmunk with big swollen cheeks and a little bitty mouth.

Jon, Janee', and Janie (my sister -- Janee's mom) seemed to be more concerned about it than I was. "I think you're going to want to go home and sleep afterwards." "Are you sure you don't want me to get a babysitter for Jovie the next day?" "Umm... I think you may hurt more than you think!" "I don't think you're going to want to do anything for the rest of the day." I kept telling them, "I'm not worried about it! I'm going to be fine!" I wasn't trying to convince myself, but truly felt that way. It was going to be fine and I had a great peace.

Before I went in to have the teeth pulled, I thought, "The dentist and his assistant will see me sitting in the dental chair, but what they won't see is that I'll be sitting in lap of the Great Physician (Jesus) and He will be holding me and guiding the hand of the dentist. What more could I want?!" I had no worries!

I was in and out of the dentist office in an hour. The dentist told me that for wisdom teeth, they both had come out easily. He gave me a prescription for pain pills (to take if needed) and for prescription ibuprofen, which I got filled on my way home. By 2:00 that afternoon, all of the numbness from the shots had worn off. I had absolutely no swelling and no pain.... none! In fact, I couldn't really even tell that I'd had any dental work done; except for those pits in my gums where the teeth had been. The dentist had even taken one stitch in the bottom, due to a small flap of skin that had partially gone over the lower wisdom tooth. It was amazing!! It didn't feel tender or sore and didn't hurt whatsoever!

I never needed the pain pills. I did take the prescription ibuprofen, per the dentist's orders, to prevent infection. I didn't chew on that side, per instructions, in order to allow it to heal quicker. I did eat softer foods that Wednesday, but the next day ate whatever I wanted. I felt great!

I had told my sisters and several other people, as well as made a post on Facebook, about the miracle that God had given me. I was so excited and rejoicing and thanking God! A nurse from our church told me that it was a miracle that I had no pain or swelling afterwards; that is unheard of.

Then Saturday evening I felt a small swollen place on my gum line. It wasn't where the tooth had been pulled, but was around the area where the shot had been given. By Sunday, there was a big lump in that area and some swelling in my jawline. On Sunday afternoon, I experienced some discomfort off and on for about three hours. I swished warm salt water around that area; I used a moist heat pack; I used some essential oils; I took the prescription ibuprofen. I prayed!

When I woke up on Monday morning, that large swollen place on my gums was still there. In addition to that, my cheek had quite a bit of swelling, as well as swelling along my jaw bone. What?! I called the dentist first thing and he was able to work me in. He checked and said that there was no infection around where the tooth had been pulled; had an x-ray taken and the nerve below the roots looked good; poked the gums with a sharp dental tool and said the contacts of the tooth next to where the wisdom tooth had been looked good. His diagnosis was that the blood and fluid had drained and formed a pocket on my gums. He said that perhaps some foreign matter may have gotten inside there, too, so there may be just a little infection. So he prescribed some antibiotics and steroids.

I had never taken any type of steroids before! It was a 6 day dosage, where you take six pills the first day and then one less the following days, until you only have one pill to take the last day. I began taking them on that Monday. According to instructions, I took the last two pills for the day right before bedtime. Oh my! It had an adverse effect on me! It put me in a really deep sleep and made me have really bizarre dreams. I kept trying to wake up during the night to use the bathroom and had a difficult time rousing myself. When I finally got awake around 2:30, if felt like I had been drugged. I hated that feeling! So I called the dentist first thing the next morning and got permission to go off the steroids, and took the remaining prescription ibuprofen instead.

Now that place on my gums is gone and all is well!

What a long, long story! But here's my question: I had felt peace about the procedure and all went well afterwards -- no pain or swelling. What a miracle!! Then four days later, I experienced that swollen pocket on my gums and the swelling in my cheek and along my jaw bone. So did that cancel out the miracle and mean that.... oh... you still had problems with having those two wisdom teeth pulled, so God helped you through the extractions, but didn't really give you a miracle due to the issues that later happened?

Honestly, on Sunday I heard that little voice in my head that said, "Don't you feel foolish now?! You told people about the miracle of having your wisdom teeth pulled and no pain or swelling; look at you now! You better keep your mouth shut and not say anything to anyone, or they will think you're a fraud and that God didn't really answer your prayers and give you a miracle!"

At that moment I had to make a choice: either I listen to that voice and react accordingly and allow it to steal my faith and make me feel like a fool; or I rebuke that voice and silence it. I knew what God had done for me and said, "Satan, you can't steal my miracle!" I had to tell him that 3-4 times to silence his voice; but I was determined that I was not going to allow him to steal my miracle and lie to me about what God had done.

There are times when we may experience an answered prayer or a miracle or receive a blessing, then something happens that appears to negate what we received from God. We often think that when something wonderful happens and we experience a God-moment, then everything afterwards should go smoothly and everything about that situation should be trouble-free; but then something happens that seems to invalidate what we saw God do. What is our reaction when that occurs? Do we keep our focus on God and hold strongly to our faith; or do we waver and become distracted and discouraged and disheartened? Satan likes nothing better than to try and bring about turmoil in our life. He likes to point his finger at God and cause us to lose faith and hope.

If Satan can cause us to begin to question God, or question what we had thought was an answered prayer, or question whether or not God worked on our behalf...... then he has us right where he wants us. He has us in a place where worry and/or fear consumes our thoughts. He brings us to a place where our faith becomes weakened and we begin to lose sight of hope. He causes us to be more concerned about our situation and how it's going to work out, which consumes our thoughts; more than us focusing on God and believing that He has everything under control and will work everything out for our good.

Trusting God and holding onto hope is a daily choice. We have to commit to keeping hold of faith for those things that we are in need of at all times. We can't waver back and forth, but have to daily... and sometimes hourly... chose to focus on God and believe that He loves us enough to take care of what we have need of.

Sometimes peace doesn't make sense to others. They don't understand how we can have peace when facing something that could be painful or life-changing or difficult. In fact, they will often tell you their stories about how they went through similar and it was awful... or someone that they knew went through similar and it was just horrible.... Everyone likes talking about their negative, pain-filled, horrible experiences when someone they know is facing a situation that is likened unto their own. Why?! Why do they feel it necessary to share how bad something was, when there is someone who is facing something similar? Why not encourage and pray and believe for a miracle, that the outcome will be much different and better than what they or someone they know experienced!!

Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." The next verse said that it's not by works, lest any one should boast. Romans 12:3 says that God has given us all a measure of faith. Then in Hebrews 12:2 we are told that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith.

God has given each and every one of us a measure of faith; He didn't leave anyone out! In fact, it is only by faith that we are saved. If we had no faith, then we would never have been able to receive salvation. We can't earn or work for our salvation; it's a gift of God, given by His grace, that we receive by faith. So if you've received salvation, you have faith. But it's not faith in ourselves, but through Jesus; who is the author and finisher of our faith. He is the one who originated, created, and established our faith (who authored it); and will be the finisher of our faith. A "finisher" is a person who reaches the end of a race. That faith will be there within us until we finish our earthly race.

We all face circumstances when we have to choose to tenaciously hold onto faith and not let go! We have to believe that God hears our prayer and will answer. We have to keep our eyes focused on Him, and not on what's going on or happening around us or in our personal life. If not, then we're going to grow disheartened and discouraged and lose hope. We will become overcome with anxiety and fear and worry. We will be stressed and lose our joy. When we lose our joy, we will lose our strength.

I encourage you today to hold fast to faith and not let Satan nor anyone steal your testimony! Whatever it is that you are praying and believing for, don't give up or lose faith nor grow discouraged. If it seems as if the answer comes and you are given your miracle, then something happens that seems to negate what God has done, don't lose faith or think that you've somehow missed out on what God is doing. When you are given a miracle, testify about it, and don't let anyone or anything steal that from you!

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

I'm sure everyone reading this knows that Jesus raised Lazarus from death. The Bible doesn't say so, but it's a pretty good guess that sometime later, Lazarus died without being raised again. Does that take away from the miracle of raising him from death?

My brother-in-law fought cancer several years ago. It was really a miracle that he didn't die in the first week after his diagnosis. But he lived on for another year, got to enjoy his family, got to see them grow, and got to spend more time with them. After that year, he did pass away, and moved on into his permanent home. Does that take away the miracle of surviving to and through his first surgery?

It's a fair guess that everyone who Jesus healed eventually died. Does that mean that He didn't really heal any of them?

When Loretta was preparing for her oral surgery, I was glad she felt at peace. I wanted to caution her (but knew I didn't need to), so she wouldn't be shocked and upset if she wasn't spared the pain most of us experienced. But I never wanted to discourage her. When she did start to feel the lump aching, I wanted her to know that it didn't mean something was dreadfully wrong. I just hope I didn't discourage her, while I was trying to comfort her. I see now that I should have been more clear that I really did hope she would be spared. I'm glad she was miraculously spared the bulk of the pain.

ON THE MENEWE:

Lemon Bars

Crust:

2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, cut into small cubes

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 pan with butter.

Stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter to the bowl and use a pastry cutter to cut it all together until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Press into the prepared pan and bake golden around the edges, about 20 minutes.

Filling:

1-1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

4 eggs

zest and juice of 4 medium-sized lemons

Stir together the sugar and flour. Crack in the eggs and whisk to combine. Add the lemon zest and juice and mix until combined. Pour over the crust and bake about 20 minutes.

Allow pan to slightly cool, then place in refrigerator and allow to cool for a minimum of 2 hours. Sift powdered sugar over the top before cutting into squares.

(Use an 8x10 pan if you'd like the layers to be a little thicker.)

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

I have mentioned before that our church, Praise Assembly Deaf Church, has been in the middle of a remodeling project for several months now; after close to three years of getting permits, fixing zoning issues, and numerous other issues. We have been so blessed by having men in our church who are gifted in doing construction work, and they have spent countless hours working on the building, which will one day soon be our new sanctuary. We have also been blessed by having Asbury Methodist Church in Tulsa come help us one Saturday morning per month. They have a ministry named "Second Saturday" and send teams to various churches and places that need help. They have helped us 4-5 times now.

We would appreciate your prayers for our church. Funds are beginning to run low and we need a financial miracle; which we know is not too difficult for God, our provider. Our goal was to be in our new sanctuary by Easter, and need a miracle for that to happen. We are also in need of God-called workers to minister to our youth and kids.

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

The television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room

by people you wouldn't have in your home. - David Frost

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

http://www.graysheep.org