"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 10, 2018
A couple times a week, more or less, I go to my nephews' home to babysit their baby and get the older two children onto the school bus.
The six year old son's first grade classes had a field trip this week to the pumpkin patch. They were going to pick apples, look at pumpkins, and have a picnic. Last week the students all took a solid t-shirt to school and decorated it to wear for this special day. This was a very big deal for him!
At 7:45 the morning of the field trip, I couldn't find him and asked his sister if she knew where he was. He was dressed, had his backpack on, and was standing outside watching for the bus. The bus doesn't pick the kids up for school until around 8:40, so he had almost an hour wait.
He was so excited, yet so worried that he would miss the bus or that he would be late arriving at school. I told him to eat breakfast and brush his teeth, because he had plenty of time. He told me, "But my teacher said that the field trip bus was leaving the school at 9:15 and I don't want to miss it! If I'm not there, they will leave without me!" I explained that I was sure there were other first graders that rode his bus, and they wouldn't leave the school for the field trip without them.
When his mom arrived home that afternoon I told her what had happened that morning. She laughed and said that he has been worried about missing the field trip bus for the past week. This day was a highlight of his school year, so far, and he wanted to make sure that he didn't miss out!
Have you ever anticipated an exciting vacation or trip? You count down days, think about what all you want to pack to take with you, plan what outings you want to do during your time away, watch the weather forecast, and daydream about how exciting it's going to be..... at least that is what I do!
Some of the trips that Jon and I have taken have gone as planned, and some have not. Some have been better than I ever imagined, and some have been a bit disappointing. Some have gone differently than we expected, but were still good.
Going to Yellowstone was a vacation that both of us were very excited about; and it really was a trip that both of us thoroughly enjoyed. But the weather was nothing like we had anticipated! We went in mid-June. On the way there we were driving through the mountains of Colorado and it began snowing. There were snowplows in place and ready to go. When we reached the highest point of the mountainous highway, we pulled over to take pictures and played in the snow, which was several inches deep from previous snows that had not yet melted.
Upon reaching Yellowstone, we found out that spring had arrived later than normal that year. I had packed summer clothes, but it was chilly spring weather most days. Thankfully, I had packed us each a pair of jeans and lightweight jackets. There was still quite a bit of snow throughout the park, and it was quite deep beside the road in places. But due to the later spring, there were many different kinds of animals out and about that we got to see, which made it fun.
When we went to Germany for Jon's job, the trip was cancelled or postponed at least three or four times before we ever actually went. One of those times, we were packed and ready to fly out the following morning when it was cancelled the evening before. This was a trip that we both were really anticipating and wanting to take, but we were beginning to wonder if it was going to be a reality.
It wasn't until we were actually on the plane that we were convinced that it was really going to happen. That trip was everything that we had dreamed it would be, plus more. We had an amazing time!
When Jon found out that he was traveling to Singapore for a job several years ago, he really wanted me to go with him. That was our first experience of traveling overseas. Honestly, neither of us really had any desire to go to Asia. It wasn't a dream of ours, it wasn't someplace that we had ever even thought of wanting to go; and in fact, we had to look it up to even see for sure where it was located. We (well really more "I") researched online to find out what was there and what it was like, so that we would have a bit of an idea of what to expect.
After 30-plus hours of flights and layovers, we finally arrived. It was an awesome experience for us both and we had a wonderful time. We got to see and do pretty much everything on the entire island (which is pretty small) that we had planned. We made a lot of memories while there and were happy to have had the experience; but agree that it isn't someplace that we have any desire to return to.
A few years ago, we took a long weekend trip to Tennessee. I can't say that it was a "bad" trip, but it wasn't one of our best. I ended up getting a horrible stomach virus the day before we left. I was feeling a lot better the next morning, so we decided to go ahead and go, since we had a mountain cabin reserved. I felt weak the day that we traveled there, but was completely fine the following day. It ended up raining the entire weekend! We had plans to go to an outdoor historical living museum, and the grounds were incredibly muddy, with it raining off and on all day. So we decided to circle up through Kentucky and go to Cumberland Gap.... and it rained and was foggy the entire time. We ended up driving all the way home, due to the rains, arriving around 3:00 AM or so on Sunday morning. Even though it didn't go as planned, we still made memories.
There is a saying adapted from Robert Burns poem "To a Mouse" that says, "The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry;" meaning that no matter how carefully something is planned, something may still go wrong.
Sadly, many people go through life with the thought that if something bad is going to happen to someone, it will happen to them. They are always expecting the worst. Perhaps they feel that if they always expect the worst, then they won't ever be disappointed. But what a miserable way to live!
The truth is, God delights in giving us good gifts. He takes pleasure in blessing us. In fact, He has plans for our lives that are good.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"
What a difference we'd find in our attitude and outlook, if we would look for the blessing in each day and allow the joy of the Lord to always be our strength. Regardless of what we face, we can have peace in knowing that God's plans are always for good and not for disaster; that He has given us a future and a hope. Nothing surprises the Lord, nor does it catch Him off-guard! He knows the plans that He has for us from beginning to end. We may not always understand why things happen as they do and it may sometimes feel heart-breaking or too difficult, but we can trust God in all circumstances.
Jon's cousin is dealing with non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancer right now. He has gone through four cycles of chemotherapy, with three more to go. He has suffered many side-affects. But through it all, he has consistently maintained steadfast joy in the Lord. He has looked for the best in each day. He has every reason to feel self-pity and depressed, but instead, he chooses... yes it is a choice... to keep his eyes firmly on Jesus and to firmly hold onto joy. His blogs have been an inspiration and encouragement to many, many people. He has been very open and honest writing about his pain and the side-affects and the weird dreams; but in each blog he always points to Jesus. It is never him looking for sympathy or attention, but it is to focus on his joy in the Lord.
I read a story that said when Thomas Edison was 67 years old, a destructive fire burned down his famous laboratories in New Jersey. Not only did he lose several million dollars in equipment, but he also lost his records to most of his life works. The next morning, he walked out among the ashes and embers and said this: "There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew." He turned a stumbling block into a stepping stone.
I asked my great-nephew's mom how he had liked the pumpkin patch field trip. She said that he came home and told her that it was even better than he thought it would be!
That's how I want to live life! I want to be filled with joy and excitement for each day and the adventures that come my way; anticipating what the day may bring. But then at the end of the day to say, "It was even better than I thought it would be!"
I don't want to go through life expecting bad luck and for the worst to happen. I don't want to live negatively and fearful of the bad that may or may not come my way; worrying about things that likely will never happen. If things don't go as planned and life takes an unexpected turn, to always dance in the rain (so to speak) instead of whining and complaining about the outcome. To find joy in the journey...that is not only my desire, but that is God's desire for me -- as well as for you!
I've been accused of being a pessimist. But I'm really more of a realist. No, I don't really expect the worst in most situations. And I don't usually expect the worst from people. I do typically prepare for negative possibilities, but I don't honestly expect them most of the time.
I find it comforting to know I'm prepared for possibilities. I do know that God is even more prepared than I am. And on a few rare occasions, I've actually felt God letting me know I don't have to prepare; He has it covered. I'm getting more practice at it, but it's still a little difficult to let go, and not prepare for possibilities.
I don't always feel that confirmation in every situation. I've had work I've done, and felt like I should wait to make sure it works perfectly before I leave. Many of those times, it was a good thing I waited. I don't worry that if God hasn't told me to let it go that something bad is in store. It's just that I don't always hear from God well. But I'm working on that.
Honey Garlic Pork Chops
1/4 plus 1/8 cup honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 boneless pork chops
In a shallow dish whisk together honey, soy sauce, and garlic. Coat chops in mixture
Reserve left over honey mixture for basting. Place pork chops on greased grill over medium high heat. Close lid and cook until done; basting 2 times during cooking time.
My niece's 8-year old daughter wrote Jon a note that says, "Your a better uncule then eney bidy else." She gave it to him and told him to not let anyone else read it. Then she came up to me and whispered, "Take a picture of it and send it to Uncle Jordan!" Hmm... I'm pretty sure that in her sweetness to Jon, she also kind of wanted to try and stir things up a tad by asking me to tell Jordan.
My great-niece, Jovie, recently told me that she really likes watching my iPad.... but she really likes me, too. I asked if she liked me or my iPad the best. Well..... she had to think about it.... "I guess I like you, best!" Kids are so funny and entertaining!
Prayer is asking God to align you with His will
rather than asking Him to be aligned to yours. - unknown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon