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

October 2, 2019

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

"What are you going to be when you grow up," is a question often asked of kids. Most children will give some type of answer; but few grow up to be what they dream of as children. Jon is the exception, for he knew around the age of nine that he wanted to be an electrical engineer, and that is the career path that he has stayed with since college.

When I was a young girl, my dream was to become a singer and travel around the country on a big bus, singing to large crowds of people. At home, I spent hours singing and learning how to play piano. I could picture myself someday singing in big churches and auditoriums, with a large band accompanying me.

When I became a teenager and young adult, I dreamed of getting married and having children. I thought perhaps I would be a pastor's wife; because, you know....I could sing and play piano, which would be an asset to his ministry.

As years passed, my life didn't turn out anything as I imagined that it would.

I never became a well-known singer; and the closest I came to riding a big bus was on a school bus. I did sing at church by myself, then with a couple of my sisters, then again by myself after they got married. I've sang at many, many funerals. But I've never sang to a huge crowd and never with a back-up band.

I was single for many, many years! I didn't marry a preacher and didn't have children.

But I can see how God has directed my steps. Music has always been an important part of my life, and always will be; but I've not been called to be a performer. I dearly love Jon and am grateful that God chose him to be my husband! He's an electrical engineer/computer programmer and one of the smartest men I know. I ended up being the minister!

Proverbs 16:9 says, "We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps."

Proverbs 19:21 says, "You can make plans, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."

Making plans and having dreams is okay and a natural thing to do; but many times we find that God may direct our steps in a different direction. When that happens we have to choose to either dig our heels in and try to stay on the path that we want to be on, or we can submit to God's will and walk in obedience to His plan. If we try to go our own way, we may have a little success, but we won't be happy and will always feel unsettled in our spirit. If we choose to submit to God, we will be at peace and see how our Father works out all things for good.

One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11: "'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

Looking back over my life, I see how God has orchestrated every detail of my life. Often, I wasn't aware of it and didn't always recognize what He was doing, but He has always been at work and directing my every step. He did it so seamlessly and gracefully. I haven't always enjoyed every season of my life or appreciated what I've had to endue or go through; but through it all, God has been faithful and has always loved me and led me.

Jon and I were recently reminiscing about the past twelve years of my life, since I quit working a career type of job. It is amazing how God has orchestrated my life where I was needed at one place at a time; and never was I placed in a position of having to pick and choose who needed me most. The positions that I've filled have never overlapped where I've felt overwhelmed or overly stressed.

Here is a general overview of the past few years: The first year after my banking career was when I began this newsletter..... Jon's mom had a couple surgeries and I filled in for her at the business that she and my father-in-law owned at the time (where Jon was also working).... and my daddy passed away. Then my niece, Janee', became pregnant and was hospitalized a few times for early labor, then put on complete bed rest and I was able to stay with her and help her out when needed. After Jax was born, I babysat him for 2-3 years. My brother-in-law, Jimmy was diagnosed with a brain tumor and over the next year I was available to help him and Janie out; especially the last few months before he passed away and they were unable to leave the house, except for doctor appointments. After he passed away, their youngest son, Devin, began having horrible reactions and it took almost a year to get him diagnosed and everything figured out. It was a Lone Star Tick bite that caused severe allergies. While this was going on, Janie began home-schooling him and I went over and helped a few days a week when she had jobs that she needed to do. Then Janie got kinship of two baby boys, then had a house fire.... and for the next year I often went over to help with the boys and with Devin, when she had to work. After Janie got back into her home and then the babies were back with their mother, Janee' had a baby girl. The next four years, I babysat Jovie. A year ago, Janee' decided to put her in pre-K, and I thought, "What now?!" That summer, my nephew and his wife were contacted about taking a newborn baby girl in a foster-to-adopt situation, so I began babysitting her. Then a few months later, they got a little boy whom they are also adopting. The babies are both 1-year olds who are only 4-months apart in age. So I now spend four days a week taking care of these two sweet babies, and getting their other kids on the school bus in the mornings.

Can you see how as one door closed, another opened? God directing my steps at all times!

Many times we don't recognize that it is God directing our life and orchestrating every detail, because it doesn't seem exciting or "big" or important to us. We haven't had that "burning bush" moment where God speaks audibly to us; or we've not seen the water part or water gushing from a rock after we've used our "staff"; or we've not seen a giant slain from a rock thrown for our slingshot....... Our life seems mundane, compared to those in the Bible.

The truth is, Moses spent a lot of years as a shepherd herding his father-in-law's sheep, which probably seemed pretty mundane and boring to him. There were likely many days and months during those forty years in the desert when things probably seemed tedious and unexciting to him. But in the midst of all of that, he experienced events and moments when he did have face to face conversations with God and miraculous things happen.

I believe the bottom line to allowing God to direct our steps and leading us down the path that He chooses for us is to be willing to walk in obedience. Even when we don't understand, or it seems unfair, or it's not exactly what we would want to do we trust that our Father has our best interest at heart and loves us. We choose to say, "Yes," to Him.

I used to sing a song and the chorus says: "Yes, Lord, yes, to Your will and to Your way. Yes, Lord, yes, I will trust You and obey. When Your Spirit speaks to me, with my whole heart I'll agree. And my answer will be, yes, Lord, yes."

Let's learn to say yes to our Father! Let's rest in the confidence that His plans for us are always to give us a future and a hope!

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

I actually did plan on a different career path first. I had decided I'd be a doctor. It sounded a lot better than fire fighter or truck driver when I was little. But when I was about 9 years old, a friend of my dad's let me play with his computer for a few days. I was hooked. I knew from that day on that I wanted to do something with computers. I loved playing the games, but wanted to create programs, too. Before long, I learned that my real focus was more on the electronics, but still computer related. I shifted a little this way and that, but my career has focused on computers and electronics all the way.

My first plan was just because I was picking something. But it wasn't really in my heart. It wasn't the path God had set out for me.

My new plan was based on the gifts and passions that God had given me. And that was the one I was really meant for. God has a path for each of us. The path leads through different areas, but it doesn't have any dead-ends. That is, as long as we don't take any major detours.

ON THE MENEWE:

Stuffed Mushrooms

1/2 pound Jimmy Dean maple sausage

1-2 tablespoons garlic, minced

1/2 small onion, finely diced

8 ounces cream cheese

1 egg yolk

1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

salt & pepper, to taste

Wipe off mushrooms. Remove stems and chop mushroom stems and set aside.

Brown and crumble sausage. Set aside on a plate to cool. Using the same pan that you cooked the sausage in, add onion and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes over medium low heat. Add stems and cook until browned (about 2 minutes). Add the sausage back in and stir.

Add salt and pepper. Allow to cool.

In a bowl combine cream cheese and egg yolk. Stir in parmesan cheese. Add in the sausage mixture.

Refrigerate for a short time to firm up.

Put a spoonful of the mixture into mushroom cavity, creating a sizable mound.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

Growing up, there was a general store/gas station close to our home. My sister, Janie, was good friends with the owner's youngest daughter. One time I walked with Janie to go visit her friend. There was a bathroom on the outside wall of the store. An out of state car stopped for gas, and Janie and her friend told me that I needed to go into the bathroom, because they had heard the couple talking that they would like a little girl, so I needed to hide. The bathroom had a string pull cord for the light. They shut the light off (I couldn't reach the cord!) and shut the door and told me to be very quiet. In hindsight, I'm sure that they were just wanting a few minutes without me following them around! I'm not sure how they bribed me to not tell on them; especially not telling Mama and Daddy what Janie had done. They probably bought me some candy! I didn't find this quite so funny at the time, but do now!

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire? - Corrie ten Boom

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

http://www.graysheep.org