Tale of the Lost Sheep

Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long and the one the lord loves rests between his shoulders. Deut 33:12

There once was a shepherd with a hundred lambs, but one of his lambs wandered away and was lost. So the shepherd left the 99 lambs out in the open field and searched in the wilderness for that one lost lamb. He didn’t stop until he finally found it. With exuberant joy he raised it up and placed it on his shoulders, carrying it back with cheerful delight! Returning home, he called his friends and neighbors together and said, “Let’s have a party! Come and celebrate with me the return of my lost lamb. It wandered away but I found it and brought it home.” Luke 15:4-7

 

I shiver, huddled under the only foliage in sight, a scrubby half-dead excuse of a tree and the protection it provides is not worth mentioning, but it’s all I could find. I have no idea where I am, or where my family and friends are. I’m alone… desperately, terrifyingly alone. I’ve never been totally alone before.

Food has been scarce lately; a recent drought dried up the brooks, and the grass is shriveled and brown. I was scrounging for any morsel of food I could find; we all were. I thought maybe if I just went a little further, beyond the area we were traveling through, I might find some tender shoots of young plants. Just a little further, I said to myself; just over the next hill. No one was looking, so I slowly drifted from the flock. Nothing, and so I went over the next hill, but the landscape never improved; if anything, it got worse, more desolate, more forsaken.

Now I’m lost. Nothing looks familiar.

 

THe Lost Sheep

 

I want to find my way back to the flock but I’m so confused; there are no landmarks that I recognize, and everything looks the same… dry and dusty and brown as far as my eye can see.

I have no idea which way to turn at this point, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s been so long now since I’ve eaten, I’m too weak to travel. My only hope at this point, is that someone will find me. But out here? How would they even know where to look?

 

Lost Sheep

 

I wonder if the other sheep even know I’m missing. Probably not, no one pays attention to me. And my shepherd… well, I’m afraid of him, so I stay out of his away. I’m not even sure he knows I exist and if he does realize I’m gone, he’s probably angry.

I’m so tired, I’ll just close my eyes for minute and then I’ll try to figure out what to…

“What’s this?! Poor little sheep. You are so bedraggled, your wool all matted with twigs and insects. How on earth did you come this far, little one?”

I awake and realize I’m no longer under the tree. My sleepy eyes struggle to focus; the ground seems to be moving and with a start, I realize I am moving, and the ground is a good six feet beneath me. What is happening? I lift my head and…

“Well, good morning, little one, did you rest well?”

I am being carried by a very tall, muscular man. I can’t see his face, but my head is resting on his shoulder, my arms and feet dangling down his chest. My natural instinct is to bolt, but I know I’d break a leg if I jumped from this height, and there’s something soothing about his voice. Something familiar. He reaches up and pats my head.

 

The Lost Sheep

 

“No need to fear; I’ve got you. You’re safe now.”

He strokes my neck and my muscles begin to relax. He’s walking fast but with such long strides it’s like gliding through the air, soothing and gentle. My eyes grow heavy again.

“That’s, it, little one, just rest.”

When I wake again, the sun is high in the sky and we are sitting under a huge, leafy tree on the greenest grass imaginable. There’s a quiet stream nearby, murmuring with ripples of joy as it tumbles over rocks and makes its way to the river.

I am still curled up on his shoulders. He reaches up and feeds me some of the grass he’s pulled up, then cups his hands and dips them into a pail of water, offering me a drink. It’s the most refreshing water I’ve ever tasted.

“Who, who are you?” I ask.

He lowers me to the grass now, looks me in the eyes and says, “I’m your shepherd. When I realized you were lost, I came looking for you. You’ve given me quite an adventure, you know. I never dreamed you could roam this far.”

I hang my head.

“It’s ok, little one. I know you were hungry, but you’re here with me now and that’s all that matters.”

 

The shepherd looks for the lost sheep

 

I can hardly believe he came looking for me and now he’s talking to me. He rescued me! The least of the flock. He acts like I am the only sheep in the whole world. I am important to him.

My belly full; my eyes grow droopy again. He notices, lifts me back up onto his thick, ropy shoulders and stands up. He is so tall the fleece on my back grazes the leaves of the trees. I lift my head and nibble on a leaf for dessert.

“Rest now, little one. We have miles to go and you need to regain your strength.”

With his permission, I relax. My body goes as limp as I’ve ever felt it, every taut muscle going slack. I feel as if I’m melting into Him, like I am part of him. I can feel his strength beneath me, the hardness of his muscles. But there’s a gentleness about him, too. His neck smells like mountains, like a forest, like what the world must have smelled like when it was first created.

Timidly I stick out my tongue and lick his neck; it tastes briny, like the river and sweet as a daffodil.

My heart feels like it will burst for love of him. A tear spills from my eye and travels down onto his neck.

 

I have found my sheep which was lost

 

“There, there, little one. I love you, too. Not much longer, and we’ll be back with your family and friends. Time to celebrate! My little lamb wandered away, but I found it and brought it home.”

 

Green Pastures

 

I smile and close my eyes, finally realizing that green pastures or not, anywhere with Him is home.

 

 

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Seeing is Believing

A life lesson was not what I was expecting that day.

 

It was a chilly morning in late winter and I was bundled up, walking in the woods near my parent’s home. Not a hint of spring anywhere. Bleak, really. A tree had fallen, and it made the perfect spot to stop and be alone with my thoughts.

That’s when I heard His voice:

“I am teaching you to see.”

My first thought was, “See what?”

At that time, I had just started wearing reading glasses but overall, I thought my vision was pretty good!

Of course, that wasn’t at all what He was getting at. He was talking about my propensity to always see things as bleak, just as I had perceived the woods that morning; He was talking about my focus.

 

See the bleakness of the woods

 

Joyful Journey

It was the beginning of a joyful journey that continues to this day, a journey of praying to have His eyes to see and behold beauty in the small, the mundane, and the common. To search for treasure and to pay attention.

I don’t know why I was so blind, oblivious to what was staring me in the face: God is everywhere, so why should everything always look so bleak to me?

My husband didn’t struggle with this. When we took a walk together, I fixed my gaze straight ahead, the next block, the next street. He looked down. Or up.

Seek and ye shall find, it says, and he found all sorts of things. He delighted in discovering tiny insects in the cracks of the sidewalk or birds that I would never have noticed, hidden high in the trees. He was present and so he saw.

My dear friend, Janie is also a “see-er,” (I call her Magpie) always bringing home treasures from her walks. Granted, they may or may not have been special to others, but she saw hidden beauty and meaning in each object.

 

“Now I will teach you to see,” He said.

 

And He did. But I’m a slow learner.

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God’s not rolling his eyes at you

Man, it felt so good to drop off that bundle of clothes at Goodwill last spring. The trash bag was crammed with size 14’s and 16’s (!) because after six months of hard work, I had trimmed down to a model thin (for me) size 12. I’d been around this block before, but this time I was convinced the pounds would stay off. I was eating right and enjoying it, working out at the gym with a personal trainer (and enjoying it!) and I was full of energy and hope.

 

COnquered my fear of box jumping

 

You know what’s coming next, right?

Yep. I’ve gained back every ounce of that hard-earned weight loss. And maybe a pound or two more.

Sigh.

Thank heavens I saved a couple pairs of my big girl pants. (They were in the laundry basket the day I made my prideful Goodwill deposit.) It’s discouraging. I feel ashamed. My constant dread is that tunic tops and oversized sweaters will go out of style, because they are seriously saving my life right now.

 

It's not about the size of your waist

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What you really should be doing

4:30 am. I should be sleeping.

Yeah, I should be, but I guess the barista didn’t catch the DECAF part of my order yesterday afternoon, so I’ve been UP. ALL. NIGHT. But I’m not complaining, because around 2:30 I decided to take advantage of my wakefulness and the quiet to pursue the thing that’s been giving me life the past month or two…

 

Watercolors

 

Rather than toss and turn, I came downstairs and painted this:

 

 

Here’s the thing, though… I’m not a painter, I’m a writer. I could have been writing. Maybe, should have been writing? Writing is what I do.

 

I write. I’m a writer. I’m wriiiiting! (Bill Murray, What About Bob?)

 

I should be working on my book. Blogging more regularly. Writing retreat messages, and yet, I have this crazy desire to paint and I’m not sure why.

Why is it so much fun to dabble in a medium that is so bullheaded and contrary? Watercolor is not a good fit for someone with control issues.

Think about it… water has a mind of its own, goes where it wants, drips, dribbles and drops everywhere but where you want it to go. It won’t stay put; not for me anyway. Ornery paint! No wonder “loose” watercolor is so popular with beginners.

 

I should be doing something productive rather than playing with watercolors

I should be doing something more producive that playing with watercolors

 

Painting “loose” is harder than it looks. My pics above, while ambitious, are not the best representations of loose watercolors, and when I read this definition I understood why I find it so difficult:

To paint loosely, you need to first change your mindset. Loose painting is about capturing an impression or essence of a scene, rather than painting a photographic representation. Once you get hold of this idea, you can let go of your expectations of perfection and focus on the feelings, mood and colors that you feel and see in front of you. To get the fluid look, you have to use more fluid.

 

It’s about letting go of control.

 

Go with the flow.

See where it leads.

Guess where it’s leading me?

JOY

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100 Things to Remember

Remember when remembering was easier than it is now? (I’m talking to my older readers. You younger ones—remember this: you’ll be old too, someday.)

 

I post a gratitude list on Facebook each night and if I don’t keep a running list on my phone throughout the day, forget it! I can barely remember my name by 9pm, let alone remember the details of my day.

Counting it all Joy (the name of my nightly list) is my way of remembering the good stuff. Making my list reminds me (another “Re-word” that I could write a whole post about) to have perspective—to see accurately. When you actively look for blessings, really pay attention (it costs something: time, energy, focus) you realize there’s no such thing as a bad day.

 

Be observant

 

Understand please, that no one who knows me well would ever call me a Pollyanna, or Susie Sunshine. But as I continue to ask God to give me eyes to see what He sees, and then to purposefully remember by the act of writing it down, my days have a lightness to them. My perspective changes.

Ultimately what I remember by all that remembering is this truth:

GOD. IS. GOOD.

Life is good.

Of course He is. And life IS good. But I forget. It’s crazy how forgetful I am.

Yesterday I totally forgot that I had a facial scheduled even though I had it written down in several places. (But I remembered to go to the grocery.) I remember big things but forget little things. Or I remember little things but forget big things.

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