"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 3, 2012


Since Jon and I recently acquired a new puppy, I'm sure you'll read more puppy stories in the upcoming weeks than you will want. But I do have to say that Sammie makes for great illustrations! So bear with me and hopefully you'll learn as much from him as we have.

Many have the idea that being a follower of Jesus means a big long list of rules that they have to abide by. They make it seem as if being a christian means a lot of dos and don'ts, and you'll be struck down by lightning should you mess up or disobey one of the cumbersome rules.

The thought seems to be that God has placed regulations upon us, just to be a harsh taskmaster; that He makes it impossibly hard in order for us to fail, so that He can administer judgement. That line of thinking leads us to believe that God is wanting us to do something wrong so that He can punish us. That is contrary to Him being a loving Father.

How wrong that type of thinking is! God doesn't want us to fail, but desires that we all succeed in our relationship with Him. He doesn't make rules in order to rule over us as a harsh judge, but does it for our own good. But we don't always see it as being for our good, because what we want to do differs from what He wants. We can't see the big picture so don't know what lies ahead, therefore, we can't see the many ways that He is protecting and watching out for us.

As I wrote last week, Jon and I got a new puppy. Sammie spent his first 9 weeks living in a kennel with other puppies. He had never experienced living inside a house or roaming around a yard. His space was limited and confined. The kennel owner had paid special attention to him because he was the only puppy in his litter. He was also born with a hernia, which had to be repaired before the owner was able to put him up for sale. But he was still a kennel-raised puppy.

The first thing we did when we got him and took him outside was put a leash on him. Sammie was unfamiliar with the concept of roaming freely, and we didn't want him to take off running and get hurt or lost. Did he like the dog collar and leash? Absolutely not! He kept twisting around, trying to get free. He didn't realize that we were doing it, not to hurt him or be mean to him, but to teach him and keep him safe.

We don't know if Sammie had a name in the kennel or not because the owner never called him by name, but regardless, we renamed him when we became his new owners. He didn't immediately recognize his name when we first started calling him Sammie (short for Samson). It took time for him to learn to come to us when we called him by name. That's another reason, we needed to keep him on a leash when we took him outside. If he should start running away, he wouldn't have come running back to us when we called, "Sammie", because he had no idea that that was his new name.

Sammie fought against the restriction of being on a leash for the first few days that we had him. He would twist and try to get away from us when tried to hook it onto his collar. But gradually, he grew to know that we weren't going to hurt him, but were going to take him outside.

Now that Sammie recognizes his name and will come when we say, "Come," we can let him run free in our fenced backyard. He still stays fairly close to our side, but has the freedom to run and explore should he choose.

Matthew 11:29, 30 says, "Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light."

Many rebel at the idea of being yoked together with Jesus. To them, it sounds as if they're going to be forced to do things against their will that they don't want to do, and no longer have any personal freedom. But perhaps we're thinking of the wrong definition of yoke. This doesn't mean yoke, as in being in bondage or enslavement or shackled. The definition of yoke here is united, joined, connected, or bonded.

When a man and woman are yoked together in marriage, that doesn't mean that they are in bondage or enslaved or chained to one another. But it means that they are united and joined together as one.

We are called the bride of Christ in scripture, and when we accept Jesus into our heart and become a christian, that doesn't mean the negative connotation of being yoked; but it means that we become united and joined together with Him.

When oxen are yoked together, they are put in a double harness side by side. They have to learn to work as one in order to pull a heavy load or accomplish work. If they are in constant battle with one another, each trying to go their own direction and trying to be the leader or "boss", then nothing good will be done. Even though one may be stronger and be a leader, they still have to work together. When they pull as one unit, then it makes the work easier on them both and much can be accomplished.

If we are in constant struggle with trying to do things our own way and pulling away from Jesus, then very little will ever get done and we will become weary. But if we will take His yoke upon us, and learn from Him, then we will find rest for our souls. That's a promise from the very mouth of Jesus, Himself. He is not harsh or judgmental, but is gentle and humble in heart. When we are yoked together with Jesus and allow ourselves to be led in the direction that He takes us, we will find that the yoke is easy and the load is light, for Jesus will help carry our load.

Everything He does is for our good. Jesus is constantly teaching us, if we are willing to learn. He doesn't want to restrict us and keep us shackled, but wants us to grow and learn, so that we have the freedom to run and explore and enjoy life. But even then, He will never leave us, but will always be close, by keeping His eyes on us. Jesus may have to correct us and call us back to Him at times, but it's because He is watching out for us and doesn't want us to get hurt or lost.


It isn't always easy to convince someone, but it's easier to carry two buckets of water than it is to carry one. With one bucket, you have to constantly pull your back to keep straight. It's hard on the back. A few extra pounds aren't that bad on the legs. But the extra weight on one side of your body means you have to pull downward hard on the other side like trying to keep a lever level. A full bucket and an empty bucket are no different. But with two full buckets, your back can relax.

A two-oxen yoke isn't that different. If you try to put one ox in, it might be able to do a little work, but it would be fighting against the yoke the whole time. Two oxen can pull together much more easily. But if one ox pulls harder than the other, it would be like trying to carry two buckets, but with one full and the other empty. Sometimes if one ox gets tired, the other can pull a little harder to make up the difference, but it's just easier if they both keep up the pace together.

I can't decide between two ways to go with this, so I think I'll mention both.

A couple going through life can be about the same. They may not have the same duties or work to do, but it's always best if they both keep pulling together or relax together.

Just as the Bible describes us as the bride of Christ, we share the yoke with Jesus. There may be times that we have to pull harder to keep up, or relax with it. It isn't always easy to tell what pace is best. But Jesus is there with us every step.


Fall has arrived, which puts me in the mood for cold weather meals, as well as other foods that we connect with autumn: soups, chili, apples, pumpkin, etc. If you have a favorite fall recipe that you would like to share with our readers, please email it to me at I enjoy trying new recipes and would love to hear from you.

One of my favorites is my Aunt Ruth's sweet potato casserole. She brought this to a get-together Jon and I recently had and it was a huge hit. The comments were that this could be a side dish, but was good enough (and sweet enough) to be a dessert. And Ruth didn't use canned sweet potatoes, but used fresh and baked them the night before, which made this dish even better.

Aunt Ruth's Sweet Potato Casserole

3 cups sweet potatoes, drained and mashed

1 tsp. Vanilla

1/2 tsp. Salt

1 cup sugar

1/2 stick butter

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup milk

If using fresh sweet potatoes, bake; peel and mash when cooled. If using canned, drain and mash. Stir all ingredients together and pour into a 9x13 pan.


1 stick butter

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup flour

1 cup chopped pecans

Melt butter; add all ingredients of topping together. Add the topping to the top of the casserole. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.


My nephew and his family have a little yorkshire female dog. When they got her as a puppy, they let the kids name her. The name Lillian came up for her was Syrup the Pickle Pancake. They call her Syrup or Syrup the Pickle. A couple weeks ago, Syrup had a litter of puppies. She is a really small dog, as most yorkies are, but had 6 puppies; 5 have survived and 1 died shortly after birth. My nephew said the puppies are about the size of a large mouse. But Syrup has adapted well to motherhood and takes good care of her babies.

The family also has a few cows and calves, which they let the kids name. The only guidelines they gave the kids were that they have to name them after herbs, in order to keep the names from becoming too ridiculous.


Worrying does not take away tomorrow's troubles;

it takes away today's peace.


We love you!

Loretta & Jon