"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 17, 2012


A few days after we got our puppy (yes, another puppy example!), I was getting frustrated because I really had no idea how to housebreak him. I was trying to diligently take him outside regularly, but he would still have accidents inside the house. There are two simple lessons that I learned from this, that I'd like to share. As I began writing, the devotional became longer and longer, so this will be a two-parter and continued next week.

One night as I was laying in bed thinking about this, I had this thought come to mind: They say (whoever they is) that talking to your plants will help with their growth and overall performance, so why not use affirmation and positive words of praise to train Sammie. So that's what I began doing the next morning. I began talking to Sammie and telling him that he was smart and obedient and a fast learner. Every time I took him outside and he did what he was supposed to do, I would praise him and tell him what a good boy he was. There were times when he would do something and we would tell him no and make him stop, but we never told him that he was a bad puppy. He is teething, so tends to bite, so if he tries to chew on our clothes or bite our finger, we will tell him no and give him a toy or teething bone to teach him the proper things that he is allowed to chew on.

It wasn't an immediate change, but Sammie soon began responding to our praise. He learned if he would go outside to potty instead of doing it inside, he would get a treat. He knows that we keep the Milk Bones on the counter right inside the door, so will come inside and immediately lay down beneath the bar and wait for his treat. When he potties outside we will say, "Good boy, Sammie!" and he will run to us to get his belly rubbed. We are teaching him to respond to his name and the command to find either me or Jon, so will take him to the backyard and say, "Go find Jon/Loretta," and have him run between us. We praise him when he responds and he will excitedly lie down for his belly rub.

Sammie's accidents inside the house are getting fewer and further between. In fact, in the past week and a half he has only had one accident inside. He is starting to chew on his toys instead of our clothes or our fingers. He is sleeping all night without us having to get up to take him out; although he does tend to be an early riser. I firmly believe that how we speak to Sammie, our words of praise and affirmation, has had an impact on his training and obedience.

The entire third chapter of James deals with the tongue and the power of our words. If a plant or a puppy responds to positive praise and encouraging words, think how much more important it is for us to use this type of speech with people.

Everyone, regardless of their age, needs to hear "You are smart," "You are a fast learner," "You are doing a good job," "You are needed," "You are special," "You are loved," "You have a purpose," etc. We all appreciate hearing words of encouragement and praise. None of us want to hear that we are stupid or good for nothing or other words or criticism.

I've heard the theory that we shouldn't give words of praise to individuals or it will cause them to become prideful and full of themselves. How will children ever know that you approve of them or love them or are pleased with them if they never hear words to that affect? And it's not only children and teenagers that need to hear those words of affirmation, but adults as well. That doesn't mean that you should never correct or discipline a child. And it doesn't mean that you should lie and tell someone that they're good at something that they're not good at. But we all need to hear, and need to speak, words of encouragement to uplift others and let them know that they are loved and appreciated.

My dad never told me or my sisters that he was proud of us or that we did a good job or that he loved us. I believe that a lot of that was due to his upbringing and his parents not ever saying such things to him. And that was due to how his parents were raised. My grandpa was orphaned as a small boy and was raised by a wicked stepbrother. My grandma's mom died when she was a young child, and she was raised by her father. I know that Daddy did love me, and he would attend things that I participated in, but I never heard him speak words to confirm how he really felt.

There are some things that shouldn't be passed down from one generation to another. Just because your parents and/or grandparents acted a certain way or had a particular attitude or lack of affection or a problem expressing their feelings doesn't mean that you have to be the same. There must come a point when someone has to make a choice to be willing to change. Words are important and we need to always be careful that we are not the one that is speaking negatively or degrading to others. We also need to make sure that we give proper words of encouragement and affirmation, and are not guilty of being silent and withholding our praise.

We can try and excuse ourselves by saying, "Well, that's just not how I am. That's not my personality or just not in me to do this." Sometimes we need to stop making excuses and get out of our comfort zone and do something that makes us a tad uncomfortable.

Proverbs 25:11 says, "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver."

Proverbs 15:23 says, "A man finds joy in giving an apt reply -- and how good is a timely word."

Sometimes our words of encouragement and affirmation may be exactly what someone needs to hear. I've had people speak words of praise and affirmation to me, and it was like a much needed shot in the arm. It was the exact boost that I needed to hear at that time. We don't always know what people are going through or feeling, and hearing words of appreciation and love is what they need to get them through that day.

May we all make it a habit to encourage and praise others. And may we accept words of affirmation when they are spoken to us.


We don't have kids, so can't really give advice on how to raise them. A lot of what we write about relates to raising kids, but applies to almost any relationship.

I've tried to make sure to voice good things about what my co-workers do, about customers, vendors, and anyone else I work with. There are a few customers I can't usually find good words for. But there is usually something.

If I start talking negatively about someone or a company, I usually like to find at least one positive thing to mention about them, too. I think it helps my relationships, and helps my state of mind.


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.

German Apple Cake

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

3/4 cup nuts

Mix into the dry ingredients:

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup oil

2-3 cups thinly sliced (or diced) apples

Mix all the ingredients together. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until done.


1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons melted butter

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Mix together and spread on cake.


Fall has arrived and the weather has turned cooler. Trees are starting to turn colors and it has been gorgeous outside. So what do you do to enjoy the fall weather and beautiful changing trees? I encourage you to get out and do something for relaxation and enjoyment, before the cold weather of winter sets in. Here are a few ideas that Jon and/or I have done the past few years to enjoy fall:

One of the prettiest drives in fall is the Talimena Scenic Drive through the Ouachita Mountains between Talihina, OK and Mena, AR. This is approximately a 54 mile drive, so is easily done in one day. There are several scenic overlooks where you can pull over and take pictures or walk around and enjoy the scenery. On the drive you will pass Queen Wilhelmina State Park, which has a great restaurant (may be a wait, depending on the time you arrive). They also have lodging should you want to make this an overnight trip. We have never stayed there, but I would suggest you make reservations in advance should you wish to spend the night. There are hiking trails around the park and they have maps and different length trails. We have hiked a couple of the shorter trails, which were easy to do. This drive is a really nice day trip, and the trees are beautiful in fall. You can go online and check to see when the peak time for color will be. We've generally gone towards the end of October/beginning of November.

Most areas have a pumpkin patch, and this is not for kids only. I have gone to a local pumpkin patch in Bixby a few times. They do have animals and pony rides and camel rides for the kids, but they have hundreds of different varieties and sizes of pumpkins and gourds. It's a relaxing way to spend a couple hours, walking around and looking at all the different things. And it's a good time to pick up a couple things for decorating your home for fall. I don't generally decorate outside, but like picking out different looking gourds and small pumpkins for dining room table decorations.

A lot of state parks have nice walking trails. Jon and I have stopped at ones in Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma and it has been surprising and interesting to see all the different types and areas of beauty of nature. Most have different trails marked for different levels of fitness, so you don't necessarily have to be in super shape to go enjoy the parks. Go online or look at a map and find a state park you've never been to and go enjoy it one day.


Religion tries to complicate what Jesus made simple.


We love you!

Loretta & Jon