"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

January 10, 2018


When we first got our dog, Sammie, he was around 7-8 weeks old. He was a tiny little fur-ball that was incredibly cute, only weighing around 3 pounds.

At that time, we had an owl that was living in our neighborhood and we had heard and seen him in the trees in our backyard from time to time. Sammie was so small, that we knew that owl would have no problem swooping down and picking him up and carrying him off. So during potty-training, we would always walk out into the backyard with Sammie and stay right beside him, in order to give him our protection.

The problem was, after Sammie was potty-trained and grew bigger, he was accustomed to us going outside with him, so he refused to go out unless we did. He would stay right beside us and not go take care of business, until we walked out into the yard with him. After a couple of years, that grew annoying; especially when it was raining or cold! He was full-grown by that time, weighed 12 pounds, and was big enough that he was relatively safe.

My sister kept him for us a few times whenever we needed to go out of town, and she would tell us, "Sammie is a really good dog, but him not going out to potty unless I will go with him is really annoying!"

So we begin working with Sammie on this. I'd go out with him, but while he was doing his thing, I'd start walking back to the house. Then I started standing further and further away from him when he went outside, and couch him, "Sammie, go potty!" Finally, it got to where we could stand on the porch and he would go out into the yard alone; but he would always want to be able to see us and would position himself to where we were within his sight. After doing that for quite some time, we began standing inside the house, by the door, and sending him out alone. I'm sure if the neighbors could hear us, they wondered what in the world was going on. "Sammie, go potty!...... Sammie, go potty!..... Sammie, go potty!"

Sammie is five and a half years old now and finally we have success; well, somewhat. He will run outside by himself when we open the door for him, and we no longer have to watch him or go out with him. In fact, recently I've been leaving the door for a few minutes to go do other things, then will come back to let him in, and he's been fine. If he suspects that we are getting ready to leave, we still sometimes have to open the door and say, "Sammie, go potty!.... Sammie, go potty!"; because he'll run out onto the porch, then twirl around to try and hurry back inside before we can close the door.

Here's another scenario, on the opposite spectrum. My sister, Janie, often cares for two little brothers, ages 2 and 3. The two year old is extremely independent! His favorite words seem to be, "I do it!" We will try to help him do something and almost every single time, his response is, "I do it!" He is determined to do everything for himself and puts forth a good effort. At times he will work at it until he has success. But other times, after a few failed attempts, he will say, "You help me."

Spiritually, we often find ourselves in either one or the other of these two situations. Sometimes we are so fearful of stepping out in faith, that we will hold back and stay on the porch or inside the house, unless we are assured that God is right there beside us holding our hand. The thing is, our Father will never ask us to do something or go somewhere that is harmful or where we'll be destroyed by the enemy (the owl!). But we feel much safer if He will hold onto us and lead us step by step to our destination.

Sometimes, God may be saying, "Get out of your boat and come to me! If you want to walk on water, then you have to be willing to leave your place of comfort and trust Me." And sometimes, that may be His response to us when we say, "If it's really You, God....."

When Jesus told Peter to walk to Him, during the storm, He didn't go to the boat, lift Peter out, and hold onto him as he stood upon the water. He stood at a distance and bid Peter to come to Him.

Had Peter never taken that leap of faith, he'd never have had a water walking experience! You can argue that he lost faith and began to sink; but the truth is, he did something that none of the other disciples did. He actually walked on top of the water! When he did begin to focus on the storm, instead of Jesus, he began to sink, but Jesus didn't let him drown. He caught Peter and took him to safety. The moment that Peter cried, "Lord, save me;" Jesus was right there and took hold of his hand. (Matthew 14:22-33)

We are never going to grow and develop spiritually until we are willing to leave the nest, our comfort zone, and learn how to fly. Until we fully trust God and are willing to walk in complete obedience, we will never experience and enjoy the blessings and freedom that comes from listening to His voice and doing what He says. Jesus is not going to take His eyes off from us, but He will be cheering us on and calling us upward towards Him. "Hey, come on!! Come up a little closer to where I am! Experience My presence in an intimate way that you've never known. Let me show you My glory!!"

On the other hand, we can often become too independent and want to do things our way. We face difficulties or have tough decisions to make or are praying about something that seems to be taking a whole lot longer than we think it should to come to pass; so we try and take things into our own hands and by our attitude tell God, "I'll do it myself!" Sometimes life is going along smoothly, and we think that we are doing a pretty good job of handling things on our own, not realizing that the reason things are going so well is due to God being in control and watching over us.

But then when we fall or fail or can't take care of it by our own methods or wisdom or make a bigger mess of things, we then will cry out to God, "You help me!" Much like Janie and I often feel with the 2-year old at times, God may have the same train of thought, "It would have been a whole lot easier and better and faster had you let me handle it in the first place!"

2 Peter 2:2-2 says, "Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord's kindness."

When we become a christian, we all start out as newborns; but it is not God's plan for us to stay there. We are not to stay on a spiritual diet of milk. But we start there, then grow and mature into a full experience of salvation. As we develop in our relationship with God, then we should cry out for food that will satisfy our growing hunger and cause us to continue to grow and become stronger. We should develop spiritual muscles. God's purpose is not for us to be spiritually anemic and underdeveloped and weak! But we should hunger and thirst more and more each day to know Him deeper and fully experience all that He has for us, as His children.


Imagine if we all grew up on nothing but milk. If we grew old without maturing even slightly. If we never tried to learn to read and write.

It might be an easy life, if we could find others to take care of us. But if we all grew up like that, there wouldn't be anyone who could take care of us. Our whole generation would be unable take care of ourselves. We wouldn't be able to get the milk we would depend on.

But if you look around, there are people who grow up like that. They mature enough to take on other food, but never mature enough to be adults. They depend on others to help them out in ways that the rest of us can do for ourselves. If there are only a few people like that, the whole society can still function. But when it is too many, the ones who take care of them just can't keep up.

On the other hand, if our society has only mature adults, but no kids, we will disappear in one generation.

That works in our churches, too. There are new christians who still need the milk. They need to hear the Bible stories that others learned as kids. They need to be taught all the basics, and focus on simply obeying God's most basic rules.

Every church also needs fully matured christians, who have been through hard times, learned faith when we had to depend on it, and have chosen to work for God. The more mature christians need to lead the new christians, and help make decisions for the path of the church.

But a church with no new christians quickly grows stagnant, and loses its energy.

We need that mix. And members from each end of the maturity need to tolerate the others, while reaching for more maturity for themselves.


Apple or Peach Dumplings

2 Granny Smith Apples or Frozen Peach Slices

2 cans (8 oz. Cans) Crescent Rolls

2 sticks Butter

1-1/2 cup Sugar

1 teaspoon Vanilla

Cinnamon, to taste

1 (12 oz.) can Mountain Dew

Peel and core apples. Cut each apple into 8 slices each. (You could also use frozen peach slices.) Roll each apple or peach slice up in a crescent roll wedge. Place in a 9x13 buttered pan. Melt butter, then add sugar and barely stir. Add vanilla, stir, and pour entire mixture over the crescent rolled fruit. Pour about 3/4 can Mountain Dew over the top and around the edges. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Serve with ice cream, and spoon some of the sweet sauces from the pan over the top. Could also serve with whipped cream over the top.

* Could use Mountain Dew, Sprite, or 7-Up


There has been a lot of flu and viruses going around the past few weeks. I pray that each of you will stay healthy, and that your family will all be well and strong!

Drink lots of water, drink orange juice, take vitamins, and do what you can to stay healthy. If you should get sick or start feeling congested, here are some tips that I've used: Stay home when you're sick, if at all possible, so as not to spread germs. I drink a small glass of water with Apple Cider Vinegar (with the mother in it) and honey. Emergen-C is also good to drink. Rest and take care of yourself when not feeling well; don't push yourself to do too much. I've used Simply Saline Nasal Mist Allergy and Sinus Relief to rinse out my sinuses when they were congested, which helps. If you feel as if your sinus passages are swollen, place a warm wet cloth over your nose for a few minutes off and on throughout the day, and that helps the swelling go down and breathing to become easier. For a cough, rubbing Vicks on the bottoms of your feet and then putting on socks, sometimes helps during the nighttime. When my chest was congested, Mama used to rub Vicks on my neck and throat and then place a warm towel over that area, which always felt really good and seemed to help. Hot/warm showers or baths can also help.


Comparison is the enemy of gratitude. - Kris Vallotton


We love you!

Loretta & Jon