"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

July 16, 2008


Have you ever done something for someone, and their reaction was completely different from what you had anticipated?

Recently, when we were in Missouri, Jon had found some wild blackberries growing on our property. They were just beginning to ripen, and he picked a handful and brought them for me to taste. He mentioned several times over the weekend that he would like to have a pie made out them. I don't particularly care for pie, so rarely make them. I told him to ask my oldest sister if she would make one for him. She told him that she would, but at that time, there weren't enough ripe berries for a pie. Therefore, he didn't get one.

A few days later, I went to visit a sister who lives close by, and her neighbor had a sign in their front yard that said, "Blackberries for sale". They have vines that they have planted in their back yard, and they grow them to sell. It's an older couple, and they pick, clean, and freeze the berries in quart bags; then sell them pretty cheap. My brother-in-law had already been over and bought several bags to put in their freezer.

My sister and brother-in-law were telling me how good they were, and I remembered Jon having said several times the previous weekend that he would like to have a blackberry pie. So before I left, my sister and I walked over and I bought a couple of quarts. I didn't have enough cash with me, so my sister even loaned me some money. I have never made a blackberry pie or cobbler, so my sister told me the recipe that her family likes best. I told her that I was going to go home and surprise my husband; and that he would be so excited.

I came home, cooked the berries, made the cobbler, and it looked and smelled so good when I took it out of the oven. I could hardly wait until Jon got home from work so I could show it to him.

His response was nothing like I was expecting! He thanked me and said that it smelled good, but had this look on his face like, "Uh-oh! My wife thinks she did something really nice for me, and I don't really want this pie."

Come to find out, blackberry pie/cobbler is not one of Jon's favorites. The only reason he wanted one when we were in Missouri was because the berries were from our land, and would have been picked by us. He told me that it was more the notion of the pie, and not the pie itself.

He knew that I had made it special for him, and felt bad for not being more excited. Yet he was afraid if he didn't say something, I would think that blackberry was one of his favorite pies, and start baking him one every couple months or so.

I'm glad he told me. I don't care for pie too much, and don't want to go to the trouble of baking one, if it's not something that Jon really likes. I'd rather he say something, than pretend to enjoy it and be dishonest.

On one hand, it did kind of bust my bubble that my surprise for Jon backfired on me, and he wasn't overly excited. But on the other hand, I know that I should have asked Jon beforehand if he would like me to bake him a blackberry pie or cobbler; then he could have have told me no, and that he didn't particularly care for them.

I remember when I was around ten or eleven years old, the girls, in my class at school, were all wearing black and white oxford saddle shoes. I wanted a pair so badly, and had more than likely begged Mama to get me some. We had our needs met, but Daddy and Mama didn't have much money, so we didn't have a lot of extras. Seems like we always got a new pair of shoes for Easter, and probably a new pair for school.

It vaguely seems like it may have been for my birthday that summer, that Mama bought me a pair of those shoes. I'm sure they cost more money than they usually spent for shoes. She had looked around and found a pair at a little shoe store in Reeds Spring, MO, which may have been going out of business. The shoes had probably been in the store for a long time without selling, and the price had been marked down, so she could afford to get them for me.

I will never forget when Mama gave them to me. She was excited and thought she had got me exactly what I had been wanting. I opened them up, and my heart just dropped. They didn't look like the black and white saddle shoes that the other girls were wearing. They were real heavy and bulky and had a red rubber sole on them. I was so disappointed and thought they were some of the ugliest shoes I'd ever seen.

I still remember how the countenance of Mama's face fell, and her apologizing and saying that she thought I would like them. She couldn't take them back because she had got them on sale or clearance. I know that my reaction hurt her. I wore them because they were all I had, but I was also embarrassed. I don't recall anyone ever commenting on them, so they probably weren't as bad as what I thought they were at the time.

I have always felt really bad about that incident. Even as young as I was, I knew at that time that I had disappointed my mom and hurt her feelings. I knew that she was trying to please me and make me happy, and my response wasn't what she had been expecting.

Spiritually, we sometimes feel like God has let us down or He doesn't respond as we think He should. Something that we consider to be bad occurs, and we say, "But God, I've done all these things for you, and prayed, and went to church, and read my Bible, etc.! How could you allow this to happen to me? I'm a good person!"

It's easy at times to feel that God doesn't respond appropriately to our situations. We do something that we think is good, and want Him to recognize our deeds and pour out blessings upon us for our works. When we don't get the appropriate response from God, we get our feelings hurt and pout.

But have you ever considered the possibility that when God does answer our prayers or blesses us, our response is not always what He would expect or want? I believe that our response, or lack thereof, is ofttimes disappointing to our Heavenly Father.

Luke 17:12-19 is the story of the ten lepers. Jesus was traveling towards Jerusalem, and entered a village. In the distance, stood ten lepers. They raised their voices and cried, "Jesus, have mercy on us!" When Jesus saw them, he told them to go and show themselves to the priest. As they left to do so, they were all cleansed and made whole.

Only one out of the ten returned and expressed his gratefulness. He was from Samaria and was a foreigner in that village. He came back and fell at the feet of Jesus, giving him thanks.

Jesus said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?"

You would have thought that when the men saw that they were cleansed of the leprosy, they would have been ecstatic, and would have run back to Jesus as fast as they could to thank Him for their miracle. Perhaps they went to show themselves to the priest, then ran home to show their families. They may have gotten so sidetracked by their miracle, that they completely forgot about the One who performed it.

That is so easy for us to do in our busy lives. God meets our needs, protects us, keeps us healthy, and is with us every second of every day. Yet we get so involved in the things around us, we forget to give Him thanks. We take his blessings for granted so often.

Let's not be the one who fails to respond to the blessings of God. But may we take time to count our blessings and give thanks to God. I never want to disappoint or hurt my Heavenly Father! I want my heart to be filled with gratefulness and thanksgiving. I want to always give the glory and honor due Him, and show the appropriate response.

Psalms 92:1 "It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High."

Psalms105:1 "Oh give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; make known his deeds among the people."

Psalms 106:1 "Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! For His mercy endures forever."


I enjoyed the blackberry cobbler. I really did. But I prefer peach cobbler or apple pie. Or Boston cream pie. Or, well, quite a few things. Still, it was very good, and I should have shown my gratitude better than I did. I'm very thankful for such a wonderful wife who cooks as well as Loretta.

My point is, I really was thankful. But I didn't show it very well. Sometimes we do the same with blessings from God. We may be grateful. We may even thank God for what He's done for us. But do we go out and celebrate? Do we tell all of our neighbors? To be honest, I don't share nearly enough. God made those blackberries grow, and I never bragged about it to anyone.


Fresh Blackberry Cobbler

2 quarts fresh blackberries

½ cup water

¾ cup sugar

1-2 Tbsp. flour

Mix sugar and flour together. In a large saucepan cook the blackberries, water, and sugar/flour mixture on medium heat until thickened (just till boiling). Pour into a 9x13 pan.

1 dry yellow cake mix

1 stick butter

Mix the dry cake mix and stick of butter together until crumbly (a pastry blender or fork works well). Spread evenly over the blackberries.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream (if desired).

Note: You could also thicken the berries, then use a regular pie crust instead of the cake mixture and have a top and bottom crust. It would make 2 round pies.

I remember my mom putting the blackberries in a 9x13 pan, then just put a top crust over it and bake, which made it more like a cobbler. So there are several variations you can do.


When I was probably age four or so, I had an imaginary friend that I would "play" with. Her name was Loretta Martin. Real original name, since my name is Loretta and my mom's family name is Parton (which rhymes with Martin). I don't think I had her very long, but I remember playing outside and talking to her and us playing on the swingset together. I don't recall Mama making a big deal out of it, but just let me pretend. Back then, from our house you could see the Elm Tree Church that was across the holler from us. One day Loretta Martin rode off on a horse and I saw her (in my mind, of course) going down the road by that church. I waved goodbye, and that was the end of my imaginary friend.


(By Ken Fithen, Encourage Ministries)

One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport. We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his breaks, skidded, and missed the other car by just inches! The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was really friendly. So I asked, 'Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!' This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call, 'The Law of the Garbage Truck.' He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, frustration, anger, and disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they'll dump it on you. Don't take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Don't take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets. The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day. Life's too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so .... 'Love the people who treat you right. Pray for the ones who don't.' Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it! That encourages me!


We love you!

Loretta & Jon