"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 1, 2009

Happy July 4th to you all!!!


Today is my 44th birthday. I wonder how that is even possible! I feel like I should still be in my early thirties.

When I was a teenager and in my twenties, I would hear adults, who were in their 40's and 50's, talking about how fast time goes by, and it really didn't make any sense to me. At that point in my life, time seemed to move at slow, steady pace, and it was beyond my comprehension how time could go by faster for them than it did for me. After all, we all had the same amount of hours in a day. But now that I'm in my forties, it makes perfect sense. I look back and wonder where the past ten to fifteen years have gone.

Most of my aunts and uncles have passed away now, and suddenly it's me and my sisters and our cousins whom the kids are looking at as being the older generation; or the old fogies, as they call us. That's a very strange feeling, when the generation before you passes on. My siblings and I, and the cousins we grew up with, are considered to be the elders of the family. Granted, I am one of the very youngest in both the Parton and Horton families!

I remember as a kid thinking that my parents and their siblings were old. But when I look back now and count up, I realize that they were the same ages as my sisters and I are now. I don't want to be thought of as being old! I've heard some of my nieces and nephews refer to someone as being old, and when I ask how old they are, they'll say, "Oh probably in their forties." And they are serious! It's hard for them to comprehend someone being that age.

Last summer, the Partons, which is my mom's side of the family, had a reunion. We hadn't had one in several years. I've kept up with a lot of them and see them from time to time. But when we were gathered in one place and we saw all the gray hair and wrinkles, it made us realize that we're not spring chickens anymore. Three of my sisters and most of my cousins are now grandparents. Most of the women were going around either showing off their grandkids or pictures of them.

I look at my own nieces and nephews, and it seems as if they should still be in school, but my youngest niece is already nineteen. Several of them are married and have families of their own. Some of them even have kids who are already in school. How did this happen?!

My sister and I were recently discussing someone who is in their sixties. My sister commented that this person really wasn't that old. Her son looked puzzled and asked, "You don't think that's old? When does a person get old?" We decided that as a person aged, the further out old age became to them.

Throughout history, life spans have changed from time to time. In Genesis, people lived for hundreds of years. In our day and age, that is inconceivable to imagine someone living that long. In fact, if someone lives to be over 100, it's a major feat and is in the news.

But there have also been time periods, when life was very difficult and there was a lot of sickness and disease, and a person's life span was relatively short.

There have also been times in history when a woman married in her early teens, and was considered an old maid by the time she was eighteen. After having many children and toiling hard day after day, she would be considered an old woman by the time she reached her forties. Some lived a longer life, but many died at a fairly young age.

In our day and age, it seems as if the average live span is around eighty. With that being true, I've more than likely already lived half my life. And if the years keep going by faster and faster, then I better make the most of my days and become more productive.

The saying goes, "Time flies when you're having fun." But overall, time just flies, regardless of what's going on in life. It doesn't seem as if it's been that long since Christmas, and as of today, 2009 is officially halfway over. That doesn't seem possible!

I've heard the saying in various circumstances that, "I would have done so and so, but time just got away from me."

Time is something that can never be regained. Once it's gone, it's gone; and there is absolutely nothing any of us can do about it.

Another popular saying is, "I will do this when I get around to it." Or "I would have done this but I just never got around to it." Several years ago, someone made up some wooden medallions that said, "Round Tuit" on the front of them. The joke was to give them to someone when they made a comment about getting around to it, and say, "Now you have a Round Tuit, so you have no excuse for not doing it."

The majority of people put so many things in life off, intending to someday do it "when they get around to it." It may be spending more time with their spouse or family, cutting back on hours worked, taking a vacation, etc. Or it can be something as mundane as fixing a leaking roof, or oiling a squeaky hinge, or going through your closets and getting rid of junk.

But there are also many important things that people have good intentions to do, yet never get around to it. They intend to give their heart to God and live right, they intend to go to church, they intend to spend more time praying and reading their Bible, they intend to be a better example to their family, they intend to get rid of bad habits, they intend to be a better Christian..... but time goes by and they never seem to find the right time to do any of those things.

Sometimes it takes us stopping what we're doing, taking stock of our lives, setting priorities and making changes. If we wait for a good time to fulfill our good intentions, then we may never find that perfect moment. Something else will have our attention and we'll get sidetracked.

Jon is a wonderful husband and I love him with all my heart. But I can also get frustrated with him from time to time (as I'm sure he does with me). I will ask him to do something, he says he will, and he has every intention of doing what I ask. But he will often get sidetracked and get his mind on something else or get busy doing other things, and forget to do what he said he would do. Jon wasn't lying to me when he said he'd do it. He fully intended to make good on his word. But other activities filled his time and he just never got around to it, and forgot. Later when he's busy doing something else, he'll walk by and see what I asked him to do and say, "Oh yeah, I need to get that taken care of, don't I? I'll do it tomorrow." Or we will be in the car or in bed and he'll remember and say, "Why didn't you remind me to do that for you?" His heart is in the right place, but other things fill his time or steal his attention.

That's what can happen in our lives many times. We have good intentions to make good on our promises or fulfill those things we know we need to do, but other things fill our minds and we get distracted. We can say we'll take care of it tomorrow, or try to blame others for not reminding us, or any number of excuses. But what it all boils down to, is us deciding to take care of those things that need to be done in our lives, and getting it done.

Life does pass by quickly, and it seems to roll by faster and faster the older we get. It's not going to slow down and let us catch up to it. It's not going to wait around for any of us to get the important things done that we need to do. We have to make the decision to take care of those things that need to be taken care of, and not keep putting it off. If not, then we'll look back with regrets and say, "I should have....."

May we each live life to the fullest and take care of those things that need to be done, without putting it off until later. Yes, tomorrow is another day. But we have no promise of tomorrow. Or else, tomorrow will bring more things to grab our attention and time.


I'm in shear awe of King David. Saul had tried to kill him on several occasions. Saul had even taken the armies of Israel to hunt David down. But still, David forgave him.

Saul and some of his sons were killed in II Samuel. A soldier came into David's camp, bragging that he had killed Saul (he lied). And instead of praising or thanking him, David had him executed for killing his king. David actually mourned for Saul. And he paid tribute to the brave men who snuck into the enemy's camp to recover and bury Saul's body.

Now that's forgiveness.

I sometimes have to work to forgive others. Sometimes it's even harder to forgive someone who has wronged a loved-one, or even a stranger. But Jesus taught us to pray that the Father would forgive us as we forgive others. King David needed his share of forgiveness (much later in the story). But he had already made a habit of forgiving others.


Strawberry Delight

1 large angel food cake (store bought works fine)

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

2 cups whipping cream

2 Tbsp. Sugar

2 (10 oz.) pkgs. frozen, sweetened, halved strawberries - thawed

Cut the angel food cake into cubes about the size of a walnut. In a small mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk, mixing until smooth and completely blended. In a separate medium bowl, whip the whipping cream with the sugar until stiff.

To assemble: In a glass bowl, layer half the angel food cake cubes, cream cheese mixture, whipped topping, then strawberries. Repeat, layering the remaining ingredients, ending with whipped cream and strawberries.


July 4th is coming up on Saturday. Most years, it's been a time when my family would all get together. Until my dad's death, we would all go to his and my step-mother's house. Since that time, those of us who can, meet at our family home in Lampe, MO. None of us care for the commercialized fireworks displays where we have to battle large crowds. But my brothers-in-law and nephews buy fireworks, and we'll all gather outside after dark and watch as they shoot them off. Since Jon has came into the family, he has thoroughly enjoyed our traditions.

Normally we'll grill hamburgers and hot dogs; and we always have watermelon. When my nephews were younger, their favorite thing to do was buy bottle rockets and shoot them off. That would keep them entertained for hours. Someone usually buys sparklers for the little ones. Since most of my sisters live in town where fireworks and firecrackers are prohibited, the kids have always been excited about being in the country on the 4th. We look forward to being together and making a big day of it.

I remember as a kid, my parents had one of those crank ice cream makers (it was the harvest gold color), and we'd make ice cream on the 4th. It was always a special treat and something we looked forward to. Mama would either make vanilla or banana ice cream, and my dad would sit out on the front porch and crank it. I'm sure I bugged him by continuously asking, "Is it done yet?"

My parents always planted a big garden, and a lot of times we'd have some fresh garden produce to eat on the 4th.

Holiday memories and traditions are special for a family to have. Sometimes as families grow and we all get older, it makes it more difficult to keep those traditions alive, but it's well worth the time and effort when you do. And some years it may not work out for everyone to be together, but you can still have fun and celebrate.

Enjoy your July 4th with your family, and enjoy time together by making memories and celebrating your own traditions.


Spiritual freedom doesn't mean you're free to do whatever you want.


We hope you all are having an enjoyable summer.

Have a safe and fun July 4th!

We love you!

Loretta & Jon