"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

February 23, 2011


Last week, due to the long length of the devotional, I promised to write a shorter devotional this week. Next week I will continue writing a couple more weeks on Genesis, which will be a little longer and more involved, but will hold to my word this week and write something shorter and easier to read. But as you've learned, it's difficult for me to say anything very quickly; although I did attempt to keep my word!

In the 1965 musical, "The Sound of Music", Julie Andrews sings a popular song, "My Favorite Things". Some of the lyrics are: "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens; bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens; brown paper packages tied up with strings; these are a few of my favorite things." After going on to sing of other favorite things, the lyrics say, "When the dog bites; when the bee stings; when I'm feeling sad; I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so bad." Julie Andrews character sings this song to the children when they are scared during a thunderstorm. She's basically telling them when you're scared or feeling bad, to begin thinking of your favorite things and you will begin feeling better.

I started thinking about some of my favorite things. Some are material things, some are sights and sounds, and some are smells. I know that some of my favorite things are tightly knitted to memories of childhood. For instance, one of my favorite things is the sound of the washing machine in the mornings, when I'm doing laundry. When I was a child I liked laundry days, when I would wake up in the mornings to the sound of the washing machine and Mama humming. There was just something comforting about that sound, because I knew all was normal and right with the world. When Mama was sick and unable to do laundry, I missed waking up to the sound of the washing machine. I think my sisters probably did laundry later in the day while I was at school. I don't mind doing laundry, and the sounds and smells reminds me of happy times as a child. Today, the washer and dryer are still a comforting sound that I enjoy hearing. There can be comfort in the mundane, because it lets me know that I'm healthy and able to care for my husband and home; so this is one of my favorite things.

My very favorite all-time breakfast is cocoa gravy and biscuits, and it's even better when one of my sister's cook it for me. My mom was raised on cocoa gravy and her mama cooked it for her, and she cooked it for us girls, and my sisters cook it for their kids. And it's not just a "Parton family" thing. Over the years I've heard of a lot of different people raised on cocoa gravy, but it's probably not a citified breakfast. Mashed potatoes and homemade gravy is probably some of my favorite comfort food. Oreos are my favorite store-bought cookie. And no, those nasty Hydrox cookies (do they even make them anymore?) are NOT the same! It has to be Oreos. Plain vanilla ice cream is my favorite. Sweet iced tea is my favorite drink. Brownies or wackies are my favorite chocolate dessert; and Cheetos or Sour Cream and Onion are my favorite chips. I want good toilet paper, with Charmin being my favorite, and will not buy those cheap brands that are rough. Crest toothpaste is my favorite, and I will only use other brands if I have to.

I listen to music a lot; and generally go to sleep at night with the radio on. My favorite style of music is southern gospel, but I'll listen to other styles. I like the old time songs I grew up singing in church like: "I'm Getting Ready to Leave This World", "Heaven's Jubilee", "Living by Faith", "Victory in Jesus" (the peppy version, not when it's slow and dragged out), "What a Friend We Have in Jesus", "Power in the Blood", "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms".... just to name a few. I like listening to good quartet's singing, where you can hear the four-part harmony. My all-time favorite pianist is Anthony Burger. My favorite pastime is reading, with my favorite genre of books being christian historical fiction. And I want the book to end up with a happy ending. My whole family were avid readers; even Daddy. A very close second is playing piano and singing. The older I get, the more I'm drawn back to the older songs I grew up singing and listening to. My favorite subject in school was history, and my least favorite was P.E. My favorite TV channels are HGTV and The Food Network.

Jon and I are perfectly happy being by ourselves and neither of us are social people; so just the two of us being home together is a favorite pastime. We'd be perfectly content living in solitude in the country, miles away from neighbors. When Jon and I go to Lampe we enjoy the solitude and don't watch TV, movies, or play on our laptops. We both enjoy being outside; then in the evenings will sit quietly inside the house and read. And actually, that was a joint decision the two of us made! We enjoy sitting in our lawn chairs, doing nothing but listening to the quiet and gazing down into the woods. The two of us like going outside at night, walking away from the yard light to where it's completely dark, and looking up into the sky to star gaze. (The only thing is, my comment generally is, "I hope there's no snakes out here to crawl over my feet or step on!" I have a fear of snakes and think they're evil -- if you don't believe me, just read Genesis!) Jon and I like watching the sky. We both love beautiful sunrises and sunsets. We like looking at cloud formations. Walking in nature and looking at trees and rocks and unique formations created by God, is a favorite for both of us. We like watching hummingbirds and other types of birds, as well as watching other animals.

I like sitting on the beach listening to the waves of the ocean and walking barefoot in the sand. But last year I also discovered that I love the Teton Mountains. My favorite place to be is in the country. I like being barefoot inside and wearing flip-flops when I'm outside. I like warm weather and sunshine. I like digging in the dirt (I don't like wearing gloves, but like the feel of the dirt on my hands) in the springtime and planting flowers. In April, for a couple weeks I always spend time, practically every day, at Lowe's looking at their plants and flowers; whether or not I buy anything, I love looking at all the different varieties.

My happiest moments are either when I'm with Jon or with my sisters. I love being with family. I love spending time with nephews and nieces. Not only do I enjoy being with my immediate family, but also being with uncles, aunts and cousins. God has blessed us with such awesome wonderful families, and it's always great to be with them. I love laughing and visiting with those I'm closest to and spending time with them; both family and friends. I've been blessed with some really close friends over the years. Growing up, my mom's family were extremely close; and as a kid, family get-togethers and listening to my uncles tell stories were some of my favorite times. One of my favorite things is talking and giggling with my sisters. I like those moments when we're in a setting where we're supposed to be quiet or solemn, and something happens or we see something that gives us the giggles, and we all set there bouncing up and down as we try to control ourselves. It's like a domino effect where one of us will start laughing, and the others can't contain themselves and join in.

I love being a wife. I like cuddling with my husband and the two of us quietly talking. I like holding hands whenever Jon and I walk side by side. One of my very favorite things is spending time with my husband! I like it that Jon has encouraged me to try new adventures that I wouldn't have been brave enough to try on my own. When we travelled to Singapore, then also on other vacations and trips, I've done things that surprised even Jon. Jon has never been pushy, but he makes me want to embrace life and try new things that I used to would have been scared to do.

Another favorite thing is when I'm reading the Bible and notice something that I've never noticed before, even though I may have read that same passage of scripture over and over. I like it when my pastor or another minister share something that makes me really think. My favorite thing is when I'm worshipping God, or praying, or reading the Bible, or listening to a song or sermon when suddenly it feels as if God is wrapping His arms around me and I can feel that He is with me. I like it when God fills my heart with His peace; even though my circumstances may be in turmoil.

I suppose the best hymn that is comparable to the Julie Andrews "Favorite Things" song, is "Count Your Blessings". The verses speak of being discouraged thinking all is lost, being burdened with a load of care, the cross seeming heavy that you are called to bear, having a lack of earthly wealth, and great and small conflicts. But the chorus says to, "Count your blessings, name them one by one; count your blessings, see what God hath done." Other words in the verses that speak of the benefits of counting your blessings say: "Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done." "Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly, and you will be singing as the days go by." "Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold; Count your many blessings, money cannot buy, your reward in heaven, nor your home on high."

What's some of your favorite things? Take time to think of them, and while your at it, count your blessings. If you're having a bad day, "simply remember your favorite things, then you won't feel so bad." Thinking about favorite things, blessings and happy memories will take away the gloom and make you smile and feel better.


I have a very stressful job. I'm very glad to have it; it's a great job. But it is very stressful.

We are given one 15 minute break each morning and another each afternoon, to use when we like. I rarely remember to take the break--there's usually too much going on to remember. But when I do remember, one of the most stress-relieving things I can do is to lean back and think of relaxing out in the country. I can imagine laying back in a hammock, watching the wildlife. We've seen enough turkeys and rabbits hanging around that they are easy to imagine. Or, I can imagine watching a deer or fox. We've seen them, too, but rarely.

Philippians 4:8 lists quite a few things that are good to meditate on. "Whatever things are lovely," is just one thing. But thinking of a relaxing place I can actually go to once in awhile is a great way for me to de-stress. I need that a lot. And I think most of us need it at least once in awhile.

Jesus taught a parable using seeds as an analogy for us. Some of the seeds fell in the thorns. They took root; that is, the Word of God really impacted them. But as they grew, the weeds choked them out; that is, the stress of daily life kept them from following God. I pray I don't let my stressful job or life choke me out, and I pray you don't get choked, either.


Sour Cream Pancakes

(These are wonderful!)

1 cup sour cream

7 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla


Maple or pancake syrup

Place an iron skillet or griddle over medium-low heat. You want to get it nice and hot. Place the sour cream in a medium bowl. Add the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir together very, very gently. Stop short of the mixture being totally combined. You want the pancakes to have some texture. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl; add the vanilla and stir to combine. Pour the egg mixture into the sour cream/flour mixture. Stir together gently. Don't worry about the mixture being totally combined; a little white and yellow swirling is fine. Melt about a tablespoon of butter in the skillet or griddle. Pour the batter into the skillet 1/4 cup at a time. Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, then flip the pancakes over. Cook for another 45 seconds (or until done) and remove to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter. Top with plenty of butter and syrup.


February 22 was my Mama's 30th anniversary of being with Jesus. It's hard to express how it feels to know that she has now been gone for two-thirds of my life. There is so much of my life that she wasn't here to share in; high school graduation and my wedding being the two biggest events. I know that she would be so proud of how her girls have turned out. Mama only got to meet her four oldest grandsons, and she loved being a grandma. I know that she would have absolutely loved spoiling all her grandkids and great-grandkids, and everyone would have looked forward to going to grandma's house. But God had other plans. I look forward to being reunited with her in heaven once again, and introducing my wonderful husband to her. What an awesome family reunion we will all have with Mama and Daddy someday! We have so much to look forward to.


We do not fully understand joy... until we face sorrow; faith... until it is tested; peace... until faced with conflict;

trust... until we are betrayed; love... until it is lost; hope... until confronted with doubts.


We love you!

Loretta & Jon