When I was about 11 years old, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music starring Julie Andrews came to the Snowflake Show House.

We had to drive from Heber, 30 miles away, to see the movie. We had to stand in line, but it was worth it.

From the moment the lights in the theater dimmed, I was enthralled with the grandeur and magnificence of the cinematography.

The snowcapped mountains of the Swiss Alps filled my young mind with wonder and awe. I had grown up in the flatlands of Arizona in the tiny White Mountains. I had never seen such beauty.

The music floated into my heart with unforgettable magic. Still today, I catch myself humming a tune that I heard in that movie. Of course, I have seen the movie many times now, but the memory of that first time is still vivid in my mind. One song stands out from all the rest:


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

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things

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

Today, I want to tell you about a few of my favorite things. I will not be as eloquent and poetic as Rodgers and Hammerstein but I assure you, I am just as grateful for the things that have shaped my life with love and beauty.

There is nothing more thrilling to me than a walk in the forest after a rain. The pine needles sparkle with silver drops of water as the sun filters through the trees in rays of golden light. The forest smells brand-new and clean.

Birds and squirrels venture out from their hiding places and dart from branch to branch. The wildflowers of Indian Paintbrush and Ladies’ Thimbles sway under the weight of the dripping rain.

When I was a child, I spent many hours in the forest. I had a favorite tree that had a hanging branch that seemed made just for me. I would sit on the branch every afternoon and think up magical stories of heroes and heroines who would change the world. I would sing songs that, to my childish ears, were magnificent Broadway hits.

Of course, I knew nothing of Broadway back then. I only knew about the Snowflake Show House, the Roxie Theatre in Holbrook and the Wagon Wheel drive-in movie theatre in Show Low, but my songs were top of the line. Every song is beautiful until you have the education to compare.

My life was blissfully happy then because I did not have anything to compare it to.

I thought every child had a favorite tree and place to go and sing. I thought all children had parents who loved them. It was not until years later that I realized that my life was special. I was given the gift of time and freedom without fear. I was not tied up with television, video games and tidbits from the daily news.

I was not fearful of my tomorrows. I was able to grow up with my fantasies and was not bombarded with a deluge of sexual and sordid information from media that would have shaped my life with darkness rather than happiness. I am grateful for my walks in the forest and those walks are still among my favorite things.

Sunsets! Sunsets that spread their glory across the sky in orange, pink and gold, making the clouds into kingdoms of majesty. The black silhouettes of the cedar trees, windmills and ranch houses were black lace patterns against the blazing panorama of color.

The magic of the day ending is always a sweet reminder that God is still the master artist. His love is alive in every ray of light. I have seen more than a half a century of sunsets and I never cease to be awestruck at the beauty of God’s handiwork. Who could ever question that God is alive and well?

I love the flicker of campfire light in the faces of my family. Camping was a tradition in my family when I was growing up. We weren’t hikers but we would load everything in the back of the old red truck and head for the forest.

We’d set up makeshift tents and the back of the truck became our chuckwagon and serving table. We’d splash in the lake and then come back about suppertime. Dutch oven biscuits and hamburger gravy were always on the menu. Corn on the cob was a favorite, as well as peach cobbler.

Then when it got dark and a hush fell upon the forest, we’d stoke up the campfire and sit around and sing old campfire songs, like “Home on the Range,” “Billy Boy,” and “Red River Valley.” I don’t suppose we were on-key all the time, but we sang loud and long and enjoyed ourselves with every breath.

There is nothing sweeter than sitting shoulder to shoulder with those you love making music for only the creatures of the forest to hear.

The campfire died down, and we would snuggle down in our blankets (we did not have sleeping bags) and watch the stars. Way up there in the velvet blackness, you could see the glory of God twinkling in a myriad stars. Galaxies and star systems that only God could number!

I felt so small and insignificant out there in the blackness, but I knew God knew who I was and that he was mindful of me. He knows my name and your name. If He can number the stars, He can remember the name of each child on Earth because He loves them as an earthly father loves his children.

I am not sure when I learned to talk to God, but I know my parents taught me to pray. Now, one of my favorite things is to kneel and pour out my soul to God. He is my best friend.

There has never been a time that He has not responded with love. He has not always given me what I wanted, but He always gave me what I needed. I have noticed that sometimes the things we want are in direct opposition to our happiness.

For many years I was lonely and prayed that this fellow or that fellow would fall in love with me, and we would marry and live happily ever after, but God knew that He had my match in reserve. If I had married any one of those handsome fellows of my dreams, I would have missed the best part of my life.

My husband is perfect for me. He is the one who would teach me about abiding love and charity. He was the one who taught me to respect honest labor and sacrifice and eternal commitment.

God knew who I needed to marry. He knew I would never have children, though I wept many a time in my prayers crying for Him to allow me that privilege. He heard my prayers and answered them, though not in the way I expected.

He provided for that desire to be fulfilled with my husband’s six children and our five adopted children. I was allowed a journey into the lives of children who begin life with sorrow and separation. He allowed me to understand so many displaced hearts of today.

God, in His infinite wisdom, gave me what I needed, not what I wanted, because I always added this phrase to my prayers, “Thy will be done and not mine.” There have been times of darkness in my life when I did not know how I would ever solve my problem, but God did.

When I think of my favorite things, I am filled to the brim with deep gratitude. My favorite things are simple and unromantic, but Rodgers and Hammerstein have nothing on me in gratitude. When I kneel on Thanksgiving Day, I will enumerate my favorite things to my favorite friend.

I will not be eloquent or verbose but He, listening, will feel my heart swell with appreciation for the words I cannot say. I thank my God for allowing me time to enjoy my favorite things and to bask in the sweetness of His eternal love. PD

PHOTO:I had grown up in the flatlands of Arizona in the tiny White Mountains. I had never seen such beauty. Photo courtesy of www.thinkstock.com