Posted in Family, fear, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, Trials

Sinning Starts Early

But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9

I used to think I was a pretty good kid. As I have shared with you from my past, various memories come to life. Some are humorous, some are serious, some are painful, and some are, well, criminal. I still think the crime of the century was when I decided to rob the little world bank that my Mama brought home from church…for safekeeping. But there was at least one more thing that I did that proved for certain I was, and still am, a sinner.

I was probably eight years old.  While there wasn’t a Wal-Mart to be found there were other stores that were the forerunners of today’s retail mega-giant.  Ours was called Atlantic Mills and it was the place to go for good deals for just about anything you could imagine.  I remember it well because that is where we bought our Easter outfits.  We would go either Friday or Saturday before Easter (depending on Daddy’s payday, of course) and the girls would get their patent leather shoes and frilly dresses and I would get a shirt and tie.  Even then it was quite the event.

Easter wasn’t the only time we went to Atlantic Mills.  We would occasionally go just to shop around.  Of course, at my young age, I equated shopping with buying. I still do.  Why go to a store if you are going to buy something? That’s like going to a restaurant with no intention of eating.  What? Really? So, anyway, one time we went, and it was one of those times when we weren’t buying—we were looking.  Well, that just didn’t work for me, so I started begging Mama for a dollar.  Now, keep in mind, a dollar in 1962 was the equivalent of the entire economy of a third world country.

Momma said no. Period, nada, ain’t gonna happen.  Well, I kept begging. (I was pretty good at it.  Give me enough time and I could wear anyone down.) Finally, out of shear desperation, she reached in her purse and pulled out—a quarter.  Was I grateful?  Of course not.  Even then a quarter just didn’t have a lot of buying power.  I finally gave up and took my quarter to look for a treasure.  Two things happened in the next few minutes. First, I started feeling guilty for hassling my Momma and decided I should spend the quarter to buy something for her.  Someone say, “Awww.”

The second thing was I really realized that besides candy, there wasn’t a lot in Atlantic Mills for a quarter. Well, I looked around and found a pretty scarf that I just knew my Mama would like.  The problem was it was something like $1.49.  So, my young sinner/criminal mind began cooking something up.  I wasn’t about to outright steal it.  That could get you hard time.  So, I decided that I would switch the price tags.  I looked around and found something for a quarter, found a place where no one could see me, and carefully removed that price tag and put it on the scarf.  There. Done deal.  No one would ever know the difference.  Oops.

I went to the checkout counter and found out two things.  First, did you know even then there was a code on the price tag indicating what department it came from.  I found out too late that they didn’t sell scarfs in hardware.  Second, the checkout lady was not a newcomer to the checkout business, and she quickly realized that this scarf was worth more than a quarter.  Bottom line—she nailed me.  She looked down at my frightened face and into my tearing eyes and said, “Did you switch this price tag?”  Well, I “spilled my guts” and I believe I even told her why.  She didn’t turn me in…she didn’t have too. Her words were enough punishment.  I walked away a mess with my quarter still in my hand. As far as I remember I didn’t buy anything that day and I guess I gave the quarter back to Momma. It was a total disaster.

Now, before you act as the States Attorney and put me on trial, the stature of limitations has expired on this.  And besides that, I was just doing what sinners do—sin. And since we are all sinners, all of us can probably identify with this sin thing. It didn’t matter that I was eight—I was old enough to know better.  I don’t know if I told Mama or not but that didn’t matter because God knew, and He is even more important than Mama. It is things like this, and a lot more, that make me a big fan of God.  The way He extends His grace to sinners like me is just amazing.  It is so amazing they wrote a song about it.

I well remember the guilt and shame I felt that day which probably means I did confess to God and probably to Momma too.  I’m sure both forgave me.  A guy named John, who was a BFF (best friend forever) of Jesus and who wrote some of the New Testament said that if we are willing to confess our sins, God is more than willing to forgive us.  That is good news. And the best part?  There are no limitations. His love and grace go longer and further than the “Energizer bunny.” No matter what, if we come to Him in sincerity, He will sincerely forgive us.  He can handle my eight-year-old sins and my sins today.  As always, He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, Scripture, Southern born, thankful

The Emerald Buccaneers

The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all His creation.” Psalm 145:9

We were called the Emerald Buccaneers. There are parts of my childhood puzzle that pieces are just missing..and this is one of them.  As I have mentioned in several stories, the Taylor tribe was not the richest tribe on the block.  My Daddy worked at the Naval Air Station as a jet engine mechanic. He worked hard and he worked steady so that we could have a roof over our heads and food on the table.  Momma mostly took care of the tribe and, trust me, that was a full time job.  But the bottom line was that often…money was tight.  And then there is this.

I remember one summer, somehow and some way, Momma signed us up for swimming lessons.  They were held at the American Legion which was three or four miles from our house. I have no idea how it happened.  I’m sure it cost and I’m sure there wasn’t money in our limited economy, but we ended up at swimming lessons and I suppose that is how we ended up in the Emerald Buccaneers.

The Buccaneers were a drum and bugle corps sponsored by the same American Legion where we had swimming lessons.  Now what is interesting is we had no affiliation with the American Legion and so I can only imagine that Momma was chatting with someone, and the topic came up and the next thing I know…I was an Emerald Buccaneer.  I believe it must have been around the time I was in Junior High because that was the only time I was in band.  My sisters, I believe, were majorettes.  I played, or attempted to play, the baritone.  As you can imagine, it was quite an adventure.

For the marching season, the Buccaneers would play and march in several parades.  It was quite a big deal, and, in fact, I guess we were pretty good.  I know this is weird but somehow, I was in junior high band for a couple of years and in the Buccaneers for a while but never really learned to read music…well, at least not very good.  But somehow, I pulled it off and on weekends I would put on my fancy uniform that included a black buccaneer hat with a large white feather.  I was a part of something bigger than me and I loved it.

Now this part is fuzzy but the sponsors for the Buccaneers arranged for us to be in a competition.  We were in Jacksonville, Florida and the event was going to take place in Miami and, wait for it, for some reason, Momma let us go.  Now it was a big deal when the Taylor tribe left the county, so it was going to the moon for us to go to Miami…especially without Daddy or Momma. This can only mean two things.  Momma trusted the chaperons and Momma trusted us. I don’t remember a whole lot about the trip or the competition only that Daddy and Momma made it happen.  How about that?

There is a picture in a box somewhere that Momma took, and I am all dressed up in my uniform marching down the street…proudly playing, well, at least blowing on my horn.  And that snapshot makes me smile.  It reminds me once again of the extraordinary lengths my Daddy and Momma went to make our life adventurous.  A member of the “Greatest Generation,” those heroes that did life through the Great Depression and then won World War II, once told me, “We were poor, but we didn’t know it.”  Well, I’m not sure we were poor, but we could see it from the back porch.  But this is what I do know…we didn’t know it.  No, Momma and Daddy, somehow found a way for us to have and do. I love them for that.

I have another parent that found a way for me to have and do. Some ignore Him, some just call Him God, but I have the privilege of calling Him Father.  He found a way for me to come into His family by sending His Son to die on a Roman cross.  His sacrifice made my life possible.  I know my parents sacrificed a lot for the Taylor Tribe, but nothing compares to what God did for me…and for you. As I look back as my life as a kid, I keep remembering the small things that Leslie and Alston did and being amazed at how big they seem now.  I guess time adds perspective.

I know that is true with my Heavenly Father, my Dearest Daddy.  As I look back on my life with all its adventures…I am amazed.  He has indeed been so, so good to me and honestly, to you too. One of the authors of the Psalms said, “The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all His creation” and I have been around long enough to know that is true. I know I write a lot about God and His goodness and the fact that if we look closely enough, we will find reminders of His goodness.  But I guess that is because it amazes me so.

Someone said there are two ways to live…that nothing is a miracle or that everything is a miracle.  Do you know who said that? Albert Einstein.  Turns out he was really smart…in more ways than one.  So, enjoy this day and spend some time remembering the good and forgetting the difficult. Take the time to pause…and believe…that, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials

What Shall We Do?

“You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

The last two years in too many ways was a monster—perhaps a cookie monster.  It seemed to take so many of the things that were precious to us and just consumed them.  One minute they were there and the next…they were gone.  Like Cookie Monster it crunched and munched its way through the calendar and our lives declaring, “Me like cookies.”

As both years progressed, we struggled, pushed, and pulled, but let’s not lose sight of what we learned.  We learned things about ourselves, and we learned things about God.  We stopped just reading about faith or listening to preachers tell us about it and we were given opportunities to taste it, to experience it.  Keep in mind that kind of learning can only happen in situations that we can’t handle.  It can only happen in darkness.  But it is then that we get to see the dawn coming.  We get to see what he saw.

The man woke up early…just as dark was turning to dawn.  He quietly stirred so as not to disturb his master, Elisha.  It was then that he heard them.  “Them” were masses of horses and warriors lining the surrounding hills. It wasn’t going to be a good day.

Day after day, we awoke to a world and the sounds of warriors and horses were louder and closer than the day before as COVID, politics and headlines stopped being something that was just happening on the national news. Slowly it inched its way nearer, first, in nearby counties and then even closer. Perhaps you felt the fear creeping into the pit of your stomach…again…and again.  You asked, “What can I do?”  Now the question is “How did we do?”

Our friend shakes his master out of a deep sleep.  The Word of God records it like this in 2 Kings 6:15 “When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked. What.Shall.We.Do.

Did you ask that question in 2020? Last year? Recently? This morning?  Well, welcome to normal.  The best part is there is a great answer coming.  Elisha, in 2 Kings 6:16, says “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

“Calm down, friend” Elisha said because the odds are on our side.  Well, the servant did the math and it looked like a zillion to two.  Hmmm.  So, do you find yourself doing the math and no matter how you rewrite the equation it doesn’t look good?

Well – get ready because something is about to change.  In verse 17 the Word says, “And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

And boom, just like that everything changed.  When he could see clearly it was clear that the odds were in their favor and the fear eased and the panic fled and well, it was gonna be a better day. 1 John 4:4 puts it this way, “You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

That was true then and it is true now.  Yes, we had enough stuff in recent days to cause the strongest knees to knock.  The enemy was and is great, but our God was and is greater. Yes, the carnage scars the landscape but the virus, the division, the economic and emotional disruption was and is no match for our God. He is bigger…by a lot.  Ask God to open your eyes so you can see what the odds really were and are–and feel the fear ease and the panic flee.  After all, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, love, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials

Lost Keys and Love Notes

O Lord, You are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for Your help.” Psalm 86:5

It was a small thing that said a big thing.  The other night, my wife Judy was folding a load of clothes that she had done.  It’s one of those things that I sometimes forget to say “thank-you” for.  She had stepped into her role as what we call at 217 the “Underwear Fairy.”  It all came from the fact that my drawer of undies just magically seems to stay full and neatly folded.  Well, as she folded, I said something about time and with a twinkle in her eye she told me to stay put and then left the room…something told me there was another love note coming.

Soon she returned with her hand behind her back.  From there she produced a small hourglass that was not filled with sand but iron filings.  The base contained a magnet and as the filing fell from the top to the bottom, they took on different shapes as they came under the influence of the magnet.  It was a gadget and Judy knows I love gadgets. It was special, it was thoughtful, and it was a love note.  You see love notes are those small things that someone who loves you does just because…and she sends a lot of love notes and I love her for it.

I have learned, at least for me, it often isn’t the big things that she does that rings my bell.  No, it is often the small things. I remember one time, knowing I had a difficult meeting at work, she went to the grocery store and bought a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. Now, in case you don’t know, Ben and Jerry’s is expensive and it is not healthy.  In fact, you might say that it is a heart attack in a pint container. Laying that aside, she chose to send a love note.  Oh, and it was delicious.

She is not the only one who sends me love notes.  Oh no, I have another admirer and He outdoes even my wife.  He is Creator God but my term of endearment for Him is “Dearest Daddy.” As the title implies, He is my Heavenly Father and I, well, I am one of His kids.  God does a lot of big things for a lot of people but for me often it is the small things…the things that He does that simply say, “I love you.”  I call them love notes and I love them because they help show me how much He cares for me.

What does a love note look like?  Well, they are as varied as the minutes in a day but let me tell you about a special one.  A few days ago, we were going to a concert with one of our kids and their kids…aka grandkids.  We were going to drive Judy’s car and spend the night.  Now Judy’s car has one of those fancy things where you don’t need to insert a key into the ignition you just mash a button.  It’s really kind of cool. The deal is…you must have a key on you to make it work.  So, she has a key but it is just convenient if I have a key too.  Well, I realized I had forgot to pick up my key, so I stopped in the drive way and went to get mine and it was…gone. Bummer.

I did a quick search of all the suspected places it could be all to no avail.  I went back to the car and Judy went and looked too.  Nada. We went ahead and left but this was really on my brain.  You see, this was one of those three-hundred-dollar keys.  I had Judy call a couple of places we had gone the night before just in case they were turned in.  They weren’t.  All the way to my kid’s house and through the evening this would pop in my brain.  Nothing made sense and nothing rang a bell in my brain.

Well, the next day we got back home, and I looked again in all the places and it just wasn’t there.  I was disappointed but figured I had done all that I could do, and trust me that was pretty good for me since I tend to get frustrated…especially when it involves replacing a three-hundred-dollar key. So, for some reason, I walked over the counter/desk where I usually put my keys, wallet, etc.  And then…it happened.  We have a small chair there and something said, “Look in the chair.”  So, I slid the chair out and there lay the lost key.  Boom.  Love note. And, just in case you are wondering, yes, the first words out of my mouth were, “Thank you Father.”

So, you probably know this, but today’s big truth is twofold.  First, yes, God loves you.  If you can’t yet call Him Father, He would love to fix that.  Talk to someone or Google it. Second, make every day a good day to look for His love notes. They are all around…we just need to learn to recognize them.  Rather than assuming something is a coincidence or accident…just look through the lens of God’s love and you will see them all around.

The Psalms in the Old Testament part of the Bible contains a whole bunch of love notes. Psalm 86:5 is a good one, “O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.” And trust me He wants you to be a part of His family and He wants to flood your “mailbox” with love notes.  So, look around, and you will discover a world full of heavenly notes and each one is also a reminder that, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, thankful, Trials

Mary Sue & the Moon

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship.  Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him known.” Psalm 19:1-2

It was an early start to a long day.  I was up early, which is pretty normal, but on that day a special member of our church was having surgery. Mary Sue, not her real name, lives in a group home and we have the privilege of having her as a part of our church tribe.  In a word, she is a blessing.  Her smile and sweet demeanor make every encounter a pleasure.  Well, Mary Sue, had an issue in her neck that needed to be fixed so surgery was required, and I wanted to be there to pray for her before she went back.  As I left my driveway that early March morning and turned west, I saw it. There, hanging in the predawn morning was a beautiful, almost full moon.  It wasn’t perfect…that would happen in a day or so, but it was beautiful.

As I drove the miles to the town where the surgery was being performed, almost due west, mile after mile, the moon continued to amaze me.  It was a soft orange color, and in the clear sky, nothing obstructed its beauty. It seemed to speak in soft tones of the majesty of the One who had hung it there.  As I looked, I couldn’t help but notice its slightly oblong shape though that in no way distracted from its beauty.  And then I thought about how we humans to various degrees are like that moon—not perfect but each of us created in the image of the Creator.  Each one of us, dare I say it, a masterpiece.

Well, actually I can say it because He already did.  In the letter that Paul wrote to a church in Ephesus and that now part of the New Testament part of the Bible, he wrote, “We are God’s masterpiece…” And that reminded of Mary Sue.  Some would say that she was flawed but God would beg to differ.  He would say that Mary Sue was one of His finest works.  He would point out her kind and gentle heart. He would revel in her simple smile and laugh. He would share how she was like that March moon, filled with breathtaking, eye-popping joy.  And, of course, He would be right.

Well, believe it or not, the evening of that same day, I stepped outdoors, and that same moon was back. In the course of just 13 hours, it had set and risen but now it was for all intents and purposes, perfect. It was amazing how much had changed in such a short time. The color was less vivid but the was now full and round—shaped by the hand of the Creator to a more perfect form.  And the good news is what He does for moons—well, He does for us too. One day, all the imperfections of this world will be a thing of the past. You just wait and see. Somewhere out there, there is a grand opening where the Creator says, “I’ve made all things new.”

Let me encourage you not to be discouraged about today’s imperfections—they are all temporary.  For now society looks at the Mary Sue’s in the world and sees flaws but there is Someone who sees perfection and that is the One who matters. I know it is hard to believe but He would like for you to get to know Him better. The Bible even talks about knowing Him as “Abba Father,” or Dearest Daddy and that happens not because we decide to be better, no, it happens when we decide to believe. That’s called faith—faith in His Son Jesus—who He is and what He did. Go ahead, check it out—it’s an amazing story.

Well, all that is good news for today but just wait and see what He has planned for the future. Just like that imperfectly round moon changed, so will the future. Don’t be frustrated, don’t be discouraged…there is a much better day coming.  They said the moon was going to be perfect in a day or so. Well, what I saw that morning, already was and what I see every time I see Mary Sue is too. Oh, and what God sees in His kids—yup, masterpieces.  He loves you, you know, and nothing is going to change that.  He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, Scripture, Southern born, thankful

What’s in a Name?

She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

Satan.  I’m sure it sounded logical at the time. Everybody needs a dog.  Now I know that is a generalization, but the fact is dogs can add a lot to life.  Sometimes that “lot” is good and sometimes not so much.  The bottom line is that dogs are kinda like people.  They are all different, they all have different personalities, and they all have different names.

When I was growing up, I can remember three outdoor dogs that we had.  Momma and Daddy had an indoor dog named Penny. She was a, uh, well, overweight chihuahua mix and was pretty much the queen bee of the house.  But through the years that I remember we had three other dogs and all three were as different as night and day. The first one had a very unusual name.

Now, first remember these were real outdoor dogs.  We are talking their dog food was whatever scraps were left over from dinner and they rarely, very rarely had a bath.  So regardless of what adjectives I use to describe them, you would never find them at a dog show.  The first one was a beautiful, red, long hair, Irish setter.  I’m not sure where we got him, but I can assure you he was free.  We definitely did not pay for dogs.  Besides the fact that this dog was really pretty, his name set him apart.  His name was, wait for it, Satan.  Yes, folks, we actually had a dog named Satan.  Even as I type this, I am saying, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”  But…I am not.

Satan, the dog—not the king of evil—didn’t get his name from his behavior but rather from his red coat.  You know how we like to dress Satan (the king of evil not the dog) in red? Well, I guess Momma and Daddy decided it seemed appropriate.  I know when I am introduced to someone, sometimes I hear their name and say, “Well, he or she looks like a Judy or a Sam.  Well, Satan, the dog, with his red coat fit the bill.  What a crazy name for a dog.

The second dog that holds a spot in my dog hall of fame was a beagle named Sally.  Now Sally, I think, is a kinda happy name.  I have a hard time imagining a stern-faced Sally though I am sure there are plenty out there.  Well, Sally, the dog, had a bubbly personality and had the unique ability, wait for it, to smile.  Now, as Jerry Clower the comedian, used to say, “if I am lying, I am dying.”  You could walk up to ole Sally and give her a greeting and she would turn her upper lip right up and smile at you.  Bring her supper and up the lip would go.  She was a nice contrast, as you can imagine, to, uh, Satan (not the king of evil but the dog.)

The third and final dog that fills my memory of dogs in my growing up years was a rough and tumble, short legged, who knows what breed or breeds, dog we named, Ruff. Our dog Ruff didn’t stand out with a shiny red coat, nor could he smile.  He was just Ruff. If he was a human, he probably would have driven a big Harley hog, wore a leather jacket, and smoked cigarettes.  He was rough.  He may have had small dog syndrome because truthfully, he was short and stocky.  But, regardless, he was a good dog, and he was loyal.  He ruled the backyard and protected us from all the bad guys.

Three dogs, three distinct personalities and characteristics and three names that kinda, sorta, fit them.  Back in the old days of the Bible, names were a really big deal. You would name your son or daughter based on your hopes and dreams for them.  Sometimes it worked out…and sometimes, well, it didn’t.  I know when Joseph learned that Mary was going to have Jesus, he had some inside help on the name.  I mean an angel shows up and says, “Hey, Mary is going to have a baby and you are to name Him Jesus because He is going to save the world.” Now that is one important name.

And guess what?  That is exactly what He did.  His destiny was to die on a Roman cross to pay for the sins of the whole world—mine and yours and well, everybody’s.  When you hear the name of Jesus—think Savior because that is what He is.  His name is special, very special, and is one that should not, ever, be thrown around lightly.

Guess what? God likes to give names to His kids too.  In the last book of the Bible, it says that God will give us a new name written on a white stone and no one will understand the name but the one who gets it.  Until then, well, He just calls us son or daughter. I like that.  And as His son or daughter, we have the assurance that no matter what comes our way, we can count on Him.  We can know for sure, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, forgiveness, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, love, prayer, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, Trials

Rescue and Redemption

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” (Psalm 34:18)

Tears streamed down my face as I raced after the car.  So many childhood memories are lost through the fog of time.  Depending on the memory…that can be good or bad.  A tragedy, a broken heart, a traumatic event, are all best left in the fog.  Others, though, need to be remembered.  And then, there are those that are both and this story is one of those.

It all started one day in elementary school.  It had to be the third grade.  The teacher had given us an assignment and to emphasize the importance, she said that if we came to school the next day without it…there would be consequences.  I don’t know what those were, but it probably involved a trip to see the principal or being fed to the sharks.  At any rate, it worked.  I was terrified.

Well, somehow, some way, it happened.  I got on the bus, got to school, and got to class.  Shortly after we said the pledge to the flag, sang our patriotic song for the day and then recited the Lord’s Prayer (yes, we really did that), she called for the assignment. Just about then, the Lord’s Prayer took on a new meaning.  I was genuinely scared…to death.  Well, in a moment of grace, she allowed this repentant sinner to go to the office and call my Momma and Momma came to the rescue. We agreed that I would meet her in the circular drive…where the buses dropped us off each morning. Since it was going to be a few minutes, I went back to class.

A little later, the teacher let me go and meet Momma.  I got to the drive just in time to see the back of our car leaving the driveway.  Either I was later, or she was early—either way I was in deep trouble. So, I did what any insecure, deep weeds third grader did back in the early sixties—I burst into tears and started chasing the car.  As they drove off, I remember running as fast as I could, crying out, “Momma, Momma.” Somehow, some way the brake lights came on and the car pulled over.  It turned out my brother was driving, and Momma was in the front passenger seat.

When I got to the car, Momma opened the door and I fell into her waiting arms.  Now this may seem a little dramatic and traumatic to some of you but then you didn’t have Mrs. Wilson for a third-grade teacher. There was not a sermon about how I shouldn’t have forgotten the paper—though that would have been appropriate. There was not a chastening—though I deserved that too.  There was only compassion for a young boy who thought for sure his world was about to end.  There was only love.

Well, first it turned out, she had already dropped the assignment off at the office.  Second, right or wrong, I just couldn’t go back to class, and I asked if I could just go home—and she agreed.  Apparently at the moment it was the right thing to do. Honestly, I was a mess and embarrassed that I was a mess.  The story ends with another chance.  The office must have sent the assignment to Mrs. Wilson and the next morning when I got to class everything was ok.  She extended some grace and I believe I learned a lesson about rescue and redemption.  It was a lesson that I would see played out over the years for the rest of my life…not by a teacher or my Momma—but by my Dearest Daddy.

You see, God is in the rescue and redemption business. Did you know that?  He is always looking for a lost cause to redeem and rescue and that’s all of us since we all have messed up. And the amazing part, He never grows tired of it.  I think it must be His incredible love for us. When I decided to become a Jesus follower, I didn’t become perfect…no one does. I still managed to “forget my homework”…again and again.  But each time He was there with a bucket full of grace and love. That’s just what He does.  Oh, and I don’t ever have to chase after Him for He is always chasing me.

So, today, if your day or your life is going south like a fast freight train, just remember this.  There is a God, He does love you and He wants to redeem and rescue you.  He’s chasing you to do exactly that.  No matter what it is, just know and believe, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, Grace, life, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, wisdom

Singing before the Sunrise

For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

It happens every year…just about this time.  One of the amazing things about God’s creation is the preciseness of it all.  You can predict the time of the sunrise a hundred years from today within seconds.  The seasons come and go with precise assuredness, and it is not an accident.  Oh no, it is by intentional design.  The Creator God of it all is the God of details and He doesn’t miss one.  Just a couple of weeks ago here in Southern Illinois we were freezing and had a dose of snow, sleet, and ice.   Monday it was just over seventy degrees, the grass is greening, and the limbs of the trees are swelling with anticipation. They all know it is time.  Even a late snow won’t upset the apple cart.

I know sometimes we worry about some things and sometimes we worry about everything, but nature just doesn’t seem to have that problem.  Sometimes I long for that.  When things around me seem so confusing and threatening, when it seems that the new normal isn’t normal at all…I just have a tendency to worry.  But nature doesn’t miss a beat.  This morning, I got up at my somewhat usual 4:30 am (don’t ask me why) and began my day with a cup of coffee and a time with Jesus.  It works well.  The coffee wakes me up and my time with Jesus sets me up for a brand-new day. 

At 4:30 am the sun is still sleeping so the skies and the countryside are still dark…very dark.  But something happens every year…just about this time.  Somewhere in my yard, somewhere outside my window a songbird starts to sing.  I’m sure it is a different bird every year and it might even be a different bird every day but long before daylight, he or she decides to sing.  I find it very…refreshing.  Though it is dark, the songbird sings in anticipation of what is coming.  Somehow, they know that the darkness of night is just about over, and the sun is going to rise.  They seem to know that the darkness cannot last forever…it must give way to the power of light.

By faith, the songbird sings its celebration of Spring and of a new day.  And do you know what?  Sure enough, in about thirty or forty minutes, the dawn begins to break, and God honors their faith.  Day in and day out the songbird sings and day in and day out God is faithful.  I think there is a lesson there for us. Actually, there are two.  First, is the lesson of our faithfulness.  The songbird sings not because it sees the light but because it believes the light is coming.  Tucked away in a letter that Paul wrote to the church located in Corinth are these words, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”  We.Walk.By.Faith.

The songbird sings by faith and God calls us to walk by faith.  Walking by faith believes that what God has said will come to pass.  And the second lesson?  It is the lesson of His faithfulness.  Our faithfulness is based on a faithful One.  We have all lived long enough to know that put your faith in the wrong thing and you’re toast.  But put your faith in the One who is faithful, and it is the most sane, most logical thing that you can do. In 2020 it was difficult to find sure footing.  Everywhere you stepped it was shifting sand and honestly, 2021 wasn’t much better. The one exception to that was God.  The God who was God in March of 2020 when we started this COVID mess is the same faithful God today, two years later.  He does not change. You can take that to the bank.

So tomorrow morning, even if it’s out of the range of my hearting, a songbird will begin to sing in the darkness.  It will be announcing, by faith, that a new day is coming—daylight is coming. And Lord willing, most of us will awaken from a night of rest.  For some it may be dark and for others quite light, but for all of us we have the opportunity to take our first steps in the new day.  I hope they will be steps of faith…faith in a Dearest Daddy who loves us enough to guide us, to help us and to lead us.  All we have to do is believe…in Him…in who He is and what He said.  He has never failed, you know.  It is totally foreign to Him.  He can and will come through…not matter what.  So, go ahead and peer out into the darkness as the songbird sings and know, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials

Happy Birthday Grits!

Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds.” Matthew 13:34

Well – what an adventure!  It was a Friday morning in March of 2020 and the beginning of the COVID pandemic that caused me to sit down one morning and write a short post on Facebook. I intended it to be a one and done deal and was simply meant to be an encouragement. I wrote it and posted it…and then, something happened.  For whatever reason it touched a chord with people who followed my Facebook page and many readers responded.  And that is how Grits with Grace was born.

We made a permanent home for Grits in May of 2020 on WordPress with a new address, . The website archives all the stories and has a great search engine if you are looking for a particular subject. It also has some valuable statistics…that remind us how the God’s Word never comes back void. As of March 20, 2022, the website has 361 followers (people who currently follow our site), 94 email subscribers (email every time blog is posted) and 1,995 followers on Facebook. Wow!

We find it very exciting that the top five countries following us in 2021 (12 months) are: USA (7,242), India (250), Ireland (160), United Arab Emirates (154) and the United Kingdom (138). For the first eleven weeks of this year the USA has (1,401), United Arab Emirates (144), United Kingdom (48), Ireland (35), and India (24). We have received some great words of encouragement especially from our friends in the United Kingdom.

I thought you might want to read the very first Grits again. If so, the next few paragraphs contain that first story.  If not, I’ll just meet you at the bottom of the page.

A Word of Encouragement

The story is told of a Christian lady who had cancer.  Her pastor went to see, encourage, and pray with her.  Towards the end of the visit, her pastor asked if he could pray with and for her.  Her response was, “yes, of course.”  That wasn’t surprising.  What happened next was.

When he asked how he should pray, her response was totally unexpected.  He assumed it would be for healing but instead she said, “Pastor, pray that I would not waste this suffering.”  Waste this suffering.

She was wise enough to know that the God she believed in was sovereign, was in control and was a kind, merciful and loving God.  She also knew that He was wise and that this had been allowed into her life for a purpose–His purpose.

God’s word says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

I admit I’m baffled by a lot of what is happening around me.  Just when I think I can’t be surprised…I am.  But I’m not baffled about God.  He is working in our circumstances to bring glory to His name and strengthen our faith.

So, God has this.  He isn’t asking us to understand…He is only asking us to trust Him.  And believe me…He has a track record of always getting it right.  God bless you today…trust Him…He’s got this.

Well, that is where it all started. The last two years my wife Judy and I have been honored to share our lives and our stories with all of you.  We honestly don’t have an accurate idea of how many people take the time to read Grits each day, but we do know that we are grateful for all of them. The stories have been as varied as life itself.  We have written about everything from the “Underwear Fairy” to a mean goose in our city park we named, “Bubba.”  Hopefully, many made you smile, and some might have made you cry.  I know there were times when tears slid down my cheeks as I wrote.

You know, Jesus loved to tell stories and He told a lot of them.  Maybe that is why I love Grits so much—it teaches the way He did. All the stories for the last 700 days have had a truth that can be applied to life and very often that truth centered around just how much Creator God loves us, His creation.  Oh, and we have learned that no matter how big or how small the problem or the circumstance, we can know for certain that, “He’s got this.”

I’ve wondered exactly how long Grits will be around.  Well, I suppose the answer is this.  As long as there is a story to tell and a friend who enjoys reading it, I will keep pressing the keys and Judy will keep designing the graphics. So, once again, thank you so much for reading and sharing Grits with your family, friends, and neighbors. And let’s always remember that no matter how difficult the circumstance, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, priorities, Scripture, thankful, Trials


Jesus wept.” John 11:35

It still gives me reason to pause.  It was years ago…more than ten but less than twenty.  A couple of the people in the story belong to me—one by blood and one by marriage.  The other, Danny, was a stranger that they encountered.  As they causally bumped into each other that day, their lives were changed…maybe not forever but for the moment. But every time this story is told, the change lives on.

It all started when my son-in-law Blake and his wife and my daughter Sarah were taking a walk. After a while, they noticed a man walking his bike down the sidewalk coming towards them. As he drew closer, they noticed he had a military bag full of stuff and looked exhausted and was limping and wearing a pair of broken-down old shoes. As they passed, he politely said hello even joking about his limp and how he was walking off some blisters he had.

After they walked on a few more feet it struck Blake that this guy was probably homeless—obviously lonely and hurting. At that moment Blake turned to my daughter and said they should at least try to help him. So, they hurried home and Blake found a nearly new pair of shoes, some socks, and a bag of snacks and drinks and headed out to find his new friend. He found him a block or so away.  He said, “Hey man what size shoe do you wear?” He replied he didn’t know what size he wore and then began to share some of his story. He had a “hard, knock life.”

He explained to Blake that he had hit a rough time after coming home from serving in the military and had just had a terrible day—probably not the only one he had experienced. After talking for a few minutes, Blake offered him the shoes and socks and told him he hoped this would help with the blisters. He then offered him the food and drinks. It was obvious the man hadn’t eaten in a while and when he saw the food, his broad smile was better than any spoken thank you. Then, they exchanged names and a handshake and Danny went his way and Blake his.  Then…something unexpected happened to Blake.

Blake told me later that as he walked away, he began to cry and with each step away from Danny, the tears flowed more freely. Some say real men don’t cry and that of course is not true.  The Bible says that the greatest man ever to live shed some tears.  In the shortest verse in the New Testament, it says, “Jesus wept.”  But those two words speak volumes. It speaks of a Man who wasn’t afraid to touch the untouchable or love the unlovable. It speaks of a man who was willing to give what He had to help others—including His own life.

My son-in-law would tell you he doesn’t always get it right.  He would tell you that he is in fact far from perfect.  But this father-in-law will tell you this is one time he knocked it out of the park—a walk-off homer. And all he did was what all of us should do…love our neighbor. If we are Jesus followers that is not only expected—it should be a rite of passage. To follow Jesus, we should be like Jesus. That day Blake did something that Jesus would have done.  First, he saw and then he did something.  How cool is that?

Blake said that he was moved, struck, with the reality that there are people all around us that are hurting…beat up and cast down by life and it’s crazy circumstances.  That day, Blake didn’t even have the money to buy Danny a meal, but do you know what he did?  He did what he could and that was enough. So, how about you?  The next time you find a someone who looks a little like Danny, will you do what you can? Will I? I know it can be risky, but I also know that it is always pleasing to our Heavenly Father.

We don’t have to be zillionaires to make a difference. That day, Blake was broke, but he discovered a great lesson—the power of a simple gift, a kind word, and warm handshake. And whether he knew it or not, he also discovered that there is a God, some of us call Him Dearest Daddy, who loves us and loves it when we act like Him. He also found out what I and perhaps you, already know, “He’s got that.”   Bro. Dewayne