Posted in Family, Grace, gratitude, life, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials

A Bad Idea–But God

I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous abandoned or his children begging for bread.” Psalm 37:25

It seemed like a really, bad idea.  Right after high school graduation I jumped into the Air Force, and it turned out to be a really good idea.  Back in those days, or so it seemed, college wasn’t pushed for everyone, and I was pretty uncertain about what I wanted to do.  So, through a strange set of circumstances, I found myself in the military.  I loved it.  Raised as a good southern boy, the discipline required for a life in the service came naturally.  I was taught to respect others and especially those appointed over me.  “Yes sir” and “Yes ma’am” were part of my vocabulary long before the Air Force taught me to say it.

By 1980, I had been stationed in Minot, North Dakota, Valdosta, Georgia (where I met and married the best wife a guy could ask for), spent three years in Germany and finally landed in Knob Noster, Missouri.  Like I said, I liked the Air Force, and it seemed the Air Force liked me.  I was picked for several key assignments and was on track promotion wise.  With a young family, the security the Air Force provided was an added benefit and while I wasn’t going to get rich in the Air Force, the pay provided a good life.  Yup…life was good.

Then God spoke.  No, it wasn’t an audible voice, but it was one clear enough that I knew He had a change of plans in mind.  I felt, I knew that He was calling me to become a pastor but that wasn’t all.  I also knew for me that meant leaving the Air Force.  I think that was probably for a couple of reasons.  First, I knew that as long as I was in the Air Force, I would be tempted to lean on that for security and not God.  Second, I also knew that the Air Force would be calling the shots about my future.  Well, that led up to me making one of the biggest changes in my life…after 12 years…leaving the lifestyle and security of the Air Force and jumping into the secure arms of faith and the life of a pastor.

When I went public with this it seemed that everyone had an opinion and a lot of those opinions followed one school thought—you are nuts.  Certainly, the military thought it was a bad idea. After all, they liked me, and I liked them.  I was on track for a good career and great retirement.  You see, with the military, you can retire with 20 years and draw a pension equal to half of your base pay.  You also get other benefits for the rest of your life.  All that led to the “you are nuts” thing and this is really not good idea. But then…there was God.

You see, I was, oh, somewhere beyond probably and just shy of absolutely certain that God was asking me, telling me to do this.  And somehow, some way, Judy and I with two toddlers under three were able to believe and jump.  And now, forty years later, I am able to say that God took that “really not a good idea” and turned it into a really good idea.  He has faithfully and completely cared for us over these four decades. I’m sure if I had stayed in the Air Force, I would have had a nice, secure life. I’m sure things would have turned out just fine.  But God’s idea went somewhere beyond nice and secure and somewhere beyond just fine.

If I’ve learned anything from all of this, it is that God’s ideas are always, and I do mean always, better than mine.  I have learned and I am learning that faith beats fine every time.  The adventure, the challenges, the “mysterious ways of God” that we have experienced together trumps a nice retirement and manmade security.  There’s a verse, and I’m really not sure all that it means, but it sure seems to ring true with me.  The author says that he had never seen the righteous forsaken or his family begging for bread.  Like I said, I’m not sure what that means entirely but looking back from where I sit, it says, “God is good, God is faithful, and God can be trusted.”

God is good, God is faithful, and God can be trusted. Period.  Your story is probably a lot different than mine but if you are a God follower let’s all agree on that part.  He really is good, He really is faithful, and yes, He can be trusted.  So, in these days of uncertainty and in these days when up is down and down is up—listen carefully for the still small voice of your Dearest Daddy.  Let Him whisper His better idea…and then trust. Don’t worry, you are not nuts—you’re a man, a woman and child of faith.  And that is always best because, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in life, Family, Southern born, gratitude, friends

Looking Forward

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead…” Philippians 3:13

There’s a reason it is smaller.  I like cars.  I love cars. From my first car, a worn out, rusted out, 1962 Rambler, to what I drive today…cars have held a special place in my life.  That old Rambler may have been akin to the “Ramblin’ wreck from Georgia Tech” but it was mine…a gift from my oldest sister and her husband. I was 16 or 17 and I thought I was on top of the world.  Through the years I have had many different cars.  Some were new (oh, how I love that smell) and more were used, but each one was my baby.  I try and take care of both of our family vehicles, but mine always gets the best care. Don’t even think about eating in it. Grandkids are required to take a bath before getting in it.  Even Judy requires a permission slip to drive it.

As different as these cars have been, there are a few things that they have in common.  They all had an engine.  The Rambler had a straight line six with a rod knocking but hey, it ran…for a while.  My first new car was a 1973 Volkswagen Super Beetle.  It had an engine too…but in the back.  Trust me that was revolutionary in those days.  Then there was the 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser.  It had an engine—a diesel.  I didn’t know a thing about diesels.  Imagine my surprise when I looked for the spark plugs and found out it didn’t have any! Speaking of diesels, Judy and I both drive Volkswagens these days, both diesels and both get about 42 miles per gallon.  You might say I’m returning to my roots.

Oh, and all those cars had tires, four of them.  They had seats—most had seating for five, but some had more.  Our mini vans could seat seven and that Cutlass Cruiser could seat eight. All had heating and most had air conditioning. Like I said, they had a lot of things in common.  And they all had a mirror.  They had one or two sideview mirrors and then there was one that hung in the middle of the windshield.  It allowed me to see what was behind, and as you know that is important. But there is one more thing that they had in common. They all had a windshield.

In the real old days, cars didn’t have windshields.  You wore goggles and just picked the bugs out of your teeth.  But somewhere along the way someone figured out that there had to be a better way and the windshield was born.  The windshield allows you to see where you are going and what is coming at you.  It is big because it is important.  Have you ever thought about this—the thing that allows you to see the future is a whole lot bigger than the thing that allows you to see the past?  Hmmm. I bet that is no accident. No one can deny the fact that we need to look behind, it’s just that looking forward is more important and that is why it is so big.

So, here’s the question.  As you are “driving” along life’s road, which is bigger, your windshield or your rearview mirror?  I know many folks spend more time looking back than looking forward and that can lead to a hair-raising ride.  You see the rearview mirror in your car is not designed to be the primary place you look.  It is designed for an occasional glance.  Well, that is true in life.  The rearview mirror in our life is there, it is designed, to glance back.  We savor the good times and smile as we remember them.  We wince at some of the more unwise decisions but remember the lessons we learned.  Yup…it is profitable until it is all that we look at.

Living with our eyes glued to the rearview mirror of life is a dangerous thing.  If we live staring at all the past good days, we will soon become discontent with the present.  If we live staring at all the past failures and flops, we will soon become discouraged and depressed. It’s just what happens when we stare at the past and ignore the present and future. Paul, in the Bible, gives us some great advice.  He admitted that while he hadn’t figured it all out, he had learned one thing.  He said we should leave the past in the past and reach out for the future. And trust me…that is really, good advice.

A guy named Brian Simmons said, “The time before us is not one of gloom and doom; it will be instead the best and most adventurous time of our lives. The best for God’s people lies not in the past, buried in Scripture somewhere. It’s yet to come. Let’s not allow fear to defeat us.” Right on Brian, right on.  Remember, don’t fear the future just because it is unknown.  You see, there is a God who knows the future and in fact, in a way we can’t understand…He’s already there. So, settle back, rest in Him and enjoy the drive. Go ahead…set the cruise…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in life, Family, food, thankful, gratitude, prayer, Trials, friends

Diver “Whatever-it-is-itis”

And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20

Diver what? It was a long time ago but for some reason it is still fresh in my mind.  Journey back with me to 2002…twenty years ago.  One day I started feeling pretty bad. I ended up going to the doctor and first he did the normal doctor stuff and then he began to poke and to prod and that is when the fun began.  He pressed down on my side, and I just about came off the table.

Well, he said, “Preacher, I think you have diverticulitis.” I didn’t have a clue what diver ”whatever-it-is-itis” was but I knew I didn’t feel good. It turns out that diverticulitis is an infection of the colon, and it can be potentially dangerous. Anyway, he sent me over to the hospital for some more tests, some pain meds and a really strong dose of antibiotics.

For the first few days I was pretty out of it but finally I turned a corner and began to feel a little better. Because of how diverticulitis works, I couldn’t have anything to eat—and very little to drink–for several days.  Now those of you who regularly read Grits know that food and I are best friends so for me to go several hours…much less days…without eating is something strange indeed.  Finally, one morning, the nurse came in and asked if I would like some WATER.  Oh, was I grateful.  “Yes, yes,” said the thirsty preacher.

At lunch they brought me a Popsicle and some chicken broth. Oh, was I grateful.  “Thank you so very much,” said the hungry preacher.  At supper they brought me some more chicken broth and another Popsicle.  “Thanks,” said the now feeling better and still hungry preacher.  At breakfast they brought me more broth and another Popsicle.  “Looks just like supper to me,” said the very hungry and less grateful preacher.  Well on and on it went for a few more meal times until finally they brought me REAL FOOD.  Broiled chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans have never tasted so good.

The moral of the story is obvious and simple.  You see, the better I felt and the more I drank the broth and ate the popsicles, the more dissatisfied and ungrateful I became.  It was surprising how quickly I forgot the days when I had nothing.  And that is when I learned an important lesson. You see, when you become dissatisfied with what you’ve got just remember a day when you had less. It’s sure to mash your “I’m grateful” button.

One of things that God is working on in my life is this grateful thing.  It seems He keeps bringing to my attention all that I have that I should be thankful for.  I’m realizing it is a very long list.  Through the years God has sent special blessings and special people to me over and over again.  The special blessings were love notes sent by my Dearest Daddy in heaven.  The special people were encouragers to walk with me along the journey. Together they remind me, they prod me to be thankful.

As you journey, as I journey, and we find ourselves tending to be a little on the ungrateful side…when we are no longer satisfied with chicken broth and Popsicles…maybe we can and should remember when we had less. Paul, who spent more time in jail for doing Jesus stuff than anyone else, wrote, “And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He would later write how he learned to be content no matter what and most of that he wrote while sitting in a Roman prison. How about that?

So, let’s be honest.  Chicken broth and Popsicles still don’t make my top five list—or top fifty for that matter.  But I can remember the time when I thought they were better than fried chicken and a banana split.  It is all about perspective.  This being grateful thing is something most of us will wrestle with as long as we are here on this earth.  We probably should just hang a sign out that says, “Construction Zone Ahead.” Just remember, be grateful because something is always better than nothing.  And if you listen carefully, you will hear the Whisperer whispering, “Popsicles anyone?” And he will smile and whisper, don’t worry…“I’ve got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, Military memories, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials

Life from the Back Left

For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b

I guess I got in the wrong line.  I don’t know if there are lines in heaven or not but if there are…I may have missed one or two.  If there is a line for being tall, missed it.  If there is a line for being skinny, missed that one too.  Oh, the line for hair, missed it again. Oh well, I am who I am and probably in a different world I would be alright with at least some of it.  But it seems we live in a world where we are constantly being reminded that we always come up…a little short (pun fully intended).

And speaking of short, the Air Force had this unusual way of reminding you that you weren’t tall.  Now, first, you need to know I really, really enjoyed my time in the Air Force. Once you made it past basic training, in many ways it was like working for any other first-class organization.  Now granted, we were still in the warrior business, but Basic Military Training wasn’t the real Air Force…thankfully.

You see, in Basic, we marched where we went.  I’m sure the Army and Marines do that all the time anyway but once we got out of Basic and tech school, we rediscovered the wonders of buses and cars.  But not so in Basic.  So, it went something like this.  The Drill Sergeant would holler “form up”.  Now we had done this enough that we would get into lines about seven across and seven deep.  The sergeant would then have us do a “right face” and would say, “If you are taller than the man in front of you, tap him on the right shoulder and move up.”  In other words, if you are tall, move up…if you’re short don’t.

Well, I simply waited for the inevitable tap on the right shoulder and sure enough…it came.  Then the sergeant would have us do a “left face” and we would do it all over again. The command came, “If you are taller than the man in front of you, tap him on the right shoulder and move up.” So, the end result was the tallest people were at the right front and the shortest people were in the left back.  Well, it seems I spent a lot of time in the back left.

I’m sure there is a reason for all of this.  It certainly must have looked more uniform, and I guess it probably looked more impressive.  I’m glad we didn’t apply this logic and formula to family photographs.  If we did, some of us would have never been seen.  I always wrestled with things like this because it seemed to make me feel kinda…small.  It sometimes seems that the world places great value on a man’s stature—the taller the better and it is true in so many arenas and places around the world.  But there is one place that it doesn’t matter one bit…and that is the place that matters the most.

You see, when it comes to God, He is not impressed even a little bit with our height, weight, or even how much hair we have.  In fact, He is the one who made us and since He doesn’t make mistakes, well, that means He got it right. When God was choosing the second king of Israel, the search committee naturally assumed the biggest and tallest would be selected.  Well, God said, “Nope.”  It turned out that there was a short, ruddy, teenage shepherd boy that, through God’s prospective, fit the bill perfectly. You see, God looks at the size of the heart and not the height.  He looks on the inside and not the outside.  I like that. A lot.

So, as you journey through life, and you are bugged because it seems you got in the wrong lines in heaven (and just to be clear…there really aren’t any lines) remember that God made you just way He wanted you.  When they were doing the selection process for that king, God said, “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”  Well, there you go. You won’t find any of that, “tapping the shoulder thing and moving up” in God’s family. We made us equal and loves us equally.  And if anyone tries to tell you differently, just remind them who’s calling the shots and remember that no matter what, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, food, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, love, prayer, Scripture, thankful

Special on Donuts

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

The sign said it all. “Day old donuts…half price.”  In those five words there are two things I really like.  First, donuts.  Donuts and I go way back.  In fact, food and I go way back.  I’m a southern boy and there’s just something about food that puts a smile on my face.  Donuts, well, they make me smile big. The other thing that I really like is “half price.”  I love a good deal.  I remember one time I was at a store, and it was after Christmas.  They had a gift set that had a razor, some shaving cream, and a few extra blades.  They were marked down from $6.99 to .79 cents. I bought all they had—about twenty of them.  Too bad I use an electric razor.  But it was such a good deal.

So, we have half-price donuts…but there is a problem. “Day old.”  Because donuts don’t have preservatives, they go stale real quickly.  By the afternoon of day one a donut becomes not as fluffy—a little chewy.  By day two it becomes like a dried-out kitchen sponge.  By day three you have yourself an oversized hockey puck.  What is a donut lover who loves good deals to do?  One word.  Microwave.

The microwave is an amazing invention…especially when it comes to donuts.  You see the microwave cooks from the inside out.  When you put a day old donut in there it begins warming from the inside and any moisture turns to steam and the steam moisturizes the bread. Let me tell you that dude will fluff right up.

I mean this is amazing.  You can even throw a three-day old donut in there and depending how hungry you are, pretty much make it edible.  I know because sometimes I wander through the church on Thursday and discover some leftovers from Sunday.  Yup.  Just chuck those things in the microwave and you’ve got yourself a semi-fresh donut. By the way, do not tell my wife Judy I’ve done this.

I wonder if David the shepherd had day old donuts and microwaves in mind when he wrote Psalm 23:3. There we find, “He restores my soul.”  That’s just what the microwave does for the donut.  It warms it from the inside, moistening the dry, stale, bread making it soft and pliable again. In David’s way of thinking it wasn’t a microwave, it was green pastures and still waters.  If you could see it from a sheep’s perspective, it makes perfect sense.

Imagine a sheep, hot, tired, and hungry and the shepherd brings them to a lush green pasture, and he eats his fill.  Then he waddles over to a crystal-clear brook, barely moving, and drinks till he can’t hold anymore.  That’s what David meant when he said God restored his soul.  A lot of folks wouldn’t take a chance on a day-old donut.  A lot of folks would count it only worth giving to the dog or tossing in the trash.  They don’t understand the wonder of the microwave.  Do you know what? Sadly, people do people that way too.

Someone gets beat up by the world, worked over by doubt, fear and frustration and they get a little stale.  Some folks wouldn’t bother with them.  Some folks would avoid them.  But not God. He sees the broken, weary people around us and the garbage can is the farthest thing from His mind.  Just like the microwave can work magic on a donut so God can work miracles in the lives of the most broken of people. And like the microwave—He does it from the inside out. It was Jesus who said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Jesus does what nothing else, no one else, can do.  He can rescue, redeem, and make the broken whole and life fresh again.

So, let me suggest before you walk by the day-old donuts at the market give them a try.  You might discover a tasty treat and a good deal.  And, before you walk by your neighbor or a stranger and you can tell they’ve been worked over by the world and circumstances, just remember what Jesus did for you.  Remember how He didn’t just see you how you were, He saw how you could be. Just a moment in time and He plumped you up with His amazing grace and kindness.

Maybe you are the one who feels stale about now. Maybe your heart is as hard as a week-old donut.  Well, don’t crawl in a microwave but do crawl up in the lap of Jesus.  Let Him restore your soul.  Stay awhile.  Rest in Him.  He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne 

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

Chief Wounded Cheek

For all have sinned.” Romans 3:23a

Turns out this falling thing isn’t new.  If you are a regular reader of Grits, you might remember that about once a year I decide to see if my body will bounce.  Last year it was Indian Point Trail.  I tripped over a root and before you could say, “shoot that thang” I was stretched out flat on my face.  It was painful.  Then a little over a month ago I hung my toe on the edge of my patio and did it all over again.  And yes, I fell hard and yes, it hurt.  In fact, my hand is still healing from that one.

So, the other day, I was thinking (I sometimes do that) and remembered another time and another fall and this one garnered me a new name.  When I pastored another church in another town, we had a great guy named Bob who would take a bunch of us to the Smoky Mountains and hike to the top of Mount Le Conte. We did this for several years and I am pretty sure I made the trip each time.  We would leave early and get to the mountains around mid-afternoon.

Bob was a pro at this hiking stuff, and he knew the importance of warming up.  So that afternoon, the day before the big hike, we would take a warmup hike.  I remember one time the warmup hike was the Chimneys and if you have ever done that one you know it isn’t that long but it is a killer.  As I remember, the warmups made the real deal almost anti-climactic.  And then, there was another time that I remember…well.

So, we got to the mountains and prepared for the warmup.  This one, as I remember, wasn’t straight up…in fact it was kinda level but it did involve crossing a couple of boulder strewn creeks.  And crossing one of those creeks gave me a new name.  As we crossed, we carefully picked our way over and around the rocks…leaning on our hiking sticks and trying to stay dry.  We did pretty good…I did pretty good…until I didn’t. Yup…you guessed it…down I went.

Gratefully, back then I bounced even better than I do now.  That time I didn’t fall flat on my face, I didn’t fall on my side, I fell on my, uh, well, my bottom.  It all happened in a split second, and I am sure if my pants hadn’t been double stitched, I would have split something else.  Well, once everyone determined that I wasn’t mortally wounded, the laughter started.  The sight of their fearless pastor laying, sitting catawampus—half in and half out the water—was too much to contain.

And then someone, who knows who, said it.  “It” was my new name.  They said, “Look there is “Chief Wounded Cheek.”  Well, then everyone, and I mean everyone, started laughing again.  Well, they helped me out and up and we continued our warmup hike but for the rest of the trip and several months later, I was “Chief Wounded Cheek.” Even to this day the memories make me smile because we had shared life together and laughed together.

There is one more thing that I so appreciated about that special group of friends, and friends like them through the years—they allowed me to be human.  You see sometimes people like to put leaders on some sort of pedestal.  The problem is that is a place they should never be because if and when they fall, well, sometimes it is unrecoverable. One of the best things you can do for a leader is love them, respect them, but allow them to be human.  And what is true of leaders and pastors is true of husbands, wives, and yes, parents. Remember, we all walk on clay feet.

Well, I’m glad to report that Chief Wounded Cheek is still bouncing along and gratefully most of the time, most of the people allow me to be human. Paul, the guy who wrote a large portion of the New Testament, reminded us that everyone of us are sinners—you know, broken people.  At one time or another, we have all messed up. The good news is that failure doesn’t have to be final.  The other good news is if we are wise, we will learn when we fail.  Someone said, “If you aren’t failing, you aren’t learning.” I like that. Oh, and the final good news is that when we fail, there is Someone standing by who says, “Don’t worry, I’ve got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, friends, gratitude, life, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, Trials

Playing Army

A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” John 10:10

It is an 8mm movie memory.  Like so many families we had a home movie camera growing up.  It is so much fun to go back and watch some of the ones that I have.  One that I remember so well from my childhood days was a clip of my nephew Little Joe.  As you can imagine, since there was a Little Joe, there must have been a Big Joe…and there was.  He was one of my older brothers who is no longer with us, and he had a son we called Little Joe.  Anyway, in one of the movies, it shows Little Joe, and he is wearing a full, miniature Army fatigue uniform.  My big brother Joe had been in the Army, so it was only fitting to see Little Joe dressed like his dad.

In the film clip, Little Joe is marching like a soldier.  Rigid…almost at attention as he marched, with his little face sternly looking at the camera…he looked the part.  He was probably five which means all of this was a zillion years ago.  Thinking of those days, I remembered, once again, how things have changed.  When I was growing up, playing Army was a regular thing…and we took it seriously.  We didn’t have uniforms, but we were armed to the teeth. 

Our arsenal included two different kinds of bullets.  First, there were those from the chinaberry tree. This tree produced hundreds, if not thousands, of green berries the size of small marbles.  The other bullet came from an evergreen that grew in our yard.  They were about the same size but had little pointy things.  Both were plentiful and effective. We would fill our pockets and then head for the woods…hurling them at one another.  But there was more.

We also had dirt clods.  In those days, it seemed there was always construction going on around us and of course that meant digging and digging meant dirt clods.  We would gather at a selected building site, divide into small teams, get behind a dirt pile and lob dirt “grenades” at one another.  We would hurl and duck or duck and hurl and we had a blast except for when a clod hit us in head.  Then, well, it wasn’t fun anymore.

Those building sites also provided a ready selection of pretend weapons…usually surveyor sticks.  Some were long and made great swords and some were wedge shaped and made great machine guns.  The effectiveness of the weapon depended on how good the sound effects were. We would play long, play hard and then come home dirty. Baths were essential and not optional.

Those days of playing army were some of the best memories of my childhood.  Gratefully I was also privileged to serve twelve years in the real Air Force and those days, too, hold so many of my life’s special memories.  But what I thought we should learn today is the fact that while playing army was fun when I was a boy, there is still a war going on today…and it’s not play.  I am learning that there is a battle being waged for so many of the things that we value most in life.  Not the least of these are our faith and families.

Whether you believe in the spirit realm or not, whether you believe in a God or a devil or not, you had better believe that there are things that want nothing more than to wage war against you and what you hold dear.  Sometimes it is a spirit of mediocrity, sometimes it might be a busy lifestyle or perhaps it is a drive to own the things we drive, or live in, or wear.  Perhaps it is a deluge of small things that when added up will cost us…and cost us dearly.

In the Christian New Testament, a young Jewish Rabbi and Messiah named Jesus spoke about a thief and what he does.  Why not think for a few minutes what identities you might assign to this thief.  Look at the things I wrote about above.  Now listen to the rest of what Jesus said, “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.”  There you go…boom.

Thieves steal but they can do more, much more, so we must be on guard.  The good news is this is one battle we don’t have to face by ourselves. That same Messiah who defeated death and rose from the dead is ready, willing and able to help.  All we have to is ask.  One more thing.  Don’t confuse Jesus with religion or even church. They might be related but the answer lies with the Man and nothing else. All we have to do is ask. He wants to help you guard what really matters and fight those life battles that are just too big for us on our own. No matter what we face, no matter the fight we can be sure that, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, gratitude, Holidays, life, love, loving others, Mother's Day, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, thankful

Remembering Momma

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also praises her: Many women have done noble deeds, but you surpass them all!” Proverbs 31:28-29

Well, it’s time. Enter Mother’s Day…a day to celebrate our mothers, our wives and other ladies who have poured their life into our lives, but time can make that harder.  Let me explain. You see, time can be a bane and a blessing. It is difficult to live with but we sure can’t live without it and as we get older, it can begin to fuzz the brain and our memories. Things that at one time were vivid and clear become a midst and sometimes disappear into the fog.

That seems to be true of so many of my childhood memories—my Momma memories. Things that I am sure were so valuable, so definitive at the time, are now simply not there. I am sure that is the case with my memories of my parents as a child. When that happens, I simply fill in the gaps with hints and clues from the things I do remember. As the pieces come together, it quickly becomes obvious that my Momma was one of my anchors and a huge blessing in my life.

As I scan the landscape of my childhood, as I piece the pieces together, I realize that I had a really good childhood, and it was largely because of my parents and in particular, my mother. As the baby of eight, by the time they got to me, two things were obvious: they had it down to a science, and I was pretty spoiled.

Because of our finances, we didn’t get everything we wanted (not by a long shot), but Christmas, birthdays, and usually even ordinary days were special. Momma was often the one who made that happen. She was a stay-at-home, hold the fort down, mom and was always there when I needed her. Perhaps you have heard of a Swiss Army knife.  It is one crazy invention where a simple pocketknife becomes an all-purpose, whatever you need tool. And that describes Momma. Whatever the occasion she was there for us…for me. Well, truth be known, while she didn’t wear a habit like Mother Teresa or a nurse’s uniform like Florence Nightingale or banish a sword like Joan of Arc, she was that and more in my eyes.

I wonder how many times was I sick, and she became Doctor Momma?  On so many occasions I can remember her pulling me into her lap and holding me. On one particular occasion when I was over five and under ten, I was very sick— fever, nausea, and a young body that felt like it had been beaten.  I know now it was probably the flu and probably contagious and yet there she was in our old rocking chair, at two in the morning, cradling me and holding me.  That was Momma.

Sometimes Momma put on her Leonardo da Vinci hat and showed a designer flare. I can remember as a teenager I had a rather new pair of jeans—ordinary to some—valuable to me. I was horseback riding one day, and the horse cut a corner too sharply and ran me into a pole, ripping my jeans right above the knee. Bummer. My Momma simply cut the legs off the jeans where they were torn, put in some bright red cloth, and sewed them back together. There you go…good as new, and since it was the 70’s, it made a statement. I had a one-of-a-kind pair of jeans.

Two or three times a day Momma always put on her chef’s hat. A couple of years ago I made a thoughtless and inaccurate comment about Momma’s cooking not being “the best in the world.” Can someone say, “Dumb?”  Can someone say, “Really?” No, Momma was a great cook and my waistline still proves it.  She had the amazing ability to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. To me, her chicken and dumplings and blackberry dumplings were both legendary.  Oh, and did I mention her fried corn beef hash?  No, Chef Momma was amazing…and we loved her for it.

Yup, my Momma was amazing and the longer I live the more I realize just how blessed I was to have her.  It has been said that men often marry women like their mothers.  Well, that at least helps to explain the amazing wife that God has given me.  In so many ways she too is that wife, that mother, that grandmother that so many wish they had.  I don’t have to wish…Judy is my wish come true. Someone once said that a person who has one good friend in their life is blessed.  Well, without going any further than my home I know I have had two—Momma and my precious wife Judy.  Thank You, Lord…a bunch.

Remember, there is no such thing as perfect Momma’s but a lot of us have been blessed with great ones. On this Mother’s Day, if Momma is still around, be sure and let her know how much you appreciate her.  And if she isn’t…well, be sure and thank the Lord.  And one more thought…be sure and thank your wife, for all she has done. Guys, trust me, we would be lost without them.  Oh, and do remember this, there is a God who loves you more than your Momma ever could or did.  It’s good to know that no matter what…He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, prayer, Scripture, thankful, Uncategorized

Open Hands, Open Hearts

If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord—and He will repay you!” Proverbs 19:17

It was part generosity and part tradition.  When I was growing up, Sunday meant going to church. My Momma would always make sure I had taken a bath, combed my hair, brushed my teeth (I think), had clean clothes, and had an offering.  There was something about going to church and taking an offering.  It almost seemed like either God would be mad if I didn’t or the people at church would think we were poor or something…which we might have been.

Now the offering wasn’t a whole lot, but it was more than the widow lady in the Bible gave.  Her offering was less than a penny, but it was really everything she had.  Momma gave me a quarter most times but sometimes it was a dime and on rare occasions it was a dollar.  Trust me, that was a rarity.  Anyway, I finally figured out that it wasn’t the amount that mattered anyway.  What mattered was that Momma thought it was important and it mattered that I didn’t pocket the quarter.  Jesus said something about it was more blessed to give than to receive and I’m sure Momma knew that.  So anyway, I gave the quarter.

I read a story the other day about a little girl who went to church just like me.  Her Momma gave her a dime and a nickel. The little girl asked, “Which one am I supposed to give?” and her Momma told her she could decide.  Well, when she came home from church, her Momma asked her which one she gave, and she said she had given the nickel.  When asked why she gave the nickel instead of the dime she said, “Well, the preacher said that God loves people who give cheerfully, and I was a lot happier when I gave the nickel and kept the dime.”  Smile.

I know that I am still a work in progress.  God started the project way back in 1975 and He’s still working today.  I’ve heard it said that His work isn’t done until He takes us home to live with Him.  I believe that is true.  One of the areas that He is working on with me is generosity.  They say that if you want to carve a duck from a block of wood you just cut off everything that doesn’t look like a duck. Well, that is what God does with us except He’s not making ducks. He is making Jesus followers. And one thing I know for sure is that Jesus was always generous.  He was so generous He gave His life away on a wooden cross to pay for everyone’s sin.  Now that is generosity.  Now that is love.

My point isn’t that you ought to give to the church.  The point is we should all learn to be generous to others.  A generous life is a happy life, and a generous heart is a happy heart.  In the Old Testament part of the Bible in the Book of Proverbs it says, “If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord—and He will repay you!”  You know, I believe that is true.  I’m also sure that the repayment may not be dollars and cents but rather a deep sense of peace and joy in our lives—and that is better—that is priceless.  Remember this—God is more than willing to help you be like Jesus, but it all starts when we believe what He did and what He said. He died and came back to life and promised to forgive anyone who asked.  Need a little help with that?  Well, don’t worry, He’s got that too.

Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, Scripture, thankful, travel, Trials

God and Waze

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding.  Acknowledge Him and He will guide your steps.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Some things just don’t get old…at least not yet.  One of the modern marvels that still amazes me is the GPS units that are found in most cars today.  The fact that a satellite circling the earth at 17,500 miles per hour and at an altitude above the earth of 12,600 miles can talk to this little device on or in my dash is, well, amazing.  The fact that it can tell precisely where I am and exactly how fast I am traveling is even more amazing. All that is made possible by the actual GPS unit and the maps that are stored inside it.  But that isn’t all.

Along with the satellite and the receiver are the applications, or apps, that translate the data.  One of the most popular, and most amazing, is one called, “Waze.” What’s amazing about Waze is that it is free, and it works in conjunction with most smartphones.  What’s more amazing about Waze is that it allows users to input information about traffic and even where police might be hiding. Smile. 

Now sometimes the GPS devices just don’t get it right.  I remember one time my wife Judy and I were traveling to a funeral in another town.  When we finally arrived where the GPS told us to go…we were sitting in the middle of nowhere looking at a corn field.  I have to admit I was a little put out…as in put out in the middle of nowhere. So, there have been opportunities to throw in the towel on these little wiz-bangs…but that would be a big mistake.  You see most of the time it gets it perfectly right. Let me explain.

Last week Judy and I were traveling west on I-40 returning from a conference in North Carolina.  Waze gave us an estimated time of arrival and we were cruising.  Then, out of the blue, Waze tells me it had found a faster route and automatically rerouted us, but the funny part was the faster route was five minutes longer than the original route. “What?” I said out loud but to really no one. So anyway, it said we were to get off the interstate in four miles and I told Judy that we might as well give it a try.  I’m glad we did.

When we arrived at the designated exit, there were several cars and several semi-trucks taking the exit.  Apparently, we weren’t the only ones using Waze.  As we exited, we noticed an official truck backing up the interstate with one of those big electronic signs.  It was flashing this message, “Caution. Stopped Cars Ahead.” Hmmm I began to be very glad we exited. Soon we were on our new route that at partially paralleled the interstate where we could see cars and trucks at a complete standstill.  After a few miles, Waze had us turn right and we crossed over the interstate and there we saw the problem.  A semi-truck and several cars had collided totally shutting down the west bound lanes.  We turned left and back on to a now totally empty interstate.  My Dearest Father had used Waze, to send us a love note and had rescued us in a big, big way. He didn’t save us minutes but probably several hours.

So, what if I had said, “You know Judy, Waze has led us wrong before, how do I know it isn’t wrong this time?” In other words, what if I had ignored Waze and followed my own best plan.  Well, the answer is obvious, isn’t it?  I would have found myself stuck in a miles long traffic jam. But because, in a moment of faith and clarity, (for once) I listened to Waze and trusted it—I was rescued. How about that? And if you know anything about me from Grits, you know I don’t do traffic jams well…at all.

I know sometimes it is a hard call to know when to trust and when not to…especially when there is a chance that what we are trusting in just might fail or be wrong.  But I have good news! While a GPS might miss it sometimes, causing us to have doubts, there is a system that always gets it right.  It is, “God’s Providential System.” This one you won’t find in Best Buy, but you will find in the Bible.  The word providence means to foresee or foreknow.  And since it is God, we can have the confident assurance that He always gets it right.  We just need to trust Him because He sees what we do not.

One of my favorite verses in the Old Testament part of the Bible is found in Proverbs 3:5-6.  It says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding.  Acknowledge Him and He will guide your steps.”  How awesome is that. Add to that the fact that He always has our best at His heart and that is a winning combination.  Oh sure, we can bump along the road of life without Him but if you’ve tried that you probably know it isn’t a real good idea. At least from where I sit, it makes a lot more sense to trust Him each day and in every way.  I’ve learned that Waze is a great tool but far more importantly, I’ve found that my Dearest Daddy is a great God who loves me—and you.  Oh, and, always, and I do mean always, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne