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

One Thing I Know

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

Momma always knew best.  I was blessed to have a good Momma and Daddy.  They were everyday people but in so many ways they were anything but every day.  Willing to take on the task of raising eight children, they gave up a lot for us.  Daddy worked hard as a jet engine mechanic and Momma mostly stayed home and took care of us.  Momma was always there when we needed her.  I remember one time I was sick with a stomach virus.  It was the middle of the night and Momma sat down in an old wooden rocker we had and then invited me up into her lap.  There she gently held me.  It didn’t do much to ease my unhappy stomach, but it sure made my heart feel better.

Momma had her own brand of medicine.  As best as I can remember, Momma was a big believer in “family herd immunity.”  In case you are not familiar with that, it is where a certain illness is almost intentionally shared with members of the family, especially siblings. I guess Momma thought it was best to get it all over with at one time.  And it seemed to work.  I remember one of my sisters came down with the measles.  Rather than isolate her from my sister and I, Momma just put us all together in the double bed in the spare bedroom and waited.  Sure enough, we all promptly got the measles and we also all got well about the same time.  I’m not sure modern medicine would approve, but that’s ok.  It worked for us, and Momma was always there to help us get better.

However, Momma didn’t always use herd immunity.  When I was about nine, there was a pretty serious flu outbreak in our north Florida city.  I really don’t remember too much about it.  I also don’t remember if I became a patient or not.  But there is one thing I do remember—I knew what we had in our family wasn’t good and I felt I needed to do something—so I did.  I found a piece of paper and a pencil, and I made a sign warning other people to stay away.  The sign said something like this, “Warning.  We have the FLEW.  Don’t come in.” Even if my spelling wasn’t the best, it still got the message out.

When I was in the second grade, Momma’s brand of herd immunity took on a different look.  My sister Kathy was not feeling well so Momma took her to the doctor, and I tagged along.  Dr. Smothers was our ears, nose, and throat doctor.  He checked my sister out and it was determined that she had tonsillitis.  That was something a lot of kids back then seemed to get. Well, Dr. Smothers suggested to Momma that perhaps it was time for my sister to get her tonsils out.  Again, back then that was the standard treatment.  So, Momma agreed and then said to Dr. Smothers, “Why don’t we take Dewayne’s out too?”  Hmmmm.  Herd immunity strikes again. So, the doctor says, “Well, Dewayne, what do you say?  Would you like to get your tonsils out too?”  Now I had no clue what in the world he was talking about.  But I think he said something about all the ice cream you wanted, and I was in.  A few days later I found myself in the hospital with my sister and the world’s worst sore throat.  I’m still not sure if that ice cream was worth it!

I’m sure there are many more stories about Momma’s medical skills and judgement, but they have slipped from my memories.  But let me tell you one thing that hasn’t slipped away, that is the concrete knowledge that my Momma loved me.  Whether it was the measles, the flu, or getting rid of some pesky tonsils, Momma always did what she thought was best for us.  Some people probably wouldn’t agree with her medical practices, but I know everything she did was for our good.  For my good.

And do you know what?  I think that is just another way my Momma was like God.  You see, God is constantly working in my life for my good and His glory.  I mean He is working out His purposes but at the center, at the core of it all is—my good.  The Bible verse that is so poplar is so true.  It goes like this, “all things work together for good, for those who love God, the ones who are called according to His purpose.”  Like I have said so many times that doesn’t mean that everything is good, but that God can bring good from all things.  I know Momma loved me a lot but even her love must pale to the love that God has for me—for us.

Now I am certain if you asked me in the middle of encounter with measles, that truth might have been a little clouded.  If you asked me after the surgery to remove my tonsils, well, I probably would have doubted it.  But in the long run, looking back—well, my Momma loved me and did her best to show that love.  So, today if you bump into a hot mess—today if things go south and it is hard…maybe real hard—just remember how much God loves you.  You can take it to the bank—it is a sure bet.  When life leaves you hurting worse than a bad stomachache, you just crawl up in His lap and let His strong arms ease the pain away.  Then, just nod off and take a nap.  You can safely do that because, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, life, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, travel, Trials

Sandspurs from the Past

He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103:12

It was a voice from my past—and it was singing the blues.  While we were in Southwest Florida on holiday, I tried to keep up with my morning routines.  That included, first and foremost, coffee.  After coffee and a look at the weather came God time.  After God time came Judy time.  After Judy time came—exercise time.  The problem with all these times is they all take time.  Before I knew it, the sun was up, the humidity was up, and the temperature was up.  Regardless, I had to get up and get going.

The first morning we were there I was still learning the lay of the land and wasn’t exactly sure where I should walk.  So, I headed toward the way in and out of our condo property.  This led to the highway and so I took a left and decided to walk on the edge of the road.  It was safe but it was miserable.  There was no shade and soon it was just plain hot—very hot— “why am I doing this” hot.  I was determined to go my 3.6 miles, but I began wondering if this was such a good idea.  After a little while longer I was sure it wasn’t.  But you know how men are—do or die and in this case, death might have been an upgrade.  Ok, I’m exaggerating.

In my misery, I met an old friend.  There was a point when I had to cross a bridge across a channel.  They had built a walkway but to get to the walkway you had to go behind a guardrail through the weeds.  Without breaking stride, I charged on and then I saw them.  Sandspurs.  These were old friends from my childhood.  They are a type of weed and have sharp, spine covered balls of pain at the ends of long stems.  They will grab anything that gets close and if that happens to be your skin…you are done.  If they don’t get you when they attach, they will get you when you try to detach them. Ugh.

Like I said, they were an old foe from my childhood.  When I was a kid, we would run barefoot all the time and without fail we would step on them. They would hurt…bad.  Well, this time, even though I tried to avoid them, they found their way onto my shoes and socks, but I didn’t find them till I got back from my walk.  As I was sitting by the pool trying to recover from a 145-heart rate and the 100-degree humidity, I found them. And, just like the old days, they made sure to give me a “stick and an ouch” as I tried to remove them.  Just.Like.The.Old.Days.  Though it was years ago, the whole sandspur scene was painfully fresh.

I find that sandspurs aren’t the only painful thing that love to bump into our present.  Often, too often, unpleasant memories and regrets, sneak back into our lives and cause us pain all over again.  Try as we may, sometimes, it seems they reattach themselves to us and we relive the whole hot mess again.  It could be a similar situation or maybe a repeat performance, but all the pain and remorse come flooding back.  I hate it, you hate it, but how do we avoid it?

Well, I tried to avoid the sandspurs on my walk.  I saw them, I knew they were there, but in my rush, my determination to exercise, I simply didn’t give them the wide berth they deserved.  I should have made it a higher priority. I realized that when I was trying to remove them.  When you sense or when you feel your ugly, painful past creeping into the present, do whatever it takes to change the scenario. Don’t allow yourself to relive the “sandspurs” of past failures. Trust me—they will attach themselves to your present with all their former pain.

There is one more thing that is even more important than that.  Should you find yourself reliving that regret, run straight into the arms of grace.  Remember and relive the forgiveness that came after the failure.  The Bible tells us that God casts our failures as far as the east is from the west.  I love that because it doesn’t say as far as the north is from the south. You see if you go north long enough you will find the south.  But not so with east from the west.  You can travel east forever and never find the west.  And that dear friend, is what God does with our failures and sin if we ask Him for forgiveness and help. It is gone—outta here and that is real good news.

Well, I couldn’t wait to show Judy my sandspurs, not because I liked them but because they reminded me of an important part of my past and the fact that I knew they were not going to be a permanent part of my future.  I may have bumped into them, but I wasn’t going to live with them. And that is a good thing. So, as you are speed walking through life, remember to give your painful past a wide berth and keep Jesus close by your side. You’ll find Him a mobile “rest stop,” there to make every step, every day survivable and “thrive-able.” And never forget, He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in fear, friends, gratitude, life, Scripture, sovereignty of God, Trials

When Bad News Meets Good News

See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

Some things were just better in the old days…like the weather report.  Back when the local weather was sponsored by one of the local oil brands and the weatherman wore a service station (that is a gas place where they pumped your gas, checked your oil and cleaned your windshield) uniform, things were so much simpler.  He would get his magic marker out and draw some symbols on his paper map and forecast the weather. It was easy.  If it was going to be hot…he would say it was going to be hot.  If it was going to be cold…he would say it was going to be cold.  If it was going to rain…he just laid it out in simple terms.  Yup…those were the days.

It kinda reminds me of my visit to a gift shop in the Smokey Mountains.  They had what they called a “Hillbilly Weather Station.”  It was a rock attached to a string.  It also had a card that went with it that said if the rock was hot, it was hot. If the rock was cold, it was cold. If the rock is wet, it was raining and finally, if the rock was swinging on the string, it was windy.  My simple sense of humor likes that even now.  But today, they have to give us a lot more information and most the time I am grateful, except for this.

This is this.  Instead of simply saying it is going to be hot they must go a step further and give us what they call the “feel like temperature.”  In other words, if the temperature is going to be 90 degrees and there happens to be a bunch of humidity in the air, well, they let us know it is going to feel like 100 degrees and we are going to be extra miserable. And, if it is cold and there is a wind, well, just to make sure we know how miserable we really are, we have wind chill. Now I know their intent is good, but I just wish they wouldn’t go the extra mile in defining and describing my misery.

If that isn’t enough, the news folks seem to feel like they must top the weather folks.  They scrap up every bit of bad, discouraging, and disgusting news they can find and then read it to us with passion and glee.  It is almost like they want to say, “You only thought things were bad…just listen to this”.  And “this” is always about the awfulness of our broken world.  Yup, I think the weather and news people are in cahoots with one another to make sure we are miserable.

Well, if that isn’t enough, then there are some folks that we bump into in our world and it seems they just can’t wait to slosh their negativity on someone else.  Like Eeyore in the Winnie the Pooh stories, theirs is a “woe is me” world.  Eeyore once said, “I wish I could say yes…but I can’t.”  Well, the truth is we can.  In a world where some choices are limited, the choice of how we act and think is all ours.  We get to choose to be what stories our “newscast” is going to cast and what report our “weather reporter” is going to report.

One of the reasons I love God is that He is a positive thinker.  His book, the Bible, is a reality check but it is also a book of good news.  In fact, when describing the story of how much God loves us and how He sent His son into this broken world to pay the price for our sin…it is called “the” Good News or Gospel.  And if you allow that Good News to be your good news—well it changes everything.  So, if you need a change, if you need some Good News, why not try the Bible.  It will tell you the truth, but that truth includes God’s incredible love for me and for you.

In a part of the Bible called the New Testament, John, one of Jesus’ closest followers wrote, “See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are!” Wow…the God who made it all loves us enough to call us His own.  Now that is worth hearing about and the place to go to hear it is His Word.  So, when you are feeling down and things look hopeless, why not look up…to the God who wants to be your Dearest Daddy.  Imagine a world of Good News…with Someone who is waiting to whisper to you, “Don’t worry.  I’ve got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

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

Scars are Stories

When Jesus stood up, he said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, Lord,” she answered. “Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” John 8:10-11

It’s a great setup.  I’ve written several times about my early morning routine. It involves coffee, the weather report and Jesus.  I am a creature of habit and mess with my habits, and it messes me up. But sometimes I do something a little different that just works better.  When I fell a couple of months ago and messed up my hand, my wife Judy donated a little lap desk to help me study and write.  Well, she never took it back, so it became…mine.  I also found out that this little desk made a great addition to my routine as it is a great place to put my iPad and my coffee cup. Boom.  Things just got better.

Well, the other morning I was sipping coffee and using my iPad to read a couple of devotions.  The guy I was reading wrote about scars and as I was reading…I was looking.  You see, my hands have several scars and each one is a story.  On my right thumb is one that reminds me of the ten year old (or so) who was cutting watermelon and ignored his Daddy’s advice about how to use a knife. On my middle finger of my right hand, right on the knuckle, is an inch long scar caused by my careless use of an X-Acto knife I was using to build a model car or plane.

Let’s look at my left hand.  On my index finger are two scars…close together.  One was caused when I was riding with my sister and her then boyfriend in his car.  The car in front of us stopped…and he didn’t.  This was before seatbelts and when I headed for the windshield, I threw my hand up to protect my head.  I guess it worked but I did cut my hand up in the process.  I guess hand is better than head.  The other scar was a woodcutting thing.  I didn’t cut it with the saw or you might be calling me “Three Fingers.”  No, a piece of wood that was in a bind slipped and whacked my hand leaving a nasty gash.

There are a couple of smaller scars on both hands but their birth didn’t garner a memory.  I do have a couple of scars in other places, like the one by my eye which happened on a racquetball court.  A guy hit me with his racket on that one.  But by and large most of my physical scars are on my hands because that is where all the action is.  In other words, whatever you put out there in life will probably get scarred…like our hearts.  All of us probably have some scars left when we put our heart out there and someone wounded us.  It’s just life.

But now for the bigger story.  Remember that scars may be a sign of a painful wound…but they are also a sign of healing.  The scars that are on my hands were bleeding and painful when they happened but gradually they healed over and the bleeding stopped and they healed over. That’s a good thing.  Now you know and I know that wounds on our heart are a whole different animal.  They may heal but it often takes more than some antibiotic cream and a Band-Aid. They say that time heals all wounds and that might be partially true.  Time does help but time can’t always heal.  The good news is there is something…Someone…who can heal and His name is Jesus.

My friend Jesus is a healer of hearts.  When He walked the earth, He amazed the people in many ways…twice He gave everyone a free lunch.  But countless times He would take the broken, the castaways and lovingly put their lives back together.  I love the story when a woman was caught in adultery.  The religious people wanted to stone her but Jesus chose to love her.  I suppose in my life, and in yours, there have been some stoning opportunities but here is one thing I know.  Jesus isn’t a rock chucker—He is a heart healer and He wants to help heal yours today.

So, how about it?  Do you have some wounds on your heart that time just hasn’t taken care of? Are you still hurting from a train wreck in life years ago?  Why not give Jesus the opportunity to help?  “How” you ask?  Well, why not try asking?  It is called prayer and trust me it is worth a shot.  The other key element is faith—believing that He is there listening.  Don’t be surprised if the first thing you hear is Him asking you to forgive because forgiving others always helps heal our own wounds.  So, when you are done reading, why not start praying.  He is waiting and He is willing.  He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

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

Don’t Miss the Adventure

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” 2 Timothy 1:7

It was one great adventure!  Every year, except for covid year, our youth pastor takes a group of people to canoe on the Jack’s Fork River in Southern Missouri. Last year, people were signing up in the foyer after services and something very strange happened.  I spoke.  Well, that was not strange since I often say too much.  But what I said was definitely strange.  I looked at my wife and said, “We should do this.” Of course, she fainted and required CPR, but after reviving her, she signed us up. Now I like adventures, a lot, but I am not a fan of cold water, make that very cold water, canoes, and falling out of a canoe and trying to get back in. The potential for all of that was part of this adventure. But it was too late. We were going.

It is funny how things can grow in your mind.  The more I thought about this the more I was certain this was not going to have a good outcome.  I began to say, half in jest and half believing it, that I was going to die.  I wasn’t sure if the cause of my demise was going to be drowning or heart attack from the cold water, but I was going to die.  As the days passed heading toward the day of the great adventure, the dread became more and more real.

Now, I need to be honest. My fear had nothing to do with the water, cold or not. My greatest fear was embarrassment.  I just knew, given the wobbly nature of a canoe, that we would end up in the water. I was cool with that…no pun intended. The problem was the spectacle of me trying to crawl back into the boat.  I could just imagine my slightly (well, perhaps more than slightly) pudgy body struggling to go over the side and back into the boat.  And, by the way, it was not an unfounded fear.

You see, years ago, at another event at another church, I was on the back of a jet ski with a friend of driving.  We were zipping along and then, all of a sudden, he was zipping, and I wasn’t.  I slid right off the back of that jet ski and right into the water.  Well, he circled back around, and I spent the next two hours (ok, a slight exaggeration there) trying to crawl back onto the jet ski.  And, yes, people were watching and yes, people were laughing, and I was dying…not from drowning but from embarrassment.

Well, here I am years later, and that scar still has all the makings of a fresh wound.  Whenever a situation like that comes around, fear creeps in and I want to run in the opposite direction.  Fear does that, you know.  Fear will cause us to miss a lot of great opportunities, a lot of great adventures, and the crazy part is that the thing we fear often doesn’t materialize or at least isn’t nearly as bad as we thought.  But such is the way of fear.

So, we went and guess what?  We didn’t lose it.  Though several folks ended up in the water, somehow, Judy and I didn’t.  It was probably my well experienced (not) and expert (not) command of the canoe.  Actually, it was no small measure of grace.  Oh, and by the way, while the current did make recovering some of the boats difficult, it wasn’t from the depth of the water.  In most places the water was only a couple of feet deep.  In other words, if we had dumped, I probably could have stepped right back in the boat.  Hmmm…how about that.

If you find yourself facing the unknown or maybe the possibility of reliving a part of your difficult past, don’t assume the same outcome.  And, better than that, remember that the thing we fear is usually not the monster we think it is.  And, better than that, there is a loving Father, who wants to walk with you no matter what.  I love the verse in the Bible that teaches me, that reminds me, that fear doesn’t come from God…it comes from the devil.  The enemy knows fear paralyzes…he knows it causes pain, and he knows he can control us through our fear. But regardless of all that, one thing I do know is that no matter what my fear, my God is bigger than my enemy and because of that I can rest assured that “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, friends, gratitude, life, prayer, Scripture, thankful, Trials

Everyday Miracles

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.” James 1:17

Boom…just like that.  It was one of those mornings.  I was running just a bit behind.  There wasn’t a clock to punch, no was going to say anything, but the truth is I needed to get to the office.  There was work to do and it seems there was more work than time.  I got everything done that needed to be done…I even remembered to take my medicine. I walked out the door and felt my pocket only to realize that the familiar lump wasn’t there.  I had forgotten my keys. Bummer.

So, I turned around, mumbling something about time and keys, and headed back into the house.  There is a place I usually put my keys and when I got there…they weren’t.  Bummer.  I walked over to the other side of the kitchen and checked on the counter.  Nope. Bummer. I walked back over to the other place, and they still weren’t there.  Then, I decided to go upstairs and check the pockets on the pants I had worn the day before.  Scratch that one too.  Then I went outside and asked Judy if she had seen my keys.  I think she gave me the “whose keys” look and said, “no.”

By now my frustration level was rising.  I checked in the car.  No.  I went back into the kitchen and checked the key thingy, and they weren’t there.  Bummer again.  So just for the fun of it I checked it all again and realized that I just might have misplaced or lost them. It was looking grim.  You see, this key wasn’t one of those go to Wal-Mart three-dollar keys.  No, this was one of those three-hundred-dollar key fob things and by now I am thinking dollars.  I asked Judy to keep an eye out and I used the spare key and drove to work.

As soon as I got to work, I started telling the staff of my lost key woes.  I told them how I had looked everywhere all with no luck.  They were sympathetic and I appreciated their shared woe but all of that didn’t help me find my keys.  So, I started doing some of that work I talked about earlier and after an hour or so, I texted Judy and asked her if she had had a chance to look for the missing keys.  Well, she hadn’t, so still no luck.  It was just about then that it happened.  She texted me and said she thought she had found the keys on the key thingy.  I told her that probably wasn’t them because I checked there twice.  She sent me a picture and there, in her hand, were my keys.

When I asked her where they were found and she said the key thingy, At first I was embarrassed and then amazed.  Here is why.  I am one hundred percent certain that I checked there twice.  I would have bet my bottom dollar they were not there and yet…they were.  That only leaves two options.  First, I am blind and totally missed them. The second option is…God came to the rescue.  Call me crazy or call me nuts but I honestly believe that option two happened.  You see, given the nature of my Dearest Daddy I just wouldn’t be surprised if He didn’t reach down from heaven and placed the missing keys there.  After all, why wouldn’t He? 

I have had other incidents in my life when God did some crazy things and maybe that is why I’m sure He just did it again.  How about you?  Do you have any times when something crazy happened and looking back you realized there wasn’t an explanation?  I’m one of those people that believe God is a God who is into the details, and I also believe He is not too busy to do something like replace a set of missing keys.  Oh, God is a God of the big things, but He is not too busy to care about the little things too…like missing keys and wallets.

Let me encourage you to look for the small miracles around us.  In fact, let me encourage you to expect the small miracles around us.  James, the half-brother of Jesus wrote a short book in the Bible.  In it he wrote, “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.”  Spot on, James.  The God who made the stars can also do the small stuff…stuff that matters to us matters to Him.  So, as you journey today, and you hit a bump, don’t be afraid to ask for a little help from above.  He might help you over the bump or at least give you the grace to endure it.  Either way, you can know that “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, missions, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel, Trials

Miracles

For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

Well, there are miracles and then there are miracles.  One of the great adventures that Judy and I have been privileged to be a part of are church mission trips.  Specifically, mission trips to Africa.  For the past 15 or 16 years, our church has been an active participant in mission adventures.  At least once a year we try and send a team to Africa.  We started in Niger and then had to move a little south to the country of Mali.  We were privileged to serve there for several years.

I can’t explain how incredible it is to go on a mission adventure.  I also can’t really explain the draw that so many feel to this place called Africa. Where this story begins was a pretty difficult place.  We would stay in the bush often sleeping on the ground in tents.  The temperature would hover over 100 degrees.  I have one picture that showed a thermometer with a reading 125 degrees.  The food, well, let’s just say it wasn’t McDonald’s.  So, what is it that causes people to step way out of their comfort zones just to serve others.  This story is part of that answer.

We were on a medical trip in Mali and the days were long and fruit was plentiful.  We had a full team including two medical doctors and several nurses.  They would treat the physically broken and we would try and share the truth of God’s love to the spiritually broken.  We would tell stories of Jesus and how He would go and help people.  We then would simply explain that we wanted to be like Him and help others.  We explained that people who knew Jesus in America had bought and paid for the medicine that they were receiving.  It was free to them because someone else paid the price.  It was always a great lead into the gospel stories because Jesus did the same for us.

Well, it was the end of a long day.  Most of us had wandered back to camp and were sitting around and chatting about the day’s activities.  Suddenly someone ran into the camp and shouted that there was an emergency back at the clinic.  We all rushed back over and what we found was grim…very grim.  A little girl, about nine if I remember correctly, had been climbing a tree.  She was about twenty-five feet up in the air when she slipped and fell—landing directly on her face.  Her father had carried her on a Moto (a small motorcycle) about three or four miles.  She was semi-conscious and unresponsive.

Two things happened simultaneously.  First, the doctors when to work and the saints went to praying.  Her pupils were unresponsive and though she was breathing, her respirations were rapid and shallow.  About an hour later the doctors said it was probably only a matter of time, her brain injuries seemed very serious.  I slipped into my pastor mode and wondered what an African funeral was like.  The doctors took turns sitting with her through the night, and then took her to the nearest first aid station. This part is fuzzy, but it seems like at some point the father went ahead and took her back to her village.

The next day we went back to work with a somewhat heavy heart.  And then something happened…we heard that the little girl had woken up.  We then heard that she was speaking and walking around.  We then heard that she was responding and acting almost completely normal.  “What is this,” I wondered.  Again, if I remember correctly either that day or the next the father brought his little girl back to the doctors and there she stood.  A living, breathing, miracle.  It can be described as nothing else.  God had heard the prayers of His children and chosen to reach down from heaven and touch this little girl and give her back her life.  It.Was.A.Miracle.

Many of us have been to Africa many times and we have seen more than one miracle.  Sometimes it looked like this, sometimes it was God acting to avoid a terrible tragedy and sometimes it like a frog strangling rainstorm when it hadn’t rained for months and months.  But each time it was obvious that God was still God, and He can do what He wants, when He wants.  After all, He is God.  For the skeptics out there, who think that God doesn’t do the miracle thing—that it died out in the old days—well, that little girl would beg to differ with you.

Tucked away in the book of Luke, incidentally, written by a physician in Jesus’ day, are some words that say it all.  It says, “For nothing shall be impossible with God.” Nothing. Period. Seven words that can shake your world and this world. So, what is rocking your world today?  COVID still keeping you up at night? Wondering about tomorrow or the next meal?  Worried about our country?  Well, I don’t know what God has planned—after all I’m in sales and not management—smile. But I do know that nothing is too big for Him to handle.  Just like that little girl in Africa who discovered she could lay down and rest in Him—so can you.  After all,…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, prayer, Scripture, thankful

Contacts

Hi Grits Family! Hey, my wife Judy and I are going to be “out of pocket” aka “not available” to write for the next couple of weeks.  During that time, we decided to send out some of our past stories.  I hope you enjoy the ones we selected and look forward to some “fresh Grits” in a couple of weeks. God bless.  Bro. Dewayne

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

He did it again.  It was a love note from my Heavenly Father and at least for me…it was a big one.  It all started with a nap.  You see, every day after lunch I take a short nap.  I have done it for at least 45 years.  It goes something like this.  Eat. Nap. Back to work.  It seems as soon as lunch is done so am I. (It could have something to do with my 4:30 am wakeup time.)  It is my understanding that the folks who live in Japan do this, and they live longer and are healthier. So, Monday, I ate a sandwich and then went to take my nap.  Generally, it is about 15 or 20 minutes and as usual, that’s what happened.  However, as I woke up, I sat up, and it was then that I messed up.

You see, accidentally and totally unintentionally, I touched my right eye as I sat up.  It might have been one of those getting the momentum going in the right direction kind of thing.  At any rate, I touched the eye where I wear my “mono vision.” I knew right away something changed.  I have a test I perform to make sure my contact is doing its thing. I simply look at my watch and if I can read it, all is well. However, when I looked that day it was way past blurry.  That meant my contact was either on the bed somewhere or lost in my eye.  From the way things felt—it was lost in my eye.  I called my eye doctor friend.

I explained that I thought my contact was lost in my eye and she kindly agreed to meet me there. That’s the kind of person she is—kind. I was soon at her office and in her eye checking chair. She looked and looked. Nothing. Next, she put in some dye to make the contact stand out and then even rolled my eye lid up to peek there. Nothing.  Despite all her best efforts—no contact was to be found.  We were pretty sure it had jumped out.  Only time would tell the tale.

Well, throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening, every once in a while, I knew I could feel it.  It would stick its little head out and when I went and looked it had already disappeared again.  This happened again and again.   I went to bed that night knowing my friend was still in there.  Well, the next morning, it greeted me but at the same time alluded me. It was frustrating.  It was going to be one of those things that make your day a little more difficult.

And then it happened.  I was chatting with my wife Judy, and I felt it.  I could tell it was right near the edge of my eye lid.  I rushed to the bathroom and reached in, pinched and boom—I got it. Oh, happy days were here again! Talk about a game changer…you would have thought I won the lottery and in a way, I guess I had!

Here’s the best part!  I knew it was a love note from my Dearest Daddy.  You say, “Really?”  And I say, “Absolutely.”  You see He is a good, good Father who is into the details.  He cares about the biggest things, and He cares about the smallest things.  Paul, the guy who wrote most of the New Testament, said that He could and would do more than we can ever imagine.  Trust me, it was no accident the contact suddenly made its appearance, and it was no accident that it was right where I could grab it. Yup…it was a love note.

So, I told Him thanks about a dozen times, and I figured I had to write this story.  I had to take another opportunity to tell Him thanks by telling you about Him. I just had to share this big truth—God cares about the little things.  Oh, and it doesn’t happen every time or all the time—nope, and that is what makes it special.

So, today, why not look around for a special love note from your Heavenly Father. If you think about it, even the fact that we are breathing His air is amazing!  Whether it is a lost contact that is found or just a beautiful day in the neighborhood, remember to say, “Thank you.” Learning to see the little things and being grateful is better…in fact, it is a lot better.  And as we learn to be grateful, well, we will recognize more and more that great truth, no matter what, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, friends, gratitude, life, loving others, Scripture, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful

Settled

Hi Grits Family! My wife Judy and I are going to be “out of pocket” aka “not available” to write for the next couple of weeks.  During that time, we decided to send out some of our past stories.  I hope you enjoy the ones we selected and look forward to some “fresh Grits” in a couple of weeks. God bless.  Bro. Dewayne

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Well, the issue is finally settled. It is really a difficult thing to be the baby of the family especially when it is obvious that after seven previous tries mom and dad finally got it right.  Yup…that was me.  Number eight in a litter of eight.  Sometimes, because I was the baby of eight, my other brothers and sisters got a little jealous.

One of the stories that I was raised with was the fact that I really wasn’t a natural born part of the family.  In fact, they told me that mama and daddy had found me in a ditch in the poor part of town and felt sorry for me and brought me home.  Now I understand how that story got started.  I mean I was so much cuter and smarter than my brothers and sisters it seemed pretty apparent that I was an outsider. Yup, they would rag on me big time, but it didn’t bother me. I knew I was special.

I grew up and the story about me being “found” kind of faded away. I knew it was all a joke, but every once in a while, it gives me pause.  Hmmm, what if, I wonder, could it be?  Naw…I was pretty sure; it was not true.  As time passed and technology grew, someone started a company that would allow you to check your DNA.  The results would tell you where you were from and where your ancestors lived.  One of my older brothers decided to spend the money and have his checked. The results were lack luster.

I always envisioned being related to William Wallace or some other great hero.  But when his results came in it turned out that we were 83% plain ole Englishmen.  Yup…right there in Northern Europe.  I guess my ancestors got mad at the king or queen and took a ship to America.  His results did show that we were 17% Scott Irish which meant there was about a one in five chance that I had an Irish brogue hidden somewhere in me. However, it wasn’t enough for me to go buy a kilt!

But then I thought, “Well, those are his results but are they, my results?”  I mean if the “we found you in a ditch story” was true then his story couldn’t be mine.  So, guess what?  For Father’s Day, Judy spent the money, and I was able to spit in a tube and send my DNA off in the mail.  It took several weeks but guess what?  Yup, you guessed it.  My results were exactly-the same as my brothers.  What that really means is that we had the same father and mother, and I was the best looking and smartest because mom and dad finally got it right.  Smile.

I’m just pulling your leg.  I knew I was part of the family, there is a whole lot of family resemblance in me.  I also knew that old story was just a joke, but I always enjoyed playing along.  It made me feel kinda…special.  As you have heard before…my brothers and sisters called me “precious”—mainly because I was.  Smile.  But I want you to know that you are special too.  We all are.  We are all wonderful creations of God.  Like someone said, “God doesn’t make junk.”

I was born into the Taylor clan by an act of God’s grace.  Period.  I could have been born anywhere or at any time, but by His grace I was born to Alston and Leslie back in 1954. That wasn’t the only time I experienced His grace.  I was born another time too, back on October 26, 1976.  That was the day I was born again and adopted into the family of God.  You see, each person who trusts Christ is in the family by a new birth (that’s where we get our spiritual DNA) but also by the power of adoption (that’s where we get all the rights and privileges of a full-grown son.). From the moment I believed in Jesus, I had all the rights of a person who has known Jesus for decades.  Amazing.

So, I’m a Taylor down to my core…my DNA proves it.  But I am also a “tailor-made” (I couldn’t resist) child of God.  Born again by His grace and adopted into the family as His son.  There is no higher privilege than that.  And it is an open invitation.  God invites each and every person into the family if they are willing to believe and trust in His Son.  It is all a matter of faith and His grace.  His Book says, “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.”

I know I use that verse often, but it just never grows old.  I am a child of God, and He is my Dearest Daddy. Not because of who I am, but because of His love for me and His amazing grace.  How about that?

If you should ever wonder who you really belong to, can I make a suggestion?  Why not settle the issue and become a child of His?  You will never wander or wonder again.  He’s just waiting for you to come to Him and rest.  He wants you to know He’s got this, for now and for all eternity.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, Grace, gratitude, life, prayer, Scripture, thankful, Trials

Trust

Hi Grits Family! My wife Judy and I are going to be “out of pocket” aka “not available” to write for the next couple of weeks.  During that time, we decided to send out some of our past stories.  I hope you enjoy the ones we selected and look forward to some “fresh Grits” in a couple of weeks. God bless.  Bro. Dewayne

Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.” Psalm 37:24

It seems so easy…but it just not. In the Disney movie Aladdin, the central figure named Aladdin (bet you saw that one coming) and the beautiful young princess are in a difficult situation.  Options are limited because the bad guys are just about to win the day–grab her and jail him.  He reaches out his hand, looks her in the eyes and says, “Do you trust me?”

Well, you have probably seen the movie a dozen times, but the bottom line is she does, they escape, and eventually live happily ever after.  But not before one more precarious situation, one more extended hand and one more time the all-important question asked, “Do you trust me?”  She does.  She extends her hand and well, you know.

Times like these times help us begin to understand just how difficult it might have been for these two fictitious characters.  To not trust meant certain disaster. To trust meant risk.  It’s a hard call–well especially in the movie because Aladdin wasn’t some dashing, super strong, super-hero but a, gulp, “street rat,” a nobody, from the wrong side of town.

But what about us–what about our plot–our uncertainty.  Well, there is an extended hand and there is that all important question, “Do you trust me?”  But that’s where things change.  The hand extended to us doesn’t belong to a “street rat” but rather to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  It belongs to the One who speaks, and a billion stars begin to twinkle. And the one on the receiving end?  Oh, that would be us–the one He calls son, daughter, child of mine.

I love Psalm 37:24. Speaking of God and us, it says, “Though they [that would be us] stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.” Never fall, never perish, never. Let that soak in.  The word picture is that of a person—perhaps a small child or maybe a frail senior adult—who has lost their footing and consequently is on their way down to certain pain and suffering.  Then, at the last minute, the hand reaches down and takes hold, and they are saved.

That has to be what caused the prophet Habakkuk 3:17-18 to say, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18.  yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

It’s not a hard call really.  I mean He’s all powerful and loves us like no prince has ever loved his princess…cares for us more than any husband his bride.  He has a perfect track record. Never fails…no, not once. Regardless of how scary the days were or may become, He is bigger, He is stronger, and He can be trusted. So, listen carefully today. Tune out or turn down the volume of a screeching world and you will probably hear a soft whisper saying, “Do you trust me?”  And look with Spirit eyes and you might even see a hand extended.  You don’t even need to try and take hold for He’s got you and yes, He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne