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

Makin’ Grits

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  Jesus in John 10:10b

It was time for some grits.  Well, after two weeks on the road traveling and doing God stuff it was so good to be home.  Dorothy (the one from the Wizard of Oz) said it best…there is no place like home…and she was right.  Over the last two weeks we did different things and slept in different beds and ate a lot of different foods. In the coming days and weeks, I will be writing about some of our adventures. But after all of that…this morning…it was time for something familiar. It was time for grits.

When I woke up and had breakfast in this place called home, I wanted something that was normal…something that would remind me I was indeed home.  It shouldn’t surprise you that I turned to grits.  For me, if there is something that says home, it is grits.  Grits are more than a food.  Grits are part of my heritage.  Grits are wholesome.  Grits are…grits.  This morning’s grits started with a bowl of “cheater” grits cooked in the microwave.  Trust me…grits on the stove or grits in the microwave are still stinking good.  So, in the bowl went the grits, an amount of water that varies from day to day, a good shaking of salt and pepper, a small handful of bacon bits and finally, a wedge of Laughing Cow Light Swiss cheese.  Can someone say, “Hallelujah?”  Well, from the first bite till I scraped the bowl clean…it was heaven…it was good…it said, “Home.”

While I love grits, I also am honest enough to admit that just plain grits are well…plain.  But when you add the good stuff, well, all I can say is “Shoot that thing.”  The good stuff can make something plain…sing.  It is true with grits, and it is true with life.  You see, life can be just life but when you add the good stuff, life sings like a happy opera singer.  What makes life sing is different for each person but for me the list is short and sweet.  First, you add God to the mix and not just any god but Jehovah God…the One who made it all.  The trees, the flowers, the mountains, and the rivers are just a few of His works.  Look up and the stars and the planets all sing of His greatness. You know, Jesus once said that He had come to give us life and not only that but a life worth living…and I believe He did. Now don’t confuse God and religion.  God is always good and religion by itself is just like plain grits…tasteless.

Another thing that makes my life sing is family and friends.  You see, I don’t believe grits were made to be eaten plain.  Grits is the foundation just waiting for the good stuff.  We were never created to be loners on a desert island.  No, we were made for each other.  Again, each life is different, but each life should include others…the kind that enrich and fulfill us.  For some it is a big family and for others it might be a family of one.  It might be ten close friends or only one or two, but we all need others.  Why not invite someone into your world today?  I know for me that can sometimes be difficult, but it is worth the effort.

The third thing that we need to make our life sing is a trio of treats.  They are love, gratitude, and contentment.  Just like the cheese, bacon bits, and salt and pepper bring my bowl of grits to life, so do these three powerful life ingredients.  Love is as essential as the air that we breathe and gratitude, being thankful for all we have instead of grumpy about what we don’t, is too. Oh, and when we are grateful…we are usually content.  Throw all of this together and you have a life that sings…a life that is worth getting up to everyday.

You see, to have a full life, a life that is as sweet as the sweetest love song, doesn’t require titles, dollars, and stuff.  No…a life that sings is so much more than that.  All we must do is be willing to start.  This morning’s breakfast of grits wasn’t hard…I mean that is one thing that even I can prepare.  But it did require a start…it did require a beginning.  So, today, let’s take that first step.  Let’s pour in the bowl of our life a big dose of faith, love, gratitude, and contentment and then let’s sit down to the table of life and feast. Don’t know where or how to start? Why not ask God, the one many call, “Father?”  You will find Him there ready and willing to help. You can rest assured that, “He’s got this.”

Posted in Family, food, friends, gratitude, life, prayer, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, Trials

Blueberry Crumble

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

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among His people! He will live with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:3-4

I love dessert.  My journey with dessert goes back to my earliest memories.  Whether it was a biscuit with cane syrup and butter or a cake or pie from mama’s oven—I loved dessert.  Sometimes when there was nothing else, I would grab a teaspoon from the drawer and shovel in a teaspoon of sugar.  Hey, when it’s all you have—it’s all that you have.

Two dessert memories spring from my earlier years.  I remember my mama having to have surgery when I was about 10 years old.  Two things happened during that time that were monumental.  First, dad took care of us.  Daddy was a bring-home-the-bacon kind of guy and Momma took care of the kids and the house. Well, with her in the hospital and daddy not cooking much—things were a bit different in the kitchen.  I remember one night we were coming home from the hospital and daddy stopped at a place called Milligan’s Burgers and I had my first taste of a fast-food hamburger.  It was kinda like a Krystal Burger and it was a big deal.

Something else that happened during Momma’s hospital stay showed her love for me and solidified my love for desserts.  During her stay, the “three-little-ones” and my daddy made our nightly visit to the hospital.  We walked into her room and there she was in her hospital bed with the tray thing (much like today) beside her bed.  She said, “Dewayne, I saved you something from my supper.”  There on her tray in a small bowl was a serving of “blueberry crunch.” It was like a small blueberry crunch top pie and it was delicious.  To this day I never eat anything blueberry with a crunch top without thinking about my mama’s love.

Years later, my oldest brother and I were visiting another brother out in Texas.  It was a man-trip that included driving all night, camping in the mountains, and eating.  When we got back from the mountain part, we had a last supper of sorts, and his wife made cherry cheesecake.  Well, I thought I had died and gone to heaven and ate a whole lot more than I should have.  After supper we hit the road for the long drive back to Florida and before long, I wished I could die and go to heaven.  All that cherry cheesecake started rolling around in my belly and we had to make more than one stop—and it wasn’t for gas.

Yup…dessert and I go way back. When we go visit someone for supper, I always enjoy the food and fellowship, but I also always hold back a little room for dessert.  I know the best is yet to come.  The story is told of a woman who wanted to be buried with a spoon in her casket.  When asked why, she said, “Well, when I go to someone’s house for supper, the hostess will lean down and say, “Be sure and keep your spoon.”  I always smile when that happens because I know that means that there is dessert, and the best is yet to come.”  I like that.

In this crazy, upside-down world of the never-ending story of COVID, racial injustice, violence and crazy politics, we probably should all carry a spoon in our pocket.  You ask, “Why should we do that?”  Well, it would remind us that this crazy world is not all the end.  It would remind us that for every person who is Christ follower, who can call God Dearest Father, there is more—much more.  That beyond this life is eternal life—that the best is surely yet to come.

I am so grateful for the life that God has given me.  Like a delicious meal filled with good old Southern comfort food, I enjoy each day…mostly.  Honestly though, life is filled too with warts, bumps and more than a few bruises.  But it seems like at the table of this banquet called life, I can hear the Whisperer lean over and say, “Be sure and keep your spoon.”  When that happens, I know He is reminding me that the best is yet come.  As good as life is here, it is going to be a million times better there.  The Bible speaks of heaven as a place of no sickness, no pain, no sorrow, no separation and no more death.  It is like dessert on steroids.  I. Can’t. Wait.

Well, I know I need to keep my love affair with desserts in check.  Both my doctor and my wife Judy remind me of that.  But each time I get to indulge, you can take it to the bank that I’m gonna remember that there is more than this hot mess coming and it is going to be good.  You know, sometimes when Judy is cooking, I go in and sneak a taste.  I love to sneak a bite of cookie dough when she isn’t looking.  It’s just a sample of the finished product.  Take time today to crawl up with Jesus and take a rest.  It will just be a taste of what is coming in eternity…just enough to keep you wanting as you wait.  And then, remember this…that the Master Maker of dessert—God—has all this under control.  Yup…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, food, friends, gratitude, life, loving others, Scripture, thankful

Vine Ripened

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

You know there’s just something about a vine ripened tomato.  Yup, it is that time of the year again.  Around our neck of the woods, it starts happening around the 4th of July.  All those folks who planted tomatoes earlier on are now enjoying the fruit of their labors. Oh, and by the way…did you know that tomatoes are a kind of fruit?  Well, that’s what I read on the internet anyway and you know everything on the internet is true.  Smile.

Well, every year some nice folks who raised tomatoes will call and offer us some of their bounty.  If we don’t have any we would gratefully answer yes and get some.  If we still had some on the counter, we would let them know we were good but not to forget us.  This year, like everything else from toilet paper to new windows for your new house, tomatoes are rare and expensive.  My friend was telling me how he paid $3.19 for one large, vine ripened tomato.  Holy moly that is like red gold, but I suppose a good tomato is worth it.

The other day, Judy stopped by a stand and got three small tomatoes and a couple of other veggies and paid about $7.00.  That night we had them for supper.  We put some salt and pepper on them and then some feta cheese. Oh my, and shoot that thing, they were so good and worth every penny.  Well, a couple of days ago, she got a nice large tomato from one of the local grocery stores.  I mean it looked really good. So, we sliced it, added salt and pepper, and crowned it with feta cheese and…it was terrible.

You see that bright red large tomato wasn’t vine ripened.  I don’t know all the details, but somehow most commercially grown tomatoes are picked green and then “gassed” and this causes them to prematurely turn red.  Consequently, they may look good, but they are almost tasteless.  They spend less time on the vine and consequently simply don’t taste as good.  The ones that hang on the vine, taking the time nature intended are so much better than the ones we force to maturity.

I wonder, no I know, that is true in life also.  So often we force situations and sometimes force people into relationships, and segments of life for which they simply are not ready.  I know it seems our children are forced to grow up so much faster than I was.  When that happens, well, in the best case they miss out on some of the great parts of growing up and in the worst case they end up struggling in life because they simply were not ready.  But it is not just the kids, but it can also include relationships.  We jump into marriages for which we are not ready…sometimes just because the clock is ticking, and we don’t want to end up alone.

I wonder if we can learn something from the tomato and the ones who grow them.  I wonder if we can learn the value of just taking our time…time to ripen on the vine and gain the flavor that God intended?  I wonder if we can learn to slow down and trust God just a little more?  I remember just how disappointed I was when I put that “gassed” tomato in my mouth and found it bland and tasteless.  It may have looked better, but it surely didn’t taste better than its vine ripened cousin.

I’m reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:1 which tells us, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”  What a difference it might make if we let things have their season…their time.  Our world might be a little better, our lives a little sweeter and our tomatoes a little tastier.  I know that sometimes it is hard to wait for the seasons but if you think about it…it might be worth it.  Need some help in the waiting department? If you know God personally, why not ask your Dearest Daddy for a little advice?  I’m sure He would be more than glad to help.  And if you don’t know Him yet, go ahead and introduce yourself.  Just whisper a prayer and you will find Him ready to love and help you.  After all, He’s got a big heart and strong arms…and “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

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

What Does the Lord Require of You?

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

It was an unexpected blessing. A while back my friend Jeremy gave me a call and asked if I wanted to go to Marion (a town about 25 miles from where we live) with him.  He needed some stuff from Sam’s, so it just sounded like a good thing to do.  And do you know what? It was.  He swung by the house and off we went.  As we traveled, we talked.  We have one of those “what’s said in the truck, stays in the truck” things so it is good to have a place where you can let your hair down (uh, if you’ve ever seen my hairline, you know that is metaphorically speaking) and just be guys.

As we neared Marion, he took a turn down Main Street, which was a little odd for going to Sam’s, and before I knew it, we were at Cracker Barrel.  That caught me off guard since I thought we were just doing the Sam’s thing. It turns out my bad ear failed to hear the part about, “I’ll buy your breakfast.”  So, hey, the trip went from good to really good! Let’s see…time away with a brother and free breakfast…yup…that works.  We were quickly seated in Cracker Barrel but that is when the quickly ended and it was also when I realized I might be having a couple of “Cracker Barrel moments.”

We waited awhile before a server came by.  He was kind and gracious and so were we.  He took our order, and Jeremy and I began to talk.  We talked about this, and we talked about that and then, because there was time, we talked about that again.  Finally, after oh, three days, our food came.  It really wasn’t too big of a deal because I was spending time with a friend, and I was studying for a sermon on patience and needed some practice.  But I did say to Jeremy, pointing at the food, “I was just about to have to work on my patience.”  He smiled and said, “Hey, you got some place to go?” Ah…Cracker Barrel moment number one. Enjoy the moment.  Truth was there was nothing I was going to do that was more important than just visiting with a friend.  Someone once said that one of the most spiritual things we can do is take a nap.  Number two on that list might be visiting with a Christian brother. Check.

Cracker Barrel moment number two happened a few minutes later.  After we were seated for a few minutes, an older couple came in and sat down nearby.  Their server was there immediately.  I think I frowned. Their food came (before ours…I might have frowned) and then shortly after, our own breakfast feast arrived.  Judy was not around so I ordered the works.  Then it happened.  A young man walked in and was seated close to the older couple.  I watched as the young man went over to the older man, excused himself for interrupting, said something.  They shook hands and the young man returned to his table.

The older couple left first and then Jeremy and I stood to leave too.  I stopped at the table of the young man and asked, “I saw you go over and talk to that older man.  What was that about?”  I thought I already knew.  The young man said, “He was a veteran I was thanking him for his service.”  Yup…I was right.  The older gentleman had a ball cap on, and it identified him as a veteran. I said, “Well, thank you for thanking him for his service.  That was very kind.”  I don’t know who his Momma was, but she sure did a good job raising him.

Two Cracker Barrel moments—two exact opposite lessons yet both valuable.  Live for the moment…whatever is next can probably wait and always, and I mean always, take the opportunity to do the right thing…like thanking a veteran.  I left Cracker Barrel a lot fuller that day…pun intended. We enjoyed a good meal, some great fellowship, and had a blessing thrown in for dessert.

Tucked away in one of those books of the Bible that we rarely read is a verse that says, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” I think my visit to Cracker Barrel hit on a couple of those.  None of us know which day will be our last day but it is good to know the One who does. Until that time, we need our Cracker Barrel moments to remind us we are still learning and that “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

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

An Angel from Bowling Green

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord…and He delights in His way.” Psalm 37:23

Did you know that some angels come from Bowling Green, Kentucky?  Well, my wife Judy and I recently returned from vacation.  Now, I really like vacations.  We are blessed that God has provided the means for us to go and our church (I’m a pastor) provided the time.  And believe me…it was time.  We saved, planned, and decided a return trip to Punta Cana sounded like just the thing we needed.  We bought tickets, made the reservations, and like the old Willie Nelson song says, we were back on the road again. And…we were excited!

We decided to stay at a place where we had stayed several times before.  We figured with Covid and all of that it might be better to go to a place we were familiar with.  We had a great flight down and soon we are were in paradise….well, sorta.  Truthfully, it was somewhat apparent that Covid had taken the wind out of the sails of our familiar place. It just wasn’t the same.  But, like we always say…at least we were away. The Dominican is a great place, but you still must be careful…stay at the resort, eat at the resort and above all…don’t drink the water. Most of the time Judy and I are good rule keepers…and we were this time, too.

Then came Wednesday.  That day I could tell my appetite was a bit off, but it was no deal. At supper that night I ate very little and as we walked back to the room, I told Judy I just felt a bit sad.  Well, in a few minutes, I found out I wasn’t sad…I was sick.  In spite of all my precautions, I apparently had the dreaded “traveler’s disease.”  If you don’t know what it is…I’ll let you look it up, but it is enough to say it ain’t fun. Period.  Well for the next two days I pretty much stayed in the room and by Saturday, going home day, I wasn’t much better.  We boarded the bus for the airport and things went from bad to worse.

As we sat there, my stomach got more and more queasy, and I was pretty certain I was going to quickly be the most unpopular guy on the bus.  Meanwhile as I doing my best to “keep my cookies,” Judy was having a great conversation with the mother of a family sitting by us.  She was talking to them, and I was talking to myself, “Don’t lose it, don’t lose it.”  Soon we arrived at the airport, thankfully with stomach intact, and got into a very long line to check our luggage for the flight.  I tried but I just couldn’t stand there so I told Judy I was going to the restroom and try and sit-down.  She kindly handled the luggage and both backpacks and I went and collapsed.

I watched from a distance.  I was praying, “God, I sure need Your help, but I know I need to trust you…so Your will be done.” While I was praying there, Judy was praying in line. Soon, but not soon enough, Judy was almost at the counter and waved for me to come on over.  I did and when I got there, the friendly family “just happened to be” in front of her.  I was standing there, more miserable than ever, and the mother’s mother, mouthed the words, “Are you ok?” I simply said I was not, telling her my stomach was very upset.  And then…it happened. The mother said, “I have some Pepto Bismol in my luggage, would you like some”?  I responded with a very grateful “yes”.

So right there, though she was next in line, she laid her luggage (which was the size of Texas) on the floor, opened it up, dug around (she packed like Judy…smile) and quickly produced a small bottle of Pepto.  I quickly opened it up and took a swig.  Borne on the wings of prayer, within a few minutes, and I do mean a few minutes, I was much better.  No, I wasn’t normal, but I knew I wouldn’t be losing my cookies.  A dose or two later and I was much, much better. I was going to survive.  And all of that…because a caring Dearest Daddy heard the prayers of His kids.

Some would be tempted to say it was happenstance, some would say it was just a nice person being nice, but for those of us who know God, we know differently.  It makes me go back to that great verse in the Old Testament part of the Bible, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in His way.”  You see this whole thing was all about God and not about me.  He took care of me…and it delighted Him to do so.  I love that.  So, while the vacation didn’t make the top ten…God did.  In fact, He is number one and the only One.  It just proves what we have learned together…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, food, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, Military memories, prayer, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, travel, USA

Home is Better

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the One sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” Revelation 21:4-5

Who would have known?  In 1977, my wife and I packed up our stuff and moved to Germany.  It wasn’t a sudden urge we had—it was courtesy of the Air Force.  When we had been married about seven months, we received an assignment to move to Europe.  We were excited about moving there, but also realized Germany was 4,657 miles from everything that was familiar to us.  We were off on a great adventure, without cell phones or internet!

We loved it.  Our part of Germany was filled with history and beautiful landscapes.  Rich forests and small hills and mountains framed every view.  And honestly, it was a little like home.  While it was true that the local folks spoke a different language, there was enough English sprinkled around that we were able to get by.  We even learned a little (and I do mean a little) German to help.  We drove our cars on the right side of the road, just like home (unlike the Brits), we could drink the water just like home, we had stores kinda like home, and we even had a church…just like home.  But it wasn’t…home.

Throughout the three years we were there, we would celebrate when it came time for friends to “ship” back to the United States.  Our church even had a special song titled, “Goodbye, World, Goodbye” that we sang every time someone left to go back to the states.  They were bitter-sweet moments.  We would miss them, but we knew where they were going. They were going home.

There was one thing that we would do, every once in a while, to remind us of home.  It might seem strange, but it wasn’t to us.  Germany was a place of great food but once again…it wasn’t home.  I found out that not many Germans eat grits.  Imagine that. But they did share one thing that was purely American—McDonald’s.  Located downtown in a large city, not too far from where we lived, was a McDonald’s very much like ours back home. And when we could afford it, which wasn’t often, we would go and have a taste of home.  Each bite of the burgers and fries said, “Remember home.”  Each bite said, “This place is good but remember, it’s not home.”

Well, one day it was our turn to go…home.  It was our turn to hear, “Goodbye, World, Goodbye” and know it was for us.  It was our turn to leave there and go home and as soon as we were home, we knew instantly that while “there” was very good—it wasn’t home. Home was better.  Home was home.

Jesus followers need to remember that very important truth—Home is better—Home is home.  This world is good.  We enjoy life with friends and family, and there is a McDonald’s on every corner.  But what used to remind us of home now reminds us that we are not there…yet. Even with all its warts and imperfections, God has done a great job providing us a temporary location to live out our days, but remember, Home is going to be—better.  The Bible tells me that Heaven is a place where there is no more pain, suffering, sickness, or sorrow.  No hospitals, no nursing homes, and no funeral homes.  Simply put—the former things are gone, and everything will be new.  Home will be better.

I know I speak for Judy too when I say that our time in Germany was three of our favorite years together. I also know I speak for her when I say home was, and home is, better. Life here is good but one day, it will be my turn, your turn, to find out that Home is better.  When it came time to leave Germany and go home, the Air Force paid for our ticket and I am glad to let you know that our ticket to Home is paid for too—by God’s Son, Jesus Christ. All we must do is accept it and when we do—life here gets better and Home is thrown in. When we accept it, we find out that God loves to give us a “McDonald’s” or two, here and there, just to remind us of Home…to remind us that till we get there, He is with us and that at every turn, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

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

Buyer’s Remorse

From His abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.” John 1:16

I wish I hadn’t—but I did.  Buyer’s remorse.  The official definition is, “a feeling of regret experienced after making a purchase, typically one regarded as unnecessary or extravagant.” I guess most of us have experienced it at one time or another.  Sometimes it is a minor deal.  You buy something from Walmart, get home, think about it and decide you really didn’t need it.  So, thanks to Walmart’s generous return policy, you lay it aside and the next time you are at the store, you simply return it.  No harm, no foul.

Then sometimes it isn’t quite the easy.  You are at the grocery store and your “you need to watch your diet” wife is out of town. Smile.  So, as you wind your way through the various aisles of calorie rich delights, you find yourself on the cookie aisle. The packages are calling your name and you say, “Why not?” Because you can’t decide, you buy two and since your “you need to watch your diet” wife is not around, you eat both. As the last cookie of package number two slips past your lips, you realize you probably shouldn’t have bought two, or maybe even one, and you have a sense of remorse…diet remorse and buyer’s remorse.  Still, no big deal.  You wait 24 hours and don’t have a heart attack and hide the packages deep in the trash. No harm, no foul.

There are times when the fix is reclusive, and the consequences are bigger than an expanded waistline.  Twice, not once, I have bought new cars that I later regretted.  You know, you visit the lot, you see the car, you smell the car, you buy the car.  You feel important driving it and watch as people watch you driving it.  And then it happens.  A couple of payments down the road of too much debt and not enough payday, you get it.  Major, big time buyer’s remorse.  And this time, there is not a Walmart return policy, and the ouch is bigger than you ever imagined.  This time…well, it is certainly not “no harm, no foul.”

Yup, most of us have slipped on that banana peel.  The important thing is to learn.  Now, I have learned about the car thing…at least I think I have but the cookie thing…well, that is still a work in progress. Smile. And judging from the past, it might be a long, long road. You might be wondering, “Is there anyone who hasn’t experienced buyer’s remorse?”  The answer is yes and the who might surprise you.  That Who is God.

I’ve always been amazed with God.  He is so generous, so loving, and so kind.  He always goes the extra mile to show me that He is for me and not against me.  His patience with this slower learner causes me to wonder how He could not regret loving me.  But here is the deal…and don’t miss this.  God loved me enough to send His Son to a rugged, cruel cross to pay the payment for my sin. I didn’t deserve it and honestly no one does.  But it gets better.  He did that knowing that I wouldn’t always get it right. He did it knowing I would often get it wrong. But it gets better.

Here it is.  Not once in the past, no once today, not once tomorrow, not once for the zillion years of eternity yet to come will He ever have buyer’s remorse.  He made the deal and not once regretted making it. How is that even possible? How is that even conceivable?  Well, the answer is that God not only loves me, He also loves us. Perfectly. In other words, He loves us looking through the lens of His perfect Son.  Instead of seeing warts, He sees us whole and perfect.  Oh, not that we are, not that we ever will be…at least here.  No, it’s all because of His grace and His Son and His sacrifice for us.

So, today, be careful as you cruise the aisles of Walmart…and life.  You might want to avoid the cookie aisle and ice cream freezers of life…things that tend to lead to regret and consequences.  But by all means, be sure and linger in the grace aisle and take in the wonder of it all. As you look at all the packages of love and love notes from the One who loves you most, remember what John wrote, “From His abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.” And if you do happen to slip up, don’t worry.  He won’t change His mind about you.  After all, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

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

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, 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, food, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, Scripture, thankful

Lavish Grace

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:7-8

It was a stroke of accidental brilliance and it all started in 1986. Jerry and Janie Murrell offered some advice to Jerry’s four younger brothers. They simply said, “Go to college or start a business.”  They decided on the business route and started a restaurant in Virginia called “Five Guys Burgers and Fries.”  And like they say, “The rest is history.”  Today there are 1,500 locations and 1,500 more on the drawing board.  Their sales pitch is nothing but fresh beef and nothing but fries cooked in 100% peanut oil.  There are no freezers in the joint only coolers.

Well, all that is nice but that is not what I like about Five Guys.  I mean they serve one mean burger and their fries are the best of any national chain but that’s not what grabbed me.  So, here’s the deal. I walk in and order a small cheeseburger.  “What” you say.  Yup you heard right. The reason I order a small cheeseburger is because it is big…really big.  But it gets better.  The guy at the counter says, “what do you want on that cheeseburger?”  And here is when it gets really good.  I look up at the sign and there are probably 20 or 25 topping for the burger.  And get ready.  They are all free.

Did I just say “free?”  Yes sir, I did.  You can get everything from a tomato to a grilled mushroom and the hits just keep on coming.  No extra charge.  Amazing.  The best part is that it is genuinely good food.  Granted burgers and fries for most men are its own food group but you gotta love one loaded beyond words.  But, wait, it is gonna get better.

The guy at the counter says, “You want fries with that burger?”  Hello? Do hens lay eggs? Do preachers eat fried chicken? Do southerners eat grits? “Yes, sir, I want fries” I answer.  So I order a small fry. “What” you say. Yup you heard right.  The reason I order a small fries is man-food heaven.  So, as you watch, they fill a small cup full of fries.  Are you listening? They put the cup in the bag and then they get this scoop the size of a small shovel and dump a full load in the bag.  Wait. Then he gets another half scoop and dumps that in.  Can someone say, “Hallelujah!” Order a small and get a “boat load” for no extra charge.  Holy moly!

But wait…the guy is saying something else.  “Hey dude, do you want a shake with that?” Ok, by now I am drooling all over my shirt.  “Well sure” I respond.  He says, “What kind?”  I look at the sign and there it is.  Heaven.  It says, “milk shakes…all mix-ins are free.” “What?” I said.  “You mean I can have a chocolate, banana, strawberry, tutti-frutti, peanut, marshmallow milkshake with sprinkles on top.” “Yup” he said “all at no extra charge.”  Oh.my.goodness!  Excuse me while I wipe my mouth.

So what amazes me about Five Guys is, are you ready, their lavishness.  Their burgers, their fries, their milkshakes are all lavishly done.  They don’t give you a little of anything.  They pour it on, dump it on and then do it again.  Just like God and His grace.  Paul talks about it in Ephesians 1:8-9.  He says we have redemption though His death, the forgiveness of all our sins (someone say hallelujah) and all because of His grace that He lavished on us.  That means He pours it on, pours it on again and then just keeps pouring.  It is amazing grace because of the quality and the quantity.

I can just imagine stepping up to God’s counter and He says, “What do you need, son?” I like it when He calls me “son.” And I explain how this world is a hot mess, how I have made a mess of everything in my life and how I am sure I can’t fix it. Then I would tell Him I could sure use a little grace.  He would smile and say, “Son, I don’t anything little, especially grace.”  And then He would begin to pour it on. To borrow from Luke 6:38 where Jesus speaks about giving, the Book says, A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.” It’s true about giving but it is also true when we need grace.  It is what lavish looks like.

So as soon as you can go to “Five Guys.” Be sure and order small because you are going to get big.  Order all the toppings you want on your burger, all the mix-ins you want in your shake and let them take care of the fries.  You will leave amazed at their lavishness.  But all that just pales to God’s amazing grace.  Just walk up to the counter and tell Him what you need and get ready.  He is going to pour—no He is going to dump— grace all over you.  And, like grace you are gonna be amazed.  That’s why we can just sit back and rest in Him.  With that kind of grace, you know He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne