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

Beyond Words

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard.” Psalm 19:1-3

Though it was two years ago…I can still remember it. It was a wonderful, wonder filled night.  It was a Friday night, and it was beautiful.  After a day of cool temperatures and clear skies the sun bowed out and night moved in.  My wife Judy and I decided to build a fire out on our patio and just enjoy the evening.  Using my incredible fire building skills, which included opening one of those wax logs and lighting it, we soon were enjoying its light and warmth. It was perfect. As the smoke rose into the crystal-clear sky it caused me to pause and be amazed.  I agreed with God. After He was done with creation, He said it was very good.  He was right.

The slowly rising smoke caused me to look to the skies.  As darkness settled in, slowly, ever so slowly, the stars came out for their evening performance.  That was good too.  And then I noticed what we see and rarely stop to ponder.  Streaking across the sky was a jetliner.  By now it was only visible because of its flashing navigation lights.  Here’s what is so amazing.  That cylinder tube with wings was flying at about 30,000 feet…that’s almost six miles up in the sky.  It weighed in at approximately 175,000 pounds and was carrying dozens of people.  Pause.  A man-made object, weighing 87.5 TONS is effortlessly moving through the sky at a speed of right around 500 miles per hour.  That is amazing.

Now you may be one of those folks who believe that we humans showed up from a glob of jelly laying on a beach somewhere but personally, I don’t have that much faith.  I believe that there is a Creator God and He made us…fearfully and wonderfully.  How else do you explain 87.5 tons zipping through the air?  You could cite the law of aerodynamics but even that law was figured out and applied by God’s most wonderful creation.  But it gets better.

A little later I told Judy that it would be very cool if the space station flew over.  Now this modern marvel flies out in space—that’s why it is called the “space” station.  Get ready to be amazed.  It flies 240 miles above the earth at a speed of 17,136 miles an hour.  It weighs in at 925,000 pounds.  On that particular day there were three people on board, an American and two Russians and they had been on board for 165 days.  Can someone say, “amazing?”

Well, my neighbor happened to come home, and we were chatting.  He looks up and says, “Oh, there goes a satellite.” I got up and looked and it wasn’t a satellite…it was the space station, and it was amazing.  Though I have seen it several times each time I am just amazed.  I’m amazed not at what man built as much as the God who created man and gave him the intellect and ability to create and build.  Once again…God and I agreed…it was very good.

The night crept on, and I looked up again and noticed one very bright star in the southern sky accompanied by a little sister just to its left.  I asked Judy, “I wonder what star that is?”  So, we got on our handy iPhones and looked it up.  It turns out that they were not stars at all but two of the planets that circle our sun…Jupiter and Saturn.  Jupiter was the star of the show by far—pun intended.  Here’s what is really amazing.

The light that I saw coming from Jupiter that night had travelled 43 minutes through space to get to earth.  That may not seem too impressive until you consider the speed of light is 186,000 miles per SECOND. How’s that for a wow? You see, as wonderful as jetliners and space stations are…they pale to what God did all by Himself.  I just had to agree with God again…it is very good.

But Jupiter is just one small planet in our small solar system, that is a small part in our relatively small galaxy called the Milky Way.  And beyond our little galaxy there are millions and millions of galaxies.  What we see with our naked eye is just a fraction of all that is out there.  And all of it exists for one reason and one reason only.  The Bible tells us that the heavens are there to declare the glory of God.  All those stars, solar systems, and galaxies are there to sing the praises of our incredible God.  And He is worth every note and a million, zillion more besides.

Tonight, if the skies are clear, go out and take a peek.  You might see a jetliner streaking across the sky and maybe even the space station, but what you certainly will see is God’s choir singing the praises of their Creator.  Maybe you should join them in a chorus or two.  Oh, and be sure and sing what should be your favorite God song.  It goes something like this, “I can rest in the arms of my Dearest Daddy for He holds me secure.  I can go to sleep tonight knowing He has this…because He does.”  Amen.  Bro. Dewayne

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, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, priorities, Scripture, thankful, Trials

Show a Little Kindness Today

Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Colossians 4:32

I needed to go…and she was right. I served as pastor at Cobden First Baptist Church for fourteen years.  For the first couple of years, we had someone to do the bulletin but that was about it.  After the church grew, we decided to hire a secretary and that was when Lydia came on scene.  When we hired her, she told us that she didn’t have a lot of experience but was willing to learn. Well, my twelve years in the Air Force as an Administrative Specialist made me a pretty good teacher. Before long, Lydia was up and running and she became one of the best secretaries I have ever had.

What Lydia initially lacked in practical experience she more than made up in a heart to help.  When someone came into the office and needed an encouraging word…Lydia was there.  When someone was struggling with life…she was there.  On any given day you could count on her to bring a little sunlight into the office. There was a time, and I don’t remember why, my wife Judy and I were the ones needing that encouragement.  It was a church thing, perhaps an unhappy member, who knows, but we needed that little ray of sunshine.

I can remember it to this day. Judy and I were sitting on the front porch watching the traffic go by. Whatever was on our hearts and mind wasn’t devastating but apparently it was difficult.  I learned a long time ago something doesn’t have to be the end of the world to feel like it.  Well, it felt like it.  It was about 4:30 or 5:00 pm…right before supper time…when a car pulled into our driveway.  It was Lydia.  She had ordered a pizza, made the trip to a nearby town, and was now delivering it…unannounced and unexpected.  Oh, and by the way, it wasn’t just any pizza…it was from our favorite place.  That’s just what she did.

One year for Boss’s Day, she called an Air Force veteran who attended our church.  She knew, of course, that I was an Air Force veteran and she was looking for a pair of aviation sunglasses to give me as a gift. She was just checking to see if he knew where she might get a pair.  As it turned out, he had a pair, new in the box, stored away.  When it came Boss’s Day, she gave me the glasses.  When I opened them…I just couldn’t believe it!  First, it was the perfect gift.  Secondly, and she didn’t know this, nor did he, but there stamped on the box was the date of manufacture which happened to be the month and year I joined the Air Force.  How about that.

There was one more thing that Lydia did that made her special.  She gracefully spoke the truth.  Occasionally I would come into the office and be just a hair grumpy.  I know that is hard to believe (smile) but trust me, it is true.  She knew I needed a little help. Her solution?  Almost without fail she would say, “Bro. Dewayne, you need to go to the nursing home.”  It wasn’t a statement about my age or future she just knew that going to serve someone was a sure-fire fix.  And it always seemed to work.  I would go, I would come back and simply say, “Thank you.”

Judy and I are thankful for many things throughout the many years we served at Cobden.  But near the top of the list is a friend named Lydia.  She would be the first to tell you of her imperfections, but she loved people and she loved Jesus and that was always like a fresh wind. Judy and I will never forget her kindness and the example that she set.  Paul, one of the guys who wrote a big chunk of the New Testament said, “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”  Lydia got that right.

In today’s culture if you look around you will see signs telling us to be kind.  I think that is spot on and I also believe that Christians should be leading the way…just like a Jesus follower named Lydia.  Be kind when you can and guess what?  You always can.  Need a little help? Just ask God. He would be more than happy to point you in the right direction.  You might say, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

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

Dessert or Desert

By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

Hmmm…I said.  I like to talk, and I guess it can be said I like to write.  When I write I love to use words in special ways.  One of those is playing words off one another—using the same word in the same sentence in a different way. I’ve found that I often bump into words that can dramatically change in meaning by changing just one letter.  Here’s an example. First, we have the word dessert.  Now this is one of my favorite words because of all the images that pop into my mind.  In one corner of my brain, a picture of a perfectly prepared pecan pie appears.  Over in another corner is my daughter’s apple crumb pie.  Oh my, is that good!  Wait, over there is my friend Maggie’s fried pecan pies. And then over there is the dessert display case at my favorite local restaurant.  It is filled with pies, cakes, cookies and cream horns.

Well, now that we are all drooling you can almost taste the word dessert.  Even if you are not a fan of sweets, surely it stirred your heart a little.  Now we are going to change just one small letter.  Are you ready?  We are going to go from dessert to desert.  Wait? What?  Yup, just remove one of the “s” in the word and we go from sweets heaven to the Sahara.  We go from visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads to sand…lots of sand.  Now we are not thinking about pleasure but rather pain.  There is not abundance…there is leanness. Just like the word dessert makes our mouth water…desert makes us thirsty.  And it all happens with just one small letter.

What is true with words is also true about birds.  I was reading the other day and it talked about two different kind of birds.  Even though they are radically different, the bottom line is they are still both birds.  Both defy gravity and fly and both have feathers.  One is one (there’s that play on words) of the smallest birds in the world and the other is one of the larger ones. One is tiny and cute and the is large and ugly.  One is a hummingbird and the other is a vulture. Both birds…but both miles apart…just like our words dessert and desert.

One of the ways the birds are different is their eating habits.  The hummingbird spends it’s time zipping around our yard, going from feeder to feeder and flower to flower looking for “dessert.” Their diet consists of nothing but something sweet—nectar.  The vulture, on the other hand, soars overhead.  He could care less about something sweet—he is looking for his next meal too but his is a “desert” or to put it plainly…something dead.  Both are birds, but both are entirely different.  Their differences may seem big, but really they are not.  You might say they are separated by a letter or two.

You know, that is true about us.  We really aren’t that different and yet…we are.  Each one of us is uniquely made by God.  You might say we are each handcrafted by the Master craftsman of it all.  An old children’s song that used to float around the Christian music world said, “Look all the world over, there’s no one like me…no one like me.  Look all the world over, there’s no one exactly like me.” God made each one of us different…on purpose.  What a boring world it would be if we were all the same.

Now my intention when I started writing this story was to say how in our world we should be more like the hummingbird and look for sweetness than the vulture who looks for death and decay.  But as I wrote I realized the bigger truth is that we should just be who we are…and allow others to do the same. Skin color, economic status, music tastes, piercings and tats or not…we are all uniquely made.  I wonder how much better the world would be if we learned to love one another.  I mean after all, the biggest sign that a person is a Jesus follower is not if we go to church but if we love other people.  How about that?

So the next time you are in a bakery…or your backyard…remember that we aren’t as different as we seem.  Rather than judge and criticize, why not go ahead and see people as creations of God. After all,…the Bible does say He loved everybody enough to send His Son to die on a Roman cross…everybody.  And if you happen to know that story…then be sure and spread it around.  It is the best news ever.  And while you’re chatting with that person, be sure and let them know that there is Someone who, no matter what, has it under control.  Tell them that, “He’s got this…no matter what this or that is.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, Scripture, Southern born, travel, Trials

Define “Sandwich”

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4

She thought it was funny.  A long time ago, my family and I were visiting with my sister Kathy and her husband Stann.  They lived way down South in the land of grits and hospitality, and we lived just across the river in Southern Illinois.  We had had a great visit with them but soon it was time for us to head North.  All of my sisters are good cooks…something they must have got from Momma.  They also have good hospitality genes.  When you visit you feel welcomed and when you leave, you know you will be missed.

Well, when it came time for us to leave, Miss Hospitality, kindly made us a lunch.  She said, “I packed y’all some snacks and ham sandwiches so you can stop on the way and have a picnic”.  I remember thinking just how kind that she was.  To go through all that trouble and to save us a few dollars to boot.  So, we loaded up and off we went.  The girls were young, only seven or eight, and Sarah was not even a glimmer in our eyes. We drove and drove and then we drove some more and before long it was time for the big picnic.

If my memory serves me right we stopped at a picnic area on Nickajack Lake just north of the Georgia border and right inside Tennessee.  It was a beautiful place for a great picnic lunch.  My mouth watered as I thought about those delicious ham sandwiches with all the trimmings. And, and my wallet was happy too. McDonald’s wouldn’t be getting my business today…thanks to my kind sister.  Did I mention how nice she was?

Well, we found a parking spot and chose a picnic table near the lake.  Could it be any better?  Well, I’m sure we bowed our heads in prayer, thanking God for the food and for the kindness of the one who made it possible.  Judy passed out the sandwiches and strangely, I didn’t see any fixings.  Hmmm. That was a bit strange.  Nevertheless, I was grateful for the sandwich and I must have been the first to take a bite.  Uh, something was wrong.  Something was missing.

As I bit through the bread, there was no ham…there was no mustard…there was no mayo.  All that lay between the bread was a single piece of paper that read, and I quote, “Ha, Ha, Ha.”  Wait.  What? Well apparently my Southern belle, hospitality laden sister had decided to play a practical joke.  There were no ham sandwiches only meatless, slices of bread.  Strangely, I don’t remember laughing. I only remember mourning the loss of my free lunch. Ha.Ha.Ha.

They say what goes around comes around and all my life I have been a practical joker and this time the joke was on me and my dear hungry wife and two precious, little hungry daughters.  I guess the winner of the day was McDonald’s who ended up with my $6.75 after all.  While I don’t remember laughing, I’m glad I don’t remember being mad either.  In fact, I am sure that before long (but after a visit to McDonald’s), we were all laughing and couldn’t wait to call my sister when we got home.

As we journey through life we are going to have a lot of opportunities to either laugh or well, get mad.  Can I suggest, may I encourage you, us, to do the latter and not the former?  Too often we allow the fire of the moment to burn some valuable bridges.  I can imagine a nasty phone call with words of regret and then days, weeks and months of silence from a broken relationship.  Crazier things have happened, trust me.  But gratefully, that wasn’t the way this story ended.  In fact, I wonder if Kathy even remembers this. I do and it makes me smile.

Paul, the guy who wrote a lot of the New Testament, sitting in a Roman prison with NO ham sandwiches said, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” Well spoken, Paul, well spoken. So tomorrow or the next day, if you hit a bump, try to remember to smile and not frown.  If someone decides to pull a joke at your expense, go ahead and extend a little grace and a smile. When you do, if you do—you can be sure the Father is smiling too.  And no matter what, as always, He’s 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, 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, 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, forgiveness, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, Scripture, thankful, travel, Trials

Night and Day

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

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

One man’s way of packing is another woman’s dump, stuff and close.  Judy and I have been married for 46 years.  In case you are wondering that is 552 months (give or take a few days) and 16,831 sunrises and sunsets.  It has been an incredible journey that has been marked by a few bumps and a whole lot of good times.  You might ask, “So what’s the secret?”  Well, I am sure there are several.  We both are Jesus followers though she is a lot better at it than I am.  We are both committed to our marriage—she would kill me if I even thought of leaving.  And, honesty, she is a really, classy lady. With that being said, I can tell you one reason that didn’t make the list.  We are alike.

Nope, ain’t gonna happen, you gotta be kidding me.”  In fact, we are pretty “unalike” in several ways.  She is definitely more optimistic.  In fact, she is so optimistic that for her it’s not a matter of the glass being half-full or empty—she doesn’t even need a glass.  Me, well, not so much.  I need to analyze and rationalize.  Judy thrives around people.  Put her a room of strangers and she is a like a pinball game going from person to person—sharing, chatting, and laughing.  Me, well, I head to the nearest wall and lean.  If I can find one person to talk with—I’m good.

On the other side of the coin, I am organized.  Go to my office, either at home or work, and you will find a neat and tidy desk.  A place for everything and everything it is place.  Go into Judy’s office and you might have a difficult time finding the desk.  I am generally a focused person.  If there is a task to do, I sit down and get it done.  If the house is on fire, that will have to wait until I am done.  Judy would probably not notice the house was on fire and if she did notice, she would immediately begin visiting with the firemen.

Now you probably need to know that Judy suggested this story.  We are leaving for vacation soon. Can someone say “YAY”? That foray will cause us to have to pack our luggage.  Now given what you know, here’s how it will go.  I will take my suitcase, lay everything out on the bed, carefully fold and sort each item, and then assign them a specific place in the luggage.  I will overpack because you never know what you might need.  When I get done the suitcase will look like a clothing file cabinet—neatly packed.

Judy, on the other hand, has a different technique.  She, too, will place her luggage either on the bed or floor. She too will probably overpack because you never know what you will need, however, that’s where the similarity ends.  She will then proceed to dump her clothes, shoes, etc., in the bag, on the bag, and anywhere near the bag.  Then she will begin to heap and pile the clothes in the hopes that the thing will close when she is done.  It’s a fifty-fifty chance.  She may call in reinforcements (me) if needed but that is always a last resort.

Like I said, in many ways we are not alike.  But, with that said, that is not a weakness, it is a strength. Where I am weak, she is strong and vice versa.  We have learned (and are still learning) that the power of a team lies in loving, sharing, working together and yes, forgiving.  Oh, and I also have learned the power of two incredibly powerful words, “Yes, dear.”  No, that would be “I’m sorry.” In Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 it says, “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.” You can take that to the bank.

There’s one more thing that is quite interesting. In our 16,831 days of marriage, we have shared 14,615 of those as a team working together in vocational ministry.  I am certain that without Judy, and all the ways we are different, we would not have seen all the amazing things God has done.  It is a story of love, grace, loyalty, and friendship.  Now before you gag yourself and throw up, know that we definitely don’t always get it right.  But there is one thing you can take it to the bank.  The Bible says that we are fearful and wonderfully [and let me add differently] made.  Someone once said if you and your spouse are alike then one of you isn’t necessary.  Hmmm.

So, there you go.  I hope today’s big truth, that it is more than ok to be different, will strengthen your resolve and commitment in your marriage. But I think it works at work, at church, and even with your neighbors.  And when the frustration begins to build, like the next time he or she doesn’t pack the way you do, remember this—hang tight because both of you will get to the same place in the end.  And if it gets really hard—just go and sit with your Dearest Father and rest.  He’ll whisper some things like “let it go—it doesn’t matter how they pack it just matters that you keep traveling together.” And you will say, “Oh yeah…that’s right.”  And He will remind you once again that, it’s ok because…He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

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

It Was an Accident

Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a person sows he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7

I am sure the doctor just rolled his eyes.  When I was eleven or twelve, you know about sixth grade, my Daddy and Momma got me one of the coolest Christmas presents ever.  Most of you have seen the movie “A Christmas Story” about a kid who wanted a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Well, this story isn’t like that, but it’s about something even better than a Red Ryder BB gun.  That year, wait for it, they got me a Daisy double-barrel BB gun.  It was designed after a real double-barrel shotgun.  It had two barrels (you probably figured that out), two triggers, and even broke in the middle to cock it. It was amazing.

I can remember going outside to shoot that gun…there was not another one like it in the whole neighborhood.  I wish I could tell you how well I took care of it…especially since, if you can find one now, they would sell for well over a thousand dollars.  But honestly, it was well used, and under cared for, and one day one of the barrels stopped working.  Well, I always enjoyed fixing things, so I just started taking things apart to work on it.  I figured out that the left barrel wasn’t working.  So, I took the “BB thingy” inside the barrel out, cleaned it really good, oiled it, and then stuck it back in.

After I put everything back together, I cocked the gun and pulled the trigger, but as far as I could tell it still wasn’t working.  I decided that I would put my finger over the bad barrel to see if I could feel any air coming out.  Now, I know that sounds like a really, bad idea, and it was.  I know it was not smart or safe.  I know it was just pure old dumb.  But, regardless, I did it.  I sure wish I hadn’t.

Well, things wouldn’t have been so bad because as it turns out the barrel wasn’t working.  The problem was that I had my finger over the wrong barrel and pulled the wrong trigger and as I squeezed that trigger, the gun fired, and a BB went right into my finger…clear to the bone.  Oh, and yes, that was a dumb idea, and yes, it did hurt…boy, did it hurt.

I put the gun down and ran into the house holding my throbbing and bleeding third finger on my right hand.  Momma didn’t have time to give me a lecture or even holler at me.  We headed straight to the emergency room.  After checking in we saw the doctor who when he heard the story gave me that, “what a really a dumb idea” look. After numbing things up, he proceeded to dig around with a medical tweezer until he found the BB, got ahold of it and pulled it out.  Shot or no shot—it hurt.  I got a nice bandage and the opportunity to make a story up on what happened.  I wasn’t about to tell the truth…that was way too embarrassing.

If you look on my right hand and at my ring finger you can still see to this day a nice little dimple where the BB went into my finger.  It is there to remind me not to stick my finger over the barrel of a BB gun…or any gun for that matter.  It is there to remind me that there are consequences when we choose dumb over smart, or wrong over right.  It reminds me of that part of the Bible that says the rules of God are always right…whatever you plant, you harvest.  Do dumb and you get dumb consequences…every time.

I hope this Grits will help me and you both to think before we act…you know, to think things through.  Fortunately, God is more than ready to help us make the right decisions if we are willing to ask.  Uh, I didn’t ask that day and when we just don’t get around to doing that…well, He is still there to help us deal with the consequences too.  I’m glad He’s not like the doctor, rolling His eyes at my mistakes.  No, He is too loving to do that.  In fact, if you listen, you will hear Him say, “Don’t worry, dumb or not, I’ve got this.”  Bro. Dewayne