Posted in Father's Day, friends, Grace, life, love, loving others, Military memories, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, Trials

Thanks, Daddy…and Momma

Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise.” Ephesians 6:1-2

This Sunday is Father’s Day, and it causes me to remember.  These days, I think it happens somewhere around a person’s 11th birthday. But back when I was a boy about to become a young man, it happened when I was 13 or 14.  When you are younger it seems you notice more of the things that Daddy and Momma’s do.  You appreciate the fact that that they do the ordinary things…the everyday things.

Things like washing clothes and cooking supper.  Things like ironing your shirts and cleaning the house.  Things like taking you fishing after a long day at work and teaching you the value of work.  Things like providing a place for you to sleep at night and knowing you were safe.  And, yes, things like showing you what two married people are supposed to look like…live like.

However, right before you take the leap into your teen years, something happens.  Suddenly enough is not enough.  Suddenly you know more—especially more than your parents.  Then you spend more than a few years not being appreciative, but rather telling them and anyone who would listen how hard things are “where I live.”  The fact that it was the sixties and seventies didn’t help.  It seemed that everyone around me was doing their own thing but all I could do was my Daddy’s thing.  Whatever he said, went, and that’s just the way it was. And yes, what Momma said went too.

When I was eighteen and stepped onto a plane to fly to basic training in the Air Force something began to click.  The things that Daddy taught me began to make sense.  All those “yes, sirs” and “yes, ma’am’s” that the Air Force required came easy for me because that’s the way I was raised.  When the call came to “get up, get up,” well that came easy too because I had a Daddy and a Momma who thought I didn’t need to lay in bed all day.  And going to work…second nature.  My Daddy demonstrated that year after year and by example taught me a strong work ethic.

Largely because of the times they said, “Because I said so” and set boundaries and enforced them, well, I’ve never woke up with a hangover, never spent a night (or an hour) in jail and have never been fired from a job. As I look back from my six and a half decades viewpoint (uh, plus three for good measure), I realize that my two incredible parents were right after all.  And I may, no I didn’t, appreciate it at the time but they saved me from a lot of regrets and consequences.

It is safe to say that time changes our viewpoint and as I sit here today mashing keys and writing, I realize just how blessed I have been.  My Daddy was quite the ordinary guy, but that is exactly what made him extraordinary.  He wasn’t perfect and gratefully he didn’t expect me to be either, but he did teach me respect for him and for others.  For 46 years I have respected the woman I am married to because he taught me to respect my Momma.  He (with a lot of help from God) helped me be the man I am today and for that I will be eternally grateful.

God chose to take my Daddy to heaven when I was only twenty years old…before he could meet my wife, my kids, and their kids.  I remember the summer Sunday morning we found him in bed. Sometime in the early, early morning he had slipped away from us and made the trek to heaven.  I’m glad I will see him again someday.  I’m not sure how all of this works but maybe, just maybe I will get to introduce him to my sweet wife and family.  What a day that will be for sure.

So, thanks Daddy, and Momma, for all you did for me…for the love and the sacrifices you made for me and the rest of the tribe.  And Grits family, remember to honor your father and mother, just like God says in His word.  It’s the first command with a promise and I promise you won’t regret it.  And, if you find that hard because of some very difficult memories and scars left from actions best not done, or words best not spoken, try and reach into God’s grace bucket and sling some around.  If you are a Jesus follower, your Dearest Daddy in heaven would like that and He’s even willing to help. As always, He’s got that…and this. Bro. Dewayne

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

Faith and Shifting Sand

God is not a man, that He might lie, or a son of man, that He might change His mind.” Numbers  23:19a

Well, I just don’t understand it.  You know, there are somethings in this world that just don’t make sense.  You probably have noticed that we seem to be in the middle of some kind of financial crisis.  Inflation is inflating to the tune of eight or nine percent.  Can someone say ouch? And then there is this whole gas thing.  As I write this gas is about $5.30 per gallon.  Can someone say double ouch? It is hard to believe that just two years ago when we were doing the pandemic thing gas was about $1.52 and we said we just couldn’t believe it.  Well, go figure.  And the amazing part is that we are all driving as much as we did when it was cheaper.  Those guys with the big pickup trucks with big engines are still putting the pedal all the way down. It’s like gas is free.  What?

And then of course there is the shortage thing.  They are saying it has to do with supply and demand.  Well, if that is true somebody needs to start demanding more supplies.  Things that used to be so common, so easy to get, are outta here.  I’m telling you it just doesn’t make sense.  In a time of precedented happenings, life just seeming to be going on like before.  The restaurants are full, the store shelves are empty, and no one seems to be in a panic.  In fact, in at least one instance they seem to be celebrating. Yup…it’s true.

I’ve just about given up watching the news, but when I do they will sometimes show this scene from Wall Street.  It occurs at the end of the day, and it shows about fifteen or so people on this platform and it is their job to ring the bell calling for an end of the trading day.  So, the other day, when the stock market had fallen nearly 1,000 points there were people there and as they rang the bell, they were cheering like madmen (or women).  They were yipping and yelling like they had just won the lottery.   Big smiles and grins filled their faces.  It’s like they didn’t even know what had just happened.

Well, it turns out no matter what happens on any given day, these folks, and it is always different folks, get up there and do this madman (or woman) celebration.  I’ve concluded it has nothing to do with the market…they are just glad to ring the bell.  Maybe it is because the day and damage is done or maybe it is because they made a ton of money.  All I know is it sure is confusing.  It sends this crazy mixed-up message and I’m left scratching my head. Good or bad? Happy or sad? Who’s knows?

So what do you do in a world that often doesn’t make a lot of sense? That’s a fair question. To be honest, there are times these days when I don’t know exactly what to do or say.  I want to complain but that isn’t going to help.  I want to whine but that doesn’t change anything.  I want to get mad sometimes but, well, what good does that do?  I think the right thing is stay the course and to believe and trust…in God.  I mean even if you aren’t a God person maybe today would be a good day to give it a try!  Everything around us is shifting and sinking—maybe we should try something different.

I’ve been on my personal Jesus journey for more than a few decades.  I’ve seen the mountain tops and I’ve trudged through my share of valleys and the one constant has been God.  I don’t always understand but I have found that even when I don’t…He is faithful. The Bible, the oldest and most reliable of sacred writings, tells us that God is not a man, that He might lie, or a son of man, that He might change His mind. I know that might seem a bit extreme if you are not a believer and I get that.  But don’t these extreme times call for something extreme…like faith?

I’m not sure what the price of gas will be in a week. I’m not even sure there will be bread on the shelf, but I am sure that no matter what my Dearest Daddy in heaven will be the same…good, faithful and trustworthy.  I’m sure that no matter what, He will be there, the Whisperer whispering, “Don’t worry son, I’ve got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, gratitude, life, love, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, travel

Enjoy the Journey

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

It just depends.  Last year, my wife Judy and I returned from a trip out west.  It was a trip that would involve flying and driving.  It was also a trip with one purpose…to get away, to relax, and to enjoy.  It is not uncommon for us to take a trip and encounter some less than perfect weather.  We have learned to say, “Oh well, at least we’re still away.” Away…that’s a good thing.  You see, the purpose of a journey can often determine the success of the journey.  Set your sights too high and too narrow and you will often find frustration and stress.

Let me explain.  The first leg of our journey was simple…get to Colorado as quickly as possible.  Because that was the goal…we flew.  Also, because that was the goal every delay caused me to have a stressful moment.  Long check-in, stress.  Long security, frustration.  Flight delay, double both.  You see, the point was to get there…not to enjoy the journey.  When I was much younger, just the thought of getting to fly was exciting.  I would always ask for the window seat so I could watch the world go by.  The joy was the journey, but now, alas, it is just a means to get somewhere, and the wonder and joy have slipped away.

Leg two of the journey was different.  It was a hybrid of experiences. Renting a new and different car to drive, driving in a new part of the world, and going at a pace that better enabled us to enjoy it. Usually. But honestly, there was still a battle to be fought…an alligator to be wrestled to the earth.  I had to determine if the destination was the goal…or was it the journey?  I mean I know that there is always a destination but if that becomes obsessive, the joy quickly slips away.  It was my call—enjoy the journey or race to the destination.

You see, if I am racing to the destination, then put me on an interstate highway where the roads are wide, and the speed limit is high.  Out in Wyoming, the speed limit on the interstate was 80 mph…Katie bar the door.  Oh, and those long, straight two-lane roads—yup, 75 mph.  That fit my destination minded mindset just fine, thank you.  But then there were the times that we were in the Rocky Mountains on a curvy, mountain road just driving.  There really wasn’t a place we had to be—we were just driving and that changed everything.  If there was a slower driver in front…that was fine. We would just sit back and enjoy the scenery as it slid by the windows.  The journey was the destination and joy was the result.

But here is what I discovered.  As soon as there was a “gotta be there” destination and mindset then that same road and that same slow driver became a stress point.  The only thing that changed was the pressure to get there.  That same scenery was an ignored blur as the only thing that mattered was looking for a passing zone so I could get there—wherever there happened to be.  The end of the day often told the story—tired and stressed or refreshed and blessed—the way I traveled seemed to make all the difference.

There will always be a destination to get to and there will always be slower drivers and unexpected obstacles to keep us from getting there, but joy in the journey changes everything.  Jesus knew that His destination was a Roman cross, but He never let the that stop Him from enjoying the day and loving those around Him.  He loved the joy of the journey.  I can just imagine Him smiling as He changed the life of a leper or blessed a small child…all joy in the journey.  Paul, one of the guys who wrote a large part of the New Testament, said, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”  In other words, have joy in the journey…no matter what that journey looks like.  He did that really well.

So, when you find yourself on a winding, two-lane road, enjoy the journey.  Take a moment to watch the beauty around you slide by the windows.  See what God has allowed to come into your world that day and the destination will come soon enough.  And when you find yourself backed into a rushed corner, there’s a couple of things you can do.  First, plan a little better when you can and then use that extra time to talk to the Father about that day or maybe relax in Him because, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, gratitude, Integrity, life, love, loving others, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful, wisdom

Writing Every Day

Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts. Numbers 90:12

It wouldn’t cut soft butter today but back then it was cutting edge. I’m a tech guy.  I loved the newest and greatest technology.  When a new something comes out, if I’m not careful, I am on my way to grab one.  Of course, the funny part is it usually ends up sitting around somewhere.  Even my iPhone is mad because of the hours it sits on the counter—unloved and unattended.  Frequently I have to apologize for not returning a call or not answering a text…not because I’m ignoring a person—I’m ignoring my phone.

This love affair with tech began when I was a kid. When it came time for Christmas, I would browse the Sears catalogue and dream of the cool gifts that might come my way. And somehow, Momma and Daddy, with a little help from Santa, would pull it off.  Of course, sometimes they surprised me.  It would have been Christmas of, oh, 1966 and I received something totally unexpected and totally cool. It was a small, battery powered, portable reel-to-reel tape recorder.  This was before eight-tracks, before cassettes…before anything.  The size of large book, it gave me the ability to record something and play that something back.

One time I took my recorder to my grandparent’s house in Gainesville, Florida.  My grandfather (there was no “Papa” with him) was talking with my Daddy and was even telling a joke.  I decided to start the recorder and record what they were saying. Sure enough it worked and later, I played the tape for everyone, and we all marveled at the ability for something so small to do that.  But here is the amazing part.  Somewhere in my stuff, is a small reel of tape and on that tape is my grandfather and my Daddy’s voices…probably one of the few recordings to exist.  Even though they are gone…their voices live on.

Their.Voices.Live.On.  Think about that for just a moment.  Both of these men who influenced me so much have long since passed away. But through technology their voices can still be heard.  Oh, I know it is not a big deal now but back then…it was so unusual and that makes the recording valuable.  They are, if you will, speaking from the grave.

In one of those moments of clarity, I recently realized that I too, one day, will speak from the grave.  My life, my actions, my priorities, my values, sermons I have preached, and stories I have written, will all be left behind and all will speak.  And I wonder…what will they say of me and what will they say of who I was?  When my great grandchildren hear the stories of their great Papa, will those stories be stories worthy to share? Will the words encourage them to live right and do right, or leave them scratching their head like a batter thrown a good curve ball on a hot Saturday afternoon? We should all hope to leave a story that is worth telling…one that brings some light and laughter into their world.

There is a verse I keep coming back to time and again.  Moses wrote it thousands of years ago and yet is as fresh as today’s news.  He asked God to help him number his days that he could gain a wise heart.  He wasn’t asking for his math to be accurate when he counted birthdays.  No, he was asking that he be wise enough to make the most, the very most, of every single day.

Legacy.  It is a great word, and we are all leaving one.  The only question is, “What kind will it be?” That is up to us.  Five days a week I write a story but in reality…I write one everyday…and so do you.  Let’s be sure to write one worth telling.  Fortunately, there is a publisher who is all about helping us and if we are Jesus followers, we call Him Dearest Daddy.  He is more than willing to help us write a best seller…after all, that’s just one more thing He does.  He’s got that too.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, gratitude, Holidays, Integrity, life, love, loving others, Memorial Day, Military memories, prayer, priorities, Scripture, thankful, USA

Memorial and More

Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds expressed in your evil actions. But now He has reconciled you by His physical body through His death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him.” Colossians 1:21-22

It was a moment I will probably never forget.  My wife and I love adventures.  We look for ways to do things on a limited budget and we’ve actually gotten pretty good at it.  A few years back we discovered we could take a train from Carbondale to Chicago, stay downtown at a nice hotel for a couple of nights and enjoy whatever was happening around us…all on a shoestring budget. We would usually go around Memorial Day or the Fourth of July.  It was pretty awesome.

Several years ago we went the week of the 4th.  We grabbed a very nice hotel room and managed to snag a room that literally faced the fireworks display.  It was awesome.  At Millennium Park they have these incredible free outdoor concerts.  Thousands of people from all walks of life gather on the large lawn to listen.  Because it is the 4th, they share a lot of patriotic music. They usually have a section where they honor the veterans by asking them to stand when the theme for their branch of the service is played.

I am a veteran.  I served in the United States Air Force for 12 years and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. And that’s the problem.  You see, because it was so rewarding, I always felt awkward standing to be honored because I felt like I received so much more than I gave.  So that night, I knew that part of the concert was coming, and I was dreading it.  I knew that Judy would urge me to stand, I would say no, and she would give me the look.  Again.  But that night, for some reason, something changed.

It was time.  The stirring songs from each branch of the service began playing.  Soon, the Air Force theme was playing.  I looked at Judy and said, “I’m going to stand just for you.”  As I stood something happened.  First, I saw others standing that had served in the Air Force and I felt community…I stopped feeling apart and instead felt a part—a part of the family.  But what happened next was amazing.

There was a mother with a couple of young boys sitting about eight or ten feet from me.  The younger of her sons, probably seven or eight, looked at me and said this, “Mom, is he a hero?”  And I watched and listened as she said, “Yes.  He served our country so that we can be free.”  Then she turned to me and mouthed the words, “Thank you for serving.” Well, that was the highlight of the trip for me, and it was the day an unexplainable wall fell.

I am certain that I do not deserve the title hero.  The men and women with crosses over their graves in all the national cemeteries deserve that.  The warriors who came back from the various wars and conflicts bearing the physical and emotional scars of war deserve that.  But the one thing that I realized that night was that we should be thankful for our freedom.  We can and should honor each person who served for their willingness and sacrifice.

I’m still shy about standing at Veteran’s Day events.  I still feel awkward at concerts when veterans are asked to stand.  But it’s not because I’m ashamed to say I served. No, it is because I received more than I could ever give back.  I was privileged to wear the uniform of my country.  And that is pretty awesome.  But wait. There’s more.

As I write this story another one is stirring in my heart.  It flashed in my mind that this isn’t the only time, the only circumstance, that makes me feel this way.  It is also my faith in God.  That day when I followed Christ, I also received more than I could ever give back. That day I was welcomed into the family of a God who loved me enough to give His Son to a Roman cross.  Paul in the Bible tells us that we went from being alienated and hostile toward God to being able to call Him Father. Jesus caused my billion failures to disappear so He could present me faultless and blameless to His Father.

We all need heroes.  This Memorial Day would you take the time to remember those who bled and died that we could be free?  Would you take your kids to the cemetery for your community’s Memorial Day service?  I hope that you will.  But I also hope you will pause and thank the Hero of Heaven for sacrificing His life so that people like you and me can be truly free.  And finally, next time you have the opportunity to stand not as a hero but because of the One, stand proudly and thank Him.  Thank Him that you can rest in Him.  Thank you because He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

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

A Bad Idea–But God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in forgiveness, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, Military memories, priorities, Southern born, thankful, Trials, wisdom

Busted Again

Do not love the world [its ways, its principles] or the things in the world. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.” 1 John 2:15-16

You know, some folks are just slow learners.  My time in Minot was short—from October to April—but filled with memories.  The base was about 20 miles from town and only a couple of guys had cars. We would load up and drive into town at negative twenty degrees with all the windows down to play “freeze out.” We would see how long we could stand the cold.   The radio would be blaring John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads.”  Hey, there wasn’t a lot to do—especially in Minot in the dead of winter.

So, as a southern boy, this cold weather stuff was all new to me.  Some things I just couldn’t get the hang of.  One of those was walking on ice.  Now I had been walking since I was about 18 months old.  The difference was up in Minot you must learn to walk on ice.  The winter of 1972-73 was a great opportunity to do so. I was able to go home for Christmas. I was dreaming of a green and not white Christmas.  Up until that time it had been cold, but we had very little snow.  That was kinda unusual—especially for Minot.

Well, while I was home for Christmas they had a whopper snow —and I’m not talking about Burger King.  Something like two feet of snow fell.  But what happened after the snow was chilling—literally.  It melted…all of it.  Somehow it got well above freezing for a week or so which melted the snow and then it happened.  The temperature plunged to below zero and stayed there.  Forever.

What was left behind were vast sheets of ice.  Everywhere you looked or walked there was ice.  I didn’t have a car which meant I had to walk to and from work.  So, I would put on my arctic parka, my arctic gloves, pull my arctic hood up and take a hike. I would walk one way going and another way coming.  Going to work was not a deal.  I managed to make it without falling…or at least not multiple times.  Going home?  Well, that’s a different story.

About halfway there I would have to walk around the corner of a building.  So, off I go.  I get to this corner and not paying attention, stepped onto a sheet of ice. Bam.  In two seconds flat—I was flat on my back.  Because of the parka nothing was damaged except my pride.  Score one for the ice.  Day two.  I’m walking home and come to the exact same spot.  I eye the ice and ever so carefully step on it and in two seconds flat I am flat on my back.  Bummer.  I crawl back upright, making sure no one is watching, and press on.

Day three. I get to the corner for the third time.  I know the ice is there.  In fact, we’ve become close friends.  I gingerly step on the ice…nothing happens.  As I take my second step and in two seconds -I am flat on my back.  Excuse me?  Is this Ground Hog Day or what?  Anyway, for the third time I crawl off the ice and head on back to the dorm.  By this time more than my pride was bruised.

I know what you are thinking. Why don’t you take a different path?  Why did you keep doing the same thing and expecting different results?  The answer is…I don’t have a clue.  Thought I could beat it? Thought it was closer? Thought if I fell enough, I would break the ice before it broke me?  I don’t know.  I was stubborn. I was a slow learner. I was doing the same thing and expecting different results.

Isn’t that what we do in life?  Don’t we journey along and come to a decision point and fall flat? Don’t we sometimes do it again on Day 2? Day 3?  You know, walking on ice is one thing.  However, flirting with disaster, the kind that has big regrets and bigger consequences, is another. God knows this and tells us not to fall in love with the world—its ways, its principles, its stuff.  Remember your momma saying, don’t date someone you don’t want to marry?  Same principle.  Flirt with the world, date the world and you’ll end up marrying the world.

John—the guy in the Bible—says in 1 John 2:16, “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.” When you say, “I do” with the world you end up with twins—regrets and consequences. Life is harder…a lot harder.  Harder than walking on ice.

So, I finally did take a different route. They say that three times is a charm.  It took me four, but I did learn.  On day four…I didn’t fall. I didn’t fall on day five either. In fact, I don’t remember falling again.  Why? I didn’t go that way. I chose a different route and that route, that path, had different consequences—better consequences.

They also say that three strikes and you are out.  True in baseball but fortunately it isn’t true with God. He keeps picking us up, dusting us off and helping us find the right path—one with less ice.  When I fell, I would quickly look to make sure no one was watching.  When we fall in life, we can rest assured Someone is watching…our Abba Father.  He’s got is His eye on us. So, be careful out there it can be icy but don’t worry, you aren’t alone.  He’s always there. Rest in Him knowing He will be there to pick you up.  After all, He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

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

Playing Army

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remembering Momma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Forget!

Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13b-14 

I forgot the most important thing.  It was the fall of 1976.  My wife Judy and I were newlyweds and life was good.  Oh, and for the record…smile…here we are 46 years later, and life is well…good. I got a call from my oldest brother Reggie who asked if I wanted to go squirrel hunting and could I find a place for us to go. I told him sure and a good friend who had a good place to go squirrel hunting said sure too. So, we picked a Saturday and set a time. 

Since the really good place was east of Valdosta where Judy and I lived and since he lived in Jacksonville, we agreed to meet at the hunting place.  So, I left early and he, having to drive even further, left earlier and at the appointed hour, we both arrived. I love it when a plan comes together. The sun was just about to say good morning when we got out of our cars.  It turns out squirrels are early risers so the best time for hunting is early, and we were early.  I love it when a plan comes together. 

After a “good morning” and “how are you doing”, we both went to our cars to get our weapons.  I recently learned from a friend that guns are not called guns they are either firearms or weapons.  The Navy does the same thing with boats and ships.  Anyway, as I got to my car and popped the trunk, I reached in to get my gun, weapon or firearm and…wait for it…it wasn’t there.  At first, I thought in the dim light of dim I just wasn’t seeing it so I prodded and poked around and guess what?  The hunter had forgotten the most important thing…his gun, weapon or firearm. 

I was so embarrassed.  My brother was one of those African safari kind of hunters.  He had his hunting vest, his gun, weapon or firearm, a knife and on and on.  He looked the part and there I stood with no gun, weapon, or firearm.  I didn’t even have a knife.  So, I told him apparently in the rush to be on time I had left the most important thing behind.  We groaned, we moaned and then we laughed.  After all, it was funny.  So, with two hunters and one gun, weapon or firearm, off we went into the woods.  And all morning, I followed quietly behind my brother as he shot squirrels and I watched. 

You might be wondering exactly how does a guy who is going hunting forget the tool of the trade…the gun, weapon or firearm.  Well, the best I can figure the answer probably has to do with priorities.  You see, I can only imagine that I was running a little late that morning and at the moment being on time (which for the record is important) caused me to rush and leave my gun, weapon or firearm behind.  In other words, the important took the place of the most important…the urgent overrode the most urgent. And, I have the feeling, it happens way too often. 

All of us have things that are important and most of us have a most important thing.  Paul, the guy who wrote a bunch of the New Testament said that there was one thing he did.  In other words, this one is important, and do you know what it was?  Forgetting the past and looking to the future.  Now that is a good one.  You see, he knew he had a past worth forgetting and a future worth grabbing ahold of and that was what made it important. 

So, what is it in your life that you need to bump up to the top?  Chances are it can’t be bought at a store or rented from Rent One.  Chances are it involves those that you love the most and the ones who love you most.  Don’t wait to figure this one out.  Time is ticking by and there is not a minute to lose.  If you find yourself at a loss, well, there is someone just waiting to help. He is really good at lending clarity for our priorities if we ask. To some He is just God but to others He is Dearest Daddy.  Regardless, He loves you and is waiting to help you.  No doubt about it…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne