Posted in Family, fear, forgiveness, Grace, life, Scripture, Southern born, Trials

Dumb…..Real Dumb

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

I’m 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 shot gun.  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 real 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 right 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

Posted in Family, fear, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials, wisdom

Sunrise and Sunset

It will soon be time for me to leave this life. I have fought a good fight. I have finished the work I was to do. I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:6-7

It was a warm North Florida Sunday morning that would change everything.  I was raised in Jacksonville, Florida and was fortunate to live in one place and one house all of my growing up years.  Our house was a converted World War II army barracks with a couple of rooms added on.  I’m not sure who moved it there, or who added what, but it was home…my home. I lived there till I graduated from high school and joined the Air Force. My Daddy had some heart issues while I was still in high school and unfortunately, they went from bad to worse.  This was before all the miraculous medicines and surgeries that we have now. So, times were hard for him…and us.

In the summer of 1974, somehow it came about that we, the family, would get together and paint the house.  It was a wooden structure, and time and weather had taken a toll on the outside.  The old wood siding looked pretty rough, and as I remember it, Daddy said he wanted to have the house painted before he died.  Now that is my memory, and it may not be entirely accurate but something like that is how we ended up painting the house in mid-July.  Several, if not all, the brothers were on hand as we scraped and painted the house.  I don’t know if my sisters were painters or not, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were.

As darkness crept up on us on Saturday, July 13th, the house was just about painted.  We worked until nearly dark and finally, it was done.  It looked amazingly better and Daddy and the rest of us were proud of our hard work.  Daddy did little, if any, of the painting because of his health.  But there was something he did do.  Several of the wooden windows needed the panes reglazed, so he was working on those.  We had a wash-room built onto the house and he was working on that window when darkness fell Saturday evening.

The next morning, Sunday, July 14th, Momma when in to check on Daddy in the bedroom they shared. That was when she found that sometime early in the morning, he slipped from us. I clearly remember the chaos of those moments as we called the ambulance and tried to perform CPR, but it was too late.  Daddy was gone. All of a sudden, those last days of working and painting together became so important, so special.  We had pulled together and given Daddy one of his desires.  It is almost like he was waiting for the job to be done so he could go home.

Later that day, as we were trying to figure everything out, someone found that window he had been working on the night before.  It was laying on two sawhorses with a rag and his tools still in place.  As it turned out, it was the last work he did on this earth.  Someone snapped a picture but as far as I know it has been lost to time, but in my mind I can see it as clearly as if I was standing there.  Daddy’s work on this earth was over and yet he lives on.  He lives on in heaven and he lives on in our hearts.  The freshly painted old World War II barracks was a reminder of our love and respect for the man we called Daddy.

All of that was 47 years ago today.  It is hard to imagine that so much time has passed since he passed from this world into a better world…a world where bad hearts have no place and where time doesn’t matter.  One day, because of God’s good grace, I will see my Daddy again.  My Momma joined him in heaven just four short years later…both were just 62 years old.  But when I get there, when we get there, all that won’t matter because God is going to make it all right…all new.

I supposed the whole purpose of this Grits is just to allow me to relive a good memory of a good man.  I suppose it is just to help me make sure that his memory lives on here, as he lives on there.  And I suppose the big truth for this Grits is that we should live each day to the fullest and do whatever it is we should do.  It might be painting a house, or glazing a window, or it just might be showing someone that you love them.  We don’t know what day will be our last day, so we should live each one to the fullest. Then, we can say something like Paul said when he wrote, “It will soon be time for me to leave this life. I have fought a good fight. I have finished the work I was to do. I have kept the faith.” And my friend, that is a legacy worth leaving.

Losing my daddy at twenty years old was hard, very hard. Then mama was gone, just four short years later, which left me feeling they were both gone too soon.  For some of you, that hardness is yet to come.  But from the voice of experience, let me say, you don’t have to walk it alone.  When you are drowning in the sea of sorrow and confusion, He will not leave you to bear it alone. He wants to walk with you, carry you, and whisper as only He can, “I’ve got this.” And He does. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, food, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, Scripture, Southern born, Trials

Scars and Souvenirs

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose., I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” Romans 8:28

I was probably nine years old when it happened.  If you look at my hands you will see several scars.  Over here is one from an “exacto” knife when I was putting together a car model.  Over there is one from a car accident.  I was riding with my brother-in-law and the car in front of him decided to stop and he decided not to.

There is one on my right thumb—its the one that has been there for the last 55 years.  We were visiting with my Uncle Hardy down near Chiefland, Florida.  He was mom’s brother and the city manager of that small central Florida town.  They had an annual Watermelon Festival that included all the melon you could eat and an opportunity to ride on the back of the city’s garbage truck in the parade.  That was a big deal.  I didn’t get out much.

There are two things that Uncle Hardy had that impacted my life. One was a hairline that didn’t include much hair.  Thanks Uncle Hardy.  The other was a fish camp on the Suwannee River.  It was an old Florida cabin with a tin roof, the kind legends are born from, at least for a nine-year-old.  We would take boat rides, swim in the river, and eat watermelon. And that’s where “a scar was born.”

We were eating watermelon and I picked up a large butcher knife to slice off the watermelon from the rind.  I didn’t have a lot of experience with butcher knives, but I was feeling a little like “Indiana Jones” so I picked it up.  Like I said, I didn’t have a lot of experience, so I began slicing the watermelon pulling the knife toward me and my little nine-year-old hand. My dad saw it and said, “Dewayne.  Be careful with the knife. Don’t pull it toward you—push it away”.

Well, when you are nine and know it all, and you’re feeling like Indiana Jones you don’t listen to your Daddy or common sense. So I kept right on slicing and then it happened.  I got a little too close to my hand and neatly sliced a half-moon cut in my thumb.  Well, so much for Indiana Jones.  There was the usual holler, a bit of tears, a daddy’s “I told you so,” a big bandage, a little embarrassment, and the makings of a scar.

It healed fine, leaving a scar and a gentle reminder.  When you are using a knife don’t pull it toward you…push it away.  Daddy was right.  There is only one scar on my hand from using a knife incorrectly. That is because every time I am tempted to do it wrong, the scar on my right thumb says don’t.  And now the scar has become a sort of souvenir. When I see it I don’t remember the pain, the tears or the embarrassment, I remember the lesson.

How about you?  Have any scars…visible or invisible?  When you see them or think about them, does your mind instantly go back to pain? Do you find yourself constantly living “it” all over again—the hurtful word, the unkind act, the feeling of being rejected or forgotten?  What if we “scar bearers” could remember the lesson instead of the pain? What if we could remember the promise instead of the pain?  Promise?  Yes, the one found in Romans 8:28 “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purposes.” This is a “go to” promise for me because I have a lot of oops, bumps, bruises, and scars.  I’m learning, though, to look at all of that not for the pain they caused, but the good God brought from them.

I’m determined to learn to glean as much as I can from each day.  It’s something I picked up during 2020.  It’s ironic how 2020 means clarity and yet we had so little of it.  But we have a God who can see all things with perfect insight.  So instead of singing the blues, I’m gonna work at turning my scars into souvenirs.  And I’m gonna lay my head down tonight and rest in Him. But there’s more.  I know now my daddy was a lot wiser than I was. He had experience with knives and watermelon.  And my heavenly Father…well, He knows everything, and do you know what?  He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, gratitude, Holidays, July 4, life, love, loving others, Military memories, prayer, Scripture, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials, USA, wisdom

Freedom

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” Psalm 33:12

It was just over a year ago.  Amid the COVID craziness, Judy and I made a discovery. It was a Thursday night and we had gone to one of our favorite eating places in Marion…a town not far from where we live. We did our Sam’s Club thing and then decided to call it a night. So, we headed for 217 back in Harrisburg.  As we were driving down the highway, on a whim, we made a right turn at a familiar intersection.  We had driven by it so many times but this time we turned.

The sign said it went to Creal Springs, but I found out it went somewhere else—to something else.  We were cruising along just enjoying the ride when I thought I saw one of those “brown signs.”  These signs usually indicate a place of special interest.  As I went by, I thought I saw the words cemetery and Revolutionary War. I went down the road just aways and  told Judy I saw a sign for a cemetery…perhaps an old one.  I turned around.

Back down the road, there was indeed a sign. We pulled off the road and it said, “Ellis Family Cemetery and Revolutionary War gravesite.  I really couldn’t believe that it was true.  I mean, out East you would find those kind of gravesites everywhere, but here in Southern Illinois?  We decided we had to investigate.  It turned out there was no road just a driveway.  Well, after trying to decide if we were going to get shot for trespassing, we decided to give it a try.  As it turned out, the driveway went between two houses which led to a pasture.  Way at the back of the pasture we could see a small cemetery.  There wasn’t a road, but I could see where a car had gone before, so off we went.

When we got there, we found the gravesite of John Ellis.  He was born in 1754 and died in 1850.  He lived for 96 years, which is incredible, but even more amazing…he fought in the American Revolutionary War.  He had two monuments.  One was much newer, one much older.  The older one simply said, “For Military Merit” and someone had painted his name on it.  I was overwhelmed.  Here in Southern Illinois was the grave of a man, a hero, who fought for the birth of our country.

This man was there, on the battlefield, when a group of men and women declared our freedom from England.  This.man.was.there.  He put it all on the line for a cause greater than himself.  And for the last 245 years that is what freedom loving American heroes have done.  Through conflicts great and small they have served, they have bled, and many have died.  I value the saying, “All gave some, some gave all.” I value the sacrifice of all of these freedom fighters through the centuries and decades.  I also love what they fought for.

I know these are difficult times for our nation, but we have seen difficult times before. At his first inauguration on March 4, 1933, Franklin Roosevelt said this. “This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive, and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Don’t rush past those words.  They are powerful and they are worth believing.

I believe in this country.  I believe that even with all its warts and imperfections it is still the best country in the world.  Having visited well over twenty other countries, I’ve seen the competition and America wins hands down.  I spent an Independence Day in basic training for the Air Force in 1972. Lights-out was about 8:00 pm and I was lying in my bunk when the fireworks starting going off.  I crept out of bed and went to the window and watched as the fireworks exploded in the Texas sky.  Two emotions came over me.  One, I missed family.  Somewhere in Florida they were celebrating freedom. The other though was more personal.  I was becoming an American airman serving my country.  I was one of her defenders and I was proud…proud to serve and proud to be an American.

So, please, don’t blow past Independence Day this Sunday and certainly don’t give up on America.  We have weathered many storms and we can weather these stormy days…if we do what we have done in the past and that is trust God.  It is no accident that we have fought and won, it is no accident that we have survived and even thrived for the past 245 years.  It was more than sacrifice, more than guts, more than determination…it was and is the grace of God.

The Book says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.”  That is so true.  As a nation when we choose God, when we choose to make Him ours, we do better.  When we don’t, we don’t.  It is just that simple.  The second part of that verse is equally important. God is still inviting, calling people to be His.  Skin color doesn’t matter, economic status doesn’t matter, creed doesn’t matter.  He simply invites every man, woman, and child to be His.  The invitation is open, and the decision is personal…individual.

So, God bless America.  If you are a God follower, a God believer, why not start this Independence Day with a whispered prayer of thanks for this great country.  And then, pause, be still and listen for surely the Whisperer will whisper.  He may speak through His Word, He may speak through another person, or a beautiful sunrise or sunset.  Regardless, He will whisper, “You can rest in Me.  I’ve got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, gratitude, life, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, Trials, wisdom

Stinking Rock

The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.” Habakkuk 3:19

Ok…it just hurt. I grew up down South and there and especially then things were just a bit different.  Back in those days before Nintendo and Game Boys, we played…I mean we just played.  Even though we had television, and yes, it was black and white, it was rarely on…especially during the day.  When school was over for the day, we would go outside and run the neighborhood and…the woods.

We lived in a small country neighborhood that was surrounded by woods.  We played army, built forts, and played every game you could imagine.  We had a large Chinaberry tree in our backyard, and we would load our pockets with the small berries and then chase one another trying our best to “ping” someone with the berries. As you can imagine we ran…a lot. And the best running shoes then were no shoes at all.  We ran and played barefoot most of the time.  There were times of regret, like when we would stub our toe on a big old pine root, but most of the time we did just fine.  Of course, all that “barefoot-ness” toughened our feet up till the soles were leather tough.

Well, things change, and we all grew up and started wearing shoes.  With the shoes, we lost our toughness but not our love to occasionally go barefoot. There’s still just something about the feel of grass and soft sand on the bottom of your foot.  Yup…what good memories…that is until I stepped on a stupid rock. It all started when I went outside early in the morning, as in the sun was still yawning, to have a cup of coffee with Judy.  Of course, I wasn’t wearing shoes.  We have a paved driveway and patio so no deal…right? Not so fast.

I walked out to the patio, visited awhile, and then decided it was time to head back into the house to get ready for the day.  Our patio is a foot or so higher than our driveway and we have a small step there to make things easier.  So, I stepped down onto the step and then on down to the driveway.  Not thinking, nor thinking to look, right where I stepped was a nice, small rock.  Now this wasn’t the smooth stone kind of rock but the kind that you find in an unpaved alley.  Anyway, I stepped, and stepped hard and landed right on that stinking rock.  Ouch.

As things would happen, it was in the middle of my heel, and it just hurt.  I muttered something about stupid rocks, picked the rock up and chucked it back in the alley where it belonged.  It really was a “no harm, no foul” deal.  I mean, it wasn’t like it hurt all day and it wasn’t like I had to go to the doctor, but for those few moments…it just hurt and for those few moments…I was mad at the rock. Mad.At.The.Rock.

Wait…later I decided there was something wrong with that.  I am sure that rock didn’t wake up that morning (do rocks wakeup?) and decide to be in the exact wrong spot.  In fact, I am sure the rock had nothing to do with it at all. I am sure that I am the one who chose not to wear shoes that morning, who didn’t look to see if there was a rock in the way, and who wasted my emotional energy by getting mad at a rock.  It sounds like this one is on me.

The bottom line is when you do life, you will occasionally step on a rock, and it may cause some pain.  But like the Disney song says, maybe we should just, “let it go.” The Bible gives us some even greater counsel.  It says that we are to remember that God is our strength, and we should ask Him to guide our feet as sure as a mountain deer.  In other words…to help us watch where we step…whether it is off our patio or into a questionable decision.

Well, I know, and you know it wasn’t the rock’s fault that day and really, in the scope of things, it wasn’t mine either. It was just one of those things.  Oh, and this morning, I went out barefoot again but before I stepped off the patio, I looked and that means, I may have learned and that is always valuable.  So be sure and look before you step and remember, even if things don’t go exactly like you plan today…He’s still got this. Bro. Dewayne

Oh wait…I thought that was the end of the story, but it wasn’t.  So, the same day I wrote this, at lunch I went home to eat and kicked my shoes off.  As I was walking across the kitchen floor I stepped on a…get ready…rock.  Yup, right there in the kitchen.  I guess you just never know.

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

Lasting Words

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 newest 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 it 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, forgiveness, gratitude, life, love, loving others, Scripture, Southern born, thankful

Poud and Pouder

I will also give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name is inscribed that no one knows except the one who receives it.” Revelation 2:17

What in the world is a “Poud?”  Last week I wrote a story about my wife Judy, and me. It was a special week with an anniversary and birthday to celebrate. And celebrate we did…but that’s another story. Anyway, in last week’s story I mentioned Judy’s nickname, and someone asked, “What is the story there?”  Well, I am glad you asked.  Admittedly, it is a rather unusual nickname. It goes something like this.  A long, long time ago, before I was around and when Judy was young,  one of her brothers stated calling her “Judy Poudy.”  Since she was the last of nine siblings, maybe they ran out of creativity? Anyway, I am assuming it was because it rhymed.  Sometime later, the family shortened the name and started calling her “Poud.”

As the years rolled by, she was “Poud” this and “Poud” that.  Well, finally, in the fulness of time (you know, like the Bible), I show up on the stage of her life.  After we began dating, I met her parents and then I got to meet the extended family. There probably aren’t enough letters in the alphabet or adjectives in the English language to describe this crazy bunch of South Georgians. Let it be enough to say that they believed in having fun and telling tall tales.  Oh, the things one learns from sitting around the table at family gatherings and just watching and listening! Get them in a room together and the tales would start and wrapped up in those tales would be the occasional “Poud” this and “Poud” that.

Well, that could be the end of the story, but it isn’t.  You see, this crazy bunch of South Georgians knew how to make a guy feel right at home and before long I was the object of several stories, some true and some not…. and some of those stories caused me to end up with my own nickname, “Pouder.”  Now I’ll leave it to your imagination how that came about, but the new couple in the Allen clan had a new name—“Poud” and “Pouder.”  Finally, after years of marriage, we decided to make it easier by simply calling each other “Poud.”  It goes something like this, “Hey Poud?”  And the other would simply reply with “Yes, Poud.”  It doesn’t matter much now, but when we get really old, it should at least be convenient.

It’s funny (no pun intended) how “Judy” became a “Judy Poudy” and together we became “Poud” and “Pouder.”  New relationships sometimes generate a new name and that is just what God does for us.  When we join His family, whatever we once were slips away and we become something new—one of His children…His son or daughter.

In the Bible, there was a woman who had an unclean issue of blood. Basically, that meant she wasn’t welcome anywhere…especially at church and because of her sickness she only knew the scorn and harshness of those around her.  But one day she met Jesus and He healed her and gave her a new name—daughter.  And when we meet Jesus…well, whatever the world and those around us used to called us, no matter how condemning, that all changes and He calls us His. I love that.

There is a scripture in the last Book in the Bible, the Revelation, and it says that one day God will give us a new name.  It says there, “I will also give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name is inscribed that no one knows except the one who receives it.”  I don’t know what all that means but I do know it will be special.  To be called His son is amazing enough but to know that He has a special name for me, for us…well, that is incredible.

I hope you have made the decision to be called His child.  It’s not just church, it’s certainly not religion—it is a relationship with Creator God.  And that unknown and special name…well, we will just have to wait and see what that is all about.  One thing is certain—it will be special and He’s got it reserved just for me and just for you.  Until then we will just have to wait and trust that…He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

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

Laughter in the Rain

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

It was a rainy afternoon in South Georgia.  I had met this girl, this Georgia peach, a few weeks ago and I was stuck fast.  From the moment I laid eyes on her I wanted to get to know her more.  So I made a call, she said yes, we had a first date and well, the rest is history.  From that first date came a marriage of 45 years.  She was young and I was a little too old, but love has a way of overcoming those kind of things—especially with God in the mix.

So, we were about five or six weeks into our journey.  We had been to church, something we would do together virtually every week of every year of our togetherness. It was a cloudy afternoon and rain was in the forecast.  I’m not sure how, but it had to be her knowledge of the area, we decided to drive up and over to Reed Bingham State Park.  It was more something to do than an adventure, but it left a tattoo on our hearts that remains today.

As we drove over to the park, it began to rain…nothing hard just a gentle Southern rain…the kind that waters the grass and makes flowers grow.  Soon, we were at the park, and it was still raining.  We decided that a little rain wasn’t going to stop us, and we struck off on a walk down one of the wet sand packed roads.  It wasn’t long before we came upon some large puddles the size of a small pond.  They weren’t from that day’s shower but a frog strangler sometime before.  So we reached the point where we had to decide to turn back or go a little farther.  We decided to go farther. To keep her dry from the puddles, she climbed on my back as we walked.

A little while later the rain picked up and with her still hanging on, we turned around and headed back to the car. We were getting wet, but we were young and in the midst of young love, so we laughed, we enjoyed.  Too soon we were back in the car and ready to head home.  We had left the radio tuned to one of the popular stations and as I started the car, the radio came to life and one of the new hits began to play.  It was by Neil Sedaka, and was called, “Laughter in the Rain” and in that moment it became our song. And, to this moment, it remains our song.

Part of the words go, “Oh, I hear laughter in the rain, walking hand in hand with the one I love. Oh, how I love the rainy days and the happy way I feel inside.” What started as a song became our mantra—our way of doing life.  We decided we would walk together, sunshine or rain, and we would do so…hand in hand.  We also decided that we would love, not endure, the rain and the rainy days, that came our way. Oh, it isn’t always perfect, and she is better at it than me but slowly over the years we have learned the secret sauce of doing life is to walk hand in hand with each other and the “Rainmaker.”

Judy and I have been blessed with an incredible life. Over our four and a half decade, journey we have seen and experienced big chunks of the world, and have been blessed with three daughters and sons-in-law and eight grandchildren.  We have loved serving God together as a team, watching as He made a difference in the lives of others.  We don’t know how long the journey will go, but we are wanting to walk it together, hand in hand, loving the rainy days.

The Book that matters, the Bible, tells us that we should number our days that we can have a heart of wisdom.  It’s not talking about numerics, but rather to value and see the value in each day.  To know that rain or sunshine, each day is a gift from God…an opportunity to walk hand in hand together and with the “Rainmaker.”  We’ve come to know and believe that He alone is worthy of our faith and trust and that no matter how light or hard the rainy days are, well, He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, forgiveness, Grace, life, Southern born, thankful, Trials, wisdom

One Big Earthworm

Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched?” Proverbs 6:27-28

That’s gotta be one big earthworm.  It was a great spring morning.  Judy and I were living in Cobden, Illinois and over the years we had put together a really, beautiful yard.  Judy can visualize how something is going to look and then has the knack to make it grow.  I do the grunt work.  I’m the yard man and she is the architect. That day we were putting some mulch around the flower beds.

Our yard had a retaining wall at one of the front corners and the yard sloped in that corner.  I would mulch leaves (we had four large maple trees) and put them there in the fall.  Then next spring we would use it as free (and I love free) mulch.  I would take my trusty pitchfork and our oversized trash can down to the corner, fill up the can and take it to wherever she wanted it dumped.  Then we would spread it out.  Great plan. Beautiful day.  All is well.  And then he showed up.

I went to the corner, loaded up the can, brought it to the middle of the yard to one of our flower beds and where she said dump it.  I dumped it.  I was about to use the pitchfork to start spreading the mulch when I noticed the tip of an earthworm barely sticking out of the mulch.  In order to appreciate this you need to know that earthworms, in Judy’s eyes, are held in very high regard.  It’s something about they aerate and loosen up the soil making it better for the flowers.  I thought they were just fish bait. Silly me.

“Hey, there’s an earthworm” Judy exclaimed with the excitement of a kid on Christmas morning.  “Grab him and put him in the garden.”  So, hey, I’m just the grunt man so I reached down and pulled on the little fella.  The little fella didn’t move.  I looked at Judy with a quizzical look. My thought was that if he wanted to stay that bad, he could just go with the next pitchfork load.  No…that wasn’t gonna happen.  So, I gave it another shot, and this dude wasn’t moving.  “Poud (that’s Judy’s nick name) this guy isn’t coming.”

I took matters to the next level and took the pitchfork and shoved it into the mound around the earthworm and gave it a lift and a flip.  Well, shoot that thing, there was a stinking snake.  It wasn’t some innocent “let me aerate your soil” earthworm it was a 14 foot boa constrictor.  Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration.  But it was a snake, it was about two feet long and it was moving and so was I.  Now both Judy and I were a lot younger then, but even for our age we were out of there!  And I do believe the grunt man outran the pretty little architect.

You ask, “What kind was it?”  Don’t know. Don’t care.  There are only two kinds of snakes—living and dead and this one was definitely alive.  Honestly, I have blocked out what happened next.  I can’t tell you if we went back and he was gone.  I can’t tell you if I got a shovel and in pure self-defense ended the life of the slithering creature or what.  I can only tell you that he was no longer a threat and I never, and I mean never, looked at the pile of mulch in the same way.

If I learned anything that day…and trust me I did…it was to be careful what you decide to pull on because things are not always as they seem.  Ask Eve.  The Genesis account of creation and the fall of man says that the serpent (that’s Bible code for snake) was “more crafty” than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. The Hebrew language implies that the snake was beautiful, appealing. Intrigued she decided to strike up a conversation with him.  “Bad idea, Eve.” Just run. But no, she didn’t, and now we have this messed up world and it was all because Eve grabbed a hold of something she should have left alone.

There’s an old tale about a man who was walking up a mountain and it was getting cold.  The man saw a rattlesnake and the snake said, “Please put me in your coat and take me down the mountain.”  The man said, “No way, you will bite me.”  The snake assured him he would not.  He picks the snake up, puts it in his coat and goes down the mountain.  As the temperature rises the snake gets a little more frisky, and bites the man.  The man, shocked, says, “You said you wouldn’t bite me.”  And the snake replied, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”  So true. So tragically true.

The Bible also says this, “Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched?”  “What does that mean?” you ask.  It means the next time a snake wants to strike up a conversation, run.  It means the next time you are tempted to sin, run. It means the next time your wife wants you to grab the tail of an oversized earthworm, run. No…it doesn’t mean that, but it does mean be sure you know what you are grabbing before you take hold.

Fortunately, our Abba Father knows all about snakes and sin and grabbing hold when we shouldn’t.  He also loves us enough to give us wisdom to know the difference.  James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God.” With wise counsel like that we don’t have to fear oversized earthworms or the other stuff we are living through right now.  No, we can rest in Him.  He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

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

Anger Management 101

Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the devil an opportunity.” Ephesians 4:26

I think I have figured it out.  From the time I could remember my mom always told me, “Dewayne, I think you are going to be six feet tall when you grow up.”  I believe she based that on the fact that I kinda looked like my brother Joe and he was somewhere near that.  Anyway, I grew up with the expectation that I would, well, grow up.  Somewhere, something got lost in the translation.

The bottom line is for all of my life I have been slightly height challenged.  Now, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it was apparent early on that mom had misjudged the gene pool.  Unless a miracle was on the horizon the height expectations needed to be lowered…a lot.  By the time I was in the eighth grade I was still about 5”6”.  I had managed to lose some of my roundness but I just came up short (pun intended) on the height deal. Too bad I wasn’t born a couple of thousand years ago. Back then, I would almost be tall.

When I was in the ninth grade, I was at the top of the pecking order grade wise. In Florida high school didn’t start till tenth grade so we ninth graders were the kings of the junior high campus…even if you were a tad short.  One day in class the teacher stepped out of the room.  A guy I knew, and he might have even been a friend, grabbed my pencil and said he was going to break it.  “Don’t do it, man” I said in my deepest, tallest voice.  He kept threatening to break it and I kept threatening to break him.  He broke it and I exploded.

Now before we go on you need to know I was a pretty compliant kid.  I am a conflict avoidance adult, and I was a conflict avoidance kid.  Something just snapped.  I flipped the table over on him, put him in a head hold and proceeded to teach him not to break my pencil.  Can someone said, “Stupid?”  Well, the teacher walks in, someone breaks up the fight and we get a free trip to the principal’s office.  Judgement was swift and right to the seat of the problem.  Two swats a day for five days administered by the athletic director.  He was not five-six.

So, for the next five days I was to report first thing in the morning to his office, bend over and grab my ankles and two hard swats.  Pow—pow.  Swift, powerful, and man did they hurt.  And they worked. I always left with a strong desire to join the Peace Corps. I never got into another fight.  Break my pencil?  Sure, go right ahead. I have a spare. I always wondered what sparked that outburst.  I think I know.  It was short man syndrome or SMS.

I found out that SMS is “an angry male of below average height who feels it necessary to act out in an attempt to gain respect and recognition from others and compensate for his short stature.” I’m pretty sure that is what happened that day.  I was wanting some respect and was willing to act stupid to get it. Did I mention two swats a day for five days?  So, that week, about day three and swat number six I got over my syndrome and a chunk of my anger.  I was just fine at 5’6”.  Fortunately, the Lord gave me a couple of more inches and I ended up at a respectable 5’8”.  However, I think I am back down to five-seven now.  You know, the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.  Smile.

I really did learn a valuable lesson that day.  You should never, and I mean never, let your anger get the best of you.  Anger is not a sin when it is controlled and directed in the right direction.  Jesus got angry at the people who were abusing His Father’s house. The problem isn’t anger—the problem is control—or lack of it. Paul wrote about this when he said, “Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the devil an opportunity.” Keep your temper tame and don’t let it simmer over night.  It’s great for a pork butt but terrible for anger.  And every time we don’t, we give Satan the opportunity to win. And, when he wins…we lose.  Every time.

So, I’ve learned to be happy where I am. I think 5’8” or 5’7” is just about right. I’m still taller than Judy and she thinks I’m tall, or at least tallish, dark, and handsome.  Also, I’m learning not to lose it because I always lose when I do. And, I am learning to trust in Him.  If someone breaks my pencil, I’m learning to let God handle it.  It’s much better than visiting the coach every morning for five days.  There’s something else. I found out that when I’m not facing the coach in the morning, I rest better…especially in Him.  I fall to sleep knowing, “He’s got this.”  And He does.     Bro. Dewayne