Posted in Family, gratitude, life, loving others, Scripture, thankful, travel, USA, wisdom

Mountains or Monuments

Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18

It was on my bucket list.  I confess…I am a pretty big fan of America. I mean, even with all of its warts, and there are plenty, with all its flaws, surely a bucket full, it is the best place to call home.  Over the years I have visited over twenty-five countries—some in Europe, some in Asia and some in Africa.  Some were affluent, some were poor, and some were somewhere in between. All had something to offer but none could match this land I call home.  While some of my visits were brief, my wife Judy and I lived three years in Germany and the final word was…wait for it…home is better…there is and was no place like home.

I think the secret to learning to appreciate where you live is to learn to look for the good and not bad, the whole and not the broken.  The way we look at things can vastly change how we experience things.  A few days ago, I mentioned a quote from a movie that I had watched which, by the way, was based on a true story.  The guy said, “There are two ways to live—either nothing is a miracle, or everything is a miracle.” He opted for the latter and I think I will too.

Last year, we were out west on a trip with part of our tribe.  The main, but not only, destination was to see Mount Rushmore.  I’ve seen a chunk of America, but I hadn’t seen that…and yes, it was on my bucket list.  So, the day came. As we drove toward the monument, suddenly, around a curve we were face to face, if you will, with Washington, Roosevelt, Jefferson and Lincoln and it was amazing.  We parked the car and frankly, the closer we got, the more amazing it became.

This great tribute to America (no, it wasn’t just a tribute to four men) took over fourteen years to build.  As you keep in mind it was about ninety years ago, you begin to appreciate the vision, work, and skill that it took to turn a mountain into a monument.  I was amazed to learn that many of the workers, who often had 12 hours days, were paid about $14 dollars…a week.  Those were hard times, and they were grateful to have a job.  But for many…the job became a passion…a mission…a cause to believe in.

Somewhere along the journey, they stopped seeing a mountain and began to see presidents.  Somewhere along the journey they began to see what Gutzon Borglum saw. While the project wasn’t his idea (that belongs to a guy named Doane Robinson) he was the one that chose that mountain.  The quality of the stone led him there and, honestly, where others saw just a mountain, he saw presidents. He.Saw.Presidents.

So, perhaps, just perhaps, it does matter what we see around us.  Perhaps if we choose to see miracles…or like Borglum to see monuments where others see just a block of stone, perhaps we can help make this world a better place.  Perhaps our lives, regardless of our messy circumstances, will take on a deeper meaning and a deeper purpose.  Perhaps if we learn that it is not about us but about others…things will change…for the better.

One of the writers in the Old Testament part of the Bible said that when people don’t have a vision, when they choose to see desolation rather than miracles, well, they perish.  It is true individually and it is true corporately.  If we are going to see a better world, two things need to happen.  First, we need to learn not to just see a mountain but what that mountain can become.  Secondly, and this one is for God followers, we need to believe again that with God nothing is impossible.  As we stand on the edge of the new normalcy, with that stinking COVID in the rearview mirror, let’s choose to believe again.  And why stop there?  Why don’t we determine to see presidents where others see mountains and believe that “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, Grace, gratitude, life, Scripture, travel, Trials, wisdom

Joy in the Journey

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

It just depends.  My wife Judy and I recently 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, 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 are 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 me 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, fear, gratitude, life, thankful, travel


For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement from the Scriptures.” Romans 15:4

It’s just a little confusing.  After attending yesterday’s Memorial Day service and doing a little yard work, my wife and I decided to go to Paducah, Kentucky to look around for a couple of chairs or perhaps a small sofa to complete a project we have been working on at home.  So, we loaded up and headed south across the river to the land of grits. And the point of this story all began with traveling.  You see, we did a lot of traveling this past week or so.  We had flown to Denver and then driven a thousand miles or so in Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota.  We saw a lot of things and some of them were simply beautiful.  The mountains and canyons are spectacular.  We also saw some things that were hard. We saw some extreme poverty as some folks tried to eke out a living in the barren desert hills and valleys of Wyoming.  We saw the results of a wildfire that ravaged a large portion of the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.  Those were hard.  But some things there and closer to home were just confusing.

The confusing part was what to do with that 4×6 piece of cloth or paper we now know as a face mask. We used to only see them on the evening news and donned by folks in other countries such as China.  And then, suddenly, ready or not, they became a part of our lives.  And now…it is mask or no mask? Flying, there was no doubt about the mask.  When you stepped in the airport it was required…and then you didn’t take it off till you, like Elvis, left the building. They were very adamant about it—threatening arrest, jail time, and the loss of your first born if you didn’t comply.  I guess all that was fine, but it seems to me, they didn’t have to act so mad about it.

Once we left the airport, it was a whole different world.  Regardless of where we went or to what state we traveled, the mask requirement weren’t a deal.  I mean, that is really good news.  We have all heard from all kinds of sources that the COVID thing, while not gone, is in full blown retreat.  I just wish someone would have told the airport folks too.  As we traveled, whether it was to a gas station down the street ,or to a National Park…no mask.  One restaurant proudly posted that, “following the CDC and Colorado Guidelines you are welcome NOT to wear a mask.”  That was followed by something like, “unless you want to.” That made me smile. Want to? Really?

Well, anyway, that was the way it was throughout the states we visited out west.  Now back to Paduach.  We stopped at a local business there. Walking to the door we realized that we had forgotten we were back in the Midwest, and I didn’t have a mask.  I told Judy we will just have to see.  When we got to the door, sure enough, it was plastered with signs about wearing a mask.  We went on in and asked the nice lady at the door if masks were required.  She told me that they were asking people to wear one and I told her I had forgotten mine…did she have one? She said they did, and I slipped one on. I asked her when their governor was going to “open the state” and she said, “Oh, that doesn’t matter, our company is the one making the rules.” What? See what I mean about confusing?  And, to make matters worse, virtually every person in the store was mask-less.  I wore mine for a while and then reverse peer pressure took over and I took it off.

By now you have got to be wondering what this story is about!  Me, too.  No, not really. All of this was just a gentle reminder for me to be grateful for the Bible…the Word of God.  Though written over 1,500 years by a bunch of different writers, it has stood the test of time. It is as solid today as it was a couple of thousand years ago.  It is refreshing to know that God won’t change His mind and issue a revision tomorrow, next month, or next year.  It is refreshing to know that He got His Word right the first time.  In a world where no one seems to know what is right or wrong…the Bible hasn’t changed and personally, I like that surety.

Paul, one of those writers I told you about, was writing a letter to some Jesus followers in Rome.  It was during the time when being a follower of Jesus could cost you your life.  Speaking about the scriptures, he said, “For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement from the Scriptures.”  In other words, God gave us His Word to help us along this journey called life and to encourage us too.  That is good news.  If you haven’t read it in a while, you might want to check it out for yourself.  You might be pleasantly surprised.  It has sure been a help to me…especially during these confusing COVID days.  It was there that I learned the great truth I close with each time we meet.  Here it is…are you ready?  “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne